Glass Slipper

You'll just leave him a clue
For example, a shoe
And then see what he'll do...
"On the Steps of the Palace", Into the Woods

A conspicuous possession, often a piece of clothing, jewelry, or other personal effect, which becomes significant when its owner disappears and only the object is left behind. It is a type of Chekhov's Gun, and may be a Memento MacGuffin. The object is often found on the ground, and if it is something the character would not have left behind on purpose this implies the character was abducted or worse. It may give a clue to the direction or path to find the person such as a Trail of Bread Crumbs. If the person drowned, it can be a Dead Hat Shot. One form may also be Empty Piles of Clothing.

Compare to The Girl Who Fits This Slipper and No Body Left Behind.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • The Castle of Cagliostro starts off with Lupin saving Clarisse from falling off a cliff. Yet, before they can get to know each other, Clarisse has to rush off, accidentally leaving behind her family ring which Lupin uses to track her down.

Film
  • The titular heroine Amélie has a Love at First Sight moment when bumping into Nino at a Parisian subway station. He doesn't notice her at all and quickly rides off with his scooter. However, a photo album falls off when he takes a sharp corner and Amelie picks it up. It helps her to get in contact with Nino, who, after noticing his loss, leaves stickers around the station with his phone number.
  • Cinderella: See entry under Literature.

Literature
  • The Ur Example of the trope is probably Cinderella. On her hasty way out from the ball, Cinderella loses one of her glass slippers on the steps of the palace. The Prince chases after her but only notices a simple country girl leave. He pockets the slipper and vows to find and marry the girl to whom it belonged. Through a lengthy The Girl Who Fits This Slipper audition process, he eventually succeeds to seek her out.

Western Animation
  • The French cartoon La Joie De Vivre from 1934 has one of the two young women lose a shoe in the course of her cavorting. A No Name Given young man on a bicycle recovers the shoe and follows the women with the intent of returning it. The women, however, think he's stalking them, and flee to a railroad switching station. There, the young man succeeds in fitting the lost shoe back on the lady's foot. All three board the bicycle, which can now suddenly fly.