10 Rip-Offs That Became More Successful Than Their Source Material

There’s nothing worse than a cheap imitation of a classic product tricking fans into thinking they’re getting the original, but what if the imitation knock off is vastly superior to the initial item? It doesn’t happen often, but in a world of constant remakes, sequels, and barely disguised stolen ideas, one may be surprised to discover that in a few instances, those blatant rip-offs beat the hell out of their source material. Sometimes they do so by taking what worked, discarding what didn’t, and adding a whole lot of bad ass, but other times the idea barely changed aside from marketing to a different audience with a higher budget, proving just how confusing success in popular culture can be.

We find these rip-offs in virtually every facet of life—toys, foods, comic books, TV shows, films, and even sports entertainment. Occasionally, the rip-off has become so important and iconic we don’t even realize it stole its main selling points from something that came years before it. At least half of the successes on our list deny any form of rip-off took place, but fan discussion on the Internet firmly puts these in what is in the very least dicey territory. In any case, we feel like the similarities of all these products are strong enough to at least rise the question of whether or not there might have been a, shall we say, strong influence. Keep reading to discover 10 rip-offs that became far more successful than their source material.

10 Legos Ripped Off Kiddicraft Building Blocks

Via Brighton Toy Museum

9 The nWo Ripped Off New Japan Pro Wrestling


8 The Lion King Is A Mishmash Of Hamlet and Kimba The White Lion

Via Disney

Almost every beloved Disney movie secretly is based on a classic folk or fairy tale, but the nature of these centuries old stories and the originality and care put into an billion dollar organization like Disney makes it hard to call any of them straight rip-offs. There’s always an exception to the rule, though, and despite The Lion King being arguably the most popular Disney film of all time, it’s also the one that most directly ripped off a variety of source materials deeply embedded in the public consciousness. First, many fans noted dozens of similarities between the Disney classic and a Japanese cartoon from the 1960s called Kimba the White Lion. There was the simple fact it was about lions and Kimba sounds a lot like Simba, but several scenes bore close physical resemblance when viewed side by side.

7 "Bitter Sweet Symphony" Stolen From The Rolling Stones

Via Mubi

Billions of fantastic song covers prove that it’s hard to call something a rip-off in music, since every musician tends to bring something new to a song when they perform it. However, if you steal a piece of a song outright and don’t credit the original songwriters, but rather create an entirely new song around that integral stolen bit, you’re getting pretty close to flat-out rip-off territory. Usually this happens with guitar lines and gets caught pretty quickly, but one of the most famous examples of this type of theft in music actually involved an orchestral symphony.

6 Oreos Are Much Sweeter Than Hydrox

Via PR Newswire

5 A Fistful Of Dollars Is Better, Badder, and Uglier Than Yojimbo

Via Toho Studios

4 Fatal Attraction Plays Misty For Oscars

Via Paramount Pictures

Fatal Attraction was one of the most successful films of the 80s, earning millions of dollars at the box office and being nominated for 6 Academy Awards. Play Misty For Me is an unfairly lesser-known film directed by Clint Eastwood. It was actually Eastwood’s directorial debut, which could attribute for why it isn’t as famous as his later films would become. Regardless of its obscurity, it’s noteworthy for the fact it has a virtually identical plot to the later and much more successful Fatal Attraction.

3 WrestleMania Defeated Starrcade


Even the sections of the public vehemently opposed to the concept of professional wrestling are familiar with WrestleMania. The yearly event is more than just a wrestling show; it is an unabashed tribute to sports entertainment that can draw up to hundreds of thousands of fans into city-sized arenas for a spectacle unlike any other. The success of WrestleMania and the success of WWE in general are so intrinsically linked, it must be a huge surprise to younger fans to realize WrestleMania wasn’t an original idea.

2 Kill Bill Slices Lady Snowblood To Pieces

Via Toho

1 Raiders of the Lost Ark Hides An Ancient Incan Secret

Via Paramount Pictures

It would be insane to say Indiana Jones, one of the coolest and most original characters in film history, was a complete rip-off of a lesser Charlton Heston character, but it’s hard to say otherwise when faced with all the evidence. First and foremost, there are the visual similarities, which are so uncanny the costume director on Raiders of the Lost Ark had to admit it was her primary source of influence. In fact, she also said Steven Spielberg and the rest of the crew would watch Secret of the Incas more than once on set, and thought it was strange they never officially admitted the influence. The visual similarities are hard to deny, but there are also a few plot and stylistic similarities that make it more than a slight nod. Just like Indy, Heston’s character in Inca uses a light reflection trick while adventuring in a tomb, showing Spielberg might’ve taken a bit more than just the clothing from the earlier film. Regardless, Raiders of the Lost Ark is definitely the better, updated version, with far better stunts and action, not to mention the wittier star.

Sources: IMDb, Wikipedia

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10 Rip-Offs That Became More Successful Than Their Source Material