A spiritual successor, sometimes called a spiritual sequel, is a successor to a work of fiction which does not build upon the storyline established by a previous work as do most traditional prequels or sequels, yet features many of the same elements, themes, or styles as its source material, thereby resulting in it being related or similar "in spirit" to its predecessor.
In films and television
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The film 10 Cloverfield Lane was not originally scripted with any connection to Cloverfield. When the film was acquired by Bad Robot Productions, producer J. J. Abrams recognized a common element of a giant monster attack between the two films, and chose to market 10 Cloverfield Lane as a spiritual successor to Cloverfield to help bring interest to the newer film, which allowed him to establish a franchise he could build upon in future.
The show Parks and Recreation is often described as being a spiritual successor to The Office, which was also developed by Greg Daniels. Both shows feature characters who within the universe are being filmed by a documentary film crew, who are occasionally acknowledged. They also both feature satirical senses of humor and are presented as mockumentaries.
The movie Night Is Short, Walk On Girl shares its setting and some of its characters with the show The Tatami Galaxy, and has thus been considered a spiritual successor to it. Both are directed by Masaaki Yuasa and are based on books by Tomihiko Morimi.
In video games
One example of a spiritual sequel resulting from legal issues is Dark Souls by From Software, inspired by Demon's Souls by the same studio. The rights for Demon's Souls, an exclusive title for the PlayStation 3, was held by Sony Computer Entertainment, preventing From Software from making a successor on other platforms, leading them to create a new property with similar gameplay mechanics for the Xbox 360 and other platforms. Another example is Perfect Dark, developed by Rare as a spiritual sequel to their licensed title GoldenEye 007. Rare had planned to develop a sequel to GoldenEye but lost the license as they were outbid by Electronic Arts. The developers still wanted to complete another spy-based title and developed Perfect Dark with a new story but with similar mechanics to GoldenEye.
BioShock is one such example as a spiritual successor to System Shock 2. System Shock 2 was the first title developed by Irrational Games, a studio founded by Ken Levine, and while the game was met with critical acclaim, it was considered a commercial failure. Levine attempted to pitch a sequel to System Shock 2 but their publisher Electronic Arts declined due to poor sales of System Shock 2. After several years and other projects at Irrational, as well as being acquired by a new publisher 2K Games, Levine wanted to develop a game with the free-form narrative of System Shock 2, which ultimately became the game BioShock.
Shadow of the Colossus was considered a spiritual successor to Ico by the lead director of both games Fumito Ueda; Ueda did not want to necessarily make the connection between the games one of a canonical narrative, but that both had similar narrative themes and elements that he wanted players to interpret on their own.
A more recent example of a video game spiritual successor is the 2017 game Yooka-Laylee, which is considered a spiritual successor to the Banjo-Kazooie series. Yooka-Laylee was developed by Playtonic Games, which consists of former employees of Rare; the company that developed the games in the Banjo-Kazooie series. Another recent example of a video game spiritual successor is Two Point Hospital by Two Point Studios, which is a spiritual successor to Theme Hospital by Bullfrog Productions.
British game developer Frontier Developments has created two spiritual successors with the "Planet" name, Planet Coaster and Planet Zoo. These games are successors to RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 and Zoo Tycoon respectively, which are games developed by Frontier.
In other industries
The Honda CR-Z is regarded as the spiritual successor to the second generation Honda CR-X in both name and exterior design, despite a nearly two decade time difference in production. The Toyota Fortuner SUV is a spiritual successor to the Toyota 4Runner SUV mainly because they both share the same platform as the Hilux pickup truck. The Canon Cat computer was Jef Raskin's spiritual successor to the Apple Macintosh.
In sports, the Ravens–Steelers rivalry is considered the spiritual successor to the older Browns–Steelers rivalry due to the original Cleveland Browns relocation to Baltimore, as well as the reactivated Browns having a 6–30 record against the Steelers since returning to the league in 1999.
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