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Rightful King Returns

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"But at the essential moment, see, your genuine kings throw back their cloak and say 'Lo!' and their essential kingnessness shines through."
An Ankh-Morporkian, Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

This is the common High Fantasy plot that involves restoring the rightful heir to the throne. Requires, obviously, the Royal Blood trope; it doesn't work in a kingdom with elective monarchs.

Obviously, this is a very idealistic trope. For a start, it's always absolutely clear (in the long run, at least) which of the claimants is the "rightful" king as there's rarely more than one descendant of the same line and none of that petty squabbling over family trees you get in Real Life. If there's any military opposition to this king's return at all, it's made obvious that these are bad guys who need deposing, because it's harder to get behind a guy invading a country solely in order to plant his behind on the throne if the current ruler is doing an acceptable job. And lastly, the rightful ruler is usually — and conveniently — a competent and moral ruler, even though in Real Life this isn't always the case.

Sometimes started off by a Moses in the Bulrushes scenario. The true ruler may be identified by a Distinguishing Mark, such as a birthmark, or an Orphan's Plot Trinket. The rightful monarch may have been been a King Incognito for his own safety until the right moment, or he may learn his Secret Legacy and go to claim it, in a Rags to Royalty plot. Next thing you know, He's Back!, and The Usurper is gonna be defeated once and for all. This stuff is likely to end in an Awesome Moment of Crowning.

If this king was exiled by a revolution, then expect it to be a case of The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized and for the king to retake power with the support of the loyalist population.

Compare Prodigal Hero. Related to Fisher King, where the king is magically linked to the wellbeing of the whole country. See also King in the Mountain. Sister Trope to A Protagonist Shall Lead Them, who may be royalty but often is not. Contrast Offered the Crown and The Wrongful Heir to the Throne. Supertrope of the Man in the Iron Mask.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan: In Season 3, the new Levi Squad discovers that Historia Reiss' family is the real royal family, and the real power behind the throne. After the military enacts a coup against the false king and his advisers, they ask Historia to take the throne in his stead to give the coup legitimacy. It works, once she delivers the killing blow against her father, who had turned himself into a Titan in a desperate attempt to retake the powers of the Founding Titan.
  • Kimba the White Lion: After his father's death, he must reclaim his kingdom. However, he will have to reclaim it from a black-maned scarred lion, who has usurped the throne in his absence. It must be told it was made forty years before Disney made The Lion King.
  • Trinity Blood ends with Esther being crowned queen.
  • The manga adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past by Akira Himekawa ends this way, with the return of the missing Princess Zelda (who is immediately crowned Queen, thus making it the Rightful Queen Returns).
  • Twisted in One Piece: the rightful king of Dressrosa, Donquixote Doflamingo, returns after another bloodline has ruled his kingdom for eight hundred years. However, that other dynasty was a kind and pacifistic one, while the "rightful" king, as his family, is evil.
    • Also inverted by the rightful King of Drum, a tyrant that ruined the kingdom and abandoned it after a pirate attack. The kingdom actually got better without him in charge, and Drum's people were terrified by the idea of the King's return.
  • In volume 14 of Dance in the Vampire Bund, Princess Mina Tepes broadcasts an announcement of her return as her Werewolf Commando Bodyguards help restore order in riot-ravaged Tokyo, then personally joins the missile-born airdrop sent against the island concession/domain in Tokyo Bay her Evil Twin has been oppressing.
  • Averted in Hanasakeru Seishounen. Kajika should be first in line for the throne, but because no one apart from the audience, Lee Leng, Harry, Quinza, and Fred know this by the time Rumaty is crowned, she does not become queen. Everyone is fine with this, however, because they were all rooting for Rumaty anyway.
    • Even before the events of the above spoiler, this trope is inverted with Somand who is first in line for the throne, but is completely unfit to be king. His younger brother, Rumaty, is far more likely to become a king who actually cares about the country of Raginei.
  • Deconstructed in the anime version of The Heroic Legend of Arslan. Silvermask/Prince Hermes who was the original heir until his uncle Andragoras murdered his father was thought to be killed but lived in exile, planning their return for years by aiding Lusitania. Meanwhile, Prince Arslan is on the run and is trying to avoid capture by Lusitania who want him dead so the remaining Parsian officers wouldn't put him as leader of The Resistance. Because there are two arguably rightful claimants, both are in a race to see who could make the stronger claim. However, certain characters recognize because there are two contenders, liberating Pars would not bring peace and has the potential to throw the country into a Civil War.

    Comic Books 
  • In the follow-up comic book to Farscape, Rygel is contacted by his remaining wife, who tells him that his cousin Bishan, who deposed Rygel and made himself Dominar decades before, has grown quite unpopular among the people and the aristocracy. She urges Rygel to return to Hyneria to lay claim to his rightful throne, telling him that the people will support his claim. However, this turns out to be a trap. Bishan captures Rygel and imprisons him along with several of Rygel's supporters. In the end, Rygel shows that the long exile has changed him for the better, and he leads an escape and captures Bishan. Rygel resumes his position as Dominar Rygel XVI of the Hynerian Empire.
  • X-Wing Rogue Squadron: Eiattu IV went through an Anastasia-esque revolution in which the monarchs and all their children were killed, save a prince and princess who escaped. Years later though the revolution has cycled back out of power, there's a lot of division, and the last, lost princess is found as a pilot. Her retaking the throne happens quickly enough, her arc from there shows that her time away made her more sensitive and sympathetic to the people, and unimpressed by noble pressure and scheming.
  • Young Avengers: Hulkling is the son of the late Skrull princess Anelle, who died when Galactus ate the Skrull homeworld some years back. According to prophecy, he'll reunite the Skrulls and get them to work together with the Kree. Since Teddy first learns this when Super-Skrull incinerates his foster mother, his general reaction to all this is to refuse. In later instances, his reaction to any sign of destiny is boredom and irritation. Until 2019, when he finally gives in.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • The Lion King: In the third act, Simba returns to Pride Rock to remove his usurperous uncle, although he doesn't find out Scar's treachery until the latter smugly gloats to Simba about his murder of Mufasa.
  • Subverted in Shrek the Third: Shrek is himself a rightful heir (through his wife, Princess Fiona), but he proved to be a liability to the kingdom. He intentionally embarks on a quest to find another rightful heir — the king's nephew, Arthur Pendragon — and overthrow Charming to relieve himself of the duty.
  • In Disney's Robin Hood, everyone (except for Prince John) desperately wants King Richard to return from war and reclaim the throne from his greedy brother.
  • In Frozen, after the whole Endless Winter disaster has been averted and Hans's brief reign being put to an end for his treachery, Elsa returns to resume her role as Queen of Arendelle after a disastrous first impression at her coronation. And with nothing to hide from anymore, her first act after returning is to reinstate the open door policy and use her ice powers to make a skating rink for everyone to make the citizens and Anna happy.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: The world inside the Sugar Rush game is ruled by King Candy, but he is exposed as a disguised Turbo who took over Sugar Rush after he got his own game decommissioned. After he's defeated, the game reset triggered by Vanellopenote  crossing the finish line reveals that he stole the throne from her, and her status as Princess Vanellope von Schweetz is restored. Averted as she then switches from monarchy to democracy, declaring herself President instead.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Court Jester has this as the basis of the plot. However, the rightful king happens to be an infant, so he's largely treated as a Macguffin instead of a character.
  • Flash Gordon (1980): After Ming the Merciless is defeated, Vultan states that Prince Barin is the rightful ruler of Mongo.
  • King Ralph: After a rather ridiculous accident during a mass family photo shoot toasts almost every member of British Royalty, the call goes out to find anyone with the right bloodline. The first heir left in line is Ralph -but he doesn't like the job.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Thor, the rightful heir, in his titular movie—then zig-zagged when Odin wakes back up.
    • Black Panther: Killmonger seemingly kills T'Challa in the Trial by Combat challenge. The royal family flees in fear of their lives and Killmonger takes the throne as the new king of Wakanda. He initiates his plan to use Wakanda's weapons to topple what he deems oppressive governments across the globe. Just as the first planes launch, T'Challa returns, revealing that he had not actually been killed as previously believed. T'Challa demands that all Killmonger's orders be halted immediately, citing that he neither forfeited the ceremonial challenge nor died and was thus still technically the king since he had not been officially dethroned. After an extended battle, T'Challa defeats Killmonger and his status as king is reinstated.
  • Aquaman (2018): Arthur is forced to take the throne of Atlantis from his half-brother, Orm, in order to protect both Atlantis and the surface world from the war Orm is instigating that could cost millions of lives. However, Arthur struggles against Atlantean racism and his own weaknesses in addition to the challenges of taking on his half-brother. He eventually thwarts Orm's war and is crowned King, ensuring the safety of both the surface world and the seven seas.
  • In a sense, the return of the original Tyrannosaurus rex in Jurassic World, who arrives to help take down the film's saurian Big Bad. She also gets an Awesome Moment of Crowning at the end, roaring victoriously over the abandoned park.
  • In the Name of the King shows that the Kingdom of Ehb already has a just king named Konreid. However, he's at the end of his life (sped up by him being poisoned by the Big Bad), and his sole heir is his incompetent and jerkish nephew Duke Fallow, who only cares about his birthright and couldn't give a crap about the common people of Ehb (unlike Konreid). During a heated battle with the Krug, Fallow takes the opportunity to put an arrow in King Konreid's chest. While everyone treats him as a traitor, the rules of succession are clear, and all generals are sworn to obey the King of Ehb no matter the circumstances. As Fallow gloats his triumph, the King's magus appears and declares the discovery of Konreid's long-lost son, Prince Camden Konreid, who was thought to have been killed decades before in a time of turmoil. Fallow is immediately arrested, as he's no longer the rightful King (in an alternate scene, Commander Tarish simply slits his throat).
  • This is the villain's motivation in Heroic Trio: he is kidnapping children with imperial ancestry so he can bring back the monarchy. As he rants when our heroes go to take him down, "China must have a king!"
  • Jason's motivation in the classic sword and sandals film Jason and the Argonauts. He is the exiled heir to Thessaly but wants something more inspiring for his people than stomping into the palace and killing his uncle. Hence, the quest to sail across the world and bring back the Golden Fleece.
  • The basic plot of the second half of Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) revolves around trying to bring down King Ghidorah, who has taken the top spot as Alpha Titan from Godzilla, and awakened all the other Titans around the world to level the Earth. Ghidorah is stated to be a "false king" and not part of the natural order because he's actually an extraterrestrial who tried to take over the Earth in prehistoric times, and at the end Godzilla defeats Ghidorah, taking back his place as King of the Monsters as the other Titans bow before him, signifying that order was been restored.
  • Slapstick aside, The Wizard of Oz (1925) revolves around returning Dorothy to Oz and restoring her as the rightful heir of Oz.
  • Mirror, Mirror: At the end, it turns out Snow White's father wasn't dead, but made into the Beast. Once he's turned back, he soon retakes his throne.
  • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword: After Vortigern murders his brother King Uther, Uther's wife, and Uther's son, he becomes the King of England. However, as his rule becomes more and more corrupt and harsh, rumor begins to spread that King Uther's son Arthur may have secretly survived the slaughter, making Arthur the Born King. Both Vortigern and La Résistance begin searching for the rightful heir but with diametrically opposed intentions of course. By the end of the story, Arthur has defeated Vortigern to return to the throne as the Rightful King.
  • Lord of the Rings: One of the threads of the movie trilogy is that Aragorn, a wandering Ranger, is actually a descendent of Isildur and the rightful King of Gondor. His birthright is opposed by Denethor II, the steward who has been serving as de facto king and initially by the steward's sons, Boromir and Faramir. However, after Aragorn's pivotal roles in saving Rohan, Gondor, and Middle Earth, combined with his ability to command Anduril, forged from Narsil, he is crowned King.
  • Kaamelott: Premier Volet: A deposed Arthur Pendragon is expected to come back by everyone in his former kingdom to overthrow Lancelot's tyranny... but he really, really doesn't want to. Circumstances end up forcing his hand.

  • Arthurian Legend: King Arthur, of course. As a boy, he came back once, and later in life, he was mortally wounded... but it's also said he'll come back from the dead at his kingdom's hour of greatest need.
  • In many versions of the Robin Hood legends, the tale ends with Richard the Lionheart returning from the Crusades, ousting his greedy brother Prince John and knighting Robin of Locksley. The original Robin Hood didn't have this for centuries. But Robin was written into Ivanhoe as a supporting character, and most adaptations since have followed suit. The setting of the original legend could be a generation or two either side of the Lionheart's reign.

  • Arn: The Knight Templar: Downplayed. Harald plays with the idea of claiming his right to the throne of Norway but chooses not to. He realizes that restarting a civil war against a friend of his father’s, whose claim his friend Arn’s clan backed, is not going to lead to anything good. In the end, he swears allegiance to King Sverre and is granted many honors by his father’s old friend. He does, however, claim his father’s position as chieftain of the Birkebein clan.
  • Bardic Voices: Purposefully subverted in The Lark and the Wren: the old king had driven the country to the point of rebellion, the usurper is doing an excellent job, and the rightful heir only comes back to publicly renounce the throne, having neither the training nor the inclination to run a country.
  • The Belgariad: The main characters return the Orb of Aldur to its rightful place in the Court of Riva, only for it to accept The Hero Garion as its new bearer and Belgarath the Sorcerer to proclaim him the lost heir of the Rivan throne. Garion, who had been raised as a Farm Boy and kept Locked Out of the Loop about his heritage, is a bit thrown.
  • The Black Arrow: After Sir Daniel Brackley has been killed off and main character Richard "Dick" Shelton has married his love interest, he enters into the possession of his inheritance, the lands of Tunstall, which Sir Daniel had stealthily usurped after murdering Dick's father. For their part, the folks of Tunstall hamlet who had lived under the yoke of Sir Daniel are glad to be ruled by a reasonable lord for a change.
  • In Children of the Black Sun, Cam had been named heir to the throne of his country, but he never really wanted it and his succession was interrupted by a usurper. He is conflicted as to whether to do anything about it — he doesn't want the throne, but the people who currently rule won't leave him alone and are generally bad for the country.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • Prince Caspian: His father ruled until slain by his uncle Miraz. Miraz considered Caspian a suitable heir... until his own son was born. In a variation, Miraz and Caspian are Telmarines, a conquering people not descended from either of the previous ruling dynasties of Narnia (the Pevensies and the house of King Frank, the first king) and so not the "rightful" king by right of primogeniture. But, Narnia being Narnia, the rightful king is whomever Aslan says it is.
    • Not just the eponymous hero, either. All four Pevensie kids were the rightful rulers of Narnia before they got suckered into going back to being boring kids again.
    • Also in The Horse and His Boy. In this case, the good King of Archenland is still alive and well, but his son and heir Corin has gone missing. As has his older son and real heir, Cor, who is actually Shasta.
  • Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain:
    • Played with. The country has a bunch of lesser kings who are overseen by one High King, and although throughout the series there is a kindly and just man in this position, the oracular Book of Three foretells the coming of a truly great High King. There is also an evil overlord threatening the land. The series follows the adventures of a foundling child, who is rescued by a great wizard and is raised by him out in the middle of nowhere.
    • There is a twist, however, which takes center stage beginning with book 4. Taran goes questing in search of his origins, receives offers of adoption from kings and commoners both, and finally realizes he should just be himself. In book 5, he finds out he was orphaned in one of Prydain's many wars, and even Dallben doesn't know who his parents were.
  • Chronicles of the Kencyrath: In Torisen's backstory, he's definitely a bit of an Aragorn figure. Over a decade after his father renounced his titles and went into exile, Torisen arrived among his people but passed as a relative of Lord Ardeth until he came of age when he declared himself and took up his hereditary position. He's been Highlord for about three years or so when we first meet him. Deconstructed a little—Torisen talks about how at first, the lords all liked the idea of him being Highlord, after 31 years without one, but quickly became disillusioned because being a Universally Beloved Leader is impossible.
    Torisen: When they acknowledged my claim three years ago, they said they wanted a leader, an impartial judge, but every one of them—yes, even Ardeth—thought that justice meant having things his own way. Now Caineron will promise them everything, or seem to. What's the alternative? A mad lord from a mad line who has only kept the peace and satisfied no one.
  • Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series uses this, although regarding the heir to the throne, not the actual ruler, ending a bubbling Succession Crisis. Due to a Contrived Coincidence, it's literally the case that the earth shakes and the sky turns red when the long-lost prince declares his true identity publicly.
  • Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian:
  • The Crimson Shadow: After Greensparrow is killed, the true queen of Avon (whose father he usurped, making her a duchess), takes over.
  • Discworld:
    • Subverted by Carrot Ironfoundersson in Ankh-Morpork. He's the rightful king, and would make a really good one, too, caring about both his people and the city... but he stays away from the throne for exactly that reason, as he knows that monarchy is exactly what Ankh-Morpork doesn't need, and possibly because he ascribes to Vimes' problem with the term 'rightful'. He'll occasionally exploit his status, though, using it to pull off the narrative tricks that come with this trope, such as fighting other enemies aware of narrative causality who realize you can't beat a rightful king who's not yet on the throne, especially when he's got justice and is outnumbered. He once very politely asked Vetinari if he would do him a favor, and grant Vimes noble rank. The whole thing is best described by this prophecy with a twist:
      "Yea, the king will come bringing Law and Justice, and know nothing but the Truth, and Protect and Serve the People with his Sword."twist 
    • Unlike the Tolkien example below, both the Patrician (heir to the revolution that deposed and executed the last king) and the Rightful King are happy with the status quo: Vetinari can rest secure in the knowledge that, if anyone DOES try to organize a coup to restore the Rightful Heir to the throne, they haven't got the correct Heir. Meanwhile, the heir knows the city is being taken care of by the right man for the job.
    • Pratchett does the same trick in Wyrd Sisters in which Tomjon returns to Lancre but rejects the kingship in favour of being an actor. Luckily he has a secret half-brother. Said half-brother is the son of the former King's jester; Tomjon is the illegitimate son of the queen and the jester. But the good folk of Lancre believe the opposite, and since there's no such thing as paternity tests on the Disc, there's no way to disprove it. Draws on Macbeth.
  • In the Doctor Who novel The Clockwise Man, this is what the characters are trying for Russia, as Freddy is apparently the rightful heir, and Dastaria, which Repple claims to be the deposed King of.
  • Subverted in The Dragon in Lyonesse: Daffyd is an heir of Lyonesse, and he does return in its hour of need—but he leaves right after, not wanting to stay where The Magic Goes Away.
  • Subverted in the novel The Dragons Of Babel by Michael Swanwick. The king of Babel has been missing for a few decades. Will, the protagonist, falls in with a con man named Nat, who comes up with a plan to pass off Will as the king's bastard son and therefore the sole heir to the throne. In the end, it becomes a Double Subversion: Nat is both the long-lost king and Will's biological father, meaning that Will really is the heir to the throne.
  • Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Talking to Dragons ends with the return of the rightful king (who'd been magically imprisoned), queen (who'd gone into hiding to raise their son and keep him safe from the would-be usurpers), and prince (who was the only one who could free his father from his prison, and literally only figured out who he and his parents really were about the second he achieved said freeing).
  • Inverted in the Fighting Fantasy Gamebook Black Vein Prophecy: as it turns out, both the protagonist and main antagonist are the sons of the former king of the Isles of the Dawn. However, much of the book ends up proving that the protagonist will make a good king despite being descended from the previous ruler. Also, in the best ending, your first act upon becoming the king is to institute an elected parliament.
  • Grent's Fall: As the nephew of the last Stanley king, Warren Stanley seeks to return his family to the throne (or at least high nobility) by helping Henry Darro. Unlike most examples, he fails.
  • In the Chivalric Romance Havelock, Havelock is living in menial disguise in England when Princess Goldborough's guardian decides he can marry them off and keep her from the throne. After, Havelock returns to Denmark to reclaim his throne, and with the army he acquires there, returns to England to reclaim the throne for Goldborough.
  • In The Heir To The North by Steven Poore, this is the premise, where a descendent of the High Kings of Caenthell (now the North of Hellea) taking the warlock Malessar's sword either over his dead body, or by him willingly giving it to them could release Caenthall from the curse he placed on it.
    • Subverted in that it turns out that Meridith is actually not the heir to the North, but a shieldman, and the main character Cassia actually undoes the curse when she travels with Malessar on a boat to Galliarca, and this unleashes a world ending evil
  • Ivanhoe: Richard the Lionhearted, finally freed of his imprisonment after the Third Crusade, returns disguised as a Black Knight to reclaim his rightful throne from his conniving brother, John Lackland. This example is notable for being written before it was revealed that Richard actually returned incognito to England and besieged a castle belonging to a rebellious baron after the Third Crusade.
  • In the Chivalric Romance King Horn, Horn having been set adrift in a boat as a child, returns as a man to avenge his father's death and claim his throne.
  • Land of Oz: Princess Ozma, the true ruler of Oz, is restored to her throne some time after Dorothy's original adventure; by the time Dorothy returns to Oz in the third book in the series, Ozma's back on her throne and ruling wisely and peacefully. Although the second book in the series details Ozma's recovery (she had been usurped by the Wizard and the wicked Witches and disguised as a boy for her entire life, so that even she didn't know who she was), Baum changed her origin story no less than three times during the writing of the rest of the series. Note that Ozma rules as anointed sovereign, but usually is not addressed as Queen; you know why. However, at the end of The Land of Oz, Ozma is referred to as a "Queen".
  • How Adrian was planning to use Bria to stop the clan fighting in The Last Dove. It wasn't quite that simple.
  • The whole point of Jesus' second coming in the Left Behind book series.
  • Epidemic in the Ruritanian Romance. Dorothy L. Sayers satirized it in her Lord Peter Wimsey novel Have His Carcase where the murder victim was obsessed with his claimed Royal Blood and his right to the crown of Russia. The murderers used that to lure him to his death.
  • In The Lost Prince by Frances Hodgson Burnett, a Ruritanian kingdom suffers under a succession of weak and squabbling rulers after the old royal house is done in by assassins, while legend says that the last prince of the old royal family, whose body wasn't found, escaped the assassins and one day one of his descendants will Return. At the end of the book, it happens. More attention is given than is usually the case to things like the diplomacy required to make sure the neighboring countries are on the side of the Returned King, and what kind of education a lost heir who might or might not be the one to Return actually gets. (On the other hand, all the usual Single Line of Descent issues occur and pass without comment.) There's also an interesting scene near the end where the new King tells the protagonist that he places the good of his country and people first, to the point that he'd cheerfully have stayed Lost if the country's rulers had managed to get their act together without him.
  • The Mark of the Horse Lord: Invoked and subverted by the conspirators who hire a ringer to impersonate their lost heir to the throne. Luckily for him, the only real requirement for being a king is acting like one.
  • Old Kingdom: The royal family is one of the Great Charter bloodlines and necessary for the Kingdom's stability. In the first book, one of the reasons for the chaos of the interregnum that has lasted for 200 years is because the Big Bad massacred the family in his attempts to break the Charter, except for his half-brother Touchstone, who Sabriel finds as a Human Popsicle in the burial ground Holehallow. He takes the throne after Kerrigor's defeat.
  • In John Barnes's One for the Morning Glory, Princess Calliope returns to her native Overhill, which the usurper Waldo had seized when she was a child and is crowned there. A Fisher King effect comes into play.
  • Subverted in Otherbound. The princess, Cilla, who lays claim to the throne isn't even the real princess.
  • In G. K. Chesterton's The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond, a Royalist claimant might bring about this because of the problems with republics.
    "Politicians do not understand much; but politicians do understand politics," said Pond pensively. "I mean they do understand the IMMEDIATE effect on mobs and movements. Somehow he had slipped in and started a campaign of private popularity before they even knew who he was. When once he was popular, they were helpless. How could they say: 'Yes, he is popular, he is on the side of the people and the poor; the young men accept his leadership; but he is the King and therefore he must go'? They know how horribly near the world is to answering: 'Yes; he is the King and, by God, he shall stay.'"
  • In the Prince Roger series the titular prince's return, following an assassination attempt on him as part of a successful coup against his mother the Empress, provides the spark to trigger a counter-coup, and regain control of the Empire of Man.
  • The Prisoner of Zenda is almost a subversion of the trope though since the guy helping to restore the king is agreed by the king's allies to actually be a better ruler, and in fact, the guy who overthrew the king is also a much better ruler.
  • A huge part of the back-plot of The Quest of the Unaligned. The current king and queen of the land of Caederan have unbalanced the four elements, favoring wind over the others and inducing hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, and earthquakes all across the country. Most of the country has pinned their hopes on the return of Crown Prince Alaric, who has been raised in magicless Tonzimmiel and so theoretically should be able to restore the proper balance. Unfortunately, if he doesn't complete the titular quest by the summer solstice, he will be ineligible for coronation, and Caederan will almost certainly have its first civil war in two hundred years.
  • Played with in the Hindu epic Ramayana. The titular Rama is designated Crown Prince heir to the throne, but has to abdicate and exile himself for 14 years, because of a promise his father had made. His half brother Bharat is forced to rule as regent until Rama returns. Although by all accounts, Bharat was a competent ruler, everyone in the kingdom want Rama back.
  • Subverted in Ranger's Apprentice. When Halt, who is the rightful inheritor of the throne of Clonmel, returns to his kingdom, it is only to convince the king to stand up against an evil cult which threatens the kingdom. When it becomes clear that the king is in no way interested in helping his people, Halt briefly impersonates the king rather than deposing him, even though he had enough local support, as well as the right, to have carried it off.
  • While most monarchs in the Redwall series are presented as antagonists (aside from the Badger Lords), High Rhulain does employ this trope. An otter maid at Redwall Abbey discovers her great-great-etc. aunt was the ruler (or High Rhulain) of a kingdom of otters until she died fighting an invading force of wildcats, but her brother managed to escape with the royal regalia and settled at Redwall. Our heroine discovers this just as her rightful subjects are about to start a rebellion against their wildcat overlords.
  • Septimus Heap: The first book, Magyk, involves Jenna Heap learning that she is the rightful princess of the Castle, and with the other heroes working to overthrow the Custodians who killed her mother and the Darke wizard who backs them.
  • In The Shadow Speaker, the main character Ejii's father takes over a small village in Niger. The queen returns and beheads him in front of all the citizens.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Deconstructed in the Westerosi Succession Crisis. Several of the claimants to the Iron Throne see themselves as this (Stannis is the rightful heir of the former King Robert who claimed his throne by conquest; Viserys and Daenerys are the children of the king before Robert, Aerys II Targaryen, and the scions of a royal line that had ruled the realm for centuries; Aegon is Aerys' grandson, thought to have been killed as a baby; although this Aegon may well be an imposter descended from a long-established, exiled, cadet branch of Targaryens, the Blackfyres, who claim decent from Daemon Blackfyre, who they say was the only true heir of King Aegon IV from about eight or nine decades back). The modern Targaryens are thoroughly swept up by this trope, believing their return to the throne will inevitably unite their people and restore peace to the realm. However, it's frequently shown throughout the series that there's not necessarily any correlation between right to rule, ability to rule, or ability to win a civil war, and that the court of public opinion, while it bears no legal weight, matters. Exemplified by Viserys Targaryen. While he is the last son of King Aerys and claims he is the rightful King, he's a massive jerk who abuses his sister, sells her off as a wife to Khal Drogo, and arrogantly treats everybody as inferior to him. The breaking point was when he threatened to take Daenerys back and cut her and Drogo's child out of her belly, at which point Drogo promises him a crown of gold and pours molten gold over Viserys's head.
    • Done on a lower level with rule of the North. After Lord Roose Bolton betrays and murders Robb Stark, the King in the North, he is granted control of the North. It is believed Eddard Stark's two younger sons Bran and Rickon Stark were killed by Theon Greyjoy, however they are still in hiding and the Boltons want to eliminate them. They try to legitimise their rule by having Roose's legitimised Bastard Bastard Ramsay marry a false Arya Stark but most of the North despise them and want to see the Starks returned to rule.
    • Theon's sister, Asha Greyjoy, hopes to do this herself with her brother Theon, to remove their uncle Euron Greyjoy from the throne. Although, she wasn't aware of the state he was in when she went looking for him...
    • In-universe, the ruling class is more than aware of the power this trope in the minds of the people. A conquering House is always very careful to either eliminate the conquered House's bloodline or marry off their heir-apparent to the conquered House's (possibly killing off a few potential heirs before arriving at a cooperative one of suitable age and sex) so that their heir will be seen as the rightful ruler. Part of the reason why Blackfish is disinclined to trust Jaime Lannister's offer of clemency in their negotiations to end the siege of Riverrun is that it includes allowing Edmure Tully (rightful lord of Riverrun) to live, something most in his position would consider a dangerous tactical error. Though it is commented that if Edmure was executed the Blackfish may declare his great-nephew Robert Arryn Lord of Riverrun.
  • Invoked in Summers at Castle Auburn. This is the image of Bryan taking power that everyone pretends is the truth, because the reality that he'll make a terrible king is too depressing.
  • Fiona Patton's Tales of the Branion Realm: The Painter Knight is all about this trope; concerning a Usurper Evil Uncle who assassinates the monarch and seizes the regency of his five-year-old heir. She escapes his clutches with the help of a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, who discuss and deconstruct the trope in the process of running for their lives.
  • Talion: Revenant: Subverted. Once we learn that Nolan holds a claim to Hamis, it looks like the story is shaping up this way. King Tirrell even offers to abdicate, but Nolan declines the throne.
  • A recurring motif in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth books:
    • The main plot of The Hobbit is Thorin Oakenshield's quest to reclaim his ancestral kingdom of the Lonely Mountain by killing Smaug, the dragon who has laid the Mountain and the neighboring city of Dale to waste. Eventually, the Mountain is retaken by the dwarves under a new King Under the Mountain, initiating a prosperous era for the dwarves and their neighbors, even though Thorin has died in battle, and the new rightful king is his cousin Dain. The motif is echoed within the same book by the dragonslayer Bard, who, as a descendant of the royal house of Dale, re-establishes the ruined city after Smaug's death.
    • Aragorn of The Lord of the Rings is the rightful heir to the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor, of which the former is defunct and the latter is ruled by stewards after the line of kings has died out. At the end of the third book, aptly titled The Return of the King, he is crowned king of Gondor and later (as told in the appendices) restores the kingdom of Arnor.
    • The Lord of the Rings also mentions that the dwarves of the house of Durin believe their first king Durin periodically returns to his people as a reincarnation born into the royal line.
  • Tortall Universe: Played with in the Trickster's Duet. The plot is about The Prophecy that the raka of the Copper Isles will be freed from their white luarin oppressors when a queen descended from the raka and luarin royal lines, but it's a part of a big power game between the Trickster God and his siblings, a lot of spycraft is involved on the mortal end, there are two candidates, and the one everyone wants is also the one they think won't be any good as queen. And then she runs away and her younger sister steps up, but she's a good queen mainly from becoming thoughtful, subtle, and intelligent from being in her sister's shadow.
  • Victoria: Has a Christian Tsar restoration off-page as part of the backstory. The Tsar supports the Victorian's rebellion against the US Government, and in the end abdicates in favor of his brother in order to lead a multi-denominational order of crusader knights in destroying Islam forever.
  • In The Wheel of Time, this is the basis of the justification of the Seanchan's expansionist policy towards the Westlands: they are Arthur Hawkwing's legitimate heirs, and since Hawkwing's rule over the Westlands predates those of all of the current kings and queens, they are the rightful rulers of the place. Rand later throws back this argument to them in a quite hilarious way by pointing that since he is the reincarnation of Lews Therin, whose rule predates Hawkwing's by several centuries, he is the legitimate ruler of both the Seanchan and the Westlands.
  • The Witch of Knightcharm: Gelila Wongel, a new student at an evil Wizarding School, is trying to set this up. She claims to be descended from Seble Wongel, Empress of the Ethiopian Empire, and wants to learn The Dark Arts so she can forcibly reestablish that empire (which would presumably mean annexing Eritrea) and take back the throne which she believes is hers by right.
  • Subverted in the A Wizard in Rhyme series by Christopher Stasheff. One of the characters is the directly descended heir to his universe's equivalent of Charlemagne, and technically the rightful ruler of about half a dozen countries. However, he has vowed only to reveal himself if things get so screwed up that they can't be fixed any other way, and he works behind the scenes to make sure that doesn't happen.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Heavily Deconstructed by the Succession Crisis that results from too many characters seeing themselves as this and by the frequent disparity between rulers' claims, capabilities, and reputations.
      • As the last scions of the exiled Targaryen dynasty, Daenerys and Viserys see themselves as this and believe the people eagerly await their return to inevitably unite the realm and restore peace. After the Spice King disabuses her of this, Daenerys decides she must prove herself to be The High Queen before returning. Ser Jorah also notes that Dany's ancestor Aegon the Conqueror didn't establish the Targaryen dynasty in Westeros in the first place because he had any right, he did it because he could. However, in season 7 when she finally returns to Westeros, she views herself this way again.
      • Given that Robert had no trueborn heirs, notorious Determinator Stannis Baratheon is the true heir to the Baratheon dynasty, (which overthrew the Targaryens), as the king's oldest surviving male sibling, and he resorts to dark magic and fratricide in his quest for the Iron Throne. Unfortunately for him, many see him as King Joffrey's Evil Uncle and dismiss his true accusations of adulterous twincest as a self-serving lie. Yet he never quite makes good on his claim, his closest victory being Blackwater where he was defeated by Lannister-Tyrell reinforcements.
      • The charismatic Renly Baratheon is the younger brother to Stannis but sees himself as the rightful king because he believes that he would be a better ruler, arguing that nobody made a fuss about the line of succession when they rebelled against the Targaryens not two decades before. Westerosi society sees more value in blood than talent however, and he is seen by many as just another pretender.
      • Robb Stark and Balon Greyjoy are both regarded as this by their followers but are called rebels by other factions for reasserting their regions' former independence.
      • The irony in all this? None of these people are the true rightful king. The actual rightful king is Jon Snow, who is really Aegon Targaryen, the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. The only reason he hasn't staked his claim on the throne is that he's completely unaware of his true heritage at first. And when he did find out about it, he has no interest in it and let Daenerys take it instead. However, the knowledge of his heritage is eventually known to seven people including Daenerys and three of these people want Jon to be the king. All of these contributed to Daenerys' paranoia and madness, forcing Jon to kill her. But because he killed the queen, he's exiled to the far North and the remaining lords of Westeros choose Bran Stark as the new king instead. Of course, this does depend on whether the Targaryens can still be considered rightful rulers.
    • In a successful instance, after four and a half seasons of Winterfell being under the Greyjoys' and later the Bolton's control, House Stark rules Winterfell once again.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: For the Southlands. The Southlanders receive Halbrand with open arms after learning that he is the king that was promised. Then Galadriel does some further digging into the Elven archives and finds out that the last king of the Southlands died without an heir over a thousand years ago.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Rightful Heir" plays with this. Klingon messiah Kahless, the first Emperor of the Klingon Empire, seemingly returns, as he promised to, and claims the vacant throne of the Empire. It turns out that he is just a clone of Kahless raised to think that he is him, but Worf notes that he is still the rightful heir, and so he is installed as emperor, in a ceremonial role.
    • In Star Trek Expanded Universe, he is known as Emperor Kahless II, obviously showing that he's not the same person. Of course, one novel suggests that the DNA from which he was cloned may not have belonged to Kahless at all.
  • Deconstructed in Blake's 7. Blake is on a primitive planet ruled by The Caligula and rescues his more noble brother who apparently fulfills this trope. Turns out the rightful ruler is the crazy old man dying in the cells, who was overthrown by his sons who then fell out with each other.
  • Season 1 of Vikings: Valhalla ends with the villains seemingly winning, only a very pissed king Sweyn Forkbeard to appear with his fleet intent on taking the villain's head for attempting to make Norway independent.

  • A constant theme in a whole litany of Jacobite songs and poems, some of which are really, really sad and depressing. Among the most famous:
    • Séarlas Óg- The predecessor of the much better known Óró, sé do bheatha 'bhaile, the song (rather prematurely) welcomes the Stuart prince Charles to Ireland, along with his French and Spanish allies, desperately awaiting the time when Charles and his men can come and banish the foreigners and the heretics from Ireland. Some other versions of the original song lament the fact that he couldn't actually get the French support he needed, which is more or less what happened in Real Life.
    • Mo Ghile Mear- A musical example derived from the tradition of Aisling Poetry, it is sung in the voice of a woman (representing Ireland) lamenting that the Stuart kings have gone away, and declaring that she cannot rest until she hears news foretelling their return.
    • Wha'll Be King But Charlie?- This Scottish song celebrates the return of Prince Charlie to Scotland, which happened in 1745, and declares the loyalty of all Scotland to their rightful Prince.
    • Charlie is My Darlin'- Another song commemorating Prince Charlie's return during The '45.
    • Will Ye No Come Back Again?- After the '45 Rebellion failed, Prince Charles fled Scotland and went back to France; this song laments that the Stuarts are leaving yet again, and wonders if they will ever return another time (they didn't).
    • When the King Enjoys His Own Again- Actually written after the English Civil War, when England was ruled by a military junta under the control of Oliver Cromwell, this song was resurrected as a Jacobite tune after 1688. "Yes, this I can tell", it goes, "That all will be well, when the King enjoys his own again".
    • Skye Boat Song- Commemorating Prince Charles' escape by boat after the failure of The '45, the last line promises "Charlie will come again".
    • There'll Never Be Peace Till Jamie Comes Hame- Commemorates the failure of The '15 and the flight of the eponymous James III, "the Old Pretender".

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • The original Jewish concept of the messiah was that a descendant of David would return to resume the dynasty. This is one common interpretation of passages in The Bible (including as far back as the prophetic Book of Hosea).
    • Jesus, who Christians believe to have fulfilled the aforementioned role of a Messianic Archetype, and who according to the Book of Revelation will do it again. He incidentally is also a descendant of David, fulfilling one part of the Jewish prophecy.
    • Jesus' second coming is in part to fulfill his role as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
  • For Catholics, Mary being made the Queen of Heaven can be seen as this after Eve rejected her Queenship of the world.
  • Egyptian Mythology: Horus, when he regained his father's kingdom from his murderous uncle Set, was held as the prototype of the rightful king ascending to the throne of Egypt and bringing order and justice to the land. Set, who murdered Horus's father Osiris (Set's brother), had usurped the throne of Egypt while Horus was growing up, and his unlawful reign was often depicted as a time of strife. Depending on the Writer, Set was either driven out in disgrace or peacefully reconciled and shared the throne with Horus. References to this myth were made especially for royal coronations, as each reigning king was identified with Horus.
  • Happens twice in the Mahabharata. First, the elderly king Ugrasen is returned to the throne of Mathura after a long imprisonment by the usurper Kansa. It requires his grandsons Balaram and Krishna to overthrow Kansa. Then, towards the end, Yudhistir assumes his rightful place as King of Hastinapur after having defeated the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra War.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Hooded Lanterns in Dungeons Of Drakkenheim hope to end the fifteen year long civil war wracking Westemar by finding royal regalia and possibly documents with which they can properly declare a new legitimate heir to the royal family of Westemar, who were killed when the kingdom's capital city, the titular Drakkenheim, was crushed by a Delerium meteor.
  • The basic theme of Exalted is the return of the Solar Exalted, previously deposed, and sealed away by Sidereals and Terrestials. However, while heroic Solars are the default Player Characters, half of all Solars has been turned to dark powers and the ones that stayed shiny and glorious may be even worse.
    Moreover, the adventure book Return of the Scarlet Empress posits a subversion. The Empress also heralds the return of some of world's overthrown creators, but this is a very bad thing.
  • This happened near the end of the Wraith: The Oblivion Metaplot, but quickly went terribly awry. Charon had arranged for the Mnemoi to store his memories for when he came back. Unfortunately, the guild had collapsed long before his return. So when Charon did finally come back, he came back without any memories... and without any Angst, causing him to immediately Transcend.

  • Several William Shakespeare plays:
    • Richard III ends with Richmond, the rightful heir, recovering the throne from Richard. (At least, that's the way Shakespeare portrayed it — note that Queen Elizabeth was Richmond's granddaughter. The actual history is more controversial.)
    • Macbeth ends with Malcolm, the rightful heir, recovering the throne from Macbeth.
    • Hamlet is a subversion. Hamlet, the rightful heir, slays Claudius, who took over the throne, but doesn't live long enough to claim it himself. Then the kingdom gets taken over by Fortinbras, the rightful heir to another whole kingdom, because his kingdom had been usurped. By Hamlet's dad.
  • Subverted and then played straight by Gilbert and Sullivan in The Gondoliers. One of two Venetian Gondoliers is believed to be the heir to the vacant throne of the Mediterranean kingdom of Barataria; until it can be revealed which of them is the king, they reign jointly. But it turns out that neither of them was the king, and the actual king is restored to his throne at the end.

    Video Games 
  • Fire Emblem:
    • From Gaiden and its remake Shadows of Valentia: The female lead, Celica, is a princess of the country of Zofia, and in hiding prior to the start of the game. Her father, King Lima IV, is killed in a coup prior to the events of the game, leaving Zofia with the villainous Chancellor Desaix as the closest thing to a leader. Subverted in that it's actually the male lead Alm who liberates Zofia from Desaix; Celica's storyline revolves around her pilgrimage to the Temple of Mila, Zofia's patron goddess, and then her journey through the neighboring country Rigel to rescue Mila from the rival god Duma, though she does become queen of Zofia at the end of the game. The remake adds Conrad, Celica's elder brother also in hiding, which would presumably make him the true rightful heir to the Zofian throne. Celica still becomes queen at the end of the game, though, like in the original, with Conrad becoming Chancellor instead. Meanwhile, at the end of Act 4, with the death of Rigel's Emperor Rudolf, it is revealed that his killer, the male lead Alm, is Rudolf's son, and now emperor of Rigel. In the remake, this draws the ire of Rudolf's nephew Berkut, who had been led to believe that he was the rightful heir to the Rigelian throne, prompting him to sacrifice his fiancee to Duma to gain more power, and then use that power to attempt to kill Alm.
    • This is basically what Seliph must do in Genealogy of the Holy War, as he is the rightful heir to The Empire since his Missing Mom Deirdre was the illegitimate daughter of the long-dead Crown Prince and the (brainwashed) wife to the current Emperor, Alvis. When he's ready to fight back against said Empire, he begins to organize and lead La Résistance...
    • Similarly, Seliph's cousin Leif is the rightful heir to the throne of Leonster. His own struggles are the focus of the sequel to Genealogy, Fire Emblem: Thracia 776.
    • The Azure Moon route in Fire Emblem: Three Houses is both a literal and metaphorical example of this. Your lord, the Crown Prince of Faerghus, Dimitri, was framed for murder and spent five years in exile. Among other things, that exile has driven him mad by the time you find him again. The rest of the route is trying to build La Résistance to rescue his kingdom from The Empire and return him to the throne while helping Dimitri heal from his trauma and become the king he was meant to be. The chapter where you accomplish both is even called "The King's Triumphant Return".
  • King's Heir: Rise to the Throne: After all hell breaking loose with the assassination of the King in a coup, Randall, the long-lost Prince returns, and is crowned King.
  • Warcraft and World of Warcraft:
    • In the original Warcraft series, the human kings suspected Anduin Lothar, the last descendant of the Arathi royal bloodline, wanted to rebuild the Empire of Arathor and that the Alliance was just a stepping stone to that goal. He had no such intentions.
    • Varian Wrynn in Wrath of the Lich King's patch 3.0.2, after his prolonged absence from Stormwind ever since the game's launch, explained in the spin-off comic series.
    • Subverted in the leadup to Legion. When Ironforge's king, Magni Bronzebeard, re-emerges from having been Taken for Granite back in the Cataclysm expansion, several dwarves worry that this will happen and become a Spanner in the Works for the uneasy coalition between the dwarves of Ironforge, the independent-minded Wildhammer dwarves, and the formerly antagonistic Dark Iron dwarves, as the latter two groups will not want to serve under Magni's sole rule. Fortunately, Magni has bigger issues to deal with, as he is sent on a mission by Azeroth itself and leaves Ironforge's government alone.
  • The flagship campaign in the Battle for Wesnoth requires Konrad, the only surviving nephew of the former king, to retreat from his homeland amidst death threats, round up allies, and return later to conquer the kingdom from his aunt, the Queen. Subverted, though; the real Konrad died 17 years prior with the rest of the heirs, and he's an (unknowing) impostor. Just before the final battle for Wesnoth, he has to hand over the kingdom to Li'sar, who he befriended along the way.
    • Possibly double subverted in that, since she ends up marrying him in the lore, he gets to be king anyway.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Subverted in Oblivion when the amulet needed to restore Martin Septim to his throne is stolen. It's later averted entirely when Martin gives his life to defeat Mehrunes Dagon.
    • Skyrim:
      • The two sides of the Skyrim Civil War both have this as their goal. The Imperial soldiers want the High King's widow Elisif to take her late husband's place as the ruler, while the Stormcloaks want the crown to go to their Rebel Leader, Jarl Ulfric. Whichever side the Dragonborn takes is, of course, the one that ultimately wins.
      • Arngeir, leader of the Greybeards, sees this as the nature of the Dragonborn's coming. He remarks that the "Stormcrown" has languished too long without a worthy brow to bear it, and once the Dragonborn completes the requisite Fetch Quest, the Greybeards are only too happy to hold a ceremony (which verges on being an Awesome Moment of Crowning) in which they rejoice that there is once again a worthy Dragonborn.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Played With in Final Fantasy IV. The true king's dead, but the main character Cecil takes his place. Justified because the true king had no blood heir, but had adopted Cecil as his own.
    • Final Fantasy XII uses this trope with Lady Ashe.
    • This appears to be the premise of Final Fantasy XV. The game's protagonist is prince Noctis, heir apparent to the kingdom of Lucis. His father sends him, alongside three of his friends, to get married. A couple of days on the road and news of Insomnia, Lucis' capital city, falling to the empire reaches Noctis and his friends. The rest of the game is spent finding out more about what happened, gathering power, and returning to their fallen home, to reclaim it from their enemies.
  • Happens in Mitsumete Knight R: Daibouken Hen with The Hero MacLeod, if you finish the game in an odd-numbered playthrough holding the "Licence of Heartless" item: in this storyline, MacLeod, revealed as the prince of the fallen kingdom Parmet, achieves his revenge against The Empire Orcadia by destroying it, then restores Parmet Kingdom and becomes its King.
  • Frequently part of The Legend of Zelda games, at least the ones where Princess Zelda is the rightful ruler. She's not going to return by herself, though; you (Link) have to rescue her.
  • Gilgamesh of Fate/stay night views his return to the living world as this. As the King of Heroes, he believes himself to be the sole rightful king of humanity with all other rulers being pretenders. His second life is a chance to reclaim his stolen throne and unite humanity once again.
  • Dragon Age:
    • After King Cailan's death in Dragon Age: Origins, Arl Eamon tries to invoke this trope with the late king's bastard half-brother Alistair. The player can either go along with his plan (and maybe with a Female Warden as The Mistress or his Hot Consort), defy it by leaving Cailan's commoner-born Queen Consort Anora on the throne (maybe with a Male Warden as her Hot Consort), or arrange a political marriage between both parties involved. Alistair and Leliana discuss this trope when they speak about how many ballads there are about lost kings returning to reclaim their lands from the usurpers.
    • A straighter example is found in the prequel novel Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne, which takes place during the Orlesian occupation of Ferelden. The novel starts as Prince Maric's mother (the rightful Queen) is betrayed and killed by nobles seeking to earn favor with the Usurper-King (a distant cousin of the Orlesian Emperor). Maric barely escapes and, eventually, leads La Résistance alongside Loghain Mac Tir, his best friend, and Rowan Guerrin (Eamon's sister), to whom Maric is betrothed. In the end, Loghain is able to secure Ferelden's freedom in a decisive battle, and Maric is crowned King with Rowan as his Queen (although she really loves Loghain). The Usurper is publicly executed.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, Grand Duke Gaspard de Chalons was raised with the expectation that he would inherit the throne from his uncle, Emperor Florian, whose only child died as a baby; but he was outmaneuvered by his cousin, who became Empress Celene. This all took place some thirty years before the events of the game. At the time of the game, Gaspard is waging civil war against Celene in one last attempt to reclaim what he views as his rightful crown, and should he succeed (based on the player's decisions), his supporters view his coronation as this trope.
  • Most of the possible story paths in Queen at Arms have the player character Marcus reclaiming her birth name and her throne as the rightful Queen of Orthera.
  • An unusual example appears in Heroes of Might and Magic IV. In "The True Blade", the kingdom of Erathia was destroyed along with the rest of Enroth during the Reckoning. Many of the survivors who ended up on Axeoth were led by the Erathian knight Sir Lysander who formed a small kingdom for them, Palaedra. He refused to officially become king himself, believing that only a true Gryphonheart could rule Erathia's people even if Erathia itself is no more. Along comes Sir Worton who bears and draws the supposed Gryphonheart sword which only a true Gryphonheart can wield. Lysander is suspicious and soon discovers that Worton is a pretender and his blade is a mere forgery. In the final scenario of the campaign, Lysander ends up drawing the true blade himself, and thus discovers that he is a Gryphonheart. The people of Erathia had their rightful king all along. Script notes from the game's writer also reveal that Lysander isn't the only Gryphonheart left. Two of the other campaign leads, Waerjak and Gauldoth Half-dead, are his long lost brothers. All three were the offspring of King Nicholas Gryphonheart's secret relationship with a woman named Idunna. There is another Gryphonheart of sorts on Axeoth, as revealed in Might and Magic IX — Nikolai Ironfist, but his descent is a bit shakiernote , and he is over in a region distant enough from Palaedra that neither has heard of the other.
  • In the Golden Ending of Baldur's Gate III, the Player Character helps githyanki party member Lae'zel realize that her lich God Empress is a fraud, and she decides to rescue the son of her empire's founder from his prison. After the two help defeat the Final Boss, she leaves with him to save her people from the tyrant queen.
  • Given a slightly more cynical twist in the 2018 Battletech game, where the protagonists are Private Military Contractors hired by Kamea, a queen-in-exile ousted in The Coup, to re-take her kingdom. While she is a morally better person than the Evil Uncle who usurped her, ultimately the throne is only re-taken through a brutal multi-front Civil War. Kamea muses in the end that history is Written by the Winners; she won the war because she was a better strategist and politician than her uncle, this trope is just what it will look like in retrospect once nothing but stories of the campaign are left.
  • The Hearts of Iron 4 Alternate History mod The New Order Last Days Of Europe has no less than four different monarchist paths for Russia, which shattered into pieces after the German victory during Operation Barbarossa:
    • The most infamous and one of the most horrific examples imaginable. Sergey Taboritsky wishes to restore Alexei Romanov as Tsar of Russia, which of course is impossible as Alexei was murdered by the Soviets as a boy. The mad regent treats Alexei as a divine entity who will return only when Russia is "pure", which leads to Khmer Rouge-esque purges of all kinds of people across the country — academics, the poor, criminals, racial minorities, etc. And then when the clock strikes twelve, Taboritsky realises that Alexei is dead and not coming back, and things get even worse. In an example that would make Taboritsky roll in his grave, Alexei IInote  can come to power in a post-Taboritsky Russia, instituting the exact opposite ideas that Taboritsky promoted.
    • Vyatka, which consists of forces loyal to Vladimir Kirillovich, the real life candidate who likely would have been crowned in real life had the monarchy had been restored after the USSR's dissolution. However, his claim is sullied by the fact that Vladimir and his forces only entered Vyatka in the first place because of the Germans, who forced him to lead a force against Soviet remnants during a war in the 1950s by holding his wife hostage. Vladimir's entire story arc in Russia has him overcoming his past and truely trying to usher in a better future for Russia.
    • Then there's Chita in the Far East, a military dictatorship ran by White Army generals from the original Russian Civil War who have Michael Andreevichnote  on the throne as a puppet. If Mikhail fails to subvert the White Army dictatorship from within, he's sent home and replaced by Nikita Alexandrovichnote .
    • In a more outlandish example, Rurik IIInote  can reunite Russia from his warlord state in Kemerovo, creating a "Kingdom of Rus" that harkens back to Russia's medieval past, which his children continue.
  • The backstory for the Jak and Daxter franchise has Baron Praxis overthrow Haven City's monarchy, banishing King Damas to the Wastelands, and seeking out Prince Mar to use him for eco experiments and locating the last Precursor Stone. However, Mar would peacefully live out his childhood in the past under the name Jak, and when he returns to the present as a teen, he overthrows Praxis out of revenge for being subjected to the Dark Warrior project for two years. However, Jak has forgotten his past, and doesn't realize The Kid is his younger self until Metal Kor spills it out at the end of the second game. By the end of Jak 3, Jak is legally King of Haven City upon Damas' death, but for the time being, he's letting Ashelin and Torn goven the city while he and Daxter embark on "more adventures".
  • War of Omens has a dark variation. The Rightful Queen used her time in exile to become an Evil Imperialist Blood Knight and cheerfully slaughters her way across the country so she can reclaim her throne and resume her family's legacy of unabated tyranny.

    Visual Novels 
  • Loric in Sword Daughter is a villainous version, or at least claims to be an example. He says that he was forced out of his rightful kingdom, and is amassing power to reclaim it — by hiring mercenaries and orc raiders, and having his minions capture and enslave travelers to put them to work excavating a Dragon Hoard.
  • Ruby Rose returns to Beacon in Act II of Summer Rose Court and is crowned queen. Unlike most examples, The Usurper is only too happy to step aside, since not only did he not want the position in the first place, but because he was using Crescent Rose without Rose blood, the throne was actively harming him.

  • Girl Genius:
    • While she isn't a Queen per se, Agatha Heterodyne reclaiming her birthright by taking Castle Heterodyne and triggering the ringing of the Doom Bell definitely has major overtones of this trope.
    • Tarvek Sturmvoraus is the end result of the plots of several factions (it's complicated) to create an heir to the Storm King and use him to legitimize their conquest of Europa. He wasn't really pushing his claim, but Martellus von Blitzengaard, another possible Storm King, appeared on the scene pressing his.
    • Later, they're both out of favor with the factions for various reasons and current front-runner for the title of Storm King is none other than Gilgamesh Wulfenbach.
  • Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic sees King Eric III of Drostardy return to his throne after breaking out of a drow dungeon. (The reason he was in there in the first place? He hit on Arachne.)

    Web Originals 
  • Critical Role: After the murder of his family, the rulers of Whitestone, Percival de Rolo became the rightful heir as Sole Survivor of the massacre. He eventually returns to the city and brings down the usurpers with the help of his friends/adopted family, Vox Machina. The epilogue reveals that he took his place as Lord de Rolo upon his retirement from adventuring.

    Western Animation 
  • In Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures, it turns out that Hadji has Royal Blood, and was to become the Sultan of Bangalore, except his evil uncle and cousin killed his father, locked his mother up, and tried to kill him to take the throne, back when Hadji was just a little kid. Of course, he didn't die; he was saved by Pasha the Peddler and eventually adopted by Dr. Quest, which Pasha facilitated in the original series. Later, with the help of the Quest Team, he saves his mother and takes back his throne.
  • Dreamy Smurf in The Smurfs is treated by the Pookies as this in a dream (or so it would seem) when his Second Coming portends that they will be able to defeat the tyrannical Norf Nags.
    • Papa Smurf also plays this role in "King Smurf" when he returns to stop the fighting among all his little Smurfs and to put an end to King Smurf's role as king.
  • Sofia the First and it's spin-off,* Elena of Avalor, we have the Case of Elena, who was magically sealed inside Sofia's amulet by almost 40 years, with her parents killed by the evil sorcerer Shuriki and the rest of her family sealed inside a portrait until Sofia freed her from the amulet, helping Elena to recover what was left of her family and retake her kindgom.
  • Subverted in The Simpsons, "Simpsons Bible Stories" episode. As part of a retelling of the story of David and Goliath, David (Bart) was forced into exile by Goliath II (Nelson). David reclaims his throne, however, his people arrest him as Goliath II (the Consensus Builder) was a popular ruler who genuinely improved their lives.
  • Subverted in The Legend of Korra: a storyline in season 4 concerns the restoration of Prince Wu to the throne of the Earth Kingdom after it is taken by Kuvira. As the series progresses, Wu gradually learns humility and how to be a good king... so when Kuvira is defeated and Wu is to be restored to the throne, he instead opts to abolish the monarchy and dissolve the Earth Kingdom in favour of a number of democratic states... and pursue a singing career. Double Subverted in the subsequent comics, where after realizing how difficult it is to bring democracy to his people, as well as the precarious state he'd be leaving his country in if he abdicated immediately, he decides to throne, anticipating it might take his whole lifetime.
  • The Dragon Prince season 3 has Ezran return to Katolis to become king, and a running plotline that covers the difficulties of being a child king during a critical moment of history.
  • Justice League has a rare villainous example when Darkseid returns. His home is embroiled in a struggle for succession, with two armies of mooks and super-beings about to settle the question of leadership in an epic battle... and then he simply teleports between them, and declares their "meaningless" war for the throne is at an end. Everyone falls to their knees without hesitation, and the leaders of the two sides immediately return to cooperating with each other to serve their returned master.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: During the episode, Operation I.T, Numbuh 362 gives up her position as Supreme Leader after growing exhausted with it. However, after Father takes over due to a loophole, Numbuh 362 joins Numbuh 1 in fighting him and takes her title back, with operatives cheering for her once she makes it clear she's staying for good this time.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil:
    • Deconstructed and Played for Horror with Meteora. She's the true heir to the Butterfly throne and is well within her rights to claim it for herself, but after 300 years of suffering, she lost all sanity and her attack on the kingdom is less of a coup and more of a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on the whole populace. By the time she gets to the throne, she's already drained the souls of nearly everyone.
    • Played straighter but still zig-zagged with Eclipsa, who was forcibly removed from the throne centuries prior. After Meteora's defeat, Star gives the throne and wand back to Eclipsa, however her taking the throne doesn't fix everything and actually leads to a whole new set of problems. Eclipsa's efforts to increase rights for monsters simply causes Mewmans to try and overthrow her. This isn't helped by Eclipsa's somewhat blasé attitude toward it all which means Star ends up doing a lot of work running the kingdom.

    Real Life 
  • Real Life examples: Charles II (Britain and Ireland), Louis XVIII (France), and Juan Carlos I (Spain).
    • Juan Carlos (who abdicated in 2014 in favor of his son, but is still living as of 2023) is an especially modern one. His father, Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona, was the son and recognized heir of the deposed King Alfonso XIII.note  After the Spanish Civil War ended with the conservative quasi-fascist Francisco Franco in power, there was pressure from his royalist supporters to restore the monarchy; Franco didn't want to do this, so he chose instead to name a royal as his heir. In doing so, he skipped over Don Juan (a committed liberal who had never had anything good to say about Franco's regime) and turned instead to his son, Juan Carlos, who made nice-sounding noises about Franco. Then Franco died (in 1975)...and he proved to be his father's son. Juan Carlos arranged for a new constitution establishing a constitutional monarchy, ended the authoritarian state, turned Spain into a modern democracy, crushed a coup trying to force it back into a dictatorship, and pretty much gave up all his power under the constitution. By the end, even the Communist Party leader was crowing, "God Save the King!"
  • A while back, it turns out that one of the Kings of England may have been illegitimately born, which if true would, technically, make pretty much the entire current royal family illegitimate. They tracked down the direct descendants of the legitimate heir... a Scottish lord living an ordinary life in Australia, who does not even use his legal title (14th Earl of Loudoun) in public — and thinks Australia should be a republic!
    • The Edward IV legitimacy question crops up a lot, but it's ultimately not material to who sits on the throne today. Parliament decides the succession, and the current royal family has been explicitly asked to take the throne on two separate occasions (the restoration of Charles II in 1660, and the Glorious Revolution in 1688).
      • Doubly immaterial because the Act of Settlement 1701 provided that, should William III and his sister-in-law Anne both die without issue (which they did), the throne would pass to the Elector Sophia of Hanover or her (Protestant) descendants, effectively "resetting" the royal line. (Sophia died before Anne did, so the claim passed to her son, George I.)
      • Triply immaterial since the current royal family descends from the Tudors, and they owe their claim to the throne to being the last descendants of the House of Lancaster (Edward IV was from the House of York, which they defeated) and to the fact that Henry Tudor defeated the Yorks, earning the crown by right of conquest.
      • Indeed, the supposed "true monarch" may not be the true heir by strict male-preference primogeniture, and the fact that the program that claims him as such was made by a network that supposedly has strong British republican affiliations is suspect.
    • Of course, such claims crop up all the time — a historian recently claimed Queen Victoria was illegitimate, which if true would pass the throne to a minor member of the Danish royal family.
      • Hell, there are claims now — some speculate that Prince Harry is not Prince Charles's son; this would mean that after Charles and his elder son William, the next heir would be Charles's brother Andrew, the Duke of York. That claim is now irrelevant as of July 2013, since Prince William's son George is now third in line to the throne, with the later-born Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis pushing Harry even further back to sixth.
      • And, of course, there's still the Jacobite claim, the current heir being Franz, Duke of Bavaria, or "Francis II", who also happens to be the claimant to the abolished Kingdom of Bavaria. He himself declines to pursue it, though, and the only remaining advocacy groups are essentially aristocratic clubs with a quirky title.
    • Also, England tends to be looser about illegitimacy when it suits them — William the Conqueror was known as William the Bastard until 1066 for an obvious reason (his mother was a common tanner's daughter who never married William's father Robert The Magnificent), and Henry VII had inherited his claim to the throne from an illegitimate son of John of Gaunt, the father of Henry IV.
    • This was seen as the Rightful Queen Returns by many when Mary I, the eldest surviving child of Henry VIII, claimed the throne after the death of her half-brother Edward VI. Edward had been persuaded on his deathbed to disinherit both of his elder half-sisters in favor of his cousin, Jane Grey, who was queen for all of nine days. Mary's supporters deposed Jane and restored Mary to the throne, although when she later became "Bloody Mary" there were those who regretted the plan. Mary herself, unable to bear children, very reluctantly named her half-sister Elizabeth as her successor; those who favored Elizabeth over Mary then considered this trope in effect once again.
  • Happened a number of times in World War II: King Haakon VII of Norway, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, and Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg were forced to flee to the court of King George VI in London when the Nazis overran their nations (Wilhelmina later relocated to Canada temporarily). They became major symbols of resistance for the occupied nations and returned home in 1945 on the heels of the Allied armies.
  • Similarly happened at the end of World War I, when the royalty of most of the occupied nations (including Belgium, Serbia, and Romania) returned to their capitals.
    • While King Albert I of Belgium was forced to flee his capital when Brussels was overrun, he never fled his country and instead personally led the Belgian Army in the trenches.
    • King Ferdinand I of Romania had fled to the north of the country by 1917 but did not leave Romanian territory. He understood how the resistance to the Central Powers might have collapsed if he appeared to have fled the country.
    • Averted in the case of Luxembourg, where the Grand Duchess did not leave the country and her attempts to make German occupation as bearable to the population as was feasible (she e. g. prevented the execution of resistants) was interpreted as collaboration with the Germans, especially by anti-monarchists, which led to fears that Luxembourg would be annexed by France or Belgium after the country was occupied by the Allied armies in 1918. Eventually Grand Duchess Maria-Adelheid was forced to abdicate in 1919 after two abortive left-wing revolution attempts.
    • Averted but attempted in the case of Montenegro (where the Serbian crown forced a union of the South Slavic states under the rule of Belgrade in the face of armed Montenegrin resistance), and Russia (where the Whites tried to resurrect the monarchy but were defeated by the Bolsheviks).
    • Averted with Charles of Austria-Hungary. With the threat posed by the Allies and the Little Entente, along with Horthy, the aim of reclaiming Hungary was doomed to fail.
  • Attempted a number of times by the Jacobites, the followers of the displaced Stuart heirs of James VII/II of Scotland and England, in the 18th century, but it wasn't to be, despite French support.
  • Played mostly straight with Constantine I of Greece, whom the Allies forced to abdicate in favour of his second son Alexander and go into exile in 1917 in order to put an end to Greek neutrality. After Alexander's unexpected death and the electoral defeat of Constantine's political nemesis Venizelos, a plebiscite allowed Constantine I to return to the Greek throne in 1920. However, after the Greek army was defeated in the war against the new Turkish republic he was forced once again to abdicate in favour of his eldest son George II in a coup by pro-Venizelos officers in September 1922. Constantine died in exile in Palermo in January 1923.
    • George II then had to leave Greece as well (in December 1923) and the Greek National Assembly declared Greece a republic in 1924. When that was dismantled, conservative leader Ionannis Metaxas saw to it that George was returned to the throne in a farcical referendum (98 per cent of votes in favour of the restoration of the monarchy) in 1935, which enabled Metaxas to be established as Greece's dictator in 1936. Forced to go into exile by the German invasion of 1941, George II was reinstated by the British against the wishes of a large part of the Greek population, which led to the Greek civil war (1946-1949). After a referendum in September 1946, George II returned from exile.
  • Maharajah Marthanda Varma (1706-1758) of Travancore (in the modern Indian state of Kerala) was forced into exile as the result of a coup by his cousins, who wanted the throne, and their allies the "Lords Of The Eight Houses" — the nobles of the state, who disliked his popularity with the people. After the king's disappearance, the state began a steady deterioration into chaos. His cousins even attempted to loot the sacred temples of the state, prevented only by the common citizens taking up arms and fighting off the troupe of highly-trained soldiers and mercenaries. Before things spiraled completely, however, Marthanda Varma returned with allies and supporting armies and, after several battles, reclaimed his kingdom. The conspirators and murderers were executed. And There Was Much Rejoicing. Needless to say, Marthanda Varma has been highly popularized in Kerala's literature.
  • Grover Cleveland. Fun fact — the United States has had 46 Presidents, but only 45 people have ever actually BEEN President. How did this happen? Because Grover Cleveland was elected the 22nd President in 1884, lost in 1888 to Benjamin Harrison, and was elected again as the 24th President in 1892.
    • Similarly done twice in Canada: John A. MacDonald served as Prime Minister from 1867 to 1873 and returned to power in 1878, dying in office in 1891. Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister from 1968 to 1979, returning a year later after Joe Clark's minority government collapsed.
      • It used to happen quite often in parliamentary-style governments: consider the Earl of Derby, who was prime minister of Great Britain on three non-consecutive occasions in the 19th century. The most recent example would be Harold Wilson in the 1960s and 1970s. (Nowadays, a prime minister who loses an election is expected to resign as leader of his party, and will never get another shot at the top job.)
      • Actually done four times. Arthur Meighen was Prime Minister from 1920-1921, returning for a few months in 1926 during the King-Byng Crisis. Mackenzie King was Prime Minister from 1921- June 1926, returning to power in September. He lost the 1930 election, coming back for a third and final time in 1935 (this time he stayed on until his retirement in 1948).
    • Of course for passionate members and followers of a political party the situation when their party loses power and later returns to power, even if both happen by free elections, is often imbued with this trope.
  • The years 1814 and 1815 in France saw no less than three such returns.
    • First Louis XVIII returned, with historical and international legitimacy on his side - he was Louis XVI's brother, and had inherited the Bourbon claim from his uncrowned nephew, thus the gap in numbers.
    • Napoleon, returning from exile on Elba, invoked this trope on the troops sent to arrest him. He walked in front of them and said, "If you wish to kill your emperor, here I am." Not only did these troops defect, but all subsequent attempts to stop him failed and he marched into Paris unopposed, beginning the Hundred Days.
    • Then Napoleon had to abdicate again after his crushing defeat at Waterloo, prompting Louis XVIII to return a second time.
  • Deliberately invoked by Napoleon's nephew, Louis Napoleon, who, despite being of no recognised royal bloodline, capitalised on Bonapartist nostalgia in 1840's France, later having himself declared Emperor Napoleon III (retroactively declaring his uncle's deceased son to have been Napoleon II).
  • When the Sultan of Sokotonote  died in the late 1980s, Nigerian Dictator Babangida passed over the heir apparent Maccido and installed Dasuki, a personal friend from the Royal House. In the mid-'90s, new dictator Abacha put Dasuki under house arrest, and installed Maccido as Sultan, to general approval from the caliphate geeks.
  • King Michael of Romania was a figurehead ruler during most of his reign in the 1930s and 1940s. A fascist dictator came to power in Romania, who allied his country with the Nazis. In 1944 Michael, along with several generals loyal to him, organized a coup against the fascists and became allied with the West and the Soviets. Romania's communist government forced the king into exile in 1947. He eventually returned in 1992 and on a more permanent basis in 1997 although Romania did not recognize him as their monarch. He died in 2017.
  • Tsar Simeon II of Bulgaria was only six when he took the throne in 1943, and was exiled three years later after the Soviet-backed transitional government held a plebiscite to end the monarchy. He spent his childhood hopping around the Mediterranean, became a successful businessman in Spain, and generally just lived his life... until the communist government of Bulgaria collapsed with all the others. Simeon—now styling himself Simeon Sakskoburggotski ("Saxe-Coburg-Gotha", using the name of his royal housenote  as his surname)—founded a political party and led it to victory in the 2001 elections, with Sakskoburggotski himself becoming Prime Minister. This is one of the few times a hereditary monarch has ever gone on to become a democratically elected head of government. It even fits the "situation in the country improves" bit of the trope—he appointed a cabinet of technical experts (though their actual competence is disputed) and Bulgaria grew and ran smoothly during his tenure. However, the Bulgarian voters grew tired of the massive corruption which his government was widely accused of and also how most of the growth seemed to flow to the rich, and left his party in second place in the 2005 elections (although the party ended up participating in a grand coalition led by the Socialists), and then wiped them out entirely in 2009 and Simeon retired from politics.
    • Simeon II always advocated the restoration of the monarchy when living in exile, but after his return has remained silent on the issue. No matter how many times people ask him if he still wants to return to being Tsar (either as a figurehead constitutional monarch or with some degree of actual power), he gives no answer.
  • An example from the Bulgaria's medieval history. In 1207, Tzar Kaloyan was usurped by his cousin Boril who banished the rightful heir, Ivan Assen II (along with his brother), sons of Kaloyan's older brother (Kaloyan himself has no sons). In 1217, an 18-year-old Ivan Assen II returned with his allies, besieged the capital, and seized the throne. This is portrayed in historiography as a rare example of this trope where an Evil Uncle had usurped a Good Uncle instead of the rightful heir's father.
  • There is a loony conspiracy theory that Joseph Stalin was a lost son of Alexander III. It makes some sort of sense, given that a few modern-day Stalinists are also monarchists who see Stalinist USSR as a continuation of Tsarist Russia.
  • Mohammed Zahir Shah of Afghanistan was deposed by his prime minister in 1973 while seeking medical treatments in Italy. During his exile, Afghanistan experienced a communist dictatorship, a civil war, and the rise of the Taliban. He returned to Afghanistan in 2002 after NATO began its occupation of that country, however, the Americans would not let him take the title of king. He was allowed to serve as an apolitical symbol of national unity.
  • During the unification of Japan in the late 16th century, the most powerful and successful faction was led by three of Japan's greatest and most famous generals, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu, who all wanted to be the ruler of Japan. Famous for his patience and being the youngest, Ieyasu left the position to Hideyoshi after Nobunaga's death and waited for his own time to come. However, at his death, his five-year-old son Hideyori was a problem and Ieyasu could not deny a dying man's request to protect his young child. Even though Ieyasu was quite successful in arranging that Hideyori had no intention to follow in his father's footsteps, Ieyasu realized that as long as the Toyotomi family existed, there would always be rebels gaining support by claiming to restore the rightful ruler of Japan to power. Though there are many sources that indicate that it pained Ieyasu deeply, the legacy of the Tokugawa family would only endure if Hideyori and his own young son were killed. Which they were.
    • Invoked during the Meiji Restoration. During the 700 years of Bakufu rule in Japan, even the existence of the emperor was barely recognized. The rebel forces opposing the Tokugawa Shogun, however, took on the emperor as their figurehead and claimed to be merely restoring the rightful ruler to power. It had been many centuries since the last time a Japanese emperor had actually been in power, rather than just a figurehead whom the shogun controlled.
  • Zigzagged during the Liberal Wars in Portugal. Leading the Liberal forces was Dom Pedro, who was simultaneously the former crown prince, former Rebel Prince (who led the former Portuguese colony of Brazil to independence), former king (briefly in 1826 after his father, Joao VI, had died), and the father of the deposed "rightful queen," Maria II.
  • After the Khmer Rouge was overthrown from Cambodia, Norodom Sihanouk was restored as the King of Cambodia when the communists removed him.
  • Subverted with Charles XII of Sweden, who returned to reclaim his throne after five years of exile, but ended up being killed in battle before he could accomplish much in a war that was lost anyway.
  • Joachim Murat, who had become the King of Naples by the grace of Napoleon, attempted to pull this off after the other rightful kings returned (the Neapolitan Bourbons driven away by the French). He managed to land in Calabria with a small group of loyal followers, hoping to rally the people's support, but he hardly got any further before he was arrested, tried, and shot.
  • Kashyapa, king of Lanka, got his position by murdering his father and exiling his brother, Moggallana, who was the rightful heir. To absolutely no one's surprise, having made one of the most elementary mistakes when usurping a throne, Moggallana showed up again with an army and popular support to take the throne back.
  • Justinian II of the Byzantine Empire. His first reign lasted from 685-695, when he was overthrown and his nose was either cut off or slit,note  and he was exiled to the Crimea. However, after ten years in exile, Justinian managed to return to Constantinople with an army of Bulgars at his back, enter the city through an abandoned aqueduct, and reclaim his throne. Something of a real-life Deconstruction; his entire second reign was an extended, bloody Roaring Rampage of Revenge, which meant that he alienated almost all of his allies (plus the fact that he just wasn't that good an emperor), and so in 711, he was overthrown again. This time, permanently.
  • Haile Selassie was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930. When Italy invaded in the second Italo-Ethiopian War, Selassie was forced to flee to Britain in 1936. When the British Empire and the Ethiopian La Résistance drove out the Italians, Selassie returned to Ethiopia in 1941, five years to the day he was forced to flee. He would reign for another 33 years until he was overthrown by a Communist revolution that abolished the Ethiopian monarchy.
  • In what is probably the most recent attempt to invoke this trope, a French physicist called Andre Gardes claimed that he, not Christopher Beaumont, was the rightful Seigneur of Sark (a small island in the English Channel under the feudal sovereignty of the British monarchy). In 1990, after several failed attempts to get anyone else to help with his plan, Gardes put up posters announcing that he was taking over the island by force at noon the next day, and then took up position outside the Seigneur's manor with a semiautomatic rifle. Sark's volunteer constable managed to subdue Gardes and he was briefly imprisoned in Guernsey. A year later, Gardes came back and tried to do the same thing again, but was arrested in Guernsey trying to get on the ferry to Sark.
  • Averted by Wilhelm II, the last Kaiser of Imperial Germany. When Those Wacky Nazis took power in the 1930s, Wilhelm hoped that the German monarchy would be restored with his grandson becoming the new Kaiser. Unfortunately, Adolf Hitler had nothing but contempt for Wilhelm, whose leadership he blamed for Germany's defeat in World War One. When Wilhelm expressed his hope that Hitler would restore the German monarchy, Hitler said "What an idiot" to his valet. Hitler's responses to Wilhelm's petitions and congratulations were usually Damned by Faint Praise, when he even bothered to reply at all.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Rightful Queen Returns


Simba becomes King

After Simba is manipulated into believing he killed his father and going into self-imposes exile, allowing Scar to become King and ruin the Pride Lands, he eventually grows up and returns to reclaim his throne. The move ends on a well earned happy note, as he defeats Scar, becomes King, restores the Pride Lands to their former glory and even becomes a father himself.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / RightfulKingReturns

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