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Orphan's Plot Trinket

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"I know these don't mean anything to you, but they're everything to me. They're proof I got parents."
Annie, Annie (1999)

Orphans get a disproportionate amount of attention from the plot of any given story, and is it any wonder why? Orphanhood is a plot gold mine.

Right up there with a propensity to stare wistfully out windows, orphans collect an alarming number of plot-relevant knick-knacks. They will usually be a necklace or locket, and generally be a clue to the orphan's family, though they may have some other plot purpose, but they will always be inherited from the family in question. Mysterious swords and the like are very common. If the trinket saves the orphan's life by blocking an attack, it's also a Pocket Protector. If it wards off evil, it's a Protective Charm. If it grants powers, it's a Magical Accessory. If it's a stuffed animal, it may be a Sentimental Homemade Toy, and can overlap with Toy-Based Characterization to serve as a point of connection between them and their missing parent. Often used as a clue when Searching for the Lost Relative.

Sometimes this trinket can be more than a solid object; it can be auditory (such as a lullaby being sung to the baby to make it fall asleep).

Why living families are so lacking in portrait lockets and the like may forever remain a mystery. See Two Halves Make a Plot when the trinket has a counterpart.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Yuno from Black Clover was left at the orphanage with his magic stone necklace. It's a sign that he is the son of the Grinberryall family, the previous royalty of the Spade Kingdom.
  • Candace "Candy" White Andree's locket in Candy♡Candy, given to her by "her Mountain Prince". Who reappears several years later... and turns out to be Albert, her protector and the leader of the Andree clan.
  • Sheeta's pendant in the anime Laputa: The Castle in the Sky.
    • Pazu's photograph of Laputa, also.
      • That's part plot trinket, part metagag: the Joke is that in the English version, Pazu's father is strongly implied to be Gulliver. Yes, that Gulliver.
  • The similarly inspired Blue Water held by Nadia in Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water
  • Hana's cross-necklace in 7 Seeds has a twin that her mother wore. When she finds it in the Ryugu Shelter, she wonders if it is the same necklace... it is. She eventually starts wearing both.
  • Sara's musical necklace from Str.A.In.: Strategic Armored Infantry.
  • Arika's pendant in My-Otome.
  • Mikoto and Reito's matching pendants in My-HiME. Mikoto's even flares up when she goes into "beast mode".
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (2003): Two Ishbalan orphans carry a locket as a reminder of their dead mother, whom the older brother believes to have abandoned them during a raid. When he casts it to the ground out of bitterness, it pops open to reveal eye medicine, causing him to realize she was secretly blind. Not to mention the fact that it saves the younger brother's life in the very same episode.
  • Suzaku Kururugi's old pocket watch (that belonged to his Disappeared Dad) in Code Geass, which was also a Memento MacGuffin and saved his life by shielding him from a bullet.
  • Nadja Applefield's brooch in Ashita no Nadja. The other mementos that either were sent to her in the beginning or she received later also fit to a degree, specially the pink Gorgeous Period Dress and the Nostalgic Music Box.
  • Mireille's old watch in Noir.
  • The titular Michiko Malandro and Hana "Hatchin" Morenos from, well, Michiko & Hatchin share the same tattoos on their stomachs.
  • Bunny Drop provides the somewhat mundane example of the plot trinket being a baby book with Rin's early medical information. It contains the first clue towards Rin's mother (the name "Masako") and is discovered to be where Daikichi's late grandfather hid his will.
  • Eris' bracelet in Night Wizard.
  • The reason why Cleao Everlasting tagged along with Orphen in Sorcerer Stabber Orphen was because the sword he intended to use in the spell that would bring Azalie back to human form after having been Bloody August the dragon for years is actually her Orphans Plot Trinket. More exactly, a family heirloom that belonged to Cleao's recently deceased father.
    • Also, toyed with in regards to Lycoris Nielsen's headband. She can't remember who gave it to her due to her Fake Memories, but it's later shwon that her older sister Esperanza did so. It doesn't become a 100% Orphan's Plot Trinket, since Esperanza still lives (sorta, until she is killed and Lycoris's dad Marco Reika performs an Heroic Sacrifice in the Grand Finale.
  • In Please Twins! three orphans all have the same photograph of two toddlers in a swimming pool.
  • In Blassreiter one of protagonists is an orphan. When he met his sister, she recognized him by the cross he wore, the only thing left from his dead parents.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny - Shinn Asuka and his sister Mayu's handphone. It even parallels the music-playing-locket trope with his sister's last voice mail.
  • Destiny of the Shrine Maiden - Himeko's pink clam shell necklace, although not until The Stinger.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena - After Utena becomes orphaned, she receives a rose-crested ring from a prince and decides to become a prince herself.
  • In Space Carrier Blue Noah Collin's father gives him a pendant to unlock the "Thundersub".
  • In Naruto, Naruto's knick-knack—a swirl talisman always worn on his shoulder—is a relic of the Hidden Leaf Village's association with the former Whirlpool, which is where Naruto's mother is from. It's also serves as a clan symbol; the red swirl on the back of the flak jackets of the leaf ninja represents their association with the former Whirlpool, while the white spiral that was attached to the sleeve of Naruto's jacket at the beginning of the series represents his status as a member of the Uzumaki Clan, the clan who ruled over Uzushiogakure no sato, the ninja village of the former Whirlpool, which was destroyed during the Second Great Shinobi War. The Uzumaki Clan were also distantly related to the Senju Clan, meaning Naruto is related to every single Hokage except for Hiruzen Sarutobi.
  • The Dragon Ball series has Goku's Si Xing Qiu, or Four Star Ball, which he inherited from his deceased grandfather Son Gohan.
  • Legend of Himiko: Himiko Himejima's pendant, given to her by the Boza when she was a newborn... right before the realm of Yamatai got invaded and she was spirited away to Earth.
  • In SD Gundam Force, Genkimaru has a dagger with Kibaomaru's emblem printed on the blade. It's proof that's he Kibaomaru's son, and the warlord is quite shaken when he sees it for himself; "That's why he had that dagger...the one I gave to that woman..."
  • Najika of Kitchen Princess holds onto a special Seika Academy spoon given to her by a "flan prince" who comforted her while she was grieving over her parents' death.
  • Hello! Sandybell: Before her father passes away, he tells Sandybell she's adopted. He gives Sandybell a daffodil earring and says it belongs to her biological mother. Linda, the Greek nun from Lefkdas, has the other one and after seeing a child fall into the water, has a flashback and realizes that she's Sandybell's mother.
  • Remy: Nobody's Girl: Remi has a brooch with a woman on it. It was left with her when she was a baby. Mulligan has the same one, which makes them realize Remi is her lost child.
  • In Brave10, the only thing Isanami keeps from Izumo is the Kushimitama, a hairpin given to her custody for protection. The bitter twist is that she doesn't protect it, it protects the world from her.
  • Yukina and Hiei in YuYu Hakusho were each given a necklace made from a "tear of ice" gemstone their mother produced when she gave birth to them. Hiei's motivation for getting the Jagan eye implanted was apparently to find his never-before-mentioned lost trinket, and Yukina gives him hers hoping he'll find her brother and give it to him for her.
  • The Girl of the Week Anita in Lupin III: Operation: Return the Treasure ends up with one; after her parents' death, she was supported by her Uncle Mark, who gave her a teddy bear he told her to keep safe. It turns out not only was "Uncle" Mark one of the world's greatest thieves, but after his death his old rival Lupin finds out the teddy bear is hiding a rare diamond that's the key to finding Mark's hidden treasure.
  • Zig-Zagged and deconstructed in EDENS ZERO. Homura's mother left behind a stuffed animal that Homura treasures dearly and holds on to in the hopes that her mother would be able to find her if she ever came back. The only plot-relevant event caused by the doll is adding to Valkyrie's already growing insecurities about raising Homura, which leads her to search for Homura's mother. When the reunion finally happens after a decade, her mom—who is exposed as the evil Madame Kurenai—fails to recognize the doll or its value to her daughter. All of this, combined with the fact that Kurenai betrayed Valkyrie to her death, and that Homura already had nothing else to remember her biological mother by, prompts Homura to cut ties with Kurenai and leave the doll with Valkyrie, her true mother.
  • Voltes V: Prince Heinel loved his mother very much, but he never met her as she died in childbirth. While she was pregnant with him, she promised Heinel a dagger, which he keeps on himself at all times. In the series finale, Gohl, the father of Heinel's arch-enemy Kenichi, recognizes the dagger as the same one he gave his wife before he was jailed and enslaved, and both realize that Gohl is Heinel's father. Heinel falls to his knees upon the realization that he has been fighting against his own family all along.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Golden Age Captain Marvel stories, Billy gets a Deathbed Confession from his childhood nurse, Sarah Primm, explaining that he has a twin sister, and is given half of a locket. He soon realizes that he recently met a girl, Mary Bromfield, who was wearing the other half. Unlike Billy, Mary was adopted by a nice, rich family who wind up taking him in too.
  • In Marvel Comics, Kevin and Parnival Plunder were each given half of a silver medal while they were young. Kevin would soon after go missing. As adults, they met again as Ka-Zar and the Plunderer, realizing their identities after putting the two halves together. It turns out it's actually the a chunk of vibranium, the first of its kind, and that anyone who possesses it can make more and virtually rule the world. I.e., it's also a prime MacGuffin.
  • Superman's spaceship can serve as this, as it often has significant information programmed in (including messages from his birth parents). Also, in some modern versions, his cape is actually made from his baby blanket, which is a super-strong Kryptonian material that won't suffer Clothing Damage.
  • Wonder Woman: Black and Gold: In "Memories of Hator" it turns out the entire reason Diana is visiting Badra is that she has recovered Badra's mother's crown. This is a rather significant trinket as the entire planet Badra originates from, and her family, were destroyed in a war long ago.

    Fan Works 
  • Medicated: The only thing Anne has from her birth parents is a blanket with her name embroidered on it. Hop Pop had initially assumed it belonged to whoever abandoned her there, but figures it might have been her birth mother after learning that Anne is still sapient in her human form on its own.
  • In the universe of the Our Own League fan novels, Donna was adopted into the Amazons' royal family after surviving a plane crash and washing up on their island as a little girl. Ever since, she's treasured the only key to her past: a lanyard with her underaged passenger ID. At the end of the third book, it's finally used to prove her identity to her long lost mother.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Anastasia, there's the title character's "Together in Paris" necklace, which also functions as a Plot Coupon.
  • In Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Aladdin's only real heirloom is a dagger his Disappeared Dad Cassim left with his mother before leaving to seek a fortune for the family. Said dagger is what proves he is who he says he is when he meets his dad again.
  • Titan A.E.. is made of this trope, since the worthless ring the hero wears as his only parting gift from his father before the Destruction Of Earth turns out to be the key to unlocking the Titan world-creation device, verbal instructions from his dad, and a genetically encoded star-map rolled into one.
  • In The Land Before Time, Littlefoot is given a Treestar (star shaped leaf) by his mother before she dies. The significance is that there is almost no food in the area and the little there is is dying. This one leaf was still very green. However half way through the movie, Littlefoot is forced to leave it behind when the Big Bad attacks and it gets crushed.
  • Robyn Starling from Tom and Jerry: The Movie had one. And, as an exception to the opening paragraph above, hers is actually a locket with a photo of her Indiana Jones-esque dad. Who turns out to be alive in the end.
  • Even Winnie the Pooh gets in on this action in The Tigger Movie, in which Tigger is suddenly revealed to own an empty locket that supposedly connects him to his long-lost family. Their existence is never confirmed and we never find out where the locket came from. In the end Tigger accepts that his friends are a good enough family, and hands the locket to his "little brother" Roo.
  • Barbie as Rapunzel: Rapunzel finds a hairbrush that has a blessing from her parents, and a painting of Gothel dancing with someone at a ball. It doesn't make sense to her since she's always been told by Gothel that she was abandoned when she was a few days old. She then heads to town and gives the brush to blacksmith, who says that it was made by his brother, who lives in another kingdom that the kingdom she's living in now is feuding with. Turns out that Rapunzel herself is part of the reason there's a feud: Gothel kidnapped her as a baby because she was spurned by the other person, Wilhelm, in the painting; now he's the king of the other kingdom, who's been accusing the other king, Frederick, of kidnapping Rapunzel herself.
  • In An American Tail, Fievel has a hat that serves as one, which is a family heirloom that he inherits shortly before becoming separated from his family.
  • Storks: Tulip has a part of the homing beacon that would have guided her home if the stork that was supposed to deliver her hadn't accidentally destroyed it. Said stork Jasper spent years looking for the parts of the beacon so that he can bring Tulip to her family and finally complete the delivery. Tulip's piece is the last one needed.
  • In Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town, "Kris Kringle" is a human child raised by toy-making elves. He was found with a name tag that reads "Claus," which he uses as an alias when he's an adult.
  • The titular protagonist of Madeline lost her family in the movie Madeline: Lost in Paris, but retained her bead necklace from her mother. She later breaks it to leave behind a trail that would help anyone looking for her when she gets kidnapped by an Uncle-impersonating man, keeping a bead that portrays a lion as a memento. Her friends find the pieces of her necklace and use them to track her down.
  • Hercules: When baby Hercules was kidnapped from Mount Olympus and made mortal, he was found with a medallion with the symbol of Zeus, his birth father. When his adoptive parents give it back to him, it inspires him to go to the temple of Zeus to discover his identity, kicking off the plot of the film.
  • Titanic: The Legend Goes On: Our main character (and Rose surrogate) Angelica starts the film motivated to find her real parents, with the only image of them being in her locket. At the end of the film, she manages to find her mother onboard the Titanic… still no word about her father though.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Annie: Annie's half-a-locket. It's supposed to be used to identify her parents, but they've been dead for years, and Ms. Hannigan already has the other half. Even before that is revealed, Grace looks into it and finds out it's mass-produced and thus useless for finding them. Obviously there are older examples, but arguably the Trope Codifier, at least for a certain age group.
  • One of the few things played mostly straight in Spaceballs: Lone Starr's medallion. It apparently proves he's a prince, although it's so obscure only one wise old hermit in the galaxy recognizes it. On the bright side, it makes him a Suddenly Suitable Suitor for Vespa.
  • Will Turner's aztec gold medallion in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
  • An odd variation appears in the film Waterworld. The orphan character doesn't own any trinkets left her by her parents, although she does have that tattoo on her back. She does, however, hum a distinctive tune as she works on her drawings — no one asks her about it, but presumably she doesn't remember where she got it from. At the end of the movie, we come to a house on the only piece of dry land in the film, and the characters find a music box that plays the exact same song. The two skeletons lying on the nearby bed, then, are her parents.
  • Star Wars: "Your father's lightsaber. This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight."
    • Jyn Erso's kyber crystal is a notable aversion, however, as it's not directly relevant to the plot.
  • In the Super Mario Bros. (1993) movie, Princess Daisy wears a meteorite fragment around her neck that she never takes off since it was the only thing left with her when she was left in the human world. The meteorite fragment is the one thing Koopa needs to orchestrate his takeover of our world.
  • In Incendies, Nawal as a teenager gives birth to a baby boy, and her grandmother puts a tattoo on the child's heel so that Nawal will recognise the boy if she finds him later. The point where she does find him is a brain-breaking heart-wrenching moment.
  • Sinbad's medallion in the 1947 film of Sinbad the Sailor.
  • In Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, The Chosen One continues to carry the baby booties he wore when Master Pain/Evil Betty killed his family, mostly so he can wave them at Betty when he confronts him
  • From Pollyanna, the prisms... and maybe the doll. To a lesser extent, the necklace she wears bearing the quote from Abraham Lincoln, which makes the reverend see the error of his ways.
  • The automaton in Hugo and its source novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
  • A high-tech version in Kal-El's Kryptonian memory stick from Man of Steel, which he finds in his transport pod and wears around his neck for 20-odd years before discovering what it's for. Unlike possibly any other OPT in history, it actually contains his father.
  • In The Search, little Karel the World War II refugee has a knit cap with a ribbon. It turns out he isn't an orphan at all, and his mother is searching for him, but when another boy drowns in a river wearing the cap, the cap is recovered. The cap later convinces Karel's mother that her boy his dead.
  • The blanket that covered baby Moses as he drifted down the river in The Ten Commandments
  • The Virgin Mary statuette that was given to little Anthony Adverse after his mother Maria's Death by Childbirth. Unusually, this pays off in the first act when her father sees the icon and realizes that young Anthony is his grandson.
  • In Samantha An American Girl Holiday Samantha has a locket with photos of her dead parents inside.
  • In A Little Princess (1995):
    • Sara has a locket with a photo of her dead mother inside.
    • When her father is announced dead and she is stripped of her wealth she keeps a few meaningful items. As in the book, she keeps her favourite doll but in the film it seems to be the copy of the Ramayana which is the most meaningful of her trinkets, as Sara's retelling of it, and dreams inspired by it mirror her and her father's own story as he 'comes back to life' and returns to her.
  • In The Kid, the note the Tramp keeps from the mother who left her child behind. Five years later, the note finds its way back to her, setting in motion the reuniting of mother and child.
  • In A Pearl in the Forest, Sendem accidentally leaves a hand-carved necklace with her infant son. She recognizes him years later when she sees a boy wearing the necklace.
  • Tia's Star Case in Escape to Witch Mountain, which contains a hidden map leading to the titular mountain. It is implied that her brother, Tony, had one as well, but lost it when their spacecraft (the two siblings are Human Aliens) crashed into the ocean.
  • Orphans of the Storm: Louise's identity as the Countess's long-lost daughter is confirmed by the locket that the Countess left with the baby before it was taken from her.
  • Curly Sue has an interesting variant in the form of a ring which belonged to the title character's mother. Sue and her adoptive father Bill are homeless, and the ring is stolen by another homeless man early in the film. Later, when Bill is missing, she is unconcerned, asking whether he left a note or a ring; as he left neither, she knows he'll be back, since he won't leave her without first recovering her mother's ring. Near the end of the movie, he does leave both the ring and a note, and she's heartbroken... until she learns that the note says he's in the next room.
  • In The Last Circus the main character Javier carries a portrait necklace of his father, who died by the hands of an evil Francoist colonel that Javier, back then, proceeded to accidentally half-blind in an attempt of stopping him. Later on in the film, an adult Javier is chased by a wild boar that gets shot by the servant of an older colonel, who was conveniently hunting in the area. Javier's necklace helps the colonel recognize him as the boy that took away his right eye, turning the Villainous Rescue into a full-blown Out of the Frying Pan situation.
  • In SHAZAM! Billy Batson has a small compass that his mother won for him at the fair she lost him in years before. When she manages to track her down, he learns that after she lost him and saw that he was being well tended to by the cops that found him, she allowed for him to go into the foster care system because she was too young to properly raise him. Upon hearing this, as well as the fact that she doesn't even recognize the trinket, he gives it back to her, saying that she needs a compass more than he does, and goes back to the foster home.
  • Subverted in the 1923 silent film La Roue. Norma came with a necklace that revealed her name, but Sisif apparently never showed it to her. In fact, she never even finds out that she was adopted.
  • In Liane, Jungle Goddess, the first clue to Jungle Princess Liane's true identity is the silver good luck medallion she wears with an 'L' inscribed on the back.
  • In Cry of the Banshee, Roderick was found wandering the woods as boy, wearing a strange talisman around his neck. Father Tom identifies the amulet as being centuries old. He later discovers a duplicate of the carving in the cemetery and learns it marks Roderick as being a sidhe.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: "Professor Yana" in "Utopia" has a very significant pocket watch he was found with as an "orphan in the storm". Significant because he was never actually found with it — once he opens it, he discovers that he is actually the Doctor's longtime Arch-Enemy: The Master.
  • Friends: Chandler invokes this trope when he suggests that he and Monica give up one of their adopted children (which were unexpectedly twins). Naturally, Monica refuses.
    Chandler: We could give each of them half a medallion. And then years later, they'll find each other and be reunited. I mean, that's a great day for everybody.
  • The Separated at Birth twins from The Gemini Factor had yin-yang rings.
  • Hetty finds the token her mother left for her in Hetty Feather. Leaving tokens with children given to the Foundling Hospital was common as explained in Real Life below.
  • The Legend of William Tell Subverted and played straight. Will is an orphan, and he wears a significant necklace, but it didn't come from his parents; Kalem gave it to him to keep him on track. Vara, though, carries around a necklace her father gave her, which immediately identifies her as a princess to anyone who sees it. No matter how far from the Citadel they are.
  • Power Rangers
    • Near the end of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Tommy is given half an arrowhead. In Power Rangers Zeo, his long lost brother has the other half.
    • Andros' and Karone/ Astromena's matching lockets in Power Rangers in Space.
    • Also, Dillon's locket from Power Rangers RPM, which can play a song when a key is inserted into it. Once he finds the other key (which belongs to his missing sister) to it and figures out how it's supposed to go in, it plays "The Farmer in the Dell''...the same song Tenaya 7 is always whistling.
    • Inverted with Power Rangers S.P.D. and Z's necklace, which was only relevant for the single episode that it was returned in.
    • For non-locket examples, look no further than Cole's ripped photograph and Nick's baby blanket.
  • Super Sentai:
  • A Zig-Zagging Trope in Tin Man. DG does have a locket, with a picture of Hank and Em. She loses it upon arriving in Oz (pardon me...The Outer Zone). Turns out they weren't her parents at all, and the locket tips off the Big Bad. The REAL Orphan's Plot Trinket comes in at Milltown where Father Vu puts a magic sigil on DG's hand (an homage to the protection spell cast on Dorothy in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz), the sigil activating her long-repressed magic abilities.
  • Cold Case: The episode "A Perfect Day" centers on the murder of a child. After the department releases a facial reconstruction photo of what the child looked like, a young woman comes forward saying she looked like that as a child. Turns out, she's the dead girl's twin sister, and was in fact adopted. She was found with a Saint Michael necklace, which had BN and some numbers on the back, she's never figured out what those meant. The detectives immediately note that Michael is the Patron Saint of police officers, so BN probably means Badge Number. They trace it to a former police officer, who proves vital to solving the case. For the record, he is neither the girl's father nor the murderer.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Call of Cthulhu board game Arkham Horror, the character Wendy Adams, the Orphan, starts with an Elder Sign. The Elder Sign is a powerful item capable of permanently sealing gates to the other worlds and having six in play wins the game.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition includes the "Backgrounds" mechanic, in which what you were before you started adventuring grants you skills and equipment. The equipment granted by the "Urchin" background includes "a token to remember your parents by".

  • Anastasia: Zig-Zagged. In the prologue, the Dowager give young Anastasia a music box (rather than a necklace that opens the music box, like in the film) as a parting gift before she leaves for Paris. But Anastasia is unable to retrieve it before her family is captured and she loses her memory, subverting the trope, until Dmitry inadvertently reunites her with it years later. The fact that she is able to open it and remember the lullaby when no one else could later proves her identity to the Dowager.
  • Oliver! is an adaptation of Oliver Twist, so naturally this trope occurs in the musical.
  • Likewise Annie's locket and the note her parents left with her. Though the locket turns out to be mass-produced and useless for finding her parents but the handwriting on the note does get identified, unfortunately her parents turn out to be dead.
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum has the gaggle-of-geese rings Erronius gave to his children before pirates kidnapped them as children. This comes from the Plautus and Terence plays A Funny Thing was based on, and they got it from the works of Menander and other Hellenistic comedies.
  • Joanna insists on bringing her reticule with her when she an Antony plan to run away during the song "Kiss Me" in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. He tells her he'll buy her a new one but she tells him it was "the only thing my mother gave me".
  • Older Than Feudalism: In Euripides' play Ion, the orphan Ion was raised in a temple after his mother abandoned him, and the only clue to his true identity is the basket he was found in. His mother conveniently recognizes this basket just in time to prevent him from killing her, after she tried to assassinate him.
  • The handbag in The Importance of Being Earnest. Also presumably in the film versions.

  • Agatha's locket in the webcomic Girl Genius has pictures of her missing parents, and also suppresses her hereditarily strong mad scientist abilities which would otherwise bring unwanted attention to her.
    • More recently, the locket serves to suppress the mind control abilities of her not-so-dead mother, Lucrezia Mongfish. You have to wonder if that wasn't really what it was made for in the first place, and the other thing just a side effect.
  • Parodied in Guttersnipe, wherein Lil' Ragamuffin, the proud street urchin, admits to her pet rat that she wishes she could find her parents one day, and produces a locket with their pictures in it: her only clue to finding them. Rat then informs her that those are just the placeholder photos that come with the locket.
  • The pendant Anaak gave to her mother when they parted in Tower of God. After the latter gets murdered by the Royal Enforcement Division, the rookie agent, Ren, takes it for himself. Much, much later, he managers to lure Anaak with the pendant.
  • Tally from The Weave owns a locket, one half of which contains a miniature map that marks her original home, the other half a photo of baby Tally with her parents, though her father's face is strangely blurry on it.
  • Muted: Camille's locket given to her by her late mother. The enchantment inside it was what saved her life from the fire.
  • Slightly Damned: The angel Darius Elexion found 3 abandoned demon children - Iratu, Sakido, and Buwaro - and put them under his care, effectively raising them as his own. He gave each of them one of his three magical pendants - the Moon Pendant to Iratu, the Sun Pendant to Sakido, and the Star Pendant to Buwaro. Around a year later, Darius left to confront Death, never to be seen again (or so it seems, at first), leaving the three to fend for themselves for the next 15 years. After Sakido's tragic death, Buwaro now has possession of her Sun Pendant.

    Western Animation 
  • Carmen Sandiego has one in multiple continuities, such as a locket in Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? and a collection of dolls in Carmen Sandiego.
  • Gosalyn's lullaby in the pilot for Darkwing Duck.
  • Esteban's medallion in The Mysterious Cities of Gold.
  • In Futurama, the Warden of the Orphanarium has one belonging to Leela that he forgot about. It's simply a letter in an untranslatable alien language, but it serves a purpose beyond being a memento - it contributes to her parents' deception that Leela is a member of an unknown alien species rather than one of the persecuted sewer mutants from Earth.
  • Although she's technically only half an orphan (her father Hakoda is still alive, but off fighting a war in another part of the world), Katara's grandmother's necklace functions as this on a couple of occasions in Avatar: The Last Airbender: lost on a prison platform, found by Zuko, used to track the band by scent, retrieved by Aang; revealed Gran-Gran Kanna's history with the Northern Water Tribe and the man who becomes Katara's waterbending master, Master Pakku... who is actually the one who made that necklace with his own hands, as a gift for Kanna when they were arranged to be married..
  • In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, the same Captain Marvel trinket mentioned above is used, except here Billy seems to have had it long before he met his long-lost twin Mary.
  • Played for Laughs in Bojack Horseman, in the season 6 finale two minor characters with a similar appearance and annoying personalities reveal they both have two halves of a necklace with their family crest given to them by their long lost parents and assume this must be a common practice.
  • Quasimodo's medallion in The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo.
  • In Defenders of the Earth, Kshin was carrying part of a map to a lost city when Mandrake first met him. Unusually for this trope, this is not mentioned for most of the series and only becomes relevant when Kshin's grandfather (who feared his grandson was dead until he saw a picture of him with the other Defenders) turns up with the other half of the map.
  • Loulou's ballet slippers in Loulou de Montmartre. The newspapers they were wrapped in also give clues to when and why her mother abandoned her.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: Keith's Marmora knife, which once belonged to his long-lost mother and serves as proof of his Galra lineage.
  • In the DuckTales (2017) episode "Louie's Eleven", Gabby McStabberson says that her dagger belonged to her mother and is her only clue to her true parentage. Since she's in the middle of a fight with Webby and is immediately knocked out we learn nothing more about this.
  • The medallions in Sonic Underground.

    Real Life 
  • The Foundling Hospital in London has cabinets of these tokens, left by mothers surrendering their children in the 1700s. The tokens were carefully kept on file with the children's papers, but unfortunately most mothers never returned to claim their children for one reason or another, with a few notable exceptions.
  • Happens in China: Author and journalist Xue Xinran "writes of mothers wanting to provide their children with legacy mementoes when they give them up for adoption: some write letters to their babies on their clothing; others leave their fingerprint in blood. But orphanages routinely toss the clothing out."
  • The Romans used to think it tragic, but acceptable, to leave an infant you couldn't provide for, particularly girls, on the ancient Roman equivalent of the local garbage dump. But the parents would often leave the child with a necklace of charms, in the far-fetched hope that some noble family would stroll by and take the child in, and the child would grow up with the memento to remind them where they came from. They even wrote plays about it, with the storyline usually having the child growing up and searching for, and inevitably finding their birth parents.


Video Example(s):


The Daffodil Earring

[Spoilers for Hello! Sandybell Episode 46]
When Sandybell was a baby, she was a found in a shipwreck, and rescued by a man named Leslie Christie. Before he died, Leslie gave Sandybell an earring and said he found it with her at the scene of the crash.
Years later, Sandybell shows her daffodil earring to Linda Edwards. Linda suddenly remembers her past, and realizes that it was the same one she gave Sandybell as a baby.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / OrphansPlotTrinket

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