The quote on the main Throw the Dog a Bone page comes from the series finale of Transformers: Beast Wars, where Waspinator, The Chew Toyof Fate, is left on Earth after leaving the Predacons where he becomes the leader of a village of Protohumans. It's obviously more significant if you ignoreBeast Machines, though he wasn't nearly The Chew Toy there that he was in Beast Wars, as he spent most of the time sharing a body with Thrust, and was one of the only three characters to survive the entirety of both series.
Waspinator was originally scheduled to die, but because he was popular, one of the writers convinced the executives to let him change it to him surviving the bridge-dropping that killed Scorponok and Terrorsaur by the Contrived Coincidence of falling into a CR Chamber instead of a pit of lava.
Who's the coolest shark around? Who's the smartest shark in town? Sky-Byte, that's me! Ha ha ha!
Spongebob Squarepants had one instance of the usual Jerkass Squidward actually leading a band to an awesome glam-rock superbowl show that made his Smug Snake rival Squilliam have a heart attack.
And another episode has Spongebob destroy Squidward's house while he's trying to make it more fancy than Squillam's... only for the resulting rubble to indeed beat Squilliam's house.
A third example has Squidward managing to compose a musical piece for a competition, and having that piece selected to be played despite Spongebob/Patrick's general annoyingness. When the composition is actually PLAYED, it's revealed that he actually wrote the annoyingness INTO the piece, you'd expect this to be a Yank the Dog's Chain where everyone goes nuts over Spongebob, but then the people start cheering... for Squidward.
The Tiki Island episode is pretty much dedicated to this. Even when it looks like it's undone in the end, it turns out that it's not.
Another example occurs in an episode where he falls in love with a female octopus. Squidward turns to Spongebob for advice, but it goes wrong. When Squidward finally has enough, he starts yelling at Spongebob right in front of his girlfriend. At first, Squid thinks she's going to break up with him for said outbursts, but it ends up making her more attracted to him.
Mrs. Puff and Plankton both get their wishes come true in "Wishing You Well". Mrs. Puff drives off with a brand new boat while Plankton has grown to several hundred feet and able to merrily crush buildings as he pleases.
"Plankton's Pet" has Plankton get a pet water bear/ameoba he names Spot to cheer himself up after yet another failed attempt to get a Krabby Patty at the suggestion of Spongebob. It shows him love and he loves it, and the episode ends with Spot rescuing Plankton from trouble and showering a happy Plankton with love.
There was also Rita and Runt being adopted by Dr. Scratchinsniff and Brain getting a position of significant power.
The Mime still got the shaft though. In fact, dropping a safe on him was Yakko's wish.
A Christmas episode has Chicken Boo posing as... oh, try to guess. When his disguise fails, he escapes the usual torrent of abuse when rescued by the real Santa Claus, who says he deserves a happy ending just this once.
A half-literal example in the crossover episode featuring Elmyra - after spending the whole episode tormenting the Warners, they have the perfect idea - introduce Elmyra to Mindy. When Mindy wanders off into danger as she usually does, poor Buttons prepares for his usual routine, but the Warners stop him - as Elmyra takes all the abuse Buttons usually does. Buttons obviously can't thank the Warners enough.
In the "Peter's Daughter" episode of Family Guy, Peter treats Meg kindly after she goes into a coma.
A more recent episode features Meg getting her chance to abuse everyone else on the show for once, and the episode ends with Brian revealing that he wrote a nice article about her for Teen People magazine, describing her as being far sweeter and kinder than the typical American girl.
With the exception of "Road to the Multiverse", the writers thankfully toned down the Meg bashing in season 8.
Kenny of South Park has the first Christmas episode, the first episode where he didn't die. The show teases his demise several times be forcing him through pointlessly dangerous situations, but he comes through unscathed each time. When the episode ends, Kenny cheers in triumph.
It should be noted that, due to his Chew Toy status, many fans expected one of the letters of "Merry Christmas" to fall on him.
In "Poor and Stupid", Kenny falls in the middle of a Nascar race track, two cars are coming straight a him at full speed, Kenny braces for the inevitable... and then the drivers notice him and manage to dodge him crashing and burning at the sides of Kenny.
Not to mention ascending into a land of giant breasts in the clouds.
Arnold of Hey Arnold! tried to give a nice day to the usually unlucky Eugene, but it's subverted as he fails continually. Then it's Double Subverted as Eugene at least thinks one good thing happened (getting a new fish), even though it was cancelled out (the fish was eaten while he wasn't looking).
His performance in "Eugene, Eugene" counts, too.
In "Helga's Love Potion" Brainy, after countless Offhand Backhand from Helga, is kissed by her (in his forehead). He faints.
Dora the Explorer does this once with Swiper. In the Halloween episode, they successfully stop him from swiping (it's normally a crapshoot whether they succeed or not depending on where they want the episode to go). After the usual "Swiper no Swiping!" and "Awww, maaaan!" exchange, they teach him how to trick or treat, then proceed to give him some candy after he asks for some.
The episode "Setting a President" on Fosters Home For Imaginary Friends is this for Frankie, who not only manages to win an election to be in charge of the eponymous house, but then enforces regime changes everyone likes, punishes the Jerkass Bloo, and emphatically DOES NOT find out that it was harder than her old job. It's seemingly subverted when seeing Herriman suffering and struggling with a bagging job at the supermarket, and while she feels guilty for him, she's more put off by how her new job pays less than her old one. She then returns the job to its previous incumbent (also brought back to the house), and looks like a saint in doing it, with him claiming that he now owes her one.
"Destination Imagination" is also a bone for Frankie. After years of cooking, cleaning, taking care of numerous imaginary friends, and pretty much running the house single-handedly without a bit of gratitude from anyone or an ounce of respect from her slave driving anal stuck-up bunny boss, she is rewarded when Mr. Herriman acknowledges her importance to the home and has the chores split up amongst everyone. Whether the change sticks in the last episodes of the series remains to be seen.
The second-to-last episode of the series "Fools and Regulations" was yet another for Frankie. Bloo's ridiculous antics, established as a major source of grief for Frankie, actually help her in the end by earning some badly-needed fundraising donations for the house. Funny enough, Frankie punishes Bloo anyway for being such a jerkass.
After a long, long chain of failures, there are two occasions late in Samurai Jack where the method home isn't irrevocably lost. In the first case, Jack is defeated by an invincible warrior guarding it... but the warrior spares his life and explicitly sees a Future Badass Jack coming back to use the portal at some point ahead. In the second, the portal is destroyed (by Jack possessed by Aku's evil), but Jack is told that it will be rebuilt in due time, at which point he may use it. Sadly, neither one truly paid off because Cartoon Network let the show fall through.
Similar like the comic strip which is based on, Jon in Garfield and Friends never gets a single girlfriend. But during the end of the episode “Dream Date”, he did get a date with the former secretary of the TV studio who are trying to use Jon as a setup for higher ratings, which Garfield lets Jon date her, as he lampshades it to Odie.
Garfield:New rule of the show Pup, every 9 weeks we do a happy ending, come on let's go steal their pizza.
A nod to the football gag, plus Laser-Guided Karma was used by Family Guy in one episode. In a cutaway gag, Lucy yanks the football away as Charlie Brown tries to kick it, causing Peter to appear and beat the crap out of Lucy for toying with Charlie Brown all this time and forces her to hold the football in place. Charlie Brown kicks it and cheers in glee, while Peter delivers a final kick for Lucy for not being a professional psychiatrist.
Notably not employed in the comics themselves, though, where any and all triumphs Charlie Brown achieves are always dragged down or retconned, such as an example where he hit a home run and won the baseball game, yet it later turned out this was only because the female pitcher had a crush on him. Another time, a winning run was walked in because the pitcher couldn't pitch strikes to Linus' toddler brother Rerun (who thought they were playing for the Stanley Cup). Sadly, a "youth sports commission" not unlike the Mafia forces Charlie Brown to forfeit the victory after it's revealed Snoopy had money on the game.
Charlie Brown does get at least one victory in the comics. During the last part of its run, he helps Rerun by defeating a bully in a game of marbles.
Another time was when Lucy was berating Charlie Brown at her psychology booth for wasting his life when he spent the morning cleaning his closet shelf. To prove her point, she asked Linus what he was doing that morning. When he said he just watched TV, Lucy is humiliated seeing her argument explode in her face while Charlie Brown makes the most of this great turn of events with a smug "My closet shelf is real clean!"
Camp Lazlo: Lumpus has a mad crush on Jane Doe, but his efforts to get her to realize that always backfire hilariously. Jane frequently misinterprets his motives, leading her to see him either as A) a friend, or B) a jerk. Failure is Lumpus' only option, as Jane gets together with and even marries everyone except Lumpus. The second-to-last episode focuses on the two, and is called "Wedding Bell Blues". Guesswhathappens at the end?
King of the Hill: When Bill Dauterive is staying at his rich family's mansion, two eligible bachelorettes vie fiercely to seduce him. The outcome? "Both of 'em!"
Also, the episode where Bill temporarily adopts a soldier's dog, Buddy. Most of the episode revolves around Hank realizing (to his dismay) that the animal that he adopted is a cat, but Bill and Buddy spend the entire episode happy. And then, at the end of the episode, he gets a salute from the entire crew of the aircraft carrier that Buddy's owner works on as he returns Buddy, and gets a ride home on a fighter jet.
In the original storyboards of the Adventure Time episode "Too Young," the writers threw Lemongrab- who was punched in the stomach and pushed onto the floor by the protagonists- a bone, by having him take a rice cake (he really likes bland foods) out of his pocket and eat it, and actually enjoy himself for once- much to the puzzlement of his pranksters. Averted in the final cut of the episode, as the scene ends with Lemongrab slumped over on the ground crying, and the pranksters running away happily.
He gets one for real in "You Made Me" when Princess Bubblegum introduces him to a clone of himself to reduce his psychotic loneliness over having a castle with no one else to keep him company.
Henry of KaBlam!! was given this in an episode where June's pranks finally pushed him too far and he quit the show. He goes on to start a highly successful restaurant while the show suffers without him. He eventually comes back after seeing that June genuinely misses him and regrets what she did.
After being a Butt Monkey for nearly ten seasons, Kirk Van Houten (Milhouse's dad from The Simpsons) finally caught a break in a recent season when he married Luanne again and moved back to his old home, and essentially, recovering his good old life.
This happens occasionally for Grandpa Simpson, who is usually ignored by his family. This usually happens with Bart helping him do something cool, like trying steal the Hellfish treasure, running away to Branson, MO, or escaping the nursing home.
Hans Moleman, whose status as a Butt Monkey is cemented by his tendency to only appear in episodes for a brief scene in which he is injured, dies, or his decrepitness is played for laughs, gets to medal in high jump in the senior olympics in one episode. He seems very pleased with himself.
In Avatar The Last Airbender, Zuko is finally thrown a bone at the start of the third season; he's finally been accepted back into the Fire Nation by his father, he's restored the honor he's been fighting for two seasons and three years to get back, he's got a girlfriend, and his father has allowed him to sit at his side once more. The problem for Zuko is that he finally realizes that (aside from the girlfriend whom he loves) he doesn't want any of that anymore, that restoring his honor came at the price of betraying his uncle Iroh, that the Fire Nation really are the villains of this story, and that being the good little prince beside his father is something that fundamentally goes against the man he has become (not to mention that this new title came as a result of a lie on his sister's part)....which leads to his true Heel-Face Turn.
Sokka, the unlucky comic relief for most of the series, gets a bite in one late-series episode where a sword master accepts him for martial training. It only gets better from there.
In retrospect, the Cabbage Guy. After years of having his cabbage cart smashed every time he appears on screen, The Legend Of Korra shows that he becomes the founder of one of the most successful businesses in the world. His successor unfortunately inherits his bad luck when he gets framed for supplying the Equalists. "Not my Cabbage Corps!"
On Phineas and Ferb,cute, ridiculously-nice Jeremy embodies this trope for Candace; many episodes have Candace accidentally putting herself through all sorts of grief trying to bust her brothers, only for Jeremy to show up in the last sixty seconds and somehow manage to make her day brighter.
Also, every now and then this is also delivered by her brothers themselves.
In Tom and Jerry, Tom actually has managed to one-up the mouse a few times. Even outside of these, there were many shorts where he was granted some sort of truce or happy outcome from Jerry.
A Running Gag in the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" involves Rainbow Dash not being able to get a cup of the Apple family's homemade apple cider because they always run out by the time she reaches the booth, or in one instance because she spilled the cup (leading her to shove the dirt it was spilled on into her mouth). She finally gets a mug at the very end of the episode.
And she gets the mug from none other than Pinkie Pie, who up until that point, had been hoarding mugs of cider and unintentionally rubbing it in Rainbow Dash's face about how good the cider tasted.
During his "Ruler of Kongo Bongo" election campaign, Donkey Kong promises Krusha that he won't pummel him next time he tries to steal the Crystal Coconut. When Krusha does get his hands on the coconut, Donkey Kong keeps his promise and lets Krusha off the hook. As long as he returns the Crystal Coconut, of course.
In the Futurama episode "The Six Million Dollar Mon", Zoidberg stops Hermes from turning himself into a robot by reminding him of his family (and by having saved Hermes' discarded body parts). Afterwards, Hermes' wife orders him to thank Zoidberg.
Hermes: But I hate him! LaBarbara: We all do! But credit where credit's due!
In fact, a lot of Zoidberg's appearances as of late have him doing better in a number of ways. One episode focuses on his relationship with the Professor, cementing their friendship, showing he's actually a brilliant doctor when not treating humans, and has the respect of Mom of all people. Another episode shows he's largely come to terms with his financial situation (something he's shown a few times before), manages a zen-like outlook on both a windfall fortune and losing it almost immediately, and ends the episode having formed a connection with Amy over her temporary poverty and dancing with her to his own theme tune.
And a final bone throwing came in "Stench and Stenchability"(The next last episode ever) where old crabcakes was given a love interest. And unlike Edna, no last second dumping and death from mating. And thanks to being born without a sense of smell, getting a nose transplant, and never knowing a good smell from bad, she even loves his stank.
Frizz and Nug of The Dreamstone, while always Harmless Villains doomed to failure, at least finish off some episodes with the last laugh, usually when something terrible befalls Urpgor. Perhaps most prominent in "The Spidermobile", they spend the majority of the episode, for once, trouncing the heroes effortlessly and make off with the stone with comparatively few Amusing Injuries. They also manage to avoid a retaliation this time, instead watching amused as their abusive bosses take a Humiliation Conga in their place.
Daffy Duck gets a heavy one in "Ducking The Devil", he spends the majority of the short frantically trying to lead the Tazmanian Devil back to his zoo cell for a reward of $5000. He actually succeeds, and on top of that, when Taz tries to steal the reward from him, he charges in to fight him for it and wins! It should be noted this short was made long after Daffy had evolved into a pompous fall guy.
Daffy: I may be a coward, but I'm a greedy coward!
The Ed, Edd n EddySeries Fauxnale "A Fistful of Ed" has Double D losing horribly to Jimmy in a one-on-one fight, then when the Kankers try to attack him Eddy stands up to them saying that Double D's had enough for the day.
At least a couple of episodes end on the Eds trying a scam and actually making a profit.
"Chicken Run": As he and DM dodge the attack of giant chickens, Penfold dives into a vial of a growth formula, causing him to grow giant size and apprehend the villains, Greenback and Stiletto.
"Public Enemy No. 1": For a brief time, Penfold takes a super speed pill and outwits DM (who has amnesia and is brainwashed by Greenback into thinking he's a master criminal).
"Lost, Found And Spellbound": Penfold winds up finding the missing Prof. Squawkencluck while DM deals with a mischievous witch doctor (followed by his groping for an explanation to Colonel K and the narrator wondering if the show will be renamed for Penfold).
"Beware Of Mexicans Delivering Milk": Penfold takes the initiative in stopping El Loco's plan to rob the Bank of England after DM's strength is drained by spiked milk. DM winds up stopping El Loco, but Penfold does get the last laugh at the end.
"Turn Of The Tide": Penfold sacrifices his eyebrows to save the earth and receives a new toy to replace his lost one. DM is bent out of shape because he has to pay to have the Mk. III repaired after it had been earlier damaged.
"There's A Penfold In My Suit": A zig-zag—a mystical stone in the country of Bratyslovakia causes DM and Penfold to switch bodies.
Steve Smith of American Dad! practically embodied Did Not Get the Girl for almost 10 seasons. Whether trough egregious Ass Pull's(Like the infamous one from the Halloween Episode) or sheer bad luck, it never worked. Until "Spelling Bee My Baby" when he lands Akiko. No last second dumping, no having his hand numb from anesthesia, he finally gets one.
In Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, Dick Dastardly is thrown a bone in "Home Sweet Homing Pigeon." Klunk, Zilly and Muttley's discharges are imminent, so Dick gets them to sign his memory book. He tricks them—the three actually signed re-enlistment forms. The episode ends with Dastardly doing a Muttley snicker.
Rugrats gave Angelica a bone in the episode "Tommy and the Secret Club" when Tommy bails out on her own club and starts his own. She ends up timidly approaching him and asking if she can join in, which Tommy agrees because in his club, everyone's in.
Thomas the Tank Engine episode "Percy's Lucky Day" more or less revolves around this happening to Percy. After a rather bad day, Stephen gives him a lucky charm. The next day goes perfectly, he gets chosen for special jobs he doesn't screw up, and just for good measure, he is praised after saving Bill and Ben during an accident. It's revealed that Percy had actually left without the lucky charm, he had just got a genuine stroke of luck.
Every now and then, Gordon and Jamesdon't suffer a Break the Haughty moment and get to show what splendid engines they genuinely are. Gordon in particular gets several moments it seems he will be upstaged by another engine, only for a dilemma to occur and an opportunity for him to their place in a special train, resulting in him being showered with praise (eg. "Paint Pots and Queens", "Gordon and Spencer", "Thomas and the Runaway Car").