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Old September 4 2012, 10:51 PM   #123
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Re: Crossover with other franchises?

I think "ripoff" implies dishonest intent, an attempt to appropriate someone else's creation as your own. I'd say the fairer, more accurate term would be either homage or pastiche. Fiction is full of characters who are pastiches of pre-existing characters, or romans a clef of real people, like Falstaff or Charles Foster Kane. Hugh Cambridge is not a direct copy of Dr. House; he has some of House's irreverence and trouble with authority, but is much more emotionally and socially functional, is capable of a healthy relationship with a woman, is not disabled or addicted to drugs, is British rather than American, etc. Therefore he is not a ripoff; he is an original character inspired by a particular performer and one or more of his roles.

Hell, House himself was a pastiche of Sherlock Holmes, who in turn was a roman a clef for Dr. Joseph Bell. So if House and Hugh Laurie have in turn inspired the character of Hugh Cambridge, then what Kirsten has done is no more illegitimate than what David Shore and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did before her. It's just one more link in the chain of inspiration and emulation that's always been a part of human creativity.

Look at Superman. He's supposedly the original superhero, the one that all others are imitating to some degree, and some characters like Captain Marvel have run afoul of lawsuits for copying him too closely. But Superman, the Man of Steel, was himself largely a pastiche of Doc Savage, Man of Bronze. Clark Kent was actually named after Clark "Doc" Savage and Kent Allard (aka Lamont Cranston, aka the Shadow), which is about as blatant a fanboy homage as you can get. Doc Savage even had a Fortress of Solitude before Superman did. And Savage was himself inspired by earlier heroes, including Sherlock Holmes and even Abraham Lincoln.

See, this is why most of the "ripoff" charges you hear on the Internet are so very, very wrong and unfair. So many people think it's a cheat for one creative work to borrow anything from an earlier creative work. That's just wrong. No creator ever pulls any completely new idea out of thin air. Every creation is inspired by earlier concepts. Every fictional character is based on pre-existing real or fictional people to some extent. Every imaginary person has "ancestors," just as real people do.
Written Worlds -- Christopher L. Bennett's blog and webpage
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