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Priceless Paperweight

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Washington: You've been hiding one of the most advanced pieces of technology known to man... so you can hang it in your living room?
Grif: ... well, when you say it like that, it sounds dumb.
Washington: That's because it is dumb!

So there's this MacGuffin, right — perhaps one that The Hero and company must find in order to stop the The End of the World as We Know It, or maybe something that explains all they need to know to solve some problem at hand. Somebody goes searching for it, looking under every rock, solving every puzzle, and maybe even going all apeshit on someone who might know where the MacGuffin is. But eventually they find the MacGuffin, and discover that this priceless, important, amazing artifact/object/spear/war-souvenir/whatever is in the hands of someone perfectly willing to give it up.

Because they're just using it as a paperweight.

Priceless Paperweight, therefore, is when said important and/or priceless artifacts or other objects are being used for ridiculously mundane purposes, like paperweights, footstools, or a pretty decor for their bookshelf. Oftentimes this is Played for Laughs, usually by showing The Hero's or some other person seeing the usage's shocked reaction to such a stupid way of using something so valuable. Often used as a form of Conspicuous Consumption, especially in the hands of a villain; it's their way of saying that the object means nothing to them.

Oddly enough, this is sometimes Truth in Television, as noted by some examples below.

Compare with Grail in the Garbage, Hidden in Plain Sight, Mundane Utility, Useful Book, Plot Device All Along and Worthless Yellow Rocks.


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  • In this late-1990s Fed Ex commercial, a competitor package company erroneously sends The Stanley Cup to rural Bolivia, where it ends up as a basket for produce in a village market.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Pegasus is shown via Flash Back discovering the Pharaoh's tomb during a journey to Egypt. His next move? Using it to make Egyptian God Cards to be sold to the masses. Then again, it's justified in this case; he was manipulated into making the cards by the tomb's protector spirit as a conduit to bring the tomb's Sealed Evil in a Can to the modern world. And, seen in the Battle City arc, he at least donated some of his findings to museums. The dub has Shadi state Pegasus can't tell anyone. Shadi gets very nasty if the rules surrounding the Millennium Items are broken.
  • The Book of Darkness in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's is a powerful Artifact of Doom capable of granting world-destroying powers to any mage. When it landed in Hayate's possession, she took good care of it not because she knew what it was, but because it looked really pretty in her bookshelf.
  • In Lupin III: The Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure: When Zenigata finds the bronze bear statue lying around Lupin's apartment, he isn't sure what to make of it. So he uses it to weigh down the lid on his ramen noodles while they steam! He doesn't realize that statue is actually part of a set needed to unlock the fabled Harimao treasure.
  • One of the later story arcs of the anime Tsubasa Chronicle (after splitting off from the manga's storyline) involves a woman who has made a fan out of one of Princess Sakura's feathers, having found it on the street one day. She wasn't trying to make a powerful weapon of a fan, either — she just thought the feather was pretty and stuck it on.
  • Early on in Dragon Ball, Goku travels to Master Roshi's island to borrow the Bansho Fan, the one thing that can extinguish the fire on Frypan Mountain, only to find out that Roshi was using it as a tablecloth... and he had thrown it out because he spilled soup on it! Fortunately Roshi manages to put out the fire another way: by... blowing up the mountain with a Kamehameha.
  • Invoked in Nobunaga no Chef where Nobunaga used a priceless vase that Matsunaga gifted him as a soup holder, to the latter's horror. He then pretends to fall and almost drops the vase to test how Matsunaga will react.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • One of the early Power Rangers comics has Kimberly use her power coin as a coaster for her soda. She then forgot where she put it and nearly got the team killed for it when she couldn't show up for the Megazord activation.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • In a Don Rosa story, "The Treasury of Croesus", Scrooge McDuck seeks to restore one of the lost Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, in order to decipher the location of the treasure-trove of King Croesus (who bankrolled the construction of the temple) from writing scattered across the columns. Most of the pieces of the columns were scattered across the world when invading Goths tore down the temple and carted off the pieces as trophies. So, Scrooge travels all across the world, seeking out the lost pieces in a Montage — finding several of them being used in mundane ways.
    • Another example from Rosa's stories is in "His Majesty McDuck", where Scrooge finds a plaque and a document that proves the hill his money bin stands on was never a part of the United States, having been given directly to the founder of Duckburg by the Spanish. He declares it a sovereign country but this ends up causing him a lot of trouble (the city cuts off his electricity and the Beagle Boys invade and take over since police jurisdiction does not extend to foreign countries). In the end, Scrooge joins his country back to US and uses the plaque as a tray for bird seed.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Zits, by sheer luck, Jeremy's dad ends up with a guitar pick used by the lead guitarist of the most famous in-universe band. At the time Jeremy finds out, his dad had been using it to clean out his ears.
  • In a relative example, one The Far Side comic features an elephant who had recently lost his foot to poachers. The elephant is understandably upset to learn that his foot had been turned into a novelty wastebasket.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm:
  • The Flash Sentry Chronicles: It is revealed that the final piece of Princess Amore's statue, which when are all gathered back together will restore her to life, was found by a group of Earth Golems that live North of the Crystal Empire, and use it as a back-scratcher to scratch the moss off their backs. Thankfully though, they agree to trade it in exchange for Ruby Scarlet creating a much better and fancier back-scratcher out of crystal for them.
  • Legendarily Popular: Ash's smartphone is a tiny shiny Arceus. This actually helps his other Pokémon to stay motivated.
    Reuniclus: Can't you just be content with being a ridiculous electrokinetic?
    Pikachu: My trainer uses a junior creator deity to check if the shops are open! Excuse me for staying ambitious!
  • The above Yu-Gi-Oh! example is lampshaded in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
    Pegasus: This is the archaeological find of the century! I'm going to turn this s**t into trading cards!
  • Toward the end of Showa & Vampire one of the heroes learns he's descended from a samurai and agents of the organization he's going to be leading have found most of the pieces of this samurai's armor. The only time it's ever mentioned is when he wears the suit as a Halloween costume.
  • When Harry Potter finally retrieves the Book of the Dead in Death's Knight, Death uses it to prop up her coffee table.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Home (2015), Captain Smek silences other Boov by hitting them on the head with the rock on the end of his "shusher wand". We later discover that the "rock" contains the entire next generation of Gorg, which is the true reason the Gorg has been chasing the Boov.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Because Captain Nemo and his crew are renegades who live outside society, they are only interested in using sunken treasure as ballast for the Nautilus, much to the consternation of Ned Land.
  • Iron Man 2: Tony Stark uses Captain America's prototype/unfinished shield to prop up what he is currently working on.
  • The Prince and the Pauper: Errol Flynn version. The missing great seal of England (entrusted to the prince) is a significant plot point of the Pauper's storyline. At the end, the pauper explains that he had used it to crack nuts. Cue "Everybody Laughs" Ending.
  • In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Lord Girion's last Black Arrow is hanging from the rafters of Bard's kitchen. Bard hangs pots off of it.
  • In Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, Tom Servo turns out to have an interocitor (a piece of advanced alien technology) in his room. He's been using it to make hot chocolate.
  • In The Dark Knight, in order to illustrate that "Some men just want to watch the world burn", Alfred Pennyworth tells the story of a Burmese bandit who stole precious stones and simply tossed them away afterwards. The butler found it out when he saw a clear example of this trope: a child mindlessly playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine.

  • One of Neil Gaiman's short stories, "Chivalry", involves the Holy Grail being found by an old lady in a thrift store. The ancient knight who comes in search of the grail discovers that she knows exactly what it is, and keeps it for no greater reason than because it looks nice on her mantle. He offers to trade several other priceless treasures for it, knowing that she will use them for decoration the same way. At the end of the story, she goes back to the thrift store and finds the lamp from the Thousand And One Nights... but concludes that she has nowhere to put it.
  • The Prince and the Pauper, the court officials keep asking the false Prince, Tom Canty, about the whereabouts of the Great Seal of England, hidden by the real Prince Edward Tudor just before their escapades began. Despite repeating question the disguised Tom has no idea what they're talking about. In the end, Edward returns and proves his true identity by at once pointing out what it was. Tom admits he'd been using every day as a nutcracker.
  • In Life, the Universe and Everything, the pieces of The Wikkit Gate have all been scattered throughout the galaxy and are mostly being used for mundane things.
  • Inverted in The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha, where the main character takes genuinely mundane things for this.
  • In Yahtzee Croshaw's novel Jam, Don is disgusted to find his hard-drive with the game that'll save his career on it being used as a drinks coaster.
  • In Nomads of Gor, the (last) egg of a male Priest-King is hidden amongst the Wagon Peoples. Kamchak of the Tuchuks uses it as a footstool.
  • In the Safehold series, the Wylsyn family has an artifact known as the Key, which was handed down to them by the Archangel Scheuler. It looks like a well-polished stone. Due to its unremarkable appearance, generations of Wylsyns have hidden the key by displaying it on their desk and using it as a paperweight.
  • This is the solution to one story in the Hercule Poirot collection The Labours of Hercules. A priceless Renaissance goblet is stolen and then disappears for ten years. Why has it not come back onto the market? Poirot finds it in a convent, being used as a chalice at Mass.
  • In the Transformers: TransTech short story "I, Lowtech", the Corrupt Corporate Executive protagonist finds out his equally-corrupt rival keeps ridiculously powerful artifacts that have been both the start and end of dynasties and wars in multiple universes as decorations in his private office. Though the rival is well aware of how valuable it all is and does it precisely as an ostentatious show of his immense wealth.
  • The McAuslan-series has the table service in the officers' mess, which consists of every valuable or interesting piece of swag a regiment's worth of larcenous Scots have picked up over the course of three centuries. As an example, the punch-bowl is in fact a solid silver chamberpot once owned by Napoleon's little brother Joseph. When a local resistance leader hands one of the lieutenants his knife as a token of surrender, it is immediately pressed into service as a cheese slicer.
  • In Catherine Wells's Beyond the Gate, it is explicitly mentioned that one of the kukhoosh's of the university on Dray's Planet uses a crystal formation, noticed by a visitor as being worth "a small fortune" on earth, as a door stop.
  • In P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath, Penari uses the giant uncut diamond he stole in impossible circumstances, the Eye of Abarraden, as a paperweight.
  • Played with in Monster, in which the mystical stone tablet responsible for creating the universe is used by its keeper as a literal paperweight, as well as a cutting board and nutcracker. She knows perfectly well that it is responsible for the universe's existence, she just knows it has Mundane Utility too. (Judy suggests that it could be used to prop up the short leg of a wobbly table as well, but apparently that use hasn't come up.)
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Hagrid's access to the Forbidden Forest and its magical creatures and his skill in handling them means he also has access to various very valuable ingredients and materials such as unicorn tail hair. Since Hagrid has little concept of their monetary worth, he simply uses them to maintain his hut. Horace Slughorn on the other hand does understand their monetary worth. He quickly realizes Hagrid is more or less sitting on a small fortune's worth of magical ingredients.
  • Infinity Beach takes place in a world of Absent Aliens. It turns out that a model spacecraft that a businessman is keeping in his office is an actual alien spacecraft used by a race of small aliens.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One guy in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles finds an abandoned Terminator head and decides to hold onto it, apparently just because it looks cool. But then its body comes back looking for it and, yeah.
  • This trope happens all the time with Kryptonite on Smallville, whether it's necklaces or class rings.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jenny Calendar needed an Orb of Thesulah for a ritual to give Angel his soul back. A guy who sells magic supplies mentions to her that there isn't much call for them, since the rituals of the undead were lost, but he did sell a couple as new age paperweights last year. A few episodes later, Giles reveals that he has one in his office, where he's been using it as a paperweight. Apparently, he'd only just realized that it may, in fact, be a genuine Orb of Thesulah and not just a copy. Of course, in this case, without the rituals, it was just a paperweight.
  • The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island has Gilligan using an energy-producing MacGuffin as a lamp.
  • The BBC show Cash In The Attic is basically this trope: people need money for some expense, and get the show's antiquarian to inspect their valuables for the occasional diamond in the rough. They tried the same thing in the States, but the show wasn't nearly as possible, most likely because America as a country isn't as old as the United Kingdom.
  • Just In Singapore, a Singaporean dramedy revolving around a family living in a HDB apartment, have one of it's sub-plots revolving around a gigantic bronze tub in the apartment's bathroom taking up a massive chunk of space in the already-cramped interiors. Said tub was apparently a family heirloom left behind by the grandparents from China, with much of the drama revolving around whether the tub should be sold or disposed off (which the family's patriarch and matriarch are well against). Near the end of the series, comes the revelation that said tub was actually an artifact from the Ming Dynasty and used by royalty, turning the series' final arc into war over the tub's ownership.
  • Leverage: In "The Ho, Ho, Ho Job", Parker decorates the office Christmas tree with several pieces of jewelry she's stolen over the years.
  • Millennium (1996) did this with a chunk of the cross which once held Christ. A rival faction called Odessa had the priceless artifact in a beautiful glass case on a velvet cushion, with a Nazi flag behind it. When the Millennium Group proper gets a hold of it, the Old Man uses it as the other half of a bookends.
  • A recurring sketch in That Mitchell and Webb Look features an uninterested man at a jumble sale (Webb) selling such items as a wardrobe which functions as a gateway to Narnia and the Holy Grail.
  • Loki (2021) has a literal example, with confiscated Infinity Stones from various timelines being so common that some Time Variance Authority bureaucrats use them as paperweights. This helps establish that the TVA is ridiculously above anything else that has previously appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Odd Squad:
    • "Agent Oksana's Kitchen Nightmares" would reveal that the eponymous agent uses real diamonds in place of knives, for cutting food with. According to her, cutting with real diamonds creates the precision that only those jewels have — fake diamonds won't do the job.
    • In "Odd Beginnings: Part 2", Oprah gives heaters to Arctic Mr. O at his request so he can provide his Headquarters and his agents with heat. Come "Teach a Man to Ice Fish" and it's revealed that the heaters are only merely serving as doorstoppers.
    • Following the events of the mid-season 3 finale, "End of the Road", The Shadow's box of villain powers — created by her to hold all of the powers so she could spread them throughout the tube system as part of her Evil Plan — is revealed to be at the Big O's office. However, by "Box Trot", agents have started using it as a pinata, with the powers still inside of it. Because of this, Orpita has the Mobile Unit take the box and dispose of it, as well as the powers, at a black hole.
    • In "Orla's Birthday", an ancient Odd Squad shield is used for nothing more than a decoration at Orla's 500th birthday party. Subverted in "End of the Road" where the shield becomes equipped by Orla herself for defense and is a mainstay weapon for her for the rest of the season.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Basic adventure IM3 The Best of Intentions. One of the magical artifacts the PCs need to acquire is being used by a giant bacteria to shield its underside from unpleasant drafts.
    • In the setting Scarred Lands, the pantheon of Gods managed to slay the titan Kadum (a.k.a. The Mountainshaker). The mighty titan's source of power was his heart, so the goddess Belsameth (a.k.a. The Slayer) ripped it out... and has since used it as a footstool.
  • In the Old World of Darkness, there was a Villain Sue named Sam Haight who just got mightier and mightier, until he at last died in a Mage adventure. When people started speculating that Haight would come back as a wraith, the publishers declared that he DID become a wraith, but was captured by the evil soul-eating empire. They recycled his soul for raw material, and used that particular unit of soulsteel to make an ashtray for one of their bureaucrats.
  • GURPS Warehouse 23 mentioned that one of the powers ascribed to The Ark of the Covenant was that it would shoot lightning to kill the vermin on the Israelites' path, thus making it the Bug Zapper of the Gods, and dared the GM to imagine a Secret Master decadent enough to use it only as such.

    Video Games 
  • In Superhero League of Hoboken, a few missions have you tracking down priceless artifacts from the "Before-Time". These include a diet book (priceless pre-end of the world knowledge!) and a Frank Sinatra tape. Two of the artifacts, however, are being rather mundanely used: George Washington's Museum's Souvenir Rack, which is made of gold and being used as an ostentatious coat rack, and a VHS video tape, which is being used to stabilize a wobbly table.
  • At the conclusion of the "Firewalker" mission in Mass Effect 2, Shepard and their crew come across an artifact: a metallic sphere implied to be a data storage device of some sort. After confirming the artifact is inert and harmless, Shepard uses it as an ornament for their coffee table on the Normandy. It doesn't return for Mass Effect 3; the Alliance presumably took issue with Shepard's less-than-appropriate usage of archeological finds and confiscated it.
  • The NES port of Ikari Warriors hangs an unintentional lampshade on this. A silver-colored Palette Swap of the hidden Gold item is named the "Paperweight". It's worth 5000 points just like the Gold.
  • Frequently in Bethesda games such as Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Find a shiny, unique new weapon? Aww, too bad you didn't invest in the skills needed to use it effectively. However, with the rudimentary house decorating methods, that one-of-a-kind, several-thousand-plus worth plasma canon or demonic warhammer will look mighty fine as a decoration. Not to mention rare ammo and food types. It seems like a waste to drink a Nuka Cola Victory and since they can't be turned into bombs so instead you will turn it into a night light.
  • Fallout: New Vegas: You've located a pre-War installation that controls a Kill Sat and figured out how to turn it on. But to make use of it, you need a handheld targeting device. Turns out some kid came across the device and is now using it as a toy gun. Good thing the safety was on.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, decoration is usually the destiny of many an artifact. The core of a Dwemer Centurion? A daedric Sigil Stone? The Space Core from Portal 2? All awesome mantelpiece mainstays for the player's house!
  • Basically made into a game mechanic in Evil Genius. Stealing priceless treasures is an integral part of the game, because they generate an area-of-effect that regenerates your minions' loyalty statistic. This requires you to put them in the spots in your base where minions tend to congregate, which leads to you using the Ark of the Covenant and Excalibur as decorations in your employee break room and cafeteria. Averted by the second game, however, where stolen treasures have unique effects.
  • Dwarf Fortress not only has artifact furniture, but lets you mount artifact weapons on furniture to make amazing dinner rooms. And since some artifacts are entirely mundane objects made and decorated fantastically well, it's perfectly possible for your stockpiles to have a heavily decorated gold bin engraved with historical events just lying around holding a big pile of axes, for example.
  • In one of Morgan's support conversations with Lucina in Fire Emblem: Awakening, Morgan suggests using the mythical Falchion to light up behind a bookshelf so the noble swordsman can stick a cockroach. Which Lucina attempts to do herself in a support conversation with her (possible) brother or sister. After berating them for using such a heralded sword for a degrading job as chopping apples.
  • In Final Fantasy XV, Luna uses the Oracle's trident to heal fatal injuries, scorch an attacking Astral...and prop herself up on slippery ground.
  • A collectible in Gears of War 3 is a very fancy Locust ceremonial hammer found in the Savage Locust trenches that has been reduced to being used as a regular old mundane hammer, since the world is going to shit for both the COG and Locust at this point.
  • Ghostbusters: The Video Game: One of the Cursed Artifacts is a clock that can tell the time at which its present owner will die. The flavor-text notes that the clock's hands spin out of control at GBHQ, because it's near the ghosts in the Containment Unit. "Peter uses it as a desk fan."
  • The Modron Cube in Planescape: Torment is a device that acts as a portal to the Modron Maze, a bizarre location in Limbo. Since it appears to be a miniature Modron holding a sword, the Nameless One can play with it like an action figure.
  • In Heaven's Vault, various items you find over the course of the story appear as decor in your ship, but Aliya seems to have interesting ideas on how to store them. The Crown of the Empire, which Aliya describes as the greatest find of her life, can be found unceremoniously hanging on the back of a chair, and the iolite crystal from Maersi spends the rest of the game plunked in a coffee pot once you're done with it. It's also how Timor and Tapi managed to find things of value for you, since a lot of Elborethians don't know the value of what they actually have, given how many of those things are there on Elboreth.
  • Played for Laughs in The Tesla Effect, where Tex has the Ark of the Covenant at the foot of his bed, and refuses to reminisce on how he got it. Of course, it could well be a replica, but it does shudder and emit an eerie light if you try to open it...
  • Pokémon Legends: Arceus: After asking you to collect three logs to craft her a cutting board, Cogita gives you her old one, which is actually the Pixie Plate, one of the ancient artifacts associated with the Olympus Mons Arceus. She claims to have never realized what it was, but notes that in hindsight everything she cut on it tasted better.
  • The player character of RuneScape considers using The Stone of Jas as a centerpiece for their house's garden after obtaining it at the end of "Ritual of the Mahjarrat."
  • The Klaww Gang of Sly 2: Band of Thieves stole the disassembled pieces of Clockwerk, an immortal robotic owl who's body is composed of powerful metal that cannot break. Most of the members make use of the pieces in ways that directly benefit their operations: Dimitri uses the tail feathers as printing plates for his counterfeit cash operation, Jean Bison uses the lungs and stomach as engines for his shipment trains, and Rajan uses the heart as a pump for his spice production. However, Rajan also received the wings, and simply makes them a decorative centerpiece for the lavish party he's hosting.
  • Terraria: While you can repair the Broken Hero Sword into the mighty Terra Blade, you can also craft it into the utterly unnecessary Terra Toilet. The toilet's tooltip is appropriately displeased at this waste of a weapon of destiny.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Grif gets hold of a Brute Shot, an incredibly powerful piece of alien weaponry that belonged to the Meta prior to the end of Season 8. He uses it as a wall decoration and occasional snack platter.
    • In season 13, we learn that the Chairman of the Oversight Committee has decorated his personal office with "souvenirs" from Project Freelancer. Among these items is the aforementioned Brute Shot (confiscated from Grif after Season 10) and the Monitor, an alien artifact that once housed Epsilon.

    Web Comics 
  • The trope is discussed in a strip of Wapsi Square when Brandi mentions that the portal cloth they just acquired wouldn't make a very good table cloth.
  • In Exterminatus Now, Eastwood swiped an object from Inquisition storage and uses it as a bookend. It turns out to be an ancient Soul Jar sought after by Morth and his patron god. And after all's done and solved he still wants his godsforsaken bookend, because the sickly-green light of all the ancient souls trapped within is simply perfect for his shelves' ambiance.
  • In Cassiopeia Quinn, the titular pirate and her cyborg boyfriend steal a robot control device from an actual, if staggeringly ineffectual, villainess. For some time, the galactic constabulary worry about what devious and horrifying purposes such a device could be put to in the hands of their enemy. The next panel shows Cassiopeia using it to balance out a table leg, ruining the remote permanently.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Kim Possible (which ends up just being a dream), Ron finds an old book written during the founding days of Middleton being used to support a wobbly chair in his kitchen. The book ends up having (most of) the answers to the mystery of Kim's disgraced ancestor.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot: One episode has Jenny, Brad, and Tuck looking for Jenny's robotic body parts being scattered around the world, most of which are being used as this trope.
  • In the South Park episode "Mecha-Streisand", Cartman and Kyle discover an Ancient Artifact capable of giving its user ultimate power. To them, however, it's a cool glowing triangle and they fight over the right to either let it sit on Kyle's dresser or in Cartman's shoe.
  • American Dad!:
    Roger: Remember that pimp cup I drank out of all the time? Turns out it was the Holy Grail.
  • In an episode of Justice League, Gorilla Grodd tasks Lex Luthor with stealing the Spear of Longinus to prove he is worthy of membership into Grodd's supervillain organization. According to Grodd, the legend goes that whoever holds the spear will be able to rule the world unopposed. Once Luthor delivers it to Grodd, he asks if Grodd will use it to conquer the world. Grodd replies that he wanted it because it will look very nice on his mantlepiece.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Twilight uses her Element of Magic, an incredibly magical artifact that has been used to save Equestria more than once, as a mundane crown a few times after her ascension to Alicorn. This bites her in the ass in My Little Pony: Equestria Girls as her treating it so carelessly, and leaving it on her bedside table while she sleeps, allows the Big Bad to steal it.
    • In one episode Trixie accidentally teleports the Friendship Table — one of the most powerful magical items in Equestria — to an unknown location. When she and Starlight find it, it's being used as a massage table at the Ponyville Spa.

    Real Life 
  • Note that this is occasionally been invoked when priceless historical items have actually been encased in literal acrylic paperweights and given off as gifts to important figures or friends of the historical figures associated with them. Examples include the coconut that JFK's crew used for a distress message, many pieces of historic space craft, and a few bullets used in (mostly) failed assassinations. It seems tasteless to sell something people call priceless, so might as well do something interesting with it.
  • There's an old story about two boys in Africa who were found by explorers playing catch with a stone. Upon closer inspection, the stone was actually an enormous uncut diamond.
  • Two Egyptologists found a 7th century Egyptian statue being used as a bike rack in a museum in Southampton.
  • Mummies were once a lot more common in Egypt, since mummification had previously been a very popular form of burial. Before the world fully appreciated the scientific and historical significance of mummies, many of them were used to make medicine (not something they're good for). There are also stories of them being used as fuel for locomotives, but the jury's still out on the truth of that. They were also ground up and used as pigment, appropriately called "Mummy Brown".
  • The first gold rush in the United States was sparked when it was discovered that the Reed family was using a 17 pound gold nugget found on their property as a doorstop.
  • In 2010, a pair of British siblings discovered that their late father's property included a small Chinese porcelain statue that had been just sitting around without any significance, that had the value of 50 million pounds!
  • How (one of the) oldest examples of Chinese writing was found: a man bought some bones from a Chinese medicine peddler for an illness and noticed some odd markings on them. He then realized he almost ate priceless archaeological artifacts. Quite a few fossils of great scientific value have been found in Chinese folk-medicine shops as well, and there's no guessing how many more have been ground up for home remedies before being discovered.
  • In Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!, Richard Feynman describes a room at Los Alamos where a ball of refined plutonium was kept. Due to being extremely difficult to produce, plutonium was (and is) extremely valuable. The doorstop to the room was also appropriately expensive: a ten-inch hemisphere of solid gold, which they had left over from earlier experiments with neutrons.
  • This is how the only surviving example of the Fat-Man atomic bomb (the same type used on Nagasaki) was found. For years a second Fat Man casing just sat in the basement of various storage facilities under the false assumption it was a pumpkin bomb, a type of conventional bomb designed to train pilots to use the Fat Man a-bombs. It wasn't until the Nimitz museum acquired the piece that anyone noticed it was the real deal. It is one of only a dozen of authentic (obviously demilitarized) nuclear weapons in the world on display. Before the Nimitz Museum, a buyer was interested in using it as kitschy road block.
  • There was a similar incident with a Grand Slam bomb, the most powerful conventional bomb ever used before a MOAB was dropped on ISIL in Afghanistan in 2017. Shortly after World War II, in 1946, one surviving Grand Slam casing was filled with concrete and put on display at the entrance to the Royal Air Force Station Scampton in England... or so everyone thought at least. It wasn't until 1958 that a nearby road construction project revealed the giant bomb to be filled with 9,136 lb of Torpex instead of concrete, and it was rusting away right in the middle of a heavy traffic zone where it was only one unlucky car crash away from blowing half the neighborhood to kingdom come. It was removed immediately and transported to the closest artillery testing range where the controlled detonation resulted in an explosion loud enough to be audible from 16 kilometers away.
  • In the A&E Biography episode about Boris Karloff, Karloff's agent collected the Grammy he won for "Best Spoken Word Album" (The Grinch Who Stole Christmas) since he could not attend the ceremony himself, and gave it to Karloff next time he dropped by. According to the agent, Boris said "It looks like a doorstop" — and then proceeded to prop open the agent's office door with it. "It stayed there for many years", the agent added, "'cause I'm sentimental about guys like Boris."
  • A long-lost painting by avant-garde artist Robert Bereny was discovered being used as a prop in Stuart Little.
  • The Stanley Cup was once accidentally forgotten by the then-champion Montreal Wanderers at a photographer's studio, and when they went to retrieve it they found the photographer's mother had been using it as a vase to hold geraniums.


Video Example(s):


The Prothean Sphere

Upon recovering a rare Prothean artefact from an abandoned dig site, Shepard uses the 50000+ year old relic to decorate a coffee table.

How well does it match the trope?

4.6 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / PricelessPaperweight

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