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A guy proposes to his girl. She accepts. The music swells. It's all very sweet. He produces the ring, and puts it on her left ring finger. It should be that simple. It never is. This trope is about the wacky mishaps that can happen to a ring, the guy planning to offer it, or the woman who may be accepting it.

The trope is often suspended or blown off in animation because of recycling shots and budget considerations. So engaged and/or married characters don't tend to have visible rings. On the occasions when someone in an animated show has a ring they bothered to draw, it's usually a clue that the ring is a MacGuffin or an Artifact of Doom or that the engagement is going to fail for one reason or another.

Engagement ring tropes:

  • Can the guy afford the ring he knows would really thrill his girl?
  • The ring is lost in some zany mix-up.
  • The ring is hidden and somebody else finds it, believing it's for them, and the hapless guy has to get it back without upsetting the woman who has found it.
  • The ring is an heirloom.
  • The ring is a fake.
  • The ring is part of a big presentation over dinner. It'll be at the bottom of a champagne flute or on the dessert plate.
  • The ring is part of a big presentation at a sporting event, and the popped question shows up on the lighted jumbotron, to the delight or dismay of the person being asked.
  • The guy doesn't have a ring, but he wants to propose anyway. He improvises with a cigar band or a ring that's not meant for that purpose, or anything that will fit on her finger.
  • The Rich Bitch or Gold Digger will announce outright she won't settle for anything less than a huge diamond.

The wedding ring, in many western countries, is worn on the left hand due to an archaic belief that the ring finger of the left hand has a vein that leads directly to the heart. Some old folklores say that if a woman wears any ring on that finger while a maiden, she will never marry.

See also Old New Borrowed and Blue for when the engagement ring does make it all the way to the wedding. At which point then we get wedding ring tropes:

Wedding ring tropes:

  • Did the best man remember the rings?
    • He did, all is well.
    • He didn't, we'll have to improvise!
  • A woman knows the gorgeous, sweet man she's falling for is married because she can see the tan line around where he took off his wedding ring so he could go cruising for women.
  • A frightened wife or nervous person will twirl their wedding ring around and around. (Sometimes it happens with a ring that isn't marriage related.)
  • The Discredited Trope version: a woman is washing the dishes without her yellow rubber gloves on, and the wedding ring goes down the drain. Cue panicked call to the plumber.
  • Cross Cultural Kerfluffle when bride and groom come from different cultures wherein the ring is not worn on the hand each expects it to be worn upon.
  • The ring is fake.
  • The ring is stolen.

The claddagh, known colloquially as the Irish Wedding Ring, is worn with the heart pointing toward the wearer if they are married (crown pointing away); and with the heart pointing away from the wearer if they are available. Similarly, Hawaiian tradition indicates a woman is spoken for if she wears a flower behind her left ear, rather than a ring.

The widow finger is the opposite finger. A woman or man whose spouse has died switches the ring to the opposite hand. Hilarity Ensues in situations where wearing a wedding ring on the "wrong" hand is considered a tell for being gay and on the make. Widows also occasionally wear their wedding ring around their neck on a chain.

Damaged relationship ring tropes:

  • Cuckolded spouses may destroy the ring, pawn it, or give it away as if it were a worthless trinket. Usually in this case, it's a female destroying the ring.
  • Divorcees may, to celebrate the final dissolution of the marriage, smash their wedding ring with a sledgehammer.
  • An engaged woman may toss the ring down a sewer or the drain or the toilet if she believes she's been cheated on.
  • On rare occasions, the engaged woman will put the ring back in the box and give it back, as is appropriate etiquette-wise for when an engagement is broken.
    • The woman will also just hand back the ring when the engagement breaks, etiquette-wise, if it's an "at the altar" thing.

There are of course, ring tropes that don't revolve around the wedding and marriage, which may also fit under this catch-all trope involving rings.

See also Lost Wedding Ring.

Examples:


Advertising

  • There's a commercial where the best man loses the ring just before the ceremony, and he and the groom rack their brains over it and start searching themselves, leading to the best man having to strip near naked before the thing is found. He and the groom whoop for joy, and celebrate with a hug, and then the bride and everyone sees them...

Anime and Manga

  • Hayate the Combat Butler takes a full swing at this trope in The End Of The World flashback arc. While he was a kid, Hayate worked hard and finally was able to buy a ring for Athena. Unfortunately, it's a ring for an adult, so their six-year-old forms can't wear them yet. Athena responds by offering Hayate a similar ring, and the vows and rings are exchanged and they promise to marry when they get older. Hayate then goes and gives the ring he got to his parents, who take and sell it to a pawn shop. Athena gets angry at Hayate when he returns later, presumably having seen what happened.
    • The ring is later seen by Yukiji, given how it's priced, it seems possible that the ring is a fake.
    • The ring that Athena kept a hold of returns to the story when the group makes a trip out to Athens during their Golden Week vacation. First it's admired, and then left out in the open, by her when she's seen Hayate again, not having known where he was for the intervening years. Then Hayate notices it and picks it up. She also gave the ring-box (empty) to Nagi, his current master before she disappears at the end of the arc.
    • It's not seen when he gives it back, but Athena later shows it as proof that it is her when he's questioning his sight.
  • In Define Normal, for their mock marriage, Skylar proposes to Emily with the amethyst ring that Emily wears all the time.

Comic Books

  • Back before the One More Day nightmare in Spider-Man, when Mary Jane was missing and presumed dead, Peter Parker switched his wedding band to the widower finger. This resulted in an amusing misunderstanding when a guy hit on him, mistaking him for being gay.
  • Pre-crisis Superman squeezed a lump of coal into a diamond so he could propose to Lois. No ring, but, that's impressive enough.
    • Post-crisis Superman had a message to Lois and an S-shield engraved on the inside of the diamond.

 Clark: You'll need an electron microscope to see it though.

Lois: I was wondering what we'd do for fun on our honeymoon.

  • As cool as the gesture would be, neither Green Lanterns nor members of the Legion of Super-Heroes can give up their rings as an engagement gesture.
    • Kyle Rayner, however, did it anyway, since he had a spare ring to hand.
      • He sort of tacked the proposal on at the end of an invitation for Jade to become another Green Lantern (her natural powers had been lost several dozen issues previous), though. And she did turn down the marriage proposal, although she kept the ring.
    • The Corps rules don't apply to Alan Scott, since he's not an official member. And he did (temporarily) give his ring to Molly Maynne when he (finally - and impulsively) married her. (Presumably it was promptly replaced by an ordinary wedding band.)
  • In the Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continuity, Casey Jones starts to propose to April with a ring his grandmother gave him...which the Foot promptly shows up and steals, because it's a magical artifact. Casey panics, but April makes a ring out of a flower and gives it to him, telling him to please continue.
  • Batman Adventures, the comic book series based on Batman: The Animated Series, had a story in which Harley Quinn convinces the Joker to marry her by claiming she has inherited a fortune. When he proposes, without any ring, she snaps, "What kind of a floozy do you think I am? After all these years, you better have a ring!" He improvises by pulling the ring out of a hand grenade and putting it on her finger, leading to 'fireworks' behind them as they kiss. [1]
  • In Batman and the Outsiders, Sapphire Stagg was abducted from her wedding to Metamorpho. After she was rescued, best man Geo-Force admitted he had lost the rings during the battle. Metamorpho used his powers to form two gold rings out of his body so the wedding could go ahead.
  • Nightwing (2011) finds Nightwing rescuing an old circus acquaintance from his crazed, demon summoning ex fiancee Zohna, who was using the ring Jimmy had proposed with to fuel an unholy soul binding ceremony. Once Nightwing rescued him, Jimmy tossed the ring down a sewer grate.

Film

  • In The Scarecrow, Buster Keaton uses a lug nut as a wedding ring while getting married on a speeding motorcycle.
  • The Fantastic Four movie ends with Reed proposing to Sue with a washer from their space station, because he's too poor to afford anything else, and it's a symbol of him trying not to be so absorbed in his big brain science. In the sequel, Reed has made good financially, and Sue is wearing one heck of a giant, shiny rock.
  • In Dead Again, Mike Church tries to ascertain whether Grace is spoken for by asking her how she wears her Claddagh. She puts it on in the "married" position, much to his dismay.
  • In Armageddon, Rockhound puts the mack on a beautiful blonde by informing her the big diamond wedding ring she's wearing isn't the real thing.
  • In Spider-Man 3, Peter gets an heirloom ring from Aunt May so he can propose to Mary Jane. Then the ring gets knocked out of his hands in an attack, multiple stories above the city, and he has to chase it before it hits the ground and is lost forever. Later, he arranges for the ring to turn up at the bottom of a champagne glass, but he's been Mr. Oblivious, and MJ gives up on him before he can propose.
  • Hannah gives back Colin's engagement ring when Tom nearly concusses himself to be honest with her and tell her he loves her in Made Of Honor.
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral: Not only is Charles late to the wedding where he is the best man, but he's also forgotten the rings. His friends quickly supply him with replacements: a ring with a huge, brightly coloured heart for the bride and a silver skull ring for the groom.
  • Shoot Em Up. The Nameless hero leaves a pistol with the Hooker with a Heart of Gold, slipping the triggerguard over her finger with obvious symbolism.
  • In Disney's Robin Hood, Robin gives Marian a flower twisted into the shape of a ring.
  • In the film version of Rent, Maureen proposes to Joanne using one of many rings she wears on her fingers.
  • In the original Dawn of the Dead Stephen proposes to Francine in the classic over dinner way. She simply hands back the ring saying "It wouldn't be real."
  • In Corpse Bride, this trope basically kickstarts the entire plot.

Literature

  • Spellbent: Switchblade Goddess: Jessie is missing her left arm, and it has been replaced with mystical energy. So when her boyfriend proposes, he puts the ring on her right hand.

Live Action TV

  • In a classic scene from The Bob Newhart Show (season 4), Howard proposes to Ellen in a restaurant with friends and family present. The seating arrangement at the semi-circular table is so awkward that Howard must pass the ring to Carol's dull as dishwater blind date from hell. It is he who then slips the ring on Ellen's finger. Ellen accepts and says the ring is lovely, to which Carol's date responds with an emphatic "Thank you!".
  • In the The Tenth Kingdom, conflict arises when Wolf spends all his money on a magic engagement ring with a sentient, singing pearl on top. Virginia is upset that he didn't use the money to buy the mirror they've been chasing the entire series.
  • Chuck: Chuck manages to lose the engagement ring Awesome planned to give to Ellie.
    • Technically, he didn't lose it, it was stolen...along with literally everything else in the Buy More.
  • On Just Shoot Me, Elliot plans to propose to Maya during dinner, but the ring gets stuck on Dennis' toe. (He was in the tub pretending that his feet were getting married.)
  • On Friends, best man Joey loses Ross' ring for his marriage to Emily during the bachelor party. At first they accuse the stripper of stealing it. Then it turns out Joey's pet duck ate it.
    • Earlier, when Ross spontaneously proposed to Emily, he didn't have a ring to propose with. So he tried to use his earring, which was far too small for her finger.
    • And, of course, there's the engagement mix up after Emma is born... Ross has a ring in his coat pocket, it falls out when Ross is out of the room, Joey bends down to pick it up, spins around and (because he's on one knee with a ring in his hand), Rachel accepts his proposal.
  • Cheers: Sam forms A Simple Plan to buy Diane a knockoff ring. He ends up spending thousands of dollars covering for the plan, then ends up buying the real ring anyway, only to have Diane discard it, thinking it's the fake.
  • ER has one of the women losing her engagement ring in the drain. Romano later retrieves it with an endoscope.
  • Two and A Half Men: Charlie, planning to propose to Chelsea, puts the engagement ring in her champagne glass. She downs the whole thing in one gulp.
  • In M* A* S* H, Margaret loses her ring and when Klinger is unable to recover it, he gets a replica made. She finds out because the inscription is wrong.
  • When Max is finally going to propose to Fran on The Nanny, he gets mugged outside the theater and the ring is stolen. They seal the engagement with the pull-tab from a beer can until he can get a replacement. The huge and expensive replacement comes from Cartier. Max didn't want to buy anything cheaper than that.
  • Roswell: In the series finale, Max steals a trick from Superman and turns coal into diamond so he has a ring to propose to Liz with.
  • Battlestar Galactica. Bill Adama still wears his wedding ring, even though he's long divorced and his ex-wife was killed in the destruction of the Colonies. But when Laura Roslin dies, he finally takes off the ring and places it on her finger.
  • The Korean Drama To Marry a Millionaire is about a scam reality show where a bunch of women are supposed to be conned into thinking they are getting a chance to marry a millionaire. The guy is actually a delivery guy for a noodle shop. One of the women is someone he knew in high school he is carrying a torch for. She knows who he really is, but she needs the money they offered to do the show, so she stays with it. He is supposed to offer her a fancy diamone ring, but instead he buys the most expensive thing he can personally afford (a very cheap ring) and offers her the ring he bought instead. Much drama ensues, he gets the ring back, makes a ton of money and proposes to her again with the cheap ring at their old high school.
  • Babylon 5: When John Sheridan proposes to Delenn (by showing her the ring he 'picked up down in the Zocalo', possibly from the crane-grab machine) we get a Cross Cultural Kerfluffle with a sci-fi twist - being from an alien culture she has no idea what an engagement ring is and stands there looking bemused and stroking the ring box while he explains. Very smooth.
    • He also describes the ring as a "down payment," which it technically sort of is.
  • Similarly to the Fantastic Four movie ring example above, when Captain Sisko proposes to Yates on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, he uses what appears to be a table-stand-washer from the model house he's building. Though to be honest, he seems to have planned it and it could have been an actual engagement ring that had just been hidden there for convenience.
  • In Being Human Remake, Sally is killed when she freaks out about having lost her engagement ring down the drain. Her fiancé thinks that she deliberately 'lost' it down the drain.
  • In The Golden Girls, Stan proposes to Dorothy by hiding the engagement ring in a potato, referring to his baked potato opener invention.
  • Angel gives Buffy a claddagh ring for her 17th birthday, explaining the different meanings in how you wear it, with obvious romantic overtones. The scene actually caused a boost in popularity for claddagh rings in real life.
    • The dual purpose of a claddagh ring is used brutally in a scene where a boy who fancies Buffy gives her one as a sign of friendship; Buffy naturally freaks out over this sudden reminder of her doomed romance with Angel.
  • When Alice and Hugo get married on The Vicar of Dibley, Jim forgets the rings. They substitute what looks to be a pair of circular corn chips.
    • In point of fact, they're Hula Hoops. Which, actually, match perfectly with Alice's personality.

Music

  • "This Diamond Ring" by Gary Lewis and the Playboys is about a young man who wants to sell the engagement ring his girl took off and gave back when he caught her cheating.
  • The music video for Guns N' Roses "November Rain" has Axl and his groomsmen looking about frantically for the ring. Steve is wearing it on his pinky.

Newspaper Comics

  • 9 Chickweed Lane did a fakeout on the readers by making it appear Amos had bought an engagement ring. It was really a Captain Midnight decoder ring. Whether it turns out to be an engagement ring anyway remains to be seen.

Truth in Television

  • A man did a variation on the engagement ring in the champagne glass; he bought her a Wendy's Frosty and challenged her to a contest. And she ended up swallowing the ring.

Web Comics

  • Dominic Deegan sacrificed his highly crafted artificial leg to get a rare and precious gemstone with which to propose to Luna, which she herself noted was a type typically put into rings. She wears it around her neck rather than on a ring.
  • Gil in Girl Genius finds a ring-shaped gas connector in Agatha's hair. He turns that into a Wacky Marriage Proposal. Later Gil wears the ring on a chain around his neck when he believed that Agatha was killed.
    • Later Lars (who's secretly fallen in love with Agatha) puts a wedding ring on her finger when she has a dinner date with the local prince in case he has lecherous intentions. Agatha misses the symbolism, remarking innocently that "people keep giving me rings".
      • The ring (as Lars actually says to Abner when he questions Lars's line that it's 'kept him out of trouble') does end up being important, as it folds out into a lockpick, which comes in handy when the Prince's intentions are even less-honorable than anyone in the Circus suspected.
  • Charlie in Theater Hopper flushes her engagement ring down the toilet in the ladies' room on disbelieving Charlie's protest of Not What It Looks Like.
  • In Captain SNES, Sabin loses the rings for Locke and Celes's wedding. Well, actually, Locke, a very literal Kleptomaniac Hero (that's TREASURE HUNTING hero!), was so nervous that he pocketed them on sheer impulse and promptly forgot that he had done so.

Western Animation

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Back to the Sewer: Casey proposes to April and puts the ring on the wrong finger. But after the Artifact of Doom ring is removed and replaced, he puts a normal ring on the correct finger.
  • In a flashback episode of The Simpsons Marge's original engagement ring is repossessed, and Homer is so ashamed at being unable to provide for her that he leaves her, but continues to mail her money with no return address. When she finally manages to track him down to the crummy fast food place he's working at he re-proposes with an onion ring. Marge is touched, but then asks if she can take it off, since it's burning her finger. Homer does takes it off, but then he eats it.
    • There was a similar event when Mr. Burns proposed to Marge's mother. He put the ring in her champagne glass, but she swallowed it. Luckily, he had a back-up ring in the fondue.
    • Grown-up Lisa's fiancée Hugh proposed with an elaborate light-up billboard with fireworks in the background, reading "Lisa Simpson, will you give me your hand in matrimo--" and then it burned out. Plan B was a cow wearing a sandwich board reading "Marry Me".
  • In Futurama, Bender steals the engagement ring Lars gave Leela and replaces it with an exact duplicate.

 Bender: In fact, I think the fake cost more than this ring. Don't get me wrong, this is very nice, but I really went all out. It's sort of my gift to them.

  • On Gargoyles, Goliath and Demona watch the prince get married, and Goliath comments on the strange human custom of exchanging rings. Demona then decides to imitate the practice by breaking the Phoenix Gate in half, giving him one piece and offering to always keep her own.
  • In the Disney short Tangled Ever After: Maximus sneezes and sends the wedding rings flying a few minutes before they are needed.
  • Phineas and Ferb
    • "Hide and Seek:" Phineas retrieves a diamond ring from a sewer grate while under the influence of a shrink ray.
    • There's another episode in which the boys develop X-Ray vision glasses, and use them to find Mrs. Garcia-Shapiro's missing wedding ring, which went down the drain.

Video Games

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