Created By: RossN on September 15, 2011 Last Edited By: flauterfli on September 24, 2011

Not Half The Man Your Father Was

A character fails to live up to heroic predecessor

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A character is trying to live up to the name set up by his father or mentor and falls far short in terms of ethics and morality. Maybe the son of the Self-Made Man tries to increase the fortune his father made through honest toil by underhanded means or the protege of The Cape is a brutal Anti-Hero obsessed with crushing crime.

Usually the son delusionally believes his father would be proud of his succes and it is left for others to call him out on how he achieves that success.

Contrast "Well Done, Son!" Guy.


  • Michael Corleone in The Godfather and especially The Godfather Pat II. The exact words are never spoken onscreen but the second film makes an explicit contrast between Michael and his father.
  • JR Ewing in Dallas, at least later in the series (early on he is a "Well Done, Son!" Guy).
  • Octavian in the Masters of Rome series fondly models himself after his beloved father but others see differently:
    Marc Anthony: "I think that you're warped, Octavianus! You're too crooked to lie straight in bed and that's something no one could ever say about Caesar. He was straight as an arrow always."
  • In Diana L. Paxon's The Golden Hills of Westria, Prince Johan struggles to live up to his father's herioc legacy.

Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • September 15, 2011
  • September 15, 2011
    In Simon R Green's Nightside book 2 taylor runs into The Jonah, a badass who can control probability. He inherited his ability from his father count entropy who was apparently was just plain much better than the Jonah, seeing as how everyone is always quoting this trope around him, and he has extreme daddy issues
  • September 15, 2011
    Played straight with Rusty Venture, made all the more obvious by the aversion of Jonas Venture Jr.
  • September 15, 2011
    In Diana L. Paxon's The Golden Hills of Westria, Prince Johan struggles to live up to his father's legacy.
    Prince Johan was always a bit restless, never quite measuring up to the expectations of his heroic father, King Julian, who is magically attuned to the four powerful Jewels of Westria.
  • September 15, 2011
    The FBI agent in That Darn Cat lives in the shadow of his father, who was known as "The 24 Hour Man" because he was able to solve any case in 24 hours. At the end of the movie, the turning point in Da Chief's Mc Cloud Speech is even the words "...and it wasn't exactly 24 hours, but...".
  • September 15, 2011
  • September 15, 2011
    I see this trope as more a son (or other successor) being morally inferior to their predecessor than lacking in skill. As in the lost sight of how the father did things in their effort to match or sustain their families achievements. For instance Michael Corleone ends up - in material terms - more successful than his father, but very much at the cost of his soul.
  • September 15, 2011
    Needs a non-dialog title. Overshadowing Father, perhaps.
  • September 15, 2011
    • The movie version of Iron Man seems to have this problem.
  • September 16, 2011
  • September 16, 2011
  • September 24, 2011
    To Live Up To Legacy?