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Child Supplants Parent

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"A son exists to glorify the life of his father—as meaningless and worthless as that life might be. But if a boy is to become a man, he must glorify himself, and make a name even greater than his father's."

This is a conflict between parent and child where the child must supplant the parent, or must extricate themself from the parent's shadow and find their own place in the world.

This archetype shares some themes with both the Messianic Archetype (rebirth and renewal) and The Trickster (out with the old, in with the new). While it's not a societal Rite of Passage, many characters describe personally experiencing it as a key moment in becoming an adult.

Other tropes that relate to parent-child conflict include Calling the Old Man Out, Hates Their Parent, Archnemesis Dad, Evil Matriarch, and Antagonistic Offspring. If it takes the form of murder, it's Patricide or Matricide. Parent-child conflict alone, though, is not this trope. This is specifically about conflict that centers around the child trying to supersede or replace their parent.

If there's a throne involved, it overlaps with The Coup and The Evil Prince.

Contrast Turning Into Your Parent, when a child ends up inhabiting their parent's role unintentionally. Also contrast "Well Done, Son" Guy who wants their parent's approval.

Appears in Classical Mythology as the Titanomachy, making it at least Older Than Feudalism.


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  • Calvin and Hobbes had a Running Gag where Calvin would present their Dad with an "opinion poll" they'd conducted of all children in the household (meaning, just Calvin), and say Dad better start addressing their concerns if he wants to keep his job as Dad. When Calvin's Dad explains that being their father isn't an elected position, and they can't be voted out no matter what the polls say, the lesson Calvin takes from this: "So violent revolution is the only hope for change?"
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): Both Lien-Da and her brother Kragok plotted to assassinate their father Luger and secure their "birth rights" as Grandmasters of the Dark Legion. While Lien-Da would be the one to carry out said assassination, her weapon malfunctioned and exploded due to Kragok's sabotage, leaving her in a coma and allowing Kragok take the position of Grandmaster for himself.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien: This is a running theme in the last two Ridley Scott-helmed films. Androids were created by humans to serve them. Humans were apparently created by the Engineers, an alien race with even more advanced technology. They are all hostile or resentful towards the next and previous generation.
    • In Prometheus, When the ailing Peter Weyland is about to meet one of the Engineers, David, one of the first androids created by Weyland-Yutani, remarks "Doesn't everyone want their parents dead?" The Engineer isn't very happy about meeting human beings and murders any that he encounters.
    • In Alien: Covenant, David demonstrates a much darker side and clearly harbors resentment towards his flawed and mortal creator from the moment he was activated. So much so that he thinks it better that humans and Engineers were all wiped out so that a Superior Species can replace them. David's open transition into an Evilutionary Biologist further implies that he was deliberately setting up Weyland to be killed in the preceding film.
  • Crooked House: Philip and Roger both harbour a deep resentment towards their father Aristide, and wish to supplant him as head of the family. For his part, Aristide took great pleasure in keeping his sons solidly under his thumb.
  • Thor: The Dark World: Loki overthrows his father — whom he now loathes after being disowned and nearly executed — usurping the Asgardian throne in the process.
  • The Many Saints of Newark: Dickie murders his father and then proceeds to sleep with his father's widow.
  • In Normal (2007), Jordie, a recently released juvenile delinquent harbors lingering hostility towards his younger attractive stepmother Elise because she "replaced" his late mother, and is conflicted because he actually wants to take his father's place in the bedroom. He eventually begins an incestuous affair with his stepmother behind his father's back.

  • Chronicles of the Kencyrath: The Gnasher killed his own father to become King of the Wood, and now kills his own children to prevent them doing the same to him.
    The Gnasher: No one becomes a man until he has put his father into the ground or, in my case, into the stew pot.
  • Dollanganger Series: Cathy very much wants to supplant her mother Corrine—her power over men, and her poise. But the desire to be like her mother conflicts with her fear of being like her mother. The conflict is one of the most foundational things about Cathy, at the very core of her character.
  • The Godzilla vs. Kong official novelization explicitly confirms that Ren Serizawa sees killing Godzilla, the very Titan his father worshipped and gave his life to save, as his way of supplanting his father.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Cersei Lannister greatly admires her father Tywin, but she wants to supersede him anyways. At his funeral, she thinks to herself:
      He had been a great man. I shall be greater, though. A thousand years from now, when the maesters write about this time, you shall be remembered only as Queen Cersei's sire.
    • Downplayed with Arianne Martell. She believes that her father, Prince Doran, is planning to strip her of her birthright as firstborn and give it to her younger brother Quentyn. Because of this, she plans to overthrow him by trying to crown Princess Myrcella Baratheon as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms over her younger brother Tommen, which Arianne believes will set a precedent allowing her to replace her father. However, she does not intend to harm her father or brother and plans to give them comfortable — albeit powerless — lives at the Water Gardens. There's also a subversion in the sense that — on an emotional level — this whole thing is more of a ploy to get her father's attention that it is to overthrow him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Borgia: Cesare spends the first season in the shadow of his father and elder brother. After his brother dies, Cesare finally has a chance to come into his own. In a Large Ham moment, he vows to supplant his father.
    Cesare: A son exists to glorify the life of his father — as meaningless and worthless and that life might be. But if a boy is to become a man, he must glorify himself, and make a name even greater than his father's. A name that will shout throughout history. [Dramatic Pause] I am Cesare Borgia!
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: In the finale of Season 1, Disa tries to convince her husband, prince Durin, to usurp his father's throne.
    Disa: ... His eyes too dim to see that no matter how many crests he hurls to the floor, one day this will be your kingdom. Durin IV's. Not your brother's. Not some other Dwarf lord's. YOURS!
  • Vikings: While Ragnar loves his sons and none of them ever overthrow him, he is haunted by the thought that one day his kids could be more successful than him. Considering that his brother has betrayed him more than once in a usually-failed attempt to get more personal glory, it's perhaps borne out of a fear of betrayal.
    Ragnar: A man can be jealous of his sons.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology: The Titanomachy is a Greek succession myth. The primordial Mother Nature, Gaia, and Father Sky, Uranus, were the parents of the Titans, the first cohort of gods. The leader of the Titans was Cronus. To become the Top God, Cronus had seized power from his father Uranus, and castrated him for good measure. Then Cronus heard a prophesy that his son would in turn overthrow him. To prevent this, he ate his 5 children. His wife Rhea was not a fan of her kids being treated this way. When baby #6 was born, she gave him a fake baby to eat and spirited the real baby away. That baby, Zeus, grew up in secret and then returned to overthrow his father. This Divine Conflict was known as the Titanomachy. Zeus freed his siblings from his father's stomach (they were fine in there) and became the new Top God. Zeus himself Defied this with the next generation; when he was told that Metis would bear him a son that would overthrow him as his father and grandfather did, Zeus turned her into a fly and swallowed her whole. Metis was already pregnant with a daughter, Athena, at the time, leading to Athena being born from her father's skull. The son who could have repeated the cycle never came to be, and Athena never showed any inclination toward picking up the mantel.

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    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Fire Lord Ozai had his father Azulon assassinated in order to secure his position as the new Fire Lord.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse: Attea, the Princess of the Incurseans, plans on (and eventually succeeds in) usurping her father, Emperor Milleous.
  • The Crumpets: Lil' One's main goal in the series is to overshadow both his father and his older siblings so he can get his mother's attention. Sometimes he even tries to get rid of Pa, like in the first episode "Ransoming Dad". Though by Teen Crumpets where he's Out of Focus, his beef towards Pa seems to have gone away.

Alternative Title(s): Supplanting The Parent