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As a narrative device, giving your character a real-life award or military decoration is often a quick way to establish their credentials for smarts, skills, or badassery. It may also be a way to Call-Back to a moment of greatness earlier in the work.

Common choices include a Nobel Prize for the intellectuals, Pulitzer Prize for the Intrepid Reporter, a country-appropriate medal of honor for military personnel, the Tony/Oscar/Grammy/Emmy for performers, and Olympic medals for athletes.

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See also Artistic License – Awards for outright mistakes in the portrayal of awards. May overlap with Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Digimon Savers: In the Distant Finale, it's revealed that Thomas Norstein won a Nobel Prize for finding the cure for his sister Relena's illness.

    Comic Books 
  • Batwoman: As a West Point cadet, Kate Kane earned the Recondo Badge, the Basic Parachutist Badge, and the Air Assault Badge. She also received the National Defense Service Medal.
  • In Lori Lovecraft, White-Dwarf Starlet Danke Schoen won two Oscars before her career faded.
  • Michael Morbius won a Nobel Prize for his blood-related research.
  • Spiderman: Peter Parker won the Pulitzer Prize for Photography for his pictures of Spider-Man. After he revealed to the world that he was Spider-Man in Civil War, he was sued by J. Jonah Jameson for essentially selling him pictures of himself, but no word if his prize was in danger of being revoked as well.
  • Superman: Lois Lane is almost always introduced as a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter. Clark Kent himself is often written as getting one later in his career. Jimmy Olsen is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer too. The Daily Planet has one hell of a team.
  • Played for Laughs in an issue of Totally Awesome Hulk, in which Amadeus Cho met with Black Panther. Apparently, T'Challa has twice been named "Person of the Year" by Time Magazine, and has been named "Sexiest Man Alive" by People Magazine six times.
  • X-Men supporting character Moira MacTaggert, a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist.

    Fan Works 
  • In Shakedown Shenanigans, Eleya cites Vice Admiral Harnett from Starfleet Science as a 2392 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics before all but calling him Armchair Military.
    Eleya: Congratulations. Have you ever fired your service weapon outside the range?
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    Films — Animation 
  • In The Jungle Book (1967), Colonel Hathi claims to have gotten the Victoria Cross while serving in the British army. This is unlikely, considering he's an elephant.note 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • We are told that James Marshall, Harrison Ford's character in Air Force One, received a Medal of Honor for flying combat rescue operations in Vietnam.
  • At the opening of All About Eve, Eve is being awarded the Sarah Siddons Award for Distinguished Achievement, an award for acting. This was a fictional award at the time, but was later Defictionalized as a regional award in Chicago.
  • In the second movie version of All Quiet on the Western Front, corporal Himmelstoß is decorated with an Iron Cross (2nd class) by Wilhelm II himself.
  • At the end of Be Cool, Linda Moon's pop single that Chili Palmer helped her produce wins her a Grammy.
  • In Blackenstein, Dr. Stein has a Nobel Prize for his work in solving the DNA sequencing problem. Bizarrely, Winifred that he received a Peace Prize for his work, rather than the far more likely Prize for Physiology or Medicine.
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier Alexander Pierce was offered the Nobel Peace Prize. He declined by saying that peace is a goal that must be continuously striven for and such a worthy goal does not need prizes. By this point in the film he's been revealed as the current leader of HYDRA, the perpetrators of many past acts of violence and terrorism, and Nick Fury is suitably disgusted when he mentions the Nobel offer to Captain America and Black Widow.
  • The plot of Courage Under Fire revolves around Army Captain Karen Emma Waldon being posthumously evaluated to be the first woman to be awarded the Medal of Honor. (This is technically incorrect: the first Medal of Honor was awarded to Capt. Mary Edwards Walker, an Army surgeon during the Civil War, though at the time the Medal of Honor was the only military decoration the United States had.)
  • In Die Another Day, Miranda Frost is mentioned as having won a gold medal in fencing... because the winner wound up dying of a drug overdose.
  • In The Fly (1986), Seth Brundle almost won the Nobel Prize for Physics at the age of 20 as the leader of "the F32 team". Interestingly, his eventual love interest Veronica only learns about this from her editor/ex-lover Stathis (who's having research done on Seth out of jealousy). Later on, as Seth undergoes a Slow Transformation into a Half-Human Hybrid due to an accident involving his teleporter, he notes that "I'm becoming 'Brundlefly'. Don't you think that's worth a Nobel Prize or two?"
  • In Forrest Gump, Gump is awarded the Medal of Honor for saving four members of his platoon in Vietnam and getting Shot in the Ass in the process.
  • The Hudsucker Proxy: Not only is Amy Archer established as having won a Pulitzer Prize, others in her office are shown making bets as to if and when she'll bring it up in conversation.
  • In & Out's plot starts as a local boy made good accepts an Academy Award and outs his high school English teacher in his acceptance speech. The Oscar statuette is Kevin Kline's own for A Fish Called Wanda.
  • Defied in K-19: The Widowmaker. In the Distant Finale (set at the fall of the Berlin Wall; the rest of the film is in 1959), Captain Vostrikov reveals to the survivors of the crew that he nominated the twenty men who died working on K-19's reactor as posthumous Heroes of the Soviet Union. He bitterly goes on that this was rejected because they died due to a peacetime reactor accident rather than in war.
  • In the original The Karate Kid (1984) Daniel walks in on a very drunk Mr. Miyagi dressed up in a World War II-era US Army uniform. It turns out his Eccentric Mentor earned the Medal of Honor serving in Europe in the 442nd Infantry Regiment, a nisei (Japanese-American) unit. Truth in Television: Adjusted for size and time active, the 442nd is the most decorated military unit in American history, and most of those medals, including 21 MOHs, were given for the European theatre.
  • National Lampoon's European Vacation opens with the Griswolds facing off with a family of geniuses on a game show. The parents are both Nobel Prize winners and the kids are no less brilliant. The Griswolds win anyway...by accident.
  • The Oscar has Frankie Fane being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, only to see the Oscar be awarded to Frank Sinatra instead.
  • Rambo:
    • John Rambo is identified as a Medal of Honor recipient by Col. Trautman.
    • Sheriff Teasle's office has a Silver Star, a Purple Heart, and a Distinguished Service Cross on display. Though not mentioned in the film, the novel and director's commentary explicitly state he served in Korea.
  • Part of Red Sparrow's resolution includes Dominika being awarded the Gold Star (the Russian equivalent of the Medal of Honor) for (falsely) exposing her uncle as the CIA's mole in SVR.
  • In The Revengers, John Gilbert is a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor during his service in the Civil War. This is relevant to the plot, as it entitles his son Morgan to attend West Point.
  • In the opening scene of The Rock, Gen. Hummell leaves his Medal of Honor at his wife's gravesite. He's also mentioned as having three Purple Hearts and two Silver Stars.
  • S1m0ne: The computer-generated actress S1m0ne is given the Academy Award for Best Actress. To cover up her lack of attendance and maintain The Masquerade, Taransky puts together a clip of her accepting it.
  • At the end of S.O.B., Sally Miles (Julie Andrews) wins an Oscar for her performance in Night Wind.
  • Star Trek: Generations: Apparently, one of Captain Picard's ancestors won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry. This is listed among two other famous Picards (one fought at Trafalgar, while others were part of the first Martian colonies), suggesting that Jean-Luc is trying to live up to a family legacy.
  • Tropic Thunder: Kirk Lazarus is a multiple-Oscar-winning actor. The film-about-the-making-of-the-film-within-the-film itself picks up a number of Oscars and Lazarus delivers one to main star Tugg Speedman (even if Best Actor is always delivered by an actress).

    Literature 
  • The book version of The Andromeda Strain mentions that Wildfire team leader and founder Jeremy Stone is a Nobel Prize winner in the field of biology.
  • Artemis Fowl: Mulch Diggums, finding the life of a (rich) law-abiding citizen in the human world to be unbearably boring, soon resorts to kleptomania, stealing Oscars from (fictional) Hollywood stars.
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • "The Billiard Ball": A major point is the tension between two former classmates: a scientist with two Nobel Prizes versus a much more famous engineer who makes money through inventions based on his work.
    • The Gods Themselves: Hallam received a Nobel prize for his work (well, he's actually a Fake Ultimate Hero, but still).
  • In Cujo, Gary Pervier served in World War II, where he had single-handedly taken a German pillbox, and was hit by six bullets. For this, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. After the war, Gary became an alcoholic and developed a nihilistic outlook on life, and he eventually had the medal made into an ashtray.
  • In Desperation, Johnny Marinville, a burnt-out writer in the present had once won the National Book Award.
  • In Flying Colours, while disguising Hornblower as a Dutch customs officer, the Comte de Graçay gives him his late son's Legion of Honour, saying that no one achieves the rank of colonel in Bonapartist France without receiving the Legion of Honour. The Comte de Graçay mentions that he does not care about a trinket of the tyrant, but he would like to have a memento of his son returned when most convenient.
  • Jack Ryan's wife Cathy is nominated for and ultimately wins a Lasker Award for her work in opthalmic surgery in one of the later books.
  • In Kim both Colonel Creighton and Hurree Chunder Mookerjee dream of being inducted into the Royal Society for their legitimate ethnological research.
  • The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles: There's a newspaper report near the beginning about Professor Savant being awarded the Nobel Prize for his work in genetics.
  • In The Manchurian Candidate, Sgt. Raymond Prentiss Shaw is awarded the Medal of Honor for rescuing his platoon. Perhaps a case of It Was His Sled, but the action never happened, they were kidnapped and brainwashed, and Captain Marco was brainwashed into nominating him for the Medal.
  • In The Second Jungle Book, the hero of The Miracle of Purun Bhagat is decorated as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire. He also received other honours, as mentioned in the final sentence of the story:
    "But they do not know that the saint of their worship is the late Sir Purun Dass, K.C.I.E., D.C.L., Ph.D., etc., once prime minister of the progressive and enlightened State of Mohiniwala, and honorary and corresponding member of more learned and scientific societies than will ever do any good in this world or the next."
  • In the fifth Spellsinger book, when the heroes are trapped in their respective Lotus Eater Machines, Jon-Tom dreams of being a famous singer, and there are rumors that "because of the penetrating and powerful social commentary contained in his lyrics, the Nobel committee in Stockholm was giving serious consideration to awarding him a special prize".
  • The group of futurists in "Tomorrow Town" is led by two Hugo Award winners. The story even specifies the years and categories: Varno Zhoule won Best Short Story 1957 and Best Novelette 1958, and Georgie Gewell won Best Fan Editor 1958. (In real life, the Hugo Award categories were not standardised until the 1960s, and those categories were not awarded in those years.) Probably the only example of this trope in which a fictional character is bludgeoned to death with his own real award.
  • In the wrapup of The Westing Game, Doug Hoo becomes an Olympic gold medalist and then a sports announcer.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Grand Finale of The Big Bang Theory is about Dr. Sheldon Cooper and Dr. Amy Ferrah-Fowler winning the Nobel Prize for their discovery of superasymmetry.
  • In Breaking Bad, Elliott Schwartz won a Nobel Prize on Chemistry helped by Walter White's research.
  • In Dad's Army, Private Godfrey was a conscientious objector during the First World War, but he was nevertheless awarded the Military Medal for heroic actions as a combat medic during the Battle of the Somme.
  • Endeavour: In "Harvest", Thursday and Morse are both (secretly) awarded the George Cross for preventing an act of terrorism at a nuclear power station.
  • In Friends, Ross is taken aback to learn that, until him, his Hot Scientist girlfriend Charlie has only dated Nobel Prize winners. One of them appears in a later episode and wins her back.
  • In Glee, swim coach Roz Washington won the Olympic bronze medal in synchronized swimming. Not only will she let everyone know, but she wears it everywhere she goes:
    "I won this bronze damn Olympic medal in Beijing, China! I had noodles with the president, and a threesome with Michael Phelps."
    • Another notable example occurs in the Distant Finale, which shows Rachel winning a Tony for her performance in a musical based off the work of Jane Austen.
  • Magnum, P.I.: Thomas Magnum is described as a Navy Cross recipient for heroism in Vietnam.
  • M*A*S*H: Used basically the same way twice.
    • In one episode, the insufferable and obnoxious Major Frank Burns slips and injures his back in a "normal" accident on the base which requires routine intervention. He browbeats Colonel Henry into accepting the logic that, as the 4077 M*A*S*H* is officially a front-line military hospital which shares front-line perils like occasional shelling and sniping, his "wound" was sustained in the front lines, and therefore merits a Purple Heart. Henry, grudgingly, gives in and writes the citation. Meanwhile, Hawkeye and Trapper are dealing with a real American hero: a fifteen-year-old boy who lied about his age to enlist in the Marines. Hawkeye wrestles with the ethical dilemma about breaching a patient's confidence, but exposes the youth to the Military Police. He is to be discharged from the Marines and sent home to his parents. Hawkeye and Trapper sweeten the pill by stealing Frank's medal and re-presenting it to a soldier who really was wounded in combat.
    • In another episode, Frank claims a Purple Heart because when he cracked open his breakfast egg some of the eggshell got in his eye. The official medical records read "shell fragment" and again, since they're a frontline unit, it counts as a war wound. Hawkeye and BJ steal Frank's Purple Heart medal and give it to a Korean baby born at the hospital whose mother had a harrowing time getting to the unit before she gave birth. Frank witnesses this presentation and, in a Pet the Dog moment, doesn't actually seem to mind, only remarking to B.J. that he really wants to earn one himself.
    • Potter reveals he received the Good Conduct Medal while he was an enlisted soldier. While it is reserved for enlisted soldiers only, it was first awarded in 1941 and the retroactive dates only go back to 1940. However, since Potter is noted to have served in World War II, which ended in 1945, this is not out of the realm of possibility.
    • Potter has BJ awarded the Bronze Star for helping a chopper escape while under fire. However, it's unlikely he knew that BJ was forced to cut a rope to a wounded soldier to escape, abandoning him to death or capture. BJ views it as a Medal of Dishonor and gives it another wounded soldier.
  • Quantico cites Ryan Booth, a former Marine, as a Bronze Star recipient. Given that he's not actually an FBI cadet but rather a full-fledged agent undercover, it's unclear whether he actually received it.
  • In the Quantum Leap episode "The Wrong Stuff", Sam mentions winning the Nobel Prize for Physics.
  • Seinfeld. Kramer is accidentally whisked on stage during a Tony's ceremony, where he receives one with the cast and crew of the fictional Broadway musical, Scarsdale Surprise. The producers eventually discover the error, and make a deal with him that he can keep the Tony if he'll fire Raquel Welch, because they're too afraid to do it themselves. After being brutally attacked, Kramer's Tony is smashed to pieces.
  • Stargate SG-1
    • In "Secrets" Jack and Sam are each awarded the Air Medal for destroying two of Apophis's motherships that tried to invade Earth at the season 1/season 2 changeover. (Daniel and Teal'c were there, too, but they're civilians and aren't eligible.) The cover story is that they got the medal for their work in "deep-space satellite telemetry" (which Sam's father Gen. Jacob Carter rightly calls BS on, seeing as how the Air Medal is awarded for air missions in combat zones).
    • A flashback in "Avalon, Part 1" establishes new SG-1 CO Cameron Mitchell as a Medal of Honor recipient (erroneously referring to it as the Congressional Medal of Honor), which he received after he was shot down while covering SG-1 in an F-302 back in "Lost City, Part 2": he brought down an attacking al'kesh despite the fact he'd already been hit twice and his Guy in Back killed.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: In "The Ultimate Computer" Dr. Richard Daystrom is cited as a 2243 Nobel Prize winner for the invention of duotronic computers.
  • Not quite a formal award, but in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "All Good Things..." the version of Data from 25 years in the future holds the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge. This post has been held by such real-world luminaries as Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking, and Charles Babbage.
  • Dex Parios from Stumptown served in the Marines, and received the Legion of Merit, the Purple Heart, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the Marines Overseas Service Ribbon, the Canadian Meritorious Service Cross, the Rifle Expert Badge, and the Pistol Expert Badge.
  • Jack Frost in A Touch of Frost is another George Cross recipient. In this instance, it's an important plot point since a lot of his more questionable behaviour is tolerated as a result of him being a decorated hero, effectively giving him Ultimate Job Security.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • In "Showdown with Rance McGrew", the title character tells Jesse James that he has been nominated for two Emmys. The unimpressed James thinks that McGrew did not deserve to be nominated.
    • In "The Changing of the Guard", Artie Beechcroft received the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroism during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Time and Teresa Golowitz", Bluestone tells Nelson Baxley that he will go into television production and win two Emmys in the future.
  • One episode of The Unit has Jonas Blaine's father be very belatedly awarded the Silver Star for destroying a tank via classical Insert Grenade Here during the Korean War.
  • President Bartlet on The West Wing has a Nobel for economics.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Safe Havens:
    • Dave Hamper wins an Olympic gold medal as part of the men's basketball team in the Rio games. He notes that it's the only thing he would get that his wife Samantha (who retired from sports to concentrate on science) wouldn't.
    • Ming's documentary Gest8 was nominated for an Oscar. She didn't win, but she's unbothered by that because the documentary was about her being pregnant with her son Clay, whom she regarded as the bigger prize.
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    Theatre 
  • Applause, the musical adaptation of All About Eve, begins with Eve being awarded a Tony.
  • In Rowan Atkinson's sketch "The Good Loser", Atkinson's character is forced by circumstance to accept the Lawrence Olivier Award on behalf of another actor in the same show (they were both nominated, the other guy wins, but Atkinson's character is the only one there).

    Video Games 
  • In Call of Duty: Black Ops, the player is able to find a computer in the back of the room the main menu is set in, through which they can access email accounts for the player character Alex Mason (among others). One of the emails reveals that Mason competed in the Wimbledon Cup and took first place in the 1953 competition.
  • In the backstory of Homefront, Kim Jong-un united Korea under North Korean leadership and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for it.
  • In the Mega Man (Classic) series, robotics engineer Dr. Thomas Light is mentioned as being a Nobel Prize winner.
  • At the end of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Snake is awarded a Distinguished Service Cross along with the title of Big Boss.
  • In Sabre Ace: Conflict Over Korea, your Player Character will be dynamically awarded medals for events of successful missions, such as an Air Medal every four air-to-air kills in the USAF campaign.
  • Keeping with its policy of hiring only the best to teach their students, Akademi High in Yandere Simulator hired 23 time Olympic gold medalist Kyoshi Taiso as their gym teacher and coach. That's not a typo.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: When Jimmy peeks into his and his friends' futures in one episode, he sees himself as the first-ever winner of the Nobel Prize in bulk.
  • BoJack Horseman:
    • BoJack's book, One Trick Pony, ends up winning a Golden Globe.
    • Sarah Lynn ends up winning a Best Original Song Oscar. Sadly, she doesn't get to enjoy it, as she dies from a drug overdose shortly thereafter.
  • Jay Sherman, the title character of The Critic, already a Pulitzer winner, is given another Pulitzer for criticism in one episode.
    • In his guest appearance in ''The Simpsons", he's also shown to have won a People's Choice Award, five Golden Globes, and an Emmy.
  • William Nekton from The Deep is an Olympic gold medalist in swimming.
  • Futurama
    • In "Anthology of Interest II" Professor Farnsworth tries to win a Nobel Prize for turning Bender into a human using reverse-fossilization.
    • Some supplemental material has stated that Prof. Farnsworth was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing a doomsday device and a Nobel Peace Prize for not using it.
    • "Bender's Big Score:" In 2308, a Nobel Peace Prize is given for ending the beef between East Coast & West Coast rappers, but Bender steals it.
  • King of the Hill: Throughout his appearances, Cotton's decorations are slowly revealed. In "Returning Japanese", his uniform includes the Medal of Honor and American Campaign Medal. In "Cotton Comes Marching Home" his Silver Star is shown in a display case in the Arlen VFW. In season twelve, he shown wearing the third class, Commandeur, of the French Legion of Honour - the highest decoration in France and only awarded to a handful of Americans during the war.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In the 1944 short "What's Cookin' Doc?", Bugs Bunny believes he's a shoo-in for Best Actor at the Oscars, but James Cagney wins it instead, causing Bugs to have a meltdown. He ends up getting a Booby Prize Oscar, shaped like him.
    • Bugs is awarded a Nobel Prize in The Looney Tunes Show episode "The Shelf". Subverted when this genius bunny succeeds in demolishing his entire house while building a shelf to display his award.
    • Bugs argues with the humorless Kate Houghton during Looney Tunes: Back in Action about rehiring Daffy Duck, and bolsters his argument with four Oscar statuettes and a chunk of granite with his Walk of Fame star on it. For the record, four Warner Brothers cartoons have won an Oscar, but only one went to a Bugs Bunny cartoon" "Knighty Knight Bugs." Bugs Bunny also has an actual star on the Walk of Fame.
      • Related, an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures has Bugs winning the "Hollywood Shloscar" for "Knighty Knight Bugs", while a fictional cartoon elephant (based on Silly Sidney) who was nominated that year decides to exact revenge on him.
    • At the end of the short "Super-Rabbit," Bugs becomes a Marine. In real life, the U.S. Marine Corps were so thrilled by that ending that they actually inducted Bugs into the force as a private, complete with dogtags; he was regularly promoted until the end of World War II, where he was officially "discharged" with the rank of Master Sergeant.
    • Bugs has a humorous lampshade in "The Wabbit Who Came To Supper," where he interrupts his faux death scene and says to us "Hey...dis scene oughta get me the Academy Award!"
  • Mighty Mouse testifies in court on his own behalf regarding the disappearance of Scrappy Mouse ("Anatomy of a Milquetoast"). In taking the oath, he holds a gold statue with ACT engraved on it. Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures had been cited as a quality show by the committee Action for Children's Television.
  • A late episode of The Powerpuff Girls reveals that the Professor has a Nobel Prize... For Science! He tosses it aside to make room for a trophy he won in a chili cook-off.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The Be Sharps win a Grammy for their barbershop quartet album. Subverted in that the Running Gag which follows once the winning bliss ends is that everybody (writers included, as mentioned on a quick disclaimer) thinks that the Grammys are an utterly worthless prize.
    • When Homer becomes a blogger by the pen name "Mr. X", his pseudonym is awarded a Pulitzer for unmasking political corruption in Springfield. However, upon finding out that the prize money will go to charity since there's no indication of the writer's identity, Homer outs himself for the payoff.
    • In "Behind the Laughter", the Simpsons win Grammys for their mega platinum hits Simpsons Boogie, Lovely to Love Your Lovin', and Simpsons Christmas Boogie (the latter winning "Best Hardcore Thrash Metal").
    • In the "Frinkenstein" part of "Treehouse of Horror XIV", Professor Frink wins a Nobel Prize for his hammer with a screwdriver on the other end. ("It was a slow year.") With this invention decreasing the amount of time wasted switching tools, he reanimated his shark-bitten father's corpse, who shows up to the ceremony. Frink Sr. then went "smorgasbord on these poindexters", popping open the skulls of the other scientists there and lumping their brains on top of his own.
  • The Ice Dancers on Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race won a silver medal at the Olympics. They're haunted by it (they wanted gold), and it's their major motivation throughout the series.

    Real Life 

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