Monument of Humiliation and Defeat

"The great Atrium seemed darker than Harry remembered it. Previously a golden fountain had filled the center of the hall, casting shimmering spots of light over the polished wooden floor and walls. Now a gigantic statue of black stone dominated the scene. It was rather frightening, this was sculpture of a witch and a wizard sitting on ornately carved thrones, looking down at the Ministry workers toppling out of fireplaces below them. Engraved in foot-high letters at the base of the statue were the words MAGIC IS MIGHT. ... Harry looked more closely and realised that what he had thought were decoratively carved thrones were actually mounds of carved humans: hundreds and hundreds of naked bodies, men, women, and children, all with rather stupid, ugly faces, twisted and pressed together to support the weight of the handsomely robed wizards."
—- Description of the "Magic is Might Statue" in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Humans love winning, and then gloating about it. Whenever we win we need to rub our victory to the loser and call him out. From the Crusadesnote  to the Nazisnote , the Spanishnote  and the Aztecsnote  and even the Olympic Gamesnote ; history is full of people who just had to do it. So you got a story where the Big Bad has won. His armies swarm the entire country and La Résistance is forced to retreat, flee or go into hiding. That's pretty bad, but the bad guy has yet one last thing to do: ensure his rule. So he makes something to honour his victory: he sends his people to make him a giant statue of Our Glorious Leader over the remains of the rebel base, renames the former rebel city stronghold in his name, sets a yearly military Victory Parade on V-Day, or all of them (and/or many many more). His purpose is both to exalt his ego and gloating to ensure no one dares question his authority by taking a former symbol of La Résistance and using it against them. If there are still members of La Résistance hiding around somewhere, the monuments serve to mock them and remind them of their defeat, lower their morale and prevent them to rise against the Leader one more time. Forcing the defeated enemies to Kneel Before Zod is often part of it as well. Usually invoked in Dystopian worlds.

Compare to Our Founder. If the bad guy replaces the city's name for a mere number it's Airstrip One. See also Humiliation Conga, which is about the villain suffering from any such incident, to the joy of the audience and usually the hero. Subtrope of Evil Gloating. Since Real Life has a ton of examples and these may outnumber the rest, No Real Life Examples, Please!


Comic Books
  • The Saturday 1 April 2000 issue of Fantastic Four has both NATO and Doom's villain army fight a simulated battle near Manhattan Island. Both simulations end with Doom's flag flying atop a pile of heroic corpses. One NATO general remarks that this would be Doom's monument.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe has Star Wars Infinities: A New Hope which depicts the Sith taking over the Republic and turning the Jedi Temple into Palpatine's residence.

Live-Action TV
  • In the Doctor Who story "The Ark", the Doctor and his companions visit a generation ship on its way to colonize a new planet, and are shown a massive statue the crew are building, which they calculate will be complete about the time they arrive at their new home. Later, the TARDIS takes them to visit the Ark again at the end of its journey, where they find that the humans have been enslaved by a race of humanoid aliens called the Monoids... and the statue has been completed with a Monoid's head instead of a human's.
  • In Season 4 of Game of Thrones, Kings Landing is shown to have a statue showing King Joffrey shooting a direwolf (House Stark's symbolic animal) full of arrows with a crossbow, symbolizing Lannister victory over the Starks (as well as a reference to the circumstances of Robb Stark's death at the Red Wedding). It's also a hilarious example of the kind of arrogant Miles Gloriosus the boy-king is that he would be depicted personally, when he had absolutely nothing to do with assassinationnote , or any victory his family had orchestrated beforehand, really.
    • And then there's his reenactment of the war with jousting dwarves...
    • Season 5 reveals that the Sept of Baelor was built over a smaller, more modest chapel which existed long before the Targaryens arrived. The High Sparrow explains that he sees the Great Sept as a symbol of Targaryen imposition of the vanity of the Faith.

Mythology and Religion
  • Perseus is known for slaying the dreaded Gorgon Medusa, cursed by Athena with snakes for hair and hideous ugliness that would turn men to stone. Later adaptations of this myth have Medusa's lair littered with statues: the remains of those who came before Perseus... and failed.

  • In the Belisarius Series, the Malwa tried to gloat over their victory over the Andra empire by giving a captive Andran princess to one of their nobles as a concubine. That didn't work out...
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • The former great city of Minas Ithil (the Tower of the Moon), renamed Minas Morgul (the Tower of Black Magic) when orcs took over it. The Black presence was so strong the beautiful statues that adorned the bridges seemed like complete monsters and the flowers expelled a putrid fragrance. Even the city itself, which was described as white as the Moon, seemed as pale as a dead body. The city was made as a stronghold if Sauron's power returned to Mordor to hold him back, but when Gondor failed to protect the city, the Witch King of Angmar (Sauron's second in command) took over the throne of the city.
    • The crossroads on the road to Minas Morgul was originally guarded by the statue of a former king. By the time Frodo and Sam pass that way, the statue's original head has been replaced with a rock painted as a grinning cyclops, presumably intended to represent Sauron.
  • Technically, the titular Hunger Games are an example. 74 years after the complete obliteration of a District that tried to play La Résistance to the Panem government, once a year, 24 kids are horrifically slaughtered in an Involuntary Battle to the Death to show everybody who's the boss. The one kid that survives is turned into a celebrity: obviously turning him into a living example of this.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. After Voldemort takes over the Ministry of Magic through his puppet leader, he destroys the old fountain in the atrium (which depicted a witch, a wizard, a centaur, a house elf and a goblin as a symbol of magical cooperation) and replaces it with a wizard and a witch sitting on thrones made of (or carried by, in the movies) hundreds of suffering Muggles. The words "MAGIC IS MIGHT" are inscribed on it to make its claim clear that wizards are superior to non-magical creatures.
  • The Reynard Cycle: The Calvarians build these in excess. The gem of Zosia is a part of one that depicts a Calvarian standing on a pile of dead Arcasians.
  • The Iron Throne in A Song of Ice and Fire is this; Aegon the Conqueror made it out of the swords of the men who surrendered to him. It's supposed to exalt his power, but there's a twist: it's also supposed to be impossible to sit in comfortably, forcing the king always to be alert.
  • Star Wars: Tarkin features Governor Tarkin arriving at the Emperor's new palace, which was formerly the temple of the Jedi Order (now draped in Imperial banners).

Video Games
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Ganon's Castle was built over the remains of Hyrule Castle. The old castle has also been reduced to a pit of lava, which presumably just makes it worse.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Masyaf, the former Assassin stronghold and home to the first game's protagonist Altaïr, had decayed so much that Templars, the Assassins' sworn enemies, took over what was once the main headquarters of the most important branch of the brotherhood.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online game has Mordirith, who became known as the False King, Steward of Angmar. In a twisted mockery of the Stewards who replaced him, Mordirith ruled in Carn Dûm on the behalf of the Witch-king, suppressing any form of rebellion from the few Men that had not allied with Angmar.
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor has The Gorthaur, a massive monument of Sauron towering over chained slaves, as an element of a gate between Udun and the Nurnen coast. Talion and Hirgon blow it up to lure out The Hammer of Sauron.
  • In the last act of Dragon Age II, the people of Kirkwall build a statue of Hawke beheading the Arishok.
  • A back-and-forth example in Star Wars: The Old Republic: when The Empire invades the planet of Balmorra, one of the largest bomb craters is turned into a resistance camp named "Outpost Victory". The Empire's forces later capture the base in a bloody battle and rename it "Camp Conquest" as a reminder. When the Republic takes back the planet, they change those signs back.
  • In Wolfenstein: The New Order, the majority of London (Big Ben being one of the few exceptions) has been demolished and replaced with monuments to the Nazi's victory, surrounded by "quarantine blocks": Disease-ridden ghettos that house (imprison) the lower class without power or running water. To top it off, the furious, brutal resistance movement has been destroyed completely by a giant mech, the London Monitor.
    • In The Old Blood DLC, a newspaper clipping tells about how the D-Day landings were a failure, the Nazis driving the Allied armies away with minimal casualties. The Nazis decided to build a giant museum dedicated to their defense, and to rub extra salt in the wound, used Allied POWs taken in the failed landing as slave labour to construct it.
  • In Borderlands 2, the town of Fyrestone was renamed Jackville after Hyperion CEO Handsome Jack after he conquered it as his way of reminding the Crimson Raiders of their failures.
  • In Mario Party: Island Tour, Bowser builds a huge tower as a monument to his awesome power and locks all the fun of the other Party Islands away.

Western Animation
  • In The Legend of Korra, after the Equalists take down The United Republic's government, Aang's statue is made to wear a giant version of Amon's mask.
  • On American Dad!, Stan visits an Alternate History where Walter Mondale won the 1984 presidential election and was such a weak president that (within a matter of days after taking office) he handed over America to the Soviet Union who conquered the world. One of the statues in Langley Falls portrays Mondale kissing the feet of Soviet Premier Brezhnev.
  • One episode of The Simpsons has this exchange:
    Bart: Dad, you never win in a fight against animals. Remember your war with the worms?
    Homer: That was not a defeat, that was a phased withdrawal.
    Bart: Then why did they make you build that statue? (points at statue of Homer bowing before a worm, titled "Worms are better than me")
  • In the Donkey Kong Country episode "To The Moon, Baboon", the Kongs decide to make a time capsule that they'll launch to the moon. Cranky's contribution is a clip show highlighting all of King K. Rool's evil plans- namely, the parts where everything went pear-shaped.
    Diddy: (Laughing) Good one, Cranky! Future generations will know him as King K. Lown!