->''"Ashes (ashes!), dust (dust!)...\\
My children were a bust.\\
They shall inherit nothing.\\
No... no...\\
My legacy is too great\\
To throw away on ingrates."''
-->-- '''Rotti Largo''', ''Film/RepoTheGeneticOpera''

A successful bigwig, be it in business, politics, magic or even world conquest, is growing old, and in preparation for an eventual retirement/death looks to their children to see who among them can [[TakeUpMySword take up]] [[TakingUpTheMantle their mantle]]... and is faced with incompetence, disinterest, or a CorruptCorporateExecutive in the making. These are by no means an exhaustive list of possible shortcomings, indeed just about anything that can make a parent ask "WhyCouldntYouBeDifferent" is grounds for this trope. Special mention should go to times when the Inadequate Inheritor is not good/heroic enough, [[EvilParentsWantGoodKids too evil]], or ''[[MinionWithAnFInEvil not evil enough.]]''

Whatever the case, the prospective retiree doesn't think they deserve their potential inheritance... at least, not as they currently are.

Cue an ImpossibleTask, search for a non standard heir from outside the family (who has a statistically abnormal chance to be an orphan/bastard child of the retiree), or otherwise trying to reform their potential heir or forcibly change them one way or another. Results vary: the heir may become worthy, rebel against their "benefactor" (which may be what they [[BatmanGambit always]] [[ManipulativeBastard wanted)]] or fail outright and prompt the retiree to switch to plan B, become [[{{Immortality}} immortal.]]

Expect this to be a knife through the heart of any children who [[WellDoneSonGuy just want their parent to say]] "I'm SoProudOfYou" but have been passed over. In the most extreme cases, they might get an ''actual'' [[OffingTheOffspring knife in the heart]] to make way for a more suitable candidate. Especially nasty when an iron-handed [[ThePatriarch Patriach]] crushed their spirit into NiceGuy and TheDutifulSon and now despises them for it -- with bonus points if he had used the threat of PassedOverInheritance to help crush them.

May be related TheWrongfulHeirToTheThrone. If the inadequate inheritor actually gets the position, through guile, lack of other candidates or sheer luck, they may either turn into a surprisingly good leader once actually in that position, or they will become a SketchySuccessor. Compare GameBetweenHeirs. Contrast SuperiorSuccessor. Sometimes (particularly in FeministFantasy), a girl will be seen as this because of her gender, and/or [[HeirClubForMen be passed over in favor of a less competent male.]] See also SuckSessor.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In the ''Anime/YuGiOh'' anime, Gozaburo Kaiba was heavily disappointed in his son Noah because he wasn't dedicated enough to be heir of his company (not to mention the fact that he was ''[[VirtualGhost dead]]''). So instead he adopts an orphan and gives him some TrainingFromHell to make him just such a ruthless manager as he himself is. Not his brightest idea, since this one is competent ''and'' evil enough, and takes over his adopted father's company quite rapidly, [[SelfMadeOrphan driving him to suicide]].
** Gozaburo Kaiba considered downloading Noah's mind into Seto's body but gave up because he believed Seto was more adequate than Noah to inherit.
* In a flashback in ''{{Naruto}}'', Hiashi states that he's disappointed with Hinata's performance and notes that the clan doesn't need a weak heir, but never goes so far as to openly disinherit her. This, however, is ''before'' Hinata TookALevelInBadass, and the two have not been seen interacting in canon since, so fan works have several interpretations over whether Hinata lost her right to inherit the clan back then, and whether she would be considered worthy to inherit the Hyuga clan when the time came.
** Post-timeskip, they are seen together as he observes her training in the clan fighting style to the point of exhaustion. No dialogue specific to the matter of inheritance is provided, but he seems to be more approving and proud of her determination despite being less naturally talented than Neji, the "genius" of the clan who was born to a branch family and can never inherit the clan. When facing [[spoiler:his resurrected twin brother]], who believes that his current state is punishment for trying to change his fate, he says that Hinata and Neji both fight to prove that destiny is not written in stone, indicating an acknowledgment of her efforts to change herself.
* A RumikoTakahashi short story focused on a variation of this. Under insistence from her boyfriend Susumu, a woman named Nozomi pretends to be her dead best friend, Noriko, in order to claim an inheritance from Noriko's long dead grandmother. It helped that the last time Noriko's family saw her was when she was a little girl. Nozomi winds up receiving help from the grandmother's spirit, on the condition that the first thing she does with the money is provide a proper burial for Noriko (Nozomi was extremely offended that Susumu suggested such a ruse, but conceded because they have massive debts). Eventually, Nozomi learns that Noriko's mother had nearly been disowned by the family for eloping with a man, and only came back once when Noriko was a child to meet grandmother. It's implied that the grandmother didn't like the family any more than Noriko's mother did, as she made it clear that no one other than Noriko could touch the property registry. It's also implied that the family might have killed the grandmother themselves.
* In AnatoliaStory, while Prince Arunwanda is not an idiot, his physical weakness make him inadquate to reign over the Hitite Empire. Once the King dies, he tries to cope with the responsibility via having his more capable brothers help him run the kingdom. [[spoiler: He eventually chooses the male lead Kail as his successor, as he has no children of his own. And few chapters later, he's murdered.]]
* ''Anime/AshitaNoNadja'': Duke Preminger sees his son Hermann as such. The plot is about Hermann trying to get rid of his niece so his father will have no choice but make him his heir again.
* The fourth SuccessionCrisis in ''Manga/{{Ooku}}: The Inner Chambers'' kicked off because of this: Yoshimune's eldest daughter Ieshige was physically disabled, and especially compared to her younger sister Munetake, looked like this trope to the councilors, who feared Ieshige was also mentally disabled. Yoshimune, however, determined that Ieshige was of sound mind to inherit the shogunate. Munetake resented not getting the throne and it fueled the ''fifth'' succession crisis.

* Golgoth, a villain who took over the world in ''ComicBook/{{Empire}}'', has been grooming his daughter who is an innocent princess lookalike, to take over after him. He discovers she actually killed his wife because she was ''holding him back'' and did several other very, ''very'' bad things. Following his example. [[spoiler: He snaps her neck. Sadly, of course.]]
* In TheDCU, {{ComicBook/Darkseid}} is known to take a dim view of any of his lieutenants actually being able to control his empire after he dies... especially his son Kalibak.
** Of course, when he so much as disappears for a few days they immediately descend into declaring open war on each other, so it's probably a justified view.
* Subverted in ''Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}'' with Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt, he was more than capable of inheriting his father's wealth, but instead gives it all away and builds his own financial empire.
** There are hints (but nothing overt) that this was also largely influenced by the fact that his parents had been Nazis. Adrian changed his name and left any connection to them behind.
** Also subverted with [[LegacyCharacter Night Owl II]]. His dad was a successful banker/financer who, despite never really ''getting'' his son's obsession with birds, left him the money he uses to pay for his crime fighting career. Additionally, the original Night Owl was more than happy to let him carry on the name and costume-theme after he retired to be a mechanic.
* ''Franchise/{{Batman}}'' foe ComicBook/RasAlGhul has stubbornly clung to life for centuries via Lazarus Pits and body snatching from beyond the grave since he doesn't believe any of his children are worthy of taking over his criminal empire. He first crossed paths with Bruce Wayne because he thought he could convince Bruce to become his heir with the temptations of power (his empire) and love (his daughter Talia).
** Another example is Damian Wayne. It's shown that, in the future, he will become Batman after he accidentally causes the death of Dick Grayson (The first long-term, accepted Batman successor). Bruce calls him out on this immediately, and Damian himself even admits that he can't measure up to Bruce or Dick, but will try anyway, because he promised to protect Gotham. And so, he cheats, making a deal with the devil so that he cannot die, and even ''then'', he is still inferior. Bruce sees a vision of this future and thus tells Damian that he can't ever become Batman.
* [[ComicBook/DisneyDucksComicUniverse Scrooge McDuck]] eventually named Huey, Dewey and Louie as his heirs because (in part) the miser feared Donald would squander his fortune given the opportunity and considered Gladstone too lazy to deserve the inheritance. Not to mention Donald's (lack of) business skills.
** The decision has been made in CarlBarks story "Some Heir over the Rainbow". Taking advantage of the legend of a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow, Scrooge made a SecretTestOfCharacter. In order to test his potential heirs' skills, he wanted to give one thousand dollars to each one of them without them knowing the money came from him. Using three rainbows and three pots, he managed to give one thousand dollars to Huey, Dewey and Louie; another thousand to Gladstone and the last one to Donald. Donald spent the money on a down payment for a new car; Gladstone saw no immediate need for the money so he decided to hide it somewhere; and Huey, Dewey and Louie used their money to help a man search for a treasure. Before Donald's nephews had a return from their investment, Scrooge would, despite considering an "awful injustice" to allow Gladstone to inherit his fortune, choose the LuckyBastard over Donald for being the least likely to squander it.

[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* In ''Literature/HarryPotter'' fanfic ''Fanfic/ADifferentDursleyFamily'', Vernon Dursley was expelled from Smeltings and attended a public (comprehensive in the UK) school, where he learned to be open-minded. Unfortunately, his father didn't like it so he cut Vernon from the will.
** In "Harry Prongs Tatum", James Potter's father realized James was a spoiled brat not ready to take over the full inheritance. Because of that, he set a list of [[OnOneCondition conditions]] James had to fulfill otherwise he'd just inherit a portion. Harry inherited the task.
* In the ''Series/GameOfThrones''/''Franchise/ElderScrolls'' crossover ''Fanfic/SonOfTheSevenKingdoms'', King Robert knows full well that Joffrey if far from an ideal inheritor to the throne. Which is why he makes his younger, but better brother William the heir instead.
* After being trained by Ranma in the ASOIAF/Ranma crossover ''Fanfic/WildWolfAsoIaFVersion'' Tommem has grown atrong and independant enough that he seems like a real Baratheon. impressing his father enough to make him name his second son the crown prince over the coddled and cowardly Joffrey. [[spoiler: Joffrey of course sorts this out by having his younger brother poisoned at breakfast.]]
* ''FanFic/{{Webwork}}'': So far, Tarakudo has not been pleased with ''any'' of the people to gain the Essences of the Oni Generals, finding some flaw or another with all of them.
** [[spoiler: The Old Queen's spirit ultimately reveals that she's come to feel this way about [[FallenHero Jade]] as her successor, feeling that she's clinging too much to her human compassion. So she makes a [[DealWithTheDevil pact]] with [[TheStarscream Tara to help her overthrow Jade]].]]

* Dr. Evil and his son Scott in the ''AustinPowers'' films. Dr. Evil is rather disappointed that his son doesn't want to follow in his footsteps, though Scott was heading in that direction in the second movie and becomes a near copy of his father in the third.[[spoiler: The irony is that by that point [[strike:Dr. Evil]] "Dougie" had [[HeelFaceTurn reformed]]]].
* The King of the Swamp Castle in ''Film/MontyPythonAndTheHolyGrail'' is a bluff Yorkshireman who has built the strongest castle in all England in the middle of a swamp, after several failed attempts to do so. In contrast, his son, Prince Herbert, is an anaemic weed with a penchant for show tunes[[note]]"Not like that, not like that! No! Stop it! Nooo!"[[/note]]; after attempting to escape from the castle by climbing from a window, the King cuts his rope, sending him to an almost certain demise.
** In an attempt to gain a new heir, the king then has Prince Herbert's bride-to-be's father murdered so that she might consider ''him'' as a father, then claims he's going to marry her off to Sir Lancelot, who had only just showed up and murdered half the party guests. Before this can get anywhere, though, [[spoiler:it's revealed that Herbert survived]], much to the king's annoyance.
* ''Film/{{Gladiator}}'' has the emperor favor Maximus over Commodus because he considers his son too corrupt for the job, wanting instead a humble reformer to take the helm. Pity one of his son's "virtues" was [[AmbitionIsEvil Ambition]].
* In ''Film/RepoTheGeneticOpera'', Rotti is disgusted with his children's depravity. Perhaps not so much with because they're all out of control monsters (he himself is a master manipulator and murderer) as that they aren't qualified to lead his company.
* The title character in ''Film/{{Yellowbeard}}'' is extremely disappointed in his son Dan for being a nice guy: he wanted Dan to be a vicious, murderous pirate like himself.
* This the entire plot of ''Film/BillyMadison''. Billy wants to inherit his father's hotel chain upon the announcement of the latter's retirement, but is deemed unworthy because he's uneducated, obnoxious, an idiot, and sometimes an ass. Billy tries to remedy this by trying to complete the education he never truly received to avoid having his father hand over the reigns to corporate sleezebag Eric Gordon. Unusually for the trope, at the end of the film Billy himself recognizes that he really ''isn't'' a good choice for the job, and voluntarily steps aside so that an executive who is both competent and caring can take control.
* Subverted in ''Film/{{Inception}}'', where Fischer believes himself to be this in the eyes of his dying father, and the only part he could understand of his dying words was ''disappointed'', even though he always tried his best to be like him and make him proud. The protagonists first think about using this to implant the idea that he wants to terminate the family business to get back at his father. But Eames points out that they have a much better chance at making him believe that his father regretted being such a poor example as a greedy and unethical businessman and wishing that his son doesn't become like him, and that this would motivate Fischer to break the trillion dollar monopoly the company has. Convincing him that his father was a good man deep inside and hoped his son to be a better man than he was is something Fischer would much rather want to believe than seeing his father as an evil man who despised him.
** It also has the benefit of giving the protagonists a goal which doesn't put them over the MoralEventHorizon. Who would want to root for a team of crooks whose goal was to drive a man to hate his father so much that he destroyed his inheritance? Its much more sympathetic to try and achieve their objective by giving him a ''positive'' relationship
* While he begins as the celebrated heir to the throne, Film/{{Thor}} becomes/demonstrates-himself-as an inadequate inheritor through his arrogance and rashness in attacking the Frost Giants. The rest of the movie is his path back to worthiness.
** The end of [[Film/ThorTheDarkWorld the second film]] [[spoiler: has Thor considering ''himself'' as this. While he's demonstrated he's earned the position, he doesn't believe he has the necessary ruthlessness required for the job, and he doesn't ''want'' to be like that.]]
* Prince Edward in Film/{{Braveheart}} is seen by both his father and the people as a weakling. It seems to be part of Longshanks' motivation to permanently put down the Scottish rebellion before he dies, since he's certain his son isn't up to the task. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_II_of_England#Battle_of_Bannockburn Incidentally he was right]]
* ''Film/YoungFrankenstein'': Dr. Victor Frankenstein's father had this opinion of him. Victor's father believed the only way Victor's grandson Frederick could avoid being this would be by becoming a doctor on his free will and earning a measure of esteem on his field.

* In ''Literature/DragonBones'' Ward's father considers him this. Part of this is due to Ward's ObfuscatingStupidity, but he thought Ward was too soft-hearted even before the beating after which Ward pretended to have brain damage.
* Rudyard Kipling's poem [[http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_gloster.htm "The Mary Gloster"]].
* The son of ibn Sabbah from ''Literature/{{Alamut}}''.
* In Creator/NeilGaiman's ''Literature/{{Stardust}}'', the king of Stormhold is highly disappointed his sons haven't all killed each other to reveal an heir before being on his deathbed. He throws the royal topaz (ruby in the film) and tells them whoever fetches it first is the new king.
* In Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Discworld/TheColourOfMagic'', a powerful evil wizard is so concerned with this, that he becomes undead, watching over his children until one is powerful enough to beat the others.
* In ''[[Literature/HeroSeries Heroes Adrift]]'', the main characters are sent to look for a long-lost bastard descendant of the queen as an alternate heir. Both the queen and the heir end up hating this idea once they actually meet.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'':
** This is the reason Samwell Tarly ends up joining the Night's Watch. His dad wants a warrior and a lord for a heir, and Sam is soft-hearted boy of some obesity. When, after a long series of miscarriages and daughters, a second male heir is produced, his dad offers him a choice: join the Night's Watch, thereby forsaking all claims to land and heirs, or experience a HuntingAccident.
** Jon Arryn's six-year old, sickly and mentally stunted son Robert. Arryn tries to arrange for the boy to be sent away to be fostered in a more healthy environment - since [[MyBelovedSmother his mother's over-protectiveness]] is a factor in his inadequacy - but dies before getting the chance. In response, King Robert takes away the title of Warden of the East from House Arryn.
** Tyrion's father Tywin Lannister tells him that he has no intention of letting him inherit, since he despises his son for his dwarfism and because his mother died giving birth to him. Tyrion is the second son of Lord Tywin, however his older brother Jaime is a member of the Kingsguard, and therefore has forsworn his rights to inherit, which Tywin is furious at him for.
** Speaking of, the current membership of the Kingsguard itself is considered this by its veteran members. Lord Commander Selmy considers most of the others utterly unworthy; Jaime for breaking his oath and the rest for their lack of skill (in his early 60s, he claims to be capable of killing the five of them as easily as a dagger cuts through cheese, and they believe him). Things go downhill once he's kicked out. Jaime replaces him as commander, and tells one of the new guard that a member he had served with prior to the start of the series would have been able to cut through the six new members "with his left hand, while taking a piss with his right." This is especially evident in ''Literature/AClashOfKings'', where ''two'' of the Kingsguard are killed, one by an angry mob and one by a ''squire.''
* In ''RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms'', Liu Bei was said to have instructed Zhuge Liang to take stewardship of Shu if his son, Liu Shan proved inadequate. Though Liu Shan wasn't as capable a leader as his father desired, Zhuge Liang never took power for himself.
* Kate Blackwell struggles with finding a proper heir in SidneySheldon's ''Master of the Game''.
** Her son Tony wants to be an artist. [[spoiler: She manipulates his career in painting to fail. Then she seems to encourage him to marry a Texas oil man's daughter; instead, his attempt to rebel sends him into the arms of an heiress to the company Kate REALLY wants, and soon she's pregnant with potential heirs. Unfortunately, there's a DeathByChildbirth, and when Tony learns the extent of Kate's manipulation, he goes mad and tries to kill her. He ends up institutionalized and lobotomized.]]
** The resultant granddaughters are twins, but Alexandra has no interest in the company, and Eve is far too evil to inherit it. [[spoiler: Eve manipulates herself into Kate's good graces again, but winds up with a FateWorseThanDeath.]]
** [[spoiler: Alexandra has a son, and at book's end Kate is already making plans to mold him into a suitable heir at last...]]
* ''Literature/AndAnotherThing'' introduces Constant Mown, the free-spirited, paperwork-hating, protocol-neglecting son of Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz.
* ''Literature/TheShadowOfTheWind'' has Don Ricardo, a rich industrial who thinks his son Jorge unfitted to take over his business, [[spoiler: so he seeks out the woman he impregnated fifteen years earlier, trying to groom their son Julián into his heir, glad he was not aborted as Ricardo had ordered the woman. He's not so glad about it later on.]]
* In the first ''Literature/JoesWorld'' novel, the world's richest businessman decides that his children are unfit to inherit his fortune, so he has them all murdered. Then he does the same thing with all of his grandchildren. One of his great-grandchildren does prove himself suitable, by putting a hit on his great-grandfather. [[spoiler:This whole thing turns out to be for naught, as the heir is murdered by one of his cousins, and the entire estate gets spent on death taxes, hiring assassins to kill rival heirs, and legal fees. In the end, all that's left is one bottle of brandy, which is given to the butler.]]
* In the ''HeraldsOfValdemar'' series, the story told of the founding of the country of Valdemar says that its first king, although confident in his son's ability to succeed the throne and rule well, feared that sooner or later one of his descendents would fall into this trope. That fear led him to pray to every god he knew of for a solution, a prayer answered by the arrival of the first three [[BondCreatures Companions]] and the quick adoption of a law requiring that the country's monarch must also be Chosen by a Companion in order to be eligible for the throne.
** Even with that, the trope is a subject of some concern in ''Arrows of the Queen,'' albeit to a lesser degree: Queen Selenay's daughter Elspeth is such a RoyalBrat that her mother and the royal Court fear she won't be Chosen and a suitable Heir will have to be selected from among the other Heralds. One of Talia's first responsibilities upon being Chosen as a Herald is to attempt to civilize Elspeth enough that she might be capable of becoming a Herald.
* In RobertCharlesWilson's ''Literature/{{Spin}}'', E.D. Lawton is a power-hungry CorruptCorporateExecutive, who has gained enormous economic and political power thanks to the titular event, influencing many politicians in Washington using his Perihelion Foundation lobby firm. He has groomed his son Jason (a young genius) to be his successor. However, eventually, Jason realizes that his old man is more interested in money and power rather than studying and trying to stop the Spin. Meanwhile, E.D. becomes convinced that Jason has become corrupted by [[spoiler:Wan Ngo Wen]] and tries to find ways to sideline his son and take charge. Jason is the one who ends up getting his father pushed into temporary obscurity and takes control of Perihelion, although his actions end up spelling the end for the foundation. Jason is content with Perihelion being disbanded, as its purpose has been fulfiled, while E.D. is angry, as Perihelion was his life.
* In ''The Curse of Literature/{{Chalion}}'', this is doomed to be Iselle and Bergon's fate if the curse is not lifted. Brilliant, brave, and good-hearted they may be, but all their dreams for the future of their countries will be lost in heirs "murdered, betrayed, mad, dead, and exiled." Fortunately Cazaril is able to short-circuit this future by lifting the curse.
* Literature/{{Safehold}} has Hektor the Younger of Corisande, his father would rather have his daughter Irys as heir, due to Hektor's inadequacy and his brother Daivyn's young age, but unfortunately for him, women cannot inherit under Corisandian law.
* In ''[[Literature/VorkosiganSaga Shards of Honor]]'', terminally ill Emperor Ezar of Barrayar is aware that his only child Serg is so AxeCrazy that becoming a puppet of the aggressively expansionist political factions he favored upon taking the throne was the best case scenario. Fortunately for the Imperium and the Galaxy at large a healthy grandson and sane prospective regents meant that [[OffingTheOffspring there were ways to deal with such problems]].
* In ''Literature/TheInitiateBrother'', Emperor Akantsu considers his son Wakaro to be one of these - perhaps wrongly, since Wakaro eventually wises up considerably more than his father (and is rewarded by being executed as a traitor). The BigGood, Lord Shonto, has a contrastingly good relationship with his son Shokan, who is left behind to govern Shonto lands and eventually inherits them.
* It is agreed by all that Paaker, the Woobie antagonist of ''Literature/{{Uarda}}'' is the unworthy successor to his noble father. To their credit neither parent seems to have shared this view.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* On ''Series/{{Haven}}'', Police Chief Wuornos tried various ways to to get his son Nathan ready to take over for him and be able to deal with the deadly "Troubles" on his own, aiming to make his son tougher because he'll need to be. (The main result of this, unfortunately, being to irrevocably sabotage Nathan's relationship with his father.)
* Played with in an early episode of ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine''. Grand Nagus Zek proclaims Quark to be his successor, and promptly dies soon afterward. Quark becomes Nagus and Zek's son makes several attempts on his life so that he can usurp the title. [[spoiler: Turns out Zek's not really dead, and it was all a ruse to test to see if his son was ready to be Nagus. Zek determines that he isn't due to his impulsive attempts to simply kill Quark instead of subtly amassing power and support before getting rid of him. Quark himself was not in on the ruse and was not very happy to find out his life was endangered just to teach Zek's son a lesson.]] When the Nagus really does retire in one of the last episodes of the series, the successor ends up being [[spoiler:Rom, a new kind of Nagus for the new Feringinar]].
* One episode of ''Series/TheTwilightZone'', "The Masks," is about a group of greedy, selfish in-laws who visit a dying man only because they want a part of his large inheritance. The man gives them the condition that they can only inherit his fortune if they wear a set of hideous-looking masks until midnight. They succeed in fulfilling this condition (and as it turns out, the old man dies at the very stroke of midnight), but the man gets the last laugh on them as it turns out that the masks have permanently disfigured their faces to make them more suitable for their personalities.
* Drives most of the plot of ''DowntonAbbey''. On the death of his heir, on the ''Titanic'', the Earl of Grantham's estate is all set to pass to...a solicitor. Gasp. Of course, the real issue is that Grantham would much rather leave his estate to one of his actual children (but can't, because they're all girls) than to a distant relative he's never met, who could potentially throw his daughters out onto the streets with nothing when the time comes.
* ''Series/{{Justified}}'' has Detroit mafia don Theo Tonin and his son [[ManChild Sammy]], a spoiled, weak-willed mob prince who hides behind his father's reputation. As Theo's son, Sammy is the logical inheritor of the crime syndicate, but neither Theo nor Robert Quarles has a high opinion of him. Quarles was himself considered a potential heir to Tonin's criminal empire but his psychotic nature caused him to become too much of a liability and he was exiled from Detroit. He tries to regain favor with Theo by turning Kentucky into a major source of illegal prescription drugs but his plans are foiled and Theo ends up [[spoiler: putting a reward on his head]]. In season 5 Sammy becomes acting don and [[spoiler: it takes him only four months to wreck the criminal empire his father has built]].
** In season 2 Mags Bennett and her oldest son Doyle are planning to go legit and it is made clear that only Doyle and his family will get the money from a crooked land deal. She disinherits her other son Dickie but gives him her marijuana business as consolation. However, she explicitly gives control over all her other criminal enterprises to Boyd Crowder. Later, when she finds out that Dickie has been arrested [[spoiler: and Doyle killed]], she chooses to [[spoiler: kill herself]] rather than try to help Dickie. In season 3 when Dickie gets out of jail he goes looking for a stash of money that his mother left behind. Turns out that [[spoiler: she gave all the money to Loretta, a girl whose father she murdered,]] rather than let Dickie have it.
** Before the start of the series everyone assumed that Bo Crowders's son Bowman would take over his father's criminal enterprises. Then Bowman is killed and Bo looks to his other son Boyd for help in controlling crime in Harlan County. However, Boyd is going through a weird HeelFaithTurn so instead Bo turns to his nephew Johny Crowder. This is short lived and when Bo starts favouring Boyd again, Johny betrays Bo and partners up with Boyd to take down Bo's meth business. When this blows up in Johny's face, Bo decides to clean house and exiles Boyd and tries to kill Johny. [[spoiler: Bo is then killed and Boyd ends up taking over anyway, much to Johny's resentment]].
* In the re-imagined ''Series/FlashGordon'' series, [[MagnificentBastard Ming]] views his daughter Aura as this, believing that she is too soft to rule Mongo. In his mind, Mongo can only be ruled by an iron fist covered by a velvet glove. In one episode, Aura ends up unintentionally causing Ming to be put into a temporary coma. When Ming wakes up, he's mad that he's still alive. After all, a capable and ambitious leader would have ensured that Ming wouldn't wake up. As such, Aura is unworthy. In the final episode, as Ming is being led to the gas chamber, he looks at his teary-eyed daughter (who was part of the coup and ordered Ming's execution) and tells her he can be finally proud of her.
** Ming's son, Terek, had it worse, almost killed at birth due to being a mutant. But he somehow escaped and became leader of the outcast "Deviates" and officially led the rebellion. Apparently succeeding his father.
* Brazilian TV show "Você Decide" (You Decide) had one episode where a wealthy man didn't want to leave his children (his son and his daughter) anything more than what was required by law. (Brazil is one country where one cannot completely disinherit one's children) He made a will bequeathing everything else to a center of medical research. It also includes a case of LoopholeAbuse. When his children (even as adults) kept mooching off him, he had them sign IOU notes for any money he gave them. (According to Brazilian Law, anything a father gives his children while he's still alive is considered early inheritance).
* In ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', Hiro is in line to inherit his father's company, but doesn't really want to, and his sister is far more talented in that regard anyway. His sister comes up with the idea of having him tell his father what he'd do with the company once he's in charge, which convinces his father to allow her to inherit it.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In the ''TabletopGame/{{Ravenloft}}'' setting, Azalin's son Irik was considered an unsuitable successor by his LawfulEvil father due to actually being a decent guy. Azalin eventually executed his own son for rebelling against him, and with no "suitable" heir, was "forced" to become a [[OurLichesAreDifferent lich]].

* King Henry in Shakespeare's ''HenryIV'' parts one and two believes his son Hal to be this, since instead of being a proper, honorable prince, Hal spends his time drinking, stealing and chasing skirts with the commonest of lowlifes. Henry eventually confronts his son about his behavior, and in the 2012 BBC production, Hal's rather flippant response [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51KWNvbDVA4 earns him a slap in the face]].

* ''Franchise/DragonQuest'':
** ''VideoGame/DragonQuestVII'': [[WingedHumanoid The current Pendragon of Gorges]] struggles with this, as his mother disapproves of... well, just about everything he does. Like his insistence on using the [=BlissRock=] to make their lives easier. [[spoiler: Or pretending his daughter Firia is 'just adopted', refusing to recognize her as his daughter by blood because she was born without wings.]]
** In ''VideoGame/DragonQuestVIII'', Prince Charmles (the obligatory "Prince Charmless" pun is made early and often), heir to the throne of Argonia, is fat, lazy, spoiled, and dishonest, despite his father King Clavius' attempts to encourage, prod, or shame him into making something of himself. In the post-game content it comes out that [[spoiler: the Hero is a HiddenBackupPrince, the son of Clavius' older brother, and therefore has a better claim to Argonia's throne than either Charmles OR Clavius. The matter of succession is [[WhateverHappenedToTheMouse never definitively dealt with,]] however.]]
* In the backstory of ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'', Zepheniah Mann, seeing his sons [[MeaningfulName Blutarch and Redmond]] as idiotic and incompetent, gives them both half of his empire to squabble over (minus his company, Mann Co, which he gave to [[TestosteronePoisoning Saxton Hale]]'s (grand?)father). The two proceed to go to war with each other via an army of mercenaries, a war that lasted from 1850 to 1970.
* ''SaintsRow2'': Shogo Akuji leads the Ronin in Stilwater. He proves so inept at his job, though, that not only does his father has to fly in from Japan to take the reigns, but he ends up favoring Shogo's [[TheDragon lieutenant]] over him.
* ZeldaIITheAdventureOfLink: The king in this game's legend, who thought his successor wasn't good enough to have the Triforce and so he hid one part until a worthy person appeared.
* VideoGame/CrusaderKings: One of the main challenges is making sure your dynasty's position doesn't go do a drunken hedonist imbecile. [[MurderIsTheBestSolution Removing them from the succession is easy]], ensuring the next heir is one of yours is more difficult.
** Unless you choose elective monarchy and select your children's mentors and spouses based on talent instead of political expediency, turning your court and extended family into an anachronistic haven of meritocratic excellence: in that case, even if your current ruler's sons happen to be inept, they'll have plenty of capable cousins selectable as heirs. Bonus point if your dynasty is Basque: cue the long unbroken line of hyper-competent badass queens conquering the world.
* [[VideoGame/DisgaeaDimension2 Laharl]] is seen as one by some of [[BenevolentBoss his father]]'s former vassals. Everybody else doesn't even know who he is.
* This is the backstory to TheElderScrollsTwoDaggerfall, and through it, most of the setting -- the intro narration even begins by reciting how "The unworthy heirs of the Septim Dynasty have allowed the bonds of the Empire to weaken and crack..."

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* In ''Franchise/AceAttorney'', Franziska von Karma accuses Edgeworth of disgracing her father's family name due to his losses at the hands of Phoenix Wright. She's flummoxed when he doesn't care about the insult, since he's had CharacterDevelopment and learned there were more important things than a perfect winning streak. And because [[spoiler: von Karma was a murderer who killed Edgeworth's father and tried to get him accused of murder]], but that issue is never really brought up.
** In the Fey clan, Morgan is the eldest daughter, but because of her practically nonexistent spiritual power, she's passed over for the position of Master in favor of her younger sister Misty.
* Shinji in ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' is a [[SmugSnake total loser]] [[BigBadWannabe who thinks he's a genius.]] Except he really does recognize that he sucks and isn't even a magus. [[spoiler:That's why Zouken Matou adopted Sakura into the family. Nobody even bothered to tell Shinji that he was now entirely obsolete until a decade after she arrived.]] The fun part is that the inadequate inheritor and the inheritee? Lose ''[[KickTheSonOfABitch big time]]'' to the 'substitute magus.'
** Only in one route though. In the other two, [[spoiler:Shinji loses big time to Shirou instead, after Sakura gave Rider to him]]. And, of course, [[spoiler:Sakura has spent the last eleven years being horrifically abused by ''both'' of them, so she's hardly won either...]].
* Shiki in ''{{Tsukihime}}'' is disinherited because he is extremely sick after an almost deadly accident, and even after recovering is still too bad as a result. [[spoiler:Also, he is not a real Tohno, only was fooled - and thus fooled the others - in believing to be. The real Tohno SHIKI was killed, and even after coming back to life he was too mentally unstable.]]
* In ''UminekoNoNakuKoroNi'', wealthy head of the Ushiromiya family Kinzo is dying. His heir, Krauss has made several bad investments and lost a lot of money. The second oldest, Eva, is intelligent and ambitious, but not very personable and is border line crazy. The third oldest, Rudolf, is just a womanizer. The youngest, Rosa has an illegitimate daughter. So what does he do to remedy the situation? Teach them to be better heirs? [[AbusiveParents No]]. [[spoiler:Because he's been dead for over a year before the series begins anyway. In [=EP7=], an AlternateTimeline shows who Kinzo ''would'' have considered his ideal inheritor: [[AmbiguousGender Lion]], the child of his [[ParentalIncest unholy union]] with his illegitimate daughter, who he gave to Krauss and Natsuhi to raise as their own.]]

* Quain'tana from ''{{Drowtales}}'' is not necessarily a villain, but has been disappointed by at least three daughters looking to succeed her before settling on Ariel [[spoiler: who is really her granddaughter.]]
** Snadhya'Rune turns out to be an even worse mother when she disowns her daughter Kalki [[spoiler:violently]], who has [[KickTheDog kicked the dog]] in three different dimensions, killing one of Ariel's friends and one of her own after a dinner party. [[{{Hypocrite}} Bonus points to Snadhya'Rune for throwing one hell of a temper tantrum herself (and then pretending it never happened)]].

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'': In the Strong Bad Email "replacement", Strong Bad wonders who will take up his email-answering mantle after he retires. He's so disappointed with all the candidates that he resigns himself to "checking e-mails and kicking Cheats 'til the day I die."
* Bruce Goodkind, the richest man in the ''WhateleyUniverse'' and head of the mutant-hating Goodkind family, seems to be having this problem. Oldest son? Came out as a {{Transsexual}} and left the family. Oldest daughter? Left to be a movie starlet a la Paris Hilton. Second daughter? Not good with business and won't make an adequate businesswoman. He's left with three sons: one is a brat, but might make good (if he doesn't become a mutant, which is incredibly unlikely at this point), one who is doing a decent job, and the second-youngest, who is a complete genius who would have been an amazing heir had he not become a mutant and thus been thrown out of the family.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Prince Zuko of ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' is a prime example, right down to being shooed away with an ImpossibleTask while his younger, female sibling is groomed discreetly for the actual succession to Firelord. Admittedly, this had a ''[[TheUnfavorite lot]]'' more to do with the boy's failure to emulate his [[EvilOverlord father's sociopathy]] than his relative shortfalls in skill, cunning, and levelheadedness.
** In ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', both Korra and her mentor Tenzin feel the pressure of living up to Aang's legacy and responsibilities, as Avatar and prognitor of the new Airbenders respectively. Book 2 entails their learning to accept that they are their own people and not the roles placed on them.
* In ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible,'' Señor Senior, Sr. is a classic AffablyEvil Villain whose greatest disappointment is his {{Cloudcuckoolander}} / MinionWithAnFInEvil son, Señor Senior, Jr. He is constantly lecturing his son on [[ContractualGenreBlindness how a 'proper villain' must behave]].
** This doesn't seem to bother Junior all that much, however. If anything, it only annoys him. Also, it's clear that Señor Senior, Sr. loves his son and fully intends to make him his heir, he's just a little frustrated.
** Also, [[MeaningfulName Camille Leon]] entered a life of crime after her father disinherited her.
** Ron, taking on the mantle of the Fearless Ferret.
* In ''WesternAnimation/EvilConCarne'' (The segment that used to air side by side with ''WesternAnimation/TheGrimAdventuresOfBillyAndMandy'') Hector Con Carne's future son isn't the least bit evil, much to Hec's chagrin. Though in the end, the CardCarryingVillain is okay with it, and naturally, the son is okay with ''both'' of his parents being on the opposite side of morality.
* Beezy on ''WesternAnimation/JimmyTwoShoes'' is nowhere near the level of [[CardCarryingVillain evil]] that his father [[{{Satan}} Lucius]] wants him to be, even though he's to be the next ruler of [[AHellOfATime Miseryville]]. He'd rather hang out with [[HeterosexualLifePartner Jimmy]] and his girlfriend, [[CrazyAwesome Saffi]].
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode, ''Burns, Baby Burns'', Mr. Burns' son, Larry, is considered to inherit Mr. Burns' fortune, but has a tough time fitting in.
* In ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'', the rightful heir that Princess Bubblegum creates in her laboratory turns out to be a failure, and kind of... [[TheMentallyDisturbed "special,"]] to put it nicely: her Frankenstein's Idiot, Lemongrab, is a ''horrible'' ruler, because he's dysfunctional, socially inept, mentally unadjusted, overly-sensitive, obnoxious, and... well, a butt.
** It gets VERY worse. Bonnibel then tries to give Lemongrab an equally insane little brother, so that they'll scream at each other and like it. This works for a time, but eventually they degrade into full-sibling rivalry (complete with cannibalism) over their "son". As for her daughter, Goliad gets the wrong idea about how to be a good ruler (not helped by her GodSaveUsFromTheQueen psychic powers) and tries to be a ruthless dictator, so she has to be psychically imprisoned. So far, Bonnibel's best chance at an heir is Lemongrab junior...junior-er, Lemonhope.
* In ''[[WesternAnimation/{{Thundercats 2011}} ThunderCats (2011)]]'', almost everyone in [[TheKingdom Thundera]] ''thinks'' young prince Lion-O isn't as worthy an heir to the throne as his adopted brother Tygra, since Tygra is AlwaysSomeoneBetter and Lion-O is viewed as eccentric for believing in the stories of "[[LostTechnology technology]]," and defending the [[FantasticRacism supposed rights]] of other, lower [[PettingZooPeople Animals]]. His refusal to conform to Thundera's [[CulturalPosturing cultural paradigm]] of MightMakesRight and [[SuperiorSpecies species dominance]] doesn't help his case either. It's only when Thundera is invaded that Lion-O is vindicated, and proves his worth.
* In ''TopCat and the Beverly Hills Cats'', a wealthy woman left her entire fortune to her niece because she hates her other relatives. No reason for this hatred has ever been mentioned.
* In ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' episode "Cartmanland", Eric Cartman inherited his grandmother's money. She mentioned in her will that she left her money to him because she feared her other relatives would have spent it on crack. While he bought a failing amusement park so he could have it to himself, only to sell it back after unintentionally making it profitable again (he hated letting other kids in to pay for everything) then lost the rest of the money to back taxes and lawsuits. So yeah, the Cartman's aren't exactly the best gene pool.
* In ''WesternAnimation/IronManArmoredAdventures'', the original Mandarim set up those tests and hid the rings because he felt all his children to be the trope.
* One-shot character Arkady Duvall from ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries''. Compared to his father [[spoiler:Ra's Al Ghul]], who is a suave, charismatic leader, Arkady was nothing but a [[ItsAllAboutMe self-obsessed]] [[TheSociopath sociopath]], who had the definitions of a budding [[TheCaligula Caligula]]. Not surprisingly, he's passed over as a successor.
* ''StuntDawgs'': Badyear is a billionaire's disinherited nephew.
* Phantom Limb of ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers''. His [[LegacyCharacter family of costumed adventurers]] rejected him because severe birth defects left him unable to take on a life of adventuring. He gained his superpowers during a botched attempt to make himself whole and take on "the mantle of his forebears". He later confirms to Dr. Girlfriend that he was disinherited at a young age and forced to work his way up from nothing, unlike the supervillains who fund their evil acts with trust funds.
* Troy Hammerschmitt from WesternAnimation/TitanMAXIMUM might be TheAce, but his father still plans to leave control of the corporation to his nerdy sister, since she has a better head for business. Troy merely taunts how his sister will get to do the boring work while he gets to be a test pilot. [[spoiler: It's a ruse though: Troy is so mad at his father for passing him over that he pulls a CavalryBetrayal, handing his state-of-the-art HumongousMecha over to the BigBad.]]
* One ''Franchise/ScoobyDoo'' villain tries to get his niece portrayed as one of these so she'll be passed over for the inheritance of the family hotel. (He's next in line.) He does this by hypnotizing her into thinking she's a vampire and trying to have her declared insane. And he would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids and their dog.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* This is ''always'' eventually the long run outcome in polygamous cultures. As the patriarch will have a multitude of sons with different wives and concubines, the question of inheritance eventually collapses into an all-out elimination game between the sons. The one who inherits the patriarch may not necessarily have the most ability but rather most cunning, backstabbing skills (sometimes literally) and callosity. This was the cause of the collapse of Assyrian and Mongol empires and the reason of stagnation of Turkey into the "sick man of Europe".
* [=JT=], the crack gang leader made famous for letting grad student [[http://sudhirvenkatesh.org/ Sudhir Venkatesh]] stick around with his gang. Venkatesh writes about how, toward the end of his career, [=JT=] tried to rebuild his gang in new areas but was largely thwarted by prospective gangsters being more interested in whether they can get a new bicycle if they join the gang than in [=JT's=] dreams of power and wealth.
* Inverted by [[UsefulNotes/LEtatCestMoi Louis XIV]] and his eventual successor Louis XV. On his deathbed, Louis XIV told his young great-grandson that he would be a great king, and warned him to avoid making war as much as possible, describing it as the "ruin of the people". Unfortunately, Louis XV ignored his great-grandfather's advice (possibly because he was only four at the time) and proved to be a woefully inept king before passing the throne to the even more incompetent Louis XVI, who proceeded to run France into the ground and lose his head in UsefulNotes/TheFrenchRevolution.
* Lenin wrote a document which would be known as "Lenin's Testament", where he criticized all potential successors to his leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, including Stalin and Trotsky (He even suggested the former be removed from his post as General Secretary. The fact Stalin was rude to his wife didn't help). However, he wrote this as his health was beginning to fail; After his death, a power struggle ensued. Which was won by, ironically enough, Stalin.
* This has been the pattern for the majority of famous ancient leaders. Basically, the good leader gets power, has a lot of kids, establishes an elaborate court in which said kids spend all of their time squabbling and enjoying the facilities instead of governing. Examples of this include Yaroslav the Wise, Suleiman the Lawgiver, Akbar the Great, [[OverlyLongGag Mansa Musa II, Asoka, Chandragupta II, Emperor Qin...]]
* A built in feature of statistics. Anyone who is remembered for being great is likely to have a certain mix of genetic traits combined with a certain kind of character. Their offspring will be less likely to have such extremes built in. Their children have a high probability of being closer to average than the parent. Fortunately, it cuts both ways: a person of low character and talent should have children who tend to be closer to average. This is called [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regression_toward_the_mean a regression to the mean]]. In short, Picasso's child is likely to be less talented than Picasso himself.
** The Freakonomics podcast went into several cases of this trope in the business world, such as Busch Beer's financial troubles until it was eventually sold. Investors and companies seem to overvalue the "family line." Japanese culture has a strong tendency for the father to be succeeded by his son in the family business, with some families having run a particular business for dozens of generations. The Japanese would often adopt individuals (in the past, almost always men) into their family just to avert this trope if the son didn't seem worthy.
*** This is still the case in the modern world. This has left Japan as the country with the highest adoption rates in the world, as well as the highest average age of the adopted (adoption is also used as a replacement for gay marriage, which is illegal in Japan, but that is neither here nor there).
** To state the obvious, an observation that is true of populations is not true of particular individuals.
** For a while, the Roman Emperors [[AvertedTrope averted]] this by hand-selecting and legally adopting an adult successor who had already showed the qualities the current emperor believed would make for a good successor. This worked pretty well for quite a while, until Marcus Aurelius (himself a well-regarded emperor) allowed his son Commodus to ascend to the throne. Things went ''way'' downhill after that.