Passing the Torch

"Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high."
John McCrae, In Flanders Fields

The Hero wishes to leave the business. Perhaps the thrill is gone. Perhaps he wants to settle down and marry more than he wants to adventure. Perhaps he knows that age or injury has slowed him down too much; he can not do the job anymore.

But the job has to be done. It's time to pick a new leader.

The Hero, therefore, formally hands the work over to someone else who can do the job. Perhaps a sidekick promotion or a former apprentice. A Legacy Character may involve this.

Usually, the immediate problem is gone, and the hero is leaving on a high note, but both he and his successor are aware that the problem or that type of problem will happen again; he has not fixed the world. Therefore, the Master-Apprentice Chain is about to take effect.

If the hero wants to leave, this can form a Happy Ending. The less he wants it, the more a Bitter Sweet Ending it is.

Differs from Take Up My Sword in that the hero is still around and may be up to the role of Old Master. If the hero dies very quickly afterward, it can overlap with Take Up My Sword. However, it usually happens in the beginning or middle of a story; Passing The Torch is usually an Ending Trope. The only time it can happen at the beginning is if he were the hero in the backstory (or prior installment) and in the main story is already the Mentor Archetype.

May be physically embodied in an object that the retiring hero gives the new one.

Opposite of 10-Minute Retirement and He's Back.

Subtrope to Changing of the Guard, where the role of main character changes for any reason or by any procedure. Passing The Torch requires either the Hero to be part of the succession planning and/or handing off the office either personally or by explicit proxy.

See also Spinoff Sendoff‎, a way of "passing the baton" from one series to another.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Fan Works 
  • The Legend of Spyro fanfic Passing The Torch has this as it's basic plot. An elderly Spyro meets with the next Purple Dragon, Asuka, when she turns twelve years old. He then informs her of what she really is and what is expected of her, helping her accept the responsibility that comes with it. It turns out waiting to do this was the only thing keeping him alive, and he finally lets his body give out and die now that he's passed his role on.
  • The Superjail! fanfic Extended Stay ends with this. Now that the Warden and the Mistress have successfully conquered the world, they leave their twins Matilda and Ethan, who have come of age at twenty years old, with the responsibility of running Ultraprison and Superjail respectively. Meanwhile, the long-time married duo move into the White House with their other son Edward.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: The new generation of Element-Bearers each meet their predecessor's spirit and learn their true identities when they earn their respective Element.

    Films - Animation 
  • In Epic the life of the forest has to do this every hundred years. The film opens on the very day Queen Tara is to choose her heir.
  • The end of Disney's Tarzan.
    "Take care of them... my son."
  • Toy Story 3 ends with Andy giving all of his toys to the young Bonnie, daughter to a friend of his mom's, before he goes off to college.
  • In An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, it's implied that law dog Wylie Burp trained Tiger to be his replacement. As he says at the end; "Just remember Fievel, one man's sunset is another man's dawn."
  • A minor example occurs in Cars 3 when Lightning McQueen decides to let his former trainer Cruz Ramirez take over for him mid-race during the Florida 500, so she can fulfill her racing dream and prove Sterling wrong.

    Music 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Lou Thesz wanted to pass the National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship belt to Rikidozan, but as the champion, who he defends it against and where were decided by the collective votes of the NWA members and Rikidozan was based in Japan, which only has one, this obviously did not happen. So Thesz decided to pass the World Heavyweight Title to his student, Dick Hutton, and crated the NWA International Heavyweight Title for the purpose of losing it to Rikidozan, who was forever grateful. Rikidozan went on to become quite possibly the biggest star pro wrestling has ever seen, but Hutton was deemed a weak draw with no charisma by the NWA and replaced with Pat O'Connor, who ran into legal troubles and was succeeded by Buddy Rogers, who pissed off so many promoters they asked Thesz to come back, which Thesz did.
  • Pretty much every wrestler with a Tiger Mask gimmick or some derivative of it was approved of by Satoru Sayama, except the Black Tigers, of course.
  • Yoshiaki Fujiwara to Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki, whom he deemed his top students in professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. Suzuki also has strong allusions to Karl Gotch. Masakatsu Funaki would go on to pass it to Yuki Kondo, which sadly ended up not going too far in retrospect.
  • Randy Savage set up his own wrestling promotion for the purpose of losing to Antonio Banks. While said company folded before this could actually take place, Banks would take note and later pass the torch to Kofi Kingston in WWE (not that it did much good in the long run).
  • Eddie Guerrero had such a moment with Low Ki, insisting that Low Ki beat him clean at Impact Championship Wrestling. Low Ki wouldn't quite go to Eddie's level of super stardom, he's never been a Black Tiger or anything, but he has become well established in some of the same venues as Eddie, such as New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
  • Discussed in TNA when Raven declared Kevin Sullivan too late to pass his torch, boasting he had become more evil than him already.
  • Kazushi Sakuraba ended his career in PRIDE without a candidate to hold his torch, but Olympic judoka Hidehiko Yoshida was chosen by the management to become the next native star.
  • Bull Nakano passed the torch to Yuzuki Aikawa and Hikaru Shida by putting the comparative newcomers in the main event of her own retirement show.
  • Jerry Lynn wanted to pass the torch to Mike Bennett in Ring of Honor, but after Maria Kanellis interfered in their match he decided to just praise the promotion's young talent in general.
  • At the Masters Of The Ring Entertainment Lasting Legacy: A Tribute to Women In Wrestling expo dedicated to WWF, WCW and GLOW veterans, Just Cause Pro Wrestling held a tournament between more active title contenders and Ivory, representing the former generation, handed presented a trophy to eventual winner, NWA World Women's Champion Santana Garrett.
  • In the March 14, 2016 episode of Monday Night RAW, Mick Foley comes to Dean Ambrose and not only tells him to take him a tour of all the pain he's been through over the years, but gives him a little something extra. That extra is the barb wire bat!

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the Sesame Street episode, So Long, Mr. Hooper, As Big Bird whines and complains about the death of Mr. Hooper that who would take over Hooper's Store. And David replies "Big Bird, I am going to take care of the store. Mr. Hooper left it to me. I will make you your birdseed milkshakes, and we will tell you stories and see you are okay."
    • Same thing happened in 1989 when David left to live with his grandmother in a farm in Florida in 1989 after Northern Calloway's health issues (He died in 1990), And David gave the store to the retired firefighter, Mr. Handford.
    • In 1998, Mr. Handford quietly passed the torch to Alan and became the new owner of Hooper's Store.
  • In the The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss episode, "Mrs. Zabarelli's Holiday Baton", after directing the Jingle Day pageant for 49 years, Mrs. Zabarelli retires and gives the job and her baton to her prize student, Annie DeLoo. The episode ends in the future, with an elderly Annie passing the job and the baton to her prize student, Arianna.

    Sports 
  • Happened symbolically during the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games. Seven British Olympians nominated seven young up-and-coming athletes to light the Olympic Flame in their stead, literally passing the torch to them in the process.
    • In the 2016 Rio Games, Michael Phelps retires and leaves 19-year old prodigy Katie Ledecky to step up to the plate. Perhaps best exemplified by this photoset

    Toys 
  • In BIONICLE, Turaga are created when Toa do this. This serves a number of simultaneous purposes: a new generation of Toa can appear, the wisdom and guidance of the prior generation of Toa is preserved and passed down, and it also allows the Toa to use a Game-Breaker like giving up their powers so as to save all of the known Matoran from Makuta's sleep spell.

    Video Games 
  • In Kira-Kira Curtain Call, Shikanosuke's sister, Yuko, becomes the bassist of d2b after Shikanosuke graduates, even donning a similar stage costume.
  • Subverted in the ending of King's Quest III (and the beginning of King's Quest IV). Graham, swept up in the joy of being reunited with both his children, takes off his trusty adventurer's cap and tosses it at them, with the idea that the one who catches it will take up adventuring. He ends up having a heart attack as it's in mid-air. The cap falls to the floor, and neither child picks it up. It does, however, lead into Rosella setting off to save her dad, and putting the hat back on him on her triumphant return, saying her dad's still got a few more adventures in him. She turns out to be right.
    • The 2015 reboot of King's Quest ends like this too, except Graham's death from old age is final this time - no magic fruit, no last-minute save, and it's his grand-daughter Gwen who is taking up his cap.
  • In Left 4 Dead 2, after Bill dies, the original survivors stop trying to get to the military and are now heading to the island, resulting in them sort of passing the torch to the new survivors. There's even achievement saying it after to beat the Passing.
  • In the evil ending of inFAMOUS 2, the Beast felt guilty and tired of killing people and decided to transfer his powers to Cole to carry out the plan he started.
    The Beast: I can't do this anymore.
    Cole: WHAT!?
  • In the very beginning of Dark Souls, you meet Almost Dead Guy Oscar, knight of Astoria, who asks you to ring the Bells of Awakening in his stead.
  • The ending to Thief: Deadly Shadows strongly hints towards this, although anything definite is purely in the realm of fan speculation.
  • In Mass Effect, David Anderson is revealed to have been a candidate for the position of first human Spectre, but because of Saren's hatred of humanity, he intentionally sabotaged the mission that was meant to prove Anderson's worth. Twenty years later, Anderson's protege, Commander Shepard, picks up where his/her mentor left off; being made a Spectre in order to track Saren down after he publicly went rogue and began attacking human colonies.
  • Several examples in the Assassin's Creed games. In the second game, Giovanni Auditore da Firenze is arrested on trumped up charges of treason (naturally, the Templars are behind this). When his son Ezio visits him in jail, Giovanni tells Ezio about a secret room behind the fireplace and the chest there. In the chest, Ezio finds his father's assassin robes and weapons. Unfortunately, he lacks the necessary training to save his father and brothers from execution. In the third game, Achilles Davenport is an old man living out the rest of his days in his homestead having failed to keep the Templars out of the New World. Along comes a half-Mohawk boy seeking to save his people and avenge his mother's death. Downplayed in that it takes many years of training before Achilles deems Connor ready to put on the robes of the first New World Assassin, which were passed down to Achilles himself. Oh, and that moment is when Connor finds Achilles's body in his house, having finally succumbed to old age. At the end of Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Ezio strips off his Assassin gear and uses an Apple to communicate with his descendant Desmond, effectively passing him the torch.
  • Twenty minutes into Phantasy Star Nova, your captain, Magnus, dies. Action Girl Fieldia subsequently takes Magnus's place as captain of your ship.
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Tribunal deity Vivec, having spent the last 4000 years watching over and protecting the people of Morrowind, passes this responsibility onto the Nerevarine at the end of the main quest.
    Vivec: "There are lesser monsters and villains of all kinds who prey upon the people... The Tribunal and the Temple are happy to yield to you the duties of fighting the enemies of Morrowind."

    Web Comics 
  • Eugene Greenhilt in The Order of the Stick, passes on the quest to kill Xykon to his son Roy when he gets too old to carry it out. He has an ulterior motive though; Eugene swore a Blood Oath to kill Xykon, so he can't move onto the afterlife until the lich is dead.
    • It's subverted in that the prequel On The Origin of PCs shows Eugene doesn't think Roy can do it. He just told Roy about the oath so Roy can tell his little sister (Who took up wizardry) and have her do it. Bonus content in print collections show that even now he just hopes the best Roy can do is find some useful intel on Xykon.
  • In Pacificators, it's very strongly implied to be the case between Daryl Smithson and her very famous grandmother Helen. Helen has given Daryl her special staff, and Daryl is strongly implied to have inherited her grandmother's talents.
  • Magick Chicks: Faith abdicates her position as student council president to Melissa, near the end of chapter 15, after learning she'd been subconsciously effecting the rest of the student body. Then used her power to launch Melissa and Sandi outside the spell circle, entrusting Melissa to save Artemis in her stead.
  • In Guilded Age, Harky passes on the magical gem that made him an avatar of his god to Penk in order to make him an avatar and a worthy Champion.

    Web Original 
  • In Noob: Le Conseil des Trois Factions, Amaras gives up his guild's command to someone else near the end. While he admits to have wanted to retire from his leadership position for while, events more or less force him to transfer command to someone who wasn't excatly his first choice.
  • In the Red Panda Adventures, after coming back from fighting behind enemy lines in Europe, the Red Panda starts operating with an eye towards retirement once the World War II is over and things have settled down. Kit notes he's looking at the Danger Federation, a collection of rookie superheroes, and Mr. Amazing, one of its more powerful members, as retirement plans. However the DF is spread out across Canada and Mr. Amazing doesn't survive the war. A successor is eventually found in the form of the Black Eagle, whose secret identity is someone who has been in the Red Panda's circle since he was a little boy.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • In Batman Beyond, Terry McGinnis takes up the mantle of Batman some years after aging had forced Bruce Wayne to retire. It's downplayed in that Bruce isn't completely gone from the scene, acting the role of Mission Control. When Barbara Gordon (former Batgirl, now commissioner) returns to the Batcave to warn Batman, she isn't sure which of them she should be speaking to.
  • Both subverted and parodied in Kim Possible, when Timothy North reveals that he was once "The Fearless Ferret" and convinces Ron Stoppable to take up the Ferret mantle (fun fact; Will Friedle played both Ron and Terry McGinnis). Turns out that North was just an actor in a series who became deluded when his show was canceled.
  • In the finale of The Animals of Farthing Wood, Fox passes on the role of leader of the animals to his grandson, Plucky.
  • In the future episode of The Batman, Nightwing assists an older, Dark Knight Returns-esque Batman in battle against Mr. Freeze. When it becomes clear that Batman isn't as efficient as he used to be; Nightwing suggests maybe it's time to pass the torch. Batman however, being the stubborn bastard he is, replies that he would pass the torch when "the mission" (i.e. to ensure Gotham's protection) is over, to which Nightwing dryly notes will never happen.
  • In The Venture Bros. episode "Every Which Way But Zeus", Desmond, Captain Sunshine's butler is revealed to have been the original Captain Sunshine, and the modern one was his Wonderboy. Dragoon states that he arched him back in the 1960's in his heyday. Of course he has retained all his powers but is still a weak old man.
  • Nebula of Winx Club has become the new Queen of Tir Nan Og after Morgana stepped down from the throne.
  • One episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold has a vision of a future where an older Batman get married and starts a family. He then passed the mantle of Batman to Nightwing, and it gets passed down the line.
  • An elderly Katara does this in The Legend of Korra:
    Katara: "Aang's time has passed. My brother and many of my friends are gone. It's time for you and your generation to take on the responsibility of keeping peace and balance in the world. But I think you're going to be a great Avatar. Goodbye, Korra.
  • In the pilot of The Mighty Ducks, Canard, the original captain of the team passes on his mask to Wildwing before sacrificing himself to save the team.
  • Assassin's Creed: Embers ends with Ezio having well and truly left the Assassin life behind him, but with a younger Assassin heading off with enemies of her own to take down.
  • Blue's Clues's Steve eventually left the show (because of him starting to lose his hair) and passed the torch on to Joe, wishing him luck in finding the rest of the clues.
  • The premise of Hammerman was a retired hero passing the torch to a successor, the main character.
  • At the end of the Thomas the Tank Engine special, The Adventure Begins, Glynn, the original #1 engine, passes down his branch line and his number to Thomas.
    Glynn: "Look after the branch line, Thomas, and wear that number with pride!"
  • A literal version in the Canadian short Hot Stuff where the first person to possess fire passed it on to future generations in this manner.

    Real Life 
  • The whole reason for a new creative team taking over Star Wars as of Episode VII. George Lucas was batting around the idea of a sequel trilogy for years but couldn't decide if he should go through with it or move on to other projects. When Disney approached him about making a sequel series he decided to pass on his creation to the next generation of filmmakers, thus keeping the universe he created alive while allowing him to retire from the franchise (of course the alternate theory is that Lucas was Kicked Upstairs after Disney bought Lucasfilm, and they proceeded with or without his approval).

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PassingtheTorch