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Superior Successor

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"While it's true that my work is based on you,
I'm a supercomputer. You're like a TI-82!"

A fictional phenomenon where a younger generation, a younger sibling, or some other form of successor proves to be smarter, more capable, or much more powerful than the preceding generation.

This can be used in several ways:

  • A parent who has some sort of gift or talent gives birth to a child with even better gifts.
  • A successor masters work that his predecessor spent their entire life trying and failed to, or completes it in a much shorter time period.
  • The new generation is more accomplished or successful than the older, attaining a higher standard of living or prestige.
  • An inheritor takes what was left to them and improves upon it.
  • The successors destroy the Sealed Evil in a Can rather than re-sealing it.
  • They solve difficult moral, political or philosophical problems, or stop a Regularly Scheduled Evil, that their predecessors couldn't.
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  • Or, more simply, they make better use of resources or powers their predecessors had, even if they are no more powerful (or perhaps even less powerful).

The easiest explanation is that the new person is better talented. Another is that they're able to approach old problems with new ideas and/or a fresh perspective. Perhaps the older generation specifically raised the new generation to surpass them (or to bring hope where they'd failed). Maybe the old generation just ran out of time.

Another explanation is that advancement doesn't need to be linear. It can be geometric or exponential, and when a sufficiently powerful discovery or achievement is made, it automatically boosts what comes after. For example, every single person reading this has likely surpassed the geniuses that discovered fire and the wheel.


Do not confuse for Replacement Mooks or cases where someone or something inadequate was swapped out for something better. Making machines more powerful or capable than the last, or replacing someone or something that was a failure, makes sense. What makes this phenomenon notable is that there's a smidge of uncertainty. At least ONE person (the predecessor or successor) has to achieve their talent. If the predecessor was manufactured or cultivated, the successor needs to achieve it, or vice-versa.

Super-Trope to:

Often overlaps with

Contrast Super Prototype, Lost Technology, Ancient Astronauts and Stronger with Age. The polar opposite of Sketchy Successor and Inadequate Inheritor. Sucksessor is a subversion.

Quite often a staple in Shounen action Manga/Anime series and SuperHero Comic Books. Is quite common in cases of a "Well Done, Son!" Guy.

Thanks to Mythology, this trope also happens to be Older Than Dirt.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball:
    • Goku masters the Kamehameha in a few seconds despite the fact that it took its creator, Master Roshi, his whole life to figure it out.
    • Gohan, who is only half-Saiyan, is far more powerful than his full-blooded Saiyan father was at the same age. Much more powerful. Unfortunately, he got nerfed a bit in-between the Cell and Buu arcs, since he slacked off on his training. Then, the nerf bat hit him hard over in Dragon Ball Super...then got tired of that, began training again, and shows promise of still exceeding his father eventually even with all the upgrades his father got since then.
    • Even though we mostly see Pan as a baby in Dragon Ball Super, she's actually a lot more powerful than probably her father at his peak. Her ki control at barely a year old is incredible, destroying a spaceship, surviving in space, flying around, beating Future Trunks around like a punching bag.
    • After having spent most of his life training in hopes of becoming a Super Saiyan, Vegeta isn't entirely thrilled to learn that both his own son Trunks and the late Goku's son Goten are both capable of going Super Saiyan without much effort before even turning 10.
    • Future Trunks either initially averts this or plays it straight, depending on the source: In the anime adaption, his master Gohan taught him to fight and tried to teach him to achieve Super Saiyan status well into Trunks' teenage years, but Trunks couldn't manage it until after Gohan's death; when he still fails to defeat Gohan's killers, his mother sends him back in time to find another way. However, in the manga, a flashback is shown of Gohan and Trunks sparring, and Trunks was shown to already be a Super Saiyan despite being a young child.
      • Regardless of origin story, he still ends up becoming more powerful than his mentor ever was. Turns out all that time he spent training in the past (the time spent in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber really helped) not only made Trunks powerful enough to take down not only the Androids who killed Gohan but also Cell himself. (He was in his weakest form, but still).
    • When Dende replaces Kami to keep the Dragon Balls active on earth, his version of Shrenron is stronger than Kami's. It probably helps that while both are from the same planet, which is what makes it possible for them to create Dragon Balls in the first place, Dende was raised and taught there while Kami basically taught himself.
    • Piccolo to his "father", the Demon King Piccolo, having been tempered by kindness from Gohan, allying himself with the other Z-Warriors as well as fusing with both Nail and Kami.
    • Piccolo was this even before he turned good. King Piccolo feared the Evil Containment Wave more than anything. Piccolo learned to reverse it and trapped his once more powerful good counterpart.
    • Zamasu views himself as this to his mentor Gowasu, and in terms of power, he definitely is. Unfortunately, in terms of actually doing their job, Zamasu is anything but superior to Gowasu.
    • Videl, Mr. Satan's daughter, is actually stronger than him even when you discount her usage of flight. It seems that he recognized this, thus refused to train with her, but it takes a while for Videl to realize this, believing herself weaker.
  • Death Note: In the one-shot Never Complete, Minoru Tanaka is this to Light Yagami, as the owner of Ryuk's notebook. Although Light was intellectually superior to Tanaka, the latter was much more pragmatic. In a notable case of Loophole Abuse, Tanaka used the Death Note as a bargaining chip to clear Japan's national debt and avoided using the Death Note to kill anyone. Tanaka hid his tracks so well, even Near, who had cornered Light had to admit defeat. Basically, Tanaka did not become an Ax-Crazy egomaniac like previous known owners of the Death Note. The only reason Tanaka lost and died was that at the last minute, the King of Death added a new rule to prevent anyone from trading Death Notes.
  • In Bleach:
    • Ichigo's reiatsu surpasses any captain's. Urahara holds the record for gaining Bankai - 3 days until Ichigo gets one in 2.5 days. He masters his Hollow mask better than the Vizards, his hollow powers make him more powerful than even Espada, and when the Big Bad develops Ichigo's power to a level capable of moving Aizen into stratospheric power levels, Ichigo exceeds anything Aizen can understand and curbstomps him.
    • The Kenpachi is the title given to the strongest shinigami in any given generation of captains. The First Kenpachi (Yachiru) was never surpassed until Zaraki finally defeats her in a fight to the death, allowing him to finally genuinely earn the title Kenpachi. Kenpachi Yachiru was better known as Captain Unohana.
    • Yhwach is the Quincy Progenitor King and no quincy is his equal in power. However, the quincy he appoints his successor is the one quincy he believes is capable of surpassing him, Uryuu, who survived a direct confrontation with Yhwach's power when aged 8, becoming the first quincy in history to survive The Purge with both life and power intact.
  • In Naruto, this is a recurring theme, encompassed in an overarching philosophy called the "Will of Fire". The Will of Fire essentially believes that love is the key to strength and peace, and one of the ways of expressing that is by allowing children to surpass their predecessors. This is showcased in several relationships:
    • All of the Legendary Sannin become stronger than their teacher, the Third Hokage.
    • Nagato surpasses (and later kills) his teacher, Jiraiya.
    • Minato (the Fourth Hokage) becomes stronger than Jiraiya and the Third Hokage
    • Itachi is later surpassed by his younger brother, Sasuke.
    • Generally played straight with the title character, particularly with respect to his parents, teachers, and the past Hokage:
      • Naruto learned to use the Rasengan faster than his predecessors, but at first only in incomplete form. It took the three-year Time Skip for him to fully master it (which was about the length of time it took its creator to make it). However, after he masters it, he's able to make far, far more effective and unique variations of it. (See page picture.) Naruto also completes the Rasengan by applying elemental chakra to it, something that Minato tried and failed to achieve. Granted, Minato died at the age of 24 so he likely could've gotten it done eventually if given enough time, but Naruto pulled it off in less than a year.
      • Perfected Sage Mode, when his mentor could only use an imperfect version. Later, he even learns to do it while minimizing its Necessary Drawback.
      • Naruto's parents, teachers, and senior pupil have all said they believe he is the one that will find a way to fix the Crapsack World of the Shinobi System.
      • Unlike the previous jinchuuriki of the Nine-Tails, Naruto finally manages to befriend and "tame" it.
      • The above examples finally become justified in Part II in several ways. It's learned that using shadow clones allows one to learn faster, and Naruto also happens to be the only one capable of making clones for as long and in as many quantities. This is because he has the Nine-Tails Chakra, but that's only because his hereditary clan are gifted with exorbitant amounts of chakra in the first place. Also, his father intentionally put a small gap in the Nine-Tails' seal to allow Naruto to slowly access and gain control of it. And unlike the previous jinchuuriki (his mother), Naruto had the Nine-Tails implanted in him as a newborn, meaning that exposure to it was enhancing his already naturally impressive chakra reserves for his entire life instead of starting out as a teenager or young adult as is typical of jinchuuriki. And finally, his very name was given to him by his predecessors to mark him as The Chosen One.
    • However, the introduction of the Otsutsuki clan, who are the alien ancestors of the Uzumaki, Uchiha, Senju, Hyuuga, and Kaguya clans bring an unexpected twist to this theme, as they had planetary-level Jutsu and far superior technology. Naruto/Sasuke's 11th-Hour Superpower isn't something new that they innovated or made for themselves, but old powers that an Ootsutsuki gave them. It's noted, though, that this trope was pretty much in place until the Ootsutsuki who achieved the pinnacle of their power, Kaguya, developed an ego from being worshiped as a goddess and turned against her two sons when they developed power that threatened hers. She pretty much tore down everything at that point and most of her clan's achievements and abilities were lost. From that point on, their descendants divided into several clans, intermixed with the rest of humanity and resetting this trope to start all over again from scratch.
  • In Fairy Tail, it's constantly said that the younger guild generations are continuing to improve and surpass the old ones. In particular, Erza remarks that Natsu has equaled or even surpassed her.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Defied in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. Fate makes it clear that the trainees are not expected to be aces like Nanoha, Fate, and the Wolkenritter; they're being trained as "strikers," meaning that they're learning to be effective soldiers and team players. None of the second generation ever make it to S+ rank (the rank of Nanoha, Fate, and Signum); Teana Lanster would later achieve S-rank, but that's still a half-step below her mentor, Nanoha.
    • Subverted with Subaru and Ginga. Despite having the advantage of genetic and cybernetic enhancements, neither of them are shown to be strong enough to wield both of their late mother's Revolver Knuckles at the same time.
    • Vivio Takamachi is still up in the air on this one. It's been shown that she has more raw potential than anyone else in the series, but unlike her mothers, doesn't train nearly as hard, preferring to be a normal little girl instead of a Child Soldier. She has one of the most versatile combat styles in the series, but she's clearly not as strong as her mothers were at her age (though she can increase her power by aging herself up). The jury's out on whether she'll catch up.
  • In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Tohru is powerful enough to frighten her own father — himself a powerful Chaos Dragon — when he shows up to bring her home and makes the mistake of attacking Kobayashi. In the anime, they're more evenly matched.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V has a very odd variant version when Yuya becomes this to himself. His original life, Zarc also wanted to duel to make everyone happy but the pressure and blood lust of his audience drove him mad. Yuya was able to grow past it and truly entertain people while keeping his sanity.
  • In My Hero Academia, this is the key to One For All being so powerful. It's a cumulative Quirk that gets stronger as it's passed on. Essentially, once series protagonist Izuku "Deku" Midoriya fully masters it, he'll be more powerful than All Might ever could hope to be, and he can already be considered to reach this point since he's the first inheritor capable of using the Quirks of the previous generations of wielders.
  • Zig-Zagged in the Gundam franchise. While the mass-production units are usually inferior to the Super Prototype that inspired them, not only do some units tend to be better than the Super Prototype (such as the 105 Dagger being superior to Mobile Suit Gundam SEED's Strike Gundam) but some successor units can be inferior to previous units (such as the GM II of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam being inferior to the classic GM of Mobile Suit Gundam)
    • Played Straight with the traditional Mid-Season Upgrade of the franchise: the protagonist's new Gundam has much better specs and usually, is equipped with more systems and weapons, than his old one.
  • Black Clover: Mereoleona believes that because Noelle, whose magic starts out as clumsy and crude, has to work very hard to become stronger, she will eventually surpass her mother Acier, who was known for her dignified and sophisticated magic use. This is high praise considering that Mereoleona, who is famed for being the strongest Magic Knight in the kingdom, never won against Acier herself.

    Comic Books 
  • The entire point to mutants in X-Men is that they're an evolutionary adaption. So naturally, mutants are stronger than their Muggle parents. Usually. But even so, quite a few mutants are more powerful than their superpowered parents. For one thing, it's common (though by no means guaranteed) for the child of a mutant to inherit their parent's mutation while also developing other, completely unrelated powers.
    • Professor Charles Xavier is a very powerful telepath. David 'Legion' Haller just as powerful if less experienced/skilled, and has a host of other Psychic Powers at a similar level.
    • Evilutionary Biologists specifically target the Summers family for this reason. Cable and X-Man are powerhouses compared to their parents Cyclops and Jean Grey/Madelyne Pryor, though Cable has a Power Limiter in the form of having to devote a significant portion of his telekinesis to keeping a "technovirus" from killing him. note  And Cyclops and Jean's daughter from an alternate future Rachel Summers has psychic powers not quite as strong as her brother(s) but also has the ability to Time Travel. And in yet another alternate future, Ruby Summers, the daughter of Scott and Emma Frost can convert her body into ruby quartz and project force beams from any part of her body.
    • Vulcan, the youngest Summers brother, is far more powerful than either of his brothers. Cyclops shoots optic beams and Havok has energy blasts, Vulcan has energy powers, absorption powers, healing powers, flight, healing, invulnerability... basically a more energy manipulative and physically weaker version of Superman.
    • Hope Summers, trained and raised by Cable, is one of the strongest mutants to ever live.
    • One continuity actually inverts this. In X-Men Forever, which was what Chris Claremont wanted to do had he not left Marvel in the early '90s, it would reveal that mutants were actually an evolutionary dead end and that their powers would ultimately burn them out.
    • Nimrod is a Sentinel from the future. Due to the vast advances in technology, it is much more powerful than the present Sentinels.
  • Within the Marvel universe, the Weapon Plus program had this going, though it skipped a few iterations of the project since they weren't really complete. Weapon I was Captain America, who was essentially the most Badass Normal you could get without being considered superhuman. Weapon X is Wolverine, who is indestructible (though not unkillable). Other iterations include Weapon IV, whose leader became Man-Thing, Weapon VI, which lead to Luke Cage gaining his powers, and Weapon IX, which lead to the creation of Daredevil foe Typhoid Mary.
  • Fantastic Four:
    • Franklin Richards is a Reality Warper who sometimes makes universes for fun. By comparison, his father is a genius stretchyguy and his mother turns invisible and makes forcefields. While those forcefields are incredibly powerful, that's nothing compared to her son's near-omnipotence.
    • His sister Valeria is said to be smarter than her father (despite being about three, and her father being one of the greatest geniuses in history) and has more control over her forcefields than her mother.
  • In continuities where Superman has a biological child, that child typically grows up to be more powerful than he is. Especially if the mother was Wonder Woman.
    • His in-continuity son, Jonathan Kent, already shows shades of this as Jon has all of Superman's powers at seven years old (Superman never gained his powers until he became an adult) and could potentially become stronger. This is shown as a bad thing as, in one possible Bad Future, he ends up using a version of Superman's own Solar Flare ability that ended up killing people. It's outright stated that, being a Half-Human Hybrid, he couldn't control it.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Otto Octavius attempts to invoke this trope when he becomes the Superior Spider-Man. He ultimately learns that he is not Superior in any way.
    • However, Superior Spider-Man isn't the first arc to do this, but Kraven tries it in Kraven's Last Hunt after he drugs Spidey and buries him alive.
    • Felicia Hardy is this to her father in terms of their cat burglary. Walter Hardy, The Cat, was a highly skilled thief, and he developed the grappling hook and other tech Felicia would use, but he was always just a thief at best. Felicia, The Black Cat, has been everything from a superhero to a crime boss and has developed superpowers, allowing her to become a Badass Abnormal, and so Walter is mostly just a footnote in her career.
  • In a more positive way, Spider-Girl (May "Mayday" Parker) is shown to be somewhat superior to her father as she is much more athletic than he was at her age, and her wall-crawling powers are more advanced than his.
    • She is also able to use her spider-sense to find weak points in her opponents. Though, when describing her discovery of it to her parents, it's suggested that Peter can do the same thing but never thought to try.
  • It's been noted that Tim Drake, the third Robin, is by far a superior Robin to his predecessor, Jason Todd. Not only is he far more intelligent (Batman himself has said that Tim will overtake his detective skills one day), he also has better leadership abilities and fighting style. This is part of what initially fuels Jason's antagonism when he Came Back Wrong; Tim being a better Robin than him made him feel like even more of a failure, especially as Jason himself massively failed to be this to Dick.
    • Damian Wayne, the fifth Robin, thinks he's this to both his predecessors Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown. He was trained by the League of Assassins since he was born and is a child prodigy, and as Batman's blood son, he believes he's naturally superior to both of them. However, while Steph isn't as skilled in martial arts as he is, she's far more emotionally and socially developed and understands the modern world thanks to not being raised by assassins, so she's shown to have a significant advantage over him when they work cases because she actually understands people, and due to being older and bigger than him, his combat skills don't make up for the fact she can literally grab him by his ankles and swing him around. Tim meanwhile is about as good at combat (Damian can catch him off-guard, but Tim's physically stronger and can easily overpower him) and is considerably smarter, too.
  • The Batman identity itself had this. With the same guy. Twice. Dick Grayson filled in for Bruce Wayne after Azrael did, and was far superior in that he is a sane and mentally normal person compared to the myraid of issues Azrael had (that really weren't his fault.) Not really hard, but it's there. After that short stint, Bruce reclaimed the Batman mantle, but eventually died in Final Crisis. This forced Dick to become Batman again, and he was shown to be better than Bruce at the job, his happier attitude meaning that police preferred him, and he had already surpassed Bruce in leadership skills since his Robin days.
    • In the Nightwing books, Dick and Bruce are constantly compared and contrasted regarding how they adjusted to their lives after their parents' deaths. Bruce took their deaths hard and absorbed the pain and horror of losing your entire world, becoming a darker human being in the process. But, because Bruce stepped in for Dick, Dick was saved from falling down the same path. Not only did becoming Robin give Dick a more immediate and direct outlet for his frustrations, but seeing a reflection of what could happen to him in Bruce allowed Dick to step away from that path. Bruce has, on several occasions, said that he's proud of his son for leading a happier, fuller life than he himself ever did. Also, it's pretty much universally acknowledged (including by Bruce) that Dick is a better leader.
    • Inverted with the fourth (or fifth) Batman, Damian Wayne. While physically he is superior, being Nigh-Invulnerable, he himself admits that he will never measure up to either Dick or Bruce and that he had to cheat in order to get where he is. He is probably one of the worst Batmen we've seen, to the point where Gotham went up in flames on his watch. Granted, this is in a Bad Future, so being depressing is kind of the point.
    • And as such, Damian's successor, Terry McGinnis, is a much better Batman than Damian.
  • Batgirl:
    • Barbara Gordon was this to Bette Kane, the original Bat-Girl from the Golden Age, to the point Bette's canon status is quite often forgotten; nowadays she's generally depicted as Flamebird, and this is usually her only identity. Bette assumed the Bat-Girl identity initially to romance Robin, whom she had a crush on, while Barbara became Batgirl because she wanted to help people and her status as a police commissioner's daughter meant she had the combat training to do it well enough to get Batman's approval and support.
    • Cassandra Cain, at least in terms of combat ability; in that regard, she might actually be this to the entire Bat-Family, being that she's a better fighter than Bruce himself. Barbara is smarter than her though, due to being a genius prodigy while Cass has learning difficulties, but Cass still remained a more effective crime fighter than Barbara was during her Batgirl tenure.
    • Stephanie Brown averts this, in that she's nowhere near as skilled a combatant as Cass. She is probably about on level, if not surpassing, Barbara when she was Batgirl though, but this is up for debate. She does have Cass beat at least in academic measures though, and so the two used to trade combat training for writing lessons.
  • The first three generations of The Flash had this dynamic going, averted with the fourth though.
    • In more modern depictions, Barry Allen, the second Flash, is much faster than Jay Garrick. Jay was fast, but Barry could easily reach the speed of light. However, this is more due to Jay's age than anything else, since, in his own Golden Age series, Jay could easily reach and surpass the speed of light.
    • Wally West, the first Kid Flash and third Flash, is the fastest Flash, being much faster than Barry ever was. Not only that, but Wally can steal speed from anyone and anything, and grant superspeed to others, powers Barry never attained. Even when Barry was restored to his prime, it was established that he always knew Wally was faster and still is.
    • Jesse Quick inverts and plays this straight. As technically the fourth Flash she averted it, being much slower than Wally (though Wally was only really pretending to be grooming her to be a successor; he actually intended Bart to follow him but was trying an Operation: Jealousy to make Bart more motivated, so Jesse was only a Flash for a couple issues), though her ability of temporary flight and strength gave her something of a boost. Within her own legacies though, she combines her father's speed and flight with her mother's super-strength and is shown to be much better at the former than her father was, due to understanding the nature of their powers better than he did.
  • Like with the Flashes, the Reverse-Flashes have this dynamic going for them.
    • Eobard Thawne/Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash to Barry Allen, is much faster than the previous Reverse-Flash, the Rival (Jay Garrick's), and is able to effortlessly time-travel.
    • Hunter Zolomon/Zoom, the Reverse-Flash to Wally West, can at the very least match Wally at his peak. How fast is Hunter? Wally had to leech the speed of both Jay Garrick and Bart Allen just to even have a chance of keeping up with Hunter and still saw Zoom as a blur. Wally was moving at the speed of light. The one downside is that Hunter isn't connected to the Speed Force and so isn't even really a speedster (he alters time in relation to himself, so he's essentially always a step faster than everything around him, no matter how fast it moves), and so he lacks a lot of the more complex and Required Secondary Powers (he can't phase through solids, and its shown he lacks the friction-cancelling aura that protects other speedsters, so his skin is always hurting from the air resistance). Regardless, he is at the very least one of the top two fastest beings in existence, with Wally barely being able to match him by stealing Jesse Quick's speed and using the Speed Force Mantra, so in terms of consistency, Zoom is the actual fastest man alive.
  • Thanos is a pretty badass character and all, being an absolute Physical God. But his son, Thane, is probably one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe, with just one of his two powers. His left hand has the power to rewrite reality. While he's untrained, this just means it kills everything within a certain radius of him. His right hand can trap anything in a state of "living death".
  • The Mighty Thor: Odin, All-Father of the Aesir, has been the most powerful god Asgardian for eons. Odin's son, Thor, is exceptionally powerful for his relative youth but is nowhere near his father's league. Odin has groomed Thor to one day be his heir, but due to the Ragnarok cycle, Asgard would usually be destroyed before that could happen. However, one incarnation of Thor (the one followed in the book) at one point managed to succeed Odin after the All-Father found a premature end. Thor not only attained his father's all-powerful Odinforce (renamed the Thorforce), but also Rune Magic and other sources of incalculable power. Thor used this power to destroy "Those Who Sit Above In Shadow", parasitic cosmic entities that feed from the life forces of the Asgardians via the Ragnarok cycle. By doing so, he freed Asgard after countless iterations of a Vicious Cycle and became perhaps the most supreme Asgardian to ever exist.
  • Thor (2014): When Jane Foster takes up Mjölnir and becomes Thor's successor, she demonstrates superior control over the hammer. For example, she can hurl it and make it change direction in midair, which Thor never figured out.
  • Roger Hayden is the second and most recognizable Psycho-Pirate than his predecessor Charles Halstead.
  • Darkseid's Omega Beams cannot penetrate Wonder Woman's bracelets. His daughter Grail inherited the Omega Beam, and hers are powerful enough to destroy the bracelets in one shot.
  • Out of all the men to have donned the mantle of Venom, Flash Thompson is the symbiote's favourite and the best hero. Despite his attempts to use it for good, Eddie Brock always had a warped view of morality, and he himself even admits that Flash was always the best.
  • With the symbiotes themselves, it was established that, as a rule of thumb, the symbiotes get stronger the more generations they sire (though this depends on the writer).
    • Venom is a powerful symbiote in its own right but its spawn Carnage is more powerful than it.
    • The Life Foundation symbiotes noticeably avert this, none of them being noticeably strong or weaker than their "father" Venom. However, these were born artificially, which may play a factor.
    • The Toxin symbiote, spawn of Carnage, was not only meant to be stronger than its "father", but also one of the strongest symbiotes to ever live. It had the usual symbiote powers but seemingly also faster healing, while also being much less vulnerable to the typical symbiote weaknesses of fire and sound.
    • The Anti-Venom symbiote is all-around better than the Venom symbiote it's derived from. In addition to the usual symbiote powers, it also seems to heal wounds faster and also allow the wearer to heal others. These healing powers can also be used offensively to "heal" people, such as by removing the Spider-powers from Peter Parker. Anti-Venom's touch is also deadly to all symbiotes that it touches.
    • The Sleeper symbiote, another spawn of Venom's, possesses all of its "father's" abilities but is also able to generate whatever chemicals it desires, use these chemicals in more functional constructs — as opposed to being limited to the melee weaponry of other symbiotes, Sleeper can make a functional jetpack, for example — and seems to be have much better cloaking.
  • The Heralds of Galactus are all bestowed with Physical God powers, in addition to others. However, the latest Herald introduced is by far the most powerful — The Cosmic Ghost Rider. Possessing the powers of a Spirit of Vengeance as well as the Power Cosmic, this Herald is in his own league of badassery even in a league of badasses.
  • Black Canary: Dinah Drake was an effective Badass Normal in her time, and did well enough to earn a spot in the otherwise almost all-male JSA. Her daughter, Dinah Lance, however, is a metahuman with a powerful sonic scream ability, yet Fights Like a Normal. She was trained by many of the JSA's other Badass Normal characters, as well as several other trainers around the world. Even without her powers, she's one of the best fighters on the planet, possibly on-par with even Batman.
  • Green Arrow: Both of Oliver Queen's sons, Roy Harper and Connor Hawke, have this going to some extent. Roy's a faster archer and is also skilled in other weapons, and though Oliver did once Took a Level in Badass, Roy's firmly established as the one who is a master with any weapon (which is why he's called Arsenal). Connor Hawke, meanwhile, easily surpasses his father in sheer combat ability, being one of the greatest martial artists in the world.
  • The Joker's latest gal-pal, Punchline, believes herself to be this as, unlike the last one, Harley Quinn, she completely understands Joker's logic and is devoted herself to it and him and believes he loves her. Harley doesn't buy it at all, thinking her Not So Different from her.
  • Green Lantern Kyle Rayner is considered this compared to his predecessor Hal Jordan. While Hal was a man who had no fear when he was chosen, Kyle was a man who was thrown headfirst into the world of superheroics, thus had to face fear and conquer it. It's probably no surprise many new Lanterns nowadays must do the same.
  • Ultimate X-Men: Jimmy Hudson has his father's Healing Factor and Super Senses, though they are even more amped up due to his lack of an adamantium skeleton (he can sense military vehicles from miles away in the thick of The Living Seed's jungle, for example). He can also do something Logan couldn't - his claws (and supporting bone structure) can coat themselves with an organic metal similar to Colossus. Most importantly, Jimmy grew up with a good family and has a strong moral compass... which was the only thing Logan wished for him.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Bridge:
    • Godzilla Jr. is more powerful than his father. Godzilla Sr. could barely hold his own against Xenilla and needed M.O.G.U.E.R.A.'s help to beat him, while Junior can fight evenly against Xenilla. In fact, Junior in his default state is comparable to Senior in his Burning state which Junior can manage a partial version of that is safe for him to use. The author explained that Junior is more powerful than his father due to growing up into his mutation from childhood, as oppose to mutating as an adult.
    • Zilla Jr. is likewise far stronger than his mother. This is due to him incubating fully while his mother and siblings hatched prematurely.
    • Xenilla also surpasses his father Godzilla Sr. He can do everything Sr. can do and more.
    • By their very nature, each member of the Mothra line is more powerful than her predecessor due to Genetic Memory to draw on all the previous Mothras' experience, and inheriting the predecessor's power. The one in this fic, Mothra Lea, is vastly more powerful since she was born from a union between the previous Mothra and Battra (Mothra usually reproduces asexually), meaning she also inherited Battra's experience and power.
    • Irys is a member of the Gyaos race born an anomaly. She is much larger, more powerful, and smarter than her mother and the others. However, she is sterile. She's essentially what their creators intended for the Gyaos to be: a true Guardian Beast, namely Guardian Beast Eta of Sound. She can even access the Guardian Beast's Super Mode if conditions are met. The previous Gyaos could be considered her Flawed Prototypes.
    • Grand King Ghidorah admits Kaiser Ghidorah, a being created by injecting Monster X with his genes, is superior to him. They have similar power levels, but Kaiser is also a skilled fighter and has abilities King does not have like Vampiric Draining. King has devoured the souls of billions of beings to increase his power, but Kaiser was just as powerful and managed to defeat him when he did not have any.
  • In Brilliant Lights Will Cease To Burn, Sakura declares Izuku to be this for using the Sakura Cards to help people and change their lives when she had no driving goal or passion in life other than to preserve the status quo.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Fly, Seth's Brundlefly form is a sickly mutated monster that is stronger than normal humans — but ultimately goes down to a couple of ordinary people with one gun between them. His son Martin in The Fly II eventually metamorphoses into a formidable insect man-beast who effortlessly tears his way through an entire complex full of heavily armed guards.
  • Star Wars:
    • Luke Skywalker eventually surpasses Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Anakin Skywalker in both power and achievement, becoming the greatest Jedi in history. But only in the Extended Universe do other authors actually invoke this trope.
    • Sith operate exclusively on this principle, seeing as how they follow the rule of Klingon Promotion. It's also their greatest downfall, compared to the cooperative Jedi. Ultimately Defied, however. One Dark Lord once speculated that if the principles behind the "Rule of Two" were successful, eventually there would come a Dark Lord with no need for successors. This was eventually realized in Emperor Palpatine, who became the most powerful Sith in history. Palpatine's plans largely revolved around the belief that he would attain Immortality and amass enough power that no one would ever threaten him. The three apprentices he trained (Maul, Tyrannus, and Vader) never even came close to achieving his level of power and he never bothered to teach them, or anyone else, the majority of what he knew. Palpatine once off-handedly remarked that Vader would succeed him in strength, but his loss and subsequent crippling to Obi-Wan on Mustafar ensured that would never happen.

  • It's feared that this could happen in The Sword of Truth. Richard Rahl, the successor to a powerful line of mages, who also happens to be a War Wizard (capable of using both the "good" and "bad" sides of magic naturally), and the wielder of the Sword of Truth marries the Mother Confessor, who have the power of Compelling Voice. A child with these traits (although War Wizardry usually isn't hereditary) would be bad enough, but it's also stated that male Confessors always abuse their powers without fail.
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Deep Thought is created as the most advanced computer in history in order to provide its creators the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, Everything. After receiving its task, Deep Thought tells the beings to come back in a few billion years. They do, at which point Deep Thought provides them an answer: 42. Seeing that they were disappointed, Deep Thought tells them that the Ultimate Answer is meaningless without the Ultimate Question. However, Deep Thought is not powerful enough to come up with it. Instead, it helps them design an even more powerful computer called Earth.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire Tywin Lannister is clearly this. His father Tytos Lannister was a gentle, kind, and pleasant man who lent generously but was perceived as weak, meaning some of his vassals refused to pay him back, leading to the Reyne-Tarbeck rebellion. His son and heir, Tywin Lannister, defeated them on his own initiative. When the remaining Reynes hid in their underground fortress of Castamere, Tywin had the place sealed and flooded. He goes on to become one of the most feared men in Westeros.
    • In the backstory, there's King Daeron II, who followed on from his father, Aegon IV, the Unworthy, a Fat Bastard who seemed to devote his life to having sex with as many women as he could find, and nearly ruined the kingdom for sheer giggles. After that, pretty much anything would be a step up, but Daeron proves a pretty dang effective ruler, even as his cousins decide they really want that shiny crown for themselves.
    • Fire & Blood has Jaehaerys I, to both his father Aenys I and his immediate predecessor Maegor the Cruel. Jaehaerys is neither weak and ineffectual like his father, nor a rabid psycho like his uncle, and manages to preside over one of the most, if not the most stable period in Westeros' history. It all goes tragically downhill after he goes, and no Targaryen king since, no matter how good they are, has quite managed his level of success.
  • James Herriot noted with a mixture of pride and chagrin that when one of his children qualified as a vet, the general opinion among farmers whose animals had been tended by both was that "young Herriot was a hell of an improvement on the old man".
  • In Ryk Spoor's Princess Holy Aura, the current incarnation of Princess Holy Aura is this; in that universe, a Magical Girl's power is directly proportional to whatever she has given up or risked to become a Magical Girl, and the current incarnation risked substantially more than any previous Princess.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Albus Dumbledore is regarded as a much better Hogwarts headmaster than Armando Dippet. While we don't know too much about Dippet's time, he did expel Hagrid for a crime he didn't commit just to appease Moral Guardians.
    • Remus Lupin is the third Defence Against The Dark Arts Teacher Harry has. His predecessors were Quirrell who was The Mole for Voldemort and Lockhart who was an incompetent fraud.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Tommen is considered this, for reasons both cynical and idealistic. From a cynical perspective, he's younger and less headstrong and will be easier to manipulate. Idealistically, he's a nice boy who's actually interested in doing a good job, while his predecessor was a sadistic, cowardly, idiot with no interest in the position beyond what it let him get away with. Objectively, it's hard for Tommen not to be better than his older brother - though whether he will be a great king is debatable given he rarely, if ever takes an action of his own volition and spends every single moment in office being (not subtly) manipulated by one of the bajillion third parties that want to take advantage of him (everyone, up to and including his mother). And it's unlikely he'll ever be more than that because he jumps from a window after his mother commits a terrorist attack on his own capital city, killing his wife and religious mentor (who, by the way, was another manipulator).
    • If one takes Drogon as the successor to his namesake, Khal Drogo, he fulfills the latter's unfulfilled promise of leading the Dothraki horde west across the "poison water" (the Narrow Sea) to "kill the [Westerosi men] in their iron suits". It is yet to be established if he can actually surpass his supposed ancestor and spitting-image, Balerion the Black Dread, but his performance at the battle with the Lannister-Tarly forces shows he has the potential (setting fire to a combined army on his own — while Aegon I, Visenya, and Rhaenys had to do it with all three of their dragons).
  • In The Twilight Zone (2002) episode "It's Still A Good Life", Anthony Fremont's daughter Audrey is an even greater Reality Warper than him. She can bring back things that have been erased from existence, which Anthony cannot do.
  • Ultraman Zero: The titular Ultra proves himself as this to his father, Ultraseven, while Seven is no slouch in battle, Zero so far has proven himself as a superior and more powerful fighter. Better demonstrated when Zero first defeated Belial and his 100 Monster Army, which Seven was unable to overcome. Likewise, Zero proceeds to save the Multiverse in later occassions. Most notably in Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial, Zero can fight off 2 Darklops for a while before getting overwhelmed (robotic copies of him) while Seven struggles combatting a single one. And he has two Eye Sluggers instead of just one.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In Enûma Eliš, the Annunaki grew smarter, stronger, and more magically potent with each generation, culminating in Marduk or Ashur, Depending on the Writer.
  • Classical Mythology:
    • Zeus feared that this would happen to him a few times. Notably, when it was prophesied that Metis might father him a son that would overthrow him (if Metis birthed a daughter, he had nothing to worry about, since she would be weaker than him and loyal), Zeus ate her and later himself gave birth to Athena.
    • It was also prophesied that Thetis' son would be more powerful than his father. Upon learning this, Zeus and Poseidon, who had both desired her, realized sleeping with her would be a bad idea, so they married her off to the mortal king Peleus. She gave birth to Achilles, who was a great warrior more powerful than his father, but no threat to the Olympians.
    • Subverted with the Giants: they were created by Gaia to overthrow the Olympians, but, after getting an initial scare because the Giants were more powerful, the Olympians ended up winning the confrontation; namely due to Hercules providing vast support through a constant arrow barrage.
    • You could say the trope is still played somewhat straight with Hercules. While initially a demigod, his time as humanity's champion and being with mortals helped him become better and more likable than most of his parents' generation. Upon his death, he graduated to full god status and remained a god of heroism and sport. Not to mention, he was a key role in defeating the Olympians' would-be successors.
  • In The Bible, John the Baptist foreshadows Jesus's coming by stating that the next prophet will be far greater than himself.

    Video Games 
  • In Ace Combat 2, and its remake Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy , the rebels were supported by an Artificial Intelligence called the Z.O.E.. While it was a dangerous adversary, it wasn’t truly intelligent, and after the war, the program was discontinued. However, in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, the project is restarted, and eventually results in Hugin and Munin, but they prove to be far more intelligent than their creator, Dr. Schroeder, had anticipated, and they try to start a Robot War with the data that Schroeder had collected. Then, sometime in between Skies Unknown and Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere, Simon Orestes Cohen acquires the technology to create Hugin and Munin and uses it to create Nemo, who is not only far more intelligent than Hugin and Munin but is also capable of forming bonds with its human wingmen.
  • God of War:
    • Like his mythical counterpart, Zeus is afraid of fathering a child more powerful than himself, since he overthrew his father Chronos, and Chronos overthrew his father Uranus. This was why he tried to kill Kratos, and thus it becomes a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
    • Kratos himself takes the place of his master, Ares, as the new war god, and proves less controllable and more dangerous than Ares ever was.
  • Metal Gear: Big Boss gets his name by defeating his mentor, The Boss, only to be defeated later by the next man to bear his original codename — Snake.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Commander Shepard succeeds where their mentor and superior officer, Captain/Admiral Anderson failed, becoming the first human Spectre.
      Anderson: My chance came and went. It's your time now.
    • Garrus Vakarian's father is a civilian with ties to the Turian Primarch, hinting at a very illustrious career. Garrus himself not only advises the new Primarch but is also on the frontlines fighting the Reapers and forging peace with races throughout the galaxy.
    • Tali'Zorah can potentially take her father's place on the Admiralty Board and succeed where he failed: by taking back Rannoch, the quarian homeworld.
    • Krogan in general are all about this. Urdnot Wrex in particular can potentially surpass his father, a high-ranking but bloodthirsty warlord, and unify the Krogan into a single, peaceful, but still bloodthirsty people.
    • Aria T'Loak took Omega from her predecessor and transformed it from a generic Wretched Hive into the de-facto capital of the Terminus Systems.
    • Matriarch Benezia was a powerful biotic and politician. Matriarch Aethyta is just as powerful a biotic and well-connected enough to go undercover on behalf of the council of Matriarchs. Their daughter, Liara T'soni, at just over 100 years old (her parents were reaching 1000), is also a powerful biotic, is the foremost expert on Protheans in the galaxy, and becomes the Shadow Broker, the head of a powerful and secretive organization of information brokers and spies.
    • Ashley Williams' grandfather surrendered to the Turians during the First Contact War, and thus her father was denied promotions due to his namesake. She eventually breaks the family stigma after serving with distinction alongside Shepard, and if she survived Virmire becomes a high-ranking officer in the navy.
    • Zig-zagged with the current cycle and their Precursors. In many ways, the current galactic civilization is highly less-advanced. In others, however, they have major advantages. This generation (thanks largely to Shepard) is the one that finally completes the Crucible. Especially since the current cycle was supposed to have ended some time ago, but a pocket of surviving Protheans have sabotaged the Reapers' Plan A after the demise of their cycle.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's 2 at first appears to play this straight; the "Toy" versions of the main robots have several highly-touted features, and the original cast are quite literally broken-down relics. But then you learn that this is a prequel. The subversion comes in when the Toy robots are decommissioned and destroyed when management concludes they were malfunctioning, and the main cast are rebuilt. And they grow a lot smarter between the second game and the first. Especially Freddy himself.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In the backstory of Final Fantasy V, the Four Warriors of Dawn defeated the Big Bad but could only seal him away. When the seal breaks, as seals tend to do, the player's party manages to destroy him for good. Two of the player characters namely, Bartz and Krile are descended from members of the previous group.
    • Final Fantasy IX: In contrast to her power-hungry mother Queen Brahne, who started a war, Princess Garnet is a kinder and gentler successor. She is implied to become The High Queen by the game's end.
    • Final Fantasy X:
      • Yuna is forever living in the shadow of her father Lord Braska - the latest summoner to defeat Sin and bring about the Calm. She ends up defeating Sin for good.
      • In the sequel, the corrupt church of Yevon is reformed with a new leader Baralai. While he does spend some time possessed by a malevolent entity, he's ultimately proved a good guy who wants Yevon to make up for their mistakes.
      • Also in the sequel, Cid is no longer leading the Al Bhed and most of them flock to a man called Gippal - who is leading the Machine Faction. With machina no longer outlawed, he's helping make a lot of technological advancements.
  • In Sonic Unleashed, Werehog Sonic battles Dr. Eggman in one stage against the mad scientist's Egg Dragoon machine, which he boasts to be just the prototype and that the real thing would be even stronger. You never see the completed Egg Dragoon in the game and it's never said if the one Sonic fights in Sonic Generations is the fabled completed Egg Dragoon.
  • Mega Man: X was designed to be this by Dr. Light for his "older brother" Rock, being the culmination of all of Light's work on robotics and the attempts to make them "human." Indeed, contrary to how most robots, even Rock, were Three Laws-Compliant (until Dr. Wily naturally reprogrammed them), X has an entirely human mindset and the ability to make rational decisions based on his own personal choices, and his unearthing a century latter and study by the hands of Dr. Cain would result in the creation of the Reploid race.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Link is canonically after Ocarina of Time Link. He's in the Downfall Timeline, created if the Hero of Time were to fail his quest, and fall to Ganondorf's forces. That said, despite facing a Ganon controlling the entire Triforce, and that's after killing one of his predecessors, he roasts Ganon like the pig he is.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Team RWBY is considered one of Beacon Academy's elite teams. Raven reveals that, in her day, Beacon's elite team was Team STRQ, which contained the parents (Summer Rose, Taiyang Xiao Long and Raven Branwen) and uncle (Qrow Branwen) of two of Team RWBY's members (half-sisters Ruby Rose and Yang Xiao Long). In Volume 6, when Jaune's sister-in-law asks if it's okay for a licensed Huntsman to be working with unlicensed students, Qrow tells her that both Teams RWBY and JNPR are better than his team was at their age.
  • Happens in season 15 of Red vs. Blue. It is revealed that another group of Simulation Troopers with similar personalities to the Reds and Blues, called the Blues and Reds, were around long before the main characters were. Project Freelancer saved their info due to how long they were in deadlock, and used it to create the Blood Gulch Crew. When the two teams meet in the Present, the Reds and Blues have become True Companions due to having been through so much together while most of the Blues and Reds have become jaded and bitter villains due to holding a grudge against the UNSC for selling them to Project Freelancer.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Aang is able to bring balance to the world where his predecessor Roku could not.
    • Zuko is able to bring the Fire Nation to peace rather than imperialism as Firelord, which even his Cool Uncle Iroh was doubtful about pulling off.
    • A villainous example with Azula. For 100 years Firelords and Firelords-to-be have attempted to break through the walls of Ba Sing Se, but Azula was the first to achieve it. With only two Fire Nation infiltrators backing her up no less!
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Subverted by Lin and Suyin, Toph's daughters. Despite the first leading a metalbending police force and the second an entire city of metalbenders, Toph says they never quite got the hang of it to explain Korra still having mercury in her blood. Of course, comparing anyone's earthbending skill to Toph's is distinctly unfair — Toph may very well be the greatest earthbender to have ever lived, and even into her old age, she is well above every other earthbender on the planet.
    • Zuko's grandson, Iroh II, can generate lightning which he was always too Hot-Blooded to do.
    • While Korra still has a lot of work to do to match Aang's legacy, she did surpass him in a number of ways, such as learning a more effective method of Spiritbending in Season 2 and being the first Avatar to learn Metalbending in Season 3.
  • Rick and Morty: Morty Smith is this to both his father and grandfather. With Morty having the spine his father Jerry Smith lacks and the morality, however damaged, that his grandfather Rick Sanchez lacks.
  • The titular kaiju of Godzilla: The Series is significantly more powerful than his father from the 1998 movie — while the latter was killed by a few missiles, Jr.'s skin is effectively indestructible to conventional weapons, and he also has full-blown atomic breath instead of the gust of hot air that was all that his father could muster. In one episode, he even fights a reanimated cyborg version of his father, who has been upgraded with robotic components and weapons by aliens and defeats him.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Steven is this to his mother, Rose Quartz and by extension her alter ego, Pink Diamond. While Rose was a compassionate leader, who was repeatedly described as seeing beauty in everything, her Fatal Flaw was keeping secrets from those she held dear, even when saying the truth could've prevented a lot of problems for her. Steven, however, isn't afraid to be honest with his emotions, mostly because of the Crystal Gems keeping secrets from him about his mother. She also struggled a bit when it came to displaying actual empathy for others, with her compassion stemming more from curiosity about how others live; in contrast, Steven is legitimately empathetic to the needs of others and is always worried about their emotional well-being.
    • Steven is also unique as a Half-Human Hybrid, meaning he can fuse with both gems and humans, doing so with his human friend/Love Interest Connie and his father Greg.


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