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A character is offered the crown of a kingdom that he has not inherited through a normal line of succession, even if he has Royal Blood. Some kingdoms normally select their kings rather than have them inherit, or the last line may have become extinct.
Frequently a culmination of A Protagonist Shall Lead Them, if the character was not heir to the throne. Leads to an Awesome Moment of Crowning often enough, though he may refuse. In contrast to Standard Hero Reward, there is no bride, and usually there is no king already, so the character becomes the monarch, not the heir.
Contrast Unexpected Successor, where the rules just lead to someone unusual, and the Rightful King Returns. May be a Cincinnatus when the government becomes a republic after the character refuses the crown. If the villain offers the hero this, it is often We Can Rule Together.
The prospect of this can lead to a Succession Crisis as nobles intrigue about whom to offer it to. And it has not always settled the matter.
Anime and Manga
- At the end of one Tournament Arc in Dragon Ball, Goku is offered the seat of God by Kami-sama Himself. Goku thinks that would be a boring job and turns it down.
- Considering how we rarely see Kami doing anything, he's probably right.
- At the end of Fullmetal Alchemist, Olivier and Roy allow Grumman to be Fuhrer in place of Bradley.
- Because she never wanted the hassle and he is blind. He gets better, though, and Word of God says he becomes Fuhrer down the road.
- Judge Dredd has been asked to be the new Chief Justice of Mega-City One on several occasions after having saved the city from grave dangers that wiped out or killed off the previous sitting ruling order. Every time, Dredd turns them down as he can't stand the more bureaucratic side of Justice Dept. and prefers dispensing justice on the streets.
- In The Bee and the Orange Tree, a king offers to make a nephew his heir.
while her father, thinking her at the bottom of the sea, was making up his mind to choose another heir. When the king spoke of this matter to the queen she told him to do what seemed right, for her dear Amy was dead, and she could hope for no more children. He had waited long enough, she said, and after the fifteen years that had passed since she had lost her, it would be out of the question to expect ever to see her again. The king, there fore, determined to ask his brother to choose from among his sons the one most worthy of reigning, and to send him the prince at once.
- Norville Barnes inherits Hudsucker Industries in The Hudsucker Proxy due to the fact that he happened to stumble into the top floor at exactly the right time, with the right amount of dim-witted, to be perfect for Sidney Mussburger's plan, following Waring Hudsucker's 44-story drop.
- Judge Dredd. In one of the rare moments in the movie that is entirely in-character for Dredd, after he saves the day the remaining Judges ask him if he would like to be the new Chief Judge, after Rico had already murdered Judge Griffin and the rest of the Council of Five. Just like in the comics, he insists that he prefers patrolling the city streets.
- Sure, I could have stayed in the past. I could have even been king. But in my own way, I *am* king.
- Evil Magician Trent, at the end of A Spell for Chameleon is told that his exile will be rescinded on two conditions. First, he must marry; second, he must accept the crown.
- Valentine remembers this in his Backstory in Lord Valentine's Castle by Robert Silverberg.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter of Mars is offered several thrones. He suggests friends of his for every one, except for his father-in-law's, where he says the father-in-law is not proven dead, so his son will act as regent.
- In Lewis Carroll's Sylvie and Bruno, how their father become King of Elfland.
- In Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters, how Verence becomes king of the Discworld kingdom of Lancre. Though the witches made everyone else, including Verence, think he was a legitimate successor.
- In the Backstory, General Tacticus is an example: a general of Ankh-Morpork, he was chosen as Genua's king -- and promptly attacked Ankh-Morpork as the greatest danger to Genua.
- In Guards Guards: When the dragon incinerates the prospective king, the high priest instead offers the crown to the dragon. Although the dragon doesn't take it (it's imitation gold, and the priest gets roasted instead) people aren't exactly lining up to point out this technicality.
- Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Liu Bei is offered on multiple occasions Jingzhou, a critically strategic province, by its ruler, Liu Biao. He turns it down out of respect to Liu Biao and his heirs, much to the frustration of his generals and advisers.
- Also heavily subverted. Usurpers force the people they're usurping to offer them their throne...then turn it down in the name of propriety and force their victims to do it again. Usually they only accept on the third offer.
- In Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest, Prince Rupert recounts how his father was offered the crown of Bohemia -- and held it briefly, until military defeat drove him off. Although this is an alternate history, that was taken from Real Life.
- In the Wheel of Time series Rand is offered the crown of Illian (he had already taken many other places by force who feared he meant to take the crowns, but the Illainers were the first to just come out and offer it in gratitude) and also offers the Crown of Tear to a nobleman (as part of a deal to end the resistance of several recalcitrant lords - of whom the noble offered the crown used to belong before being won over) and later the throne of Arad Doman (which he was in the process of stabilizing) to another, or Amadicia if he wanted(which Rand had no presence in, but foresaw the need in the future).
- In The Belgariad, the kingdom of Sendaria chose their first king by election. (Their previous ruler had been the Duchess of Erat aka Polgara the Sorceress, who had spent several centuries conditioning the population towards sensibility and levelheadedness, so it makes sense.) Due to the lengthy and muddled voting process, the winning regent (a turnip farmer) had completely forgotten he was in the running and was a bit worried when all these nobles showed up and fell to their knees before him. Mostly because he was busy fertilising the field they knelt in.
- In the Prydain Chronicles, protagonist Taran is stunned when his old friend, the childless King Smoit of Cadiffor, offers to adopt him and make him his heir. He declines, however, out of a genuine desire to find the identities of his birth parents, and later is declared High King of the entire country anyway.
- In Rupert of Hentzau, the sequel to The Prisoner of Zenda, Rudolf Rassendyll is offered the crown in earnest, after the death of the king of Ruritania whom he exactly resembles.
- In The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn is of Royal Blood and has shown the traditional "signs" of kingship, but the Kingship has been in abeyance for hundreds of years (and the line of descent he claims has been rejected by Gondor before), so Faramir asks the people of Gondor if Aragorn should be king. They say yes.
- Merry in the Meredith Gentry series is an official heir, but is probably not going to get it due to her bloodline. Then she is first-and-a-half in line due to some interesting politics. Then she gives up her chance at the crown to save Frost from being inhuman for no-one-knows-how-long. Then, as a now non-heir, she is offered the crown again, in a straight example of this trope.
- In The Kingpriest Trilogy, Brother Beldyn, a monk with with some of the most powerful clerical magic ever seen, is revealed as the mythical Lightbringer. But even though the Lightbringer prophecies say nothing about the throne, Kurnos, the reigning Kingpriest, nonetheless sees him as a threat to his power and so uses dark magic borrowed from Fistandandilus to try and eliminate him. Between Kurnos' violence overreaction to Beldyn and a rebellion in a faraway province, along with Beldyn's incredible healing powers which cure an otherwise uncurable plague in that region, Istar's public favor swings rapidly in Beldyn's direction, leading him to eventually overthrow the Kingpriest and claim his throne.
- More literally, Beldyn seeks to claim the Miceram, or Crown of Power, from its hidden resting place. After entering the lower sanctum and encountering ghouls which render Beldyn unconscious, Cathan Mac Severin encounters the spirit of the last Kingpriest to hold the crown, who offers to give the crown to him rather than Beldyn. He refuses, insisting that the Miceram doesn't belong to him, but to the Lightbringer. However, due to some creative prophecy interpretation, it is later revealed that Cathan really was the true Lightbringer, and thus the true heir to the Kingpriest's throne. However, this comes long after Beldyn (now named Beldinas) has tipped all the way into Knight Templar status and stretched the Balance to the breaking point. Cathan learns of this after crossing the continent with the Discs of Mishakel, far too late to stop Beldinas from demanding supreme power from the gods and causing the Cataclysm. He angsts over What Might Have Been, but the god Paladine consoles him by telling him that it really couldn't have gone any other way for him. Now, Lord Soth, on the other hand...
- In L. Frank Baum's Queen Zizi of Ix, Bud is offered the crown after the king dies and the laws decree that the forty-seventh person to pass through Nole's eastern gate at sunrise is the new monarch.
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Scarlet Citadel", Arpello offers to control things until they chose a king -- and then says that he is king.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire Maester Aemon was offered the crown, even though his position would normally remove him from the line of succession. He turned them down.
- And to make sure wars would not be fought over this, he took ANOTHER vow that would keep him from inheriting a title, by joining the Night's Watch.
- In Twilight Jacob inherited the position of Alpha male, but didn't want the responsibility so he gave it to Sam. This is what allows him to disobey the 'Alpha's' orders in Breaking Dawn by running away and forming his own pack with Leah and Seth.
- In Inheritance Eragon is offered the chance to lead the Empire, but he declines, as being a Dragon Rider is enough for him.
Live Action TV
- Stargate Atlantis, "The Tower":
Weir: They didn't offer you King?
- Not a king per se, but on Babylon 5 the Narn people offer to make G'Kar an absolute ruler after he more or less single-handedly liberates the planet by organizing and supplying the rebellion, then working with Londo to orchestrate the Centauri withdrawal. He is horrified and disgusted at the suggestion, as although he's the last member of the Kha'Ri from before the war, they spoke with many voices, not just his one. He will sit in the Kha'Ri when they do reform it, however.
- Londo is, however offered the Imperial Throne, takes it. So Does Vir. Delenn refused leadership of the Grey Council several times, only taking it to break the old council. The there is Sheridan...
- Star Trek TNG Worf at least twice, once as Regent for Life with the Duras Sisters, and again after a Klingon Promotion.
- The song "Alligator King" from Sesame Street. It's about an alligator king whom, because of his constant unhappiness, orders his seven sons to bring him gifts as an attempt to cheer up their father, and the one whose gifts are liked the most is given the King's crown. The first six sons attempt to do what the King tells them to, but unfortunately fail, and in the process, the King falls down and gets hurt. Finally, the youngest son offers to help his father get back up and as a reward, he inherits the King's crown.
- The Emperor Yao-Di in ancient China, who instead of letting one of his nine sons to succeed him, offered the crown to a virtuous farmer called Shun. Likewise, Shun eventually let another commoner, Yu the Great, to the throne, because Yu had done the populace great service by quelling an intractable flood. -- this was the golden age in Chinese mythology, when everyone was selfless, lives humbly, and makes rational decisions.
- Happens occasionally in European legends as well; for example, first ruling dynasties of Poland and Bohemia were said to be founded by a virtuous peasant, whom the people chose as their leader.
Casca: I saw Mark Antony offer him a crown;--yet 'twas not a crown neither, 'twas one of these coronets;--and, as I told you, he put it by once: but, for all that, to my thinking, he would fain have had it.
- Also Shakespeare, Richard III is offered the crown after the "unfortunate deaths" of his nephews. Though he is actually the successor to the throne at this point, having killed everyone else off, he refuses it twice to win over the people. The third time, he "caves" and allows himself to be made king.
- The hero at the end of Quest for Glory II is adopted as a son by the Sultan in return for saving the city, earning him the title Prince of Shapier, although he doesn't stay.
- At the end of Quest for Glory V, you are offered the crown of Silmaria and can choose whether or not to accept it, among other possible choices.
- This tends to happen to the heroes at the end of Suikoden games, though without an actual crown since they're usually setting up some sort of republic having just overthrown a monarchy or empire. Though some games let you accept, canonically the heroes always refuse.
- In Dragon Quest III, this occurs very early on: after retrieving a stolen crown, the king immediately offers you his throne. Accepting leads to a temporary Nonstandard Game Over, But Thou Must! eventually convince him to take his crown back and let you get on with the whole "saving the world" thing.
- In the Bastard of Kosigan, your character ends up being offered the title of Count of Kosigan by virtue of everyone with a better claim having been killed off by each other/you/Alex/French assassins.
- This happens to Velleman at the end of one of the routes of Blaze Union.
- At the end of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, Micaiah becomes the Queen of Daein despite having no blood relation to any of it's former rulers. This can happen one of two ways: If former King Pelleas is alive, he appoints Micaiah as the new Queen before revealing his own lack of royal blood. If he's dead, then Micaiah is crowned at her subject's entreaty.
- The canonical King's Quest games have this for Graham (King's Quest I) and Alexander (King's Quest VI). The Fan Remake version of King's Quest II has this as an option during the Air Gem test where Connor (protagonist of the controversial eighth game) can be declared First Knight of Daventry.
- At the end of Final Fantasy IV, Cecil is the new King of Baron. The After Years later revealed that Yang became King of Fabul.
- In Planescape: Torment you are offered the throne of the Undead Nations after you discover the Silent King is long (and permanently) dead. Accepting it leads to a Nonstandard Game Over.
- In Adventure Quest Worlds, at the end of the Sandsea saga, the people of the Sandsea, who are without a ruler for the first time in centuries, offer the Hero the crown of the Sands in thanks for defeating Zahart and Tibicenas. The Hero proceeds to relinquish the crown to Zhoom instead, since there's still a lot of enemies that the Hero needs to take on.
- In the Neverwinter Nights module A Dance With Rogues, the protagonist becomes a Countess during the extended ending. Of course, the player character was already a princess, albeit of a country that has been conquered by The Dhorn Empire.
- In the Templar Path of Dragon Age II, Hawke becomes Kirkwall's new ruler after the people practically beg him/her to do it.
- Alistair in Dragon Age Origins.
- On Adventure Time, the goblins offer to make Finn their king, and he reluctantly accepts. It doesn't last, however.
- The Avatar: The Last Airbender finale has a discussion about who should be Fire Lord after Ozai's defeat. Zuko, Ozai's son, wants his uncle Iroh to take it, but Iroh convinces Zuko that he really is a worthy heir himself. (For added fun, Ozai himself has currently passed the title onto Azula, his remaining loyal heir.)
- On The Simpsons, a Zorro movie has -- among other historical inaccuracies -- King Arthur seceding and declaring Zorro the new King of England.
- An Offscreen Moment of Awesome on American Dad has Klaus somehow go to some other dimension and coming back with a crown and a sword after cutting his way out of the stomach of a monster that appeared in his place when he disappeared.
Klaus: I was gone sixty years! How long was it here?!
- At the end of Disney's Goliath II, the titular elephant is made the new leader of his herd just for saving them all from an attacking mouse.
- The Discworld example is probably based on the real-life example of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, one of Napoleon's marshalls who was offered the Swedish crown, took a few moments to review the situation and then promptly declared war against Napoleon. His family still reigns today.
- George Washington is often said to have been offered the crown of the new United States, but this is false. In 1782, Col. Lewis Nicola suggested the formation of a country on the west coast of North America, and that Washington could be its king, but this didn't come to pass.
- During the revolutionary war, some of Washington's officers got fed up with the lack of pay, and considered rebelling against the rule of Congress. But Washington was loyal to Congress and he convinced the rebellious officers not to rebel. This is what led to the myth that Washington had been offered Kingship and refused.
- Oliver Cromwell was offered the crown twice by Parliament but refused because of the objections of his military allies and belief God had categorically rejected the position via the result of the Civil Wars. As the civilian establishment really wanted him to accept (for one because it would widen support and limit the authority of the army), they settled for making the Lord Protector position pretty much a king in all but name.
- It's also been said that a King had traditional limitations on his power, but a Lord Protector did not -- Cromwell would actually weaken himself if he became King.
- Not really true. For a start, the "limitations on power" of English monarchs were, as you say, just traditions: they had no real legal authority as Charles I had infamously shown. Secondly, the powers of the office of Lord Protector were limited by Parliament, in law at least. In practice, Cromwell's personal power was enormous (no English ruler had held such absolute power since, arguably, the Middle Ages) but this would have been the case whatever title had been given to the office he'd taken.
- Carl Gustaf Mannerheim was Regent of Finland in 1918, and was considered for the position of King before Finland became a republic the next year. He went on to command Finland's army and become its President (and still a national hero).
- C. B. Fry, a famous British sportsman, politician, diplomat, academic, teacher, writer, editor and publisher (also a relative of Stephen Fry), claimed that in 1920 he was offered the Albanian throne, but declined. This was probably made up.
- The Ostrogoths offered to support Byzantine general Belisarius as ruler of the Western Roman Empire after he invaded Italy on behalf of Eastern Emperor Justinian and they realized they simply couldn't defeat him. Belisarius, ever loyal, refused.
- He actually pretended to accept in order to gain access to the Ostrogothic capital city and then, once Belisarius and his forces had entered the city, claimed the city in the name of the Emperor Justinian. None of this seemed to allay Justinian's suspicion that his extremely capable and popular general had his eyes on the throne and Belisarius was recalled to Constantinople and replaced by less-able commanders.
- Miklós Horthy was offered the position of Regent of Hungary; in a twist on the usual ways this plays out, he refused the position because he wanted more power than he was being offered. Once they confirmed that the position would have some actual power, as opposed to being a merely symbolic position, he accepted.
- In order to fill a power vacuum in the early 1830's (after the murder of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first head of state of the newly independent Greece), the crown was offered to a Bavarian prince named Otto. He ruled as King of Greece until his exile 30 years later...at which point the Greeks offered the crown to a 17-year-old Danish prince, Prince Christian Wilhelm Ferdinand Adolf Georg of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, who took the throne as King George I of the Hellenes ("George" being much more Greek than Christian, Wilhelm, and Adolf). He reigned long and well (being assassinated less than two weeks short of his 50th anniversary as King) and his dynasty lasted (with an interruption from 1924 to 1935) until 1967 (technically until 1974, but a coup exiled King Constantine in 1967). One of its junior princes, Philip, eventually married Elizabeth II.
- A really interesting point is that George wasn't the Greeks' first choice; in a plebiscite, 95 percent of voters chose Queen Victoria's second son Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, to become the next king. However, a treaty forbade the royal house of any of the Great Powers from taking the throne of a smaller country, and in any case, Mama was opposed to the idea. So George got it instead.
- When Belgium split off from the Netherlands, after some negotiations, the throne was offered to Leopold, a minor German prince, widower of Princess Charlotte of Great Britain, and uncle of the future Queen Victoria. He took it.
- When Norway declared its union to Sweden dissolved, it offered the throne to someone in the Swedish royal family. When the King of Sweden refused it, they looked around -- the Great Powers were out, and after some consideration of a Greek or Spanish prince they offered it to a Danish prince. When the King of Sweden officially refused to let someone in his family take the throne, the prince took it.
- In 1869 the Spanish revolted and overthrew the then Queen Isabella II. Though she had a son, the leaders of the coup were so fed up after a long string of bad monarchs that they decided no member of the Bourbon dynasty should occupy the throne again. So they offered it to a number of people including a retired general and war hero, and then to several minor members of other European royal houses, and all of them refused or were turned down because none of the candidates approved the nature of the new regime. One prince of the German Hohenzollern dynasty was about to accept but he was vetoed by Napoleon III of France, and the ultimate result was the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 that finished the French Empire. Then an Italian prince accepted the throne after being offered it for a second time, and became King Amadeus I... for 3 years, after which he abdicated. After another year of wacky shenanigans, another coup proclaimed Isabella's son king, and the Bourbon dynasty has ruled Spain more or less to this day.
- During the Revolution of 1848 a deputation of the short-lived German parliament offered the Imperial Crown to Frederick William IV, King of Prussia. He declined, because he would not accept a crown based on the will of the common people. In his own words, he would not accept "such a diadem of dirt and clay".
- Plus that constitution was shit for the monarch. Much better to actually rule in Prussia than reign impotently in a united Germany.
- Also the Habsburg Emperor made very the "kind" suggestion (read: Overtly threatened) that the Prussian King refuse the Crown and allow the German Confederation to be re-established. The fact the Habsburgs were the default President of the German Confederation was just a happy coincidence.
- During King John's turbulent reign, the barons opposed to him offered the crown to Prince Louis of France in exchange for his aid in getting rid of John. Of course, when John finally died, the barons seemed to reconsider having a French king and responded by switching their allegiance to John's son, Henry III.
- In a way, this is how the selection of popes happens during Conclave. The College of Cardinals elect a new pope by secret ballot, and when there's an agreed majority of votes, the now pope-elect is offered the Papacy. By tradition, the new pope-elect turns down the initial request out of humility before "reluctantly" accepting.
- Shortly after the establishment of the State of Israel, Albert Einstein was offered the opportunity to be its President though he ended up turning it down.
- The Glorious Revolution of 1688 had the British Parliament overthrow the Catholic James II and offer the throne to the Dutch Protestant William of Orange.
- Actually, it was offered to James' daughter, Mary, along with William, who was her husband.
- This (although it has never really been repeated) asserted Parliament's right to choose the monarch over the so-called "legal line of succession" if it so desired. It's for this reason that documentaries or news stories claiming that so-and-so in such-and-such a country is the "real" heir to the British throne are nonsense: since 1688 the British monarch is whoever Parliament say it is.
- In the semi-mythical Roman Kingdom that preceded The Roman Republic, most kings of Rome were not of Roman ancestry (most being Etruscan in origin). This was an Enforced Trope, an outsider as king was thought to be less susceptible to the various factions vying for influence.
- In the Roman Empire, emperors without sons would often adopt a promising man as their successor. Legally, they'd be considered the emperor's son, and inherit on his death. This was most notable with the "five good emperors", where the first four chose their own successor. The last left it to his son. Things didn't turn out well.
- The first of the "five good emperors", Nerva, was this as well even though he wasn't chosen by his successor. After being chosen by the senate, he was mostly accepted because he was old, childless, and fairly inoffensive.
- Although this position is mostly ceremonial today, it was not clear in 1948 that this would be the case; the person who actually took the job, Chaim Weizmann, tried to make the positio of President more relevant, but was consistently outmaneuvered by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.