Hey, I’ve Seen You Before! When TV and Movies Use the Same Character Tropes

Have you ever watched a TV show or movie and thought, hey, that character seems familiar? No, your brain’s not playing tricks on you. You’re probably just noticing the tropes that tend to repeat themselves over and over again because there are only so many ways to tell a story and so many characters that exist.

From the brooding, handsome guy, the-know it-all, to the dumb jock, let’s take a look at characters that not only act but look the same across the fiction world.

Dan from Gossip Girl and Joe from You

Not only are Dan and Joe basically the same character, but they’re both played by Penn Badgeley! Both characters are bookish and liable to make morally questionable decisions.

pennbadgeley
MovieStillsDB/The CW Television Network, CBS & Warner Bros. Television Distribution
MovieStillsDB/The CW Television Network, CBS & Warner Bros. Television Distribution

Dan has created his share of drama on the series, sometimes to his own amusement. While Joe let his desire and passions get the better of him, creating a web of drama, romance, and violence. Is it possible their love of stories made them the way they are? Whatever it is, it’s probably better to stay far away from both.

Matilda from Matilda and Carrie from Carrie

Telekinetic powers, neglectful families, volatile school experiences. Are we talking about the same person?

matildacarrie
MovieStillsDB/TriStar Pictures, Sony & Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, United Artists
MovieStillsDB/TriStar Pictures, Sony & Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, United Artists

Both Matilda and Carrie faced similar challenges growing up, although they went about solving them in very different ways. Perhaps Carrie is what Matilda could’ve become had things gone a little differently, or maybe things didn’t have to end the way they do for Carrie if she had her own Miss Honey to save her.

Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

These characters are blonde, have powers that they keep hidden from their normie friends, and have a connection to the supernatural they don’t necessarily want.

buffysabrina
MovieStillsDB/Warner Bros., 20th Century & Netflix Streaming Services, Warner Bros. Television Distribution
MovieStillsDB/Warner Bros., 20th Century & Netflix Streaming Services, Warner Bros. Television Distribution

For Buffy, this means she’s gifted with the power to slay vampires and other dark creatures, as destiny would have it. For Sabrina, she’s a witch who also happens to be the daughter of a famous biblical figure… Both women confront the demons in their lives head-on and, with the support of their loved ones, maintain the balance of good and evil in their respective universes.

Dana Scully from The X-Files and Beverly Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation

Red-heads Dana Scully and Beverly Crusher are well-respected, brilliant doctors in their respective fields.

crusherscully
MovieStillsDB/Fox Broadcasting Company & Paramount Domestic Television
MovieStillsDB/Fox Broadcasting Company & Paramount Domestic Television

These women have strong scientific convictions, leading their professional and personal lives with logic and scientific skepticism informing their decisions, especially concerning otherworldly beings or matters of love. Dr. Crusher’s quote, “If there’s nothing wrong with me, maybe there’s something wrong with the universe!” perfectly sums up the experiences of both women.

Ross Geller from Friends and Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother

Ross and Ted are the kinds of guys prone to over-the-top romantic gestures, falling in love and falling in love deep.

friendshimym
MovieStillsDB/The WB Television Network & CBS
MovieStillsDB/The WB Television Network & CBS

University professors in paleontology and architecture, respectively, both take their jobs seriously, so at least they have that going for them. Even though the character arcs for both men result in them getting the girl, it isn’t without a bit of a struggle, drama, and desperate pleas for attention.

Michael Scott from The Office and Roland Schitt from Schitt’s Creek

Incompetent, childish, and prone to annoying everyone around them. Oh, and they have all the power too? Both Michael Scott and Roland Schitt are men in powerful positions who, despite all their flaws, somehow manage to get the job done.

officeschitts
MovieStillsDB/NBCUniversal Television Distribution & Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
MovieStillsDB/NBCUniversal Television Distribution & Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Although both characters seem like they’re not fully all there, it soon becomes apparent how much they care for those around them, even if they have a funny way of showing it.

Stanley Hudson from The Office and Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation

Ah, the office grump. The one who’d instead be left alone, the one who puts in a questionable amount of work, yet everyone’s too wary of saying anything about it.

stanleyron
MovieStillsDB/NBCUniversal Television Distribution
MovieStillsDB/NBCUniversal Television Distribution

Both Stanley and Ron fit the bill and play the role to a T. Let’s play a game, who said the following quote: “If there were more food and fewer people, this would be a perfect party.” Honestly, either one could’ve said it (But it was Ron).

Lady Whistledown a.k.a Penelope Featherington from Bridgerton and Lexi Howard from Euphoria

Ah, the wallflower, the shrinking violet, the observer who always manages to avoid observation. No one would blame you if you thought of either of these characters when you heard these words.

penelopelexi
MovieStillsDB/Netflix, Shondaland & Warner Bros. Television Distribution, HBO Entertainment
MovieStillsDB/Netflix, Shondaland & Warner Bros. Television Distribution, HBO Entertainment

Both these ladies are always in the backdrop of the drama unfolding around them, and yet they’re the ones who can tell the best story from it. If you’re looking for all the deets about someone, the juiciest, most entertaining gossip, look no further than these two to fulfill your needs.

Lindsay from Arrested Development and Alexis from Schitt’s Creek

From riches to rags, Lindsay and Alexis have gone through a lot. The once wealthy, carefree blondes led lives of luxury and excess until both of their dads made terrible decisions with the family company.

lindsayalexis
MovieStillsDB/Fox Broadcasting Company & Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
MovieStillsDB/Fox Broadcasting Company & Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Both women are adventurous, sly, and prone to using their looks or feminity to get their way or get some attention and praise. Still, despite the shallowness and tendency to look down on others, there is a streak of goodness that manages to sneak out now and then, to try and help their families as best they can.

Walter from Breaking Bad and Nancy from Weeds

These two characters live up to the phrase “I would do anything for my family,” going to great and often morally questionable lengths to keep their loved ones afloat.

walternancy
MovieStillsDB/AMC & Showtime, Lionsgate Television
MovieStillsDB/AMC & Showtime, Lionsgate Television

While each had reasons for turning to the lifestyles they portray in their respective shows, the original reasoning becomes more of a justification. As their characters develop, they become more drawn to their chosen lifestyles, pulled into a seedy underworld far from where they started.

Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Stefan from The Vampire Diaries

Dark, broody, handsome, troubled. While these two may look young, Angel and Stefan each lived long lives spanning centuries, and boy, have they seen a lot.

angelstefan
MovieStillsDB/Warner Bros., 20th Century & CBS Television Distribution, Warner Bros. Television Distribution
MovieStillsDB/Warner Bros., 20th Century & CBS Television Distribution, Warner Bros. Television Distribution

As a result, they must protect their loved ones from their darker nature, often at the price of the relationship itself. Perhaps if both these broody characters met their loves at a different time, they might have lived happily ever after.

Jason from The Good Place and Andy from Parks and Recreation

These two may not necessarily be the brightest in the bunch, but they are lovable. Their cluelessness is endearing, as much as it provides a lot of laughs.

jasonandy
MovieStillsDB/NBCUniversal Television Distribution
MovieStillsDB/NBCUniversal Television Distribution

Although both these guys can often be too dumb to function, their sweetness makes it hard for others not to take care of them. Like lost puppies, they stumble around the world, making mistakes, some bigger than others, but one look at their dumb faces, and you can’t stay mad.

Tony Stark from Iron Man and Bruce Wayne from Batman

Wealthy superheroes, what more could you want? Although neither of these men has any innate superpowers, they still have a lot of money to make some pretty cool super gadgets.

ironbatman
MovieStillsDB/Paramount Pictures, Marvel Studios & Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures
MovieStillsDB/Paramount Pictures, Marvel Studios & Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures

Both lost their parents at a young age and used their inherited wealth and family companies to make something of themselves. Both portray the millionaire playboy lifestyle, hosting lavish parties and living a life of excess, despite their loneliness and desire for vengeance for their family’s death.

Lestat from Interview with the Vampire and Hannibal from Hannibal

The romantic monster, Lestat, and Hannibal both have a hunger for the people around them, and, at least in Hannibal’s case, that is very literal.

lestathannibal
MovieStillsDB/Warner Bros. & Sony Pictures Television
MovieStillsDB/Warner Bros. & Sony Pictures Television

These elegant men are obsessed with opulence and extravagance, surrounding themselves with luxury and beautiful people. They both also crave a companion to bring into their world and teach them how they live. With a dark sense of humor, Lestat and Hannibal take life in stride, living their best lives, even at the cost of others.

Daenerys Targaryan from Game of Thrones and Paul Atreides from Dune

Royal teenagers, who lose their families and royal title, all while having the support of local people whose prophecies foretell their appearance? Daenerys and Paul are orphaned and doomed to try and recapture their family’s name. Betrayed by those closest to them, they must be careful who they allow into their camp.

daenaryspaul
MovieStillsDB/HBO & Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures
MovieStillsDB/HBO & Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures

Luckily for each of them, they meet a local group of people who already know them, in prophecy form, and go all out to help them achieve their goals.

Rachel Berry from Glee and Annie Edison from Community

Cardigans, cardigans, and more cardigans! These two peppy, hard-working, studious women are the ones who will go out of their way to achieve their goals. Although they may appear to be soft, these no nonsense women will take charge when the time calls for it and get things done.

rachelannie
MovieStillsDB/Fox Broadcasting Company & NBCKrasnoff Foster Productions
MovieStillsDB/Fox Broadcasting Company & NBCKrasnoff Foster Productions

Even if their perky ambition can be a bit off-putting at times, it’s clear that they do it out of a strict sense of caring and dedication, and that is admirable.

Penelope Garcia from Criminal Minds and Abby Sciuto from NCIS

Smart, with a strong sense of style and a quirky personality, these two ladies live up to the trope of Mission Control. Without these ladies, both the teams at NCIS and BAU would be lost, left to fend for themselves, and perhaps not as successful.

penelopeabby
MovieStillsDB/CBS Television Distribution & CBS, THINKFilm
MovieStillsDB/CBS Television Distribution & CBS, THINKFilm

They both seem to know everything and don’t hesitate to share their knowledge with their colleagues. As Penelope said, “All hail the goddess of information.”

Love Quinn from You and Wanda Maximoff from WandaVision

Love Quinn and Wanda Maximoff both become unstable after their husbands’ deaths, and their attempts to deal with the pain of their loss lead them to unfortunate situations.

lovewanda
MovieStillsDB/Warner Bros. Television Distribution & Disney Platform Distribution, Marvel Studios
MovieStillsDB/Warner Bros. Television Distribution & Disney Platform Distribution, Marvel Studios

They also tend to let their emotions guide their decisions, putting them in situations where they play the villain role. Despite all this, they do demonstrate an intense love for the ones they care about, which might be one of the few redeeming qualities.

Homelander from The Boys and Mr. Wilford from Snowpiercer

While those around them laud both men as being admirable and caring, they are anything but generous. Maniacal, psychopathic with delusions of grandeur, both Homelander, and Mr. Wilford manage to hide their true nature to most around them, only revealing themselves once they’ve got enough supporters wrapped around their fingers.

homelandwilford
MovieStillsDB/Sony Pictures Television Distribution, Amazon Studios & TNT, Netflix
MovieStillsDB/Sony Pictures Television Distribution, Amazon Studios & TNT, Netflix

These men may appear to be menacing, but their violent tendencies appear to come from a need to be liked. A need they fill at a terrible price.

Loki from Thor and Scar from The Lion King

Loki or Scar: Prone to sibling rivalry, jealousy, dramatic appearance, and a tendency to solve problems with violence. Did you figure it out? Honestly, no one would blame you if you guessed either one. You’d probably be right either way.

lokiscar
MovieStillsDB/Paramount Pictures & Walt Disney Pictures
MovieStillsDB/Paramount Pictures & Walt Disney Pictures

Loki and Scar are second-born, getting none of the praise and attention that their eldest brother’s got. It’s no wonder they both grew up resentful and bitter to the point that they’d be willing to hurt their own family.