Take up our quarrel with the foe: The Hero
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
— John McCrae, "In Flanders Field"
has been progressing in his quest against the Big Bad
. Then he dies
. Wait! What?! That's not supposed to happen! (Unless, in this story, Anyone Can Die
Well, now what? Do we have a Downer Ending
, and The Bad Guy Wins
? No, no, we need a replacement Hero. Time to present The Lancer
Ascendant: someone who will take up The Hero
's sword (and other weapons) and go on to defeat the villain. This can be literal, invoking It Was a Gift
, or metaphorical. When it's not only literal but the MacGuffin
, see the subtrope I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin
Most often used at the beginning of a show, to explain exactly how some callow youth loser got the job of defeating
the Big Bad
. In this case it was a head fake that had you thinking the Obi Wan
was actually The Hero
. Occasionally done with the original Hero as a ghost or shade, unable to rest until someone completes his aborted quest
When it happens later in the season (or in later seasons)
it can be a real shocker. May feature in Dying to Be Replaced
Occasionally used at the ending
, to slightly sweeten the tragedy
by showing that someone will continue the fight.
When it happens to superheroes
, it is often the case of Legacy Characters
In military situations, often combines with a Field Promotion
by the dying hero.
Related to Her Heart Will Go On
, Determined Widow
, Taking Up The Mantle
and Bequeathed Power
. In its darker forms, leads to Feuding Families
, or may be a genesis to, or simply another stage in, the Cycle of Revenge
. Good Counterpart
to the Dragon Ascendant
If the hero remains alive but no longer is an active hero, for any reason, this is Passing the Torch
. Also see Decoy Protagonist
and The Chooser of The One
Naturally, this trope is prone to SPOILERS
. When listing examples, remember that it has to be more than the literal "someone gives someone else a weapon" part to qualify.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Death Note. L has a house of successors that would be alerted immediately in the case of his death. Two of them take up his fight against Kira. They don't get along.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
- Simon takes up Kamina's place in the Gurren Brigade after his death.
- The ending has humanity taking the task of preventing the Spiral Nemesis from the Anti-Spiral after killing them.
- Code Geass ends with an interesting literal and metaphorical variation: Lelouch passes the Zero identity to Suzaku specifically so that he can become a hero by killing Lelouch per his plan to achieve world peace, using Lelouch's own goofy pink sword to do the deed, leading to a Bittersweet Ending.
- Gundam 00 has Lyle Dylandy take up his brother Neil's position as Lockon Stratos in the second season.
- In Shikabane Hime When Keisei dies and Ouri takes his place as a contracted priest.
- The Lensman anime opens with a Lensman crash landing in front of the hero, and passing his Lens along before he dies.
- Strongly implied to be Meg's eventual destiny in Burst Angel, after her partner Jo's apparent death and the destruction of RAPT.
- when Shikamaru's teacher Asuma dies, Shikamaru inherits his chakra-enhancing blades, with which Shikamaru kills his teacher's killer.
- A villainous example is Madara passing his identity and plan on to Obito.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, Crow's duel disk and duel runner were originally owned by his late hero, Robert Pearson.
- Heartcatch Precure plays this oddly - the Call to Adventure dream Tsubomi, Erika and Itsuki get implies Cure Moonlight died. Tsubomi even gets Moonlight's Kokoro Perfume. That's not the case - Moonlight is still alive, back in her civilian identity as Yuri and suffering from a very bitter 10-Minute Retirement.
- Kirby anime: where one fight against a particularly powerful demon beast leaves Meta Knight in a coma that can only be cured if the demon dies. Naturally, Kirby grabs his sword and heads off to fight it.
- In Justice Society of America, the murder of Mr. America and his family inspires his old FBI partner to take on the role.
- In V for Vendetta, when V is killed, Evey takes his place, carrying out the major plan he was killed to prevent and then continuing the role.
- The Death Of Captain America: Bucky Barnes came back from the dead only to see his former hero Steve Rogers get assassinated, in time to pick up his Mighty Shield. Upon Steve's inevitable resurrection, this briefly became Passing the Torch before Steve went back to being Captain America and Bucky went on / back to being Winter Soldier.
- The Flash: Wally West inherits the legacy his uncle, Barry Allen, who is killed at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
- Green Lantern: This is a mechanism built-in to the rings and it seems most Lanterns gain their ring immediately in the wake of their predecessor's death (Genre Savvy villains, e.g. in Justice, abused this rule by incapacitating the current GL without killing him, so that his successor isn't "activated"). Sometimes the Lanterns recruit and sometimes a dying Lantern gets to play the Take Up My Sword trope straight as Abin Sur did with Hal Jordan.
- Winter War takes the view that Tousen's zanpakutou Suzumushi originally belonged to his dead friend, and that after her murder, he essentially took on her (sentient) weapon and powers as well as her goals. In the present of the fic, with Tousen dead, Suzumushi is actively trying to get someone else to "take her up" and use her powers to pursue Tousen's "justice"... although she'd really prefer to just possess someone, rather than allow a shinigami free rein with her powers. Nanao finally persuades Suzumushi to temporarily lend her her powers, until they have accomplished their common goal of killing Aizen.
- At the end of Game Theory, Yuuno gives his Device to Momoko, setting things up for the sequel.
Film - Animated
Film - Live Action
- In Braveheart, the honor goes to Robert the Bruce, but Wallace's best friend gets the literal sword, and throws it, in an act of defiant symbolism, to what can be considered the climax of the entire musical store.
- In Highlander, Ramirez finds and trains Connor MacLeod so that somebody would have a chance of defeating the Kurgan. When the Kurgan takes the aged immortal's head, Connor takes Ramirez's sword and uses it as his own from that point on, later using it to behead the Kurgan and fulfil his mentor's wish.
- Iron Man 2: In a movie that starts off with a speech about the importance of legacy, this is going to come up a lot.
- Howard Stark reveals that he discovered a new element that would perfect the arc reactor and revolutionize energy. However, he lacks the technology to create it and leaves it up to Tony to solve the problem.
- Rhodey is set up by the dying Tony to take over as armored hero. As Fury points out, the only way Rhodey could have activated the Mk. II was if Tony had already given him clearance to do so.
- Pepper takes over Stark Enterprises.
- The Mask of Zorro: It isn't clear if the sword the new Zorro uses is in fact the same one as the one used by the original, but he received the mantle of Zorro all along.
- The Princess Bride. After Domingo Montoya's death his son takes up the masterpiece of a sword that his father made for the Six Fingered Man. The son later spent the rest of his life training to avenge his father's death. The rest, as they say, is Florinese history...
- From "Sharpe's Rifles" -
Captain Murray: "I want you to have my sword. Maybe if the men see you carry it—"
: "They'll think I'm a proper officer."
Captain Murray: "No, they'll think I liked you."
- In the Star Trek movie,
- Nero kills Lt. George Samuel Kirk as he tries to stop him, and 25 years later his son finishes the job.
- Spock (and later Kirk) taking over from Pike.
- 300: Leonidas and his 300 die (except for one survivor), but their deaths inspire the rest of Greece (led by the aforementioned survivor) to fight back and drive off the Persians.
- Star Wars: After Qui-Gon is mortally wounded against Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan is hinted to have continued to use his deceased Master's lightsaber for some time afterwards, having been shown using it to bisect Maul at the waist (his own had already been disposed of by Maul) just before Qui-Gon expires.
- As mentioned in the Film section, Sharpe receives his dying captains old cavalry troopers sword (bear in mind both are infantrymen and it is 35 inches long) in Sharpe's Rifles.
- Sam in The Lord of the Rings becomes the Ringbearer after Frodo seemingly dies. However, they later meet again, and Sam, so to say, "gives the sword back" to Frodo.
- The Wheel of Time:
- Faile promises this to Perrin- it's a Borderlander thing.
- Lan was given his fathers sword while still in the cradle!
- Rand has a really weird form of it. The person encouraging him to take up his sword is Rand's past life.
- Green Rider: A fallen messenger gives a girl his magic brooch and Cool Horse so she can carry his message for him.
- The Dresden Files:
- Harry is given two Swords of the Cross on separate occasions to find replacements for their original wielders. He's like an intermediary for the dead guy and the new guy.
- In Skin Game, Butters takes up Fidelacchius after Karin is injured. Word of God is that Butters will be a Knight until he dies.
- In Dan Abnett's Xenos, Voke, who may be dying, asks Eisenhorn to sponsor a protegee of his, if necessary. Besides providing for the future, this is also a gesture of respect, because of their conflicts earlier in the novel and Voke's then expressed opinions of Eisenhorn's methods. (It turns out not to be necessary.)
- In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 novel Brothers of the Snake, several marines in Damocles die on different occasions. On the first, Priad is told that he must take up leadership and receives the claw which the leader of the squad always carries; on the second, the survivors seek new ones to take their place.
- Throughout the Redwall series, various characters have gotten messages from Martin, either written down or in dreams, telling them to take up his sword and defend Redwall Abbey. Martin has been dead for a long time so he gives his "sword" (both literal and metaphorical) to several people over the generations. One of them was his own reincarnation.
- In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines short story "Chains Of Command", Captain Idaeus hands his sword to Uriel before he makes his Heroic Sacrifice to bring down a bridge.
- Those Who Walk In Darkness: Bullet O'Rourke is a Noble Bigot with a Badge who unintentionally sets in motion the story's conflict. Halfway through the sequel, What Fire Cannot Burn, she gets killed by a vigilante, and is replaced by her former sidekick Aoki, who wields her BFG.
- Fear Street Cheerleaders by R. L. Stine does this halfway through the first book, with the seeming protagonist boiled to death, but her sister continuing to fight the being that killed her.
- In Animorphs, an injured Elfangor gives the kids the power to morph only minutes before Visser 3 eats him. It's made more literal since one of the kids, Tobias, is Elfangor's son, though he doesn't find that out until later. Elfangor realized it, though Tobias has his doubts.
- Warrior Cats: this is what Tigerstar intends for Brambleclaw, Hawkfrost, Tawnypelt for a short time, Jayfeather for a short time, Lionblaze, and Tigerheart. He succeeds with one of them.
- In the beginning of Cyteen by C.J Cherryh, Ariane Emory dies. Before she died, she had been working on a project to clone herself, and the project is continued after she dies.
- In Guardians of Ga'Hoole, Soren takes up the battle claws of Ezylryb after the old owl's death. He wears them during the final battle against Nyra's forces.
- In The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay are the creators of the Golden Age hero The Escapist, whose origin embraces this trope: escape artist Max Mayflower, aka Misterioso, was shot by a sniper while in the midst of performing an elaborate escape onstage. As he was led offstage by his assistants, Max convinced his nephew Tom to finish the act wearing Max's Misterioso costume. Tom, who before had been crippled, was able to perform the rest of the show flawlessly, as becoming Misterioso somehow restored his strength and cured his legs. Later, before dying of the gunshot, Max revealed to Tom that he worked for The League of the Golden Key, an organization that worked to liberate people who have been enslaved or wrongly imprisoned. His killer was a member of an international slave ring called the Iron Chain. With Max's death, Tom took his place in the League, forging the identity of the Escapist.
- In The Book of the New Sun, in book IV the dying Autarch passes his throne and his memories to Severian. It shouldn't be a surprise since we were told it would happen at the start of book I, and the Autarch has known all along who his successor would be, but given the amount of obfuscation involved..
- Played With in a literal way in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. When Harry goes off to let Voldemort kill him, he tells Neville Longbottom to make sure that Voldy's pet snake and Soul Jar Nagini is killed. When everyone beholds Harry's (not quite) dead body, Neville pulls out the Sword of Gryffindor and decapitates Nagini, paving the way for Harry to come back and finish Voldy off.
Live Action TV
Mythology and Religion
- Hercules passing on his bow and arrows (tipped in the blood of the Hydra) to Philoktetes before he dies of Hydra venom.
- This is repeatedly Lampshaded in The Qur'an, citing the possibility of Muhammad dying in battle, and what the rest of the Muslims must do in case that should actually happen. History says otherwise.
- World of Darkness: This is the big reason why the Vampires don't go out of their way to kill Hunters. Kill one, and you'd just get one or more to take their place.
- In Wicked, Elphaba hands the Grimmerie off to Glinda before "melting."
- Metal Gear: The big Reveal of the heavily Mind Screwed series turns out to be that the entire situation with Outer Haven, Metal Gear, Les Enfants Terrible, the Patriots, and FOXDIE is just the result of a small group of people fighting about how to best continue the work of The Boss.
- Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep: Aqua takes up Eraqus' keyblade when returning to Land of Departure aster his death, and start wield it after losing her own to save Terra-Xehanort. The bequething ceremonies Aqua and Terra give to Kairi and Riku also qualify by the end have effectively passed on their roles in the story to them.
- Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey has this with Commander Gore begging you to save humanity and not give in to the angels or the demons.
- Romancing SaGa 2: With its generation system the game considered this whenever a generation changes or when the team leader is killed, notably the first lord, Leon. He gets killed off by a bad guy during the prologue chapter, passing all his ability and skill to his wimp son Gellard, who's taking a whole new level in badass. He then off to revange his father.
- The Last Story: the sword that Quark wears on his belt is symbolic of his childhood oath with Elza for them to become knights and protect people. Later, Quark pulls a Face-Heel Turn and tries to kill the party. After his defeat, he passes on this sword to Elza, acknowledging that he lost faith in their dream and that Elza never did.
- In Phantasy Star IV, Alys' death forces Chaz to assume command of the team and continue the mission to stop Zio.
- Dragon Quest V, Pankraz's trying to find his wife, and passes on the job to his son as he's dying, setting up one of the main objectives of the game.
- In Muramasa The Demon Blade, Kisuke received his sword style this way from Jinkuro's master, who was already dead.
- Modern Warfare: This happens several times. In 1, Sgt. Jackson gets killed by a nuke, although that's a weaker example, since you were already playing as Soap, who the story shifts to, anyway. In 2, It happens twice- first, Allen gets shot by Makarov and you become a different US Army Ranger in the same unit for the rest of the American side of the story, and later, Roach dies when Shepard betrays Task Force 141, and you play as Soap for the final few missions 3 is the only game in the series to (mostly) lack this trope- a few characters die while you play as them, but you only play as them for one level anyway, and nobody new replaces them.
- Alone In The Dark 2: A captain killed by the Big Bad claimed that he would die by the captain's sword. In the final battle, you need to get the sword (Which has been stuck in the planking of the ship's quarterdeck for centuries) to win the fight.
- Samurai Shodown 2: This happens in Nakoruru's ending in , since her sister Rimururu receives her dagger and decides to fight on from then on. Nakoruru's later becomes a sortof Spirit Protector who comes back when needed and often fights alongside Rimururu.
- In WarCraft, Anduin Lothar, leader of the Alliance forces, falls in battle. His second-in-command, Turalyon, takes up his position and kicks the living shit out of the orcs.
- In the fifth arc of Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Beatrice is killed by Erika Furudo. As a result, Battler becomes the Endless Sorcerer. It's an unusual example, considering that he's taking up the role of the woman who has acted as an antagonist until now.
- Spinnerette: Tiger inherits his powers this way. He found the former Tiger dying from a gunshot wound and received the Spirit of the Tiger from him as the man's final act. He was already a cop on the beat, so he didn't inherit the purpose but rather traded "policeman" for "superhero".
- In the animated Transformers movie, Optimus Prime gives the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus but Hot Rod ends up with it by the end. Magnus just couldn't deal with that now.
- Bob gives Enzo a copy of his Guardian Code & uniform just in case something happens to him during the Web invasion. Sure enough, Bob is betrayed by Megabyte and exiled to the Web and it's up to Enzo to take Bob's place as guardian of Mainframe. Enzo even gets to use Bob's (broken) Glitch for a while.
- They tried to do this with Matrix's backup clone, little Enzo. Fortunately for everyone, Little Enzo refused.
- Defied in Transformers: Beast Hunters, since Smokescreen made the wisest decision of his young life and used the Forge to revive Optimus, thus eliminating the need for Smokescreen receiving the Matrix of Leadership.