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Monument of Humiliation and Defeat

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"Previously a golden fountain had filled the center of the hall, casting shimmering spots of light over the polished wooden floor and walls. Now a gigantic statue of black stone dominated the scene. It was rather frightening, this was a sculpture of a witch and a wizard sitting on ornately carved thrones, looking down at the Ministry workers toppling out of fireplaces below them. Engraved in foot-high letters at the base of the statue were the words MAGIC IS MIGHT."

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

Compare to Our Founder. Medal of Dishonor is related, but more personal. When the bad guy simply puts his face on an existing monument, it is a Rushmore Refacement. If the bad guy replaces the city's name for a mere number it's Airstrip One. See also Humiliation Conga, which is about the villain suffering from any such incident, to the joy of the audience and usually the hero. Subtrope of Evil Gloating.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Vinsmoke Judge from One Piece commissioned a large portrait titled "Conquest of Four Nations" where he appears standing triumphantly over the corpses of the original four kings of the North Blue ocean.

    Comic Books 
  • The Saturday 1 April 2000 issue of Fantastic Four has both NATO and Doom's villain army fight a simulated battle near Manhattan Island. Both simulations end with Doom's flag flying atop a pile of heroic corpses. One NATO general remarks that this would be Doom's monument.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe has Star Wars Infinities: A New Hope which depicts the Sith taking over the Republic and turning the Jedi Temple into Palpatine's residence.
  • Commando. In World War II, a General Ripper is obsessed with capturing a French town and having his name engraved on their statue from WW1 as their liberator. So much so he orders his soldiers to take the statue at bayonet point against men with machine guns rather than damage it. He suffers a Karmic Death when a final SS diehard blows up him and the statue just as he's pointing out where he wants his name engraved.
  • In DC Comics' The Great Darkness Saga, after conquering the planet Daxam and mind-controlling its inhabitants, Darkseid forced them to use their superpowers to carve the entire planet into a giant bust of his head.

    Fan Works 
  • The Stargate SG-1 fic What You Already Know: Heroes features a metaphorical version of this; after Ba'al is defeated and captured by a Jaffa army led by 'Dan'yar' (Daniel Jackson with powerful psychic abilities), Daniel not only takes Ba'al prisoner, but forces him to walk out in front of his enemies and Jaffa soldiers completely naked barring a red bow tied around his waist, reasoning that public humiliation on this scale will forever destroy the image of Ba'al as a god. The story of this defeat inspires further doubt among the Jaffa who hear it that the Goa'uld as a whole are gods; Bra'tac observes that every Jaffa he has spoken to who was present at the battle laughed at the memory, and his only regret is that he wasn't there to see it himself.

  • In the Belisarius Series, the Malwa tried to gloat over their victory over the Andra empire by giving a captive Andran princess to one of their nobles as a concubine. That didn't work out...
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • The former great city of Minas Ithil (the Tower of the Moon), renamed Minas Morgul (the Tower of Sorcery) when orcs took over it. The Black presence was so strong the beautiful statues that adorned the bridges seemed like monsters and the flowers expelled a putrid fragrance. Even the city itself, which was described as white as the Moon, seemed as pale as a dead body. The city was made as a stronghold if Sauron's power returned to Mordor to hold him back, but when Gondor failed to protect the city, the Witch King of Angmar (Sauron's second in command) took over the throne of the city.
    • The crossroads on the road to Minas Morgul was originally guarded by the statue of a former king. By the time Frodo and Sam pass that way, the statue's original head has been replaced with a rock painted as a grinning cyclops, presumably intended to represent Sauron, and the body of the statue is covered with foul orc scribbling. The Army of the West on its way to the Black Gate, makes a point to restore the statue's old head and cleanse the stone to affirm Gondor's reclamation of its ancient lands.
    • At the city of Umbar, the Kings of Gondor set up a pillar of white stone topped with a crystal orb to memorialize the Númenorean king Ar-Pharazôn's humbling of Sauron. An interesting case in that Gondor didn't really like Ar-Pharazôn who went on to persecute their ancestors under Sauron's influence, but still took pride in how the might of Númenor had forced Sauron into submission. Sauron of course had it thrown down after he took control of Umber to erase the memory of his humiliation.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. After Voldemort takes over the Ministry of Magic through his puppet leader, he destroys the old fountain in the atrium (which depicted a witch, a wizard, a centaur, a house elf and a goblin as a symbol of magical cooperation and which demonstrated itself a patronising and more subtly subjugating attitude towards non-humans) and replaces it with a wizard and a witch sitting on thrones made of (or carried by, in the movies) hundreds of suffering Muggles. The words "MAGIC IS MIGHT" are inscribed on it to make its claim clear that wizards are superior to non-magical creatures. (The first time Harry saw the Fountain of Magical Brethren, if it comes to that, he noticed that "co-operation" seemed to involve the non-humans "looking up adoringly" at the witch and wizard.)
  • The Reynard Cycle: The Calvarians build these in excess. The gem of Zosia is a part of one that depicts a Calvarian standing on a pile of dead Arcasians.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Aegon the Conqueror made the Iron Throne out of the swords of the men who surrendered to him. It's supposed to exalt his power, but there's a twist: it's also supposed to be impossible to sit in comfortably, forcing the king always to be alert.
    • Aegon's son Maegor the Cruel infamously burned down the Sept of Remembrance. In its place, he had built the Dragonpit.
  • Star Wars: Tarkin features Governor Tarkin arriving at the Emperor's new palace, which was formerly the temple of the Jedi Order (now draped in Imperial banners).
  • In the sequel series to Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72, after President Evil Donald Rumsfeld is deposed and the even more corrupt and tyrannical Christian Values Party takes over, they engage in quite a bit of Monumental Damage. They level the Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington Memorials, replacing the latter with a 600-foot-tall edifice of Jesus Christ, depicting him with long flowing hair, a giant sword reaching another 200 feet in the air, and a stone bible in his outstretched hand.
  • In Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191, the United States has the Statue of Remembrance, who wields a sword and shield, instead of the Statue of Liberty with her torch and tablet. In this case, it's self-inflicted: the United States lost The American Civil War and a subsequent war in the 1880s to the Confederates (who are allies with France), so they received the statue from Germany and it serves as an intentional reminder of the humiliation the country suffered in defeat and their desire to one day get vengeance on the Southerners.
  • The Two Headed Eagle by John Biggins. Otto Prohaska isn't pleased to return to his home town on leave during World War One to find the statue of "Old Austria", a silly but undeniably attractive statue of a naked maiden holding a broadsword, has been melted down to make artillery shells and its place taken by a gross wooden column to "Greater Germany" topped with a bust of Field Marshall von Hindenberg.
  • Heaven Official’s Blessing: Tian Guan Ci Fu: Poor Xie Lian was so reviled by (what remained of) his kingdom after he was kicked out of Heaven that they made thousands of kneeling statues of him, which people spat on as they walked by. Eight hundred years later, Qi Rong still uses one as a footrest. Unsurprisingly, Hua Cheng is not pleased by this practice.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Doctor Who story "The Ark", the Doctor and his companions visit a generation ship on its way to colonize a new planet, and are shown a massive statue the crew are building, which they calculate will be complete about the time they arrive at their new home. Later, the TARDIS takes them to visit the Ark again at the end of its journey, where they find that the humans have been enslaved by a race of humanoid aliens called the Monoids... and the statue has been completed with a Monoid's head instead of a human's.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In Season 4, Kings Landing is shown to have a statue of King Joffrey holding a crossbow and standing on a dead direwolf, House Stark's symbolic animal, symbolizing victory over the Starks (as well as a reference to the circumstances of Robb Stark's death at the Red Wedding). It's also a hilarious example of the kind of arrogant Miles Gloriosus the boy-king is that he would be depicted personally, when he had absolutely nothing to do with the massacre,note  or any victory his family had orchestrated beforehand, really... and then there was his dwarf reenactment of the War of the Five Kings.
    • The first scene of the season shows Tywin melting down Ice, the Starks' Valyrian greatsword, into two new weapons for House Lannister.
    • Season 5 reveals that the Sept of Baelor was built over a smaller, more modest chapel which existed long before the Targaryens arrived. The High Sparrow explains that he sees the Great Sept as a symbol of Targaryen imposition of the vanity of the Faith, regardless of Baelor's piety.
    • The Iron Throne was forged from the swords of men who surrendered to Aegon the Conqueror. Drogon melts the throne in a fit of rage.note 
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: The village of Tirharad is sprinkled with totems and relief carvings in wood, which serve as a constant reminder of the shameful defeat of their ancestors who allied themselves with Morgoth. The bas-reliefs show images of people getting killed by the Great Eagles.
  • Season 3 of The Man in the High Castle shows the Nazis initiating a plan to purge American history. This includes melting down the Liberty Bell into a giant swastika and blowing up the Statue of Liberty, which is replaced the following season by a massive statue celebrating the Nazi Aryan ideal.
  • Once Upon a Time: In "Wish You Were Here", Emma is sent to an alternate timeline where she was never the Savior and lives in the Enchanted Forest. Regina follow her there, and at one point sees a (rather vain glorious) statue of Snow White and Prince Charming with a plaque stating "On this site Snow White and Prince Charming heroically defeated the Evil Queen". Her reaction is an equal parts amused and annoyed "Seriously?".
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation. In "The Defector", Commander Tomalak threatens this as the fate of the Enterprise.
    Tomalak: After we dissect your Enterprise for every precious bit of information, I intend to display its broken hull in the center of the Romulan capitol as a symbol of our victory. It will inspire our armies for generations to come, and serve as a warning to any other traitor who would create ripples of disloyalty.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In one episode, an astronaut terrorizes a civilization of microscopic aliens into making a 1-1 statue of him. Eventually, they kill him in response to his iron-booted tyranny and pull the statue down.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Technically, all crosses in Christian religion are in defiance of this trope; the Romans nailed Jesus to the cross as a living (and soon-to-be-dying) monument to the defeat of Judaism, and a warning to anyone who would continue following him. Instead, Jesus came back from the dead, the people of the world won the privilege of being redeemable thanks to his sacrifice, and the cross is praised in reverence to the miracle that God granted his son.note 
  • Perseus is known for slaying the dreaded Gorgon Medusa, cursed by Athena with snakes for hair and hideous ugliness that would turn men to stone. Later adaptations of this myth have Medusa's lair littered with statues: the remains of those who came before Perseus... and failed.

    Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed: Revelations:
    • Masyaf, the former Assassin stronghold and home to the first game's protagonist Altaïr, had decayed so much that Templars, the Assassins' sworn enemies, took over what was once the main headquarters of the most important branch of the brotherhood.
    • Abstergo's media division have turned the various Templar victories (regardless of how much history they rewrote) into edutainment video games for the world to enjoy, making digital monuments to their constant triumphs over the Assassins. Of course, this just gives the Assassins more material to hack with.
  • In Borderlands 2, the town of Fyrestone was renamed Jackville by Hyperion CEO Handsome Jack, after he conquered it as his way of reminding the Crimson Raiders of their failures.
  • In the last act of Dragon Age II, the people of Kirkwall build a statue of Hawke beheading the Arishok.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Ganon's Castle was built over the remains of Hyrule Castle, which in turn was reduced to a pit of lava, just to make it worse.
  • In Mario Party: Island Tour, Bowser builds a huge tower as a monument to his awesome power and locks all the fun of the other Party Islands away.
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor has The Gorthaur, a massive monument of Sauron towering over chained slaves, as an element of a gate between Udun and the Nurnen coast. Talion and Hirgon blow it up to lure out The Hammer of Sauron.
  • A back-and-forth example in Star Wars: The Old Republic: when The Empire invades the planet of Balmorra, one of the largest bomb craters is turned into a resistance camp named "Outpost Victory". The Empire's forces later capture the base in a bloody battle and rename it "Camp Conquest" as a reminder. When the Republic takes back the planet, they change those signs back.
  • In Wolfenstein: The New Order:
    • The majority of London (Big Ben being one of the few exceptions) has been demolished and replaced with monuments to the Nazis' victory, surrounded by "quarantine blocks": Disease-ridden ghettos that house (imprison) the lower class without power or running water. To top it off, the furious, brutal resistance movement has been destroyed completely by a giant mech, the London Monitor.
    • In The Old Blood DLC, a newspaper clipping tells about how the D-Day landings were a failure, the Nazis driving the Allied armies away with minimal casualties. The Nazis decided to build a giant museum dedicated to their defense, and to rub extra salt in the wound, used Allied POWs taken in the failed landing as slave labour to construct it.
    • In Wolfenstein: Youngblood, when the Nazis took Paris, they encased the Eiffel Tower in uberconcrete and renamed it the Siegturm. It now serves as the main command center for the German military and the Gestapo in the city.
  • XCOM 2 has a subtle example. The ADVENT Administration has placed numerous monuments and statues in its shining city centers, honoring the "Elders" and commemorating what they insist was a Benevolent Alien Invasion to free humanity from the chaos and disease of the "old world." One recurring element is a statue of a Sectoid helping a human off the ground... or is the alien leaving the human behind?

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