The Dorklyst: 7 Franchises Your Favorite Franchises Stole From

By Andy Grossman / October 12, 2011

There are truly no original ideas.

If you look back to the dramas of ancient Greece, you'll see the same love, war, and space marines we see in our favorite movies today. Even seemingly innovative ideas like the Shake Weight are inspired by the cultural amalgamation of hundreds of generations of thinkers, artists, and inventors. It should be no surprise then that certain stories crop again and again in popular media: we are as bound to tell them as we are to breathe.

Of course, with that in mind, it never hurts to outright steal ideas from other places and call them your own. Here are seven franchises that have been robbed blind of their nearly original ideas.

7. Doc Savage

The daring adventures of a badass professor, fighting against double-crossing friends, swarthy natives, and ancient traps in his quest for the greater knowledge of mankind. Indiana Jones? Nope! A totally different guy 50 years earlier.

Who Stole From It? Indiana Jones (and everyone that's ripped off Indiana Jones)

What Did They Steal? Personality, style, and purpose.

Created in 1933, Doc Savage wasn't your average serial adventurer. Unlike popular heroes like The Shadow (a radio character who inspired Batman amongst others), Doc Savage was no gentlemen. He may have been rich, but he wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty and have his khaki shirt torn off.

Add a fedora and you've got both the look and personality that's made Indiana Jones a cultural sensation. And where there's Indiana Jones, there's also Uncharted, Tomb Raider, and a million other knock-offs that've led to a thousand disappointed archeology majors.

6. The Shadow

A rich playboy spends his nights fighting crime with the techniques he learned from Eastern sages. Oh, and guns.

Who Stole From It? Batman

What Did They Steal? Persona, methods, gothic universe.

Batman is to The Shadow what Indiana Jones is to Doc Savage. Nearly everything Batman does can be traced back to The Shadow. His "disappearing" techniques learned in Asia. His eligible bachelor alter ego. Even his strained relationship with the police (save a faithful police commissioner) is stolen from The Shadow.

In fact, The Shadow is so clearly the inspiration for Batman that there was literally a comic in 1973 — long after the character had become a third-tier superhero — where Batman calls The Shadow "his greatest inspiration."

Pro-tip: If you ever want to steal a franchise, just take the thing you love and then murder the main character's parents immediately.

5. Warhammer 40K

In the future, armored space marines are led by a corrupt Emperor against a magical alien species, an insectile threat, and their own dark secrets. "What a great idea," thought the people at Blizzard who didn't think of it.

Who Stole From It? StarCraft

What Did They Steal? Everything but the British accents.

Let's get this out of the way, Warhammer itself is inspired by Starship Troopers and Alien. Everyone okay? Everyone breathing? Good.

But while Warhammer 40K took little bits and pieces of science-fiction to build its universe, StarCraft is Warhammer 40K. Look at both series' space marines. They're exactly the same. Blizzard didn't even do Games Workshop the favor of renaming the character!

It doesn't stop there either. The insectile Zerg are the insectile Tyranid, right down to their ability to absorb other races' DNA. And the wise, elf-like Protoss are the wise, elf-like (you see what I'm doing) Eldar.

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