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Once Done, Never Forgotten

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"Please, stop bringing up the guitar!"

Some people just don't have the best fortune. They may have done something really embarrassing or regretful in their past that they're now completely ready to leave behind...if only everyone, their mother, and their dog wouldn't keep bringing it up at every opportunity.

Once Done, Never Forgotten describes any In-Universe situation where a character has done something in the past that other characters (or the universe itself) won't let them forget. The nature of the deed isn't terribly important for the purposes of this trope; it could be anything from downright evil to benign or even funny. Whatever the case may be, the important part is that this deed casts a shadow on the character wherever they go.

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Once Done, Never Forgotten is a versatile trope, as it can easily be played for drama or humor. When played for drama, the character may have done something unforgivable, and the other characters bring it up constantly to shame and scorn them. Just as often, however, the trope is Played for Laughs, with old embarrassments being repeatedly brought up for the cast's amusement (as well as our own). In comedic examples, the target of the mockery may become The Chew Toy or a Butt-Monkey, and the mockery tends to be more playful and lighthearted than hateful. In less grave examples, the ribbing can even become an Insult of Endearment.

Related to (and can overlap with) Forgiven, but Not Forgotten. Contrast Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?, which is when characters keep referencing something awesome a character did, and Flanderization, which is when a once-minor trait completely engulfs the character, but isn't actually referenced In-Universe. If the incident is mentioned but never elaborated on, it's a Noodle Incident.

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Compare the out-of-universe variant Never Live It Down, where a character is endlessly mocked by the fandom for a one-time or long-past event. If a show's creators notice fandom mockery of a character and slips it into canon, that's a form of Ascended Meme.

As per the definition of this trope, this means In-Universe Examples Only.


Examples:

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    Comic Strips 
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    Films — Animation 
  • In Big Hero 6, Wasabi got his nickname after spilling wasabi on his shirt once. He's annoyed by the name, but nevertheless goes by it.
    Wasabi: I spilled wasabi on my shirt just one time, people! ONE TIME!
  • In Chicken Little, the titular character is bullied to no end and made a pariah for a year for once falsely claiming that the sky was falling. Referenced in "One Little Slip":
    I get the feeling in this town/I'll never live 'till I live down/the one mistake that seems to follow me around.
  • Finding Dory: After outswimming a squid that nearly eats Nemo because Dory forgets the warning, Marlin (who had almost lost him before) snaps at Dory, angrily telling her that forgetting things is "what you do best", causing her to swim away to find help for Nemo to make up for it. Nemo (who's more forgiving to Dory) calls his dad out for this, and up until they make up, he often repeats that line to Marlin in a snarky way.
  • Isle of Dogs: Spots encounters the infamous cannibal dogs on the island and asks if they're going to eat him. Their leader, Gondo, is indignant that other dogs think of them as only cannibals, admitting that they only ate one dog one time, and that was because of their former leader being stuck in a coma, and the choices were either eat him to live or starve. Gondo takes this pretty hard, since the dog they ate was his best friend.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Ex-Big Bad Sunset Shimmer never expects to live down transforming into "a raging she-demon," mind-controlling Canterlot High as teenage zombies for her own personal army, and being an Alpha Bitch who made every other students' life miserable for years in the first Equestria Girls film. A Running Gag in the second movie is that even the only people willing to hang out with Sunset constantly bring it up against her, much to her dismay. It isn't until the third film that people stop regularly discussing it, and the fourth film until she's comfortable enough to joke about it herself.
  • In Puss in Boots, Kitty Softpaws never stops bringing up the one time that Puss hits her with a guitar.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective: Ray Finkle missed the winning kick of Super Bowl XVII, and he was cut from the Miami Dolphins team as a result. Moving back to his parents' house in Collier County, the locals assaulted him and vandalized his parents' house for years due to betting their life savings on the game before he was committed to a mental asylum for plotting to kill Dan Marino over how he held the ball during that last kick. Even when Ace interrogated the locals, they're all still bitter over Finkle's role in how the game ended.
  • American Pie: Jim will be forever known as the guy who prematurely ejaculated in front of a smoking hot exchange student on webcam. The incident is mentioned in almost every single film in the series (even the made-for-TV ones), and in Reunion, he discovers that it has even gone viral on YouTube.
  • Await Further Instructions has this Played for Drama as Granddad always refers to his son Tony as "Squelcher" - all because Tony had once wet the bed as a child, and that only because he was afraid to leave his room against his father's express orders for fear of the punishment he'd receive for breaking them. He was beaten black-and-blue for wetting the bed.
  • In Begin Again, Dave's affair with his producer Mim comes back to bite him when he tries to reconcile with Gretta, who brings up the name every chance to spite him.
  • The parody disaster movie The Big Bus contains the immortal line "Jeeze! You eat one foot and they call you a cannibal!"
  • In Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Colin mentions that all people remembered of Jerome F. Davies was him decapitating his wife while forgetting that he also was a visionary author.
  • In Bloody Reunion, the one thing that all of his former classmates remember about Jung-Wo is that he is the boy who soiled himself in class.
  • Invoked in David Cronenberg's The Brood when Robert Silverman's character intends to sue the psychiatric clinic (run by Oliver Reed) that he believes to be responsible for his lymph cancer. He knows he's going to lose the case, but he also knows that in a few years, people won't even remember the verdict.
    All they'll remember is the slogan: "Psychoplasmics Gives You Cancer." Catchy, huh?
  • The premise of the HBO TV film Clear History is that main character Nathan Flomm never managed to live down being the guy who cashed in his share of a car company just days before its insanely popular electric car model went public, thus managing to lose out on over a billion dollars and becoming a laughingstock overnight.
  • Clerks II both plays it straight and subverts it with Dante and Randall's former classmate Lance "Pickle Fucker" Dowds, who had earned the nickname in an incident of high school hazing. After Randall recounts the incident where Lance earned the nickname, Lance replies that nobody but the aimless Randall Graves would remember the incident at all. Cue Jay walking in and saying "Hurry up Pickle Fucker, I wanna get my cow tipper on!" As Jay is leaving, he yells off-screen, "Hey, Silent Bob, some pickle fucker just gave us free eats!" after Lance does so, revealing that Jay occasionally just randomly calls people "pickle fucker".
  • The Empire Strikes Back: Boba Fett will apparently never live down that time he annihilated three Rebels who went at him with ion blasters and was denied the bounty over the issue, considering Vader looks and points at him specifically when specifying "no disintegrations".
  • Evolution features the Kane Madness. Ira Kane actually managed to develop a functioning anthrax vaccine, but the laundry list of side effects (including, but not limited to debilitating stomach cramps, severe diarrhea, memory loss, partial facial paralysis, temporary blindness, drooling, bleeding gums, erectile dysfunction and uncontrollable flatulence) ensured that he was unemployable as a biomedical researcher and left him teaching high school biology for the rest of his life.
  • In For Your Consideration, Victor Allen Miller (Harry Shearer) is a dramatic actor who has been a veteran of stage for 40 years, yet all most people seem to remember of him is being a hot dog pitchman on TV when he was younger.
  • Grosse Pointe Blank: Martin Blank had nothing to do with the death of little Boudreaux. Little Boudreaux was a retriever, and just following his instincts and trying to fetch a stick, which happened to be one of the sticks of dynamite the "three junk bond fuckos" were using to flush out game birds, while Martin was attaching a bomb to their car. However, the incident was enough to brand Martin as "the guy who blew up a dog" for his entire career.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Ant-Man: Scott Lang was once a criminal, who was captured and jailed. By the start of the film, he has served his time in prison, and he's ready to start again. He gets a job at Baskin-Robbins, but gets fired when his employers find about his past. With no jobs to take, he accepts to take part in a theft with his friends. Eventually, he ends working with Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, who gave him his suit. Now he is a superhero, and his first job is... to steal something.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron: During the opening battle, Steve Rogers briefly chastises Tony for swearing. The other Avengers find this hilariously uptight of him and throughout the film tease Steve whenever somebody swears around him. Steve is embarrassed by the whole thing, considering he wasn't really thinking when he rebuked Tony and even swears himself.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy: Drax refers to Quill as "man who has lain with an Askervarian," to which Quill replies, "That was one time, man."
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Ron Weasley gets this when Professor McGonnagal chooses him to help demonstrate the waltz.
    Harry: You're never going to let him forget this, are you?
    Fred and George Weasley: [they look to each other, look back to Harry and shake their heads] Never.
  • Ollie from Jersey Girl is largely unemployable after trashing his own client at a press conference. He gets one job interview because he's so infamous that his interviewers just want to meet him, not because they could ever hire him.
  • Joe Dirt: After being abducted by "Buffalo Bob", everyone asks Joe if he was harmed in certain ways, even though nothing terrible really happened.
  • The Long, Hot Summer: the Quick family just can't seem to shake its reputation as a family of barn burners, and it gets the protagonist run out of town before the opening credits even get the chance to start.
  • In the director's cut of Mallrats, Brandi dumping T.S. is triggered by him accidentally shooting a senator with a prop musket from a play he was in at an event hosted by her father. Throughout the director's cut, people would bring up the incident. One particular example was the guy T.S. randomly beat up in the parking lot for asking him about Brandi in the final cut.In the director's cut, he asked him about the musket incident, and T.S. was finally sick of people bringing it up.
  • Mean Girls: "Made out with a hotdog?! Oh my god, that was one time!"
  • The Other Guys: Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) became a pariah within the NYPD and the city as a whole when he shot a man in a Yankee Stadium corridor during the World Series, not knowing it was Derek Jeter. Although he's been on desk duty ever since then, his coworkers STILL don't let him forget.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • Jack Sparrow makes the suggestion once in the first film that Will Turner may be a eunuch due to the fact he hasn't got a girlfriend (again Jack's speculation). Will is thus repeatedly referred to as a eunuch (mostly by Jack himself).
    • While it could be argued that "sea turtles" became more of an in-movie meme, the fact that it was Jack who seemed to have begun it seems to indicate its mention by other characters is more or less just their way to poke at Jack.
  • Superbad:
    Seth: Hey Greg, why don't you go piss your pants?
    Greg the Soccer Player: That was like 8 years ago, asshole!
    Seth: People don't forget!
  • Tommy Boy: At one point, Tommy catches Richard ogling an attractive skinny-dipper with his fly undone. He doesn't let him forget it.
    Tommy: (as they're going to sleep) Richard... Who's your favorite little rascal? Alfalfa? Or is it Spanky? (chuckles) Sinner...
  • In the Christian movie Tribulation from the Apocalypse film series, young Calvin Canboro wets his pants while he and his brother Tom wait for their sister Eileen to finish her prayer to God about the tree she carved their names into. Years later, Tom Canboro keeps bringing it up, and their sister Eileen doesn't even remember whether it happened or not (or so she says).

    Jokes 
  • The former Trope Namer for Bestiality Is Depraved fell under this trope, as poor McGregor had a litany of accomplishments to his name, but all that anyone in his town will call him now is "McGregor the goat fucker".
  • A weedy farmer's son named Jacob was helping his father unload wares at the Shrewsbury marketplace, when suddenly he farted so loudly that everyone in the market square turned to stare. Jacob immediately ran out of sight, then out of town, and kept running long after the town was out of sight. He ended up conscripted in an army, enslaved by pirates, shipwrecked on foreign shores, went around the Mediterranean three times, and had so many other adventures that it was more than sixty years until he was in sight of his hometown again, now a rich and respectable but heavily scarred, suntanned and muscular merchant prince. Unable to resist the lure of nostalgia, he went into town and saw a magnificent church that had not been there when he'd left. He asked a small child when the church had been built, who answered "It was started six years, three months and four days; and finished forty-one years, nine months and five days after The Day Jacob Farted."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The deity Helm of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.
    • He doesn't seem to ever be able to live down his moments of Lawful Stupid, like killing the first Mystra. It's gotten to the point he and his followers still get called Lawful Stupid by other characters.
    • Helm also gets a lot of flack from the fact that it was a group of his worshipers who found Maztica (a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Mayincatec flavor)... and promptly turned into Conquistador-expies.
  • Warhammer: The way Ogre mercenary Golgfag Maneater got his surname is an example. People started calling him Maneater after he settled a dispute with a human paymaster by eating him and walking away with his paychests. No big deal, except many people end up assuming he eats human meat and nothing else — which he doesn't — much to Golgfag's annoyance. Warhammer Ogres are Extreme Omnivores who'll eat literally anything when they're hungry (except gold, which is regarded as worthless due to lacking any nutritious value) and Golgfag is no exception, yet to this day he still has to grumpily explain to people who get the wrong idea that a) yes, he may eat a human if the mood strikes him, but b) no, he does not eat manflesh exclusively or have a particular taste for it.

    Theatre 

    Visual Novels 
  • SOON: To Atlas' chagrin, people always remember that one time Atlas blew up a "little chunk of Switzerland."

    Web Comics 
  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl The rest of the school subjects Jessica and Tess to this treatment (Jessica is not actually a slut, and Tess regrets the bullying she did).
  • Everyone in Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell, from the police to Darwin's friends, won't stop giving Darwin a hard time about how he accidentally "made the Dalai Lama retarded". Much of the plot involves him trying to find redemption and earn karma to make up for his youthful mistake.
  • El Goonish Shive has Abraham's creation of the Dewitchery Diamond, an apparently indestructible gemstone that creates cursed abombinations. Every properly trained wizard has heard of him, apparently.
  • Cat from Furry Experience celebrates completing a research paper by doing her "happy peanut butter dance." Her roommate Ronnie happens by, and records the whole thing on her phone. To Cat's chagrin, Ronnie has made this song-and-dance into her ringtone.
  • This transpires in Girl Genius when knowledge of Tarvek's... "adorning" of Lucrezia-controlled Agatha becomes widely known. Even Gil heard about it. He still does it in his head sometimes, so he has only himself to blame for it.
  • In Grrl Power, Maxima doesn't appreciate being reminded she once (accidentally) destroyed a mosque.
    General Faulk: I don't think you're in any danger of being knocked of your throne yet, oh Destroyer of Mosques.
    Maxima: [slams desk] ONE mosque! And it was an accident! Mostly.
  • Homestuck: Nobody will let Karkat forget the shipping chart.
  • In Kevin & Kell, Dorothy dated Rudy's coach when they were in school. He proposed to her, but she turned him down, marrying Kevin's dad instead. As their marriage ended in a bitter divorce, Rudy's coach likes to say "I told you so" whenever the two contact each-other.
  • The Order of the Stick: After Vaarsuvius sells their soul to fiends in exchange for power, Blackwing continuously reminds them of how dumb their actions were.
    Vaarsuvius: I have a plan.
    Blackwing: Does it involve selling your soul?
  • Captain Tagon, in Schlock Mercenary, gets this after he crashes into a table and winds up with a fork in his eye. For the rest of the Mallcop Command arc, his crew keep making fork jokes.
    Captain Tagon: I bet I can live that down after I turn it to my advantage.
  • Shortpacked!: Robin's a decorated war hero, and served two terms as her district's congresswoman, having ran actively for a third term, and having been key an a great deal of landmark legislation, including one bill that resulted in a month of world peace. All people remember her from is that one sex tape.
  • Sidekick Girl: Illumina has a rep among her fellow heroes as a jinx with a trail of dead sidekicks. Only one of Illumina's sidekicks actually died in action, and we saw that was a Heroic Sacrifice. Another went insane as a result of his powersnote  and another simply abandoned her in the middle of a fight. Other than her current and longest-standing sidekick, Val (the title character), we don't know what happened with any of Illumina's sidekicks, from how many there were to why they were reassigned to other heroes. Other than, of course, that they're not dead.
  • White Dark Life: Luigifan will never, ever live down the time he accidentally hit Uma in the face with a glass bottle and knocked her unconscious. Even worse were the contents — he tried to make a Love Potion using assorted pheromones. What he actually made, due to not being all that much of a chemist, is a stinkbomb.
    • Luigifan had a lot of trouble living down the time he nearly killed Tulip with his Yveltal. The incident made it onto the Quotes page for "Didn't Think This Through" for a damn good reason.
    • Another from Luigifan is claiming that Princess Torch would make "beautiful firebird babies" with Inu. (He was actually expressing relief that Torch wasn't saying something outlandish about Inu, with the example being that they would "make beautiful firebird babies", but everyone around him reacted... poorly. Torch absolutely hates it when the incident is brought up.)
    • Speaking of Torch, she'll likely never live down her repeated glomping of Inu, including when she nearly crushed him to death on their first meeting and the extended cuddle session that prompted the aforementioned "beautiful firebird babies" remark.

    Web Original 
  • Wheeljack giving the Dinobots simple brains for authenticity is an example from the Dr. Smoov The Transformers parody videos. Optimus mocks him mercilessly for it when they do a commercial together, saying "Hey, let's make the Dinobots stupid like real dinosaurs! I'm Wheeljack, I make stupid robots!"
  • TFS at the Table: Several of Wake's teammates have indicated that they will indeed remember when, just as they had convinced a very petty dragon not to kill them all, Wake ran off with the dragon's enchanted armour that he hadn't dropped - and threw all his teammates lives into jeopardy again.
  • One Onion News Network video has a returning, wounded veteran being constantly reminded by everyone in his hometown of Pennington, IL that he shit his pants in the 4th grade. Even the mayor awarding him a key to the city brings it up and the veteran is clearly facepalming at this; he's quoted as saying "he can't wait to leave Pennington and get back to the fight."
  • In the DEATH BATTLE! match between Aquaman and Namor, Wiz stabs Boomstick in the foot with one of the sea kings' tridents. Boomstick gives Wiz hell about it throughout the rest of that season and into the next.
  • One Retsupurae video series had slowbeef give ProtonJon hell over being conned into LPing a Super Mario World romhack by its creator, who claimed he had cancer and that his last wish was to see his hack LPed before he died, but was later found to have made up the whole thing.
  • In The Champions, Loris Karius's botched throw in the 2018 Champions League final is the subject of multiple jokes. A book by him titled Goalkeeping Essentials is claimed to be "[a] book that nobody reads", and when the Champions League goalkeepers fail to prevent a meteor strike, they refuse to return to avoid similar embarrassment:
    Alisson: We can't go back, we blew it! We'll be a bunch of... Loris Kariuses down there.
  • The Cyanide & Happiness Show has Fart in a Jar Martin, who plays with this trope a fair bit. He has the nickname because he farted in a jar in the fourth grade, and every time someone calls him the name, he complains that he only did it one time... but the thing is, he carries the jar around with him so that he can prove to people that it only happened once, and he always introduces himself by claiming that people call him Fart in a Jar Martin despite the fact that he only did it one time in the fourth grade. Everyone around him just really wants him to stop talking about it. Then it's revealed that he actually did it on a daily basis for years, and continues to do it to this day.
  • An early episode of Atop the Fourth Wall was Batman: Fortunate Son, a bizarre comic featuring Batman waging war on the evils of rock music. For years after that review, just about any appearance of Batman would prompt a joke about his hatred of rock, and Linkara still makes them whenever possible. He's admitted both on the show and off that Batman Vs. Rock and Roll is one Running Gag he will never get tired of.
  • Sgt Ducky: Tony getting sicked on by Emma after betraying his girlfriend and the boys will never be forgotten and it has long since been immortalised as a cautionary tale on why you should never betray your friends.

 
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One Time in a Bucket

Bob brings up the time Linda pooped in a bucket at a wedding because the line for the restroom was too long.

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