The wedding ring has gone missing — eaten by an animal, dropped down the drain, accidentally sold in a garage sale — and convoluted machinations
are needed for its safe return. A common complication is that the ring loser can never, ever
tell their spouse it was lost, afraid that she/he will get mad at the fact/assumption that she/he took it off in the first place.
This can also be any other token of love, a photo of a wedding, set of love letters, etc. A common replacement is a lost engagement
ring that must be recovered in time for the well-planned elaborate proposal (or, in time for the wedding itself).
In Western culture, losing one's wedding ring is considered extra bad because it's bad luck for both the marriage and everything else, not the least of which would be proving one's marriage in the days before certificates and legal records.
Compare with Broken Treasure
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Anime and Manga
- In one episode of Chi's Sweet Home, the mother misplaces her wedding ring. Chi the kitten is the one who ends up (accidentally) finding it.
- One episode of the Kirby anime did this.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! has managed to do this one, despite there not being a wedding ring to lose. The emotional situation so perfectly matches this trope that some characters assume the missing ring is a wedding ring - which makes no sense and so confuses themnote
- Faster Than a Kiss's Fumino lost her ring for a short time, much to her distress.
- The MacGuffin in The Castle of Cagliostro. There are two rings passed down as heirlooms in the two houses of the Cagliostro family. They are to be used as the wedding rings in the event that a major member from one house marries a major member of the other, reuniting the family. When pressed face-to-face, markings on the side of each ring become writing: a clue to revealing the family treasure. They are also the physical key. The greedy Count wants it, and attempts to force Clarice, the Duke's sole heir (no prizes for guessing why) to marry him so that he can have both rings. However, Clarice becomes a Runaway Fiancée, and during the brief period after Lupin rescues her the first time and her recapture, she gives the ring to him. And of course he gets dragged into it.
- Happens in a filler episode of Rurouni Kenshin. A young man loses his engagement ring after a fight with his girlfriend - it gets swallowed by a catfish. Kenshin happens to catch said fish, which coughs up the ring as it's cooked. He gives it to Kaoru, not knowing its symbolism... And Hilarity Ensues.
- One chapter of Futari Ecchi is about Makoto losing his wedding ring.
- Cruelly used in Stepping On Roses, when Nozomu steals Sumi's wedding ring.
- Kei Tsuchiya form Marmalade Boy uses this to Kick the Dog levels. When Miki drops either a bracelet given to her by Yuu as a gift (manga) or a Toryo medallion with a picture of Yuu and Miki herself (anime) during work without realizing it, he keeps it to himself for several days, and then gives it to Yuu while lying to him about how Miki wants to dump him. Yuu doesn't believe Kei's words, but his and Miki's relationship already was rather troubled, and they break up for a while.
- In Lady, this happens to Lynn when Mary cruelly pranks her via stealing a key-shaped jewelry piece that belonged to Lynn's Missing Mom and sending Lynn to search for it in the snow. A desperate Lynn does so and almost dies; her Cool Horse Alexandra goes off and finds her in time, and Mary returns the stolen Key.
- It's not a wedding ring, but in Only the Ring Finger Knows Wataru and Yuichi's matching rings hold almost the same significance as a symbol of their relationship, so when Wataru's ring is stolen and held hostage - twice - by someone else who has feelings for him, it causes him quite a bit of stress. The first time, anyway. The second time, he decides he needs to focus on resolving the current problems between himself and Yuichi rather than worrying about a souvenir like the ring.
- A subplot of the DC Comics miniseries Hero Hotline has Lester "Private Eyes" Lee lose his wedding ring down a sewer grate and has to call in rubber-limbed fellow hero Tom "Stretch" Longacre to fish it out so Lee can marry Melanie Boulder, a Dolly Parton Expy.
- American Wedding (aka American Pie 3). Don't ask what Stifler has to do to save the ring.
- Just to underscore the unlucky circumstances, the film Apollo 13 has Marilyn Lovell lose her wedding ring down the shower drain. This actually happened to her in real life, but she was able to recover it.
- It was kind of the husband's fault in Big Fish—he used it as a fishing lure.
- A literal lost wedding ring has far more serious symbolic and metaphysical implications in Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain.
- Imagine Me & You, dropped in the punch at the wedding.
- O Brother, Where Art Thou?? ends with the ring still missing.
- The Abyss. The male protagonist drops his ring down the toilet, but then changes his mind and fishes it out. Which is just as well as the titanium ring (symbolizing permanency) prevents a hatchway from sealing on his hand later on.
- Played for Drama in Mystery Team. Finding the ring is a pivotal part in both Jason's character arc and solving the mystery.
- In Spider-Man 3, while on his way to propose to Mary Jane, Peter Parker (as Spiderman) must battle the second Green Goblin and loses the family heirloom ring. He gets it back.
- In the Spanish movie Airbag the ring gets lost in a VERY NSFW place.
- A cat in The Baby Sitters Club proved ultimately responsible for the disappearance of a valuable ring that Stacey was accused of stealing.
- In Ramona Forever by Beverly Cleary, the wedding ring gets lost because it was stitched to the pillow it was carried on too tightly, and when the bride pulls it loose, it flies into the air and gets lost. Ramona eventually finds it on the heel of the bride's shoe.
- Dorothy L. Sayers opens Busman's Honeymoon with an account of Lord Peter Wimsey's marriage to Harriet Vane, noting that Peter's nephew pretended to lose the ring five times, then really lost it, but as the groom was a detective he was able to find it.
- The novel Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All has a scene where the heroine's five-year-old daughter swallows her wedding ring.
Live Action TV
- This happens in most DomComs.
- 30 Rock: Pete bet his wedding ring in an office poker game when Jack forced the crew to play for inordinately high sums. Halfway subverted in that Pete still had money left.
- Battlestar Galactica. Lee Adama takes off his wedding ring during a rocky period of his marriage to Dualla and ends up losing it while drunk. The shock of this forces him to patch things up with his wife though she leaves him anyway at the end of the season.
- Boy Meets World: Cory goes to a bar with some new friends, who convince him to take off his wedding ring to have a better time. Said bar turns out to be stocked with trashy waitresses who all dance at scheduled times, which causes Cory to leave. Topanga finds out he went and he promises to never ever go back, until he realizes he left the ring at the bar. He returns, only to discover that the bar has an entire stash of lost wedding rings, so he has to sort through them. Once he does, he dances with joy, and the waitress all start to as well. Topanga, having been tipped off by a friend, discovers him in this setting, and he must explain everything to her.
- For added chuckles, it's his engagement ring, which everyone makes fun of him for having in the first place.
- Chuck does this with an engagement ring. Captain Awesome gives Chuck an engagement ring for safekeeping (so the girl he plans on proposing to doesn't find it), and Chuck hides it inside Big Mike's stuffed fish. Said fish then gets stolen. Hilarity Ensues.
- Daves World: In a singles bar, Dave lends his wedding ring to Kenny to see if the latter can still pick up women despite being supposedly married. He can, and unfortunately leaves the ring at his latest conquest's house.
- Not surprisingly, Everybody Loves Raymond devotes an episode to this one. The original reason Raymond removed his wedding ring is a relatively harmless brand of idiocy ("Were you spinning it again?") but there's also some tension when an attractive single woman hits on him.
- Family Matters: Carl yells at Harriet for leaving her wedding ring on the kitchen counter because it could fall down the drain. To teach her a lesson, Carl takes the ring the next time Harriet takes it off to wash dishes. When Harriet comes to look for it in the kitchen, Carl gloats about finding it and while telling Harriet to be more careful, he accidentally drops the ring down the drain and spends the rest of the episode fishing it out.
- Fraggle Rock:, Junior Gorg has to remarry his parents, however he drops it into the hole leading to The Rock, where it travels through the possession of all the major characters before miraculously returning to Junior just in time for the ceremony.
- Frasier: Daphne misplaces the engagement ring Donny gave her.
- Friends, although it was actually lost by the best man who was afraid to tell the groom. At first they thought the stripper stole it, but as it turns out, the duck swallowed it.
- In a later episode, another guy buys the engagement ring Chandler picked out for Monica, and he and Phoebe actually go to the restaurant where the guy is proposing to convince him to trade rings.
- Even earlier in the series Rachel wants to return her engagement ring to her ex-fiance, only to have lost it inside Monica's lasagna.
- Full House: Once with Danny's wedding ring, once with Jesse's engagement ring.
- I Love Lucy: Ricky hides Lucy's wedding ring to teach her a lesson about carelessness, but his plan backfires when Lucy believes that she lost it in the cement of their newly built outdoor grill which she proceeds to take apart brick by brick. To make matters worse Ricky actually loses the ring. At the end of the episode it's found in a hamburger.
- Life Goes On: Parents Drew and Libby have spent the entire episode arguing. Towards the end, she takes off her ring, obviously contemplating her troubled marriage. Sure enough, she then accidentally drops it down a sewer grate, leading her to venture underground in order to find it. Needless to say, the shock leads her and Drew to patch things up.
- LOST: When Sun lost hers, almost all examples are suggested by the various characters. Jack had been in this situation before the crash, but his solution (buying another one) was impossible. Hurley even went so far as to suggest following the dog around for awhile...
- Mad About You: On his and Jamie's second wedding anniversary, Paul loses his ring and frantically searches the house behind his wife's back. It's finally traced back to a hot dog vendor.
- Non-ring example: In one episode, Paul threw out their wedding cake to make room in the freezer. Until then, he didn't know its importance to her — and the viewers didn't know of its existence. Also, it signaled a problem in their relationship only because it caused one, which was of course resolved by the end of the episode.
- In an early episode of Married... with Children, model housewife Peggy Bundy takes straight-laced Marcy to a strip club and Marcy loses her wedding ring down the speedo of a male stripper. Marcy cannot go back-stage to ask the stripper to give the ring back thanks to the "Peggy Bundy Rule", so she leaves a note for the stripper to send it to Peggy's address. The next day when the stripper shows up to the house Al gets the ring and gives it to Steve- the two plan all sorts of emotional black mail for Marcy. In the end, when Steve sees how guilty Marcy felt about losing the ring he gave it back to her in an envelope saying it was from Peggy and he didn't know what it was. After she goes into the bathroom and shrieks when sees what was in the envelope, they both get into bed and hold hands to look at the rings, Steve asks Marcy "So you lost your wedding ring down a stripper's jock strap?"
- M*A*S*H: Margaret loses her wedding ring, and when the guys can't find it, they forge it. Although Margaret finds out the deception and is angry, she decides that she appreciates the effort they made for her.
- Margaret only discovers the ring is a fake because the engraver omitted the "N" in "our love will Never fail."
- Considering she ended up divorcing the guy some time down the road... it's oddly prophetic
- Perfect Strangers: Larry starts a turkey-selling business, and when Jennifer's wedding band goes missing, it's assumed that one of the birds ate it. Only after the cousins have destroyed their neighbors' Thanksgiving feast in search of the ring do they discover it was in Jennifer's jewelry box the entire time.
- On the Soap Opera Port Charles, Karen removes her engagement ring to wash dishes. Her fiance's spiteful ex, who's trying to get him back, steals it, knowing that she will make poor Karen look careless and irresponsible and herself look like a hero when she "finds" it.
- Divya loses her engagement ring in the Royal Pains episode "Comfort's Overrated". (She took it off to do a procedure, and the patient ate it.) She's not worried that her fiancé will think badly of her, but she is annoyed when the other characters call it a bad omen, since she's determined to make her Arranged Marriage work.
- Scrubs: The engagement ring Turk planned on proposing to Carla with was first dumped down the waste disposal and then eaten by one of his patients. In a later episode, after Carla "finds out" what happened to the ring, Turk puts it in his mouth to prove how clean it is... with predictable results.
- 7th Heaven: This contributor can't remember if two or three rings were lost in the same episode.
- On Two and a Half Men ("The "Ocu" or the "Pado"?", season 6), Charlie was proposing to his (then) girlfriend Chelsea by hiding the engagement ring in her glass of champagne, but she downs it in one gulp, swallowing the ring. She ultimately retrieves it by using a pasta strainer to catch it coming out, after threatening to eat a big block of cheese so that he never sees the ring again.
- The Unusuals: Detective Beaumont borrowed her boyfriend's watch, only for it to be stolen by the criminal of the episode.
- On Wings, a wedding ring incident leads to Helen having to marry Joe while he still sits in his underwear with his hand down the toilet. God, that was sad.
- An episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air involved Phil and Vivian renewing their vows and Phil losing the rings. Turned out Vivian had taken them to be engraved.
- For Better or for Worse: Liz, trying on her sister-in-law-to-be's new engagement ring, manages to drop it down the sink; Michael has to go to some trouble retrieving it.
- Gasoline Alley: Slim's wife Clovia discovers her wedding ring missing following a family trip to an amusement park; Slim returns to the park, pays admission all over again, rents a metal detector, and suffers a number of indignities, all to no avail. Turns out Clovia left the ring on the bathroom counter and just forgot.
- Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura had retrieving a NPC's wedding ring as an early Fed Ex Quest.
- In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Frankie and Francesca have lost their wedding ring, and Francesca won't let them leave for the mainland to go see her sick father until it's found. Mario, of course, ends up being the one to have to retrieve it, because they won't stop looking in completely the wrong area. Later, he'll lose it in town, and post a trouble in the Trouble Center asking for help in finding it, lest he be forced to say "I love you!" some insane number of times. A valid fear, as he's already been forced to say it 100 times (as you're forced to stay and listen, A A A A A...).
- In Chibi Robo, one of the post main-story missions has you plumbing the depths of the Sanderson's drain for Mr. Sanderson's lost wedding ring.
- The ring, however, serves another purpose; the ring itself is found before the end of the game, allowing Chibi to use the anniversary date engraved inside as a password to actually cause the last of the end game events.
- The premise of a sidequest in Xenosaga. An NPC bemoans that she lost her ring and a fish swallowed it. In order to get it back, you need to track down a fish finder and then run around in the shallow water catching fish with your bare hands until one spits it out. She then loses it again in Episode II, at the same time there's a rash of people losing rings. You have to find her exact ring and return it to her. The other lost rings just get left.
- Odin Sphere. There is a ring which controls a powerful magical cauldron that the entire world is fighting a war over. At one point, that ring is used basically as a man's wedding ring to his new wife. The wife's father, however, wants that ring very badly, and she wants her father's love very badly. When the husband finds out and is devastated by the betrayal, she rushes off to the get the ring back.
- In Popful Mail, a elven woman from Treesun has her wedding ring stolen by the leader of the Badger Bandits. The badger boss' lair is close to town, but he's surprisingly tough to beat for an early-game enemy (being a combination Giant Mook and Elite Mook).
- In the RPG Maker 2000 game Three The Hard Way, you have to find a wedding ring for a guy who's married to a seamstress. Completing this quest for him will later give you the opportunity to get special clothes from her in order to meet with Duke Salem of Burlington (since commoners can't enter).
- One early side quest in Dragon Quest VIII is to look for a lost wedding ring for a Rich Bitch.
- Lord of the Rings Online features an introductory crafting quest to replace a lost wedding ring. If you go on further, you meet the husband of the quest giver, who also lost his ring and gives you an identical quest to replace his ring as well.
- This is done in The Simpsons, when Lisa notices Homer's wedding ring is 'just a band-aid wrapped in tin-foil." He tells her mournfully, "The real one's inside a turtle".
- The final episode of Doug features our protagonist questing for a missing ring that he is supposed to present as ring bearer. He finds it at the last minute.
- Also done in The Flintstones episode entitled "The Engagement Ring", in which Fred, as a favour to Barney, uses one of the holes of his bowling ball to hide a ring Barney bought for Betty. Wilma finds it by accident and immediately assumes it was meant for her. Done differently in the fact that the ring isn't lost at all; it's right there on Wilma's finger, being shown off to Betty, even, but Fred just doesn't have the heart to tell Wilma that the ring wasn't meant for her. Eventually the boys manage to get the money together - thanks to Wilma, no less - and a second identical ring is bought for Betty.
- In one episode of Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!, Wubbzy accidentally dropped Daizy's ring, which she'd asked him to hold while she did some gardening, and it fell down a hole. He, Walden, and Widget went down after it, had an adventure, got it back safely with Daizy none the wiser, only for Wubbzy to have a close call as he's about to give it back to her.
- Phineas and Ferb, "No More Bunny Business": Isabella's mom loses her wedding ring after taking it off to do the dishes. Phineas uses his new X-Ray glasses to find it in the pipes, though she declines their offer to get it out themselves.
- The My Little Pony Tales episode "Sister of the Bride" shoehorns this in alongside many other wedding-related gags, coming very close to Deus Angst Machina territory before it all works out in the end.
- In the Arthur episode "D.W. Thinks Big", Arthur becomes the ringbearer for his Aunt Lucy's wedding. The ring gets lost ending up in the pipe organ. Fortunately, D.W. is small enough to retrieve it.
- The short film Tangled Ever After, a continuation of Tangled, is all about this trope. At Rapunzel and Eugene's wedding, ringbearer Maximus sneezes while carrying both rings, so he and Pascal have to scramble across the kingdom to retrieve them.
- Older Than Steam: The last scenes of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice revolve around this.
- The Onion headline: "Wedding Ring Mistakenly Left Inside Prostitute."
- There is a legend about a Russian nobleman who was sailing across the Caspian Sea when the wedding ring came off his wife's finger and sank to the bottom of the sea. She was distraught, so to cheer her up, he bought all the land surrounding the sea. In this way, you see, the couple would still own the ring and be spared the bad luck from losing it.
- Real life imitated sitcom plots when, in 2009, a man (Reed) proposed to his girlfriend (Kaitlin) by hiding the engagement ring in a Wendy's Slurpee (not quite as romantic as the champagne in the similar Two and a Half Men episode), which she wolfed down, swallowing the ring without even noticing anything particularly lumpy in her dessert. It took an X-ray showing the ring in her stomach to make her believe what happened. She retrieved the ring a couple of days later, and still married the guy. (Blog account with pictures and video)
- Another case: One guy in California thought it would be fun to tie a wedding ring to a balloon. He hands her the balloon, proposes to her, she jerks in shock and lets the balloon float away taking the ring with it.
- I'll see you that and raise you the story of the guy who proposed to his girlfriend on the walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge. Romantic. . .until he dropped the ring while trying to put it on her finger. The good news is that it fell to the roadway below rather than into the water. Determined to get it back (no doubt thinking of how much he spent on it), he jumped down and proceeded to contend with the rushing traffic in order to find it—and he did.
- In Guns And Roses' "November Rain" music video, Slash (who's the best man) can't seem to find the ring While Axl, the priest and the bride look awkward. Duffy reveals he has it on his pinky finger.