Good news: your old and rarely-heard-from uncle died and left you an amazing old mansion in the countryside. Which sadly is infested by a fear-eating wraith that will make your sojourn a living hell. Otherwise, that shiny old medallion that your great aunt left to you is actually the home of a powerful demon, or that magnificent katana
that you obtained from that old friend of yours is wanted by the Yakuza, and so on.
In short, this trope is usually played at the start of a story/arc in order to start the plot, which will usually revolves about the heir dealing with the unwanted side effects of their inheritance. Ghost-infested mansions are a frequent choice, but the "side effect" can also be mundane (e.g. the house has a severe infestation of cockroaches, spiders and centipedes). Sometimes it can also be played for laughs.
Sometimes there's a variation where in order to obtain full possession of the inheritance the heir has to perform a certain sinister task of some kind
. But this is another trope.
A subtrope of Blessed with Suck
. Often the result of an Unexpected Inheritance
. See also Will
- There's a Daisy's Diary comic where Daisy gets an inheritance from a prince she once interviewed. However, the deceased prince had a lot of debts, and the palace was mortgaged. Donald find out that the prince faked his death, and intended to escape with the family jewels while Daisy inherited his debts.
- In L'armata Brancaleone (or for english speakers: "The Incredible Army of Brancaleone") the titular character manages to inherit his own citadel just in time to have to protect it from some saracen raiders.
- In Thir13en Ghosts, a man in financial trouble inherits a sprawling countryside mansion from his uncle, but the whole building is designed as a prison for deadly ghosts, and once he moves in, his uncle's sinister plan begins to unravel.
- This is how Young Frankenstein starts out. Fredrick Frankenstein is the chosen inheritor of his great-grandfather, and in order to satisfy the will, he must travel to Transylvania and visit the family castle at least once, which ultimately forces him to face his family legacy. This plot element may be difficult to glean, however, as the scenes laying out the details were all deleted from the final film.
- In the Inheritance Cycle, Eragon finds out that his precious sword Zar'roc, left to him by his master and father Brom is actually the sword of Morzan, an evil Dragon Rider who served Galbatorix.
- Inverted in Labyrinths of Echo when Shurf receives a bequest from a distant relative of his wife. He immediately deduces that the whole thing is fishy and that he was only mentioned in the will in order to set things right, find the proper heir, and hand the inheritance over to him.
- Sherlock Holmes:
- The heir to the Baskerville estate in The Hound Of The Baskervilles fears he might also have inherited the curse which causes him to be stalked by the eponymous creature. It's actually a large dog, trained by a nearby distant relative who wants to kill him and claim the estate.
- In The Five Orange Pips, a guy receives a mansion from his uncle, but soon he's sent death threats from the KKK because his uncle had some papers incriminating them (unknowingly, these papers had been burnt long ago). Also note that Watson, nor the guy's nephew had any clue as to what the KKK was. Adding to the KKK's mystique is the fact that they're able to murder someone and make it look like an accident. Three people actually, and Sherlock and the Nephew are the only ones to see anything suspicious.
- In Skulduggery Pleasant, the series kicks off with our heroine's uncle dying. He leaves her his house, which nearly gets our poor girl killed. Several times.
- The Lord of the Rings begins with Bilbo, the discoverer of a magical invisibility ring, reluctantly letting his heir Frodo inherit it so he can retire to Rivendell. A few decades later, Gandalf belatedly reveals to Frodo that it's the One Ring, Soul Jar of the Dark Lord Sauron's vast evil power and greatest threat to Middle-earth. And now it's Frodo's job to sneak it out of the country...
- In Making Money, Moist receives Topsy Lavish's dog Mr. Fusspot as part of her will - and it turns out he (not Moist, the dog) owns 51% of the family bank's shares. Since Moist is his owner, he is now Chairman of the bank (on behalf of the Mr Fusspot, naturally), which prompts the other members of Ms. Lavish's family to try and ruin him to get their bank back.
Live Action TV
- In Justified Dickie Bennett inherits all the money his mother earned during her long and prosperous criminal career. However, he is in prison and cannot just get the money and leave the state. Some very dangerous people know about the money and want it for themselves. Dickie knows that once he gives up the money, he will be killed. To add insult to injury only a fraction of the money remains after his mother set up a land deal that Dickie was cut out of.
- Grimm Nick's inheritance from his aunt is all the stuff he needs to fight the monsters of lore. It's not that his inheritance is evil, but it is a nasty surprise as he thought he was just normal and not a supernaturally gifted fighter.
- In the Twilight Zone "Uncle Simon", Barbara inherits a robot with the exact personality of her hated uncle, and she only gets his wealth if she takes care of it.
- Classic Traveller Adventure 13 Secret of the Ancients. Trow Beckett receives a statuette in his father's will. Shortly thereafter he's attacked by thugs who are after the statuette and then approached by Imperial agents who want to confiscate it.
- Call of Cthulhu supplement The Asylum and Other Tales, adventure "Black Devil Mountain". A PC receives some property as a bequest from their recently deceased brother. It turns out to be near the site of some extremely nasty Cthulhu Mythos activity.
- It's also a staple of Call of Cthulhu published adventures, to the point that Genre Savvy players, if they inherit an old house, will not go there until they've stocked up on the blowtorch fuel.
- The Devil Gene from Tekken can be seen as an example of this.
- Parodied in the Futurama episode "The Honking," where Bender the robot inherits a creepy old castle in Robo-Hungaria, on the condition that he spends at least one night in the castle. The castle comes complete with holographic ghosts and a computer virus that turns the target robot into a were-car. The were-car that runs Bender over isn't in the castle, but is in the village outside of the castle. Bender gets run over when running away from one of the ghosts in the castle.
- The Scooby-Doo episode "A Night of Fright Is No Delight", in which Scooby Doo is named in a wealthy man's will, but he must spend a night in a haunted house as a condition of receiving his share of the estate.
- The 1942 Merrie Melodies cartoon "The Wabbit Who Came To Supper" has Elmer Fudd inherit $3 million from his Uncle Louie. After a $2 million Inheritance Tax, plus other taxes, liens and attorney fees, Elmer owes $1.98. "Please remit!?"
- The 1944 Tom and Jerry cartoon "The Million Dollar Cat" has Tom inherit $1 million from Aunt Harriet, provided that Tom never harm any living thing, "even a mouse." Jerry, of course, torments Tom beyond all feline endurance.
- There was an episode of Popeye that involves him finding his old relative's treasure chest. Upon opening it, it doesn't contain any riches - it contains IOU instead.