Follow TV Tropes


Throw The Dog A Bone / Live-Action TV

Go To

  • 24 does so for Jack Bauer at the conclusion of its second season. Generally, by the end of a 24 season, Jack is usually in a position much worse than he originally started from (emotionally, physically, or sometimes both). In season two, by the time it's over he's finally found a reason to live again following his wife's death and his very last scene in the finale is him reconciling with his daughter.
  • Advertisement:
  • It happens to Deke Shaw in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. where after spending his entire existence being the Butt-Monkey and The Friend Nobody Likes, never truly belonging anywhere, having lost all his friends from the future, having a family that wants nothing to do with him, and generally failing almost every single thing he sets out to do, he ends up being the one staying behind in the alternate history parallel universe in the year 1980s... where he is the lead singer of an incredibly successful band with legions of fans and gets nominated as the new leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. And this is the last we ever get to see of him.
  • Stuart from The Big Bang Theory spends most of the series stuck in Perpetual Poverty, while the comic book store he runs tends to barely allow him to get by, so every time his financial status is looking up tends to be this trope, even if most of them fail to stay long-term. Late in the series, he gets to keep the "bone" permanently, as he becomes financially secure due to the sudden surge of popularity towards his store, so much that he hires a girl as his assistant to help run the store, who would quickly become his LoveInterest and stay till the series' end.
  • The ending of Blackadder The Third. In the first and second series, and later the fourth, the title character and most or all of the main cast died in some way. Series three is different in that Prince George still died, but he was impersonating Blackadder at the time, which meant that Blackadder not only lived, but became the Prince Regent.
    • It's worth noting however that Prince George was probably not the sole casualty of the third series. MacAdder strongly implies that Mrs Miggins' days are numbered: 'I look forward to burying you in the old Highland manner.'
    • Along with Series Three, there's also the ending of Blackadder: Back and Forth, where Edmund is King, married to Maid Marian (played by Kate Moss) and Baldrick is Prime Minister. The end credits song even lampshades this with a line describing Blackadder as "a dog who's got his bone."
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Xander of actually helped save the day in "The Zeppo", albeit he didn't tell anyone. Similarly, when Xander saves the world by cooling down Dark Willow just before she blows up everything. Season 7 shows that he's been telling everyone about this too much.
      • And yes, things went to Hell with a scoop of Eye Scream.
    • Advertisement:
    • After getting beaten around pretty badly for much of season 4 and 5, Spike- most famous for his legendary Badass Decay- is kissed by Buffy out of gratitude when he endures torture (Played for Laughs, no less) at the hands of Glory to keep Buffy and her sister safe. He is also from this point on allowed back into Buffy's house. You can tell from his face that for him, it was totally worth it.
  • In Crownies, the resident Butt-Monkey Richard gets two in episode nine: he finally impresses a judge who he has a terrible history with (mainly because of uncooperative witnesses) to the point where the accused is sentenced to 20-27 years (Richard's goal was 25, for the accused's impulsive murder of a postman, but the judge added two years for tampering with the mail). This is quickly followed by a passionate sexual encounter in his office chair with the psychiatrist whose testimony got the aforementioned conviction. (Though this does cause a hitch when it ruins Conrad's suit and Tatum comes close to letting slip that he's not really gay).
    • And the very ending of the series sees him making out with a newly single Tatum, who he's had a massive crush on for the entire show. They've split up by sequel series Janet King (although the fact she dated him at all is pretty impressive), but that show's finale has a certain amount of Ship Tease about a reconciliation: He's the first person she turns to when her father is arrested and he assures her he'll always be there for her.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Idiot's Lantern": Eddie Connolly absolutely deserves being kicked out by his soon-to-be-ex-wife for his jerkass behaviour. However, Rose, who never got to know her father except through Time Travel, tells Tommy that he shouldn't completely lose contact with his dad. "'Course he's an idiot. He's still your dad."
    • "Voyage of the Damned": After swearing to save the whole group but failing to save all but two, the Doctor is horrified that Rickston proves to be the jerkass he appeared to be. However, Mr. Copper reassures him and proves himself worthy of the Doctor's good graces.
    • In Series 9, the Twelfth Doctor goes through such horrors as a return visit to Skaro and an encounter with Davros that he initially doesn't expect to survive (to the point of having The Last Dance in anticipation), talking to his own ghost in the timey-wimey process of saving the world from the alien warlord the Fisher King, dealing with a Zygon uprising, etc. Finally, the closing three-parter puts him through a Trauma Conga Line: betrayal by both a woman he saved by making her functionally immortal and his own people — which accidentally leads to the final death of his beloved companion Clara. This drives him so around the bend that he undergoes billions of years of imprisonment in a torture chamber, killing billions of copies of himself, to achieve the means to save her — for a while after that, he's a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. He only fully returns to his best self once he's undergone Mind Rape to forget Clara. After all this, he's alone and understandably broody — and then he's reunited with an old flame in the Lighter and Softer Christmas Episode "The Husbands of River Song". In its Bittersweet Ending he and she spend twenty-four happy years together before she heads off to meet her final destiny. A juicy bone indeed, to the point that the next episode, "The Return of Doctor Mysterio", makes it clear that he misses it badly once it's gone.
  • Downton Abbey
    • After growing to be a better person and still being the family Chew Toy, Edith gets a moment in Season 2. Downton Abbey is used to house recovering soldiers and a rivalry between Cora and Isobel breaks out over who can do more for the cause, while Edith just tends to the soldiers, talking to them and helping them write letters home and such. At dinner one night, an officer says that someone in the house has been immensely helpful in helping the soldiers - Edith.
    • Seasons 3 through 5 have considerable chain-yanking for poor Edith (her first fiance leaves her at the alter, the second is killed in Germany while trying to change citizenship so they could properly marry, and she was forced to give her illegitimate child to a farmer's family and not let anyone know of their connection), but the end of Season 5 finally has something work out for her. Cora finds out about her daughter and arranges a cover story to justify Edith bringing the child to live at Downton. And Robert finds out as well and is perfectly accepting of his new granddaughter.
    • The last season seems determined to make up for everything Edith went through before. By the end, she's effectively running her magazine and has the admiration of her staff, she finally gets to call Mary out on her latest act of sabotage (which makes Mary feel so guilty that she repairs the damage), is Happily Married to the love of her life, who knows the truth about Marigold and accepts it, and is generally praised through the last few episodes for being good-natured, intelligent, capable, and of good character. There's also quite a lot of bone-throwing for the servants, including Anna and Bates finally being clear of all murder charges and having their first child, Daisy passing her exams and settling to live with her father-in-law and Andrew, Mosley finding respect with his new position as a schoolteacher, and Thomas being given a prestigious position on the household staff and gaining enough of a positive outlook on life to enjoy it.
  • Typically the case when a more underrated country at the Eurovision Song Contest finally gets a moment in the sun:
    • The first example most people think of is Finland's victory in 2006, with heavy metal band Lordi and the song "Hard Rock Hallelujah". Jokes about Finland's lack of success after 45 years in the competition were being made as recently as the 2005 50th Anniversary special (chiefly by Finland), and their recent track record hadn't helped them (Finland missed five contests between 1995 and 2003 due to relegation and failed to qualify in the first two years of semi-finals). But by a then-record score of 292 points, Lordi brought the contest to Helsinki for the first time and became national heroes, as well as a chief example of how to win Eurovision while still staying true to a country's style.
    • Before Finland, fellow Nordic country Norway had seen little success in the first thirty years of the competition. They seldom reached the top five and finished with zero points three times. However, in 1985, the duo Bobbysocks! and their song "La dette swinge" surprised everyone and scored Norway their first of three victories to date. If anything, host country Sweden were even more excited than Norway.
      Lill Lindfors: note  I just wanted to congratulate you, because Norway has finished last so many times, so you really deserve it.
      Hanne Krogh: note  You're happy? How do you think we feel?
    • While not related to their entries, exactly, Bosnia and Herzegovina received a ton of respect in their first few years, given the situation in their country and the fact that they still were committed to appearing in the contest. In their first year, they literally dodged gunfire to make the plane to Millstreet, and when the representative phoned in from Sarajevo on a crackling phone line, the entire theater erupted in applause.
    • Both for the country and for that particular entrant: the biggest crowd cheers in 2014 came when San Marino managed to qualify for the final for the very first time. Besides it being their first qualification, it was also the third time in a row local singer Valentina Monetta performed their entry. Persistence finally paid off, and despite a low finish in the final, it was a triumphant moment for the smallest country in the competition.
    • 2016 saw the first-ever qualification for the Czech Republic as well as the qualification of Poli Genova from Bulgaria. It was only the second time Bulgaria qualified, and Genova had previously sung for the country in 2011 with no success. So, not only was the comeback successful, it also brought Bulgaria their best result up to that point: a highly-respectable fourth place.
    • The entire top three in 2017 was made up of frequent underdogs: third place went to Moldova, qualifying for the first time in four years and with an act that had previously only finished twenty-first in 2010 (of course, that act still spawned the Epic Sax Guy, which did them plenty of favors in 2017). It was their first-ever top 5 result. Second went to Bulgaria, their best placing yet and only their third time in the final. But most notably, a long drought finally ended for Portugal: after fifty-three years in the competition, Salvador Sobral's "Amar pelos dois" won the whole thing with a whopping 758 points, the highest score yet achieved for a winning song (it also, incidentally, was the first time Portugal even placed in the top five).
    • Already, 2018 is shaping up to be another underdog-friendly year: the first semi-final saw qualifications for a number of countries with limited success with the finals, throwing a bone to Albania (their first qualification since 2015), Finland (2014), Estonia (2015), Lithuania (2016), Czech Republic (2016, and only their second qualification ever), and most notably, Ireland (2013).
      • The good luck continued on through the second semi and the final - the second semi allowed returns for Slovenia (their first since 2015) and Serbia (2016). Then, in the final, second place went to longtime competitor Cyprus, who before this had finished fifth three times but never came closer than that. Fourth went to Germany, their first appearance in the top five since 2010. And most notably, the Czech Republic managed a sixth-place finish, their best result since they started competing and their first appearance in the top ten.
  • Extras: The last episode of the second series doesn't end with Andy's abject humiliation, which is no small victory for his character.
  • Occurs, of course, at the end of Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars, with Aeryn and John both finally together, their enemies off their back, and their child born and healthy. The series finale had teased this, but turned it into a Yank the Dog's Chain moment in the last minute.
  • Friends in the first four seasons Chandler is an insecure Sad Clown, who hates his job and is screwed over by the few girls who notice him. Come Season 5 he gets together with Monica (whom its been hinted he's liked for years), a few seasons later they're Happily Married and her support gives him the confidence to find a job he enjoys.
  • Game of Thrones: House Stark finally reclaim their ancestral seat of Winterfell from the Boltons at the end of "The Battle of the Bastards" in Season 6, after it had been torched earlier in Season 2 and with the entire family scattered. A notable example is Sansa Stark. After all the trauma, abuse, and betrayals she's had to endure, in Season 6 she finally gets to reunite with a loving member of her family, Jon Snow. Together, they are able to slay her abusive husband and usurper of Winterfell and, as previously mentioned, take their home back.
  • Eddie the barman is the resident Butt-Monkey on Hustle, always falling for the grifter's scams. But in "Eat Yourself Slender" he ends up with the girl.
  • Rarely on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The whole Gang are usually Chew Toys for the universe, living generally horrible, pathetic lives, but sometimes they catch an honest break. In one episode, Dennis and Charlie succeed in getting to the charity event in Atlantic City and having a perfectly fun night with a couple of players from the Philadelphia Phillies. In another episode, Charlie gets to spend a fun night with The Waitress not knowing she's on ecstasy, leading to her being much more agreeable than usual while Frank and Mac get to spend the night on a party boat.
  • The Last Detective has its hero Dangerous Davies as The Chew Toy during the first season, with not much improvment during the next two seasons. However, he reconciles with his wife at the end of the third season and in the fourth is Happily Married. He also gets more respect from his fellow officers over time, which only makes sense since he is clearly a competent officer.
  • Married... with Children episodes usually end with everything falling apart for at least one of the main characters, usually Al. Occasionally, however, an episode will end on an upswing. In one episode, Al destroys Marcy's brand new Mercedes by dumping a load of wet cement on it after Marcy spends the whole show (and many other episodes before that) coming out ahead in their eternal conflict. To top it all off, Al manages to come out $6,000 ahead, when he usually ends up even deeper in debt than when he started.
  • In Misfits Simon the nerd-turned-arsonist spends most of his time in the first season being abused by Nathan and ignored by the others, with the exception of Kelly; the fifth episode was particularly cruel, ending with him being emotionally manipulated by Sally the probation worker and accidentally killing her in a fight. However, things start improving for him in the second season:
    • In the first episode, he manages to make peace with his friend-turned-shapeshifter without killing her; then, the rest of the Misfits help him dispose of Sally's corpse.
    • In the second episode, he ends up being invited to a night out with the other Misfits, and even though he gets his drink spiked with the same party drug that the rest of the team are taking voluntarily, he ends up as the only person who enjoys it, because the drug reverses their powers: while Kelly is voicing everything that comes to mind, Alisha is repulsing anyone who touches her, Curtis is teetering on the edge of a building in the future, and Nathan has lost his immortality, Simon has become noticed and adored by everyone around him.
    • Third episode: Alisha actually apologises for how she treated Simon in the past.
    • Oh, and then there's episode five, in everything seems to go perfectly for Simon: he falls in love with a girl who ultimately returns his feelings, he ends up having sex with her, and he even manages to avoid getting killed by her overprotective father. And Nathan gives him a hug.
    • Finally, during the Christmas special, after the Misfits' community service is over and done with, Simon ends up living Superhoody's underground lair and spends his days trying to become a proper superhero while dating the girl of his dreams and the love of his life.
  • A Season One episode of The Muppet Show has Fozzie Bear, the usual Butt-Monkey, mock the snarky critics Statler and Waldorf with the help of the guest star; the masterful Bruce Forsyth, no less, is Fozzie's accomplice in this. The bear manages to out-snark Statler and Waldorf so badly that they end up hiding in their box waving a white flag.
    • Fozzie also gets revenge in other episodes; in the Steve Martin episode the night's show is canceled as it was already scheduled for open auditions. One pair of auditionees are Statler and Waldorf; Fozzie goes up to their balcony to mock them. Another episode has him do the same thing during Statler and Waldorf's take on an actual opening number. "Bring on the bear!"
    • Also, any Swedish Chef sketch that doesn't end with him being attacked by his cuisine or otherwise harmed — examples include "Chicken in the Basket", "Chocolate Moose" (note the spelling), and his use of guns to make doughnuts and a salad respectively!
    • In the Muppet Labs sketches, any time Beaker comes off better than Dr. Bunsen Honeydew — or at least the doctor doesn't get off scot free. This especially counts for the Mac Davis episode where Beaker accidentally makes several clones of himself, which spend most of the remainder of the episode chasing Honeydew around.
  • Jerry Gergich on Parks and Recreation is the Butt-Monkey for the office, but loves his home life. He is happily married to Christy Brinkley and has the largest penis one doctor has ever seen. Also in season 7, Garry finally starts being called by his real name by his coworkers, after 30 years of being known as Jerry, Larry, and Terry.
    • According to "Hunting Trip", Ron's annual hunting trip is the only time he gets any respect by his co-workers.
    • In the episode "Anniversaries", he has to bring Ben the bad news that Leslie is stuck at work and can't make it to any of the couples' activities he had planned. Since it was all non-refundable, Ben brings Jerry along instead and they have a fabulous time together.
    • In the last few episodes he becomes mayor, and the Distant Finale reveals he was so beloved in the role that he kept it for the rest of his long and happy life.
  • Things regularly go horribly wrong for the two leads of Peep Show. The series 7 opener seems to be building up to things being worse than ever, with Mark dazedly walking out on the birth of his child and a subplot about the flat being flooded and Jez's unreliable junkie friend Superhans being sent to fix it. But Jeremy finds Mark before the baby's born, Sophie didn't realise he was gone, the baby's fine and the flat has "minimal water damage". It's the latter that seems to please Mark the most.
  • Person of Interest: Detective Lionel Fusco is generally the Butt-Monkey of the show, and even the Team Pet doesn't listen to him. Then in "Prisoner's Dilemna", while Team Machine focus on breaking Reese out of prison, Fusco, all along, has to protect a supermodel. There are only flashes of what's happening, but it culminates in him going Guns Akimbo on Armenian mobsters and saving the girl, and getting a kiss and being told to call her.
    • At the end of the season two finale, Root, who has become slightly less unlikeable, loses both her God Mode connection with the Machine and any realistic chance of finding Her servers and goes almost catatonic from having this new purpose of life yanked away. Then, in the last shot of the episode, when she is in a psychiatric clinic, slowly shuffling forward, we hear a public phone ringing - cue her theme music Root of all Evil returning and finally the Machine's cut and paste voice asking if she can hear Her.
  • Red Dwarf has this for basically all of the main characters.
    • "Back in the Red Part 2" had Lister finally get Kochanski to kiss him while under the effects of the sexual magnetism virus.
    • "White Hole" has Kryten finally getting a chance to call Rimmer a smeg head.
    • The lost episode "Identity Within" would have had The Cat finally have intercourse.
    • "Queeg" has Holly earn the repect of the others.
    • Even Rimmer, the resident chew toy had on in the Series X finale "The Beginning" when he finds out that the father he always dissapointed isn't is real father, and the family gardener, someone who would be proud of him was, he gains the confidence to save the day.
      • "Out Of Time" and "Only The Good..." would've both been this for him, but both endings were changed to cliffhangers where He dies. Again. Ambiguously.
  • While Zack isn't usually the dog in Saved by the Bell, he actually manages to get off pretty well in "Cream For A Day". At the end, his product is actually a huge success (with a noticeable, but very mild side effect) and he gets to keep the money he made, he's not the one who has to learn a lesson, and he helps lead his school to victory at homecoming.
  • Ted from Scrubs is a sad loser who is only a lawyer because he took the bar in Alaska, where they have 5 laws (all dealing with when you can and cannot kill seals). He gets beat up, humiliated, and just seeing Bob Kelso will make him faint. Then he meets a nice girl who likes him.
    • Ted gets a few. His night with a terminal cancer patient comes to mind (she even calls him a stallion) as does his explanation to Kelso of the legal implications Turk could bring to bear if Kelso continues to use posters featuring Turk's likeness against his will.
    • He also helps the nurses on strike get the pay raise they want.
    • Another episode sees Ted stand-up to the Janitor over always telling the Brain Trust what to do. In the end, the Janitor relents - proposing they play cards, which was Ted's idea.
  • The Shield: Despite his competence as a detective, Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach is primarily treated as the biggest joke in the police department. When he manages to solve a tough case and get a confession the entire staff is so impressed they actually begin to applaud him, and even Vic Mackey himself is amazed enough that he actually calls a truce with him that lasts for a couple seasons.
  • The Russians are the resident Butt-Monkey of the Stargate-verse, what with their off-world teams being massacred, their only battlecruiser getting curb-stomped, and having to always play second fiddle to the American Stargate Program. However, after Ba'al alters the timeline, the Russians are the ones to provide the gate needed to undo that. Add to that when SG-1's being pursued by Death Gliders over the Atlantic, a squadron of MiGs gets to perform the final Gunship Rescue of the series.
  • After spending season one practically out of her mind with worry over her missing son, Stranger Things season two starts off with Joyce Byers with her family reunited, and her in a happy and fun relationship with a cheerful Nice Guy.
  • Robbie Shapiro from Victorious can be best described as the Meg Griffin of the Schneiderverse. However, in the Christmas Special, not only does he go on a date with a former bully, but also got a kiss from Cat for getting her a cotton candy machine.
  • In the final season of The Wire, Bubbles finally sobers up and starts on the trail to a proper life, making him probably the only Woobie in the entire series to get a Happy Ending.
  • Yes, Minister: Occasionally, Jim Hacker gets to triumph over Sir Humphrey (most notably in "The Key").
    • Another example is "A Victory for Democracy" when Hacker, after being led around by Humphrey and the Foreign Office, manages to solve the pending international crisis and gets his Foreign Office liaison stuck in a posting which will end his career.
    • In "The Skeleton In The Cupboard": Hacker is ordered to proceed with disciplinary action against the most efficient council in the UK for no reason other than political bickering. Then he learns that Sir Humphrey was responsible for an administrative blunder back in the 50s that has caused the government to lose £40 million over a real estate deal. Hacker then proceeds to blackmail Humphrey with this information to avoid the disciplinary action.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: