Created By: Ryuuma on November 20, 2011 Last Edited By: morenohijazo on March 17, 2016

Inheritance Backlash

Something that you have inherited has some nasty surprise for you.

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Trope

Do We Have This One? Needs More Examples

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. May overlap with Prestige Peril if what is inherited is a title. See also Will.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 

  • 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.

    Film 

  • 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.
  • Respected restauranteur Ernie Smuntz inherits a box of very old cigars from his departed father, Rudolph Smuntz in Dreamworks' 1997 comedy Mousehunt. Ernie takes the cigar box to his restaurant, where he leaves it at the back of the kitchen. A huge cockroach escapes from the unguarded cigar box, and turns up during the Mayor's meal. This fiasco ruins Ernie's reputation, condemns his restaurant and leaves him destitute.
  • In one The Three Stooges short Curly inherits from a long lost uncle, but after Inheritance Tax and other fees he ends up owing money.
  • In Casper, the Whipstaff Manor where Casper and his uncles reside is inherited by Carrigan Crittenden following her father's death. She's not happy about until she learns about a treasure within. Her seeking out this treasure would ultimately lead to her own karmic death.

    Literature 

  • 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 Reaper Man Arthur Winkins great uncle left him an old crumbling castle in Überwald, the title of Count, and a nasty case of vampirism. First time anyone was ever turned undead by a lawyer's missive. His wife, Doreen, has embraced it, but Arthur finds it more a nuisance to a small businessman in the fruit and veg trade.
  • 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.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Harrenhal Castle served as this for many generations of inheritors, capable of driving entire noble families into poverty and extinction with the prohibitive cost of its maintenance and a Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane cursed reputation.
  • Blake Thorburn, the viewpoint protagonist of Pact, inherits the Thorburn mansion from his grandmother after the murder of his cousin, only to learn that she was a diabolist practitioner (Someone who trafficks with demon) and nearly everyone in Jacob's Bell is out to kill him because of it.

    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.
  • In The Revival series of Route 66 the protagonist inherits his estranged father's car and a few other possessions; after selling off the possessions (but not the car) he still owes money to his father's executor and the feds.
  • Zig-Zagged on NYPD Blue: PAA John Irvin's father dies and he is visited by the lawyer handling the estate. The lawyer tells him that there are various taxes, fees, and unpaid bills to be paid off from the estate, which John takes to mean that it will use up any inheritance and he'll have to pay some in addition. But no;after paying everyting John and his sister will inherit roughly $800,000. Each.

    Tabletop Games 

  • 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.
  • There's a Monopoly chance card from the City versions that tells you you've inherited a remaining property from the bank — you just have to pay them the Inheritance Tax. Depending on the property you end up with, it could be considered a bargain (even with this version's properly enforced chance to auction properties for lower prices), but can also be over the board cost.
  • Dungeons & Dragons, Dungeon magazine #26 Forgotten Realms adventure "The Inheritance". One of the PCs has inherited a small keep (castle) from his late uncle. The problem: he has only thirty days to travel there, clean out all of the monsters inside, and return to the city of Waterdeep to prove his deed or his inheritance will be lost. The opposition includes a tribe of hobgoblins, a dangerous carnivorous ape with red eyes, and a ghoul.

    Video Games 

  • The Devil Gene from Tekken can be seen as an example of this.
  • Darkest Dungeon begins with the player inheriting their (now cursed) family estate after the death (by self inflicted gunshot) of their antecedent. They must now send parties of (likely doomed) adventurers deep into the ruins in order to uncover the truth and redeem their lineage.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 

  • 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.
  • An episode of TaleSpin had Baloo inherit a mansion suspected of being haunted. It ultimately isn't, but Baloo also inherited the relative's debt and has to give up the mansion to pay it.
  • A Batman: The Animated Series episode, "Joker's Millions", has the Joker inheriting money from a deceased mob boss who was thought to hate him. Turns out this is true, and with the money came IRS attention that Joker could have dealt with, but by the time he's told of this he's already blown too much of the money, as the mob boss expected he would.


Community Feedback Replies: 57
  • November 20, 2011
    Koveras
    • 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.
  • November 20, 2011
    Irrisia
    The house inherited in Thirteen Ghosts is full of ghosts. The remake is an even better case.

    (There's nothing really listed under that example that would cover this. Old Dark House mentions that it may come with a curse, dark secret or haunting. Unexpected Inheritance would also be related, but that's for any inheritance, good or bad.)
  • November 20, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    You might mention the imposition of conditions on said inheritance. See 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.
  • November 20, 2011
    Duncan
    This should totally be referenced on the Will page, and vice versa. Often the result of an Unexpected Inheritance.
  • November 20, 2011
    Generality
    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.
  • November 20, 2011
    Micah
    The variation is On One Condition.
  • November 21, 2011
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • 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.
  • December 19, 2011
    Earnest
  • December 21, 2011
    DAMartin
    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.
  • December 22, 2011
    captainpat
    Needs A Better Title, the title needs to specify that this is a bad surprise.
  • December 23, 2011
    Ryuuma
    ^ Is there a word that covers "bad surprise"?
  • January 17, 2012
    Ryuuma
    Bump
  • January 17, 2012
    neobullseye
    (Unexpected) Inheritance Backlash?
  • January 17, 2012
    Ryuuma
    .... Uhm, uhm, that's good...
  • January 17, 2012
    Tzintzuntzan
    Parodied in the Futurama episode "The Honking," where Bender the robot inherits a creepy old castle in Robo-Hungaria. The castles comes complete with holographic ghosts and a computer virus that turns the target robot into a were-car.

    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.
  • January 17, 2012
    Bisected8
    • 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.
  • January 25, 2012
    TBeholder
  • February 10, 2012
    nielas
    • 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.
  • February 10, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • 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.
  • February 24, 2012
    Ryuuma
    Bump
  • May 5, 2012
    Ryuuma
    Bump
  • May 5, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Inheritance Backlash can work, except for the part that "backlash" implies that the inheritee actively despises receiving it. Which is certainly the case in some examples, but ... not necessarily a requirement?
  • May 5, 2012
    reub2000
    In the futurama example, Bender inherits the castle on the condition that he spend at least one night in the castle. Also, the werecar that runs bender over isn't in the castle, but is in the village outside of the castle. Bender get run over when running away from one of the ghosts in the castle.
  • May 6, 2012
    Ryuuma
    ^ Well, there are still the ghosts and the bloody binary scripts all over the place, parodying this trope a bit. ^^ Again, I'm ready to accept any other good title, the very first one was "Inheritance Bad Surprise", now is Backlash. If you can come up with a better title, you're welcome.
  • May 6, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Another Sherlock Holmes example: In "The five orange seeds" (or whatever it was called), 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).
  • May 6, 2012
    Dacilriel
    Frodo's uncle Bilbo left him a lovely magic ring. Which just happens to be imbued with pure evil.
  • May 6, 2012
    reub2000
    ^^ The story is The Five Orange Pips. 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.
  • May 6, 2012
    ScanVisor
    Real Life:
    • Money.
  • May 27, 2012
    Ryuuma
    ^ YMMV on that one, if you really need them and know how to spend them.
  • May 27, 2012
    Troliolio
    I dunno, the name made me instantly think of the Inheritance Cycle haters. I haven't really got a better name idea though.
  • December 9, 2012
    Onitatsu
    Bump. Inheritance Cycle haters are already listed. Mostly under Fan Dumb. Sorry, couldn't miss that chance.
  • December 9, 2012
    Chernoskill
    • 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.
  • December 14, 2012
    Onitatsu
    Bump.
  • December 14, 2012
    ArcadesSabboth
    I corrected the format. Examples should always be listed in folders. Also added The Lord Of The Rings.

    The webcomic example has a problem with requiring the reader to open the comic to read "the next page" to understand. This should be reworded. Weblinks Are Not Examples.
  • December 28, 2012
    polarbear2217
    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.
  • December 28, 2012
    RoseBride
    This probably needs to be related to Blessed With Suck

  • January 1, 2013
    Onitatsu
    Yes.... as a subtrope, maybe?
  • February 8, 2013
    Onitatsu
    Bump
  • February 8, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • 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.
  • February 9, 2013
    1810072342
    Video Games: The Devil Gene from Video Game/Tekken can be seen as an example of this.

    Literature: 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.
  • April 2, 2014
    DAN004
    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.
  • April 5, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • Respected restauranteur Ernie Smuntz inherits a box of very old cigars from his departed father, Rudolph Smuntz in Dreamworks' 1997 comedy Mousehunt. Ernie takes the cigar box to his restaurant, where he leaves it at the back of the kitchen. A huge cockroach escapes from the unguarded cigar box, and turns up during the Mayor's meal. This fiasco ruins Ernie's reputation, condemns his restaurant and leaves him destitute.
  • April 5, 2014
    Prfnoff
    As it stands, this trope is more general than it was possibly intended to be. The description seems to suggest On One Condition while trying to distinguish it by misleadingly stating that On One Condition involves a "sinister" task. The Western Animation section rather suspiciously seems to duplicate examples from On One Condition. The Tekken one is a Zero Context Example.
  • April 5, 2014
    CrypticMirror
    In Reaper Man Arthur Winkins great uncle left him an old crumbling castle in Uberwald, the title of Count, and a nasty case of vampirism. First time anyone was ever turned undead by a lawyer's missive. His wife, Doreen, has embraced it, but Arthur finds it more a nuisance to a small businessman in the fruit and veg trade.
  • December 28, 2015
    Bisected8
    • Darkest Dungeon begins with the player inheriting their (now cursed) family estate after the death (by self inflicted gunshot) of their antecedent. They must now send parties of (likely doomed) adventurers deep into the ruins in order to uncover the truth and redeem their lineage.
  • December 29, 2015
    lakingsif
    • There's a Monopoly chance card from the City versions that tells you you've inherited a remaining property from the bank — you just have to pay them the Inheritance Tax. Depending on the property you end up with, it could be considered a bargain (even with this version's properly enforced chance to auction properties for lower prices), but can also be over the board cost.
  • December 29, 2015
    sgamer82
    • An episode of Tale Spin had Baloo inherit a mansion suspected of being haunted. It ultimately isn't, but Baloo also inherited the relative's debt and has to give up the mansion to pay it.
    • A Batman The Animated Series episode, "Joker's Millions", has the Joker inheriting money from a deceased mob boss who was thought to hate him. Turns out this is true, and with the money came IRS attention that Joker could have dealt with, but by the time he's told of this he's already blown too much of the money, as the mob boss expected he would.
  • December 30, 2015
    randomsurfer
    • In one The Three Stooges short Curly inherits from a long lost uncle, but after Inheritance Tax and other fees he ends up owing money.
    • In The Revival series of Route 66 the protagonist inherits his estranged father's car and a few other possessions; after selling off the possessions (but not the car) he still owes money to his father's executor and the feds.
    • Zig Zagged on NYPD Blue: PAA John Irvin's father dies and he is visited by the lawyer handling the estate. The lawyer tells him that there are various taxes, fees, and unpaid bills to be paid off from the estate, which John takes to mean that it will use up any inheritance and he'll have to pay some in addition. But no;after paying everyting John and his sister will inherit roughly $800,000. Each.
  • February 7, 2016
    DAN004
    Bump
  • February 7, 2016
    MysteriousZorua1994
    • In Casper, the Whipstaff Manor where Casper and his uncles reside is inherited by Carrigan Crittenden following her father's death. She's not happy about until she learns about a treasure within. Her seeking out this treasure would ultimately lead to her own karmic death.
  • February 7, 2016
    HeroGal2347
    May overlap with Prestige Peril if what is inherited is a title.
  • February 8, 2016
    BreadBull
    A lot of the examples in Western Animation seem to fit better in On One Condition.
  • February 17, 2016
    aurora369
    A Song Of Ice And Fire: Harrenhal Castle served as this for many generations of inheritors, capable of driving entire noble families into poverty and extinction with the prohibitive cost of its maintenance and a Maybe Magic Maybe Mundane cursed reputation.
  • March 14, 2016
    rmctagg09
    • Blake Thorburn, the viewpoint protagonist of Pact, inherits the Thorburn mansion from his grandmother after the murder of his cousin, only to learn that she was a diabolist practitioner (Someone who trafficks with demon) and nearly everyone in Jacob's Bell is out to kill him because of it.
  • March 14, 2016
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
  • March 16, 2016
    HeroGal2347
    Ready to launch?
  • March 17, 2016
    MegaMarioMan
    Would this count?
    • In the episode "Cheddar" of Brooklyn Nine Nine, there's a played for laughs version when Jake Peralta receives a million dollars worth of stock on Blockbuster Video.
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