We’ve all seen it before - whenever a great, memorable character shows up onscreen, it’s only a matter of time before a string of subsequent knock-off flicks cram in a similar character clearly modelled off the original. Just look at Joe Dante’s Gremlins, a wildly original family-horror-comedy upon its release in 1984, balancing scares and laughs while toning down the harsher edges of screenwriter Chris Columbus’ screenplay.
Cut to 1990, and before Dante could even put together a direct sequel the multiplex had been flooded with three Critters films (Gremlins, but R-rated and from space), three Ghoulies flicks (Gremlins, but vaguely supernatural), and even a lone Munchies (Gremlins, but they - grant wishes, we think? Roger Corman half-assed this rip off so badly that the sequels transitioned into being E.T. knock-offs instead).
There’s nothing worse than seeing an original character shamelessly ripped off, with the carbon copy characters leaving audiences bored of their favourite figures before they even have a chance to appear in the sequel. With this in mind, we’ve collected the most shameless cases of creators copy-and-pasting characters from better works and hoping no one would notice. For shame, filmmakers.
10. King Frat Ripped Off Animal House
There are few comedy characters that are as iconic as the late John Belushi’s Bluto Blutarsky. Taking inspiration from the SNL stalwart’s own larger than life persona, Bluto was Id personified for a generation who grew up with John Landis’s Animal House as the touchstone of anarchic comedy.
The rambunctious, rowdy, but ultimately (mostly) well-intentioned Bluto soon went on to become the victim of more plagiarism than Ralph Bashki and Robert Williams combined, as the winning combination of sweet and chaotic fuelled countless Animal House knock-offs.
None however were quite as egregious as King Frat, which went as far as commissioning a soundalike theme song that ripped off Animal House’s. The most shameless rip off in the flick came in the form of the familiar figure, the titular King Frat, who’s a hard partying loveable scamp who fears his endless drinking and goofing-off may be ended by a mean dean who finds his Frat antics insufferab - say, this is starting to sound familiar…