Best for Last
When gifts or boons are handed out for characters, there is often one person who seems left out.
Typically, however, the longer the characters are seemingly neglected, the bigger their own boon will be. It's almost always well worth the wait.
For instance, there was one floral commercial where the female staff are all given flowers, except one person. However, after playing up the sympathy for her for all it's worth, the commercial ends with her getting an enormous bouquet.
Anime and Manga
- El-Hazard: The Magnificent World: The Terran heroes who come over get powers, except for Makoto, who seems to be left out. However, he eventually learns that he has a power after all and it's an earthshaking one: the power to reach the soul of Lost Technology and communicate with it, allowing him to control from simple gadgets to the most devastating weapons in that world.
- Fushigi Yuugi: In a slight twist on the trope, Tamahome is left out when the other Suzaku seishi receive holy items that increase their powers. He is led to believe that he is being punished for insulting Taiitsukun (the benefactor), when in fact he receives no item because his powers do not manifest themselves through any physical object. He discovers later that he was "upgraded" after all.
- In Gate Keepers, Banchou doesn't manifest his own Gate power until the last episode, and several times before that, some of the other characters wonder if he even has one. While not quite "best", his power is impressive enough to let him fight his way out of a monstrous Invader that had tried to swallow him.
- In the Tokyo Mew Mew manga, Ichigo is the last to find Mew Aqua, and saves the whole city with its residue—that and The Power of Love.
- In Digimon Adventure, Takeru "T.K." Takaishi's partner is consistently the last of the kids' digimon to evolve to the next stage, only doing so in the face of a Big Bad that had already wiped out the rest of the team combined (Against which his partner's holy powers are significantly useful).
- In the second season he was also the last to receive his D3 Digivice (although this time along with Hikari) and his digimon was the last to achieve DNA digivolution/Jogress evolution (this time, along with Iori).
- It's worth noting that the episode where Takeru and Iori get their Jogress is when the team finally manages to do some serious damage to BlackWarGreymon... which makes up for the fact that their combined digimon looks like a giant teapot.
- Sakaki from Azumanga Daioh loves cats. Unfortunately, she can't buy a cat because her mom is allergic, and every other cat Sakaki ever approaches reacts by either running away or biting her. Finally, she meets an Iriomote Cat, an endangered wildcat which doesn't just like Sakaki, but proves to be fiercely loyal to her, to the point that he traverses the country to come to her rescue several episodes later. Best cat ever.
- Done straight or subverted in With Strings Attached, depending on one's POV. Paul has to wait a lot longer than the others to get his magic, since the Fans had to go on Winter Solstice Break. When he finally gets his magic in spectacular fashion, he becomes the most powerful of the four. However, being Blessed with Suck and getting a healthy helping of Power Incontinence takes a lot of the fun out of it.
- Jack-Jack is referred to early on in The Incredibles as the only family member without a superpower. At the end, however, it is revealed that he can turn into flames, metal, and a demon. (In a bonus short on the DVD, he is also shown levitating, teleporting, spitting acidic saliva, and many others.)
- Violet is a lesser example, in that she doesn't learn to control her shields properly until late into the movie, but does some impressive things with them afterward.
- In A Christmas Story, Ralphie spends the whole film wishing for a Red Ryder BB Gun. When Christmas comes, he gets a few nice presents (and a horrible pink bunny suit), but no gun. His parents announce the end of gift-giving... but wait! There's one more present hidden behind the desk. It's a Red Ryder BB Gun!
- In Toy Story, Andy's mom saves Buzz Lightyear for the special last gift he receives at his birthday party.
- Another literary example: In the novel The Giver, when all the people becoming adults are receiving their careers, main character Jonas appears to be skipped. At the end of the ceremony, they announce that he's to be given the most important job of all.
- Then again, the job involves being made into the Only Sane Man and trapped in a world where no one else has emotions.
- Similarly, in the Xanth book A Spell for Chameleon, Bink is exiled from Xanth for not having any magical talent. It turns out that he does have the magical talent to be immune to harm from magic, a "magician" level talent.
- In the Discworld novel Mort, the eponymous hero waits in the town square to be chosen as an apprentice to some local craftsman. He waits...and waits...while all the other boys go off to become apprentice carpenters or carters or beggars. Finally, at midnight, his prospective master shows up...and it's the Grim Reaper. Arguably, given the events that follow, not the best for last, but definitely the most interesting.
- In Magician: Apprentice when children reach their maturity they are taken as apprentices in the naming ceremony. It's a stressful time because not all the children know which Master will choose them as an apprentice; the greatest fear is to be left out at the end. Poor Pug is left to the end and thinks he was the only one not chosen. Of course, there was ONE master that hadn't picked yet.
- In Lord of the Rings, Galadriel presents the Fellowship with various gifts—an elven bow for Legolas, gold and silver belts for Boromir, Merry, and Pippin, and so forth:
- Near the end, she turns to Gimli, for whom she apparently has no gift at all, and asks what he might request of her. He dares to ask for a strand of her beautiful hair, and she is so impressed and charmed by the request that she gives him three. This seems like a subversion, since hair isn't much compared to the valuable gifts she gave to the other companions, nor does he get a "better" gift later, but Gimli considers it the most priceless treasure imaginable.
- Played straight with the Box of Elvish Dirt given to Samwise immediately before Gimli's gift. The box doesn't qualify for My New Gift Is Lame, because Samwise both holds the elves in high esteem and loves garden work, but even Galadriel lampshades the fact that it won't help them on their quest. Of course, at the end of the series, when the Shire has been laid waste thanks to Saruman's reprisals, the dirt becomes very useful, indeed.
- In The Book of Three, the first volume of the Prydain Chronicles, Prince Gwydion bestows upon his friends gifts of great value. Fflewddur receives a harp string which will never break, Eilonwy receives a magic ring, Doli gets the ability to turn invisible at will. Then (similar to Galadriel in the above example), he asks Taran last of all what gift he might like, and Taran requests the thing he wants most of all: to go home.
Live Action Television
- Averted in The Office episode Valentine's Day when a series of bouquets keep arriving but none for Pam, who keeps expecting one. She spends the episode getting more and more frustrated and all she gets is a 'Happy Valentine's Day' from Jim.
- In Heroes, Peter's part was described simply as having a brother with powers. And look what he has now.
- In an episode of News Radio, the characters were each given a gift by their extremely rich boss. While Matthew didn't have to wait, he still had time to get jealous; the others got really extravagant gifts; he was given, in the form of a collection of tapes, his favourite old-time radio show, Fibber McGee and Molly. He was disappointed by the gift, until the boss explained that he'd given him the show - not just tapes of it, but all the rights to the show itself (suddenly everyone else feels jealous and slighted because their gifts weren't as extravagant).
- Subverted in a host segment of Mystery Science Theater 3000: Joel decides to give each of the Bots a present. Gypsy and Tom Servo each get fun/exciting toys. Claiming he saved the best for last, Joel gives Crow... a pair of dress slacks (Crow doesn't even wear clothes, and is hardly ever seen from the waist down).
- Spoofed in an Episode of SpongeBob SquarePants During the Krusty Krab talent show, Squidward claims to be the "Best act saved for last" but the crowd really goes wild over Spongebob mopping up the stage afterwards.
- Subverted in Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang gets waterbending scrolls, Katara gets a vial of water from the Spirit Oasis, Sokka gets... a hearty pat on the back.
- History has proved that if you play by this trope, chances are that you're gonna lose the battle, if not the war:
- In the Battle of Waterloo; if Napoleon had let his Imperial Guard being the front force of his attack against Wellington's center instead of holding them back, he might had crushed them before the Prussians came.
- During the D-day; if the Germans had sent their best tank-forces right at Normandy's beaches instead of keeping them deep in France, the Normandy landing may have become a bloody failure.
- The Battle of Hasting; Wilhelm the Conqueror's decision to not let his Norman troops led the charge against the Saxons' shield wall, but his weaker Breton troops almost costed him the victory. He only won when he wised up and let the Norman calavry led the charge through the rest of the battle.
- The Battle of Austerlitz; if the Russians had sent their Imperial Guard against the Frenchmens' weaker right flank at the village Sokolnitz than maybe they had won the battle.
- more the reasoning behind it (to serve as a symbol of friendship between Elves and Dwarves); in the distant past she had repeatedly refused Fëanor's identical request because he wanted to use her hair as raw material for making gems
- in fact, when he, Legolas, and Aragorn get messages later, the usefulness of the one for Gimli expires due to the identity of the messenger,
- except of course by giving him a massive willpower boost just when he needed it to resist the One Ring's allure