Definition and Examples of Doppelgangers

Updated on December 8, 2018
Do we all have a doppelgänger or double?
Do we all have a doppelgänger or double? | Source

A doppelganger can have several variations in meaning. Coming from the German for "double goer" (Websters) it is literally a double of someone else. Very often it can either be ghostly, an apparition, or an evil twin.

Doppelgangers are used commonly in literature, movies and even popular TV shows. Think about shows where one character has an evil brother, evil twin or even an alter ego. All these are doppelgangers.

Let's examine a few more examples from popular literature and culture.

Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

In this very famous novel, the main character is both a benign and good doctor and and evil grave robber. He makes the transformation via a potion. While technically both the good and the evil are the same person, Mr Hyde can be seen as the doppelganger of Doctor Jekyll. His good and evil side are fighting and causing conflict within himself and wreaking havoc.

So in this way, doppelgangers don't always inhabit different bodies. They must, however, be clearly distinctive in their personalities in order to truly be a doppelganger.

A Christmas Carol---Scrooge

The character of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol sees his ghostly past and future self via the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. At some point the future Scrooge becomes a Doppelganger of the current Scrooge, a ghostly apparition of himself and the evil version that he has decided to renounce.

So the future Scrooge is a doppelganger of the actual Scrooge and he also has the apparition qualities.

Confused yet? Let's look at some modern examples of doppelgangers.

Harry Potter and Voldemort

Even the wildly popular Harry Potter series utilized doppelgangers to help tell the story. From the first book we begin to see the similarities between Harry and Voldemort, from the wands that they possess to their skills and habits at Hogwarts.

As the series progresses, evidence of Harry's deep connections, via the scar Voldemort gave him as a baby, emerge.

Finally, following true doppelganger style, Voldemort emerges as the true evil one and threat to Harry's existence. He is the other and the opposite of Harry's goodness and there is ultimately room in their world for only one of them. To save himself and his world, he must defeat his double.

So the theme of defeating the double also emerges when trying to understand doppelgangers---one must win. There is usually not room for a peaceful world when they are both there.

Does Jay Z have a 1939 Doppleganger?
Does Jay Z have a 1939 Doppleganger? | Source

Friends--Phoebe and Ursula

In the popular nineties sitcom, "Friends," the character Phoebe, played by Lisa Kudrow, has an evil twin sister, Ursula (also played by Kudrow) who shows up at various times in the show to wreak havoc on Phoebe's life and reputation.

Ursula is not only an evil twin, she is a Doppelganger of the good sister, Phoebe.

Ultimately, Ursula can't be a part of the "Friends" world and must leave in order for peace to return.

Nicholas Cage and John Travolta and Jay Z Doppelgänger

Over the years, the word doppelganger has also embraced a double that is an apparition or linked to the supernatural. It can also apply to actual, living people.

Both actors John Travolta and Nicholas Cage have been said to have Doppelgangers from history---people from the past that bear an uncanny resemblance to their current selves. Some have even claimed that the existence of their doppelgangers proves that they are vampires, time travelers or in some way related to the supernatural.

Other mysterious photographs have recently emerged linking Jay Z to a 1939 photograph of his possible doppelganger,

Does everyone have a double? Well maybe they do, they are just not living at the same time.

See the video at the end for more great celebrity doppelganger photos from the past!

Do you believe that everyone has a doppelganger or double?

See results

Why are we fascinated with doppelgangers?

Doppelgangers, doubles and evil twins have been in existence since we started telling stories.

Why doppelgangers?

Doppelgangers provide balance, good and evil, and create a familiar path for a story to follow. In order to have a compelling story, you need to have some kind of villain. What better villain than one that exists as an extension of yourself?

Doubles have likely been an early way to explain the struggle between good and evil that mankind in particular has always struggled with. While each of us may not have a physical doppelganger, the struggle within us is always there. Art and literature took that idea and created a physical representation of our inner, dual personalities.

Is there any truth to "real life" doppelgangers?

While our evil twin may not physically exist, there is evidence of the existence of the metaphorical doppelgangers within ourselves. Think about the old cartoon images of a devil sitting on one shoulder and and angel on the other---this is the conflict of good and evil within ourselves.

There are theories that we all also have someone, somewhere in the world that looks a lot like us. Some people have met their double (one that had no known relation) and others remind someone of someone else.

Some people bear uncanny resemblances to famous actors, politicians or public figures. But is there a logical and easy explanation for this?

Perhaps the gene pool only has so many variations in regards to physical resemblance. Or perhaps there is something else going on!

Finding Doppelgangers in TV and Literature

To locate a doppelganger in literature or television, you need to not only look for a villain. You must also look for traits that link him or her to the hero. Are there similarities between the good guy and the bad guy? Is there a past history or action that binds them together?

Not all stories or shows have doubles, but with practice and examples, they are relatively easy to spot.

Can you think of a doppelganger in your favorite movie, tv show or book?


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • PinoyWitch profile image

      Ian Spike 

      3 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      I never considered Voldemort as Harry's Doppelganger before, but it's nice. The video is awesome, I've seen them in various websites except for Brad Pitt's.

    • melissae1963 profile image

      Melissa Reese Etheridge 

      5 years ago from Tennessee, United States

      Excellent piece. Your idea is focused and well developed. My students would love to read this. It is quite creepy though.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      6 years ago from San Diego California

      Very thought provoking discussion. I like how you explored the use of doppelgangers in literature and the media. If I had a doppelganger he would be organized and neat, something I am definitely not. Something to think about. Interesting hub.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)