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Spiteful Will

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A person's will consists of one last post-mortem middle finger to their hated peers.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Psi001 on Dec 30th 2017 at 4:07:27 PM
Last Edited By:
Theharbo on May 23rd 2018 at 5:46:30 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

"... To my layabout, brain-defective sons, Blutarch and Redmond, I leave the greatest curse of all: partnership. What land I have purchased in this new world is to be split evenly between you both. You have wasted your lives bickering over nothing, and so I leave you dimwits something of consequence over to which to feud."
— The last will and testament of Zephaniah Mann, and the reason for the Forever War of Team Fortress 2

Following a person's death, their family and associates all come to their wake and await the reading of their will, and any potential inheritance.

As it turns out, the dead has used their will to deliver one final "The Reason You Suck" Speech to one, or all, of them and ensure that any inheritance directed towards them in the will will make their lives as miserable as possible (often by invoking that it is On One Condition). Common in Black Comedy media, where the dead in question (almost always a curmudgeon elderly Jerkass) will no doubt use their will to get the last laugh on their Sitcom Arch-Nemesis or gold digging relatives in death.

May result from the relatives being Inadequate Inheritors in the eyes of the deceased, almost always combined with Silly Will when Played for Laughs. Compare Dying Declaration of Hate, which is done as the person is dying rather than being prepared while 'of sound mind'.


Examples:

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    Comics 
  • The Punisher MAX: During the "Kitchen Irish" arc, Old Man Nesbitt (the incredibly ancient head of The Irish Mob) was well known for his hatred of everyone under his orders, repeating his catchphrase "Shower o' cunts" ad nauseum. In his will, he leaves his fortune to four of them in the form of partial codes, fully expecting them to murder one another to get it. In fact, the four survivors agree to share their codes to spite Nesbitt (who was greatly responsible for their evil lifestyle thanks to his constant insults, put-downs, and molesting)... only to see the inheritance consists of a block of C4 with a 5-second timer. With "cunts" written on it.

     Literature 
  • Soul Music: One of Susan's first cases (she takes up the Duty as her grandfather is absent) is a horrible old man who's hidden his will from his obnoxious relatives. And as they start tearing up the room looking for it, the man's ghost reveals it's in the cat's basket... and he left everything to the cat. Not even as kindness- he hated the cat as well, so he fully expects his family to kill the cat before turning on each other.
  • In the John Grisham novel The Testament, billionaire Troy Phelan presents the lawyers representing his ex-wives and multiple heirs with a will guaranteeing them each of them a sizeable portion of his estate. As soon as they have left the room, he presents his own lawyers with a new will which overrides the previous one - and which will only give everyone just enough money to pay off their debts and leaves everything else to an illegitimate daughter - then throws himself out of a window.

     Live Action Television 
  • Jane the Virgin: Rafael receives this treatment when his father dies. His father's will said that he's only leaving money to his biological children (his sister Luisa, Rafael was adopted when he was younger and Rafael was left with nothing.
  • The Twilight Zone: In the episode "The Masks", a dying millionaire changes his will to force his heirs to wear hideous masks for one night or be disinherited, while he himself wears a death's-head mask. He gleefully informs each of them how his or her mask embodies that heir's individual character flaws. The heirs complain, but each is driven by greed to keep the masks on. At the end of the night the millionaire is dead of natural causes and all the heirs faces have been transformed to the shape of their mask.
  • One episode of WKRP in Cincinnati opens with Jennifer dating an older man who suddenly dies in the middle of dinner. She attends his will reading which is done via videotape and he gratuitously insults his relatives. She however is granted a large sum of money which she announces will be used for a parade to honor veterans.

     Radio 
  • The Frantics' "Last Will and Temperament" skit takes the form of a will reading which consists of everyone present being called out on their flaws and recieving a "boot to the head" (except the lawyer reading the will, who instead is bequeathed a rabid badger shoved down his trousers).

     Video Games 
  • The Miser's Will in Diablo 3:
    "To my sniveling offspring: if you are reading this, then I am dead and you have come to claim my fortune. Well, you still can't have it! I have set traps to stop you from even trying. So, enjoy the rest of your poor, miserable, and cowardly lives.
  • Team Fortress 2 exists because of this trope. Zepheniah Mann was convinced by his two sons to purchase large areas of land in frontier America. On his journey over to see his newly purchased land he was struck with almost every illness known to man and was shocked to find it an empty and useless desert. Needless to say: He wasn't happy with his sons and in his will he never refers to them without some derogatory prefix: 'dunderheaded', 'addle-pated' 'layabout', and 'brain-defective' are all used. As the final spiteful spit he leaves them each half of his estate so they have to work together to get anything done, knowing they would never stop bickering - indeed, it's not long before both resort to hiring mercenaries to take the other half by force, starting their Forever War which is the game's setting.

     Western Animation 
  • In the South Park episode "Best Friends Forever", after some fond words toward Stan and Kyle, Kenny's will laments that he never liked Cartman and he will likely die alone due to lacking any empathy. Unlike standard examples however, he does hand him the desired inheritance of a games console, if only out of pity.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Peter Peter Caviar Eater", Lois' late Aunt Margarite has a rather lavish Lifestyle Of The Rich And Famous style video will, and, like the rest of Lois' family, doesn't turn down the chance to pick a bone with Peter:
    Aunt Margarite: Lois, you were always my favorite niece; I just knew you would find a wonderful man who would make all your dreams come true. But I was wrong.
    Peter: *watching present day* And now you're dead. Score one for Peter.
  • Loretta's will in the spin-off The Cleveland Show is a rather elaborately spiteful example, not only does she not leave a cent to Cleveland and hand it all to their son Junior, but she is also savvy enough to mandate that Junior cannot share any of the money with him as a loophole.
  • When Grandpa Phil is convinced he's dying in a day in Hey Arnold!, he actually does a rare pre-mortem reading of his own will, seemingly wanting to be alive to see the looks on his tenants' faces when he tells them they're getting squat from him.
  • In the ''Batman: The Animated Series" episode "Joker's Millions", the Joker inherits millions of dollars from a recently deceased mob boss King Barlowe. The Joker starts recklessly spending money on everything he can think of, and ends up owing a ton of back taxes. The real kicker comes in when he learns that only the first ten million dollars he inherited were real money, while the rest is counterfeit, since Barlowe's last will was merely a huge gag at the Joker's expense.

Indexes: Death Tropes, Will And Inheritance Tropes, Hatred Tropes

Feedback: 28 replies

Dec 30th 2017 at 5:40:15 PM

  • The Twilight Zone: In the episode "The Masks", a dying millionaire changes his will to force his heirs to wear hideous masks for one night or be disinherited, while he himself wears a death's-head mask. He gleefully informs each of them how his or her mask embodies that heir's individual character flaws. The heirs complain, but each is driven by greed to keep the masks on. At the end of the night the millionaire is dead of natural causes and all the heirs faces have been transformed to the shape of their mask.

Dec 30th 2017 at 7:27:59 PM

Live Action Television

  • One episode of WKRP In Cincinnati opens with Jennifer dating an older man who suddenly dies in the middle of dinner. She attends his will reading which is done via videotape and he gratuitously insults his relatives. She however is granted a large sum of money which she announces will be used for a parade to honor veterans.

Dec 30th 2017 at 8:30:10 PM

May result from the relatives being Inadequate Inheritors

Dec 30th 2017 at 9:40:07 PM

The Punisher MAX: During the "Kitchen Irish" arc, Old Man Nesbitt (the incredibly ancient head of The Irish Mob) was well known for his hatred of everyone under his orders, repeating his catchphrase "Shower o' cunts" ad nauseum. In his will, he leaves his fortune to four of them in the form of partial codes, fully expecting them to murder one another to get it. In fact, the four survivors agree to share their codes to spite Nesbitt (who was greatly responsible for their evil lifestyle thanks to his constant insults, put-downs, and molesting)... only to see the inheritance consists of a block of C4 with a 5-second timer. With "cunts" written on it.

Dec 31st 2017 at 3:47:12 AM

  • Played for laughs in The Frantics sketch "Last Will And Temperament," where instead of bequeathing his possessions to his relatives and household, the wealthy Arthur Muldoon leaves them all "boots to the head." (Except for his brother, who gets his wine cellar and a boot to the head, and his lawyer, who gets a rabid live Tasmanian devil in his pants). Instead, his entire fortune goes to the people of Calgary, so they can afford to move somewhere decent.

Jan 1st 2018 at 6:18:49 AM

  • In the John Grisham novel The Testament, billionaire Troy Phelan presents the lawyers representing his ex-wives and multiple heirs with a will guaranteeing them each of them a sizeable portion of his estate. As soon as they have left the room, he presents his own lawyers with a new will which overrides the previous one - and which will only give everyone just enough money to pay off their debts and leaves everything else to an illegitimate daughter - then throws himself out of a window.

  • The Miser's Will in Diablo 3:
    "To my sniveling offspring: if you are reading this, then I am dead and you have come to claim my fortune. Well, you still can't have it! I have set traps to stop you from even trying. So, enjoy the rest of your poor, miserable, and cowardly lives.
    Gozek"

Dec 31st 2017 at 3:49:55 PM

  • Team Fotress 2 exists because of this trope. Zepheniah Mann, was convinced by his two sons to purchase large areas of land in frontier America. On his journey over to see his newly purchased land, he was struck with almost every illness known to man, and was shocked to find it an empty and useless desert. Needless to say: He wasn't happy with his sons, and in his will he never refers to them without some derogatory prefix: 'dunderheaded', 'addle-pated' 'layabout', and 'brain-defective' are all used. As the final spiteful spit he leaves them each half of his estate so that they have to work together to get anything done, knowing they would never stop bickering - indeed, it's not long before both resort to hiring mercenaries to take the other half by force, starting their Forever War which is the game's setting.

As for page quotes, how about this?

"I, Zephaniah Mann, being of sound mind, do hereby vow to haunt the Earth as a horrifying poltergeist, until such time as I have quenched my all-consuming thirst for vengeance against the world and especially against my dunderhead sons. If it takes a brave man to admit he is in error, then surely a man willing to admit both of his sons are stumble-bum muttonheads is twice as brave [...] To my layabout, brain-defective sons, Blutarch and Redmond, I leave the greatest curse of all- partnership. What land I have purchased in this new world is to be split evenly between you both. You have wasted your lives bickering over nothing, and so I leave you dimwits something of consequence over to which to feud."

It might be a bit lengthy, but it does illustrate just how far the guy was willing to go to get back at them.

Otherwise: possible page image

Dec 31st 2017 at 6:38:12 AM

  • The Frantics' "Last Will and Temperament" skit takes the form of a will reading which consists of everyone present being called out on their flaws and recieving a "boot to the head" (except the lawyer reading the will, who instead is bequeathed a rabid badger shoved down his trousers).

Dec 31st 2017 at 6:45:22 AM

  • Examples section
    • De-capitalized (Will).
    • Changed media section titles to All Caps.
    • Corrected spelling (tenants faces -> tenants' faces).

Mar 7th 2018 at 11:53:19 PM

Grabbing this. It had been idle since New Year's

Mar 8th 2018 at 2:17:07 AM

Soul Music: One of Susan's first cases (she takes up the Duty as her grandfather is absent) is a horrible old man who's hidden his will from his obnoxious relatives. And as they start tearing up the room looking for it, the man's ghost reveals it's in the cat's basket... and he left everything to the cat. Not even as kindness- he hated the cat as well, so he fully expects his family to kill the cat before turning on each other.

Mar 9th 2018 at 1:47:22 AM

edit: deleted as Silly Will fits better

Mar 19th 2018 at 11:03:26 AM

Jane The Virgin: Rafael receives this treatment when his father dies. His father's will said that he's only leaving money to his biological children (his sister Luisa, Rafael was adopted when he was younger and Rafael was left with nothing.

Mar 22nd 2018 at 8:10:17 AM

Page quote is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long.

Apr 6th 2018 at 10:03:19 PM

  • Scooby Doo episode "A Night of Fright is No Delight" (also the variation of the episode on Supernatural) the dead person names his heirs and promises them equal sums of money On One Condition. They must spend the night in his mansion, which the dead Colonel believed is haunted. By the time the Meddling Kids have solved the mystery and unmasked the lawyer as trying to scare everyone off so he would inherit in their stead — it turns out the inheritance is worthless: all in Confederate currency.

Apr 7th 2018 at 8:20:49 AM

^ I'm not sure if that would count as "spiteful", as I recall the deceased liked at least one of the named inheritors (Scooby).

Apr 7th 2018 at 8:47:16 AM

  • At the end of Flodder 3, the billionaire who had been pretending to be a bum to get away from his gold-digging relatives admits that he rewrote his will so that all his money would go to charity. When Ma Flodder asks if they know this already, he snorts "Nah, let them discover that at the funeral!"

Apr 7th 2018 at 12:58:36 PM

^^ Does that include spite in the will. The point of this trope is using the will as a final The Reason You Suck Speech

Apr 7th 2018 at 1:55:59 PM

That seems rather narrow to me. Is the will itself supposed to be spiteful, or is it just "Post-Mortem The Reason You Suck Speech"?

Apr 8th 2018 at 2:23:54 PM

The will itself needs to be spiteful. It needs to make clear in no uncertain terms that the one who wrote it does not think highly of the relatives.

May 22nd 2018 at 6:20:18 AM

I completely forgot about this one, launching in two hours.

May 22nd 2018 at 10:37:50 AM

^Timestamp as I write this is 2 hours ago... any second now...? (one hour or so later) Just Launch It Already!

May 23rd 2018 at 5:13:39 AM

Unlaunched so the launcher can fix the title.

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