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Legacy Characters in live-action TV.


  • In The Amazing Extraordinary Friends, Ben is the latest of a long line of heroes to bear the name Captain Extraordinary, due to the powers being bestowed by the X insignia. Unbeknownst to him, this includes his father.
  • Unlike most superhero adaptations, the Arrowverse doesn't avert this trope. It has indeed become part of the original show's DNA to introduce a character who serves as a precursor to the later, more iconic version of the character, while later shows handle it their own way:
    • In the show's continuity, Yao Fei was the first "Green Arrow" (though he doesn't go by the name). Oliver inherits the mantle (literally, with the green hood) and develops the "Hood/Arrow" persona in honor of him.
      • Subverted by Oliver, who as "Green Arrow" claims to be the legacy character of his own Arrow persona.
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    • Sara Lance was the original (Black) Canary, and she symbolically passed on the mantle to Laurel by giving her the Canary jacket. After Sara's death at the start of Season 3, Laurel starts down the path to becoming the new Canary, to honor her dead sister. Sara is then resurrected as the White Canary, and Laurel is eventually murdered. Following her death, Evelyn Sharp briefly acts as the Black Canary...but is little more than a murderer. Laurel's actual successor is Dinah Drake.
    • The original Count Vertigo, who appeared in the first two seasons, was a drug-dealing psychopath known simply as "the Count" who was eventually Killed Off for Real by the Arrow. At the start of Season 3, he is replaced by a crime boss named Werner Zytle (who is the one and only "Count Vertigo" in the comics). This trope is specifically invoked when the new Vertigo tells Arrow "There will always be a Vertigo".
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    • Combining this with Age Lift and Decomposite Character, Ra's Al-Ghul is this: while this incarnation does use the Lazarus Pit to extend his life as in other non-Nolan incarnations, Ra's al Ghul is only a title and unlike the 500-700+ year old man in the comics, each Ra's only rules the League of Assassins for 200 years.
    • Played straight with Oliver himself in the Bad Future depicted in Legends of Tomorrow with Connor Hawke (born John Diggle, Jr.) taking up the bow and hood after Oliver Queen's supposed death. Even after Oliver returns, he allows Hawke to keep the title, claiming that he has earned it. The same episode also reveals that Slade Wilson's son Grant has inherited his father's armor, sword, and the name Deathstroke.
    • Also played straight with the Trickster in The Flash (2014). James Jesse has terrorized Central City decades ago, but has been locked up in Iron Heights since then. Then Axel Walker, calling himself "the Trickster" appears and starts terrorizing the city again. Jesse appears angry at the upstart taking up his moniker without permission, but it turns out that he was Walker's secret mentor... and father. There are also the names Weather Wizard (given first to Clyde Mardon and then his brother Mark due to their similar powers) and Firestorm (the original Firestorm consisted of Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein; the next Firestorm has Jefferson Jackson replacing Ronnie). There are also several characters called "Flash", but they're all from different worlds/realities.
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    • The Flash plays it straight again, in a downright horrifying and heartbreaking way, in Season 5: it's eventually revealed that the Cicada active in Nora's time isn't Orlin Dwyer, but his niece Grace, who has grown up to take up his mantle and anti-metahuman vendetta.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy is but one of generations of Slayers stretching back probably to the Stone Age. Each time a slayer is killed, a new one's power is awakened and she replaces the one before her.
    • After Buffy was revived by CPR, which counted as a temporary death, a new slayer (Kendra) was called, and the cycle continued with her, with another slayer (Faith) taking Kendra's place after her death. This resulted in 2 slayers existing at the same time (aside from Buffy's temporary death at the end of season 5/beginning of season 6) for most of the series.
    • This cycle ends at the end of the season 7 finale, where many potential slayers were activated around the world all at once.
    • In the Season 8 comics, other slayers continued to be called activated at different times, though this stopped at the end of that series when magic disappeared from that dimension, and only the current slayers were left. Fray, which takes place centuries later, has the protagonist become a "half" slayer, as she shared her power with her twin brother.
  • In Dead Like Me, each Reaper has a quota (unknown to themselves); when they collect enough souls, they go on to the real afterlife, and the last person collected becomes a Reaper.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The main character is probably the most famous Meta example, with the regeneration Plot Device being used to carry the same in-universe characters (the Doctor and other Time Lords) across multiple real life actors. The show has been running for half a century and is on its 13th Doctor, or technically 15th, with two Doctors not numbered (the War Doctor, the 9th regeneration, and the Meta-Crisis Doctor, the 12th regeneration). Being chosen to portray the Doctor is, in some circles, akin to being chosen Pope.
    • Invoked in the first episode of the revived series, "Rose", where the Conspiracy Theorist that Rose meets for information about the Doctor is under the mistaken belief that the various appearances of the Ninth Doctor in various time periods and references to him throughout history make "the Doctor" an inherited title that is passed on from one generation to the next, likely from father to son. Amusingly, the part of his theory that convinces Rose that he's nuts, that the Doctor is an alien from another world, is the one part that he's actually correct about.
    • Harriet Jones makes a similar assumption about the Tenth Doctor, having previously met the Ninth. When Ten brings up something only the Doctor would know, she's astonished to realise they're actually the same man.
    • In a more straight example, there's also Kate Stewart, who takes over her father, long time reoccurring companion and Vitriolic Best Buds to the Doctor, The Brigadier's role as "no nonsense Lethbridge-Stewart that keeps the zany alien scientific advisor in line". Technically her title isn't "Brigadier", but she fills the role right down to commanding the troops, and her modus operandi is a lesson the Doctor taught her father, "science leads".
  • In Help I'm A Teenaged Outlaw, Tom inherited the role of the highwayman Swiftnick from his mother, who inherited it from her father (who might have been intended as the historic Swift Nick).
  • On Human Target, the identity of Christopher Chance seems to be a Dread Pirate Roberts sort of deal; in the first season finale we meet the previous holder of the name (played by Lee Majors) and he explains that he picked it up from another guy. The current Christopher Chance used to be an assassin, and it's implied that the one before him was one as well.
  • Kamen Rider avoided having legacy characters until the franchise's revival in the 2000's, when each season was set in a self-contained continuity:
    • In Kamen Rider Kuuga, Godai Yusuke is actually the second Kuuga, with the original having been active only 2000 years ago. Onodera Yusuke later inherits the role in Kamen Rider Decade, though that's more of a lateral move since Onodera is Godai's Alternate Universe counterpart.
    • In Kamen Rider Ryuki, all the Riders were chosen by Kanzaki Shiro except for Shinji and Miyuki - both of them got their Rider Decks after the original Ryuki and Raia died respectively.
    • Kamen Rider Den-O's third movie introduced Ryotaro's Grandkid from the Future Kotaro, who was the Den-O of his era (usually called "New Den-O" by promotional materials and fans, just to keep things from getting confusing).
    • Similarly, the final episode of Kamen Rider Kiva had the protagonist's son come back from the future to warn of a new threat and transform into New Kiva.
    • In Kamen Rider Decade, Hibiki passes his powers onto his young protegee Asumu when his own Oni powers go berserk, making Asumu the second Hibiki.
      • This is, in fact, a carryover from the original Kamen Rider Hibiki, in which it's common for new Riders to take the name of their retiring mentors (though it's just as common for them to create their own name). We don't actually see it happen though; at most we hear Zanki occasionally reminiscing.
    • Shintaro Goto inherits the mantle of Kamen Rider Birth after the first one, Akira Date, retires from the post.
    • Kamen Rider Drive's movie reveals that in the future, Shinnosuke's son Eiji took up the mantle of Drive from his father.
  • In Legend of the Seeker, the titular title is given by a powerful wizard to the person he believes can solve the current crisis. The Seeker is given the Sword of Truth for the job. In one episode, Richard is reading the story of his predecessor, who defeated his enemies before dying from the wounds by his Confessor's side. He later finds out that the story is a lie. The previous Seeker gave in to his temptation and slept with his Confessor, becoming hopelessly devoted to her. At his wizard's urging, the Confessor committed suicide to free the Seeker from her spell (the only way to un-Confess someone), but the Seeker went berserk and slaughtered innocents. His wizard then killed him and falsified the story in order to keep the title pure. In later episodes, two others are named Seeker, although it always goes back to Richard in the end. A Bad Future hallucination has Richard find out that there have been at least three Seekers after him.
  • Buster, the MythBusters' long-suffering Companion Cube and mascot, had his crash-test-dummy body rebuilt or replaced on multiple occasions, but always retained the name. At least once, Adam insisted on incorporating parts from the previous dummy's demolished carcass so as to justify this trope.
  • In an episode of NCIS, a forger is discovered to have passed his title onto another man. Complete with a Lampshade Hanging/Shout-Out to The Princess Bride!
  • A non-genre example from The Newsroom: It's mentioned a few times that Elliot Hirsch, the new 10 PM anchor, is Will's heir apparent as the lead anchor and face of ACN.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Technically, The Big Bad Wolf of all characters is this. Red's grandmother was turned into a werewolf by Red's grandfather, and both Red and her mother were passed the lycanthropy curse.
    • Also, Aurora's mother was the original Sleeping Beauty.
    • The title of Dark One is passed down through generations, though these generations can get quite long since the Dark Ones are all immortal, and the only way to inherit the title is to kill the current Dark One. The lineage ends when Rumplestiltskin sacrifices himself in the series finale, having been stripped of his immortality and leaving his Wish Realm counterpart as the last Dark One. Since the two are linked, the original's sacrifice takes the Wish Realm version with him, erasing the Darkness once and for all.
  • The Onion News Network features Tucker Hope, which is actually a position on the news crew filled by various men who go through Tucker training in order to fill their role. One Tucker Hope was even fired on the air after having a breakdown and declaring that his name was Peter. When the episode came back from the commercial break, a new Tucker Hope was already present.
  • There was an interesting twist in Padre Coraje, a telenovela about a Non-Powered Costumed Hero who moved into the village of La Cruz posing as the new priest Juan. He was not, the real priest was killed in the countryside and Coraje could not save him, and replaced him instead to have a Secret Identity in the village. The problem was when he was shot and forgot everything. The people told him that he was the priest (because that was what they thought), and he believed that. The whereabouts of Coraje were unknown for everyone: he must have died, or left, or gave up, or whatever. And one day, after a conflict with the mayor, an union leader told him:
    Man: The people need a leader, a hero. They need Coraje.
    Juan: But Coraje is gone. Nobody knows what has happened to him, or heard about him in months.
    Man: That is not important. The people does not know who is behind the cloak. If Coraje is gone, he won't mind for someone else to put on a similar cloak and be the new Coraje.
    • And so, the priest became a Legacy Character... of himself.
  • Many of the Power Rangers series have used this trope; the powers (and suits) can usually be passed from person to person. This became rarer in the subsequent seasons, once they adapted Super Sentai's tradition of changing characters and costumes every year.
    • Jason, Zack and Trini making way for Rocky, Adam and Aisha in Mighty Morphin, with Kimberly passing her powers on to Katherine the next year.
    • Jason briefly inheriting the mantle of the Gold Ranger from Trey in Power Rangers Zeo.
    • The entire Turbo team (except for Justin) swapping out mid-season
    • Kendrix and the Magna Defender passing their powers to Karone and Mike upon their deaths in Lost Galaxy.
    • A few of the SPD morphers changed hands as characters got promoted, though this only happened post-season.
    • The Samurai Rangers inherited their powers from their parents, in a Heroic Lineage going back generations.
  • In Powers, Calista takes the name of Retro Girl after Retro Girl's murder.
  • Done in the Red Dwarf episode "Stoke Me a Clipper" when the main universe's Rimmer was passed on the torch of "Ace" Rimmer, one of many parallel universe counterparts of Rimmer, one of whom the crew first met in the episode "Dimension Jump". Each Ace donned the wig and flight jacket and took on the mantle after the previous Ace died or had their post-mortem hologram's projector destroyed.
  • Both the BBC Robin Hood and the 1980s ITV Robin of Sherwood feature the death of the real Robin Hood and a new figure taking up the name and tasks of Robin to continue the legend.
  • Spoofed on Saturday Night Live, when Mike Myers' not-so-superhero character Middle-Aged Man reveals himself to be this in one sketch. He explains that long ago, he was Young Man and his father, currently Retired Man, was Middle-Aged Man, while his father's father was Retired Man.
    Citizen: Who is your grandfather now?
    Middle-Aged Man: Dead Man.
  • Star Trek: The various incarnations of the Enterprise (NCC-1701). In fact, many ships in Star Trek: The Original Series have counterparts in Star Trek: The Next Generation, though not all are similar to the originals in design. The Enterprise NCC-1701 is widely assumed to be the only ship in Starfleet to have its serial number recycled consistently, which is a testament to the importance of Kirk's five-year mission and subsequent voyages in Federation history. At least one possible future - and probably all of them - has a ship named Enterprise with the serial number NCC-1701-J (in this particular future, a ''Universe''-class ship in operation in the 26th century), which means the serial number has been carried on for three hundred years and borne by eleven different vessels. Holy shit.
    • Directly referenced in an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise where Captain Archer and Shran look at his office wall with images of past vessels named Enterprise, with Shran mentioning his ship was named after the first ice-breaking ship to travel around Andoria. They then go on to wonder if future ships would be inspired by their adventures. It is implied that the NCC-1701 Enterprise was inspired by the NX-01 Enterprise, and that is part of the reason the name has been the traditional Federation Flagship.
    • Lampshaded at the end of Star Trek: Generations where Picard remarks that he doubts that the wrecked Enterprise-D will be the last ship to bear the name Enterprise.
    • And again in Star Trek: First Contact when the Enterprise's Self-Destruct Mechanism has been activated:
    Crusher: So much for the Enterprise-E.
    Picard: We barely knew her.
    Crusher: Think they'll build another one?
    Picard: There are plenty of letters left in the alphabet.
    • While most Enterprises tend to pop up really quickly, at least a year between the lost/decommissioning of the last, there's a 19 year gap between the sinking of the C and the launch of the D while, canonically, we don't know the fate of the B or when it was brought to its end.
    • There's also the USS Defiant. The first Defiant we see is a Constitution class (same as the TOS Enterprise). After it's disappearance (it was actually sucked into the Mirror Universe and about 100 years into the past), the name isn't really mentioned until DS9, when a new dedicated warship is introduced with the same name. After that Defiant's destruction in battle, another Defiant-class ship (the USS Sao Paolo) is renamed Defiant. However, unlike the Enterprise, the serial numbers are different.
    • Weyoun in Deep Space 9 is continuously cloned to be the right-hand man of the head Founder. Five "different" Weyouns appeared over the course of the series.
  • In the Sukeban Deka live action series, Saki Asamiya is replaced by Yoko Godai, who is in turn replaced by Yui Kazama. "Saki Asamiya" is used as a codename for Yoko and Yui.
  • The Super Sentai franchise also replaced a few of its warriors during its early seasons, as a result of some of the actors leaving mid-series:
    • The Ki Ranger identity was transferred from Daita Ōiwa to Daigorō Kumano in Himitsu Sentai Goranger. However, Daigorō was only added so that the actor playing Daita the character could participate in a play he was asked to do. Daigorō's spot on the team only lasted ten episodes before he was Killed Off for Real, allowing Daita to return.
    • In Battle Fever J, two of its members were replaced. The actor who played Gensaku Shiraishi, the original Battle Cossack, wanted to leave the series to spent more time with his new wife, so his character was killed off and replaced by Gensaku's friend Makoto Jin. A few episodes earlier, Diana Martin, the original Miss America, was injured in combat and was replaced by Maria Nagisa.
    • In Taiyou Sentai Sun Vulcan, the actor who played Ryūsuke Ōwashi, the original Vul Eagle, could only do the first 25 episodes of the series due to a previous contract he had on another project which conflicted with his work on Sun Vulcan. His character was sent away to the US to work for NASA and replaced by Takayuki Hiba.
    • In Choudenshi Bioman, Mika Koizumi, the original Yellow Four, was killed off ten episodes into the series after the actress playing her abruptly left the series, necessitating the need of her replacement, Jun Yabuki.
    • Like its Power Rangers counterpart, Hyūga inherited the identity of the Black Knight in Seijuu Sentai Gingaman once BullBlack was killed off. Unlike the above examples, BullBlack's death was actually a planned event in the story.
    • A more traditional example occurs in the finale of Gosei Sentai Dairanger: 50 years after the defeat of Gohma, the grandchildren of the original Dairangers inherit their powers when Gohma returns.
    • The main characters of Ninja Sentai Kakuranger are implied to have inherited their powers from their ancestors as well.
    • The Samurai Sentai Shinkenger are another team that inherited their powers from their ancestors (which was then pretty much copied whole into the above-mentioned Power Rangers Samurai).
    • In the Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger Special ''Ten Years After'', Tenkai becomes the new Shurikenger after finally deciding to become good.
  • In the Titans, Dick, who's technically retired as Robin, meets his replacement, Jason Todd. On the villainous side, after Kory kills the "Dad" of the Nuclear Family, the Organistion simply have him replaced.


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