Klingon Promotion

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    "To be The Man, you've got to beat The Man!"

    In an organization with a ranked hierarchal structure, you can get a promotion by showing aptitude for the work, impressing senior ranked individuals, fulfilling certain criteria, having a place open up due to retirement, resignation or death and probably kissing a lot of ass. On the other hand you can get a Klingon Promotion, which means that if you kill a superior (or they die by some other means), you gain their rank or a rank that the result of this death leaves open. Then the cutthroat competition for a promotion becomes a lot more literal.

    This is a sister trope to You Kill It, You Bought It. However in that one you kill someone, purposefully or accidentally and gain something of theirs. That could be a physical object or something more metaphysical like a role in life or a Curse and you don’t need to have a system that puts the character in a position to get the job. This requirement of a rank to get into for a Klingon Promotion means it will show up in connection to different sorts of organisations.

    For instance, the Klingon Promotion will turn up in organisations that favour ruthlessness and the heavy dominance of a leader. Hence the trope name referring to the Klingons of Star Trek, who are often portrayed as accepting assassination of a superior (with varying justification) as a legitimate option for career advancement. You’ll get it in royal or noble lines of succession where individuals can obsess over the fact that if only 72 people would die in a very short period they could become King.

    A common subtrope is the Challenging the Chief trope where the role of boss goes to whoever's the biggest Badass, who can kill any other Badass in ritual combat.

    Perhaps, the focus will be on a character, who uses this method often to get ahead in the world. They could easily then be The Starscream and if we get the chance to follow them going through several stations in life, advancing themselves with cunning, guile and possibly the odd bottle of arsenic, we might get to see them as a Manipulative Bastard and maybe a magnificent one.

    Asskicking Equals Authority is when you get a society that works based on this trope. The Evil Prince tends to see the world this way, due to his position. Occasionally, a superior can forestall it with Kill Me Now or Forever Stay Your Hand.

    As a Death Trope, Spoilers ahead may be unmarked. Beware.

    Examples of Klingon Promotion include:

    Anime and Manga

    • In Bleach there are three ways to become a Captain. One requires achieving Bankai and demonstrating it to the other Captains; one requires receiving recommendations from the majority of sitting captains; the last, the most ruthless one is to kill a sitting Captain in front of two hundred members of the Captain's division. Then again, if it's that simple and anyone could do it, how would the system even work at all? You just have to wonder. Zaraki Kenpachi chose the third route, unsurprisingly.
      • Kisuke Urahara managed to get Mayuri Kurotsuchi as his personal Psycho for Hire Research Assistant by tempting him with this trope. Mayuri does eventually succeed him, but not by being The Starscream. He just managed to keep his nose clean while everyone above him got exiled.
      • Grimmjow regained his rank as Espada #6 by killing Luppi.
      • This is actually the tradition of Kenpachi's 11th Division; while it's theoretically possible to become the Captain of any division in this manner, the 11th Division always does it that way. Kenpachi Zaraki was the first person to do so without even being a Shinigami beforehand, though.
      • This is how Gin became The Third Captain.
    • In X 1999, The Sakurazukamori is a clan of assassins with only one member at any particular time. The fate of the Sakurazukamori is to choose to die at the hands of the one they love most who then takes their place and repeats the cycle. Yes, it's a weird series with so many masochistic characters that want to be killed.
    • The headband rules of Afro Samurai fall under this. If one has the number one headband, they are considered god and only the number two can challenge him. The person who has said latter headband though can be challenged by anyone.
    • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Major General Olivier Armstrong kills Lieutenant General Raven, then assumes his position after telling Fuhrer King Bradley she killed him.
    • In the Trigun manga, the Murder, Inc. group the Eye of Michael appear to practice some form of this, as Wolfwood apparently succeeded to the Chapel seat in the Guns by shooting his Evil Mentor in the back, rather than being penalized by either organization. Though it turns out Master C isn't quite dead. Of course, it's possible he covered up that he'd been the one to do the shooting rather than owning up to the murder and Master C let him get away with it, because he thought it was funny. Probably not, though; it's not like the most deadly assassins in the world are going to believe one of their number went down to a stray bullet. And the Eye and Guns are both made of crazy and believe that Asskicking Equals Authority.
    • In Code Geass, Lelouch invokes this trope after killing his father, Emperor Charles zi Britannia, ascending to the throne himself as 99th Holy Britannian Emperor, Lelouch vi Britannia. Played with in that he didn't kill his father for that purpose, but was quite happy to take advantage of this trope afterwards.

    Comic Books

    • In the Sonic the Hedgehog comic, Lien Da and Kragok murdered their father Luger in order to become Grandmasters of the Dark Legion. Of course, Kragok ended up double-crossing his sister and taking leadership for himself.
      • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder must run in the family - quite some time later, after Eggman's reorganized the Legion into his Dark Egg Legion with Lien Da's ancestor Dimitri as Grandmaster, she eventually double crosses him too and leaves him for dead so that she can become Grandmaster again.
      • And Dr. Robotnik, before he became the Big Bad, was the head of the Kingdom of Acorn's military - a job he got by throwing the previous holder of the title into the Zone of Silence (not murder, but close enough). And when he took over the Kingdom, he jump started his coup by doing the same to the King.
    • The only way to become Agent Orange in the Green Lantern comics is to kill the current holder of that title. Since the orange light becomes weakened if used by multiple people, There Can Be Only One at a time. Be warned that if he should kill you instead, You Will Be Assimilated.
    • In the epic Low Fantasy series Artesia, this is common in the Highlands of Daradja. The eponymous Queen Artesia gains her crown by killing her erstwhile king and lover, Branamir of Huelt.
    • A non-lethal variation occurs in the Star Trek graphic novel Debt of Honor by Chris Claremont and Adam Hughes. Starfleet lieutenant Jamie Finney, who acts as a liaison officer on Commander Kor's Klingon ship, recommends caution in an unclear tactical situation. Khadri, a female Klingon officer taller by more than a head responds by insulting her as coming from a "coward's race" and threatens her, to which Finney reacts by knocking Khadri out with a flying kick.

    Kor: Most impressive.
    Finney: Her challenge left me no alternative, commander.
    Kor: And you rose to the occasion, Lieutenant, like a Klingon. I salute you. Of course you realize your victory entitles you to assume Khadri's status and position aboard the Revenge.
    Finney: Commander! That really isn't necessary-!
    Kor: Oh, but it is. In fact, I insist, as a means of binding our regrettably ad hoc alliance more closely together.

    • The original Marvel Transformers comic series had a lengthy chain of Klingon promotions in the Decepticon army. What made it truly bizarre was that Starscream never fulfilled the trope.
      • At the end of the original limited series, Megatron and the Decepticons were left crippled and helpless. Shockwave turned up while the Autobots were celebrating their victory and blew everyone away, deemed Megatron incompetent, imprisoned him and assumed command.
      • Megatron eventually escaped and reclaimed his leadership position... only to lose it again, when Shockwave preyed on his paranoid fear of the (then-presumed-dead) Optimus Prime. Megatron blew himself up and Shockwave again took command.
      • Ratbat, essentially the Decepticon supply manager, showed up on Earth to ensure that Shockwave was using Decepticon resources efficiently (It Makes Sense in Context). Shockwave ends up presumed dead fighting the Autobots, because Ratbat doesn't want to waste gas fishing him out of Earth's atmosphere. Ratbat assumes command.
      • Scorponok, a powerful Decepticon leader in his own right, arrives on Earth after that and jockeys for supremacy with Ratbat. Scorponok eventually shoots Ratbat in the back and assumes full command of the Decepticons.
      • Scorponok fends off assassination attempts by Megatron, Starscream and Shockwave, only to bite it fighting Unicron. Bludgeon, up until now a basic grunt, assumes command because none of the other Decepticons around are qualified for the job.
      • Bludgeon lasts into the subsequent G2 series, but is killed by a rebuilt Megatron, who stays in charge until the series is canceled.
        • All of this gets more complicated if you include the UK comics and a time-traveling Galvatron.

    Fan Works


    Saul: "The practice of apprentice killing mentor is not limited to Dark Jedi. I fully expect you to kill me once you are settled in, but I'll have the comfort of knowing I have a competent officer running things - which is more than I can say for my current crop of groveling idiots."



    • The Sith "Rule of Two" is exactly this trope. Every Sith lord takes an apprentice. An apprentice can only become a Sith Lord himself with the death of his master, even if the apprentice is the one, who kills him. He then customarily takes on an apprentice of his own and the cycle continues. Such betrayal is not only common, it's actually expected of the apprentice. If the master has become weak or foolish enough to be killed by his apprentice, then obviously it was time for a new Sith Lord to take over anyway. And if he fails to take advantage of a (real) opportunity to replace his master, he's clearly not ready to be the Sith Lord. The Sith always had a natural inclination to betray each other anyway; the "Rule of Two" was created specifically to limit the self-destructiveness of their Exclusively Evil nature. The funny thing is that the "Rule of Two" was actually made to curtail this behavior. Before it, the Sith organization practically ate itself since everybody constantly tried to pull this trope at once; the rule was instituted by the sole survivor of one such moment gone horribly bad. It was also noted somewhere that without the rule, several existing Sith apprentices could team up to kill their master... and then promptly try and kill each other. The last remaining would be far weaker than his master (only better or luckier than his accomplices), thus weakening the Sith overall relative to the Jedi.
      • Also we have the Skywalkers: Anakin (the eventual Vader) killed Dooku, current Sith apprentice - which unknown to him at first, put him on the path to became the new one. Palpatine then wanted Luke to kill Anakin and become the next apprentice...
        • Ironically, both Palpatine and Anakin would try to violate the rule themselves—Anakin by explicitly taking a secret apprentice, then Palpatine by intending to cast even Luke aside and rule alone, immortal and eternally. (The other Force-sensitive agents they used didn't count, as they weren't trained in Sith tradition, and some may not even have been aware of it.)
        • Interestingly, it appears from the Expanded Universe that numerous Sith cults remained isolated and secret, never challenging or revealing themselves to the active Two at any given time, in case the line ever failed.
    • The Necromongers in The Chronicles of Riddick exemplify their adherence to this philosophy in their motto: "You keep what you kill".
    • At the end of Death Race 2000 (1975), Frankenstein assassinates Mr. President. In the next scene he's shown to have become the new President.
      • In the 2008 remake, Frankenstein is an identity given to a random racer, with the idea being that everyone (including the other racers) think it's the same person all the time. When one Frankenstein is killed, someone else replaces him so that he appears to be invincible. "He's a gimmick"
    • Not exactly this trope, but it seems like every time a Roughneck in a leadership position dies in the Starship Troopers movie Rico immediately inherits his position. Even when he is forced to Mercy Kill the former Lieutenant, he is immediately promoted to replace him. He was following his Lieutenant's order.
    • The main plotline for the Ealing Studios dark comedy "Kind Hearts and Coronets", where Louis Mazzini, the illegitimate grandson of Lord D'Ascoyne, systematically murders his way through the family to become the sole heir to the D'Ascoyne estate.
    • The Dark Knight, when the Joker recruits through "Tryouts," forcing the Mooks of a gangster that he just killed to kill each other with pool cues for a spot on The Jokers "team."
    • Attempted in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, when Harvey Logan demands that Butch fight him to the death, with the expectation that the winner would be the leader of the hole-in-the-wall gang. "Guns or knives?"
    • In Shanghai Knights, Lord Rathbone plots to kill the Queen and the those in line for the throne before him in one fell swoop to make himself king.
    • The Eragon movie had Durza do this to a group of Urgals. After they fail to capture Eragon at Daret, he kills the leader, then turns to a random Urgal. He then says "Congratulations! You've just been promoted!"
    • In The Santa Clause, Tim Allen's character accidentally kills the old santa claus, forcing him to take the mantle
      • Except Tim didn't kill the fat man; he fell off the roof.


    • Happens on the planet of Surebleak in the Liaden Universe all the time. If you want to be in charge of a territory, you have to off the old boss.
    • The Children of the Light in the Wheel of Time have a ritualized dueling ceremony entitled "trial by the light," in which the loser's rank and property are forefit to the winner. Galad uses this in conjunction with surviving a military Everybody's Dead, Dave shortly beforehand to skip virtually the entire command structure and go from an unspecified junior rank straight to Lord Captain Commander.
      • One of the two ways of becoming a Blademaster is to kill another Blademaster in fair single combat. The other is to have a panel of five Blademasters unanimously vote to accept you. Guess which way is used by every character who became a blademaster over the course of the series (though none of the characters in question did so with the sole intention of becoming a blademaster).
      • Though the Forsaken are more or less equal in standing to one another, one among them is elevated to serve as the Dark One's right hand; this lucky individual earns the title of Nae'blis and gains limited authority over the others. Three guesses as to how the title can change hands.
    • In the Unseen University of the Discworld, killing a higher ranking wizard was the preferred means of promotion (via the "Dead man's Pointy Shoes" rule). The catch being, however, that wizards aren't allowed to turn magic against one another, forcing them to resort to more practical means making daily UU living for high-ranking wizards an exercise in forensics. This came to an end, however, when Mustrum Ridcully became Archchancellor and proved nigh unkillable; and Wizards being creatures of laziness, soon came to realize a less competitive work environment is rather enjoyable. Added to this, now the senior faculty are all settled and long standing members, they've probably realized in the old days each one of them would be a target for an up and comer; it is in their best interests to act as a group now.
      • There is also a persistent rumor that if a student Assassin manages to inhume one of his teachers, he will be graduated to full member of the Assassin's Guild on the spot. But since it is definitely known that trying to inhume one of the teachers and failing will not only get the student expelled not only from the guild, but from life as well, no actual attempts have occurred during any of the books.
      • Also, Vetinari (maybe), although in his case he replaced the replacement of the Patrician he assassinated.
      • For that matter, back when Ankh-Morpork still had kings, there were a number of monarchs with very brief reigns (all with a crown and "magic sword"). The record was King Loyala the Aargh, who ruled for all of 1.4 seconds before being killed by his successor.
    • In the Merlin cycle of Roger Zelazny's Book of Amber series, Merlin's mother "arranges" to have everyone whose place in the line of succession was closer than Merlin's end up dead so she could become shadow ruler. Not a direct example, but definitely in the spirit of the Klingon Promotion. Of course, by the time Merlin becomes King of Chaos, he's no longer under her control.
    • In David Anthony Durham's novel Acacia, the people of the Mien have a tradition of dueling to become chieftain instead of the chieftain, but this is never used as a plot point.
    • In Jack Chalker's Four Lords of the Diamond series, the four planets of the Warden Diamond, as a dumping ground for all the sociopaths, criminals, scum, villainy, and political opponents that the interstellar human empire decided weren't worth killing (or mindwiping) use this method for their internal hierarchies. On the one planet where this is frowned on, it still happens if you can frame or con someone higher up the chain of command to make them look bad so they get jailed, demoted or transferred for being stupid enough to fall for it.
    • According to RA Salvatore, this murder-based hierarchy, from among Houses to within families, is what keeps dark elves Exclusively Evil.
    • In the Dale Brown novel Air Battle Force, Ozarov kills the Taliban leader Zarazi and briefly takes over. When Zarazi's deputy Turabi kills the usurper, the leadership falls into his hands. Also, Grzylov stages the killing and disappearance of Russian president Sen'kov and his succession line.
    • In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, the Gentlemen with Thistle-down Hair believes that once he and Steven kill the king of England, it will be a simple matter for Steven Black, a black manservant in 19th century England, to become king. This is often how things work in Faerie, and the Gentleman never really troubled to make a distinction between his opinion and reality.
    • Needless to say, Gor has its share of examples. Two instances: In Raiders of Gor, Tarl Cabot kills a pirate named Surbus in a tavern brawl. At the (surprisingly considerate) request of Surbus's slave-girl, whom he had been about to kill, Tarl allows the dying man to see the sea with his last breath, which causes his loyal crew to acknowledge Tarl as their new captain. Later, in Tribesmen of Gor, our hero has made the desert march to the hellish salt-mines in Klima. Every man there is a former salt slave, with the leader being one Tz'shal who advises the new arrivals that anyone who wishes to be first at Klima need only kill him. Of course, he who did so would then have to watch his own back, as well as inheriting not just the power over the salt-mine but also the responsibility.
    • In Robert E. Howard's "The Pool of the Black One," Conan the Barbarian stalks the Pirate leader Zaporavo because he knows the pirates will have no loyalty if the man is dead.
      • He also ultimately becomes King of Aquilonia this way, through leading a popular rebellion against its previous king Numedides.
      • In Iron Shadows in the Moon Conan kills a Red Brotherhood pirate captain in a duel, which according to their rules makes him their leader.
      • In A Witch Shall Be Born Conan is rescued from crucifixion by a band of desert outlaws. He then spends the next year winning the loyalty of the outlaws until it gets to the point where he can remove their leader and assume that title himself.
    • In Maledicte, by Lane Robbins, Maledicte's lover systematically kills or tricks Maledicte into killing everyone between himself and the crown, so he can take the title for himself. this is also part of his scheme to totally screw with Maledicte, since he's now the man Maledicte must kill to complete her quest.
    • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel The Bacta War, the captain of the Lusankya refuses to surrender, despite his ship being heavily damaged and outnumbered. He orders his men to crash the Super Star Destroyer into the planet Thyffera, which would kill all 250,000 people on the ship, millions more on the planet, and destroy the sole source of one of the galaxy's most effective medical products. One of his Lieutenants shoots him, promotes himself to Captain, and accepts the surrender offer.
    • The Laundry Series has a few short stories that show this as the inevitable conclusion of working at the Laundry, a vast entity of the civil service that no one's allowed to leave (mainly because of their line of work). It's dead man's shoes all the way up, and some folks underneath take pains to vacate the shoes of the one above them...
    • In the Sword of Shadows series, the generally accepted way to succeed the Surlord of the city-state of Spire Vanis is to off him (though if you're not of noble blood, you probably won't keep the title very long). In the later books, it becomes a plot point that Surlord Penthero Iss chose his own successor, his commanding general Marafice Eye. Since Eye didn't kill Iss himself or arrange for it to be done (in fact, Iss was killed almost incidentally during the rescue of an important prisoner), and is a commonor to boot, he has to fight tooth and nail to keep his throne once succeeding to it.
    • Inverted in Animorphs, where becoming captain of the Helmacrons gets the new leader killed-dead leaders don't make mistakes, but live leaders can.
    • In the novel StarCraft: Ghost: Nova, the eponymous character is an extremely-strong telepath/telekinetic (she can literally go nuclear). She runs afoul of a gang leader in the Tarsonis ghetto. After figuring out that she's a very person, he threatens to kill little children if she doesn't work for him. Before that, she "predicts" that he'll be killed by one of his lieutenants (after reading the mind of one doubting lieutenant). Years later, Nova is tracked down by a Ghost Academy recruiter. When the gang leader (who has gone insane over the years due to the abuse of a telepathy blocker) is about to shoot him, Nova mind-controls the doubting lieutenant and has him shoot the leader in the head. So, in effect, this is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. The lieutenant becomes the new leader. Trouble is, there isn't much of a gang left, after the crazy former leader has killed many of his subordinates for slightest faults (even imagined ones). Also, the gang headquarters is the in process of being raided by Confederate forces. To top it off, this is the day the Zerg invade Tarsonis. Nova barely makes it out alive.
    • In Mockingjay, Finnick reveals that President Snow used this tropes to get control of the Capitol. He poisoned his rivals and superiors and then drank from the same glass (to ward off suspicion) before downing poorly-made antidotes. That's why he wears roses, to cover up the smell of his chronically bleeding gums.

    Live-Action TV

    • Trope Namer - Star Trek: The Next Generation, many places, big example is the episode "Reunion," where the current Chancellor is poisoned, and Picard must help investigate the murder as well as ceremonially choose the successor to the High Council. The whole reason there's controversy in the Klingons' eyes is that the Chancellor's killer used a cowardly method like poison, instead of fighting him in a duel.
      • Another good example, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, episode "Tacking Into The Wind," where the new Chancellor from TNG "Reunion," Gowron, is screwing things up during the Dominion War, mismanaging the Klingon battle efforts. Worf decides to challenge Gowron. He wins, becomes the next Chancellor, but almost immediately passes the torch to his friend and mentor, General Martok.
        • It's interesting to note that in "Reunion," Worf killed Duras, who was the other leading contender for Klingon leadership. So in essence, Worf was directly responsible for the rise and fall of Gowron.
        • In the case of Worf and Duras, Duras had just killed the mother of Worf's child, giving Worf the right to attempt vengeance in combat. After he kills Duras, the Klingons see nothing wrong with it.
      • Don't forget about Weyoun 5's convenient death in a "transporter accident."
        • In one episode, Dax explains the intricacies after hearing O'Brien and Bashir talk about the trope. Only a direct subordinate can make the challenge, and only after a severe infraction (cowardice, extreme failure, dereliction of duty).
      • In the TNG episode "A Matter Of Honor," where Riker serves aboard a Klingon ship in an officer exchange program, the subject of Klingon Promotion comes up; it's the accepted way to remove a captain who is unsuitable for command.

    "Let me get this straight, as first officer, one of my duties is to assassinate the captain?

      • Later, when the Klingon captain's misunderstanding threatens the Enterprise, Riker finds a way to exploit this rule, though in a rather more human and less bloody manner.
        • In the Expanded Universe IKS Gorkon novels, Klag (the first officer of the IKS Pagh) reveals to Riker that Captain Kargan was an incompetent fool. By Klingon custom, Klag had every right (and responsibility) to kill him, but the captain had connections in the High Command (namely, a general for a cousin), making his promotion this way a death sentence. The only reason Kargan remained a captain was by blaming Klag for his own screw-ups. After Kargan dies in a crash-landing, Klag finally gets his own command, but the general still has it in for him.
      • This actually started for the franchise with the Mirror Universe episode of the original series. Chekov is planning to kill Kirk for treason, and he mentions everyone else would advance in rank. It's later mentioned that the mirror Kirk killed Pike to get the captaincy.
        • So in fact it was originally "Terran (Imperial) Promotion."
        • The Star Trek: Enterprise Mirror Universe episodes start off with Mirror!Archer offing the Mirror!Forrest, who is the captain of the ISS Enterprise. Subsequently, Mirror!Hoshi poisons him, and not only moves on to Captain, but also takes the recovered Prime-Universe's 23rd century Defiant and uses it to declare herself the new Terran Empress. Talk about a promotion...
        • In the Shatnerverse novels, Tiberius (the Mirror-Kirk) reveals to Kirk that, after getting back to his own universe and finding out about Chekov's treachery, he had him executed via the agony booth at full power. Apparently, it took days for Chekov to expire. Russian Guy Suffers Most, even in the Mirror Universe.
        • Mirror-Spock specifically mentions that he doesn't want to become captain of the Enterprise over Kirk's body, as Mirror-Kirk has many friends in the fleet, and Spock's command (and life) would be extremely short. He does, however, state that he will kill Kirk if he fails to take decisive action against the Halkans, but only because these are his orders from Starfleet Command.
      • Parodied in one episode of DS9. Quark is made leader of the Ferengi, and the last leader's son tries to take power this way. The capitalistic Ferengi, who would have respected him if he undermined Quark's power-base and accumulated all the real power behind the scenes, just called him an idiot for thinking it would work. The whole thing was a setup, as the previous leader was still alive, having faked his death to test his son's worthiness to be his real successor. Needless to say, his son failed.
        • Interestingly, Quark was impressed by Rom's ruthlessness (who helped Zek's son), even commenting that their father would have approved.
      • This actually happens very briefly in the TOS episode "Amok Time", though not on purpose. We are led to believe that Spock has killed Kirk, and McCoy tells him that, as strange as it seems, he's in command now. Of course, Spock doesn't want to be the captain, and is planning to hand over command to Scotty and turn himself in to the authorities until he finds out Kirk is alive after all.
        • This isn't actually a "promotion." Spock retains his former rank, it's just that with Kirk dead, that rank makes him the senior officer on the Enterprise, and someone has to command. After (Commander) Spock, (Lt. Commander) Scott would come next, which is why Spock mentions him specifically.
      • In Star Trek: Voyager episode "Coda", Janeway jokes that Chakotay could try William Telling as a talent demonstration.

    Chakotay: "Sounds great! If I miss, I get to be Captain."

      • In another Voyager episode, a Kazon boy wishes to become a man by killing Chakotay. He fails. He then explains that killing a person is the rite of passage for the Kazon. Apparently, killing a clansman is also acceptable in some cases. At the end fo the episode, instead of killing Chakotay (who hopes that the Doctor can make him better), he turns the weapon onto his maj (clan leader). Before the maj's Number Two can execute him, the boy swears loyalty to him as the new maj. After a few seconds, the new maj accepts.
    • Lilah Morgan totally does this to her boss in the premiere episode of Season 4 of Angel.
    • In Stargate Atlantis, this is how Wraith promotions work. So, in "The Queen", when the Wraith "Todd" kills the Primary Queen and gives the credit to Teyla, who's currently disguised as a lower-ranking Wraith queen, Teyla becomes the new Primary. This allows Todd to take over the entire hive by giving orders on behalf of his "reclusive" queen who doesn't actually exist.
      • It's limited in that this only works for Queens. A male can't take a Queen's place by killing her, especially since they'd lose their reproductive line.
      • Stargate SG-1 has the rite of joma secu, where a Jaffa commander can be challenged by another Jaffa to a duel to the death; the victor gets the commander's position. First seen in "The Warrior".
        • In "Bounty", SG-1 points out to Bounty Hunter Odai Ventrell that Netan's position as leader of the Lucian Alliance is tenuous at best and that if somebody managed to kill him they could probably take over the entire organization. Three guesses what Ventrell does next.
    • How Clay became President in Sons of Anarchy.
    • Battlestar Galactica: Felix Gaeta, believing Adama has been derelict in his duties by becoming too close to the rebel Cylons, leads a mutiny to give himself a Klingon Promotion. It doesn't end well for poor Mr. Gaeta, and he ends up in front of a firing squad.
      • Well, arguably it was more Zarak who was going for the Klingon Promotion. Gaeta was just trying to keep everybody safe (and actually had a point).
    • Red Dwarf's episode "Holoship" had this; the eponymous vessel had a full complement, and the only way for Rimmer to join is "dead man's boots" by defeating another crew member in intellectual combat.
    • Non-lethally subverted, by the heroes, no less, in Power Rangers SPD: The season's Rangers are the "B-Squad" of the eponymous galactic police force, and after they defeat and capture the "A-Squad", who were thought missing in action but had actually switched sides offscreen to work for the Big Bad, their commander offers the entire team promotion to "A-Squad." They decline.
    • Invoked in an episode of Farscape by Zhaan in an effort to stop an aggressive alien from attacking Moya.
    • In Smallville, Lex Luthor finally goes from Anti-Villain to Big Bad by throwing his father out a window.
      • Interestingly, the Alternate Universe version of Lionel Luthor expresses disappointment that his adopted son, Clark, has not done this to him.
    • In an episode of the short-lived Flash Gordon TV series, Ming forces Flash and Barin to fight to the death for Princess Aura. Barin easily beats Flash (Flash isn't much of a fighter) but then turns around and throws the poisoned weapon at Ming. Ming falls over and is presumed dead. Both combatants are imprisoned, but Aura (who is currently in charge) lets them go and reveals that she has replaced the poison with a sedative that temporarily mimics death, so Ming will soon wake up. After Ming comes to, he's disappointed that Aura hasn't followed this trope, claiming she's unworthy to be a leader. In the last episode before the series cancellation, Aura and her brother have captured Ming, and he's being led to a gas chamber to be executed. As he speaks with his daughter for the last time, Aura (with tears in her eyes) tells him that it's necessary. Ming's last words? He tells her he can finally be proud of her. He doesn't die.
    • In a late Season Two episode of Babylon 5, Vir and Londo receive a prophecy that both of them will become Emperor of the Centauri at some point in the future, with one of them being the other's successor. At the end of the episode they're each visibly wondering if the other is going to kill him for the title. In the following season, it is revealed that Vir takes the throne after Londo's assisted suicide.
      • In a more straight example, both of them follow the reign of the mad Emperor Cartagia, who died at Vir's hand as a result of Londo's plotting.

    Newspaper Comics

    • Dilbert once did this by accident. Having landed on top of an Elbonian resistance leader (after being deliberately launched there by the other side via giant slingshot), he is appointed to be the new leader. He negotiates an end to the civil war and goes home.

    Recorded and Stand Up Comedy

    • An old joke uses this (or rather, our expectation of it):

    An explorer in the deepest Amazon suddenly finds himself surrounded by what appears to be a bloodthirsty group of cannibals. Upon surveying the situation, he says quietly to himself, "Oh God, I'm screwed."
    There is a ray of light from the sky above and a voice booms out: "No, you are NOT screwed. Pick up that stone at your feet and bash in the head of the chief standing in front of you."
    So the explorer picks up the stone and proceeds to bash the life out of the chief. He stands above the lifeless body, breathing heavily and surrounded by 100 cannibals with a look of shock on their faces.
    The voice booms out again: "NOW you're screwed."


    Tabletop Games

    • For Drow of the Forgotten Realms campaign, treachery is an acceptable method of achieving advancement, provided the assassin does not get caught. No different from any other culture perhaps, except that it's oft-cited conventional wisdom, and the word of their goddess Lloth.
      • It doesn't apply only to individuals but two whole noble clans as well. If one noble family becomes extinct, every lower ranking clan moves up in the hierarchy.
      • The twist however is, that any noble who survives can report the murders. Which usually leads to every other noble clan teaming up against the offenders to punish their "crimes". As a result, attacks on the castles of noble families rarely leave any survivors. But drow are opportunistic bastards, so in the days and weeks following the "mysterious disappearance" of an entire clan, there are frequently some Cousin Olivers appearing in "random" other families.
      • In 1st edition of Dungeons & Dragons, you had to do this to get to the highest level of the assassin class.
        • Druids worked similarly in AD&D. There were only a limited number of a druids of higher rank in the world at any given time; to advance past a certain level, you would have to seek out and kill a higher ranking druid. The highest rank - the Great Druid, of which there is only one - usually abdicated his position after some years rather than being killed by another druid. Presumably once you get to that position, you see the writing on the wall.
        • Monks in 1st Ed AD&D also followed this system - it kicked in quite early in the level progression, with there being only one monk of every level above 8th. It should be noted that in contrast to the evil Assassins, druid and monk promotions both allowed for a non-lethal victory.
    • The Ork hierarchy in Warhammer 40,000 tends to work this way, ditto the Dark Eldar: if you succeed in killing the previous Warboss/Archite, the former officeholder clearly didn't deserve the job.
      • The Dark Eldar are a particularly stellar example as literally the only method of advancement is to kill the person holding the desired title. Orks may simply intimidate other Orks into servitude with their superior size and bash the skulls of anyone who disagrees, but this trope is so fundamental to Dark Eldar society that bodyguards have to be hired from outside their Cabal (the closest thing they have to an organization) because none of their subordinates are trustworthy. Incidentally, Asdrubael Vect, the leader of the most powerful Cabal, is one of the oldest and most powerful beings in the galaxy.
      • Chaos, as well as some of the more psychotic loyalist chapters have this trope as well.
      • This both averted and played straight with the Moritat. The Moritat are a death cult, but its considered taboo to kill a fellow Moritat unless you have a damn good reason. The singular exception is the leader of the cult, the High Reaper. She will take one apprentice and groom him/her as her replacement. How does (s)he gain the rank? Take a guess.
    • The Skaven in Warhammer Fantasy Battle, and how! The entire race is built around the concept of backstabbing = good, and they follow it with gusto. There's probably not a single Skaven who is not planning to off his superior/tormentor/brother. Higher up in the ranks you have to get creative, as demonstrated when Grey Seer Thanquol of Gotrek and Felix fame offed his competitor for the position of army general with an accident involving a loaded crossbow and an exploding donkey.
      • Pretty much the way the Greenskin army hierarchy works.
    • Traveller. In the Third Imperium's history, there was a period where naval admirals would kill the current Emperor and take the title themselves. They were called the "Emperors of the Flag". In 2nd Edition MegaTraveller, Archduke Dulinor assassinated Emperor Strephon and tried to take his place, but failed.
    • In the Star Fleet Universe, whose origins spring from the original Star Trek TV show, this is how the Federation views the Klingons, but sourcebooks dealing with the Klingons say otherwise. As stated in #4 of Ten Myths About the Klingons in GURPS Klingons:

    Klingon warriors fight (for practice) all the time in all manner of duels and other contests. All warriors, Klingons or otherwise, are a very competitive group constantly on watch for any weakness in their enemies or rivals. But it would be foolish for any professional military force to operate this way. You might see the best engineer in a generation die in a meaningless duel in the Academy just because someone with half of his IQ had twice his cunning. Officers with two decades of combat experience might be killed by junior ensigns half of their age who have no clue how to run a starship or command a battalion.

    • Champions. The VIPER organization has often allowed its members to advance by murdering their superiors. For example, in the 5th Edition Viper: Coils of the Serpent supplement Redstone became Commandant of the Vancouver VIPER’s Nest after killing the former Nest Leader.


    • In Utopia, Ltd., Utopian law gives the Public Exploder the opportunity to get himself crowned by giving the King a dose of dynamite.
      • But only if the King pisses off the Wise Men.
    • Shakespeare was very fond of this trope. Macbeth, Richard III, Julius Caesar, and Claudius in Hamlet all got their positions this way. Also, it's how Henry VII takes over from Richard.
      • Strictly speaking, this does not apply in Julius Caesar, as Caesar's assassins are not aiming to become his successor, and those who are aiming to become his successor - Mark Anthony and Octavian - are the assassins' mortal enemies.
      • Name a Shakespeare work and odds are it happens at least once.

    Video Games

    • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Naked Snake (Big Boss) inherits the title of 'Boss' by killing The Boss.
    • In Halo, the Jiralhanae (Brutes) have this as their only method of ascension to the status of leader (who wield a symbolic and very powerful hammer.) However, it must be by way of a strict Duel to the Death, mono-e-mono.
      • Heck, the chieftain in Contact Harvest, Maccabeus, (who's more of a Reasonable Authority Figure than almost any other Brute so far) recalls that, when he challenged his own father for the right to lead, his father was happy when Maccabeus knifed him in the neck, as it was considered the best way for an old Brute warrior to go.
      • The Elites apparently have a similar system of promotion in effect.
        • Not entirely. The Cole Protocol novel has a newly-ascended feudal leader fighting off two assassins sent to kill him. After dispatching them, he shows up before the lower lords and disrobes to show that he doesn't have a mark on him (in the Elite society, to be wounded by an enemy is a grave dishonor, which can only be paid back in blood). He then proceeds to execute the lord who sent the assassins, which is their version of a vote of no-confidence. Why? Because the lord didn't challenge him openly. The only reason he didn't slaughter the lord's entire family but had them exiled instead was because the lord fought back at the last second, showing he had some honor left.
    • In Red Alert 3, Four words: Premier PLAYER NAME HERE.
      • Justified in that the former Premier went nuts and was going to kill you (and a good part of the world). By the time he's dead, you are the highest ranking party member still alive.
    • In the first Command & Conquer game, Seth takes a dangerous initiative that Kane had explicitly forbidden: Attacking the States. After shooting him mid-sentence, Kane congratulates you for your promotion.
      • The first Red Alert game would probably have you believe you should be looking behind your back when you're "promoted."
        • The way the game was originally designed, during the moment where Gradenko or later Zhukov gets killed, instead they would be fighting to the death. A pistol conviently lands in front of you. And then, you got to choose who to shoot - Stalin? Or Gradenko. This opens many worms since Gradenko was an Alliance defector.
          • In the Soviet ending, just as Stalin celebrates victory in Buckingham Palace, the tea he drinks turns out to be poisoned by none other than Nadia. In his dying moment, he gets to look at Nadia and his 'advisory' pointing a gun to him. Long story short, you get told you are being promoted to premier.
            • Oh forget it, you pretty much end up Premier in EVERY Red Alert game.
    • Malak tries to pull this off in Knights of the Old Republic. It doesn't work as well as he had planned. He mentions when you meet him that his power base is weaker than it would otherwise be because he didn't do it personally like the Sith are supposed to.
      • The Dark Side ending has you show Malak how a Sith Promotion is done properly. With a side of revenge for kicking you out to begin with.
    • This is basically the entire premise of No More Heroes. Wanna be the #1 assassin in America? Then just go kill the current #1, as well as any other assassins ranked ahead of you.
    • Wanna be the Guy, kid? Here's a gun and a cape, so go take out the Guy. Just watch out for those spikes, and that apple that falls upward, and those eggplants, and the spike pit that stands up and starts chasing you through the level.
    • In Makai Kingdom, Klingon Promotion also seems to be the standard method of Overlord succession in the Nippon Ichiverse. Even humans who kill a strong enough Demon Overlord (or enough) will become one. And if a Demon Overlord were to kill enough other Demon Overlords; they would become something... else.
    • Similar to No More Heroes above, in MadWorld you ascend the ranks of the gladiator game by killing those above you. Unlike No More Heroes, you don't need to be directly below their rank to gain it. Which is just as well, since you start out ranked 256th. Thankfully, killing the very first boss cuts that nearly in half, putting you at rank 198. Unfortunately, subsequent bosses ranks are much closer to each other, so you don't climb the ladder nearly so quickly after that.
    • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Killing drug lord Ricardo Diaz has the main character inherit his mansion and his gang in a very Scarface-like fashion.
    • In Jagged Alliance 2, an example done by good guys, out of the five Santos brothers, Manny, the youngest one is a failure and does not own his own bar, instead he is working in someone else's bar. However, it just happen that his employer is a wanted international terrorist, so you can kill him for cash. Once you have done so, Manny will become the new bartender.
    • Morrowind. Great House Telvanni, a political faction made up of ancient, amoral wizards, explicitly tells new recruits that thievery, backstabbing and murder are not only common but accepted (and required) means of rising through the ranks. And while you can be expelled for murdering fellow house members, your penance "quest" consists of the person who let you join in the first place saying, "Oh, you were expelled?" and then letting you back in.

    "If you steal from another Telvanni, but still live, then clearly you deserve whatever you stole. Murdering your opponents by magic or treachery is the traditional way of settling disputes. If you win, then clearly your argument has more merit. You may be expelled as in any other Great House, but most Telvanni will not care or even know about it."

    • Played with interestingly in Final Fantasy X, of all games, where the revelation of the Klingon Promotion is a major part of the development of the Church of Yevon. The first time we see Seymour, he has just taken over his late father Jyscal's position of Maester (roughly equivalent to some sort of sub-Pope) in the Church of Yevon, at that time in the game an apparent Saintly Church, dedicated to stopping fiends and Sin, making one suspect some nepotism but as Seymour is established as being already a high-ranking church official, it passes. Several hours later in the game, it is revealed that Seymour killed his father discreetly in order to get said position, cementing his status as a viable villain of the game and finishing the transformation of the Church of Yevon into a Corrupt Church. (It was Operation Mi'ihen that started said transformation, for completeness's sake). Some time yet later in the game (it varies, depending on how much Level Grinding the player had to do to defeat Evrae), it is revealed that not only did Seymour kill his father for his position, but that the rest of his peers, including the Pope-equivalent and de facto ruler of the world, were aware of his plot and condoned it as a way for Seymour to access the Maestership, thus proving that it really is Klingon Promotion at its finest and sending the Church of Yevon straight into Religion of Evil territory.
      • You mention all of that and not the fact that Sin is the fusion of Yevon itself and the summon spell of the previous person to take him down. Kill the Aeon that Yevon possesses, and your final Aeon becomes the next vessel.
    • This is pretty much how Kormir became a god in Guild Wars: Nightfall, and for that matter what happened after Grenth defeated the previous god of death, Dhuum. It's implied Grenth wasn't the first, too.
    • Parodied in the Touhou game Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, when Marisa asks Sakuya if she can become chief maid by killing her. The answer is no.
    • At the end of the first God of War game Kratos kills Ares and becomes the new Greek God of War.
    • When you infiltrate the Lotus Assassins' fortress in Jade Empire, your supervisor, Master Gang, expects you to help him replace his superior Master Shin by this means. Another of Gang's acolytes points out that "if one vacancy would raise us all, two vacancies would raise us even farther."
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, it is eventually revealed that Benny, proud bearer of the Idiot Ball, is the head of the Chairmen for this very reason. It should be clarified: Benny isn't stupid, and can be downright ruthless, but he tends not to think things all the way through.
      • You can help Benny's second in command get a similar promotion. Similarly, you can replace the heads of the Omertas with Cachino, who promises to make an effort to "run a tight ship".
      • The Independent path essentially means doing this to Mr. House.
    • In Mitsumete Knight R: Daibouken Hen, a second playthrough of the game reveals this is part of the Backstory of no less than The Hero, Christopher MacLeod: in order to infiltrate Orcadia Empire, so he can strike at the right moment to achieve his Revenge and destroy it, he climbed to the prestigious rank of Captain of the Imperial Guard's Knights part through his own abilities, part through underhand tactics such as assassinating or permanently crippling higher-ranked people and potential replacement for them.
    • Escape From St Marys: The chemistry department has their own tradition of underlings slaying the head to take control.
    • Warcraft: While this is not standard in orc society, Orgrim Doomhammer becomes warchief of The Horde by killing Blackhand, after finding out that not only is Blackhand just a puppet of the Shadow Council, but that Blackhand was involved in the death of Orgrim's best friend Durotan (Thrall's father). In fact, Blackhand's own sons carried out the assassination of Durotan and his mate.
    • Prior to Soul Calibur 5, Yoshimitsu the Second defeated and killed the original Yoshimitsu to take the latter's title and become the new leader of the Manji Clan.
    • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Ulfric claims to be the High King of Skyrim because he slew King Torygg in "a legal duel". The Empire, however, does not consider his claim valid and named Torygg's widow Elsif to the provincial throne.


    • Implemented very literally at the beginning of the Klingon storyline for Star Trek Online — you acquire your initial command by assassinating the captain of the ship you're serving on at the start of the game. Of course, he's been treating with the enemy, so you're not exactly killing him in cold blood, but still...

    Web Comics

    • A similar event occured here during Gordon's trip to Nova Prospekt in Concerned.
    • This is how the drow change their current Matriarch in Corner Alley 13.
    • Somewhat subverted in Girl Genius, here.
    • In the Sluggyverse, the anthropomorphic incarnations of the holidays can be killed by mortals (or each other, or aliens). The slayer, by "right of caste", then becomes the new personification of the holiday. Bun-Bun the killer rabbit accidentally became the Easter Bunny by this process. In order to stop being the Easter Bunny, he set out to kill all the other holidays. Once in possession of all their powers, he could then change the rules. But he was defeated in the end by Mrs. Claus.
    • Done with numbers in this Penny Arcade strip.
    • This is Frans' plan to become the president in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja.
      • As the Doctor points out: "That's ... not how our government works."
    • Semi-averted in Kevin and Kell: Kell intervenes in a fight between Herd Thinners CEO R.L. and Executive Frank Mangle. R.L. and Mangle are seriously injured and, because she was the "last man standing" (as it were), she is promoted to CEO of Herd Thinners.
    • The Order of the Stick: This is how Redcloak becomes the supreme leader of the hobgoblins. Unwilling to take part in the painful, humiliating and time-consuming initation rituals, Redcloak is informed that he can become leader by killing the current one, which he does. However, it turns out that Redcloak ends up killing a random hobgoblin, but the real supreme leader, seeing how powerful Redcloak was, choose not to press the issue.
    • Ashton does this in Winters in Lavelle; killing the dragon prince grants him the deceased monarch's land and status "by rite of blood." Though, the killer probably would have been executed instead, except he was also a dragon.
    • Mentioned as having happened in this "Cliffhangers" strip of Irregular Webcomic!

    Web Originals

    • This is how Dorf Quest deals with gods: A sufficiently powerful mortal may challenge one in a duel in order to gain his or her godhood. In addition, it takes ten years to get properly used to these new powers, during which the new god is (relatively) easy prey. It has been established that the turnabout rate is quite high, although there are also four gods who have never been defeated.
    • And it may be how the ruling clique at WhateleyAcademy works in the Whateley Universe. More than one student has speculated that Team Kimba could become the Alphas just by beating down the current Alphas and laying claim to the position. And Team Kimba has already demonstrated they can do it if they want to.
    • This was The Nostalgia Chick's plan to get the presidency of Kickassia: kill The Nostalgia Critic.
    • Played straight in The Salvation War's first book with Hell: other than Satan, the demon hierarchy works this way... which suits Satan just fine. However, as things go to hell Colonel Keisha Stevenson (US Army) inadvertently becomes a participant by gunning down a Hell village's lord. She is far more benevolent than him, but presumably abdicated the position once Civil Affairs troops arrived.

    Western Animation

    • The throne of Trisol, a planet in Futurama, works this way, with the end result being each Emperor only rules for a short time before he's drunk. Did we mention the beings of Trisol are living water who sleep in bottles? And "a short time" means he's usually done away with the night after his coronation?
      • In fact, the longest reign of any emperor was one week. In the palace's portrait gallery, there are empty frames after Fry's portrait labeled "Fry's Assassin" and "Fry's Assassin's Assassin".

    Fry: Well, at least my assassin gets what's coming to him.

        • Hell, while Fry's saying this, someone tries to drink him.
      • Also from "Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences" while referring to Lrrr's king cape:

    Grrrl: Nice cape. Where'd you get it?
    Lrrr: What, this old thing? I murdered my father.

    • Disney's Aladdin: The third movie features the Forty Thieves (as in "Ali Baba and ...") and Aladdin causes the death of one in self-defense. He's sure the others are about to butcher him when they say it can only mean one thing. The One Thing is that he's now a member, unless someone kills him, which they'll be more than happy to do if he doesn't measure up. (If that's not bad enough, the former holder of his position is Not Quite Dead, and wants it back. That can only happen one way.)
    • In Shadow Raiders, that's the policy for the rulership of planet Bone. although we discover near the series' end that Femur couldn't entirely stomach killing his brother, the king at the time, and merely imprisoned him on the Prison Planet in order to take the throne.
    • In nearly twenty-five years of being in various Transformers series, Starscream accomplished this exactly once. And mere hours later Galvatron (a reformatted Megatron) came back to do the same thing to him.
      • This is, essentially, how the Decepticons work. The same for the descendants, the Predacons. The Beast Wars Megatron even points out after an attempted assassination by Tarantulas that he's ok with treachery. It's incompetence he hates.
        • When Rhinox is infected with a virus that turns him into a Predacon, he immediately starts plotting against Megatron... and nearly succeeds. Rhinox is really smart. Trying to make him ruthless is probably not a good idea. And then Megatron goes and does it again.
    • Played for laughs in Justice League Unlimited. Shayera confesses to her romantic rival Vixen that she is unsure of Earth ways of rivalry; "It's not like I can poison your water or something. *sigh* I miss Thanagar." As Vixen leaves after their workout, Shayera casually tosses her a water bottle. Vixen pauses for a moment, claims she's not worried, then disposes of it.
    • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, it's established that Lucius became ruler of Miseryville after freezing his father solid. As it turns out, this is how every Heinous took control of the town.

    Real Life

    • This is also the de facto way many world countries pick their leaders in Real Life.
    • Kingdom of Israel in the Bible makes this trope Older Than Feudalism.
      • Likewise, the kingdom of Assyria decided its inheritance of throne simply by civil war where the princes began to murder and assassinate each other. The last of the sons of the former king alive became the new king.
    • There were 25 different Roman emperors between the years 235 and 284, mainly because they kept getting assassinated.
      • Mainly for this reason, there's a rather small proportion of Roman emperors whose sons succeeded them. At least once, there were six separate claimants to the imperial throne - with a few exceptions, no matter what kind of crisis the empire might be in you could generally count on there being someone else who was trying to get on top.
      • Some years were worse than others, with multiple people becoming emperor and being overthrown. In 69 AD 4 people were Emperor, in 193 AD 5 people were Emperor, and in 238 AD 6 people were Emperor.
    • Another cute Roman example- If you successfully prosecuted a Roman Senator in court, you obtained their rank. Cicero only sued people who were of higher rank than him (He was mostly a Defence Counsel) so he could take their ranks and move up the Senate Hierarchy list- which determined your right to stand for certain offices or obtain the floor of the Senate in a debate.
    • Technically happened to Prince Dipendra, perpetrator of the 2001 Nepal royal massacre—after murdering his father (the King), his mother (the Queen), and several relatives, he shot himself—as he lay in a coma in hospital, he was technichally King of Nepal. He died after a three-day reign.
      • Leaving someone who had been very far down on the succession, who had never expected to be king or trained for it, as the next heir. He was so incompetent that Nepal became a Republic.
    • During the Middle Ages, the Abbasid Caliphate was pretty much nothing but this. There was at least one caliph who ruled only for a day before being assassinated. Eventually, rulers started a tradition of sending their sons into exile to cut down on the amount of random dethronings.
      • This reached its pinnacle during the Ottoman Empire when the sultans would imprison their heirs in Kafes, literally "The Golden Cage", a prison palace. Of course, the future sultans who grew up in the confines of the Cage would often turn out even crazier and stabbier than their predecessors.
      • Almost all Islamic states in the Middle Ages arranged their inheritance of throne by Klingon Promotion principle. They admired the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem on how smoothly there the crown passed from the dead to living, without the country collapsing into anarchy and civil war.
        • Averted by the Medieval French slogan King is dead; long live the King, implying that the old King had already nominated his legitimate successor, thus preventing the Klingon Promotion from occurring.
    • During the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) on the 18th February 1913 three people were president in one day. President Francisco Madero was forced to resign and Pedro Lascurain became president. 45 minutes later Victoriano Huerta forced President Pedro Lascurain to resign and became the new president.
    • Sand tiger sharks. They are live-born, and only one or two actually make it out into the world (even though several are inside of the mother.) They fight and kill each other inside the freaking womb, leaving only a survivor or two.
    • The English "War of the Roses" was basically a series of these (although several of them were by proxy the intent is the same) with a couple of natural deaths thrown in for extra chaos factor. The eventual winner (Henry Tudor -- no not that Henry Tudor) actually picked his crown up out of the mud after it fell of the severed head of his predecessor, Richard III.
    • According to Sir George Fraser's The Golden Bough there was a shrine in Italy that decided the title to the priesthood by this method. According to the writer this was an adaptation of a Pre-classical Greek Human Sacrifice ritual, though "anthropological" methods in Fraser's time were less than scientific, so his interpretation should be viewed warily.