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Medal of Dishonor
An "A" for Effort

Church: You want to give out the symbols of Olympic victory to losers? That doesn't sound much like you, Sarge. So what will it be? Gold, silver, bronze and...
Sarge: Enriched uranium! The losers will be forced to wear radioactive isotopes, making sure they die the excruciatingly slow and painful death they deserve!
Red vs. Blue PSA: "The Olympics Suck"

You're being given an award, but not for something you're proud of. In fact, it's for something of which you're very, very not proud and for which you certainly don't want an award.

There are two kinds of Medals of Dishonor:
  • The purposeful kind - The award is a joke specifically meant to make the recipient's life miserable, such as an "award" for "ugliest hair" or "tiniest brain". These can generally be treated in two manners.
    • The award is given publicly and is meant to make the receiver a figure of ridicule.
    • The award is given by friends and colleagues as a form of good-natured ribbing.
  • The accidental kind - The award is honestly meant as an honor, but it isn't received as such. There are several possibilities here.
    • There is an ethical dissonance between the awarder and the awardee. See also Your Approval Fills Me with Shame.
    • The awardee takes it as an honor, but thinks he doesn't deserve it.
    • The medal itself is just an eyesore, even if the awarder doesn't think so.
    • The pain of being reminded of the cost of heroism outweighs the satisfaction of being recognized for it.

Either way, this can be played for drama, comedy, or even both.

Compare and contrast Overly Narrow Superlative. Might overlap with Zonk in a game show.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Advertisement 
  • A Ragu commercial featured a kid coming home from some competition with a participation award.
    "It means I lost."

    Anime 
  • Smoker of One Piece is furious at the promotion given for Alabaster's salvation when it is the Straw Hat Pirates who were the country's saviors; his participation in it was negligible at best compared to even Tashigi. The Government was basically cornered at this point; either cover up the truth with this sham of a medal, or openly admit that Pirates saved a country from one of their own rogue privateers.

    Comic Strips 

    Film 
  • In Hannibal (book and film) Clarice Starling gets a letter from the Guinness Book of World Records congratulating her on being the female FBI agent who has shot and killed the most people.
  • Gran Torino: You wanna know what it's like to kill a man? Well it's goddamn awful, that's what it is. The only thing worse is getting a medal of valor for killing some kid who wanted to just give up that's all.
  • Apocalypse Now: They were gonna make me a major for this, and I wasn't even in their fucking army anymore.
  • In Passchendaele, the main character is decorated for bayonetting a German teenager in the head while he was trying to surrender.
  • In The Majestic the town received a statue to commemorate their contribution to the war effort and the soldiers who never returned. The loss was still too raw for the people, so the memorial was stored in a basement.
  • In the movie Dinner for Schmucks, the awardees think they are being honored for their unique (and very unusual) talents, when they are really just being "honored" so high level executives can make fun of them at a banquet.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph throws away the medal he has been chasing after for most of the film because getting it back involved betraying Vannelope, his first and only friend, and her hopes of being a racer. Luckily, the hurled medal reveals a critical clue that helps him realize how to put things back together.
  • In the movie Up in the Air, George Clooney's character reaches a milestone in airtravel miles when he's his most existentially weak. When the pilot meets and talks with him on the plane as part of his reward, asking "Where you from?", he heartbreakingly admits "I'm from here."
  • Patriot Games features a good-natured joke version: After Jack Ryan is injured foiling a terrorist attack in London, Robbie Jackson presents him with the Order of the Purple Target, a medal fashioned in the form of a purple bullseye with the inscription "Please Shoot Me".
  • In Superhero Movie, Lou Landers/Hourglass recieved an award for contributions to female medicine. His award? The "Douchebag of the Year" award.

    Literature 
  • X-Wing Series
    • Wraith Squadron has character Kell Tainer awarded with the Kalidor Crescent (an award recognizing conspicuous and simultaneous achievements in piloting skill and bravery) for the spectacular maneuver he pulled in an attempt to save his teammate Jesmin Ackbar. Kell inwardly doesn't agree to that and looks like he's going to throw up... because, well, the maneuver actually failed to save Jesmin at all and he was scared out his mind the whole time. Eventually, his friends coax him into realizing the fact that he made the attempt at all and didn't manage to crash his own bird qualified him, even if the lack of success was tragic.
    • A retroactive example; fellow Wraith Myn Donos was awarded the Corellian Bloodstripes while serving with the military in his pre-starfighter days as a sniper. After his entire first command, Talon Squadron, is wiped out in an ambush, he looks on it with a sense of shame; it takes him coming back from the Despair Event Horizon before he starts wearing them again.
    • At the end of Iron Fist, Garik Loran was almost killed and managed to limp back with both his fighter and himself in horrible shape. Parts of him and his X-Wing were "intermingled". While recovering, he was presented with the Award of the Mechanic's Nightmare - a statuette of "a New Republic mechanic with wrench upraised as a weapon. The mechanic's expression was of pure, if silly, rage." He takes it in good cheer.
      Face: "I want to thank everyone who retrieved pieces of me, everyone who retrieved pieces of my X-wing, and especially those who sorted them out correctly."
    • A scene in a later book has two pilots, badly injured in the line of duty, mention after getting better that the squad didn't always show enough appreciation. In response, the Wraiths kinged them with scrap-metal crowns, gave them dowel rods with tassels as scepters, and threw brightly-colored rubbish as celebratory confetti.
      Runt: Do all kings have to suffer this?
      Wes: Well, any king with Face Loran as his majordomo.
      Face: And now the two kings fight each other to the death, and we space the loser.
      Wes: Try again.
      Face: We space the winner?
      Wes: One more.
      Face: We buy you a drink.
      Wes: That's more like it.
    • A borderline example comes from yet another scene in the book involving a wounded pilot. Piggy killed an assassin coming after Admiral Ackbar and got shot doing it. After he exits the bacta tank for the last time, he finds his squad members waiting for him, with mild taunts ("We heard the new vintage of Piggy was being decanted") and gifts ("To remind you of your time spent here, we got you some things. Bacta flavored brandy, bacta flavored candy, bacta flavored cheese...")
      Face Runt and I worked up a little manual for you. It's called 'How to Dodge'.
    • The comics have Baron Fel, best Imperial pilot since Vader's death, put under the command of an incompetent Admiral with terribly lax morals and no sense of strategy. He gives Fel and Fel's pilots medals, which Fel refuses because he thinks they didn't do anything worth accolades. They flew against Rebel pilots and, close to victory, were suddenly recalled by the admiral when the man saw reports of X-Wings too close for comfort and wanted the protection of his entire force. Fel's pilots accept at the ceremony, and we see that the "starburst" medals were designed by the admiral and are really ugly. Thus, they fall under all three of the "accidental" categories.
  • The peerless book Catch-22 sums up the situation as it arises in real life perfectly:
    Colonel Cathcart: "What can we give him a medal for?"
    Colonel Korn: "For going around twice. You know, that might be the answer - to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of. That's a trick that never seems to fail."
  • Vorkosigan Saga
    • In Cetaganda, Miles is awarded the Cetagandan Order of Merit, the highest honor given by The Empire that is his planet's arch-enemy for most of the series. This is roughly the equivalent of an American officer during the Cold War being awarded Hero of the Soviet Union, First Class. However, when he puts on full-dress, he makes sure to wear it along with his other medals, since it puts other people intensely off-balance.
    • Another purposeful type is shown at the Imperial Academy. Cadets are 'awarded' armbands to show that they've been killed or wounded in simulated exercises. Thus the absence of of said armbands is a symbol of status - and a sign that the teachers will be trying harder to 'kill' you the next time out.
  • In The Road To Damascus, the sentient super-tank Sonny is repeatedly deployed against civilian protestors by the totalitarian government. Each time, they give him a medal, which only increases his self-loathing at being used this way. When he finally realizes that his allegiance is owed to the people rather than the government and turns against his corrupt masters, his first act is to shoot the medals off with one of his infinite repeaters.
  • In Tom Kratman's Caliphate, the Martinez Award is given by West Point to the cadet with the most demerits without having been kicked out. Cadet Hamilton himself doesn't consider it something to be proud of, but the Sergeant that he reports to after leaving schooling treats it as a genuine badge of honor, figuring that nobody who doesn't have what it takes could piss off so many people without having been kicked out of the Academy.
  • Stefan Zweig uses this as the basis of Ungeduld des Herzens (Beware of pity): the young officer who receives the Theresia medal for his bravery in World War I was actually just committing the military version of Suicide by Cop to atone for the events which, in flashback, form the main narrative. The framing device is set in Vienna in 1938 - hinting that the author considers the reasons for the impending World War II to be no better.
  • Patriot Games: After Jack Ryan is injured foiling a terrorist attack in London, his history students at the Navy Academy present him with the Order of the Purple Target (a medal fashioned after a large bullseye). Jack jokingly announces that there will be no grade curve in the class as a result.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Several Harry Potter fanfics have him (and often others of his True Companions) awarded the Order of Merlin or the Special Award for Services to the School, only to turn it down since he doesn't want to be associated with previous holder(s) of the award (evil parent-betraying illegal rat animagus, murdering Dark Lord-in-training, and (depending on the fic) amoral, manipulative old headmaster).
  • In A Cure for Love when Matsuda isn't too keen on dying for the cause Mello snarks:
    Mello: You'll go down in the books, Matsuda. In the chapter called "Fucking Idiot Cowards of History", you'll be right at the top of the page. And L will be in second place after Liza Minnelli in the 'I Have Really Shit Taste in Men' awards.
  • Established canon has Lauren spending some time as a doctor in Afghanistan. In The Brave, for her services there she received Cross of Valour, the second highest award of Canada; the US Secretary Of The Army for Valour Award, to acknowledge acts of heroism and bravery; and the British George Cross, the highest gallantry award for civilians and military personnel. One officer even wrote a letter saying she should be given the US Medal of Honor, despite her being neither American or in the military. She has them all in a box buried in a drawer, and refuses to talk about them.
  • From the Harry Potter Crack Fic The Black Bunny:
    Harry led [Tom Riddle] over to a table and called for Tally. "Bring Master's victory cake," he instructed the moment she appeared. Tally bowed and instantly vanished again.
    A minute later, Tom was staring down at the table where the house elf had returned and placed Harry's chocolate cake. Words were scrawled upon the top of the cake with white icing. The message read: Congratulations! You did something right!

    Live Action TV 
  • M*A*S*H:
    • The episode "Bombshells" saw B.J. being forced to leave a man behind. The Army decided to give him the Bronze Star for trying to save him, but B.J. was wracked with guilt.
      BJ: The second I cut that rope I became a soldier.
    • Major Frank Burns was once awarded a Purple Heart for being wounded during a shelling. Of course the piece of shell they removed from him was from an egg. The medal was subsequently stolen and given to someone more deserving, a newborn baby who had been wounded before being born.
    • Another medal awarded to Burns was intercepted before he received it and given to an underage Marine Hawkeye decided not to allow to stay in harm's way after all.
  • 30 Rock
    • In the episode "Rosemary's Baby", Liz was awarded a "Followship Award" (not a Fellowship Award) for effectively becoming a cog in the corporate machine.
    • After being forced to attend a sexual harassment seminar, she was given a certificate proclaiming that she was "no longer a workplace sex criminal," which she posted on her office door.
  • The Office (US):
    • Pam was awarded for "World's Longest Engagement".
    • As well as Angela's "Tight Ass Award", Kelly's "Spicy Curry Award", and to a lesser extent, Phyllis's "Busiest Beaver Award" (misspelled on the Award as Bushiest Beaver).
  • At the end of the two-parter pilot of Space: Above and Beyond, Nathan throws away the medal he earned in the first victory against the aliens, because of the political deception by the government that accompanied it.
  • Battlestar Galactica:
    • Lt. Shaw is the first person to start the massacre on the Scylla and is promoted to captain for it.
    • There's also Adama's medal in Hero, one of the second type. Slightly subverted since Roslin knows very well that he'll use it for self-flagellation, but the alternative is him quitting and she does genuinely want to honor him, sooo... And as she puts it, the fleet needs to see it happen so they still believe in and honor him. He's going to take the medal and live it, because it will make other people happy.
  • On Kings, David is the fifth person in Gilboan history to be awarded the Medal of Valor...not for his actions, but as an attempt to keep him quiet about other things. Even though he doesn't speak up on them, he refuses to wear the medal, and throws it away. This proves important...
  • The title Canada's Worst Driver—self-explanatory and lampshaded.
  • Top Gear has the coveted Golden Cock award, a tiny rooster made from what is likely gold-painted plastic, given to, in their own words, "the presenter who's made the biggest mess of things in the past year."
  • Good Game's "Big Claim, Lame Game" award to a hyped-up but ultimately disappointing video game.
  • In The Chaser election specials, the Mal Award is given out to the candidate responsible for the biggest act of political suicide during the week. The award is named for Mal Meninga, who pulled out of his campaign for the ACT Legislative Assembly thirty seconds into the radio interview announcing his candidacy.
  • In Blue Bloods, Jamie's partner is given a medal that was really earned by Jamie to keep from blowing Jamie's cover during the infiltration of a mob clan.
  • On The Colbert Report, the Alpha Dog of the Week and Tip of the Hat portion of "Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger" are frequently, but not always, examples of this — sarcastic accolades for foolishness, selfishness, and plain old douchebaggery mixed with hypocrisy presented as in-character admiration. Meanwhile, People who are Destroying America and the Wag of the Finger portion of Tip/Wag are nearly always an inversion — sarcastic condemnation of people who are noble, courageous, progressive, or at the very least not hurting anyone.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Secrets", O'Neill and Carter are honored with a military award. O'Neill would not normally have a problem with this, but just prior to the award ceremony, a reporter who was planning to expose the Stargate program was killed in a convenient car accident and literally died in O'Neill's arms. O'Neill clearly does not think it was an accident and is in no mood to be honored by the organization responsible.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In a Peanuts comic, Lucy asked Schroeder, "What makes you think Beethoven was better than Elton John?" He promptly gave her a trophy for "most stupid question of the year".
  • One Dilbert comic has the Pointy-Haired Boss give an employee a t-shirt for his work on a project. Once the employee puts it on, it is revealed to say "Moron," with an arrow pointing up at the wearer's face. Then the PHB reveals that the employee's work was terrible and that he is fired.
    • In another, the Pointy-Haired Boss gives out rings with precious stones to all the team, noting that they'll get more valuable rings based on their performance, with the highest level being diamond. The next panel has the employees all examining their ring and wondering if Talc counts as a precious stone or not.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In BattleTech the Draconis Combine has the 'Honor of Wakizashi'. It is awarded to a high ranking person who puts the honor of themselves or their family above the needs of the Combine. A person so 'honored' is expected to commit seppuku on receipt of the award.
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • Given to individuals who need to atone for some crime or other. They usually take the form of long scraps of parchment affixed with wax seals (though the actual heroic medals use the same, listing their accomplishments). The Sisters Repentia take it Up to Eleven, as the punishment for their crimes is to charge into battle with chainswords, wearing nothing but strategically-placed parchments. And they still kick ass for the Emperor while doing it.
    • General Kubrik Chenkov, the Imperial Guard's contender for We Have Reserves incarnate. Every one of his operations costs millions of lives in soldiers, since he has no strategy beyond "Throw more men at it", including clearing minefields, but every one of these successes results in another medal on his chest.
  • Mutant Chronicles: Capitol hands out the Shooting Star medal to pilots and air crews who have bailed out over enemy territory and made their own way home. The Capitol Air Force considers it to be an award for getting shot down or otherwise screwing up, and derisively refers to it as "The Golden Parachute".
    • As Ibis Douglas points out in the Video Game section below, a shooting star is an object known for plummeting to earth in flames. Not really a name most flyboys want to be associated with.

    Video Games 
  • In Mabinogi, there are several titles for embarrassing failures, most notably getting defeated by a fox. Since the removal of the life cost associated with the windmill skill, this now takes a considerable amount of patience since gain health passively very slowly, but still almost as fast as a fox can damage you.
  • Advance Wars Dual Strike gives medals for having units destroyed and being defeated, in addition to more positive awards. To get all the awards in Days Of Ruin you have to lose a bunch and get some C ranks (the lowest rank).
  • The Battlefield series has the Purple Heart, achieved from a certain kill/death ratio depending on game (1:5 for 1942, 1:4 for 2, and 1:2 for 2142).
  • Spore has "Joker", which means that you cheated with the race that earned it, and you cannot get more Achievements with it (thus it overlaps with No Fair Cheating), "Pathological Cheater", for gaining 50 Joker badges, and "Dance With The Devil", which means you allied with the Grox and are thus a colossal Jerk Ass. There are also "Can't Win for Losing" (for dying in every stage of the game), and "General Custer" (for getting 30 followers killed and generally being The Neidermeyer).
  • Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis has at least two unflattering medals with penalty effects: Bogus Hero, if you gain 20 or more levels while sparring your own units and Don Quixote if you attack someone and the counterattack damage deals 2/3 of your max health. Clerics and Priests can earn a third one, Gibe of the Fallen Angel, by killing three enemies with physical attacks.
  • For killing The Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3, Naked Snake receives the Distinguished Service Cross and the title "Big Boss."
  • A Modern Warfare player who fails to kill anyone in a multiplayer round, and die at least ten times, gets an achievement.
  • Team Fortress 2's Sniper vs. Spy update introduced the Sniper's "Consolation Prize" achievement for being Back Stabbed 50 times. This can be especially ironic if the achievement causes you to reach Sniper Milestone 3, that would reward you with the Razorback, a shield that keeps you from being backstabbed.
  • Guitar Hero 3 had ones for failing a song multiple times in a row, and failing at the 95% mark in a song.
    • The X360 version of Guitar Hero 2 gives you an achievement for your first failed song.
  • World of Warcraft
    • Deaths By Hogger is a tracked statistic in the game, with Hogger being a Boss In Mooks Clothing.
    • Similarly, Deaths to Elevator Boss tracks how many times a player falls to their death on a particularly high elevator.
    • There's a sort of inversion in the Leeroy Jenkins achievement, if you can pull off the infamous stunt that player attempted (provoking an entire room of baddies at once and killing them all). The original Leeroy Jenkins died horribly and got his whole team killed with him in a hilarious manner; the actual achievement requires pulling the stunt off successfully. Having the achievement named after him might actually be a straight (if a bit complicated) version of this trope for the original Leeroy.
    • An achievement "Stood in the Fire"note  required players to get killed by Deathwing when he strafed zones. It was actually harder than it sounds, given how random Deathwing's attacks were.
      • Played even more straight after Deathwing became killable when the achievement was modified to include dying during either the Spine of Deathwing or Madness of Deathwing raid encounters. Not only does it retain its dubious value, but it now also signifies that it is likely the recipient's first time fighting Deathwing on that character.
    • The title "the Patient", earned after grouping with 50 random players with the Dungeon Finder tool on Heroic dungeons (roughly 13 or so runs, at minimum) tends to be seen as a mark of a relatively new maximum-level player who has not accomplished much in the way of raiding and has only been doing heroics so far.
    • "It's A Trap" is an achievement given to players who walk across the obvious traps in a scenario.
    • Nefarion in Blackwing Descent awards players who slay one of his subordinates with the temporary title "Slayer of Stupid, Incompetent, and Disappointing Minions".
  • City of Heroes awards badges for some rather dubious "achievements", including sustaining high amounts of damage, paying off debt (which is accrued each time you are "killed"), and time spent held in status effects. At least most of the badges for such effects have cool names; taking a lot of damage gets you the Tough, Indestructible and Unstoppable badges, which are at least okay. The final "Death" badge is Exalted.
  • Several of the bronze trophies in the PlayStation 3 version of Warhawk are awarded for such dubious feats as stepping on 5 land mines, or flying into your own aerial mine.
  • Silent Hill: Homecoming puts a rather bizarre twist on this. A document notes that Alex's father received a Good Conduct medal, a Purple Heart, and a Silver Star during his time in the Army. A puzzle shortly thereafter requires Alex to pin the medals on a uniform. However, the actual puzzle exists in the nightmarish "Otherworld," where the medals are Vile Conduct ("For atrocities committed") the Heart of Darkness ("For permitting others to suffer") and the Fallen Star ("For dereliction of duty.") The medals look like twisted versions of the real things, and the Vile Conduct metal even looks like Pyramid Head's helmet.
  • FreeSpace 2 has "Congratulations, you have attained the rank of Admiral. Now go read a book." This is because attaining Admiral requires completing the single-player campaign roughly a hundred times.
  • RollerCoaster Tycoon has some skull-and-crossbones awards for the "theme park with the lowest value", the "dirtiest theme park", "most dangerous theme park" (if you have too many roller coaster accidents). In fact, for all positive awards, a negative one existed.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has a number of these for the masochistic to collect and proudly display, such as 'Brave Sir Robin', for fleeing from 100 battles, and 'The Ghuol Cup' for eating 11 nasty undead dishes that permanently reduce your stats.
  • Arguably, the Cross of Glory in the light-sided ending for Knights of the Old Republic. Sure, you took out Malak, turned the Star Forge into slag, saved your crew ( You can still fail to save Bastila, though), and "broke the spirit of the Sith." Seeing as you caused the damn mess in the first place during your pre-amnesia tenure as Dark Lord of the Sith makes the honor somewhat dubious.
  • Warhammer Online has a series of titles unlocked by failure, including dying via mobs up to a million times ("The Tragic"), being killed up to 100,000 times by enemy players ("The Feckless") or falling to your death up to 5000 times ("The Pancake"). In addition to this there are specific titles for being killed by each enemy class, drowning in lava and several other dubious rewards that people nonetheless wear with pride.
  • Star Trek: Elite Force games give the Red Shirt award in a multiplayer game to those who manage to die first.
  • Wing Commander has the "Golden Sun" medal, awarded for surviving the destruction of one's ship (by ejecting during battle). Each pilot is awarded it only once, and when you get it the first time your commander gives you a mild chewing out. After all, you generally get the medal after you failed at your primary objective.
  • Cyber Nations has the National War Memorial wonder, which can only be built if you've lost at least 50,000 soldiers in war. On the other hand, it's relatively cheap and provides a nice bump to national happiness.
  • The dreaded Fizbin of Misfortune, first introduced in Might and Magic 3, made appearances in the first two games of the Heroes of Might and Magic series. Just having it in your possession threw your general's morale and luck to the rock bottom, and the only way to get rid of it was to disband the hero currently carrying it. There was absolutely no upside to carrying this item around. However, if you were to dump it in the hands of an expendable rookie hero, who then suicidally attacked the strongest enemy hero...
  • In Need For Speed: Carbon, to unlock one of the parts you have to earn the consolation award. You get that for losing.
  • The Flash game Amorphous+. You get awards for dying a number of times, as well as dying in multiple ways. And it's needed for 100% Completion, as it's the only way to get more reward keys.
  • StarCraft II has the "Couch Surfer" achievement, unlockable by watching at least 10 of the in-universe news broadcasts.
  • Vindictus has several titles, such as having one's equipment destroyed a certain number of times, and titles for picking up enough gold dropped from destroyed scenery. "Enabler" is acquired by completing a side-quest that involves bringing large amounts of booze to the town blacksmith, and the reward for spending several real-time hours fishing on Valentine's Day is "Master Baiter". Some of these require a huge number of occurrences to achieve the "highest" level of the title.
  • Total War Shogun 2 includes an achievement for sinking or capturing a particularly powerful ship. Possibly due to a programming oversight, you still get this achievement if it's you that loses the ship in question.
  • Many games, particularly Shoot Em Ups, will award the player exactly 1 point for using a continue (sometimes also zeroing out the upper digits) up to a maximum of 9 times, while everything else is scored in multiples of 10. This makes the last digit of the player's score reveal how many times they continued.
  • Portal 2 gives an achievement for falling for GLaDOS's trap... and another for falling for Wheatley's.
  • Some achievements in The Sims Medieval aren't ones that are very good. A noteworthy one is "Have 25 people die in your Kingdom," which since the maximum population of hero Sims is only 12, 25 deaths have to come from either questing so badly you have to remake your heroes multiple times, or killing off a majority of your original NPC population, which weakens your kingdom.
  • Space Rangers has a few such medals, mostly given for cowardice or piracy.
  • In Tribes: Ascend one of the accolades that earn you points is "llama grab", gotten when you pick up a flag at a very low speed—which is likely to result in you dying before you get much anywhere with it, screwing up a faster moving teammate's grab attempt, and dropping the flag somewhere that's harder for you to pick up until the flag automatically goes back to the stand. While it still gives you points, it's less than even a standard flag grab and the description even says "not for use in any highlight reels".
  • Goldeneye: Source has a few in the form of achievements, including "004," which is awarded for blowing yourself up 25 times with your own mines, "Octopussy" for excessive camping, and "Who Throws A Shoe?" which is awarded to someone who plays as Oddjob-who is widely considered unfair to use due to being smaller and therefore harder to hit-for essentially being the worst player in the round. Then there's the Awards, which are given every match, that point out similar things, and they're similarly both doled out for genuine skill-or a lack thereof.
  • Shooting the president in the Xbox 360 version of Secret Service earns you the zero-point achievement "The Exact Opposite of Your Job".
  • The PSN/XBLA versions of Sonic the Fighters give you a trophy/achievement just for being Squashed Flat (well, squashed down to a short size, anyway).
  • Lollipop Chainsaw has the trophy "Gunn Struck", which you get from being struck by lightning (or shocked by Vikke's electrical attacks) ten times.
  • Cave Story+ for Steam has an achievement for being killed by Toroko. As in, the harmless little Mimiga who "attacks" by running back and forth waving a stick, which only does 1 damage per hit, and you have to deliberately stand still and wait to die. Even the achievement name ("Toroko Wins!") sounds surprised that it ever happened.
  • Black Mesa has achievements for being killed by your own snarks, killed by a headcrab, overcharging the Tau Cannon (which inflicts massive damage on the user), and even drowning in the Lambda Core's coolant.
  • You can invoke this in Crusader Kings 2, by naming one of your Nobles the Court Jester. They understandably don't take this well.
  • In Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands you can permanently lower your current difficulty anytime in the game. Doing this earns you the achievement "Our Little Secret".
  • The Simpsons Game has a zero-point Achievement earned by dying ten or more times during the game.
  • The Badge of Shame from Exit Fate. Rewarded by earning the lowest score possible in a war battle, the badge's description reads "a constant reminder of past failures" and cannot be sold, dropped, equipped or exchanged.
  • Dead Rising 2 Off the Record has an achievement for receiving your first medal (out of many you can earn in sandbox mode) - the flavor text reads: "It says 'Participant' in tiny letters on the bottom..."
  • In Papers, Please, if the player has too many citations (from letting people through when their paperwork isn't right, denying them access when it is, or other mistakes) on day 10 and day 20, the Inspector's supervisor Dimitri will "reward" him with a Recognition for Sufficience plaque, or a Recognition for Presence plaque if they really screwed up and got more than 20 citations: "Do not embarrass me further." People passing through the checkpoint will notice it hanging on the wall and make fun of the Inspector.
    Entrant:' What is this plaque on the wall? You are recognized for presence? Way to go.
  • In the Super Robot Wars series, Ibis Douglas notes that she got her nickname "Shooting Star" because like one, she's always seen falling to earth. 2nd Original Generations actually gives you a trophy for getting her shot down in a space map, and another, titled "撃墜され王" (roughly, King of Being Shot Down) if you lose five of your mechs in a single stage.
  • In the MMORPG RIFT, killing innocent animals occasionally drops their tears as artifacts, with flavor text such as "So sad." and "You murderer." Not only is there a full set of these such artifacts, there is even an achievement for collecting 20 of a certain type.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Mage's Association of the Nasuverse has the Sealing Designation. It is a title of the "greatest honor" for magi who develop thaumuturgy that cannot be recreated as it is inherent to their body. The Mage's Association goes to great lengths to preserve this magic... by vivisecting the magus and preserving every part of their body for future study. Needless to say, the magus in question usually objects... because they won't be able to study it themselves.

    Web Original 
  • An example of the second variant: Shelton is embarrassed about the Commendation medal he got while in Dragonstorm.
  • In the SCP Foundation story Badges and Scorecards, the narrator has this happen twice.
    The only thing worse than killing an innocent girl is getting a medal for doing so.
  • From an episode of The Angry Video Game Nerd, featuring Pat The NES Punk:
    Nerd: "I'll give [your copy of Nintendo World Championships] The Nerd Seal of Approval."
    Pat: "So... what, you'll take a dump on it?"
    Nerd: "No, that would be The Nerd Seal of Disapproval."
    • The Nerd has also repeatedly said that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for the NES is the absolute worst video game he's ever played due to its ludicrous amount of Fake Difficulty (albeit Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing is the worst in terms of development quality), and that the R-Zone was the console he's ever played, for being a rip-off of the Virtual Boy.
  • The Flash portal website Newgrounds had a "prize" called Turd of the Week that was given to the Flash submission with the lowest score that passes judgment (calculated as closest score to 1.6 out of 5 after 200 votes, with 1.59 or below being disqualified). This was discontinued in 2012 because people were flooding the Portal with crappy submissions just to get the award.
  • The Doomworld Cacoawards had a category called the Worst Wad; this was discontinued for the same reason as above.
  • Yahtzee/Ben Croshaw who reviews games in his animated web video series Zero Punctuation on The Escapist, refused to list Ride To Hell Retribution in his worst games of 2013 list. instead calling it "congealed failure" and giving it the "Zero Punctuation lifetime achievement award for Total Abhorrence." You can watch his "best and worst games of 2013" here. and you can watch his Ride to Hell: Retribution review here.
  • SF Debris: in Chuck Sonnenberg's funhouse-mirror Star Trek universe, Starfleet has the Hoshi Sato Cowering Chicken medal, with clusters. More metatextually, there are the end-of-episode awards, such as "Most Annoying Character".

    Western Animation 
  • South Park
    • The school nurse given an award for her birth deformity, when she just wanted everyone to ignore it.
    • Phony Psychic John Edward taking The Biggest Douche of the Universe award.
    • Randy won a place in the Guinness World Records for The Biggest Piece of Shit Taken, to Sharon's disgust and shame. Played With because Randy and his friends, however, thought this was awesome—as did Bono, the previous record holder, who was desperate to maintain his title.
    • Cartman once pretended to be retarded to win the Special Olympics, only to lose in every event because, while technically able-bodied, he was horribly out of shape compared to everyone else. He wound up receiving the "Spirit Award," though Jimmy prevented this by exposing him.
    • In the show's first Halloween Episode, Stan dresses up Raggedy Andy with Wendy supposed to be Ann, but she changes her mind at the last minute. As a result, he's given the "award" for Worst Costume at the costume contest, involving the entire class laughing at him.
  • The Simpsons
    • Homer went to his high school reunions and got all kinds of rewards that embarrassed Marge, like "Most Weight Gained" and "Least Distance Traveled to Get Here". He was proud to receive every single one and was outraged when they were confiscated on the basis of his failure to graduate.
    • When Homer disgraces the Stonecutters, he's forced to drag home the Stone of Shame while naked. Then when the Stonecutters discover his birthmark identifying him as the Chosen One: "Remove the Stone of Shame." "Woohoo!" "Attach the (significantly larger) Stone of Triumph!" "D'oh!"
    • Abe Simpson earned the Iron Cross - whilst serving in the US Army during World War 2, because of his incompetence at searching for mines.
    • When Marge becomes a real estate agent, a big to-do is made about getting a new red blazer with a higher title on the nametag. When she fails to sell a house in her first week (by giving back a check to Flanders after feeling guilty that she tricked him into buying a house another family was brutally murdered in,) she's given a new red blazer with "Fired" on the tag.
  • Dick Dastardly gave Muttley two such medals on Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: the Doghouse Medal and the Royal Order of Sour Grapes ("for having a raisin for a brain").
  • Futurama has Leela win both "Dumbest Pet in Show" for entering Nibbler, and is elected to the Blernsball Hall of Fame as "The Worst Blernsball Player Of All Time".
  • On the Looney Tunes 1944 short "What's Cooking, Doc?" Bugs Bunny lobbies relentlessly for the Oscar, and gets a booby prize.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy, "The Good, The Bad, and the Ed": Eddy challenges Rolf to try and earn the Urban Rangers' toughest merit badge, the Hairy Chest of Resilience Badge. After losing by one second, when Edd was convinced he had no chance at all against Rolf, Eddy was given... the Crybaby Boo-Hoo Badge. He's understandably incensed and, despite all but being in traction, demands a rematch.
    Eddy: ONE LOUSY SECOND!!!
  • One episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic had the Cutie Mark Crusaders performing a rock ballad in a school talent show, hoping they'll win an award and get their cutie marks. They do win an award... for comedy. Although the CMC was more disappointed that they didn't get their Cutie Marks. Subverted as the CMC were rather happy about their award, even thinking they should do more comedy.
  • The Fairly OddParents had a similar situation, though it was a film festival.
    Trixie: You won for comedy, and everyone knows that comedy is the lowest form of entertainment next to animation.
  • Wing Commander Academy: a medal is refused by Blair after Tolwyn uses him as bait in a decoy operation. However, Tolwyn used the decoy operation because he was refused any reinforcements and had to use desperate measures.
  • In an episode of The Critic, Jay's son, Marty, participates in the school Olympics and ends up with a booby prize for placing last in every event. It was one of the few moments in the show not played for laughs.
  • In Total Drama Revenge of the Island whoever receives the Toxic Marshmallow of Toxic Loserdom is thereby voted off, and must take the Hurl of Shame.

    Real Life 
  • The Darwin Awards, given to Too Dumb to Live people who improve mankind by "removing themselves from the gene pool" out of stupidity. Technically speaking, castration can also net you an award, not that you'll feel any better. Honorable Mentions are given to those who survive the ordeal. One Honorable Mention recipient whose actions left him alive but unable to sire children actually submitted himself for the award, so either he apparently didn't feel all that dishonored, or else he did so as a sort of penance for his mistake.
  • The Golden Raspberry Awards. Some recipients are good sports and avert the trope.
    • Halle Berry had the good grace to actually collect her award in person for Catwoman with her Oscar statuette in tow. She even made a suitably effusive and weepy speech, as if she was winning the Oscar again; writer Michael Ferris also showed up to win his.
    • Tom Green went there for Freddy Got Fingered, considering it an honor (even bringing a red carpet).
    • Bill Cosby had his Razzie made from marble and gold at the studio's expense when he "won" for Leonard Part 6.
    • Paul Verhoeven also went to the ceremony for his Showgirls "honors" (and stated: "I got seven awards for being the worst, and it was more fun than reading the reviews").
    • Sandra Bullock handed out a free copy of the offending movie (All About Steve) to everyone in the audience. Then she won an Oscar the very next day (for The Blind Side).
    • When Brian Helgeland won a Screenwriting Oscar for his adaptation of L.A. Confidential, a reporter asked if he would accept the Worst Screenplay Razzie he "won" the day before (for The Postman). He said "Sure, why not?" and the Razzies founder went to Helgeland's office to give it to him. Reportedly he keeps them side by side on his shelf in his office as reminder of Hollywood's fickleness.
    • Tom Selleck requested delivery of his award for Christopher Columbus the Journey.
    • Some go there as a protest. J.D. Shapiro, one of the screenwriters of Battlefield Earth, received the Worst Screenplay statue at a radio show, and went to the actual ceremony to pick up the award for Worst Picture of the Decade, because he was fired from the movie in early production stages due to Executive Meddling.
    J.D. Shapiro: Now, looking back at the movie with fresh eyes, I can't help but be strangely proud of it. Because out of all the sucky movies, mine is the suckiest.
    • Barry Pepper has said that if he knew he was going to win for his role in Battlefield Earth, he would have gladly shown up to accept it in person.
  • Esquire magazine's annual Dubious Achievement Awards. The publishers' decision to discontinue the awards after 2008 was itself regarded as a dubious achievement by many of Esquire's readers.
  • The Ig Nobel awards are normally not this — they are given out to research that sounds silly, but is actually very useful (for example, new insights on structural failure gleaned from research into how a piece of dry spaghetti snaps). However, they are also sometimes given as a criticism, such as the Medicine award that was given to several tobacco company executives who testified under oath that they believed that nicotine was not addictive; the Mathematics award given to Enron, WorldCom et al "for adapting the mathematical concept of imaginary numbers for use in the business world"; and the Literature award given to the editors of Social Text due to their part in the infamous Sokal Affair. (Most winners who are actual researchers do, in fact, collect their awards at the annual ceremony. The Take That targets don't.)
  • Browse through the Guinness Book of World Records sometime. There are records in there that few people should want to have, such as "Most Facial Prosthetics" or "Largest Kidney Stone". Jonathan Lee Riches, who won the World Record for "most lawsuits" by filing hundreds of frivolous lawsuits from prison, sued the Guinness Book of World Records to the surprise of absolutely no one.
  • Dutch TV used to have a consumer show which gave a golden acorn award (noting that the Dutch word for acorn, eikel, also means "idiot" "dickhead") to companies that had particularly poor consumer service. In a subversion of the trope and owing something to the Dutch cultural mindset, these companies' CEOs would often appear in person to accept the award and promise a change for the better.
  • Another popular Dutch show, Kopspijkers, had an award that changed name every season, but was essentially given to the worst thing seen on TV. The evangelical broadcasting station that literally reduced an entire class of children to tears by trashing the gifts they bought for each other to give a rather convoluted message about not having sex before marriage was a memorable winner. So was the dubious but famous medium, who was displeased with the host and said that she was receiving the number 10 from the other side. Said host later left the left-wing public broadcasting station for a billionaire's pet project channel named Talpa, originally named Ten. His career never really recovered from that move. Huh, guess the other side is pretty vengeful.
  • The Purple Heart medal receives a mixed welcome from various members of the American military. Some see it as rewarding failure, while others see it as proof that you're willing to put your life on the line.
  • There have occasions of people getting military medals despite not having earned them. The objective is to avoid admitting a mistake was made or the military needs good publicity. This often overlaps with Bling of War in communist nation-states.
    • In communist and single-party nation-states the Bling of War often overlaps with Medal of Dishonor. While every society can fall victim to political awards, non-democratic nations are more likely to give medals and orders that promote loyalty to the state. Compare the amount and type of military and civilian medals between nations here: [1].
  • Members of the US Army's Officer Candidate School elect one candidate "most expendable".
  • Each graduating class at West Point "awards" its lowest-ranked cadet the dubious honor of being "the goat." Additionally, each cadet (usually around 1000 or so) in the class donates a dollar to the goat, so at least he or she gets something out of it.
  • The Lowsman trophy, a statuette of a player fumbling a football, is awarded annually to the last player selected in the NFL draft. The player is also awarded the title "Mr. Irrelevant".
  • Former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey (Democrat of Nebraska) wasn't proud of his Medal of Honor (awarded for a routine SEAL action for essentially political reasons) and Bronze Star (supposedly for wiping out a VC base; actually a village of civilians including children).
  • The Sex Pistols declined to show up for their own induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and chose instead to scrawl an obscenely-worded note detailing just how insulted they were by the honor.
  • Gamespot devotes a whole section for this in their year-end awards, "Dubious Honors", where all but one award ("Best Game No One Played") are bad achievements. Awards vary, but every year included "Most Despicable Use of In-Game Advertising", "Most Disappointing Game", "Worst Game Everyone Played", and "Flat-Out Worst Game".
  • Likewise, X-Play has The Golden Mullet Awards for the worst games of the year. The award is named after the first game to receive a 1 out of 5, Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis.
    • They also hosted a segment recognizing games they couldn't give a full review on because the producers refused to allow a 0 out of 5.
  • Repugnant Battle Honours: battle honours won by Indian regiments of The British Empire for actions relating to the subjugation of India.
    • Similarly the German Occupation Medals, avaded for participing to the annexation of Austria, Sudetenland and Memel are not recognized today by Germany.
  • Insomniac Games has an award given out to whoever made the worst part of a game the previous year. It's named the "Snow Beast Award" after the Demonic Spider enemies in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, where people at the company would actually get in bad moods after playtesting the area.
  • One anecdote in The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation mentions that story meetings that weren't successful would have other storymen bestow the "Bomb of the Week" (or Big Bomb Award for Worst Sketch of the Week) award on the drawings. A "1st prize" likewise existed if the storyboard was approved.
  • Interesting, even the biggest awards in a field can become this. There are certain awards from the big award shows that some people are a little suspicious of because of a track record that they might be cursed. A couple:
    • Best New Artist at the Grammys: The award is notorious for its completely erratic track record. You either go to soaring new heights or you completely disappear from the public eye. Almost every Best New Artist winner is asked afterward if they're worried about the curse. More specifically, the 1990 award, which was awarded to Milli Vanilli and was later revoked. They had planned to give the award to one of the other nominees (Neneh Cherry, the Indigo Girls, Soul II Soul, or Tone Lōc), but none of them wanted it.
    • Best Supporting Actor and Actress at the Oscars: Louis Gossett Jr. said, after his win, that he felt it was something of a double edged sword. While he did have an Oscar to his credit, he said he felt like he was trapped in a strange gray area where smaller productions don't think they can afford you (since you're an Oscar Winner) and big productions don't think you can carry a film on your own (since you're a Supporting Actor.) They also have a similar hit and miss record as Best New Artist, with winners such as Brenda Fricker and Mercedes Ruehl virtually disappearing afterwards.
    • Most "Car of the Year" awards are similarly erratic. The Simca 1308 beat out the first BMW 3-series for the 1976 European COTY, for instance.
  • Peter the Great really loved medals of this type. In 1709, he "awarded" (in absentia) an "Order of Judas" to Ukrainian hetman Ivan Mazepa for betraying him and siding with Swedish king Charles XII. In 1714, he introduced the Drunk Medal, a huge chunk of cast iron (weighing between 9 and 18 pounds), to be worn for a week as a punishment for being a Vodka Drunkenski.
  • When Finland ended up fighting alongside Nazi Germany to recover territory lost to the Soviet Union during the Winter War, their ranks included Jewish officers. Some of them received the Iron Cross, one of Nazi Germany's highest awards, which they all told the Nazis where to stick.
  • The Bad Sex Prize, awarded annually by Literary Review to the writer who has produced the worst sex scene in literature that year.
  • SF fandom has (or had) the Hogu Awards, a parody of the Hugo Awards with such categories as Worst Fanzine Title, Best New Feud, Most Desired Gafication (or in non-fanspeak, the person the voters would most like to leave fandom - in a bonus parody of the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund that sends British fans to the US and vice versa, the winner of this award is said to be eligible for the Mid-Atlantic Fan Fund) and Special Devo Award for Harm to Science Fiction. The Hugo is a statuette of a space rocket on a wooden plinth; the Hogu is a wooden plinth with a scorchmark on top.
  • The Golden Poo from consumer-awareness website The Consumerist is given to the "Worst Company in America," as selected by site voters. Electronic Arts got the dubious honor (along with the hit in stock) the past two years in a row, and Bank of America has been a contender for the award ever since the website has been running the contest.
  • "Most Improved" awards at school are often treated with embarrassment by students, since they imply that you weren't very good to begin with.
    • Similarly, any "Participant" trophy can smack of this, as it's simply a "Thanks for showing up!" award. It's not just adults that gripe about the existence of these.
  • Italian football has Bidone d'oro, the golden trashcan, which is given to the "worst" player in Serie A. This award has only been given to top club players, so it's really closer to biggest disappointment. France also has Ballon de Plomb, the lead ball, for the most disappointing player in Ligue 1.
  • The Tour de France awards the Red Lantern (La Lanterne Rouge) to the rider who came in last. The award is named after the red light that used to shine on the rearmost car of a train. Cyclists who fell hopelessly behind on the race would actually compete with each other for this award, as "winning" would at least get your name in the papers.
  • Cambridge University students who graduated with a "third-class honour" (the lowest passing grade for an honour's degree program) are given a wooden spoon. The spoon got bigger and bigger with every passing year, by the time they banned it in the early 1900s, the thing was two metres long.
    • In many sports, the team that finishes in last place on the ladder/table at the end of a season is said to have won the wooden spoon.
  • Each year, the French soccer magazine France Football awards the "Golden Ball" (Ballon d'Or) to the best player in the world over the season. And each year,the French satirical site Les Cahiers du Football responds by awarding the "Lead Ball" (Ballon de Plomb) to the worst player of the French soccer league. Some awardees take it better than others. They also reward the "Lead Mic" (Micro de Plomb) to the worst soccer commenter on French Television − and there is serious competition on that one.
  • Evel Knievel, famed daredevil of The Seventies, is listed in the Guinness World Records for "most bones broken in a lifetime" (433).
  • Any movie that manages to land on a list of the biggest Box Office Bombs in terms of the amount of money lost. The current (as of 2013) leaders are The Lone Ranger and The 13th Warrior.
  • School yearbooks sometimes go with this with the "Most Likely To" categories. While most of the awards tend to be the usual "Most Likely To Succeed" type awards, some yearbook committees can parody the concept with stuff like "Most Likely To End Up In Prison" or "Strangest Haircut." Others are a deliberate joke poking fun at a particular student's quirks, like a Civil War buff being voted "Most Likely To Secede."
  • Some American POWs sentenced to forced labor in WWII Nazi Germany managed to get the War Merit Medal for "high production" or performing above the standards expected of an enemy prisoner.
  • The wear of the political decorations of the Nazi Party, awards directly associated with the SA or SS, as well as occupation service medals directly associated with the expansion of Nazi Germany in the 1930s is forbidden in today's Germany (see here.)
  • In the medieval era, knights who screws up big time would be forced to add an abatement to their coat of arms. And the knight and his descendants would be forced to carry the "stained" shield until the Court of Heraldry and the monarch see fit to remove it. Different crimes results in different abatements so that everyone of the battlefield would known what you did, and react accordingly.


Mark of ShameA Dishonorable IndexThe Oath-Breaker
Meaningful EchoNarrative DevicesMelodramatic Pause
Loophole AbuseImageSource/OtherMiddle Child Syndrome
Me's a CrowdJust for PunMega Neko

alternative title(s): Medal Of Dishonour
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