Who’s next? TV shows that hinge on a crisis of succession

Yahoo Contributor Network

People are never more panicked than during a power vacuum. These tense, drama-filled moments are the perfect fodder for dramatic TV shows. Whether the story is about the quest to find a new king, a new pope, or a new heir, these TV shows keep viewers tuned in week after week.

"The Borgias"

The very first episode of "The Borgias" sets up quite a crisis of succession. The current pope, Innocent VIII, is on his deathbed, and no clear successor has emerged. There are a number of men who want to become the next pope, however. There are three main contenders: Cardinal Orsini, Cardinal della Rovere, and the eventual winner, Cardinal Borgia.

While Roderigo Borgia eventually becomes the next pope, he has to bribe and intimidate his way to the top. And even once he is installed as the new pope, Roderigo is constantly attacked by people who want to bring his rule to an end.

"Game of Thrones"

With so much political intrigue, nearly every main character in "Game of Thrones" has a reason to kill for a chance to rule from the Iron Throne. There are many people who have a legitimate claim to the throne and watching them duke it out every week is always thrilling. Even once a new ruler is able to take their place of control, their power base is never truly secure.

"Downton Abbey"

This period drama isn't just about servants and nobility; it's about a family who fears their way of life will come to an end because they haven't been able to produce a son. With no male heir, the Earl of Grantham has to watch as his daughters are passed over and his estate is passed on to a distant relative. But even when this new heir is found, there are all kinds of complications from a surprise pregnancy to the return of a former heir who had been presumed dead. And for much of the first season, the heir doesn't even want to inherit the estate!

"The Tudors"

The only thing that people remember about Henry VIII from high school history class is that he had six wives and killed two of them! But Henry wasn't just some crazy person with a crown. As we learned in "The Tudors," the sole motivation for Henry's constant wife-swapping was his need to sire a male heir. Well, that and his libido.

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