You Kill It, You Bought It

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Lord Bun Bun, eater of holidays
"You keep what you kill."
Creed of the Necromongers, The Chronicles of Riddick

Like bragging rights, an object, a title, or a job is passed from the defeated to the winner. Sometimes, though, defeat means death. You Kill It You Bought It means that whoever kills the owner gets the possession, no matter if the kill was intentional or not. This is often the only way Loyal Phlebotinum can change hands.

So, it usually goes like this: The Hero accidentally does something to kill the previous owner, so he's stuck with the possession even though the death wasn't his fault. The rest of the plot involves the hero either trying to cope or trying to get rid of it.

Another common version is that the position of The Grim Reaper works like this, so that if somebody is supposed to die and ends up killing The Grim Reaper in self-defense (or just checkmates him), the killer ends up with the job. Otherwise, very rare is it that the character intentionally kills the office holder, unless the Heroic Comedic Sociopath falsely believes that a position works that way, and thus hilarity will ensue.

This is distinct from Klingon Promotion because that is restricted to killing someone deliberately, for the express purpose of gaining their position. This trope doesn't need it to be deliberate and it's not about a position. See also Challenging the Chief, a subtrope of Klingon Promotion, which also has cases where someone accidentally ends up involuntary manslaughtering their way into an unwanted role.

Contrast First-Episode Resurrection, where the hero gets powers from dying him- or herself. Also see Someone Has to Do It. Related to Subbing for Santa. Sometimes applies to a Legacy Character. Can result in And Then John Was a Zombie. See also Power Copying. Compare Finish Him!. See Finders, Rulers for when this is affected by looting a MacGuffin off the corpse.

Examples of You Kill It, You Bought It include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The students each keep the charms from the Assassins they defeat/kill/send to the Shadow Realm.
  • In X 1999, Subaru becomes the Sakurazukamori after he inadvertently kills Seishirou in a fight (even though Subaru is also head of the Sumeragis, eternal enemies of the Sakurazukas). He also takes Seishirou's place as a Dragon of Earth, despite being a Dragon of Heaven.
    • Also, to become the Sakurazukamori, Seishirou had to kill his mother, as she was the previous one. It's implied that every Sakurauzkamori has done this.
    • It is worth noting that Subaru was offered a choice - if he accepts Seishirou's eye (and thus his power), Seishirou lives on through Subaru taking up his place. If he doesn't, he has nothing to live for anymore.
    • It was also implied that Sakurazukamoris can only be killed by the one they love most
  • One way to obtain possession of a Death Note or a world famous detective's title is to kill its current owner.
  • Subverted in Code Geass: A sufficiently powerful Geass User can kill the immortal who gave them their powers, thereby becoming an immortal themselves. The subversion is that most immortals want to be killed (because Who Wants to Live Forever??) and typically trick their partners into going through with it.
    • Interestingly enough, Lelouch becomes the Emperor of Brittania and then Suzaku becomes Zero by both killing the previous holder of those titles. These were just part of Lelouch's final Xanatos Gambit rather than a tradition, though.
  • In Baccano!, an immortal who "eats" another immortal receives all of their knowledge and memories in the process. The demon who set the rules claims that it's so that he gets something out of the contract when the last immortal gets sick of living and summons him again to be devoured, but you can't help but wonder if he didn't just want to see Szilard totally lose his shit and start killing everyone For Science!! (which he does).
  • The only way to get the Number One headband in Afro Samurai is to kill the one who has it, but they have to have the Number Two headband, which is also obtained by killing whoever has it.
    • The difference is that while the Number One can only be challenged by Number Two, Number Two can be challenged by anyone. An episode does show more headbands (at least up to Number Seven, IIRC), but their purpose is never explicitly explained in the series.
  • The Chimaeran society in Jyu-Oh-Sei pretty much runs on a combination of this and the Klingon Promotion. Justified in that the entire system was set up to breed a new, hardier line of humans that could survive in the alien solar system after Earth was destroyed.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Marvel's Shuma Gorath has near unlimited power in his home dimension but Doctor Strange manages to take over the body of another creature living here which let him best Shuma in combat. The one eyed octopus says Strange will lose anyway because a man can't beat Shuma with his own power without becoming another Shuma Gorath. Since Shuma is going to destroy the Earth, Strange kills him then kills himself so he won't turn. But then he got better.
  • In Agents of Atlas, you become Gorilla Man by killing the previous Gorilla Man. This means that you become immortal-unless-killed but are transformed into a gorilla.
  • In The Metabarons, each Metabaron must kill his father in ritual combat to succeed him as the next Metabaron.


Fanfiction[edit | hide]

  • In the Ranma/Sailor moon crossover Curses Aren't the Only Change, Haruka ends up defeating the leader of a ninja clan and being told she is the new leader. This means she is way too busy to help when she is told she is a Sailor Senshi.
  • Downplayed in Project Horizon. After Blackjack and her companions kill Deus, Blackjack gets all the credit and technically becomes a Reaper. She's annoyed at her newly-increased notoriety, but the holding the title effects her very little.
  • A Growing Affection has this be one of the ways to became Raikage and Mizukage.


Film[edit | hide]

  • As the page quote shows, "You keep what you kill" is the core creed of the Necromongers in The Chronicles of Riddick, and Riddick proves this twice: once by killing a Necromonger with his own knife (which he got to keep) and the other time by killing the Lord Marshal (with the aforementioned knife, even) and taking his place as their ruler.
  • The Santa Clause, where the title of Santa Claus is like this.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Soon in third movie, we learn that whoever kills Davy Jones has to take his place. Cue dilemmas for Will, who swore an oath to kill Davy Jones and Jack, who thinks it would be freaking awesome to be immortal.
    • Except that he wouldn't be able to go to rum to get port...wait...that came out wrong...
  • Parodied in the Abbott and Costello film The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap. Lou accidentally kills an infamous gunslinger, and local law says that he must take care of the man's family. It turns out that the gunslinger had a very loud wife and a dozen unruly children. Lou eventually becomes sheriff of the town, and carries around a picture of his new family which he shows to anyone who looks like they might cause trouble. However, this eventually blows up in his face when the local outlaws learn that a railroad will be going through the widow's property and paying her a fortune for it, thanks to a lie Bud cooked up to get Lou off the hook. Lou whips out his picture and nearly gets killed by the greedy outlaws.
  • Subverted in The Wizard of Gore; after being sent on a drug-fueled hallucination adventure, Ed is knife-detoxed by Montag the Magnificent and offered the chance to take his place as a drugged up slave to "The Magician". Ed manages to invert his situation, drugging "The Magician" and taking over the entire operation himself.
  • In "The Game" of the Highlander universe, when one Immortal kills another, he receives all the deceased Immortal's ability and memories through the Quickening.
  • The 1995 horror film Ice Cream Man ends with Small Paul in an asylum after killing the killer ice cream man, hinting that he would be taking his place.
  • In The Man with the Golden Gun, Scaramanga shoots Hai Fat. When an assistant comes in, he simply says "Mr Fat has just resigned. I'm the new Chairman of the Board".
  • In the end of the Fourth and fifth installments of Friday the 13 th, after Tommy Jarvis assists in killing Jason or his copycat killer it's hinted that he'll become the next killer. Subverted in that he keeps turning up again, fairly normal.
  • One of the Chaos! comics has Laurie taking Michael's place after killing him in Halloween H20. This was ultimately rendered non-canon by Resurrection though.
    • The ending of Halloween II (2009) on the other hand ends with Laurie becoming as crazy, evil and twisted as Michael, even briefly putting on his mask, after killing him.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The country of Arko in Philosopher in Arms follows the law of 'what kills, becomes'. Killing an Arkan in a lawful manner results in the killer inheriting all of his property, including his wife, children, slaves, and job, as the hero finds out when he defeats Riji in the Mezem.
  • Played with in Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive, the most common way by far of aquiring Shards is to kill a Shardbearer, however, it is nearly impossible to kill a shardbearer unless you already have both Plate and Blade yourself, so you will generally just win the right to choose who gets the shards.
  • The office of Death in Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series passes this way. Normally Death wears impenetrable armor, but sooner or later every Death gets careless...
    • This is also true for the office of Evil, which passes on in the exact same way. a similar manner, being transferred to whomever successfully cons the title away from the incumbent. If the incumbent resigns and/or gets killed, the most evil person on Earth is drafted for the job.
  • In the Clive Barker short story and film The Midnight Meat Train, the main character kills the butcher who provides food for the underground cannibals, and is then drafted as the new butcher.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's A Princess Of Mars, the first John Carter of Mars novel, Carter kills a Green Barsoomian, and finds he inherits all the warrior's goods—including his slaves and name.
  • Among the Children of the Light in the Wheel of Time, there is an almost-forgotten section in their law entitled Trial by the Light. One Child claims his right to Trial by the Light to bring another to justice, then the two fight a lethal duel, and the loser's rank and property are forefit to the victor. Galad invokes this to become Lord Captain Commander of the Children of the Light.
    • There is also the tradition of Blademasters. One of the two methods of becoming a Blademaster is to kill a Blademaster in fair single combat with swords, upon which you get his rank and his sword (traditionally marked with a heron).
  • The hero in the Sword of Truth series, at the end of the first book, takes control over the Big Bad's whole country after killing him, although in this case it had more to do with Richard being the Big Bad's son.
    • There's also the issue in a later book where he is attacked by thirty extremely skilled swordsmen, manages to kill them all, and has the wife of several of them (polygamist society) insist she is his wife now.
  • In Dune, a Fremen who kills another in honorable combat is entitled to possession of the water in his body, which is extracted prior to cremation. And gets his wife as well. He also gets the responsibility of having to take care of the wife and children.
  • In Tamora Pierce's Lioness Quartet, Alanna winds up killing a desert tribe's shaman in a fight, and is told that she must now take his place.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
    • Death's job was shown to work this way in Mort. The titular character, Death's apprentice, challenges Death to a fight in order to save a princess, a wizard, and his wife-to-be. It's a no-win situation: If Mort wins, he will become Death, the loneliest person in the world, for eternity. If he loses, they all die. Luckily, Death's not such a bad guy.
    • Reaper Man, when Death's time for "retirement" comes, a new Death shows up to kill him so he can take his place. However, in a subversion, the original Death is actually able to defeat his replacement.
    • He also takes the place of The Hogfather for a while, not because he killed him, but because someone else is trying to, and the role has to be filled.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a central plot point is that wands may switch allegiance to whoever kills or defeats the former owner, which is why wands of wizards who die natural deaths are usually destroyed or buried with their owner; they will not accept a new master. These facts are of particular importance relating to the Elder Wand.
    • What most wizards don't realize, and what ends up being a major plot point at the end of the book, is that killing your opponent isn't necessary, you just have to somehow deprive them of their wand. Even if it's not the wand in question, you will still have mastery over it. This throws a wrench in Dumbledore's plan to leave the Elder Wand without a master: he originally intended to let Snape kill him, which would mean the wand still belonged to him in death. Instead, Draco disarms Dumbledore, unwittingly becoming the Elder Wand's master, meaning that Harry later becomes its master when he disarms Draco. This means that when Voldemort, who thinks that he is the wand's master because he killed Snape, tries to duel Harry with the Elder Wand, it obeys Harry, not Voldemort. Confused? You're not alone.
  • In The Last Light of the Sun, there's a mercenary organization which you can only join by defeating a current member in ritual combat.
  • This is how First Mate Cox becomes chief of the cannibalistic Raiders in Nation. In that case, he meant to kill the previous chief; he just didn't know he'd get the job afterward.
  • This is the usual (but not the only) method of obtaining Shardblades and Shardplate in The Stormlight Archive, although it wasn't always that way. It's usually done deliberately although it's possible that Shallan may have obtained her Shardblade at least partially accidentally. It's unclear.
  • In Malevil, Emmanuel finds himself in this position after killing Wahrwoorde. His tormented family quietly accepts that Emmanuel is their new tyrant, to be abused (raped in Miette's case) at his leisure. He makes it clear that he has no intention of being anybody's master.
  • In Harry Harrison's Deathworld 2 (AKA The Ethical Engineer) Jason dinAlt crash-lands on a planet that turns out to be a Lost Colony. Him and his reluctant companion (the man who kidnapped him, actually) are almost immediately captured by a nomad called Chaka, who adds them to his group of slaves. Later on, Chaka reaches the border of his territory and meets with another nomadic slaveowner. They have a fight, and Chaka ends up killing him and taking his slaves. Jason sneaks into Chaka's sleeping area at night and kills him. All the slaves automatically start calling Jason Chaka. So not only does whoever kills a slaveowner keep his possessions, they also take his name.
  • An interesting case in Sergey Lukyanenko's Spectrum. The protagonist is a private investigator who specializes in looking for people who have travelled off-world. He tracks his target (a young woman whose wealthy father is very worried) to a planet of advanced Human Aliens. On his way, he is attacked by some sort of beam weapon that he barely escapes. When he finally finds the girl and explains to her that he's not here to harm her, her Human Alien colleague (who is also secretly enamoured with her) is revealed to be the shooter. He once again attempts to kill the protagonist but some quick thinking by the latter results in the former dying. The local law enforcement explains that their laws grant the victim of an attempted murder the right to claim the assailant's possessions, including his or her spouse. The protagonist agrees to keep the beam rifle but refuses the rest, especially the man's wife. The officer agrees it's a wise choice, as the woman would then simply divorce him and keep half of his possessions. Even though their culture refuses to share advanced technology with other cultures, this law supercedes everything else, meaning the protagonist gets to keep the weapon.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • On the fourth season of Charmed, Cole becomes the Big Bad after defeating him in battle.
  • In the fifth season of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Hercules ends up in Ireland, where he meets Morrigan (loosely based on the Morrigan of Irish mythology) who ends up killing a godly incarnation of "Justice". Morrigan then inherits that same position.
  • In Lexx, the "key" of the eponymous ship is passed on at death.
    • The power can also leave if you are "Taken to the height of sexual ecstasy", which people would probably remember more easily if the most frequent captain weren't Stanley Tweedle, for whom that was never an issue (other than that one time).
  • In Dead Like Me, the office of Reaper comes with an implicit (and unknown) quota of souls you have to reap before you are allowed to die. The last soul you reap becomes a Reaper to take your place.
  • In an episode of Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Wayne has to take the place of secret agent Dalton Pierce after Pierce accidentally kills himself with Wayne's prototype laser shaver.
  • On Babylon 5, Londo is a member of a Centauri dueling society, where it is customary for the winner to take the loser's family into his own. Londo's friend, who is about to be disgraced for protesting the war, challenges Londo and purposely loses to save his family from being dishonored along with him.
    • Confirmed during "In The Beginning", where Londo tells the story of the Earth/Minbari war to the heirs of that family.
  • In the Doctor Who episode The Deadly Assassin, the Doctor is framed for the murder of the Lord President of Gallifrey, and surprises everyone by announcing his candidacy to succeed him. It's a play for time.


Mythology[edit | hide]

  • There is a Japanese legend about a treasure which was guarded by a dragon. Many people tried to slay the dragon, but apparently none succeeded, even though some of them were very strong warriors. It turned out that if the warrior in question actually killed the dragon, once he saw the treasure he became a dragon himself, and guarded it from now on. The curse was only destroyed when the next winner proved his wisdom and threw the treasure in the sea.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • In Forgotten Realms the title of Magister and accompanying special powers are "inherited" by winner once Magister is defeated. This leads to Magisters being extremely dangerous wizards even before taking said powers, so while formal challenge and non-lethal combat are quite acceptable, victory usually was achieved via killing one's predecessor in some sort of surprise attack. Sometimes even unknowingly—it's easier to do while blowing up whole catacombs than in fair face-to-face battle.
      • Could be considered a subversion, as Word of God claims that the Magister's title is actually Schmuck Bait, instigated by Mystra so that hyperaggressive wizards have a prize to kill one another over, rather than leave them running loose and causing havoc for everyone else.
    • The 3rd Edition Dungeon Master's Guide says that because goblins are Lawful Evil, their government is rulership by the strong. This means that if the goblin king is killed, the killer usually takes the king's place.
  • A somewhat muted example, but Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem both feature the act of diablerie, which works like the Baccano example mentioned above: if one vampire drains another, more powerful vampire, consuming their soul in the process, their Generation/Blood Potency goes up a step and they gain knowledge of one of the other vampire's Disciplines. Needless to say, diablerie is considered one of the most dire sins a vampire can commit and is punished with extreme prejudice, lest all the younger vampires turn all the older ones into juice boxes.
    • It also forever stains the soul/essence/ethereal wahoo of the vampire who did it. This is actually a problem largely because there are vampiric powers that allow for the seeing of souls/essences, and diablerie basically gives your essence a flashing neon sign advertising what you did.
    • Furthermore, souls consumed through diablerie are not destroyed: they are perfectly preserved inside their killer's body forever, with the ability to read his mind and access his senses. Particularly strong-willed souls can take over the body and resume their previous existences.
  • Inverted with Lucius the Eternal. If you kill him and take even a moment's pleasure in the act, you slowly and painfully turn into a resurrected Lucius, with your screaming face embossed on his armor. You kill it, Lucius bought you.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Mega Man, obviously.
  • In Final Fantasy X, when Sin is defeated, it's replaced by the person who became the Final Summon. If it's defeated by the Final Summoning, that is.
  • In Gotcha Force, there's a chance (fairly high for Com Mons, lowering for progressively more powerful ones) that anything you've killed in a level you've completed will be given to you for your own use. This is to encourage you to handle most of the killing duties.
  • Sonic becoming the king at the end of Sonic and The Black Knight is a mix of this and "Ancient Tradition".
  • In I Wanna Be the Guy, in order to become The Guy, you have to kill The Guy.
  • In Makai Kingdom, Overlord Zetta destroys a Cosmic Keystone known as the Sacred Tome in a fit of pique... Unfortunately, its destruction means the destruction of his entire netherworld with it, forcing Zetta to confine his own soul inside the book and literally (pun very much intended) become the Sacred Tome in order to survive.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: After Naked Snake completes his mission by assassinating his mentor and mother figure, the Boss, he is awarded with the title of Big Boss.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: Whoever kills the spirit eater will almost certainly become its next host body.
    • Well, it's more an issue of proximity, it seems - if you took him out with an arrow to the face and someone else happened to be standing closer, they'd likely pay for your trigger-happy tendencies. And then they'd eat you.
  • One ending in Princess Maker 2—the absolute worst, score-wise—has the heroine kill the King of the Underworld, only to discover that this rule applies to that position.
  • It is stated in the Secret Reports of The World Ends With You that the guy who kills the Composer becomes the Composer. Three people Neku encounters have this intention; first is Joshua, who is lying through his teeth because he is the Composer, the second is Beat, who just wants to restore Rhyme, and the third is a revived Sho Minamimoto for he-of-the-Jesus Beam only knows why. It never comes to it, mind, but that tidbit is there for you to know.
  • In the first Valkyrie Profile, Lenneth recruits at least three souls Jelanda, Jin, and Gandar by killing them herself.
    • In Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria, Hrist decides the quickest way to make sure Arngrihm stops being an obstacle is to kill him and force him to serve her. By the time it stops working, she's about ready for her own Heel Face Turn.
    • Jin's recruitment in the first game is a specific reference to the Japanese example in Mythology above, although Lenneth solves the problem by, well, killing Jin/the monster to take his soul (playing the trope straight in a fashion different from the myth).
  • At least three Dragoon Spirits in The Legend of Dragoon were transferred in this fashion.
  • This happened to the hero in the first Diablo game. After killing Diablo and removing the soulstone from its forehead and freeing his former host, the hero rams the thing into his own forehead, becoming Diablo and taking his place, which brings us full circle to where we started.
  • In Phantom Brave, if you kill people, you will be able to summon them as Phantoms. Naturally, this fun system leads to the cold-blooded murders of old men and blacksmiths by a cute little girl.
  • In Conker's Bad Fur Day, you are crowned king of the Panthers after being held responsible for the death of the previous king.
  • In Blood, the dark god Tchernobog turns out to be the force that binds reality together. Guess who's responsible for that after you kill him?
    • This ends up being one of the major forces behind the plot in Blood 2 - Caleb's refusal to use these powers for over a century results in creatures from another reality invading his.
  • This is the bad ending in Streets of Rage.
  • World of Warcraft (3.3.0) includes a quest that reveals that 'There must always be a Lich King'. It appears that the transfer of power and title aren't automatic, but if the mantle isn't accepted, the only thing holding the Scourge back would be released. However, the trope was ultimately subverted. Upon the Lich King's defeat, Tirion Fordring picks up the fallen Crown and reluctantly places it upon the head of Bolvar Fordragon.
    • In the previous Warcraft games, becoming the chieftan of an Orc clan (or the Warchief of the entire Horde) would work this way. Orgrim Doomhammer became Warchief by killing the then-existing Warchief, Blackhand. On the other hand, Orgrim was killed by a human knight, and he passed leadership to Thrall rather than to the knight. So maybe it only works as long as the killer is another orc.
      • The title wouldn't pass to the guard for two reasons. For one, the guard was likely killed as soon as he struck Orgrim. And two, he struck Orgrim from behind, and the orcs would never accept a coward as warchief.
    • Ogres work the same way. In Dire Maul, when you defeat the current king, the rest of the Ogres turn friendly and declare you their new king; part of the challenge is killing the king while killing as few ogres as possible, which increases the tribute you receive at the end.
  • Happens in ANY game where you loot the corpses of those whom you have felled.
  • In Suikoden IV and Suikoden Tactics it's made clear that the rune of punishment is granted to whoever manages to take out the current bearer. It doesn't help that the rune eats the life force of the wielder whenever it is used.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening, the Warden is now made the Arl of Amaranthine due to the fact that he/she killed Rendon Howe, the previous Arl in the original game and his lands are now Grey Warden property. Though this is less because the Warden killed the Arl and more because the Arl was considered a traitor and a criminal by the end of Origins, which led to his family losing their lands. And since Ferelden happened to own the Grey Wardens a great deal... Anyway, the point is that it wasn't all the important who killed Rendon Howe (he probably would have been eventually executed even if he had somehow survived his confrontation with the Warden).
  • How ranking up is done in both No More Heroes and Madworld.
  • In God of War the Olympians plot to kill Ares, the God of War by using Kratos as their pawn. They don't like Ares because he's being a jerk. After Kratos kills Ares, he becomes the God of War himself, taking his place where Ares left off and being an even bigger jerk than Ares was, bringing the Olympians full circle.
  • Mass Effect 2's DLC "Lair of The Shadow Broker" has you going up against the eponymous Knowledge Broker kingpin. Once you off him, Liara takes over and aims to put a newer friendlier obscured silhouette face on the organization, as well as turn the monolithic info network fully towards Shepard's cause. Oh, and the Broker you killed got his position by killing the previous broker, so who's to say that that one didn't do the same thing?
    • Which becomes Hilarious in Hindsight when you remember that one of two dialogue options to Liara at the end of her mini-questline is "Don't become the thing you're hunting." Ironic, much?
      • Technically, there was nothing that forced Liara to be the new Shadow Broker. She could have simply left the headless organization to rot. However it was too good an opportunity to pass up, and seeing as how Liara was already pretty good with the Knowledge Broker business herself, it all worked out.
        • Liara's conscience forces her to become the new Shadow Broker. The Shadow Broker keeps himself in power by regulating the flow of information to his clients - that way, nobody can gain a permanent advantage over the others. Some of the information his agents find could tip the balance of galactic politics or start wars. For this precise reason, his agents cannot sell any information without his say-so. If he was to die, presumably all his agents would find themselves out of a job, but in possession of secrets worth trillions of credits. Guess what would happen next...
    • In one of the comics which focuses on Captain Bailey, you learn that this is essentially how Bailey got his job, when he was forced to kill Pallin while investigating him, upon which Councillor Udina gives him Pallin's old job. Bailey however feels kind of guilty due to the fact that he believes Pallin to be innocent of whatever he's accused of.
  • Being the Leveler in Myth appears to work like this, although with an extremely long delay
  • This is how salvage works in a lot of the Mechwarrior games where it is implemented. If you manage to kill the 'Mech with a minimum of Stuff Blowing Up, there's a very good chance that players can salvage their enemies' war machines. This is most often seen in games with "Mercenaries" figuring in the title or the protagonists' plotline.
  • League of Legends: If any enemy hero has a buff which was granted by killing a neutral opponent ("jungling"), killing that hero will transfer that buff to the killer. Except for one special buff, gained by killing the game's Bonus Boss during a round, which simply goes away.
  • In the Chzo Mythos, anyone killed with Frehorn's Blade becomes a powerful spirit, but is at the command of their killer. A loophole exists for those who kill themselves with the blade. Since you get put in command of yourself, like you already are, you just become a powerful spirit with no downside. This is how Malcolm Somerset becomes the Caretaker.
  • Space Pirates and Zombies practically runs with this trope. You want a ship, beat the nine shades of it, get the blueprints, and you can use it afterwards. Then, capital ships happen and make you realize there is a reason they are called capital ships.
  • In the Rance Series, killing the Demon King means that you become one yourself. Considering that With Great Power Comes Great Insanity...


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • In Sluggy Freelance, Bun-Bun took over just about every holiday this way in a years-long subplot. He's finally defeated when the groundhog shadow which is linked with Bun-bun kills and steals the position of the old year-- a few seconds before 12:00 AM, New Year's Day, where the old year will officially die taking Bun-Bun with him. Bun-Bun then has to go and hit the in-plot Reset Button to save himself.
  • Errant Story: In addition to more typical methods, any student who can successfully challenge the entire faculty graduates.
  • Satan in The Gods of Arr-Kelaan works like this. Ronson eventually managed to give up the position by proving his predecessor's death wasn't his fault.
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Franz Rayner's master plan is that by killing the President of the United States, he will become the President. Of course, the implausibility of that plan is immediately pointed out, and Rayner admits that while the US Government doesn't work that way, the rest of the plan revolves around convincing the rest of the world that it does.
  • Richard the Warlock from Looking for Group has inherited at least one title ("Mistress of Magma") that way, and considering his habits as well as his abundance of titles, possibly more.
  • Sam didn't actually kill the heads of the Ninja Mafia, but everyone else in the room was dead, so...
  • In The Non-Adventures of Wonderella there are ninjas who follow whoever defeated their last master.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • This is how the last of The Holders, the Holder of Legion, got his job. In turn, if you complete the stupendous task of gathering the other 2537 Objects, your only way to get the final one is to kill him and become Holder of Legion yourself.
  • In episode 4 of the flash animation series Bad Guys, Bad Guys Go To Hell, the green guy killed the devil and took his place as ruler of Hell. Then it turns out the blue guy killed God last week and took his place as supreme deity. Now everyone in Heaven has to spend an eternity in hard labor building Him a giant palace. The Bad Guys quickly decide that Hell is better since you "only" get hot pokers shoved up your ass over there, and just go to Hell. Going back and forth between the two places isn't very hard anyway since they are right next to each other.

Blue Guy: Medammit!

  • In Karen Wehrstein's Philosopher in Arms, the protagonist is forced into a gladiator-like fighting arena. When the fighters kill someone, they inherit everything they have. Since these fighters are all forced into the arena, that usually just means slaves, jewelry, and other gifts from fans, but the protagonist has to kill one man who was integrated into society and returned to the arena just to fight him. He ends up inheriting the man's home, wife, children, and teaching position at the university.
  • According to The Dark Id, Caim, after being killed, went on to become the new Grim Reaper after submitting an application that said, "I murdered the shit out of the last guy."
  • Rat King by JohnSu on Deviant ART.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • A Simpsons Treehouse of Horror had Homer become the Grim Reaper this way.
  • In Metalocalypse, Charles indicates that the only way to get his job as CFO for Dethklok is to kill him first. But since fucking with his bread-and-butter is a bad idea, he's dispatched everyone whose come to take his job.
  • In Futurama, Fry accidentally drank the Emperor of Trisol, thereby assassinating him. He was then crowned the new emperor. In fact, pretty much all of the emperors got their jobs by drinking the current emperor.
    • Indeed, they have placeholder portraits for "Fry's assassin" and "Fry's assassin's assassin"

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

      • Those assassins utterly fail to drink Fry, because he is solid, not liquid like Trisolians.
  • Subverted in The Venture Brothers. Rusty discovers a Cult of Personality living under the Venture Compound. They worship his father through a set of video tapes of personal hygiene. Rusty proceeds to "kill" their god by removing the tapes, thinking they will make him their new god. They don't.
  • One episode of Family Guy plays with this trope more humorously. The Grim Reaper visits Peter's house and he twists and breaks his ankle. While he is resting comfortably in the house, he tasks Peter with killing people for him - though this happens because while he's incapacitated, no one can die and Peter screws up and lets the world know, causing chaos. Thus, Peter takes on the job because someone has to do it.
  • On an episode of the animated series of Jumanji, there was a part where the heroes trick the hunter Van Pelt into falling off a cliff. Before Van Pelt does however, Peter somehow grabs his whip. Over the episode, Peter gradually morphs into Van Pelt because "there must always be a Van Pelt. It's the rules of the game." He even goads Alan into killing him just so Alan can become Van Pelt.
  • In Shadow Raiders, this is the official law for royal succession on Planet Bone. They may be Proud Warrior Race Guys, but they also highly respect cunning, ambition and ruthlessness; assassinating the previous king is the tradition for taking power.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • In The Golden Bough, James Fraser discusses the "year king", a religious concept in which a person rules over a tribe as a god for one year. The problem is that a god is not supposed to grow old, so when the year is up the next king ritually kills the last one.
    • The Golden Bough actually begins with an examination of the Rex Nemorensis, a priest of Diana at a shrine at Lake Nemi. Each 'King' was by traditional practice a fugitive slave who killed his predecessor after acquiring the titular bough somewhere in the sacred grove. Caligula is recorded as having sent a strong young man to dispose of an aging Rex.
    • The Aztecs actually practiced something similar: every year they chose a young man to personify a god, and every year they sacrificed him. The sacrifice-to-be had no actual political power, though.
    • Remarkably, this tradition still persists in many small English villages, but nowadays it's just a performance with no real weapons involved. It's called the mummer's play, usually done around Christmas time (the end of the old year).
  • "You break it, you own it." - Secretary of State Colin Powell to George W. Bush before the Iraq War.
    • In a way, applied to Vietnam, similar to the Lich King example above, kind of. The FRENCH broke it, then handed it to the US, then the commies wanted it, but the Americans didn't want to give it up, but then they did anyway, and then the Soviets broke it further. Now none of the three own it, after they took the mantle themselves after the fall of the union.
    • And of course, one could mention that America killed the Soviet Union and bought the mujahadeen.
  • In Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe, duly constituted witch hunters were permitted to confiscate the material goods of those they condemned. Some believe this may have adversely affected their objectivity.
    • This actually dates back at least to the Code of Hammurabi (ancient Sumer/Babylon). Accuse a guy of witchcraft, and he has to go jump in the sacred river. If he dies, you can have his stuff (but if he lives, you owe him some money for the inconvenience). Good reason to learn to swim, eh?
      • Wow. This is infinitely better then the other version - if you die, you are exonerated, and if you live, you are killed for being a witch.
    • It's believed this is part of why Giles Corey just flat out refused to testify in the Salem Witch Trials - since he hasn't been convicted of Witchcraft when he died, the government can't confiscate his land so it stays in his family.