7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

There are times when a big-budget movie has incredibly specific similarities to some more obscure work, to the point that it's really hard to swallow that it could be coincidence.
7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

We realize that nothing is truly original -- in some way, every blockbuster you watch this summer will have elements that were "ripped off" from some older movie, or novel, or comic book. But damn it, there are times when a big-budget movie has incredibly specific similarities to some more obscure work, to the point that it's really hard to swallow that it could be coincidence. For example ...

Up Closely Resembles a French Short

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

The film Up is about a lonely old man whose house faces demolition, as it now sits squarely in the middle of a construction zone. Served with an eviction notice, the old man ties hundreds of balloons to his house and floats away.

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

"Wait! I forgot my insulin!"

But It's Suspiciously Similar To ...

Above Then Beyond is an animated French short about a lonely widow whose home faces demolition by evil businessmen because it's the only house left in the middle of an urban development.

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

The sharply dressed bastards then show up to bully her out of her house. And after being served with an eviction notice, she turns her house into a gigantic hot air balloon and floats off into the clouds. You have to admit, that's a pretty bizarrely specific plot to have occurred to two different filmmakers. SlashFilm did this side-by-side comparison:


Aside from the fact that the protagonist of Up is an old man and not a woman, the only real difference between the films is that in Up, the old man goes on a bunch of zany jungle adventures with a fat kid and a talking dog, whereas in Above Then Beyond, the old lady dies and it's revealed to be a dream she had.

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

Before being murdered by skinheads.

One of the creators of the animated short was a film student who basically said that he's pretty sure somebody at Pixar got their idea from his film, but he's powerless to accuse them of anything, as the film was part of his studies and no longer technically belongs to him. So once again the minefield of copyright law miraculously comes out in favor of the giant megacorporation.

The Hunger Games Is Identical to a Japanese Movie

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

The Hunger Games, adapted from the Suzanne Collins novel, is set in a dystopian future where children are forced to take part in a televised death match where only one can survive. The reason? To punish citizens for a past rebellion and to prevent them from rising up again.

But It's Suspiciously Similar To ...

Battle Royale is Japanese movie adapted from a Japanese novel. It's set in a dystopian future where teenagers are forced to fight each other to the death in a televised death match by a sick government to stop them from rising up in revolution. Of course, there are differences between the films, too. In Battle Royale, the kids are Japanese. And, well, no, that's it.

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

They go tie shopping at the same store as the guys in Reservoir Dogs.

Remember this scene in The Hunger Games, where they're introduced to the battlefield and forced to fight over backpacks and weapons?

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

Really, it's not all that different from graduate school.

Battle Royale had almost that exact same scene. When the combatants are thrown into the combat area, they are allotted backpacks, provisions, and random weapons, and they start fighting almost immediately. Both films contain a command center that keeps track of the combatants and reads out lists of the dead over loudspeakers.

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

T'HATRLA 1011I1NS BIRE ARRIRE WAERIRE MAANIWA NANIRE RE RINE Too many connections!. Our lines are down!

But one of the command centers didn't secure their Wi-Fi.

And both films contain emotionally damaged previous winners acting as mentors.

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

Wait, they aren't both Woody Harrelson?

The author of The Hunger Games said she never heard of Battle Royale, but that when she turned in the first draft of her novel, it was mentioned to her that there were huge similarities between the two. But that was the end of it. The makers of Battle Royale have not made any claim of plagiarism against the better known American film. In fact, Battle Royale has been enjoying a resurgence of popularity ever since a bunch of Japanophiles pointed out the similarities after seeing The Hunger Games. When the Japanese movie was re-released for American audiences, they included a cheeky reference in the trailer, which almost makes it sound like The Hunger Games was a remake:


"Not to imply anything ..."

RoboCop May Be a Rewritten Judge Dredd Movie

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

RoboCop is an incredibly '80s movie about guns, cocaine, and stop-motion robots in dystopian, crime-ridden Detroit. Its protagonist is an unstoppable, no-nonsense supercop concealed under a suit of armor and a helmet that obscures his eyes and who lives in a world where you shoot first and read Miranda rights later.

But It's Suspiciously Similar To ...

The recent surge in popularity of Judge Dredd thanks to his 2012 feature film should dredge up a few memories for the discerning '80s movie fan. Dredd is a strong, no-nonsense, no-pity cop who cleans up the street, one dirtbag at a time. He keeps his eyes hidden behind a visor and his favorite gun at his hip. His city is a sprawling ghetto, full of the worst kind of lowlifes, corruption, and sickening ultra violence.

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

We've always assumed Mega-City One was built over old Detroit.

The similarities between the two characters are so striking that, when the new film came out, lots of reviewers praised it or damned it for its similarity to RoboCop. Of course, no such comparisons were drawn from the 1995 Stallone attempt, but then the new version is a much more faithful adaption of the comic book that RoboCop is suggested to have ripped off. Even Karl Urban, who plays Judge Dredd, admits that the film has a lot of RoboCop references, because "RoboCop was obviously inspired by Dredd."

You can even see some direct elements from the comic that have ended up in the movie. Like RoboCop's quote "Come quietly -- or there will be trouble!" which just happened to be the quote on the cover of this copy of the Dredd comic 2000 A.D.


Ah yes, we all remember the year 2000.

It's been rumored for years that the original Judge Dredd script was passed around Hollywood from studio to studio and writer to writer, going through numerous reboots until it became RoboCop. Hell, even Paul Verhoeven said Judge Dredd was an influence on RoboCop (although you'll need to know Dutch to read that). And RoboCop's screenwriter, Ed Neumeier, has admitted that Dredd was at least a partial influence on the character.

In fact, the initial design concept for RoboCop, shown on the DVD extras, has him wearing a Dredd-style helmet at one point until someone opened a dictionary and saw the definition of the word "plagiarism" and decided they should change at least one thing.

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

Avatar Bears a Striking Resemblance to a 1980s Comic

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

For all of its visual achievements, the actual plot of Avatar is fairly standard -- a group of blue-skinned natives on a distant planet are forced to fight back when interstellar humans attempt to knock over their magic tree. The main character is a human male who falls in love with one of the female blue aliens and winds up having to fight off his own people to protect her and her tribe.

But It's Suspiciously Similar To ...

Timespirits was a short-lived Marvel comic series from the '80s created by Stephen Perry, who also created ThunderCats. Timespirits is so obscure that there's not much information available on the actual plot. However, looking at the following panels, it's easy to see that Avatar doesn't just bear a passing resemblance:


The comic book characters have way better pants.

Still not convinced? Here's another comparison:


7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

To fully enjoy, put on a pair of 3D glasses and proceed to bitch about it.

For what little can be recalled about the obscure comic, it seems that a sexy blue cat lady falls in love with a human man while being hunted by soldier types who seem to embody white guilt.

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

BP 0e

And the very best in earthling hat styles.

Although Timespirits didn't sell very well, enough people have accused Cameron of ripping it off that it should at least raise a few eyebrows. Then again, Avatar has already been accused of ripping off everything from FernGully to Dances With Wolves to other obscure science fiction novels about paraplegics who have their consciousness inserted into alien avatars. But maybe that says a lot more about Cameron's originality than it does about his deviousness.

The Village Shares a Plot With a 1995 Novel

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

The Village is the type of M. Night Shyamalan movie he was still making back in the late '90s: It followed the simple yet lucrative formula of atmosphere + spooky twist = money. In it, a group of old-timey folks living in a village are unaware that they're actually living in a nature reserve in the present day and have access to toilet paper not made from bark and stinging nettles.

But It's Suspiciously Similar To ...

Running Out of Time is a 1995 novel that sold around half a million copies. The plot revolves around an 1840s village that doesn't know that it's not really an 1840s village. It's actually 1995, and they live in a fake village set up in the middle of a nature reserve.


We hope that girl is calling her lawyer.

Just like The Village, a girl goes on a quest to get medical supplies to cure diseases. But there's a conspiracy theory by community leaders to keep the truth hidden from the village's residents.

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

Anyone who lived in the suburbs knows the same basic story.

The only real difference between The Village and Running Out of Time is the reason for the village's existence. In Running Out of Time, the village is part of a genetic experiment. In The Village, it is because the village elders wanted to go back to a simpler time before everyone's lives were ruled by Facebook.

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

Little did they know they'd been infiltrated by Mark Zuckerberg.

There was initially some lawyer talk, like "reviewing our legal options," from the book's publishers, which we all know basically translates to "Motherfucker, you stole my shit." But that was in 2004 and, as usual, those accusations quietly went away.

Poltergeist Might Be Ripped Off from a Twilight Zone Episode

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

Poltergeist was the movie that taught us that building on Indian burial grounds was a bad thing. The latter half of the movie sees Carol Anne -- the archetypal creepy haunted kid from every horror movie ever -- trapped in another dimension by ghosts, but somehow retained within the walls of their haunted house.

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

Yet another reason to rent.

But It's Suspiciously Similar To ...

"Little Girl Lost" is an episode of The Twilight Zone in which a girl is trapped between dimensions within her house as her parents and a scientist agonize over how to rescue her before finally deciding that one of her parents will have to venture into the other dimension to bring her out. The only difference between this episode and Poltergeist is that in "Little Girl Lost," the parents are helped by a scientist. In Poltergeist, that character is replaced by a psychic.

Both films feature a parent venturing into the other dimension to rescue the little girl. In Poltergeist the mom goes in, and in Little Girl Lost it's the dad -- because, you know, the 1950s and whatnot.

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

This could still be a coincidence, except that, according to author Andrew Gordon in his book Empire of Dreams, Spielberg was directly influenced by this episode and asked for a copy to watch while working on the script for Poltergeist. Apparently Spielberg has a broad definition of the term "inspiration."

Ted Is Very Similar to a Comic Strip

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

Seth MacFarlane is the animator behind three American cartoon series, all of which are family sitcoms about a dumb guy, his smarter wife, and a talking alcoholic animal of some kind. In 2012, he broke form with Ted, a feature film about a dumb guy, his smarter fiance, and a talking alcoholic teddy bear.

But It's Suspiciously Similar To ...

Imagine This is about a 30-something slacker who lives with a sentient, foul-mouthed teddy bear called Clovis. Clovis is an alcoholic.

7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

Clovis was brought to life by a lonely child's wish, just like Ted was.

Imagine This!

But Imagine This came out waaaay back in the distant past of 2008, when Seth MacFarlane was still only stealing from '80s movies. As such, it contains fewer recycled Family Guy jokes.

Maneh 17.2006 Marh 12 2010

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. Stewie Griffin is a ripoff, too.

Of course, there's no direct evidence that MacFarlane was influenced by the comic strip (nobody's seen him reading a copy at the bus stop or anything), and MacFarlane is keeping his lips sealed about the matter. But the comic's creator said he was "devastated" after hearing about the similarities. Either that, or he's just upset that his characters fall so neatly into the MacFarlane archetype.

Aaron Short is a film student, writer, and prolific lover of women. He has a blog about movies and stuff here.

For more unoriginal tripe, check out 5 Insanely Successful Video Games That Were Total Ripoffs and The 6 Most Psychotic Ripoffs of Famous Animated Films.

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