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You Kill It, You Bought It

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Lord Bun-bun, eater of holidays

"You keep what you kill."
Creed of the Necromongers, The Chronicles of Riddick
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Like bragging rights, an object, a title, or a job is passed from the defeated to the winner. Sometimes, though, defeat means death. You Kill It, You Bought It means that whoever kills the owner gets the possession, no matter if the kill was intentional or not. This is often the only way Loyal Phlebotinum can change hands.

So, it usually goes like this: The Hero accidentally does something to kill the previous owner, so he's stuck with the possession even though the death wasn't his fault. The rest of the plot involves the hero either trying to cope or trying to get rid of it.

Another common version is that the position of The Grim Reaper works like this, so that if somebody is supposed to die and ends up killing The Grim Reaper in self-defense (or just checkmates him), the killer ends up with the job. Otherwise, very rare is it that the character intentionally kills the office holder, unless the Heroic Comedic Sociopath falsely believes that a position works that way, and thus hilarity will ensue.

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This is distinct from Klingon Promotion because that is restricted to killing someone deliberately, for the express purpose of gaining their position. For this trope, the killing isn't necessarily deliberate, and the killer is not "promoted" but directly inherits the previous person's possession, office, curse, or whatever it may be. See also Challenging the Chief which also has cases where someone accidentally ends up involuntary manslaughtering their way into an unwanted role.

Contrast First Episode Resurrection, where the hero gets powers from dying themself. Also see Someone Has to Do It. Related to Subbing for Santa. Sometimes applies to a Legacy Character. Can result in And Then John Was a Zombie. See also Power Copying. Compare Finish Him!. See Finders Rulers for when this is affected by looting a MacGuffin off the corpse. Not to be confused with Kill and Replace.

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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • The only way to get the Number One headband in Afro Samurai is to kill the one who has it, but they have to have the Number Two headband, which is also obtained by killing whoever has it.
    • The difference is that while the Number One can only be challenged by Number Two, Number Two can be challenged by anyone. An episode does show more headbands (at least up to Number Seven, IIRC), but their purpose is never explicitly explained in the series.
  • In Attack on Titan, cannibalism is the traditional method for passing on the power of the Nine Titans. When the host of one of these special powers is eaten by another Titan, their powers and memories are inherited in the process. Because the powers kill the host after 13 years, a sort of ritual exists where the current host is chained down and fed to a mindless Titan. Other cases of inheritance exist, such as an accident where the host is consumed by a random Titan or one Titan Shifter kills another to combine their powers. A third option exists, when the host dies without being devoured — their powers are randomly inherited by an Eldian infant.
  • In Baccano!, an immortal who "eats" another immortal receives all of their knowledge and memories in the process. The demon who set the rules claims that it's so that he gets something out of the contract when the last immortal gets sick of living and summons him again to be devoured, but you can't help but wonder if he didn't just want to see Szilard totally lose his shit and start killing everyone For Science!! (which he does).
  • This is the premise of Campione!. If a mortal kills a heretic god, that person gains the powers and abilities of said heretic god. However, Pandora, the goddess who created this system, insists on fair fights. Ganging up on a god, killing a god who had been weakened by a third party, or Kill Stealing will mean the killer will not get any powers.
  • Subverted in Code Geass: A sufficiently powerful Geass User can kill the immortal who gave them their powers, thereby becoming an immortal themselves. The subversion is that most immortals want to be killed (because Who Wants to Live Forever??) and typically trick their partners into going through with it.
    • Interestingly enough, Lelouch becomes the Emperor of Britannia and then Suzaku becomes Zero by both killing the previous holder of those titles. These were just part of Lelouch's final plan rather than a tradition, though.
  • One way to obtain possession of a Death Note or a world famous detective's title is to kill its current owner.
  • Due to the mechanics behind their contracts, a celestial wizard in Fairy Tail may claim another celestial wizard's keys (and by extension the spirits they summon) for their own use by killing his/her opponent. Alternately, catching an outlaw celestial wizard will also break the outlaw's contracts and may cause his/her former spirits to decide to offer their services to a celestial wizard who was involved in the capture.
  • The Chimaeran society in Jyu-Oh-Sei pretty much runs on a combination of this and the Klingon Promotion. Justified in that the entire system was set up to breed a new, hardier line of humans that could survive in the alien solar system after Earth was destroyed.
  • Roronoa Zoro in One Piece aims to become the world's greatest swordsman. In order to achieve this goal, his primary objective is to defeat Dracule Mihawk, the current title holder, which suggests that defeating the current title holder automatically passes the title onto the victor.
  • The protagonist Leon, of Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs, within the Alternate Timeline of events called the Marie Route, kills The Black Knight, The Dreaded enemy hero who was sworn to protect the sibling princesses of the Fanoss Principality. Under the monicker of The Masked Knight, Leon, in honor of one of said princesses' Last Request, vows a Declaration of Protection to the remaining sister, rebelling against his homeland's government and taking The Black Knight's job.
  • In X1999, Subaru becomes the Sakurazukamori after he inadvertently kills Seishirou in a fight (even though Subaru is also head of the Sumeragis, eternal enemies of the Sakurazukas). He also takes Seishirou's place as a Dragon of Earth, despite being a Dragon of Heaven.
    • Also, to become the Sakurazukamori, Seishirou had to kill his mother, as she was the previous one. It's implied that ''every'' Sakurauzkamori has done this.
    • It is worth noting that Subaru was offered a choice — if he accepts Seishirou's eye (and thus his power), Seishirou lives on through Subaru taking up his place. If he doesn't, he has nothing to live for anymore.
    • It was also implied that Sakurazukamoris can only be killed by the one they love most.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The students each keep the charms from the Assassins they defeat/kill/send to the Shadow Realm.

    Comic Books 
  • In Agents of Atlas, you become Gorilla Man by killing the previous Gorilla Man. This means that you become immortal-unless-killed but are transformed into a gorilla.
    • During Marvel Comics #1000, the current Gorilla Man is reluctant to plug himself into a Celestial's brain in case it kills him, and they end up with a "gorilla space-god".
  • Annihilation: Ronan becomes ruler of the Kree after killing House Fiyero, who'd staged a coup on the Supreme Intelligence.
  • Blade becomes the "leader" of a gang in New York called "The Bloodshadows" after he bests their former leader, Cyrus Cutter, in a knife fight. They even follow him back to his native Britain.
  • In The Metabarons, each Metabaron must kill his father in ritual combat to succeed him as the next Metabaron.
  • Big Trouble in Little China: Killing Lo Pan means Jack inherited the black magic bond that tied the unearthly hell-beast to his master. The only way to get rid of it is for someone to kill Jack, meaning they'll inherit it instead.
  • Code Name: Gravedigger: In Men of War #14, Gravedigger kills the chief of a band of Desert Bandits in a duel. He expects to get lynched by the rest of the bandits, but they instead hail him as their new chief.
  • Marvel's Shuma-Gorath has near unlimited power in his home dimension, but Doctor Strange manages to steal the power of one of his generals and defeats Shuma with his own power. However, he finds himself starting to become Shuma-Gorath himself, as the Eldritch Abomination had warned would happen. He takes his own life. (Strange's ally Kaluu is able to revive him — unfortunately Shuma comes back to life as well).
  • Deadpool's new status quo, in Marvel: A Fresh Start, is that he's the King of the Monsters. Turns out the Monster King got legal rights to Staten Island due to a deal made in the seventeenth century, and now he's come to collect. Deadpool killing the King is how he gets the job, and the rest of the run is him actually trying to do a good job running the kingdom (largely because literally nobody thinks he can do it).
  • In I, Joker this is how the title of The Bruce is passed down.
  • In Immortal Iron Fist, this is how the mantle of Dog Brother #1 is passed down.
  • Robin Series: When the Dark Rider took possession of Stanley Baumgarten he learned the name he wanted was already in use, so he challenged the Dark Rider (Cossack) to a fight and killed him, thereby claiming the name.
  • Tron: Ghost in the Machine: When cornered by a security commander, Blue Jet's erratic User ability misfires, absorbing the commander's functions and rank. Jet is utterly terrified to find out that this now puts him in command of the User-Believer forces.
  • At the end of The Unbelievable Gwenpool #1, Gwen gets a surprise visit from M.O.D.O.K., who notifies her that because she killed his top henchman, she's his new #1 whether she likes it or not.
  • War of Kings: Gladiator ends up becoming Majestor of the Shi'ar Empire, mainly because all the royal family are dead or missing, and he's just slaughtered his way through the corrupt courtiers who caused the whole mess. The panicking Shi'ar citizens see him standing around with the royal sceptre and just assume from there.
  • Wonder Woman if an Olympian kills another Olympian, and doesn't miss a significant chunk of them flitting about somewhere in an avatar or embodied aspect, they gain their attributes in addition to their own. This is technically supposed to apply to all gods but the rules start getting wonky real fast once you move away from the twelve (plus Hades). If killed by an outside force they're meant to have Resurrective Immortality, but if they're weak enough or commit suicide they fade out permanently.
    • In Wonder Woman (1987) (Post-Crisis) Ares becomes the new ruler of Hades (including Tartarus and Elysium) by killing Hades, which grants him mastery over the shades—including faded gods—in his newly acquired realms.
    • In Wonder Woman (2011) (New 52) Diana becomes the God of War when she kills a weakened Ares. It was the only recourse available to her to prevent the villain from killing Ares to steal his power.
  • X-Factor (2006): The title of Morrigan passes to whoever kills the prior one, the current one having had the position for around a thousand years. Siryn kills the current one in order to cure Polaris of a case of trauma-induced madness.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Ranma ½/Sailor Moon crossover Curses Aren't the Only Change, Haruka ends up defeating the leader of a ninja clan and being told she is the new leader. This means she is way too busy to help when she is told she is a Sailor Senshi.
  • This is what happens if you kill a Judge of the Triwizard Tournament in the world of The Parselmouth of Gryffindor — and, for that matter, it's the only way to switch out Judges. Helen Monroe exploits this by killing the Durmstrang Headmaster and claiming the title for her Lord, Grindelwald.
  • Downplayed in Project Horizon. After Blackjack and her companions kill Deus, Blackjack gets all the credit and technically becomes a Reaper. She's annoyed at her newly-increased notoriety, but the holding the title effects her very little.
  • A Growing Affection has this be one of the ways to became Raikage and Mizukage.
  • One of the various stories from a collection called Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual has Lord Voldemort accidentally becoming Santa after his servants assassinate Mr. Claus without his awareness, and said servants becoming his elves.
  • Queen of All Oni: Jade kills Kaito, the General of the Ninja tribe, by eating his mask and absorbing his chi. This fully cements her position as new leader of that tribe.
  • In Danny's Reward Danny Phantom learns that by defeating Pariah Dark, he becomes the new Ghost King.
  • Konohamaru thinks this is how the title of Hokage works in A Drop of Poison. Naruto quickly disabuses him of said notion and points out its inherent flaw: If Konohamaru becomes Hokage by defeating the previous one, what's to stop someone else from killing him to become Hokage?
  • In the Worm fanfic Legacy, part of the Cenotaph sequels, Hookwolf offers Taylor Cricket's old position on July 3rd because the circumstances that led up to the death were A Good Way to Die in his eyes. She naturally refuses.
  • In Ranma Saotome, Chi Master, Qiáng Wang manages to gain control over a yakuza group based out of an area close to Nerima by killing its leader.
  • In the Invader Zim horror fanfic Tales of Terror: Dib and the Blair Witch, Dib destroys the Blair Witch, but is then cursed to take her place as the spirit haunting the forest.
  • The Victors Project has career victors Tiberius Drake (6th Hunger Games) and Ermine Butler (43rd Hunger Games) sent into the games by the respective victors who run their districts after having killed the promising front runner to be tribute (or in Ermine's case, the two front runners, while disfiguring a third). Tiberius had wanted to be tribute that year, but his killing was unpremeditated, and in the act of breaking up an Attempted Rape. Ermine's action was premeditated (she was avenging a murdered friend who had been killed as a Klingon Promotion) but she had no desire to participate in the Hunger Games either before or afterwards, until being informed that both her family and her friends family's would be murdered as punishment for what she'd done unless she volunteered and won.
  • A Rabbit Among Wolves: Jaune accidentally kills Adam when the latter tries to take him hostage. As a result, he ends up in charge of Adam's White Fang branch.
  • In the Invader Zim fic Gaz and the Curse of the Clown, Gaz ends up accidentally killing a circus clown after he publicly humiliates her twice. As a result of this, she's cursed to transform into a clown too and take his place. Fortunately, Dib beats the magical circus at its own game, using a magical fortune telling machine to wish Gaz free of the curse and saving her.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: After a Norscan berserker starts cutting down Lannister troops, civilians, and Daenerys' forces during the siege of King's Landing, Jon manages to kill him in single combat. To his surprise, the Wolf shows up the next day to give him the dead man's armor, weapon, and head, having won them in single combat (and as the Wolf points out, the berserker had no kin to inherit them, and since he'd attacked his own side there was no weregild to be paid to the Wolf).

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • As the page quote shows, "You keep what you kill" is the core creed of the Necromongers in The Chronicles of Riddick, and Riddick proves this twice: once by killing a Necromonger with his own knife (which he got to keep) and the other time by killing the Lord Marshal (with the aforementioned knife, even) and taking his place as their ruler.
  • Dick Tracy. 'Big Boy' Caprice invokes this after giving Cement Shoes to 'Lips' Manlis.
    Caprice: All right, put the word out! Lips' territory is my territory now. Anyone who was working for him, is working for me. Everything he owns, I own! [grabs Breathless Mahoney and storms off]
  • In the end of the fourth and fifth installments of Friday the 13th, after Tommy Jarvis assists in killing Jasonor his copycat killer it's hinted that he'll become the next killer. Subverted in that he keeps turning up again, fairly normal.
  • One of the Chaos! comics based on Halloween franchise has Laurie taking Michael's place after killing him in Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later. This was ultimately rendered non-canon by Halloween: Resurrection though.
    • The ending of Halloween II (2009) on the other hand ends with Laurie becoming as crazy, evil and twisted as Michael, even briefly putting on his mask, after killing him.
  • In "The Game" of the Highlander universe, when one Immortal kills another, he receives all the deceased Immortal's ability and memories through the Quickening. The more Immortals one kills, the stronger one gets, until one final battle between two Immortals for the Prize - wisdom, a connection with all life, a mortal existence, and the ability to have children.
  • How to Get Rid of Cellulite has the mysterious Serial Killer, the Butcher. It turns out that he has to murder six people to be initiated into the Brotherhood of the Eighth Dawn. After he gets Hoist by His Own Petard trying to kill the protagonists, it's them who receive a letter from the Brotherhood, notifying them that if they want to initiate, the Butcher has already been counted as their first victim and they have five more to go.
  • The 1995 horror film Ice Cream Man ends with Small Paul in an asylum after killing the killer ice cream man, hinting that he would be taking his place.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has a mild version with the Grail Knight, who after being "vanquished"note  by Indy, tries to pass on his duties as the guardian of the Holy Grail. Indy declines.
  • In The Island (1980), Maynard kills a pirate when they capture his boat. Because the pirate was married to Beth, a Kangaroo Court convened by John David Nau sentences him to be Beth's slave and to impregnate.
  • In The Man with the Golden Gun, Scaramanga shoots Hai Fat. When an assistant comes in, he simply says "Mr Fat has just resigned. I'm the new Chairman of the Board".
  • Made Lighter and Softer and combined with Passing the Torch in Men in Black, where it's more like, "You neuralize it, you bought it." It comes into play when senior agents get too old, and their younger partners "retire" them and take over. This could pose a problem among more ambitious agents, so its use is regulated with a ceremonial Spy Speak protocol.
    D and K: They're beautiful, aren't they? ...The stars.
  • In The Mummy Returns the army of Anubis works this way. The Scorpion King awakens and intends to use the army to destroy the world, but anyone who kills him takes control of the army. A cult resurrects Imhotep, Rick describes it as "he's the only one tough enough to take the Scorpion King out", hoping Imhotep will use the army to conquer the world with them as his aides. The good guys hope to kill the Scorpion King, and then send the army back to underworld. Which is what happens.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: Soon in third movie, we learn that whoever kills Davy Jones has to take his place. Cue dilemmas for Will, who swore an oath to kill Davy Jones and Jack, who thinks it would be freaking awesome to be immortal.
    • Except that he wouldn't be able to go to rum to get port...wait...that came out wrong...
    • The title also comes with another catch. Should the captain not perform his duty (ferrying the souls of the dead to the other side), he and the crew end up looking like Jones and his crew.
  • Ravenous (1999) holds that a man can absorb another man's strength by eating him.
  • Rio Lobo: Hendricks murdered Rio Lobo's previous sheriff and declared that he had the job now.
  • The Santa Clause, where the title of Santa Claus is like this disturbingly enough.
  • At the end of Siren (2010), Rachel is shown to have become the new siren of the island after having killed Silka.
  • Six String Samurai: After the Kid vanquishes the Big Bad, Death, Death's minions hand him their card and tell him to call them if he needs a band.
  • Parodied in The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap. Chester accidentally kills an infamous gunslinger, and local law says that he must take care of the man's family. It turns out that the gunslinger had a very loud wife and a dozen unruly children. Chester eventually becomes sheriff of the town, and carries around a picture of his new family which he shows to anyone who looks like they might cause trouble. However, this eventually blows up in his face when the local outlaws learn that a railroad will be going through the widow's property and paying her a fortune for it, thanks to a lie Duke cooked up to get Chester off the hook. Chester whips out his picture and nearly gets killed by the greedy outlaws.
  • Subverted in The Wizard of Gore; after being sent on a drug-fueled hallucination adventure, Ed is knife-detoxed by Montag the Magnificent and offered the chance to take his place as a drugged up slave to "The Magician". Ed manages to invert his situation, drugging "The Magician" and taking over the entire operation himself.
  • In X-Men: First Class, Magneto kills Shaw and becomes the new face of the mutant revolution.

    Jokes 
  • In cowboy humor, the position of Camp Cook was alleged to be passed on whenever someone was sufficiently disgusted by the incumbent cook's offerings that they shot him.

    Literature 
  • In the Avatar universe tie-in novel, The Rise of Kyoshi , the titular heroine has to do some work with the dao fei (bandits) in order to learn bending. She challenges her gang’s leader, Xu, to a duel because he’s a mad warmonger. In said duel, she kills him. Since she was his subordinate, she inherits his gang by a strict interpretation of the dao fei’s code. She’s worried that to outsiders it looks like any other sort of internal power struggle rather than The Chosen One doing her job to bring peace and balance to the world.
  • Near the climax of the Mageworlds novel By Honor Betray'd, Llannat Hyfid, wholly loyal to the Republic and still at least nominally a member of the Adept's Guild, faces the Magelord sus-Airaalin in a formal duel to the death for all that he holds. When the latter is struck down and refuses medical help, Mistress Hyfid finds herself acknowledged as not merely First of all the Mage-Circles but Grand Admiral of the invading warfleet.
    sus-Airaalin: For the sake of the galaxy, Mistress, you must hold your power and use it well.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion series:
    • In The Curse of Chalion, it is revealed that the Golden General had obtained a blessing from the Gods. When Fonsa the Fairly-Wise sacrificed his own life to assassinate the Golden General by magic, the blessing is transformed into a curse which afflicts the royal house of Chalion. The plot revolves around finding a way to lift the curse.
    • In Paladin of Souls, a character kills a bear which is hosting a demon. The demon jumps from the dying bear to its slayer.
  • In the Chaos Gods series, when someone kills a ranked demon, they absorb that demon's power. This alters the configuration of their soul and turns them into a demon themselves.
  • In Harry Harrison's Deathworld 2 (AKA The Ethical Engineer) Jason dinAlt crash-lands on a planet that turns out to be a Lost Colony. Him and his reluctant companion (the man who kidnapped him, actually) are almost immediately captured by a nomad called Chaka, who adds them to his group of slaves. Later on, Chaka reaches the border of his territory and meets with another nomadic slaveowner. They have a fight, and Chaka ends up killing him and taking his slaves. Jason sneaks into Chaka's sleeping area at night and kills him. All the slaves automatically start calling Jason Chaka. So not only does whoever kills a slaveowner keep his possessions, they also take his name.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
    • Death's job was shown to work this way in Mort. The eponymous Mort, Death's apprentice, challenges Death to a fight in order to save a princess, a wizard, and his wife-to-be. It's a no-win situation: If Mort wins, he will become Death, the loneliest person in the world, for eternity. If he loses, they all die. Luckily, Death's not such a bad guy.
    • In Eric, after the Luggage tramples and kills the incarnation of Quetzovercoatl, demon-god of the Tezumen Empire, the Tezumen briefly start worshiping it instead.
    • In Reaper Man, when Death's time for "retirement" comes, a new Death shows up to kill him so he can take his place. However, in a subversion, the original Death is actually able to defeat his replacement.
    • Death also takes the place of The Hogfather for a while, not because he killed him, but because someone else is trying to, and the role has to be filled.
  • The Dresden Files: Circumstances depending, this is how the mantle of the Knight of the Summer or Winter Court is passed on, if they don't die in battle. The previous Knight is ritually sacrificed on the Stone Table. Harry sacrifices Lloyd Slate to become the Winter Knight.
  • In Dune, a Fremen who kills another in honorable combat is entitled to possession of the water in his body, which is extracted prior to cremation. And gets his wife as well. He also gets the responsibility of having to take care of the wife and children. Paul finds this out the hard way... and he's only 15.
  • In the novel The Godfather, this is how Vito Corleone became the Don. Vito killed Don Fanucci because he did not respect him enough to pay him for his protection. When word got around that Vito had killed Fanucci, the people who would have asked for Fanucci's protection and assistance began asking Vito for his, and he obliged them, becoming the next Don.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a central plot point is that wands may switch allegiance to whoever kills or defeats the former owner. These facts are of particular importance relating to the Elder Wand.
    • What most wizards don't realize, and what ends up being a major plot point at the end of the book, is that killing your opponent isn't necessary, you just have to defeat them on a duel or deprive them of their wand. This throws a wrench in Dumbledore's plan to leave the Elder Wand without a master: he originally intended to let Snape kill him, which would mean the wand still belonged to him in death. Instead, Draco disarms Dumbledore, unwittingly becoming the master of the Elder Wand, and Harry later becomes its master when he disarms Draco. However, Voldemort thinks simply killing its previous owner gains you ownership of the Wand, so he kills Snape (whom he thinks has become the Wand's master) to get it. And when he tries to duel Harry while wielding it...
  • The office of Death in Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series passes this way. Normally Death wears impenetrable armor, but sooner or later every Death gets careless — or grows tired of the job. When that happens, the lucky/unlucky soul who killed him inherits the position...
    • This is also true for the office of Evil, which passes on in the exact same way. a similar manner, being transferred to whoever successfully cons the title away from the incumbent. If the incumbent resigns and/or gets killed and no one suitable is around to claim it, the role defaults to the most evil person on Earth.
  • In Julie Kagawa's The Iron Queen, Meghan learns that this is how she acquired the iron glamor abilities.
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Lascelles kills a guardian knight of Faerie, defending England's honor. Instead, he is forced to take the knight's place — and it's implied that this role will last until someone kills him in turn, which may not be for thousands of years, if ever. Definite Nightmare Fuel.
  • In Guy Gavriel Kay's The Last Light of the Sun, there's a mercenary organization which you can only join by defeating a current member in ritual combat.
  • In Malevil, Emmanuel finds himself in this position after killing Wahrwoorde. His tormented family quietly accepts that Emmanuel is their new tyrant, to be abused (raped in Miette's case) at his leisure. He makes it clear that he has no intention of being anybody's master.
  • In the Clive Barker short story and film The Midnight Meat Train, the main character kills the butcher who provides food for the underground cannibals, and is then drafted as the new butcher.
  • The Mortal Instruments: In City of Lost Souls, Maureen Brown becomes leader of the New York vampire clan after killing Camille Belcourt.
  • This is how First Mate Cox becomes chief of the cannibalistic Raiders in Nation. In that case, he meant to kill the previous chief; he just didn't know he'd get the job afterward.
  • The country of Arko in Philosopher in Arms follows the law of 'what kills, becomes'. Killing an Arkan in a lawful manner results in the killer inheriting all of his property, including his wife, children, slaves, and job, as the hero finds out when he defeats Riji in the Mezem.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's A Princess Of Mars, the first John Carter of Mars novel, Carter kills a Green Barsoomian, and finds he inherits all the warrior's goods — including his slaves and name.
  • In Renegades, this is how Honey's Pest Controller powers manifested. As a child, she accidentally stepped on a hive of bees and crushed it, then passed out from the stings. When she woke up, she found out that she killed the hive queen, and the bees somehow decided that she's the new one.
  • In the third Song of the Lioness book, Alanna winds up killing a desert tribe's shaman in self-defence, and is told that she must now take his place. Unlike most cases of this, it's less a case of automatic promotion and more a case of "you created this mess, now fix it", and the tribe immediately pressures her to train replacements so they can have actual mages dedicated to them rather than a knight who will eventually leave.
    Halef Seif: Would you leave us defenseless against the shamans of the hillmen? That is the law. That is our custom.
  • An interesting case in Sergey Lukyanenko's Spectrum. The protagonist is a private investigator who specializes in looking for people who have traveled off-world. He tracks his target (a young woman whose wealthy father is very worried) to a planet of advanced Human Aliens. On his way, he is attacked by some sort of beam weapon that he barely escapes. When he finally finds the girl and explains to her that he's not here to harm her, her Human Alien colleague (who is also secretly enamoured with her) is revealed to be the shooter. He once again attempts to kill the protagonist but some quick thinking by the latter results in the former dying. The local law enforcement explains that their laws grant the victim of an attempted murder the right to claim the assailant's possessions, including his or her spouse. The protagonist agrees to keep the beam rifle but refuses the rest, especially the man's wife. The officer agrees it's a wise choice, as the woman would then simply divorce him and keep half of his possessions. Even though their culture refuses to share advanced technology with other cultures, this law supercedes everything else, meaning the protagonist gets to keep the weapon.
  • The Star Conquerors, by Ben Bova. Because Humans Are Warriors they're able to defeat a galactic empire run by the mysterious and unseen Masters. At the end of the novel they finally meet a Master, who congratulates them and says it's now humanity's job to run eighty billion star systems, then vanishes.
  • This is the usual (but not the only) method of obtaining Shardblades and Shardplate in The Stormlight Archive, although it wasn't always that way. It's usually done deliberately although it's possible that Shallan may have obtained her Shardblade at least partially accidentally. It's unclear. It's very much cleared up in the second book.
    • Throughout all the Cosmere novels, the main way to become a Shardholder (basically, a God) is to kill the previous one. The original Shardholders were a group of people who banded together to kill God for a variety of reasons and each walked away with a Shard of his power. Unfortunately, the power doesn't come with an instruction book or any sort of guidelines on how nigh-unlimited power should be used, resulting in multiple cases of God Is Inept.
  • The hero in the Sword of Truth series, at the end of the first book, takes control over the Big Bad's whole country after killing him, although in this case it had more to do with Richard being the Big Bad's son.
    • There's also the issue in a later book where he is attacked by thirty extremely skilled swordsmen, manages to kill them all, and has the wife of several of them (polyandrist society) insist she is his wife now.
  • In John French’s Thousand Sons, Ahriman inherits leadership of his enemy Amon’s warband after killing him. Ahriman cements the change in leadership by using his powers to strip the red paint from their armour and repaint them blue to match his own.
  • Trapped on Draconica: By killing Mordak Kalak turns into Mordak.
  • In Unlimited Fafnir, a D who deals the finishing blow to a dragon will inherit a weaker version of its powers. Yuu inherits antigravity from Leviathan, while Iris inherits Catastrophe from Basilisk. In Iris' case, however, she actually inherits the full extent of Catastrophe. This makes her much more powerful than the others, but also causes her to gradually transform into the new Basilisk.
  • Among the Children of the Light in The Wheel of Time, there is an almost-forgotten section in their law entitled Trial by the Light. One Child claims his right to Trial by the Light to bring another to justice, then the two fight a lethal duel, and the loser's rank and property are forfeit to the victor. Galad invokes this to become Lord Captain Commander of the Children of the Light.
    • There is also the tradition of Blademasters. One of the two methods of becoming a Blademaster is to kill a Blademaster in fair single combat with swords, upon which you get his rank and his sword (traditionally marked with a heron).
  • Wulfrik the Wanderer is protected from magical assassination by the fact that anyone killing him with magic will inherit his curse (to Wander The Earth challenging horrible monsters and enemy champions to single combat, sacrifice their souls to the Dark Gods in case of victory and be tortured by daemons forever in case of defeat). And unlike Wulfrik, they won't have years of experience fighting the aforementioned, nor have access to his flying teleporting longship or a veteran crew of hardened Norscan raiders to help him get to his goal.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In American Horror Story: Coven each generation of witches has a Supreme, a super-powerful witch that rules the coven. The Supreme has perfect health that lasts until a successor starts coming into her abilities. As the new Supreme grows stronger, life force drains from the old one, who gets sicker and sicker until she dies and the new one gets her full powers. This process can be sped up if the new Supreme kills the old one. However, the old Supreme can 'buy back' her life and powers by killing the new one during the transition phase.
  • Babylon 5: Londo is a member of a Centauri dueling society, where it is customary for the winner to take the loser's family into his own. Londo's friend, who is about to be disgraced for protesting the war, challenges Londo and purposely loses to save his family from being dishonored along with him. Confirmed during "In The Beginning", where Londo tells the story of the Earth/Minbari war to the heirs of that family.
  • Blake's 7.
    • In "Death Watch", two planetary systems wage surrogate war via gunfighters in a Combat by Champion. The First Champion of Teal is Tarrant's brother, who gets killed by a Young Gun. Tarrant then takes on the new champion and kills him. Avon quietly informs him that according to tradition, he is now the First Champion of Teal, causing Avon and Tarrant to agree for the first time in their lives by calling for an immediate teleport out of there.
    • The Terra Nostra organised crime group works like this. When an underling kills his boss for failure, the Chairman informs him that "his assets are now yours."
  • In the fourth season of Charmed (1998), Cole becomes the Source after defeating him in battle.
  • In Community Pierce's dad dies of a heart attack (after being yelled at by Jeff). Having written in his will that whomever kills him will inherit his ridiculous looking ivory toupee, it goes to Jeff, who really doesn't want it.
  • Weirdly inverted in Dead Like Me, where the office of Reaper comes with an implicit (and unknown) quota of souls you have to reap before you are allowed to die. The last soul you reap becomes a Reaper to take your place.
  • Dinosaurs had one episode where Robbie accidentally kills the leader of a gang, thus ending up as their leader. He doesn't mind until he realizes how unfortunate that position is. So he and his family decide to try to fake his death... which almost leads to him being eaten alive. In the end it is revealed that Robbie never actually killed the leader and that the guy instead had Laser-Guided Amnesia and got lost in the swamps because of it.
  • In Emerald City, Dorothy inherits East's ruby gauntlets after tricking her into killing herself, though they quickly turn invisible.
  • In The Haunting Hour episode "Game Over", four kids get sucked into a video game, and are informed that they have to beat it to escape. Unfortunately, the one who lands the killing blow on the final boss is forced to take his place. The final boss says the same thing happened to him when he got sucked into the game years ago.
  • In the fifth season of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Hercules ends up in Ireland, where he meets Morrigan (loosely based on the Morrigan of Irish Mythology) who ends up killing a godly incarnation of "Justice". Morrigan then inherits that same position.
  • In an episode of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Wayne has to take the place of secret agent Dalton Pierce after Pierce accidentally kills himself with Wayne's prototype laser shaver.
  • In Lexx, the "key" of the eponymous ship is passed on at death.
    • The power can also leave if you are "Taken to the height of sexual ecstasy", which people would probably remember more easily if the most frequent captain weren't Stanley Tweedle, for whom that was never an issue (other than that one time).
  • The Mandalorian features a non-lethal example. After Moff Gideon has kidnapped The Child, our titular hero goes to Bo-Katan for help, as he knows she’s been hunting the Moff herself. Bo-Katan agrees on the condition that she is to be the one to kill Gideon. However, Gideon anticipates this and ensures he’s in the Child’s cell when Mando gets there, instead of on the Bridge where Bo-Katan was expecting him to be. This results in Mando defeating him and earning the the Darksaber, much to Bo-Katan’s horror. Mando tries to surrender the sword to Bo-Katan but Gideon explains that the Darksaber must be won in combat. It’s likely the only reason we don’t see Bo-Katan try to murder Mando is because of the timely arrival of Gideon’s Dark Troopers.
  • Once Upon a Time: The power of the Dark One has this stipulation, which Rumplestiltskin wasn't completely aware of until it was too late. It also has an I Cannot Self-Terminate clause, so the previous Dark One had to manipulate Rumplestiltskin into killing him.
  • Shadow and Bone: Morozova's creatures are allegedly the most powerful amplifiers known, and any Grisha who kills them will have their powers amplified to an insane extent. The hunt for Morozova's stag, one such creature, is a subplot. Subverted. Power is not gained from the animal's death, but to whom it chooses to bequeath its power. Kirigan thinks it's the former, but is proven wrong when Alina realizes it's the latter and unleashes her Sun Summoner abilities.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Quark kills a Klingon in a Bar Brawl (actually he trips and lands on his knife, but good enough) so the Klingon's wife kidnaps him and forces a nominal marriage on him until she can get a dispensation to rule her clan in her own name.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise. In the evil Mirror Universe, Archer takes over the Enterprise by force, and Hoshi Sato points out that according to tradition everything the previous captain owned now belongs to him. Including her, as she's the Captain's Woman.
    Mirror Archer: I've never been one to argue with tradition. [grabs Hoshi for a passionate kiss]
  • In The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "A Game of Pool", a pool shark plays against the ghost of another shark who's memory overshadows all of his own achievements. Upon winning, however, he becomes the ghost who is called to defend against challengers.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: When Xena kills Mephistopheles she has to take over his position as ruler of hell. Fortunately there's a very prideful angel named Lucifer that happens to be corruptible and can take her place.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Classical Mythology is all about that. Once there was supreme god Uranus, then his son Chronos killed him with a Sinister Scythe and succeed him. Then Chronos, in turn, was killed by his son Zeus. In the world of immortal gods, Patricide seemed to be the only way to inherit the throne. Zeus knew he'd be next, so he kept an eye on his offspring to never let one grow strong enough to challenge him.
    • He managed to keep from seducing someone for once when it was prophecied that the sea nymph Thetis' son would surpass his father, so he arranged for her to be married off to the aging king Peleus. Achilles did go on to prove himself better than his father, though he didn't survive the Trojan war.
  • There is a Japanese legend about a treasure which was guarded by a dragon. Many people tried to slay the dragon, but apparently none succeeded, even though some of them were very strong warriors. It turned out that if the warrior in question actually killed the dragon, once he saw the treasure he became a dragon himself, and guarded it from now on. The curse was only destroyed when the next winner proved his wisdom and threw the treasure in the sea.
  • The Bible: With a bit of Fridge Logic, this applies to the outcome of the whole sorry affair in Genesis 34, in which Simeon and Levi slaughtered every man in Shechem in revenge for their sister Dinah's being sexually violated. Seizing all the women and children of the dead men along with their livestock and material possessions may seem to have been adding insult to injury for the survivors, but the alternative was to leave them there without their men to defend them from roving marauders in a place and time when men were a city's first and only line of defense. In other words, Simeon and Levi and the rest of Jacob's family were pretty much stuck with these women and children whether they wanted them along for the journey or not.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Carcosa: Weird Science-Fantasy Horror Setting. In hex 2315 is a wall with a doorway guarded by a Lawful 7th level Bone Man fighter who can only die by combat. If he killed, the person who killed him takes his place as the guard.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Forgotten Realms: The title of Magister and accompanying special powers are "inherited" by he winner once Magister is defeated. This leads to Magisters being extremely dangerous wizards even before taking said powers, so while formal challenge and non-lethal combat are quite acceptable, victory usually was achieved via killing one's predecessor in some sort of surprise attack. Sometimes even unknowingly — it's easier to do while blowing up whole catacombs than in fair face-to-face battle. Overall it's actually an invoked trope, as Word of God claims that the Magister's title is Schmuck Bait, instigated by Mystra so that hyperaggressive wizards have a prize to kill one another over, rather than leave them running loose and causing havoc for everyone else.
    • Ravenloft: A lesser villain that manages to kill a domain's darklord will almost certainly become stuck with the darklordship themselves, with canonical examples including Ivana Bortisi and Gabrielle Aderre. Gabrielle's antagonistic son Malocchio is even specifically avoiding killing her because his seer powers let him know that he'll inherit her title if he does so. Inherited domains don't always follow this rule — if a Darklord is somehow vanquished in other circumstances (while there are no canonical examples of Darklords being killed by someone Good aligned, a rare few, such as Lord Soth, have left their position without being murdered), the domain is either absorbed into another nearby domain, or anyone else evil enough for Darklordship gets the title, as is the case with Sithicus's second Darklord, Inza Kulchevich.
    • The 3rd Edition Dungeon Master's Guide says that because goblins are Chaotic Evil, their government is rulership by the strong. This means that if the goblin king is killed, the killer usually takes the king's place.
    • When two kruthik swarms meet, their leading hive lords battle to the death while the rest watch. The winner devours the loser's corpse and then takes control of its swarm.
  • Unknown Armies supplement Statosphere. One of the ways for an Avatar to replace a Godwalker of their archetype is to kill them in a symbolically correct manner. For example, to replace the Executioner you would have to render them helpless and then execute them, preferably with an axe.
  • A somewhat muted example, but Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem both feature the act of diablerie, which works like the Baccano example mentioned above: if one vampire drains another, more powerful vampire, consuming their soul in the process, their Generation/Blood Potency goes up a step and they gain knowledge of one of the other vampire's Disciplines. Needless to say, diablerie is considered one of the most dire sins a vampire can commit and is punished with extreme prejudice, lest all the younger vampires turn all the older ones into juice boxes.
    • It also forever stains the soul/essence/ethereal wahoo of the vampire who did it. This is actually a problem largely because there are vampiric powers that allow for the seeing of souls/essences, and diablerie basically gives your essence a flashing neon sign advertising what you did.
    • Furthermore, souls consumed through diablerie are not destroyed: they are perfectly preserved inside their killer's body forever, with the ability to read his mind and access his senses. Particularly strong-willed souls can take over the body and resume their previous existences.
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • Inverted with Lucius the Eternal. If you kill him and take even a moment's pleasure in the act, you slowly and painfully turn into a resurrected Lucius, with your screaming face embossed on his armor. You kill it, Lucius bought you. This can go to as far an extreme as it needs too to find a vicim; in the short story Lucius: Pride and Fall he was killed by a landmine and ended up taking the body of the worker who assembled it on a distant world.
    • The Imperial Guard have a variation of this trope: You Conquered It, You Get It. A Guardsmen's homeworld may be an incredibly long distance away from the frontline, and space travel is a bit of a luxury in the grim darkness of the far future — safe space travel is impossible — so chances are very good that a Guardsman will never see his home or family ever again. Fortunately, planets still need forces on them to defend them against other threats, so Guardsmen are usually granted land and settling rights on the newly-conquered planet. Often, these Guardsmen have families and offspring of their own in time, and they join up in the Guard, are sent off to another world to conquer it, and the whole cycle repeats again.
      • No kidding. It becomes common for liberated planets to become home to bars with names like "The 105th", all filled with middle-aged, heavily-scarred men with blank stares. Robbers and gangs enter these bars at their own peril.

    Video Games 
  • Happens in ANY game where you loot the corpses of those whom you have felled.
  • Astyanax: Breaking Thorndog's seal means bringing his curse upon yourself so that you'll die with him. However, this curse is transferable...
  • In Blood, the dark god Tchernobog turns out to be the force that binds reality together. Guess who's responsible for that after you kill him?
    • This ends up being one of the major forces behind the plot in Blood 2 — Caleb's refusal to use these powers for over a century results in creatures from another reality invading his.
  • In the Chzo Mythos, anyone killed with Frehorn's Blade becomes a powerful spirit, but is at the command of their killer. A loophole exists for those who kill themselves with the blade. Since you get put in command of yourself, like you already are, you just become a powerful spirit with no downside. This is how Malcolm Somerset becomes the Caretaker.
  • In Conker's Bad Fur Day, you are crowned king of the Panthers after being held responsible for the death of the previous king.
  • This is the main gameplay gimmick of the competitive dungeon crawler Crawl. One player is the Hero, the other 1-3 are spirits. The spirits can possess traps and monsters to kill the hero, and the one who lands the killing blow regains their humanity and usurps the role of Hero.
  • This happened to the hero in the first Diablo game. After killing Diablo and removing the soulstone from its forehead and freeing his former host, the hero rams the thing into his own forehead, becoming Diablo and taking his place, which brings us full circle to where we started. Notable in that the hero thinks he's containing Diablo and preventing the demon from ever coming back, but Diablo is more powerful than the hero gives him credit for.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, the Warden is now made the Arl of Amaranthine due to the fact that he/she killed Rendon Howe, the previous Arl in the original game and his lands are now Grey Warden property. Though this is less because the Warden killed the Arl and more because the Arl was considered a traitor and a criminal by the end of Origins, which led to his family losing their lands. And since Ferelden happened to owe the Grey Wardens a great deal... Anyway, the point is that it wasn't all the important who killed Rendon Howe (he probably would have been eventually executed even if he had somehow survived his confrontation with the Warden).
  • In Dragon's Dogma, this is revealed to be the entire point of the game. During the final battle with the Seneschal he reveals to the Arisen (the player) that all of the events of the game were in order to "temper the fires of creation" within the Arisen, so that they could adequately take the Senechal's place as the world's keeper. Furthermore when playing on New Game+, upon reaching the Final Boss (again) the original Senechal is replaced with the Arisen who defeated him on the first playthrough.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • This is an extremely common behavior among the Daedric Princes, especially the more outright malevolent ones, when it comes to the ranks of their mortal followers. Boethiah, the Daedric Prince of Plots whose sphere covers murder and betrayal, treats his (sometimes "her") champions this way. If they've displeased him, or if he has simply gotten bored, he may get another worthy mortal to challenge them in combat. If that mortal wins, that mortal takes the champion's place. Boethiah's quests in both Skyrim and Online involve this.
    • In Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC, Hemaeus Mora, Daedric Prince of Knowledge, "rewards" the Dragonborn for his victory over his former champion Miraak by declaring the Dragonborn to be Miraak's replacement. The entire plot of Dragonborn was essentially Mora's plan to replace Miraak with the Dragonborn, and it's implied that he was sowing the seeds for this even in the main questline.
  • The basic plot of the Fallout 4 DLC Nuka-World boils down to this. You find yourself in a giant Death Trap, then face the Raider Overboss at the end of it. After successfully killing him (thanks to a little help from his second-in-command), you're named the new Overboss. Of course, you have the option to Kill 'Em All instead of accepting.
  • In God of War the Olympians plot to kill Ares, the God of War by using Kratos as their pawn. They don't like Ares because he's being a jerk. After Kratos kills Ares, he becomes the God of War himself, taking his place where Ares left off and being an even bigger jerk than Ares was, bringing the Olympians full circle.
  • In Final Fantasy X, when Sin is defeated, it's replaced by the person who became the Final Summon. If it's defeated by the Final Summoning, that is.
  • Gauntlet IV for the Sega Genesis serves this up in the style of the Japanese mythology mentioned above. If you succeed in killing the dragon, you'll be offered eternal life. Take the offer, and you'll rule the castle as the new dragon. Refuse, and the old dragon will revive and try to kill you. Escape, and you'll reveal to the other adventurers trying to solve this mystery that the prize for success at your quest is an offer of eternal life, which spoils the mystery such that people eventually stop going on this quest and the castle is abandoned.
  • In Gotcha Force, there's a chance (fairly high for Com Mons, lowering for progressively more powerful ones) that anything you've killed in a level you've completed will be given to you for your own use. This is to encourage you to handle most of the killing duties.
  • In I Wanna Be the Guy, in order to become The Guy, you have to kill The Guy.
  • League of Legends: If any enemy hero has a buff which was granted by killing a neutral opponent ("jungling"), killing that hero will transfer that buff to the killer. Except for one special buff, gained by killing the game's Bonus Boss during a round, which simply goes away.
    • Played for Laughs with Kled, the Cantankerous Cavalier, who adds the title of anyone he kills to his own, not that anyone pays attention, leading to accumulations like Lord Colonel Major Centurion, Sergeant Double Admiral, Rear Forward Brigadier Admiral, Lieutenant Sergeant Commodore, and in extreme cases High Major Commodore of the First Legion Third Multiplication Double Artillery Vanguard Company. Kled is not all the way sane.
      Kled: Was the battle of Falgrim when I first took the rank of Sergeant General Colonel. Least, I think that's what rank they was. Gotta' remember to ask before killing them.
  • At least three Dragoon Spirits in The Legend of Dragoon were transferred in this fashion.
    • This is how Dragoon Spirits are obtained to begin with, as the Spirits are really the crystallized soul and life force of a dragon. These crystals only form at the very last moments of a dragon's life and are implied to disappear almost immediately after the dragon actually dies, so in order to obtain a Dragoon Spirit from a dragon you need to be present at the moment of its death.
  • At the end of Mafia III, Lincoln is given the opportunity by the major Mafia families to take over Sal Marcano's position as The Don of the city. It's up to the player to choose whether or not he accepts or he leaves, at which point one of his lieutenants become the new boss of the city.
  • Choosing to pick up the orb which dropped after killing the final boss in Magic Sword turned your character into the new final boss.
  • In Makai Kingdom, Overlord Zetta destroys a Cosmic Keystone known as the Sacred Tome in a fit of pique... Unfortunately, its destruction means the destruction of his entire netherworld with it, forcing Zetta to confine his own soul inside the book and literally (pun very much intended) become the Sacred Tome in order to survive.
  • Mass Effect 2's DLC "Lair of The Shadow Broker" has you going up against the eponymous Knowledge Broker kingpin. Once you off him, Liara takes over and aims to put a newer friendlier obscured silhouette face on the organization, as well as turn the monolithic info network fully towards Shepard's cause. Oh, and the Broker you killed got his position by killing the previous broker, so who's to say that that one didn't do the same thing?
    • Which becomes Hilarious in Hindsight when you remember that one of two dialogue options to Liara at the end of her mini-questline is "Don't become the thing you're hunting." Ironic, much?
      • Technically, there was nothing that forced Liara to be the new Shadow Broker. She could have simply left the headless organization to rot. However it was too good an opportunity to pass up, and seeing as how Liara was already pretty good with the Knowledge Broker business herself, it all worked out.Also Liara's conscience forces her to become the new Shadow Broker. The Shadow Broker keeps himself in power by regulating the flow of information to his clients - that way, nobody can gain a permanent advantage over the others. Some of the information his agents find could tip the balance of galactic politics or start wars. For this precise reason, his agents cannot sell any information without his say-so. If he was to die, presumably all his agents would find themselves out of a job, but in possession of secrets worth trillions of credits. Guess what would happen next...
    • In one of the comics which focuses on Captain Bailey, you learn that this is essentially how Bailey got his job, when he was forced to kill Pallin while investigating him, upon which Councillor Udina gives him Pallin's old job. Bailey however feels kind of guilty due to the fact that he believes Pallin to be innocent of whatever he's accused of.
  • This is how salvage works in a lot of the MechWarrior games where it is implemented. If you manage to kill the 'Mech with a minimum of Stuff Blowing Up, there's a very good chance that players can salvage their enemies' war machines. This is most often seen in games with "Mercenaries" figuring in the title or the protagonists' plotline. Mechwarrior Living Legends allows you to blast the pilot out of the cockpit and then steal their mech.
  • Mega Man (Classic), when you defeat a Robot Master, you gain their power till the end of the game. Defeating Dr. Wily, however, doesn't have you take over anything of his.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: After Naked Snake completes his mission by assassinating his mentor and mother figure, the Boss, he is awarded with the title of Big Boss. This is also a case of propaganda by the US, who wanted the best soldier to be exalted and held up as an example for others. Given that Big Boss refuses to use the name for decades after getting it, and also abandons the US shortly after the completion of his mission because of the epic betrayals he uncovered, it doesn't turn out well for the US.
  • Being the Leveler in Myth appears to work like this, although with an extremely long delay.
  • The Twenty-Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors of the Nasuverse work this way: if you manage to kill one, you usurp its position on the list. Because of this, they even have a few non-vampires in their ranks, notably Primate Murder (only included because it killed an Ancestor and happens to enjoy drinking blood, which the Ancestors decided was "close enough") and ORT (an Eldritch Abomination which killed one of the Ancestors in its sleep, included because none of the other Ancestors are stupid enough to disturb it).
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: Whenever the host of the spirit eater is killed, the nearest person will almost certainly become its next host body. Tough luck if you weren't the killer. The host before you managed to contain it for a time by arranging to die alone in an area built to contain spirits; it only failed because a third party intervened.
  • This is how ranking is done in No More Heroes; when an assassin kills a higher ranking assassin, he gains the slain assassin's rank. Unfortunately Travis doesn't realize the downside of that — he'll be targets for every other up-and-coming assassin — until Sylvia tells him after he kills the tenth-ranked. This convinces him that the only way out is simply to get rid of them all.
  • Overwatch: The playable character Doomfist is actually the third to go by that name in the game's backstory; he took it on after killing his mentor, the previous Doomfist, over a conflict of ideals.
  • In Phantom Brave, if you kill people, you will be able to summon them as Phantoms. Naturally, this fun system leads to the cold-blooded murders of old men and blacksmiths by a cute little girl.
  • Pilgrim (RPG Maker): In the My Sister ending, after Akemi kills Master Alice, she takes her place as the ruler of the castle in the Other World.
  • Initially downplayed before eventually being played straight in the mainline Pokémon games. By defeating the Pokémon Champion of the region, you are said to become the Champion yourself. However, despite having the title and some NPCs acknowledging you as such, the character you defeated will still hold their job as Champion, with rematching the Elite Four having you face them again. It isn't until Pokémon Sun and Moon that you actually lay claim to the title and job, becoming the region's first ever Champion and with repeat visits to the Pokémon League having you defend your title from one of various characters you've met during the game: from your friends Hau and Gladion, to former Team Skull admin Plumeria, to an NPC from Route 1.
  • One ending in Princess Maker 2 — the absolute worst, score-wise — has the heroine kill the King of the Underworld, only to discover that this rule applies to that position.

  • Saints Row IV: The President was really only out to kill Zinyak to avenge Earth, but he or she certainly doesn't object to being the new Emperor afterward. Kinzie even mentions the "'You keep what you kill', it's a classic" as the President takes the throne..
  • In Shin Megami Tensei, you often get the ability to fuse previous bosses as your new minions after defeating them in combat. In another example, destroying each of the Bel demons in Devil Survivor grants you several stat points, as you are essentially devouring that demon's power and adding it to your own. It is a major Junkyard law in Digital Devil Saga, and its breakdown in favor of loyalty to the tribe and The Power of Friendship is a major landmark in the Character Development of the Embryon's Asuras.
  • In Shovel Knight, Baz attacks the titular spade-wielder because he's heard that defeating a knight means you get to claim their title. Of course, since he's about as smart as the rope he uses in combat, it's not actually true; it was a misunderstanding caused by a conversation with King Knight.
  • Sonic becoming the king at the end of Sonic and the Black Knight is a mix of this and "Ancient Tradition".
  • Space Pirates and Zombies practically runs with this trope. You want a ship, beat the nine shades of it, get the blueprints, and you can use it afterwards. Then, capital ships happen and make you realize there is a reason they are called capital ships.
  • In Star Control: Origins, the Faction of Eight were a council of Abusive Precursors who would wage war against alien races that had discovered intergalactic travel, only letting them live if they could destroy one of the members of the Faction and take their place.
  • This is the bad ending in Streets of Rage.
  • In Suikoden IV and Suikoden Tactics it's made clear that the Rune of Punishment is granted to whoever manages to take out the current bearer. It doesn't help that the rune eats the life force of the wielder whenever it is used.
  • UNDERTOW: After taking out Lancaster, after he tried to betray him, Captain Rake is referred to as Admiral. Presumably he is saddled with the rank of Duke-Admiral when the Iron Marines choose to follow him.
  • In the first Valkyrie Profile, Lenneth recruits at least three souls (Jelanda, Jin, and Gandar) by killing them herself. Jin's recruitment is a specific reference to the Japanese example in Mythology above, although Lenneth solves the problem by, well, killing Jin/the monster to take his soul (playing the trope straight in a fashion different from the myth).
    • In Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria, Hrist decides the quickest way to make sure Arngrihm stops being an obstacle is to kill him and force him to serve her. By the time it stops working, she's about ready for her own Heel–Face Turn.
  • Warcraft
    • World of Warcraft (3.3.0) includes a quest that reveals that 'There must always be a Lich King'. It appears that the transfer of power and title aren't automatic, but if the mantle isn't accepted, the only thing holding the Scourge back would be released. However, the trope was ultimately subverted. Upon the Lich King's defeat, Tirion Fordring picks up the fallen Crown and reluctantly places it upon the head of Bolvar Fordragon.
    • In the previous Warcraft games, becoming the chieftan of an Orc clan (or the Warchief of the entire Horde) would work this way. Orgrim Doomhammer became Warchief by killing the then-existing Warchief, Blackhand. There are some limits, of course. Orgrim was killed from behind by a human knight, and he passed leadership to Thrall rather than to the enemy knight.
    • Ogres work the same way. In Dire Maul, when you defeat the current king, the rest of the Ogres turn friendly and declare you their new king; part of the challenge is killing the king while killing as few ogres as possible, which increases the tribute you receive at the end.
  • It is stated in the Secret Reports of The World Ends with You that the guy who kills the Composer becomes the Composer. Three people Neku encounters have this intention; first is Joshua, who is lying through his teeth because he is the Composer, the second is Beat, who just wants to restore Rhyme, and the third is a revived Sho Minamimoto for he-of-the-Jesus Beam only knows why. It never comes to it, mind, but that tidbit is there for you to know.

    Webcomics 
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Franz Rayner's master plan is that by killing the President of the United States, he will become the President. Of course, the implausibility of that plan is immediately pointed out, and Rayner admits that while the US Government doesn't work that way, the rest of the plan revolves around convincing the rest of the world that it does.
  • Errant Story: In addition to more typical methods, any student who can successfully challenge the entire faculty graduates.
  • Satan in The Gods of Arr-Kelaan works like this. Ronson eventually managed to give up the position by proving his predecessor's death wasn't his fault.
  • Richard the Warlock from Looking for Group has inherited at least one title ("Mistress of Magma") that way, and considering his habits as well as his abundance of titles, possibly more.
  • According to the Oglaf strip "Nothces", the crocodile who ate the world's most beautiful woman — as chosen by a contest — thereby technically became the world's most beautiful woman. Okay.
  • The Order of the Stick
    • Redcloak, upon being told he could become Supreme Leader of the hobgoblins by killing the current leader in single combat, promptly casts "Slay Living" on the hobgoblin putting him through the humiliating rituals to become an honorary hobgoblin. When he asks if the hobgoblin he killed was the Supreme Leader, the actual Supreme Leader wisely says "yes".
  • Sam of Sam & Fuzzy didn't actually kill the heads of the Ninja Mafia, but everyone else in the room was dead, so...
  • In Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, this applies to blind dates.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
  • Sluggy Freelance
    • Santa Claus at one point flees to space from the wrath of Bun-bun, and he comes back with an infection of alien DNA that eventually transforms him into an alien monster that's essentially an entirely different being. In "Snowfinger", it seems Alien Santa is plotting to subjugate Earth through Christmas presents, but it turns out that he's unable to do it because he's too busy fulfilling the role of Santa Claus that he unwillingly inherited from his host.
    • Starting with accidentally squashing the Easter Bunny, Bun-bun took over just about every holiday this way in a years-long subplot. He's finally defeated when the groundhog shadow which is linked with Bun-bun kills and steals the position of the old year — a few seconds before 12:00 AM, New Year's Day, where the old year will officially die, taking Bun-bun with him. Bun-bun then has to go and hit the in-plot Reset Button to save himself.
  • In Snarlbear, after the hero kills the titular beast, she is given its name.

    Web Original 
  • In Episode 4 of the flash animation series Bad Guys, Bad Guys Go To Hell, the green guy killed the devil and took his place as ruler of Hell. Then it turns out the blue guy killed God last week and took his place as supreme deity. Now everyone in Heaven has to spend an eternity in hard labor building Him a giant palace. The Bad Guys quickly decide that Hell is better since you "only" get hot pokers shoved up your ass over there, and just go to Hell. Going back and forth between the two places isn't very hard anyway since they are right next to each other.
    Blue Guy: Medammit!
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: Mouri claims the title of Grand Elder of Namek — and, with it, the authority to create Namek's Dragon Balls — by killing and eating Super Kami Guru.
  • In The Dark Id's Let's Play of Drakengard 2, the Fallout: New Vegas-style "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue attached to the final ending states that Caim, after his own death, went on to become the new Grim Reaper due to having basically killed the existing one's pact partner so hard that it died too; his application to the position simply stated "I murdered the shit out of the last guy."
  • This is how the last of The Holders, the Holder of Legion, got his job. In turn, if you complete the stupendous task of gathering the other 2537 Objects, your only way to get the final one is to kill him and become Holder of Legion yourself.
  • In Karen Wehrstein's Philosopher in Arms, the protagonist is forced into a gladiator-like fighting arena. When the fighters kill someone, they inherit everything they have. Since these fighters are all forced into the arena, that usually just means slaves, jewelry, and other gifts from fans, but the protagonist has to kill one man who was integrated into society and returned to the arena just to fight him. He ends up inheriting the man's home, wife, children, and teaching position at the university.
  • RWBY: When a Maiden dies, their power transfers either to a young female who is in their thoughts as they die, or jumps to a random, unknown eligible female if the Maiden's last thoughts are about a man or an older, ineligible woman. This power transfer can be deliberately manipulated by having a young, eligible woman murder a Maiden to obtain the power by ensuring the dying Maiden's final thoughts are of her killer. Cinder killed the Fall Maiden and Raven killed the Spring Maiden to gain their powers. Ozpin tried to use a machine to give Pyrrha the powers of the Fall Maiden but Cinder killing her stopped that. At a later point, it's revealed that this same thing happened with Raven and the Spring Maiden and would have happened with Winter and the Winter Maiden had Cinder not interfered and led to the Maiden passing her powers onto Penny instead.
  • Taking over the version of Earth seen in the SCP Foundation is a bad idea, as seen in SCP-2998's various iterations. An alien race successfully takes over Earth, but doesn't realise that the planet is absolutely infested with dangerous anomalies that the Foundation was keeping contained. The result is that the aliens' new civilisation on Earth collapses as they try to fix the mess they've made. A Reset Button ends up being necessary to fix things.
  • In Worm, one of the powers that the supervillain Butcher had was that anyone who killed him would inherit weaker versions of the powers of all previous Butchers, along with their voices giving guidance.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time, Marceline became Vampire Queen by killing the Vampire King. She wasn't even a vampire at the time, but he turned her just as she staked him for exactly such a purpose. Ironically, she serves as queen to no one, as Marcy exterminated all the vampires by that time.
  • Adventure Time: Distant Lands: In "Together Again'', it's shown Death's position is taken by whomever kills the previous Death, like it or not. New Death ended up trapped in the position after being manipulated into killing Death, his father. At the end, Finn and Jake fight each other to be the one to have to take on this burden because they don't want each other to be stuck reaping souls for eternity.
    New Death: I didn't realize that when I took out Dad, I'd be chained to all his stuff. So how about it? You ready to get chained to my stuff?
  • One episode of Family Guy plays with this trope more humorously. The Grim Reaper visits Peter's house and he twists and breaks his ankle. While he is resting comfortably in the house, he tasks Peter with killing people for him - though this happens because while he's incapacitated, no one can die and Peter screws up and lets the world know, causing chaos. Thus, Peter takes on the job because someone has to do it.
  • In Futurama. Fry accidentally drank the Emperor of Trisol, thereby assassinating him. He was then crowned the new emperor. In fact, pretty much all of the emperors got their jobs by drinking the current emperor.
    • Indeed, they have placeholder portraits for "Fry's assassin" and "Fry's assassin's assassin"
      Fry: Well, at least my assassin will get what's coming to him.
  • On an episode of Jumanji, the animated series, there was a part where the heroes trick the hunter Van Pelt into falling off a cliff. Before Van Pelt does however, Peter somehow grabs his whip. Over the episode, Peter gradually morphs into Van Pelt because "there must always be a Van Pelt. It's the rules of the game." He even goads Alan into killing him just so Alan can become Van Pelt.
  • In Metalocalypse, Charles indicates that the only way to get his job as CFO for Dethklok is to kill him first. But since fucking with his bread-and-butter is a bad idea, he's dispatched everyone whose come to take his job.
  • In Shadow Raiders, this is the official law for royal succession on Planet Bone. They may be Proud Warrior Race Guys, but they also highly respect cunning, ambition and ruthlessness; assassinating the previous king is the tradition for taking power.
  • The Simpsons: A Treehouse of Horror episode has Homer become the Grim Reaper after killing the previous one.
  • Star Wars:
    • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
      • "Nomad Droids": After Threepio accidentally knocks Artoo onto Hay-Zu, the Pattitites want to make him their leader due to him having killed the previous one. He declines.
      • This is how Pre Vizsla meets his end in battle. After having locked up Savage Opress and his brother, Darth Maul, the brothers escape and Maul challenges Vizsla to combat, one warrior to another. Maul ends up winning, and takes both Vizsla's Darksaber and his head before assuming the leadership of Death Watch and the true leader of Mandalore... for a while, anyway.
    • Star Wars Rebels: As revealed in "The Honourable Ones", Zeb's species, the Lasat, have a tradition called "Boosahn Keeraw" wherein if a warrior is defeated by a superior opponent, they give them their weapon. It turns out that this is how Zeb's archenemy Agent Kallus got his bo-rifle.
  • The Venture Bros.: Subverted. Rusty discovers a cult of personality living under the Venture Compound. They worship his father through a set of video tapes of personal hygiene. Rusty proceeds to "kill" their god by removing the tapes, thinking they will make him their new god. They don't.

    Real Life 
  • According to Burmese legend, King Nyaung-u Sawrahan (also known as the Cucumber King) of the Pagan dynasty was once a simple farmer who killed a man he caught stealing a cucumber from his field. He later found out that man was King Theinhko, and the queen ended up taking him as her new husband to prevent unrest. This is regarded by historians to have likely been just a fairy tale, but Sawrahan is the earliest king of Pagan whose existence has been verified by written evidence.
  • In The Golden Bough, James Fraser discusses the "year king", a religious concept in which a person rules over a tribe as a god for one year. The problem is that a god is not supposed to grow old, so when the year is up the next king ritually kills the last one.
    • The Golden Bough actually begins with an examination of the Rex Nemorensis, a priest of Diana at a shrine at Lake Nemi. Each "King" was by traditional practice a fugitive slave who killed his predecessor after acquiring the titular bough somewhere in the sacred grove. Caligula is recorded as having sent a strong young man to dispose of an aging Rex.
  • "You break it, you own it." — Secretary of State Colin Powell to George W. Bush before the Iraq War.
    • In a way, applied to Vietnam, similar to the Lich King example above, kind of. The French broke it, then handed it to the US, then the commies wanted it, but the Americans didn't want to give it up, but then they did anyway, and then the Soviets broke it further. Now none of the three own it, after they took the mantle themselves after the fall of the union.
  • In 1864 the President of Bolivia, José María Achá, was deposed in a coup d'etat by General Mariano Melgarejo. Manuel Belzú, who had been president until his deposition in another coup d'etat ten years earlier and was in exile in Europe, returned to Bolivia to challenge Melgarejo for the presidency. Civil war ensued. Belzú and Melgarejo then agreed to meet in La Paz's Palace of the Government to negotiate a peace, but once they were inside Melgarejo just shot Belzú instead. Hearing then Belzú's supporters chanting Long Life to Belzú in the square bellow, in front of the palace, Melgarejo showed up on the balcony carrying Belzú's corpse and said: "Belzú is dead. Who lives now?". The crowd immediately began to chant Long Life to Melgarejo.
  • In this entry from the blog "Shit My Students Write", the submitter's student apparently thinks the U.S. presidency works this way.


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