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Tragic Keepsake

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A daughter's gift, now a reminder of her murder.
"The locket was accorded this place of honor not because it was valuable — in all usual senses it was worthless — but because of what it had cost to attain it."

Bob's little sister Alice was killed in what he would later call his greatest failure. He continues to fight for her, trying to 'fix' the world so that no one else ever has to go through this, or seeking to take vengeance upon her killers. Though doing so may make him a Well-Intentioned Extremist or outright evil, it's all worth it to him.

In order for him to never forget the reason he fights, he keeps a memento, often something that belonged to Alice, though it may just be something that reminds him of her. Sometimes, the 'something' may be her Soul Jar, and Bob is attempting to find a way to resurrect her.

Villains love to get their hands on such an item, if only to crush it in front of their victim's eyes.

See also Orphan's Plot Trinket, Take Up My Sword, Death Notification, It Was a Gift, Memento MacGuffin, and Sentimental Homemade Toy. Contrast It's All Junk. When Bob is feeling particularly sad over Alice, he may hold the keepsake in a Cradle of Loneliness. If the Keepsake is a body-part of an entity being remembered, then it is this trope being combined with Creepy Souvenir. If the Keepsake is a music box, then this will most likely overlap with Nostalgic Music Box. If the Keepsake is a piece of someone's hair, it's usually a Hair Memento. If the Keepsake is a snowglobe, then it's a Snow Globe Of Innocence.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.

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    Comic Books 
  • The Dregs: When he finds his dead friend's valuable sweater in a thrift store, Arnold spends his last money on it.
  • Earth 2: The engagement ring that Alan Scott meant to give to his boyfriend became a conduit for him to use the power of the Green as that world's Green Lantern after his boyfriend was killed in a train wreck.
  • ElfQuest:
    • In the tragic story "Starfall, Starrise" one of the human boys whose actions lead to the untimely deaths of Shale, Eyes High and his own brother keeps the hair ornament worn by Eyes High as a mark of his shame. Many years later he is found by Shale and Eyes High's son Skywise, who was born shortly before his mother's death, who forcibly retrieves the ornament but spares the human's life.
    • Cutter keeps his late father Bearclaw's wolf-head necklace but doesn't have time to take it with him when humans set fire to the Holt. Returning to the spot some years later he finds its melted remains.
  • Flashpoint: Bruce kept the letter Flashpoint!Thomas Wayne wrote to him. Thomas used his last seconds asking Barry to give it to him... and then Eobard shreds it, because he's a dick.
  • Red Sonja's Chainmail Bikini is revealed in Queen Sonja to be a gift from her long-dead lover Kain. Its actually a Beautiful Slave Girl disguise used to infiltrate a sacrifice chamber and rescue their child allies. Kain was killed in action and Sonja wore the metal bikini as the last gift he gave her.
  • Superman:
    • The Untold Story of Argo City: Before setting off on a scientific expedition, Dar-Lin's mother gave her daughter a locket, asking her to wear at all times until her parents' return. Dar-Lin wore her mother's locket for three years after her parents' disappearance until she learned it was an emergency communicator device.
    • The Hunt for Reactron: When they were children and Krypton still existed, Thara Ak-Var used an inflammable Blood Bloom plant to save Kara from a predatory bird. Supergirl caught one crystalline petal of that plant and has kept it with her since then as a memento of her deceased friend.
  • X-23's locket, which contains pictures of her slain mother (whom Laura was forced to kill in a trigger scent-fueled rage) and her cousin, Megan. The locket was a parting gift from Megan when Laura was forced to send her into hiding to protect her from Kimura, and is the only thing she has left of her mother and family. She most prominently wore it in New X-Men, though it's only sporadically appeared since, often Depending on the Artist.

    Films — Animation 
  • Anastasia has one without even realizing it for half the movie; the necklace she wears was given to her by her grandmother, and doubles as the key for the music box Anya also received from her. The necklace is the only physical evidence of her old life and birthright that she has, and she can't even remember who gave it to her.
  • The Book of Life: Word of God states that Manolo's first guitar was a gift from his mother, who died when he was a baby.
  • Coco:
    • The epilogue shows that Miguel now plays Héctor's guitar.
    • Late in the film, it's revealed that Mamá Coco kept the part of the photo in the ofrenda with Héctor's face that was ripped off, along with all the letters with song lyrics Héctor sent her when he was traveling as a musician. The former means that Héctor can have his picture in the ofrenda next year and finally come back, while the latter is definitive proof that Ernesto is a fraud and Héctor was the true author of his songs, giving Héctor the credit he deserved.
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • Cinderella: Cinderella has her late mother's ball gown, which she alters to make it a bit more fashionable to wear to the royal ball, still keeping the pink and white color palate. Unfortunately, Lady Tremaine encourages her daughters to tear the gown to shreds by pointing out their beads and sash were used on it, which the girls had thrown away earlier.
    • Pocahontas: Early in the movie, Pocahontas is given her late mother's wedding necklace, in both memorial and as a symbol of her betrothal to Kokoum.
    • The Princess and the Frog: Tiana is shown to have kept the medal her late father earned in WWI, and the fine-dining advertisement flyer that he used to show her his dreams for his restaurant. Eudora also brings Tiana her father's gumbo pot as a present to commemorate her buying the property for her restaurant, since she is working to fulfill what was originally his dream.
    • In Big Hero 6, there is a character that is this. Baymax is the final creation of Hiro Hamada's deceased older brother, Tadashi.
    • Moana: Moana wears the locket her grandmother gave her before she died. It also serves a functional purpose, since both Moana and Tala used it to store the Heart of Te Fiti.
  • Megamind: There's a good reason Megamind carries his dehydration gun everywhere, even in his pajamas. Part of it is actually his binky, which is the last thing his parents gave to him before their death, along with the death of the rest of their people and home planet.
  • Starship Troopers: Invasion gives us Trig and her custom sniper rifle, a gift from her parents. Not long after she received the rifle, her family and everyone she knew was killed when the Bugs destroyed her home town.
  • In Up, Carl Frederickson's house and practically everything in it are a keepsake of his departed wife Ellie and the childhood promise he made to her.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Every magic item in Geist: The Sin-Eaters has a tragic story to it; it just depends on whose it is. The scale goes from someone else's (Charms) to your own death (Vanitas) to the death of the ghost bound to it (Fetter) to the destruction of a geist (Deathmask) to the death of somebody famous (Memorabilia).
  • Ajani Goldmane in Magic: The Gathering bolted his dead brother's axe head to the unused end of his own axe, and starts wearing Elspeth's cloak after her death.
  • Scion signature character Horace Farrow carries a .45 revolver with him. His uncle Seth used it to kill Horace's (step)father and shoot out Horace's eye, but dropped it when Horace nailed him in the groin with a shotgun. It's heavily implied Horace carries it so that one day he can put a bullet from it through Seth's head.

  • In Matilda, the Acrobat gave her shiny white scarf to her husband, the Escapologist, before her fatal circus accident. Later, after rescuing his daughter from being locked in the cellar by her wicked aunt, he left the scarf with the former before leaving to confront the latter and disappearing. When Miss Honey invites Matilda to her shack of a house for tea, she shows Matilda an identical white scarf, whence we find out that the Escapologist was Miss Honey's father, Magnus, and the wicked aunt was Miss Trunchbull.
  • In Wicked, Glinda keeps Elphaba's hat and her green bottle when she believes Elphaba is dead.

    Web Animation 
  • In Red vs. Blue, Carolina kept York's lighter, the only thing she has left of him.
    • During Red Vs. Blue's 17th season, Singularity, Caboose reveals that after he first team killed Church, he kept his original helmet and used it as a coping mechanism for his grief over each of Church's deaths afterwards, both as the Alpha and as Epsilon.
  • RWBY:
    • In Volume 4, Jaune has his armor, sword and shield reforged to use the gold metal of Pyrrha's shield and circlet. The most notable is seen with the shape of her circlet on the bottom of his shield. As well, he wears a sash around his waist similar to how Pyrrha wore hers.
    • Ren modeled the blades of his weapons after a knife his father gave to him. The Volume 4 finale reveals he also kept the knife itself, which he uses to slay the monster that killed his parents and destroyed his hometown.
    • When Neopolitan appears in Volume 6, she's wearing Roman Torchwick's hat.
    • After Qrow's friend, Clover, is killed in volume 7's penultimate episode, the next episode reveals that he kept Clover's lucky badge, which is now bloodied.

    Web Original 
  • On the Dream SMP, although it's not seen on her skin, Niki always wears Wilbur's Badass Longcoat wherever she goes in remembrance of him. When she finds out Wilbur later gets brought back to life, she's infuriated but continues to wear his coat in defiance towards him.

  • Archipelago: Credenza's skull hair tie, which was a gift from Uru, her best friend from the time she'd been a slave. At the point of explaining this, she's seriously afraid Uru might have died during their escape.
  • Crankrats: For Maddy, it's the photograph of her and Jack as children. Subverted via Dramatic Irony however, as she doesn't know until pretty far into the story that Jack wasn't killed in the bombing like she thought he was.
  • Girl Genius: Gil falls in love with Agatha shortly meeting her, and proposes not long after (framing it as a way of keeping her safe from his father). Almost right afterwards an emergency occurs, ending in her faking her death. Gil then wears the ring he made her around his neck. Subverted in that he continues to wear it after he finds out she's still alive, as they have yet to graduate to Official Couple.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: James Eglamore keeps a knife that was a present from his old flame, the recently-deceased Surma.
  • Homestuck: In the End of Act 5, after the Exiles are massacred, Serenity, WV's firefly companion, hangs around PM.
  • Mieruko-chan has a heartwarming version: When a senile old woman is finally able to find a comb that her long-dead husband gave her, she immediately tidies herself up and regains some of her mental clarity. She, her daughter, and her husband's spirit are all quite grateful.
  • Outsider: A diral-seii is an object given to the leader of a diral (a training group for young Loroi warriors) during training as their best tool and a symbol of their group, and is kept safe by its bearer and passed on to a successor upon her death. Spiral and Talon are the only living members of their pilot squadron, and while they're fairly stoic about their chances and Talon believes that Spiral being the seii-bearer has kept them safe, it's clear as they relate the story that they're wistful about their fallen comrades.
  • The Shadow Shard: The origin of the Crystal Heart as well as Spike's egg. They're both remnants of his mother.
  • Unsounded: A present-day scene shows Lemuel wearing his brother Duane's favourite piece of jewellery, six years after Duane's assassination, reanimation, and disappearance.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time, Marceline has Hambo, a teddy bear which is all she has to remember her Parental Substitute by after his Artifact of Doom drove him crazy and senile, making him forget her. It was stolen from her and sold by her bastard boyfriend hundreds of years ago, only to be regained several seasons later and be completely destroyed mere episodes after that.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Katara wears the necklace that her mother, Kya, used to wear. It turns out to have been a betrothal gift to her grandmother, Kanna, from Pakku.
    • The Legend of Korra: Mako wears a red scarf, which is a common fashion statement for firebenders in Republic City, but he is unusually attached to it. When he goes to an upscale restaurant with Asami Sato, he wears it with his tuxedo. Later on, she buys him a silk scarf, which he does not wear, so she asks why. Mako tells Asami that the scarf is all he has left of his murdered father. Later, Mako gives the scarf to his paternal grandmother, Yin.
  • In Castlevania (2017) Dracula keeps wearing his wedding band after his human wife's brutal murder by the church. At the end of season 2 when he is staked, decapitated, and his remains burned, the band is the only thing left unscathed.
  • In The Dragon Prince, eight years ago the Queens of Duren give King Harrow a ring before they sacrifice themselves to give King Harrow's group time to escape. In the present, their daughter, Queen Aanya of Duren, keeps in her necklace the ring one of her mothers gave Harrow.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Carpet Diem", after a secret bedroom was discovered in the Mystery Shack, an upset Grunkle Stan quietly takes a pair of glasses similar to his own out of the room. Later, while Dipper, Mabel, and Mabel's friends mess around with the carpet in the secret room, Stan has a melancholic moment with the glasses. Of course, Gravity Falls being what it is, the actual meaning behind both the glasses and Stan's attitude over the discovery of the secret room wasn't made apparent until late in the series, when a certain Walking Spoiler (I.E. Grunkle Ford) was officially introduced.
    • The Grand Finale reveals that Ford has his own in a childhood photo of him and Stan on their boat. He kept it for comfort during his forty years of estrangement from his brother.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2015): It is said that Drax the Destroyer sleeps with a doll named Mr. Rhinopuss, who used to belong to his daughter before she was murdered by Ronan the Accuser.
  • King of the Hill: Hank Hill replaces the ball-top shifter of his new pickup truck with the shifter of his old pickup after the old one is destroyed by a train.
  • In Ninjago, Harumi has a photo of herself as a child with her birth parents, which is the only thing she has left to remember them after their deaths. After the Emperor and Empress are killed she also kept a photo of herself as a child with them.
  • In Over the Garden Wall, the lantern the Woodsman carries contains his daughter's soul, which he keeps lit with oil from the Edelwood trees. Unfortunately, the Beast lied about whose soul was in there; it was actually the Beast's soul, and he'd been tricking the Woodsman into keeping it lit with tree oil from trees that used to be children that got lost in the woods and died from despair/exhaustion. The Woodsman is less than pleased when he finds all this out.
  • The Owl House:
    • Luz is obsessed with the book series The Good Witch Azura, and often carries the first book around with her. "Thanks to Them" reveals that the book was a gift from her father before he died of an unspecified illness, and one of the few things she has to remember him by. Dana Terrace, the creator of the show, later revealed that this was based on her own life, as her own father gave her a copy of Pokémon Red a few days before he died in a car accident.
    • When Luz and Lilith meet him, Philip Wittebane is wearing a blue coat with the emblem of his hometown of Gravesfield emblazoned on the chest. He changes into this same blue coat while preparing to return to the human realm in "King's Tide", and when Luz insults his 400 years out of date fashion sense, he becomes so enraged that he flings her across the room and into a table. "Thanks to Them" reveals that the blue coat belonged to his late brother Caleb, who Philip tried to rescue by entering the Demon Realm, and later murdered when he discovered that Caleb had married a witch.
    • While separated from Eda and King without knowing if they're alive or not in "Thanks to Them", Luz constantly wears Eda's old varsity jacket.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Hordak keeps the armor and the First Ones crystal that powers it up as a memento of Entrapta, even believing she betrayed him - and even after the crystal turns out to be an Achilles' Heel that puts him into Catra's claws. During Season 4, Catra rips off the crystal when Hordak tries to kill her after learning she sent Entrapta to die on Beast Island. Fortunately, Entrapta was rescued by Adora and Bow, and finds the crystal later (off-screen). In the Season 5, she mistakes another clone for Hordak and shows him the crystal at hopes of making remember her, but the clone slaps it away. Luckily, a mind-wiped Hordak finds it, and the small piece gets back some of his memories of Entrapta.
  • Skull Island: King Kong holds onto the necklace that belonged to the native girl years after the series Big Bad killed her, and he visibly mourns over it. In fact, it's the necklace being stolen that spurs Kong into the Final Battle when he tries to get the necklace back.
  • In Spirit: Riding Free, Lucky is gifted her long-dead mother's riding boots by her father when she finally manages to ride a horse.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars ended with Darth Vader recovering one of the lightsabers he gave Ahsoka at the Star Destroyer crash site where she faked her death. They later reunited in Rebels with tragic results.
  • In Star Wars Rebels, Hera has her Kalikori, a small, traditional Twi'lek totem that honors past family members, including her deceased mother and younger brother. Following the death of her beloved Kanan, she adds him to the Kalikori.
  • Steven Universe: Later in the series, it is revealed Blue Diamond has been keeping Pink Diamond's "human zoo" functioning and is housing all of Pink's Quartz soldiers there as a memorial to the fallen Diamond. Yellow Diamond derides Blue Diamond's habit of collecting anything related to Pink Diamond as useless clinging to the past.
  • Total Drama:
    • Courtney gets voted off just when her romance with Duncan deepens in "Basic Straining". He gives her a skull he carved from wood to remember him by, which she simultaneously questions and loves.
    • In "Aftermath I: Trent's Descent", Trent explains that when he was young, his granddad gave him a toy train. One of the wheels fell off shortly before the old man died, leaving the train with an uneven nine. 9 has been his lucky number since.
    • Leshawna reveals in "Anything Yukon Do, I Can Do Better" that Harold gave her his num-yos to remember him by when he volunteered for elimination.
    • Before Mike rides the Hurl of Shame in "Grand Chef Auto", he gives Zoey a necklace with a picture of him on it to remember him by it. It gets broken in "Eat, Puke, and be Wary", which ignites her Rage Breaking Point.

    Real Life 
  • The key that Rapper/Actress/Singer Dana Owens, a.k.a. Queen Latifah, often wears around her neck belongs to the motorcycle her brother was riding when he died.
  • Several religions keep a whole collection and record of these things. The most famous ones are the Catholic relics - the most poignant and tragic (and sometimes, creepy) are those that belonged to martyrs, but any inspirational beloved will do. Relics come in three flavors: body parts of the actual saint (can vary from drops of blood in a bottle or tiny pieces of bone to an entire body, bonus points if it's uncorrupted), items that were worn in a regular basis by the saint (e.g.: Saint Pio of Pietrelcina's gloves which he used to cover his stigmata), and items that were merely touched or blessed by that saint (such as a robe, a piece of the Holy Cross, a favorite shepherd's crook, etc.) Several miracles are credited to relics, no matter what flavor they are: e.g., in Italy the vial that contains the blood of Saint Gennaro is said to have its contents miraculously liquefied during the saint's feast. During the medieval ages there was a black market of relics, where diverse Catholic groups would steal them and either sell or smuggle them to other places, even though the sale of saintly items is considered a mortal sin. An example would be Saint Catherine of Sienna's head.
  • Skydivers habitually wear the parachute closing pin as necklace. Should a skydiver die in an accident, often a friend of the deceased skydiver will begin to wear the necklace of the deceased one as their memorial.
  • Penn Jillette has his right ring-finger nail painted red in memory of his dead mother. He also wears his father's ring but, as he always snarks when telling this story, no one ever asks him about that.
  • Richard E. Grant wears two wristwatches. One was given to him by his dying father, and is permanently set to time in Swaziland, the land of his birth.
  • The only watch Prince William is seen wearing in public is an Omega Seamaster Diver 300M as it was a gift to him from his late mother.


Video Example(s):


Kazuha's Masterless Vision

Kaedehara Kazuha tells a story of his long-lost friend, who challenged the Electro Archon Baal, AKA the Raiden Shogun and her Vision Hunt Decree. When he perished in the duel, Kazuha snatched his dying Vision and fled Inazuma, not wanting his friend's hopes and dreams to become buried within the Raiden Shogun's ideal of "eternity".

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / TragicKeepsake

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