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Tragic Keepsake / Live-Action TV

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  • Babylon 5 - Commander Ivanova wears a single earring. During the Earth-Minbari War, she'd given the other half of the pair to her brother as a good-luck charm, so he could give it back to her when he came home safely. He didn't.
  • Battlestar Galactica - In Helena Cain's weapon cabinet there are guns, knives and a pitiful dinner-knife that she grabbed when she, just a child, tried to defend herself in the last day of the first Cylon War. The fact that she never put it down, but kept it, symbolized that she never stopped fighting that war.
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  • Parodied in the first Blackadder, in an episode where the main characters enter the church. Baldrick starts shifting job-lots of saints' relics.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy's claddagh ring, given to her by Angel. After he loses his soul, she throws it in her drawer pretending it isn't there. After he is sent to hell and is presumably dead, she wears it on a chain around her neck as a symbol that she's grieving, but slowly healing. Later, the ring is part of what brings him back to life.
  • Burn Notice - In the Season 2 Finale we find out Victor kept pictures of his family as a tragic keepsake to spur him on to wipe out the shady company that burns spies and then recruits them for black ops missions.
  • Castle - Kate Beckett wears her murdered mother's wedding ring around her neck as a reminder of why she does what she does. Also inverted, in that she also wears her father's old watch as something of an Uplifting Keepsake; she helped him recover from her mother's death by helping him overcome the alcoholism he fell into afterwards. Because it's more readily apparent (and unusual), Castle mistakes the latter for the former.
  • Mac Taylor on CSI: NY keeps a beach ball from his last vacation with his wife before her death on 9/11. He can't bring himself to let it go as it has her breath in it, the only physical(ish) thing he still has of her. (Unless you count her son Reed.)
    • He also had opera tickets that he eventually let wash away into the ocean in the episode that aired around the 10th anniversary.
    • There’s also an episode where a cop is killed and Danny and Lindsay deliver his badge to his son so that his son can wear it when he graduates the police academy.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Amy's engagement ring in the last few episodes of Series 5. Somewhat subverted, since it's the Doctor who cares for it, even though Amy is still alive and traveling with him because Rory has been wiped from existence, along with all of Amy's memories of him.
    • At the end of "The Angels Take Manhattan", Amy's reading glasses become a Tragic Keepsake.
    • The Badass Bandolier of the War Doctor was from a prospective companion who died rather then be saved by a Time Lord, leading to the Eighth Doctor's regeneration.
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    • "Demons of the Punjab":
      • The broken watch Umbreen gives her granddaughter Yaz. It belonged to her first husband, Prem, who was killed the day they were married.
      • Prem's amulet used to belong to his older brother, Kunal, who died in World War II during the evacuation of Singapore.
    • "Kerblam!": Dan Cooper shows Yaz a necklace his daughter made for him, with "DAD" engraved on it. At the end, after Dan's death, Yaz asks the Doctor to help her deliver the necklace to the daughter.
    • "It Takes You Away": It turns out that Graham has been wearing a frog necklace he gave his late wife Grace as a Christmas present since her death.
  • Frontier Circus: In "Coals of Fire", Cato is an ex-slave hunting his former master's killer. He carries his master's old sabre, which was the only item he was able to retrieve when the Union officer burned down the plantation.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In the first season, Ned Stark gives his daughter Sansa a new doll to try and make up for having to kill her pet direwolf. Unfortunately, Ned totally misjudged his daughter's tastes, having gotten a thirteen-year-old the sort of toy she hadn't played with in about five years, and she is understandably dismissive, given the situation. However, after Ned is executed, it's a revealed in a short scene in the second season that she kept the doll and the doll has reappeared a number of times in subsequent seasons, clearly valued quite a lot by Sansa as what was probably her father's last gift.
    • Renly's armour fits this trope for Loras. This heartbreaking deleted scene from Season 2 makes it more obvious. It's the only physical object that Loras has kept as a reminder of his lover after he buries Renly's body.
    • Arya's Cool Sword Needle is this. Given to her by her brother Jon, it's the one thing from her old life that she refuses to cast off when she starts anew in Braavos because Needle is Winterfell and Needle is her family.
    • Daenerys' murdered mother, Queen Rhaella's, silver dragon-headed motif ring, which she wears almost constantly on her left index finger and as Emilia says in the Season 3 TV Guide cover-shoot: "This ring is... Ah! Fundamentally, the only thing that Dany has had from: day one, Season 1. It's her mother's ring. But yeah, this is, this is the one that you'll see, forever and ever, Amen!"
  • Shaun from The Good Doctor carries around a toy scalpel that was part of the toy doctor bag that his brother Steve gave him for his birthday just before he died.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: Iolaus is rarely ever seen without the pendant around his neck. Season 3's "Love Takes A Holiday" reveals that it belonged to his father, Skouros, who was killed some years earlier in battle. It's also stated that Skouros got it from his own father, who is strongly implied to have been killed in battle when Skouros was just a child.
  • In Season 3 of Heroes, reformed Future Sylar keeps the broken wristwatch which gave him his name as a reminder of the terrible things he did before he reformed.
  • In a Law & Order: SVU episode, a judge keeps the amount of change in his pocket he had on the day his son was kidnapped.
  • On Lost, Kate robs a bank to obtain a toy plane that belonged to an old boyfriend for whose death she fell she is responsible.
  • In the two-part series finale of Monk a fatally poisoned Monk finally opens the Christmas present that his wife gave him before being murdered, which he kept unopened for 12 years (as noted in previous episodes). It turns out it contained a video tape with crucial information on her killers and why she was killed.
  • NCIS
    • Ziva keeps a Day-Glo orange stocking cap as a keepsake from Lt. Roy Sanders, the young man she connects with while he is dying of radiation poisoning in "Dead Man Walking".
    • The model of a Mallard locomotive that Ducky keeps in autopsy was the last Christmas present he gave to his half-brother Nicholas before his parents divorced and Nicholas was taken by his mother to another country, with the train being accidentally left behind.
  • Nikita features a metaphorical example. Owen, another rogue operative, made drawings reminding him of the people he killed. He eventually has them tattooed on himself.
  • In Once Upon a Time, woe betide the man who dares steal Mr. Gold's chipped teacup — a relic from the fairytale world, where the cup was chipped by Belle. The fact that Mr. Gold is one of two people in Storybrooke who remembers his true identity means that while other characters are seen with their own emotionally-significant objects, only Gold is aware of the significance of his own keepsake.
  • In Japanese drama Shokojo Sera, the necklace main protagonist Seira gave her father before he left was given back to her upon his death. And when she would later run away from the school, it was the only thing she brought with her.
  • Smallville Lana Lang wore a piece of the meteor that killed her parents as a pendant. That's right, she wore as jewelry a piece of the meteor that killed her parents. And since the audience needs to understand that it's kryptonite, she just won't stop talking about it...
  • Space: Above and Beyond - The king of hearts (Nathan) has a locket with a voice recording of his girlfriend (fiancée?) that was given to him just before they were forced to part ways (she had to catch a rocket to space).
  • In Gods of the Arena, the prequel to Spartacus: Blood and Sand, we learn that the colored wigs Lucretia rotates between originally belonged to her friend Gaia, who died a violent death in Lucretia's home. She wears them in honor of her memory. Later, in Spartacus: Vengeance she doesn't wear them anymore because she lost her memory but is later forced to wear the red wig by Ashur as a sign of his command over her. When Lucretia liberates herself from Ashur's influence, she throws the wig over the same cliff from which Gaia's body was thrown.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation fan favorite "The Inner Light", a probe downloads the experiences of an alien civilization into Picard. From his point of view, he gets married, raises children, watches his friends pass away, and wakes up to discover that the civilization had been wiped out a thousand years ago. He gets a flute that he had played in that other life, and in a Continuity Nod, the flute appears in later episodes.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Siege of AR-558", Vargas (one of the soldiers stationed on the planet) has a piece of torn cloth around his wounded arm that he won't let anyone remove. He says it was from the uniform of a fellow Starfleet officer named McGreevey, who was killed while tending Vargas' injury. Subverted in that Vargas thought McGreevey was a jerk and disliked him because he "never shut up".
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • In "Resistance", an old man named Caylem thinks that Janeway is his daughter and gives her a necklace. Janeway is forced to sell the necklace at one point, but after Caylem is killed, the final scene shows Janeway recovered and kept the necklace.
    • In the "Year Of Hell" two part episode, the villain keeps a lock of the hair of the wife he accidentally erased from time in a special container that shields it from dissipating into nothing because it can't exist in the world he created.
  • Supernatural:
    • After Dean dies at the end of season three, Sam wears his iconic necklace for the four months Dean is in Hell. He gives it back to Dean when the latter is resurrected.
    • After Castiel dies at the beginning of the seventh season, Dean saves his trenchcoat, folding it tenderly into the trunk of the Impala and proceeding to spend the next months bitter and usually intoxicated, just like his father did after his mother died. Unlike most examples of this trope, Cas returns and is given back the coat.
    • Later in the same season, Bobby dies, and Dean keeps a flask to remember him by. Except then they find out that Bobby's ghost is tied to the flask, and he's still hanging around.
  • An interesting example in The Walking Dead. Actor Andrew Lincoln carries in his pocket the prop bullet that was used to kill Lori as a reminder of his character's motivations. It makes a brief (possible) appearance in the fourth season episode "Claimed", sitting on his bedside table along with some of Rick's other tragic keepsakes, including Carol's watch.
  • Taken: In "Jacob and Jesse", Russell Keys gives his son Jesse his World War II medals as a Christmas present. After Russell's death in "High Hopes", they become a Tragic Keepsake. Although Jesse briefly considers selling them for heroin in "Acid Tests", it is revealed in "Charlie and Lisa" that Jesse kept the medals with him with the rest of his life. They were found in his pockets after he died.
  • Warehouse 13 revealed villain Helena Wells, a person who had just escaped from over a century in the And I Must Scream-prison where history's most evil masterminds are bronzed for all eternity, breaks into the place where they stored her personal belongings. She only takes one thing: A locket. Cue massive speculation what kind of artifact that locket must be. Then a couple of episodes later we learn what kind of locket it is: The normal kind. The locket contained the only remaining picture of her long dead daughter. Affably Evil doesn't even begin to describe it.
  • In the television adaptation of Wolf Hall, the other keepsakes are Adapted Out, except for Cardinal Wolsey's turquoise ring. We see here that Wolsey presents it to Thomas Cromwell in a box engraved with Cromwell's initials. After Wolsey's death, a scene of Cromwell opening the box and donning the ring is inter-cut with him telling George Cavendish not to pray God for vengeance—"I'll take it in hand."
  • In The X-Files, Scully always wears a small gold cross necklace. When she's abducted near the beginning of season 2, it's torn off, and Mulder wears it himself for the three months she's missing. It shows up a few more times when they're separated as a symbol of their bond.


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