A spiritual successor (sometimes called a spiritual sequel) is a product or fictional work that is similar to, or directly inspired by, another previous work, but (unlike a traditional prequel or sequel) does not explicitly continue the product line or media franchise of its predecessor, and is thus only a successor "in spirit". Spiritual successors often have similar themes and styles to their source material, but are generally a distinct intellectual property.
In fiction, the term generally refers to a work by a creator that shares similarities to one of their earlier works, but is set in a different continuity, and features distinct characters and settings. Such works may arise when licensing issues prevent a creator from releasing a direct sequel using the same copyrighted characters and names as the original.
The term is also used more broadly to describe a pastiche work that intentionally evokes similarities to pay homage to other influential works, but is also distinct enough to avoid copyright infringement.