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
. 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 from the Judge Dredd story arc "Necropolis."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- The cyborg rangers in Power Rangers Light Speed Rescue are a textbook example of this trope.
- 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).
- An episode of The Powerpuff Girls introduced Major Man, who managed to beat the titular superheros to the scene of every disaster, saving the day first. Of course, that's because he was setting up the crises that he was averting...
- Same deal with the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes version of the Frightful Four.
- 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.
- 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.