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The Number One Dime is an item that is in and of itself of little to no interest or usefulness (i.e. it is not a usable weapon), but to the character, it is ridiculously overimportant in a strictly sentimental way. It might be the token sealing a Childhood Marriage Promise, a Memento MacGuffin (particularly an Orphan's Plot Trinket or Fatal Family Photo) or a Companion Cube, but the overlap with MacGuffins at large is fairly minimal. However, hats, Nice Hat or otherwise, are frequent Number One Dimes. Expect The Chew Toy or the Butt Monkey's precious and rare Gobi Desert Cricket to be frequently threatened. If the character in question is a child, the Number One Dime will probably be a toy.

In any case, should the item be damaged or lost, it is likely to trigger a Heroic BSOD or a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, which sometimes leads to a Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking moment. If dropped, they will do an Indy Hat Roll to retrieve it. Merely being separated from the item is also likely to make them utterly distraught.

Compare and contrast with Iconic Item, which has the same meaning but is unique rather than generic. If the item is "food", that's either Trademark Favorite Food or (less specifically) Obsessed with Food.

Examples of Number One Dime include:


Anime & Manga

  • One Piece: Luffy's straw hat, given to him by his idol Shanks. He is so fond of it that when he gives it to someone for safekeeping, it qualifies as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming and a sign that he has had enough of this season's villain.

    After the death of his brother Ace, Luffy has a Heroic BSOD so bad he doesn't notice he dropped his hat.
  • Ash's first hat in Pokémon. He won it in a contest (there are only two hundred of them in existence), so it's one of his most valuable possessions. One would almost think that this finally sunk in when he was heading off to Hoenn; maybe a hat with less sentimental value would be a better choice for someone continually targeted for mecha attacks.
    • Hence, in Hoenn he wears a different hat that his mother gave him. And in Sinnoh he switches to yet another new hat. When this new hat is briefly stolen, Ash's attempts to recover it are less desperate than the time a Mankey stole his original hat, as he simply says it feels weird to not have a hat. [1]
  • In Gate Keepers 21, Ayane Isuzu's bell, which gets some unexplained camera focus every now and then. It doesn't really seem to do anything, and its source is never explained, but it's hinted in the final episode that her father gave it to her.
  • In the 14th episode of Tiger and Bunny, a towel that Karina/Blue Rose gets from Kotetsu/Wild Tiger to replace the one he accidentally ruined serves as one of these. It even triggers a Love Epiphany when her room gets ransacked by a thief and she realizes that it's only the towel she's worried about going missing.
  • Durarara: Ryo Takiguchi, a minor character from the same series, is implied to be this way about his harmonica. This makes the fact that it gets destroyed during his brutal, undeserved beat-down rather heartbreaking.


Comic Books

  • The Trope Namer is Scrooge McDuck's First Dime. Although a few characters have ascribed it magical powers, Scrooge insists its value is purely sentimental. It was originally established that the dime is not inherently lucky but that being so important to and belonging for so long to the richest duck in the world who worked hard and fair for his wealth has given it power, hence the implacable Magica de Spell's obsession with getting it to create a talisman that will make her the most powerful witch. Although other writers portrayed it as a lucky charm in the past, Don Rosa Scrooge sets the record straight in The Richest Duck in the World:

 Donald: This must be the famous Lucky Dime -- the charm Uncle Scrooge used to get his entire fortune!

Beat

Scrooge: "Lucky" dime?! What thimble-headed gherkin invented that supreme bit of absolute balderdash?!

Donald: Oh, everybody says it, unk.

Scrooge: Well, everybody is a nincompoop! I had that dime for 20 years before I struck it rich!

    • For those that don't know, while it was the first coin that Scrooge ever earned, because it was an American coin and Scrooge lived in Scotland at the time, the person that gave it to him was basically screwing him out of payment. That incident is one of the things that made Scrooge decide to become the richest duck in the world, and he originally kept it to remind himself that there are always people that will try to cheat you. If anything, it started as a symbol of bad luck.
    • One Don Rosa comic reveals that Magica De Spell was the one who gave him the dime when she traveled into the past, but only because it would have been worthless if she had taken it from him at the time.
    • Carl Barks also did a story in which Scrooge had an actual Number One Dime, a magical hourglass that, when broken, caused his fortunes to start failing on him, as well as creating the Trope Namer as explained above.
    • Scrooge's Evil Counterpart, Flintheart Glomgold, has his Number One Rand in answer to Scrooge's Number One Dime, which is slightly weird since South-Africa hasn't been using rands for long enough that Flintheart could have earned one in his youth. Whether he's lying about it to screw with Scrooge, or that someone cheated him out of payment as well is anyone's guess. Another guess is that Glomgold stole the rand from somebody. Don Rosa supports this theory.
  • Tintin: Captain Haddock and alcohol (usually of the Roaring Rampage variety, e.g. Tintin in Tibet). He also almost gets himself killed over his sailor's cap in Prisoners of the Sun: who'd want to live without their Nice Hat?
  • For Two-Face of Batman fame, it's a double-headed silver dollar. The Long Halloween explains that he got it as a present from his father when he visited him at his insane asylum on Father's Day.
    • For extra angst, one story relates how Harvey Dent's father would religiously flip a coin: heads, he would beat him; tails, he let it be. The coin was double-headed.
      • Note that both of the above are fairly recent retcons. Originally, Two-Face's double-headed coin was a symbol used by a mob boss that Harvey Dent finally managed to prosecute, using one of his coins as a key piece of evidence. When Dent refused to be be bribed or scared off, the crime lord had one of his goons throw acid in Dent's face, creating Two-Face, who subsequently scarred up one side of the coin to better tie it to himself as a symbol of what he had become.


Film

  • In the 2002 film version of The Count of Monte Cristo, an ordinary chess piece is of extraordinary value to Edmond and Fernand.
  • Similar to the One Piece example is (Captain) Jack Sparrow's hat in Pirates of the Caribbean. When he does leave it behind, it's a big deal, eliciting a collective gasp when he tells the crew to "leave it!" and get to safety instead.
    • In the first film, he treats his flintlock pistol the same way - it only carries one shot, and he has no extra shots or powder. He was marooned with it ten years ago and others note that the only person he'll use it on is the one that marooned him. While he threatens others with it, it's clear that he won't actually fire it until the proper time.
    • Later, he treats his MacGuffin-y jar of dirt much the same way.
  • The whole plot of Pee Wee's Big Adventure is about Pee Wee looking for his bike, which becomes more valuable in a legal sense when his obnoxious neighbor steals it (only because Pee Wee files a police report and it technically becomes "stolen property"; aside from that, it's just a goofy bike with some doodads and gizmos), but to most people it's just an ugly eyesore. Either way, Pee Wee cannot even sleep comfortably while his precious bike remains missing.
  • Butch's father's watch in Pulp Fiction. That was it which got him into the "affair" with Zed in the first place.
  • Referenced by the villain of Air Force One. 'I have his baseball glove and his daughter.'
  • Indy's iconic hat, resulting in the Indy Hat Roll.


Live Action TV

  • In Friends, there's Joey's "bedtime penguin pal", Hugsy.
  • In Lost, Kate robs a bank to retrieve the toy plane she buried with her childhood sweetheart, who had accidentally died because of her. The plane was being kept in said bank as bait by a US Marshal who was aware that this particular trope was in play, but Kate pulled off the robbery and made her getaway before he could make his move.
  • A non-comedy example is Captain Sisko's baseball from Deep Space Nine. When he leaves it on the station after abandoning it to the Dominion, Gul Dukat takes it as a message that says "I'll be back". In a later episode, when Sisko leaves the station and takes the baseball with him, his second in command Colonel Kira takes it as a sign that he might not ever be coming back.
  • Sam's lucky bottle cap in Cheers. The bottle cap represented something significant in his life: it was off the last bottle of "anything" he drank in his life and it stops him from drinking. At the end of the episode where it is lost, he opens a bottle of beer, pours it into a beer mug and stares at it. Finally Sam touches the mug ready to pick it up, but instead does his bar slide trick perfectly. He then pockets his new lucky bottle cap.


Newspaper Comics

  • Linus' security blanket in Peanuts.


Video Games

  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask you receive the Keaton Mask from the Curiosity Shop owner, admitting the mask is worth very little but was symbolic to his relationship with Kafei.
  • Wrex's old family armor in Mass Effect. Wrex himself calls it a "piece of crap" and makes it clear he only cares about it because it belonged to his ancestors. Nevertheless, retrieving the armor secures Wrex's loyalty.


Webcomics


Western Animation

  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Mr. Krabs also has a First Dime. When he finds it missing, he blames Squidward of stealing it, causing him to quit. Later Krabs finds it in his back pocket - and it's a huge stone wheel.

 Spongebob: That's a dime?

Mr. Krabs: I've been in business a long time, boy.

    • In another episode, SpongeBob accidentally gets paint on Krabs' First Dollar Earned, which he has framed and hanging on his home.
    • And in another, Krab's millionth dollar is swallowed by a giant clam (parodying Jaws), to whom Krabs trades most of his body to get it back.

 Spongebob: What'd you give him?

Krabs: *hops on deck, revealing that only one arm, half his torso, and his head are left* Nothing important!

  • And of course The Simpsons did it too, in the form of Mr. Burns's old teddy bear, Bobo.

Notes

  1. Imagine wearing glasses all your life and then getting laser surgery.
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