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Taking Up The Mantle
The world will always need a Batman.

He [Elisha] took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;
— 2nd Kings 2:13, The Bible {King James Version)

So you're two thirds of the way through a book/movie/whatever, when suddenly, the main protagonist dies, is imprisoned, performs a Face-Heel Turn, or is otherwise unable to act as the main protagonist. All seems lost, a Take Up My Sword hasn't been pulled! What is to be done?

But wait! A Sidekick, the Love Interest, The Rival, a Mauve Shirt (in theory, even an antagonist could pull this off) steps or is forced into the role of the main protagonist, and the work that you are reading focuses on them for the rest of the time it takes to finish the work. The original protagonist may return near the end. Essentially, it's when someone invokes Legacy Character.

Take Up My Sword is different in that it implies that the protagonist had time to actually say something along the lines of I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin to his successor, whereas with Taking Up The Mantle, the character has to take the initiative or be shown that it's what they have to do, but ultimately, they have to make the decision themselves.

In so far as it applies to sidekicks, it's a relative to You Are in Command Now, which applies to more rigid situations where the Big Hat Of Command lands on a person's head whether they want it to or not, based on their level in the hierarchy.

May or may not be related to and/or overlap with Legacy Character, All Up To You, You Are in Command Now, Field Promotion, or It's the Journey That Counts.

The Trope Namer comes from a line in The Bible where Elisha takes up the mantle of Elijah the prophet - literally.

Due to the nature of this trope, spoilers are bound to follow.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • After Batman's "death" during Final Crisis, Dick Grayson is forced to become Batman because Bruce Wayne never appointed a successor, and Gotham City was descending into chaos without Batman's presence to strike genuine terror into the hearts of criminals. Dick was reluctant to become Batman because Bruce left specific instructions not to don the cowl. But Bruce was a bit shortsighted on the matter, so Dick eventually wound up doing so anyway. Bruce was understanding when he got back. Specifically, it comes from the above quote.
    • Battle for the Cowl was about several people trying to become the new Batman. Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Jason Todd, Two-Face, and Michael Lane, the new Azrael, all heeded the call to become Gotham City's new Dark Knight.
      • The Battle for the Cowl example works another way, in that for the first two issues of the mini-series, the story mostly focused on Tim Drake, but in the final issue, it mostly focused on Dick Grayson.
    • In the first arc of Batman, Inc., Jiro Osamu steps into the role of his deceased mentor Mr. Unknown to prove himself to Batman. He succeeds - and is appointed Batman of Japan.
    • Another one from the Batman mythos: Tim Drake, when he was set to become Robin, actually had the nerve to don Jason Todd's Robin costume and to go out with Alfred to rescue Batman and Nightwing. And he managed to pull it off.
  • This example is older than any of that. After The Death of Superman, four heroes appeared on the radar ready to take Superman's place; the Cyborg Superman, Steel, the Eradicator, and Superboy, each having an equal stake in the name and each having his own motives to want to be the Man of Steel.
  • In V for Vendetta, Evey winds up doing this after V's death.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: After Peter Parker is killed by Norman Osborn, a tiny black/hispanic kid with Spider-powers named Miles Morales decides to pick up the slack and become Spider-Man.
  • In "The Order of the Stick": Book -1 Start of Darkness opens with Redcloak being obliged to pick up the Crimson Mantle of the High Priest Of The Dark One, as the only surviving cleric after a Paladin raid on his village.

    Film - Animation 
  • Transformers: The Movie has Hot Rod spending much of the movie trying to find someone to take over for Optimus Prime, only to finally take the mantle of leadership of the Autobots himself and save the day.
  • In Twice Upon a Time, when Synonamess Botch attacks the region of Din, the Fairy Godmother is stretched so thin that she's run out of heroes. Ralph and Mum, incompetent workers desperate to be known, are hired on the spot to stop Botch. They succeed.
  • In the 2007 TMNT movie, Raphael briefly takes over for Leonardo just prior to The Climax.
  • In MegaMind, Megamind himself fills Metro Man's role.

    Film - Live Action 

    Literature 

  • The short story Aftermath, taking place just two hours after Changes in The Dresden Files, with Harry shot and thrown into Lake Michigan, there is no one to protect Chicago from the supernatural baddies, until Murphy and the Alphas take up the charge "untill Dresden gets back."
  • The Trope Namer comes from a line in The Bible (specifically, the book of 2nd Kings) which states that the prophet Elijah's protégé Elisha literally took up Elijah's mantle after Elijah was taken up into heaven. Elisha was automatically endowed with a significant portion of Elijah's power, and assumed his place as the de facto leader of all of the prophets of God residing in Israel, as well as becoming one of the greatest prophets ever.
  • In the Codex Alera series, Tavi is assigned a minor role in the Legions. When a lightning storm kills all of the commanding officers higher than him in rank, he steps in to command the Legion.
  • About halfway through The Sea Runners by Ivan Doig, Melander is killed, forcing Karlsson to take up the role of leader.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Scoobies combine their talents and abilities to hunt vampires in Buffy's absence after her death. They don't seem to be very good at it judging from the one occasion we see.
  • In Supernatural, Sam and Dean take up their father's hunting responsibilities after their father disappears, and Garth assumes Bobby's role after his death.

    Toys 

    Video Games 
  • In Persona 3 FES, when Aigis gains the "Wild Card" ability, she also gains the "field leader" status from the recently deceased Protagonist. And also gains the role as player character. This does cause some resentment from another Designated Love Interest Yukari.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Liara is trying to find the Shadow Broker, an information dealer who is possibly the most powerful individual in the entire galaxy, who hides on a ship drifting inside a storm on an uninhabitable planet and never shows his face to anyone and communicates with his top agents only through digital voice synthesizers. While trying to free Liara's assistant, who has been captured, the Shadow Broker and all his personal guards are killed in his office. After the fight dozens of agents call in to inquire about the disrupted connection.
    Liara: "This is the Shadow Broker, the situation is under control. We experienced a power fluctuation while upgrading hardware. We are back online, resume standard procedures. I want a status report on all operations within the next solar day."

    Western Animation 
  • TRON Uprising begins as the young Program Beck is told by the legendary hero Tron that Beck must be a hero to the programs and fight Clu because Tron was severely injured by Clu and will never fight the same way again.


Take Up My SwordCall to AdventureThey Were Holding You Back

alternative title(s): You Are Batman; Self Appointed Successor
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