Follow TV Tropes


Precious Photo

Go To

"I don't see the big picture. I have a little picture. I take it out and look at it... every day."
Pietro Maximoff, Avengers: Age of Ultron

This is where a person carries a photo of a loved one who isn't with them around them at all times. This loved one can be somebody who is dead, far away for an extended period of time or the carrier may just be a Stalker with a Crush. If the person is dead, then this symbolizes the attachment that the carrier still has. If they're far away, then this shows that the carrier is anticipating their return. If the carrier is a stalker then there are thousands more where that came from. It may also be an Orphan's Plot Trinket, usually when kept in a locket. Even still, if the photo is ruined, there are two possible outcomes:

  1. The carrier gets mad and beats or kills the person who ruined the photo.
  2. The loss of the photo simply "breaks" the carrier.

If the person in the photo is dead and the story is set in Japanese culture, the photo will be all the more important as a channel for the deceased person's spirit to stay in touch with those still living.

Not to be confused with Fatal Family Photo, though it can overlap. If the Precious Photo tells us something about the character's family, then it's a Family Portrait of Characterization.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In the 2004 version of the Area 88 anime, a flashback shows that Mickey kept two photos taped to his cockpit console in Vietnam: one of his girlfriend Tracy, and the other of himself and his parents when he was a little boy. His fellow Navy pilot Patrick Reed kept a photo of his midwestern home taped in his cockpit.
  • Hughes from Fullmetal Alchemist carries multiple photos of his daughter and wife 24/7. They aren't dead or far away; they're just not in the immediate vicinity, so he can't point at them and declare that they are the most beautiful wife and cute daughter in existence. Hence the photos.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Not so much a particular photo, but Kaguya cherished all the pictures she had on her cell phone due to them representing the fact that she actually had things that she wanted to remember. She took it pretty hard when the phone was destroyed due to it being an old model that stored everything on its internal memory, and didn't recover until the rest of the Student Council uploaded similar photos to a shared album after she got a smartphone.
  • In Magikano, Magical Girl Ayumi keeps a photo of her crush Haruo in her underwear for 3 months in order to wind up with him forever. Unfortunately, her panties get stolen three days before her time is up, so she has to start over.
  • In the Pokemon episode "The School of Hard Knocks", Joe keeps a photo of Giselle, his bully, in his pocket. This is because she's so pretty that even Ash and Brock fall for her. At the end of the episode, Joe and Giselle reconcile and she lets him keep the photo.
  • Zoisite looks fondly at a picture of himself and Kunzite in an episode of Sailor Moon as he prepares for his latest plan. After Zoisite's death, Kunzite is seen looking sadly at it after an argument with the brainwashed Endymion.

    Comic Books 
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel): In "Snake-Eyes: The Origin", Snake-Eyes carried a photo of his twin sister during his tour in Vietnam. He kept it on his boonie hat as a good-luck charm, but after his patrol unit was ambushed and he was wounded, the photo was clipped by a bullet. Snake-Eyes was subsequently sent home, but his sister and their parents were killed by a drunk driver while on the way to the airport to greet him.

    Fan Works 
  • Jinx keeps a photo of her deceased mother in Changing Luck.
  • Iron Touch: Michelle carries around a photo of her parents in her bracelets.
  • Linked in Life and Love: Yang has a single photo of her mother Raven (her father got rid of them all but missed one), which is of Raven happily holding Yang as a baby. Yang's half-sister Ruby uses this as proof that Raven clearly cared for Yang, and must have had a good reason for leaving. Later, Raven shows Yang a different picture: Summer holding Yang while Raven happily holds a baby Ruby. Turns out Ruby is the daughter of Raven and Summer.
  • Roman has two photos in RWBY: Scars that he'd kill to protect: one of him holding a newborn Neo and another of him and the rest of team REDD before he was expelled from Beacon.
  • In the first story of the Skyhold Academy Yearbook series, Varric and Hawke are teachers at the eponymous school, and both have the same photo on their desks, showing their group of friends back in Kirkwall. For Hawke it's simply an affectionate reminder of old times; but for Varric, it also has a second purpose, as it allows him to look at his secret Love Interest without anyone realizing the truth.
  • It's mentioned in Twice Upon an Age that Bethany Hawke treasures an old portrait of her late mother, Leandra, which is a gift the player can give her during the events of Dragon Age II.
  • Universe Falls: Dipper is shown to keep some photos of himself and Lapis Lazuli from their adventure in "Dipper & Lapis", as a memento after she traps herself and Jasper at the bottom of Lake Gravity Falls as Malachite. In "Sock Opera", after Bill Cipher hijacks Dipper's body, Bill tears up the photos just to rub salt in the wounds.
  • Tragically subverted in the Chainsaw Man fan comic Part 1.5: What Denji Forgot, What Nayuta Saw. The final panel reveals that Denji has been constructing one of these from scratch since he failed to take one with Aki and Power while they were alive, crudely pasting cut-outs of a snapshot featuring Aki hanging out with Himeno and Power's mugshot from when she was captured by Public Safety onto either side of a photo of himself in his new high-school uniform. Even worse, both of those pictures are from before either of them had met Denji.
  • Vow of Nudity: Spectra grew up never knowing what her parents looked like, so when she starts rebelling against her warlock patron's orders, he gifts her an heirloom locket with their photo to manipulate her back into line.

    Films — Animated 
  • Blankie in The Brave Little Toaster keeps a picture of the Master, which he hugs for comfort.
  • In Lilo & Stitch, Lilo keeps a picture of her dead parents under her pillow. She gets angry at Stitch when he touches it, and when his fight with Jumba destroys her house and Stitch returns the scorched picture, Lilo rejects him and tells him to go away.
  • Robyn Starling from Tom and Jerry: The Movie had one. Hers is a locket with a photo of her Indiana Jones-esque dad - who turns out to be alive in the end.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Juror #3 in 12 Angry Men tears up his photo of himself with a young man (assumed to be his son, who has either left home after a fight or died) in a fit of rage, and quickly regrets it.
  • In Black Hawk Down, downed helicopter pilot Mike Durant is holed up while two Delta snipers try to protect him. After they are killed, he pulls out a photo of his wife just before he is dragged away, trying and failing to hang onto the photo. Though it isn't shown in the movie, he is later released and returns home to his wife.
  • In the opening scenes of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the family hurries out to their backyard air raid shelter during the Blitz. Edmund, however, runs back into the house to retrieve a picture of their absent father, who is implied to be away fighting in World War II.
  • Dredd. Rookie Judge Cassandra Anderson is introduced smiling at a photograph of her parents, whom we quickly discover were killed by the same radiation-poisoning that made her a mutant with Psychic Powers. She hastily folds up and tucks away the photo in a sleeve when the Chief Judge speaks to her.
  • Last Sentinel (2023). The photo Cassidy keeps looking at is assumed to be her family back home, including a husband she is cheating on with Sully. But Cassidy tells him that the person who looks like her is actually her mother; it's a photo of her parents and brother who were killed during the war. It's also a Cover Identity Anomaly when Sully realises it's raining in the photo, when all he remembers from his childhood is the constant heat from the lack of rain in Southland. That's because Cassidy grew up in Northland.
  • Mackintosh from Mackintosh and T.J. has a photo of his wife and child, who were killed in a car crash.
  • MonsterVerse:
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Both Emma and Madison Russell respectively carry in their possession a copy of the same family photo of their family before the Plot-Triggering Death of Emma's son and Madison's brother Andrew five years ago, symbolizing the tragic event's influence on the choices the surviving Russells make trying to come to terms with Andrew's death. Emma realizes just how much her Well-Intentioned Extremist but reckless actions which lead to King Ghidorah's apocalyptic Near-Villain Victory have destroyed her family when she finds Madison's tablet (which has the family photo as a screensaver) smashed on the floor.
    • Godzilla vs. Kong: Dr. Nathan Lind carries a small, worn photo of himself and his late brother David which he looks at a couple times during the film; where his mission is to successfully conduct the first manned mission into the Hollow Earth after his and David's previous failed attempt before the film's start resulted in David's death. In the novelization only, Bernie Hayes keeps a photo of his late wife Sara, and it's revealed in that version of the story that Bernie's motivated to bring down Apex Cybernetics partly because her death was a hit orchestrated by Apex because She Knows Too Much.
  • At the end of Plan B, Pablo makes a non-verbal love confession to Bruno by showing him that he secretly took a photo of Bruno and kept it in his wallet.
  • The photograph of Sarah Connor that John Connor gave to Kyle Reese in The Terminator. The photo itself is shown being taken at the end of the movie, as Sarah is about to drive into the desert.
  • Not exactly a photo, but in The Truman Show, Truman makes an accurate mosaic of Sylvia from women's magazines, to the same effect.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie has a desk full of old photos of him and his brother Teddy having fun together before Teddy was killed.
  • Logan is shown to carry a photo of Jean Grey in The Wolverine. However, considering his Mad Love for her and the Fridge Logic that he most likely stole the photo from Scott and Jean's possessions after their deaths in the X-Men: The Last Stand, it comes across as quite creepy, especially as he barely knew her.note 

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Arrow, Right before Oliver Queen left on the Queen's Gambit, Laurel Lance gave him a picture of her. It frequently appears in the flashbacks with Oliver constantly looking at it, and it is made clear that it and the reminder that she was back home is what kept Oliver going at various low points.
    Yao Fei: You're going to wear that thing out just by looking at it.
  • Legion: In "Chapter 26", Charles Xavier keeps a photograph of his wife and son in his suit jacket during his sojourn in Morocco. He glances at the picture and lightly rubs his thumb on it, which imparts to viewers that he misses his family while he's far away from home.
  • On NCIS, Ziva is shown to treasure a childhood photo of herself with her brother and sister, both of whom are deceased.
  • The Pretender: The protagonist carries a photo of his mother, whom he hasn't seen since he was abducted as a child.
  • Sesame Street: Big Bird has a precious drawing of the late Mr. Hooper. He drew it as a present for him, but never got to give it to him, so instead he keeps it by his nest. In one episode, art collector Leo Birdelli offers to buy it, but Big Bird refuses because he can't bear to say goodbye to Mr. Hooper again.
  • On Time Trax the avatar of Lambert's Magical Computer SELMA is based on the one photo he had of his mother.

    Music Videos 
  • In the video for "Holding Out for a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler, the photo that Bonnie takes from the nightstand in her bedroom is that of a white-clad hero cowboy, indicating that she is anticipating his return from far away.

    Video Games 
  • Delicious: Emily's Hopes and Fears: While on his quest, Patrick keeps a picture of his sick daughter Paige on his person, which he shows to people when they inquire about why he's on a quest. When it's destroyed at the monk's temple, he initially is incredibly angry at the monk; but this anger only leads to thought, and eventually, Patrick finding the flower he needs to cure Paige.
  • Agent Brown has one in the fourth installment of Detectives United, a framed picture on his desk of himself with his brother and sister. He doesn't mention it, but the game's opening cinematic lingers on it for quite some time to illustrate its importance. (His Evil Twin is the Big Bad of the game.)
  • Noble Demon Laharl from Disgaea: Hour of Darkness keeps a picture of his dead mother hidden in his room.
  • Dragon Age has a couple of examples.
    • If Bethany is the surviving twin in Dragon Age II, Hawke can retrieve a portrait of their mother Leandra from their ancestral family home and present it to her as a gift. Bethany absolutely loves the picture and is thrilled to receive it. It's not explicitly mentioned in the game again, but one can imagine that it becomes even more precious to her if she's still alive when Leandra is murdered later in the game.
    • It's only mentioned in party banter with Cole, but in Dragon Age: Inquisition, Cassandra has a locket which belonged to her grandmother, and inside is a portrait of her deceased brother Anthony, whom she idolized.
  • Eli Vance in Half-Life 2 constantly keeps a framed photo of himself, his late wife Azian, and an infant Alyx close by. Examining the photo while in Black Mesa East prompts him to comment on how it's the only thing aside from Alyx he managed to bring out of the original Black Mesa facility.
  • In Hotline Miami, Jacket keeps a picture with him at all times, but he discards it in the game's finale. The picture's contents are revealed in the sequel to be Jacket himself and another soldier who would later save Jacket's life, and plays critical role in Jacket's headspace.
  • Mass Effect 2: There is a photo of your love interest from the previous game on Shepard's desk. If you remain faithful to him/her, Shepard will pick it up and stare at it right before launching the Suicide Mission. If you get a new Love Interest, the photo is turned face down. It is also revealed in Lair of the Shadow Broker that Matriarch Aethyta has one of Liara.
  • In Mystery Trackers: The Secret of Watch Hill, the player character, Agent Amber, is shown to treasure a photograph of her parents and little brother Will, who died fifteen years prior to the events of the game.
  • Torque from The Suffering carries one of the family he's on death row for murdering. Its condition serves as the Karma Meter that determines whether he did it.

    Visual Novels 

  • Lackadaisy: Viktor cherishes a photo of his daughter Alena. When the photo gets accidentally dropped through the floor boards, he painfully braves the stairs to retrieve it.

    Western Animation 
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: When Alvin, Simon, and Theodore finally locate their birth mother, they discover that she wears a locket containing a picture of them when they were babies.
  • Boo Boom! The Long Way Home: One of the only items Boo-Boom has left after being separated from his parents is a family photograph. He can get very angry or upset if someone takes it from him.
  • Doug: In "Patti's Dad Dilemma," Patti has a photo in her room of herself and her parents from when her mom was alive and her dad could still walk.
  • DuckTales (2017): Donald keeps a single photo of his twin sister Della, which shows her shoving his face into a birthday cake.
  • Gravity Falls: In the Series Finale, it’s revealed that Ford has kept a picture of him and Stan as kids on the Stan ‘O War for at least thirty years, if not longer.
  • The Owl House: "Escaping Expulsion" shows that Amity carries around a photo of herself, Luz, Willow and Gus at Grom. When the Abomaton 1.0 is about to step on it, Amity stops Throwing the Fight and destroys it to save the photo.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "The Bad Batch", Captain Rex takes the time to look at an old group photo of himself, Commander Cody, and the late ARC troopers Fives and Echo before heading out on a mission. By the end of the episode, it turns out that Echo is Not Quite Dead

    Real Life 
  • Prince Louis of Battenberg (later known as Lord Louis Mountbatten) met his first cousin, Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna ("Marie") of Russia, when he was a teenager and was instantly and undeniably smitten with her from that point on, even decades after she was murdered with the rest of her family. He kept a photo of her on the mantelpiece of his bedroom until the end of his life.
    Mountbatten: I was crackers about Marie, and was determined to marry her. She was absolutely lovely. I keep her photograph on the mantelpiece in my bedroom - always have.
  • Queen Victoria had a miniature of her late husband, Prince Albert, which she wore on a chain around her neck. When she participated in parades for various events, she was observed to sometimes lift the photo so that Albert could "see" the crowds as the carriage rolled past.