People have long been fascinated by the idea of having a double- and fiction is full of such examples.
Whether the doppelgänger is sinister or benign, important or incidental, they’re intriguing simply because they look exactly like someone else.
So I thought I’d discuss ten of my favourite doubles from the land of television. Cos not only am I a TV-gal, this is one concept that really does tend to come across better on-screen than on the page.
Willow (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
If you ever thought that one Willow simply wasn’t enough, then the episode where a spell goes awry and the gang has to deal with the appearance of vampire Willow from an alternative reality is for you! Wacky hijinks ensure, naturally, and Buffy et al find themselves uneasy about killing the vampire version of their friend.
The show seemed rather preoccupied with the idea of doubles, as evidenced by Angel/us’ duality, Faith taking on the role of Buffy’s “dark side” (exemplified by them swapping bodies) and Xander being split into his best and worst aspects at one point.
‘Skin’ was the first Supernatural episode featuring a shifter, one whom delighted in taking on Dean’s appearance. This faux-Dean stashed the real version in the sewers while taking over his life- completing the deception by even stealing his beloved amulet. Sam realised almost immediately that something was off, so the shifter knocked him out and dumped him in the sewer too- and was able to torture him with the fact that he not only now looked like Sam’s brother, but also had access to his memories. Dean ended up shooting and killing his doppelgänger- an image which was echoed later in ‘Dream A Little Dream of Me’ when Dean fought with a demonic version of himself.
the gang (How I Met Your Mother)
All five main characters (Robin, Marshall, Lily, Ted and Barney) have look-alikes wandering about. Ted mentioned the Lesbian Robin and Moustache Marshall sightings in ‘Double Date’, the same episode in which Stripper Lily was spotted. Mexican Wrestler Ted was seen in ‘Robots Versus Wrestlers’, but it took a while before the real fake Barney was discovered (although Barney’s cheap ploys and Lily’s eyes playing tricks helped to complicate the situation). Eventually Dr Stangel- Barney’s duplicate- was discovered, and Barney attempted to take advantage of that fact almost immediately.
Don’t worry if that all sounded a tad complicated, all you really need to know is that doppelgängers lead to hilarity ensuing!
Elena (The Vampire Diaries)
Whilst Elena is Katherine’s descendent, they don’t just look similar; they look exactly alike. They’re both Petrova doppelgängers- so presumably there’s some origin myth still to be explored by the show (probably featuring Nina Dobrev as yet another character, perhaps with a blonde wig just to spice things up). The fact that Elena clearly looks just like Katherine has brought her a lot of unwelcome attention and strife- people are always kidnapping her, trying to use her in rituals or killing her friends and family. Maybe she should take to wearing a mask, or getting a load of cool facial scars?
Not only did ‘Physical Education’, in which the group try to track down a girl they believed to have a crush on Abed based on a drawing in her old Spanish book, feature Danny Pudi playing his own doppelgänger “White Abed”, he also imitated a vampire, Don Draper and Jeff. Instead of feeling challenged by his double (who naturally sees him as “Brown Joey”), Abed’s confidence and awesomeness shone through- and inspired Jeff to play naked pool. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.
Friends drew out the Ross/Rachel will-they-or-won’t-they romance for as long as they could, adding plenty of curveballs along the way. Just when Rachel was ready to confess her feelings for him he reappeared with a new girlfriend called Julie in tow, then when Ross found out about it there was a load of list drama (if you’re going to compare and contrast potential partners do not create any written evidence) which led to Rachel getting offended and angry…which in turn resulted in her being open to dating Russ. David Schwimmer played both roles, and Russ clearly looked and acted like Ross- which Rachel apparently didn’t realise.
Although Rachel eventually dumped Russ everything worked out for the best when he met Ross’ ex, Julie. He was clearly her type, after all.
Captain Kirk (Star Trek)
If you don’t enjoy watching William Shatner hamming it up as Captain Kirk on Star Trek then, quite frankly, I think there’s something very wrong with you. With that in mind you can understand how, logically, two Kirks are even better than one- and why watching a mad shape-shifter pretend to be Kirk, in the episode ‘Whom Gods Destroy’, is a whole lot of fun. Plus you get to watch Spock try to work out which one’s the real
Sabrina (Sabrina, the Teenage Witch)
Katrina is Sabrina’s “evil twin”, although no actual relation. Once the family secret was finally revealed, Sabrina discovered that all the members of the Spellman family have one (at least hers had a reasonable name, her aunt Zelda’s was called Jezebelda) and they have to face a series of tests to determine who the evil one is. Good twins apparently don’t try to push evil twins into volcanos, so if you’re ever in a similar situation try to remember that. However, since Katrina popped up later impersonating Sabrina (even turning her into a bimbo at one point) trying to off the evil twin doesn’t seem like such a bad plan after all.
Max, Michael, Isabel and Tess (Roswell)
The alien teens who lived in Roswell, New Mexico discovered they were clones of the Royal Four of Antar (their home planet), which was confusing enough. Then they discovered that another set of clones (named Zan, Rath, Lonnie and Ava) were created too, but brought up in the sewers of New York. They looked exactly like the Roswell lot asides from their pseudo-punky style, and it’s not difficult to understand why the show had low ratings given the ridiculously convoluted plot- but the unintentional hilarity makes it well worth watching.
Dr Brennan (Bones)
A doppelgänger is a look-alike, but our understanding of how things appear is all down to perception. When Dr Brennan was confronted with the remains of a woman who seemed very similar to her, and owned the same dolphin ring, she over-identified with the victim and became very introspective. It’s only when she solved the case and realised that she didn’t want to be left with regrets that she stopped seeing the victim- Dr Lauren Eames- as having the same face as her in photographs. Although they didn’t actually look identical, the usually hyper-rational Brennan did- at least for a little while- believe she had a doppelgänger.
Who are your favourite TV doubles?