Legacy Implosion

"I'm a Time Lord. I'm the last of the Time Lords."
- The Ninth Doctor, two episodes into the Doctor Who revival

So, you've got a character with their own series. And they've got a whole supporting cast of characters with similar powers, almost a super-powered family. To make the character more "special", they get rid of all the similar characters.

Inversion of The Chosen Many, where a unique character becomes part of a group of similarly-powered characters. Although a Long Runner (like many comic book series) might go back and forth between the two repeatedly.


DC Comics
  • The two most famous examples both involve The DCU. Has happened repeatedly to Green Lantern, and the Reset Button has been pressed every time. The great Power Battery exploded, leaving only a few Lanterns active. ...but then the Guardians were brought back, rebuilt, and recruited new Corps members. ...so a few years later, Hal Jordan went crazy-evil and killed off most of the Corps, leaving Kyle Rayner as the only one with the power. ...until he got a copy of Hal's original ring, which could create new copies, brought back the Guardians, and recruited new Corps members. And so on.
  • The biggest Post-Crisis change to Superman was the decision that "last son of Krypton" meant last, as in no other Kryptonians ever, period. General Zod becomes a Russian, Kandor becomes an alien ghetto and thus devoid of actual Kryptonians, Power Girl becomes an Atlantean, and Supergirl becomes... uh, you'd better see that entry for yourself. They've lightened up on that in recent years, without returning to constantly tripping over one more Kryptonian a la pre-Crisis comics (or Smallville), as various writers attempted to reclaim the concepts without hitting the Reset Buttonat least, so fa-.
  • Done to the entire Justice Society of America in Last Days of the Justice Society, to get rid of the extra The Flash, extra Green Lantern, extra Hawkman, etc. Naturally, they were brought back several years later. And then most of them were killed off in Zero Hour just to crank up the drama, leaving Wildcat, Jay Garrick (the original Flash), Ted Knight (the original Starman), and Alan Scott (the original Green Lantern).
    • Amazingly, the JSA was rebuilt by three of those four (with Ted Knight retiring permanently and dying at the end of the Starman series), using legacies and the occasional resurrected character. Even then, some resurrected old-school JSA members, such as the first Hourman, who came back during Black Reign, stay retired. The JSA has a lot of legacies.
    • With the New 52, the Justice Society has suffered a major legacy implosion, with the all of the children and grandchildren wiped from existence and the original JSA members becoming young again. The divide between ''Earth2 and the main DCU also has brought up a kind of One Steve Limit, in that The Flash and Green Lantern are the only superheroes with ongoing stories to have versions in both universesnote . Every other superhero is editorially confined to either one continuity or the other. So, for example, The Spectre, traditionally a JSA character, is now in the main DC universe instead of Earth 2 with the rest of the rebooted Golden Age characters.
  • During Infinite Crisis, Bart Allen absorbed the entire Speed Force into himself, and became the only The Flash-style super-speedster. The ensuing series lasted only 13 issues, and ended in favor of a Flash series by Mark Waid, the guy who pretty much built the previous "Flash Family", focusing on Wally West and his superpowered kids.
    • The Flash suffered this again in the New 52. Wally West is who knows where, Jay Garrick is on another Earth, Max Mercury and the Quicks could be either. Bart Allen still exists, but doesn't currently have a real connection to Barry.
  • Following "War Games", Batman's True Companions were imploded piece-by-piece, with the exceptions of marketable stalwarts Robin and Nightwing. Orpheus dead, Spoiler dead for dubious reasons, long-time confidant Leslie Thompkins implicated in killing the latter "to teach Batman a lesson", current Batgirl realizing a Face–Heel Turn, former Batgirl Oracle bombed out of her headquarters and sent away from Gotham City along with her Birds of Prey team, Onyx inexplicably vanished from the books, Commissioner Gordon (who'd already retired by then) moving out of Gotham, the rest of the GCPD pretty much turning against him... Some of these got undone: Steph wasn't really dead, and became the new Batgirl, Cassie turned out to be under mind-control and joined Batman Incorporated as Black Bat, Jim Gordon moved back and was reinstated as commissioner, the GCPD resmued relations with Batman, and Babs returned to the Bat-fold as Batman Inc's computer specialist. As of the New 52, Babs is Batgirl again, however the fate (or existence) of the others is currently unknown. (Word of God is that Stephanie and Cassandra are "toxic"). Both Cassandra and Stephanie later returned, but thanks to the new continuity, neither girl was ever Batgirl.
  • Aquaman's supporting cast were killed off one by one to add drama to the book and boost sales.
  • This was the major criticism of Blackest Night (generally well-received otherwise) and Brightest Day. In the former, the number of non-legacy characters who died and stayed dead was exactly one, Tempest, with other casualties including Hawkgirl II, Hawk II, Damage (one of the numerous inheritors of the original Atom's mantle), Gehenna Hewett (half of Firestorm II), and Doctor Polaris II, the last of these only receiving an offhand mention and never actually being shown. Seeing a pattern here? Brightest Day killed off yet another Atom legacy and Miss Martian was presumed dead for a couple issues, too. The fans didn't take any of this particularly well, and it added more fuel to the Epileptic Trees that the DC suits want the Silver Age back.
    • It got to the point that editor Ian Sattler had to defend the company's commitment diversity in the face of complaints about how DC was systematically killing off its more racially diverse Legacy Characters in order to bring back their white predecessors.
      • The New 52 reboot then tried to answer some of this. Jason Rusch (the black Firestorm) shared ownership of the identity with the original, and Ryan Choi was initially stated to be the only Atom. DC has since backtracked a little by introducing a new, female Atom instead who turned out to be evil.
  • As you might notice above, this happens to Hawkman with some regularity, in varying degrees. It never sticks, and only ever makes the Mind Screw of a Continuity Snarl that is Hawkpersons even more tangled.
  • In The New 52 Jaime Reyes is now the first Blue Beetle. Well, he isn't the first user of the Scarab, but the previous user was a Mayan astronomer, meaning both Dan Garrett and Ted Kord apparently no longer exist.
    • Ted Kord is definitely around running Kord Industries, but he's not a superhero. (Yet?)

Marvel Comics
  • Marvel has done this with Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man. He was killed off in Avengers Disassembled, but almost as soon as he was resurrected in The Children's Crusade, Marvel killed off Eric O'Grady, Lang's successor. Now Lang stars in FF while Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, operates without a Code Name or costume.
  • The same thing happened with The Vision, who also died during Disassembled. As soon as Brian Bendis brought the original Vision back and had him rejoin The Avengers, the teen Vision from Young Avengers had a bridge dropped on him in the finale of The Children's Crusade.
  • Marvel Comics did this to the X-Men with House of M/Decimation; millions of mutants all over the world were depowered, except for 198, supposedly chosen at random. Very few characters anyone cared about at all lost their powers, and those who did gained them back pretty quickly. Recently, a new mutant baby has been born, signaling the return of mutants to the wider Marvel Universe.
  • In a storyline right before Secret Wars (2015), an intelligent version of The Incredible Hulk known as Doc Green ran around the Marvel Universe, depowering all the other gamma-powered characters regardless of alignment, exposure, or popularity. At the end of the storyline, the only remaining gamma mutates were Hulk himself, She-Hulk and the super villain The Leader.

  • The 2005 revival of Doctor Who set up the complete destruction of Gallifrey in its Back Story, leaving the Doctor as the last of the Time Lords, until the Master returned at the end of the third season.
    • Unlike most examples of this trope, however, Doctor Who's Legacy Implosion has (a) been reasonably popular and (b) stuck. This was because (a), the new series is phenomenally popular, and a large faction of fans of the older one viewed the Time Lords as a dull culture with a severe tendency to provoke Continuity Lock-Out. And as for (b), the only Time Lords seen in the new series were the Master, and a Shadow Archetype seems like a reasonable exception to a "last of the..." rule, and some others brought back briefly and temporarily by Time Travel. At some point Gallifrey might be brought back, who knows, but six seasons and counting is a longer duration of this implosion than most.
    • Though Gallifrey was eventually saved, absolving the Doctor the guilt of the genocide, it remains stuck in a pocket dimension, preserving the same effect as far as plots are concerned. The exception so far is, once again, the Master.