Jonathan Frakes: We have an idea for a sitcom, half-hour: The Rikers in space, their wacky Uncle Data, and their little dog Worf, on, like, the Titan, probably...We're married, and we're carrying on the Prime Directive. Because Patrick's too, uh— Marina Sirtis: Old. Frakes: ...old, Shakespearean. He's not doin' the show anymore, so it's our show now. Data, Worf, Geordi... Sirtis: We can have 'em all, really, except old baldy. —Star Trek: Nemesis feauturette, "Reunion With the Rikers"
Digimon Adventure 02 picked up where the first left off by having the two youngest kids team up with a whole new group, while the older heroes served as mentors.
Mobile Suit Gundam focuses on Amuro Ray and Char Anzable as the main protagonist and antagonist, respectively. The sequel, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, picks up 7 years later, with new protagonist Kamille Bidan taking over as the main character, with Amuro and Char moving to supporting roles. Also spawned two more Changing of the Guards later in the Gundam franchise:
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED has Kira Yamato as the protagonist. In the sequel, Gundam Seed Destiny, new character Shinn Asuka takes the main role, with Kira as a secondary antagonist / supporting character. Eventually subverted when flagging ratings caused Kira and a majority of the cast from the original SEED to return to the starring roles, with the new heroes becoming the main antagonists.
Gundam Build Fighters focuses on Gunpla builder Sei Iori and Gunpla fighter Reiji Asuna. The sequel, Gundam Build Fighters Try, picks up 7 years after the end of Build Fighters, with new teenagers Fumina Hoshino, Sekai Kamiki and Yuuma Kousaka taking over the protagonist roles from the now considerably older Sei and Reiji.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure passes the torch to a different Joestar every new series, although they usually wind up in conflict with Dio (even indirectly) at some point. It's also common for supporting characters in one series to show up in another, like Polnareff's involvement in Part 5.
Mai-Otome changes the main character from Mai to Arika in both versions, but the nature of Mai's eventual reappearance is very different between the two adaptations.
Tishe Record of Lodoss War OVA switches halfway through from Parn to Spark as the main character. Of course, he's actually just being Bad Ass offscreen, and returns just in time for the Final Battle.
Similarly, the second season of Superbook had Gizmo team up with a young friend of the main characters of the first season, Joy and Chris. They kept in contact with them through a communication screen in Gizmo's stomach (he's a robot).
Akira Toriyama wanted to do this in Dragon Ball Z, switching the focus from Goku to his son Gohan, but the audience and the publisher kept demanding more Goku.
It has been said that he originally did want to change from Goku to Gohan, but switched the main focus back to Goku because he decided that Gohan wasn't fit for the role.
His notes for the end of the Cell Saga have confirmed he intended for Gohan to fit the role. Likely Executive Meddling and a combination of fan love for Goku as well as the reason listed above probably resulted in Goku becoming the main hero again.
With every new arc and region of Pokémon Special comes new protagonists, with the old ones occasionally providing backup. The best thing about this is that since the focus isn't on one character all the time, nobody suffers from Badass Decay.
In Attack on Titan, after the destruction of the old Special Operations team led by Levi, a new squad of the remaining 104th Trainees is formed. Eren notes the similarities between the two with visible sadness.
In a controversial decision, the folds in charge Ultimate Spider-Man allowed Peter to be killed off. A successor named Miles Morales took upthe mantle, despite being younger, smaller, and afraid of his powers.
This is actually about the second Jack-In-The-Box passing the torch to the third. The first Jack was the father of the second and was killed in action, although his family knew only that he vanished without a trace. It wasn't until years later that his son discovered a hidden cache of his costumes and equipment, and decided to become the second Jack-In-The-Box.
The mantle of The Confessor is passed on when the original Confessor is killed and his sidekick chooses to take over the role.
Played with in the case of Quarrel, a male villain whose daughter inherits his title and equipment, but ends up becoming a hero instead.
In Fables, Rose Red is pretty explicitly handed the Designated Heroine role after her sister marries and settles down.
The often rumoured but not yet in productionGhostbusters 3 is supposed to be about the old team training a new set of recruits. (See also "Western Animation" below.)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull introduces Indy's son Mutt, who may get a film of his own if Spielberg wants to make another film. Even so, the film ends with a pointed subversion of passing the torch as Indy's trademark hat is blown off its rack and Mutt picks it up. He's about to try it on when Indy snatches it back.
Like the Indiana Jones above, Rocky Balboa had a perfectly good opportunity to pass off his Best Boxer EVAR mantle to a young man named Steps (who did not have any other purpose to the story). He doesn't, though.
A meta-version of this occurs in the beginning of The Rundown when The Rock enters a club and passes Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wishes him a good time as he's leaving the club.
An odd example occurs with the Van Wilder series. The first movie focuses around its titular character. The second movie then shifts focus to the sidekick, Taj. The third movie then returns to Van, the main character from the first movie.
Skyfall does this for James Bond's supporting cast. By the end of the film Judi Dench's M has died, been replaced by Ralph Fiennes' male M. We are introduced to a quartermaster, or Q, for the first time in a Bond movie with Daniel Craig. At the end we learn that the Bond Girl throughout the movie was named "Moneypenny" all along, when she decides to give up being a field agent for a desk job. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
At some point, a spin-off of Die Another Day was in the works, starring Jinx - who was a beautiful CIA agent in the movie - as the main character, and would have had Brosnan doing a cameo appearance as James Bond. Wai-Lin from Tomorrow Never Dies was also rumored to have her own movie.
X-Men: First Class: The previous four X-Men movies featured Wolverine as the main protagonist, but First Class has Magneto and Professor X as the two lead characters.
Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar Series. While most of the powerful magicians are long-lived, supporting characters in the later books are typically descendants of the original protagonists. Famous examples are the descendants of Duke Borric and Jimmy the Hand.
J. R. R. Tolkien wrestled with the idea of having Bilbo have more adventures after The Hobbit, but quickly decided on having a son or other relative have them instead, although it took him a while to decide on Frodo.
Edgar Rice Burroughs played with this in his Mars books. After the third book, he began writing about a larger stable of viewpoint characters, as John Carter's own romance arc had been completed and he needed new princesses to rescue and heroes to rescue them. John Carter remained a central figure and The Hero throughout the series, however
Andre Norton's Witch World started with two books about Simon Tregarth. Then she wrote them about his children, or about other characters in the same world.
In the Apprentice Adept series, this is played with. The main characters in Book 4 and 5 are from the second generation, but in Book 6, the first-, second- and third-generation heroes all get equal screen time and are equally relevant to the plot.
Heralds of Valdemar does this, but just as often in reverse, recounting the experience of past generations rather than future ones. And then the children of past generations take the torch, but still in the past. And then their great-great-great-grandchildren show up in the present novels.
Terry Brooks' Shannara series does it regularly. The grandchildren of the characters of previous book typically become the protagonists of the next. Suffers from Generation Xerox somewhat.
Redwall: There's a new set of characters is almost every book. The only constant is the the abbey itself.
And there are a few novels that predate the construction of the Abbey, so not even that is entirely constant.
Dragonlance Chronicles has Tanis as its lead character but its sequel Legends set shortly after has the twins Caramon and Raistlin take the spotlight. The next book set years later has the children of the heroes from Chronicles as the main cast.
The Sacketts series by Louis L'Amour has this built-in and happening over and over. As the title suggest, the series is meant to be about the Sackett family, not one particular hero.
Every new one of The Chronicles of Narnia has a new changing of the guard: First, there were the 4 Pevensie siblings. Then there were two and a cousin. Then the cousin and a friend... The prequel even established a minor character from the first published book as the major character in a previous adventure.
In Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy books, the first trilogy is narrated by Phedre. The second is by her adopted son, as Phedre is semi-retired from adventuring by the time he's an adult. (The third is by a distant relative of theirs a century or two later.)
The Edge Chronicles features a new set of characters across almost every book. The whole series has three trilogies, each with a different central protagonist.
The first four books of the X-Wing Series had Wedge Antilles and Rogue Squadron, but the primary focus was unmistakeably Corran Horn. Those four books ended with the Rogues, including Wedge and Corran, deciding to help a planet's defenses build up after "killing" the Big Bad. The next three books were to be written by another author, who wanted to write from the POV of some of Wedge's friends creating a new squadron. Executive Meddling nixed this, so Aaron Allston had Wedge leave the Rogues for a while and create a new squadron himself. Some other characters are in common, but in different or reduced roles.
Mercy Kill, the 10th X-Wing novel, happens after a 20 year Time Skip, and a new generation of Wraiths are introduced. Several of them are the children of the original cast.
The first series of the Warrior Cats books started off with Firestar as the main character. He was then replaced by Brambleclaw, his former apprentice, in Warrior Cats: The New Prophecy. In Power of Three, Brambleclaw turns into a background character like Firestar, and is replaced by his adopted children Jayfeather, Lionblaze, and Hollyleaf. Omen of the Stars has Ivypool and Dovewing, two younger cats, as its main focus, with the Power of Three characters still in tow.
Most of the main good guys from the first three Emberverse books have a lot of authority in the new nation-states by the time the second series rolls around. This would put a crimp in their ability to go haring off to find the Sword of Plot Advancement when such a trip would take several years - a fact the resident Tolkien geek deeply laments - and so the task falls to the previously established Chosen One, his childhood friend, and seven more characters who either could be missed by blinking in the first three books or are completely new. While they're away, we do get the occasional glimpse of the old guard struggling to stave off the new Big Bad.
Lords and Ladies also ends with Magrat, the Maiden of the Lancre coven, getting married. Luckily, the same novel introduces a coven of young girls messing about, one of whom — Agnes Nitt — actually has some talent and becomes Third Witch (eventually) in the next coven novel. Arguably, the Tiffany Aching novels mark a Changing of the Guard for the entire witches series, with Tiff becoming the main character while Nanny and Granny fade into support roles.
Guards! Guards! starts off being about Carrot Ironfounderson, the secret heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork who joins and breathes new life into the night watch and turns his boss Captain Samuel Vimes around from being a burned out alcoholic into a capable watch commander again. Subsequent "watch" stories focus almost entirely on Vimes who is far more interesting as the grizzled veteran.
After a while, the Thoroughbred series stopped focussing on Ashley and her friends and timeskipped a few years to focus on their kids instead.
The first three books of the Black Company series are narrated mainly by Croaker, Annalist of the Black Company, who then passes the duty to his successor Murgen, who ever only gets mentioned once in the third book, and while Croaker stays an important character, we don't get his point of view anymore. Murgen in turn passes the annalist duties on to his understudy Sleepy, who in turn is implied to be succeeded by Shukrat and Arkana, Croaker's adopted daughters. It's worth noting that according to company tradition the annalist tends become the standard bearer and eventually rise to being captain, so each of those follow the previous one in more than one role.
The first half of the Sector General series follows the medical adventures and advancement of the young Doctor Conway. At the end of the sixth book, he is promoted to the highest ranks of the hospital staff, which means far less work with individual cases and definitely no missions away from the hospital. Accordingly he is retired as a protagonist, and the next six books all focus on different characters.
Power Rangers did a lot of this in its early seasons: when old actors left or started getting too old for their roles, they transferred their powers to new ones and went off to do stuff.
The War of the Worlds series did this when it switched into a Darker and Edgier season, throwing out decayed villains and immediately establishing the threat of the new ones with the death of two of the ensemble. Their mourning was short-lived due to the addition of Adrian Paul as an Anti-Hero.
In M*A*S*H this happens to several major cast members: Henry's tour of duty ends, he gets killed on his way home, and is replaced by Sherman Potter. Trapper goes home as well, in comes BJ. Frank breaks down, and is replaced by Charles. When Radar leaves, Klinger takes over his role as the company clerk.
Agent John Doggett replaced Fox Mulder as the male lead after the latter was abducted by the aliens in the eighth season of The X-Files. In the ninth season, Monica Reyes replaced Dana Scully as the female lead, completing the guard change.
Happened frequently in Law & Order; probably could have gone on forever if the network hadn't pulled the plug.
Happened just as frequently on ER; final scene has Carter (once a young intern, now in charge of the shift) saying the exact same thing ("You coming?") to the now near adult daughter of the now deceased doctor who was in charge when Carter was said intern.
In the last season of JAG it looked like they were preparing for this—the General replacing the Admiral, and the two younger lawyers being introduced.
This trope works backwards in the Elibe games. Blazing Sword (or just Fire Emblem outside Japan) was a prequel to Sword of Seals, so it naturally starred the parents of several of that game's characters.
Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. The main characters from the former are all out of the picture somehow (dead, in another time, or busy elsewhere), but before they left they set up an unimaginably complex Gambit Roulette to produce the main characters of the latter and get them to be in the right places at the right times.
Apollo Justice takes over from Phoenix Wright in the Ace Attorney games. Well, he technically does - the fact that the entire Apollo Justice game centres on what happened to Phoenix left some fans unconvinced. Still, Phoenix's pals were absent, to allow for a new cast.
It actually was suppose to be a whole new set of characters but Executive Meddling caused it to include Phoenix and the writers had to make it so that Phoenix couldn't just swoop in and save the day.
The son of the main characters from the previous game is implied to the new hero in Final Fantasy IV: The After Years and the game also focuses a good deal on the other children of the previous heroes as well, but the old heroes are quite active in the story themselves as well.
Dragon Age II continues the history of Thedas post-Fifth Blight (which was depicted in Origins) but with a new lead character and a mostly brand-new supporting cast.
At the end of Final Fantasy X, Tidus ceases to exist due to the fact that Jecht's existance as Sin was the only thing keeping him alive. Obviously, Square Enix couldn't make him the protagonist of the sequel, so the story centers around Yuna instead and her quest to bring him back.
At the end of Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning, Vanille, and Fang all die as a result of the plot, so they're out. Bring in Lightning's sister, Serah. Conveniently, Lightning, while in Valhalla (Heaven if you will), is able to summon Noel to give her some help. Vanille, Fang, Snow, and Sahz also make appearances, not counting DLC.
Puyo Puyo Fever was supposedly going to take place in a different universe from the previous games...but lo and behold, former protagonist Arle somehow found her way in, along with Carbuncle. Other classic Puyo characters returned in the sequel, putting them in the same continuity.
Pretty common in Soul Calibur V, Sophitia and her sister Cassandra have been supplanted by Sophitia's children. Xianhua, Taki and Kilik have all been replaced by successors or offspring that use the same weapons and styles. Yoshimitsu is apparently a legacy character, but with the mask you can't tell he's changed. Nightmare got a new identity for story purposes, but he's still the same guy. Maxi and Siegfried are cool old guys, the rest of the returners have been rendered ageless in one way or another or always were.
Each new main entry in the Persona series features a new group of heroes; Persona 2 is the only main series game where party members from the previous one still play a major role in the plot, though Persona 4 Arena reveals that the cast of Persona 3 haven't given up on the hero business just yet.
Scary Go Round started with the characters Tessa and Rachel (let's call them the "New Guard") as protagonists, but they were soon complemented with and eventually usurped by characters from John Allison's previous webcomic Bobbins. For a while Shelley, Amy, Tim, and Ryan (the "Old Guard") reigned supreme, but then a batch of younger characters, in particular The Boy and Perky Goth Esther (the "Young Guard" along with their friends) gradually took over. In the final chapters of SGR, the younger siblings of the "Young Guard", mainly Lottie and Shauna (the "Kid's Guard") starred (and transitioned into the successor webcomic Bad Machinery).
The "Old Guard" remained until the end too: the very last couple of comics show Shelley saying goodbye to Amy and Ryan and leaving town. As Lottie is the sister of Esther's best friend and both of them have met Shelley, it's almost my case of Take Up My Sword in the investigating-local-weirdness game. Ryan and Amy still appear in Bad Machinery as supporting characters - Ryan is now Shauna and Lottie's teacher.
Red vs. Blue: After the end of the fifth season, the show was brought back with the miniseries Recovery One, which featured a new protagonist named Agent Washington in the starring role. None of the original main characters reappeared, and the only returning characters were Delta, featured in the first miniseries Out of Mind, and Wyoming, who appears briefly and without any lines. Washington continued as the protagonist into the next season, Reconstruction, where the original cast gradually joined him.
Almost happened with the G.I. Joe Movie as well, which was in production around the same time. The negative reactions from the audiences prompted the executives to rework the plot, allowing Duke to live. Still happened to an extent with Cobra Commander however.
Katara: "Aang's time has passed. My brother and many of my friends are gone. It's time for you and your generation to take on the responsibility of keeping peace and balance in the world. But I think you're going to be a great Avatar."
It was played with a little bit previously, as the Avatar is a constantly reincarnated series of heroes, and Aang was frequently compared with his previous incarnations Roku and Kyoshi. Korra gets it a little worse, though, as there are plenty of people living who still remember Aang.