Literally Prized Possession

The most prized possessions are literal prizes, and the kinds of prizes that someone goes after can say a lot about them. Whether it's something they want now, or something they've owned for years it can serve as shorthand for the character's motives and desires.

The fact that the character put actual effort into trying to secure this object gives it far more weight than something they might have just bought or picked up by chance. If they won it from someone else, it can even serve as shorthand for a conflict between them and the person who lost it (although never the actual cause, as is the case with an Apple of Discord).

Often the "backstory" to a character's Iconic Item or #1 Dime in works that aren't trying to be especially serious about it (although it doesn't have to be either of those; it could easily be worthless to the character now). In these cases you can expect the character to have gone to a lot of effort to secure their prize (e.g. sending multiple entries to a sweepstakes, or putting a lot of effort into winning a clearly rigged fairground game). Compare/contrast Friend or Idol Decision, where the fact that a person (usually) gives up something that he's been looking for a long time says something about him.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In the Pokémon anime, it's revealed that Ash's Nice Hat is an official Pokemon League hat he won by sending in hundreds of entries to a sweepstakes (making it clear that he's wanted To Be a Master for a very long time).

Film
  • The leg lamp in A Christmas Story is a "major award" that Ralphie's dad wins in a contest and proudly displays in the window. It's a ridiculous lamp, but he prizes it simply because he won it. Also, the Orphan Annie decoder that Ralphie eats so many boxes of cereal for turns out to be nothing but an advertising gimmick, leaving him disillusioned.
  • In Despicable Me, one of the turning points in Gru's fondness towards the girls happens when he takes them to an amusement park and the owner of a shooting booth holds back on giving Agnes the stuffed unicorn she won on a technicality. Gru pays for another turn for himself and uses his own gun, demolishing the booth and convincing the owner to give Agnes the unicorn. Gru winning the unicorn for Agnes is significant because before, he was just trying to use the girls for his plan and get them out of his life again as soon as possible.

Literature
  • In Children of the Lens Kimball Kinnison wins ten millos in a side bet with his son. He has the one-cento coin mounted in a thousand-credit frame and presented to the librarians who won the bet for him.

Newspaper Comic
  • In one Calvin and Hobbes storyline, Calvin eats multiple boxes of Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs so he can send away for a beanie hat. He then waits for what seems (at least to him) like forever and suffers through trying to assemble it (and the trauma of thinking he broke it), because, being an imaginative kid, he thinks the beanie will enable him to fly. When it doesn't, it comes as a major disappointment.

Web Comics
  • In Penny Arcade, early strips had a Running Gag where Tyco and Gabe would steal a Pacman watch from one another (which served as shorthand for which of them needed to get even with the other this time).

Web Animation
  • The fourth season of RWBY reveals that the hoody Jaune's been wearing under his armour since he was introduced is a promotional item he won by sending in hundreds of "Pumpkin Pete" cereal box tops. As a bonus it ties into the fact that his armour now incorporates elements and metal from Pyrrha's, since she was the spokesman for the brand.

Western Animation
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