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Hold on to My Hat

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"Oh, you're going to beat us? Then... I'll let you take care of this hat. It's very important to me. Take good care of it."
Shanks to a young Luffy, One Piece

This is where one character gives another character an item as the symbol of an express or implied promise, with the intent that it will be returned at the fulfillment of such promise. The item does not have to be valuable or important in any way except as a symbol of the promise. It may function as a #1 Dime, a Memento MacGuffin, or even an Iconic Item, but not always. Usually this promise is to be reunited later after some separation, such as one character being taken to jail.


This is generally a subtrope of Reunion Vow.

Usually happens during a Heartwarming Moment.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In The Case Files of Jeweler Richard, Richard and Seigi exchange sapphires, which come with an promise to be returned one day, therefore securing them a place in each other's lives until they're returned.
  • Dragon Ball: Goku's four-star Dragonball, given to Bulma to use for a wish.
  • Hunter × Hunter: During the Hunter examination arc, Hisoka gives his badge to Gon asking for it to be returned when Gon is strong enough to punch him.
  • One Piece: When Shanks gives Luffy his hat- with the promise to become strong.
  • In the beginning of Rurouni Kenshin, Kaoru lends Kenshin her hair ribbon so that he will come back. At the end of the arc, he gives it back, and she flips out, because he bled on it after getting stabbed in a duel while rescuing her.

  • A more subtle example in the very last scene of Hero. Bernie and his son are at the zoo, when he hears that a woman's son has fallen into the lion's pit. Bernie hollers for a zookeeper, but when it's clear there's no help coming, he has to step forth. But first, he tells his son to watch his shoes.
  • The Mask of Zorro: The first Zorro gifts Alejandro Murrieta and his brother a silver medallion when they help him fight off Don Rafael's guards. Years later he recognizes Alejandro because of it and recruits him to become the new Zorro.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): Before Lee has to lead a mission with low chance of success, Bill entrust to him his own father’s lucky lighter. Lee promises to give it back..
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has a not-so-friendly version. When the Dominion captures the station and the Federation is forced to evacuate, Sisko leaves his baseball behind in his office. Dukat immediately understands the message. When the Federation reclaims the station, Dukat hands the ball back to Sisko to acknowledge his defeat.

    Video Games 
  • C14 Dating: In Shoji's romantic route, he and Melissa exchange their copies of the Mockets game before parting, making it necessary for them to meet again to get them back.
  • Final Fantasy XII: Balthier comforts Penelo with his handkerchief, promising to bring Vaan back.

    Western Animation