The hero receives a weapon that once was carried by his father or a more distant ancestor. Nine times out of ten this is either a sword or a gun, depending on the setting.
If the person who has it has a choice about who to give to, or even whether, may also fall under It Was a Gift.
If people want the hero to not Turn Out Like His Father, they will try to keep the weapon from him. Whether they surrender, or he gets it behind their back, he will metaphorically as well as literally take up the ancestral weapon.
If Magic, may flat out not work for someone not of the Heroic Lineage.
May overlap with Older Is Better when the weapon is older and more powerful than modern weapons, as well as with Legendary Weapon. When the weapon did not belong to a blood relative but to a predecessor, see Take Up My Sword.
Do not confuse with the gaming weapon class of the same name, which is more about how powerful or magical the weapon is and less about where it came from.
Kakashi Hatake of Naruto used the tanto of his father in Kakashi Gaiden. The tanto gave off a white streak of chakra when it was swung◊, which gave the original owner, Sakumo Hatake, the nickname "Konoha's White Fang"
Unfortunately, it broke when Kakashi used it to defend himself and Rin from a swarm of Iwa-nin. Here's a picture of it◊ and another◊
Negi Springfield of Mahou Sensei Negima! uses his (famous and extremely powerful) father's staff as his primary weapon.
At least until he gets a magic ring that allows him to cast spells emptyhanded (several other characters use a similar device), which fits his fighting style much better. He still occasionally uses the staff, though. Notably by turning it into a giant lightning halberd.
It was hinted (but not explicitly said) that Yuuna Akashi's magical artifact previously belonged to her deceased mother.
in Dragonball, Goku's extendable staff was given to him by his adopted grandfather Gohan. In at least one of the movies, Gohan is seen carrying it as well.
Kouji Kabuto from Mazinger Z probably counts too, if you count his grandpa's giant robot as an ancestral weapon.
The titular character inherits the Silver Crystal from the ancestral Moon Kingdom.
Sailor Neptune's and Uranus's Talismans may also count, although its a strange situation since, although they are certainly ancient, they belonged to their own selves before being reincarnated, which may dispute them being actually ancestral (can you be your own ancestor?). Sailor Pluto's Talisman avoids this completely since due to time shennanigans she has always existed owning her own Talisman.
In Dansai Bunri No Crime Edge, the killing goods are weapons passed down by serial killers to their descendants and are supernaturally stronger than normal weapons.
The sword originally wielded by an ancestor of Kyon's (Usui Sadamitsu/Taira no Tadamichi to be precise) in Kyon: Big Damn Hero. While the sword itself isn't usable anymore, he still uses the hilt for his Laserblade.
In the movie Puma Man, Tony receives a very gaudy-looking belt, which once belonged to his father, and gives him the powers of the Pumaman. He never does much with them of any consequence, though.
As the quote above notes, Luke's first lightsaber in Star Wars once belonged to Darth Vader. He later makes one for himself.
In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, he recovers the one Anakin used, and gives it to Mara Jade. Given some of Zahn's opinions on the matter, it seems this was meant to be sort of like giving her a ring that costs two months' salary. Turns out it was about ten years early. Other parts of the EU make the gift of a lightsaber something that represents a profound bond.
Apparently it's a family heirloom now; Ben's holding it on the cover for Backlash, and the Legacy Era Campaign Guide says it was passed down through the line, though where it is by 137 ABY is unknown.
In The Three Musketeers (1993), Musketeer-wannabe D'Artagnan bears a sword carried by his father, a Musketeer killed years earlier by Rochefort. After D'Artagnan is captured, Rochefort takes the sword. D'Artagnan later gets it back and uses it to avenge his father.
True Grit, a 1969 western. Mattie, a 14-year old daughter of a killed Rancher seeking revenge, carries her father's revolver with her. She actually gets to shoot the murderer with it (though he survives it).
In The Hobbit, Glóin wields the axes that his son Gimli will use in Lord of the Rings. It's later revealed that Glóin's father had these in his possession as well.
Bilbo is given the sword Sting, that would later be used by his nephew Frodo.
Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings inherits the shards of Narsil, the sword of his ancestor Elendil, which Elendil's son Isildur used to cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand 3000 years prior. In the books, the Elves of Rivendell reforge the shards of Narsil into Andúril in Fellowship of the Ring, and Aragorn uses it as his primary weapon for the rest of the saga. In the movie trilogy, however, Narsil isn't reforged into Andúril until Return of the King.
Averted in The Hobbit with Glamdring: you'd think Elrond would be slightly interested in his great-grandfather's (Turgon's) sword, but he lets Gandalf have it without even mentioning the connection. Seeing as Galdalf is a Maia he may have given it to him out of respect.
Roland's six-guns in The Dark Tower are family heirlooms which, according to legend, were forged from the broken scraps of Excalibur itself.
The Dragonlance stories have several instances of this. Sturm Brightblade wears his father's armor. He also wields the Brightblade which is described as a "....splendid, if old-fashioned, two-handed sword". This editor is not sure if it belonged to his father, like the armor. However, the Brightblade does get handed down to Sturm's son, Steel Brightblade.
Also, Raistlin Majere passed down a powerful magical artifact he was given, the Staff of Magius, to his nephew Palin Majere.
Power-forged heron-mark blades in The Wheel of Time all date back more than three thousand years (back to the time when Aes Sedai were still allowed to make weapons), and have been passed from one blademaster to the next the entire time.
Arguably reconstructed in the Discworld book The Fifth Elephant. After saving the dwarven kingdom from a crazy plot, the Low King grants Sam Vimes with a dwarven axe. In keeping with the "tradition versus modern-thinking" spirit of the rest of the book, he goes on to indicate his own axe and explain how, despite having been given new handles to keep with the fashions, and new blades when the old one wore out, and in fact having been remade completely several times as time went by, it was still his ancestral axe in every detail-that there was more to the "ancestral" component than simply "his father handed him a really old axe at some point."note This is based on a philosophical paradox called the Ship of Theseus.
Carrot's sword. The dwarves that raised him found the sword in the same cart where they found him after a bandit attack killed his family, and it later turns out to be the Sword of the Kings of Ankh. When it first appears, several paragraphs are devoted to describing how plain the sword is and how nothing indicates it's anything special. It's rather well-balanced, though. It's actually so ordinary it's a kind of special. For example, it's so un-enchanted, it has less than the ordinary background level of magic. Carrot's ancestors didn't want a magical perfect sword that could pull all sorts of tricks; they just wanted one that was really good at killing other people. Indeed, its efficiency at killing enemies is supposedly part of why that first ancestor became king.
In P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath, Jame carries her father's broken sword, Kinslayer, to return to her brother; it is reforged, but in a subversion, by the enemy. Jame comes across it within the Master's House and retrieves it, and discovers that its legendary ability to cut its way through enemies like butter remains, along with its fearful joy in slaying; the name is hardly auspicious in that regard, either...
In the A Song of Ice and Fire series, Valyrian steel swords (the knowledge of making it has been lost) are passed down through the lines of noble houses. These heirlooms are so important that even the most impoverished noble houses will not sell them. Tywin Lannister spent years trying to purchase one from another house since the Lannisters' sword Brightroar was lost at sea long ago. Too bad houses would rather sell their daughters than sell their swords.
Also Dawn, the ancestral weapon of House Dayne. which stands out from the crowd by being Thunderbolt Iron rather than Valyrian steel. Whoever currently holds it is known as 'The Sword of Morning'.
Riva Iron-Grip's sword in the Belgariad: forged at the instruction of Riva's father-in-law, with a built-in clamp on the pommel for the Orb of Aldur (which makes the thing light enough to wield - it's portrayed as being roughly the same size as the Dragonslayer), it collects dust for a few centuries until Garion finally shows up to collect it.
The Spear of Telesto from the Warhammer 40000Blood Angels novels, wielded by the Space Marine Chapter's primogenitor Sanguinius and said to be forged by the God-Emperor of Mankind himself. It's a definite plot element.
The Sword of Martin the Warrior from Redwall, held in Redwall Abbey and given to its champion.
The Vorkosigan Seal dagger willed from Count Piotr to Miles. While mostly used for mundane purposes throughout the series, it is used in a rather disconcerting way during the Tau Verde campaign. It also comes in very handy during an academy training exercise. (Both in The Warrior's Apprentice.) It also plays a significant role in Miles' apology letter to Ekatarin in A Civil Campaign. That fact that it is a rare antique and belongs in a museum gets lampshaded:
When genuine seal daggers from the Time of Isolation appeared on the market, they were bid up in to the ten of thousands of marks. Miles probably used his as a letter opener, or to clean under his fingernails.
In Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, they find a box containing a complete set of seal daggers from all the counts at the time of the Occupation. Ivan is staggered by it, and uses it to show the nature of the hoard to those who found them.
The Sword of Leah in the Shannarra series has been passed down by kings and princes of Leah for generations. Due to the enchantment put on it by Allanon in Wishsong, it avoids the Ship of Theseus question because while the scabbard and hilt occasionally need replacing, the blade itself remains the same (Save for the time it was broken and had to be magically remade). The titular Sword of Shannarra does not count, as while it is used by various members of the same bloodline as generations go by, it tends to be left in storage for centuries at a stretch between uses.
For the first five books in the Harry Potter series, the wand used by Neville Longbottom was originally his father's, a famous Auror who had been tortured into insanity by Death Eaters when Neville was a baby. Subverted, though, in that wands work best when either they choose the wizard who will use them, or the wizard wins their loyalty. Since Neville did neither, the wand doesn't work particularly well for him, and it's broken rather early into the fight in the Department of Mysteries in Order of the Phoenix. He gets another wand of his own in the next book, and it seems to serve him well for the rest of the series.
The Marauders' Map may also count, although it's not a weapon. Harry gets it from Fred and George Weasley in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and he doesn't learn until later that it was made by his father and his closest friends. Harry uses it often in every following book in the series. Rowling later stated in an interview that Harry's son James got the map (by sneaking it from his father's desk).
Live Action TV
In Blue Bloods, Police Commissioner Frank Reagan carries a .38 Fitz Special revolver because it's the weapon his father and his grandfather carried.
Discussed further with Henry's old "slapper", (a small blackjack). Frank says he never carried one, and as PC reminds everyone that they're not authorized. Danny uses Henry's old one anyway. Jamie wants nothing to do with it.
Fat Neil's D&D character in Community, named DuCain, has inherited the Sword of DuCain from his ancestors.
In the Völsunga saga (as well as in Richard Wagner's 19th-century operas based (in part) on them), the hero Sigurd (Siegfried) receives the fragments of his father's sword, which he must then reforge.
In the Poetic Edda, Thor's sons Modi and Magni inherit his hammer Mjolnir after his death battling the Midgard Serpent during Ragnarok.
BattleTech frequently has ancestral Humongous Mecha; House Kurita is most explicit about this sort of thing, 'Mechs being passed down from one warrior to another much like swords were passed from father to son in a line of samurai, but many 'Mechs have histories that can be traced back decades or even centuries. In one scenario from an early gamebook, a pair of Mackies from the original production run, the first BattleMechs ever designed and over two and a half centuries old, are powered up to fight the Black Widow Company. They usually acquit themselves with great distinction.
It was justified by the fact battlemechs are expensive and somewhat hard to build especially in the succession wars era were there were only a couple of battlemech factories still working after century's of war as well has the older star league era mechs being better than the new mechs coming out in said era.
In Mortasheen, they directly say in the description for Oodoov that certain examples of this creature are passed down as family heirlooms. Of course, given that the creature's power to absorb pain tends to turn the user into The Berzerker, surviving long enough to pass it on is easier said than done.
The Kragg Swords in Eon are generally this. The Kragg pass these mighty swords through several generations, and sometimes they might end up in the hands of a PC. Unfortunately, by the time the sword is actually passed on to a PC, the durability of the sword is usually severely diminished, making it break in a matter of fights unless maintained.
In Exalted, even a common jade daiklave can be a legendary sword passed down through a Dragon-Blooded family line since the First Age.
Legend of the Five Rings is all over this trope. A samurai's sword is traditionally passed on to their grandchild. Virtually all magical weapons are passed down in the same manner, most notably the "Ancestral Swords" of each clan, and the Ancestral Sword of the Hantei (Rokugan's equivalent to Kusanagi).
Rifts has the Ascended Glitter Boy character class, which is a Gitter Boy pilot whose power armor suit has been handed down generation after generation since the Time of Man.
A large amount of fabled wargear passed down through the ranks of the Space Marines in Warhammer 40000 is stated as belonging either to a particularly strong commander or, in a lot of cases, to the marines' genetic father himself. Various helms (Alpharius, Lorgar, the Lion), blades (Talon of Horus) or artifacts (Vulkan's Sigil) were created by the Primarchs and handed down to be revered over the millennia.
The Adaptus Mechanicus are constantly on the search for technology from the 'Dark age of Technology' (as if the current age of constant war with several Alien races, Demons, and Traitor humans wasn't a Dark Age).
This is actually just using the proper, original meaning of a Dark Age: all the records are gone so they have only a very vague idea what they could do and what happened.
This is the hat of the Vostroyan Firstborns who, instead of having weapons issued to them which are expected to be returned to the Munitorium at the end of service like every other regiment, instead each weapon is property of the family that has it. Where possible, weapons are brought back to the homeworld and returned to the families to which they belong, who then pass the weapon down to the next firstborn. Their weapons are all considered priceless family heirlooms, especially the older ones.
In the Warhammer 40000 spinoff RPG Rogue Trader, an option to have one of these can be taken at character creation. Your choices include a Lost Technology laser pistol, a chainsword that was used in the Crusade that conquered the region of space where the game is set, and a set of Powered Armor that once belonged to one of the honor guard of an Imperial saint.
In Werewolf The Apocalypse, Klaives and Grand Klaives were handed down from generation to generation. They counted as some of the post powerful melee weapons a character could have.
At the beginning of Final Fantasy X, Auron hands Tidus his father's sword. This is less out of ancestral honor and more pragmatism, since the city's under attack.
Which you can sell at the first shop you get to. Notable in that the Brotherhood you get later can't be sold. Shows how much Tidus cares about his father.
The Vampire Killer whip is the age-old weapon of the Belmont clan (and allies), seen in every Castlevania game where they star.
Judgment makes the case that Eric Lecarde's spear was originally bestowed to his family by Alucard and passed down from generation to generation. For some reason, Jonathan Morris gets it in Portrait of Ruin.
JustifiedSubversion: The Lecardes are out of commission at the time, and the Vampire Killer is severely weakened. Jonathan merely retrieved the more useful weapon at the time.
In Sakura Taisen, Sakura's sword once belonged to her father. She inherited it when he died protecting the capitol from demons.
Dark Chronicle Monica gets her father's sword, the Holy Daedaelus Blade; after you complete Gundorada Workshop 100%.
In the first 3 games, the Fire Emblem is an Ancestral Shield.
The protagonist of Tsukihime, Tohno Shiki, uses a knife that was the property of the his (original) family. Unnamed originally, but extremely durable.
The Soul Reaver. It was forged by Vorador (the first human vampire) and is later used by Kain (The last vampire), who passes its spectral form onto his offspring Raziel. It's not only insanely powerful as a regular weapon, having both a physical and a wraith form, it's also the lynchpin of keeping the demonic Hylden locked up in another dimension.
The Valstork and Valhawk in Super Robot Wars W have been handed down through the Ardygun family for about two or three generations, which in their world is about as far back as one could have a Spaceship and Transforming Mecha, respectively, without raising too many eyebrows.
Dragon Quest I requires you to seek out your ancestor Erdrick/Loto's sword in order to face off against the Dragonlord.
It isn't revealed until the very end of the game, but the Onyx Blade in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters is the Ancestral Weapon of the Median bloodline, and has demonic powers. Revya can wield it because his/her soul is that of Median's dead son.
The Hakurei Yin-Yang Orbs are Reimu Hakurei's Ancestral Weapons. She is currently the only known character capable of using them.
One of Youmu Konpaku's two swords, Hakurouken, is apparently the Konpaku family's ancestral sword.
In Prince Of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame, after losing his sword and and using a broken one in one part of the game, the hero finds a sword, which, as it is revealed, once belonged to his father as well as the entire ruins he is adventuring in at the time.
In Mass Effect, where Wrex's personal sidequest is to find and retrieve a suit of armor worn by his family's ancestors centuries ago. Upon recovering it, Wrex's only outward response is to comment that "My ancestors wore this piece of crap? At least its back in the right hands." After he says this, though, there's a note that mentions Wrex stopping to stare at the armor with a meaningful but unreadable expression. Later in the game, when Wrex confronts Shepard on Virmire, recovering the armor results in Wrex backing down, mentioning that Shepard has done more for him than his family ever did.
In the flavor text for Knights of the Old Republic, it's mentioned that Carth's blaster is an heirloom. In the second game, it's possible to obtain one like it.
Both Dante and Vergil's blades in the Devil May Cry series are keepsakes from their demonic father Sparda. Subverted in Dante's case: Force Edge/Sparda is tossed aside at the end of the (chronologically second) first game, and he uses his own weapon, Rebellion, in every game since. Played straight with Vergil, who uses Yamato whenever he appears (either as himself or Nelo Angelo).
The Dragon Sword wielded by Ryu Hayabusa is an ancient sword handed down by generations in the Dragon Lineage and the Hayabusa Clan. It is also mentioned in both the NES and the Xbox series that Ryu got the blade directly from his father.
And before that, in Red Dead Revolver, Red eventually gets back his father's Scorpion Revolver
Fallout New Vegas: If you finish Arcade Gannon's quest, he'll take out his father's old Enclave Tesla Armor. Depending on what you convince him to do, he'll either pass it on to you or he'll put it on himself for the final battle.
In Odin Sphere Cornelius' Psypher sword was originally wielded by his father Edmund. Edmund defeated the Demon Beast Darkova aka his own father King Gallon with it...and then cast it away into the netherworld unable to bear the guilt of patricide, however justified.
In Assassins Creed II, the first weapons Ezio gains are his father's sword and his Hidden Blade. He loses the sword very quickly, but he holds onto the Blade for the rest of his life. When Monterriggioni is taken by the Borgia at the start of Assassins Creed Brotherhood, it's the one item from his old life he manages to hold on to, and it's with him again in Assassins Creed Revelations.
In Car Battler Joe, the G-COM that weaponizes Joe's car was a gift from father.
The Gran Centurio, which has been passed down the Fantasinian royal line which may or may not have started with the sword's creator, Nessiah. Its most famous wielder was Princess Yggdra Yuril Artwaltz, who obtained it after the death of her father King Ordene.
"The Hawke's Key" from Dragon Age II, which doubles as an Empathic Weapon that uses the user's own blood to fortify the seals of an ancient Grey Warden fortress, containing one of the first Darkspawn. Since the last person to use it was Malcolm Hawke, the protagonist's deceased father, any member of his bloodline is keyed to use it.
One of the DLC items is "Malcolm's Honour", a deceptively simple magical staff that's adorned with a carving of Andraste. It was created over the course of several years by Malcolm Hawke, as part of an ongoing side-project whilst he was in Lothering and demonstrates the sheer breadth of his magical knowledge.
Nathaniel Howe (Awakening) and Sebastian Vael (II) both have ancestral bows you can find and give them.
The two swords Lloyd receives near the end of Talesof Symphonia belonged to both of his "fathers." From his biological father, Kratos, he receives the Flamberge, which Kratos had been using for the latter half of the game and from his adoptive father Dirk he receives the Vorpal Sword, a blade Dirk forged himself. Together they're called the Material Blade.
In The Last Story Yurick finds the Memento Dagger, which belonged to his father.
Aerith's White Materia in Final Fantasy VII that was passed down to her from her mother. Aerith claims the materia doesn't do anything and you can't use it directly since it's a key item and not a usable materia. It turns out that the White Materia is extremely important by acting as a way to call out to the Planet to summon Holy, which acts as a counter to Sephiroth's Meteor spell that he summoned from the Black Materia.
Homestuck: Both Vriska and Eridan were able to find the Infinty Plus One Weapons formerly belonging to their ancestors, the Fluorite Octet and Ahab's Crosshairs respectively; being that they found them long before the story began, they essentially acted as Disk One Nukes throughout Sgrub. Additionally, if Vriska rolls all eights (8^y, where y=8) using the Fluorite Octet, she activates the "Ancestral Awakening", where she gains the outfit and Cool Sword of her ancestor, Spinneret Mindfang, in addition to a significant power boost.
Possibly Torg's talking sword Chaz from Sluggy Freelance. Whether Torgamous (Chaz's previous owner) is Torg's ancestor, past life, or simply a random medieval warlord who looks exactly like Torg is the subject of fan speculation.
Eon Kid in Eon Kid has the Iron Fist that will only work for people of his family line — of which he happens to be the last.
In Thundercats 2011, Lion-O inherits his father King Claudus's Sword of Omens, which has been passed down from the earliest days of the Thundercats' empire.
On Adventure Time, Marceline's bass guitar is actually her family's axe.
In one episode, Finn and Jake's dad, Joshua, challenged them to traverse a dungeon to find their family sword, which is made out of demon blood. It is currently Finn's default weapon.
Played straight with well made swords in many cultures, Japan being the most famous for the practice. Except for the Japanese Shin-Gunto type blade, which is a subversion in Japan, being issued by the military, as as World War II ramped up made by machines, and played straight in the United States, where they were brought back as war trophies and became family heirlooms.
Firearms also have a high potential for this trope, and while obsolete weapons eventually get relegated to wall hangers a quality gun can stay in use for multiple generations with proper maintenance and storage.
AK-47s are becoming these for some families in Africa and Asia.
Shields were often this to Greek Hoplites. While spears were expendable, Greeks thought shields were really cool and would hang them over their fireplace.
Yes they did find them cool, but actually two things factor with Aspidae (Hoplite Shield). Firstly, its durable enough to last ages. Secondly, Greeks fought in a Phalanx, a formation where shields were of paramount importance, whereby you covered your COMRADE to the right of you while your friend to the left covers you. This made it culturally significant, whereby an individual is shown as being part of a community, and thereby became worthy heirlooms. Its not from a state armoury (unless you're spartan), which means YOU BOUGHT THAT SHIELD in the first place.
The British Royal Family has five swords as part of their regalia.
Before gunpowder, swords and armour would most likely be passed down the line since they were quite expensive.
Warships. Not only can these sometimes last for decades, even after a given ship is destroyed another ship will often be named after it. The US Navy still had World War II battleships in service two or three generations after their time (the Iowa class, launched late in WWII, remained in service until the early 1990s, mostly because those gigantic guns were such a useful source of More Dakka for shore support). Two of the four-ship class remained in the "mothball fleet" (the reserve of ships kept in case of emergency) for about 20 years after that, but currently all four Iowas are museum ships.
As of September 2011, about 13 of the old B-17 Flying Fortress bombers were still airworthy and some are still in use (though not as bombers anymore). And still others are in the process of being restored to flying condition. Boeing stopped producing B-17s in 1945.