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.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Simon gives his Core Drill to Gimmy in the final episode.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX starts with this happening as Yugi Muto hands Judai Yuki a card and wishes him luck; the series' finale suggests there may be a Stable Time Loop involved.
  • Layla passes on her starring role at Kaleido Stage to Sora at the end of the first season of Kaleido Star (even though Sora remains the main character), having to drop out of the Stage after a shoulder injury sustained during intensive training for their Legendary Great Maneuver required surgery and made her unable to perform.
  • Fujiwara no Sai in Hikaru no Go disappears a baffling fifteen episodes before the end of the series, appearing only once more, in Hikaru's dream in the last episode. From inner monologues in previous episodes, we can assume that he's letting Hikaru take his place in the search for the Divine Move. He never does speak, but, in a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, he hands Hikaru his fan.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure could be the best manga example of this trope, having featured no less than six starring heroes. Sometimes the previous one retires himself, but it's more frequent that they just give up the lead and turn into a side character. (Each main character taking on the nickname JoJo (based on their alliterative names) is symbolic of the changeover.) This is most apparent with Joseph Joestar, who is the protagonist of Battle Tendency, becomes a part of the group of heroes in Stardust Crusaders, and is fully Demoted to Extra in Diamond is Unbreakable. This ends after Stone Ocean and the Cosmic Retcon; the next two JoJos have barely any relation to each other.
  • In Naruto: Shippuden, there was an entire theme that the world had to be passed on to the younger generation. At least, until several older ninja showed up with uber-ninja-techniques.
  • According to bonus material included with the DVDs of GaoGaiGar FINAL Grand Glorious Gathering, this would have happened after GaoGaiGar FINAL had the sequel series ("Project Z") not been canceled. With Guy and 3G apparently dead, Mamoru and Kaidou would've taken up the roles as lead heroes and Super Robot pilots at the helm of a new Earth-made robot called GaoGaiGo. While what exactly they were supposed to be piloting it against isn't clear, promotional pictures hint at an odd twist to the trope, namely one image that shows Genesic GaoGaiGar coming out of the sun, with an added implication that it may have been the villain of the series. Thankfully for GaoGaiGar fans, the story was eventually picked up in a series of light novels.
  • In Strike Witches, Mio reveals that this is her ultimate goal in regards to Yoshika. It bombs when both Mio and Yoshika appear to lose their powers by the end of the second season. But Yoshika's powers return in the Movie, so it might work out.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Master Roshi (Or rather, Jackie Chun) passes the torch onto the younger generation, including Goku, Yamcha, Krillin, and Tenshinhan. He officially retires at the start of the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament, saying that he was no longer their master. They still wear his colors in honor of him.
    • Son Goku tries to pass the torch to his son Gohan in the Cell-arc. Gohan, however, has no love for fighting and constantly slacks off, wanting to live a peaceful life. Goku tries again with his second son Goten and his rival's son Trunks. They lose the passion for fighting when they reached their teen years. So, he trains his granddaughter Pan and the reborn Kid Buu, Uub, to be his successors. The anime-only sequel, GT, mostly ignored this.
  • After their high school graduation, the four original girls of the Light Music Club in K-On! pass the torch to Azusa and her new band members, Ui and Jun, by running away laughing while the three new girls play "Fuwa Fuwa Time" in the background. The original four likely face a happy future since they have been accepted at the same prestigious women's university, but it still feels slightly bittersweet.
  • Eye Shield 21. Hiruma, Kurita, and the other second-years graduate. Hiruma, as team captain, passes leadership onto Sena, who leads the team a successful season the next year.
  • In the finale of Rurouni Kenshin, Kenshin who is now married to Kaoru with a child and is unable to perform Hiten Mitsurugi Ryuu, passes his sakabato onto an older and wiser Yahiko.
  • Bleach displays an interesting take on this trope. Ichigo is the main character set up from the start to take out Aizen. Simple enough, except it turns out that some characters have a very different view of how the story should be, or is, unfolding. It's only at the end of Gin's life that we ever see the situation with Aizen from his point-of-view and it turns out his interpretation of the story was a little different to everyone else's. He believed he was the only one who was capable or even allowed to defeat Aizen and spent over a century plotting it. When he realised just how successfully Aizen had broken Ichigo's self-belief and resolve, he was even more convinced only he could defeat Aizen. Unfortunately for him, his revenge was part of Aizen's plan so he fails. As Aizen leaves him for dead, he spots the newly arrived and powered-up Ichigo. Upon seeing the strength in Ichigo's eyes, he realises that he is finally free to pass the torch (for defeating Aizen) onto Ichigo and dies. Gin was never the hero of Bleach, or even a good guy, but apparently inside his own head he was, and Ichigo was his successor.
  • While it doesn't happen to the main characters, in Pokémon Ash's former Lapras becomes leader of its herd in the episode where Ash reunites with it.
  • Subverted in Fairy Tail — Makarov wants to pass on leadership of the guild to Gildarts after quite a bit of setup, but he decrees in a letter that Makarov is now the new master.
  • Code Geass:Lelouch passes on Zero's helmet to Suzaku in the finale episode so that Suzaku can carry on as a 'knight of justice'.
  • This is the Central Theme in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS: even though the title character has no plans of retiring yet, she recognizes the need to train a new generation of worthy successors to herself and other Aces preemptively and devotes most of the season to just that (in-between fighting the new villains, adopting/saving her daughter, etc.). As later seasons show, she did a damn good job, too: her two star students go on to become aces of the Bureau in their own right, and her favorite even takes two students of her own (though the first apprenticeship doesn't work out with her for unrelated reasons).
  • Space Patrol Luluco has a meta example. In The Stinger for the very last episode, Luluco, now going as Miss Trigger, flying past and high fiving Akko Kagari, and announcing the Little Witch Academia anime.
  • In My Hero Academia, protagonist Izuku is one of the few powerless people in a world where Everyone Is a Super, until he meets All Might, the world's greatest hero, and learns that a old injury has put a limit on how long he can use his superpowers. Seeing the spark of a true heroic spirit in the boy, All Might grooms Izuku to become his successor, not only passing on his power but hoping that Izuku can become the next big hero and the "Symbol of Peace". However, it's not a full torch-passing because All Might retains his own powers, at least until he expends the last of his power fighting his Evil Counterpart All For One, at which point he's forced to retire from heroics completely.

  • In Astro City, the hero Jack-in-the-Box learns that his wife is pregnant, and various possible sons appear from the future. His death as a superhero had harmed them all. He passes the torch to another young man, without his familial responsibilities.
  • In Justice Society of America, Hourman's son took up the mantle after his father's death. When time-travel allows the father to be saved, the son offers to hand back the role; the father refuses it, because he wishes to retire and make his wife happy.
  • In Watchmen, the first Nite Owl handed off the heroship to a fan of vigilantes and nocturnal fowl, and retires to be a mechanic and neighborhood old guy. Until his head is bashed in by a mob of punks for being thought to be related to the controversial Badass Normal and Well-Intentioned Extremist Rorschach, that is.
  • Variation in Batman: Jason became Robin because Batman willed it so, without it having anything to do with Nightwing (Robin I), but in some versions Jason's place was confirmed when Dick gave Jason his old Robin uniform, recognizing him as Robin.
    • According to Marv Wolfman, around the time Jason Todd was introduced, one of the Batman writers wanted to de-age Dick Grayson and return him to being Batman's sidekick. As writer on Teen Titans, DC's hottest property at the time, Wolfman wielded a lot of power, and suggested that instead, Dick Grayson could move on to a new identity and a new Robin could be introduced as a publicity stunt (since that sort of thing had never really happened before).
    • Dick also does this with Tim, although the gift comes years after Tim became Robin and Dick started thinking of him as his little brother. Tim is nevertheless quite moved by the gesture.
    • It actually happened a lot sooner. After Jason's death (which SERIOUSLY messed up Bruce's head) Tim even tried to convice Dick to come back to the role in an effort to keep Batman from becomming too dark and possibly crossing the line. Dick refused and basically told him "Why don't you do it?"
    • When Cassandra Cain becomes Batgirl, Barbara Gordon/Oracle, who was the original Batgirl, is the one to give her the costume, though Cass doesn't wear it.
    • The passing of torch between Barbara and Cass serves as a contrast with the previous time a new Batgirl had appeared, a few months earlier; Barbara discovered there'd been a new Batgirl and Batman had not so much told her about it.
      Barbara [to Batman]: How could you do this to me! There's a woman out there with my legs, my identity, my job!
    • Babs also gives a new Batgirl costume based on hers to Stephanie Brown.
  • Donna Troy, the first Wonder Girl, gave her costume to Cassie Sandsmark, who at the time was fighting crime in a Wonder Woman T-shirt and denims. However, Cassie was so overwhelmed she never wore it in case it got damaged.
  • Doctor Strange inherited the title of Sorcerer Supreme from the Ancient One, and he in turn passed it on to Brother Voodoo. After Voodoo was killed in a Heroic Sacrifice, the office sat vacant for a while before the Ancient One appeared to Strange and gave his title back to him.
  • Captain America has done this (willingly) twice. The first was, after his return from seeming death after Civil War, he allowed Bucky Barnes to keep going as Captain America, which lasted until Fear Itself. The second one had him pass the title to Sam Wilson, the Falcon, after he loses his Super Soldier Serum, reverting him to an old man.
  • A more somber version happens in Zero Hour. After Extant runs roughshod on the Justice Society, deaging and killing many, the active survivors retire, with the Alan Scott Green Lantern giving Kyle Rayner his ring (which is lost and destroyed an issue later) and Starman giving his Cosmic Rod to his eldest son. Superman realizes there that things aren't the same now...
  • Ultimate Spider-Man did this a little more properly: When Peter Parker came Back from the Dead, he was not thrilled at Miles Morales being Spider-Man. However, after the two finally put an end to the menace of the Green Goblin, Peter decides to fully retire and gives Miles his blessing.
  • In The Final Days of Superman, Post-Flashpoint Superman finds himself dying with him not being able to stop it. So he takes Supergirl to the Fortress of Solitude and asks her to take over for him, before giving her the key to the Fortress. Although he doesn't actually die, Kara effectively carries on his legacy.
    Superman: Make me proud, Kara.
    Supergirl: You can count on that, cousin.

    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.

    Film - Animated 
  • 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."

    Film - Live Action 
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, at the beginning, Quartermain is able to shoot one of their enemies; at the end, he must instead coach Sawyer through it. He explicitly acknowledges that he is passing the torch.
  • In The Dark Knight, Batman wishes to retire and thinks he can pass the mantle of protecting Gotham to Harvey Dent. Bruce explicitly tells Alfred he really likes Dent because he's a much better hero.
  • At the end of The Dark Knight Rises, Batman retires by faking his death, but leaves instructions for Officer Robin John Blake to find the Batcave, making him the new Batman.
  • Subverted in the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. In the film's final scene, Mutt Williams (AKA Henry Jones III) picks up Indy's hat and goes to put it on, only for Indy to snatch it back and put it on himself.
  • At the end of The Princess Bride, it's implied that Westley will pass on the role of 'Dread Pirate Roberts' to Inigo Montoya. He explains that this has already happened several times:
    Westley: Roberts had grown so rich, he wanted to retire. 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 is 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."
  • Captain Kirk's final log entry in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country states that with this last mission, the Enterprises history and posterity will be passed on to a new generation, also correcting himself when giving the famous intro speech, talking about where no man - where no one - has gone before.
    • This happens at the end of the new Star Trek when Pike formally hands over command to Kirk.
    • A variation occurs in Star Trek: Generations when Picard watches Kirk die. Fans described this as the passing of the torch to the Next Generation.
  • At the end of Hook, Peter chooses one of the Lost Boys to be the new leader.
  • At the end of Men in Black, Agent Kay gives Agent Jay the neuralyzer to use on him because he wants to retire from the MIB. Earlier, he told Jay he would let him have it "When he grew up."
  • Twice in The Godfather trilogy, a new Don raises when the aged one steps down as head of the family and delegates the power while still councils around. Not an actual hero succession though, but a Villain Protagonist one.
  • An alternate ending to The Legend of Zorro takes place a number of years later, when Alejandro and Eléna's son Joaquin is grown up. The gray-haired parents watch with pride as Joaquin puts on the Zorro costume and rides off into the sunset. According to Word of God, this was changed to Zorro himself putting on the costume in order to allow for more sequels with the same actors.
    • The whole point of The Mask of Zorro, of which The Legend of Zorro is a sequel, is the training of Alejandro by Eléna's father Diego to be the next Zorro.
  • In the Ghost Rider film there's a passing of the torch moment between Ghost Rider and his wild-west era predecessor, the Phantom Rider.
    • The "torch" in question is a shotgun.
  • In Galaxy of Terror, the Master of the Pyramid allows himself to be killed by the protagonist, so he can succeed him.
  • The film Starsky & Hutch ends with the original actors handing over their car to their rebooted versions.
  • In Galaxy Quest, Jason Nesmith's parting words to Mathesar as he and the other actors-turned-heroes leave for home:
    Mathesar: We were hoping you could come with us. Our people have no commander.
    Nesmith: Mathesar, I think your people have a great commander.
  • In Green Lantern, Hal Jordan becomes the titular hero, after the previous protector of this sector, Abin Sur, hands him the Green Lantern ring and the power battery before expiring. While we aren't shown much about Abin Sur, the other Green Lanterns claim he had a great many accomplishments, including the capture of Parallax. In comparison, they view Hal as a Puny Earthling, who allows fear to guide his actions, a big "no-no" for a Green Lantern.
  • In the Wonkavator scene of Charlie And the Chocolate Factory Wonka decides to give the entire Wonka chocolate factory to Charlie. And make Charlie the owner (Wonka would never work at the factory forever, Because he does not want to try.)
    Grandpa Joe: WHAT?!? You're giving the entire chocolate factory to Charlie?!? But why?!?
    Wonka: Because I can't work here forever. And I really don't want to try!

  • Older Than Feudalism: In The Bible, Elijah passed on his powers to his understudy Elisha by literally passing the mantle to him after being taken up into the sky by flaming horses sent by God.
    • Similarly, Jesus passes the torch to his disciples after raising from the dead, but before ascending into Heaven. The disciples, who have up to this point been mostly incompetent, pull it together and kick-start the early church in a powerful way.
    • And even before either of those, Moses put Joshua in charge of leading the people of Israel when he was allowed to go no further.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, BIG time, with Dumbledore explaining to Harry about Voldemort's Horcruxes, and including him in the mission to find and destroy them. After Dumbledore's death, Harry and his friends take up the task. Later, in Deathly Hallows, Harry clues in Neville to take his place as he goes off to die.
    • Neville does this twice, taking over as leader of Dumbledore's Army and the general rebellion against the Death Eaters while Harry wanders around looking for souls to reave.
  • Used to a heartbreaking effect in the end of The Road.
  • In Deltora Quest Lief's father has a crippled leg from a tree falling on him so he isn't able to go look for the gems in the Belt of Deltora. He passes the Belt-and the duty-to Lief and Barda the "beggar" who lives outside the forge and spies on the Grey Guards talking about the plans of the Shadow Lord.
  • Halfway through the Warrior Cats Expanded Universe novel Bluestar's Prophecy, Pinestar, leader of ThunderClan runs off to be a housecat and passes the torch to Sunfall.
    • Also, at the end of Sunrise Leafpool is forced to give up being medicine cat and Jayfeather becomes medicine cat instead.
  • Codex Alera has a rather enforced variant of this. 80% of the previous generation of leadership has died at the end of the Vord War, including Gaius Sextus.
  • Eventually going to (and in the process of) happen in the Star Wars Expanded Universe as the movie heroes die from old age; though the number of people to pass the torch too is running low after several novel series of killing or writing off the new generation.
  • In Dagger-Star by Elizabeth Vaughan, Red Gloves liberates the land of Palins from a tyrant, and is Offered the Crown, but she just wants to retire in peace and marry her beloved Josiah, plus politics is not her thing. She notes that hardly anyone has actually seen her in person, and that a girl named Gloriana is both knowledgeable in politics and fits the description of The Chosen One like her. Red passes her name and signature gloves to Gloriana, who becomes Queen with most of the people none the wiser. By the time of the book Destiny's Star, Gloriana has become a swordswoman roughly as skilled as Red Gloves.
  • In The Final Reckoning, the last novel in Robin Jarvis' Deptford Mice trilogy, the Starwife chooses Audrey to be her successor and tricks her into performing a ritual that irrevocably ties her to the position, whether she likes it or not. She doesn't at first, but gradually accepts it as the powers of the Starwife begin to manifest themselves within her.
  • The Elenium:
    • Kurik's family has served as squires to the Sparhawk family for several generations, so when Kurik is killed by Adus, his son Khalad takes on his father's duties.
    • Dolmant's rise to the rank of Archprelate upon the death of Cluvonius.
    • This is not counting Ehlana and Avin, who become Queen of Elenia and King of Thalesia, respectively, upon the death of their respective fathers.
  • Done between an elderly Bilbo Baggins and his younger cousin Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring, albeit with a little reluctance. Bilbo, who has retired to Rivendell, at first offers to take up the quest that Frodo ultimately accepts. But it's clear that the old Hobbit's adventuring days are past, and Bilbo passes on his Dwarvish armor and Elvish blade to his successor.
  • In Parzival, the poem ends with Parzival becoming the new Grail King.
  • It turns out that the tour of the Wonka Factory in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a Secret Test for Willy Wonka to find a good, honest child whom he can train as his successor and thus pass the torch of running his factory to, as he is Older Than They Look and has no family. Depending on the adaptation, the story ends either with Charlie simply becoming Mr. Wonka's protege (as in the book) or this trope taking effect immediately and making Charlie a Grade-School CEO.
  • An essential part of The Giver's relationship with the Receiver. Every Receiver accepts the job with the understanding that he/she will eventually become the next Giver, with the task of passing on the accumulated memories to the next Receiver.
  • At the end of the first book of the Erebus Sequence, the protagonist declares that he'll be leaving. He puts his friends in charge and says that he may return if people give them too much trouble. The second book, therefore, shifts its focus to one of those friends, with the first protagonist remaining off-stage until the very end.
  • At the end of Clare Vanderpool's novel Moon over Manifest, Hattie Mae Macke, whose column about local news appears in Manifest's local newspaper, hands it over to Abilene Tucker, who has spent the summer learning about her father's history in Manifest before she was born.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Power Rangers / Super Sentai:
    • Before PR began replacing the entire cast wholesale every season like its source material, it tended to do this with a few people at a time every so often as cast members got tired of the strict filming schedules, low pay, and career pigeonholing. In fact, the episodes in season 5 where this happened were actually named "Passing the Torch" pt. 1 and 2.
    • Starting around 2005, Super Sentai includes a small Stinger with each season finale showing the outgoing and incoming Red Rangers briefly interacting, symbolically handing off the franchise to the next season.
      • This actually seems to have been a discarded concept for Kamen Rider: a special scene was filmed wherein Kamen Rider 555's Takumi Inui literally passes the baton to Kamen Rider Blade's Kazuma Kenzaki before the two transform side-by-side. The hand-off was never actually aired and its existence was revealed years later in a magazine article.
  • The whole "Island protector" thing on Lost - first Jacob (preceded by his "mother"), then Jack and Hurley.
  • Almost a Real Life example (perhaps even meta): In an episode of Smallville, the great Christopher Reeve guest stars as a scholar helping the young Man of Steel (Tom Welling) learn his destiny.
  • Meta example: Dirk Benedict, who played Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica (1978) passed the cigar to Katee Sackhoff, who played Starbuck in the reboot. Said passing was done while the two Starbucks were each having a Starbuck's at Starbuck's.
  • In the first episode of Knight Rider, Michael Long is given the Knight Industries Two Thousand (better known as KITT) and a mission to protect innocent people from criminals "above the law" by the dying philanthropist Wilton Knight.
  • In the last episode of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Gannicus earns his freedom from being a gladiator. Before he leaves, he gives Crixus his necklace and declares him the new Champion of Capua.
  • In the 1971 TV movie "Dr. Cook's Garden" a young doctor returns to his hometown and slowly begins to realize that the older doctor (Bing Crosby) he idolizes is making the town perfect by killing his patients who are bad people. At the end the older doctor tries and fails to kill the younger doctor and succumbs to a heart attack. He begs for help, but the younger doctor holds back because he thinks it's better for the old man to die with his reputation intact rather than being charged as a serial killer. The old doctor's last words to the young man were "That's how it starts."
  • In the sixth season finale of Psych, Shawn's dad retires from policing (again), disillusioned by the latest case, and hands Shawn his pocket knife.
  • Subverted in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Nagus". Grand Nagus Zek wanted to retire and name a successor, but after his son Krax failed the Secret Test of Character he had put before him, Zek decided to postpone it for a while. Played straight in the later episode "The Dogs of War" where he named Quark's younger brother Rom his successor.
  • In the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special The Day of the Doctor, The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) meets the Curator of the National Gallery played by Tom Baker.
  • Leverage: In “The Long Goodbye Job,” before he and Sophie go off into the sunset, Nate hands the reins of his empire over to Parker, of all people.
  • NBC's telecast of The Wiz features Broadway's original Dorothy, Stephanie Mills, as Aunt Em to newcomer Shanice Williams' Dorothy. This torch-passing felt even more poignant with such promotional material as Mills and Williams singing "Home" together.
  • ER does this through the Arc Words "You set the tone", which is what David Morgenstern tells Mark Greene (the original main character) in the pilot episode as a way of keeping hospital morale up. When Mark Greene departs at the end of Season 8, he says the same thing to John Carter (who essentially takes over the role of main character afterwards). Likewise, when John Carter departs at the end of Season 11, he shares the sentiment with Archie Morris, only to jokingly retract it when he realizes that Morris is too drunk to register it. Despite that, Morris eventually matures and takes up the responsibilities as one of the senior doctors of the ER, something Carter notes when he makes a return in Season 15.


    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."
  • 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.

  • 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 Rio 2016, Michael Phelps retires and leaving 19-year old prodigy Katie Ledecky to step up to the plate. Perhaps best exemplified by this photoset

  • 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."

  • 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).