Legacy Character

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All five of the Robins.[1] All of them have been sidekicks to the same guy[2]
"Roberts had grown so rich, he wanted to retire. He took me to his cabin and he told me his secret. 'I am not the Dread Pirate Roberts,' he said. 'My name is Ryan; I inherited the ship from the previous Dread Pirate Roberts, just as you will inherit it from me. The man I inherited it from is not the real Dread Pirate Roberts either. His name was Cummerbund. The real Roberts has been retired 15 years and living like a king in Patagonia.' Then he explained the name is the important thing to inspire the necessary fear. You see, no one would ever surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley."
The Dread Pirate Roberts, The Princess Bride

A Legacy Character is a character whose identity is passed down to them from an older character in the form of a title, job or persona for the newer character to assume. There are many ways this can come about:

  • A mentor may pass their mantle on to their Sidekick.
  • A sidekick is written out of the story and the mentor choses a new person to take on the sidekick's mantle.
  • A character learns of their predecessor's legacy and is inspired to take up the mantle on their own.
  • The character is a Chosen One in a long line of similarly Chosen.
  • The legacy is a title or code name passed along to every person to hold the position regardless of relation, and the title becomes their primary identity.

Outside of the work, Legacy Characters are especially popular as superheroes and action heroes, or any job that involves a Secret Identity. Long Runners that span multiple generations of characters are the most likely to use them, but they can also be created as part of a back-story, such as a Secret Legacy.

Adaptations of a work with Legacy Characters to other media often only reference the current or best known holder of the legacy, only referencing other incarnations as a Mythology Gag. Younger heroes carrying the mantle often get a Rogues Gallery to match their predecessors, either via villains having kids of their own (much to the parent's chagrin), or younger villains "honoring" their own villainous legacy.

This may become Generation Xerox if everyone around the Legacy Character is also a Legacy Character. If the Legacy Character is a descendant (probably because Lamarck Was Right), you've got yourself a Spin Offspring. If he's a former sidekick, it's Sidekick Graduations Stick.

Many involve a formal moment of Passing the Torch, when the older character hands over responsibility to the younger, or a Take Up My Sword moment, if the older character dies. This is also convenient in creating change without actually fundamentally changing a title character's book. If people within the universe don't realize that there's a new man behind the mask and thus start spreading rumors he can't die, he's got Legacy Immortality.

In recent years, passing the torch to a minority character has become a popular choice.

See also Dying to Be Replaced. Compare The Nth Doctor.

Examples of Legacy Character include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Chibi-Usa of Sailor Moon could possibly count, being in training to become the next Sailor Moon, although she only ever appears in-series as a Bratty Half-Pint Sidekick with a cute addition to the name.
    • By the same token, Usagi is destined to become the next Queen Serenity.
  • In .hack//Legend of the Twilight Bracelet, the plot starts when the male and female lead win the in-game characters of the male and female lead from the original .hack games; as well, Mirelle uses the account of Mistral, also from said games -- the original Mistral being her mother.
    • This is taken a step farther in the .hack//GU games, where more than half-a-dozen characters are played by the same people as characters from the original games, only with new character identities -- including the main character of the game, Haseo, who is played by the same player as Sora. Among the other retreads are Endrance, Kuhn, Yata, and Piros (who is blatantly obvious about it).
    • In addition, Kite's character design has been used by no fewer than four characters to date: Kite himself, Shugo, Azure Kite, Sakuya from .hack//Quantum, and Sora from The Movie.
  • In the manga Magic Kaito, the title character discovers his father was a thief, the Kaitou Kid, and takes on the job, to finish what his father started before he died.
  • Many fans consider Yu-Gi-Oh! GXs Yuki Judai a Legacy Character for Yu-Gi-Oh!s Yugi Mutou, especially as the former's Duel Spirit partner Winged Kuriboh was directly given to him by the latter. However, Judai is still working on becoming the next "King Of Games".
    • A more accurate version involves Kaiser: after the previous owner of the title, Marufuji Ryo, did a Face Heel Turn and defiled the title, his brother Sho begins waxing and waning in his desire to take it up himself and restore it to its original prestige. He's finally given the mantle (and subsequent deck) by Ryo after Ryo's brush with This Is Your Brain on Evil, and Sho proved himself worthy of the honor by using the deck to successfully defend against a rival bent on eradicating all trace of the Cyber-Style dueling method that made the title of Kaiser so famous.
  • Ban and Ginji are the third generation of the GetBackers.
  • The eponymous character of Kino's Journey took the mantle of the person who "enlightened" her after he died.
    • Amusingly, she got the idea by accident—at least in the anime version. Hermes mistook her mourning the original Kino for saying her name, and she just ran with it.
  • In xxxHolic after the disappearance/death of Yuuko, Watanuki made an agreement to live without aging or leaving the shop while he runs it, waiting for her to return.
  • Hinted at in the end of Captain Harlock: Endless Odyssey. It's noted in the beginning that Harlock has taken to space with the expressed purpose of looking for a place to die. The end of this series saw him and Tadashi Daiba locked in a Mexican Standoff after Harlock gave Tadashi one of his guns and said, essentially, "Kill me before I kill you. The credits rolled before anyone shot, but it sure looked like a "Dread Pirate Harlock" ending...
  • At the very end of Code Geass Suzaku takes over the role of Zero permanently, at the request of Lelouch (the original Zero). Which is actually kind of messed up, given the first thing Lelouch asks Suzaku to do as Zero is kill him.
  • In Death Note, L becomes one of these; Light and later Near adopt his persona and identity, though the "mask" is only a letter on a computer screen.
  • In the Universal Century (UC) timeline, the various Gundams (Mk II, Zeta, Double Zeta, Nu etc.) created after the end of the One Year War are all Legacy Machines, named in honor of the original RX-78-2. The GM (itself an example of this, being a mass-produced version of the Gundam) and the Zaku have also had their fair share of similar-looking and similarly-named successors as well. The tradition carried on to other timelines, in which the Gundam's successor is usually identified by the familiar white, blue, red color scheme.
      • While Char Aznable has had no shortage of expies in other non-UC series, Gundam Unicorn's Full Frontal is (chronologically) his first in-universe Legacy Character.
      • Another would be Haro... just about every UC main story happens to have a Haro about as many times as there is a Gundam. This is also something that has be coming back into vogue, but only in the AU stories. The Cosmic Era, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, and Gundam AGE all feature the small mechanical toy.
    • Four years after the death of Neil Dylandy aka Lockon Stratos in the season 1 *final battle of Mobile Suit Gundam 00, his Backup Twin Lyle took over his Code Name (as well as his orange Haro).
    • Cosmic Era has the Flaga clan, being of superior nature through natural D.N.A, has the habit of being cloned, preserving their powers, ambitions, and devilishly good looks.
    • Gundam Wing's sequel Frozen Teardrop does this with Duo and Trowa, both of whom train protégées to pilot Gundams and give them their old names, Duo becoming Father Maxwell and Trowa "Doktor T", which he says stands for Triton, his birth name. Quatre's younger sister Catherine likewise becomes a pilot, but retains her own identity.
  • F-Zero Falcon Densetsu has Captain Falcon himself pass down the title of Captain Falcon just before the Falcon Punch.
  • 20th Century Boys has a villainous example: after Friend dies, an impostor takes his role.
  • Pretty Cure hinted at this in previous series, but it was not until Heartcatch Pretty Cure that an actual legacy character was included, with Tsubomi's grandmother having been a former Precure.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, 'Seijuro Hiko' is not the name of Kenshin's master. It was the name of the first master of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu, and since then, every master (except Kenshin) has taken that name as an alias so that they cannot use their style to seek glory for themselves. Kenshin's master is the 13th person to use that name.
  • D.N.Angel plays this straight and subverts it, since every Niwa male is the phantom Thief Dark, but Dark is also a separate being from them.
  • Gravion has one in the form of Raven, who was originally Sandman's assistant and passes on his memories through his mask to each successor, allowing each one to benefit from the accumulated knowledge and experience. It also apparently disguises them quite well, since Ayaka was quite capable of passing herself off as a slender bishonen despite her curves. Somehow.
  • Beatrice, the subtitular Golden Witch, is the second to have that name. The first was Virgilia.
  • In Baccano!, the name of Felix Walken is passed around from one assassin to another. The current Felix Walken is Claire Stanfield, who purchased it off "a really hot thirty-year old dame" so he could have a legal identity to marry Chane with.
  • In Saint Seiya Omega, Kouga takes Seiya's place as the new Pegasus Saint, so does Ryuuhou taking Shiryu's place as the Dragon Saint.
  • Yomiko Readman of Read or Die is the nineteenth person to use the codename "The Paper". Her immediate predecessor was her lover/mentor Donnie Nakajima.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Black Owl, a Golden Age superhero from Prize Comics, was the oldest comic example of this trope. During World War II, the original Black Owl joined the army, passing his costume to Walt Walters, father of Yank and Doodle, the superhero twins (and fellow Prize Comics characters) he once teamed up with.
  • James Robinson's Starman may have been the book responsible for the revival of the Legacy Character concept in The Modern Age of Comic Books. It introduced Jack Knight, the son of the Golden Age Starman and reluctant holder of the mantle, as well as grouping together all the unrelated characters who had used the name "Starman" over the years—apparently simply due to the coolness of the name—in a Myth Arc filled with atmosphere and scintillating characterization. One version even appears to have been inspired by the Ziggy Stardust song of the same name (complete with a Lampshade Hanging saying it was the other way around), which the original character preceded by about thirty years.
    • After the series ended, Jack Knight handed off his Cosmic Rod to Courtney Whitmore, AKA Star-Spangled Kid and Stargirl, who was a product of an entirely different legacy—her stepfather was Stripesy, the adult sidekick of the Golden Age Star-Spangled Kid. (Though the Star-Spangled Kid had used a variant of Starman's rod, a Cosmic Belt, during the '80s in Infinity, Inc.. The JSA's legacy connections are complicated.)
      • When the JSA was rebooted following Infinite Crisis, a new Starman joined the team. It was eventually revealed to be the Legionnaire Starboy AKA Thom Kallor, who had previously spent time on Earth-22. While all he shares with the other Starmen is the name and the ability to fly, Thom has the power of density manipulation and schizophrenia... and his suit is a map of The Multiverse and can function as a portable Cosmic Treadmill to allow easy multiversal travel.
  • In the 1960s and 1970s, Marvel Comics had a character called "Captain Marvel" (not to be confused with the one who shouts "Shazam!"); he died from cancer in one of the first large-format graphic novels. In the 1980s, a Coast Guard officer from New Orleans named Monica Rambeau gained energy powers and took the name "Captain Marvel". Eventually, she traded hero sobriquets with the genetically engineered son of the late original Captain, who then operated under the name "Captain Marvel". He was killed, and succeeded as "Captain Marvel" by his younger sister. (This third one came back, but took a different name, Photon—that Monica Rambeau had also used.) The original came Back from the Dead as a Shapeshifter Mode Lock Skrull.
    • Part of the reason that this legacy's endured is that, if Marvel Comics doesn't publish a Captain Marvel comic, they'll lose the trademark, and DC Comics will snap it up to use with their Captain Marvel character.
    • The whole issue about multiple Marvels in particular was mercilessly lampshaded in Nextwave.
  • The ultimate legacy character is Marvel Comics' size-changing hero Doctor Henry Pym; Pym has used five different superhero identities over the years (Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, and the Wasp), and no less than six people have adopted his discarded identities at various times: Scott Lang and Eric O'Grady have both used the Ant-Man identity (O'Grady is currently using it), Rita DeMara the Yellowjacket one, Bill Foster both the Giant-Man and Goliath names, and Clint Barton and Erik Josten the Goliath name (the latter being an interesting case, as he first used the name as a villain, before eventually doing a Heel Face Turn. And in Clint's case, he was Goliath after Josten but before Pym). Similar to the case of Clint Barton as Goliath, one of Pym's superhero identities is the Wasp, a name originally held by his ex-wife Janet van Dyne. After being mocked by foes such as Absorbing Man and realizing he needed to move on, Pym discarded the Wasp identity in favor of retaking the Giant-Man identity. Being a Pym legacy hero has a disturbingly high mortality rate, as three of these six (Lang, DeMara, and Foster) are currently deceased.
    • And now not only has Lang been resurrected, but it looks as though O'Grady has been killed off.
    • What's more, both Scott Lang and Bill Foster have inspired their own legacy heroes: Scott's daughter Cassie is currently the superhero Stature, while Foster's nephew Tom currently uses his Goliath identity, thus bringing the total number of Pym legacy characters to eight. Tom wanted to be Black Goliath, but people kept getting the name wrong.
    • It gets weirder. Pym also created the robot Ultron, who rebelled and created two more robots (Vision and Victor Mancha) who both rebelled from him and joined The Avengers and the Runaways, respectively. The Vision was programmed using brainwave patterns from Wonder Man. Vision married Scarlet Witch, and had two children with her who were killed but their souls (and thus powers) were placed in the bodies of Wiccan and Speed (members of the Young Avengers; we'll get to them in a minute). Vision was then destroyed in the "Avengers Disassembled" story line. In the aftermath, a young Kang the Conqueror uses his own shapeshifting power armor and data copied from the Vision's remains to become Iron Lad, another Young Avenger. Kang eventually goes back to his own time, but leaves the Iron Lad armor behind, which has now gained sentience thanks to the Vision program and has become a legacy character to Vision I. Whew!
      • Vision II also developed the hots for Stature, the aforementioned legacy of Scott Lang, one of Pym's legacies. So it's a quasi-incestuous Tangled Family Tree.
      • And now as of the end of the Children's Crusade, both Vision and Stature are dead. Unsurprisingly, the original Vision has now returned in the wake of his successor's death.
    • As stated, Wiccan, Speed, Iron Lad, Vision II, and Stature have all been members of the Young Avengers, which is composed entirely of Legacy Characters. But there's the twist that some members' apparent legacies differ from their actual ones: Hulkling is actually Captain Marvel's kid; and while Wiccan looks like he takes after Thor (he started out as "Asgardian"), his powers actually come from the Scarlet Witch.
    • Besides being passed on to Hank in the mainstream continuity, the Wasp identity is also a legacy mantle in the Ultimate Marvel universe. Following Jan's death during the critically panned Ultimatum crossover, former villainess Petra Laskov was given a similar costume and abilities by S.H.I.E.L.D., and joined the Avengers under the name Red Wasp.
  • Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern, turned out to have unconsciously taken the name of the universe-spanning special forces group known as the Green Lantern Corps. His powers are even (indirectly) connected to theirs, revealed as the excess magic removed from the universe by the Corps' bosses, the Guardians. The Silver Age Green Lantern, who begat the Corps, was the Revival style of legacy, notable for not quite being a legacy in-character.
    • Except for Arisia whose family has comprised all of the Green Lanterns from her sector.
  • The Trope is deconstructed with Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, in which it's revealed all of the various Batman incarnations are real. All of them.
  • The five Robins, of Batman fame, are somewhat of a special case, each the sidekick of the same unchanging character. Dick Grayson, who went on to become Nightwing, left the job to Jason Todd, who was killed by The Joker. Tim Drake figured out Dick's and Bruce's identities, and when he went to persuade Dick to become Robin again he found himself stepping into the position. At one point, Tim had a Ten-Minute Retirement, leaving the space open for Stephanie Brown, formerly a solo heroine known as the Spoiler. She then died in a Story Arc that shook up Gotham City and readers pretty badly and caused Tim to return to the job. The fifth Robin is Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne's son. In this case however, he started off as Robin to Dick Grayson while he was Batman, before becoming Bruce's new sidekick once Dick became Nightwing again after Flashpoint.
    • For a humorous take on the Robin history, see The Drunken Guide to Comic Books.
    • According to Marv Wolfman, around the time Jason Todd was introduced, one of the Batman writers wanted to de-age Dick Grayson and return him to being Batman's sidekick. As writer on Teen Titans, DC's hottest property at the time, Wolfman weilded a lot of power, and, not wanting to have Dick's Character Development undone, suggested that instead, Dick Grayson could move on to a new identity and a new Robin could be introduced as a publicity stunt (since that sort of thing had never really happened before).
    • In Batman Beyond, Terry McGinnis actually takes up the Batman identity.
    • Elseworld story Dark Knight Dynasty reinvented Batman as a Legacy Character, creating both an ancestor of Bruce's called Sir Joshua of Wainwright who wore bat-motif armour, and a descendant named Brenna Wayne who became a 25th century Batwoman. All three of them faced Vandal Savage.
    • The show also has a biker gang calling themselves the Jokers. They paint their faces but are otherwise just an ordinary gang. When the real Joker returns, he doesn't much care for them.
  • Just to make it more complicated, Dick Grayson also served as Batman while the latter was recovering from an injury, and returned to the role when Batman "died." Jason Todd stole the Red Hood identity from The Joker (making him a Legacy Villain) and also wore the costume of Red Robin, an alternate reality Dick Grayson - a costume now worn by Tim Drake. In at least one alternate future, Tim Drake himself will become Batman, and in another, Damien Wayne will. The Bat Family is less about legacy than clothing fetishes.
    • The Killing Joke depicts the Red Hood identity as a sort of extra-disposable Legacy Character shared by the members of a criminal gang, who foisted the hood on whichever accomplice they'd recruited for a specific job and didn't want to risk being seen with. Whether that's right or not depends on which Multiple Choice Past you prefer for The Joker.
  • Nightwing and his sidekick Flamebird are also legacy characters: the first Nightwing was actually none other than Superman himself, Kal-El/Clark Kent, who needed to become a Batman-like vigilante when he was in the Bottle City of Kandor. He later allowed his cousin Van-Zee (who had an Uncanny Family Resemblance to the Man of Steel) to use the identity to fight crime in the bottle city after Superman left. The best known Nightwing, former Robin Dick Grayson, then decided to adopt the name after he left Batman as a homage to both him and Superman. After One Year Later another former Robin, Jason Todd, became a more sociopathic version to mock Grayson, and a woman named Cheyenne Freemont became a heroic version to help Dick. When Power Girl went to Kandor she also adopted the Nightwing persona. There is also an unrelated superhero called Nite-Wing who got his name from a deli he frequented. The mantle was briefly passed to Chris Kent, the adopted son of Superman. Sometime after poor Chris was trapped (seemingly forever) in the Phantom Zone, Dick Grayson retook the Nightwing identity following his lengthy tenure as Batman.
    • Flamebird was originally none other then Mr. Action himself, Jimmy Olsen. After he left the bottle city the former Elastic Lad gave the title to the new Nightwing's son-in-law Ak-Var. Post-Crisis the original Bat-Girl Bette Kane took the name to impress Nightwing and is probably the best known Flamebird. Supergirl took the identity when she went to Kandor. Even though the first 2 were male the name is now associated with female characters so much that when Superman retook the Nightwing identity, Lois Lane and not Olsen was his sidekick, and the sixth Flamebird Thara Var is the wife of the second Flamebird (who apparently no longer exists). Thara was eventually killed, and in a completely unrelated storyline, Bette decided to take up the Flamebird identity again in order to fight crime with the new Batwoman, her cousin Kate.
    • The Crisis really messed this up: how Dick Grayson could know about the Kandorian Nightwing when, post-Crisis, there were no other surviving Kryptonians (and hence no Kandor) was never properly explained. Eventually, a Kandor was introduced, but it wasn't like the original, and Grayson was Nightwing long before the city appeared.
      • For the record, post-Crisis the original Nightwing was a mythological Kryptonian hero-figure. When Superman got on a kick for rediscovering his Kryptonian heritage he learned the story of Nightwing, told Dick Grayson about it, and Dick was inspired to adopt the name for himself.
  • Batman's other sidekick, Batgirl, is also a legacy character. Betty Kane was the original Bat-Girl introduced in the 1950's, but she was retconned out of the DCU history and then brought back again as a minor heroine called Flamebird. Barbara Gordon became Batgirl, the "first" Batgirl in current continuity since Betty Kane never existed, and held the role until The Killing Joke, when The Joker shot and crippled her. The first actual legacy transfer occured when the Batgirl mantle was picked up years later by Helena Bertinelli, the Huntress, when she realized the crooks were more afraid of Batman than they were of her. This only lasted a short while however, since Batman never gave her his consent or blessing. Eventually the costume passed to Cassandra Cain, an "official" Batgirl with the consent and partnership of Batman. Cassandra unceremoniously gave up the identity in the new ongoing Batgirl series and took on the new moniker of Blackbat. The cowl was picked up by Stephanie Brown, previously the Spoiler and the fourth Robin (See also Robin entry above), who starred in an acclaimed but short-lived solo series before having the Batgirl mantle returned to Barbara Gordon.
  • Clayface, one of the Batman villains, has had no fewer than six entirely different people take the name and powers. In an odd divergence, the original Clayface didn't actually have any powers—until he arranged to duplicate those of his three "heirs".
  • Batman and Robin's British counterparts aren't exempt, either. The original Knight and Squire were the Earl of Wordenshire and his son Cyril. The Earl was killed by one of his archenemies, and Cyril sank into depression, ending up in the gutter, where he was found by Beryl Hutchinson. Cyril took up his father's codename, becoming the new Knight, and Beryl became the new Squire.
  • This trope is played with in the beginning of Gotham Central, dealing with the actions of Firebug, an arsonist villain who has just returned to Gotham after a long absence. The Gotham City police Department eventually managed to rack down Joseph Rigger and arrested him after him tried to escape out the window, only for him to reveal that he sold the damn suit two years ago after it almost killed him. The real culprit is deduced and arrested, and it turns out to be an upper-class twit who bought the suit and runs around burning down banks for the adrenaline rush.
  • After decades as Aquaman's sidekick and a member of the Teen Titans, Garth, the first Aqualad, graduated to the Tempest identity and was ultimately killed off. Following his death, a new Aqualad named Kaldur'ahm (human name Jackson Hyde) appeared and became Aquaman's new sidekick. This Aqualad was initially created for the Young Justice animated series before being brought over into the comics.
  • Supergirl is an odd case. Suffice to say, there have been several different Supergirls Post-Crisis; see the entry for details.
  • Rachel Summers, of the X-Men, is the daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey from an alternate future. She has taken on both of her "mother"'s identities, as Phoenix and currently as Marvel Girl.
  • Alan Moore referenced this in Watchmen, his Deconstruction of the Superhero genre, creating Legacy Characters in the context of a contained story. The "original" Silk Spectre retired early in this world's history and started training and stage-mothering her daughter to succeed her, while Nite Owl I handed over his mantle to an admirer.
  • During The Death of Superman arc, there were four vigilantes that took up the mantle. One actually admitted that he wasn't Superman from the start, and another is actually the villain.
  • Played with in Neil Gaiman's rendition of The Sandman, where his version of the character, instead of being the latest in the line, is presented as the original of whom the earlier characters are merely imitations. Used straight as well: the original Dream dies at the end, passing on his powers to a successor.
    • In Gaiman's version, the Sandman is Morpheus, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Dream, and a being who is more powerful than most gods. In 1988, as Gaiman's series began, he escaped from a seven-decade-long imprisonment, which not coincidentally put him out of the way during the years in which the earlier Sandman characters had been operating.
    • The original Sandman was a 1930s fedora-and-gasmask-wearing hero with a "gas gun" that knocked out criminals, leaving them for the police to pick up the next morning. In Gaiman's Revision, it was explained that this Sandman was (without being consciously aware of it) symbolically filling a gap left in the world by Morpheus' imprisonment.
    • DC also published, in the 1970s, a superhero called the Sandman who lived in a dream dome and patrolled people's dreams with his wife. In Gaiman's Revision, the dream world he patrolled was only a small part of the total Dreaming, staked out by a pair of rogue nightmares during Morpheus' imprisonment; the nightmares posed as his comic-relief sidekicks while manipulating this Sandman's actions to their own ends.
    • The Sandman's former sidekick, Sandy Hawkins, drew from both Sandmen when he joined the JSA; he took on the gas mask and sleep gas of Wesley Dodds, and the prophetic dreams that connected him to Dream. He was also briefly ensnared by the aforementioned rogue nightmares and forced to play out the adventures of the '70s Sandman.
  • In Alan Moore's Tomorrow Stories, the Cobweb and her sidekick Clarice are descended from a line of heroines and villainesses dating back to the 16th century, when their ancestors discovered the secret of parthenogenesis.
  • Marvel's MC2 alternate future has a slew of these, the most famous being Spider-Girl, Spider-Man's daughter. There's also a new Green Goblin, the original's grandson Normie, though he eventually hands the role back to former heroic Goblin Phil Urich. Many other Marvel heroes have MC2 counterparts, as well as teams, such as the Fantastic Five, the X-People, and Avengers Next, the last of which includes American Dream, a Distaff Counterpart to Captain America (comics).
  • Probably the craziest example in The DCU is The Joker's Daughter. Appearing in the mid-70s Batman titles, she claimed to be the daughter of a different Bat-villain each time, with a costume to match. She was eventually revealed as Two-Face's daughter, who rejected her and her mother because he (of course) wanted twins. She then joined the cast of Teen Titans as "Harlequin" until that title's cancellation not long after. Afterwards, she mostly disappeared, cameoing Post-Crisis as a mental patient and staying that way until the run-up to Infinite Crisis, which had her gleefully claiming to be the daughter of everyone from Doomsday to Punch and Jewelee, until she was killed for shock value and retroactively revealed as the daughter of the Mirror Universe heroic version of The Joker, the Jokester.
  • Wildcat in Justice Society of America, upon discovering a hitherto-unknown son with conveniently catlike powers, says the son should use the same codename, with a bit of Lampshade Hanging regarding all the other legacies out there. Unusually, this leads to both the original and the legacy being active on the same team with the same codename.
    • A similar problem resulted when Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow, came back from the dead... thereby putting him in conflict with his illegitimate son, Connor Hawke, the current Green Arrow. The two shared the title for a few years, but then, probably for ease of use, Connor Hawke was shot and declared brain-dead.
    • He got better...sort of. Now he's not an archer anymore but he still has mad martial arts skills, plus he has a new healing factor after having his DNA spliced with Plastic Man's.
  • The Human Torch was originally a Golden Age character from Timely Comics, who was on the cover of the first issue of their flagship title ("Marvel Comics"). He was a Frankensteinian android who could catch fire and fly. When Timely became Marvel in the 60's and Stan and Jack created the Fantastic Four, they reused the Torch's design, this time making him a young human. Eventually, Marvel started bringing back their Golden Age characters, which inevitably led to the two Torches involved in a Let's You and Him Fight situation.
  • Ronnie Raymond, the original Firestorm, was killed off in the controversial Identity Crisis storyline and had his powers passed on to teenager Jason Rusch. Several years later during the events of Blackest Night, Ronnie was resurrected and merged with Jason. In the wake of the DC relaunch, a new Firestorm series was launched that retconned Ronnie and Jason into being teenaged contemporaries who both became Firestorm together after being caught up in the same nuclear accident.
  • Firestorm's Arch Enemy Killer Frost is also a legacy. The original Killer Frost was Crystal Frost, who died and was replaced by her protoge, Louise Lincoln. A third Killer Frost named Loren Fontier was introduced in the DC relaunch.
  • The first Atom was Al Pratt back during the 1940's, but the title was made most famous by the second bearer, Ray Palmer, in the 1960's. Palmer briefly passed on the identity to teenager Adam Cray during the 1980's, but became the Atom once again after Cray's murder. In 2006, Palmer was succeeded by Ryan Choi, but was again forced out of retirement after Choi was killed just a few years later during the Brightest Day event. Following a massive racial controversy over Choi's death, it was announced that Palmer would be retired yet again while Choi would be resurrected and restored to the Atom identity in a relaunced Justice League book.
  • The Hawkman and Hawkgirl/woman Continuity Snarl began as a well-intentioned attempt to turn the Silver Age Hawks into in-story as well as revival Legacy Characters of the Golden Age ones. Since the originals were humans with a mystical origin and the second set were alien Space Police, and since several contradicting origin stories had been given for both pairs by writers who couldn't be bothered to give a rat's ass about continuity, this eventually snowballed into a tangled mess which resulted in all the various characters with "Hawk" in front of their names being merged into a giant crazy hawk-god thing and Put on a Bus.
  • Though Hunter Rose was the first and the most well-known to take on the persona of Grendel, after him there was Christine Spar, Brian Li Sung, Eppy Thatcher, Orion Assante and eventually Jupiter Assante. Unusual in that it wasn't entirely by choice that this particular identity was passed on; most successors to the Grendel role had never even met their predecessors, and are separated in time by decades if not centuries.
  • The original Amazing-Man was Will Everett, a member of the All-Star Squadron. Decades later, the identity was taken up by his nephew, Will Everett III, who was a member of the Justice League and Extreme Justice. After his death, the identity was taken over by his cousin, Markus Clay, who was a member of the Justice Society of America. In the wake of the New 52 relaunch, a new Amazing-Man named Rocker Bonn has been introduced as a former agent of Checkmate.
  • In the DC series 52, Infinity, Inc. gives this a passing mention, denigrating then-Titans Zachary Zatara and Little Barda as "blood brats," heroes who never actually earned their powers. The term "legacy powers" is also used, making this trope's title more or less canon, in a slang sort of way.
    • This is ironic, as Infinity Inc. were currently annoying the Justice Society by taking the name of not only the team which several members did their 'apprenticeship' in (and which they had many dead friends in), but also those dead friends (and family members), all while actively disrespecting their late namesakes.
  • Following the death of Peter Parker in the final issue of Ultimate Spider-Man (which takes place in a seperate timeline from the mainstream Marvel universe), the Spider-Man identity was taken up by Miles Morales, a young boy with similar abilities.
    • Let's not forget Miguel O'Hara, better known as Spider-Man 2099. Then of course, there's Ben Reilly, Peter's clone, who took over as Spidey for a short time in the 90's. What's more, there was an Initiative trio known as the Scarlet Spiders, named for Ben's alter ego, and using suits based on the "Iron Spider" suit Tony Stark created for Peter during Civil War; only one is still alive, but he's still active as the Scarlet Spider. But wait, there's more! During Identity Crisis, Spidey was wanted for murder, so Peter adopted not one but FOUR alternate identities, each of which he passed on to another hero after returning to the webs. There's Ricochet(Johnny Gallo,) Dusk (Cassie St. Commons,) Hornet (Scotty McDowell, who preceded Peter, and Eddie Mc Donough,) and Prodigy (Ritchie Gilmore, who has used the identity ever since.)
  • Peter Paker's daughter May "Mayday" Parker, takes up the role of Spider-Girl, a female variation of the Spider-Mantle, to fight crime. later she's aided by a new Scarlet Spider (The Black Cat's daughter) and her own clone (who becomes a toss-up between a traditional Spider-Girl crusader and a homicidal Venom-like avenger)
  • When Marvel's Squadron Supreme returned to their own universe, they found another Nighthawk operating, the original being dead. The new one was the biological child of the original's worst enemy, and became the original's adopted son after the original Nighthawk had killed his father.
  • The various Great Lakes Avengers/X-Men/Defenders comics have been parodying this with the Grasshopper. The first joined the GLA and died less than seven seconds later. Three other Grasshoppers have appeared in the team's comics, and neither of them have had the same longevity as the first.
  • Marvel Comics does this a lot with its villains. Top-flight villains like Doctor Octopus, the Green Goblin, and Doctor Doom have all had characters patterned after them, most of which never attain the success of the originals. It offers a convenient way for a writer to re-use a particular villain if the original one is dead or otherwise no longer active, simply by giving the villain's technology to a new user. Writers have brought back characters ranging from Spymaster to Mysterio to Firebrand to Jack O'Lantern to the Ringer, without having to deal with the usual ramifications of a Comic Book Death.
    • One interesting twist Marvel has also used is for someone to steal the villain's identity and technology and use it for themselves. Norman Osborn was one of the most common victims as the Green Goblin, as his weapons and goblin motifs were repeatedly stolen. They were discovered by his son Harry Osborn first, then by Harry's psychiatrist, then by the first Hobgoblin, then by the second (who stole them from the first Hobgoblin), and yet again by Phil Urich, who had a short-lived career as a superhero in the Green Goblin guise. The pattern seems to be repeated in the current Spider-Man comics with the new villain Menace.
      • It got so bad that the first Hobgoblin had to come out of retirement to personally kill off the fourth Hobgoblin for being such a pathetic villain it made the original feel bad.
    • And now Phil Urich has taken over the Hobgoblin name.
  • Venom is becoming this, as four hosts have now bonded with the same symbiote and taken the Venom name: Eddie Brock, Angelo Fortunato, Mac Gargan (Scorpion), and Flash Thompson. Unlike most legacy examples, the newer incarnations have come from chronologically older characters: Gargan was introduced decades before Brock, and Thompson was introduced in the first issue of Spider-Man. Fortunato is the only exception, as he is the newest character chronologically, but the second Venom. Incidentally, his stint as Venom is the shortest, hence most people forget about him.
  • Captain America (comics), sort of. After he and his sidekick Bucky vanished and he became a Human Popsicle near the end of World War Two, contemporary heroes took up his mantle for the war. In the Fifties, another pair took up his and his sidekick's mantles to fight Communism. After Cap was defrosted, he had two incidents where he took a different name, and others took the costume and name of Captain America. None of them lasted very long. With Cap dead, the name and shield passed to his Back from the Dead ex-sidekick; when Cap finally came Back from the Dead himself, he decided to let Bucky keep the title and adopt a different name again.
    • This gets a little complicated at this point, but stay with us. One of the guys who replaced Cap after he disappeared was the Patriot, a name that would later be used by the grandson of the real original Captain America, Isaiah Bradley. Meanwhile, one of Cap's alternate identities, Nomad, the Man Without a Country, was adopted by Jack Monroe—formerly the fake Bucky of the 50s, and later by Rikki Barnes, the female Bucky from Heroes Reborn's Counter-Earth. John Walker wore Cap's "The Captain" costume to become USAgent, and during his tenure as Captain America was partnered with Lemar Hoskins as Bucky.
  • Tons of Legacy Characters turn up in Kingdom Come, since it's set in a slightly dystopian future in which the elder generation of superheroes have retired and passed on their mantles, often more than once.
  • This is the backstory to DC's Inferior Five: Each of the titular five half-rate superheroes was the son or daughter of one or more competent, and somehow familiar-looking heroes.
  • Much of the Wally West Flash's Rogues Gallery consisted of successors to the original—in one case a son, but usually just another criminal who somehow got hold of the original's gear. This was taken to the point of parody with Chillblaine, an identity taken by a succession of dumb but good-looking crooks with Captain Cold's gear, all "recruited" by Cold's sister, Golden Glider. Eventually she made the mistake of choosing someone who was actually dangerous and he killed her. Cold came out of retirement to avenge her, and ended up back in the role of the Rogues' leader.
  • During the 90's, The Mighty Thor was briefly succeeded by a man named Eric Masterson, who soon took on the identity of Thunderstrike after the Thor mantle was returned to the original. Thunderstrike was later killed and now his son Kevin operates as the new Thunderstrike and a member of the Avengers Academy.
    • Thor was also recently replaced by Tanarus, who has taken over as the new god of thunder.
  • During his battle with alcoholism, Tony Stark was briefly replaced by his buddy James "Rhodey" Rhodes, who became popular enough that he developed the heroic identity of War Machine after returning the Iron Man mantle to Tony.
    • Another new Iron Man is set to appear in the coming months, though Marvel is currently playing it close to the vest as to who the new pilot will be this time around.
  • Arn Munro of Young All-Stars is a weirdly recursive example; he was loosely intended as a replacement for the Golden-Age Superman, who was retconned out of existence when Arn was created, but in-story he is the son of Hugo Danner, the protagonist of Gladiator, a 1930 novel that was an influence on Superman's creation.
    • And his adopted son Damage became a legacy to the original Atom, who was Damage's real father.
  • Grant Morrison played with this when he created a new version of the Shining Knight. Apparently the entire King Arthur story repeats itself every so often. The original Shining Knight, Sir Justin came the anachronistic 5th century of La Morte D'Arthur, and ended up in World War II. The third Knight, Sir Ystina, is the same character's counterpart from a much earlier Camelot which has more of a "Celtic twilight" feel, who ended up in the 21st century.
    • This is parodied in the new Demon Knights series, when Jason Blood and Xanadu, both refugees from the anachronistic Camelot, are accosted by Ystin, who insists that they're lying about being survivors of Camelot. But because her accusations are in Welsh, none of them understand her. Jason shrugs and advises his companions to smile and nod.
    • Several other characters created by Morrison for Seven Soldiers qualify as well. As well as the Spin Offspring Gimmix, I, Spider and the Whip III, there were:
      • Boy Blue, sucessor to Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys.
      • Dyno-Mite Dan, successor to T.N.T and Dan the Dyna-Mite (he bought a knock-off of his predecessors' rings on E-bay).
      • The Manhattan Guardian, sucessor to the Guardian (the paper he works for bought the rights to the name and image when the secret government project the Guardian worked for went under).
      • Bulleteer, sucessor to Bulletman and Bulletgirl.
        • That's purely accidental; sheAnd Aurakles, the First Superhero.
      • Klarion and his entire race are actually desecendents of unlucky Pigrim girls who were raped by Melmoth.
  • There have been three Blue Beetles. Unlike most other examples, all three are significantly different: Dan Garrett was a world adventurer who could use some of the Blue Beetle scarab's powers. Ted Kord, a wealthy industrialist, was a kind of light-hearted version of Batman, and the scarab never worked for him. Jaime Reyes is an Ordinary High School Student who's fully bonded with the scarab, giving him a Power Suit which acts as a sort of Do-Anything Robot.
    • This is played for laughs once, when Jaime Reyes is attacked by a legion of enemies of the previous Blue Beetles because they want revenge for their defeats and they assume he's the son or protege or something of the previous Beetles. The funny thing is, he's not; he had never met either Beetle before him until he got the scarab himself.
  • A rarer villainous example is Lady Bullseye (Maki Matsumoto), a Distaff Counterpart to the Daredevil villain Bullseye. In a parody/inversion of the idea of heroic inspiration, Bullseye by complete accident "rescues" her from her Yakuza captors by slaughtering them all on an unrelated errand. Already pretty foregone psychologically at that point, she was inspired to become an assassin by his example.
  • In a unique villain-to-hero example, Rose Canton, the Golden Age villainess Thorn, was eventually replaced by Rhosyn "Rose" Forrest, a feminist vigilante. Like her predecessor, Rhosyn suffers from a split-personality disorder, but possesses none of the superpowers held by the original. Though not an outright villain like her predecessor, the modern Thorn frequently uses lethal force and has found herself as both an ally and enemy of the Birds of Prey.
  • The original Swamp Thing was Alex Olsen, who appeared in one House Of Secrets story, before the more famous Alec Holland incarnation was created. The Swamp Thing mythology created by Alan Moore and his sucessors would make both incarnations part of a lineage of Erl-Kings that dated to before humanity.
    • This, of course, was fucked up by DC during Brightest Day, where Swamp Thing is revealed to be a plant spirit that thought it was Holland, who in fact died in the explosion that supposedly turned him into Swamp Thing.
  • Marvel Comics' Immortal Iron Fist was Ret Conned to being a legacy character, with a lineage stretching back hundreds of years. This is why Iron Fist is immortal: the position will never die, only its occupants. This is also true of the other immortal weapons; there will always be a Dog Brother #1, always a Cobra Warrior, etc.
  • Power Man is a complicated example. The first Power Man was a villain named Erik Josten before the name passed to its most famous holder, Luke Cage. Luke currently goes by his civilian name and no longer wears a costume, so the identity has since fallen to Victor Alvarez, an Afro-Latino teenager who fancies himself a "hero for hire."
  • Black Knight is another odd duck. The original was an actual Arthurian knight named Sir Percy who had his mantle taken up hundreds of years later by his decesendent Nathan Garrett, who became a villain. The mantle then passed to Nathan's nephew Dane, who famously became a hero and a member of the Avengers. A new short-lived replacement named Augustine du Lac was later introduced, and he has now been succeeded by an unnamed female teenage incarnation, who like Nathan, is a villain.
  • Unknown to Fastback of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew, his uncle Merton McSnurtle is actually the long-retired Golden Age superhero the Terrific Whatzit, who like his nephew also possessed super-speed powers (plus several other abilities Fastback lacked).
  • Averted hard in Star Wars Legacy: Except for his weirdness with his half-sister and Force powers, including some time on The Dark Side (Cade's still there. And he can raise the dead.), Cade Skywalker is nothing like his ancestor.
  • Marvel's Imperial Guard has several legacy characters in its ranks. This is played with in the War of Kings crossover—on his way to the throne of the Shi'ar Imperium, Vulcan kills the Guardsman Smasher. Later, as Emperor, he's reviewing the Guard, and comes to Smasher. His reaction is: "Didn't I kill you?" Smasher explains that he's a new guy in the same uniform. Then he gets killed a short time later. Yet another Smasher then appears, and spends half an issue thanking Imperial Guard commander Gladiator for choosing him to fill the uniform. Then Gladiator kills him. Whether or not they've found a fourth Smasher remains unknown.
    • They did. And that one gets possessed by Talon of the Raptor Brotherhood on his first mission. Frankly, this is turning into a Running Gag with them.
    • Over the Shi'ar Imperium's long history, this has apparently added up to a LOT of Guardsmen. When Neutron is killed (and replaced), we see the vault where he's buried - and it seems to be filled with thousands of caskets.
  • Immortal Man in Darkness of The DCU's Great Ten is not actually immortal; the technology that gives him his powers will eventually kill him, and they simply keep replacing him. The "Immortal" name is a publicity thing. When one dies, there's a whole set of guys waiting in the wings to replace him. "You are immortal now!" And yes, pilots line up for the privilege to fly the Dragonwing even after being informed that it will be the death of them; the latest describes the first time he saw the craft as "love at first sight".
    • Also the Accomplished Perfect Physician, who is the seventeenth to bear the title and wield the powers of the greatest medical mind on the planet. Sort of subverted in that he's not the guy who was supposed to succeed the title; he was a soldier sent to beat back Tibetan dissidents and inadvertently killed the actual successor before being strongarmed into taking his place.
  • Originally, Johnny Blaze seemed to be the first and only Ghost Rider. This was later shown not to be the case. Wherever injustice reigns, a Spirit of Vengeance will rise to punish the wicked...
  • DC's Spirit of Vengeance, The Spectre, got retconned into a legacy with the John Ostrander series. The Spectre itself has existed almost since creation began, but has been compelled to take mortal hosts following the Crucifixion.
  • Black Panther is a title granted to the ruler of the fictional nation of Wakanda. The most iconic bearer of the mantle, T'Challa, became the Black Panther after the murder of his father T'Chaka. T'Challa briefly passed the mantle to his younger sister Shuri before reclaiming it. The title was also briefly inherited by Kasper Cole before he abandoned it in favor of taking on the White Tiger identity (see below).
  • The White Tiger is a somewhat confusing case. The first White Tiger was Hector Ayala, who was replaced by an unrelated female White Tiger who was in reality an actual Bengal Tiger who was given human form. The third White Tiger was Kasper Cole, a mixed-race police officer. After Cole faded into obscurity, another new White Tiger was introduced in the form of Angela Del Toro, a Latina cop and Hector's nephew. She eventually died and was resurrected as a villain before being freed and apparently stripped of the mantle. The title now rests with Ava Ayala, Hector's previously unmentioned teenage sister, who currently attends the Avengers Academy.
  • The Angelus entity passes on to a new host when the previous host dies, The Darkness entity is passed from father to son, the holy power of The Magdalena is passed from mother to daughter, and The Witchblade is passed from owner to owner.
  • Black Canary is an interesting case, having become her own legacy character. Originally there was only one Black Canary; however, as she was tied to WWII it eventually got to the point where she was clearly decades older than she had ever looked (and considerably older than her lover Green Arrow). This was "fixed" with the retcon that she was actually inhabiting the braindead body of her previously unmentioned daughter. Crisis simplified this creepy idea by simply establishing that there were two Canaries, assigning the Golden Age stories to the mother and the Silver Age ones to the daughter.
  • The Crimson Dynamo was an Iron Man villain initially, but since the original died there have been no less then TWELVE wearers of the Crimson Dynamo armor.
    • Boris Bullski was the first Titanium Man, another Russian villain for Iron Man with a legacy. The Gremlin was the second Titanium Man who operated while Titanium Man I was still alive, and was killed during the Armor Wars. After Boris Bullski (Titanium Man I) got killed, a third Titanium Man cropped up during Civil War, though it's unclear whether it was indeed another man using the armor or if it was a somehow revived Boris Bullski.
    • As of World War Hulk, Crimson Dynamo suits are apparently available for purchase on the black market to criminal and terrorist organizations around the world; the Gamma Corps takes on a few of them(rather easily) in their first offical mission.
  • There have been several Two-Faces in the Batman comics including the first Two-Face Harvey Kent, the (appropriately enough) second Two-Face Harvey Dent, his butler Wilkins, Paul Sloane, an actor, George Blake, a petty criminal and Harvey Apollo, another actor.
  • The original Paperinik has Donald Duck accidentally inheriting the legacy of Gentleman Thief Fantomius, a spoof of violent anti-heroes like Diabolik. While Paperinik is treated more as a Batman spoof these days, the origin is kept, and becomes a plot point in modern versions where Donald has to deal with old allies of Fantomius who assume he is Robin Hood-style criminal as well. Including a woman who was in love with the old chap, and thinks Donald is him in a new mask...
  • Vandal Savage from DC Comics eventually became Genre Savvy enough to figure out this trope and decided to go wipe out a few 'hero lines'. He got a couple but failed some as well. A steel-based villain was sent to kill Commander Steel's family. He was stabbed in the mouth, bleeding ensued and that gave steel powers to the man's grandson. Way to go, Savage.
  • In Sonic The Hedgehog, we have the Echidna demigod Enerjak. First, there was Dimitri, who accidentally absorbed the power of multiple Chaos Emeralds and was driven power-mad by it. He was eventually Brought Down to Normal by Mammoth Mogul, but a few years later his descendant Knuckles was tricked into absorbing the Master Emerald's power and taking up the mantle, before the spell placed on him was broken and he was returned to normal. There was also an Alternate Universe version of Knuckles who willingly became Enerjak and proceeded to devastate the world. He was eventually Brought Down to Normal (in the same manner as Dimitri) by his daughter, who became the new Enerjak and broke tradition by using her powers for good (undoing the damage her father had wrought). Oh, and on top of all of this, Dr. Finitevus implied to Knuckles during their last encounter that Enerjak's legacy actually predates Dimitri (though considering who we're talking about, that statement is questionable at best).
    • Dr. Robotnik himself could qualify, as the original version of him was defeated and then replaced by a Robotnik from another universe.
  • Jeff Terrell was the original Shaft from Rob Liefeld's Youngblood, but ended up being replaced by a government-appointed successor immediately after quitting the team. Jeff's former teammates take great pleasure in referring to the newbie as "Not-Shaft" in order to get under his skin.
  • The original Nova was Richard Rider, who was depowered after the cancellation of his series. The title passed to the unrelated Frankie Raye, who ran with the identity until her apparent death (years later she was revealed to be alive in the Heralds mini-series). Rider regained his abilities and the Nova identity until his death during the Thanos Imperitive storyline, and has now been replaced by Sam Alexander, a new teen Nova.
  • In Astro City, Zachary Jackson, Jack-in-the-Box, took the name and the equipment from his late father, who had died fighting crime. After encountering two horrific future versions of his unborn son (both of whom took the legacy much too far), in addition to a much better-adjusted version whose life was still shaped by his father's untimely death, Jackson passed the title on to Roscoe Jones, head of a street gang that sought to imitate Jack-in-the-Box via Le Parkour.
  • In the comic version of WITCH, it's shown that there's always been Guardians - five in a team, wielding a certain element and all of them female. Even when Nerissa Face Heel Turned, they insisted on keeping it that way. The cartoon also implies this.
  • The mantle of The Phantom has been passed from father to son for 21 generations, spanning over 400 years. A longer legacy than most.
  • The original Ray, Lanford Terril, had his identity taken up by his son, Ray Terril, who in turn had the identity briefly taken over by a man named Stan Silver before returning to the mantle once Silver was revealed as a traitor. In the wake of the New52 reboot, a new Ray named Lucien Gates was introduced. While his origin story acknowledges that he took his name from an existing hero, it is unknown exactly which, if any of the other Rays are currently still considered canon.


Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

  • This is the premise of several Death Note fanfics, like Kira Is Justice.
  • In the "Gundam Seed" fanfic Chaotic Cosmos, this trope is subverted; Blue Cosmos' new leader, Cervantes, manages to convince his right hand man to pretend to be the pilot of the Freedom Gundam in order to win support from Orb (which Kira Yamato, the real Freedom pilot, saved in the previous war). Since no one had seen who the pilot actually was, all they needed was a fake Gundam so that Asmodeus could fill Kira's shoes.
  • In the Fallout/My Little Pony fanfic Fallout Equestria, at least 5 ponies have taken the title DJ Pon3, in addition to the original.


Film[edit | hide]

  • In Saw, Jigsaw trains someone to do his job after he dies. Four people, actually.
  • In The Santa Clause, the job of being Santa was passed down whenever the old Santa died. To whoever got the Santa suit.
    • Ernest Saves Christmas has a similar premise, but the passing down of the job is due to the need to "recharge" Santa's mystical capabilities, which gradually fade as someone carries out the job. No dying necessary, but on the other hand, it puts Christmas in jeopardy.
    • Another similar example, Aardman's Arthur Christmas has the job of Santa be passed down from father to son.
  • In the James Bond film series, Q's associate (nicknamed "R" by James) played by John Cleese from The World Is Not Enough succeeds the late Desmond Llewelyn's Q in the followup film Die Another Day.
  • Zorro in various adaptations, from the 1925 movie Don Q: Son of Zorro, through Antonio Banderas role as Diego de la Vega's adopted son, to the Present Day-set cartoon Zorro: Generation Z.
  • Godzilla vs. Destoroyah ends with Godzilla's death, with the massive energy let out from the Superpower Meltdown reviving his son and turning him into a full-grown Godzilla. However, this was never followed up on, as the next movie was an Alternate Continuity.
    • Though according to one of the producers, the original plan for Godzilla: Final Wars was to have Godzilla in that be Junior, but rewrites removed specifically naming himself as such.
    • MOTHRA!
  • A copyright issue forced the retconning of The Invisible Man into this in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
    • That, and the original character (Griffin) was an Ax Crazy psychopathic rapist, which would've been harder to squeeze into a heroic role than the film's formula-stealing burglar.
  • The Princess Bride: The Dread Pirate Roberts.
  • Several exist in the Star Wars universe. Perhaps most notable are Jango Fett and Boba Fett, who becomes the best bounty hunter in the galaxy just like his genetic dad was twenty years prior.
  • After the original Chatterer was killed in Hellbound: Hellraiser II, two new character with similar attributes (Chatter Beast and Torso) showed up, with an entirely new Chatterer (dubbed Chatterer III, even though Chatterer II was just the original with enhancements) eventually appearing.
  • In The a Team film, when the CIA operative who calls himself "Lynch" is introduced, one character remarks that he once knew someone who used the same moniker. At the end of the film, when Lynch is being taken away, another character also introduces himself as Lynch.
  • The 2000 version of Shaft features the titular ex-detective, played by Samuel L. Jackson, getting a pep talk from his uncle, the original "bad mother...shut yo' mouth!" played by Richard Roundtree.
  • Unlike most slasher movie villains, Ghostface from Scream is very much killable; the trouble is there's more than one. In order, they are: Billy and Stu in the first film, Mrs. Loomis and Mickey in the second, Roman in the third, and Jill and Charlie in the fourth. Despite being several different people, they use voice masking when talking to their victims over the phone; the same actor does the phone voice throughout the series, and retains a similar personality, despite the various personalities the killers display when not in costume.
  • In the 2006 movie Beerfest, When the character of Landfill is killed, his identical twin brother, Gil, appears, stating that he has the same knowlege of beerdrinking as Landfill would like to take his place, and would be honored if they would refer to him as Landfill in tribute. It's as if he never left...
  • Jason Voorhees almost became one in the fifth Friday the 13th film, but poor reception forced him to return from the dead in the next sequel.
  • Frankenstein in the Death Race movies.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Mandalore in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
  • The Fat Controller in the original Railway Series was a nickname given to Sir Topham Hatt. This nickname was inherited by his son Sir Charles Topham Hatt, and later by Charles' own son Sir Steven Hatt.
  • In The Princess Bride, we have the Dread Pirate Roberts, where the previous Roberts handed the title over to another when he wanted to retire. And so forth—there've been about half a dozen Dread Pirate Robertses by the time of the book.
    • A similar situation is found in The Legend of Johnny Lingo, wherein we learn that the "Johnny Lingo" that we've met is not the original bearer of that name, and is about to pass it on to his protegé.
  • In the Science Fiction novel Santiago by Mike Resnick, the revolutionary anarchist Santiago is eventually revealed to be the title that different successors took.
  • The titular characters of Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality novels. The protagonist of the first novel became Death when he killed the previous Death. Time passes his title on to someone else at the moment when he was originally born, and the three personas of Fate can pass their titles on to someone of the appropriate age whenever they choose. War loses his title whenever all war ends, and when it restarts, the most warlike person on Earth takes the title. Neither Gaia nor Satan are the first with their titles, either. And in book seven of the octology, an election is held to replace God. Presumably, it's possible to have a new Nox (eighth book), but it's never happened - current office-holder Kerena created her position.
  • Sir Percy Blakeney/The Scarlet Pimpernel of The French Revolution comes from a line of heroes, starting with the first Sir Percy/Diogenes/The Laughing Cavalier (The Cavalier Years) and continuing to Peter Blakeney (in the earlier side of Christie Time).
    • Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation book series features the line of heroes that come after the Scarlet Pimpernel—the Purple Gentian and the Pink Carnation. (On the villain side, there's the Black Tulip.)
  • Subverted with Belgarath and Polgara of The Belgariad. The Tolnedrans refuse to believe that any kind of sorcery or magic can exist, so to settle the argument as to how Belgarath and Polgara can live so long, they decide that "Belgarath" and "Polgara" are hereditary titles that are passed down to each generation.
    • But first played straight with Eternal Salmissra, the Queen of the snake-worshipping Nyissans. When the current Salmissra is advancing in age, palace eunuchs will search the country for 20 look-alikes of the original Salmissra and train them in remote locations to act as much as the original Salmissra as possible. When the new "Eternal Salmissra" is selected, the 19 who didn't make the cut are killed. Talk about motivation to become the character.
      • And then subverted after the current Salmissra upsets Polgara by kidnapping Garion and nearly making him her slave, with the intent of turning him over to Torak in exchange for immortality. You'd think the Nyissans had learned from their predecessors not to make her or Belgarath angry, as that ploy had been used on them before. Polgara grants Salmissra the immortality she wanted, but also turns her into a giant snake.
    • And then there's Brand, the Rivan Warder. Always a solid and dependable person, completely loyal to the Rivan Throne, who gives up his own name when he takes on the function as Rivan Warder.
  • Similarly, in the Deverry novels, in order to keep people from asking too many questions about the shabby old herbman named Nevyn who tends to show up at critical junctions in history, Nevyn has gotten into the habit of telling people that the Nevyn that the questioner knew of from fifty-odd years before was either A: his grandfather, who he was named after, or B: that Nevyn is a title passed down from master to apprentice.
  • The Wizard of the Seekers of Truth is part of a a line of magicians, descending from the real-life Maskelyne family. Jasper Maskelyne, his non-fictional grandfather, worked with the British Army against the Nazis, and his grand-father John was an avid debunker of fraudulent mystics and the like.
  • Dune has the gholas, which are copies of people that sometimes retain their memories. This is used to resurrect Duncan Idaho dozens of times, but many of the characters of the first book get turned into gholas at one point or another.
  • Historians of Discworld speculate that some of Ephebe's great philosophers pass their names down across the generations, given how they seem to have authored manuscripts over a period of a century or more. A subversion, as the History Monks' temporal damage-control (Thief Of Time)is actually responsible for this.
  • From the Star Trek Novel Verse, there's Astraea, leader of the Oralian faith and vessel for the guiding spirit, Oralius.

"My mother's name was Astraea. My daughter's name will be Astraea."

  • In Robots of the Dawn, Isaac Asimov features the Chairman of the Legislature of Aurora. In order to represent the continuity of the office, he is never addressed except as "Mr. Chairman".
  • In The Dresden Files series, The Archive. She is a living repository of all human knowledge (or at least, all written human knowledge-how much beyond that isn't terribly clear), and the job is passed down from mother to daughter as the mother nears the end of her life. Normally this isn't such a big deal as the daughter is usually somewhere in the general vicinity of middle age when this happens, but in the current Archive's case, it happened just after birth; she's seven when she first meets Harry.
  • In The Eyre Affair, Acheron Hades has a mute henchman named Felix-8. As it turns out, he liked the original Felix so much that when he died, he found a random person off the street, mind-controlled him, then took Felix's face off and replaced the person's face with it. As can be deduced, he'd done it seven times so far...
  • In Kim Newman's Diogenes Club story "Cold Snap", set in the 1970s, we're intoduced to Jamie Chambers, son of 1930s Shadow Expy Jonathan "Dr Shade" Chambers. By the end of the story, he's considering going into the family business as Jamie Shade. An author's note adds that the current holder of the Shade Legacy is Christine Chambers, aka Lady Shade.
  • In Honor Harrington, the Royal Manticoran Navy maintains a "List of Honor" to give a proper memorial to ships participating in (and mostly being destroyed or heavily damaged by) particularly heroic actions. Any name on the list wll be carried by a ship in active service - and when it's destroyed, the name is passed on to one newly built. Some are even restricted to a certain class of ship, as well. Notable examples are the Nike and Fearless, though 20+ years of war is adding names with terrifying regularity.
  • R.A. Salvatore's The Crimson Shadow has the main character accidentally inheriting a very famous thief's cloak of invisibility. The heroes of the book turn this to their advantage by using the publicity of having the Crimson Shadow on their side. One of the villains muses that the original Crimson Shadow is long dead and wasn't a particularly good thief.
  • In the Expanded Universe novels for Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri by Michael Ely, the leaders of the factions survive the centuries by using life extension treatments developed by Zakharov. However, by the end of the second novel, Sheng-ji Yang is captured and imprisoned for attempting to eliminate all the other faction leaders. The opposition leader Jin Long is installed as the leader of the Human Hive in his place. However, Yang's daughter discovers that Long is actually Yang's clone, specifically created at his own request in the event he would become too rigid to deal with what was coming. Long was to become the new Yang (he even took the name) and used Yang's memory-recording machine to become more like the original. However, the third book reveals that the new Yang became corrupt and decadent, eschewing the original's philosophies in exchange for personal gratification. His wife (Yang's daughter; apparently, she suffers from a weird case of the Electra complex) assassinates him and also takes up the name/title Chairman Yang.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In Help I'm A Teenaged Outlaw, Tom inherited the role of the highwayman Swiftnick from his mother, who inherited it from her father (who might have been intended as the historic Swift Nick).
  • Star Trek has the various incarnations of the Enterprise NCC-1701. In fact, many ships in Star Trek: The Original Series have counterparts in Star Trek: The Next Generation, though not all are similar to the originals in design.
    • The Enterprise NCC-1701 is widely assumed to be the only ship in Starfleet to have its serial number recycled consistently, which is a testament to the importance of Kirk's five-year mission and subsequent voyages in Federation history. At least one possible future - and probably all of them - has a ship named Enterprise with the serial number NCC-1701-J (in this particular future, a Universe-class ship in operation in the 26th century), which means the serial number has been carried on for three hundred years and borne by eleven different vessels. Holy shit.
    • This reflects the real-life practice of ship naming.
      • Directly referenced in an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise where Captain Archer and Shran look at a his office wall with images of past vessels named Enterprise, with Shran mentioning his ship was named after the first ice-breaking ship to travel around Andoria. They then go on to wonder if future ships would be inspired by their adventures. It is pretty much implied that the NCC-1701 Enterprise was inspired by the NX-01 Enterprise, and that is part of the reason the name has been the traditional Federation Flagship.
    • Weyoun in Deep Space 9 is continuously cloned to be the right-hand man of the head Founder. Five "different" Weyouns appeared over the course of the series.
  • In Dead Like Me, each Reaper has a quota (unknown to themselves); when they collect enough souls, they go on to the real afterlife, and the last person collected becomes a Reaper.
  • In an episode of NCIS, a forger is discovered to have passed his title onto another man.
  • In Kamen Rider Decade, Hibiki passes his powers onto his young protegee Asumu when his own Oni powers go berserk, making Asumu the second Hibiki.
    • This is, in fact, carryover from the original Kamen Rider Hibiki, in which it's common for new Riders to take the name of their retiring mentors (though just as common for them to create their own name). We don't actually see it happen though; at most we hear Zanki occasionally reminiscing.
    • Both the Decade Kuuga and the original series Kuuga count, as they're actually the second Kuuga, the original existing eons ago. We never see the original, but its still plainly stated.
  • Shintaro Goto inherits the mantle of Kamen Rider Birth after the first one, Akira Date, retires from the post.
  • Done in the Red Dwarf episode "Stoke Me a Clipper" when the main universe's Rimmer was passed on the torch of "Ace" Rimmer, one of many parallel universe counterparts of Rimmer, the first of which the crew met in the episode "Dimension Jump". Each Ace donned the wig and flight jacket and took on the mantle after the previous Ace died, or had their post-mortem hologram's projector destroyed.
  • Many of the Power Rangers series have used this trope; the powers (and suits) can usually be passed from person to person. Examples include Jason, Zack and Trini (and later Kimberly) making way for Rocky, Adam and Aisha (and Katherine) in Mighty Morphin, Jason briefly inheriting the mantle of the Gold Ranger from Trey in Power Rangers Zeo, the entire Turbo team (except for Justin) swapping out mid-season and Kendrix and the Magna Defender passing their powers to Karone and Mike upon their deaths in Lost Galaxy. This became rarer in the subsequent seasons, once they adapted Super Sentai's tradition of changing characters and costumes every year.
  • The Super Sentai franchise also replaced a few of its warriors during its early seasons, as a result of some of the actors leaving mid-series:
    • The Ki Ranger identity was transferred from Daita Ōiwa to Daigorō Kumano in Himitsu Sentai Goranger. However, Daigorō was only added so that the actor playing Daita the character could participate in a play he was asked to do. Daigorō's spot on the team only lasted ten episodes before he was Killed Off for Real, allowing Daita to return.
    • In Battle Fever J, two of its members were replaced. The actor who played Gensaku Shiraishi, the original Battle Cossack, wanted to leave the series to spent more time with his new wife, so his character was killed off and replaced by Gensaku's friend Makoto Jin. A few episodes earlier, Diana Martin, the original Miss America, was injured in combat and was replaced by Maria Nagisa.
    • In Taiyou Sentai Sun Vulcan, the actor who played Ryūsuke Ōwashi, the original Vul Eagle, could only do the first 25 episodes of the series due to a previous contract he had on another project which conflicted with his work on Sun Vulcan. His character was sent away to the US to work for NASA and replaced by Takayuki Hiba.
    • In Choudenshi Bioman, Mika Koizumi, the original Yellow Four, was killed off ten episodes into the series after the actress playing her abruptly left the series, necessitating the need of her replacement, Jun Yabuki.
    • Like its Power Rangers counterpart, Hyūga inherited the identity of the Black Knight in Seijuu Sentai Gingaman once BullBlack was killed off. Unlike the above examples, BullBlack's death was actually a planned event in the story.
    • A more traditional example occurs in the finale of Gosei Sentai Dairanger: 50 years after the defeat of Gohma, the grandchildren of the original Dairangers inherit their powers when Gohma returns.
    • The main characters of Ninja Sentai Kakuranger are implied to have inherited their powers from their ancestors as well.
  • On Human Target, the identity of Christopher Chance seems to be a Dread Pirate Roberts sort of deal; in the first season finale we meet the previous holder of the name (played by Lee Majors) and he explains that he picked it up from another guy. The current Christopher Chance used to be an assassin, and it's implied that the one before him was one as well.
  • Both the BBC Robin Hood and the 1980s ITV Robin of Sherwood feature the death of the real Robin Hood and a new figure taking up the name and tasks of Robin to continue the legend.
  • The Onion News Network features Tucker Hope, which is actually a position on the news crew filled by various men who go through Tucker training in order to fill their role. One Tucker Hope was even fired on the air after having a breakdown and declaring that his name was Peter. When the episode came back from the commercial break, a new Tucker Hope was already present.


Music[edit | hide]

  • In a somewhat controversial move, the rock band KISS has passed the makeup characters of the Spaceman and Catman on to new members (Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer respectively) following the departures of original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss in the early 2000s (Frehley left in 2002. Criss departed in 2001, returned in 2003, and left again in 2004, replaced by Singer both times.). This move is in contrast to the pair's original exit in the early 80s, when their replacements (Vinnie Vincent and Eric Carr, respectively, with Singer taking up his first drummer stint with the band after Carr died in the early 90's) were given unique personas.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • The Phantom is possibly the oldest Legacy Character in all of comics and possibly the originator of this for comic books in general. He has no powers but gives the illusion of immortality due to the fact that the mantle of the Phantom is passed down from father to son in an unbroken line dating back to the 1500s. This was so creator Lee Falk could do stories involving Pirates, Mobsters, and everything in between. The sheer depth of history and number of Phantoms (over twenty in the 1930s alone, with some writers attempting to continue the history into the present day) marks him as possibly the best example.


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • In Japanese Professional Wrestling (or puroresu, as the cool kids call it), both Tiger Mask and his arch-rival, Black Tiger, have been played by four different wrestlers, and this is framed as the handing-down of a legacy. It's interesting to note that Tiger Mask is always a Japanese wrestler, and Black Tiger is always a foreigner. (Also of note is that the real identity of Black Tiger is publicly known, while Tiger Mask is kept secret).
    • The "always a foreigner" rule for Black Tiger was averted with the appearance of the fifth Black Tiger, portrayed by Tatsuhiko Takaiwa. He didn't last long in the role, however.
  • This is also popular in Mexican wrestling (or lucha libre), due to the preponderance of masked wrestlers there. To name just one example, WWE's Rey Mysterio was known in his early career as Rey Misterio Jr. because his uncle, the original Rey Misterio, handed the mantle down to him (and had to seek special permission from said uncle in order to drop the Jr. from his ring name).
  • Another Lucha Libre example is El Hijo del Santo, who inherited his mask from his father, the legendary El Santo, shortly before the latter died.
    • And the original Rey Misterio's son is now wrestling as El Hijo de Rey Misterio.
  • Doink The Clown is an identity that has been donned by various wrestlers through the years
  • There have been no less than 11 men to take up the identity of Lord Humongous.
  • When La Parka (Adolfo Tapia) starting working for WCW, AAA in Mexico created La Parka Jr. with Jesus Escobedo donning the mask. In 2003, AAA decided to enforce their trademark of the original character and Escobedo dropped the Jr. and Tapia became L.A. Park.


Radio[edit | hide]

  • In the original radio series, The Green Hornet was said to be the nephew of The Lone Ranger. The 1990s NOW comic, which did not have the rights to the Ranger, could only allude to this, but established that the Hornet identity was itself a legacy, featuring the nephew of the TV Hornet, who in turn was revealed to be the nephew of the radio character.
  • Red Panda Adventures had the Red Squirrel, the Flying Squirrel's great-great-granddaughter, who came back in time because one of her Rogues Gallery was trying to wipe our heroes out and prevent her from existing. (She may or may not also be the Red Panda's great-great-granddaughter...)


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

This card's name and flavor text imply he is a singular person. Why isn't he a legendary creature?
Because there isn't just one Fraction Jackson. There is a Golden Age version. There is a Silver Age version. There is the Modern Age version, of course. There is the African American version that showed up in the seventies when the Silver Age version was briefly incapacitated. There, is of course, the alien version that retroactively predated the Golden Age version. There is the female version that briefly wore the costume during the scandal of Secret Crisis Conflict. Well, you get the idea.

  • In Galactic Champions from Hero Games, the powered-armor hero Defender is the direct descendant of the powered-armor hero Defender from the main Champions book. One could argue the Legacy Character status of the first Defender; James Harmon IV was the child, grandchild, and great-grandchild of heroes, but none of them ever donned a mask (or Powered Armor).
    • The 5th edition Champions Universe included the hero Black Mask, whose family has been pulling a Phantom since the American Revolution. The claim that the Black Mask is immortal fell apart with number 10, the daughter (and only child) of the ninth Black Mask.
  • The Freedom City setting for Mutants and Masterminds has plenty. Johnny Rocket, Lady Liberty, Bowman, Arrow...actually subverted with Daedalus, who likes to let people think this is the case but actually is the original character. From Greek myth.
    • There are also deliberately "open" legacies, such as the Scarab, enabling the PCs to take these roles.
  • In Arthaus's first 3E Gazetteer for the Ravenloft setting, the narrator speculates that Harkon Lukas may be an example of this trope, as references to a bard with that name appear over and over throughout the oral history of Kartakass. Subverted in that they're either false history or all the same guy, who's been the domain's unaging darklord since it was created.
  • Crimson Banner Executioner in Exalted is a Sidereal whose reincarnations take up the magical armor and same name as their predecessor when they Exalt, and not only that, they are mentored by the spirit of their previous incarnation, which inhabits the armor.
  • The Bounty Hunter in BattleTech - a series of mercenaries who all wore a LosTech suit of Powered Armor, and piloted neon green battlemechs covered in cash signs. The Bounty Hunter hunts down notorious criminals on the battlefield. In-universe, the Bounty Hunter is also the subject of a bunch of action movies with gratuitous amounts of violence


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Zelda features a new and not-very-different Link in nearly every game, with the same green tunic, Master Sword (or some other sword with potent magical properties), various other mainstay items, and left-handedness (except in Skyward Sword). This was explicitly referenced in Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, where the Links are fully aware that they are taking up the mantle of the previous hero, and even Super Smash Bros. Brawl references it in one of Snake's codec conversations. Each release usually features a new Zelda, too, and in later games, this can approach Generation Xerox levels, with even minor characters like Malon and Beedle getting new incarnations.
    • Apparently, while it had always been common to name Hylian princesses "Zelda" in honor of the one from Skyward Sword, it wasn't until much later when the name became mandatory. Basically, the brother of the Zelda from Zelda II the Adventure of Link grew jealous of her power, but his plan to take her power wound up with Zelda in an "eternal" sleep. Feeling guilty, he made a royal decree that all princesses of the Hyrule line shall be named "Zelda."
    • The artbook Hyrule Historia makes note that only some of the Links are related to each other, but brings up the possibility that a number of them carry the blood of the Hylian Knights.
      • The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker's Link is perhaps the most notable example of a Link who's seemingly not related by blood to any of the other Links; unlike some of the other incarnations, he has to prove his worth before he's allowed to carry and use the power of the Triforce of Courage.
    • Impa, Zelda's nursemaid/bodyguard, actually looks different in each of her incarnations, having been everything from a feeble old woman to a muscular warrior.
    • Hyrule itself is a Legacy Country in The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks.
  • Jack of Blades in Fable is not one man, but a series of men who have all been deceived into wearing Jack's Mask and becoming possessed.
  • The various Cyborg Ninja in Metal Gear, as well as the Snakes (from The Boss, to Big Boss/Naked Snake, to Solid Snake, and finally to Raiden).
  • The indie game I Wanna Be the Guy has a ridiculous example of this; the titular "The Guy" that your character wants to be is a mantle that was handed down through several well-known 8- and 16-bit video game characters... and whose latest proprietors include your character's father and grandfather, the former of whom killed the latter for the title, and who you have to kill to acquire it.
  • Castlevania's Belmont Clan epitomizes this trope.
  • The version of Donkey Kong that first appeared in Donkey Kong Country is the grandson (or possibly just son, depending on who you ask) of the giant ape who antagonized Mario (Jumpman) in the original arcade game.
    • And, in fact, the original Donkey Kong appears in that game as "Cranky Kong", an elderly ape complete with long white beard and cane.
  • Anarchy Reigns has one with Blacker Baron being a copycat for Black Baron from MadWorld.
  • If Buriki One and Neo Geo Battle Coliseum have anything to say about it, Mr. Karate is a legacy character, in this case the title of the current master of Kyokugenryuu Karate (Takuma Sakazaki in AOF, his son Ryo later on.)
  • The Shin Megami Tensei spin-off series Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha has an in-universe example; the player character, who can be given any name, is known by almost everyone in-game as "Raidou Kuzunoha", and he is the fourteenth person to take up the mantle of the eponymous Devil Summoner.
  • City of Heroes has an in-universe Legacy Character in Manticore, the Alternate Company Equivalent of Batman, who took up his father's mantle after watching his murder by one of his enemies.
  • The Overlord games follow different Evil Overlords in each game, with the second game following the son of the one from the first game while Overlord: Dark Legends follows one of his predecessors.
  • Lutz in Phantasy Star. While he's supposed to be the same guy in the first two games, the English version renamed him Noah, leading to them being two different people who just happen to look alike and share memories and a personality. The fourth game is more straightforward. Although Lutz has been dead for ages, his successors inherit his will and memory and become the next Lutz, which is a very important secret role in Esper society, and extremely confining. This is why Rune is gallivanting around Motavia when you first meet him; he's Number Five.
  • Tekken has Yoshimitsu (highly suspected to be descended from the Soul Series character of the same name), King (who is in fact King II from the third game onwards), Kuma (who from the third game onwards is the second Kuma), Asuka (who is the niece of Jun, who only appeared in the second game and is presumed killed), Hwoarang (Baek's student), Christine (Eddy's student), Roger Jr. (Roger's wife and son) and the Jack robots (who are all updated versions of the previous one). Jin is Kazuya's son and fights like him. Julia is Michelle's daughter and Xiaoyu is Wang's granddaughter. As a result nearly all of the characters fight similarly to their older characters, but not identically.
  • As of SoulCalibur V, Nightmare has also become this. After the original Nightmare was Killed Off for Real by Siegfried at the end of the fourth game, Soul Edge obtained a new host known as Graf Dumas who is implied, though not directly stated to be Raphael, who has also taken up the Nightmare identity. Siegfried even says at one point that "Nightmare" is the name given to the current wielder of Soul Edge.
    • Astaroth and Yoshimitsu also qualify. The former is one of many clones that were created using the original Astaroth's heart. The latter is a new man who took on the identity after slaying the original Yoshimitsu and became Yoshimitsu The Second.
  • Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions featured Serena Patel, the new Doctor Octopus from the year 2099. She idolized the original Doc Ock, and modeled her villainous identity after his as a tribute.
  • Turok features a Navajo Warrior in the first game named Tal'Set Fireseed. Turok 2 takes place hundreds of years later and features Joshua Fireseed, Tal'Set's Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandson; a modern day teenager; who is then replaced by Danielle Fireseed, his Great-Great-Great Niece in the third game.
  • The Breath of Fire series has an incarnation of Ryu and Princess Nina for each of its five installments.
  • Sub-Zero in every Mortal Kombat title from Mortal Kombat 2 onwards is the younger brother of Sub-Zero the Elder from Mortal Kombat 1, who was killed by Scorpion in that game and became Noob Saibot.
  • The Ace Attorney series likes this concept. Shelly de Killer is the third assassin to carry the deKiller name, and the original Mask☆DeMasque gets several imitators (since the garish costume is readily available in stores).
    • Kay Faraday refers to herself as the Second Great Thief Yatagarasu, but she's really the fourth, as the original Yatagarasu was secretly a team of three. During the credits Kay says she plans on finding two people to join her to continue the team
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, the name of Darth Traya is a title passed down to Sith Lords who "[have] been betrayed in their heart, and will betray in turn."
  • Throughout its 20+ year run, there has been one "Mega Man" for each of the seven series. The only exception, is the eponymous character from Mega Man Zero despite popular beliefs. Mega Man ZX and Advent makes up for it by having "Mega Man" as an actual title used by other characters (including the Big Bads!).
  • Umbra from The Elder Scrolls series is a very dark version of this. The name is actually of an Infinity+1 Sword enchanted by a witch to be able to devour souls. In Morrowind and Oblivion, there are characters who have named themselves after the sword. Both of them were warriors that found and used took the sword, but it had a mind of it's own and drove them insane, forcing them to kill everyone near and dear in order to sate it's ravenous hunger for souls. Only a few Umbras are known, but many more are hinted to have existed.
    • Then there is the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal, a demonic artefact which erases the identity of anyone who wears it and replaces it with that of the notorious master thief, The Gray Fox. The guild has been led by several people wearing the mask for at least three centuries. The player character can break the curse eventually, making it a nifty free ticket to unprosecuted crimes.
    • On a lighter note, M'aiq the Liar is a Khajiit (read: cat-person) who appears in Morrowind, Oblivion, and now Skyrim to make fourth-wall-breaking jokes about the game's mechanics and other related topics. The Skyrim's M'aiq reveals they are a bloodline of Khajiits with the same name and character.
  • Champions Online has "Black Mask", the first of whom had apparently fought in the American Revolution. The current "Black Mask" is the tenth one, and the first woman to bear the title.
    • One mission even has you fight all of the Black Mask's previous incarnations when they get revived as zombies.
  • Street Fighter has a stealth one in Yun. The "Lee Brothers", Yun and Yang, are in fact Lee's nephews. Yun has the same ponytail/blue cap combo and uses the same dash punch move. Of course, Lee only appeared in the first Street Fighter game, so hardly anybody knows who he is.
  • Final Fantasy, over its long history, has a few examples of this.
    • Most of the summons (...most of them) share names and appearances over the series.
    • In Final Fantasy XIII, almost all of the fal'Cie are named after and share appearances with previous Final Fantasy summons, often relatively obscure ones like Bismarck and Kjata.
    • The most famous one is Cid. Every game has a Cid, and he pretty much always has something to do with the games' airships—to the point that he was retconned into the first game itself by the remakes mentioning him as the creator of the Airship.
    • Minwu from Final Fantasy II has proven to be startlingly popular, with the result that many later games make reference in their lore to a legendary sage of great power named Minwu.
  • There appear to have been at least three people known as "Wonder Boy" in the video game series of the same name: Bock Lee Temjin, AKA "Tom-Tom", from Wonder Boy, Wonder Boy in Monster Land, and Wonder Boy III the Dragons Trap; Leo, from Wonder Boy III Dragons Lair, and Shion from Wonder Boy in Monster World.
  • The Assassin's Creed series runs on this trope, with Desmond Miles being the descendant of Altaïr Ibn La'Ahad and Ezio Auditore da Firenze, both of whom were legendary Master Assassins (and eventual Grand Masters) of the Assassin Order in their day, and Desmond himself being trained to be an Assassin by immersion in Ezio's memories.
  • All of the classes from Team Fortress 2 are passed down from mercenary to mercenary.
  • In Zettai Hero Project, the title of Unlosing Ranger is passed along from person to person, often done very shortly after the previous Unlosing Ranger is killed. After giving up the title to the main character, Pirohiko (the previous title holder) stays with him as a Spirit Advisor of sorts until he is able to fulfill his mission and defeat Darkdeath Evilman.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Parodied in the webcomic Supermegatopia with Captain Mayfly; since mayflies only live about 24 hours, the mantle of Captain Mayfly tends to get passed down very quickly. A relatively straight example is Rocket Bob.
  • Lampshaded twice in Lightbringer. First main character thought that if he dies, there will be no one to be his Legacy Character, because he's the world's first and only superhero. Later he says to his best friend that she's only person that could replace him if he died.
  • In Magellan: Bill Banks takes the identity of Victory Man II
  • This thread (currently still unfinished) in Adventures of Fifine.
  • Spinnerette: Green Gable is a superhero identity handed down the line of descent from the original Anne of Green Gables. The current one is the first dude in the costume, which he hasn't bothered to make even slightly manlier.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Due to its non-sliding timescale, the LessThanThree-Verse abounds in legacy characters, from Uncle Sam I & II (with Miss Liberty inbetween), to the three American Eagles, to Mr GL and his spiritual successor GL.
  • In the Whateley Universe, the superhero Champion is like this. The original Champion (back in the '30s and '40s) rescued two kids from a supervillain and gave them part of the Champion Force to keep them from dying (according to Word of God). They became Miss Champion and Champion Junior. When Champion died, he passed the Champion Force on to Champion Junior, who became the second Champion. They get killed eventually. The world is now on Champion number 6, with preparations already made for Champion 7.
  • One SCP Foundation story (though the canonicity is unverifiable due to the nature of the site) suggests that Clef is a Legacy Character.
  • In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, the most notable example is Major Liberty. He is the tenth hero to bear that name. The original (an ancestor of the current Major Liberty), fought the British during the American Revolutionary War. Likewise, Golden Eagle is the third hero to bear that name. He is the grandson of the original and the son of the second Golden Eagle.
    • The Supreme Six is an entire team of legacy heroes. Calculus, Photon, Omnipresent, Prototype, Stonewall, and Thunderstorm all had at least one superhero parent with whom they share names and powers.
  • The Grand Lake Heroes League in Legion of Nothing. The League was original made up of former WWII special forces soldiers who came home and kept fighting bad guys. In the Present Day, their children/grandchildren have restarted it, with many of them adopted their forebears identities, and in some cases, enemies.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Beast Wars and pretty much every incarnation of Transformers since then, including several specific character homages. The Optimus Prime of any given series is almost always a parallel to the original, though generally in another continuity.
    • Beast Wars Megatron actually paid homage to this trope, with a tendency to refer to the original as "my namesake". Worth noting is that Megatron is one of the few legacy characters who, rather than being offered the mantle, decided he wanted it and just took it.
    • Also worth noting is the fact that Beast Wars Megatron , thanks to time-travel, eventually became the very Megatron that was written about in the Covenant of Primus, the Transformer equivalent of the bible. Given the likelihood that G1 Megatron based his name from the Covenant, this effectively made Beast Wars Megatron the originator of the very legacy he joined. In effect, this is a Legacy example of ending up as your own grandfather.
      • Maybe not anymore It's recently been revealed that the Fallen's original name was Megatronus Prime.
    • Optimus Primal, similarly, drew parallels to Optimus Prime, though less often.
      • This page of the Transformers: Mosaic fan-project shows just how important the legacy is.
      • To say nothing of the posters All Optimus and All Megatrons.
      • Please note that neither of those posters are actually complete anymore.
        • Plus, the idea of Optimus Primal and Beast-era Megatron being Legacy Characters was created for the cartoon that the toyline Ret Canoned in; the toyline originally paintied Primal and Beast Megatron as the same characters as their G1 namesakes, just with new forms.
    • For that matter, the name Prime carries with it a legacy of its own. In most versions of G1, Optimus Prime was preceded by Sentinel Prime and succeeded by Rodimus Prime.
      • Although this works differently in Animated: Magnus is the commanding rank for all Autobots, while Prime is a lower-but-still-pretty-high rank. Thus Sentinel Prime, Optimus Prime, and Rodimus Prime all exists hold the title simultaneously.
    • G1 Megatron has now been established as a legacy character, taking his name from The Fallen, who was originally named Megatronus Prime.
    • Cannonball, in what is almost certainly a Shout-Out to the Princess Bride example, is the tenth in a line of Cybertronian pirates using that name.
  • Gargoyles has a villainous version of this, The Hunters, a family lineage of vigilantes/assassins fanatically determined to kill Demona and, by extension, any other gargoyle along the way. In a scene that was cut, the senior modern Hunter, Jason Canmore, admits that his family has been at this for so long that the exact reason for the vendetta has been long forgotten.
    • When he was a child, the first Hunter was slashed in the face by Demona. Man did that piss him off.
      • Note that he didn't exactly order a thousand-year revenge for the act, he just devoted his own life for it. The second Hunter wasn't even related to him, but just decided to use the alter-ego as well, and it was his descendants who really touched off the blood fued, blaming Demona for their family's troubles. Since Demona's a fan of Disproportionate Retribution and Revenge by Proxy herself, it's easy to see how this wound up an out-of-hand vicious cycle.
  • The Shredder is made one in the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toon; eventually it is revealed that the Shredder the turtles had been fighting during the first three seasons is actually the third person to take on the mantle. Eventually, Michelangelo's super-hero alter ego Turtle Titan becomes one as well.
  • An episode of South Park explained that every time Kenny dies a new, identical McCormick is born bearing his name. At the time of that episode it had happened 52 times so far. It's never explained how the new Kennys age so fast.
    • That was most likely a gag. If not, it's been retconned.
      • Definitely a gag. Another episode had Kenny just suddenly re-materialize (literally, he just fades into the shot) next to the other three boys, and this is met with a casual, "Oh, hey Kenny," from Stan.
        • This was probably intended as a gag initially, but the subplot of the Coon vs Coon and Friends story-arc strangely confirms Kenny's immortality powers into canon, instant aging and all. His parents handwave it by saying "We should've never gone to that stupid cult meeting". It is established though that each of the babies are literal reincarnations of the original Kenny (complete with his memories), rather than simply being siblings with the same name.
  • The cartoon series Batman Beyond revolves entirely around this concept, focusing on Terry taking up the Batman mantle from an aging Bruce Wayne, 50 years after Batman: The Animated Series.
    • The series has another example in the Royal Flush Gang. In their first appearance, Bruce explained to Terry the gang's children are trained to take over the mantle once their elders retire or are sent to prison. In their last, Queen complains that King can't live it up to the previous one. He even asked Terry if he knows what's like living under someone's shadow. Terry said he did.
  • Kim Possible both inverted and played straight this trope, both times incidentally, with the Plucky Sidekick Ron Stoppable. The first time was when he took the place of Timmothy North as the Fearless Ferret. Sound familiar? Turns out though, that the Fearless Ferret was merely a television series.
  • In the original Ben 10 series, its revealed that in one possible future, Ben gives his son Ken a second Omnitrix. To further the legacy, Ken wears the same outfit Ben wore as a kid. Also, an evil example occurs with Delvin, Kevin 11's son, who has his father's powers and pretends to be him in his first attack. This ultimately ends up being an ironic legacy to both his own timeline and the Ben 10 Alien Force Timeline, he starts as a villain but joins Ben's team, the Alien Force Kevin does the same.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra do this via Reincarnation. The responsibilities of learning all the elements, protecting the balance and being a bridge between the Spirit World and the physical world remain, with each successive Avatar treated as a unique being who can access their predecessors as individual Spirit Advisors, or in gestalt in a Super Mode.
  • In Young Justice, the episode "Downtime" shows Kid Flash at a birthday party for Jay Garrick, the original Flash. Wally's uncle, Barry Allen, is his mentor and the present Flash. In the tie-in comics, Wally explains that Jay was active in the 1940s and '50s as The Flash, while Barry picked up the mantle after duplicating the original Freak Lab Accident that gave Jay his powers—and Wally, in turn, used Barry's notes to replicate the "accident" for a third time.
  • The Life and Times of Juniper Lee has a legacy of heroes known by the title of Te Xuan Ze.
  • Batman the Brave And The Bold had an episode where Alfred wrote a story about a future where a new Batman had to face a new Joker trained by the original to take over the mantle. As the Joker explained, he didn't have too much time left. (The doctor gave him six months, he gave the doctor six seconds.)
    • Not to mention the series had more than one Blue Beetle appear.

Blue Beetle (III): Knockoff?! I prefer to think of myself as a reimagined hero for a new generation.

    • Black Canary is also noted to have taken her title from her mother.
  • On The Venture Brothers, there are heroic examples in the super science mantle of the Ventures as well as Captain Sunshine whose predecessor now acts at his butler, though still possessing superpowers of his own. On the villainous side, the Phantomos family line with the heir being the Phantom Limb as well as the Guild of Calamitous Intent passing down the Sovereign title.

Phantom Limb: Who died and made you the Sovereign?
Sovereign: That would be my predecessor, Force Majeure.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Ships, particularly of the naval sort, frequently use the names of illustrious predecessors:
    • The current oldest in-service US aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise, is the eighth vessel of that name in service. Number 7 was a famous World War II carrier. Numbers 1 and 2 were in the Continental Navy. There is also the 'USS Enterprise' Recruit Barracks at the Great Lakes USN base, which is organized as a ship for administrative purposes.
      • And the Enterprise space shuttle test vehicle. It would have been the second shuttle to fly, but design changes made the refit prohibitively expensive. This is more a legacy of Star Trek than of the US Navy directly, though.
    • Ark Royal has been the name of five British naval vessels, four aircraft carriers.
    • There have been six HMS Victory vessels. Number six is the Trafalgar one, still in commission as a museum ship.
    • There have also been six ships to bear the USS Lexington moniker. The latest one was decommissioned in the 1970s and currently serves as a museum ship in Corpus Christi, Texas.
    • The Dutch Royal Navy always has, by royal edict, a Jan van Speyk. Named after a naval officer who chose to blow up his ship rather than surrender to the Belgians during the Belgian War of independence.
    • Likewise, The Spanish Navy always has, by royal decree, one ship called Velasco, after Luis Vicente de Velasco, hero of the 1762 Battle of Havana.
    • The Australian Navy will have had 5 shipes named HMAS Sydney when the newest Hobart class Air Warfare Destroyers are comissioned in 2013.
    • Virtually every submarine of a new or improved type is called Nautilus, in tribute to Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
  • Ruth Crowley wrote a newspaper advice column under the name Ann Landers, passing the name on to Esther Lederer. Lederer's sister Pauline Phillips began a competing column as Abigail van Buren, a pseudonym she passed on to her daughter. Lederer's daughter had her own column, Dear Prudence, in Slate, having taken it over from a different writer; it is now written by Emily Yoffe.
  • Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the alleged leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist network's Iraqi affiliate group, may be one of these. At least two different people have been identified as al-Baghdadi, and he's been killed at least once. This has led some believe it to be an assumed name that each new leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq assumes when the old leader is killed, allowing foreign terrorists to pass themselves off as domestic Iraqi insurgents.
  • In a way, a real life historical example is the Roman emperors of antiquity. When Octavian assumed the numerous offices given to him by the senate (who, of course, were effectively obliged to gives them to him) he took the honorary title "Augustus", the military title "Imperator" and had already taken the family name "Caesar" from his adoptive father, the assassinated dictator Julius Caesar. When he died and powers passed to his step-son Tiberius, the new emperor on being "voted" his powers by the senate took all of these honorifics to demonstrate himself both a continuation of Caesar Augustus's position in the state and member of his direct family. The Roman emperors continued to take the titles "Imperator" and "Augustus" until the 7th century AD and, even when the Julio-Claudian line descended from Julius Caesar fell from power in 69AD, the name "Caesar" continued to be adopted since it had become so associated with the position of emperor. Thus what had been a family name became a euphamism for an autocratic office.
    • Actually, Caesar is a cognomen, that is a nickname-turned-family-name.
    • Tsar is the Russian version of Caesar , and Kaiser the German one.
    • May also apply to the Roman Empire itself. Various subsequent empires that took over / developed from former parts of the Roman Empire portrayed themselves (with varying degrees of validity) as successors to the Rome Empire. Notable exampes are the Holy Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Tzardom of Russia/Russian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire.
  • The officially-registered makeup patterns, stage names, and personas of professional clowns are passed down from mentor to student, often along family lines.
  • The reason why so many Popes have numbers after their names is that they take on a new name when they become Pope. Pope John Paul II was, unusually, a legacy of the three previous Popes: John Paul I adopted his papal name in tribute to his two predecessors, Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI.
  • Franklin W. Dixon (author of The Hardy Boys series) and Carolyn Keene (author of the Nancy Drew series) are pseudonyms; the books have been written by dozens of authors.
  • Similarly, "Alex Archer", the 'author' of the Rogue Angel series of Lara Croft clone adventures, is actually several authors. Some better than others, it has to be said.
  • The following Major League Baseball teams are named after minor league clubs which played in the same city before the arrival of the major league club: Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres.
    • The Orioles took their name after the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore in the 1950s. But the Browns played their inaugural 1901 season in Milwaukee and were known as (what else?) the Brewers. The following year, a minor league team set up shop in the same ballpark and adopted the Brewers name for itself. This version of the Brewers had a young fan named Bud Selig who would go on to purchase the American League's Seattle Pilots in 1970, move them to Milwaukee and name them after the minor league team he grew up following.
    • Oh, and that minor league club the Orioles are named after? They moved to New York and joined the American League. You know them today as the New York Yankees.
  • Quite a few Major League Soccer clubs are named after teams from the North American Soccer League, the only top flight league that ever existed in the United States (and Canada) before MLS: Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, San Jose Earthquakes and Vancouver Whitecaps.
    • FC Dallas is named after a minor league club of the same name that existed in the late 1980s & early 1990s.
  1. In chronological order: Dick Grayson (left), Jason Todd (bottom center), Tim Drake (top center), Stephanie Brown (top right) and Damian Wayne (bottom right).
  2. One of them (Damian) was even a sidekick to another (Dick)!