We all have souvenirs—items that remind us of a place we visited or thing we did. But what happens when, instead of remembering your trip to Happy Fun Land, you want to remember the time you murdered some orphans or decapitated your mortal enemy?
The Creepy Souvenir is a sufficiently morbid item that is kept to show off the horrible thing(s) a character has done. Mostly, it's human body parts—heads, teeth, skulls, skin, fingers -- for obvious reasons. Sometimes, other personal items are taken, like dogtags, but the general rule is the bloodier, the better.
For extra bonus points, taxidermy it, because Taxidermy Is Creepy. The character might have an entire Trophy Room of such things. Particularly disturbed individuals may carry the items around with them wherever they go.
Crosses over occasionally with Skeletons in the Coat Closet, Genuine Human Hide, and Having a Heart. Compare Battle Trophy, Collector of the Strange, Stalker Shrine, Kitsch Collection, Decapitation Presentation. Note that this is different from using body parts for religious, medical, magical, or other purposes, although that's no less creepy.
No real life examples, please; this has been common practice throughout human existence, from shrunken heads to scalping, but documenting real examples is tasteless and not our job. If you're interested in learning more, see The Other Wiki's article on the subject.
- Mr. Zsasz from the Batman comics carves a line into his body every time he kills someone. He has them all over his body, notched in fives.
- Perhaps the strangest example is consul Enshu Atsukau from Sillage: he uses his telepathy to seduce females of various species. The addition to his harem is marked by a connection to a machine that links their neural systems to his in a permanent empathic link—which requires one of their eyes to be replaced by a cybernetic implant. The machine is surrounded by row upon row of small jars with their removed eyes floating inside.
- One Judge Dredd short story centered on a man trying to become famous by growing the world's largest nose—and falling afoul of a collector of body oddities, who wanted to mount the nose on a plaque. Eventually, Judge Dredd finds his hideout, with an extensive collection of heads, arms, and other parts, each one notable in some way—and each one taken forcibly and likely fatally.
- In Real Person Fic, Seeing is Believing, both Victora and Melanie were both kidnapped and subjected to Unwilling Roboticisation by a Mad Scientist. Both of them are left with biomechanical replacements of most of their original bodies. his included their eyes. Their original eyes were surgically removed and replaced with Electronic Eyes. The eyes were preserved, allowing both of them to keep them. The narrator understood this was common for people kept remains of their original body parts.
Film -- Live-Action
- Captain Love in The Mask of Zorro keeps his enemies' body parts in jars and drinks from them, supposedly to gain insight on their strategies. This becomes much creepier when he invites Alejandro to drink from the jar containing his own brother's head.
- In Cube 2: Hypercube, a man who's been in the Cube for some time starts killing and eating others and wearing their watches/dog tags as souvenirs.
- The Predator collects skulls from its prey, including intelligent ones. We get to see a very impressive display at the end of the second movie, including the elongated skull of a Xenomorph, laying down the foundation for the Alien vs. Predator franchise.
- General Grievious from Star Wars carries a collection of lightsabers from the Jedi he has killed.
- Universal Soldier starts out with a rogue soldier killing Vietnamese civilians—to emphasize his insanity, he wears a necklace of human ears.
- The main villain from Battle Beyond the Stars collects limbs from people he killed - and use them to replace his own. This comes back to bite him when one of his victims was a member of a hivemind who could still control the arm and tried to strangle him.
- The Bone Collector is about a murderer whose Signature Style involves removing bones from each of his victims.
- The famous French short story "La Main" ("The Hand") by Guy de Maupassant is about a hunter who cut off the arm of his enemy, dried it in the sun, and hung it in his living room. Later, the man is found dead, with marks on his neck showing he was strangled...and the hand in the living room is missing.
- In False Memory by Dean Koontz, Dr. Ahriman has his father's eyes. Literally. He seems to have some kind of twisted fetish for eyes and tears.
- In one short story, an assassin kills a man who turns out to be a serial killer (which is a part of a larger plot between gods—Loki has survived to modern times and uses serial killers to gather human nails that he needs to build his ship) -- the assassin enters the man's house and starts retching when he finds a whole wall of jars full of eyeballs staring at him.
- In Savages of Gor/Blood Brothers of Gor, the Red Savages (Fantasy Counterpart Culture to Plains Indains) regularly scalp their enemies.
- Bennat Ladradun in Tamora Pierce's Circle Universe keeps a shelf full of mementos that he takes from fires in which he makes a difference (he is a semi-professional firefighter). However, excepting one (his dead wife's hand, complete with matching melted ring), they are actually mementos from the fires that he set.
- The Silence of the Lambs. Buffalo Bill collects parts of the skin of his victims to make a woman suit. This is actually lampshaded when Clarice mentions that most serial killers keep souvenirs of their victims.
Lecter: I didn't.
- Goth and Throbb, the cannibal antagonists in Silverwing. They eat a whole group of bats and wear their metal bands as trophies.
- In The Witcher novels, Psycho for Hire Leo Bonhart keeps a collection of witcher talismans.
- A Song of Ice and Fire
- The Tattered Prince is a mercenary leader known from wearing a cloak stitched from rags of cloaks of his defeated enemies.
- One of the barbarian leaders wears a necklace of ears from defeated enemies. Unusually for the trope, all of them had been left alive—they can come back to challenge her and get their ears back if they ever find the courage.
- The House of Bolton has a notorious reputation for flaying their enemies alive and wearing cloaks made out of their skin.
- In 1633, Gunther Achterhof of the Magdeburg Committee of Correspondence was said to carry around the ears, noses, and private parts of two soldiers he had killed before joining the CoC, in revenge for the killing of his family by an army passing through the area.
- Dexter keeps blood sample slides of all his victim in his apartment, hidden in a box in his air conditioner. In the books, he keeps them on his bookshelf. The idea is that, as a serial killer, he can't stop himself from taking a trophy, and the tiny, easy to hide, easy to get rid of slides are a pretty good idea. Even in their "convenient to hide" form, the trophy box bites him in the ass when Doakes finds it...
- In the season 8 finale episode of New Tricks "Tiger Tiger", the team discover that their victim was the first victim of a Serial Killer, who collected parts from his victims and stored them in old VHS tape boxes. To add to the creepiness factor, the bad guy kept the body parts in Punny Named video cassette boxes too. The fingers were kept in a box marked "Goldfinger".
- The Nameless hitman in "Battleground" (adapted from the short story by Stephen King) collects trophies from his victims, usually a personal item from their room. When he murders a toymaker, it's implied that this habit enables his witch mother to track the hitman to his apartment.
- From Angel: Connor, upon returning to Earth from a hell dimension, carries around bits and pieces of demons he's killed. At one point, after a fistfight with a drug dealer, he cuts the guy's ear off to add to his collection.
- Ronon Dex of Stargate Atlantis has the handle of his faithful Ray Gun wrapped in Wraith hair. A Deleted Scene also has him showing Carter a necklace made from the fingerbones of Wraith he killed.
- In Deep Space Nine episode: The Siege of Ar-558 one Starfleet soldier has a necklace of capsules of Ketracel White(the drug that the Dominion uses to control it's JemHadder slave-soldiers) that he killed.
- Similarly and more in keeping with the stereotype, a Klingon in Soldiers of the Empire has a necklace of Cardasian neckbones.
- Tom Lehrer's song "I Hold Your Hand in Mine":
I hold your hand in mine, dear, / I press it to my lips.
- Warhammer Fantasy Battle/Warhammer 40,000
- Champions of Khorne collect skulls from their victims. These are usually piled up in some sort of a shrine, though many a champion carries a couple of favourites with himself.
- Many warriors from Warhammer. The most prominent among those are Gorthor, who wears a fur cloak made of the skins of beastmen shamans he killed (showing his badassitude, as well as his belief that gods are with him - he can freely kill a shaman and suffer no curse for it), and the ratmen warlord Queek headtaker who, showing courage unharacteristic for his race, loves single combat and goes to battle with an actual trophy rack on his back.
- Inverted for the Slaaneshi champion Lucius the Eternal in Warhammer 40000. Lucius is blessed with an ability to "always triumph"—allowing him to reincarnate in the body of his killer, as long as they feel at least a bit of satisfaction over the deed, fusing them into his suit in the process. So every screaming face on his armor is someone who managed to beat him in the past.
- Dungeons & Dragons module G1 Steading of the Hill Giant Chief. One chest has some dwarf and elf ears, presumably taken from victims the giants killed.
- Jaqueline Montarri, a cursed villain from Ravenloft, collects the animated still-conscious heads of women she's decapitated.
- In Legend of the Five Rings, there is an ogre who fancies himself a sort of a samurai—his symbol is a collection of mons from samurai he killed, stitched together.
- The Order of the Stick
- At one point, Belkar beheads Yikyik the kobold and wears his head as a hat. He later uses the head of Yokyok, the son of the first kobold, as a tortilla bowl.
- Gannji the lizardfolk mentions that keeping a Creepy Souvenir is common amongst ogres. So, when his friend Enor (an ogre/blue dragon hybrid) is forced to kill him, Gannji suggests he keep his tail as a trophy in order to resurrect him later.