Double posting encouraged
July 19, 2014 1:39 PM   Subscribe

I am interested in variations -- that is, not just a body count -- of the doppelganger and evil twin themes in fiction, folklore, and movies.

I have found examples, including Dostoyevski's novel and the movies called The Double (happily, a title used for two recent films, in 2011 and 2013). I'd love examples WITH details about the following:
(a) the nature of the doubling (i.e., whether it is simply physical appearance);
(b) the means of differentiating between the doubles (e.g., the goatee or the scar);
(c) the nature of the rapport/connection between doubles, if any;
(d) the explanation if any for the existence of a double;
(e) any interesting reactions to learning of the double (i.e., beyond routine shock or curiosity).

Examples of *mass* doubling, as through alien pods, are completely kosher and highly encouraged. Readily explicable twins, like those separated at birth, are less interesting at the moment, though I'm as big a fan of the original Parent Trap as can be imagined. Thanks!
posted by Clyde Mnestra to Media & Arts (58 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I can't think of any at the moment, but there was an Antonio Banderas movie where he played twins but wasn't. In Two Much he pretended to be twins, being his brother by wearing glasses, cozying up to sisters, and then ending up with one after shenaigans to avoid being caught as a not twin.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 2:03 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

This doesn't hit all the details you requested but is a good starting point:
posted by mulligan at 2:12 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

The TV series Fringe takes it's sweet time getting there, but I think the doubling starts around mid-second season. The basis for the doubling is the establishment of a link between parallel universes that allows travel between them, so all the main characters get doubles and the show shifts focus back-and-forth between the worlds.
posted by carsonb at 2:20 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

(b) It is difficult to tell the difference between the doubles, often just a slight difference in personality or the way they dress. Otherwise it is often impossible to tell which is which without any context. (This is abused as a plot point, IIRC.)

(c) Double rapport depends on the character. Some of them work well together, and some of them are immediately and permanently at odds. Part of this has to do with the context in which the worlds are introduced (it's a war) and part of it has to do with the characterization of the roles.

(e) See (c).
posted by carsonb at 2:23 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is TV ok?

Because there was a fascinating twins storyline in Farscape - John Crichton was accidently cloned, and each version was Crichton equally. There was (fandom-named) Moya!John, who stayed on board the original living ship, and Talyn!John, who went off on Moya's little baby warship son on a separate set of adventures. Each John had their own storyline, and much angst ensued for the other characters, especially John's love interest Aeryn, who went with Talyn!John. Moya!John wore a green t-shirt, Talyn!John a black one. You got to see the character go through two different scenarios and then have to deal with all the emotional fall out that resulted.

There's a great scene where the two Johns are playing rock, paper, scissors and keep making exactly the same choices, emphasizing that they are the same person twice. I don't really want to spoil it too much because it was so entertaining to watch the whole thing play out.
posted by ewok and chips at 2:23 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Orphan Black, Dollhouse, and Star Trek come to mind for me.
posted by Hermione Granger at 2:27 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh my goodness, yes, TV is super. Keep 'em coming. I do however appreciate the spoiler warnings for the sake of other readers (if it were up to me, the more specifics the better). Thanks everyone.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 2:31 PM on July 19, 2014

Tana French's book The Likeness is about a detective who goes undercover as her murdered doppleganger to solve the doppleganger's murder.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:31 PM on July 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

This Season 3 synopsis gives more specific detail about the Twin Johns storyline in Farscape. The relevant details start roughly five or six paragraphs down. Hope this is of help.
posted by ewok and chips at 2:42 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Season 3 Buffy

(a) just physical appearance/some memories?
(b) Vampire Willow is a vampire. Also she is mean and sexy
(c) Human Willow is freaked out by Vampire Willow, but also they are kind of into each other
(d) parallel universe caused by a wish demon!
(e) apparent interest in making out with the double

(there are a bunch of doppelgangers in this episode & its predecessor "The Wish", but Willow's plays the biggest role)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 2:46 PM on July 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

The recent Southern Reach Trilogy (number 3 out this fall) by Jeff Vandermeer has necromantic doubling. Not *exactly* a doppleganger in that the person is a physical double but memories and experiences of the original are not there.
posted by TheLibrarian at 2:50 PM on July 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Also Bender and Flexo in Futurama! Flexo is definitely the prototypical evil twin - goatee and all.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 2:50 PM on July 19, 2014

"Despair" is a story of false doubles, one of Nabokov's favorite themes.

There was a movie made of Despair, but I've not seen it.
posted by trip and a half at 2:52 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

TVTropes: Evil Twin.

And start following the links there.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:52 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Orphan Black? They're clones. Most are pretty good, but some are bad (at least for a while).
posted by kbar1 at 2:53 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Spoiler Alerts!

The Prestige: There are two rival magicians. One magician, Alfred, acquires a machine from Nicola Tesla that creates exact duplicates of whatever is put inside it. Alfred, uses the machine to make duplicates of himself that die on stage, only to have the other version of Alfred appear live and well in the audience. Alfred later uses the machine to frame his rival for his own murder. The downside is that the double are exactly identical so Alfred suffers death on stage everytime he performs the trick.

Oblivion: In the future, Jack is a ranger on a post-alien invasion Earth. He and his wife a sent to protect power stations from remnants of the alien attack. His memory was erased before the mission to prevent information on Earth's defenses from falling into alien hands. However, Jack discovers another Jack in allegedly radioactive territory. Jack discovers that he is actually working for the aliens. On originally arriving at Earth, the aliens abducted Jack and the women who thinks she is his wife and cloned them into an army that conquered and now patrols Earth. Some of Jack's other duplicates end up having the same revelation.

Doctor Who: The End of Time: The Master uses an alien medical device to turn everyone on Earth into The Master. All the Masters retain their old jobs and positions in society, but all work together to try to resurrect the Time Lords. Their is even a Master version of Obama who purposely forgets his plan to fix the world economy.

Several episodes of Rick and Morty: In Rick Potion #9, Rick screws up the world so much that he and Morty have to escape to a dimension where that dimension's Rick and Morty fix the problem, but subsequently die. The original Rick and Morty replace their other dimension selves and bury the dead pair in the back yard, but are traumatized by having to see their own graves everyday. In Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind Rick and Morty are arrested by the Ricks from other dimensions for crimes against Rick. All the Ricks are slightly different based on their dimensions. There's also Rixty Minutes, where Rick rigs the family TV to show other dimensions' TV shows. He also builds glasses that allow the family to see the lives of their other dimensional selves. Film Crit Hulk goes into more details.
posted by chrisulonic at 2:53 PM on July 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Riker was doubled in a transporter accident. One of the doubles was stuck on a planet for years; the other continued on his career in Star Fleet. Neither was evil, of course, but years of differences in experiences caused them to diverge a bit in character. The castaway eventually took the name "Thomas Riker" to differentiate himself from "Will Riker".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:55 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's also a lot of clones in Star Wars (the stupid ones from the new movies, plus also stuff like Palpatine and Thrawn in the books), if clones work. Also what about Battlestar Galactica? The cylons all look the same and Boomer & Athena in particular have the kind of relationship you're looking for.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 2:56 PM on July 19, 2014

There's a Drew Barrymore film called Doppelganger. I don't remember much about it but I don't think they explain the phenomenon. But maybe they do? I don't recall. But double Drew!
posted by danabanana at 3:17 PM on July 19, 2014

A Tale of Two Cities has two characters who look alike enough to enable a shenanigan-y ending.

The film Dave is about a guy who looks like the President, and takes over when the President has a stroke.

Both of those are just coincidental resemblances.

There's also an episode of Futurama where Professor Farnsworth creates a parallel universe in a box. The characters have one distinguishing characteristic different (Bender is gold instead of gray, Leela's hair color, and one of the professors has a scar). Note that this is a different episode from the one with Flexo, the "Evil" Bender.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 3:18 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, wait, more!

There's a twin theme with one really super evil twin in the short-lived TV show Ringers (starring Buffy) and I don't know if The Lying Game is still in production but it has a set of twins with one being evil (and while Buffy's not in this one, Cordelia is!). Both shows handled the twin thing really well.
posted by danabanana at 3:25 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

"The Comedy of Errors" begins with two pairs of identical twins separated at birth, and none of them knows they are twins.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:26 PM on July 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Spoiler if you haven't watched: The Cylons of Battlestar Galactica is another one from a TV show, I think some especially interesting details related to your questions above about rapport/connection and reactions to the doubles in the Sharon storyline where the original character we are familiar with is not aware she is a cylon/double. This is a part of the series that worked well with the first "I'm really a cylon!" reveal, perhaps not so much with other characters. The episode in which four of the Final Five are revealed to themselves is, I think, where a lot of the fans I knew think the series jumped the proverbial shark.
posted by freejinn at 3:36 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

The X-Files has a bit of this, particularly "Small Potatoes."
posted by Violet Hour at 3:55 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

SPOILER DETAILS: Oh, the movie Moon. That is a good one in the clone tradition, also where the clones are not made aware of their status as clones and the reason for the clones is to save money for a lunar mining industry. It is the solitary existence of the mining that allows the clones to remain ignorant--they are kept in storage until one is killed and needs to be replaced. The only other person on the lunar base is an AI assistant. The plot centers around one of the clones becoming aware of his status by discovering an unconscious but still alive version of himself at the scene of an accident. So one of the interesting differences when the clones are revealed is the existence of different clones at different ages.
posted by freejinn at 3:56 PM on July 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

"Start the Revolution Without Me" also features two pairs of identical twins, separated at birth.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:08 PM on July 19, 2014

A couple more.

Dead Ringers is a Cronenberg film about identical twin male gynecologists with creepy instruments and a power dynamic between the twins and just general creepiness related to Cronenberg. They wear red OR scrubs and an episode of Hannibal paid homage to the film in season two.

A Zed and Two Noughts is a Peter Greenaway film so it's very unusual and I don't remember much of it but I'm sure I thought it looked great. It's about conjoined twins. They are zoologists and their wives die in a car accident and an amputee lady gloms onto them. And artsy stuff happens.
posted by danabanana at 4:17 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here are some ways doubled are used in mysteries:
Wrong man is murdered.
Wrong man is arrested.
Double establishes alibi.
Man doesn't know he has a double.
Double borrows or steals man's identity.

Josephine Try used a double in a novel. I think it was The Man In The Queue. Her novel Bratt Farrar also deals with identity.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:52 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Doctor Who, season 6, episode 5: The Rebel Flesh - doppelgangers
Terminator 2 - the liquid terminator
Battlestar Galactica (the reboot) - the cylons
Harry Potter has themes about looking like and passing for other people with the polyjuice potion and Tonks' power, but this isn't a huge theme
Orphan Black - clones
The Stepford Wives - robot replacements
Invasion of the Bodysnatchers

Justin Robinson has two books that deal with themes around doppelgängers and the shadow self, Everyman and The Dollmaker. Full disclosure: he is a friend of mine IRL.
posted by bile and syntax at 4:54 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

In "North by Northwest", an intelligence agency creates a fictional synthetic person for purposes of fooling an enemy. Cary Grant's character, by bad luck, fits the description of that synthetic person exactly, and so the enemy starts trying to kill him.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:00 PM on July 19, 2014

Rosamund Smith (Joyce Carol Oates), Lives of the Twins. There was also an unbelievably bad but sexy movie called Lies of the Twins with Isabella Rossellini. The plot is fairly similar to the Cronenberg movie, Dead Ringers.
posted by BibiRose at 5:07 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Miles and Mark Vorkosigan. Mark is a clone, created for a plot to assassinate Aral Vorkosigan, Miles' father and the Imperial Regent. In Brothers in Arms, Miles sees Mark in a different uniform than he himself is wearing and attributes it to a mirror and a hallucination. In Mirror Dance, Mark is close enough to fool some of the Dendarii mercenaries in Miles' little fleet and take one of his ships off on an adventure. After discovering that he doesn't have Miles' genius for improvisational tactics, and that being perceived as Miles is lethally dangerous, he gains a lot of weight to emphasize the difference between them.
posted by Bruce H. at 5:07 PM on July 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

The children's/young adult sci fi story The Duplicate, by William Sleator, has the teen protagonist finding a mysterious box that duplicates organic matter on the beach. He tests it on a fish first, and gets a copy fish that can be identified by a black mark on one of its fins. He then uses it on himself to create his own duplicate, who he imagines he can convince to go to school and do homework for him while he goes out and has fun. Just as that starts to go wrong in all the ways you'd expect, he looks at his fish tank and notices the black mark fish has attacked and killed his original...
posted by deludingmyself at 5:50 PM on July 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Also in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Parallels, Worf finds himself shifting unpredictably between parallel universes. He never meets his own double (replacing his double at each shift), but he meets many variations of the crew.

Near the end, Riker (a double himself, compared to our usual TNG universe) sees his double from a Borg-infested universe desperately try to stop the restoration of the universes. Aside from the initial shock, he has no special reaction - he acts as he would had it been any other person.

Worf from the Borg universe is at the tactical controls, firing on the shuttle piloted by Our Worf, but they never actually see each other.
posted by WasabiFlux at 6:01 PM on July 19, 2014

On a Halloween special of the Simpsons, Bart has an evil twin named Hugo but it ends up being that Bart was the evil twin all along.
posted by Jubey at 6:38 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Cluracan, a minor character in The Sandman, strays from the path through Morpheus's palace and births his nemesis, who first appears as a stag and then, later, as an identical duplicate of him. this was in The Kindly Ones arc.
posted by spindle at 7:19 PM on July 19, 2014

Twin Peaks, which I'd love to be able to explain, if only I understood! Here is my interpretation anyway:

(a) the doubling occurs when entering the Black Lodge
(b) the double has evil glowing eyes and speaks backward
(c) I'm not sure if there is ever a rapport or connection between doubles
(d) the explanation if any for the existence of a double... I think this is left open to interpretation.
(e)Not sure about interesting reactions, but this sure was an interesting moment.
posted by to recite so charmingly at 7:32 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

In the Jean-Claude van Damme film, The Replicant, JCVD plays both a sadistic serial killer and the clone created from his DNA in order to track him down using genetic memories. The two are genetically identical, but one is a killer while the other has the mind of a child. The killer attempts to turn the clone into a killer too, but the clone resists, I guess showing that nurture surpasses nature in our dispositions.

In the Jet Li film, The One, he plays a multitude if copies of himself, each of which exists in his own dimension. One particular one goes on a highlander-like crusade to kill all the other versions of himself in every other dimension in order to gain their power ( a fixed amount of power is equally divided amongst all the dimensional copies). Many variations are depicted, with cosmetic differences, but are otherwise not only genetically identical but are also the same person. Upon meeting other versions if himself, he fights them to the death, often to their surprise.
posted by Durhey at 7:44 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Sean Stewart book Resurrection Man opens with one of the protagonists looking down at their own dead body.

The Mary Stewart book The Ivy Tree plays with the trope of a double assuming the place of another person who may or may not be dead.
posted by PussKillian at 8:00 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

The 'Moon' themes were earlier explored by Varley in Ophiuchi Hotline, which is a flawed but ultimately entertaining hard sci-fi by a master.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:01 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

William Wilson by Edgar Allan Poe (1840). In a setting outside London from Poe's youth, the protagonist meets another boy in his school who shares the same name, who has roughly the same appearance, and was even born on exactly the same date.
posted by Rash at 8:45 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Snow Queen and Summer Queen are to SF novels that are basically about doubles/twins/mirrors all the way down. I also think Cyteen fits too, tho you don't meet the evil double directly...

Also Tangled Axon is a multiverse evil double story, with bonus queer/poly engineering romances on a space ship. Think Firefly's Kaylee has sex with Zoe while Wash is totally cool with it but Inara's evil telepathic twin tries to destroy the galaxy because of her complicated feelings.

It is amazing.
posted by spunweb at 8:50 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh!! And in The Stolen Child, the changelings "watch" each other's lives for years. It's really sad.
posted by spunweb at 8:52 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Kim Stanley Robinson's The Wild Shore is a piece of realist science fiction, but it includes a strange story that might be a bit of magical realism, or might be just a tall tale invented by the character telling it.

The character, Tom Barnard, tells of a time when he was driving across the country and picked up a hitchhiker.
“That hitchhiker was me. He was myself.”

“Oh, you liar,” Rebel said.

“I'm not lying! That’s what it was like in the old time.”
The two are both shocked. They have the same name, the same face. But there are differences.
“Now, as I said, at this time I was a lawyer, working winters in New York City. So I was a pretty slight guy, with a bit of a gut. The other Tom Barnard had been doing physical work, I could tell; he was bigger, tough and fit, with a beard starting and a dark weathered color to his skin.”
They discover that their histories diverged at a specific point, five years before, when a critical decision had ended with one Tom Barnard driving back to his job in New York, and the other moving west to Alaska.
“In the end we pinned it down to the moment exactly: the morning I left for New York, driving before sunrise, there was a moment getting on Highway Forty when I couldn't remember if the onramp was a simple left turn, or a cloverleaf circle to the right; and while I was still thinking about it I came to, already on the freeway headed east. The same thing had happened to my double, only he had gone west. ‘I always knew this car was magical,’ he said. ‘There’s two of it too—but I sold mine in Seattle.’ ”
The story goes on: They talk; they argue; they part ways. Finally they meet again, years later, and are force to resolve their divergence.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:49 PM on July 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

posted by Violet Hour at 9:56 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Buffy also had Xander face versions of himself -- split into the best and worst possible versions of him, and Buffy faces the Buffy sexbot.

The Vampire Diaries also makes great use of doppelgangers -- starting with Elena/Katherine (later adding in Amara), and then throwing in Stefan/Silas just for fun.

Community only occasionally made use of doppelgangers -- I believe it started in Remedial Chaos Theory in season 3, where we explore what happens if one minor aspect of the evening changes (who goes to pay for the pizza), but later have the characters from the "darkest timeline" breaking through. (They reappear more than once, but I'm not sure where.)

Sheri S. Tepper explored the idea in The Margarets -- where a girl's imaginary selves go out into the universe, but eventually need to reunite.

Alastair Reynold's House of Suns has a thousand clones who meet up regularly to share their stories and reconnect with each other/themselves.
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:11 PM on July 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

There's a great short story by Theodora Goss in the current issue of Lightspeed, "Cimmeria: From the Journal of Imaginary Anthropology", which involves a culture that doesn't recognize twins as separate people. There is a character who is, culturally, one person in two bodies. Only people from outside the culture can even acknowledge that there are two physical bodies in the room. There's a kind of evil twin turn at the end, but kind of not, because of the cultural context.

David Brin's "Kiln People" deals with a society where it is possible (and inexpensive) to spin off a clay instance (a ditto, or golem) of yourself, with all your memories up to the instantiation point. It only lasts for about a day, and at the end you can choose to integrate its new memories with your own or not. It's one of his better books, and explores the question of the personhood of a temporary clone pretty well.
posted by hades at 10:53 PM on July 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Calvin had a Duplicator.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:53 PM on July 19, 2014

Evil Twins from 60s TV is a Neatorama post that lists a bunch that are probably all in the TVTropes entry, but one of them in particular is interesting as an instance of a meta-doppelganger.

I Dream of Jeannie was created in response to the success of Bewitched, and it eventually answered the introduction of Samantha's mischievous twin cousin Serena with the introduction of Jeannie's evil sister Jeannie II. So within the frame of the show, the doppelgangers are just the usual "same actor wearing a dark wig to portray a related character with a twisted personality," but from an external point of view, Jeannie II doubles a double, which TVTropes doesn't mention. The homage/imitation continues in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch via the character Katrina, inspired by both Serena and Jeannie II, making her in a certain respect the double of a double of a double.

A comment on that Neatorama post mentions another fun instance I hadn't known about. On The Patty Duke Show, Patty Duke plays a pair of identical cousins who get along really well, but evidently one episode introduced a third identical cousin. None of the cousins are evil, but there's apparently some conflict as the third cousin seems to come between the other two.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 4:30 AM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Cremaster Cycle is riddled with doubles of all sorts, from straight-up body doubles to different characters having some kind of parallel connection.

In Roman Polanski's "The Tenant," by the end of the movie Trelkovsky may or may not be the—presumed—woman that he himself visits in the hospital earlier in the movie. (It's complicated.)

Additional to trip and a half's noting Despair above, Nabokov used false doubles a lot. (False as in he insisted he never used a plain clear-cut doppelgänger.) There's an occasional other Cincinnatus in "Invitation to a Beheading," certain theories about "Pale Fire" revolve around this idea, "Lolita" plays with it in the Humber/Quilty rivalry and also in a way with Annabel/Dolores/Lolita, in "Look at the Harlequins!" the main character Vadim Vadimovich N. (totally different from Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov) at one point sees an unnamed couple that are obviously Nabokov himself and his wife Véra. It goes on and on; you can just search for "nabokov double" and scan the lit papers.

In Hesse's "Steppenwolf" Hermine is a part of/reflection of Harry.

Frank Herbert's Dune novels have the gholas, which were more or less clones though they also possess the original's memories.

In Huxley's "Brave New World" the lower classes are subject to massive cloning and mental handicapping.

Jorge Luis Borges played with doubles often, most famously in "Borges and I" where he kind of argues that he, personally, is not the same as the famous writer Borges. There's also "The Other" where he meets himself, which includes a ref to Dostoyevsky's "The Double."

Poe's "William Wilson" has a double which is killed by the main character, and turns out to be his conscience.

Maupassant's story "The Horla" has a doppelgänger haunting the main character, eventually driving him insane. (There are three versions of this story; one of them makes the horla clearly supernatural instead.)
posted by Su at 4:43 AM on July 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Harlan Ellison wrote a story called "Shatterday" about a guy who had a duplicate suddenly appear.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:40 AM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I hope you caught the near-canonical Know Your Doppelganger post on the Blue last month. (It posits that avatars, impostors, and whatever Liberace did to his consort are further options you may want to explore.)

It didn't get a lot of love when it came out a couple of years ago (I think maybe people were expecting more hard sci-fi than small-scale drama), but I really have a soft spot for Another Earth; the whole planet is doubled and there's some reckoning to do.

Buffy also had Xander face versions of himself -- split into the best and worst possible versions of him

My favorite trivium about this episode is that Good Xander was played by Nicholas Brendon's actual twin brother. SIMILARLY [OK, not really], Laverne Cox's twin brother played her character in a pre-transition flashback on Orange Is the New Black.

posted by psoas at 6:49 AM on July 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Nthing David Brin's 'Kiln People' and Calvan and Hobbes the 'Duplicator' series
posted by edgeways at 10:09 AM on July 20, 2014

Ugh. I'm recovering from an injury and have just now realized I didn't convey my point: Nabokov's entire oeuvre is pretty much doubles, and non-doubles, and sort-of doubles, and are-they-really-doubles-or-not? I recommend all of Nabokov. Pale Fire, Ada, Lolita (Humbert Humbert, anyone?) Pnin, the stories -- you name it, the doubles are there. Sorry for the double post.
posted by trip and a half at 5:52 PM on July 20, 2014

The movie Looper involves the same person at two different points in his life meeting each other.

Spoiler: The Prestige (mentioned above) has another set of doubles: Christian Bale plays a set of twins, one of whom is constantly in disguise as a mute assistant; they trade off who plays which part, even in their respective love affairs. When one twin loses part of a finger, the other chops off part of his own so they continue to match.
posted by SeedStitch at 6:00 AM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just finished The Rook, which has a character named Gestalt who is one person in four bodies--one "self" controlling all of them. Two of the bodies are identical male twins, one is a woman, and another is a man. Gestalt is a very weird, but very interesting, character, as the bodies can run around doing different things but are all the same person.
posted by zoetrope at 8:10 AM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

In the anime "To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S", the protagonist Mikoto learns that dark forces have cloned her, and she eventually meets some of the clones. (It's all very complicated and I don't want to bog this down with a huge explanation.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:29 AM on July 21, 2014

Welcome to Night Vale, which is a fun podcast, does some exploration of doubles, particularly in the episodes "The Sandstorm (Part A)" and "The Sandstorm (Part B)"
posted by wizardpants at 10:59 AM on July 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

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