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Dying to Be Replaced

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So, you have a big idea for a Legacy Character you're really itching to try, but there's just one problem: the original character is still active in your continuity, and shows little inclination to retire.

Well, then. We'll just have to do something about that, won't we?

Contrast You Kill It, You Bought It when a character in-story, instead of a writer, kills another character to take on his job or MacGuffin.

This trope is similar to Mentor Occupational Hazard from an in-setting standpoint, but differs significantly as a trope in that such a mentor exists only to die so the hero can replace them; victims of this trope, on the other hand, are always established characters in their own right.

May invoke Take Up My Sword. If the character's been absent for a while, they might have to be brought Back for the Dead (or just suffer a Bus Crash).

Beware: This is an easy way to create a Replacement Scrappy in some fans' eyes.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball: Goku was killed by Cell because the author initially wanted to replace him with Gohan, but he brought Goku back after Toriyama changed his mind about it.
  • In Yona of the Dawn, once a new "dragon warrior" is born, their predecessor slowly loses their powers and subsequently their life.

    Comic Books 
  • The original (Charlton Comics) Blue Beetle was mortally wounded in the line of duty, and had to hastily pass the mantle (though not the Applied Phlebotinum behind his powers) off to Ted Kord.
    • Who was killed off much later to introduce a third completely different version of Blue Beetle. Really, if they'd given the characters different names, it wouldn't have been such a problem, considering they all have different power sets.
    • Though according to Word of God, the third Blue Beetle was created AFTER Ted's fate had been decided. So despite popular belief, Ted was not killed in order to introduce Blue Beetle III.
  • The original Question, reporter Vic Sage, became a primary character in 52 as mentor and supporter to Renee Montoya. Throughout the series he trained her in meditation, martial arts and learning to deal with her own inner demons (And boy, does she have some demons), until he died of lung cancer and Renee took over the mask and title of The Question.
  • Ronnie Raymond, the original Firestorm, was impaled on a magic sword and exploded, directly becoming the Freak Accident that turned Jason Rusch into the next Firestorm. During Blackest Night, they brought back the original Firestorm and decided to merge him with Jason, which then resulted in Jason's partner Gehenna being killed off to make room for Ronnie. Then in The New 52, history is retconned so that Ron never died and he and Jason became Firestorm at the same time. Gehenna, meanwhile, gets erased from history altogether.
  • Sabbac, an enemy of Captain Marvel Jr., was reintroduced to the Post-Crisis DC Universe in Judd Winick's Outsiders title... just long enough to be sacrificed by a mob boss to steal his powers.
  • The Batman foe Spellbinder was shot by his girlfriend after turning down an offer for demonically enhanced powers during the Underworld Unleashed storyline, so she could receive them (and his identity) instead.
  • Neil Gaiman killed off the original Black Orchid, Susan Linden-Thorne, in order to replace her with his own creation Flora Black. Flora later got this treatment herself in order to be replaced with the third Black Orchid, Suzy.
  • Marvel's robot adventurer Death's Head was directly killed and assimilated by the cyborg that became Death's Head II, becoming one of over a hundred uploaded personalities. As the only non-organic being to be assimilated that way, he's said to be the dominant personality, but this is largely an Informed Attribute, as his successor is rarely written as the same character.
  • The Flash:
    • Barry Allen, the Earth-One Flash, was killed off in Crisis on Infinite Earths so that Kid Flash, Wally West, could inherit his superhero identity. Oddly enough, an even older Flash, Jay Garrick of Earth-Two survived the Crisis.
    • Wally's successor as The Flash, Bart Allen, was killed at the end of his own 13-issue series, paving the way for Wally's return to the role. In a bit of Lampshade Hanging about the tendency of comic book characters to not stay dead, Batman actually expected Barry to show up instead of Wally and his family.
    • Subverted in Barry's return to comics, which didn't kill anyone. The line of succession so far has been: Jay being written out of existence to make way for Barry (Jay got better) who was killed to make way for Wally, who was Put on a Bus to make way for Bart, who was killed to make way for Wally (Bart got better) who discovered Barry was really alive. Really it just means that being the Flash makes you reality's Butt-Monkey.
  • The original Supergirl Kara Zor-El was killed off in Crisis on Infinite Earths and replaced with a non-Kryptonian Supergirl in The Supergirl Saga due to the fact that DC wanted to do away with all Kryptonian characters other than Superman but they still needed to keep a Supergirl around for copyright purposes.
  • The collected edition of Grant Morrison's New X-Men run revealed that he had planned to kill off Rogue and replace her with a teen successor who was closer to the character's depiction in X-Men: Evolution and the live-action movies. As Chris Claremont had claimed Rogue as part of his X-Treme X-Men title, Morrison was unable to follow through with this plan.
  • Steve Rogers, the original Captain America was killed off after the end of the Civil War crossover, with his mantle passing to his former sidekick Bucky. Bucky himself apparently died during the Fear Itself storyline (suspiciously around the time the Captain America movie was coming out) so Steve could reclaim the mantle. In a twist, it turned out that Bucky's death had merely been a fake-out so that he could return to the Winter Soldier identity.
  • Holly Granger, the second Hawk (of the Hawk and Dove duo), was killed during Blackest Night so that Hank Hall (her deceased predecessor), could return to life and join the Birds of Prey.
  • The Teen Titans Terra 2 was killed off in battle, seemingly abruptly, without knowing her true origins. She was later replaced with a Terra 3, due to the fact the writers wanted a new Terra.
  • Tempest, the original Aqualad, was killed during Blackest Night, mere months before DC introduced the new Aqualad from Young Justice (2010) into their continuity.
  • The original Hobgoblin was reintroduced after ten years of being Put on a Bus, only to be easily killed off by a Z-list ex-superhero-turned-villain named Phil Urich who took up his mantle. This turned out to be a Red Herring, as it was later revealed that the Hobgoblin Urich killed was simply an impostor, and that the real Hobgoblin has decided to boost his profits by leasing his identity to various criminals. Phil currently goes by the name Goblin Knight.
  • The Ultimate Marvel universe contains a few other examples. A boy named Ray Connor became the new Daredevil after the death of Matt Murdock, while Wolverine was succeeded by his illegitimate son Jimmy Hudson. The Wasp was also killed and replaced by Petra Laskov, a Darker and Edgier version who works as an assassin for Nick Fury.
    • Not to mention the universe's biggest example, with Ultimate Spider-Man ending with the death of Peter Parker, so that he could be replaced by Miles Morales. (Despite the Ultimate Universe usually running on Killed Off for Real, Ultimate Peter actually did come back eventually.)
  • Speaking of Wolverine, the mainstream Wolvie was killed off to make way for a few others, with X23 becoming the All-New Wolverine. And Old Man Logan dropping in as well. As well as the aforementioned Jimmy Hudson joining the X-Men: Blue. And for the original Logan to come back to life!
  • Iron Man: The Crossing crossover has one of the odder examples for the record books - after turning out to have been Brainwashed and Crazy, Iron Man dies and is replaced by a teenaged version of himself from another reality. Then, some years later, Teen Tony dies in the Onslaught crossover, and original flavor Tony was resurrected (sort of. Technically, it's a Fusion Dance of the two, but for some reason writers tend to not bring this up, ever.) What goes around...

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Each time a slayer dies, another has her power activated and replaces her predecessor. After Buffy's temporary "death", a new slayer (Kendra) was activated. Kendra was killed off after appearing in only a few episodes, and was replaced by Faith, who came to be a lot more popular and was fleshed out a lot more.
  • Inspector Rex: The series did this with two of Rex's owners to get a replacement, namely Richard Moser and Lorenzo Fabbri. For the other owners, they just disappear as though they have never existed.
  • Smallville saw Lionel Luthor, the man who could easily be considered the Big Bad of the first five or six seasons, get shoved out a window by his own son, Lex Luthor, who would remain the series villain until his death by exploding truck in season 8. The final season featured a Lionel doppelganger (played by the same actor of course) from an Alternate Universe and Lex's resurrection via cloning.
  • In Doctor Who, while this generally happened to each Doctor for Real Life Writes the Plot reasons, the most obvious example is the Seventh Doctor, who is brought back after being absent for six years just to be killed off in the first twenty-five minutes so he can be replaced by the actual main Doctor of the story, Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor. The BBC even wanted this to be Tom Baker's Doctor on the grounds that, since he's the most recognisable Doctor, it would be more shocking to the audience and more proof of quality to Paul McGann's (fifth?) Doctor to see him die.
    • The 10th Doctor reveals that, while everyone else just sees him regenerate into a new form, he views it as death. "I die, and a new man goes sauntering away."

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • Non-comic example (initially): Optimus Prime may have survived getting blasted in the internals on an operating table by Laserbeak in the original The Transformers series, but he dies after a lengthy duel and several "gut shots" in the 1986 animated movie to make way for new leader (and new toy) Rodimus Prime.
    • He's not the only one; the first half of the movie is an exercise in killing off old characters to make way for new toys. Sometimes in nigh identical roles, such as Old Soldier Ironhide being killed off and replaced by Old Soldier Kup.
      • Notably, this backfired as kids were traumatized by the death of Optimus and the rest, didn't really warm to the new toy characters the way they were expected to and showed for the first time that they really were attached to the Transformers as CHARACTERS and not just shiny toys to be forgotten about when they next one came around. As a result Optimus quickly came back and from then on Hasbro started looking into upgrading the existing characters to release new toys rather than offing and replacing them (such as upgrading Optimus to Power Master, then Action Master) and as the franchise moved into various new iterations and remakes it would be Optimus and the original Autobots who would becoming iconic and frequently recur throughout while most of the season 3 characters introduced in the movie didn't catch on.
  • South Park: This is one of the reasons Kenny was Killed Off for Real at the end of Season 5, rather than in the usual fashion. The final episode was meant to establish Butters' ascension to being one of the Protagonists and his replacing of Kenny, who the creators had gotten tired of. It didn't take for long, though.