Tragic Keepsake

"It was your birthright. And he'd be damned if they were going to take your birthright."

The locket was accorded this place of honor not because it was valuable — in all usual senses it was worthless — but because of what it had cost to attain it.

Bob's little sister Alice was killed in what he would later call his greatest failure. He continues to fight for her, trying to 'fix' the world so that no one else ever has to go through this, or seeking to take vengeance upon her killers. Though doing so may make him a Well-Intentioned Extremist or outright evil, it's all worth it to him.

In order for him to never forget the reason he fights, he keeps a memento, often something that belonged to Alice, though it may just be something that reminds him of her. Sometimes, the 'something' may be her Soul Jar, and Bob is attempting to find a way to resurrect her.

See also Orphan's Plot Trinket, Take Up My Sword, Death Notification, It Was a Gift, and Memento MacGuffin. When Bob is feeling particularly sad over Alice, he may hold the keepsake in a Cradle of Loneliness.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • Nagi in Deadman Wonderland wears a scarf that belonged to his dead wife, as well as a locket. He believes it contains a picture of his infant son, but in actuality there is nothing inside the locket; his child was cut out of his wife's belly and the body preserved in a jar. He went insane for a while, and his current stability only comes from repressing the awful truth.
  • In a dark example, in Afro Samurai, the titular character carries around his father's severed head in a basket, until it (the head) is destroyed in a battle.
  • Haou Airen: A jade jewel that Hakuron's Missing Mom gave him when he was a child and they were running away from their family. It's thanks to said jewel that Hakuron is taken in by The Triads and the Tongs.
  • In Trigun, Vash The Stampede's red Badass Longcoat was made by Rem, a woman who's killed by Knives, in the floating SEED colony, and when it's mostly destroyed during the Auguste incident, another girl in the same colony makes him a new one. However, the red color of it is a reference to Rem's favorite flower; a flower whose name means 'determination'.
  • Jing from King of Bandit Jing carries his mother's soul in a crystal, making it the Soul Jar variety.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward's pocketwatch is engraved with 'Never Forget' and the date he and Al burned their house down to prevent themselves from returning home.
  • ''Gundam:
    • In After War Gundam X, Roybea's Gundam is a tragic keepsake from his first love.
    • captain Murrue Ramius in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED wears a locket that is apparently a keepsake from a pilot she'd loved who was killed in action. It's coffin-shaped and has "R.I.P." engraved on the back. She also keeps Mu La Flaga and Natarle Badgiruel's hats after both of them are killed at Jachin Due.
    • Shinn from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny carries around his sister Mayu's cellphone after she dies. Sometimes he listens to the answering machine to hear her voice again.
    • For a while, Kira had the paper origami flower given to him by the little girl on the doomed shuttle.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam AGE's Flit Asuno has Yurin's ribbon.
  • After his little sister Aya is hit by a car and left in a coma on her birthday, Ran Fujimiya in Weiß Kreuz not only starts wearing an earring from the pair he'd bought for her present, he also starts using her name.
  • The seashell in Elfen Lied given to Kohta by his dead little sister eight years before the series. When Nyu sees it in the first episode, she deliberately crushes it, thinking it was making Kohta sad.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! has Negi's staff. He got it from his father, who had been missing and presumed dead since before Negi was born. The time when Negi received the staff is the one time he met his father, who disappeared again immediately afterwards. This all happened after a large-scale petrification of the village he grew up in; it was snowing.
  • Hayate's Schwertkreuz in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, which was all that remained of the first Reinforce after her Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Teana Lanster's toy pistol also counts: It was from her older brother, Tiida, a captain in the TSAB Air Force, who raised her when their parents died. He died injuring a wanted mage, but was unable to apprehend him, leaving him in disgrace and deemed worthless. This is why she works so hard, to prove that his magic wasn't worthless, and to realize his dream of being an Enforcer.
  • In One Piece, Wado Ichimonji was a sword that was once owned by Zoro's friend Kuina's family, but after she died he took it as a reminder to fulfill their promise for one of them to become the world's greatest swordsman.
  • Slightly subverted in Bleach. Orihime's brother Sora gave her hairclips that she thought were too childish, and after a fight, Sora leaves without Orihime saying goodbye. After he dies that day in a tragic accident, Orihime wears the hairclips every single day... and they become a sort-of MacGuffin that allows her to channel her powers when they awake.
  • Part of the title character's face in Black Jack is a darker color than the rest. This was because it was a skin graft from his closest friend, who was mixed-race. His friend moved away afterwards, but eventually Black Jack found that he was an environmental activist. When his friend was killed during a protest, Black Jack decided to never replace the skin graft, so that he could remember his friend every time he looked in a mirror.
  • Depending on the slightly different characterization in the manga, it's movie adaptation, and the anime series, the Major from Ghost in the Shell is either a cold blooded special forces team leader, or an emotionless cyborg about to lose her last bit of humanity to become a machine in mind as well as in body. Almost all of her body is military hardware and therefore government property, as are the neural implants that hold most of her memories. While the series occasionally shows two of her friends from the manga and her relaxing a bit after work, it also establishes that she has no surviving family and while her safe houses are very luxurious, they are considered completely expendable. The only thing she really owns is a small and almost fragile watch with a thin silver armband, that contradicts about everything of her personalty. However, she doesn't say where she got it and why she keeps it.
    • In the anime she got it after resizing into her final body after a childhood spent in over half a dozen different ones. Batou knows this and goes out of his way to retrieve it while being hunted by the government during the climax of season one.
  • Not sure if it counts, since it's not something tangible, but Fai from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle isn't actually his name. Turns out that Fai was actually his dead twin brother's name, and since he's trying to being said brother back from the dead, he's taken to using his name to remind himself. Thank you, Clamp, for making him more confusing than he already is.
    • Also, his surname comes from the stone "fluorite" (CLAMP probably romanized it wrong, they haven't shown to be too good with English). King Ashura put a fluorite crystal beside the other twin's dead body as a good luck charm and gave Fay that name for the same purpose.
  • In Sorcerer Stabber Orphen, the Tower of Fangs pendant that the male lead carries actually belongs to his best friend/mother figure Azalie and not to him. Since Azalie turned herself into a dragon in an experiment and Orphen left the Tower to try search for a cure, well...
  • Tsunade from Naruto kept a necklace that was given to her by the First Hokage (her grandfather). She later gave it to her younger brother Nawaki, who died. After that, she gave it to her lover Dan, who also died. After all that, she eventually gives it to Naruto after he wins a bet with her.
    • Kakashi kept his father's tanto after Sakumo committed seppuku. His Sharingan was given to him by Obito Uchiha, his best friend who died saving him from getting crushed under a rock. The scene is very heart wrenching. It gets even more tragic when we learn that Obito is not only still alive, but not the same person he was before.
    • Naruto keeps the scratched headband Sasuke left behind for a good while. He gives it back when Sasuke returns in the penultimate chapter.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds:
    • Jack carries around Carly's glasses after her death, until she gets better.
    • Later, in a similar manner, Yusei keeps Bruno's Cool Shades after Bruno is killed. Bruno doesn't get better.
  • Suzaku from Code Geass hangs onto his late father's pocketwatch throughout most of the first season. At first blush it seems to be a standard keepsake, but as the season progresses and we learn that Suzaku killed his father during a massive fight, which was the direct cause of Japan's surrender, so the watch represents his own ties to the past and his attempts to make up for that incident. At the very end of the season, he leaves the watch with what will become another symbol of his being shackled to the past: the corpse of Euphemia, the woman he loved.
  • In Kyo Kara Maoh, when Yuuri first arrives in Shin Makoku, Conrad gives him a pendant. A flashback reveals that Conrad's close friend Julia first gave it to him years ago, before she died, and that Conrad's been wearing it ever since. His passing it on to Yuuri is especially significant, since he knows (and we later find out) that Yuuri is Julia's reincarnation.
  • At the end of the Dark Tournament saga of YuYu Hakusho, Big Bad Sakyou gives Shizuru a gold plated lighter just before calmy facing his end. She keeps it for the rest of the series. A rare case of a hero having a Tragic Keepsake of a villain.
  • In the Comic Book Adaptation of Breath of Fire IV, Fou-lu explicitly keeps Mami's bells around after Mami was used as the literal warhead in a Fantastic Nuke in The Empire's attempt to kill him. It's literally all he has left of one of exactly three people who show him decency, and Mami's bells falling from the sky is the clue that she was used as the warhead (and what quite blatantly turns him into a full-blown Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds).
  • Tsubaki from Mirai Nikki once had a toy ball given to her by her deceased mother. Becomes a Chekhov's Gun when Yukiteru finds it and uses it to distract Tsubaki and kill her.
  • The title character from Kimba the White Lion has his father's pelt.
  • Cyborg 009: Albert Heinrich has the ring that belonged to his tragically lost fiancee Hilda on a chain around his neck. Eventually, it comes in handy when he uses it while nearly completely paralyzed to shoot down Cyborg 0011.
  • Madoka's hair ribbons in Puella Magi Madoka Magica become this for Homura, who wears them instead of her trademark black headband after Madoka ascends to godhood. In Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion Homura returns them when Madoka comes back. note 
  • In the series finale of Sonic X Tails receives What's left of Cosmo in the form of a seed from Sonic after both he and Super Shadow attempted to save her with their Chaos Regeneration. Tails later cultivates this seed in a plant pot inside his workshop where at the very end of the episode it is seen sprouting
  • A piece of Baron's headband in Genesis of Aquarion.
  • Guts from Berserk wears a throwing knife strap after The Eclipse in memory of Judeau and all the other members of the Hawks who perished.
    • Deconstructed with Casca, who is a living tragic keepsake. She was the only other survivor of the Eclipse, but went through, much, MUCH worse and had her minded fragmented as a result. Guts wants to avenge her the most, since their intimate relationship was crushed because of the events that their former-friend Griffith caused onto them, but currently he's on a quest to cure her of her insanity. However, Guts was seething with so much intense hatred that his Enemy Within began to take form as the hellhound-like Beast, which constantly goads Guts into believing that he only keeps Casca around to serve as a reminder of how much he hates Griffith and that he can't really love her anymore - in between trying to get Guts to rape and kill her just so he can get back to hunting down Griffith.
      • But it also reconstructed in that Guts knows that Casca is the only person that he has of value in the world, and without her presence, he would have gone off the deep end long ago. That, and Casca is the only living testament of the very few good and pleasant things that have happened in Guts' life. And with the possibility of seeing her cured of her insanity, Casca is really the last window of optimism that Guts has left to see in this world.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Kamina found his signature Badass Cape worn by his father's corpse. In Lagann-hen, Simon wears Nia's wedding ring as a necklace after her death.
  • Togainu no Chi: In the anime, Keisuke's tag.
  • In Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt Stocking kept her engagement ring after the Ghost she fell in love with passed on due to finally loving Stocking back.
  • Several in Oniisama e..., particularly Rei's gold bracelet and porcelain doll. The second becomes Nanako's own Tragic Keepsake after Rei dies. (Alongside some unused cigarettes, in the anime.)
  • In Kurosagi, Kurosaki keeps a photo of his family and a newspaper clipping about their murder.
  • In Genesis Climber MOSPEADA, Stig Bernard has a holo locket given to him by his girlfriend. He keeps it throughout the war, finally tossing it out of his Legioss in the last seconds of the series.
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, there's an episode where America decides to clear out a storeroom of his full of keepsakes from his past, mostly things he got from England. One thing there classifies as tragic, though: the musket that he used during the Revolutionary War.
  • In Kami-sama no Inai Nichiyoubi, Ai's most important possession is her gravekeeper's shovel, which once belonged to her deceased mother.
  • In Akatsuki no Yona, an interesting case occurs where Yona deliberately went out of her way to keep the hairpin that Soo-won gave her during her birthday party ... the same night she witnessed Soo-won murdering her father and she was forced to go on the run. It was most likely kept to remind her of that night.
  • Subverted with Sailor Venus: in her origin story she first wore a ribbon in her hair because the sempai she had a crush on told her she would look good with it, then he was revealed to be a youma and became her first kill, then the following day we see her putting the ribbon in her hair again... And quipping that the ribbon does look good on her.
  • In Project K Mikoto wears Tatara's earing after he is killed.

    Comic Books 
  • In the tragic ElfQuest story "Starfall, Starrise" one of the human boys whose actions lead to the untimely deaths of Shale, Eyes High and his own brother keeps the hair ornament worn by Eyes High as a mark of his shame. Many years later he is found by Shale and Eyes High's son Skywise, who was born shortly before his mother's death, who forcibly retrieves the ornament but spares the human's life.
    • Also in ElfQuest Cutter keeps his late father Bearclaw's wolf-head necklace but doesn't have time to take it with him when humans set fire to the Holt. Returning to the spot some years later he finds its melted remains.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Winter War, Ikkaku is first introduced wearing the MIA Yumichika's scarf; a little later, Momo begins wearing Rangiku's necklace. Both examples are eventually subverted. Yumichika is alive, albeit Brainwashed and Crazy; and Rangiku's necklace becomes part of a scheme to manipulate Gin into thinking that she's still alive, which isn't quite in the spirit of this trope. They both fit well to begin with, though.
  • Respawn Of The Dead has one in the form of The Pyro's Star Of David, which seems to be the only thing he has left of his life before he became a mercenary. It later becomes one for The Medic, after the Pyro dies.
  • In the pro wrestling fic, Hello Again, it's shown that Molly Holly keeps an Elroy Jetson doll in memory of her late cousin, Crash.
  • In the Dark World of the Pony POV Series, after Tom is killed, Rarity keeps a fragment of him imbedded in her neck. This ends up saving her life during her fight with Fluttercruel, by stabbing her in the eye with it.
  • Queen Of All Oni: It's implied in story, and confirmed by Word of God, that Blankman's revolver is the same one his father committed suicide with.
  • A fanart of Jaune as an adult shows him wearing Pyrrha's shield. The artist's notes imply that Pyrrha is dead.
  • Bad Future Crusaders: Apple Bloom still has her sister's hat.
    • Scootaloo has three — her old CMC bandana (now used as an eyepatch), her mother's scarf, and Rainbow Dash's flight goggles.
  • In Fate Zero Sanity's sidestory, Fate: OSG, Shirou receives a cutlass from the leader of OSG that is eventually revealed to have belonged to his adoptive father Kiritsugu, which he left behind after abandoning the group. It's eventually revealed that it was also one to him as well: Kiritsugu's partner, Sayaka, gave it to him for his birthday before she went on a mission. She didn't come back... not in the right way, at least. Kiritsugu was one of the ones who had to kill her, and afterwards left the weapon behind because he couldn't stand the idea of keeping it after what happened.
  • In Despair's Last Resort, Takara gathers a collection of these from the dead students. There's also Shizuka's scarf, which Kazumi holds on to after her execution. She starts wearing it in Chapter 5 to remember her.

  • Pictured above: Christopher Walken keeps his buddy's watch up his ass in a POW camp in Vietnam for two years so he could give it to (the child) Butch in Pulp Fiction.
  • Inigo Montoya of The Princess Bride wields the sword that his father forged for Count Rugen, who killed him after he refused to sell the sword to him at only a tenth of the price that Rugen promised he would pay.
  • Eric Draven from The Crow wears Shelly's engagement ring on a chain around his neck.
  • Colonel Mortimer from For a Few Dollars More has a pocketwatch given to him by his sister. There's another pocketwatch that once belonged to the sister in question, but was taken by Indio following her suicide as he was raping her.
  • When James Bond went on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge in the movie Licence to Kill, his keepsake was the cigarette lighter that once belonged to Felix Leiter, the friend he's seeking to avenge. Becomes a Chekhov's Gun when he uses it to set the Big Bad on fire.
  • Topper Harley from Hot Shots has his father's eyes. Literally. As in, in a little jewelry case.
  • William Wallace in Braveheart keeps Maron's handkerchief with him until it falls from his grasp at his death. Then we see Sir Robert De Bruce with it when he leads the reckless charge against the remaining English forces at the end.
  • In Up, Carl Frederickson's house and practically everything in it are a keepsake of his departed wife Ellie and the childhood promise he made to her.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean, Davy Jones keeps the locket of his love Calypso - the woman who broke his heart.
  • Captain Vidal's pocketwatch in Pans Labyrinth is a variation of this: the watch belonged to his father who, when he knew was about to die, broke it so it would stop at the exact time of his death, so his son "would know how a brave man dies". However, Vidal had it repaired seemingly out of spite and keeps it with him at all times. When he is later cornered by rebels, he prepares to break the watch so it can be given to his newborn son only to be told that, "He won't even know your name" and unceremoniously shot.
  • Maverick keeps Goose's dogtags in Top Gun
  • In Law Abiding Citizen Clyde keeps his daughter's charm bracelet. The same one she was seen making for her mother at the very beginning of the movie.
  • Starship Troopers: Invasion gives us Trig and her custom sniper rifle, a gift from her parents. Not long after she received the rifle, her family and everyone she knew was killed when the Bugs destroyed her home town.
  • In Secondhand Lions, Uncle Hub keeps a photo of his lost beloved Jasmine in the attic.
  • Dr. Serizawa's pocket watch in Godzilla (2014), which originally belonged to his father and was broken in the Hiroshima bombing.
  • Erik's Nazi coin in X-Men: First Class.
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy, there's Peter Quill's Sony Walkman and the mix tape inside it, both of which are mementos from his dead mother. He also received a present from her before she passed away, but doesn't open it until the end of the film. It's another mix tape, "Awesome mix part 2".
    • Rocket Raccoon keeps one of Groot's twigs after the latter is blown up in a Heroic Sacrifice. Said twig regenerates back into a tiny Groot who will probably grow back to full size.
  • Word of God states that Manolo from The Book Of Life's first guitar was a gift from his mother, who died when he was a baby.
  • Paddington's hat. It used to belong his Uncle Pastuzo.
  • In Unknown (2006), the protagonist carries a lighter with his deceased daughter's name on it.

  • H.I.V.E. Series: Wing wears half of a ying/yang symbol around his neck, and his mother had the other half. He knows she wasn't wearing it when she died, and assumes that whoever murdered her has the second amulet. Turns out it was just Nero, whom she sent it to a few days before her death so that the two halves would remain separated. Neither of them know that they each contain half of Overlord's source code.
  • Will Parry (His Dark Materials) grew up hearing tales about his brave father, the explorer, and was told by his mother that he would grow up to "take on his father's mantle." He does this quite literally. (However, it's not made explicit how long he keeps or wears the mantle itself.)
  • From the Deryni books: Sidana's wedding ring. Kelson wears it on his little finger until he gives it to Rothana (as an unofficial betrothal ring) before leaving on his quest. When Rothana learns Kelson and Dhugal are missing, she throws it into the palace moat. After his return, Kelson has it retrieved. A few years later, when he decides to propose to Araxie, he melts it down and gives the gold to Bishop Arilan, asking him to have a new ring made for her.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when Harry leaves the Dursleys' house for good and discards most of his possessions, he keeps with him the fake Horcrux that Dumbledore had all but died helping him retrieve from the cave. This is also an example of the hero not keeping the keepsake; instead, Harry gives it to Kreacher, an act that results in the house-elf that had loathed Harry and his friends becoming one of his most loyal allies.
  • In False Memory by Dean Koontz, Dr. Ahriman has his fathers eyes in a jar. Not as a reminder of some past wrong, however, but rather because he killed his father and stole his father's eyes in an attempt to understand his own inability to cry and subsequent fetish for tears
  • In the Discworld series, there is a troll watchman named Detritus who is very slow as his silicon brain works slower in higher temps. His specially made cooling-helmet has a fan to help cool his mind and one was given to him by the Dwarf Cuddy who died a short time after giving Detritus the present.
  • In The Hardy Boys Casefiles, Joe's girlfriend Iola is killed by a car bomb meant for them in the very first chapter of the very first book. Throughout the rest of the series, he's occasionally seen wearing the melted keys she was holding around his neck.
  • Legacy of the Dragokin: Lydia carries around a teddy bear scorched from the fire that burned her home down because her mother died retrieving it.
  • In Mockingjay the pearl Peeta gave her serves as this for Katniss.
  • In the Belgariad prequel Polgara the Sorceress, Polgara keeps a hairbrush used by one of her friends killed as an indirect result of her interference in Arendish politics.
  • In Sweet Silver Blues, Garrett identifies where Denny Tate kept his secret papers because they're wrapped in a cavalry horse blanket, which he knew Denny valued as a reminder of his military service and of friends who hadn't made it home. Averted by Garrett himself, who dropped his seabag in the harbor the day he left the Marines, not wanting to retain any reminders of a pointless war he'd grown utterly disgusted by.
    • Garrett does play this one straight in and after Old Tin Sorrows, with the portrait of Eleanor.

    Live Action TV 
  • In The X-Files, Scully always wears a small gold cross necklace. When she's abducted near the beginning of season 2, it's torn off, and Mulder wears it himself for the three months she's missing. It shows up a few more times when they're separated as a symbol of their bond.
  • In Season 3 of Heroes, reformed Future Sylar keeps the broken wristwatch which gave him his name as a reminder of the terrible things he did before he reformed.
  • Babylon 5 - Commander Ivanova wears a single earring. Her brother died wearing the other half of the pair in the Minbari War.
  • Battlestar Galactica - In Helena Cain's weapon cabinet there is guns, knives and a pitful dinner-knife that she grabbed when she, just a child, tried to defend herself in the last day of the first Cylon War. The fact that she never put it down, but kept it, symbolized that she never stopped fighting that war.
  • Burn Notice - In the Season 2 Finale we find out Victor kept pictures of his family as a tragic keepsake to spur him on to wipe out the shady company that burns spies and then recruits them for black ops missions.
  • Castle - Kate Beckett wears her murdered mother's wedding ring around her neck as a reminder of why she does what she does. Also inverted, in that she also wears her father's old watch as something of an Uplifting Keepsake; she helped him recover from her mother's death by helping him overcome the alcoholism he fell into afterwards. Because it's more readily apparent (and unusual), Castle mistakes the latter for the former.
  • On LOST, Kate robs a bank to obtain a toy plane that belonged to an old boyfriend for whose death she fell she is responsible.
  • NCIS - Ziva keeps a Day-Glo orange stocking cap as a keepsake from Lt. Roy Sanders, the young man she connects with while he is dying of radiation poisoning in "Dead Man Walking."
  • Smallville Lana Lang wore a piece of the meteor that killed her parents as a pendant. That's right, she wore as jewelry a piece of the meteor that killed her parents. And since the audience needs to understand that it's kryptonite, she just won't stop talking about it...
  • Space: Above and Beyond - The king of hearts (Nathan) has a locket with a voice recording of his girlfriend (fiance?) that was given to him just before they were forced to part ways (she had to catch a rocket to space).
  • In Japanese drama Shokojo Sera, the necklace main protagonist Seira gave her father before he left was given back to her upon his death. And when she would later run away from the school, it was the only thing she brought with her.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation fan favorite "The Inner Light", a probe downloads the experiences of an alien civilization into Picard. From his point of view, he gets married, raises children, watches his friends pass away, and wakes up to discover that the civilization had been wiped out a thousand years ago. He gets a flute, and in a Continuity Nod, the flute appears in later episodes.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Siege of AR-558", Vargas (one of the soldiers stationed on the planet) has a piece of torn cloth around his wounded arm that he won't let anyone remove. He says it was from the uniform of a fellow Starfleet officer named McGreevey, who was killed while tending Vargas' injury. Subverted in that Vargas thought McGreevey was a jerk and disliked him because he "never shut up".
  • In the "Year Of Hell" two part episode of Star Trek: Voyager, the villain keeps a lock of the hair of the wife he accidentally erased from time in a special container that shields it from dissipating into nothing because it can't exist in the world he created.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Amy's engagement ring. Somewhat subverted, since its the Doctor who cares for it, even though Amy is still alive and traveling with him because Rory has been wiped from existence, along with all of Amy's memories of him.
    • At the end of "The Angels Take Manhattan", Amy's reading glasses become a Tragic Keepsake.
    • The Badass Bandolier of the War Doctor was from a prospective companion who died rather then be saved by a Time Lord, leading to the Eighth Doctor's regeneration.
    • Eleven's bow tie - presumably the one from the Wedding of River Song, in the Rings of Akhaten
  • Warehouse 13 Revealed villain Helena Wells, a person who had just escaped from over a century in the And I Must Scream-prison where history's most evil masterminds are bronzed for all eternity, breaks into the place where they stored her personal belongings. She only takes one thing: A locket. Cue massive speculation what kind of artifact that locket must be. Then a couple of episodes later we learn what kind of locket it is: The normal kind. The locket contained the only remaining picture of her long dead daughter. Affably Evil doesn't even begin to describe it.
  • Nikita features a metaphorical example. Owen, another rogue operative, made drawings reminding him of the people he killed. He eventually has them tattooed on himself.
  • Mac Taylor on CSI NY keeps a beach ball from his last vacation with his wife before her death on 9/11. He can't bring himself to let it go as it has her breath in it, the only physical(ish) thing he still has of her. (Unless you count her son Reed.)
    • He also had opera tickets that he eventually let wash away into the ocean in the episode that aired around the 10th anniversary.
  • In Once Upon a Time, woe betide the man who dares steal Mr. Gold's chipped teacup — a relic from the fairytale world, where the cup was chipped by Belle. The fact that Mr. Gold is one of two people in Storybrooke who remembers his true identity means that while other characters are seen with their own emotionally-significant objects, only Gold is aware of the significance of his own keepsake.
  • In a Law & Order: SVU episode, a judge keeps the amount of change in his pocket he had on the day his son was kidnapped.
  • In the two-part series finale of Monk a fatally poisoned Monk finally opens the Christmas present wife gave him before being murdered, which he kept it unopened for 12 years (as noted in previous episodes). It turns out it contained a video tape with crucial information on her killers and why she was killed.
  • In Gods of the Arena, the prequel to Spartacus: Blood and Sand, we learn that the colored wigs Lucretia rotates between originally belonged to her friend Gaia, who died a violent death in Lucretia's home. She wears them in honor of her memory. Later, in Spartacus: Vengeance she doesn't wear them anymore because she lost her memory, but is later forced to wear the red wig by Ashur, as a sign of his command over her. When Lucretia liberates herself from Ashurs influence, she throws the wig over the same cliff Gaia's body was thrown.
  • Parodied in the first Blackadder, in an episode where the main characters enter the church. Baldrick starts shifting job-lots of saints' relics.
  • In the first season of Game of Thrones, Ned Stark gives his daughter Sansa a new doll to try and make up for having to kill her pet direwolf. Unfortunately, Ned totally misjudged his daughter's tastes, having gotten a thirteen-year-old the sort of toy she hadn't played with in about five years. However, after Ned is executed, the doll has reappeared a number of times in subsequent seasons, clearly valued quite a lot by Sansa.
  • An interesting example in "The Walking Dead". Actor Andrew Lincoln carries in his pocket the prop bullet that was used to kill Lori as a reminder of his character's motivations. It makes a brief (possible) appearance in the fourth season episode "Claimed," sitting on his bedside table along with some of Rick's other tragic keepsakes, including Carol's watch.
  • After Castiel dies at the beginning of the seventh season of Supernatural, Dean saves his trenchcoat, folding it tenderly into the trunk of the Impala and proceeding to spend the next months bitter and usually intoxicated, just like his father did after his mother died. Unlike most examples of this trope, Cas returns and is given back the coat.

     Tabletop Games 
  • Scion signature character Horace Farrow carries a .45 revolver with him. His uncle Seth used it to kill Horace's (step)father and shoot out Horace's eye, but dropped it when Horace nailed him in the groin with a shotgun. It's heavily implied Horace carries it so that one day he can put a bullet from it through Seth's head.
  • Every magic item in Geist The Sin Eaters has a tragic story to it; it just depends on whose it is. The scale goes from someone else's (Charms) to your own death (Vanitas) to the death of the ghost bound to it (Fetter) to the destruction of a geist (Deathmask) to the death of somebody famous (Memorabilia).
  • Ajani Goldmane in Magic: The Gathering bolted his dead brother's axe head to the unused end of his own axe, and starts wearing Elspeth's cloak after her death.

  • In Wicked, Glinda keeps Elphaba's hat and her green bottle when she believes Elphaba is dead.

    Video Games 
  • In another dark example, Mr Grimm of Twisted Metal Black is reinvisioned as an insane former Vietnam veteran (as opposed to being death incarnate). He and a buddy were captured by the VC during the war, and a sadistic Russian advisor kept the two of them starving in a pit. After the buddy dies, Grimm was forced to eat him to survive. Grimm kept the man's skull, and wears it as a mask.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Apollo Justice's bracelet used to belong to his mother. She probably left it with him when she abandoned him. Similarly, after Trucy's mother disappeared, her father gave her a locket with her mom's picture in it. Naturally, Trucy and Apollo actually have the same mother. Guess Thalassa isn't too great at sticking around her children. Both cases are a subversion since their mother is alive.
    • In Trials and Tribulations, the Master's Talisman that Misty Fey was obligated to wear around her neck for as long as she lived contained a picture of Maya and Mia, so they would always be with her until the day she died. Subverted in that Maya and Mia weren't dead; Misty had, in fact, abandoned them.
    • Another example involving Apollo presents itself in Dual Destinies when Apollo starts wearing his best friend's GYAXA jacket as a Coat Cape after he's murdered.
  • Kingdom of Loathing parodies this with the "Dead Guy's Memento," which is obtained by attaching a Picture Of A Dead Guy's Girlfriend to a Dead Guy's Watch, using a Dead Guy's Piece of Double-Sided Tape. In this case, you don't have any emotional attachment to the dead guy or his girlfriend, but equipping it still gives you some nice bonuses because this trope is so prevalent.
  • Cubones from Pokémon are notable for wearing their dead mother's skull on their heads. They wail for said mothers often. Which is odd given, among other reasons, if you breed your female Cubone or Marowack, she'll be fine, and her offspring will still have the skull.
    • This is yet more support for the "written by the ten-year-old protagonists" alternate fan theory on Pokedex entries. If nothing else, think about the mathematics: If the skull is specifically that of the Cubone's mother, then the species has been going extinct at a rapid pace for quite some time, and in fact should have disappeared decades if not centuries ago, because there are only so many skulls to go around, and some of those Marowak are male.
    • There is an Epileptic Trees theory stating that Cubones are actually the pouch babies leftover from dead Kangaskhan.
  • In one of the endings of Mega Man X5, in which Zero is destroyed, X will continue to wield his friend's Z-Saber in his fight for peace. He uses it through out Mega Man X6, but discards it by the time of X7.
    • Also, in the first Mega Man X game, failing to acquire the Mega Buster upgrade will lead to Zero giving his to X before expiring.
  • Late in the original Front Mission Lloyd (Or "Roid" of you're going to be like that) gets a hold of his fiance's brain, which has since been converted into a Wanzer CPU and equips it to his own unit. Unsurprisingly, it's the absolute best CPU available in the entire game.
  • Metal Gear: Naked Snake/Big Boss wears The Boss' bandana, which he snatched from her head upon her defection, for ten years. After watching the Peace Walker AI weapon drown itself in the ocean, he manages to find some closure to the event at last and casts it off to the winds.
  • In Devil May Cry, the amulets and the swords Rebellion and Yamato given to Dante and Vergil respectively by their late father Sparda may count as this. Although the sons may not care too much about their demon heritage, they've shown quite a bit or respect for their father, although both for different reasons.
  • Street Fighter II's Guile keeps his friend Charlie's dogtags with him throughout his quest to bring Bison down.
    • Dhalsim from the same game wears a collar made of skulls. These belong to a group of children who died of illness in his village, and he wears them to honor the their memory.
  • The Necromantress in Dragon Fable is always followed by a floating purple crystal. It's her older brother's Soul Jar.
  • Dart from The Legend of Dragoon keeps a gem his father once had before he and his mother were killed by the Black Monster. This is later revealed to be the Dragoon Spirit of the Red-Eyed Dragon, which allows him to go into Dragoon form.
  • Persona 3 has a couple of these. Mamoru, the Star Social Link, carries his father's car keys (from the car he died driving); when you max out the link, he decides to take responsibility for his family by working in a factory; as a sign he's moved past his father's death, he leaves the car keys with you. Akinari, the Sun social link, has what could be called a subverted one: the notebook he wrote his story in before he died from his disease; in the epilogue, you offer it to his mother, but she asks you to keep it so that she can hear the story from Akinari himself in the afterlife.
    • FES has Elizabeth lampshade this an interesting way during one of her quests. She asks for a fruit knife (which you get from Shinjiro, as he loves cooking). However, like her other fetch quests she won't take it as she notices how well taken care of it is, saying it's probably very important to the owner (the engraving on it hints that has to do with orphanage he grew up in.) In the end though, after the events of October 4, you will still have it in your inventory, making it more or less your keepsake of Shinjiro.
    • The girl's route in the remake also shows a few. Ken, who is a social link, keeps the key to his house (which was destroyed and left him without a home and a family). When he overcomes the regrets of losing his mom and realizes he suppressed all of the loving memories with her for the sake of revenge, he gives the protagonist that key, representing how he moved on, along with she is just as important him as those memories. Koromaru also has the collar that he used to wear on his walks with his late master, and Shinjiro also has pocket watch which he cherishes, and as he's an orphan also, it's likely it was from a family member. There's also Ryoji, who gives you a ring as proof that he was once human, before going on to cause the Fall.
  • In Dragon Quest IV, The Hero can pick up Elisa's feather cap after her Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Halo: Reach: Just before Jorge makes a Heroic Sacrifice, he gives Noble Six his dogtags, who keeps him for the remainder of the game.
    • In the trailer for Halo 5: Guardians, Master Chief is shown holding the late Cortana's data crystal chip.
  • In Night Trap, Tony has a locket with a picture of his former girlfriend (who looks just like Ashley, one of the girls at the sleepover) in it. We never find out what happened to her.
  • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories has these in the form of collectible "mementos".
  • Ashley Riot begins Vagrant Story wearing his murdered wife's Rood Necklace as his first equipable accessory.
  • In The Last of Us, Joel keeps the watch given to him as a birthday gift by the daughter he had failed to save in remembrance of her - though cracked and past its usefulness, he still keeps it with him over 20 years later.
  • In Tales of Xillia 2, Ludger takes the swords that were used by his brother Julius in the wake of his demise. You can also optionally obtain more keepsakes through a sidequest, which are a pair of the glasses he was always wearing and a better version of the aforementioned swords.
  • In Fire Emblem Awakening, all the children from the future carry the engagement rings that their fathers gave to their mothers in their S supports, shall said mothers get married. Also, there are other more specific cases: Gerome and Cynthia ride Cherche's wyvern and Sumia's pegasus, respectively, and Laurent wears Miriel's Nice Hat. Cynthia also keeps the remains of a lance that she and Sumia were supposed to make together, while Owain holds on to a piece of staff that he calls "Lissa", which is implied to be part of the staff his mother Lissa was holding when she died (hence the name). According to the Golden Gaffe DLC, Severa keeps the money in her wallet untouched because it's what remains of the last gold coins that Cordelia gave her before dying. And finally, following the supports with Gerome and the Drama CD's, Princess Lucina has two from her mother, no matter who she can be: a pendant that she and Gerome search for when it's lost, and the golden tiara she's wearing (And one could say the Falchion is one from her father Chrom.)
  • In Final Fantasy VI, Setzer kept one of an old friend/rival/love interest Darill, who died in an accident before the start of the game. When Kefka ruined the world and Setzer is roused from his Heroic BSOD by Celes, he takes the group to her burial place to retrieve it, so they can use it to save the world. The keepsake? The Falcon.
  • Several items in World of Warcraft act as this, such as at the end of Rheastrasza's quest chain rewarding you with her last egg after she and her other egg are destroyed by Deathwing and the Paragons of the Klaxxi encounter in the Siege of Orgrimmar giving you a chance to get Kaz'tik the Manipulator's pet kunchong Kovok.
  • The King of Fighters:
    • Terry Bogard and his trademark cap. As explained in the the intro of Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition and the FF anime specials, it was a gift given by his adoptive father Jeff after he was killed by Geese. He later gives his cap to Geese's son Rock and the kid keeps it with him ever since.
    • Blue Mary has her own keepsake with her leather jacket, which was given by her deceased lover Butch as a gift to her.
    • Clark Still has his dog tags, one of these belonged to a dead friend of his.
    • Elisabeth Blanctorche has a headband that once belonged to Ash Crimson she keeps with her in her team's XIII ending after his Taking You with Me with Saiki in which he erases himself from his own existence in the process.
  • A few crop up in the first chapter of Mother 3, in the form of Claus's shoes and the piece of cloth from Hinawa's dress. Later on, you get a razor and lipstick from each of the Magypsies when they pass on, which will revive the character holding them if they fall in battle.

  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, James Eglamore keeps a knife that was a present from his old flame, the recently-deceased Surma.
  • Homestuck: In the End of Act 5, after the Exiles are massacred, Serenity, WV's firefly companion, hangs around PM.
  • Crankrats: The photo of young Jack and Maddy. Subverted via Dramatic Irony however.
  • In Girl Genius Gil fell in love with Agatha shortly meeting her, and proposed not long after (framing it as a way of keeping her safe from his father). Almost right afterwards an emergency occured, ending in her faking her death. Gil then wore the ring he made her around his neck. Subverted in that he continued to wear it after he found out she was still alive, as they have yet to graduate to Official Couple.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • In Real Life, people will often keep and wear/use things belonging to relatives who've passed on.
  • The key that Rapper/Actress/Singer Dana Owens, a.k.a. Queen Latifah, often wears around her neck goes to the motorcycle her brother was riding when he died.
  • Several religions keep a whole collection and record of these things. The most famous ones are the Catholic relics - the most poignant and tragic (and sometimes, creepy) are those that belonged to martyrs, but any inspirational beloved will do. Relics come in three flavors: body parts of the actual saint (can vary from drops of blood in a bottle to an entire body, bonus points if it's uncorrupted), items that were worn in a regular basis by the saint (i.e.: Saint Pio of Pietrelcina's gloves which he used to cover his stigmata), and items that were merely touched or blessed by that saint (such as a robe, a piece of the Holy Cross, a favorite shepherd's crook, etc.) Several miracles are credited to relics, no matter what flavor they are: i.e., in Italy the vial that contains the blood of Saint Gennaro is said to have its contents miraculously liquified during the saint's feast.
    • During the medieval ages there was a black market of relics, where diverse Catholic groups would steal them and either sell or smuggle them to other places. An example would be Saint Catherine of Sienna's head.