Created By: lu127 on May 15, 2012 Last Edited By: lu127 on May 28, 2012
Troped

Where There's a Will, There's a Game

The will says there's an heir, but doesn't specify who, so it's up to a test

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Trope
There's a chance we have this, so please let me know if that's the case. Probably Needs a Better Name.

Bob is dead. His potential heirs gather after his funeral. Who will inherit his possessions? The will is opened, but...there's no clear heir.

This trope occurs when the will of the deceased doesn't specify who will inherit their possessions, leaving it up to a game of succession or a puzzle, so whoever is worthy can obtain the fortune. The puzzle can be a race, a mystery game with continuous hints or a number of things. May also be a Secret Test of Character.

A common twist includes discovering that one of the potential heirs is the one who killed Bob. The winner usually ends up with an unexpected new fortune.

May be a result of Inadequate Inheritor. Compare On One Condition.


Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
  • Kami no Shizuku: The whole plot is basically the main character getting into a wine tasting contest with his adoptive brother to inherit his father's vast and valuable wine collection.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
  • Stardust: Before he dies, the king of Stormhold announces that his heir will be the one who manages to obtain a ruby he threw into the sky.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • In the interactive book The Dandee Diamond Mystery, the reader/protagonist's rich and eccentric uncle left the Dandee Diamond to the one who most deserves it. However, before they can figure out who deserves it the most, they must find the diamond and the uncle's only clue in the will was talking to his parrot.
  • In L. M. Montgomery's A Tangled Web eccentric Aunt Becky willed that the name of the heir of a priceless heirloom will only be disclosed a year after her death. Because the will dropped a few hints that a unknown judge would be selecting the heir, the family members spent the rest of the year trying their best to live up to what Aunt Becky would have wanted in an attempt to win the heirloom.
  • The Westing Game: Samuel W. Westing chose sixteen people apparently at random as his heirs; the book opens with them summoned to hear the reading of the will. He leaves everything to the winner of the puzzle he calls The Westing Game. Who will win? That's the entire book.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
  • In the Community episode "Digital Estate Planning", Pierce's father leaves his will in the form of a video game. Whoever wins the game gets the inheritance.
  • In an episode of Married... with Children, Al Bundy's Uncle Stymie, the only male Bundy to be a success in life (Al credits this to the fact Stymie was the only one who never married), left his $500,000 estate to the first male Bundy to have a legitimate son named after him. Considering that the lawyer who read the will would later marry a male Bundy and give birth to Stymie Junior to get the money, Al and the other Bundys who didn't get the money even though could have challenged the will under claims of undue influence.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • Professor Layton and the Curious Village uses this trope as its main plotline. Layton and Luke have to find the Golden Apple in order to inherit the late Baron Reinhold's wealth.
  • In the video game Safecracker, a millionaire hides his will in a house full of bizarre safes, every one of which must be unlocked to access the document. When found, it leaves it up to whomever successfully cracks the safes to decide who gets his fortune.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni: The successor to the Ushiromiya family's headship and fortune (which includes ten tons of solid gold) seemed to be locked and set… and then a letter from the resident witch arrived, announcing that the spoils have been made fair game to anyone who can solve the Witch's Epitaph, a long riddle which incidentally, details a ritual requiring human sacrifice. Mind games (and lots and lots of murder) ensue.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • In The Rocky And Bullwinkle Show, for a series of episodes a will specified that the deceased's "million-dollar note" would go to whomever had a foot bearing a certain name on it -- which turned out to be Bullwinkle. Except that to claim the money, he had to spend the night in the owner's mansion (with the owner's sons making various attempts to get him out of the building). Rocky and Bullwinkle succeed, but then it's revealed that his foot no longer bears the mark, because apparently it was just an imprint from his shower mat. So the million-dollar note goes to the sons. BUT! It turns out to be a promissory note, placing the sons in a 1-million debt, while Bullwinkle gets to go home to the happy status quo (telling Rocky that although that mark on his foot was just a temporary imprint, the mark on his other foot "never comes off").
[[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 31
  • May 15, 2012
    TropeEater
    Well... there's the first Professor Layton game.
  • May 15, 2012
    lu127
    Details, please. I can't go with work names alone.
  • May 15, 2012
    elwoz
    This is the entire plot of The Westing Game.
  • May 15, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    ^And again no Just The Trope And A Name entries please.
  • May 15, 2012
    Stratadrake
    My memory is a bit rusty on this one, but ...

    • In The Rocky And Bullwinkle Show, for a series of episodes a will specified that the deceased's "million-dollar note" would go to whomever had a foot bearing a certain name on it -- which turned out to be Bullwinkle. Except that to claim the money, he had to spend the night in the owner's mansion (with the owner's sons making various attempts to get him out of the building). Rocky and Bullwinkle succeed, but then it's revealed that his foot no longer bears the mark, because apparently it was just an imprint from his shower mat. So the million-dollar note goes to the sons. BUT! It turns out to be a promissory note, placing the sons in a 1-million debt, while Bullwinkle gets to go home to the happy status quo (telling Rocky that although that mark on his foot was just a temporary imprint, the mark on his other foot "never comes off").
  • May 16, 2012
    DracMonster
    How about Contest The Inheritance or Win By An Heir. (Either of those pass the clarity test?)
  • May 16, 2012
    elwoz
    ^^^ To describe The Westing Game in much more detail would be to spoiler, because literally everything that happens in the book ties back into the puzzle. But here's a little bit more:

    Literature
    • The Westing Game: Samuel W. Westing chose sixteen people apparently at random as his heirs; the book opens with them summoned to hear the reading of the will. He leaves everything to the winner of the puzzle he calls The Westing Game. Who will win? That's the entire book.
  • May 18, 2012
    DracMonster
  • May 18, 2012
    TonyG
    In the Community episode "Digital Estate Planning", Pierce's father leaves his will in the form of a video game. Whoever wins the game gets the inheritance.
  • May 18, 2012
    TheThnikkaman
  • May 19, 2012
    lu127
    I like that. Changed.
  • May 19, 2012
    NimmerStill
  • May 19, 2012
    nitrokitty
    • Kami No Shizuku: The whole plot is basically the main character getting into a wine tasting contest with his adoptive brother to inherit his father's vast and valuable wine collection.
  • May 19, 2012
    SharleeD
    • In the video game Safecracker, a millionaire hides his will in a house full of bizarre safes, every one of which must be unlocked to access the document. When found, it leaves it up to whomever successfully cracks the safes to decide who gets his fortune.
  • May 19, 2012
    DracMonster
    @The Thnikkaman: I thought of that but it doesn't scan well as a wordplay. "Game" comes the closest.
  • May 19, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Witty title, perhaps, but it's quite long and (as a complete sentence in its own right) difficult to work into other sentences.
  • May 19, 2012
    troacctid
    We did already use it for Where Theres A Will Theres A Sticky Note.
  • May 19, 2012
    halfstep
    This discussion has gone on for this long, and no one has mentioned "The Sword in The Stone"/King Arthur? Would think this would be one of the trope originators.
  • May 20, 2012
    Stratadrake
    @troacctid: I wouldn't necessarily cite a 10-wikilink article as a salient example.

    Maybe Unspecified Heir? Heir Of Mystery?
  • May 21, 2012
    Prfnoff
    From Will:

    • In LM Montgomery's A Tangled Web eccentric Aunt Becky willed that the name of the heir of a priceless heirloom will only be disclosed a year after her death. Because the will dropped a few hints that a unknown judge would be selecting the heir, the family members spent the rest of the year trying their best to live up to what Aunt Becky would have wanted in an attempt to win the heirloom.

    • In the interactive book The Dandee Diamond Mystery, the reader/protagonist's rich and eccentric uncle left the Dandee Diamond to the one who most deserves it. However, before they can figure out who deserves it the most, they must find the diamond and the uncle's only clue in the will was talking to his parrot.
    • In an episode of Married With Children, Al Bundy's Uncle Stymie, the only male Bundy to be a success in life (Al credits this to the fact Stymie was the only one who never married), left his $500,000 estate to the first male Bundy to have a legitimate son named after him. Considering that the lawyer who read the will would later marry a male Bundy and give birth to Stymie Junior to get the money, Al and the other Bundys who didn't get the money even though could have challenged the will under claims of undue influence.
  • May 25, 2012
    Stratadrake
    I'm partial to making a pun off of "heir" than "will". For example, Heir Of Mystery is fun to work into sentences -- "there's an Heir of Mystery about the will he left us. We need to figure out who that is."
  • May 26, 2012
    Wii
    Umineko No Naku Koro Ni: The successor to the Ushiromiya family's headship and fortune (which includes ten tons of solid gold) seemed to be locked and set… and then a letter from the resident witch arrived, announcing that the spoils have been made fair game to anyone who can solve the Witch's Epitaph, a long riddle which incidentally, details a ritual requiring human sacrifice. Mind games (and lots and lots of murder) ensue.
  • May 26, 2012
    henke37
    Reallife:
    • Dude gives away his fortune to the woman who gave birth to the most children.
  • May 26, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Is it flexible enough for this? It isn't a will.
    • xkcd #545. Black Hat Guy promises to donate $1 million to either a pro-choice or pro-life charity, depending on the word count of the Wikipedia article written about his giveaway.
  • May 27, 2012
    Stratadrake
    I think we have enough exmples. Let's talk titles.
  • May 27, 2012
    lu127
    ^^ I'm not really sure...why is he giving that money away?

    ^ Any suggestions are welcome.
  • May 27, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Only thing that comes to mind is Inheritance Game or Duel Between Heirs.

    Description-wise, I would put the actual trope at the top rather than the Alice and Bob thing.
  • May 27, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Heir Of Mystery is my first title suggestion. Concise, easily worked into sentences, slightly witty, though not 100% clear.
  • May 27, 2012
    randomsurfer
    ^^^As far as I know, just to fuck with people and/or Wikipedia.
  • May 28, 2012
    Chabal2
    The fate of Alexander the Great's empire, as his generals, asking who was supposed to lead them, couldn't agree to what (if anything) he'd answered on his deathbed.
  • May 28, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^ That doesn't sound like an example.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=i8fwuwbiu9my9z67ajbanrpb&trope=HeirOfMystery