Same Face, Complete Stranger

The Existence of Dopplegängers


Morgan Kasel, graphic edited by Paige Hert

The word dopplegänger literally means “double goer” in German, referring to the thought that one’s unbiological twin is merely a ghost or whisper of themself. 

Ally JohnPress, Reporter

You look in the mirror every day, studying your outfit, your face, how you look when you’re laughing, serious, concentrating. Such a unique face… or not. The theory of dopplegängers is an old one, the idea that multiple people share the same exact face as yours. 

The idea can be traced back to Ancient times, however, the word ‘dopplegänger’ was introduced by German author Jean Paul in 1796 in his book “Siebenkäs.” The novel featured two friends, similar in appearance, who exchanged identities. The term is also commonly used in literature to depict the shadow of a character, or negative attributes and underlying behaviors the character may be unaware of. The word literally means “double goer” in German, referring to the thought that one’s dopplegänger is merely a ghost or whisper of themselves. 

However, more today, dopplegängers portray a more literal definition. Whenever we see someone in public that we swear is our best friend, we soon realize it isn’t and blow it off like a trick of the eye. According to Bustle, a women’s magazine based in New York, there are multiple theories to what a dopplegänger means, but some of the most common follow below:

  • The most dramatic of them all, seeing one’s own dopplegänger is “an omen of death.” Most literally, if you were to see someone who looked much to like your mirror-self, you’d die soon.
  • Dopplegängers are one’s evil counterpart, or you from the Underworld. Essentially, they are here to trick you into committing crime and wreaking havoc in your life.
  • These so-called unbiological twins are evidence to suggest parallel universes and alternate realities. If there really is only one true ‘you,’ but there seems to be multiple ‘yous,’ this suggests the idea that they come from different realities where they themselves are other true ‘yous.’

There have been certain cases around the world where two identical people are completely unrelated, especially in history and the world of celebrities. Various examples of celebrities have been compared to figures in the past, such as actor Nicolas Cage and a photo of a man during the Civil War era. Also, actor Anthony Hopkins looks like the late philosopher Socrates. However, the celebrity dopplegänger theories delve deeper than uncanny resemblances. Certain celebrities have been called out for faking their deaths and being found elsewhere in the country, such as Steve Jobs. Even more disturbing is the conspiracy that Avril Lavigne died sometime after 2002 and was replaced by an actor look-alike. Followers of the Lavigne theory describe how her body markings, such as freckles, aren’t in the same places and the shapes of her facial features are different. Both theories have been disproved, but the idea still lingers. 

In my life, however, whether it be myself or a friend, I’ve noticed a couple strange things. For one, I go to an overnight camp for two weeks every summer, and since my first year, around five or six people are too similar in appearance to people back at home here. It’s scary. It would make sense to me that look-alikes would exist around the world, but not close to one another. Another time, my best friend was at Disney World with her friends and she swore she saw her little brother while waiting in line. Her brother was at home with her parents. Anytime I’m in public, too, at least someone will catch my eye. Certain people have ‘those’ faces recognizable to anyone, and some have faces that are almost too familiar to be a total stranger. 

Today, thanks to the internet, people have been able to find their doubles just by uploading a picture to websites such as Twin Strangers, whose mission is to match peoples faces together in hopes of finding completely unrelated people who are copies of each other. A woman was actually able to find two of her dopplegängers, and the photos (located on Bustle) of the two of them together are crazy. 

Whether you choose to believe it or not, dopplegängers exist in some form, however you interpret that to be. Sure, they might not be omens of death, or your ‘evil double,’ but having a stranger who is a copy of you is a bit freaky. Personally, my favorite theory would have to be that dopplegängers are us from alternate realities. It just shows how much more complicated our universe (or universes) is than we’ve ever known before.