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Bob is dead. His potential heirs gather after his funeral. Who will inherit his possessions? The will is opened, but...there's no clear heir.

This trope occurs when the will of the deceased doesn't specify who will inherit their possessions, leaving it up to a game of succession or a puzzle, so whoever is worthy can obtain the fortune. The puzzle can be a race, a mystery game with continuous hints or a number of things. May also be a Secret Test of Character.

A common twist includes discovering that one of the potential heirs is the one who killed Bob. The winner usually ends up with an unexpected new fortune.

May be a result of Inadequate Inheritor. Compare On One Condition.


Anime & Manga

  • Kami no Shizuku: The whole plot is basically the main character getting into a wine tasting contest with his adoptive brother to inherit his father's vast and valuable wine collection.


  • Stardust: Before he dies, the king of Stormhold announces that his heir will be the one who manages to obtain a ruby he threw into the sky.


  • In the interactive book The Dandee Diamond Mystery, the reader/protagonist's rich and eccentric uncle left the Dandee Diamond to the one who most deserves it. However, before he can figure out who deserves it the most, he must find the diamond, and the uncle's only clue in the will was talking to his parrot.
  • In L. M. Montgomery's A Tangled Web, eccentric Aunt Becky willed that the name of the heir of a priceless heirloom will only be disclosed a year after her death. Because the will dropped a few hints that a unknown judge would be selecting the heir, the family members spent the rest of the year trying their best to live up to what Aunt Becky would have wanted in an attempt to win the heirloom.
  • The Westing Game: Samuel W. Westing chose 16 people apparently at random as his heirs; the book opens with them summoned to hear the reading of the will. He leaves everything to the winner of the puzzle he calls The Westing Game. Who will win? That's the entire book.

Live-Action TV

  • In the Community episode "Digital Estate Planning", Pierce's father leaves his will in the form of a video game. Whoever wins the game gets the inheritance.
  • In an episode of Married With Children, Al Bundy's Uncle Stymie, the only male Bundy to be a success in life (Al credits this to the fact that Stymie was the only one who never married), left his $500,000 estate to the first male Bundy to have a legitimate son named after him. Considering that the lawyer who read the will would later marry a male Bundy and give birth to Stymie Junior to get the money, Al and the other Bundys didn't get the money, even though they could have challenged the will under claims of undue influence.

Video Games

  • Professor Layton and the Curious Village uses this trope as its main plotline. Layton and Luke have to find the Golden Apple in order to inherit the late Baron Reinhold's wealth.
  • In the video game Safecracker, a millionaire hides his will in a house full of bizarre safes, every one of which must be unlocked to access the document. When found, the document leaves it up to whoever successfully cracks the safes to decide who gets his fortune.

Visual Novels

  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni: The successor to the Ushiromiya family's headship and fortune (which includes 10 tons of solid gold) seemed to be locked and set--and then a letter from the resident witch arrived, announcing that the spoils have been made fair game to anyone who can solve the Witch's Epitaph, a long riddle which incidentally, details a ritual requiring human sacrifice. Mind games (and lots and lots of murder) ensue.

Western Animation

  • In one story arc on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, a will specified that the deceased's "million-dollar note" would go to whoever had a foot bearing a certain name on it--which turned out to be Bullwinkle. Except that to claim the money, he had to spend the night in the owner's mansion (with the owner's sons making various attempts to get him out of the building). Rocky and Bullwinkle succeed, but then it's revealed that Bullwinkle's foot no longer bears the mark, because apparently it was just an imprint from his shower mat. So the million-dollar note goes to the sons. BUT! It turns out to be a promissory note, placing the sons in a $1 million debt, while Bullwinkle gets to go home to the happy status quo (telling Rocky that although that mark on his foot was just a temporary imprint, the mark on his other foot "never comes off").