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Will and Inheritance Tropes

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Tropes about plots that involve a will and general inheritance drama.


  • Ancestral Weapon: Receiving a weapon once carried by an ancestor.
  • Disinherited Child: A descendant of the deceased was specifically disinherited.
  • Forging the Will: A will's contents have been tampered with.
  • Game Between Heirs: The inheritance is left up to a game or puzzle.
  • Greed: A not-uncommon motivator toward an inheritance.
  • Heir Club for Men: There must always be a male heir.
  • Heir-In-Law: Inheriting a title via your spouse.
  • Hidden Backup Prince: A member of the royal family is raised as a commoner and has to step up if the entire family is wiped out.
  • If You Die, I Call Your Stuff: Making a claim of one's possessions when they're about to do something extremely risky.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: A minor character hands the McGuffin to the heroes as he lays dying.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: The rightful heir is thought unfit for the prospective inheritance.
  • Inheritance Backlash: When something undesirable is left behind after its original owner died.
  • Inheritance Murder: Triggering an inheritance early by means of murder.
  • Insurrectionist Inheritor: The worthy heir is the one who rebelled against, stood up to or even tried to kill the deceased.
  • Legacy Character: A character whose identity is passed down to them from an older character in the form of a title, job or persona for the newer character to assume.
  • Lineage Ladder: A character may invoke a repetition of ancestors to justify inheritance, because if they don't inherit it, it'll break an established pattern.
  • Lost Will and Testament: The recently deceased's will is missing for some reason.
  • On One Condition: A condition must be fulfilled in order to obtain the inheritance.
  • Passed-Over Inheritance: The deceased leaves his belongings not to his closest family, but someone completely unexpected and usually not related.
  • Personal Effects Reveal: Going through the belongings of the recently deceased.
  • Pet Heir: A pet inherits a large fortune.
  • A Plot in Deed: The deed to a plot of land, often inherited from a will, serving as a MacGuffin.
  • Prestige Peril: Watch out if you get that prominent's a death sentence.
  • Rebel Prince: He does or wants to reject his royal inheritance.
  • Rejecting the Inheritance: A character refuses their inheritance.
  • Royalties Heir: Someone is rich because a family member invented something profitable and well-known.
  • Siblings Share the Throne: No spares, just multiple heirs.
  • Silly Will: The bequests and conditions of the will are nonsense, made to screw around with the heirs.
  • Spare to the Throne: A second child, usually unprepared, has to rule in a position of power because the firstborn was killed.
  • Spiteful Will: Using your will as a final middle finger to your relatives (or at least anyone you disliked in life who you anticipate will be present at your funeral).
  • Sucksessor: A successor who seems better than the old guy at first, but then proves to be worse.
  • Taxman Takes the Winnings: A character receives a large sum of money, only for almost all of it to go to taxes.
  • Tontine: A group of people take one or more collectively owned items of worth and put it in trust. The last surviving member of the group will then receive the items.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: An inheritance coming out of nowhere, usually from a family member who wasn't very close.
  • Unexpected Successor: A heir to the throne no one expected or trained to rule.
  • Video Wills: Leaving a parting message in the form of a recording.
  • Where There's a Will, There's a Sticky Note: The will is not made in the form of a legal document but in a much more casual fashion.