Created By: Jhimmibhob on October 28, 2011 Last Edited By: Jhimmibhob on April 3, 2014

Obsolete Successor

A popular character\\\\\\\'s successor loses his job (maybe even his point) when the original returns.

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Trope
(Formerly "The Wally West Zone")

This trope is usually a comic-book phenomenon, but can occur in other episodic media.

A classic character passes the torch to a successor, who starts putting his own mark on the character, and eventually gains a fandom of his own. In time, though, someone decides to reintroduce the original character--maybe out of nostalgia, maybe to shake things up. In stirring fashion, Hero #1 makes his return!

However, Hero #2 is now in an awkward fix. With the original back in the house, that torch he supposedly passed has reverted. Suddenly, Hero #2 is out of the spotlight, and it's often unclear what to do with him. The solutions vary--comic-book creators usually choose one of the following tactics:
  • Put him on a bus, or worse
  • Reinvent him, maybe shifting his name or focus
  • Leave him as is, but decrease his appearances and importance to the plot

Even in the latter two cases, these one-time successors may prove difficult to use in stories. With their original reason for existing gone, their place in continuity can be unstable and awkward.

Several recent cases have come about through nostalgia for The Silver Age of Comic Books. Oddly, Silver Age heroes are usually immune to such dangers at the hands of Golden Age heroes--Hawkman may constitute an exception.

{{Comic Books: DC}}:

{{Comic Books: Marvel}}:

Live-Action Television:
  • On The Dukes of Hazzard, replacements Coy and Vance were supposed to hang around after the return of the original stars, but they vanished after the first returning episode.

Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • October 28, 2011
    ChunkyDaddy
  • October 28, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Have any of the human Green Lanterns (other than Hal) ever retired or been killed off? I don't think so, but I'm not a regular reader.
  • October 28, 2011
    TrustBen
    Ryan Choi, who was intended to replace Ray Palmer as The Atom, is an example of the Dropped A Bridge On Him variety. Although this situation is evolving.
  • October 28, 2011
    DRCEQ
    Needs a more direct title. Even with "The" in the title, it's a character reference that only a few people of a certain medium, in this case Comic Books, would understand just by looking at the title.
  • October 29, 2011
    FastEddie
    Yeah, the name doesn't work at all. Also, it could read a lot less like a complaint than it does now. Not getting a clear idea of what the trope is, really. Something like a successor character is supplanted by the character they succeeded, maybe?
  • October 29, 2011
    foxley
    Coy and Vance Duke on The Dukes Of Hazzard. The producers claimed that would be kept around after Luke and Bo returned, but vanished after the first episode of the new season.
  • October 29, 2011
    Earnest
  • October 29, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
  • October 29, 2011
    DRCEQ
    Taking Back The Torch could work from the point of view of the hero who's returning, but not the hero being replaced.
  • October 29, 2011
    aurora369
  • October 29, 2011
    Ultrayellow
  • October 29, 2011
    moocow1452
  • October 29, 2011
    randomsurfer
    • There was a different person as Thor for a while, when the real Thor came back the other guy became Thunderstrike and was eventually killed off.
    • Batman:
      • Jean-Paul Valley became Batman when Bruce Wayne's back was broken; but eventually Bruce took back the mantle.
      • Following Final Crisis Bruce Wayne is dead, so Dick Grayson (the first Robin) takes up being Batman. After Bruce comes Back From The Dead Grayson continues to be Batman in all the main Batman titles, while Bruce becomes a global Batman in Batman Incorporated. Then the companywide reboot happened and all that was erased.
  • October 31, 2011
    Jhimmibhob
    I've retitled the trope, and tried to purge it of goofing/snarkiness. Still not sure that I'm describing it adequately, but it feels as if there's something highly trope-worthy here. Added some bare-bone examples, which certainly could use elaboration and additions.
  • October 31, 2011
    Micah
  • October 31, 2011
    crazysamaritan
    You need to actually include details in the trope description. Don't leave it as X Just X.
  • October 31, 2011
    Bisected8
    As the title gives the impression, contrast Obsolete Mentor for when it's the predecessor that decides to call it a day.
    • Warlock of the X-men was killed off to make way for the Adam Warlock from the Fantastic Four comics grand return, even though they had nothing in common besides name and having adversaries that shared a name.
    • Captain Marvel Monica Rambeu had already given up the title to Genis Veil and taken up another, Photon. So she tried to invoke this trope when Genis decided he was done with being Captain Marvel and started parading around as Photon. She got over it as soon as she caught up and talked to him however.
    • The successive Spider-women were gradually altered, killed off or simply forgotten about after the original's return.
    • Kraven the Hunter's two successors have faded into obscurity since the original has been resurrected.
    • Other Spider-man villains Vulture and Hobgoblin invoked this trope, coming out of retirement because of how sorry their would be successors turned out to be.
    • The original overarching theme for the Dan Ketch/Noble Kale version of the Ghost Rider was how it was going to become more powerful than all previous spirits of vengeance, rider or otherwise. Later writers decided to ignore this however, making John Blaze/Zarathos the Ghost Rider again, removing Noble Kale from the story and turning Dan Ketch into a villain.
    • Batgirl Barbara Gordon's curing of paralysis and return to being Bat Girl has helped derail her successor, Cassandra Cain.
  • April 3, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    The posted examples (the ones that are up) need more context.
  • April 3, 2014
    Earnest
    Elaborating on Green Lantern, Hal Jordan was went evil, died, and was replaced by Kyle Rayner. Eventually Hal got resurrected, moving Kyle out of the GL spotlight. All things considered Kyle got off light, staying on at least one GL book and kept circulating, even surpassing Hal by doing things like restarting the Corps and mastering all of the Lantern Rings.
  • April 3, 2014
    DAN004
    Too close to Legacy Launch.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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