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Insignia Rip-Off Ritual

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The Degradation of Alfred Dreyfus,
Le Petit Journal, 1895

Newman: You're a disgrace to the uniform. [rips off badge]
Jerry: You know, this is your coat.
Newman: ...Damn!
Seinfeld, "The Andrea Doria"

That's it. You've had it with the organization you work for. They've made you work too hard, they've grown corrupt, or they've done something morally questionable in pursuit of their goals. You're quitting, but you don't just want to turn in your Two Weeks Notice and walk off the job. You want to let your employers know just how disgusted you are with them. What better way to do that than by walking up to them, tearing off your chevrons, ranking insignias, and other badges of office and throwing said items into their faces? (If you've recently been awarded a Medal for Valor or for some other reason, feel free to rip that off and cast it dramatically to the floor as well. Your employers should get the message.)

Alternatively, you could be the leader of a military organization who finds themselves dealing with a lazy or corrupt member. Perhaps that person has become too enthusiastic in their pursuit of the law or has grown to love the violent parts of their job just a little too much. You want to get rid of them, but telling them to get lost isn't enough. You want to send them a message on how disgusted you are, so you summon them to your office, and after a verbal dressing down, you tell them to turn in their badge. Or you just rip the badge right off of them. (Obviously, if they're Ax-Crazy, you'll want to have a lot of bodyguards standing around while you do this.) Alternatively, your employee's dismissal ritual could be a lot more stylized and formal than this, with him or her forced to stand stoically in front of their peers while you strip them of their rank. That done, they turn slowly and head towards the exit while the soundtrack swells defiantly.

An Insignia Rip-Off Ritual is often played up for as much drama as can be milked from it, but just as often, it's played for comedy. In such cases, half of the dismissed employee's shirt might get accidentally ripped up along with the badge. Or the type of things that are ripped off aren't formal "signs of office" like pins or badges, but silly things like hairpieces or lapel flowers. A clown might lose his big rubber nose, for instance, or an accountant his pocket protector.

However you decide to perform an Insignia Rip-Off Ritual on your employee, don't expect it to be the last you'll see of them. If they don't join the Other Side, they'll almost always return after a 10-Minute Retirement, either to redeem themselves, or to bring you to justice, take over your organization and perform an Insignia Rip-Off Ritual on you. (That's if you're lucky. If you're unlucky, they'll just wreak bloody vengeance upon you.)

An Insignia Rip-Off Ritual might be the starting point for a Humiliation Conga. Expect a Defector from Decadence to perform this if he's particularly fed up with his former group. When done to a military officer by his superiors, expect his sword to be broken.

A formalized version of this, known as Cashiering, is used by many of the world's militaries when someone is dismissed in extreme disgrace. Back in the day when military officers purchased their ranks from the crown with hard cash, the money is held in trust by the army and essentially served as a genteel form of bail bond to ensure good behavior; officers who retire honorably would receive their money back in full, while those fired in disgrace would forfeit their money to the army cashier. Just to mention, beforehand the insignias and buttons are removed and re-sewn on with light thread, which explains how they can be removed without tearing the entire jacket. If the ritual also contains the destruction of some issue equipment, such as an officer's sword, that equipment will also be deliberately weakened before the ritual so that it can easily destroyed during it.

One of the most common ways this is Played for Laughs is if someone has this done to them when they're fired from a Burger Fool.

May overlap with Unprocessed Resignation if done in front of a superior who can interpret the gesture as a resignation, and the superior decides not to follow through on that intent.

See also Turn in Your Badge. Also see Smash the Symbol (to which this is a subtrope), Allegiance Affirmation, and Shameful Strip (similarly humiliating and which goes much further). Contrast Earned Stripes.


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  • In this 1996 Chiquita commercial, Miss Chiquita lines up some fruit for inspection. On coming to a banana that is short and lumpy, she tears off its Chiquita sticker label.
  • A commercial for Little Caesars features a boy ripping off the #1 off his dad's "#1 Dad" hat for not getting the Extra Most Bestest Pizza.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Big O: In the final arc when Alex Rosewater attacks Roger Smith with his own Megadeus, he orders the military police to stand by and do nothing. They comply, which makes Dan Dastun shame them for rolling over and rips the MP insignia off his own uniform before commandeering a tank to try and help Roger. Later, the rest of the military police follows his example and attack Big Fau.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist after a bunch of central soldiers are shown how utterly corrupt the High Command of Central is, they refuse to follow orders, and rip off their ranks and Amestris insignia and throw them at the General.
    • After Ed confronts Fuhrer King Bradley (who is really the Homunculus Wrath) about the true nature of the State Alchemist program as a way to recruit human sacrifices, he tosses in his state alchemist pocket watch and declares his resignation. Unfortunately, Bradley manages to threaten him into taking it back.
  • It happens in Halo Legends episode "Homecoming". While she doesn't do it in front of her superiors, Daisy does rip off her dog tag and throw it into a fountain after returning to her homeworld.
  • In a flashback of Naruto, Itachi throws a kunai at an Uchiha clan crest on a wall before denouncing the clan at one point after he kills Shisui and before his massacre. Prominently, the Akatsuki members with visible headbands -like him- and Sasuke -who may or may not count- have slashes through the the emblem of the village to which they formerly swore allegiance.
    • Later on, in Boruto, when Boruto is caught cheating during the chunin exam, Naruto removes his headband in front of the entire audience (including his mother and sister). In essence, Boruto's own father was publicly telling him that he was a disgrace as a shinobi. Yikes.
  • One Piece
    • After learning that Arlong had Nezumi steal all the money she worked for eight years to earn, Nami begins stabbing the Arlong Pirates tattoo on her arm in anger; fortunately, she gets a second -and different- tattoo after Arlong's defeat.
    • In episode 138, Captain Moore strips the insignia off Minchy's uniform after he learns Minchy was trying to steal Zenny's treasure behind his back.
    • In the fourth movie, Gasparde has the Marine emblem crossed out on his ship.
  • After Ryuhou's Heel–Face Turn in s-CRY-ed, Mimori brings him a new HOLY uniform, which he refuses to wear. She insists that the uniform doesn't stand for HOLY itself, but rather Ryuhou's convictions and beliefs, so he puts it on and rips off the HOLY symbol.
  • At the end of the Soul Eater manga, Maka, Soul, Black Star, and Tsubaki put on the uniforms they wore at the beginning of the series because they are dissociating themselves with Spartoi.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
  • Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars!: In the episode "The Warriors", the Toad Air Marshall is stripped of his medals and demoted for his constant failures, with Frix and Frax put in charge. When they prove to be even more incompetent, Komplex reinstates the Air Marshall.
  • Following the end of Civil War (2006) and the repeal of the Superhuman Registration Act, Steve Rogers requests that Abigail Boylen, AKA Cloud Nine, become a trainer at the Avengers Academy. Having gone through a massive Break the Cutie session where Iron Man, War Machine, and Black Widow made her into an assassin, Abigail's response upon learning that she's no longer legally bound to any government organization is to tear up her registration card, throw her old costume at Rogers' feet, and fly away from Avengers Tower as fast as she can.
  • In the final issue of Combat Kelly and his Deadly Dozen, Kelly returns from a mission where he and Laurie were the only survivors (and Laurie had been permanently crippled). He tears his corporal's stripes off his uniform and throws them down on Captain Sawyer's desk, stating that he would rather be sent back to prison than undertake another mission for the US Army.
  • In the climax of The Return of Barry Allen storyline in The Flash, Jay Garrick rips off the front of the costume (symbol included) of the imposter Barry Allen while the latter keeps furiously ranting that there can only be one Flash. The rip only made the imposter even angrier.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes:
    • Used in a 60's story (and cover) when Bouncing Boy defeats the rest of the Legion with his super bouncing. For added humor value, note that the male Legionnaires leave holes in their costume. Saturn Girl's emblem just seems to pop off. (In the story itself, all the emblems pop off without clothing damage.)
    • In Adventure Comics #316, Ultra Boy's emblem was burned off when the Legion believed he was a fugitive who had joined under false pretenses. (Oddly, that didn't leave a hole in his costume.)
  • Parodied in a 1970s MAD cartoon by Don Martin. An army officer rips off his subordinate's insignia and epaulets, unsheathes the subordinate's sword, hoists his knee in the air to snap it in half...and accidentally amputates his own lower leg.
  • In the Star Wars Legends, Luke's childhood friend Janek "Tank" Sunber became an Imperial officer and served in a long, grueling campaign against basically endless waves of primitive tribal aliens. His tactics and work ethic seriously impressed the general in charge, who gave him a field promotion to commander before dying. However, a captain who was jealous about being passed up refused to verify the promotion, and Tank was humiliatingly stripped of his rank as soon as they were offworld. Unusually, Tank stayed Imperial even with a few doubts, even becoming a Fake Defector at Vader's order.
  • Superman:
    • In a Superboy (90s clone version) story, Supergirl (90s Matrix version) tries to persuade him to come with her and sort out why he's currently a wanted fugitive. When he refuses, she uses her telekinesis to pull the S-shields off his chest and the back of his jacket.
    • In Who is Superwoman?, Supergirl rips the "S"-shield off Superwoman's clothes screaming a murderer doesn't deserve to wear her family's crest.
      Supergirl: You're asking for mercy? Like Agent Liberty got?! Like poor Mister Henderson!? Like my father!? You don't deserve mercy, you deserve a beating! And this? You don't deserve to wear this.
    • In Supergirl vol 6 #23 Supergirl rips the "S"-crest off a decoy of her cousin, shouting he is a fake and he doesn't deserve to wear it.
    • In the middle of Infinite Crisis Superman rips the S from the costume worn by Superboy-Prime to indicate he is not worthy to wear it.
    • In New Krypton, General Zod is so angry when he finds out that Commander Gor disobeyed his direct orders and gunned a fugitive down than rips Gor's commander badge off his chest and demotes him right away.
  • During The Transformers: All Hail Megatron, Ironhide confronts Mirage, suspecting him of being the one that betrayed the Autobots It was Sunstreaker. He then repeatedly punches Mirage in the Autobot insignia until it is all but destroyed. When Ironhide later finds out that Mirage was not the traitor, he attempts to apologize only for Mirage to refuse his apology and leave his Autobot insignia damaged as a symbolic gesture.
  • Les Tuniques Bleues: Chesterfield and Blutch are being kicked out. After Chesterfield has gone through the entire insignia-ripping, sword-snapping ritual, the officer turns to Blutch... who has already ripped off his own and is presenting the officer with his broken sword. Later it turns out it was a ploy to send them into Confederate lines undetected, much to Blutch's chagrin.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Tumbleweeds, the Sheriff would sometimes tear off the star badge from Deputy Knuckles when he did something really stupid. But it was always restored in the next strip.

    Fan Works 
  • Based on the Naruto example above, someone made a team shot of Team Secret, a relatively new Dota 2 professional team. The joke being, their members were previously members of other teams, and like the Akatsuki, they had their previous team logo scratched off. note 
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf alternate timeline story "Papa Smurf & Mama Smurfette", Empath as the leader of La Résistance in the Smurf Village removes Papa Smurf's red hat and replaces it with a white hat while he replaces his own black star-spangled hat with Papa Smurf's red hat, symbolically showing that Papa Smurf no longer deserves to be recognized as the village leader and that Empath will now take over the position.
    • In the novel itself, Empath rips his own Smurf clothes to shreds (particularly his Star-Spangled Spandex suit that he just got for his birthday!) in front of every Smurf to show what he thinks of the Smurfs for how they were treating him.
  • In Fifth Year Rebooted McGonagall rips the prefect badge off Ron's chest after she learns he's assuming all of the perks and none of the duties.
  • Rocketship Voyager
    • Captain Janeway surrenders herself to the Caretaker, to the fury of his Hirogen mercenaries who were looking forward to hunting a Worthy Opponent. They show their disapproval by tearing off her rank insignia, slicing open the pockets of her coverall to search for weapons or suicide pills, looting her kitbag and guzzling down her thermos of coffee. Janeway's more angry about the last one than losing her captain's stars.
    • Downplayed earlier when it's mentioned that some of the Maquis have removed the Spacefleet shoulder patch from the coveralls they've been issued with. Chakotay is still wearing his patch, but none of the medals he'd been awarded while a Spacefleet officer.
  • In Yule Ball Drama when McGonagall expels Ron and Ginny from Hogwarts she rips the Gryffindor and Hogwarts crests off their school robes.

    Films — Animation 
  • At the beginning of a deleted scene from Cars 3 called “More Than New Paint”, two pitties rip off Lighting McQueen‘s #95 after Sterling reveals he took him off the racing circuit and gave his number to Cruz.
  • At the Sunrise Spectacular in Coco, the show stops after Ernesto is exposed as a fraud, a thief, and a murderer. The conductor responds to his attempt to get the show going again by shooting him a contemptuous look and snapping his baton in two.
  • At the end of Monsters University Sulley discards his ROR jacket and the Scare Games trophy to confess he cheated.
  • The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists: When the Pirate King (BRIAN BLESSED) learns that the Pirate Captain has been pardoned by Queen Victoria, and thus is no longer eligible to be considered a pirate, he not only takes from him the Pirate of the Year Award, but also his pimped-out vest, hat, breeches, pirate badge and reduction card for the pirate shops.
  • This happens early in Up When Charles Muntz is suspected of having fabricated the skeleton of the mysterious monster from Paradise Falls, he loses his membership in an explorer's society and is seen having the badges ripped off his jacket.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Against All Flags, part of the evidence Brian Hawke presents to the Council of Captains that he is a deserter is his Royal Navy coat with all of its official insignia ripped off. Roc points out that, by itself, this proves nothing, as he could have stripped them off himself.
  • In The A-Team this happens to the team after their conviction.
  • In comedy Bachelor Mother, Freddie the stock boy gets promoted to assistant floorwalker at the department store, which requires a carnation in the lapel of his suit. When Freddie botches his first day on the job by throwing the boss's son out of the building—the boss's son was doing a King Incognito—the supervising floorwalker demotes Freddie, complete with yanking the carnation out of his suit.
  • In The Dark Crystal, the other Skeksis rip off the banished Chamberlain's clothes and send him into exile naked, stripped of all the finery of one of Thra's ruling race.
  • At the end of The Dark Knight Rises, John Blake takes his Gotham P.D. badge and flings it into the river.
  • Delusions of Grandeur: After falling in disgrace, Don Salluste has to go through a humiliating ceremony before the King and Queen of Spain, where his titles of nobility are stripped from him. This includes the pendant of the "Order of the Golden Fleece", by way of first (painfully) pulling his collar atop his face. Before that, the king orders him to retire in a monastery, where he'll take vows of chastity... and poverty.
    Don Salluste: No, not poverty! Sire, please!
  • Happens in Dirty Harry. At the end of the movie, after finally stopping the Scorpio killer and finding that the only way it was possible was in direct opposition of the system he worked for, Harry throws his badge into a body of water in disgust. The filming of several sequels make this moment not as poignant as it should be.
  • Draw!: After the final showdown with Harry Holland, Sam starret takes of the sheriff badge and tosses it contemptuously at the mayor before he leaves town.
  • Gladiator: After becoming a gladiator, Maximus cuts up his SPQR tattoo, in angry sorrow about being betrayed by the government he'd served.
  • Adenoid Hynkel does this to the Goering Expy in Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator after one failure too many. He removes all the badges and flings them away one by one, then proceeds to attack the jacket itself.
  • Henry V (1989): When Richard, Earl of Cambridge, Henry, Lord Scrope, and Sir Thomas Grey are arrested for plotting against King Henry, the Duke of Exeter tears off their livery collars, the equivalent of military insignia for a noble of the period, before Henry orders them sent to be executed.
  • A poignant moment at the end of High Noon, where Will Kane takes off his sheriff's badge and drops it in on the ground in front of the town that abandoned him.
  • The Horse Soldiers: After Hannah almost gives away the brigade's position to the Confederates, Colonel Marlowe calls up the two soldiers assigned to guarding her and gives them a dressing down. As he does so, Sergeant Kirby takes a knife and cuts off the corporal's stripes.
  • Iron Eagle II has a scene where after deciding to work together after all to take down the bad guys, the American and Soviet pilots all rip the velcro flag patches off their flightsuits.
  • Done to the title character himself in Judge Dredd, though the crime in question would warrant it, the situation on the other hand...
  • A form of Rip-off the Insignia is 'Rip Up the Check' where a person who took tainted money (or was offered it) rips up the check to show his refusal to accept it. This was done in the Lassie movie where the grandfather threw the pieces of a check back to Lassie's 'real' owner when he realized that his grandson was hurt after Lassie was taken away.
  • Looney Tunes: Back in Action plays with this trope. Early on, Damian Drake Jr. gets fired and undergoes the ritual, having his security guard insignia torn off of his shirt. And then, he's ordered to turn in the shirt as well.
  • In Kenneth Branagh’s live-action adaptation of The Magic Flute, Sarastro rips off Monostatos’s insignia in barely contained Tranquil Fury, in front of an entire crowd, after learning the man has tried to rape Sarastro's daughter Pamina.
  • The Man from Colorado: After Del returns to town and discovers that Owne has hanged Johnny Howard in his absence, Del storms up to the judge, punches him in the face, then pulls of his marshal badge and throws it on the ground at the judge's feet.
  • A particularly wonderful parodic example occurs in Mary Poppins, when Mr. Banks is being dismissed from his job. The entire thing is played off as a solemn, hallowed ritual—but one that involves Mr. Banks' bowler hat and umbrella getting destroyed in an overblown, stylized manner. (Meanwhile, his fellow employees are looking on in horror, gasping "No — Not that!" as his umbrella is turned inside-out.) The scene also includes Mickey Mousing.
  • The Mysterious Lady: The "degradation" ceremony, something done in Real Life in European armies prior to World War I, in which a disgraced officer has his sword broken and all his medals stripped. Done to Karl when he's cashiered and before he's sent to prison.
  • In No Name on the Bullet, Sheriff Buck Hastings takes off his badge and tosses it into the dirt when he witnesses the bloodshed John Gant's presence in the town has unleashed and which he is powerless to stop.
  • None Shall Escape: Following the death of Janina, Willie denounces Nazism, discards his Schirmmütze and rips the shoulder marks off his uniform.
  • An Officer and a Spy, about the Dreyfus Affair, faithfully recreates the formal degradation of Alfred Dreyfus at the Invalides in Paris as it was depicted on the first page of the famous issue of the newspaper Le Petit Journal.
  • Paddington2014: When Montgomery Clyde, a.k.a. The Explorer is expelled from the Geographer's Guild, the chain holding his badge of membership is torn from his neck, and the rest of the guild demonstratively turn their backs to him.
  • Inverted in the very first scene of Patton where the eponymous general is promoted, and immediately takes his new insignia out of his pocket and glues them onto his uniform. (A subordinate protested that the promotion was not official until approved by the Senate, but legal niceties never troubled George Patton in the slightest.)
  • Pukar has the military degradation version, since the character has been framed for treason. By the end of the scene, the main character is wearing only tatters.
  • The Quick and the Dead. The Big Bad is trying to force a former gunfighter-turned-preacher to take up arms again, by making him participate in a Duel to the Death. When he kills his first man, the Big Bad tears off his clerical collar. "Welcome back, killer."
  • In the controversial 1967 Hungarian film The Red and the White about the Russian Civil War, a White Army officer, confronted by his subordinates terrorizing civilians (a problem for the White Movement), tears the epaulets off the ringleader before having him executed.
  • In RoboCop 3, the Detroit cops in a police station are ordered by an OCP company director to expel by force some civilian from their houses (so that OCP can level the block for redevelopment). One of the older veterans refuses, yanks off his badge and throws it on the floor. The whole unit then walks past the director, each throwing their badge down. The director then used the prisoners and criminals to perform the task, along with its own para-military unit.
    Johnson: Now, sergeant... 15 years on the force is quite an investment. Your job, your pension. Maybe instead of worrying about these squatter people, you might think about your own family.
    Sgt. Reed I am. I'm thinking I have to go home and face them.
  • In the opening of The Rock, the Big Bad General Hummel visits his wife's grave to tell her he's going to do something he couldn't do while she was still alive. Before he leaves he places his Congressional Medal of Honor on her headstone and kisses it, knowing the treasonous act of terrorism he plans to commit — sympathetic cause or not — means he won't deserve it anymore.
  • A Jerry Lewis movie (The Sad Sack) has two career soldiers (a corporal and a private) mentoring the eponymous character (played by Lewis). After being marched back to the barracks by a platoon of WAC soldiers the three are called in front of the unit's First Sergeant. The First Sergeant just stares, so the corporal tears one stripe off his uniform and the private tears the only stripe off his uniform. Lewis reaches for his sleeve, finds nothing, and says, "I guess I'll have to owe you one."
  • The Scarlet Empress: Tsar Peter III, who knows Orlov has had sex with his wife—the future Catherine the Great—asks what Orlov's rank is. When Orlov says he's a captain, Peter says "you are nothing!" and proceeds to rip off all of Orlov's rank insignia. Orlov soon gets to have the last laugh when Catherine overthrows her husband and Orlov gets to strangle him.
  • Smokin' Aces: At the end, Agent Messner pulls the plug on both Buddy Israel and Primo Sparazza after he learns that his partner and dozens of other agents were sacrificed for the faint hope that Sparazza would turn informant. He disarms himself and takes out his badge, placing both on the floor in front of him, symbolically resigning from the FBI. Either way, he is going to be fired and sent to prison.
  • At the start of Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker has a day job as a delivery boy at Joe's Pizza, and (apparently once again) is unable to uphold the 29 Minute Guarantee because of a "disturbance". Peter is dismissed and has the company logo sticker removed from his helmet.
  • Star Trek: Insurrection: When Picard has failed to persuade Starfleet Command that they are acting immorally, and has chosen to defend the Prime Directive in violation of orders, he privately removes his pips himself before beginning the titular insurrection. Amusingly, when the rest of the command crew discover his actions and he orders them away, they cite this as a reason he can't give them orders. And then, of course, they join him anyway.
  • In Terror in a Texas Town, when Sheriff Stoner finds McNeil's dead body on the floor, he decides the town is getting too hot for him. He gathers up the money on the floor, then takes off the sheriff badge and tosses atop of McNeil's body before hightailing it out of town.
  • Thor: This happens to Thor when Odin banishes him — he gets the circles on his armor and his cape torn off by hand, before Odin takes Mjölnir and sends him to Earth with no powers, destroying the rest of his armor. This symbolises Thor no longer being worthy to inherit the throne.
  • Transformers Film Series:
    • In Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, when National Security Advisor Galloway takes over the Autobot task force from Major Lennox, he goes out of his way to rip off the Major's rank insignia, saying, "You won't be needing this anymore." Unlike most examples, the ripping off doesn't have much impact. For one thing, Lennox is wearing Army-issue ACUs and his rank insignia was being held on with Velcro. For another, Lennox was not in any way being demoted, only relieved of operational command of the task force, so ripping off his rank is nothing but meaningless spite on Galloway's part. The only thing Lennox lost was the the thirty-odd seconds it would take him to pick it up and put it back on.
    • In Transformers: The Last Knight the members of the TRF rip off their insignias after Cade calls them out on their Fantastic Racism against the Autobots,who were once again working to save the human race.
  • Referenced in Twelve O'Clock High. After the same man gets busted from sergeant to private and then promoted back to sergeant later the same day — on two separate occasions — the general responsible for the demotions and promotions tells him to get zippers installed on the extra stripes.
  • In The Wrong Guys, Glenn Grunski has a nightmare of being kicked out of the cub scout den whose members he and his brother, Mark, tormented as children. They have their patches ripped off, and then they're executed by firing squad. He wakes up at the shot.

  • The "rip up the check" variation is Older Than Feudalism: according to The Bible, Judas Iscariot threw the 30 pieces of silver he was paid to betray Jesus back at the people who paid him it before hanging himself in shame.
    • In the apocryphal book of 2nd Maccabees, the king was so enraged at the news of Andronicus' murder of Onias the high priest that he not only stripped Andronicus of his royal robe, he also stripped the man of all his clothes and forced him to go through the entire town naked before he was killed.
  • When magicians are exiled in The Black Magician Trilogy, the highest ranking members of the guild make a small rip in their robes and say "I cast you out, [name]. Do not enter my lands again". Then every other magician in the guild performs the ritual. Then they are escorted out of the city, stopping at every intersection to have their crimes and punishment announced. From there they're taken to the border, where their crimes are announced again and the guard are told to remember their faces. When they rip your insignia off, they don't mess around.
  • In Codex Alera, Amara throws the coin that is a Cursor's badge of office in Gaius's face after he Shoots the Dog in a way she considers to have crossed the Moral Event Horizon.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Black Colossus", Yasmela demands that Count Thespides return her glove and leave; she doesn't have to actually carry it out.
    "Count Thespides," said Yasmela, "you have my glove under your baldric. Please give it to me, and then go."
    "Go?" he cried, starting. "Go where?"
    "To Koth or to Hades!" she answered. "If you will not serve me as I wish, you shall not serve me at all."
    "You wrong me, princess," he answered, bowing low, deeply hurt. "I would not forsake you. For your sake I will even put my sword at the disposal of this savage."
  • "Danny Deever", Rudyard Kipling's poem about a British Army hanging: "They've taken of his buttons off an' cut his stripes away, / An' they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'."
  • This trope occurs several times throughout the D'Artagnan Romances, with characters breaking their swords over their knee when they surrender, yield or refuse to obey the King, effectively quitting their job.
  • The mercenary companies of The Deed of Paksenarrion have the practice of "turning out tinisi turin" (meaning "shorn sheep") that does not involve literal insignia but fills the dishonorable discharge role in a humiliating and painful way. The offender is paraded in front of the company and stripped of his/her uniform. He is then shaved of all body hair (yes, even there) and then sent off naked, expelled from the realm. The punishment is often accompanied by other punishments such as branding with an identifying mark or whipping as suits the offense.
  • Discworld:
    • Parodied in Jingo, where it's noted that "Sergeant Colon took his grimy badge out of his pocket and was a little disappointed that it didn't make a defiant tinkle when he threw it on the table but instead bounced and smashed the water jug."
    • For his part Sgt. Detritus says he has his badge carved into his arm (presumably to highlight his commitment to the force and not as a rule for trolls) and anyone is welcome to try and take it off him if they like.
    • Sergeant Jackrum of Monstrous Regiment does this after another character points out that he, as a member of the military, can't do anything to prisoners of war. And it was fun.
  • Shortly before the Mutiny broke out in India, Flashman witnesses several sepoys subjected to this for refusing to bite the paper cartridges for the new Enfield rifles. The sepoys were a mixture of Muslims and Hindus and the cartridges were rumoured to be greased with beef tallow and pork fat; Flashman discovers that they were in fact waxed.
  • In the novel By the Sword of the Heralds of Valdemar series, mercenary Kerowyn reads the mind of her company's employer and learns that he intends to avoid paying them by sending them on a suicide charge. She stands up and gives a speech to that effect, rips off her mercenary badge, and storms out, thinking her career is effectively over. Her deed inspires the rest of the company to invoke an old law in the Mercenary Code, oust the former Captain, and put her in charge... as they tell her when the finally track her down about a month later.
  • In the Honor Harrington universe, this is the kind of ceremony used when someone is cashiered from the space navy. The characters who experience this tend to deserve it; it takes a lot for a member of the peerage to be kicked out of the Royal Manticoran Navy. The fourth book has one of these ceremonies as its central premise and Title Drop, complete with breaking the officer's sword. It also happens at least once in flashback, in the backstory of a villain who is an ex-military officer.
  • Joe Pickett: At the end of Breaking Point, Joe is so disgusted by the events he has just gone through that he makes a big show of resigning and handing in his badge to the new director of the Fish and Game Service. Especially poignant as earlier in the novel, Joe had been rewarded by having his original badge number reinstated (after several books were he was angry because the previous director had effectively stripped him of his seniority by refusing to do so).
  • Inverted in Judea Rising: Alfred Dreyfus' induction into the Ottoman military (as commander of the all-Jewish Jerusalem Guard) is deliberately designed as a reversal of his infamous degradation, culminating in his dress sword being heated, then thrust into a bucket of water as if it had just been forged before giving it to him.
  • Gandalf breaking Saruman's staff in The Lord of the Rings serves both to demonstrate his new power and as an example of this trope, since the staff symbolises his position as one of the Istari. note  Also, Denethor's last act before lying down on his burning pyre is to break his own scepter of office over his knee.
  • In one of the McAuslan stories, McAuslan, an utter failure as a soldier, is promoted to lance-corporal; when MacNeill sees his stripe starting to peel away he hopes it's an omen.
  • An Officer and a Spy dramatizes the "degradation", the formal ceremony in which Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, unjustly convicted of treason, is stripped of his rank insignia and has his sword snapped in two.
  • Right at the end of the very first issue of Perry Rhodan, the titular character and then-Major of the US Space Force takes advantage of a quiet moment to himself while standing in the Gobi Desert just after returning from the moon with an alien passenger and some pieces of extraterrestrial high tech that every nation would dearly love to get their hands on — 1971 Earth is very much a Cold War setting in that 'verse, though with three major power blocs rather than just two to remove his insignia and symbolically break his ties with his former organization.
  • In The Road To Damascus, a Bolo (sentient mega-tank) is forced to serve a corrupt government which repeatedly uses him to smash popular uprisings (some of which were little more than protest marches), "recognizing his service" with a new Medal of Dishonor each time. When he finally realizes that their claim to his loyalty is invalid, his first act is to shoot the medals off with one of his antipersonnel turrets.
  • In The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School, a Boarding School is taken over by a new regime, and students who don't fit in are expelled from their Houses and assigned to a punishment group. When it happens to her, the protagonist mentally compares the process of being expelled from her House to a military dismissal ritual.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers, a child-killer in the protagonist's unit is subjected to this by MI authorities. They march him out of the camp, remove everything from his uniform that marks him as an M.I. (including the buttons, which have unit insignia on them), and hang him by the neck until dead. The act is described with a euphemistic nod: 'He'll dance to Danny Deever'. And they play the song "Danny Deever" as they march the condemned man to the gallows.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Played perfectly straight in the second novel of The Han Solo Trilogy. The first book ended up with him a full-fledged Imperial officer and proud. The second book starts with him drunken, unshaven, and trying to get this goddamn Wookiee to leave him alone. He was dishonorably discharged (for refusing to let said Wookiee slave be killed), and in the ceremony, a fellow officer and someone he considered a friend tore his insignia from his uniform.
    • With Imperial officers, rank tends to come in both those square multicolored badges and in "rank cylinders" set into special pockets in their uniforms. At one point in the X-Wing Series a high-ranked character looks at an agitated lower-ranked character and says something to the effect of "If you don't calm down, your rank cylinders will just fall out", mortifying the lower-ranked Imperial and causing him to cover them.
    • Also implied to happen for the Corellian Bloodstripes (like the modern day Medal of Honor), although Han didn't lose his during his discharge because they were awarded by the Corellian military and not the Empire's military.
    • An impromptu Jedi variant occurs in the Dark Nest Trilogy between Luke Skywalker and Alema Rar. Alema lost her sister to a Yuuzhan Vong Jedi-killing voxyn back in Star By Star and has now become deeply involved with the Killiks, and has pretty much fallen to the Dark Side. Luke takes her lightsaber from her and removes the crystal, disabling it. Alema insists she'll just build a new one, and Luke tells her he'll do the same to that one, and the one after.
  • Tortall Universe: Happens in the second Beka Cooper after a nasty Lower City riot, when the higher-ups notice that a pair of Dogs are conspicuously uninjured despite having a patrol very near the rioting area. Since every other nearby Dog has at least a black eye due to their attempts at controlling the riot, it's obvious that these two decided to flee instead of helping, and they get their badges ripped off in front of their furious coworkers.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Memory combines the flavors. Asked to resign, Miles Vorkosigan is upset but reasonably stable until he's told to give back his which point the dam breaks. He first gets hysterical, then collapses in one of the seizures which he had been trying to hide from his chain of command, then becomes angry, and he tears them off. Several of his friends happen to see him leave; seeing the torn places where the insignia were, they think Miles's superior tore them off.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novels, Gaunt does this to General Sturm. It features, and is inverted in Necropolis, when Gaunt removes the blowhard, glory-hungry Commissar Kowle's rank insignia, but when Kowle sacrifices a grenade bandoleer and his arms to destroy a Chaos beast, Gaunt also restores them.
    • Angel Exterminatus: After Triarch Harkor deviates from Perturabo's battle plans by ordering a costly breach action (which also fails to achieve its goals), Perturabo physically tears Harkor's Power Armor off of him piece by piece before stripping him of his officer rank and ordering him to join the ranks as a regular Battle-Brother, all while giving him a calm, but furious "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Subverted in the Wing Commander Expanded Universe novel Fleet Action: Admiral Tolwyn receives this treatment, only for it to later be revealed as a part of a Zero-Approval Gambit so that he could go on a secret mission while giving his higher-ups Plausible Deniability.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Barrier: In the finale, several policemen who no longer wish to serve the government are seen taking the New Spain triskelion off their uniforms.
  • Happens a lot on Battlestar Galactica. Adama alone has done it multiple times.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon tries to do this when he steps down from his self-appointed position of captain of the Physics Department paintball team, but because he's weak and he sewed it on too perfectly, it stayed.
    Sheldon: What I lack in leadership, apparently, I more than make up for in sewing.
  • The opening title sequence of the old TV Western series Branded showed the hero going through this ritual, complete with Expository Theme Tune.
  • In a The Carol Burnett Show skit, Tim Conway's commanding officer tries to do this to Harvey Korman's soldier, but his own uniform comes apart instead.
  • In CSI episode "Goodbye and Good Luck," Sara Sidle slowly rips off her badge, hangs her jacket in her trainee's locker, and drops the badge in the garbage can before (finally!) kissing Grissom goodbye and literally climbing on a bus.
  • Dans Une Galaxie Près De Chez Vous subverts this trope when the captain demotes his traitorous second-in-command, named Brad by ripping off his rank badge on each shoulder of his jacket... leaving gaping holes through which he can see that there are similar badges on Brad's undershirt. The captain then orders him to remove his jacket so he can rip those off too... Only to see through the left-over holes that Brad has a third set of insignias glued to his skin. The captain orders him to remove his shirt and rips those off too.
  • A sketch on The Dave Allen Show featured a male officer removing a female officer's hat, then ripping off her epaulets, then her brass buttons, then her blouse...
  • An old episode of British cop show Dixon of Dock Green saw Dixon collaring a corrupt colleague, demanding that the corrupt copper remove his uniform (jacket only — this is a family show) so that Dixon could arrest him.
  • In Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman episode "The Washington Affair" (S3E7), Sully, who has been beforehand sentenced to be Shot at Dawn for desertion, see his sword broken and his epaulettes torn off in front of him.
  • In Due South, Inspector Thatcher cuts Fraser's RCMP lanyard as a symbol of him being suspended after he tries to cover for his sister Maggie and doesn't arrest her as Thatcher orders.
  • In the final episode of the TV series Jericho (2006), some soldiers vote to rebel against the new "Allied States of America" and rip off their flag patches. It was snarkily noted in some quarters that the patches came off so easily they appeared to have been velcroed on.
    • If they were wearing the newest uniform, the Army Combat Uniform (ACU), the flag patch is velcroed, along with the rest of the insignia.
    • Earlier, in "Semper Fidelis", Johnston ripped the insignia off of one of the fake marines as they were leaving.
  • Happens to Corporal Agarn when he is stripped of his rank in the F Troop episode "The Day They Shot Agarn".
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Ned does this in episode five when he resigns his position as Hand of the King, removing his insignia pin. Robert gives it back to him in episode six when Ned is not in a position to refuse.
    • Barristan removes his white cloak and tosses his sword at Joffrey's feet when resigning the Kingsguard.
    • Jaime Lannister is forced to strip his armor off in front of the Iron Throne when removed from the Kingsguard.
    • After Daenerys goes utterly insane and burns down King's Landing in the penultimate episode, Tyrion confronts her at the start of the final episode and tears off his Hand of the King pin, tossing it aside.
  • House of the Dragon: In the first Season Finale, Hand of the King Otto Hightower comes in person to Rhaenyra Targaryen after The Coup that crowned Aegon king to offer terms of surrender, since Rhaenyra considers herself as the legitimate ruler per her father's wish. She tears off his Hand pin, tosses it aside and calls him a "fucking traitor".
  • JAG: Strangely enough for a military-themed show, they never played this trope straight. Inverted at the end of "High Ground", when the hardened old master sniper is told by the colonel to pin his chevrons back on.
    • In "The Brotherhood", the gang leader yanks Harm's Aviator "wings" off his uniform to remind him who has the leverage in their negotiation for the Marine officer the gang is holding.
  • On Knight Rider, Michael is helping a young Army lieutenant whose father just died in a suspicious "accident." They discover he had stumbled onto how a group of soldiers were secretly stealing nuclear material to sell on the black market. The female officer is kidnapped and put in the middle of a testing ground during a live ammo practice. Michaels races in KITT to the site to tell the General what's happening...only to discover the hard way that the general is the ringleader of the scheme. Michael and KITT are able to save the officer and capture the general. Glaring at the man who had been her father's best friend and her mentor, the woman rips his bars off his lapels in silent disgust.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: A variation happens in the episode "The Eye". After hearing his own son saying without any shame that he considers Elrond, an Elf, to be his brother and puts him above his own kin, King Durin III rips off the royal collar Durin IV is wearing and strips him of his title. The throne of Khazad-dhum is now passed down to his unnamed younger brother.
  • Majorly spoofed in an episode of Married... with Children where Al became a security guard at his old high school, only to have everything that wasn't nailed down was stolen on his shift. The next scene after this shows the tiny gray haired principal doing this ritual to Al's uniform, complete with the theme from Branded mentioned earlier playing in the background. Judging by her reaction to the smell when she rips off part of his shirt insignia, she probably wished she'd gone a more orthodox route in firing him.
  • Lampshaded in the "Abyssinia, Henry" episode of M*A*S*H. As Henry Blake is set to go home the following day, in grand solemn "ceremony" while Henry is celebrating at Rosie's Bar with Hawkeye, Trapper John, and Radar, Trapper rips the flaps off Henry's shirt pockets while pronouncing him "Mister Doctor Henry Blake", and they present Henry with a new (civilian) suit. It should be noted that none of his actual military insignia was removed in this scene; Hawkeye and Trapper just ripped the shirt itself.
  • A comedic example occurs in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 where TV's Frank gets fired by Dr. Forrester. Not only does Dr. Forrester rip off Frank's "Deep 13" badge, but his iconic forehead curl as well.
  • Nuremberg: When the Nazis are taken to Nuremberg for the war crimes trial, the generals among the captured men appeal to the allied servicemen on the basis of soldier's honor. The allied commander slash jailer walks up and rips off the epaulettes on their shoulders.
    Now you're no longer soldiers. You are all criminals!
  • In the series finale of Poirot ("Curtain"), Hercule Poirot's removal of his (fake) moustache for the disguise prior to murdering Stephen Norton in a Vigilante Execution verges on this.
  • The Cowboy Episode of The Prisoner (1967), "Living in Harmony", had a Special Edition Title in which Number Six is a sheriff throwing down his badge, instead of a secret agent throwing down a letter of resignation.
  • Happens to a New Meat called Vic Lopez in the SEAL Team episode, “Fog of War”. The team tries to rescue a British doctor who has been arrested by Venezuelan secret police, who’ve traded him to ISIS. During the raid, the SEAL team gets pinned down by automatic weapon fire, after which a huge explosion goes off, killing both the machine gun wielding terrorist and the hostage. Mission failed, the team goes back and tries to reconstruct the events of the raid in the debrief to figure out what went wrong. The Second In Command Ray assumes he threw a frag grenade by mistake instead of a flash bang grenade, and is prepared to assume full responsibility for the mission’s failure. However, surveillance footage made available later, clears Ray and shows that the newest guy, Vic Lopez actually threw the frag grenade, and was all too willing to let Ray take the fall for him. When the team leader allows Ray to decide Vic’s fate, Ray hugs Vic, stating that he forgives him. Ray, then states, that he can’t trust Vic anymore though, and cuts the SEAL Trident badge off Vic’s shirt, thereby expelling him from the Teams.
  • Subverted in Seinfeld with the above quote. Jerry is quick to remind Newman that he's wearing Newman's uniform.
  • Inverted on Stargate SG-1. When the team got back together at the beginning of season nine, Mitchell put all of their patches back on.
  • Starsky & Hutch: in the first part of "Targets Without A Badge", our burned-out heroes decide to quit the police force after the death of a witness they were protecting; this leads to a dramatic freeze-frame shot of them throwing their badges into the ocean.
  • Star Trek: Happens at least Once a Season in most series, done by the characters themselves, where they will remove both their combadges and rank pips. Usually when doing something they feel that they must but which would be a disgrace to the uniform and Starfleet ideals, or against explicit orders. Since combadges double as tracking devices in the Star Trek universe, this is sometimes as pragmatic as it is idealistic.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • Worf in has been known to solemnly and slowly remove his combadge and place it on a table when he has to do something more Klingon than Federation, or when he has a 10-Minute Retirement.
      • Although there is no insignia ripping, this is the idea behind Worf's "discommendation" ceremony in "Sins Of The Father". Worf was, at one point, told not to wear Klingon emblems such as the family crest on his baldric during the trial.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: As a Darker and Edgier series, they had a number of incidents where characters Do What They Have to Do, but don't want to disgrace the ideals of Starfleet (and/or don't want to be tracked), so they pull off their combadges to indicate that they are no longer acting as Starfleet officers.
      • In "Hard Time", Chief O'Brien was temporarily and against his will put on medical suspension; as he took the turbolift away from Ops, he tore off his combadge and threw it at the ground. Less dramatic, but even more powerful in its way.
      • In "The House Of Quark", this ceremony was the result of Quark maneuvering a corrupt Klingon into getting himself discommendated on the spot.
      • In "Paradise Lost" Sisko walks into the office of the Admiral who planned a military coup (and was also Sisko's former captain), yanks the combadge off at phaserpoint, and says that he has come to ask the Admiral for his "resignation". When the coup is stopped, the Admiral finishes the job by laying his rank bars on the table. Again, as combadges are both communicators and tracking devices, and Sisko was essentially holding Layton hostage, this was as much pragmatic as it was symbolic.
      • In "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges" Bashir and Ross remove their combadges for an ‘off the record’ discussion about Section 31. Bashir quotes Cicero (also the episode title) when he compares the United Federation of Planets to Julius Caesar and Rome.
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • In the two-part episode "Basics", the Kazons "confiscated" the crew's combadges when they stole their ship.
      • In "Thirty Days", Janeway removed one of Paris's pips when he violated orders and she busted him down to Ensign. When he's sent to the brig, he has to turn his combadge to the security guards first.
      • In "Q2", when Q Junior is made a human without any of his powers, Captain Janeway removes the captain's pips from his uniform.
      • At the end of two-parter "Equinox", though she's not seen actually tearing anything off, Janeway is seen marching back and forth in front of the survivors of the Equinox crew, informing them they've been stripped of rank for their actions, and that they will serve as crewmen under heavy supervision and with limited privileges until she feels she can trust them.
    • Star Trek: Lower Decks: Not literally, but the spirit of this trope is why Boimler is outraged enough to go on a rampage when an arrogant civilian pulls off his rank pip and stomps on it.
  • Taxi: In "Bobby's Big Break", after finding out that his second appearance on a soap opera will continue after his initial two-episode appearances, Bobby is confident that it'll be a regular role and tears up his taxi drivers license. His character is soon killed off, and Bobby fears coming back to Louie, who knew he'd be coming back.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "The Wall", Major Alex McAndrews takes off his USAF insignia before he goes through the Gate for the second time as he has decided to settle on the Paradise Planet on the other side.
  • In the Ultraman episode "Don't Shoot, Arashi!", Captain Mura tears the Science Patrol's shooting-star pin (which doubles as a communicator) off Arashi's tunic after the latter disobeys orders by opening fire indiscriminately when a monster attacks a science museum where there are a lot of children present. Arashi redeems himself, with help from Hayata/Ultraman, and Mura reinstates him at the end of the episode.
  • In an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger where Walker beats the crap out of a corrupt racist sheriff of a small town. After curbstomping his ass, Walker rips off the sheriff badge from the guy's chest.

  • In the full-length version of Tom Lewis's "Buntz!", the accompanying dialogue relates how Buntz the dachshund was ceremonially stripped of his naval half-pip in front of the whole crew. Harsh punishment for falling in love with a French Afghan hound, but he had engaged in conduct unbecoming in a British ship's mascot, in public and in front of the press.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The so called Monday Night Wars between Monday Night Raw and WCW Monday Nitro began when Madusa threw the women's title belt she defended on the former into a garbage can after appearing on the latter.
  • After a canceled IWA Mid-South show, Heavyweight Champion Jimmy Jacobs was offered the money from his missing pay check by All American Wrestling, to appear on one of their shows and thrash the IWA Mid-South belt. This lead to IWA M-S banning Jacobs for life after recovering the belt.
  • The IWA Mid-South Heavyweight title was later destroyed by Chris Hero, who then referenced the belt's unfortunate history as an example of he would do to Ring of Honor's title when he provoked the CZW roster to invade the promotion.

  • In a production of Othello, Cassio is forced to go through with this after having his rank taken away. Adding insult to injury is the fact that Iago (who engineered this fall) is the one who actually removes the insignia, and is promoted in Cassio's stead.
  • Done to Tristan when he is caught with Isolde in the 2016 Met Opera production of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde (Wagner).

    Video Games 
  • Cyberpunk 2077: The Nomad Lifepath starts with V tearing the Bakkers insignia off of their jacket and discarding it, reflecting their parting ways with the Bakkers clan after they fell apart and were absorbed into the Snake Nation.
  • Hitman: Absolution: when Agent 47 resigns from the ICA in the first act, he takes a razor blade and cuts his barcode tattoo open, and sports a bandage over it for the rest of the game.
  • An unusual variation is mentioned in the backstory of Homeworld (quite literally All There in the Manual), with the kiithnote  Soban having initiates perform this ritual upon themselves to symbolise the fact that they are forsaking all prior allegiances in favour of The Spartan Way of their new clan.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, upon being exiled from the Jedi Order for following Darth Revan to war against their wishes, the Player Character is told by the Jedi Council to turn in their lightsaber. They respond by defiantly stabbing it into a stone plinth in the center of the chamber before storming out.
  • Mass Effect 3: You don't actually get to see them rip the insignia off, but when you meet ex-Cerberus agents Miranda and Jacob again, they're wearing outfits that are identical to their clothes in 2 minus the Cerberus symbols; along with signifying that the two were utterly done with Cerberus, it also served a practical purpose, since Cerberus was currently in the process of killing anyone who wasn't firmly on their side at the time, so it would be a very bad idea to run around with their emblem on your uniform. Averted for a lot of Cerberus defectors in the mission where you meet Jacob again, however, who've been too busy running for their lives to buy a wardrobe that doesn't have a Cerberus hexagon on both shoulders.
  • Mortal Kombat 1: Scorpion resigning from the Lin Kuei in protest of Sub-Zero's leadership is symbolized by the former ripping off his membership badge and leaving it on the latter's body after beating him to a pulp.
  • A subtle example in Pokémon Legends: Arceus: Should you try to save the game while you're exiled from Jubilife Village, you'll see your Survey Corps ID is gone, presumably taken from you before you were kicked out. You get it back when you're reinstated.
  • Space Quest VI: Roger Wilco in the Spinal Frontier: At the beginning of the game, Roger Wilco suffers a humorously over-the-top dismissal from the Star Confederation in this manner, thanks to all the trouble he caused saving the day in the last game (and his lack of Hero Insurance). The decommissioning officer starts with his insignia, then his uniform sleeves, and by the end of the humiliating speech, he's ripped off Roger's pants and undergarments as well. And his muscles are revealed to be a suit with a zipper, also torn off revealing his less than impressive real upper body.
  • Done VERY well in Suikoden II, when the noble leader of the Blue Knights defies his lord, tearing off his knight's insignia and dropping it at his feet. The lord orders the easygoing leader of the Red Knights to arrest him. He tears off his insignia as well. Cue every knight in the room doing the same, the 'plink' sound of the metallic badges striking the stone floor resounding in the throne-room...
  • Occurs in the intro to Hard Corps: Uprising where the protagonist Bahamut throws his badge on the ground upon witnessing the brutality and cruelty of the Commonwealth and he shoots upon his former comrades.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email "different town", one of the things Strong Bad sings about changing in Free Country USA is that "Homestar just couldn't hack it". We see Homestar shout "I quit!" as he rips the star off his own shirt and stomps on it.

    Web Comics 
  • In this strip of The Order of the Stick, Haley comments that she wishes the group had ID cards so she could tear Belkar's up.
  • Tower of God: After Bam's fall, Lero-Ro, at this point disgusted with the procedures of the tower's administrative staff, storms into Yu Hansung's office and turns in his Ranker Badge. After that, an upset Quant protests to Hansung that he let him leave, to which the latter replies by taking his badge as well and sending him off, stating that they only came as a pair.

    Western Animation 
  • Big City Greens:
    • In "Critterball Crisis", Ms. Cho takes Gloria's barista hat away when she sees a huge mess of Big Coffee.
    • In "Friend Con" when Bill realizes Chip Whistler only used him to ruin his speech, he takes his trucker hat back from him to signify the end of their friendship.
  • Classic Disney Shorts: Done in the Disney war short "Home Defense"; after Donald Duck sees through the boys' ruse of an attack, he rips off their chevrons and destroys their (wooden) swords. Then, when he (again falsely) believes he's under attack (and makes sure that it wasn't the boys this time), he sews the chevrons back on and gives them new swords. Near the end, as Donald orders the boys' to fire the cannon, not knowing it's pointing straight at him, one of the boys, knowing the inevitable, rips off his chevron himself before firing.
  • Parodied on Clone High when Scudworth rips off the insignia from Abe's basketball shirt, exposing his nipple.
  • In an Imagine Spot on Doug, Mr. Dink removes all of Doug's Bluff Scout badges and yanks his hat down to his neck.
  • Spoofed in an episode of Dudley Do-Right, in which Dudley is sent undercover to foil yet another Snidely Whiplash scheme. Inspector Fenwick's scheme requires him to be expelled from the Mounties, but every evil plan Dudley dreams up turns out to be fortuitously helpful — for example, he dynamites a dam, but his actions actually relieve a severe drought further downstream. He is finally dismissed for eating his peas with his dinner knife, which results in him being stripped to his polka-dot boxers.
  • In Exo Squad, Thrax is demoted and has his insignia ripped off for not finishing off an Exofleet pilot during the retreat from Mercury.
  • Played for laughs in Family Guy when Tom Tucker is fired and told to turn in his moustache.
  • Final Space: In episode 5, after seeing with her own eyes that the Infinity Guard have become corrupt, and barely stopping them from futher tearing a hole into Final Space, Quinn can be seen removing the Infinity Guard insignia from her uniform as a sign that she wants to make a fresh start.
  • Futurama:
    Farnsworth: This is an outrage. I demand that you hand over your captain's jacket.
    Leela: This is my normal jacket. I've had it for 10 years.
    Farnsworth: I said hand it over!
  • Garfield and Friends: Mail carrier Herman Post gets this upon his firing as his boss rips off his bag, jacket buttons, tie and hat.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: When Jamack's thrown out of the Mod Frogs for failing to capture Kipo, his tie is cut in half.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Lin Beifong does this when she's using Metalbending to get dressed, to show that she is no longer affiliated with the police force.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In the short "Forward March Hare", every time Private Bugs Bunny fouls up, his commanding officer is demoted. Although the act is never seen, it is implied by his insignia disappearing bit by bit, exposing the differently toned fabric underneath.
    • Parodied in the short "Fresh Hare" where Bugs impersonates Elmer Fudd's commanding officer (Elmer is a Mountie in this story) and decides to "drum you out of the service!" He starts by ripping off Elmer's buttons, then his epaulets, then goes into a frenzy of cloth-tearing until he finds he's holding a pair of boxer shorts, which he sheepishly hands back to Elmer.
    • Bugs also gets to do this to Hermann Goering in the short "Herr Meets Hare" while in a paper-thin disguise of Adolf Hitler; Goering gives out some choice insults.
  • Happened twice to a Skyway Patrol Lieutenant in My Life as a Teenage Robot who was jealous of Jenny always saving people when he wanted the credit for himself and wanted her shut down. He tried once in "Pajama Party Prankapalooza" due to all the pranks the Crust Cousins made her pull, but Jenny eventually realized she was being used and quickly fixed everything. The jealous lieutenant's boss wasn't convinced and he demoted him to private. Another time, he tried in "A Spoonful of Mayhem", even having Dr. Wakeman arrested, but by the end of that episode, he only succeeded in being fired, and was ordered to turn in his badge, helmet and uniform, minus the pants.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Both variants are played in "Wonderbolts Academy". Rainbow Dash yanks off her own badge, while Spitfire yanks off Lightning Dust's badge.
    • In the episode "Rarity Investigates", Spitfire does this to Wind Rider after Rarity and Rainbow Dash reveal that Wind Rider had framed Rainbow Dash for a crime she didn't commit.
  • In The Owl House episode "Hollow Mind", Hunter tears off his cloak in the midst of a panic attack after learning the truth about Belos and realizing that the symbol of the previous Golden Guard (that he had painstakingly stitched on it and spent all of "Any Sport in a Storm" trying to prove he was worthy of wearing) represents nothing but a pack of lies.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, an O.W.C.A. ceremony directed by Major Monogram ends in disaster, so Colonel Contraction fires him and strips off one of his badges. He then rips off Monogram's mustache, and places it on Carl, who has been promoted.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls (1998), when a lazy gluttonous cop was let go, he is told to turn in his badge, his radio and... his donut. But not his gun.
  • In The Ren & Stimpy Show episode "Hermit Ren", after Ren is kicked out of the Hermit's Union for inventing imaginary friends, he gets his beard torn off as he's drummed out.
  • Parodied multiple times in The Simpsons.
    • In "Homer the Great", when Homer was kicked out of the Stonecutters for violating their sacred parchment, he had to turn in his robes and Stonecutter underwear, then he was ordered to walk home naked, chained to the "Stone of Shame". Subverted when they see Homer has the Stonecutter symbol on his rear, marking him as The Chosen One. They then chain him to the much larger and heavier Stone of Triumph.
    • In "The Cartridge Family", when Homer gets kick out of the Springfield's NRA chapter, he has his membership card ripped up and is told to turn in his tattoo, which Moe offered to remove with a cheese grater (to Moe's disappointment, Homer never got the tattoo).
    • In "Homer and Apu", when Apu was fired from the Kwik-E-Mart, his various advertising badges were taken and he was ordered to turn in his pricing gun and his back-up pricing gun (which he kept in a holster on his ankle).
  • South Park:
    • Parodied in episode where when Mr. Garrison is given leave from his job as a 3rd grade teacher, and he goes to turn in his gun. (Eric Cartman is in that 3rd grade class. You'd want to be armed too.)
      Mr. Garrison: I guess I'm not a teacher anymore. I suppose you'll be wanting my badge and gun. [puts revolver on table]
      Chairman: Mr. Garrison, most teachers do not CARRY a gun!
      Mr. Garrison: Oh, so I can keep it then?
    • Also parodied in the episode where Stan is banished from South Park: Part of the banishment ceremony consists of his neighbors ripping off parts of his parka and spitting on him.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • When Squidward is fed up with the way the Krusty Krab is treating him, he takes his hat off and stomps on it. He tries to get Spongebob to do it too, but Spongebob can't bring himself to and just steps on it limply.
    • Kevin the sea cucumber has his "crown" ripped off after being relieved of his position in the Jellyfishing Club. Turns out it was part of his head.
  • Taz-Mania: Happens to an elderly Francis X. Bushlad when it is discovered that he never completed his manhood ritual.
  • In Thunder Cats 2011, Turncoat General Grune rips off the cabochon that marks him as a member of Thundera's military, when he reveals his treachery.
  • Transformers does this a lot.
    • In Transformers: Animated, Sentinel Prime tears Wasp's Autobot insignia off after arresting him for espionage.
    • Skyfire does this in the The Transformers episode "Fire in the Sky" when he rips off his Decepticon insignia before proclaiming himself an Autobot.
    • Beast Wars: Waspinator, fed up at being blown up all the time and essentially being the eternal Chew Toy, tears off his insignia near the end of a long rant. In keeping with his Butt-Monkey status, he is blown up just before he finishes his speech.

    Real Life 
  • The singer Tony Bennett was demoted and reassigned after some remarks he made against the Army's racial segregation policy. His CO ripped off his insignia, spat on it, and told him he was "a private again."
  • This is actually a traditional element of military punishment. A famous engraving shows "The Degradation of Dreyfus": The hapless Captain Alfred Dreyfus (of the "Dreyfus Affair" that fiercely divided France in the 1890s and 1900s), framed and convicted for espionage, a charge that was based on pretty much nothing but his Jewish heritage,note  having his insignia stripped from his uniform and his sword broken over a knee before being sent off to Devil's Island. The French version (which Dreyfus endured) was often more brutal than other nations', including having one's medals thrown on the ground, sword snapped in half, and a slap to each cheek as a cherry on the crap sundae. The now-defrocked officer must stand at strict attention throughout, and have the ordeal witnessed by his entire unit. Of course, Dreyfus was eventually found innocent (though the actual perpetrator of the crime, Major Ferdinand Esterhazy, was never officially prosecuted), rehabilitated and regained his uniform note , eventually being reinstated as an artillery major in time for WW1 and becoming a colonel at the war's end.
  • The British orders of Knighthood provide for a public degradation ceremony for disgraced Knights. The last victim was Francis Mitchell in 1621, sentenced for "Grievous Exactions" (abusing a government position). In his case his spurs were broken and thrown away, his belt cut, his sword snapped over his head and a declaration made that he was "no longer Knight but Knave" before he was led away to be imprisoned in The Tower of London. For nobles this could be taken further with an "Attainder": an attainted person is not only stripped of their insignia of rank but also of any inherited titles and everything they own, and their children are forcibly disinherited (their lands etc. default to the Crown).
  • In World War I, this was inverted to some extent as Entente machine gunners were advised to rip off their machine gunner patches just prior to being captured by the enemy. This was because Central Powers troops hated them almost as much as artillerymen for killing so many of their friends.
  • Truth in Television to some extent, as witnessed by quotes from several US veterans of WWII; one submariner in particular recalled a captain who had been relieved as mentally unfit for a frontline command having his dolphins (submariner's insignia) torn off at the very same ceremony as he was awarded a Silver Star for his first patrol, by the same officer who had pinned the medal on.
  • A mass ritual was once done to the American Paratroopers in WW2, as explained in Band of Brothers. The 506th Regiment was given leave, but almost none of them returned before curfew. The next morning, the commander had the entire unit form up, and then drummed out one soldier from every company, complete with a lieutenant tearing off their jumpwings, stripes, Airborne badges, anything that would mark them as a paratrooper, before being sent off to the regular army with their uniform shredded.
  • During the attack on Pearl Harbor, able to do little more but watch in horror from his office, Commander in Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet Husband E. Kimmel removed his (acting/temporary/brevet) Admiral (four-star) insignia and replaced them with his (permanent) Rear Admiral (two-star) insignia, correctly anticipating this loss of status and command. (Officers cannot be reduced in permanent rank, but any temporary rank can be revoked.)
  • Modern US Army uniforms have rank insignia attached by Velcro. It's customary for commanders to tear off rank if a soldier is demoted, but this is usually done in private. (Although, to clarify, insignia are not attached by Velcro because of potential demotion. Sometimes it's better if unfriendly eyes can't tell who's in command.)
    • Sewn-on ranks normally have most of the threads cut prior to the soldier reporting to the commander for a demotion. This allows the commander to quickly and dramatically tear off the rank insignia to reinforce the psychological impact of the action. Or for the commander to take a razor to the threads in front of their supervisor and anyone else present. Given the cost and time of properly setting up dress uniforms, this has a fairly significant impact.
    • Although it's pretty common for soldiers to tear off or trade ranks, nametapes, flags, and organizational patches just for the hell of it. Or to screw with one another.
  • Similarly, the first bombloads dropped onto Imperial Japan by American forces in WW2 in the 1942 Doolittle Raid were accompanied by dozens of medals that had been awarded to American servicemen in the previous war by the Japanese. These were strapped to the bombs with formal letters in an official ceremony on the USS Hornet prior to the raid.
  • John Kerry — along with hundreds of other veterans — famously threw his medals over the wall of the White House while protesting the Vietnam War in the 1970s. Several of these medals later reappeared in time for his presidential run in 2004. Various political opponents asserted that either the medals he threw in 1971 or the medals he wore in 2004 must have been fake. (The medals are not the awards, they are symbols of the awards, and replacements can be obtained.)
  • Marshal Zhukov often did it to generals. Since, theoretically, general ranks were only given and taken by the collective decisions of the government, and no one man could do it (in practice, it was about the same principle, but the real government was different), it's not surprising that in the end, Zhukov was kicked out himself.
  • An aversion in the same military: General Konstantin Rokossovskiy had been purged from the Red Army because he was a Pole. He lost all his teeth during NKVD "interrogations" in the Lubyanka and was sent to Siberia. When the Germans invaded, they brought him back, giving him a set of steel dentures. Three years later he was commanding Operation Bagration and he directly objected to Iosif Stalin's interference in his planning. Stalin advised him to think his objection over three times—after Rokossovskiy's third objection, Stalin approached the marshal and put a hand on his shoulder. Rather than ripping off the epaulet or having him purged again, though, Stalin simply said: "Your confidence speaks for your sound judgement," and deferred to his (immeasurably-better) judgement. Rokossovskiy's campaign went on to be one of the most decisive victories of the entire war.
  • Not long after Col. Russell Williams, commander of the largest airbase in Canada, was convicted of kidnapping, rape and murder, the Canadian Forces burned his uniform and his commission scroll in the base's incinerator used for destroying classified materials, destroyed his medals and crushed his official vehicle.
  • This seems to be a current practice for protesting veterans:
    • At the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago, several veterans threw their medals in the streets.
    • Iraqi war veteran John Michael Turner publicly admitted to partaking in and witnessing war crimes while in Iraq at a press release before throwing his medals and stars to the ground.
  • When during the siege of Dresden in 1760 some outposts of the Prussian infantry regiment Anhalt-Bernburg (No. 3) were surprised and captured, Frederick the Great became convinced that the regiment had not done its duty properly and ordered the entire unit to remove some of the ornaments of its uniform, especially the lace decorating the buttonholes of the coat and the rim of the tricorne hat. However, a few weeks later the regiment performed such prodigious feats of valour in the battle of Liegnitz (among other things successfully charging an Austrian cavalry unit) that the king was mollified and restored everything.
  • An aversion of sorts in January 1945. After the failure of Operation Konrad to relieve the Siege of Budapest, Hitler ordered that the troops of the 1st SS Panzer Division (originally raised from Hitler's personal bodyguards) remove their unit insignia from their uniforms because they'd disgraced the name of the SS. Their commander ensured that this order was not actually carried out, not least because they might well have mutinied.
  • During World War II, one of the first orders given by the Italian government after Mussolini's arrest was a mass elimination of the lictor bundles imposed by Mussolini to some military forces: the Air Force, favored by the dictator, had the bundles in its roundels painted over with white paint, and the MVSN units were ordered to rip off the lictor bundles they wore on the collar of their uniforms and replace them with the stars of the normal military personnel.
  • William Bratton when he was New York City's police commissioner in 1994. The NYPD's internal-affairs squad had been investigating corruption at the 30th Precinct in Harlem, where officers had been staging fake raids that were actually just shakedowns of dealers, taking the drugs and then selling them back to addicts at half street price from the station house. The investigation went to the point of getting a cadet from the police academy to be assigned to the 30th and work for IAD as a mole.

    At the climax, Bratton and a bunch of uniforms went up to the 30th and arrested many of the officers and detectives involved after their shift, as they were doing paperwork at their desks. They then Perp Walked the uniformed and now-cuffed officers in front of the waiting media outside.note  Bratton then tore the badges off the arrested officers and threw them in a trash can, telling reporters that this was what they had done symbolically through their actions.
  • When Aaron Paul Nichols of the Springfield Police Department was discovered to be a Neo-Nazi and proudly admitted to it, Chief Ken Scarlette had every piece of police-issued gear removed from Nichols until he was down to his trousers and undershirt before being ordered out of the room.
  • This was part of the ritual for the death sentence in the Italian military in case the crimes were considered dishonorable-with the added insult of the shooting squad showing the condemned their backs until he was tied to a chair and positioned to be shot in the back.
    • Likewise, several armies had similar rituals for soldiers sentenced to "death with ignominy" (British equivalent).
  • The Christian equivalent is defrocking. In Catholic canon law, clerics can be reduced to laical estate, in some cases because a priest wants to quit (most often, to marry) and most often for grievous offenses such as heresy and lately paedophilia. They are banned from wearing clerical dress.
  • The British Invasions of the Río de la Plata was commanded by Lieutenant-General John Whitelocke. After Whitelocke initially gained the upper hand in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, he let the Spanish retreat and demanded the city's surrender, giving the Spanish three days to prepare the city's defenses. When he finally attacked, he marched his troops in without the protection of his artillery. Finally, he was confounded by urban warfare, particularly when the locals dumped everything from boiling water to scalding cooking oil on his troops. Whitelocke eventually negotiated a surrender and returned to Britain. The British were so humiliated at the fiasco that Whitelocke was promptly court-martialed, cashiered and deemed "totally unfit to serve His Majesty in any military capacity whatsoever." A popular cartoon further twisted the knife by lampooning his cashiering ceremony.
  • When she was attempting to start her career, Carol Burnett was working as an usherette at a theater showing Strangers on a Train - which she had already seen, and when a couple arrived at the theater when a showing was nearly complete; Burnett tried to convince them to wait until the next showing. The couple insisted on entering the theater at that moment - and unfortunately for Burnett, the theater owner saw the incident, fired her and ripped the epaulettes (the fringes on the shoulders of her uniform) off her uniform.


Branded Opening

The opening of the show Branded explains why this trope is happening: a false charge of cowardice.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / InsigniaRipOffRitual

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