All five of the Robinsnote In chronological order: Dick Grayson (left), Jason Todd (bottom center), Tim Drake (top center), Stephanie Brown (top right) and Damian Wayne (bottom right).. All of them have been sidekicks to the same guynote One of them (Damian) was even a sidekick to another (Dick) during one of the latter's fill-in stints as Batman!Also... Each Robin later graduated into ANOTHER legacy identity
"Roberts had grown so rich, he wanted to retire. So he took me to his cabin and he told me his secret. 'I am not the Dread Pirate Roberts,' he said. 'My name is Ryan; I inherited the ship from the previous Dread Pirate Roberts, just as you will inherit it from me. The man I inherited it from was not the real Dread Pirate Roberts either. His name was Cummerbund. The real Roberts has been retired 15 years and living like a king in Patagonia.' Then he explained the name is the important thing for inspiring the necessary fear. You see, no one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley."
A Legacy Character is a character whose identity is passed down to them from an older character in the form of a title, job or persona for the newer character to assume. There are many ways this can come about:
A mentor may pass their mantle on to their sidekick.
A sidekick is written out of the story and the mentor chooses a new person to take on the sidekick's mantle.
A character learns of their predecessor's legacy and is inspired to take up the mantle on their own.
The character is a Chosen One in a long line of similarly Chosen.
The legacy is a title or code name passed along to every person to hold the position regardless of relation, and the title becomes their primary identity.
Outside of the work, Legacy Characters are especially popular as superheroes and action heroes, or any job that involves a Secret Identity. Long Runners that span multiple generations of characters are the most likely to use them, but they can also be created as part of a back-story, such as a Secret Legacy.
Adaptations of a work with Legacy Characters to other media often only reference the current or best known holder of the legacy, only referencing other incarnations as a Mythology Gag. Younger heroes carrying the mantle often get a Rogues Gallery to match their predecessors, either via villains having kids of their own (much to the parent's chagrin), or younger villains "honoring" their own villainous legacy.
This may become Generation Xerox if everyone around the Legacy Character is also a Legacy Character. If the Legacy Character is a descendant (probably because Lamarck Was Right), you've got yourself a Spin-Offspring. If he's a former sidekick, it's Sidekick Graduations Stick. If an already existing superhero takes the legacy, it may end up as a Second Super-Identity. If a character is introduced as a temporary legacy to get him an audience before giving the legacy back, its a Legacy Launch.
Many involve a formal moment of Passing the Torch, when the older character hands over responsibility to the younger, or a Take Up My Sword moment, if the older character dies. This is also convenient in creating change without actually fundamentally changing a title character's book. If people within the universe don't realize that there's a new man behind the mask and thus start spreading rumors he can't die, he's got Legacy Immortality.
In recent years, passing the torch to a minority character has become a popular choice.
Subtrope of Eternal Hero and Villainous Legacy.
See also Dying to Be Replaced. Compare The Nth Doctor. If the young character, parent, and grandparent each make a unique name for themselves instead of passing down a persona it's Three Successful Generations.
The plot starts when the male and female lead win the in-game characters of the male and female lead from the original .hack games; as well, Mirelle uses the account of Mistral, also from said games — the original Mistral being her mother.
In addition, Kite's character design has been used by no fewer than four characters to date: Kite himself, Shugo, Azure Kite, Sakuya from .hack//Quantum, and Sora from The Movie.
In the manga Magic Kaito, the title character discovers his father was a thief, the Kaitou Kid, and takes on the job, to finish what his father started before he died.
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Kaiser: after the previous owner of the title, Marufuji Ryo, did a Face-Heel Turn and defiled the title, his brother Sho begins waxing and waning in his desire to take it up himself and restore it to its original prestige. He's finally given the mantle (and subsequent deck) by Ryo after Ryo's brush with This Is Your Brain on Evil, and Sho proved himself worthy of the honor by using the deck to successfully defend against a rival bent on eradicating all trace of the Cyber-Style dueling method that made the title of Kaiser so famous.
Ban and Ginji are the third generation of the Get Backers.
The eponymous character of Kino's Journey took the mantle of the person who "enlightened" her after he died. Amusingly, she got the idea by accident — at least in the anime version. Hermes mistook her mourning the original Kino for saying her name, and she just ran with it.
In Xxx Holicafter the disappearance/death of Yuuko, Watanuki made an agreement to live without aging or leaving the shop while he runs it, waiting for her to return.
Hinted at in the end of Captain Harlock': Endless Odyssey. It's noted in the beginning that Harlock has taken to space with the expressed purpose of looking for a place to die. The end of this series saw him and Tadashi Daiba locked in a Mexican Standoff after Harlock gave Tadashi one of his guns and said, essentially, "Kill me before I kill you. The credits rolled before anyone shot, but it sure looked like a "Dread Pirate Harlock" ending... however over the end credits we see Daiba walking away and Harlock and crew waving from the deck, so it would appear Daiba just told him where to stuff it... However, in the forthcoming CGI film (EXTREME spoiler alert!)appears to be the fate of the new character Yama - at least according to the novelisation, a very poor quality trailer clip quickly pulled from the web, and the leaked script - though the trailers have shown clearly he gains the facial scar and loses the use of his right eye, so do the maths! That he looks, dresses and acts a lot like Cosmo Warrior Zero's "Young Harlock" is just the icing on the cake! However script and novel differ somewhat in the details of the ending, and at time of writing no-one's yet spilled the beans on the final version... It should be pointed out that in the manga versions, Harlock's passed on the mantle more than once, and there are huge hints in the original SPCH manga that Daiba might have ended that way if not for creative fatigue on the part of the author.
At the very end of Code GeassSuzaku takes over the role of Zero permanently, at the request of Lelouch (the original Zero). Which is actually kind of messed up, given the first thing Lelouch asks Suzaku to do as Zero is kill him.
In Death Note, L becomes one of these; Light and later Near adopt his persona and identity, though the "mask" is only a letter on a computer screen. Also played with in that everyone Light passes the mantle of Kira to is just a fall guy.
In the Universal Century (UC) timeline, the various Gundams (Mk II, Zeta, Double Zeta, Nu etc.) created after the end of the One Year War are all Legacy Machines, named in honor of the original RX-78-2. The GM (itself an example of this, being a mass-produced version of the Gundam) and the Zaku have also had their fair share of similar-looking and similarly-named successors as well. The tradition carried on to other timelines, in which the Gundam's successor is usually identified by the familiar white, blue, red color scheme.
Another would be Haro... every UC main story happens to have a Haro about as many times as there is a Gundam. This is also something that has be coming back into vogue, but only in the AU stories. The CosmicEra, Gundam 00, and Gundam AGE all feature the small mechanical toy.
Four years after the death of Neil Dylandy aka Lockon Stratos in the season 1 *final battle of Gundam 00, his Backup Twin Lyle took over his codename (as well as his orange Haro).
Cosmic Era has the Flaga clan, being of superior nature through natural D.N.A, has the habit of being cloned, preserving their powers, ambitions, and devilishly good looks.
Gundam Wing's sequel Frozen Teardrop does this with Duo and Trowa, both of whom train protégées to pilot Gundams and give them their old names, Duo becoming Father Maxwell and Trowa "Doktor T", which he says stands for Triton, his birth name. Quatre's younger sister Catherine likewise becomes a pilot, but retains her own identity.
F-Zero Falcon Densetsu has Captain Falcon himself pass down the title of Captain Falcon just before the FalconPunch.
20th Century Boys has a villainous example: after Friend dies, an impostor takes his role.
Pretty Cure hinted at this in previous series, but it was not until HeartCatch Pretty Cure! that an actual legacy character was included, with Tsubomi's grandmother having been a former Precure.
Happiness Charge Pretty Cure does this with Cure Fortune as her transformation device belonged to her sister a Cure named Cure Tender, who was defeated by Precure Hunter Phantom... because the future Fortune wandered out into the fight between the two.
In Rurouni Kenshin, 'Seijuro Hiko' is not the name of Kenshin's master. It was the name of the first master of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu, and since then, every master (except Kenshin) has taken that name as an alias so that they cannot use their style to seek glory for themselves. Kenshin's master is the 13th person to use that name.
D.N.Angel plays this straight and subverts it, since every Niwa male is the phantom Thief Dark, but Dark is also a separate being from them.
Gravion has one in the form of Raven, who was originally Sandman's assistant and passes on his memories through his mask to each successor, allowing each one to benefit from the accumulated knowledge and experience. It also apparently disguises them quite well, since Ayaka was quite capable of passing herself off as a slender bishonen despite her curves. Somehow.
In Baccano!, the name of Felix Walken is passed around from one assassin to another. The current Felix Walken is Claire Stanfield, who purchased it off "a really hot thirty-year old dame" so he could have a legal identity to marry Chane with.
In Saint Seiya Omega, Kouga takes Seiya's place as the new Pegasus Saint, so does Ryuuhou taking Shiryu's place as the Dragon Saint.
Yomiko Readman of Read or Die is the nineteenth person to use the code name "The Paper". Her immediate predecessor was her lover/mentor Donnie Nakajima.
The identity of "Glen Baskerville" is taken up by those who are chosen by the golden lights of the Abyss. Currently, Levy, Oswald, and Gilbert are the only characters known to have held this position (although the latter was never actually fully realized), but in the manga's present timeline, Leo appears to be next in line to inherit the title.
Alice inherits the title and powers of B-Rabbit in order to protect Oz, the original B-Rabbit.
Jojos Bizarre Adventure is split up into different parts (eight so far,) each focusing on a different member of the Joestar family (usually being the son or grandson of a previous protagonist) whose name can be shortened to JoJo (or GioGio in Giorno's case). It's not an official title in-universe (as the nickname is usually just given by random people,) but it's treated as such in the meta sense (to the point that if two JoJos are in the same scene, the newest JoJo is referred to as such, while the older one just goes back to being called by his real name).
Black Owl, a Golden Age superhero from Prize Comics, was the oldest comic example of this trope. During World War II, the original Black Owl joined the army, passing his costume to Walt Walters, father of Yank and Doodle, the superhero twins (and fellow Prize Comics characters) he once teamed up with.
May have been the book responsible for the revival of the Legacy Character concept in The Modern Age of Comic Books. It introduced Jack Knight, the son of the Golden Age Starman and reluctant holder of the mantle, as well as grouping together all the unrelated characters who had used the name "Starman" over the years — apparently simply due to the coolness of the name — in a Myth Arc filled with atmosphere and scintillating characterization. One version even appears to have been inspired by the Ziggy Stardust song of the same name (complete with a Lampshade Hanging saying it was the other way around), which the original character preceded by about thirty years.
After the series ended, Jack Knight handed off his Cosmic Rod to Courtney Whitmore, AKA Star-Spangled Kid and Stargirl, who was a product of a different legacy — her stepfather was Stripesy, the adult sidekick of the Golden Age Star-Spangled Kid. (Though the Star-Spangled Kid had used a variant of Starman's rod, a Cosmic Belt, during the '80s in Infinity, Inc.. The JSA's legacy connections are complicated.)
When the JSA was rebooted following Infinite Crisis, a new Starman joined the team. It was eventually revealed to be the LegionnaireStarboy AKA Thom Kallor, who had previously spent time on Earth-22. While all he shares with the other Starmen is the name and the ability to fly, Thom has the power of density manipulation and schizophrenia... and his suit is a map of The Multiverse and can function as a portable Cosmic Treadmill to allow easy multiversal travel.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Marvel Comics had a character called "Captain Marvel" (not to be confused with the one who shouts "Shazam!"); he died from cancer in one of the first large-format graphic novels. In the 1980s, a Coast Guard officer from New Orleans named Monica Rambeau gained energy powers and took the name "Captain Marvel". Eventually, she traded hero sobriquets with the genetically engineered son of the late original Captain, who then operated under the name "Captain Marvel". He was killed, and succeeded as "Captain Marvel" by his younger sister. (This third one came back, but took a different name, Photon — that Monica Rambeau had also used.) The original came Back from the Deadas a Shapeshifter Mode Lock Skrull. In 2012, Carol Danvers (formerly Ms. Marvel) took on the Captain Marvel name herself. As of 2014, Monica Rambeau goes by "Spectrum" while a girl named Kamala Khan is the new Ms. Marvel.
The ultimate legacy character is Marvel Comics' size-changing hero Doctor Henry Pym; Pym has used five different superhero identities over the years (Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, and the Wasp), and no fewer than six people have adopted his discarded identities at various times.
Scott Lang and Eric O'Grady have both used the Ant-Man identity (Lang is currently using it).
Rita DeMara the Yellowjacket one.
Bill Foster both the Giant-Man and Goliath names.
Clint Barton and Erik Josten the Goliath name (the latter being an interesting case, as he first used the name as a villain, before eventually doing a Heel-Face Turn and thereafter going by Atlas.)
Uniquely, Pym often ends up returning to his previous identities. For instance, during Pym's period as Goliath in the late 90s-early 00s, Clint Barton had long abandoned the Goliath name and powers to be Hawkeye again, and Bill Foster was retired from heroics.
At one point Pym even took the identity of the Wasp, a name originally held by his ex-wife Janet van Dyne. After being mocked by foes such as Absorbing Man and realizing he needed to move on, Pym discarded the Wasp identity in favor of retaking the Giant-Man identity.
What's more, Foster's nephew Tom currently uses his Goliath identity, thus bringing the total number of Pym legacy characters to eight. Tom wanted to be Black Goliath, a name Foster had used previously, but people kept getting the name wrong.
It gets weirder. Pym also created the robot Ultron, who rebelled and created two more robots (The Vision and Victor Mancha) who both rebelled from him and joined The Avengers and the Runaways, respectively. The Vision was programmed using brainwave patterns from Wonder Man. Vision married Scarlet Witch, and had two children with her who were killed but their souls (and thus powers) were placed in the bodies of Wiccan and Speed (members of the Young Avengers; we'll get to them in a minute). Vision was then destroyed in the "Avengers Disassembled" story line. In the aftermath, a young Kang the Conqueror uses his own shapeshifting power armor and data copied from the Vision's remains to become Iron Lad, another Young Avenger. Kang eventually goes back to his own time, but leaves the Iron Lad armor behind, which has now gained sentience thanks to the Vision program and has become a legacy character to Vision I. Whew!
The Wasp identity is also a legacy mantle in the Ultimate Marvel universe. Following Jan's death during the critically panned Ultimatum crossover, former villainess Petra Laskov was given a similar costume and abilities by S.H.I.E.L.D., and joined the Avengers under the name Red Wasp.
Russian heroes who work for the Russian government tend to be replaced a lot. (Many are little more than Badass Normals who the Kremlin can replace by passing the equipment to someone else if the current owner dies or is in jail.) The current Crimson Dynamo is the thirteenth one. The current Red Guardian (aka Vanguard) is the seventh, and the leader of the Winter Guard. The Titanium Man is an odd case; Boris Bullski was the first man to wear the armor and Kondrati Topolov (aka the Gremlin) was the second, but since Toplov's death, several others wearing the armor have appeared, with their identities unrevealed. (At least some of them might actually have been Bullski, but this has not been verified.)
Wiccan, Speed, Iron Lad, Vision II, and have all been members of the Young Avengers, which is composed entirely of Legacy Characters. But there's the twist that some members' apparent legacies differ from their actual ones: Hulkling is actually Captain Marvel's kid; and while Wiccan looks like he takes after Thor (he started out as "Asgardian"), his powers actually come from the Scarlet Witch.
Alan Scott, the Golden AgeGreen Lantern, turned out to have unconsciously taken the name of the universe-spanning special forces group known as the Green Lantern Corps. His powers are even (indirectly) connected to theirs, revealed as the excess magic removed from the universe by the Corps' bosses, the Guardians. The Silver Age Green Lantern, who begat the Corps, was the revival style of legacy, notable for not quite being a legacy in-character.
In New 52 continuity, Alan Scott is out of the equation entirely, and there doesn't seem to be a GL Corps on Earth-2.
The Corps also makes legacies the standard practice, as when a Lantern dies his/her ring seeks out a suitable replacement. Two notable legacies within the Corps include the Korugarian Lanterns, where Katma Tui and later Soranik Natu have had to live down the reputation of their predecessor Thaal Sinestro; and the Rrab family, as Arisia Rrab is the fourth member of her family in a row to become a Lantern.
The Batman identity itself is one. Obviously, the original is Bruce Wayne. However, after an injury, Bruce leaves the mantle to Azrael. Azbats eventually lost his shit, and Bruce offered the mantle to Dick Grayson. Dick Grayson took up his mantle on what both new was a temporary basis. However, after Bruce’s “death” in Final Crisis, a big deal is made out of who will succeed Bruce. Dick says he won’t do it and Jason and Tim fight over who will do it. Eventually, Dick comes around and became the new Batman.
In at least one alternate future, Tim Drake himself will become Batman.
In another Bad Future, Damian Wayne will become Batman after Bruce retires and Dick is killed.
Canon Immigrant Terry McGinnis actually takes up the Batman identity after Damian.
Elseworld story Dark Knight Dynasty reinvented Batman as a Legacy Character, creating both an ancestor of Bruce's called Sir Joshua of Wainwright who wore bat-motif armour, and a descendant named Brenna Wayne who became a 25th century Batwoman. All three of them faced Vandal Savage.
In Earth 2, Bruce-as-Batman dies in the first issue; much later, another Batman emerges, who turns out to be Bruce's father Thomas Wayne, who secretly survived the mob hit that killed his wife.
The five Robins are a somewhat special case, each having been the sidekick to the same character (though, as noted above, he’s also a Legacy Character).
Dick Grayson, who went on to become Nightwing, left the job to Jason Todd. Dick Grayson also served as Batman (see above).
Nightwing is also a legacy character: Pre-Crisis, the first Nightwing was actually none other than Superman himself, Kal-El/Clark Kent, who needed to become a Batman-like vigilante when he was in the Bottle City of Kandor. He later allowed his cousin Van-Zee (who had an Uncanny Family Resemblance to the Man of Steel) to use the identity to fight crime in the bottle city after Superman left. Pre-Crisis, the best known Nightwing, former Robin Dick Grayson, then decided to adopt the name after he left Batman as a homage to both him and Superman. Post-Crisis, Nightwing was the name of a kryptonian vigilante that Supeman told Dick about, and Dick, being inspired by the story, took up the Nightwing identity. After One Year Later another former Robin, Jason Todd, became a more sociopathic version to mock Grayson, and a woman named Cheyenne Freemont became a heroic version to help Dick. When Power Girl went to Kandor she also adopted the Nightwing persona. The mantle was briefly passed to Chris Kent, the adopted son of Superman. Sometime after poor Chris was trapped (seemingly forever) in the Phantom Zone, Dick Grayson retook the Nightwing identity following his lengthy tenure as Batman.
Nightwing’s sidekick Flamebird was originally none other than Mr. Action himself, Jimmy Olsen. After he left the bottle city the former Elastic Lad gave the title to the new Nightwing's son-in-law Ak-Var. Post-Crisis the original Bat-Girl Bette Kane took the name to impress Nightwing and is probably the best known Flamebird. Supergirl took the identity when she went to Kandor. Even though the first two were male the name is now associated with female characters so much that when Superman retook the Nightwing identity, Lois Lane and not Olsen was his sidekick, and the sixth Flamebird Thara Var is the wife of the second Flamebird (who apparently no longer exists). Thara was eventually killed, and in a completely unrelated storyline, Bette decided to take up the Flamebird identity again in order to fight crime with the new Batwoman, her cousin Kate. She would eventually leave the identity to become Hawkfire.
Jason Todd was killed by The Joker. Jason Todd stole the Red Hood identity from The Joker (making him a Legacy Villain) and also wore the costume of Red Robin, but returned to his Red Hood identity.
The Killing Joke depicts the Red Hood identity as a sort of extra-disposable Legacy Character shared by the members of a criminal gang, who foisted the hood on whichever accomplice they'd recruited for a specific job and didn't want to risk being seen with. Whether that's right or not depends on which Multiple Choice Past you prefer for The Joker. In the New 52, the Red Hoods were a street gang all wearing the same mask, and the Joker was their leader, going by “Red Hood One”. He himself usurped the role from the previous leader. Batman speculates that it’s unlikely ’’that’’ one was even the first.
Tim Drake figured out Dick's and Bruce'sidentities, and when he went to persuade Dick to become Robin again he found himself stepping into the position. Later on, after Damian Wayne usurped the role, he would become Red Robin. In the New 52, it’s said that he was never Robin, and was always Red Robin.
The Red Robin identity is also a Legacy Character. Essentially, an Elseworlds Dick Grayson wore it and passed it on to the mainstream Jason Todd. Jason would then ditch it, and Tim Drake picked it up after being replaced by Damian Wayne.
At one point, Tim had a 10-Minute Retirement from being Robin, leaving the space open for Stephanie Brown, formerly a solo heroine known as the Spoiler. She then died in a Story Arc that shook up Gotham City and readers pretty badly and caused Tim to return to the job. She would go on to become the third official Batgirl (more on that below).
The fifth Robin is Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne's son. In this case however, he started off as Robin to Dick Grayson while he was Batman, before becoming Bruce's new sidekick once Dick became Nightwing again after Flashpoint. In a possible future, Damian becomes Batman. Damian has since died.
Extra-Canonical Bad Future Robin Carrie Kelley appeared in The Dark Knight Returns. She was inspired to become Robin by Batman's return from retirement and met up with Bruce by chance. She is now a Canon Immigrant and is being teased as the new Robin after Damian’s death.
Bruce Wayne himself also spent some time as Robin, thanks to some Silver Age silliness in Detective Comics #266 (which is also referenced in the classic The Untold Legend of the Batman). Essentially, Bruce learned all he needed to learn to become the World's Greatest Detective from a detective named Harvey Harris. Harris himself decided on the name of Robin for the disguised Bruce, as the costume reminded him of a red-breasted Robin. The reason for the disguise is that Bruce didn't want Harris to try and dissuade him from fighting crime. You'd think that Bruce would have realized this wouldn't really stop him, all things considered... but then again, Silver Age. As you might guess, this last one was removed from continuity with the "Crisis on Infinite Earths", and certainly no longer exists after Flashpoint.
Batman and Robin's British counterparts aren't exempt, either. The original Knight and Squire were the Earl of Wordenshire and his son Cyril. The Earl was killed by one of his archenemies, and Cyril sank into depression, ending up in the gutter, where he was found by Beryl Hutchinson. Cyril took up his father's code name, becoming the new Knight, and Beryl became the new Squire. After Cyril’s death, Beryl became the new Knight.
Batman's other sidekick, Batgirl, is also a legacy character. Betty Kane was the original Bat-Girl introduced in the 1950's, but she was retconned out of the DCU history and then brought back again as a minor heroine called Flamebird. Barbara Gordon became Batgirl, the "first" Batgirl in current continuity since Betty Kane never existed, and held the role until The Killing Joke, when The Joker shot and crippled her. The first actual legacy transfer occurred when the Batgirl mantle was picked up years later by Helena Bertinelli, the Huntress, when she realized the crooks were more afraid of Batman than they were of her. This only lasted a short while however, since Batman never gave her his consent or blessing. Eventually the costume passed to Cassandra Cain, an "official" Batgirl with the consent and partnership of Batman. Cassandra unceremoniously gave up the identity in the Batgirl 2009 series and took on the new moniker of Blackbat. The cowl was picked up by Stephanie Brown, previously the Spoiler and the fourth Robin (See also Robin entry above), who starred in an acclaimed but short-lived solo series before having the Batgirl mantle returned to Barbara Gordon via Cosmic Retcon.
Clayface, one of the Batman villains, has had no fewer than eight entirely different people take the name and powers. (Most of them have shapeshifting powers, and most have an additional power which is different for each individual.) In an odd divergence, the original Clayface didn't actually have any powers — until he arranged to duplicate those of his three "heirs".
This trope is played with in the beginning of Gotham Central, dealing with the actions of Firebug, an arsonist villain who has just returned to Gotham after a long absence. The Gotham City police Department eventually managed to rack down Joseph Rigger and arrested him after him tried to escape out the window, only for him to reveal that he sold the damn suit two years ago after it almost killed him. The real culprit is deduced and arrested, and it turns out to be an upper-class twit who bought the suit and runs around burning down banks for the adrenaline rush.
Phantom Lady was originally Sandra Knight in World War 2. Then because time passes she gave the mantle to her niece Dee in the eighties. Because time still passes on, Dee died passing it on to her Sandras Grandaughter Stormy Knight in 2006. In 2012, the New 52 introduced the latest Phantom Lady, Jennifer Knight. The prior Phantom Ladies have all presumably been retconned out of existence.
After decades as Aquaman's sidekick and a member of the Teen Titans, Garth, the first Aqualad, graduated to the Tempest identity and was ultimately killed off. Following his death, a new Aqualad named Kaldur'ahm (human name Jackson Hyde) appeared and became Aquaman's new sidekick. This Aqualad was initially created for the Young Justice animated series before being brought over into the comics.
Aquaman also had a replacement when he became the Dweller in the Depths. This proven to only be temporary, and the replacement Aquaman underwent Chuck Cunningham Syndrome. Then have also been two Aquagirls (not counting a pair of one-shot characters that took the name for a single issue). The first Aquagirl, Tula, was revived in the New 52, but does not use the name Aquagirl, nor is she a superheroine (she's Bash Sisters with Mera).
Archie Comics had published a superhero comic dubbed "the Mighty Crusaders" (Long story!) Well, currently, their teenage children have taken their place to become the New Crusaders.
Supergirl is an odd case. Suffice to say, there have been several different Supergirls Post-Crisis; see the entry for details.
Rachel Summers, of the X-Men, is the daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey from an alternate future. She has taken on both of her "mother"'s identities, as Phoenix and currently as Marvel Girl.
Alan Moore referenced this in Watchmen, his deconstruction of the superhero genre, creating Legacy Characters in the context of a contained story. The "original" Silk Spectre retired early in this world's history and started training and stage-mothering her daughter to succeed her, while Nite Owl I handed over his mantle to an admirer.
During The Death of Superman arc, there were four vigilantes that took up the mantle. One actually admitted that he wasn't Superman from the start, and another is actually the villain.
Played with in Neil Gaiman's rendition of The Sandman, where his version of the character, instead of being the latest in the line, is presented as the original of which the earlier characters are merely imitations. Used straight as well: the original Dream dies at the end, passing on his powers to a successor.
In Gaiman's version, the Sandman is Morpheus, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Dream, and a being who is more powerful than most gods. In 1988, as Gaiman's series began, he escaped from a seven-decade-long imprisonment, which not coincidentally put him out of the way during the years in which the earlier Sandman characters had been operating.
The original Sandman was a 1930s fedora-and-gasmask-wearing hero with a "gas gun" that knocked out criminals, leaving them for the police to pick up the next morning. In Gaiman's Re Vision, it was explained that this Sandman was (without being consciously aware of it) symbolically filling a gap left in the world by Morpheus' imprisonment. A later series with him, Sandman Mystery Theatre, revealed that he was originally driven by Prophetic Dreams, caused by said imprisonment.
DC also published, in the 1970s, a superhero called the Sandman who lived in a dream dome and patrolled people's dreams with his wife. In Gaiman's Re Vision, the dream world he patrolled was only a small part of the total Dreaming, staked out by a pair of rogue nightmares during Morpheus' imprisonment; the nightmares posed as his comic-relief sidekicks while manipulating this Sandman's actions to their own ends.
The Sandman's former sidekick, Sandy Hawkins, drew from both Sandmen when he joined the JSA; he took on the gas mask and sleep gas of Wesley Dodds, and the prophetic dreams that connected him to Dream. He was also briefly ensnared by the aforementioned rogue nightmares and forced to play out the adventures of the '70s Sandman.
In Alan Moore's Tomorrow Stories, the Cobweb and her sidekick Clarice are descended from a line of heroines and villainesses dating back to the 16th century, when their ancestors discovered the secret of parthenogenesis.
Marvel's MC2 alternate future has a slew of these, the most famous being Spider-Girl, Spider-man's daughter. There's also a new Green Goblin, the original's grandson Normie, though he eventually hands the role back to former heroic Goblin Phil Urich. Many other Marvel heroes have MC2 counterparts, as well as teams, such as the Fantastic Five, the X-People, and Avengers Next, the last of which includes American Dream, a Distaff Counterpart to Captain America.
Probably the craziest example in The DCU is The Joker's Daughter. Appearing in the mid-70s Batman titles, she claimed to be the daughter of a different Bat-villain each time, with a costume to match. She was eventually revealed as Two-Face's daughter, who rejected her and her mother because he wanted twins. She then joined the cast of Teen Titans as "Harlequin" until that title's cancellation not long after. Afterwards, she mostly disappeared, cameoing Post-Crisis as a mental patient and staying that way until the run-up to Infinite Crisis, which had her gleefully claiming to be the daughter of everyone from Doomsday to Punch and Jewelee, until she was killed for shock value and retroactively revealed as the daughter of the Mirror Universe heroic version of The Joker, the Jokester.
Wildcat in Justice Society of America, upon discovering a hitherto-unknown son with conveniently catlike powers, says the son should use the same code name, with a bit of Lampshade Hanging regarding all the other legacies out there. Unusually, this leads to both the original and the legacy being active on the same team with the same code name.
A similar problem resulted when Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow, came back from the dead... thereby putting him in conflict with his illegitimate son, Connor Hawke, the current Green Arrow. The two shared the title for a few years, but then, probably for ease of use, Connor Hawke was shot and declared brain-dead.
The Human Torch was originally a Golden Age character from Timely Comics, who was on the cover of the first issue of their flagship title ("Marvel Comics"). He was a Frankensteinian android who could catch fire and fly. When Timely became Marvel in the 60's and Stan and Jack created the Fantastic Four, they reused the Torch's design, this time making him a young human. Eventually, Marvel started bringing back their Golden Age characters, which inevitably led to the two Torches involved in a Let's You and Him Fight situation.
Young Avengers' Vision isn't the second, but the third. The first is an alien cop called Aarkus. He can fly, create illusions of himself, generate cold, and teleport (but the destination must have smoke! Why? Because he's from a dimension called Smokeworld, duh.) Visually, the android Vision looks like an update of him, but they're quite different characters beyond that.
Ka-Zar as he is known today is not the first; the Golden Age character is another Tarzan wannabe accompanied by a lion (not a saber-toothed tiger.) He was last seen in The Forties, alongside the first Human Torch. The current Ka-Zar does not seem to have a connection to him.
Spider-Man's Electro is the third. The first was a robot hero without electrical powers, and the second was an electrical supervillain with the Dirty Commies and fought Captain America.
Jubilee is the second to have the name and the power set. She seems to be a "we wish we could use that character but can't, so let's make a new one" case: the first Jubilee was part of the Bratpack, a group of kids brainwashed, empowered, and turned into adults by Mojo. They haven't been seen since pulling the plug on the plan reverted them to normal kids and the de-aged Captain Britain (and some others) to his true adult self. Some time later, the X-Men encounter an unrelated girl in a mall with the same powers and code name, and she even introduces herself similarly. The original one, while using her 'fireworks' to attack, said her name was Jubilee, whose every move is a celebration. The more familiar one, while using her 'fireworks' to show off, said her name was Jubilee because with her, every day is a celebration.
Thor and Loki guest-starred in Venus' solo comic. It's a bizarre case of being the same folks and yet not being them. All were depicted as actually being the mythical characters just like the current ones, so they're the same... but the portrayal was completely incompatible with the current ones, so they can't be. The Norse and Greek gods apparently coexisted in Olympus, and Loki had been exiled. Both looked completely different from the way they do now as well. In Venus' case, there is also a modern version portrayed very differently in the pages of Hercules' comic, but we know what happened there: The Golden Age Venus is a siren (but a good one) who took on the identity and is not the goddess herself as previously thought. The actual goddess is the one from Hercules and insists on being called by her Greek name, Aphrodite, while the one from Venus remains Venus. That she knew a Thor and a Loki who were nothing like the current ones hasn't been addressed.
Ronnie Raymond, the original Firestorm, was killed off in the controversial Identity Crisis storyline and had his powers passed on to teenager Jason Rusch. Several years later during the events of Blackest Night, Ronnie was resurrected and merged with Jason. In the wake of the DC relaunch, a new Firestorm series was launched that retconned Ronnie and Jason into being teenage contemporaries who both became Firestorm together after being caught up in the same nuclear accident.
Firestorm's Arch-Enemy Killer Frost is also a legacy. The original Killer Frost was Crystal Frost, who died and was replaced by her protege, Louise Lincoln. A third Killer Frost named Loren Fontier was introduced in the DC relaunch.
The first Atom was Al Pratt back during the 1940's, but the title was made most famous by the second bearer, Ray Palmer, in the 1960's. Palmer briefly passed on the identity to teenager Adam Cray during the 1980's, but became the Atom once again after Cray's murder. In 2006, Palmer was succeeded by Ryan Choi, but was again forced out of retirement after Choi was killed just a few years later during the Brightest Day event. Following a massive racial controversy over Choi's death, it was announced that Palmer would be retired yet again while Choi would be resurrected and restored to the Atom identity in a relaunched Justice League book.
The Hawkman and Hawkgirl/woman Continuity Snarl began as a well-intentioned attempt to turn the Silver Age Hawks into in-story as well as revival Legacy Characters of the Golden Age ones. Since the originals were humans with a mystical origin and the second set were alien Space Police, and since several contradicting origin stories had been given for both pairs by writers who couldn't be bothered to give a rat's ass about continuity, this eventually snowballed into a tangled mess which resulted in all the various characters with "Hawk" in front of their names being merged into a giant crazy hawk-god thing and Put on a Bus.
Though Hunter Rose was the first and the most well-known to take on the persona of Grendel, after him there was Christine Spar, Brian Li Sung, Eppy Thatcher, Orion Assante and eventually Jupiter Assante. Unusual in that it wasn't entirely by choice that this particular identity was passed on; most successors to the Grendel role had never even met their predecessors, and are separated in time by decades if not centuries.
The original Amazing-Man was Will Everett, a member of the All-Star Squadron. Decades later, the identity was taken up by his nephew, Will Everett III, who was a member of the Justice League and Extreme Justice. After his death, the identity was taken over by his cousin, Markus Clay, who was a member of the Justice Society of America. In the wake of the New 52 relaunch, a new Amazing-Man named Rocker Bonn has been introduced as a former agent of Checkmate.
Infinity, Inc. gives this a passing mention, denigrating then-Titans Zachary Zatara and Little Barda as "blood brats," heroes who never actually earned their powers. The term "legacy powers" is also used, making this trope's title more or less canon, in a slang sort of way.
The Infinity Inc. seen in 52 also played this trope straight. They had new versions of Nuklon, Skyman, Jade, and Fury, all of which were mantles that belonged to members of the original team.
Ben Reilly, Peter's clone, who took over as Spidey for a short time in the 90's.
What's more, there was an Initiative trio known as the Scarlet Spiders, named for Ben's alter ego, and using suits based on the "Iron Spider" suit Tony Stark created for Peter during Civil War; only one is still alive, but he's still active as the Scarlet Spider.
But wait, there's more! During Identity Crisis, Spidey was wanted for murder, so Peter adopted not one but FOUR alternate identities, each of which he passed on to another hero after returning to the webs. There's Ricochet (Johnny Gallo), Dusk (Cassie St. Commons), Hornet (Scotty McDowell, who preceded Peter, and Eddie McDonough), and Prodigy (Ritchie Gilmore, who has used the identity ever since).
In Superior Spider-Man, the Spider-Mantle was held by Doctor Octopus, who became Spider-Man by pulling a Grand Theft Me on Peter Parker, who died in Otto Octavius' body. Doc Ock agreed to be a hero after seeing the memories of the original Spider-Man. He also agreed to live Peter Parker's life as well and prove to be superior in both identities. Peter returned at the end of the story.
Peter Paker's daughter May "Mayday" Parker, takes up the role of Spider-Girl, a female variation of the Spider-Mantle, to fight crime. Later she's aided by a new Scarlet Spider (The Black Cat's daughter) and her own clone (who becomes a toss-up between a traditional Spider-Girl crusader and a homicidal Venom-like avenger).
Ben Reilly himself inspired a legacy. Before he became the second Spider-Man, Ben went by the name of Scarlet Spider. Years after his death, the Scarlet Spider identity was adopted by Kaine, another clone of Peter Parker.
There have been at least three different women to use the Spider-Woman mantle; Jessica Drew, Julia Carpenter, and Mattie Franklin. Drew currently has the title again, and operates as a member of The Avengers.
Julia Carpenter took up the new identity of Arachne after Jessica began calling herself Spider-Woman again. She now goes by the name Madame Web, a mantle she inherited after the death of the original.
The original and best known Vulture is Adrian Toomes, who was briefly succeeded by Blackie Drago and Clifton Shallot. There was also another Vulture named Jimmy Natale, who briefly replaced Toomes before being killed by The Punisher.
When Marvel's Squadron Supreme returned to their own universe, they found another Nighthawk operating, the original being dead. The new one was the biological child of the original's worst enemy, and became the original's adopted son after the original Nighthawk had killed his father.
The various Great Lakes Avengers/X-Men/Defenders comics have been parodying this with the Grasshopper. The first joined the GLA and died less than seven seconds later. Three other Grasshoppers have appeared in the team's comics, and neither of them have had the same longevity as the first.
The Iron Man villain Blizzard is another villain example. The first one was a guy named Gregor Shapanka, but after he died, his suit and name were passed to a guy named Donnie Gill.
Green Goblin/Hobgoblin: One interesting twist Marvel has also used is for someone to steal the villain's identity and technology and use it for themselves. Norman Osborn was one of the most common victims as the Green Goblin, as his weapons and goblin motifs were repeatedly stolen.
They were discovered by his son Harry Osborn first.
Then by Harry's psychiatrist.
Then by Roderick Kingsley who became the first Hobgoblin.
Roderick Kingsley then brainwashed Arnold Donovan into becoming the second Hobgoblin.
Roderick Kingsley he also brainwashed Ned Leeds into becoming the third Hobgoblin.
Then by Jason Philip Macendale who became the fourth Hobgoblin (who stole them from the first Hobgoblin),
Then by a unknown criminal during Secret War who became the the fifth Hobgoblin.
Then by Daniel Kingsley brother of the first Hobgoblin who became the sixth Hobgoblin.,
And then yet again by Phil Urich, who had a short-lived career as a superhero in the Green Goblin guise, who later took on the Hobgoblin name becoming the seventh Hobgoblin, then he became the Goblin Knight.
Roderick Kingsley sent his butler Claude distract the Goblin Underground as the Hobgoblin becoming the eigth Hobgoblin but was killed by the Goblin Knight.
The pattern seems to be repeated in the current Spider-Man comics with the new villain Menace.
It got so bad that the first Hobgoblin had to come out of retirement to personally kill off the fourth Hobgoblin for being such a pathetic villain it made the original feel bad.
Venom is becoming this, as four hosts have now bonded with the same symbiote and taken the Venom name: Eddie Brock, Angelo Fortunato, Mac Gargan (Scorpion), and Flash Thompson. Unlike most legacy examples, the newer incarnations have come from chronologically older characters: Gargan was introduced decades before Brock, and Thompson was introduced in the first issue of Spider-Man. Fortunato is the only exception, as he is the newest character chronologically, but the second Venom. Incidentally, his stint as Venom is the shortest, hence most people forget about him.
His return in The Avengers came with the backstory that he became a Human Popsicle near the end of World War II, and his sidekick Bucky wasn't so lucky. But since Cap and Bucky kept appearing well after WW2, how'd that happen? To theRetconmobile! Turns out 50s "Commie Smasher" Cap was another guy named William Burnside (later the villain known as the Grand Director) and his Bucky was not Bucky Barnes (the real one's dead!) but Jack Monroe (later Nomad.)
It is later established that before Burnside's debut in the 50's, there were two previous Captain Americas who tried to succeed Steve after he was declared MIA near the end of WW2. William Naslund (formerly the Spirit of '76) held the title for a brief time before his death, after which the Cap identity was passed to Jeffrey Mace (formerly the superhero known as Patriot).
It was later established that there was another Cap, Isaiah Bradley, who had an experimental version of the serum they used on Steve tested on him in order to recreate it. He became the first Black Captain America.
After Cap was defrosted, he had two incidents where he took a different name, and others took the costume and name of Captain America. None of them lasted very long. With Cap dead, the name and shield passed to his Back from the Dead ex-sidekick; when Cap finally came Back from the Dead himself, he decided to let Bucky keep the title and adopt a different name again.
This gets a little complicated at this point, but stay with us. One of the guys who replaced Cap after he disappeared was the Patriot, a name that would later be used by the grandson of the real original Captain America, Isaiah Bradley. Meanwhile, one of Cap's alternate identities, Nomad, the Man Without a Country, was adopted by Jack Monroe — formerly the fake Bucky of the 50s, and later by Rikki Barnes, the female Bucky from Heroes Reborn's Counter-Earth. John Walker wore Cap's "The Captain" costume to become USAgent, and during his tenure as Captain America was partnered with Lemar Hoskins as Bucky.
An upcoming Marvel!NOW initiative is passing the Cap mantle on to the Falcon (Samuel Wilson).
This is the backstory to DC's Inferior Five: Each of the titular five half-rate superheroes was the son or daughter of one or more competent, and somehow familiar-looking heroes.
Much of the Wally West The Flash's Rogues Gallery consisted of successors to the original — in one case a son, but usually just another criminal who somehow got hold of the original's gear.
This was taken to the point of parody with Chillblaine, an identity taken by a succession of dumb but good-looking crooks with Captain Cold's gear, all "recruited" by Cold's sister, Golden Glider. Eventually she made the mistake of choosing someone who was actually dangerous and he killed her. Cold came out of retirement to avenge her, and ended up back in the role of the Rogues' leader.
This was actually inverted in one case, with the Reverse-Flash. The first (second if you count Jay Garrick's own Evil Counterpart, The Rival) Reverse-Flash to be shown in the comics is Eobard Thawne, a time-traveling criminal from the 25th century. However, the next Reverse-Flash to be shown, Hunter Zolomon, was born in the present day and took on the identity of Zoom after being inspired by a discussion he had previously had with Wally West about Thawne. When Thawne himself eventually shows up again via his usual Time Travel antics and sees Zolomon in the Zoom getup, he's quite amused.
During the 90's he was briefly succeeded by a man named Eric Masterson, who soon took on the identity of Thunderstrike after the Thor mantle was returned to the original. Thunderstrike was later killed and now his son Kevin operates as the new Thunderstrike and a member of the Avengers Academy.
After the "Fear Itself" crossover (where Bucky "died", only to become a secret agent), Thor was also briefly replaced by Tanarus, who took over as the new god of thunder.
As part of the upcoming Marvel NOW! Initiative, the mantle of Thor is to be passed on to a woman, unnamed at this time but one who proves herself worthy of Mjolnir.
During his battle with alcoholism, Tony Stark was briefly replaced by his buddy James "Rhodey" Rhodes, who became popular enough that he developed the heroic identity of War Machine after returning the Iron Man mantle to Tony.
Arn Munro of Young All-Stars is a weirdly recursive example; he was loosely intended as a replacement for the Golden-Age Superman, who was retconned out of existence when Arn was created, but in-story he is the son of Hugo Danner, the protagonist of Gladiator, a 1930 novel that was an influence on Superman's creation.
Grant Morrison played with this when he created a new version of the Shining Knight. Apparently the entire King Arthur story repeats itself every so often. The original Shining Knight, Sir Justin came the anachronistic 5th century of La Morte D'Arthur, and ended up in World War II. The third Knight, Sir Ystina, is the same character's counterpart from a much earlier Camelot which has more of a "Celtic twilight" feel, who ended up in the 21st century. This is parodied in the new Demon Knights series, when Jason Blood and Xanadu, both refugees from the anachronistic Camelot, are accosted by Ystin, who insists that they're lying about being survivors of Camelot. But because her accusations are in Welsh, none of them understand her. Jason shrugs and advises his companions to smile and nod.
Several other characters created by Morrison for Seven Soldiers qualify as well. As well as the Spin-Offspring Gimmix, I, Spider and the Whip III, there were:
Boy Blue, successor to Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys.
Dyno-Mite Dan, successor to T.N.T and Dan the Dyna-Mite (he bought a knock-off of his predecessors' rings on E-bay).
The Manhattan Guardian, successor to the Guardian (the paper he works for bought the rights to the name and image when the secret government project the Guardian worked for went under).
Bulleteer, successor to Bulletman and Bulletgirl and descendant of Aurakles, the first superhero.
There have been three Blue Beetles. Unlike most other examples, all three are significantly different: Dan Garrett was a world adventurer who could use some of the Blue Beetle scarab's powers. Ted Kord, a wealthy industrialist, was a kind of lighthearted version of Batman, and the scarab never worked for him. Jaime Reyes is an Ordinary High-School Student who's fully bonded with the scarab, giving him a Power Suit which acts as a sort of Do-Anything Robot.
The concept also gets sent up in the pre-Flashpoint Jaime Reyes run of the comic, where it's revealed that aspiring supervillains actually have brawls—"title fights"—to earn the right to take on a deceased/retired villain's nom de guerre. The story arc goes on to unveil a second Doctor Polaris.
Wolverine's nemesis Silver Samurai is one example. The original was a guy named Kenuichiro Harada, who was replaced by his son Shin after his death.
A rarer villainous example is Lady Bullseye (Maki Matsumoto), a Distaff Counterpart to the Daredevil villain Bullseye. In a parody/inversion of the idea of heroic inspiration, Bullseye by complete accident "rescues" her from her Yakuza captors by slaughtering them all on an unrelated errand. Already pretty foregone psychologically at that point, she was inspired to become an assassin by his example.
In a unique villain-to-hero example, Rose Canton, the Golden Age villainess Thorn, was eventually replaced by Rhosyn "Rose" Forrest, a feminist vigilante. Like her predecessor, Rhosyn suffers from a split-personality disorder, but possesses none of the superpowers held by the original. Though not an outright villain like her predecessor, the modern Thorn frequently uses lethal force and has found herself as both an ally and enemy of the Birds of Prey.
The original Swamp Thing was Alex Olsen, who appeared in one House Of Secrets story, before the more famous Alec Holland incarnation was created. The Swamp Thing mythology created by Alan Moore and his successors would make both incarnations part of a lineage of Erl-Kings that dated to before humanity.
Marvel Comics' Immortal Iron Fist was Ret Conned to being a legacy character, with a lineage stretching back hundreds of years. This is why Iron Fist is immortal: the position will never die, only its occupants. This is also true of the other immortal weapons; there will always be a Dog Brother #1, always a Cobra Warrior, etc.
Power Man is a complicated example. The first Power Man was a villain named Erik Josten before the name passed to its most famous holder, Luke Cage. Luke currently goes by his civilian name and no longer wears a costume, so the identity has since fallen to Victor Alvarez, an Afro-Latino teenager who fancies himself a "hero for hire."
Black Knight is another odd duck. The original was an actual Arthurian knight named Sir Percy who had his mantle taken up hundreds of years later by his decesendent Nathan Garrett, who became a villain. The mantle then passed to Nathan's nephew Dane, who famously became a hero and a member of The Avengers. A new short-lived replacement named Augustine du Lac was later introduced, and he has now been succeeded by an unnamed female teenage incarnation, who like Nathan, is a villain.
Unknown to Fastback of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!, his uncle Merton McSnurtle is actually the long-retired Golden Age superhero the Terrific Whatzit, who like his nephew also possessed super-speed powers (plus several other abilities Fastback lacked).
Played straight with Darth Wyyrlok. Darth Krayt'sdragon and advisor is always named Darth Wyyrlok; as of the time of the series he's on Wyyrlok III, son of the previous Wyyrlok and grandson of the original, with Wyyrlok IV (the current one's daughter) in training.
Marvel's Imperial Guard has several legacy characters in its ranks.
This is played with in the War of Kings crossover — on his way to the throne of the Shi'ar Imperium, Vulcan kills the Guardsman Smasher. Later, as Emperor, he's reviewing the Guard, and comes to Smasher. His reaction is: "Didn't I kill you?" Smasher explains that he's a new guy in the same uniform. Then he gets killed a short time later. Yet another Smasher then appears, and spends half an issue thanking Imperial Guard commander Gladiator for choosing him to fill the uniform. Then Gladiator kills him. A new, female Smasher is part of the Marvel NOWAvengers relaunch. Here's hoping she has better luck than her predecessors.
Over the Shi'ar Imperium's long history, this has apparently added up to a LOT of Guardsmen. When Neutron is killed (and replaced), we see the vault where he's buried - and it seems to be filled with thousands of caskets.
Immortal Man in Darkness of The DCU's Great Ten is not actually immortal; the technology that gives him his powers will eventually kill him, and they simply keep replacing him. The "Immortal" name is a publicity thing. When one dies, there's a whole set of guys waiting in the wings to replace him. "You are immortal now!" And yes, pilots line up for the privilege to fly the Dragonwing even after being informed that it will be the death of them; the latest describes the first time he saw the craft as "love at first sight".
The Accomplished Perfect Physician, who is the seventeenth to bear the title and wield the powers of the greatest medical mind on the planet. Sort of subverted in that he's not the guy who was supposed to succeed the title; he was a soldier sent to beat back Tibetan dissidents and inadvertently killed the actual successor before being strongarmed into taking his place.
Originally, Johnny Blaze seemed to be the first and only Ghost Rider. This was later shown not to be the case.◊ Wherever injustice reigns, a Spirit of Vengeance will rise to punish the wicked...
DC's Spirit of Vengeance, The Spectre, got retconned into a legacy with the John Ostrander series. The Spectre itself has existed almost since creation began, but has been compelled to take mortal hosts following the Crucifixion.
Trick Shot, Hawkeye's mentor, fits this. After he died, the Trickshot identity was taken up by Barney Barton, Hawkeye's older brother and a member of the Dark Avengers.
Black Panther is a title granted to the ruler of the fictional nation of Wakanda. The most iconic bearer of the mantle, T'Challa, became the Black Panther after the murder of his father T'Chaka. T'Challa briefly passed the mantle to his younger sister Shuri before reclaiming it. The title was also briefly inherited by Kasper Cole before he abandoned it in favor of taking on the White Tiger identity (see below).
The White Tiger is a somewhat confusing case. The first White Tiger was Hector Ayala, who was replaced by an unrelated female White Tiger who was in reality an actual Bengal Tiger who was given human form. The third White Tiger was Kasper Cole, a mixed-race police officer. After Cole faded into obscurity, another new White Tiger was introduced in the form of Angela Del Toro, a Latina cop and Hector's nephew. She eventually died and was resurrected as a villain before being freed and apparently stripped of the mantle. The title now rests with Ava Ayala, Hector's previously unmentioned teenage sister, who currently attends the Avengers Academy.
Top Cow has the bearers of the Thirteen Artifacts, The Angelus entity passes on to a new host when the previous host dies the currect wielder being Finch, The Darkness entity is passed from father to son the currect wielder being Aram, The Witch King, the holy power of The Magdalena and the Spear Of Destiny is passed from mother to daughter the currect wielder being Patience who was last bearer of The Glacier Stone, and The Witchblade is passed from owner to owner the currect wielders are Sara Pezzini and Katarina Godliffe, there is also the Aphrodite series of androids, Aphrodite IV who appers in Witchblade and is also the currect bearer of The Coin of Solomon, Aphrodite V who appers in Cyberforce and Aphrodite IX who has her own comicbook and Aphrodite XV who has appeared in comicbook Aphrodite IX, Tom Judge is the bearer of The Rapture, former Angelus warrior Sabine is the beaer of The Wheel of Shadows, Rachel Harrison is the bearer of The Heart Stone, Ian Nottingham is the currect bearer of The Blood Sword, Glorianna Silver wields The Ember Stone, Alina Enstrom possess Pandora's Box and the Thirteenth Artifact bearer is monk Ji Xi.
Black Canary is an interesting case, having become her own legacy character. Originally there was only one Black Canary; however, as she was tied to WWII it eventually got to the point where she was clearly decades older than she had ever looked (and considerably older than her lover Green Arrow). This was "fixed" with the retcon that she was actually inhabiting the braindead body of her previously unmentioned daughter. Crisis simplified this creepy idea by simply establishing that there were two Canaries, assigning the Golden Age stories to the mother and the Silver Age ones to the daughter.
The Crimson Dynamo was an Iron Man villain initially, but since the original died there have been no less then TWELVE wearers of the Crimson Dynamo armor. As of World War Hulk, Crimson Dynamo suits are apparently available for purchase on the black market to criminal and terrorist organizations around the world; the Gamma Corps takes on a few of them(rather easily) in their first offical mission.
Boris Bullski was the first Titanium Man, another Russian villain for Iron Man with a legacy. The Gremlin was the second Titanium Man who operated while Titanium Man I was still alive, and was killed during the Armor Wars. After Boris Bullski (Titanium Man I) got killed, a third Titanium Man cropped up during Civil War, though it's unclear whether it was indeed another man using the armor or if it was a somehow revived Boris Bullski.
There have been several Two-Faces in the Batman comics including the first Two-Face Harvey Dent, his butler Wilkins, Paul Sloane, an actor, George Blake, a petty criminal and Harvey Apollo, another actor.
The original Paperinik has Donald Duck accidentally inheriting the legacy of Gentleman Thief Fantomius, a spoof of violent anti-heroes like Diabolik. While Paperinik is treated more as a Batman spoof these days, the origin is kept, and becomes a plot point in modern versions where Donald has to deal with old allies of Fantomius who assume he is Robin Hood-style criminal as well. Including a woman who was in love with the old chap, and thinks Donald is him in a new mask...
Vandal Savage from DC Comics eventually became Genre Savvy enough to figure out this trope and decided to go wipe out a few 'hero lines'. He got a couple but failed some as well. A steel-based villain was sent to kill Commander Steel's family. He was stabbed in the mouth, bleeding ensued and that gave steel powers to the man's grandson. Way to go, Savage.
The Echidna demigod Enerjak. First, there was Dimitri, who accidentally absorbed the power of multiple Chaos Emeralds and was driven power-mad by it. He was eventually Brought Down to Normal by Mammoth Mogul, but a few years later his descendant Knuckles was tricked into absorbing the Master Emerald's power and taking up the mantle, before the spell placed on him was broken and he was returned to normal. There was also an Alternate Universe version of Knuckles who willingly became Enerjak and proceeded to devastate the world. He was eventually Brought Down to Normal (in the same manner as Dimitri) by his daughter, who became the new Enerjak and broke tradition by using her powers for good (undoing the damage her father had wrought). Oh, and on top of all of this, Dr. Finitevus implied to Knuckles during their last encounter that Enerjak's legacy actually predates Dimitri (though considering who we're talkingabout, that statement is questionable at best). In a case of All There in the Manual, The Complete Sonic Comic Encyclopedia confirms two previous Enerjaks, both scientists, prior to Dimitri.
Dr. Robotnik himself, as the original version of him was defeated and then replaced by a Robotnik from another universe.
Jeff Terrell was the original Shaft from Rob Liefeld's Youngblood, but ended up being replaced by a government-appointed successor immediately after quitting the team. Jeff's former teammates take great pleasure in referring to the newbie as "Not-Shaft" in order to get under his skin.
The original Nova was Richard Rider, who was depowered after the cancellation of his series. The title passed to the unrelated Frankie Raye, who ran with the identity until her apparent death (years later she was revealed to be alive in the Heralds mini-series). Rider regained his abilities and the Nova identity until his death during the Thanos Imperitive storyline, and has now been replaced by Sam Alexander, a new teen Nova.
In Astro City, Zachary Jackson, Jack-in-the-Box, took the name and the equipment from his late father, who had died fighting crime. After encountering two horrific future versions of his unborn son (both of whom took the legacy much too far), in addition to a much better-adjusted version whose life was still shaped by his father's untimely death, Jackson passed the title on to Roscoe Jones, head of a street gang that sought to imitate Jack-in-the-Box via Le Parkour.
In the comic version of W.I.T.C.H., it's shown that there's always been Guardians - five in a team, wielding a certain element and all of them female. Even when Nerissa Face Heel Turned, they insisted on keeping it that way. The cartoon also implies this.
The original Ray, Lanford Terril, had his identity taken up by his son, Ray Terril, who in turn had the identity briefly taken over by a man named Stan Silver before returning to the mantle once Silver was revealed as a traitor. In the wake of the New52 reboot, a new Ray named Lucien Gates was introduced. While his origin story acknowledges that he took his name from an existing hero, it is unknown exactly which, if any of the other Rays are currently still considered canon.
X-Men villain Apocalypse was recently revealed to be a Legacy Character, with the gray-skinned Egyptian En Sabah Nur in fact being the eighth Apocalypse charged by the Celestials with advancing evolution on Earth. When Uncanny X-Force killed En Sabah Nur, the mantle was passed on to the Horseman Death - who also happened to be their teammate Archangel. Cue Archangel becoming the new Apocalypse.
In Death Of The Family, it turns out Harleen Quintzel isn't the first Harley Quinn. She is, however, the first one to escape with her life.
In V for Vendetta, after V dies, Evey figures out that V had been preparing her to become V herself. Which she then does.
Transformers: More than Meets the Eye has Ultra Magnus, who in reality is just a succession of 'bots wearing Powered Armor designed to look like the original, deceased Ultra Magnus to function as an "eternal lawman" subservient to Chief Justice Tyrest and enforce his laws. The current, and possibly final, holder of the title is a small, unassuming robot named Minimus Ambus, who's been Ultra Magnus since the start of the IDW comics (with the original Magnus showing up in the early-war Autocracy and Monstrosity stories.
There's also the Decepticon Justice Division, 5 of the most devout cons who hunt down and kill traitors, cowards and deserters. Each has taken on a name from the first five cities that the Decepticons conquered. The holders of these titles rotate, and a few Autobots mention the original Vos who was replaced with the current one.
Batwing used to be the title used by David Zavimbe, the African Batman of Batman Incorporated. When David left Batman Inc., Batman gave gave the title to Lucius Fox's son, Luke Fox. Since the change, Batwing gradually became a full fledged member of the Batfamily.
The only one of Marvel's original characters to be a Legacy Character was Doctor Strange, who is merely the current Sorcerer Supreme. His legacy stretches back thousands of years (some say back to Agamotto himself).
Clint Barton, better known as Hawkeye, has taken on three legacy identities in his lifetime:
His first was, of course, Hawkeye, and he was the first; the identity later was taken up by Kate Bishop (who chose not to take up the costume as well, out of respect), then got used by Bullseye during his time in the Dark Avengers. Currently, Clint is back to using it and Kate still uses it.
The second was Goliath, which, as explained above, he gained from Hank Pym.
The third one, Ronin, was gained from Maya Lopez, better known as Echo, who gave him her blessing after rescuing her from Japan. It has since been taken up by two others, Alexei Shostakov (Red Guardian), and someone else...
Two of the most notable 'Good' Kaiju in the Godzilla and My Little Pony:Friendship Is Magic crossover, The Bridge, Mothra and Godzilla are this. In this timeline, Mothra Leo has both her mother, the Heisei Mothra, and the Yamato Mothra preceding her. Godzilla jr. came to adulthood after his adoptive father, the Heisei Godzilla, and the 1954 Godzilla bore the mantle.
In the Gundam SEED fanfic Chaotic Cosmos, this trope is subverted; Blue Cosmos' new leader, Cervantes, manages to convince his right hand man to pretend to be the pilot of the Freedom Gundam in order to win support from Orb (which Kira Yamato, the real Freedom pilot, saved in the previous war). Since no one had seen who the pilot actually was, all they needed was a fake Gundam so that Asmodeus could fill Kira's shoes.
In the Fallout/My Little Pony fanfic Fallout: Equestria, at least 5 ponies have taken the title DJ Pon3, in addition to the original.
Twilight is implied to be descended from the G1 Twilight, whose family line also helped Celestia and Luna during Discord's reign.
Also Spike is actually the seventh Spike and a descendant of the original G1 Spike, all of whom operated alongside Equestria's heroes. Applejack's also descended from the original G1 Applejack.
The "Where in the World is Harry Potter" trilogy by nonjon makes Nicolas Flamel one of these, furthermore when Harry Potter takes up the name, he also keeps his own, maintaining two identities with the help of a time turner.
In Shadowchasers continuity, Dracula is not one being, but a title held by whatever vampire rules the others. The current Dracula is female, appearing as a young teenage girl dressed in a Goth ensemble. She is far more benign than most of her predecessors, concentrating on trying to improve the PR of vampires in general, who are a Dying Race in this reality.
In Saw, Jigsaw trains someone to do his job after he dies. Four people, actually.
In The Santa Clause, the job of being Santa was passed down whenever the old Santa died and to whoever put on the Santa suit first afterwards. It's also implied, at the end of the second movie, that spouse of whoever became Santa would gradually transform into "Mrs. Claus" as well.
Ernest Saves Christmas has a similar premise, but the passing down of the job is due to the need to "recharge" Santa's mystical capabilities, which gradually fade as someone carries out the job. No dying necessary, but on the other hand, it puts Christmas in jeopardy.
Another similar example, Aardman's Arthur Christmas has the job of Santa be passed down from father to son.
In the James Bond film series, "M" and "Q" are code names given to the head of MI6 and the Quartermaster, respectively. Each have been replaced in-series at least once.
Q (Major Boothroyd) was played by Desmond Llewellyn from 1963 to 1999. After Llewellyn's death, his assistant from The World Is Not Enough (nicknamed "R" by James), played by John Cleese, succeeds him as the new Q in the followup film Die Another Day. The Quartermaster did not appear in the new continuity until Skyfall, in which Ben Whishaw plays the new Q.
Robert Brown took over the role of M in the film Octopussy after Bernard Lee's death, although it was ambiguous whether he was playing a new character or the old M recast. Judi Dench was cast as M in GoldenEye, as an unambiguously new head of MI6. Skyfallends with Ralph Fiennes' character Gareth Mallory becoming the new M.
The James Bond character himself is a Meta Example now on his 6th incarnation after 20 movies over 50 years.
The Codename Theory, the idea that the reason Bond changes appearance every so often is that he himself is a Legacy Character and the name "James Bond, 007" is just a title given to MI6's latest best agent after his predecessor has either retired or been killed. Though given a wink in On Her Majesty's Secret Service ("This never happened to the other fella")- which was the first time Bond had a different actor-, and a plot point in the Bond spoof Casino Royale (1967) (where James Bond's inspiration was so valuable to the British secret service that when he retired they bestowed the name on his successor), the theory is almost universally loathed by diehard Bond fans as it creates all sorts of continuity errors, such as why Moore, Dalton and (implied) Brosnan Bond all grieve for the same dead wife, or why they are all friends with Felix Leiter, or why they all have the same backstory and are occasionally identified as "James Bond" by people from their pre-agency days (eg. The Spy Who Loved Me, where Bond meets a college friend). Not to mention, the dubious value of such a practice since all it would do is highlight the fact that this person is a British secret agent, not obscure it.
The "friends with Leiter" point has a counter-argument that "Felix Leiter" is also a codename since Felix is also played by a different actor each time. This is equally implausible though as David Henderson- the 5th actor to play Leiter- returned in Licence to Kill where he is retired as CIA yet actually gets married under this name. Also, Bond is almost always the one to greet Felix every time they meet and identifies him on-sight as an old friend, making it unlikely they are meant to be different people. Connery bond, in particular, has met four different Leiters', but there is no indication that he does not think they are the same person.
The xXx movies actually do take a codename approach as the Triple X designation is given on to the NSA's top field agent, whoever it may be. We at least know Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) from the first movie, Darius Stone (Ice Cube) from xXx: State of the Union, and a third unnamed character were given this name.
In The Matrix, Neo is said to be the second person to become "The One", able to manipulate the Matrix to his will. The first incarnation freed the first of the resistance and founded Zion, while Neo is prophesied to free humanity from the Matrix entirely. The sequel, however, reveals that there have been a total of five "Ones" who came before Neo, and that the so-called "prophecy" is really just a big Xanatos Gambit of the machines that perpetuates a cycle of regularly reloading the Matrix to continue enslaving humanity.
A copyright issue forced the retconning of The Invisible Man into this in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. That, and the original character (Griffin) was an Ax-Crazy psychopathic rapist, which would've been harder to squeeze into a heroic role than the film's formula-stealing burglar.
Several exist in the Star Wars universe. Perhaps most notable are Jango Fett and Boba Fett, who becomes the best bounty hunter in the galaxy just like his genetic dad was twenty years prior.
After the original Chatterer was killed in Hellbound: Hellraiser II, two new characters with similar attributes (Chatter Beast in Hellraiser: Bloodline and Torso in Hellraiser: Inferno) showed up, with a new Chatterer (dubbed Chatterer III, even though Chatterer II was merely just the original with enhancements) eventually appearing.
In The A-Team film, when the CIA operative who calls himself "Lynch" is introduced, one character remarks that he once knew someone who used the same moniker. At the end of the film, when Lynch is being taken away, another character also introduces himself as Lynch.
The 2000 version of Shaft features the titular ex-detective, played by Samuel L. Jackson, getting a pep talk from his uncle and namesake (both are named John Shaft), the original "bad mother...shut yo' mouth!" played by Richard Roundtree.
Unlike most slasher movie villains, Ghostface from Scream is killable; the trouble is there's more than one. In order, they are: Billy and Stu in the original film, Mrs. Loomis and Mickey in the second, Roman in the third, and Jill and Charlie in the fourth. Despite being several different people, they use voice masking when talking to their victims over the phone; the same actor does the phone voice throughout the series, and retains a similar personality, despite the various personalities the killers display when not in costume.
In the 2006 movie Beerfest, When the character of Landfill is killed, his identical Backup Twin brother, Gil, appears, stating that he has the same knowlege of beerdrinking as Landfill would like to take his place and would be honored if they would refer to him as Landfill in tribute. It's as if he never left...
Frankenstein in the Death Race movies, although that fact is a carefully guarded secret.
Wreck-It Ralph: It's only mentioned once, but Fix-It Felix Junior's magic hammer was passed down to him from his father, who presumably was the original Fix-It Felix (making the former's game something of a remake or sequel). We never hear much about Felix's status as a Legacy Character, but Word of God has stated that the "original" Felix Sr. may show up in the movie's sequel.
In The Wolverine, the Silver Samurai was a mythic figure of Ichiro's Family (and a standard samurai), protector of the Yashida Clan, Ichiro built his armor to resemble the original Silver Samurai, so to metaphorically become the protector of the Yashida Clan himself.
The Fat Controller in the original Railway Series was a nickname given to Sir Topham Hatt. This nickname was inherited by his son Sir Charles Topham Hatt, and later by Charles' own son Sir Steven Hatt.
In The Princess Bride, we have the Dread Pirate Roberts, where the previous Roberts handed the title over to another when he wanted to retire. And so forth — there have been about half a dozen Dread Pirate Robertses by the time of the book.
In The Legend of Johnny Lingo, we learn that the "Johnny Lingo" that we've met is not the original bearer of that name, and is about to pass it on to his protegé.
In the Science Fiction novel Santiago: A Myth of the Far Future by Mike Resnick, the revolutionary anarchist Santiago is eventually revealed to be the title that different successors took.
The titular characters of Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality novels. The protagonist of the first novel became Death when he killed the previous Death. Time passes his title on to someone else at the moment when he was originally born, and the three personas of Fate can pass their titles on to someone of the appropriate age whenever they choose. War loses his title whenever all war ends, and when it restarts, the most warlike person on Earth takes the title. Neither Gaia nor Satan are the first with their titles, either. And in book seven of the octology, an election is held to replace God. Presumably, it's possible to have a new Nox (eighth book), but it's never happened - current office-holder Kerena created her position.
Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation book series features the line of heroes that come after the Scarlet Pimpernel — the Purple Gentian and the Pink Carnation. (On the villain side, there's the Black Tulip.)
Subverted with Belgarath and Polgara . The Tolnedrans refuse to believe that any kind of sorcery or magic can exist, so to settle the argument as to how Belgarath and Polgara can live so long, they decide that "Belgarath" and "Polgara" are hereditary titles that are passed down to each generation.
But first played straight with Eternal Salmissra, the Queen of the snake-worshipping Nyissans. When the current Salmissra is advancing in age, palace eunuchs will search the country for 20 look-alikes of the original Salmissra and train them in remote locations to act as much as the original Salmissra as possible. When the new "Eternal Salmissra" is selected, the 19 who didn't make the cut are killed. Talk about motivation to become the character.
And then subverted after the current Salmissra upsets Polgara by kidnapping Garion and nearly making him her slave, with the intent of turning him over to Torak in exchange for immortality. You'd think the Nyissans had learned from their predecessors not to make her or Belgarath angry, as that ploy had been used on them before. Polgara grants Salmissra the immortality she wanted, but also turns her into a giant snake.
And then there's Brand, the Rivan Warder. Always a solid and dependable person, completely loyal to the Rivan Throne, who gives up his own name when he takes on the function as Rivan Warder.
In the Deverry novels, in order to keep people from asking too many questions about the shabby old herbalist named Nevyn who tends to show up at critical junctions in history, Nevyn has gotten into the habit of telling people that the Nevyn that the questioner knew of from fifty-odd years before was either A: his grandfather, who he was named after, or B: that Nevyn is a title passed down from master to apprentice.
The Wizard of the Seekers of Truth is part of a a line of magicians, descending from the real-life Maskelyne family. Jasper Maskelyne, his non-fictional grandfather, worked with the British Army against the Nazis, and his grand-father John was an avid debunker of fraudulent mystics and the like.
Dune has the gholas, which are copies of people that sometimes retain their memories. This is used to resurrect Duncan Idaho dozens of times, but many of the characters of the first book get turned into gholas at one point or another.
Historians of Discworld speculate that some of Ephebe's great philosophers pass their names down across the generations, given how they seem to have authored manuscripts over a period of a century or more. A subversion, as the History Monks' temporal damage-control (Thief Of Time)is actually responsible for this.
From the Star Trek Novel Verse, there's Astraea, leader of the Oralian faith and vessel for the guiding spirit, Oralius.
"My mother's name was Astraea. My daughter's name will be Astraea."
In Robots of the Dawn, Isaac Asimov features the Chairman of the Legislature of Aurora. In order to represent the continuity of the office, he is never addressed except as "Mr. Chairman".
In The Dresden Files series, the Archive. She is a living repository of all human knowledge (or at least, all written human knowledge-how much beyond that isn't terribly clear), and the job is passed down from mother to daughter as the mother nears the end of her life. Normally this isn't such a big deal as the daughter is usually somewhere in the general vicinity of middle age when this happens, but in the current Archive's case, it happened just after birth; she's seven when she first meets Harry.
Also the various mantles of faerie, including the Knights and the Ladies. All four (both Knights, both Ladies) of those change hands in the series, with at least one changing hands twice during events in the books.
In The Eyre Affair, Acheron Hades has a mute henchman named Felix-8. As it turns out, he liked the original Felix so much that when he died, he found a random person off the street, mind-controlled him, then took Felix's face off and replaced the person's face with it. As can be deduced, he'd done it seven times so far...
In the story "Cold Snap", set in the 1970s, we're intoduced to Jamie Chambers, son of 1930s ShadowExpy Jonathan "Dr Shade" Chambers. By the end of the story, he's considering going into the family business as Jamie Shade. An author's note adds that the current holder of the Shade Legacy is Christine Chambers, aka Lady Shade.
In another author's note in Mysteries of the Diogenes Club, we're told the current Diogenes includes Lady Shade, the third Ghost Lantern Girl (the first is mentioned in "Secrets of Drearcliff Grange" as a former graduate of the Grange) and Karl Rattray (presumably a descendant of Dennis Rattray/Blackfist from "Clubland Heroes").
In Honor Harrington, the Royal Manticoran Navy maintains a "List of Honor" to give a proper memorial to ships participating in (and mostly being destroyed or heavily damaged by) particularly heroic actions. Any name on the list will be carried by a ship in active service - and when it's destroyed, the name is passed on to one newly built. Some are even restricted to a certain class of ship, as well. Notable examples are the Nike and Fearless, though 20+ years of war is adding names with terrifying regularity.
R.A. Salvatore's The Crimson Shadow has the main character accidentally inheriting a very famous thief's cloak of invisibility. The heroes of the book turn this to their advantage by using the publicity of having the Crimson Shadow on their side. One of the villains muses that the original Crimson Shadow is long dead and wasn't a particularly good thief.
In the Expanded Universe novels for Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri by Michael Ely, the leaders of the factions survive the centuries by using life extension treatments developed by Zakharov. However, by the end of the second novel, Sheng-ji Yang is captured and imprisoned for attempting to eliminate all the other faction leaders. The opposition leader Jin Long is installed as the leader of the Human Hive in his place. However, Yang's daughter discovers that Long is actually Yang's clone, specifically created at his own request in the event he would become too rigid to deal with what was coming. Long was to become the new Yang (he even took the name) and used Yang's memory-recording machine to become more like the original. However, the third book reveals that the new Yang became corrupt and decadent, eschewing the original's philosophies in exchange for personal gratification. His wife (Yang's daughter; apparently, she suffers from a weird case of the Electra complex) assassinates him and also takes up the name/title Chairman Yang.
In The War of the Flowers, the Remover of Inconvenient Obstacles is revealed to be this; the current Remover is actually the protagonist's great-uncle, Eamonn Dowd, who pulled a Grand Theft Me on his predecessor and he speculates that his predecessor was in turn only the latest Remover (since the character was already impossibly old even by fairy standards). As of the end of the novel the Remover's body is destroyed, along with his home, seeming to put an end to the lineage for good- Dowd body-hopped again at the last minute and escaped, but shows no inclination to become the Remover again.
In Simon Hawke's Wizard novels, the ITC concludes that the professional assassin Morpheus is a Legacy Character, as this alias has been in use for as far back as criminal records go. Subverted, as Morpheus is actually an immortal.
In The Legend of Sun Knight the twelve knight captains are required to change their last name to match that of the position they are accepted into. Candidates to be raised as the next generation of knight captain are chosen in part based on how much they match the expected appearance of the captain position they wish to take. (The Sun Knight, for example, must be blond and fair skinned, while the Storm Knight either needs some mutant gene for blue hair or an open mind regarding hair dye.) A large portion of their training to inherit the position also involves acting, to the point that many of the current cast member's backstories will completely neglect to show them learning and swordplay or other common duties and focus on them struggling to pull off a part of their expected character.
An early version of the concept appears in the novel Madeline Payne‚ the Detective's Daughter (1883). Lionel Payne was a Great Detective who was killed while investigating a case. Years later, his daughter Madeline is inspired by his example to launch her own detective career.
An odd example in Legacy The Tale Of The American Eagle, in that the mercenary team American Eagle hires to assist him in the crusade is named the Fearless Falcons, which is later revealed to be Sparrow's first choice of codename, before being told he might 'grow into it', ala Robin to Nightwing
Live Action TV
In Help I'm A Teenaged Outlaw, Tom inherited the role of the highwayman Swiftnick from his mother, who inherited it from her father (who might have been intended as the historic Swift Nick).
Star Trek: The various incarnations of the Enterprise (NCC-1701). In fact, many ships in Star Trek: The Original Series have counterparts in Star Trek: The Next Generation, though not all are similar to the originals in design. The Enterprise NCC-1701 is widely assumed to be the only ship in Starfleet to have its serial number recycled consistently, which is a testament to the importance of Kirk's five-year mission and subsequent voyages in Federation history. At least one possible future - and probably all of them - has a ship named Enterprise with the serial number NCC-1701-J (in this particular future, a ''Universe''-class ship in operation in the 26th century), which means the serial number has been carried on for three hundred years and borne by eleven different vessels. Holy shit.
Directly referenced in an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise where Captain Archer and Shran look at a his office wall with images of past vessels named Enterprise, with Shran mentioning his ship was named after the first ice-breaking ship to travel around Andoria. They then go on to wonder if future ships would be inspired by their adventures. It is implied that the NCC-1701 Enterprise was inspired by the NX-01 Enterprise, and that is part of the reason the name has been the traditional Federation Flagship.
Lampshaded at the end of Star Trek: Generations where Picard remarks that he doubts that the wrecked Enterprise-D will be the last ship to bear the name Enterprise.
Weyoun in Deep Space 9 is continuously cloned to be the right-hand man of the head Founder. Five "different" Weyouns appeared over the course of the series.
Doctor Who is probably the most famous Meta example with the regeneration Plot Device being used to carry the same in-universe character (the Doctor and other Time Lords) across multiple real life actors. The show has been running for half a century and is on its 12th Doctor, or technically 13th, with one Doctor not numbered. Being chosen to portray the Doctor is, in some circles, akin to being chosen Pope.
Invoked in the first episode of the revived series "Rose", where the Conspiracy Theorist that Rose meets for information about the Doctor is under the mistaken belief that the various appearances of the Ninth Doctor in various time periods and references to him throughout history, make "the Doctor" an inherited title that is passed on from one generation to the next, likely from father to son. Amusingly, the part of his theory that convinces Rose that he's nuts, that the Doctor is an alien from another world, is the one part that he's actually correct about.
In a more straight example, there's also Kate Stewart who takes over her father, long time reoccurring companion and Vitriolic Best Buds to the Doctor, The Brigadier's role as 'no nonsense Lethbridge-Stewart that keeps the zany alien scientific advisor in line'. Technically her title isn't "Brigadier", but she fills the role right down to commanding the troops, and her modem operandi is a lesson the Doctor taught her father, "science leads".
In Dead Like Me, each Reaper has a quota (unknown to themselves); when they collect enough souls, they go on to the real afterlife, and the last person collected becomes a Reaper.
Kamen Rider avoided having legacy characters until the franchise's revival in the 2000's, when each season was set in a self-contained continuity:
In Kamen Rider Kuuga, Godai Yusuke is actually the second Kuuga, with the original having been active only 2000 years ago. Onodera Yusuke later inherits the role in Kamen Rider Decade, though that's more of a lateral move since Onodera is Godai's Alternate Universe counterpart.
In Kamen Rider Ryuki, all the Riders were chosen by Kanzaki Shiro except for Shinji and Miyuki - both of them got their Rider Decks after the original Ryuki and Raia died respectively.
In Kamen Rider Decade, Hibiki passes his powers onto his young protegee Asumu when his own Oni powers go berserk, making Asumu the second Hibiki.
This is, in fact, carryover from the original Kamen Rider Hibiki, in which it's common for new Riders to take the name of their retiring mentors (though just as common for them to create their own name). We don't actually see it happen though; at most we hear Zanki occasionally reminiscing.
Shintaro Goto inherits the mantle of Kamen Rider Birth after the first one, Akira Date, retires from the post.
Done in the Red Dwarf episode "Stoke Me a Clipper" when the main universe's Rimmer was passed on the torch of "Ace" Rimmer, one of many parallel universe counterparts of Rimmer, the first of which the crew met in the episode "Dimension Jump". Each Ace donned the wig and flight jacket and took on the mantle after the previous Ace died, or had their post-mortem hologram's projector destroyed.
Many of the Power Rangers series have used this trope; the powers (and suits) can usually be passed from person to person. This became rarer in the subsequent seasons, once they adapted Super Sentai's tradition of changing characters and costumes every year.
Jason, Zack and Trini making way for Rocky, Adam and Aisha in Mighty Morphin, with Kimberly passing her powers on to Katherine the next year.
Jason briefly inheriting the mantle of the Gold Ranger from Trey in Power Rangers Zeo.
The entire Turbo team (except for Justin) swapping out mid-season
Kendrix and the Magna Defender passing their powers to Karone and Mike upon their deaths in Lost Galaxy.
A few of the SPD morphers changed hands as characters got promoted, though this only happened post-season.
The Super Sentai franchise also replaced a few of its warriors during its early seasons, as a result of some of the actors leaving mid-series:
The Ki Ranger identity was transferred from Daita Ōiwa to Daigorō Kumano in Himitsu Sentai Goranger. However, Daigorō was only added so that the actor playing Daita the character could participate in a play he was asked to do. Daigorō's spot on the team only lasted ten episodes before he was Killed Off for Real, allowing Daita to return.
In Battle Fever J, two of its members were replaced. The actor who played Gensaku Shiraishi, the original Battle Cossack, wanted to leave the series to spent more time with his new wife, so his character was killed off and replaced by Gensaku's friend Makoto Jin. A few episodes earlier, Diana Martin, the original Miss America, was injured in combat and was replaced by Maria Nagisa.
In Taiyou Sentai Sun Vulcan, the actor who played Ryūsuke Ōwashi, the original Vul Eagle, could only do the first 25 episodes of the series due to a previous contract he had on another project which conflicted with his work on Sun Vulcan. His character was sent away to the US to work for NASA and replaced by Takayuki Hiba.
In Choudenshi Bioman, Mika Koizumi, the original Yellow Four, was killed off ten episodes into the series after the actress playing her abruptly left the series, necessitating the need of her replacement, Jun Yabuki.
Like its Power Rangers counterpart, Hyūga inherited the identity of the Black Knight in Seijuu Sentai Gingaman once BullBlack was killed off. Unlike the above examples, BullBlack's death was actually a planned event in the story.
A more traditional example occurs in the finale of Gosei Sentai Dairanger: 50 years after the defeat of Gohma, the grandchildren of the original Dairangers inherit their powers when Gohma returns.
The main characters of Ninja Sentai Kakuranger are implied to have inherited their powers from their ancestors as well.
The Samurai Sentai Shinkenger are another team that inherited their powers from their ancestors (which was then pretty much copied whole into the above-mentioned Power Rangers Samurai).
On Human Target, the identity of Christopher Chance seems to be a Dread Pirate Roberts sort of deal; in the first season finale we meet the previous holder of the name (played by Lee Majors) and he explains that he picked it up from another guy. The current Christopher Chance used to be an assassin, and it's implied that the one before him was one as well.
Both the BBC Robin Hood and the 1980s ITV Robin of Sherwood feature the death of the real Robin Hood and a new figure taking up the name and tasks of Robin to continue the legend.
The Onion News Network features Tucker Hope, which is actually a position on the news crew filled by various men who go through Tucker training in order to fill their role. One Tucker Hope was even fired on the air after having a breakdown and declaring that his name was Peter. When the episode came back from the commercial break, a new Tucker Hope was already present.
After Buffy was revived by CPR, which counted as a temporary death, a new slayer (Kendra) was called, and the cycle continued with her, with another slayer (Faith) taking Kendra's place after her death. This resulted in 2 slayers existing at the same time (aside from Buffy's temporary death at the end ofseason 5/beginning of season 6) for most of the series.
This cycle ends at the end of the season 7 finale, where many potential slayers were activated around the world all at once.
In the Season 8 comics, other slayers continued to be called activated at different times, though this stopped at the end of that series when magic disappeared from that dimension, and only the current slayers were left. Fray, which takes place centuries later, has the protagonist become a "half" slayer, as she shared her power with her twin brother.
There was an interesting twist in Padre Coraje, a telenovela about a Non-Powered Costumed Hero who moved into the village of La Cruz posing as the new priest Juan. He was not, the real priest was killed in the countryside and Coraje could not save him, and replaced him instead to have a Secret Identity in the village. The problem was when he was shot and forgot everything. The people told him that he was the priest (because that was what they thought), and he believed that. The whereabouts of Coraje were unknown for everyone: he must have died, or left, or gave up, or whatever. And one day, after a conflict with the mayor, an union leader told him:
Man: The people need a leader, a hero. They need Coraje.
Juan: But Coraje is gone. Nobody knows what has happened to him, or heard about him in months.
Man: That is not important. The people does not know who is behind the cloak. If Coraje is gone, he won't mind for someone else to put on a similar cloak and be the new Coraje.
And so, the priest became a Legacy Character... of himself.
In a somewhat controversial move, the rock band KISS has passed the makeup characters of the Spaceman and Catman on to new members (Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer respectively) following the departures of original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss in the early 2000s (Frehley left in 2002. Criss departed in 2001, returned in 2003, and left again in 2004, replaced by Singer both times). This move is in contrast to the pair's original exit in the early 80s, when their replacements (Vinnie Vincent and Eric Carr, respectively, with Singer taking up his first drummer stint with the band after Carr died in the early 90's) were given unique personas.
The Phantom is possibly the oldest Legacy Character in all of comics and possibly the originator of this for comic books in general. He has no powers but gives the illusion of immortality because the mantle of the Phantom is passed down from father to son in an unbroken line dating back to the 1500s. This was so creator Lee Falk could do stories involving Pirates, Mobsters, and everything in between. The sheer depth of history and number of Phantoms (over twenty in the 1930s alone, with some writers attempting to continue the history into the present day) marks him as possibly the best example.
In Japanese Professional Wrestling (or puroresu, as the cool kids call it), both Tiger Mask and his arch-rival, Black Tiger, have been played by four different wrestlers, and this is framed as the handing-down of a legacy. Tiger Mask is always a Japanese wrestler, and Black Tiger is always a foreigner. (Also the real identity of Black Tiger is publicly known, while Tiger Mask is kept secret).
This never stopped being popular in Mexican wrestling (or lucha libre) either, due to the preponderance of masked wrestlers there. To name just one example, WWE's Rey Mysterio was known in his early career as Rey Misterio Jr. because his uncle, the original Rey Misterio, handed the mantle down to him (and had to seek special permission from said uncle in order to drop the Jr. from his ring name).
And the original Rey Misterio's son is now wrestling as El Hijo de Rey Misterio.
Another Lucha Libre example is El Hijo del Santo, who inherited his mask from his father, the legendary El Santo, shortly before the latter died.
Doink the Clown is an identity that has been donned by various wrestlers through the years, no less than 12 in WWE alone.
When La Parka (Adolfo Tapia) starting working for WCW, AAA in Mexico created La Parka Jr. with Jesus Escobedo donning the mask. In 2003, AAA decided to enforce their trademark of the original character and Escobedo dropped the Jr. and Tapia became L.A. Park.
In the late fifties through the sixties there was a professional wrestler known as Sweet Georgia Brown, a name which would be taken up by another woman after she died in 1989 then another USWA wrestler in the nineties after Jacqueline Moore stopped using that ring name.
José Estrada and José Luis Rivera would team together in the CWC, WWWF and WWF as Los Conquistadors. A team which would be resurrected as a jobber team who would eventually be taken over by Edge and Christian later in the WWF. Edge and Christian would later pay off Aaron Aguilera and Christopher Daniels to take up the role while Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy would to get revenge on E&C. Outside of WWE land a new Conquistador pair would appear during a the 2011 Wrestling Legends Tour of Germany and one of Estrada's sons, Rico Suave, would also take become part of a conquistador pair as well as Super Medico #4. He was a bit late at the last part, his father being Super Medico #1.
Generally, anytime you see The Spider Lady it is a safe bet she'll be losing, and she'd been losing since 1985, failing to break out of her jobber image by 2014. When she won, she was unmasked to reveal the Fabulous Moolah, who died, so someone else must be under the mask now.
Humorously, Spider-man is a legacy character in Mexico. There is even a mini Spider-man who got popular enough to show up in CMLL and CMLL Wrestler El Bronco, himself a legacy character, was unmasked to reveal Spider-man's mask underneath.
In the original radio series, The Green Hornet was said to be the nephew of The Lone Ranger. The 1990s NOW comic, which did not have the rights to the Ranger, could only allude to this, but established that the Hornet identity was itself a legacy, featuring the nephew of the TV Hornet, who in turn was revealed to be the nephew of the radio character.
Red Panda Adventures had the Red Squirrel, the Flying Squirrel's great-great-granddaughter, who came back in time because one of herRogues Gallery was trying to wipe our heroes out and prevent her from existing. (She may or may not also be the Red Panda's great-great-granddaughter...)
In the Australian Football League, the "father-son rule" is designed to make it easier for clubs to recruit the children of former players.
In some sports leagues, when a city regains a sports team after an old one moves away or folds, the new team often takes up the legacy, history, and often the name of the previous team.
The current iteration of the Canadian National Hockey League Team the Winnipeg Jets, took up the former name and legacy of the team that moved out in the mid-90s. The original Jets currently exist as the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Canadian Football League team, the Montreal Alouettes, are also a Legacy Team. The previous Montreal Alouettes folded in 1982, played under a new name from 82-85, came back as the Alouettes in 1986, and then folded again in 1987. The US expansion team, the Baltimore Stallions, moved to Montreal in 1996 and took up the Alouette name.
Averted with the CFL's new expansion team, the Ottawa REDBLACKS, who took up the legacy, the history, and even the colors of the two previous teams to play in Ottawa (specifically the Roughriders), but took up the name REDBLACKS in order for the CFL to keep the One Steve Limit.
There have been two different National Football League teams named the Colts. The second started in 1953 in Baltimore, where the first had folded in 1951, shortly after being taken over from the All-American Football Conference.
7th Sea has the Dread Pirate Reis. In this case, there's a lot more emphasis on the Dread part of the equation.
Every time an Eldar Phoenix Lord in Warhammer 40,000 dies, their soul is absorbed into the armor they wear. The next wearer of the armor adds their expertise to the knowledge and skills of all the prior Phoenix Lords, back to the first one whose name they still bear. No wonder these people can take on armies all by themselves.
Also, Tetsuo Umezawa (from the Legends expansion set) is apparently an official descendant of Toshiro Umezawa from the much laterBetrayers of Kamigawa set (and of Jitte fame among players). This may qualify more as a Shout-Out, though, since the characters (or at least their cards) seem to have little in common beyond the family name and their legendary status.
This card's name and flavor text imply he is a singular person. Why isn't he a legendary creature?
Because there isn't just one Fraction Jackson. There is a Golden Age version. There is a Silver Age version. There is the Modern Age version, of course. There is the African American version that showed up in the seventies when the Silver Age version was briefly incapacitated. There, is of course, the alien version that retroactively predated the Golden Age version. There is the female version that briefly wore the costume during the scandal of Secret Crisis Conflict. Well, you get the idea.
In the tournament scene, new decks sometimes "take up the mantle" from older decks that they share strategies (but not necessarily cards) with. Aggressive red decks will usually be named some variation of "Sligh" or "Red Deck Wins" after older, popular decks; decks that put cards into their own graveyards might be called "Dredge" even if they feature no dredge cards; Green/Black mid-range decks typically inherit the name "The Rock," unless they also include red, in which case they take up the mantle of "Jund."
In Galactic Champions from Hero Games, the powered-armor hero Defender is the direct descendant of the powered-armor hero Defender from the main Champions book. One could argue the Legacy Character status of the first Defender; James Harmon IV was the child, grandchild, and great-grandchild of heroes, but none of them ever donned a mask (or Powered Armor).
The Freedom City setting for Mutants & Masterminds has plenty. Johnny Rocket, Lady Liberty, Bowman, Arrow...actually subverted with Daedalus, who likes to let people think this is the case but actually is the original character. From Greek myth. There are also deliberately "open" legacies, such as the Scarab, enabling the PCs to take these roles.
In Arthaus's first 3E Gazetteer for the Ravenloft setting, the narrator speculates that Harkon Lukas may be an example of this trope, as references to a bard with that name appear over and over throughout the oral history of Kartakass. Subverted in that they're either false history or all the same guy, who's been the domain's ageless dark lord since it was created.
Crimson Banner Executioner in Exalted is a Sidereal whose reincarnations take up the magical armor and same name as their predecessor when they Exalt, and not only that, they are mentored by the spirit of their previous incarnation, which inhabits the armor.
The Bounty Hunter in BattleTech - a series of mercenaries who all wore a LosTech suit of Powered Armor, and piloted neon green battlemechs covered in cash signs. The Bounty Hunter hunts down notorious criminals on the battlefield. In-universe, the Bounty Hunter is also the subject of a bunch of action movies with gratuitous amounts of violence
Mihoshi Oni in Shadowrun is the sixth person to use that name.
There is a new and not-very-different Link in nearly every game, with the same green tunic, Master Sword (or some other sword with potent magical properties), various other mainstay items, and left-handedness (except in SkywardSword). This was explicitly referenced in The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, where the Links are fully aware that they are taking up the mantle of the previous hero, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl references it in one of Snake's codec conversations.
The book Hyrule Historia makes note that only some of the Links are related to each other, but brings up the possibility that a number of them carry the blood of the Hylian Knights. It also notes that "Link" is just a name that the storytellers of 'the legends of Zelda' give to the hero after the fact regardless of their real name, probably as a lampshade on the fact that while Link is his Canon Name you can name the hero in each game. Even games which note that the new Link has the same legacy clothes,legacy weapons, and legacy soul as his predecessor never mention whether he has the same name as the previous hero, or what that hero's given name was, only that he was the Hero of Time, Winds, Men, etc.
Each release usually features a new Princess Zelda, too, and in later games, this can approach Generation Xerox levels, with even minor characters like Malon and Beedle getting new incarnations.
Apparently, while it had always been common to name Hylian princesses "Zelda" in honor of the one from Skyward Sword, it wasn't until much later when the name became mandatory. The brother of the Zelda from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link grew jealous of her power, but his plan to take her power wound up with Zelda in an "eternal" sleep. Feeling guilty, he made a royal decree that all princesses of the Hyrule line shall be named "Zelda."
Impa, Zelda's nursemaid/bodyguard, actually looks different in each of her incarnations, having been everything from a feeble old woman to a muscular warrior.
The indie game I Wanna Be the Guy has a ridiculous example of this; the titular "The Guy" that your character wants to be is a mantle that was handed down through several well-known 8- and 16-bit video game characters... and whose latest proprietors include your character's father and grandfather, the former of whom killed the latter for the title, and who you have to kill to acquire it.
The version of Donkey Kong that first appeared in Donkey Kong Country is the grandson (or possibly just son, depending on who you ask) of the giant ape who antagonized Mario (Jumpman) in the original arcade game. And, in fact, the original Donkey Kong appears in that game as "Cranky Kong", an elderly ape complete with long white beard and cane.
If Buriki One and Neo Geo Battle Coliseum have anything to say about it, Mr. Karate is a legacy character, in this case the title of the current master of Kyokugenryuu Karate (Takuma Sakazaki in AOF, his son Ryo later on.)
The Shin Megami Tensei spin-off series Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha has an in-universe example; the player character, who can be given any name, is known by almost everyone in-game as "Raidou Kuzunoha", and he is the fourteenth person to take up the mantle of the eponymous Devil Summoner. There are four families of Devil Summoners with such a system in Japan, all using the surname Kuzunoha: Raidou, Geirin, Kyouji, and an unnamed fourth Summoner lineage.
The Overlord games follow different Evil Overlords in each game, with the second game following the son of the one from the first game while Overlord: Dark Legends follows one of his predecessors.
Lutz in Phantasy Star. While he's supposed to be the same guy in the first two games, the English version renamed him Noah, leading to them being two different people who just happen to look alike and share memories and a personality. The fourth game is more straightforward. Although Lutz has been dead for ages, his successors inherit his will and memory and become the next Lutz, which is a very important secret role in Esper society, and extremely confining. This is why Rune is gallivanting around Motavia when you first meet him; he's Number Five.
Tekken has Yoshimitsu (highly suspected to be descended from the Soul Series character of the same name), King (who is in fact King II from the third game onwards), Kuma (who from the third game onwards is the second Kuma), Asuka (who is the niece of Jun, who only appeared in the second game and is presumed killed), Hwoarang (Baek's student), Christine (Eddy's student), Roger Jr. (Roger's wife and son) and the Jack robots (who are all updated versions of the previous one). Jin is Kazuya's son and fights like him. Julia is Michelle's daughter and Xiaoyu is Wang's granddaughter. As a result nearly all of the characters fight similarly to their older characters, but not identically.
Nightmare has become this. After the original Nightmare was Killed Off for Real by Siegfried at the end of the fourth game, Soul Edge obtained a new host known as Graf Dumas who is implied, though not directly stated to be Raphael, who has also taken up the Nightmare identity. Siegfried even says at one point that "Nightmare" is the name given to the current wielder of Soul Edge.
Astaroth is one of many clones that were created using the original Astaroth's heart.
Yoshimitsu is a new man who took on the identity after slaying the original Yoshimitsu and became Yoshimitsu The Second.
Turok features a Navajo Warrior in the first game named Tal'Set Fireseed. Turok 2 takes place hundreds of years later and features Joshua Fireseed, Tal'Set's Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandson; a modern day teenager; who is then replaced by Danielle Fireseed, his Great-Great-Great Niece in the third game.
The Breath of Fire series has an incarnation of Ryu and Princess Nina for each of its five installments.
The original Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat was killed off by his rival Scorpion and replaced by his younger brother, who would assume the Sub-Zero mantle from Mortal Kombat II and onward, while the original would later re-emerge as Noob Saibot.
Umbra is a very dark version of this. The name is actually of an Infinity+1 Sword enchanted by a witch to be able to devour souls. In Morrowind and Oblivion, there are characters who have named themselves after the sword. Both of them were warriors that found and used took the sword, but it had a mind of it's own and drove them insane, forcing them to kill everyone near and dear in order to sate it's ravenous hunger for souls. Only a few Umbras are known, but many more are hinted to have existed.
Then there is the Gray Cowl of Nocturnal, a demonic artifact which erases the identity of anyone who wears it and replaces it with that of the notorious master thief, The Gray Fox. The guild has been led by several people wearing the mask for at least three centuries. The player character can break the curse eventually, making it a nifty free ticket to unprosecuted crimes.
M'aiq the Liar is a Khajiit (read: cat-person) who appears in Morrowind, Oblivion, and now Skyrim to make fourth-wall-breaking jokes about the game's mechanics and other related topics. The M'aiq encountered in Skyrim reveals they are a bloodline of Khajiits with the same name and character.
At the end of the Shivering Isles DLC for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the Champion of Cyrodiil becomes a Daedric Prince by taking on the mantle of the new Sheogorath. This is lampshaded in Sheogorath's appearance in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, where they make several subtle references to various events of the previous game which they witnessed firsthand as the Champion.
In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, while the name Ysmir is often mistakenly attributed to the Nordic aspect of the god Talos, it's revealed by the Greybeards to actually be a title bestowed on those recognised as Dragonborn, marking them as the "Dragon of the North". This sheds new light on a legend in which Tiber Septim (Talos) met the spectre of an ancient king also named Ysmir, suggesting that he too was an ancient Dragonborn.
Champions Online has "Black Mask", the first of whom had apparently fought in the American Revolution. The current "Black Mask" is the tenth one, and the first woman to bear the title. One mission even has you fight all of the Black Mask's previous incarnations when they get revived as zombies.
Final Fantasy, over its long history, has a few examples of this.
The most famous one is Cid. Every game has a Cid, and he always has something to do with the games' airships—to the point that he was retconned into the first game itself by the remakes mentioning him as the creator of the Airship.
There is only one aversion everyone agrees on: Gilgamesh, who started out as The Dragon in Final Fantasy V. Since then, he's been travelling dimensions looking for weapons and has been frequently getting involved in the other games, even remakes of games that came out before his original game. Unlike almost any other character with the same name, it is confirmed to be the same guy.
Two more obscure ones are a dragoon named Kain from Final Fantasy IV, in which there was a child also named Kain in Final Fantasy II who came from a long line of Dragoons, and Cid's nephew Mid from Final Fantasy V had his name carried over to Final Fantasy IV: The After Years as that game's Cid's Grandson.
The Assassin's Creed series runs on this trope, with Desmond Miles being the descendant of Altaïr Ibn La'Ahad and Ezio Auditore da Firenze, both of whom were legendary Master Assassins (and eventual Grand Masters) of the Assassin Order in their day, and Desmond himself being trained to be an Assassin by immersion in Ezio's memories.
A borderline example in the case of the Chosen of various gods in the Neverwinter Nights fan module Tales of Arterra. Your character is revealed to be the Chosen of the God of Death in the second module, and you meet several of your predecessors in the third.
All of the classes from Team Fortress 2 are passed down from mercenary to mercenary.
In Zettai Hero Project, the title of Unlosing Ranger is passed along from person to person, often done very shortly after the previous Unlosing Ranger is killed. After giving up the title to the main character, Pirohiko (the previous title holder) stays with him as a Spirit Advisor of sorts until he is able to fulfill his mission and defeat Darkdeath Evilman.
In the Lonesome Road DLC of Fallout: New Vegas, Ulysses talks about how Lanius is a mystery and since no one has seen the man under his mask (his personal slaves being blinded), it's possible that it's not even the same person underneath the mask.
In Dragon Age II, the Legacy DLC reveals that due to the Malcolm Hawke aiding the Grey Wardens in reinforcing the seals of an ancient prison, the key to unlocking it resides within their bloodline. Due to the death of Malcolm, the Carta attempt to abduct both Hawke and their sibling, hedging their bets that one of them has to be "The Hawke".
Leading to the bizarre situation where all three are referred to interchangeably by this title; Malcolm was "The Hawke", Hawke is now "The Hawke", and Carver/Bethany might be "The Hawke" should anything happen to their elder sibling. (Bethany, however, is more often called "Lady Hawke.")
While the Pokémon Pikachu has appeared in every Super Smash Bros. game, its baby form Pichu was only playable in the second. Given Pikachu's moveset and an alternate costume in Brawl, one could take this Pikachu as Pichu from Melee'' post-evolution.
In Mass Effect 2, after the Normandy SR-1 is destroyed during the prologue, when Cerberus reveal they've built a larger and more powerful frigate based on the original's design, it's no surprise to anyone when Shepard and Joker decide to christen it the "Normandy SR-2". Despite several Normandy-class vessels being mentioned as having been built (suggesting there's already an official SR-2 on the books), the Alliance appear to have kept it's numerical designation after taking possession of the vessel in Mass Effect 3.
The Shadow Broker is revealed to be one in Lair of the Shadow Broker, the original having been killed and his identity stolen, although his predecessor is hinted not to have been the first either. The dossier about the Shadow Broker hints that he also stole the identity of "Operative Kechlu", the individual sent to kill him after he became a threat to the previous Broker. Finally at the end of the DLC, Liara T'Soni assumes the role of the new Shadow Broker.
According to a comic tie-in, Maya Brooks from the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3 is actually the name of the Cerberus agent that saved "Maya's" life as a child, who she repaid by murdering her and stealing her identity.
The Ace Combat games spans some forty or fifty years, yet we get to see multiple versions of the character Edge. Apparently the same woman had apparently served as a mercenary in 1997, a pilot for a passenger liner some time after 2000, a rookie fighter pilot in 2010, then a NATO pilot, then a different NATO pilot, then defecting in the 2040's.
At the end of every cycle within the Dark Souls universe a new chosen undead appears and sets out on a quest to become the new monarch.
In A Witchs Tale, this is seen in the first playthrough's ending. Liddell is forced to become the new Alice after the current one is killed... whether she wants to or not.
Shelly de Killer is the third assassin to carry the deKiller name.
The original Mask☆DeMasque gets several imitators (since the garish costume is readily available in stores).
Kay Faraday refers to herself as the Second Great Thief Yatagarasu, but she's really the fourth, as the original Yatagarasu was secretly a team of three. During the credits Kay says she plans on finding two people to join her to continue the team.
Umineko: When They Cry: Beatrice, the subtitular Golden Witch, is the second to have that name. The first was Virgilia. Actually, Beatrice is the third to go by the name, although she is initially unaware of her connection to the two previous Beatrices: the first was her grandmother, and the second was her mother/sister.
Parodied in the webcomic Supermegatopia with Captain Mayfly; since mayflies only live about 24 hours, the mantle of Captain Mayfly tends to get passed down very quickly. A relatively straight example is Rocket Bob.
Lampshaded twice in Lightbringer. First main character thought that if he dies, there will be no one to be his Legacy Character, because he's the world's first and only superhero. Later he says to his best friend that she's only person that could replace him if he died.
In Magellan: Bill Banks takes the identity of Victory Man II
This thread (currently still unfinished) in Adventures of Fifine.
From Shifty Look's Wonder Momo'': Momoko is given an upgraded version of the Wonder Momo power suit by an alien who mistook her for the original (despite being two decades younger). Turns out Momoko is the daughter of the original Wonder Momo. Amazonia is a variant: the original Amazonia was Momo's nemesis. After their final battle, a young girl (and Momo fangirl) found Amazonia's power orb and decided she could be a new, heroic Amazonia.
In The Gamers Alliance, Distreyd Thanadar is a hereditary name given to the high cleric of Mardük who comes from the Thanadar bloodline since the end of the Second Age. The only thing differentiating the Distreyds is adding a number after the name (e.g. Distreyd Thanadar XIII). The child of the previous Distreyd kills him and then takes over the title, becoming the next Distreyd Thanadar until their child kills them. Every Distreyd actively encourages their child to kill him and if said child fails in the task, the child as well as his or her mother is executed for being too weak.
Due to its non-sliding timescale, the LessThanThree-Verse abounds in legacy characters, from Uncle Sam I & II (with Miss Liberty in between), to the three American Eagles, to Mr GL and his spiritual successor GL.
In the Whateley Universe, the superhero Champion is like this. The original Champion (back in the '30s and '40s) rescued two kids from a supervillain and gave them part of the Champion Force to keep them from dying (according to Word of God). They became Miss Champion and Champion Junior. When Champion died, he passed the Champion Force on to Champion Junior, who became the second Champion. They get killed eventually. The world is now on Champion number 6, with preparations already made for Champion 7.
One SCP Foundation story (though the canonicity is unverifiable due to the nature of the site) suggests that Clef is a Legacy Character.
Another example is Dr. Wondertainment, which may or may not be a title passed down
The most notable example is Major Liberty. He is the tenth hero to bear that name. The original (an ancestor of the current Major Liberty), fought the British during the American Revolutionary War. Likewise, Golden Eagle is the third hero to bear that name. He is the grandson of the original and the son of the second Golden Eagle.
The Supreme Six is a team of legacy heroes. Calculus, Photon, Omnipresent, Prototype, Stonewall, and Thunderstorm all had at least one superhero parent with whom they share names and powers.
The Grand Lake Heroes League in Legion of Nothing. The League was original made up of former WWII special forces soldiers who came home and kept fighting bad guys. In the Present Day, their children/grandchildren have restarted it, with many of them adopted their forebears identities, and in some cases, enemies.
Played for laughs in Homestarrunner. In the Sbemail "original" Strong Bad mentions that "There've been like twelve King of Towns.", as well as an Original Bubs, Senator Cardgage Bubs (Senor Cardgage filling in for Bubs) Crack Stunt-Bubs (Crack Stuntman filling in for Bubs), and "fan-favorite" Onion Bubs, before the current Bubs took his place. Marzipan at the end of the email reveals that "Strong Bad made it all up".
The Optimus Prime of any given series is almost always a parallel to the original, though generally in another continuity.
Beast Wars Megatron actually paid homage to this trope, with a tendency to refer to the original as "my namesake". Worth noting is that Megatron is one of the few legacy characters who, rather than being offered the mantle, decided he wanted it and just took it. Also worth noting is the fact that Beast Wars Megatron , thanks to time-travel, eventually became the very Megatron that was written about in the Covenant of Primus, the Transformer equivalent of the bible. Given the likelihood that G1 Megatron based his name from the Covenant, this effectively made Beast Wars Megatron the originator of the very legacy he joined. In effect, this is a Legacy example of ending up as your own grandfather.
Megatron: "Megatrons don't surrender, we conquer!"
Optimus Primal, similarly, drew parallels to Optimus Prime, though less often.
The name Prime carries with it a legacy of its own. In most versions of G1, Optimus Prime was preceded by Sentinel Prime and succeeded by Rodimus Prime. Although this works differently in Animated: Magnus is the commanding rank for all Autobots, while Prime is a lower-but-still-pretty-high rank. Thus Sentinel Prime, Optimus Prime, and Rodimus Prime all exists hold the title simultaneously.
WFC/Prime's Megatron has now been established as a legacy character, taking his name from The Fallen, who was originally named Megatronus Prime.
Cannonball, in what is almost certainly a Shout-Out to the Princess Bride example, is the tenth in a line of Cybertronian pirates using that name.
Also hinted at in "Future Tense", where we see a vision of a possible Bad Future where an adult Alexander Xanatos has taken up the mantle of Fox from his mother (complete with the iconic eye tattoo) and devoted himself to bringing down his father, along with the rest of a resistance movement led by Brooklyn. Although that vision of the future turned out to be All Just a Dream, that episode took place slightly before Alex Xanatos was actually born in canon, implying that there might have been at least a grain of truth in it.
The Shredder is made one in the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toon; eventually it is revealed that the Shredder the turtles had been fighting during the first three seasons is actually the third person to take on the mantle. Eventually, Michelangelo's super-hero alter ego Turtle Titan becomes one as well.
An episode of South Park explained that every time Kenny dies a new, identical McCormick is born bearing his name. At the time of that episode it had happened 52 times so far. It's never explained how the new Kennys age so fast. This was probably intended as a gag initially, but the subplot of the Coon vs Coon and Friends story-arc strangely confirms Kenny's immortality powers into canon, instant aging and all. His parents handwave it by saying "We should've never gone to that stupid cult meeting." It is established though that each of the babies are literal reincarnations of the original Kenny (complete with his memories), rather than simply being siblings with the same name.
The cartoon series Batman Beyond revolves entirely around this concept.
The series has another example in the Royal Flush Gang. In their first appearance, Bruce explained to Terry the gang's children are trained to take over the mantle once their elders retire or are sent to prison. In their last appearance, Queen complains that King can't live up to the previous one. He even asked Terry if he knows what it's like living under someone's shadow. Terry said he did.
The first time was when he took the place of Timothy North as the Fearless Ferret. Sound familiar? Turns out though, that the Fearless Ferret was merely a television series.
The second example was the Toshimoru, the original Monkey Master and the founder of Monkey Kung Fu, even though Kung Fu originated in China, not Japan. Throughout the series, Ron's enemy Monkey Fist was out to take up the mantle of the Monkey Master. In the end though, Ron was the one to take up Toshimoru's sword (both figuratively and literally).
In the original Ben 10 series, its revealed that in one possible future, Ben gives his son Ken a second Omnitrix. To further the legacy, Ken wears the same outfit Ben wore as a kid. Also, an evil example occurs with Devlin, Kevin 11's son, who has his father's powers and pretends to be him in his first attack. This ultimately ends up being an ironic legacy to both his own timeline and the Ben 10: Alien Force Timeline, he starts as a villain but joins Ben's team, and the Alien Force Kevin does the same.
The Avatar franchise does this via reincarnation. The responsibilities of learning all the elements, protecting the balance and being a bridge between the Spirit World and the physical world remain, with each successive Avatar treated as a unique being who can access their predecessors as individual Spirit Advisors, or in gestalt in a Super Mode.
The events of the second season finale of The Legend of Korra have ended the first Avatar line, but started a new one with Korra as the 'first' Avatar.
The episode "Downtime" shows Kid Flash at a birthday party for Jay Garrick, the original Flash. Wally's uncle, Barry Allen, is his mentor and the present Flash. In the tie-in comics, Wally explains that Jay was active in the 1940s and '50s as The Flash, while Barry picked up the mantle after duplicating the original Freak Lab Accident that gave Jay his powers—and Wally, in turn, used Barry's notes to replicate the "accident" for a third time. Bart Allen, Barry's grandson, was born with super speed, and his cousin, Wally, officially hands over the Kid Flash mantle to him and then dies the next episode.
In season 2, Impulse uses a similar term when talking about how he and Tim Drake are both part of a heroic legacy.
Speaking of Tim, his legacy is as the third Robin. He's always visibly pleased by the first Robin's approval and is shown lingering at the memorial to the second.
Jaime Reyes also mentions that he is the newest Blue Beetle, with his predecessor Ted Kord having been killed by the Light. "Intervention" explains his legacy in more detail: the scarab originally arrived on Earth thousands of years ago, was magically put "off-mode," and presumably used by the ancient Bialyans. The first modern Blue Beetle was the archaeologist who discovered it, Dan Garrett, in 1939. When Dan died, he bequeathed the scarab to Ted Kord, who realized that it was alien technology, not just an ancient artifact, and locked it up, using his own inventions to fight crime in Dan's memory. When Jaime found the scarab after Ted's death, the League and the Team initially believed it to be another invention of his.
Mal Duncan takes over the Guardian identity, with Word of God confirming he's the third Guardian.
Other legacy characters in the show include Black Canary, Green Lantern, Icicle, Jr. and Doctor Fate. Characters who aren't explicitly using the name of their predecessor but still following in their legacy include Zatanna, Miss Martian, Wonder Girl, and Superboy.
Tigress is a strange example, in that she originated as a fake villainous identity Artemis created that was heavily based on the villainous identities of her mother, Huntress, and her sister, Cheshire, plus moves, weapons, and even drugs taken from her father, Sportsmaster. Tigress has the same acrobatic, Multi-Melee Master ninja girl skill set as Cheshire, with a similar dark-warm color scheme and costume as Huntress. Huntress, Cheshire, and Tigress all have a cat motif, and Cheshire teases Artemis by saying Tigress reminds her of herself. Played straight when Artemis decides to adopt Tigress as her full-time identity, following the death of her boyfriend. In the comics, Tigress (originally called Huntress, until she lost the title to Helena Wayne/was retconned) is a straight legacy character, passed down to Artemis by her mother and grandmother.
There is an episode where Alfred wrote a story about a future where a new Batman had to face a new Joker trained by the original to take over the mantle. As the Joker explained, he didn't have too much time left. (The doctor gave him six months, he gave the doctor six seconds.)
In the Christmastime exclusive series "Santapprentice" Santa Claus adopts an orphan named Nicholas and trains him to be the next Santa Claus. It's assumed that was the case for that Santa, and the one before him, and so on.
On The Venture Bros., there are heroic examples in the super science mantle of the Ventures as well as Captain Sunshine whose predecessor now acts as his butler, though still possessing superpowers of his own. On the villainous side, the Phantomos family line with the heir being the Phantom Limb as well as the Guild of Calamitous Intent passing down the Sovereign title.
Phantom Limb: Who died and made you the giant floating head of everything?
Sovereign: That would be my predecessor, Force Majeure.
The Simpsons "Duffman can never die... Only the actors who play him! Oh yeah!" Later episodes even show that there are multiple Duffmen at the same time:
Duffman: This is the Super Bowl! There are three Duffmen working today!
Duffman #2: Duffman... is going on his break! Oh yeah!
In the She Zow episode "Family Tree", SheZow's Glamazon Power Ring has been passed down from mother to daughter or aunt to niece, since Prehistory, until Guy was the first nephew to wear the ring (although to be fair he unwittingly wore it because he doubted that Aunt Agnes was SheZow).
In The Smurfs, Papa Smurf turns out to be a legacy character, as the Smurf who became known as Grandpa Smurf originally went under the name of Papa Smurf.
Heads of State most closely fit this trope in real life, specifically those with actual influence or power. In most traditional Monarchies the royal sovereign was literally granted Legacy Character status by God and such status was passed down in perpetuity to their heirs. In Republics the Head of State can be viewed as an unchanging personification the nation and its people. Works best in a country with a fairly stable form of government where the character of state can build up sufficient gravitas. Some good contemporary examples are the British Royal Family, The Emperor of Japan and the President of the United States.
Exemplified by the traditional announcement of a monarch's death in Great Britain "The King (or Queen) is Dead... Long Live the King (or Queen)" because the monarch technically never dies as the role immediately passes to the next qualified heir. This is also why the royal standard is never flown at half staff.
Ships, particularly of the naval sort, frequently use the names of illustrious predecessors:
The current oldest in-service US aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise, is the eighth vessel of that name in service. Number 7 was a famous World War II carrier. Numbers 1 and 2 were in the Continental Navy. There is also the 'USS Enterprise' Recruit Barracks at the Great Lakes USN base, which is organized as a ship for administrative purposes. There's also already plans for a ninth ship to bear the name, as CVN-65 is being decommissioned.
The Enterprise space shuttle test vehicle. It would have been the second shuttle to fly, but design changes made the refit prohibitively expensive. This is more a legacy of Star Trek than of the US Navy directly, though.
Ark Royal has been the name of five British naval vessels, four aircraft carriers.
There have been six HMS Victory vessels. Number six is the Trafalgar one, still in commission as a museum ship.
Thirteen ships have borne the name HMS Swift, the last of which was renamed L.E. Orla when it was transferred to the Irish Navy.
There have also been six ships to bear the USS Lexington moniker. The latest one was decommissioned in the 1970s and currently serves as a museum ship in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The Dutch Royal Navy always has, by royal edict, a Jan van Speyk. Named after a naval officer who chose to blow up his ship rather than surrender to the Belgians during the Belgian War of independence.
Likewise, The Spanish Navy always has, by royal decree, one ship called Velasco, after Luis Vicente de Velasco, hero of the 1762 Battle of Havana.
The Australian Navy will have had 5 shipes named HMAS Sydney when the newest Hobart class Air Warfare Destroyers are comissioned in 2013.
Among cruise lines, Holland America Line is particularly fond of reusing former ship names. In particular, the current MS Maasdam and MS Statendam in the Holland America fleet are each the fifth ship to bear their respective names.
Living Mascots often fit this trope. Chesty, the US Marine Corps Bulldog isnote as of 2013 on his 14th incarnation and Bill the Navy Goat is on his 34th.
Ruth Crowley wrote a newspaper advice column under the name Ann Landers, passing the name on to Esther Lederer. Lederer's twin sister, Pauline Phillips, began a competing column as Abigail van Buren. "Dear Abby" continues to this day, now written by Pauline's daughter Jeannie; "Dear Ann Landers," however, was permitted to die with its writer by the mutual wish of her daughter, Margo Howard, and the publishing syndicate.
Margo Howard herself is part of the history of a similar Legacy Character, theSlate website's advice columnist "Dear Prudence." She was the second writer to hold the post; it is now written by Emily Yoffe.
Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the alleged leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist network's Iraqi affiliate group, may be one of these. At least two different people have been identified as al-Baghdadi, and he's been killed at least once. This has led some believe it to be an assumed name that each new leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq assumes when the old leader is killed, allowing foreign terrorists to pass themselves off as domestic Iraqi insurgents.
In a way, a real life historical example is the Roman emperors of antiquity. When Octavian assumed the numerous offices given to him by the senate (who were effectively obliged to gives them to him) he took the honorary title "Augustus", the military title "Imperator" and had already taken the family name "Caesar" from his adoptive father, the assassinated dictator Julius Caesar. When he died and powers passed to his step-son Tiberius, the new emperor on being "voted" his powers by the senate took all of these honorifics to demonstrate himself both a continuation of Caesar Augustus's position in the state and member of his direct family. The Roman emperors continued to take the titles "Imperator" and "Augustus" until the 7th century AD and, even when the Julio-Claudian line descended from Julius Caesar fell from power in 69AD, the name "Caesar" continued to be adopted since it had become so associated with the position of emperor. Thus what had been a family name became a euphemism for an autocratic office.
Actually, Caesar is a cognomen, that is a nickname-turned-family-name.
Tsar is the Russian version of Caesar , and Kaiser the German one.
May also apply to the Roman Empire itself. Various subsequent empires that took over / developed from former parts of the Roman Empire portrayed themselves (with varying degrees of validity) as successors to the Rome Empire. Notable examples are the Holy Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Tzardom of Russia/Russian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire.
The officially-registered makeup patterns, stage names, and personas of professional clowns are passed down from mentor to student, often along family lines.
The reason why so many Popes have numbers after their names is that they take on a new name when they become Pope. Pope John Paul II was, unusually, a legacy of the three previous Popes: John Paul I adopted his papal name in tribute to his two predecessors, Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI.
Franklin W. Dixon (author of The Hardy Boys series) and Carolyn Keene (author of the Nancy Drew series) are pseudonyms; the books have been written by dozens of authors.
Similarly, "Alex Archer", the 'author' of the Rogue Angel series of Lara Croft clone adventures, is actually several authors. Some better than others, it has to be said.
The following Major League Baseball teams are named after minor league clubs which played in the same city before the arrival of the major league club: Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres.
Quite a few Major League Soccer clubs are named after teams from the North American Soccer League, the only top flight league that ever existed in the United States (and Canada) before MLS: Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, San Jose Earthquakes and Vancouver Whitecaps.
The current San Jose Earthquakes qualify as well as they are one of the original MLS Earthquakes that moved to Houston to become the Dynamo.
FC Dallas is named after a minor league club of the same name that existed in the late 1980s & early 1990s.
The Winnipeg Jets in the NHL - two different franchises over a decade apart, but holding the same name. Lesser known is the Ottawa Senators who, in a past incarnation, played in Ottawa prior to the Original Six era.