Somebody is introduced who is set up to be the hero's successor, because the hero is overworked, due for a promotion or retirement, or being reassigned (something the hero naturally disagrees with). The newcomer seems to be superior to the hero in every way and everybody loves him, leaving the hero to think that maybe it would
be better if he stepped back and left things to the new generation.
But of course, the replacement will turn out to have Feet of Clay
or be a Deceptive Disciple
(this can turn into Older Hero vs. Younger Villain
), and the hero has to show what makes him so special and irreplaceable. In the end, Status Quo Is God
, as the successor refuses or is unable to take the hero's place.
Also very common with robotic or cybernetic heroes, who will be replaced by newer versions. These invariably are technically superior to the hero, but they lack Heart. Will the executives never learn?
A specific version of Always Someone Better
. See also We Want Our Jerk Back
and Job-Stealing Robot
. Contrast Beta Baddie
. For a fan reaction example, there's Replacement Scrappy
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Anime and Manga
- Jean Paul Valley, better known as Azrael, served as one to Batman in the Knightfall arc following the breaking of Batman's back. Bruce made his decision to take back the mantle of the Bat after Jean Paul, who had a crisis of conscience, let a villain by the name of Abattoir die, which had the effect of dooming one of his victims who was being held in a secret, hidden torture chamber in an unknown location. This trope was then immediately inverted, when Bruce took back the mantle of Batman back, he had to leave town, so he temporarily had Dick Grayson (Nightwing/the 1st Robin) take over as Batman, who did an exemplary job until Bruce's return.
- This is the premise of The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot, except Rusty, rather than being malevolent, is merely childish and incompetent, causing Big Guy to come out of retirement and serve to mentor him.
- Judge Kraken, another Fargo clone from the Judge Dredd story arc "Necropolis." Dredd himself failed Kraken before taking the Long Walk, but Chief Judge Silver felt that the city would continue to need a "Dredd" to patrol the streets due to his status as a symbol for the law. It ended in a catostrophe as Kraken was brainwashed by the Sisters of Death to release the Dark Judges, then Mind Raped by Judge Death into becoming his personal puppet and forced to participate in their slaughter. In the end Kraken is so broken by what they've made him do that he calmly accepts his execution at Dredd's hands, as he didn't want to live anymore.
- Bravura, from the Astérix comic Asterix and the Secret Weapon, briefly replaced Cacophonix as the village bard.
- In the Project Superpowers universe, Fighting Yank was succeeded as champion of the American Spirit by the Revolutionary, a violent anarchist. This was an intentional choice on the American Spirit's part; the Yank had been such a lackluster champion that the Spirit deemed it necessary to empower an extremist to restore the balance.
- Superman is somewhat prone to this.
- Deconstructed with the Nineties Anti-Hero and The Dark Age of Comic Books in Kingdom Come. Although the new generation of heroes has been willing to kill (Something their predecessors would never do) and have effectively ended crime, they bring about a problem much worse than supervillains: their own reckless civil wars, equally capable of devastating entire cities. Most blatant of these is Magog, who publicly called Superman outdated by adhering to his no-killing code. However, this doesn't help when the people who supported these heroes who kill died in the Kansas explosion.
- Something similar happens in "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?" in which a new team of heroes who lack Superman's code of ethics gain the public's adoration before Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and forcing Superman to bring them down.
- One issue of The Superman Adventures (the comic based on the DCAU show) features Superior-Man, a superhero with kryptonite vision who upstages Superman, virtually eliminates crime from Metropolis, and plans to collaborate with Lex Luthor to bring a new golden age. When Superman refuses to be exiled, the two heroes battle, ending with Superman using his heat vision to expose Superior-Man as Metallo, who had gone insane from his memory being tampered by Luthor.
- Deadshot's first appearance in Batman comics was this. He appeared as a super-efficient new vigilante who was wiping out crime in Gotham City. He was actually removing all his competition so he could take over.
- In 52, Booster Gold tries to become Superman's replacement after the latter's temporary retirement, but is soon overshadowed by the mysterious Supernova, who is much better at superheroing and has a cleaner record.
- Valeris, the Suck Sessor to Spock in Star Trek VI.
- Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight is a particularly tragic example; his success as District Attorney would have enabled Batman to retire and leave Gotham in the hands of competent law enforcement, but his Two-Face-Heel Turn ends that possibility.
- This is more or less what happens to Bolt, where he is replaced while trying to get back to the studio and thinks everyone prefers the new dog. Naturally it turns out the new dog is a coward, accidentally sets the soundstage on fire and Bolt has to go in and rescue his person.
- Skynet replacing Arnold Schwarzenegger with newer Terminator models designed to kill Sarah or John Connor may sound like a good idea, but the original model keeps proving itself the best.
- In Se7en, Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is set to retire leaving new partner, Mills (Brad Pitt), in his place. However in what was probably going to be Somerset's last big case, the pair investigate a serial killer using the seven deadly sins as "inspiration". The film ends with Mills shooting the killer for murdering his wife and unborn child. The result is Mills is arrested and Somerset remains with the force.
- Sheriff Woody finds himself displaced as Andy's favorite toy by Buzz Lightyear in Pixar's Toy Story. They end up best buds.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when McLaggen fills in for Ron's keeper position. Sure, he's technically a better Keeper, but that's sort of offset by his Bottom-like attempts to be the whole team in actual play.
- Brian Clevinger's Nuklear Age has Superion, who takes over when Nuklear Man is decried as a public menace. He is, of course, evil.
- Happens several times in The Bible:
- Eli's sons sucking leads the way for Samuel to become the priest; then, Samuel's just as terrible sons lead the way to Saul being crowned.
- Saul sees Jonathan as this, since Jonathan cares more about his friendship with David than the throne, but being the suck-sessor to a terrible king is hardly a bad thing.
- Terrible kings often followed good ones, but every so often good kings followed terrible ones. (At least in Judah, anyway. The Books of Kings grades all of Israel's rulers as evil.)
Live Action TV
- In the fifth season of Angel, Spike is briefly set up as taking over Angel's "help the helpless" job. This being Joss Whedon, it was a villainous ploy all along - though not by Spike.
- Happened on Red Dwarf with that "upgraded" (which is to say, "homicidally insane") version of Kryten.
- And also with Queeg, Holly's non-senile, but Drill Sergeant Nasty-ish "back-up" (although this is a Double Subversion; Queeg seems to defeat Holly and take his place permanently, but then Holly reveals the whole thing was a practical joke to remind them to appreciate him.)
- In one episode of Power Rangers Light Speed Rescue, a new general takes over Lightspeed and brings with him cyborg rangers, forcing the human rangers to turn in their morphers. However, during a battle with a lightning monster, the cyborgs' circuitry ends up getting fried and they start attacking innocent people. Thus, the rangers are given back their morphers to take down the cyborgs and the monster. Afterwards, the general apologizes for his interference, saying he underestimated the rangers.
- In an episode of Smallville, Booster Gold arrives and starts hamming it up as the new hero in town, but Clark ultimately shows him the error of his ways.
- When Gaius Baltar is elected President of the Colonial Fleet (unseating Laura Roslin) in Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined), he gives the people what they want (and elected him for) and settles the fleet on New Caprica. A year later with the Cylon occupation of that planet and Baltar's collaboration with them, most of the Colonials view his Presidency as a disaster. In a deal with Baltar's VP Tom Zarek (who had resigned that office rather than cooperate with the Cylon occupation), Laura Roslin reassumes the Presidency upon exodus from New Caprica.
- In The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith", Ruby White appears to be Sarah Jane, only younger and more efficient, and even has her own version of Mr Smith. She turns out to be a monster feeding off Sarah Jane's life force.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's "Accession" is another example of this, sort of. A 200-year-old ship emerges form the wormhole, and the Bajoran poet on board, Akorem Laan, claims to be the Emissary. Sisko didn't care for the title to begin with and steps down. Akorem then brings back an ancient caste system and throws Bajoran society into chaos, forcing Sisko to challenge Akorem.
- Averted in Mash; when Radar leaves, Klinger at first appears to be his Suck Sessor, but his skills at wheeling, dealing and stealing eventually get him accepted as company clerk.
- Inverted in the same series with Frank Burns replacement Charles Emerson Winchester III, who, though stuffy, annoying, arrogant, and somewhat bigoted, was a far more competent surgeon than Frank, and not nearly as cowardly or power-mad. But then, Frank could never have qualified as a hero outside his own delusions.
- Trapper's replacement BJ had some initial friction but eventually fit right in.
- Sheriff Andy in Eureka.
- In a very metaphorical way, Raiden from Metal Gear Solid 2.
- Liu Bei's son Liu Chan in Dynasty Warriors is portrayed as this, even if it's a little less so in his playable appearance. Regardless of who's story mode is played, Liu Bei's death signals the end of Shu.
- This is certainly the case in the video game versions of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, as well as the novel. Liu Chan/Liu Shan (depending on which system is used) is always, always portrayed as stupid. Fridge Brilliance sets in, as the RTK features a scene where Liu Chan is rescued from Cao's forces by Zhao Yun's solitary bravery, and Liu Bei spikes the infant like a football for almost costing him Zhao Yun. "Were you dropped on your head as a child?" "Yes, yes I was." Some have said Chan was stupid like a fox, seeing how he got to die of natural causes—surrendered monarchs are often died under suspicious circumstances in China—and live in opulence after Shu fell. The scene of Sima Zhao's test in Romance of the Three Kingdoms which supposedly reveals his shallow and petty nature, might be seen as an inspired bit of Obfuscating Stupidity (Liu Shan was put into a situation where he had to either show grief about his fallen homeland right before its conqueror, or remain visibly untouched by a reminder of it and raise suspicions about his duplicity - he has shown grief that seemed clearly fake, making Sima Zhao discount him as a harmless loser).
- The Life and Times of Juniper Lee: June meets a witch who is nice, cheerful, knowledgable, and annoying. Eventually, she can't bear working with her anymore and shoves her duties on her. Things go downhill when she feeds a human cookie (yes, the distinction is important) to a troll that, when it eats human food, grows twelve feet tall and everything it touches turns to stone.
- An episode of the Sunbow G.I. Joe cartoon had COBRA hack the Department of Defense computers while all the top-ranked Joes were absent, to promote the three worst candidates to command positions: Lifeline, Dialtone, and Shipwreck.
- Mordecai and Rigby are almost fired and replaced in an episode of Regular Show due to their tardiness and incompetence. However, their potential replacements decide the job is not worth the hassle after experiencing some of the craziness that comes with working at the park.
- In the TaleSpin episode "From Here To Machinery", a Jerk Ass professor invents a robotic pilot called the Auto Aviator. Despite his best efforts, Baloo loses a race to the machine and Sher Khan signs a contract with the professor to build 1,000 of the robots, causing his old pilots to lose their jobs and all businesses to fail. However, the pirates decide to take advantage of the Auto Aviator's style of flying in a straight line and attack Sher Khan's plane. When the professor finds that his machine refuses to deviate from the path and get them out of danger, Sher Khan radios for help, to which Baloo answers. Not only does Baloo save Sher Khan from the pirates, but Sher Khan 'convinces' the professor to give back his money in exchange for the robots, thus giving all pilots their jobs back.
- In the DuckTales episode "Armstrong", the titular character is a Job-Stealing Robot who replaces Launchpad, Duckworth, and the Money Bin staff. Of course, Ludd Was Right — Armstrong turns on Scrooge.
- In the Grand Finale of Danny Phantom, Vlad creates a new team of ghost fighters called Masters' Blasters. The new team proves better at catching ghosts and humiliate Danny at every turn, to the point where he decides to give up his powers. However, when a humongous asteroid that was released due to the first battle of the episode threatens Earth, no one can stop it and Vlad deliberately makes the Blasters (and Jack) fail at trying to destroy it so that he can save the day and become ruler of the earth. When that fails, Danny comes up with a plan to turn the entire planet intangible. In the process of gaining every ghost's help, Danny regains his powers and saves the planet.
- Happens in The Powerpuff Girls with a classical Flying Brick named Major Man. However, it eventually proves that he's running a scam, as all of the threats that he defused were set up. Doing some Engineered Heroics of their own with a monster Major can't handle, the Girls are able to save the day and regain the town's favor.
- Happens in the Inspector Gadget episode "Inspector Gadget's Last Case", where the 'new hero in town' is really Doctor Claw using a special disguising serum to pretend to be an Ace-like crime-fighter who forces Gadget to retire.
- The very first episode of The Real Ghostbusters had a trio of ghosts disguising themselves as human exterminators calling themselves "Ghosts 'R' Us", to eventually drive the Ghostbusters out of business by answering all ghost calls first. It helps that they were the ones who staged each attack they answered.
- The original penultimate episode of Kim Possible featured Team Impossible ordering Kim and her team to stop fighting supervillains as it was cutting into their profit margin. To ensure that Kim wouldn't get in the way anymore, they bribed away all the people who give her lifts. However, Kim, with the aid of a ticked off Wade, convinced Team Impossible to go nonprofit.
- In Loonatics Unleashed, Drake Sypher steals all the powers of the Loonatics to become Acmetropolis's new superhero. Turns out, all his heroics were done to publicly undo his secret villainy.
- The second episode involving Venom in Ultimate Spider-Man is this trope. A black-suited Spider-Man appears which is more physically powerful than Spidey and people like more (even Jonah Jameson likes him), and this leaves Spidey more than a little distraught... especially because the 'black suit' is the Symbiote, and sure enough it possesses its host Harry Osborn by the third act of the episode, forcing Spidey to fight him.
- Another example appears on The Spectacular Spider Man, with J. Jonah Jameson's son John getting superpowers. Nice enough guy, very competent, wants to help Spidey... driven insane by his powers on the third act, Spidey fights him, and ends the episode becoming a powerless, catatonic patient on some hospital as a side-effect of his forceful depowering.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Mysterious Mare Do Well", the titular hero appears just as Rainbow Dash has become a local hero and has been letting the attention get to her head. The Mare Do Well is eventually revealed to be Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and Fluttershy assuming a Collective Identity to deflate Rainbow's ego a bit.
- Superman vs. the Elite, an adaptation of "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?" listed above.
- This is the plot of the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes episode "Frightful". A new superhero team appears in town and begins stealing the Four's spotlight — not to mention insulting them at every turn. The Four become hated after being framed for "attacking" them. However, Reed exposes them as villains via an Engineered Public Confession and everything returns to normal.
- One Tom and Jerry cartoon by MGM Studios is "Push Button Kitty," in which the homeowner buys a robot cat to dispose of the pesky mouse, Jerry. Within seconds of being activated, Mechano catches Jerry and ejects him from the house. Poor Tom can only grab a Bindle Stick and depart morosely. By the end of the cartoon, however, the homeowner is crying for Tom to return, because Jerry Mouse has found the kryptonite of a robot cat: mechanical mice.
- Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja: In one episode, Hannibal McFist creates an alter ego named Lucius O'Thunderpunch to become the town's new hero and make the Ninja feel unwanted. After the Ninja leaves, O'Thunderpunch shows his true colors and the school becomes vulnerable to the Sorcerer until the Ninja returns.
- To an extent, US President William Howard Taft can be seen as one of these, having been handpicked by Theodore Roosevelt to be his "progressive" successor after Teddy refused to run for a third term in 1908. However, Taft did not turn out to be the kind of president that Roosevelt thought he would be, and Teddy returned in 1912 in an effort to reclaim the presidency and reestablish his values. This isn't entirely true to the trope as both Taft and Roosevelt split the Republican vote in the 1912 election and allowed Woodrow Wilson to become President; although, Roosevelt did receive more votes than Taft.
- Donna Reed took over the role of Miss Ellie Ewing Farlow on Dallas after Barbara Bel Geddes left the series just before the 1984-1985 season. She was then subjected to such a hate campaign from fans of the show, cast members and even the lighting director (whom she claimed was messing with her key light to give her a particularly "monstrous" appearance on camera) The Powers That Be fired her and reinstated Bel Geddes.
- Prior to his retirement in 2013, Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, the most successful manager in English football, selected Everton manager David Moyes to be his successor. There was a lot of hype about the appointment, with banners and billboards proclaiming Moyes to be The Chosen One but sadly Moyes, a more than competent manager at smaller clubs, failed to live up to, perhaps excessive, expectations. Under his leadership United lost badly to old rivals Liverpool, made some poor forays into the transfer market and failed to qualify for the lucrative Champions League for the first time in nearly 20 years. Defeat at the hands of Moyes former club was the last straw and he was ousted before his first season was over.