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Top 10 Shows That TOTALLY Ripped off Better Ones

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp

Wait a second. Haven’t we seen this before? For this list, we’ll be looking at television shows that were criticized for being derivative of earlier and arguably superior ones. Our list includes Riverdale, Twin Peaks, Family Guy, The Simpsons, How I Met Your Mother, Friends, and more! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Shows That Completely Ripped off Better Ones.

Check out the voting page for this list and add your picks: https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Shows%20That%20Completely%20Ripped%20off%20Better%20Ones Special thanks to our users Andrew A. Dennison, ninou78 & Strider Xanthos for suggesting this idea!


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Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 10 Shows That Completely Ripped off Better Ones

Wait a second. Haven’t we seen this before? Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten shows that completely ripped off better ones.

For this list, we’ll be looking at television shows that were criticized for being derivative of earlier and arguably superior ones. We’ll only be including scripted shows, so reality TV won’t be included.

#10: “Riverdale” (2017-)

Ripped Off: “Twin Peaks” (1990-91)

“Riverdale” has been praised for taking the Archie characters in a new direction, but it’s not as if “Riverdale” is a particularly original piece of television. “Riverdale’s” small northern town setting, conspiratorial tone, and unique blending of soapy murder mystery, teen drama, and film noir all owe a lot to David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks,” which came nearly thirty years before. It’s not a direct retelling of “Twin Peaks” or anything, but it clearly took a sample of the show’s DNA . Then again, MANY shows have ripped off “Twin Peaks,” so it’s not as if “Riverdale” was the first to do it.

#9: “Dark Matter” (2015-17)

Ripped Off: “Firefly” (2002)

“Firefly” is a cult classic, and its small but fiercely loyal fanbase can spot a rip-off a mile away. Or, if not a direct rip-off, then “Dark Matter”’s got a very closely-adhered-to template. There are characters that feel far too similar for comfort, especially Three and Jayne –both of whom are crude and self-centered, among other shared traits. Specific “Dark Matter” storylines seem to have been recycled from “Firefly,” such as helping a mining colony in need and discovering a race of scientifically-manufactured zombie-like creatures. Superficial differences aside, both series are essentially about a band of misfits on a spaceship trying to survive. You can call it a spiritual successor if you want to be nice, but we’re calling shenanigans.

#8: “Instinct” (2018-)

Ripped Off: “Bones” (2005-17)

Yes, these kinds of procedurals all share very obvious connections. But that’s not why “Instinct” is here. “Instinct” is here because it has generated a bit of controversy for allegedly stealing a storyline from “Bones.” The storyline in both shows involve an Amish man being murdered in the city. Both storylines involve the kid being a secret piano player, and both involve the questioning of his piano teacher after finding items that resemble piano keys. And it wasn’t just the plot – viewers also pointed out lines, jokes, and character interactions suspiciously similar to those from “Bones.”“Instinct”’s showrunner, Michael Rauch, apologized on Twitter, saying that it was “100% unintentional.”

#7: “Unhappily Ever After” (1995-99)

Ripped Off: “Married…with Children” (1987-97)

“Married…with Children” is a classic Fox sitcom about an antisocial and unfriendly husband and father, his obnoxious wife, and their wacky teenage children. It was praised for deconstructing the overly-romantic and sappy sitcom family, and Al Bundy has become one of TV’s most iconic characters. “Unhappily Ever After” is about a dysfunctional family with an unhappy and cynical father, a judgmental and nagging mother, and troublesome children. Even the titles are similar - like slightly reworded jokes with the same punchline. “Unhappily” took the “Married” template and cranked everything to 11, but the extremes did not make for a better show.

#6: “Family Guy” (1999-2003; 2005-)

Ripped Off: “The Simpsons” (1989-)

“Family Guy” undoubtedly took influence from “The Simpsons” (as many shows did). The cast consisted of an unfit, alcoholic father, a stay-at-home mother, a son, a daughter, and a baby. Both families lived in small towns, and both had financial difficulties due to the working father’s blue-collar job. Both also contained similar styles of satiric humor and lampooned American society and pop culture. But then “Family Guy” started getting really wacky and unrealistic, often relying on nonsensical storylines and random humor, and “The Simpsons” actually kinda followed suit (to arguably its detriment). Despite “Family Guy” paving its own way through its style of humor, it still owes a lot to the king of the animated sitcom.

#5: “The Mentalist” (2008-15)

Ripped Off: “Psych” (2006-14)

“Psych” was a USA Network comedy about a modern-day Sherlock Holmes. Shawn Spencer is an independent consultant who helps the Santa Barbara Police Department solve crimes with his meticulous attention to detail, photographic memory, and astute observational skills. His inhuman abilities make people think that he’s a psychic. “The Mentalist” follows Patrick Jane, an independent consultant who works with the California Bureau of Investigation and helps them solve crimes due to his meticulous attention to detail, astute observational skills and fake psychic abilities. The only difference is that “The Mentalist” takes itself seriously. It was so bad that “Psych” actively poked fun at “The Mentalist” on numerous occasions, slyly acknowledging its undeniable influence on the latter.

#4: “How I Met Your Mother” (2005-14)

Ripped Off: “Friends” (1994-2004)

Sure, “HIMYM” had the overarching story of Ted meeting his wife, but that was never really the point – it was just a device used to tell the stories about a group of 20 to 30-somethings living in New York. Many shows ripped off “Friends,” but “HIMYM” made it the most obvious. Both shows contained a pretentious know-it-all, a successful guy with a mysterious job, a womanizer, and a controlling matriarch. “HIMYM” also followed numerous storylines beat-for-beat, like the womanizer officiating the matriarch and the laid-back guy’s wedding. Seriously, entire articles have been written about their similarities. As much as we may love “HIMYM,” there’s no denying that it “borrowed” a lot from “Friends.”

#3: “Suits” (2011-)

Ripped Off: “White Collar” (2009-14)

Now the USA Network is just ripping itself off. “White Collar” was a USA drama about a professional con artist working with the FBI to apprehend white collar criminals as part of his work-release agreement. “Suits” is another USA drama about a college dropout who works as an associate in a law firm despite never attaining a law degree. While the basic premise may be different, the overarching plots of the two shows are almost indistinguishable. Just take “White Collar,” replace the FBI with a law firm and a con man for an unqualified law associate and you essentially have “Suits.”

#2: “Santa Clarita Diet” (2017-)

Ripped Off: “iZOMBiE” (2015-)

Even Netflix isn’t above “borrowing” concepts for their original programming. In “Santa Clarita Diet,” Drew Barrymore’s Sheila Hammond is mysteriously turned into a zombie and begins to crave human. She and her husband must then act normal while simultaneously getting to the bottom of the mystery. “iZombie” is a CW series that premiered two years earlier. It’s about a medical resident who is mysteriously turned into a zombie and begins to crave human. She must then act normal while simultaneously getting to the bottom of the mystery. Sure, one is a crime drama while the other is more of a dysfunctional-marriage-horror comedy, but when it comes to the premise itself, the two couldn’t be more alike.

#1: “Ozark” (2017-)

Ripped Off: “Breaking Bad” (2008-13)

Love it or hate it, “Ozark” reeks of algorithms. It’s like Netflix saw how successful “Breaking Bad” was on their platform and procedurally-generated the most carbon-copy show to replace it when it inevitably leaves the platform. “Ozark” was immediately compared to “Breaking Bad” upon its release, particularly for its ‘everyday man in over his head with dangerous criminals’ plot. Many also stated that it was an inferior product. Jason Bateman has since acknowledged the comparisons, but stated “we’re not trying to replicate or emulate anything they did...” Sure, they may not be, but the comparisons will be made just the same. “Ozark” is doomed to live in the shadow of “Breaking Bad.”

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