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File:Maleheir 5695.jpg

 Hi, I'm Henry the Eighth, president of the Heir Club for Men. Is your dynasty thin and receding? In need of a male heir to keep your noble line continuing? Heir Club for Men has thousands of years of experience providing heir treatments. As the world's leading provider of all proven heir loss solutions, we use our extensive experience to find the heir loss treatment that's right for you. It's an important decision that can accentuate your lifestyle in unimaginable ways. Remember, I'm not just the president, I'm also a client.


When there is no male heir, a Succession Crisis results, which is reason enough for kings to go to great lengths to get a suitable heir.

If the king doesn't, the courtiers may get into the act. A Succession Crisis can be unpleasant all around. This is done commonly with a grieving widow or widowers, who may be told You Have Waited Long Enough with great promptness.

And, in the event they do get such an heir, this only secures one generation. As soon as the child is grown, they turn to pressuring the heir to have an heir of his own. And one child is dangerous; surely you need a spare.

Then again, any old child will not do; for men at least, Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe may raise doubts about whether the baby actually is suitable.

Although most common in stories about royalty, this trope also includes the common people. This trope is about heirs, and it is not intended to cover cases where the parent(s) merely wish for a boy (or girl) because they would like one, but is only when they wish for one to continue the family name--when tradition demands it.

Also: The blurb is a reference to the Hair Club for Men, a company that specializes in hair restoration and hair replacement. The blurb is their actual sales pitch from their web site... with a few words changed to fit this trope.

Examples of Heir Club for Men include:


  • The plot driver of Ribon No Kishi, aka Princess Knight. A male heir must inherit the throne, Sapphire is born a girl, her father the king decides to bluff the public and Sapphire becomes a Wholesome Crossdresser.
    • Ribon no Kishi provided direct inspiration for many other anime including Rose of Versailles.
  • Needing a male heir, in particular a biological one, is the source of much of the trouble related to adopted child Amon in Yu-Gi-Oh GX.
    • And before him, Rishid in the original Yu-Gi-Oh was adopted by the Ishtars to provide a male heir. Then Ishizu and Marik were born in turn...
  • Miroku of Inu Yasha needs to perpetuate his line (with a son) before the affliction that plagues all men in his family kills him. He attempts to do so by propositioning every girl he meets. He loses the affliction before the end of the story, but has at least three kids anyway with Sango; the youngest one is a boy..
  • In the fictional Kingdom of Sauville in Gosick, the Queen Coco Rose was deposed of by King Rupert because of her inability to bear a child. Which later turns out to be a ruse: It was King Rupert who was sterile. To add insult to injury, Coco Rose became pregnant... with Leviathan the Alchemist's child.
  • Thought to happen in Syaoran's family in Cardcaptor Sakura, as he is considered the head of his family (despite having four older sisters) since his father passed away. This status is limited in Syaoran's case, however, given his young age. It puts a lot of pressure on him.
    • In actuality, Li seems to be the heir to the Li Clan, not the head of it. That role seems to be filled by his mother, Yelan, who he fears. The trope is still in play, however, but it seems it's less about gender and more about his sisters not really having lots of mystical power.
  • In Stop! Hibari-kun, Hibari's Yakuza father is very disappointed over Hibari being a trans girl because of this trope.

Comic Books

  • In Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld Dark Opal's repeatedly attempted to get himself an heir, but his own children are all misshapen and he locks them away in another dimension, except Granch, who understandably rebels against him. Then he "adopts" Carnelian, an earthling and that ends up much the same way.
  • The Invisibles: Transvestite shaman Lord Fanny was born a boy in a family with a long line of brujas. After his mother's second attempt to have a child ended in a miscarriage, his grandmother ordered him to be raised as a girl. Fortunately, Fanny took quickly to crossdressing, and ably took up the family tradition.
  • In one of Strangers in Paradise's later story arcs, the plot is driven by Tambi's machinations to get Katchoo to produce an heir for the Baker-Choovanski clan.
  • Ra's al Ghul needs an heir to take over his criminal empire, who must marry his daughter to inherit. Batman from the animated series once referred to him as "the world's oldest chauvinist" (especially since Talia has proven at least as capable as Pops). Ghulie's somewhat successful when Talia conceived Damian.
  • While most of the Pride in Runaways wanted children anyway, Mrs. Wilder convinced the few who didn't that if each of them had one child, then those six children could take their places in the Gibborim's paradise. As it was, there were twelve of them and only six places promised, so there were no guarantees as to which six would make it. If each of them donated a spot to their child, the legacy of each of the couples was ensured. In a subversion, the gender itself didn't really matter and most of the children were girls.
  • A modern, political example happens in Sin City. The Roarke family is the most powerful family in the country and corrupt to the core. They have been running the city for over a century but during the events of the series, there was only one heir to the "royal family": Junior Roarke, a Serial Killer and child molester. Junior is castrated and later killed by Detective John Hartigan, resulting in the Roarke legacy being cut off for good.

Fairy Tales

  • The king and queen in "Donkeyskin" only had a daughter, and were content with this. But the queen fell ill and died without leaving a male heir, but not before saddling him with the additional restriction that his new wife equal her in beauty and other attributes. Which, after many failed considerations, leads him to the conclusion that his new wife should be his own daughter. Because that would be more acceptable than simply letting her inherit the throne. She manages to escape that situation, and marry a prince, to boot. Thankfully, the prince is not her brother.
    • Other tales of this type include: "All-Kinds-of-Fur", "The King Who Wished Marry To His Daughter", "The She-Bear", "Margery White Coats", and "Golden-Teeth".
      • There is a kinder version of that tale in which the requirements (the new queen must be as beautiful as the old one with the same golden hair) are the same and the princess is the only one who fulfills them. However the king merely decides to marry her off to one of his advisers and she opts to run away rather than be forced into a loveless marriage.
  • In "Catskin", the nobleman doesn't care about his daughter because he wants a son. When she grows up, he orders her married off to the first man who will have her and she has to run away.


  • In Pans Labyrinth, Captain Vidal is determined to have a male heir no matter the cost to his wife or his stepdaughter.
  • The fact that only males can inherit the throne in Stardust means that Princess Una isn't a target of her other brothers. It helps they have no idea where she is.
    • Not only that, but their law also demands that there be no other contenders, which means that any other male heir has to be dead.
    • Of course, it is Una's son who inherits the throne after all his uncles die.
  • Caligula: the emperor refused to marry Caesonia until she bore him a son. When his sister Drusilla pointed out that it would be impossible to tell if the child was actually his, he replied that he would simply keep her under constant guard. The guards would be homosexuals. Who'd been castrated.
  • The king in Disney's Cinderella wants his son to marry so that he (the king) may have grandchildren. Subverted in that the king is more interested in "the pitter patter of little feet" rather than having an heir to the throne.
  • The king in Fantaghiro really insists on having a male heir, as (paraphrased) when his third child was born:

 King: (as servant brings the baby) I have no doubt it's a prince this time! You will bow to him, daughters, for he is SUPERIOR!

(unwraps the baby on-screen, vagina ensues)

King: A GIRL? What SORCERY is this? That white which must have CURSED me!

  • Possible examples in The Thief of Bagdad; Jaffar's stated reason for asking for the hand of the princess of Basra is that he wants to start a dynasty. The sultan of Basra then says, "I tried that once, and what have I got? A daughter!" (Of course, Jaffar is a usurper, for whom having a marriage and heir with royal blood would probably be a bit more important.)
  • Frederich is shown praying desperately for a son in Snow White a Tale of Terror. It seems to be the only reason he married Claudia as he is still in love with his dead wife. Claudia, who admitted to her mirror that she really loved him, is not happy when she realizes this.


  • In the Daughter, Servant, and Mistress of the Empire books by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts, the titular woman is constantly concerned about an heir for her noble house. Of her four children, three of them are male, but guess who ends up inheriting her titles at the end?
    • Of course, that's because two of the boys end up dead and the third is a bit busy being Emperor of the entire freakin' country...
    • She also forces her husband to divorce her so he can marry a fertile woman and get heirs for his house.
  • One of the major plot motivators in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is the Bennetts' lack of a male heir.
  • In CS Lewis' Till We Have Faces, the king of Glome wants a male heir and gets three daughters. His anger about this is the source of much tension in his family and the court. In the end, his oldest daughter seizes, and holds, the throne after his death.
  • The Silmarillion: The kingdom of Númenor had a Agnatic Primogeniture law applied to its line of Kings. Tar-Aldarion, having no male heirs and having only a daughter, changed the Law of Succession, replacing the principle of agnatic primogeniture with that of fully equal primogeniture and she (as Tar-Ancalimë) became the first Ruling Queen of Númenor. Afterwards, the oldest child whether male or female inherits the throne.
    • His legal changes were largely subverted, as only two other queens claimed the throne in the next 16 generations. The odds of this happening by pure chance are extremely low, assuming male and female royal offspring were equally likely to be born and survive to inherit.
    • The last king of Numenor, Ar-Pharazon, averted this by marrying his cousin Miriel, the only child of the previous king, and usurped her throne. It's noted that he broke three Numenorean laws in doing so: he forced Miriel to marry him, marriage between first cousins was forbidden, and the law stated that the eldest child of the previous ruler would ascend to the throne, and not her consort in the case of a woman.
    • In the supplemental material (Unfinished Talesof Numenor and Middleearth), Tolkien wavers on whether the succession law is agnatic or just male-preferred (like the British Royal Family; females inherit in the absence of surviving brothers). He eventually reached a middle road, where daughters with surviving younger brothers turned down the throne.
  • In Frank Herbert's Dune, Duke Leto's concubine Lady Jessica was supposed to have a daughter for the Bene Gesserit, but Leto wanted a son, and she went along with him, although it is not made clear if he wanted a son for reasons of getting an heir or just wanted a son because he wanted a male child.
    • Added to by the fact that the Bene Gesserit's Xanatos Roulette was aiming for a daughter so that they could produce a male heir with a Harkonnen. Making the Bene Gesserit a Heir Club for Witches?
      • It's also implied that Paul more or less forced himself to be born male, and that Jessica's concern for Leto's wishes is a rationalization.
    • In the Dune prequels, the Emperor's wife deliberately prevented this, probably under orders from the Reverend Mothers, who planned to bring the Kwisatz Haderach into existence within a few generations, and needed the throne empty for him to assume.
      • It's mentioned outright in the original novel, and that it was a deal between Shaddam IV and the Bene Gesserit in exchange for their support.
  • In CS Lewis' Prince Caspian, it is when the usurping Evil Uncle finally gets a male heir that jump-starts the plot and gets Prince Caspian moving. Fast.
  • In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, Andor is always ruled by a queen, and it's said that no man has ever survived sitting on the Lion Throne. Every so often there are minor "wars of succession" because it's unclear which woman is next in line.
  • The Assassins of Tamurin: The success of Makina Seval's plot hinges on her adopted daughter Ashken having a male heir with Ardavan. Nilang assures Lale she has a contingency plan — if Ashken's first child should happen to be female, she will quickly be Switched At Birth with a male child before anyone is the wiser.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's The Curse of Chalion, Roya Orico grasped that the titular curse lay with him and convinced his Royina to secretly lie with his (evil) Chancellor (who was at least polite about it) and said Chancellor's even more evil brother (who was not). When that plan proved unsuccessful (and Royina Sara threatened to kill herself), he summoned his much younger half brother Tediz to court along with his sister Iselle. Bujold eventually subverts it when Iselle (the bright one to begin with) is left the last of Fonsa's line alive when the titular curse is finally broken.
  • In the first book of Melanie Rawn's Sunrunner series, Dragon Prince, the realm is in an incredibly fragile political situation due solely to the fact High Prince Roelstra has seventeen daughters, yet no male heir; like Henry VIII in real life, Roelstra has put aside wife after wife, and his daughters (legitimate and illegitimate) are both opportunists and opportunities, politically. One of the book's key intrigues rests on ensuring (via an elaborate deception) that Roelstra's fourth and current wife bears — or appears to bear — a son.
  • Andre Norton examples:
    • The Jargoon Pard: Lady Heroise is determined to bear a son she can mold into her puppet and so rule Car do Prawn. Unfortunately her child is a daughter. Luckily the expectant couple in the next room has just delivered a son. But unbeknownst to Heroise the father just happens to be her own long lost half-brother....!
    • The Crystal Gryphon and the prequel short story "Of the Shaping of Ulm's Heir" are begun by this trope.
      • Lord Ulric of Ulmsdale had been unable to father any living children, so he divorced his second wife and married the widowed Lady Tephana because she was of proven fertility, having a son from a previous marriage. This led to a great deal of trouble starting at the end of the short story and picking up at the beginning of the novel, when Lady Tephana utterly rejected her son by Ulric - Kerovan - and settled down to scheming on behalf of her first-marriage son and later her daughter by Ulric. (The latter could inherit if Kerovan died or was publicly rejected as being unqualified to rule, e.g. because of mental or physical infirmity).
      • Joisan, the female lead of The Crystal Gryphon is involved in another potential Succession Crisis. Her paternal uncle, the lord of Ithdale, has no children but two potential heirs: Joisan (his half-brother's only child) and his younger sister's son, Toross. Although Joisan has been in an Arranged Marriage since early childhood, Toross's mother keeps trying to throw her together with Toross in the hopes of securing the succession for him. And Toross goes along with it because he's genuinely in love with Joisan.
  • In Piers Anthony's A Spell For Chameleon, the Magician Trent must marry the Sorceress Iris in order to remain in Xanth; this condition is set because only Magicians can rule in Xanth, and in hopes that their powers will ensure that they have a Magician son. In The Source of Magic, the widowed Trent has difficulty ensuring an heir because he's still in love with his first wife; they do succeed, in time, in having a child, but a daughter. Finally, in Night Mare, when Magicians are being removed as soon as they are King, during an invasion, Loophole Abuse is invoked: the laws of Xanth forbid a ruling queen, but do not explicitly require that kings be male. Sorceresses, both Iris and her daughter, ascend the throne as Kings.
  • The entire plot of the Merry Gentry series is The Fair Folk being mostly infertile, and whether Prince Cel or Merry can deliver an heir first.
  • The House of Rahl from Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series takes it a step further: Not only must they have a male heir, but the heir must have the magical gift. More recent generations (particularly Darken Rahl) took to killing any female and/or non-gifted children.
    • Also inverted in the case of the Confessors. Any male child of a Confessor had to be killed because they invariably ended up abusing their power.
  • The cause of more than a few problems in Robin Hobb's The Farseer. Chivalry, the crown prince, caused a scandal when he married who he wanted instead of for politics, and then she turned out to be too infirm to carry a child to term. When word came that Chivalry had a bastard son, Fitz, he stepped down in favor of his brother, Verity. Verity eventually marries but wrecks his health so much with using the magical Skill that he can't father children, so Verity takes over Fitz's body to have sex with his wife in hopes of continuing the royal line, even if through a bastard, since the Skill is strongest in the royal bloodline and if lost there may die out altogether.
  • A side plot in the Last Herald-Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey is that King Randale of Valdemar is sterile. To hide this fact, Vanyel sires a child on Randale's lifebonded mate (at her request).
  • Barrayar has Emperor Gregor, last of a Royally Screwed-Up line of emperors, who seemed quite averse to marriage and heir-production. Which caused no end of trouble for his Prime Minister, Aral Vorkosigan, who was arguably the most legitimate claimant to the throne but adamantly did not want the job. Naturally, Aral's son Miles spent a lot of time fretting too.
    • Emperor Gregor has no clear cut heir. Aral's mother was a princess, meaning that the Vorkosigans are closest to the throne in terms of strict biology, but one interpretation of Barrayaran law states that women cannot inherit, nor can they pass down inheritance rights to their sons. Should Gregor die, civil war would erupt over whether or not to honor the old laws of inheritance. So basically everyone in the empire is holding their breath, waiting for Gregor to make some legitimate imperial babies and side step the issue of inheritance entirely. (Achieved by Cryoburn. Where Miles comments that his wife is useful for more things that producing their brood of children.)
  • Honor Harrington example: The Star Kingdom of Manticore has allowed primary succession by women ever since their second monarch, Elizabeth the First. The current queen is Elizabeth the Third. Grayson has recently tweaked the law to allow women to inherit (with a grandfather clause for current heirs), especially making sense due to the population being 75% female. The Andermani had a better solution: their first female Emperor, Gustav VII, dealt with rules forbidding female inheritance by declaring herself to be a man. It helped she took control of the Imperial Fleet before hand. "He" is considered one of the best rulers of an empire whose rulers are well known for their eccentricities.
  • Darkover is obsessed with this trope and wanting sons, though with several exceptions. The Aillard line is matriarchal and matrilineal, and Renunciates are forbidden from playing the game; they must vow to never make a traditional royal marriage or become a concubine, and "to bear children only in [their] own time and season," not for their family's ambitions. This is justified because laran is determined genetically.
  • This trope is played with by Sheri S. Tepper in three novels. In Six Moon Dance the founding mothers of the planet Newholme create an artificial scarcity of female babies, and a dominant ideology that females are the stronger sex and males are the weaker, leading to the population desiring female heirs. In Raising the Stones the power derived by males from their heirs is eradicated by legally denying the father-child relationship. Heirs are are only accepted through the maternal line, and any male claiming fathership is frowned upon. And in The Gate to Womens Country the women and men of the story live in different quarters, and when a male comes of age they must choose which quarter they permanently wish to live in. If they, for example, choose the men?s quarter, then their mother can no longer claim them as an heir; if they choose the women?s quarter, then the father no longer has fathership.
  • A particularly ironic lampshade is placed on Rhys in Katharine Kerr's Deverry Cycle, when he puts aside his wife for being infertile...and she remarries and is immediately knocked up by her new husband, much to the amusement of everyone involved, except Rhys.
  • In The Castle of Otranto, a nobleman's sole male heir is mysteriously killed, and he immediately begins making plans to marry his late son's fiancee, annulling his current marriage and consigning his wife and daughter to ruin. Played with, in that he acts this way because he fears that failure to produce another son will bring an ancestral curse down on him, not because he actually cares about his bloodline's future.
  • In Coin of the Realm, Princess Rosalind's father had six daughters before finally getting the son he wanted to succeed him. He regards his daughters as nothing more than "coin to be traded", with no more value than whatever he can get for marrying them off. This, naturally, doesn't sit well with Rosalind at all.
  • Averted in Lynda Robinson's Lord Meren mysteries, in which Meren is perfectly happy having his adopted son Kysen as his legal heir. His relatives, on the other hand, loathe the idea of a common-born adoptee carrying on the family name, and keep badgering the widowed Meren to remarry and produce a "proper" son.
  • An inverted non-royal example in Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned. Maharet, one of the first vampires, had a daughter before being turned. Since then, she has tracked all of her matrilineal descendants without regard for any descendants of males. While this made more sense in ancient times without reliable (or any kind) paternity testing (although she did assume that all women cheat), this is more of a tradition than anything in modern times.
  • In Robert E. Howard's stories of Conan the Barbarian after he became king, several times it is a plot point that Conan's death creates a problem, as he has no son. Oddly enough, we never see any pressure on him to marry and have one.
  • In Cornelia Funke's Inkheart series, the Adderhead is terrified of death; and somehow this makes him think he needs a male heir.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe gives us the misandrist Hapans. But Ta'a Chume never had a daughter, so her daughter-in-law, from the primitive and even more misandrist Dathomiri, becomes the new queen. But mostly she doesn't want Jedi to rule her kingdom. Three guesses what religion her granddaughter joins.
  • Male heirs are the norm in Safehold, with the Princedom of Corisande being of particular note, as Prince Hektor regards his heir as an Inadequate Inheritor, and would gladly make his daughter Irys the heir of Corisandian law allowed it. There are exceptions though, primarily with Sharleyan of Chisholm, who inherited, and kept, the Crown despite the shadow of a less competent queen hanging over her. She later became the co-ruler and The Lancer to Cayleb of Charis, and nobody has any doubt that Cayelb and Sharleyan's daughter Alahnah will be their heir in the fullness of time.
  • Septimus Heap has only female Queens, men can't become rulers, and there never were any Kings.

Live Action TV

  • An episode of The West Wing features a muck-raking and inaccurate 'expose' memoir from a former staffer fired for incompetence which, amongst other things, alleges that the President wore special undergarments in order to produce a male heir when conceiving the child that ended up being his youngest daughter. The President is bemused, to say the least.
  • The episode "Heart of Gold" of Firefly has Burgess, a man who accidentally knocked up a whore and wants the child, as it is male, for an heir.
    • It's heavily implied that he didn't do it accidentally; rather, Burgess' wife is implied to be infertile. When he receives the news that it's a boy, his wife is present and appears to be as relieved as Burgess is.
  • The Tudors has this in spades, not surprisingly considering that it's a show about Henry VIII.
  • In Robin Hood, Guy of Gisborne makes it very clear on a couple of occasions that he expects Marian to provide him with an heir as soon as possible. He even uses it as a pick up line after the death of her father.

  What better way to grieve than to create new life?

  • Downton Abbey has a plot related to the entail of the estate, which is a similar issue to the situation in Pride and Prejudice whereby the daughters cannot inherit and the male heir is somewhat distant to the family.
  • The Palace featured a haughty princess scheming to dethrone her younger brother by destroying his reputation. (There was also another brother in line before her, but getting rid of him would be a piece of cake — assuming the public even let him become king in the first place.)
  • Merlin When Uther couldn't get an heir, he turned to magic, and it gave him one, but cost him the life of his queen, Ygraine.
  • The NCIS episode "Newborn King" features a Marine who was sent home after she got pregnant from a fling with a soldier from Afghanistan. The father turned out to be the only heir to a tribe that owned a valuable piece of land, and when he died, his family became very interested in getting their hands on that baby, sending a trio of Russian mercenaries after the Marine. It all ends up for naught, as not only does Team Gibbs subdue the mercenaries, but the Marine gives birth to a girl, who is ineligible to inherit.
  • A version that pops up in Smallville has to count. Lionel Luthor might not have been all that concerned with his son, but when his Alternate Universe counterpart comes to the regular world to take the dead-Lionel's place, he makes it clear that he wants Lex to carry on his legacy and be the heir to the Luthor "kingdom". He actually ousts his daughter from the exact position that he wants a Luthor heir in, because she's not his son. (Though her earlier Heel Face Turn might also have been a contributing factor.) Lionel is so obsessed with bringing his son back to take his place that he's also completely willing to kill said daughter to make it happen.
  • A subversion occurs in Farscape. The crew lands on a Sebacean breakaway colony where succession goes to the eldest child regardless of gender but the law states that a husband and wife must rule together. As such, the princess cannot become empress unless she finds a male who can give her children before she reaches a certain birth day (and, due to some gene poisoning by her brother, only Crichton fits the bill.)


  • Subverted in William Shakespeare's The Winters Tale. His courtier want Leontes to remarry, to provide an heir, but the oracle had said that he would live without an heir unless his lost daughter was found, and so he refused.
  • Anne of the Thousand Days, a play by Maxwell Anderson about Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII.

Video Games

  • Gender Inverted Trope: The dual office of Empress and Apostle of Begnion in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn. The two offices are inadvertently separated when the first-born female of the current generation is thought to have been assassinated, leaving an Empress who cannot hear the Goddess's voice. The true apostle isn't dead, though.
  • Gender Inverted Trope: the Fey Clan in Ace Attorney values females over males because only women can be spirit mediums. This means that if a couple has a daughter, the father gets pressed out of the light from both directions. End result: Kurain Village, home of the Fey Clan, has an extremely disproportionate divorce rate for its size.
  • Gender Inverted Trope... Again: In Suikoden V, the country of Falerna is ruled by a royal house who practice female inheritance of the throne. The Queen rules the country and takes a male consort (decided by an Inevitable Tournament between the country's various noble houses and other competitors), who becomes commander of the country's armies and Knight Commander of the Queen's royal knights. The main character, who is the eldest-born prince, has no right of succession and is groomed to becoming a statesman or a general in the armies, while his younger sister is groomed to be Queen.
    • The end of the game sees the main character be granted the duties of army commander and royal knight commander by your (newly queened) sister, who currently has no Consort. Hopefully you're not taking over any other duties of the Consort along with it...
  • Persona 4 has the odd example of Naoto Shirogane. As a female born into a long family of detectives she's convinced that she'll never be able to continue the family tradition as a girl and tries to pass herself off as male until she's exposed. Interesting this seems to be all in her head and not her family's view at all. We never meet her grandfather, only one of his servants, but from the message he delivers it's clear he has no doubt that his granddaughter will make a fine detective and in fact was concerned that she wasn't being true to herself by faking being male.
  • Poor Eva Ushiromiya. She and her father knew she was more competent and a better fit as the heir than her older brother, but their father refused to allow her to be the heir. But then she married before Krauss, had a child before Natsuhi (and Natsuhi never had a son whereas Eva did), and groomed him to be the perfect heir to steal the title from the incompetent Krauss. Oh, and when she solves the epitaph...
  • Oddly not mentioned at all in Chrono Trigger, after the King disowns Marle.
  • In The Witcher 2, one of the triggers that start the events of the game is that king Foltest has a lack of proper male heirs: He has a bastard son, who is still technically higher on the succession line than Foltest's acknowledged daughter (though said daughter is also his niece, which possibly explains that part). The poor boy is assassinated halfway through the game, leaving his other sister (Foltest's youngest, a bastard daughter) as heir incumbent. Geralt's actions may end up helping to legitimize her claim.
  • An integral part of Sengoku is ensuring you have male heirs. If you don't, and your clan leader dies, you lose.
  • In World of Warcraft, it' sindicated that Magni was disappointed because his only child Moira was not a male heir. As a ressult, Moira became quite bitter, and eventually fell in love with the Dark Iron Dwarves' emperor, before returning to Ironforge to claim her throne after her father turned into diamond in a ritual gone wrong.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In the Blazing Blade, King Desmond wanted his daughter Guinevere to inherit instead of his son Zephiel. Two deals go against it: this trope and her illegitimacy. Sword of Seals states that she does eventually defy it via becoming Queen after Zephiel's defeat, but implies that it won't be easy.
    • Implied in Fire Emblem Fates: While Birthright states that Nohr has no real problems regarding the gender of their rulers (and Camilla abdicating on Leo has more to do with her believing he's far more fit as a King), Conquest all but states that Hoshidan women can be Queen Dowagers or Regents, but not necessarily Queens: the newly crowned Queen Hinoka says that despite being the second eldest of the Hoshidan Royals she never expected to be Queen, implying that her younger brother Takumi would've been Crown Prince Ryoma's heir in case he died child-less. And since both Takumi and Ryoma died without siring children, Hinoka becomes Queen since she's the eldest surviving Royal.

Web Comics

  • Galasso in Shortpacked keeps trying to get people to breed with his daughter Conquesta, even though she is a decent heir herself.
    • Connie also mentioned to Ethan (after they had sex at Galasso's command) that she was "on the pill", indicating that she may be a bit more assertive than she lets on. She eventually gets sick of this and starts her own business, which appears to be more successful than Galasso's own.
  • Gender Inverted Trope in Drowtales due to a matriarchal society. Thanks to an injury from an enemy, Quain'tana has been unable to produce a suitable female heir for her clan despite having several daughters. The first hates her and mingles freely with the enemy, the second is possessed by a demon, and her adopted daughter was disowned after being tainted and generally considered a failure. She eventually resorts to stealing her eldest daughter's first child to solve this.
  • Girl Genius: The need to produce a suitable heir to the title of Storm King was central to the plans of the Knights of Jove to reclaim Europa (due to the fact that the Fifty Royal Families care a great deal about succession as security to their power; the Sparks aren't really all that bothered about it). Gil guesses that it was complicated by a long line of fops, idiots, madmen, and women. Apparently, Lucrezia Mongfish solved their problem with the aid of genetic engineering.

Western Animation


 Marge: Sweetie, sometimes a daddy and a mommy decide to live apart. It's not your fault. It's just that you came out the wrong sex and ruined everything.

Homer: So grow a penis or get lost.

Lisa: (grunts and struggles) I can't.

Homer: Bye bye!

Lisa: Well why can't your heir be female. Or why can't we elect our leaders?

Homer: I wonder if I could cannonize a child?

Lisa: Leaving!

  • On Batman the Brave And The Bold, R'as al-Ghul (see under Comic Books above) tries to convince Robin to join him as his heir, noting that as effective as Talia is, she can't compete with a male heir. Talia is not pleased, and helps Robin and his companions escape R'as' Death Trap.
  • Gender-Inverted in W.I.T.C.H, where succession to the throne of Meridian/Metamoor is traditionally female, which is why the younger Elyon Brown is the rightful heir to the throne, over her older brother, Prince Phobos. Then again, considering he's a Complete Monster who probably killed their parents, that's a good thing.

Real Life

  • Henry VIII of England divorced his first wife because of this. He even went so far as to reject the Roman Catholic Church because they wouldn't let him get his marriages annulled. He had some justification--his father was an upstart who'd taken the throne after a long civil war, and he couldn't be sure a daughter would be accepted. To make matters worse, enemies could make a very good case that each of his daughters was illegitimate--and in the case of Elizabeth, that she wasn't even his daughter. See: The House of Tudor for more on him and his family, including Elizabeth I.
  • Parodied in this Onion article.
  • Absolutely Truth in Television throughout most of history, and in much of the world. You were an unfortunate queen if you couldn't bear a son — if you were lucky, the king wouldn't set you aside. Otherwise, you'd end up divorced, beheaded, poisoned, locked up in a convent, etc. Princesses becoming queens regnant (ruling queens) had all sorts of problems. No one wanted a female ruler, because if she married her kingdom would, most likely, be combined with that of her husband. The Iberian kingdoms solved this problem by having their queens marry their close blood relatives, so the crown stayed inside the kingdom. Queen Maria I of Portugal married her UNCLE to avoid marrying a foreign prince. They had 3 surviving children, and their eldest son married in turn his aunt (Maria's sister). Mercifully, this marriage produced no children. A lot of kingdoms (notably France) refused to allow women to inherit the throne at all.
    • The Iberian example above was not the worst in that corner of Europe. The House of Hapsburg lucked into Castile/Aragon/Burgundy/the Low Countries because the Houses of Valois and Trastámara married a princess into their dynasty and failed to pop out a male heir. To avoid being on the receiving end of this the two branches of their house swapped most of their princesses between the Spanish and Austrian courts. The long term effects of this policy... did not work out too well for the Madrid branch, and the male line of the Vienna branch puttered to a halt not long afterwards with predictable results (luckily for them, the people who ended up the heirs were content to call themselves Habsburgs).
    • The abovementioned French Salic Law that prohibits females from ruling France or inheriting noble titles in their own right dates from the 6th Century and directly caused, among other things, the Hundred Years War. On the other hand, it also prevented many English upstarts (since a lot of French princesses married English kings) from staking their claim.
  • The Unfortunate Implications of China's One Child Policy is that, since families want male heirs, they've been having (or keeping) too many sons and not enough daughters, which means not enough wives to go around (which anyone could tell you is what happens when it's only acceptable to have sons!). Oops! The government eventually had to compromise by allowing girls to inherit their family name and giving families "incentives" (read: money) to have baby girls.
    • Unfortunate Implications aside, that would have been an effective population control in a generation or two.
      • It has worked insofar that India's population could surpass that of China in about a decade.
  • In ancient Rome, if you weren't able to produce a biological heir, adopting one worked just as fine. In fact, the majority of Roman emperors inherited the empire after having been adopted by the previous emperor. Some even disregarded their biological children in favour of an heir of their choosing. Julius Caesar, for example, had a son by Cleopatra, but chose to adopt his sister's grandson as his firstborn son and made him his heir instead. This adopted son later became known as Emperor Augustus, who in turn adopted his wife's first son (fathered by her previous husband) as his heir. This proved to be a smart tactic, as often the person who seemed best suited to take over the empire would be adopted by the emperor, instead of trusting that pure biology would make someone a great leader.
    • Julius Caesar couldn't adopt any of his illegitimate sons (he had several, Caesarion was merely the most famous) because they weren't Roman citizens. He had only one child who was a Roman citizen, Julia Caesaris, and she and her infant son predeceased him.
      • Fair point, but, Caesar was the law during his last years. If he wanted Caesarion to be his lawful heir he would have made it so (and there were many among his assassins who feared he might). Caesar was just smart enough to know that while he could adjust the law to make Caesarion his legal heir, the Roman population would probably not accept it, so he chose his well-apt great-nephew instead.
      • Who then went on and murdered Caesarion just in case he would dare to claim the throne as his.
  • In Japan, there was a rather large controversy about there not being a suitable male heir to inherit the imperial throne, such that it came to the point that they were about to change the constitution to allow a woman to do so. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your view re: tradition v. feminism) someone finally popped out a boy, meaning that the question was staved off for at least another generation.
    • The former Imperial Princess had actually suffered from severe stress-induced illnesses from the pressure, to where her husband actually publicly rebuked his whole family for it.
      • The actual problem is not a female emperor - there were already some. But in the whole time none of them had a child that inherited the throne. By now this already developed into an unofficial rule and having only a baby girl means that nobody after her can inherit. Another part of the problem is that all other lines of the imperial family were given surnames (= commoners which cannot inherit) after WWII and no distant cousin can come to the rescue after it.
  • Five European countries have done away with this altogether: Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, and Denmark. In other words, these countries provide that a woman can inherit the throne even if she has younger brothers (sometimes known as "absolute primogeniture"). The first of these changes was passed in Sweden effective January 1, 1980, and so far no woman has actually inherited a crown via absolute primogeniture; Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria is likely to eventually become the first woman in the modern world to inherit a crown despite having a living brother. (Even though the Netherlands and Denmark have queens now, those queens didn't have any brothers.)
    • There are occasional rumours of the UK doing something similar, and even if they did so the top three in the line of succession (Charles, Elizabeth II's eldest child as well as eldest son and Charles's two sons) wouldn't change. This is complicated by the fact that the Commonwealth nations that are still constitutional monarchies (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, etc.) need to be in agreement otherwise you might wind up with multiple, separate lines of succession or Australia becoming a republic.
      • And done...the Commonwealth apparently wants Will and Kate's first to be the heir whether it's a girl or a boy.
    • Of the other European countries that still have monarchies, Spain and Monaco have succession laws like the UK's male-preference primogeniture (younger brothers inherit the crown before their older sisters). Luxembourg and Liechtenstein follow what's known as "semi-Salic law", in which a woman can only inherit the crown if the entire royal family runs out of male heirs. Another once-common succession law was the "Salic law" (the non-"semi" version), in which only male descendants in male line could inherit the crown at all; this was applied in France and some other countries, but none of the extant European monarchies still follow it (on the other hand, Japan does).
      • Russia's quasi-semi-Salic house rules meant that had Alexei died before his father Nicholas II, Nicholas's brother Mikhail would have succeeded him. This possibility horrified Nicholas and Alexandra, and likely drove them into the arms (figuratively) of Rasputin.
    • In light of this, and other, gender tropes, some of these monarchies (UK, Netherlands, Denmark) may give the title of queen to the wife of a male heir, but give a title like prince consort to the husband of a female heir: If they named the husband King, people might get the impression that he's the head of state. Also, from the 1600s to the 1900s it was considered shameful and effeminate in much of the West for a man to take a title, even King, based on his wife's status.
      • The UK example complicates things even further, as because nobody really likes Prince Charles' second wife Camilla, she will probably only ever be referred to as "Princess Consort Camilla" should Charles take the throne, even though she will legally be Queen. Weird, eh?
        • In recent years though public opinion has been warming up to Camilla, and when Charles does become King in due time, there might be very few who would object to a Queen Camilla.
  • Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden completely averted this trope by making his daughter Christina the heir of the throne. He even ordered that Christina should be brought up as a prince, which means that she received an education that was completely reserved to the males. Her gender role was so inverted that Axel Oxenstierna even wrote that "She is not at all like a female", because she had "a bright intelligence". Although, it must be pointed out that Christina herself didn't like being a queen.
    • Unfortunately did not work out so well in this case, and it's notable that Gustavus Adolphus did have older illegitimate children, including one who was a military officer and by all accounts brilliant. Christina tired of ruling, abdicated to her Cousin, and the empire her father put together did not last.
  • Also averted by Maria Theresa of Austria. When a series of unfortunate events killed of all other available male heirs, her father issued a pragmatic sanction that left the Habsburg domains to her. He paid many rulers to accept it and not contest her claim to the throne once she would succeed him. Of course, when he did die, many thought this was a prime opportunity to go back on their word and grab some land. It mostly didn't work out (Silesia was lost to Prussia, the Habsburgs almost gained Bavaria, but otherwise Maria Theresa went on to rule the Habsburg domains for 40 years).
  • The Netherlands avert this BIG-time. When Prince Willem gains the throne, he will be the first male monarch on the Dutch throne in over 120 years.
    • This happened more by coincidence than anything else. Wilhelmina was the sole surviving child of William III, Juliana was a single child, and Beatrix has no male siblings.
  • Another Real Life aversion: Jadwiga, a medieval king of Poland. Yes, her official title was King, not Queen. Apparently, she couldn't rule the country as a Queen, but there was no rule specifying the King must be male.
    • Likewise Maria Theresa (above) was proclaimed King of Hungary. Moriamur pro rege nostra Maria Theresa!
  • It was this issue that started a period in English history known as The Anarchy, when Henry I named his lone surviving child, Matilda, his heir. It was a bit more complicated, in that not only were the Anglo-Norman barons wary of having a woman on the throne, but her husband was from Anjou, Normandy's rival. A faction of barons helped Stephen of Blois onto the throne, which plunged England into 19 years of civil war until a resolution was reached where Stephen's own sons would be bypassed for succession in favor of Matilda's son, the future Henry II, who was the founder of England's Plantagenet dynasty, which of course produced some of England's most famous kings, like Richard the Lionheart, Edward I 'Longshanks', and Edward III.
    • Course, by then Stephen only had one legitimate son left, who had no interest in ruling.
      • The situation was even more complicated than that: Salic law didn't just bar women from the throne; it also barred male claimants who were descended from the royal bloodline via female ancestors; since medieval European princesses invariably married foreign kings and dukes,this was put into place to keep the crown passing into the hands of a foreigner. Although it was legally reinforced in France in the early 1300's (precisely because the French nobility could foresee the aforementioned emergency occurring in the near-to-middling future), it actually existed since the days of the Frankish Empire and was legally extant at the time of the Anarchy. In the case of the Anarchy, the scenario was this: On one hand, a woman who was the heiress of the previous king (and Duke of Normandy; that part is important because it was really questionable whether or not the Salic Law applied in England); on the other hand, a man who was the son of a daughter of William the Conqueror and was himself considered to be non-Norman... lawyers had a field day with this. One of the accomplishments of the Anarchy, by the by, was to establish both the legal principle of the Salic Law not applying in Britain and the idea that practically, a woman could not hold the English crown...both of which had huge reprecussions a few generations down the line.
  • This trope still exists today as Real Life examples can be found in modern China, India, and other nations, where the birth of a female is often met with disappointment. The wish for a male is reinforced by several patriarchal traditions; the male child is usually the one who passes down the family name while the female takes her husband's name, the male child inherits the property while anything inherited by the female goes to her husband, and the male would be responsible for caring for his parents in their old age, while the female was expected to marry into her husband's family and care for his parents.
    • As noted above, this has had rather terrible consequences for China. However, India has not been immune to the same pressures: despite the absence of a policy requiring that families limit their size, increasing prosperity and a government awareness campaign on overpopulation have caused many Indians to want to limit the size of their families (typically 2-3 children). However, the traditional attitudes remain, and many Indian women selectively abort female children, although this is technically illegal. While the gender ratios in India are nowhere nearly as skewed as in China, it is a problem that the Indian government is taking quite seriously.
      • Lest you think that this is a problem of India and China only, the phenomenon is actually running rampant in the increasingly-prosperous nations of Asia, and to a much lesser extent Africa as well. Perhaps surprisingly, the developing countries of the Arab World have been largely exempt from this; explanations range from the explicit ban on killing female newborns in Islam[1] and the abortion taboo in Islamic culture to the Arab custom of giving a dower rather than a dowry (i.e. the groom and his family pay/give a gift to the bride and her family, not the other way around, as in India).
  • Dom Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil, reacted differently to the fact that neither of his sons survived: He thought that was a sign that the monarchy was doomed. This was one reason he showed no resistance to being overthrown. Sadly, Brazil pretty much went to hell after his overthrow (republican rule was a ploy by the wealthy landowning [2] elite as a ploy to maintain power).
  1. A pre-Islamic Arab custom explicitly denounced by God and the Prophet as barbaric
  2. and until a year before the establishment of the Republic, slaveowning