Created By: Eddy1215 on December 29, 2015 Last Edited By: eroock on March 26, 2018
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Crush The Keepsake

A villain destroys a hero's prized keepsake

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What is one of the worst Kick Them While They're Down things a villain can do to show how far past the Moral Event Horizon they've crossed? Easy: After giving The Hero a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown and leaving them a bloody pulp in the dirt, they see the hero desperately reaching out for something in front of them. It could be a Tragic Keepsake, an Orphan's Plot Trinket, or a Memento Macguffin. Whatever it is, it means a lot to the hero, so what does the villain do? Right when it's in reach of their fingers, he smashes it to bits under his foot. For extra cruelty, he might stomp on it multiple times or just grind it under his boot before scraping the fragments off the bottom.

Apart from being cruel, a villain sometimes does this to demoralize the hero, as it has sort of a symbolic theme behind it: the destruction of their precious Plot Coupon representing that the hero has failed and hit rock bottom; the one thing that kept him going is gone, so there's no hope left. Other times, however, the villain just made a big mistake and causes the hero to go into an Unstoppable Rage.

If the villain does it incidentally while doing a Power Walk, it's Trampled Underfoot. See also Wrecked Weapon. Related to Smash the Symbol and It's All Junk. Subtrope of Kick the Dog.

WARNING: Since this trope is often invoked before or during the climax, expect spoilers below!

Examples

Anime & Manga
  • Rinne Berlinetta from ViVid Strike! had her tiepin destroyed when three bullies beat her unconscious. Oh, and all of this was going on while her grandfather (the one that made the tiepin) was dying. Needless to say, she made them suffer the following day.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, two different bad guys destroyed precious cards from Yugi to prevent him from using it and also just for the sake of being awful persons. The first is Kaiba who ripped Yugi's grandfather's Blue Eyed White Dragon so he would be the only one to have copies of this powerful rare card. So second is Insector Haga/Weevil Underwood who threw overboard the even more rare and powerful Exodia the Forbidden One cards before the beginning of a tournament.

Films — Animated
  • In Toy Story 3, Lotso uses his mallet to crush Big Baby's "Daisy" locket, a Memento MacGuffin of happier times. Big Baby then turns against Lotso and throws him into the dumpster.
  • At the climax of Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Rourke, after obtaining the Atlantean crystal and having no more need of him, punches Milo in the face. Milo's framed picture of him as a boy with his grandfather falls out and Rourke stomps on it, smashing the frame. Fortunately, the photo is intact, and what's more, it's this act that causes Audrey, followed by everybody else except Helga, to do a Heel–Face Turn and abandon Rourke.
  • In The Great Mouse Detective, Ratigan takes the wind-up ballerina Mr. Flaversham gave her daughter Olivia and crushes it in his hand, both to show Flaversham what will happen to her if he doesn't comply and to give a glimpse of his inner beast.

Films — Live-Action
  • Blade Runner 2049: After having defeated K in combat, Luv stomps on and crushes the emitter of K's holographic lover Joi which equates to killing her.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Furious over his son's refusal to join him in conquering the cosmos, Ego smashes Peter's Walkman and mix-tape, Peter's one gift from his late mother he had kept since he was eight.
  • In Nanny McPhee, Mrs Quickly snaps in half Aggie's rattle, which belonged to the children's late mother, although Nanny McPhee magically repairs it in the end.
  • In O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Big Dan attacks Ulysses and Delmar to see what it is they're carrying. When he sees it's just a toad (they thought Pete had been turned into one), he crushes it in front of them. Watch it here.

Live-Action TV
  • In the first episode of the live-action Hell Girl series, the final straw for Yuu Miyazaki, the Victim of the Week comes when the Alpha Bitch, Endou Rina, who has been tormenting her with her Girl Posse all episode, stomps on the prized watch that was her mother's gift to her while said Girl Posse forces her to watch. Yuu sends Endou to Hell immediately after this incredibly cruel Kick the Dog moment.
  • The Freshman from Season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sunday deliberately steps on and breaks the umbrella trophy thing Buffy was given at prom in the previous Season by her classmates to thank her for all the times she saved them.

Video Games
  • Vanitas from Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is revealed to have obtained Ven's wooden keyblade. He snaps it in half right in front of Aqua while dissing her.
  • In Overwatch, Reaper is shown stepping on Winstons glasses, which drives him into a rage. His glasses where a gift from Dr. Harold Winston, Winston's caretaker at the lunar base and his parental figure, who died during a riot.

Web Comics
Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • December 29, 2015
    DAN004
    Lol, the ultimate Moral Event Horizon would be the baddie killing the hero's loved one (a living being) in front of the hero.

    Change the description a bit plz?

    Oh and see also Wrecked Weapon.
  • December 30, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    Name is a bit broader than the trope.
  • December 30, 2015
    Eddy1215
    @Dragon Quest Z

    Then what would you suggest?
  • December 30, 2015
    Koveras
    The title is actually already quite good. How about Smash The Keepsake or Crush The Keepsake for alliteration? Smash The Symbol and Its All Junk would definitely be related.

    Also, I don't quite agree with Dan's post: if the hero's loved one is already dead and the villain destroys his last keepsake of them, then it's almost just as bad.
  • December 30, 2015
    Chabal2
    O Brother Where Art Thou: Big Dan attacks Ulysses and Delmar to see what it is they're carrying. When he sees it's just a toad (they thought Pete had been turned into one), he crushes it in front of them.
  • December 30, 2015
    eroock
    Films — Animated:
  • December 30, 2015
    Waddle
    I'm not sure that the Gravity Falls exemple works here, because the journals are not useless items with sentimental values, but an actual information database that could have helped to save the day, so it is closer to Wrecked Weapon IMO. It is somewhere in between, for sure.

    (Seen It A Million Times, can't find any exemples right now)

    EDIT: Another exemple that falls in the same middle ground that Grivity Falls: In Yu Gi Oh, two different bad guys destroyed precious cards from Yugi to prevent him from using it and also just for the sake of being awful persons. The first is Kaiba who ripped Yugi's grandfather's Blue Eyed White Dragon so he would be the only one to have copies of this powerful rare card. So second is Insector Haga/Weevil Underwood who threw overboard the even more rare and powerful Exodia the Forbidden One cards before the beginning of a tournament.
  • December 30, 2015
    DAN004
    My issue for the description is that it sounds too absolutist. I'm afraid ppl could become too attached to the description when they don't need to.
  • December 30, 2015
    Eddy1215
    @DAN 004

    Then what would you suggest I change?
  • December 30, 2015
    TonyG
    In The Great Mouse Detective, Ratigan takes the wind-up ballerina Mr. Flaversham gave her daughter Olivia and crushes it in his hand, showing Flaversham what will happen to her if he doesn't comply.
  • July 13, 2017
    Stevebob
    Not sure if anyone's still looking at this page, but would The Freshman from Season 4 of Buffy count? Sunday deliberately steps on and breaks the umbrella trophy thing Buffy was given at prom in the previous Season by her classmates to thank her for all the times she saved them. And then there’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, where Ego smashes Peter Quill’s Walkman and mix-tape, which was one of the last gifts his mother gave him before dying of cancer. And in Nanny Mc Phee, Mrs Quickly snaps in half Aggie’s rattle, which belonged to the children’s late mother, although Nanny Mc Phee magically repairs it in the end

  • July 13, 2017
    MIBuddy
    Love it, but it definitely needs an alert warning users that spoilers will be below (since this is usually during or directly preceding the climax).

    Something like

    WARNING: since this trope is often invoked before or during the climax, expect spoilers below!
  • July 13, 2017
    NightShade96
    This hasn't been edited since Jan 2016.
  • July 13, 2017
    Kartoonkid95
  • July 14, 2017
    Astaroth
  • July 14, 2017
    Skylite
  • July 15, 2017
    Tuckerscreator
  • July 15, 2017
    CactusFace
    • In the Overwatch reveal trailer Reaper is shown steping on Winstons glasses, which drives him into his Primal Rage. As we find out in the Recall trailer, his glasses where a gift from Dr. Harold Winston, Winstons caretaker at the lunar base and his parental figure, who died during a riot.
  • July 22, 2017
    Dravencour

    I also added "Subtrope of Kick The Dog" to the main text of this because something like this is pretty much always a Kick The Dog moment.
  • July 23, 2017
    Gamermaster
    Anime & Manga
  • July 23, 2017
    Gosicrystal
    ^ Please remove some of the potholes in the last sentence. Having more than one is a Chained Sinkhole, which is bad style.
  • July 23, 2017
    Gamermaster
    ^ Got it.
  • July 23, 2017
    TheNerfGuy
    Here's another example to add:

    • Vanitas from [1] is revealed to have obtained Ven's wooden keyblade. He snaps it in half right in front of Aqua while dissing her.
  • February 26, 2018
    eroock
    Film:
    • Blade Runner 2049: After having defeated K in combat, Luv stomps on and crushes the emitter of K's holographic lover Joi which equates to killing her.
  • February 26, 2018
    Skylite
    If the villain does it incidentally while doing a Power Walk, it's Trampled Underfoot.
  • March 26, 2018
    eroock
    Grabbing this. Any last entries or comments?
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