You Kill It, You Bought It
Lord Bun Bun, eater of holidays
"You keep what you kill."
Like bragging rights, an object
, a title
, or a job
is passed from the defeated to the winner. Sometimes, though, defeat means death. You Kill It You Bought It means that whoever kills the owner gets the possession, no matter if the kill was intentional or not. This is often the only way Loyal Phlebotinum
can change hands.
So, it usually goes like this: The Hero
accidentally does something to kill the previous owner, so he's stuck with the possession
even though the death wasn't his fault. The rest of the plot involves the hero either trying to cope or trying to get rid of it.
Another common version is that the position of The Grim Reaper
works like this, so that if somebody is supposed to die and ends up killing The Grim Reaper
in self-defense (or just checkmates him
), the killer ends up with the job. Otherwise, very rare is it that the character intentionally kills the office holder, unless the Heroic Comedic Sociopath
falsely believes that a position works that way, and thus hilarity will ensue
This is distinct from Klingon Promotion
because that is restricted to killing someone deliberately, for the express purpose of gaining their position. For this trope, the killing isn't necessarily deliberate, and the killer is not 'promoted' but directly inherits the previous person's possession, office, curse, or whatever it may be. See also Challenging the Chief
which also has cases where someone accidentally ends up involuntary manslaughtering their way into an unwanted role.
Contrast First Episode Resurrection
, where the hero gets powers from dying him- or herself. Also see Someone Has to Do It
. Related to Subbing for Santa
. Sometimes applies to a Legacy Character
. Can result in And Then John Was a Zombie
. See also Power Copying
. Compare Finish Him!
. See Finders Rulers
for when this is affected by looting a MacGuffin
off the corpse.
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Anime and Manga
- Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The students each keep the charms from the Assassins they defeat/kill/send to the Shadow Realm.
- In X/1999, Subaru becomes the Sakurazukamori after he inadvertently kills Seishirou in a fight (even though Subaru is also head of the Sumeragis, eternal enemies of the Sakurazukas). He also takes Seishirou's place as a Dragon of Earth, despite being a Dragon of Heaven.
- Also, to become the Sakurazukamori, Seishirou had to kill his mother, as she was the previous one. It's implied that ''every'' Sakurauzkamori has done this.
- It is worth noting that Subaru was offered a choice - if he accepts Seishirou's eye (and thus his power), Seishirou lives on through Subaru taking up his place. If he doesn't, he has nothing to live for anymore.
- It was also implied that Sakurazukamoris can only be killed by the one they love most
- One way to obtain possession of a Death Note or a world famous detective's title is to kill its current owner.
- Subverted in Code Geass: A sufficiently powerful Geass User can kill the immortal who gave them their powers, thereby becoming an immortal themselves. The subversion is that most immortals want to be killed (because Who Wants to Live Forever??) and typically trick their partners into going through with it.
- Interestingly enough, Lelouch becomes the Emperor of Brittania and then Suzaku becomes Zero by both killing the previous holder of those titles. These were just part of Lelouch's final plan rather than a tradition, though.
- In Baccano!, an immortal who "eats" another immortal receives all of their knowledge and memories in the process. The demon who set the rules claims that it's so that he gets something out of the contract when the last immortal gets sick of living and summons him again to be devoured, but you can't help but wonder if he didn't just want to see Szilard totally lose his shit and start killing everyone For Science!! (which he does).
- The only way to get the Number One headband in Afro Samurai is to kill the one who has it, but they have to have the Number Two headband, which is also obtained by killing whoever has it.
- The difference is that while the Number One can only be challenged by Number Two, Number Two can be challenged by anyone. An episode does show more headbands (at least up to Number Seven, IIRC), but their purpose is never explicitly explained in the series.
- The Chimaeran society in Jyu Oh Sei pretty much runs on a combination of this and the Klingon Promotion. Justified in that the entire system was set up to breed a new, hardier line of humans that could survive in the alien solar system after Earth was destroyed.
- This is the premise of Campione!. If a mortal kills a heretic god, that person gains the powers and abilities of said heretic god.
- Marvel's Shuma-Gorath has near unlimited power in his home dimension but Doctor Strange manages to steal the power of one his generals and defeats Shuma with his own power. However, he finds himself starting to become Shuma-Gorath himself, as the Eldritch Abomination had warned would happen. He takes his own life. (Strange's ally Kaluu is able to revive him — unfortunately Shuma comes back to life as well).
- In Agents of Atlas, you become Gorilla Man by killing the previous Gorilla Man. This means that you become immortal-unless-killed but are transformed into a gorilla.
- In The Metabarons, each Metabaron must kill his father in ritual combat to succeed him as the next Metabaron.
- In the Ranma/Sailor moon crossover Curses Aren't the Only Change, Haruka ends up defeating the leader of a ninja clan and being told she is the new leader. This means she is way too busy to help when she is told she is a Sailor Senshi.
- Downplayed in Project Horizon. After Blackjack and her companions kill Deus, Blackjack gets all the credit and technically becomes a Reaper. She's annoyed at her newly-increased notoriety, but the holding the title effects her very little.
- A Growing Affection has this be one of the ways to became Raikage and Mizukage.
- One of the various stories from a collection called Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual has Lord Voldemort accidently becoming Santa after his servants assassinate Mr. Claus without his awareness, and said servants becoming his elves.
- Queen Of All Oni: Jade kills Kaito, the General of the Ninja tribe, by eating his mask and absorbing his chi. This fully cements her position as new leader of that tribe.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- As the page quote shows, "You keep what you kill" is the core creed of the Necromongers in The Chronicles of Riddick, and Riddick proves this twice: once by killing a Necromonger with his own knife (which he got to keep) and the other time by killing the Lord Marshal (with the aforementioned knife, even) and taking his place as their ruler.
- The Santa Clause, where the title of Santa Claus is like this disturbingly enough.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Soon in third movie, we learn that whoever kills Davy Jones has to take his place. Cue dilemmas for Will, who swore an oath to kill Davy Jones and Jack, who thinks it would be freaking awesome to be immortal.
- Except that he wouldn't be able to go to rum to get port...wait...that came out wrong...
- The title also comes with another catch. Should the captain not perform his duty (ferrying the souls of the dead to the other side), he and the crew end up looking like Jones and his crew
- Parodied in The Wistful Widow Of Wagon Gap. Chester accidentally kills an infamous gunslinger, and local law says that he must take care of the man's family. It turns out that the gunslinger had a very loud wife and a dozen unruly children. Chester eventually becomes sheriff of the town, and carries around a picture of his new family which he shows to anyone who looks like they might cause trouble. However, this eventually blows up in his face when the local outlaws learn that a railroad will be going through the widow's property and paying her a fortune for it, thanks to a lie Duke cooked up to get Chester off the hook. Chester whips out his picture and nearly gets killed by the greedy outlaws.
- Subverted in The Wizard of Gore; after being sent on a drug-fueled hallucination adventure, Ed is knife-detoxed by Montag the Magnificent and offered the chance to take his place as a drugged up slave to "The Magician". Ed manages to invert his situation, drugging "The Magician" and taking over the entire operation himself.
- In "The Game" of the Highlander universe, when one Immortal kills another, he receives all the deceased Immortal's ability and memories through the Quickening.
- The 1995 horror film Ice Cream Man ends with Small Paul in an asylum after killing the killer ice cream man, hinting that he would be taking his place.
- In The Man with the Golden Gun, Scaramanga shoots Hai Fat. When an assistant comes in, he simply says "Mr Fat has just resigned. I'm the new Chairman of the Board".
- In the end of the fourth and fifth installments of Friday the 13th, after Tommy Jarvis assists in killing Jason or his copycat killer it's hinted that he'll become the next killer. Subverted in that he keeps turning up again, fairly normal.
- One of the Chaos! comics based on Halloween franchise has Laurie taking Michael's place after killing him in Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later. This was ultimately rendered non-canon by Halloween: Resurrection though.
- The ending of Halloween II (2009) (2009) on the other hand ends with Laurie becoming as crazy, evil and twisted as Michael, even briefly putting on his mask, after killing him.
- Ravenous holds that a man can absorb another man's strength by eating him.
- With a bit of Fridge Logic, this applies to the outcome of the whole sorry affair in Genesis 34, in which Simeon and Levi slaughtered every man in Shechem in revenge for their sister Dinah's being sexually violated. Seizing all the women and children of the dead men along with their livestock and material possessions may seem to have been adding insult to injury for the survivors, but the alternative was to leave them there without their men to defend them from roving marauders in a place and time when men were a city's first and only line of defense. In other words, Simeon and Levi and the rest of Jacob's family were pretty much stuck with these women and children whether they wanted them along for the journey or not.
- The country of Arko in Philosopher in Arms follows the law of 'what kills, becomes'. Killing an Arkan in a lawful manner results in the killer inheriting all of his property, including his wife, children, slaves, and job, as the hero finds out when he defeats Riji in the Mezem.
- The office of Death in Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series passes this way. Normally Death wears impenetrable armor, but sooner or later every Death gets careless...
- This is also true for the office of Evil, which passes on in
the exact same way. a similar manner, being transferred to whomever successfully cons the title away from the incumbent. If the incumbent resigns and/or gets killed and no one suitable is around to claim it, the role defaults to the most evil person on Earth.
- Circumstances depending, this is how the mantle of the Knight of the Summer or Winter Court is passed on, if they don't die in battle. The previous Knight is ritually sacrificed on the Stone Table. Harry sacrifices Lloyd Slate to become the Winter Knight.
- In the Clive Barker short story and film The Midnight Meat Train, the main character kills the butcher who provides food for the underground cannibals, and is then drafted as the new butcher.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs's A Princess Of Mars, the first John Carter of Mars novel, Carter kills a Green Barsoomian, and finds he inherits all the warrior's goods— including his slaves and name.
- Among the Children of the Light in The Wheel of Time, there is an almost-forgotten section in their law entitled Trial by the Light. One Child claims his right to Trial by the Light to bring another to justice, then the two fight a lethal duel, and the loser's rank and property are forefit to the victor. Galad invokes this to become Lord Captain Commander of the Children of the Light.
- There is also the tradition of Blademasters. One of the two methods of becoming a Blademaster is to kill a Blademaster in fair single combat with swords, upon which you get his rank and his sword (traditionally marked with a heron).
- The hero in the Sword of Truth series, at the end of the first book, takes control over the Big Bad's whole country after killing him, although in this case it had more to do with Richard being the Big Bad's son.
- There's also the issue in a later book where he is attacked by thirty extremely skilled swordsmen, manages to kill them all, and has the wife of several of them (polyandrist society) insist she is his wife now.
- In Dune, a Fremen who kills another in honorable combat is entitled to possession of the water in his body, which is extracted prior to cremation. And gets his wife as well. He also gets the responsibility of having to take care of the wife and children. Paul finds this out the hard way... and he's only 15.
- In Tamora Pierce's Lioness Quartet, Alanna winds up killing a desert tribe's shaman in a fight, and is told that she must now take his place.
- In Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
- Death's job was shown to work this way in Mort. The titular character, Death's apprentice, challenges Death to a fight in order to save a princess, a wizard, and his wife-to-be. It's a no-win situation: If Mort wins, he will become Death, the loneliest person in the world, for eternity. If he loses, they all die. Luckily, Death's not such a bad guy.
- Reaper Man, when Death's time for "retirement" comes, a new Death shows up to kill him so he can take his place. However, in a subversion, the original Death is actually able to defeat his replacement.
- He also takes the place of The Hogfather for a while, not because he killed him, but because someone else is trying to, and the role has to be filled.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a central plot point is that wands may switch allegiance to whoever kills or defeats the former owner. These facts are of particular importance relating to the Elder Wand.
- What most wizards don't realize, and what ends up being a major plot point at the end of the book, is that killing your opponent isn't necessary, you just have to defeat them on a duel or deprive them of their wand. This throws a wrench in Dumbledore's plan to leave the Elder Wand without a master: he originally intended to let Snape kill him, which would mean the wand still belonged to him in death. Instead, Draco disarms Dumbledore, unwittingly becoming the master of the Elder Wand, and Harry later becomes its master when he disarms Draco. However, Voldemort thinks simply killing its previous owner gains you ownership of the Wand, so he kills Snape (whom he thinks has become the Wand's master) to get it. And when he tries to duel Harry while wielding it...
- In Guy Gavriel Kay's The Last Light of the Sun, there's a mercenary organization which you can only join by defeating a current member in ritual combat.
- This is how First Mate Cox becomes chief of the cannibalistic Raiders in Nation. In that case, he meant to kill the previous chief; he just didn't know he'd get the job afterward.
- This is the usual (but not the only) method of obtaining Shardblades and Shardplate in The Stormlight Archive, although it wasn't always that way. It's usually done deliberately although it's possible that Shallan may have obtained her Shardblade at least partially accidentally. It's unclear.
- In Malevil, Emmanuel finds himself in this position after killing Wahrwoorde. His tormented family quietly accepts that Emmanuel is their new tyrant, to be abused (raped in Miette's case) at his leisure. He makes it clear that he has no intention of being anybody's master.
- In Harry Harrison's Deathworld 2 (AKA The Ethical Engineer) Jason dinAlt crash-lands on a planet that turns out to be a Lost Colony. Him and his reluctant companion (the man who kidnapped him, actually) are almost immediately captured by a nomad called Chaka, who adds them to his group of slaves. Later on, Chaka reaches the border of his territory and meets with another nomadic slaveowner. They have a fight, and Chaka ends up killing him and taking his slaves. Jason sneaks into Chaka's sleeping area at night and kills him. All the slaves automatically start calling Jason Chaka. So not only does whoever kills a slaveowner keep his possessions, they also take his name.
- An interesting case in Sergey Lukyanenko's Spectrum. The protagonist is a private investigator who specializes in looking for people who have travelled off-world. He tracks his target (a young woman whose wealthy father is very worried) to a planet of advanced Human Aliens. On his way, he is attacked by some sort of beam weapon that he barely escapes. When he finally finds the girl and explains to her that he's not here to harm her, her Human Alien colleague (who is also secretly enamoured with her) is revealed to be the shooter. He once again attempts to kill the protagonist but some quick thinking by the latter results in the former dying. The local law enforcement explains that their laws grant the victim of an attempted murder the right to claim the assailant's possessions, including his or her spouse. The protagonist agrees to keep the beam rifle but refuses the rest, especially the man's wife. The officer agrees it's a wise choice, as the woman would then simply divorce him and keep half of his possessions. Even though their culture refuses to share advanced technology with other cultures, this law supercedes everything else, meaning the protagonist gets to keep the weapon.
- In Lois McMaster Bujold's novel The Curse of Chalion, it is revealed that the Golden General had obtained a blessing from the Gods. When Fonsa the Fairly-Wise sacrificed his own life to assassinate the Golden General by magic, the blessing is transformed into a curse which afflicts the royal house of Chalion. The plot revolves around finding a way to lift the curse.
- In a sequel to The Curse of Chalion, The Paladin of Souls, a character kills a bear which is hosting a demon. The demon jumps from the dying bear to its slayer.
- Trapped on Draconica: By killing Mordak Kalak turns into Mordak.
- In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Lascelles kills a guardian knight of Faerie, hoping for a great reward. Instead, he is forced to take the knight's place - and it's implied that this role will last until someone kills him in turn, which may not be for thousands of years, if ever.
- The Mortal Instruments: How Luke becomes the new werewolf pack leader.
- And how Maureen becomes the leader of the vampire clan.
- In Julie Kagawa's The Iron Queen, Meghan learns that this is how she acquired the iron glamor abilities.
- In the novel The Godfather, this is how Vito Corleone became the Don. Vito killed Don Fanucci because he did not respect him enough to pay him for his protection. When word got around that Vito had killed Fanucci, the people who would have asked for Fanucci's protection and assistance began asking Vito for his, and he obliged them, becoming the next Don.
- On the fourth season of Charmed, Cole becomes the Big Bad after defeating him in battle.
- In the fifth season of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Hercules ends up in Ireland, where he meets Morrigan (loosely based on the Morrigan of Irish mythology) who ends up killing a godly incarnation of "Justice". Morrigan then inherits that same position.
- In Lexx, the "key" of the eponymous ship is passed on at death.
- The power can also leave if you are "Taken to the height of sexual ecstasy", which people would probably remember more easily if the most frequent captain weren't Stanley Tweedle, for whom that was never an issue (other than that one time).
- In Dead Like Me, the office of Reaper comes with an implicit (and unknown) quota of souls you have to reap before you are allowed to die. The last soul you reap becomes a Reaper to take your place.
- In an episode of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Wayne has to take the place of secret agent Dalton Pierce after Pierce accidentally kills himself with Wayne's prototype laser shaver.
- Babylon 5: Londo is a member of a Centauri dueling society, where it is customary for the winner to take the loser's family into his own. Londo's friend, who is about to be disgraced for protesting the war, challenges Londo and purposely loses to save his family from being dishonored along with him. Confirmed during "In The Beginning", where Londo tells the story of the Earth/Minbari war to the heirs of that family.
- In the Doctor Who episode The Deadly Assassin, the Doctor is framed for the murder of the Lord President of Gallifrey, and surprises everyone by announcing his candidacy to succeed him. It's a play for time.
- In Community Pierce's dad dies of a heart attack (after being yelled at by Jeff). Having written in his will that whomever kills him will inherit his ridiculous looking ivory toupee, it goes to Jeff, who really doesn't want it.
- In The Haunting Hour episode "Game Over", four kids get sucked into a video game, and are informed that they have to beat it to escape. Unfortunately, the one who lands the killing blow on the final boss is forced to take his place. The final boss says the same thing happened to him when he got sucked into the game years ago.
- Once Upon a Time: The power of the Dark One has this stipulation, which Rumplestiltskin wasn't completely aware of until it was too late.
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Quark kills a Klingon in a Bar Brawl (actually he trips and lands on his knife, but good enough) so the Klingon's wife kidnaps him and forces a nominal marriage on him until she can get a dispensation to rule her clan in her own name.
- When Xena kills Mephistopheles she has to take over his posistion as ruler of hell. Fortunately there's a very prideful angel named Lucifer that happens to be corruptible and can take her place.
- The Greek Mythology is all about that. Once there was supreme god Uranus, then his son Chronos killed him with a Sinister Scythe and succeed him. Then Chronos, in turn, was killed by his son Zeus. In the world of immortal gods, Patricide seemed to be the only way to inherit the throne. Zeus knew he'd be next, so he kept an eye on his offsprings to never let one grow strong enough to challenge him.
- There is a Japanese legend about a treasure which was guarded by a dragon. Many people tried to slay the dragon, but apparently none succeeded, even though some of them were very strong warriors. It turned out that if the warrior in question actually killed the dragon, once he saw the treasure he became a dragon himself, and guarded it from now on. The curse was only destroyed when the next winner proved his wisdom and threw the treasure in the sea.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- In Forgotten Realms the title of Magister and accompanying special powers are "inherited" by winner once Magister is defeated. This leads to Magisters being extremely dangerous wizards even before taking said powers, so while formal challenge and non-lethal combat are quite acceptable, victory usually was achieved via killing one's predecessor in some sort of surprise attack. Sometimes even unknowingly — it's easier to do while blowing up whole catacombs than in fair face-to-face battle.
- Could be considered a subversion, as Word Of God claims that the Magister's title is actually Schmuck Bait, instigated by Mystra so that hyperaggressive wizards have a prize to kill one another over, rather than leave them running loose and causing havoc for everyone else.
- The 3rd Edition Dungeon Master's Guide says that because goblins are Lawful Evil, their government is rulership by the strong. This means that if the goblin king is killed, the killer usually takes the king's place.
- A somewhat muted example, but Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem both feature the act of diablerie, which works like the Baccano example mentioned above: if one vampire drains another, more powerful vampire, consuming their soul in the process, their Generation/Blood Potency goes up a step and they gain knowledge of one of the other vampire's Disciplines. Needless to say, diablerie is considered one of the most dire sins a vampire can commit and is punished with extreme prejudice, lest all the younger vampires turn all the older ones into juice boxes.
- It also forever stains the soul/essence/ethereal wahoo of the vampire who did it. This is actually a problem largely because there are vampiric powers that allow for the seeing of souls/essences, and diablerie basically gives your essence a flashing neon sign advertising what you did.
- Furthermore, souls consumed through diablerie are not destroyed: they are perfectly preserved inside their killer's body forever, with the ability to read his mind and access his senses. Particularly strong-willed souls can take over the body and resume their previous existences.
- Inverted with Lucius the Eternal. If you kill him and take even a moment's pleasure in the act, you slowly and painfully turn into a resurrected Lucius, with your screaming face embossed on his armor. You kill it, Lucius bought you.
- Mega Man, obviously.
- Astyanax: Breaking Thorndog's seal means bringing his curse upon yourself so that you'll die with him. However, this curse is transferable...
- Gauntlet IV for the Sega Genesis serves this up in the style of the Japanese mythology mentioned above. If you succeed in killing the dragon, you'll be offered eternal life. Take the offer, and you'll rule the castle as the new dragon. Refuse, and the old dragon will revive and try to kill you. Escape, and you'll reveal to the other adventurers trying to solve this mystery that the prize for success at your quest is an offer of eternal life, which spoils the mystery such that people eventually stop going on this quest and the castle is abandoned.
- In Final Fantasy X, when Sin is defeated, it's replaced by the person who became the Final Summon. If it's defeated by the Final Summoning, that is.
- In Gotcha Force, there's a chance (fairly high for Com Mons, lowering for progressively more powerful ones) that anything you've killed in a level you've completed will be given to you for your own use. This is to encourage you to handle most of the killing duties.
- Sonic becoming the king at the end of Sonic and the Black Knight is a mix of this and "Ancient Tradition".
- In I Wanna Be the Guy, in order to become The Guy, you have to kill The Guy.
- In Makai Kingdom, Overlord Zetta destroys a Cosmic Keystone known as the Sacred Tome in a fit of pique... Unfortunately, its destruction means the destruction of his entire netherworld with it, forcing Zetta to confine his own soul inside the book and literally (pun very much intended) become the Sacred Tome in order to survive.
- Metal Gear Solid 3: After Naked Snake completes his mission by assassinating his mentor and mother figure, the Boss, he is awarded with the title of Big Boss.
- Neverwinter Nights 2: Whoever kills the spirit eater will almost certainly become its next host body.
- Well, it's more an issue of proximity, it seems - if you took him out with an arrow to the face and someone else happened to be standing closer, they'd likely pay for your trigger-happy tendencies. And then they'd eat you.
- One ending in Princess Maker 2 — the absolute worst, score-wise — has the heroine kill the King of the Underworld, only to discover that this rule applies to that position.
- It is stated in the Secret Reports of The World Ends with You that the guy who kills the Composer becomes the Composer. Three people Neku encounters have this intention; first is Joshua, who is lying through his teeth because he is the Composer, the second is Beat, who just wants to restore Rhyme, and the third is a revived Sho Minamimoto for he-of-the-Jesus Beam only knows why. It never comes to it, mind, but that tidbit is there for you to know.
- In the first Valkyrie Profile, Lenneth recruits at least three souls (Jelanda, Jin, and Gandar) by killing them herself. Jin's recruitment is a specific reference to the Japanese example in Mythology above, although Lenneth solves the problem by, well, killing Jin/the monster to take his soul (playing the trope straight in a fashion different from the myth).
- In Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria, Hrist decides the quickest way to make sure Arngrihm stops being an obstacle is to kill him and force him to serve her. By the time it stops working, she's about ready for her own Heel-Face Turn.
- At least three Dragoon Spirits in The Legend of Dragoon were transferred in this fashion.
- This happened to the hero in the first Diablo game. After killing Diablo and removing the soulstone from its forehead and freeing his former host, the hero rams the thing into his own forehead, becoming Diablo and taking his place, which brings us full circle to where we started.
- In Phantom Brave, if you kill people, you will be able to summon them as Phantoms. Naturally, this fun system leads to the cold-blooded murders of old men and blacksmiths by a cute little girl.
- In Conkers Bad Fur Day, you are crowned king of the Panthers after being held responsible for the death of the previous king.
- In Blood, the dark god Tchernobog turns out to be the force that binds reality together. Guess who's responsible for that after you kill him?
- This ends up being one of the major forces behind the plot in Blood 2 - Caleb's refusal to use these powers for over a century results in creatures from another reality invading his.
- This is the bad ending in Streets of Rage.
- World of Warcraft (3.3.0) includes a quest that reveals that 'There must always be a Lich King'. It appears that the transfer of power and title aren't automatic, but if the mantle isn't accepted, the only thing holding the Scourge back would be released. However, the trope was ultimately subverted. Upon the Lich King's defeat, Tirion Fordring picks up the fallen Crown and reluctantly places it upon the head of Bolvar Fordragon.
- In the previous Warcraft games, becoming the chieftan of an Orc clan (or the Warchief of the entire Horde) would work this way. Orgrim Doomhammer became Warchief by killing the then-existing Warchief, Blackhand. On the other hand, Orgrim was killed by a human knight, and he passed leadership to Thrall rather than to the knight. So maybe it only works as long as the killer is another orc.
- The title wouldn't pass to the guard for two reasons. For one, the guard was likely killed as soon as he struck Orgrim. And two, he struck Orgrim from behind, and the orcs would never accept a coward as warchief.
- It was later clearly revealed via Warcrafts vastExpanded universe that Orgrimm died against the enemy generals successor Turalyon after slaying said general in the battle under Blackrock mountain.
- Furthermore Thrall became warchief of the "new horde" which he assembled from the shattered rests of the old defeated horde.
- Ogres work the same way. In Dire Maul, when you defeat the current king, the rest of the Ogres turn friendly and declare you their new king; part of the challenge is killing the king while killing as few ogres as possible, which increases the tribute you receive at the end.
- Happens in ANY game where you loot the corpses of those whom you have felled.
- In Suikoden IV and Suikoden Tactics it's made clear that the Rune of Punishment is granted to whoever manages to take out the current bearer. It doesn't help that the rune eats the life force of the wielder whenever it is used.
- In Dragon Age: Origins ľ Awakening, the Warden is now made the Arl of Amaranthine due to the fact that he/she killed Rendon Howe, the previous Arl in the original game and his lands are now Grey Warden property. Though this is less because the Warden killed the Arl and more because the Arl was considered a traitor and a criminal by the end of Origins, which led to his family losing their lands. And since Ferelden happened to own the Grey Wardens a great deal... Anyway, the point is that it wasn't all the important who killed Rendon Howe (he probably would have been eventually executed even if he had somehow survived his confrontation with the Warden).
- How ranking up is done in both No More Heroes and Madworld.
- In God of War the Olympians plot to kill Ares, the God of War by using Kratos as their pawn. They don't like Ares because he's being a jerk. After Kratos kills Ares, he becomes the God of War himself, taking his place where Ares left off and being an even bigger jerk than Ares was, bringing the Olympians full circle.
- Mass Effect 2's DLC "Lair of The Shadow Broker" has you going up against the eponymous Knowledge Broker kingpin. Once you off him, Liara takes over and aims to put a newer friendlier obscured silhouette face on the organization, as well as turn the monolithic info network fully towards Shepard's cause. Oh, and the Broker you killed got his position by killing the previous broker, so who's to say that that one didn't do the same thing?
- Which becomes Hilarious in Hindsight when you remember that one of two dialogue options to Liara at the end of her mini-questline is "Don't become the thing you're hunting." Ironic, much?
- Technically, there was nothing that forced Liara to be the new Shadow Broker. She could have simply left the headless organization to rot. However it was too good an opportunity to pass up, and seeing as how Liara was already pretty good with the Knowledge Broker business herself, it all worked out.Also Liara's conscience forces her to become the new Shadow Broker. The Shadow Broker keeps himself in power by regulating the flow of information to his clients - that way, nobody can gain a permanent advantage over the others. Some of the information his agents find could tip the balance of galactic politics or start wars. For this precise reason, his agents cannot sell any information without his say-so. If he was to die, presumably all his agents would find themselves out of a job, but in possession of secrets worth trillions of credits. Guess what would happen next...
- In one of the comics which focuses on Captain Bailey, you learn that this is essentially how Bailey got his job, when he was forced to kill Pallin while investigating him, upon which Councillor Udina gives him Pallin's old job. Bailey however feels kind of guilty due to the fact that he believes Pallin to be innocent of whatever he's accused of.
- Being the Leveler in Myth appears to work like this, although with an extremely long delay
- This is how salvage works in a lot of the Mech Warrior games where it is implemented. If you manage to kill the 'Mech with a minimum of Stuff Blowing Up, there's a very good chance that players can salvage their enemies' war machines. This is most often seen in games with "Mercenaries" figuring in the title or the protagonists' plotline.
- League of Legends: If any enemy hero has a buff which was granted by killing a neutral opponent ("jungling"), killing that hero will transfer that buff to the killer. Except for one special buff, gained by killing the game's Bonus Boss during a round, which simply goes away.
- In the Chzo Mythos, anyone killed with Frehorn's Blade becomes a powerful spirit, but is at the command of their killer. A loophole exists for those who kill themselves with the blade. Since you get put in command of yourself, like you already are, you just become a powerful spirit with no downside. This is how Malcolm Somerset becomes the Caretaker.
- Space Pirates And Zombies practically runs with this trope. You want a ship, beat the nine shades of it, get the blueprints, and you can use it afterwards. Then, capital ships happen and make you realize there is a reason they are called capital ships.
- In Shin Megami Tensei, you often get the ability to fuse previous bosses as your new minions after defeating them in combat. In another example, destroying each of the Bel demons in Devil Survivor grants you several stat points, as you are essentially devouring that demon's power and adding it to your own.
- Choosing to pick up the orb which dropped after killing the final boss in Magic Sword turned your character into the new final boss.
- Saints Row IV: The President was really only out to kill Zinyak to avenge Earth, but he or she certainly doesn't object to being the new Emperor afterward. Kinzie mentions the page quote as the President its on the throne..
- In Dragon's Dogma this is revealed to be the entire point of the game. During the final battle with the Seneschal he reveals to the Arisen (the player) that all of the events of the game were in order to "temper the fires of creation" within the Arisen, so that they could adequately take the Senechal's place as the world's keeper. Furthermore when playing on New Game+, upon reaching the Final Boss (again) the original Senechal is replaced with the Arisen who defeated him on the first playthrough.
- The Twenty-Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors of the Nasuverse work this way: if you manage to kill one, you usurp its position on the list. Because of this, they even have a few non-vampires in their ranks, notably Primate Murder (only included because it killed an Ancestor and happens to enjoy drinking blood, which the Ancestors decided was "close enough") and ORT (an Eldritch Abomination which killed one of the Ancestors in its sleep, included because none of the other Ancestors are stupid enough to disturb it).
- In Sluggy Freelance, Bun-Bun took over just about every holiday this way in a years-long subplot. He's finally defeated when the groundhog shadow which is linked with Bun-bun kills and steals the position of the old year— a few seconds before 12:00 AM, New Year's Day, where the old year will officially die taking Bun-Bun with him. Bun-Bun then has to go and hit the in-plot Reset Button to save himself.
- In this Wonderella strip Wonderella inherits a squad of ninja.
- Errant Story: In addition to more typical methods, any student who can successfully challenge the entire faculty graduates.
- Satan in The Gods Of Arr Kelaan works like this. Ronson eventually managed to give up the position by proving his predecessor's death wasn't his fault.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Franz Rayner's master plan is that by killing the President of the United States, he will become the President. Of course, the implausibility of that plan is immediately pointed out, and Rayner admits that while the US Government doesn't work that way, the rest of the plan revolves around convincing the rest of the world that it does.
- Richard the Warlock from Looking for Group has inherited at least one title ("Mistress of Magma") that way, and considering his habits as well as his abundance of titles, possibly more.
- Sam of Sam and Fuzzy didn't actually kill the heads of the Ninja Mafia, but everyone else in the room was dead, so...
- In The Order of the Stick, Redcloak, upon being told he could become Supreme Leader of the hobgoblins by killing the current leader in single combat, promptly cast "Slay Living" on the hobgoblin putting him through the humiliating rituals to become an honorary hobgoblin. Xykon then turned to the nearest hobgoblin and asked if the dead hobgoblin was the Supreme Leader. The hobgoblin, wearing the headdress and necklace of Supreme Leadership and wielding the sceptre of Supreme Leadership, said "Yes. Yes he was".
- In Snarlbear, after the hero kills the titular beast, she is given its name.
- This is how the last of The Holders, the Holder of Legion, got his job. In turn, if you complete the stupendous task of gathering the other 2537 Objects, your only way to get the final one is to kill him and become Holder of Legion yourself.
- In episode 4 of the flash animation series Bad Guys, Bad Guys Go To Hell, the green guy killed the devil and took his place as ruler of Hell. Then it turns out the blue guy killed God last week and took his place as supreme deity. Now everyone in Heaven has to spend an eternity in hard labor building Him a giant palace. The Bad Guys quickly decide that Hell is better since you "only" get hot pokers shoved up your ass over there, and just go to Hell. Going back and forth between the two places isn't very hard anyway since they are right next to each other.
Blue Guy: Medammit!
- In Karen Wehrstein's Philosopher in Arms, the protagonist is forced into a gladiator-like fighting arena. When the fighters kill someone, they inherit everything they have. Since these fighters are all forced into the arena, that usually just means slaves, jewelry, and other gifts from fans, but the protagonist has to kill one man who was integrated into society and returned to the arena just to fight him. He ends up inheriting the man's home, wife, children, and teaching position at the university.
- According to The Dark Id, Caim, after being killed, went on to become the new Grim Reaper after submitting an application that said, "I murdered the shit out of the last guy."
- Rat King by JohnSu on Deviant ART.
- In Worm, one of the powers that the supervillain Butcher had was that anyone who killed him would inherit weaker versions of the powers of all previous Butchers, along with their voices giving guidance.
- A Simpsons Treehouse of Horror had Homer become the Grim Reaper this way.
- In Metalocalypse, Charles indicates that the only way to get his job as CFO for Dethklok is to kill him first. But since fucking with his bread-and-butter is a bad idea, he's dispatched everyone whose come to take his job.
- In Futurama. Fry accidentally drank the Emperor of Trisol, thereby assassinating him. He was then crowned the new emperor. In fact, pretty much all of the emperors got their jobs by drinking the current emperor.
- Indeed, they have placeholder portraits for "Fry's assassin" and "Fry's assassin's assassin"
: Well, at least my assassin will get what's coming to him.
- Those assassins utterly fail to drink Fry, because he is solid, not liquid like Trisolians.
- Subverted in The Venture Bros.. Rusty discovers a cult of personality living under the Venture Compound. They worship his father through a set of video tapes of personal hygiene. Rusty proceeds to "kill" their god by removing the tapes, thinking they will make him their new god. They don't.
- One episode of Family Guy plays with this trope more humorously. The Grim Reaper visits Peter's house and he twists and breaks his ankle. While he is resting comfortably in the house, he tasks Peter with killing people for him - though this happens because while he's incapacitated, no one can die and Peter screws up and lets the world know, causing chaos. Thus, Peter takes on the job because someone has to do it.
- On an episode of the animated series of Jumanj, there was a part where the heroes trick the hunter Van Pelt into falling off a cliff. Before Van Pelt does however, Peter somehow grabs his whip. Over the episode, Peter gradually morphs into Van Pelt because "there must always be a Van Pelt. It's the rules of the game." He even goads Alan into killing him just so Alan can become Van Pelt.
- In Shadow Raiders, this is the official law for royal succession on Planet Bone. They may be Proud Warrior Race Guys, but they also highly respect cunning, ambition and ruthlessness; assassinating the previous king is the tradition for taking power.
- In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this is how Pre Vizsla meets his end in battle. After having locked up Savage Oppress and his brother, Darth Maul, the brothers escape and Maul challenges Vizsla to combat, one warrior to another. Maul ends up winning, and takes both Vizsla's darksaber and his head before assuming the leadership of Death Watch and the true leader of Mandalore...for a while anyway.
- In The Golden Bough, James Fraser discusses the "year king", a religious concept in which a person rules over a tribe as a god for one year. The problem is that a god is not supposed to grow old, so when the year is up the next king ritually kills the last one.
- The Golden Bough actually begins with an examination of the Rex Nemorensis, a priest of Diana at a shrine at Lake Nemi. Each 'King' was by traditional practice a fugitive slave who killed his predecessor after acquiring the titular bough somewhere in the sacred grove. Caligula is recorded as having sent a strong young man to dispose of an aging Rex.
- "You break it, you own it." - Secretary of State Colin Powell to George W. Bush before the Iraq War.
- In a way, applied to Vietnam, similar to the Lich King example above, kind of. The FRENCH broke it, then handed it to the US, then the commies wanted it, but the Americans didn't want to give it up, but then they did anyway, and then the Soviets broke it further. Now none of the three own it, after they took the mantle themselves after the fall of the union.
- And of course, one could mention that America killed the Soviet Union and bought the mujahadeen.
- In 1864 the President of Bolivia, JosÚ MarÝa Achß, was deposed in a coup d'etat by General Mariano Melgarejo. Manuel Belz˙, who had been president until his deposition in another coup d'etat ten years earlier and was in exile in Europe, returned to Bolivia to challenge Melgarejo for the presidency. Civil war ensued. Belz˙ and Melgarejo then agreed to meet in La Paz's Palace of the Government to negotiate a peace, but once they were inside Melgarejo just shot Belz˙ instead. Hearing then Belz˙'s supporters chanting Long Life to Belz˙ in the square bellow, in front of the palace, Melgarejo showed up on the balcony carrying Belz˙'s corpse and said: "Belz˙ is dead. Who lives now?". The crowd immediately began to chant Long Life to Melgarejo.