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Inadequate Inheritor

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"Ashes (ashes!), dust (dust!)...
My children were a bust.
They shall inherit nothing.
No... no...
My legacy is too great
To throw away on ingrates."
Rotti Largo, Repo! The Genetic Opera

A successful bigwig, be it in business, politics, magic or even world conquest, is growing old, and in preparation for an eventual retirement and death, looks to their adult children to see who among them can take up their mantle... and is faced with incompetence, The Slacker, lack of interest, or a Corrupt Corporate Executive in the making. These are by no means an exhaustive list of possible shortcomings, indeed just about anything that can make a parent ask "Why Couldn't You Be Different?" is grounds for this trope. Special mention should go to times when the Inadequate Inheritor is not good/heroic enough, too evil, or not evil enough.

Whatever the case, the prospective retiree doesn't think the inheritor deserve their potential inheritance... at least, not as they currently are.

Cue an Impossible Task, search for a non-standard heir from outside the family (who has a statistically abnormal chance to be an orphan/bastard child of the retiree), or otherwise trying to reform their potential heir or forcibly change them one way or another. Results vary: the heir may become worthy, rebel against their "benefactor" (which may be what they always wanted) or fail outright and prompt the retiree to switch to plan B, become immortal.

Expect this to be a knife through the heart of any children who just want their parent to say "I'm So Proud of You" but have been passed over. In the most extreme cases, they might get an actual knife in the heart to make way for a more suitable candidate. Especially nasty when an iron-handed Patriarch crushed their spirit into Nice Guy and The Dutiful Son and now despises them for it — with bonus points if he had used the threat of Passed-Over Inheritance to help crush them.

May be related The Wrongful Heir to the Throne. If the inadequate inheritor actually gets the position, through guile, lack of other candidates or sheer luck, they may either turn into a surprisingly good leader once actually in that position, or they will become a Sketchy Successor. Compare Game Between Heirs. Contrast Superior Successor and Rejecting the Inheritance. Sometimes (particularly in Feminist Fantasy), a girl will be seen as this because of her gender, and/or be passed over in favor of a less competent male. See also Sucksessor. To avoid this, see Disinherited Child.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ashita no Nadja: Duke Preminger sees his son Hermann as such. The plot is about Hermann trying to get rid of his niece so his father will have no choice but make him his heir again.
  • Finral Roulacase from Black Clover was originally the heir to the House of Vaude, a noble family with generations offensive Spatial Magic users and famed Magic Knights. But because of Finral's inability to use his magic offensively and being placed in the lowest-ranked squad the Black Bulls, he was disowned by his family in favor of his younger brother Langris.
  • Bleach plays with this regarding the title of "Kenpachi". Retsu Unohana, the first Kenpachi, determined that the young boy she fought centuries ago in Rukongai was strong enough to surpass her and inherit her mantle. However, because said child was an even bigger Blood Knight than she was, he subconsciously restrained his own power upon realizing that he was stronger than Unohana, afraid that if he killed her he would never again face a Worthy Opponent. This devastated Unohana, who was ashamed of being so weak that she made her potential successor cripple himself like this. She then stepped down as Kenpachi and allowed others to inherit the title, yet deep down she always knew the people who kept succeeding her as Captains of the 11th Division were in truth pretenders in all but name. Eventually, the young boy from her past, now a stronger, grown man going by Kenpachi Zaraki, killed the incumbent Captain of the 11th Division and took over in his place, becoming widely acknowledged by most Shinigami as the strongest Kenpachi in the history of the Gotei 13. When the Wandenreich invades Soul Society and Zaraki suffers a crushing defeat at the hands of Yhwach, Unohana acknowledges that the time has come for her to restore his true power, and the two engage in a duel to the death where Unohana repeatedly kills and heals Zaraki, each death releasing the restraints he placed on himself. Once he becomes strong enough to land a killing blow on Unohana, she happily allows herself to die after formally recognizing Zaraki as the true inheritor of the name of Kenpachi.
  • A big part of Saber of Red's (Mordred) insecurities come back around to this in her backstory in Fate/Apocrypha. In the Nasuverse, Mordred was always a loyal knight to King Arthur (Fate/stay night's Saber, aka Artoria) even when she learned the truth about her heritage from her scheming mother Morgan le Fay. However, when she went to Artoria and revealed herself in hopes of being recognized as her heir and "son," Artoria rejected her. While Artoria refused her on the grounds that Mordred simply lacked both the temperament and experience to be a proper king, her own detachment from her emotions made her come off as incredibly callous in this, and Mordred, who was already pretty insecure about her standing with Artoria even before this point due to her relationship with her mother, ended up taking the whole thing to mean her father saw her as worthless and unworthy for being the unholy spawn of a witch, and thus the entire rebellion and Battle of Camlann happened. Her goal in the present is to use the Grail to give herself the opportunity to prove her worth as an heir by drawing the Sword in the Stone. Her Character Development comes in realizing she didn't need to prove herself to her father to find self-worth and that what she really wanted was the opportunity to take Artoria's burdens onto herself and let her have peace of mind.
  • Anna from GRANBELM is the heir to the Fugo family's magic, but her mother and grandmother have made it abundantly clear that they'd rather adopt Shingetsu, who, as The Chosen One, has far more talent and potential. This is a large part of the reason Anna despises Shingetsu to the point of constantly trying to sabotage or kill her.
  • Subverted in Mars (1996). Takayuki wants his son Rei to be the next president of his company when he decides to step down and Rei is not interested, given his passion to be come a professional motorbike racer. Takayuki forces Rei to give up his dream and focus on learning the family business in order to get shelter for Rei's girlfriend Kira who cannot go back home. However, after noticing how miserable Rei is in this role and with a little push from Kira, Takayuki gets over his reasonable fears of Rei pursuing a professional racing career and let's go of this wish.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • All Might's former sidekick Sir Nighteye wasn't thrilled to learn that All Might had chosen Izuku Midoriya, whom he saw as a random Quirkless kid, to be the inheritor of One For All, and during the internship he constantly belittles Midoriya and tries to convince him to give the One For All to Mirio Togata, thinking that he'd be a better successor for having not only the skills and power, but also the personality to become the next Symbol of Peace. He later changes his mind when Midoriya defies Sir Nighteye's Foresight Quirk, proving him that what he sees isn't set in stone. And in an ironic twist, it's later revealed that being Quirkless actually made Midoriya a better suited inheritor, since One For All has the side effect of shortening the wielder's lifespan if they already have a Quirk upon receiving it.
    • Kyudai Garaki, All For One's most faithful follower, initially refuses to lend his aid to Tomura after All For One's arrest because he sees him as weak. He does, however, agree to change his mind if Tomura can make Gigantomachia submit to him. This is easier said than done, however, as not only does Gigantomachia also see Tomura as unworthy of being All For One's successor, he's strong enough that he spends the next month curbstomping the entirety of the League of Villains as they try to fight him. Eventually, both Dr. Garaki and Gigantomachia accept Tomura once he leads the League of Villains into usurping the Meta Liberation Army, which culminates with Tomura overcoming his past trauma and releasing all of his mental blocks, turning him into a Walking Wasteland.
  • In a flashback in Naruto, Hiashi states that he's disappointed with Hinata's performance and notes that the clan doesn't need a weak heir, but never goes so far as to openly disinherit her. This, however, is before Hinata Took a Level in Badass, and the two have not been seen interacting in canon since, so fan works have several interpretations over whether Hinata lost her right to inherit the clan back then, and whether she would be considered worthy to inherit the Hyuga clan when the time came.
    • Post-timeskip, they are seen together as he observes her training in the clan fighting style to the point of exhaustion. No dialogue specific to the matter of inheritance is provided, but he seems to be more approving and proud of her determination despite being less naturally talented than Neji, the "genius" of the clan who was born to a branch family and can never inherit the clan. When facing his resurrected twin brother, who believes that his current state is punishment for trying to change his fate, he says that Hinata and Neji both fight to prove that destiny is not written in stone, indicating an acknowledgment of her efforts to change herself.
  • The fourth Succession Crisis in Ōoku: The Inner Chambers kicked off because of this: Yoshimune's eldest daughter Ieshige was physically disabled, and especially compared to her younger sister Munetake, looked like this trope to the councilors, who feared Ieshige was also mentally disabled. Yoshimune, however, determined that Ieshige was of sound mind to inherit the shogunate. Munetake resented not getting the throne and it fueled the fifth succession crisis. Inverted, however, with Iesada: Ienari named her next in line after Ieyoshi because she was the only one of his children who wasn't inadequate.
  • In Reborn! (2004), due to the Ninth boss growing older, Xanxus not having the blood of the Vongola and other candidates dying, Tsuna is the only one left to inherit the Vongola mafia, the most powerful mafia group in Italy. However, unfortunately for Tsuna, he is not in any way capable of leading or protecting anyone and he wants nothing to do with the mafia. Which is why the Ninth sent Reborn to tutor him. Hints in the future arc shows that he does become a successful mafia boss.
  • In Red River (1995), while Prince Arunwanda is not an idiot, his physical frailty makes him a poor choice to reign over the Hittite Empire, and he knows it. Once the King dies, he tries to cope with the responsibility via having his more capable brothers help him run the kingdom. He eventually chooses the male lead Kail as his successor, as he has no children of his own. And few chapters later, he's murdered.
  • A Rumiko Takahashi short story focused on a variation of this. Under insistence from her boyfriend Susumu, a woman named Nozomi pretends to be her dead best friend, Noriko, in order to claim an inheritance from Noriko's long dead grandmother. It helped that the last time Noriko's family saw her was when she was a little girl. Nozomi winds up receiving help from the grandmother's spirit, on the condition that the first thing she does with the money is provide a proper burial for Noriko (Nozomi was extremely offended that Susumu suggested such a ruse, but conceded because they have massive debts). Eventually, Nozomi learns that Noriko's mother had nearly been disowned by the family for eloping with a man, and only came back once when Noriko was a child to meet grandmother. It's implied that the grandmother didn't like the family any more than Noriko's mother did, as she made it clear that no one other than Noriko could touch the property registry. It's also implied that the family might have killed the grandmother themselves.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime, Gozaburo Kaiba was disappointed in his son Noah because he wasn't dedicated enough to be heir of his company, not to mention the fact that he was dead. So instead he adopts an orphan and gives him some Training from Hell to make him just such a ruthless manager as he himself is. Seto takes over his adopted father's company quite rapidly, driving him to suicide. Gozaburo considered downloading Noah's mind into Seto's body but decided against it because he believed Seto was more adequate than Noah to inherit. As a result of a boosted intelligence but little to no emotional maturity, Noah has an Inferiority Superiority Complex and considers himself a god.

    Comic Books 
  • Astro City: Jack Johnson, the first Jack-in-the-Box, was a Gadgeteer Genius who designed all manner of clown-based crimefighting equipment and fought with the proficiency of any Badass Normal. His son Zach, who only discovered the truth after the original's death, was, if anything, better than his old man. However, after Zach began training the third, a street orphan named Roscoe James, this left his own son, Jerome, somewhat out in the cold. As it turned out, Jerome was neither a mechanical whiz, nor was he a good athlete (his only attempt at it ended in a busted knee). While his father was entirely okay with this, as it meant he'd live a much safer life, Jerome still clearly felt unhappy he wouldn't be able to carry on the legacy—though he did end up saving a few lives thanks to his medical training.
  • Batman:
    • One of Batman's foes Ra's al Ghul has stubbornly clung to life for centuries via Lazarus Pits and body snatching from beyond the grave since he doesn't believe any of his children are worthy of taking over his criminal empire. He first crossed paths with Bruce Wayne because he thought he could convince Bruce to become his heir with the temptations of power (his empire) and love (his daughter Talia al Ghul). Notably, Talia is competent enough to be his heir, but he has issues with her being a woman and would rather have her give him a male heir, with Bruce as the Chosen Conception Partner.
    • Another example is Damian Wayne. It's shown that, in the future, he will become Batman after he accidentally causes the death of Dick Grayson (the first long-term, accepted Batman successor). Bruce calls him out on this immediately, and Damian himself even admits that he can't measure up to Bruce or Dick, but will try anyway, because he promised to protect Gotham. And so he cheats, making a deal with the devil so that he cannot die, and even then, he is still inferior. Bruce sees a vision of this future and thus tells Damian that he can't ever become Batman.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Whether or not Scrooge McDuck considers Donald Duck and Gladstone Gander to be this, thus leaving his fortune to the triplets Huey, Dewey and Louie instead, is a case of Depending on the Writer. Although the usual paradigm is that this is the case, as Donald is typically set up as too likely to squander it and Gladstone's luck-dependent laziness offends Scrooge, some stories instead present Donald as the heir, but one who desperately needs some training (at least in Scrooge's eyes).
    • The decision to have the triplets be Scrooge's heirs was made most prominently in the 1953 Carl Barks story "Some Heir over the Rainbow". Taking advantage of the legend of a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow, Scrooge made a Secret Test of Character. To test his potential heirs' skills, he wanted to give one thousand dollars to each one of them without them knowing the money came from him. Using three rainbows and three pots, he managed to give one thousand dollars to Huey, Dewey and Louie, another thousand to Gladstone and the last one to Donald. Donald spent the money on a down payment for a new car; Gladstone saw no immediate need for the money so he decided to hide it somewhere; and Huey, Dewey and Louie used their money to help a man search for a treasure. Before Donald's nephews had a return from their investment, Scrooge would, despite considering an "awful injustice" to allow Gladstone to inherit his fortune, choose the lucky bastard over Donald for being the least likely to squander it.
    • However, Donald was earlier declared Scrooge's heir in the 1949 story, "Race to the South Seas". And three years after "Some Heir Over The Rainbow", in 1956's "Two is Company", Donald and Gladstone were again competing for the position of Scrooge's heir. And in the 1961 story, "Bongo on the Congo", the whole plot is Scrooge considering Donald his heir and trying to make him better fitted for the role.
    • Also, Donald's inadequacy is as writer-dependent thing; in several stories, such as "City of Golden Roofs" and "Crocodile Collector", whilst Scrooge still "wins out" at the end, Donald still displays considerable business savvy. For example, in "City of Golden Roofs", although Scrooge wins by receiving a huge golden nugget, the sizable amount of worked golden goods and sculpted jewels Donald earned would probably have a greater value than Scrooge's huge nugget. And in "Crocodile Collector", Donald allows Scrooge to swindle him out of the $10 thousand he was promised so that he can secretly claim the far larger treasure he discovered whilst searching for Scrooge's special crocodile.
  • Empire: Golgoth, a villain who took over the world, has been grooming his daughter who is an innocent princess lookalike, to take over after him. He discovers she killed his wife because she was holding him back and did several other very, very bad things. Following his example. He snaps her neck. Sadly, of course.
  • New Gods: Darkseid is known to take a dim view of any of his lieutenants being able to control his empire after he dies... especially his son Kalibak.
    • Of course, when he so much as disappears for a few days they immediately descend into declaring open war on each other, so it's probably a justified view.
  • Robin: While the Rahul Lama is unquestionably disappointed with his grandson's arrogance and views on martial arts he still leaves his school to him in hopes that he'll change and with the sad knowledge that the ancient art he's the last living master of will likely die with him. Following his death his grandson indeed proves to be a Sketchy Successor and their martial arts school ends up replaced with a fast food joint.
  • Superman: In Dark Crisis, this seems to be the view concerning Jon Kent as Superman. When Superman and the rest of the Justice League is claimed to have been killed, Jon goes out of his way to recruit a new Justice League. However, most of them refuse to join for different reasons, leading him to take up a Ragtag Band of Misfits. Black Adam, the Sole Survivor of the League's death, runs Jon through the coals with his choices and tells him that it should have been Nightwing to lead the charge, not him.
  • Watchmen:
    • Subverted with Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt: he was more than capable of inheriting his father's wealth, but instead he gave it all away and built his own financial empire.
      • There are hints (but nothing overt) that this was also largely influenced by the fact that his parents had been Nazis. Adrian changed his name and left any connection to them behind.
    • Also subverted with Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II. His father was a successful banker/financier who, despite never really getting his son's obsession with birds, left him the money he uses to pay for his crime fighting career. Additionally, Hollis Mason, the original Nite Owl was more than happy to let him carry on the name and costume-theme after he retired to be a mechanic.

    Fan Works 
  • Communication: When Louise reads the Founder's Prayer Book, it states in his own written words that the one who is able to read them is the one to carry and inherit his will. Due to her less than successful track record with magic prior to the storyline, Louise is kept up at night - utterly terrified that she's this trope.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic A Different Dursley Family, Vernon Dursley was expelled from Smeltings and attended a comprehensive ("public", in the US) school, where he learned to be open-minded. Unfortunately, his father didn't like it so he cut Vernon from the will.
    • In "Harry Prongs Tatum", James Potter's father realized James was a spoiled brat not ready to take over the full inheritance. Because of that, he set a list of conditions James had to fulfill otherwise he'd just inherit a portion. Harry inherited the task.
  • FURTHERFELL: In Rethroned, Toriel fires Alphys from her position as Royal Scientist due to her excessive Mad Scientist tendencies and replaces her with Napstablook, whose qualifications for the job amount to their being "some random ghost who hanged (sic) around the lab a lot." In addition to having no scientific background whatsoever, they're also simultaneously working as Mettaton's co-star and music producer and aren't very good at any of their jobs, saddling them with serious doubts about their capabilities. At the end of the branch, they resign from the position to focus on music production full-time.
  • The Parliament of Heroes: Amity voices this belief about herself in comparison to both her new mentor, Donna Troy, and the previous Wonder Girl, Cassie Sandsmark. Due to the years of abuse she suffered under Odalia, Amity has developed the belief that if she can't instantly succeed at something, she must be a failure. She's first seen voicing this to Donna when she struggles to lift a boulder with her newfound Super-Strength that she could've easily thrown aside with her Abomination Magic.
    Amity: But if the 'best person I can be' isn't flawless then what good am I?! I don't deserve to be called 'Wonder Girl' then if I have to constantly worry that I'm going to screw up in some way!
  • Queens of Mewni:
    • Like in canon, Dirhhennia was passed over in the succession in favor of Crescenta due to her lack of magical abilities. Unlike canon, though, their mother managed to smooth relations between them so there were no hard feelings. Dirhhenia arguably got the better deal, as Crescenta not only regretted taking what she believed was her sister's birthright, she had stolen Dirhhenia's boyfriend from her, only to find he was a serial cheater.
    • Many considered Venus one of these, due to her promiscuity, and wondered why Galaxia didn't disinherit her in favor of Minguanta. Galaxia's reason given was because Venus was good at numbers. Some suspect Galaxia, who could see the future, saw a Bad Future for Mewni if Venus was denied her birthright.
    • Star is considered this by her people due to her actions that led to the War of Two Worlds and the decimation of Mewni's population. Star herself considers herself one, and wouldn't even be queen had it not been forced onto her as a punishment by the Magic High Commission.
  • Ruin of the Yiga: Poor Aryll has it even worse than Zelda did in canon. She was apparently tapped as the replacement Princess due to being the closest to the bloodline, but there is no indication that there is any chance she can awaken the divine sealing power. She clearly knows it, too.
  • In the Game of Thrones/The Elder Scrolls crossover Son of the Seven Kingdoms, King Robert knows full well that Joffrey is far from an ideal inheritor to the throne. Which is why he makes his younger, but better brother William the heir instead.
  • After being trained by Ranma in the ASOIAF/Ranma crossover Wild Wolf Aso Ia F Version, Tommem has grown strong and independant enough that he seems like a real Baratheon, impressing his father enough to make him name his second son the crown prince over the coddled and cowardly Joffrey. Joffrey of course sorts this out by having his younger brother poisoned at breakfast.
  • What Goes Around Comes Around (Miraculous Ladybug): Both Gabriel and Emilie are deeply displeased with how Adrien has turned out, with the latter giving him a Breaking Speech about his naivete and entitled attitude towards Marinette/Ladybug. The irony here is that not only are both of them fully responsible for Adrien's twisted concept of what "love" entails, both are even more entitled than their son, as they intend to "fix" his issues by using the Wish to forcibly merge him with his cousin Felix. Oh, and they want Marinette to hook up with him as well, and are more than happy to try and brainwash her into it.
  • Webwork: So far, Tarakudo has not been pleased with any of the people to gain the Essences of the Oni Generals, finding some flaw or another with all of them.
    • The Old Queen's spirit ultimately reveals that she's come to feel this way about Jade as her successor, feeling that she's clinging too much to her human compassion. So she makes a pact with Tara to help her overthrow Jade.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dr. Evil and his son Scott in the Austin Powers films. Dr. Evil is rather disappointed that his son doesn't want to follow in his footsteps, though Scott was heading in that direction in the second movie and becomes a near copy of his father in the third. The irony is that by that point Dr. Evil "Dougie" had reformed.
  • This is the entire plot of Billy Madison. Billy wants to inherit his father's hotel chain upon the announcement of the latter's retirement, but is deemed unworthy because he's uneducated, obnoxious, an idiot, and sometimes an ass. Billy tries to remedy this by trying to complete the education he never truly received to avoid having his father hand over the reins to corporate sleazebag Eric Gordon. Unusually for the trope, at the end of the film Billy himself recognizes that he really isn't a good choice for the job, and voluntarily steps aside so that an executive who is both competent and caring can take control.
  • Prince Edward in Braveheart is seen by both his father and the people as a weakling. It seems to be part of Longshanks' motivation to permanently put down the Scottish rebellion before he dies, since he's certain his son isn't up to the task. Incidentally, he was right.
  • Gladiator has the emperor favor Maximus over Commodus because he considers his son too corrupt for the job, wanting a humble reformer to take the helm instead. Pity one of his son's "virtues" was Ambition. Shown Their Work is in play here, because sometimes (particularly during the time of the Four Good Emperors), Emperors would choose an acquaintance of theirs, normally a protege, to become Emperor upon their death.
  • Gleahan and the Knaves of Industry: Nathaniel believes Penelope would be bad for his business.
  • The Godfather: Sonny is the one who is being groomed as Vito's heir to control of the Corleone crime family. However, Sonny lacks the impulse control and attention to detail that made his father so successful and it eventually leads to his death. As for his brothers, Fredo is too weak and incompetent to even be considered, to say nothing of his later betrayal, while Michael actually wants to leave and live a lawful life until his father and older brother are shot. Then the sequel shows that even Michael can't live up to his father's rule, as his ruthlessness ultimately alienates everyone closest to him.
  • Horrible Bosses: Kurt's boss, Bobby Pellit is one of these. Bobby's father Jack was an upstanding Benevolent Boss that everyone loved working for because he genuinely cared about his employees and ran his company responsibly. Sadly, he suffers a heart attack and dies, leaving the company to Bobby. Bobby is a selfish coke-head who makes no secret of his plans to cut corners in his operations and lay off employees to squeeze every ounce of profit out of the company before gutting it completely and retiring.
  • Subverted in Inception, where Fischer believes himself to be this in the eyes of his dying father, and the only part he could understand of his dying words was disappointed, even though he always tried his best to be like him and make him proud. Eames suggests using this to implant the idea that he wants to terminate the family business to get back at his father. But Dom points out that they have a much better chance at making him believe that his father regretted being such a poor example as a greedy and unethical businessman and wishing that his son doesn't become like him, and that this would motivate Fischer to break the trillion dollar monopoly the company has. Convincing him that his father was a good man deep inside and hoped his son to be a better man than he was is something Fischer would much prefer to believe than seeing his father as an evil man who despised him.
    • It also has the benefit of giving the protagonists a goal which doesn't put them over the Moral Event Horizon. Who would want to root for a team of crooks whose goal was to drive a man to hate his father so much that he destroyed his inheritance? It's much more sympathetic to try and achieve their objective by giving him a positive relationship.
  • In Knives Out, following the apparent suicide of Harlan Thornby, his family members and his nurse are assembled at his mansion for the will reading. At the reading, the lawyer states that he has his reasons why he won't leave his children and grandchildren anything (earlier it was established that his daughter has a successful real estate company, her husband was having an affair, his oldest son's widow was lying about her daughter's tuition and was getting twice the money they agreed on, and his youngest son needed to learn independence and thus he was also fired from running the publishing company as well). Instead, Marta, Harlan's nurse and only friend, as well as the daughter of an illegal immigrant, would get everything.
  • In The Lion in Winter King Henry views his oldest surviving son Richard as this, favoring his weak son John instead. Over the course of the film he comes to view all three of his surviving sons as unworthy, planning to father new sons with Alyse.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road: Both of Immortan Joe's sons have defects that would make them unsuitable to succeed him as warlord; Rictus Erectus is big and strong but stupid, while Corpus Colossus is highly intelligent but physically stunted, which would make him a less than ideal leader for a martial culture like the War Boys.
  • The King of the Swamp Castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a bluff Yorkshireman who has built the strongest castle in all England in the middle of a swamp, after several failed attempts to do so. In contrast, his son, Prince Herbert, is an anaemic weed with a penchant for show tunesnote ; after attempting to escape from the castle by climbing from a window, the King cuts his rope, sending him to an almost certain demise.
    • In an attempt to gain a new heir, the king then has Prince Herbert's bride-to-be's father murdered so that she might consider him as a father, then claims he's going to marry her off to Sir Lancelot, who had only just showed up and murdered half the party guests. Before this can get anywhere, though, it's revealed that Herbert survived, much to the king's annoyance.
  • Of Gods And Warriors: Prince Hakon considers himself to be one, and thinks that his cousin Helle would be a better ruler. He doesn't know that he is his uncle Bard's true son, and that Helle is the king's true daughter— Bard had them Switched at Birth as a plot against his brother the king, whom he had always resented.
  • Radical Jack, Lloyd is a successful arms trafficker, but his son Rolland is stupid, short-tempered, and full of himself. Lloyd strongly believes he'll have to shut down his operation when he gets too old to run it.
  • In Repo! The Genetic Opera, Rotti is disgusted with his children's depravity. Perhaps not so much because they're all out-of-control monsters (he himself is a master manipulator and murderer), but because they aren't qualified to lead his company. So he attempts to name the 17-year-old daughter of his hitman and his ex-girlfriend as his successor.
  • Road to Perdition: John Rooney actually chooses his weak, ineffectual son Connor over his competent, quasi-adopted right-hand man Michael when the former tries to kill the latter (and succeeds in killing his wife and son). However, the Chicago gangsters protecting the Rooneys recognize what a liability Connor is, and rescind their protection as soon as they no longer need to worry about keeping John happy.
  • Marvel's Thor:
    • While he begins as the celebrated heir to the throne, Thor becomes/demonstrates-himself-as an inadequate inheritor through his arrogance and rashness in attacking the Frost Giants. The rest of the movie is his path back to worthiness.
    • The end of the second film has Thor considering himself as this. While he's demonstrated he's earned the position, he doesn't believe he has the necessary ruthlessness required for the job, and he doesn't want to be like that.
  • Tommy Boy centers around the titular character taking his recently deceased father's place on a sales trip to save the Family Business. While Tommy is a Nice Guy, he's also a Book Dumb Manchild who took seven years to finish college, and several people are concerned that he may not be able to replace his ace salesman father. It's ultimately subverted when Tommy embraces his own style of doing things and succeeds.
  • Werewolf by Night (2022): Verussa makes no secret that she (and Ulysses) find Ulysses's daughter Elsa to be a disappointment for not following her father's footsteps, which is why the Bloodstone isn't passing to her and instead going to one of the monster hunters in the Game Between Heirs.
  • The title character in Yellowbeard is extremely disappointed in his son Dan for being a nice guy: he wanted Dan to be a vicious, murderous pirate like himself.
  • Young Frankenstein: Dr. Victor Frankenstein's father had this opinion of him. Victor's father believed the only way Victor's grandson Frederick could avoid being this would be by becoming a doctor of his own free will and earning a measure of esteem in his field.

  • The son of ibn Sabbah from Alamut.
  • And Another Thing... introduces Constant Mown, the free-spirited, paperwork-hating, protocol-neglecting son of Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: When the protagonist gets adopted into nobility and meets her slightly older brother Wilfried, she finds him in no state to become their father's heir. Their father is giving primogeniture a try in a setting that usually has heirs compete with each other before one is chosen. As a result, Wilfried has grown so complacent that at age seven, he only knows part of the alphabet, can't do basic math and doesn't know a single song despite being expected to play one in public for his upcoming social debut. Being spoiled by the people who are supposed to educate him and his doting grandmother also made him a Royal Brat.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • This is the reason Samwell Tarly ends up joining the Night's Watch. His dad wants a warrior and a lord for a heir, and Sam is a soft-hearted, bookish boy of some obesity. When, after a long series of miscarriages and daughters, a second male heir is produced, his dad offers him a choice: join the Night's Watch, thereby forsaking all claims to land and heirs, or experience a Hunting "Accident". Made even worse because Sam had attempted to Take a Third Option by joining the Maesters, but his father, being an anti-intellectual, flatly refused.
    • Jon Arryn's six-year-old, sickly and mentally stunted son Robert. Arryn tries to arrange for the boy to be sent away to be fostered in a more healthy environment — since his mother's over-protectiveness is a factor in his inadequacy — but dies before getting the chance. In response, King Robert takes away the title of Warden of the East from House Arryn.
    • Tyrion's father Tywin Lannister tells him that he has no intention of letting him inherit, since he despises his son for his dwarfism and because his mother died giving birth to him. Tyrion is the second son of Lord Tywin, but his older brother Jaime is a member of the Kingsguard, and therefore has forsworn his rights to inherit, which Tywin is furious at him for. Ironically, Tyrion is probably the best potential inheritor of Tywin's children, and by far the most similar to Tywin himself, but Tywin's prejudice prevents him from seeing this.
    • Cersei, being female, is ranked behind her two brothers. Nevertheless, she becomes the ruling Lady Lannister after her father dies and Tyrion is sentenced to death (Jamie can't inherit due to being in the Kingsguard). Her irrationality, paranoia, and cruel nature mean she's probably the worst possible candidate to carry on the Lannister family legacy. It would have been much better to skip to Tywin's younger brother Kevan, or literally anyone else.
    • Speaking of the Kingsguard, the current membership is considered this by its veteran members. Lord Commander Selmy considers most of the others utterly unworthy; Jaime for breaking his oath and the rest for their lack of skill (in his early 60s, he claims to be capable of killing the five of them as easily as a dagger cuts through cheese, and they believe him). Things go downhill once he's kicked out. Jaime replaces him as commander, and tells one of the new guard that a member he had served with prior to the start of the series would have been able to cut through the six new members "with his left hand, while taking a piss with his right." This is especially evident in A Clash of Kings, where two of the Kingsguard are killed, one by an angry mob and one by a squire.
    • This is how Robert feels about Joffrey, to the point that the only thing stopping him from abdicating is the thought of Joffrey taking his place. Given what happens when Robert dies and Joffrey inherits, staying was the right thing to do.
      “Let me tell you a secret, Ned. More than once, I have dreamed of giving up the crown. Take ship for the Free Cities with my horse and my hammer, spend my time warring and whoring, that’s what I was made for. The sellsword king, how the singers would love me. You know what stops me? The thought of Joffrey on the throne, with Cersei standing behind him whispering in his ear. My son. How could I have made a son like that, Ned?”
  • The Belgariad: Silk is, it turns out, the nephew of the king of Drasnia, and, since the Royal marriage is happy but childless, also the heir. Silk has also been a spy masquerading as a trader of some stripe for his whole adult life, and would make an absolutely terrible king. Luckily, he is very aware of this fact, and has absolutely no desire to succeed his beloved uncle.
  • In Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic, a powerful evil wizard is so concerned with this that he becomes undead, watching over his children until one is powerful enough to beat the others.
  • In The Curse of Chalion, this is doomed to be Iselle and Bergon's fate if the curse is not lifted. Brilliant, brave, and good-hearted they may be, but all their dreams for the future of their countries will be lost in heirs "murdered, betrayed, mad, dead, and exiled." Fortunately Cazaril is able to short-circuit this future by lifting the curse.
  • In Dragon Bones Ward's father considers him this. Part of this is due to Ward's Obfuscating Stupidity, but he thought Ward was too soft-hearted even before the beating after which Ward pretended to have brain damage.
  • Forest Kingdom: Late in book 2 (Blood and Honor), King Malcom's will reveals he had personally ordered the items necessary for the coronation, and his will, to be hidden because he realized all three of his sons were monsters and that it was time for someone else to take the throne.
  • Heralds of Valdemar:
    • The story told of the founding of the country of Valdemar says that its first king, although confident in his son's ability to succeed the throne and rule well, feared that sooner or later one of his descendants would fall into this trope. That fear led him to pray to every god he knew of for a solution, a prayer answered by the arrival of the first three Companions and the quick adoption of a law requiring that the country's monarch must also be Chosen by a Companion in order to be eligible for the throne.
    • Even with that, the trope is a subject of some concern in Arrows of the Queen, albeit to a lesser degree; thanks to a combination of benign neglect from her mother and a particularly ill-intentioned nursemaid, Queen Selenay's daughter Elspeth is such a Royal Brat that her mother and the royal Court fear she won't be Chosen and a suitable Heir will have to be selected from among the other Heralds. One of Talia's first responsibilities upon being Chosen as a Herald is to attempt to civilize Elspeth enough that she might be capable of becoming a Herald.
    • A non-monarchic example appears in the Last Herald-Mage Trilogy, where Vanyel Ashkevron, firstborn son of Lord Withen, looks and acts nothing like his father, who Wanted a Gender-Conforming Child, and is The Unfavorite. After some misguided attempts to 'shape him up,' Van is packed off to Haven, where he finds his true and tragic destiny as... well, the title character, eventually being Chosen and becoming a Herald. This removes Vanyel from the obligation to be his father's heir, letting that fall to a younger brother who's more to Withen's liking.
  • Honor Harrington: When Honor is presumed dead in Havenite captivity, her titles on both Manticore and Grayson pass to one of her younger cousins. While the kid is nice and clever enough, he is also painfully young and woefully ill-equipped to play politics on an interplanetary level. In the end, Honor comes back, and he breathes a sigh of relief that he can go back to college.
  • In Heroes Adrift, the main characters are sent to look for a long-lost bastard descendant of the queen as an alternate heir. Both the queen and the heir end up hating this idea once they actually meet.
  • The House With a Clock in Its Walls: According to the sequel The Whistle, The Grave and The Ghost, Jonathan's sisters Helen and Mattie, who were bossy, nosy and had married outside their religion (the rest of the family was Catholic, but the sisters had married Baptists) were this to their grandfather, and so got nothing. Subverted with Charles Barnevelt, who also didn't get anything, but was passed over because he didn't need the money due to being a hard-working man who made a good living by himself.
  • In The Initiate Brother, Emperor Akantsu considers his son Wakaro to be one of these - perhaps wrongly, since Wakaro eventually wises up considerably more than his father (and is rewarded by being executed as a traitor). The Big Good, Lord Shonto, has a contrastingly good relationship with his son Shokan, who is left behind to govern Shonto lands and eventually inherits them.
  • Into The Broken Lands: Ryan abruptly became Heir to the Lord Protector after his three elder brothers died in a boating accident, regularly defers to more experienced subordinates, and fears he doesn't live up to his brothers. It's ultimately subverted: he realizes that the Lord Protector sent him on his quest to bring out his leadership skills, and that he's actually a much better person than his brothers were.
  • In the first Joe's World novel, one of the richest businessmen in the kingdom decides that his children are unfit to inherit his fortune, so he has them all murdered. Then he does the same thing with all of his grandchildren, and pretty much refuses to die out of spite, living to be over a hundred. One of his great-grandchildren finally does prove himself suitable, by putting a hit on his great-grandfather. This whole thing turns out to be for naught, as the heir is murdered by one of his cousins, and the entire estate gets spent on death taxes, hiring assassins to kill rival heirs, and legal fees. In the end, all that's left is one bottle of brandy, which is given to the businessman's butler.
  • In The King's Equal, a king stipulates that his vain and haughty son can inherit the throne only after he marries a woman who he considers to be his equal in beauty, intelligence, and wealth — something that his ego prevents him from doing until one particular woman teaches him a lesson in humility.
  • The Indian epic Mahabharata has this as a recurring problem for the Kuru dynasty. First, the dynasty’s progenitor King Bharat states that none of his nine sons are worthy enough to inherit his kingdom, so he adopts a Brahmin boy and names him Crown Prince. Then we have Dhritharashtra who is first in line, but the kingdom elders deny him the throne due to his blindness. His brother Pandu is made king instead. When Pandu is forced to abdicate and leave, the elders’ concerns about Dhritharashtra are proven right - he ends up an Entitled Bastard who is willfully ignorant of his son Duryodhan’s many character flaws. And finally, Duryodhan is also in line for his father’s throne, but everyone wants Pandu’s eldest son, the wise Yudhistir to become the heir. Duryodhan plots and wrests the kingdom from his cousin and proves to be a grown up Enfant Terrible whose many transgressions include murder, attempted murder, attempted sexual molestation, Droit du Seigneur and cheating at dice games. It takes a bloody civil war to depose him and put the capable Yudhistir back on the throne.
  • Kate Blackwell struggles with finding a proper heir in Sidney Sheldon's Master of the Game.
    • Her son Tony wants to be an artist. She manipulates his career in painting to fail. Then she seems to encourage him to marry a Texas oil man's daughter; instead, his attempt to rebel sends him into the arms of an heiress to the company Kate REALLY wants, and soon she's pregnant with potential heirs. Unfortunately, there's a Death by Childbirth, and when Tony learns the extent of Kate's manipulation, he goes mad and tries to kill her. He ends up institutionalized and lobotomized.
    • The resultant granddaughters are twins, but Alexandra has no interest in the company, and Eve is far too evil to inherit it. Eve manipulates herself into Kate's good graces again, but winds up with a Fate Worse than Death.
    • Alexandra has a son, and at book's end Kate is already making plans to mold him into a suitable heir at last...
  • Rudyard Kipling's poem "The Mary Gloster".
  • In Rakuin No Monshou, Prince Gil of Mephius lacked the political savvy, martial skill, and just plain charisma of his father. Not helping matters was his bad habit of indulging in alcohol and other intoxicants to deal with his feelings of inadequacy. The only reason he remained heir was the fact he was an only child until the Empress became pregnant, which posed a major threat to Orba's plans.
  • In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Liu Bei was said to have instructed Zhuge Liang to take stewardship of Shu if his son, Liu Shan proved inadequate. Though Liu Shan wasn't as capable a leader as his father desired, Zhuge Liang never took power for himself.
  • Safehold has Hektor the Younger of Corisande, his father would rather have his daughter Irys as heir, due to Hektor's inadequacy and his brother Daivyn's young age, but unfortunately for him, women cannot inherit under Corisandian law.
  • The Shadow of the Wind has Don Ricardo, a rich industrial who thinks his son Jorge is not fit to take over his business, so he seeks out the woman he impregnated fifteen years earlier, trying to groom their son Julián into his heir, glad he was not aborted as Ricardo had originally wanted. He's not so glad about it later on.
  • In Shards of Honor, terminally ill Emperor Ezar of Barrayar is aware that his only child Serg is so Ax-Crazy that becoming a puppet of the aggressively expansionist political factions he favored upon taking the throne was the best case scenario. Fortunately for the Imperium and the Galaxy at large a healthy grandson and sane prospective regents meant that there were ways to deal with such problems.
  • The Six Of Crows Duology: Rich mercher Jan Van Eck considers his only child Wylan to be this, because he can't read. This leads him to take some very extreme measures to get a new successor. First he has his wife committed to an asylum, so that he can divorce her after which he convinces everyone she's dead. Then he marries a way younger woman. As soon as she is pregnant, he tries to have Wylan murdered, so that the new child can be his successor. It doesn't work. Wylan survives and eventually manages to get his father arrested and inherits all his father's wealth anyway.
  • In Robert Charles Wilson's Spin, E.D. Lawton is a power-hungry Corrupt Corporate Executive, who has gained enormous economic and political power thanks to the titular event, influencing many politicians in Washington using his Perihelion Foundation lobby firm. He has groomed his son Jason (a young genius) to be his successor. However, eventually, Jason realizes that his old man is more interested in money and power rather than studying and trying to stop the Spin. Meanwhile, E.D. becomes convinced that Jason has become corrupted by Wan Ngo Wen and tries to find ways to sideline his son and take charge. Jason is the one who ends up getting his father pushed into temporary obscurity and takes control of Perihelion, although his actions end up spelling the end for the foundation. Jason is content with Perihelion being disbanded, as its purpose has been fulfilled, while E.D. is angry, as Perihelion was his life.
  • Frankie Telemachus from Spoonbenders admires his father Teddy just as much as he resents him, wanting to be a charming showman just like him. Unfortunately, he lacks the same magnetic charisma and common sense his father has, getting himself stuck in a no-win situation with the mafia when he accepts a loan from them to try and save his failing business, every other idea he has being either getting involved in a Ponzi scheme or some other new business idea doomed to fail.
  • In Neil Gaiman's Stardust, the king of Stormhold is highly disappointed his sons haven't all killed each other to reveal an heir before being on his deathbed. He throws the royal topaz (ruby in the film) and tells them whoever fetches it first is the new king.
  • Elhokar from The Stormlight Archive is considered this by many. His father, King Gavilar, united the feuding Alethi High Princes under his rule and was considered The Good King by his subjects. However he was assassinated, and now the only thing holding the kingdom together is the Vengeance Pact the Princes swore to avenge the previous king. Elhokar is a borderline Manchild that is constantly looking over his shoulder for assassins, real or otherwise and virtually everyone sees that he's not really up to the task of running the kingdom. He gets incredibly jealous when he sees others (like his uncle) do a better job than him.
    • Words of Radiance reveals that he is aware of this, however, and genuinely tries to be The Good King, but he simply doesn't know how. Whenever he ignores his advisors it turns out he should have listened, when he follows their advices it turns out to be bad advice, basically nothing seems to work out for him. Shallan, after getting to know him, even starts to believe he really does have what it takes to live up to his father's legacy. Sadly, he's killed before he has the chance to really try.
  • It is agreed by all that Paaker, the Woobie antagonist of Uarda is the unworthy successor to his noble father. To their credit neither parent seems to have shared this view.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow:
    • Laurel is shown to greatly struggle with this when she becomes the Black Canary following Sara's murder. Not helped by the fact that Oliver (especially Oliver), Roy, and Diggle see her as this and aren't shy about telling her so. This culminates in a villain drugging her leading to her seeing Sara beat her will taunting her over the idea that she could do it. Nyssa also initially shares this view, but changes her mind and becomes a mentor to Laurel, and Felicity points out that Sara may have been a better fighter, but Laurel is a better person. Sara is eventually resurrected, and completely supports Laurel's efforts.
    • The position must be cursed, as following Laurel's murder her replacement is also shown to be deeply insecure over her role.
  • In The Boys (2019), Arc Villain & Fish out of Temporal Water Soldier Boy looks down on his successor Homelander and mocks him for wearing a cape. It only gets worse after he learns that Homelander is his son, as he resented him for being "weak" and needy to the point of attempting Offing the Offspring.
  • In Cable Girls, the owner of the Telephone Company Ricardo Cifuentes sees his son Carlos as this and wants his son-in-law Francisco to inherit instead.
  • Drives most of the plot of Downton Abbey. On the death of his heir, on the Titanic, the Earl of Grantham's estate is all set to pass to...a solicitor. Gasp. Of course, the real issue is that Grantham would much rather leave his estate to one of his actual children (but can't, because they're all girls) than to a distant relative he's never met, who could potentially throw his daughters out onto the streets with nothing when the time comes.
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Sam and Bucky do not approve of the government's decision to pass the mantle of Captain America to John Walker. The latter in particular is seething with Tranquil Fury when he watches Walker on television claim that Steve felt like a brother to him, despite openly admitting he never even met the man.
  • In the re-imagined Flash Gordon series:
    • Ming views his daughter Aura as this, believing that she is too soft to rule Mongo. In his mind, Mongo can only be ruled by an iron fist covered by a velvet glove. In one episode, Aura ends up unintentionally causing Ming to be put into a temporary coma. When Ming wakes up, he's mad that he's still alive. After all, a capable and ambitious leader would have ensured that Ming wouldn't wake up. As such, Aura is unworthy. In the final episode, as Ming is being led to the gas chamber, he looks at his teary-eyed daughter (who was part of the coup and ordered Ming's execution) and tells her he can be finally proud of her.
    • Ming's son, Terek, had it worse, almost killed at birth due to being a mutant. But he somehow escaped and became leader of the outcast "Deviates" and officially led the rebellion. Apparently succeeding his father.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Sam ended up in the Night's Watch because his father considered him this.
    • Lord Tywin is an undisputed master of the game of thrones, but he is a 67-year-old man and views Tyrion as a celestial condemnation and openly tells his youngest son that lawful heir or not, neither gods nor men will make him heir to Casterly Rock, and laments that he cannot disprove Tyrion's lineage, though Tyrion is probably his equal (unlike his other children or grandchildren). Unfortunately, Tyrion is repeatedly discredited. This is the main flaw exploited by his enemies. Davos uses this argument to persuade the Iron Bank of Braavos to allow Stannis a small loan just to hedge their bets.
    • This is Renly's justification for attempting to take the throne instead of Stannis or Joffrey. Both Stannis and Renly dispute their "nephew" Joffrey's parentage, but Stannis is the older Baratheon brother. Renly just hopes he can bank on people thinking he will be a better ruler and forget about the accepted rules of succession. Olenna Tyrell later admitted that the Tyrells should never have backed Renly's impossible and incompetent campaign and "should have stayed well out of it".
    • Stannis considers Renly, who has never fought for anything, an inadequate inheritor for their ancestral home of Storm's End (as well as titles that Renly earned without any significant accomplishment), which Stannis withstood The Siege to hold in Robert's Rebellion.
    • After Tywin is killed by Tyrion, Cersei is left to fill her daddy's shoes as the real power behind throne and as a political intrigue mastermind in Season 5. Having no foresight nor grasp of realpolitik, she fails on an epic scale when her attempts to sabotage Margaery backfires. It shows that Cersei is no Tywin, by a long shot. Even taking the throne for herself by killing everyone else that had a claim to it is likely to lead to her getting deposed in short order, given how many enemies she makes doing it.
  • General Hospital: A 1980 storyline had crusty tycoon Edward Quartermaine announce to his Rich Bitch daughter Tracy that he was removing her from his will. Then suddenly he suffered a heart attack and begged her to give him his medication. Tracy told him she'd only do it if he put her back in the will, and Edward seemed to die after that. But he then he jumped back up, very much alive, and revealed that the whole thing was a Secret Test of Character for her to prove that she deserved her inheritance, and, having failed it so horribly, Tracy was banished from the family for a while.
  • The Glamorous Imperial Concubine: Of Meng Zhi Xiang's sons, Qi Xing is too immature to be Crown Prince and Qi You doesn't want the title, while Qi Yun is mostly overlooked. Eventually Qi Xing becomes emperor, becomes suspicious of Qi You and tries to kill him, then gets killed himself. Qi You succeeds him and dies shortly after, leaving the throne to Qi Yun.
  • On Haven, Police Chief Wuornos tried various ways to to get his son Nathan ready to take over for him and be able to deal with the deadly "Troubles" on his own, aiming to make his son tougher because he'll need to be. (The main result of this, unfortunately, being to irrevocably sabotage Nathan's relationship with his father.)
  • In Heroes, Hiro is in line to inherit his father's company, but doesn't really want to, and his sister is far more talented in that regard anyway. Hiro gets his sister to speak up for herself by telling his father what he'd do with the company once he's in charge, knowing that she would never sit silently while he leads the company to ruin, which convinces his father to allow her to inherit it.
  • House of the Dragon: Being a prequel to Game of Thrones, this trope crops up once again. The main conflict in the series comes from Queen Alicent Hightower trying (after being pressured by her father) to crown her son Aegon as king by proving that King Viserys' intended heir, his daughter Rhaenyra, is this trope. By all accounts, though, Aegon is the one who is inadequate, as he is shown to be a hedonistic teen who cares not for politics and later starts raping his serving girls. Rhaenyra, for all her faults, of which there are many, is actually interested in ruling the Realm, and is working to be a good leader, but many nobles think she'll be a poor ruler because she is a she.From the books 
  • Justified:
    • Detroit mafia don Theo Tonin and his son Sammy, a spoiled, weak-willed mob prince who hides behind his father's reputation. As Theo's son, Sammy is the logical inheritor of the crime syndicate, but neither Theo nor Robert Quarles has a high opinion of him. Quarles was himself considered a potential heir to Tonin's criminal empire but his psychotic nature caused him to become too much of a liability and he was exiled from Detroit. He tries to regain favor with Theo by turning Kentucky into a major source of illegal prescription drugs but his plans are foiled and Theo ends up putting a reward on his head. In season 5 Sammy becomes acting don and it takes him only four months to wreck the criminal empire his father has built.
    • In season 2 Mags Bennett and her oldest son Doyle are planning to go legit and it is made clear that only Doyle and his family will get the money from a crooked land deal. She disinherits her other son Dickie but gives him her marijuana business as consolation. However, she explicitly gives control over all her other criminal enterprises to Boyd Crowder. Later, when she finds out that Dickie has been arrested and Doyle killed, she chooses to kill herself rather than try to help Dickie. In season 3 when Dickie gets out of jail he goes looking for a stash of money that his mother left behind. Turns out that she gave all the money to Loretta, a girl whose father she murdered and she herself saw as the daughter she never had, rather than let Dickie have it.
    • Before the start of the series, everyone assumed that Bo Crowder's son Bowman would take over his father's criminal enterprises. Then Bowman is killed and Bo looks to his other son Boyd for help in controlling crime in Harlan County. However, Boyd is going through a weird Heel–Faith Turn so instead Bo turns to his nephew Johnny Crowder. This is short lived and when Bo starts favouring Boyd again, Johnny betrays Bo and partners up with Boyd to take down Bo's meth business. When this blows up in Johnny's face, Bo decides to clean house and exiles Boyd and tries to kill Johnny. Bo is then killed and Boyd ends up taking over anyway, much to Johnny's resentment.
  • In Kitchen Nightmares many restaurants have actually been open for a long time and were successful, but then the owner died or retired and the next owners (more often the kids of the previous one) ruin it and brought it to the brink of bankruptcy.
  • In series 1 of The Last Kingdom, Aethelwold is the heir to King Aethelred of Wessex, but Aethelwold is a drunken, lecherous waste of space, and after his father is killed in battle, the Witan unilaterally agree to have Aethelwold Locked Away in a Monastery and give the crown to his uncle Alfred (better known to history as Alfred the Great), rather than risk putting the incompetent Aethelwold in charge with an imminent Danish invasion of Wessex.
  • Mayfair Witches: In "Transference", Rowan tries to pass on her connection to Lasher to someone else in the family. Unfortunately, the recipient, Tessa, is a spoiled, naive girl whose first impulse is to try and use her new powers to get revenge on a gang of witch-hunters... before bothering to check if she actually has the powers. It ends very badly for her and Rowan ends up taking the power back.
  • In the backstory of Once Upon a Time, the Sultan's son Murad is an idiot who can't remember a conversation the next day and a spiteful, cowardly bully who lords his station as prince over people but flees at the first show of resistance. His illegitimate brother Jaffar is clearly a better heir but the Sultan adores Murad simply for the fact he is his legitimate son.
  • Princess Silver: Xiao Ren, the Crown Prince, is abusive and incompetent. His father knows this and wants to replace him with Wu You.
  • Played with in an early episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Grand Nagus Zek proclaims Quark to be his successor, and promptly dies soon afterward. Quark becomes Nagus and Zek's son makes several attempts on his life so that he can usurp the title. Turns out Zek's not really dead, and it was all a ruse to test to see if his son was ready to be Nagus. Zek determines that he isn't due to his impulsive attempts to simply kill Quark instead of subtly amassing power and support before getting rid of him. Quark himself was not in on the ruse and was not very happy to find out his life was endangered just to teach Zek's son a lesson. When the Nagus really does retire in one of the last episodes of the series, the successor ends up being Rom, a new kind of Nagus for the new Feringinar.
  • The HBO dramedy Succession is centered on a Succession Crisis within a Big, Screwed-Up Family who own a large media conglomerate. The father, Logan, is a Self-Made Man who built his empire from the ground up and believes none of his four pampered, dysfunctional children are fit to inherit. Of special note is eldest son Connor, who is so dimwitted and useless that he was never in the running to start with; all the Eldest Child responsibilities in the family have thus been passed onto the second-oldest son, Kendall.
  • The Next Step: After Miss Kate departs The Next Step, she passes the role of studio head onto Riley, the last member of the original A-Troupe still with the studio. But throughout the season, Riley makes several downright terrible choices, and gets caught up in a Love Triangle that makes one of the dancers lose her trust in her. The season ends with the studio losing for the first time, and by the next season, Riley’s sister Emily, who had already returned to re-rail the studio’s chances, takes over as studio head.
  • One episode of The Twilight Zone (1959), "The Masks," is about a group of greedy, selfish in-laws who visit a dying man only because they want a part of his large inheritance. The man gives them the condition that they can only inherit his fortune if they wear a set of hideous-looking masks until midnight. They succeed in fulfilling this condition (and as it turns out, the old man dies at the very stroke of midnight), but the man gets the last laugh on them as it turns out that the masks have permanently disfigured their faces to make them accurately reflect their personalities.
  • Brazilian TV show "Você Decide" (You Decide) had one episode where a wealthy man didn't want to leave his children (his son and his daughter) anything more than what was required by law. (Brazil is one country where one cannot completely disinherit one's children.) He made a will bequeathing everything else to a center of medical research. It also includes a case of Loophole Abuse. When his children (even as adults) kept mooching off him, he had them sign IOU notes for any money he gave them. (According to Brazilian Law, anything a father gives his children while he's still alive is considered early inheritance.)

    Tabletop Games 
  • A recurring and profound issue in BattleTech. For every great leader bringing their House to an apex of greatness, there is eventualy a wholly incompetent one who squanders the efforts of their forebears. Perhaps most notable with the Davion family of the Federated Suns, whose prior luminaries included Hanse Davion or Victor Steiner Davion. Unfortunately for House Davion, they ended up with the cowardly, wildly unethical, and actually psychotic Caleb Davion (as in, he experiences severe untreated paranoid schizophrenia that manifests as an Imaginary Friend who acts as a Toxic Friend Influence to encourage all his worst urges). The previously dominant Federated Suns was invaded and nearly conquered (in fact losing its capital world of New Avalon) during Caleb's reign and it takes his successor Julian to just barely start pulling things back.
  • Eberron:
    • This is a brewing problem in Breland. The king is wise and has achieved great things, but he's also old, and none of his heirs are anywhere near worthy to take on the position. There is a significant republican movement...but its main backer is Lawful Evil and expects it to make him effectively the next king.
    • Accusing a Valenar elf of being this is typically followed by rolling initiative. The core of Valenar culture is the belief that the spirits of their greatest ancestors are kept in existence through living elves emulating the ancestors who choose them, and most of the Valaes Tairn take this responsibility deadly seriously. As such, the accusation that someone is failing to live up to that standard - or, worse, actively disgracing the ancestor's legacy - is a direct called shot to the stereotypical Valenar elf's greatest source of pride and biggest insecurity all at once, and when the person you're targeting is a member of Khorvaire's most notable Badass Army, it's a shot you want to be very careful about taking.
  • In the Ravenloft setting, Azalin's son Irik was considered an unsuitable successor by his Lawful Evil father due to actually being a decent guy. Azalin eventually executed his own son for rebelling against him, and with no "suitable" heir, was "forced" to become a lich.

  • King Henry in Shakespeare's Henry IV parts one and two believes his son Hal to be this, since instead of being a proper, honorable prince, Hal spends his time drinking, stealing and chasing skirts with the commonest of lowlifes. Henry eventually confronts his son about his behavior, and in the 2012 BBC production, Hal's rather flippant response earns him a slap in the face. (Hal isn't really an example, though; he's engaging in Obfuscating Stupidity — well, obfuscating debauchery, but there isn't a separate trope for that — so that he can appear to reform overnight once he becomes king. Shakespeare's audience would have known perfectly well that he grows up to be Henry V, considered one of the most successful of English kings.)
  • The titular aging monarch in King Lear prepares to bestow the best portions of his kingdom among his three daughters; after Goneril and Regan have made eloquent professions of their love for their father, Cordelia declares that even though her love for Lear has been dutiful, she proclaims that her future husband will share the duties. Lear ousts a dowerless Cordelia from the kingdom and the king of France marries her, while Lear divides his kingdom between Goneril and Regan, who treat him and his company of knights inhospitably, reducing the number to none, with Lear finding the stormy elements more hospitable than his harsh daughters. Old Gloucester, who himself has erroneously believed a forged letter by his bastard son Edmund that frames Edgar as conspiring against his father's estate, is blinded by Regan and Cornwall, and he joins Kent in rendering his services to Lear, while Cordelia goes out and nurses Lear back to health, before Edmund's forces capture them, with Goneril poisoning Regan before she commits suicide, and Lear reconciles with Cordelia before their deaths.

    Video Games 
  • Crusader Kings: One of the main challenges is making sure your dynasty's position doesn't go to a drunken hedonist imbecile. Removing them from the succession is easy, ensuring the next heir is one of yours is more difficult.
    • Unless you choose elective monarchy and select your children's mentors and spouses based on talent instead of political expediency, turning your court and extended family into an anachronistic haven of meritocratic excellence: in that case, even if your current ruler's sons happen to be inept, they'll have plenty of capable cousins selectable as heirs. Bonus point if your dynasty is Basque: cue the long unbroken line of hyper-competent badass queens conquering the world.
  • A Central Theme in Dark Souls III, which revolves heavily around legacies. None of the characters in this game are able to live up to the legacies they try to follow. This includes the main character, the Unkindled, who is unfit even to be a cinder.
  • Disgaea Dimension 2: Laharl is seen as one by some of his father's former vassals. Little do they know that Krichevskoy approves of Laharl. Everybody else doesn't even know who he is.
  • It's a recurring theme in the original trilogy of Donkey Kong Country that Cranky Kong does not believe his grand/son Donkey Kong is a suitable inheritor to Cranky's self-awarded title of "video game hero". He's no more supporting of Diddy Kong or Dixie Kong, either. The 100% Completion challenges in the series are even said to have been created by Cranky to make the young Kongs prove themselves worthy of his respect — whilst the Gameboy remakes in-universe are a result of Cranky challenging Donkey and Diddy to take another shot at repeating their former successes against the Kremlings, to really prove they deserve his respect.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest VII: The current Pendragon of Gorges struggles with this, as his mother disapproves of... well, just about everything he does. Like his insistence on using the BlissRock to make their lives easier. Or pretending his daughter Firia is 'just adopted', refusing to recognize her as his daughter by blood because she was born without wings.
    • In Dragon Quest VIII, Prince Charmles (the obligatory "Prince Charmless" pun is made early and often), heir to the throne of Argonia, is fat, lazy, spoiled, and dishonest, despite his father King Clavius' attempts to encourage, prod, or shame him into making something of himself. In the post-game content it comes out that, the Hero is a Hidden Backup Prince, the son of Clavius' older brother, and therefore has a better claim to Argonia's throne than either Charmles OR Clavius. The Golden Ending has Clavius denounce his own son as the fraud he is (he cheated his way through his Rite of Passage) and instead backs the Hero.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, this is the backstory to Daggerfall, and through it, most of the setting — the intro narration even begins by reciting how "The unworthy heirs of the Septim Dynasty have allowed the bonds of the Empire to weaken and crack..." Part of it, as well, is the is the ten years that the usurper Jagar Tharn spent on the throne leading up to the events of Arena. Uriel VII is generally considered a very good emperor, but it's hard to keep your empire together when you've been imprisoned and replaced by an imposter.
  • In Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, Hugh is unable to use dark magic despite the family tradition, which leads his grandmother Niime to treat him like this. He's internalized it pretty hard - even asking her "You must be disappointed that all you have left is a pathetic little grandson, eh, Nana?" Outside of their supports, he tries to project the image of himself as a talented, cool ladies' man when he acts like a Manchild half the time, implying that it's also saddled him with an Inferiority Superiority Complex.
    • In the prequel, said father, Canas, remarks that a baby Hugh just cries when shown dark tomes and wonders if the family tradition will end with him, though he doesn't seem to think it impinges on Hugh's character or "worthiness".
  • Discussed in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, in which Edelgard plans on averting this trope when the time comes for someone to inherit her throne by handpicking her successor based on their talents and merits, and may not even be related to her at all. Considering she plans to turn her country into a meritocracy and abolish the nobility, this keeps in line with her goal. In a more specific example, her supports with Caspar involve how Caspar's older brother is lazy, greedy and acts as though he's entitled to inherit House Bergliez, while Caspar, for all his faults, is brave and hard-working.
  • League of Legends:
    • Urgot is not a fan of his replacement as headsman, Draven. Urgot took the job diligently and seriously, proud to execute criminals for Noxus. Draven uses the executions as nothing but a showcase for himself and his planet sized ego.
      Urgot: A pale imitation.
    • Being effectively its founder, Mordekaiser has this view of modern-day Noxus as a whole. That being said, while he has a unique first encounter line for most Noxian champions, he most certainly has it in for Swain as he has two lines specifically for him:
      Mordekaiser: (first encounter with Swain) Clutch your borrowed power, Grand General. Your soul is already mine.
      Mordekaiser: (upon killing Swain) Clearly, your ambition outpaced your ability.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Rave Heart: Although High King Arcturo did manage to win the second Xerian war, it's noted that unlike his predecessor Galadlar, he was unable to unite the various factions of Xerxes and gain their trust. As a result, he could only rely on the Estuuban brothers to win the war, but even this alliance didn't last and Vorakia turned on him for not being hawkish enough to invade the Ursula constellation. During the third war, he was only able to get Vismel's support, but no other planet to help him in his war with Vorakia Estuuban. By the present, Vorakia turns several key political players against Arcturo, ensuring that the galaxy is fractured.
  • Saints Row 2: Shogo Akuji leads the Ronin in Stilwater. He proves so inept at his job, though, that not only does his father has to fly in from Japan to take the reigns, but he ends up favoring Shogo's lieutenant over him.
  • Happens twice in Senran Kagura. First, the head of the Houou Organization felt that his son Murasame was not cut to inherit the shinobi heritage of the family, so he adopted Ikaruga, a distant relative to him, to replace Murasame in that department. Meanwhile the head of Tairo Corporation felt like he had no worthy heirs to his business and decides to copy Mr. Houou by adopting Murakumo, also a distant relative, to the family.
  • Suikoden V has this with Alenia, a Queen's Knight who is given one of the three treasures of Falena, the Twilight Rune. However, the Rune does not allow Alenia to wield its power effectively, and when she tries, the rune nearly goes berserk and needs to be subdued. The rune is removed, and given to Lady of Black Magic Sialeeds Falenas, who can wield the full power of the Rune. However, Sialeeds has her own agenda and uses the rune to destroy an ambush set for the player. Alenia, when finding out that Sialeeds failed, accuses her of treason. However, Sialeeds invokes the trope and points out that Alenia knows just how hard it is to invoke the Rune's power. This fools her.
  • In the backstory of Team Fortress 2, Zepheniah Mann, seeing his sons Blutarch and Redmond as idiotic and incompetent, gives them both half of his (worthless) empire to squabble over (minus his company, Mann Co, which he gave to Saxton Hale's grand(?)father). The two proceed to go to war with each other via an army of mercenaries, a war that lasted from 1850 to 1970.
  • In the Total War series, you typically have a Faction Leader and a Faction Heir. When the Faction Leader dies, the Heir is promoted and the game assigns a new Heir for your faction. (Often the new Leader's eldest son or younger brother.) Unfortunately, this may not always be the best person for the job. Some games, such as Rome, allow you to manually change your Faction Heir at the cost of some influence to the former Heir in the form of the "Disinherited" trait. Others, like Medieval II, do not allow you to manually switch your Heir, presumably for historical accuracy. If the game decides that your Faction Heir is going to be that greedy, incompetent governor in the middle of nowhere instead of your kickass, utterly loyal and upright general, your only option is to have your Faction Heir killed via Uriah Gambit and hope the game selects a better one.
  • Wasteland 3 revolves around The Patriarch, a dictator ruling over post-apocalyptic Colorado and his request to the players that they help him stop his three insane children from destroying the civilization he built. He admits that he treated his children more as possible successors rather than children and trained them accordingly, leading to Liberty becoming disillusioned with him for his "lack of vision" and wanting to conquer the entire region, Victory cracking under the pressure of living under his father's shadow and becoming a genocidal sadist, and Valor developing an Inferiority Superiority Complex.
  • You learn in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that most people not swept up in the zealotry of the Eternal Fire think this of King Radovid, especially his former spymaster Dijkstra. The latter considers the reign of the former king as something of a golden age for Redania and that Radovid's madness, though making him somewhat effective militarily, is driving the kingdom and the rest of the Northern Realms into a dark age. At least some other Redanians agree and join in the conspiracy to have him killed.
  • In Yakuza 0, Sohei Dojima sets his sights on becoming the next Captain of the Tojo Clan, and then become the next Chairman when Acting Second Chairman Takashi Nihara retires. Dojima's own Captain, Shintaro Kazama, and Masaru Sera of the Nikkyo Consortium work together to make sure he doesn't, both men agreeing that the Tojo Clan would be brought to ruin if a man as ruthless and ambitious as Dojima were to become the next Chairman. Dojima catches on to Kazama plotting behind his back and (since Kazama is too competent and well-respected among the Tojo Clan to just have killed) manipulates events to have him sent to prison so that he can't interfere while he has his Lieutenants acquire the Empty Lot for him in order to secure his Captaincy, setting off the events of the game when Kazuma Kiryu, one of Kazama's protégés, becomes involved in Dojima's schemes.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Ace Attorney, Franziska von Karma accuses Edgeworth of disgracing her father's family name due to his losses at the hands of Phoenix Wright. She's flummoxed when he doesn't care about the insult, since he's had Character Development and learned there were more important things than a perfect winning streak. And because von Karma was a murderer who killed Edgeworth's father and tried to get him accused of murder, but that issue is never really brought up.
    • In the Fey clan, Morgan is the eldest daughter, but because of her practically nonexistent spiritual power, she's passed over for the position of Master in favor of her younger sister Misty.
    • This is how Ga'ran Sigatar Khura'in is defeated in Spirit Of Justice. It's a legal requirement that the Queen of Khura'in be a Medium capable of channelling the spirit of the Holy Mother, the founder of the Khura'in country and religion, which Ga'ran cannot. Not only does this remove her as queen, ending a Civil War, but it also ends decades of Miscarriage of Justice as any laws she introduced, including the Defence Culpability Act, are declared null and void.
  • Shinji in Fate/stay night is a total loser who thinks he's a genius. Except he really does recognize that he sucks and isn't even a magus. That's why Zouken Matou adopted Sakura into the family. Nobody even bothered to tell Shinji that he was now entirely obsolete until a decade after she arrived. The fun part is that the inadequate inheritor and the inheritee? Lose big time to the 'substitute magus.'
    • Only in one route, though. In the other two, Shinji loses big time to Shirou instead, after Sakura gave Rider to him. And, of course, Sakura has spent the last eleven years being horrifically abused by both of them, so she's hardly won either....
    • As was implied in Fate/stay night and shown in Fate/Zero, all the Matou line after Zouken himself have been Inadequate Inheritors. Shinji is just the culmination of the trend, having no magic potential whatsoever. (His soul does have sort of vestigial remnants of magic circuits, but that turns out to be a really bad thing for him in the only route where it's relevant.)
    • It's also made clear that this trope is self-inflicted on Shinji, as he's actually fairly good at non-magus skills. He just wants to inherit a position he was never suited for.
  • Haruka in Little Busters! is this to her Big, Screwed-Up Family, who declared that the child of the "criminal" (read: the son-in-law they had thrown in jail when he attacked them in the name of protecting his wife and co-husband) couldn't be the family heir. Kanata, the other twin, was declared by a series of tests to be the "better" child and became the heir. However, despite Haruka spending her entire life thinking Kanata had the easy life, Kanata was also this, belted when she was anything less than perfect and constantly under suspicion of being the "bad one" herself. Learning this and the fact that Kanata was forced to treat her so cruelly by the family under threat that they'd kill both sisters leads Haruka to reluctantly realize that there is no good or bad one and a Daddy DNA Test won't make the extended family love them.
  • Shiki in Tsukihime is disinherited because he is extremely sick after an almost deadly accident, and even after recovering is still too bad as a result. Also, he is not a real Tohno, only was fooled - and thus fooled the others - in believing to be. The real Tohno SHIKI was killed, and even after coming back to life he was too mentally unstable.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, wealthy head of the Ushiromiya family Kinzo is dying. His heir, Krauss, has made several bad investments and lost a lot of money. The second oldest, Eva, is intelligent and ambitious, but not very personable and is borderline crazy. The third oldest, Rudolf, is just a womanizer. The youngest, Rosa, has an illegitimate daughter. So what does he do to remedy the situation? Teach them to be better heirs? No. Because he's been dead for over a year before the series begins anyway. In EP7, an Alternate Timeline shows who Kinzo would have considered his ideal inheritor: Lion, the child of his unholy union with his illegitimate daughter, who he gave to Krauss and Natsuhi to raise as their own.


    Web Original 
  • In A Rake by Starlight, Baron Tylaris knew that his only son was an idiot, so he planned to have someone else take over once he died: himself, via cloning.
  • Fen Quest: Lily's woe is that her family has no adequate inheritor: The patriarch's title comes with a duty that requires magic, but none of his descendants (nor their consorts) have shown any magical talent, which means the entire family will lose the title (and all that comes with it) when he dies. She's agreed to her upcoming Arranged Marriage to Lord Shup because his end of the bargain involves supporting her family.
  • Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email "replacement", Strong Bad wonders who will take up his email-answering mantle after he retires. He's so disappointed with all the candidates that he resigns himself to "checking e-mails and kicking Cheats 'til the day I die."
  • Bruce Goodkind, the richest man in the Whateley Universe and head of the mutant-hating Goodkind family, seems to be having this problem. Oldest son? Came out as a transgender woman and left the family. Oldest daughter? Left to be a movie starlet a la Paris Hilton. Second daughter? Not good with business and won't make an adequate businesswoman. He's left with three sons: one is a brat, but might make good (if he doesn't become a mutant, which is incredibly unlikely at this point), one who is doing a decent job, and the second-youngest, who is a complete genius who would have been an amazing heir had he not become a mutant and thus been thrown out of the family.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time, the rightful heir that Princess Bubblegum creates in her laboratory turns out to be a failure, and kind of... "special," to put it nicely: her Frankenstein's Idiot, Lemongrab, is a horrible ruler, because he's dysfunctional, socially inept, mentally unadjusted, overly-sensitive, obnoxious, and... well, a butt.
    • It gets VERY worse. Bonnibel then tries to give Lemongrab an equally insane little brother, so that they'll scream at each other and like it. This works for a time, but eventually they degrade into full-sibling rivalry (complete with cannibalism) over their "son". As for her daughter, Goliad gets the wrong idea about how to be a good ruler (not helped by her God Save Us from the Queen! psychic powers) and tries to be a ruthless dictator, so she has to be psychically imprisoned. So far, Bonnibel's best attempt at an heir was Lemongrab junior-junior, Lemonhope, but he decided to go Walking the Earth instead. And the Gumball Guardian 2.0 / Banana Split Elite Collective that ultimately takes over as a multi-layered ruling party? They enslave the entire candy kingdom in gatcha stasis balls and wander aimlessly for hundreds of years, forcing new heroes to bust the sleeping prisoners out.
  • Prince Zuko of Avatar: The Last Airbender is a prime example, right down to being shooed away with an Impossible Task while his younger, female sibling is groomed discreetly for the actual succession to Firelord. Admittedly, this had a lot more to do with the boy's failure to emulate his father's sociopathy than his relative shortfalls in skill, cunning, and levelheadedness.
    • In The Legend of Korra, both Korra and her mentor Tenzin feel the pressure of living up to Aang's legacy and responsibilities, as Avatar and progenitor of the new Airbenders respectively. Book 2 entails their learning to accept that they are their own people and not the roles placed on them.
  • One-shot character Arkady Duvall from Batman: The Animated Series. Compared to his father Ra's Al Ghul, who is a suave, charismatic leader, Arkady was nothing but a self-obsessed sociopath, who had the definitions of a budding Caligula. Not surprisingly, he's passed over as a successor.
  • Batman Beyond:
    • A lot of people see Terry this way at first, including Terry himself. Very few people keep this point of view for very long.
    • The Jokerz gang are nowhere near as threatening as the Joker was.
      Jokerz leader: We're the Jokerz.
      Bruce: Sure you are.
    • In the third season episode “King’s Ransom”, we learn that the previous King of the Royal Flush Gang thought that the current King (his son-in-law) would be inadequate. This turns out to be true: while the current King is cunning enough to concoct a plan that would benefit himself, his self-centeredness leads him to make decisions that ultimately lead to his daughter making a Heel–Face Turn, his son being arrested and the gang brought to ruin.
  • Azmuth in Ben 10 created the Omnitrix with the intent for it to be used by Ben's Grandpa Max, but begrudgingly allowed Ben to keep it while often talking down to him (ironic, considering he's inches tall). He eventually recognized Ben as a worthy inheritor years later, however.
  • In Evil Con Carne (The segment that used to air side by side with The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy) Hector Con Carne's future son isn't the least bit evil, much to Hec's chagrin. Though in the end, the Card-Carrying Villain is okay with it, and naturally, the son is okay with both of his parents being on the opposite side of morality.
  • Averted on Gargoyles. Brooklyn saw himself this way and hesitated to give orders in Goliath's absence, but he was actually an excellent leader and everyone else thought so.
  • In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, the original Mandarin set up those tests and hid the rings because he felt all his children to be the trope.
  • Beezy on Jimmy Two-Shoes is nowhere near the level of evil that his father Lucius wants him to be, even though he's to be the next ruler of Miseryville/owner of Misery Inc. He'd rather hang out with Jimmy and his girlfriend, Saffi.
    • This is implied to be the case with the entirety of the Heinous family, barring Lucius I. When we meet all the other Heinouses in "Pop-Sicles", Beezy's grandfather Lucius VI demonstrates himself to be Eviler than Thou to the current Lucius (who is a Smug Snake and Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain), and scolds his son for how the people aren't miserable enough.
  • In Kim Possible, Señor Senior, Sr. is a classic Affably Evil Villain whose greatest disappointment is his Cloudcuckoolander / Minion with an F in Evil son, Señor Senior, Jr. He is constantly lecturing his son on how a 'proper villain' must behave.
    • This doesn't seem to bother Junior all that much, however. If anything, it only annoys him. Also, it's clear that Señor Senior, Sr. loves his son and fully intends to make him his heir, he's just a little frustrated.
    • Also, Camille Leon entered a life of crime after her father disinherited her.
    • Ron, taking on the mantle of the Fearless Ferret.
  • Scooby-Doo: In the The Scooby-Doo Show episode Vampire Bats and Scaredy Cats, one villain tries to get his niece portrayed as one of these so she'll be passed over for the inheritance of the family hotel. (He's next in line.) He does this by hypnotizing her into thinking she's a vampire and trying to have her declared insane. And he would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids and their dog.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Burns, Baby Burns", Mr. Burns' son, Larry, is considered to inherit Mr. Burns' fortune, but has a tough time fitting in.
  • In South Park episode "Cartmanland", Eric Cartman inherited his grandmother's money. She mentioned in her will that she left her money to him because she feared her other relatives would have spent it on crack. While he bought a failing amusement park so he could have it to himself, only to sell it back after unintentionally making it profitable again (he hated letting other kids in to pay for everything) then lost the rest of the money to back taxes and lawsuits. So yeah, the Cartmans aren't exactly the best gene pool.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil:
    • The Magic Book of Spells reveals that Queen Skywynne's older child Jushtin was originally meant to be heir to the throne, but he was considered inadequate due to his gender (as the Butterfly line is matriarchal), leading to his younger sister Solaria being named the heir instead. Ironically, it's all but stated that Jushtin would've been the better choice; while he became a diplomat who created long-lasting alliances between Mewni and several other kingdoms, she was a genocidal, racist warmongerer who tried to kill all monsters and was killed by them in turn.
    • Due to her mental instability and lack of magic prowess, Dirhhennia the Heaped was passed over in the succession in favor of her younger sister Crescenta the Eager. It's hard to say if Dirhhennia would have been a better ruler, but considering Crescenta turned out to be a petty tyrant who manipulated everyone and led an anti-monster crusade, she couldn't have been worse.
  • Stunt Dawgs: Badyear is a billionaire's disinherited nephew.
  • In Thunder Cats 2011, almost everyone in Thundera thinks young prince Lion-O isn't as worthy an heir to the throne as his adopted brother Tygra, since Tygra is Always Someone Better and Lion-O is viewed as eccentric for believing in the stories of "technology," and defending the supposed rights of other, lower Animals. His refusal to conform to Thundera's cultural paradigm of Might Makes Right and species dominance doesn't help his case either. It's only when Thundera is invaded that Lion-O is vindicated, and proves his worth.
  • Troy Hammerschmitt from Titan MAXIMUM might be The Ace, but his father still plans to leave control of the corporation to his nerdy sister, since she has a better head for business. Troy merely taunts how his sister will get to do the boring work while he gets to be a test pilot. It's a ruse though: Troy is so mad at his father for passing him over that he pulls a Cavalry Betrayal, handing his state-of-the-art Humongous Mecha over to the Big Bad.
  • In Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats, a wealthy woman left her entire fortune to her niece because she hates her other relatives. No reason for this hatred has ever been mentioned.
  • The Venture Bros.:

    Real Life 
  • This dynamic caused the collapse of the Assyrian and Mongol empires, and contributed quite a bit to the Ottoman Empire's stagnation as the "sick man of Europe". Other examples of this include Yaroslav the Wise, Suleiman the Magnificent, Akbar the Great, Mansa Musa II, Asoka, Chandragupta II, Emperor Qin...
  • JT, the crack gang leader made famous for letting grad student Sudhir Venkatesh stick around with his gang. Venkatesh writes about how, toward the end of his career, JT tried to rebuild his gang in new areas but was largely thwarted by prospective gangsters being more interested in whether they can get a new bicycle if they join the gang than in JT's dreams of power and wealth.
  • Inverted by Louis XIV and his eventual successor Louis XV. On his deathbed, Louis XIV told his young great-grandson that he would be a great king, and warned him to avoid making war as much as possible, describing it as the "ruin of the people". Unfortunately, Louis XV ignored his great-grandfather's advice (possibly because he was only four at the time) and proved to be a woefully inept king before passing the throne to the more competent but weak willed Louis XVI, who proceeded to run France into the ground and lose his head in The French Revolution.
  • Lenin wrote a document which would be known as "Lenin's Testament", where he criticized all potential successors to his leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, including Stalin and Trotsky (he even suggested the former be removed from his post as General Secretary; Stalin being rude to his wife didn't help). However, he wrote this as his health was beginning to fail; after his death, a power struggle ensued. Which was won by, ironically enough, Stalin.
  • A built-in feature of statistics. Anyone who is remembered for being great is likely to have a certain mix of genetic traits combined with a certain kind of character. Their offspring will be less likely to have such extremes built in. Their children have a high probability of being closer to average than the parent. Fortunately, it cuts both ways: a person of low character and talent should also have children who tend to be closer to average. This is called a regression to the mean. In short, Picasso's child is likely to be less talented than Picasso himself.
    • The Freakonomics podcast went into several cases of this trope in the business world, such as Busch Beer's financial troubles until it was eventually sold. Investors and companies seem to overvalue the "family line." Japanese culture has a strong tendency for the father to be succeeded by his son in the family business, with some families having run a particular business for dozens of generations. The Japanese would often adopt individuals (in the past, almost always men) into their family just to avert this trope if the son didn't seem worthy.
      • This is still the case in the modern world. This has left Japan as the country with the highest adoption rates in the world, as well as the highest average age of the adopted (adoption is also used as a replacement for gay marriage, which is illegal in Japan, but that is neither here nor there).
    • To state the obvious, an observation that is true of populations is not true of particular individuals.
    • For a while, the Roman Emperors averted this by hand-selecting and legally adopting an adult successor who had already showed the qualities the current emperor believed would make for a good successor. This worked pretty well for quite a while, until Marcus Aurelius (himself a well-regarded emperor) allowed his son Commodus to ascend to the throne. Things went way downhill after that.
      • The Julio-Claudians tended to adopt their successors from within their family, but there was no small amount of politicking within the family for the position. Notably Augustus exiled his only biological child, Julia, for, in his words, "whoring around Rome", while the trope namer for The Caligula was selected as Tiberius's heir very narrowly. In a bit of an inversion, Claudius was planning to disinherit his stepson Nero in favor of his biological son, but Nero and his mother assassinated the both of them before it was made official.
  • In the Three Kingdoms period, Tao Qian recognized that his sons were incapable and that only Liu Bei (yes, the same Liu Bei that founded Shu) would have a chance of holding off Cao Cao; after his death, his advisors arranged for Liu Bei to succeed him.
  • George Washington was the toughest possible act to follow for the US presidency, especially for the famously "obnoxious and disliked" John Adams, but Adams certainly didn't do himself any favors picking a fight with Alexander Hamilton, the only other prominent member of his party. Due to election law at the time, Adams also had his opponent and longtime-rival Thomas Jefferson as Vice President, undermining him. Adams lost reelection to Jefferson after one term, thus becoming both the first and last Federalist POTUS.
    • In a broader sense, Washington towers over all of his successors; of the 46 men (as of June 2021) who have held the office of president, only one is looked upon with the same awe and reverence as Washington while the others get saddled with any number of policy errors, personality issues, or just plain old partisan hatred that drag them down.
    • Generally, almost every U.S. President gets hit with this at some point, as the American people forget why they voted them in and look back more fondly on their predecessors due to nostalgia or history vindicating their predecessors' decisions. Presidents usually have a honeymoon period where the public celebrates their victory, and while it varies on how long it lasts, it will come to an end as the President makes mistakes or events beyond their control sour public opinion. The unluckiest chief executives are the ones who were originally Vice President and inherited the job upon the death or resignation of their predecessors. Some, like Harry Truman and Chester A. Arthur, overcame this and became successful chief executives in their own right.
  • Richard Cromwell, son of Oliver Cromwell, was an amiable and conscientious guy who really tried his best during his short period as Lord Protector, but lacked the political nous and drive of his father. His nickname of "Tumbledown Dick" is a little unfair to him, but his good-natured acceptance of King Charles's restoration (although he was very strong in pointing out that he must not be blamed for what his father did) is a good sidelight on Richard's character. Later, King Charles himself said "If I thought I could trust him, I would have him as one of my advisors in a moment. He is competent and calm, but he likes his rural life, so would not accept such a role anyway". Not a bad endorsement for a man whose father killed the others father!