Mac Guffin Title YKTTW Discussion

Mac Guffin Title
(permanent link) added: 2009-07-27 10:50:51 sponsor: marjojo edited by: Worldmaker (last reply: 2010-10-25 18:05:12)

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A work appears has a title that refers to a specific object. Because the object is so specific in the title, you know without knowing anything else about the story, that, obviously, the heroes will have to quest to find, or protect from the bad guys, or recover from the forces of evil, or destroy somehow. or recover before the forces of evil. Often leads to a Title Drop.

Something of a pet trope for fantasy novels and video games, (especially those with Mad Lib Fantasy Titles, but can occur elsewhere. Sometimes results in an Artifact Title if the series moves on. Can involve a Character Name and the Noun Phrase title, especially if the Noun Phrase in question is nothing more than a MacGuffin itself.

A Subtrope of Mad Lib Fantasy Title and Super Trope of Character Name and the Noun Phrase.


  • The Maltese Falcon says almst nothing about the movie, but we kinda know what it's talking about.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark, along with most of the Indiana Jones films.
  • Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials is a trilogy of MacGuffin titles. The Subtle Knife is a particularly good case of this.
  • Crops up in The Wheel of Time. The first book is definitely one, but the best example is A Crown of Swords for combining this with Prophecy Twist - even some of the TitleDrops seem to be symbolic.
  • The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers references not one but two Mac Guffins.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia has The Silver Chair, which doesn't turn up until quite late in the book, but still counts.
  • Harry Potter includes the titular Philosopher's Stone, Goblet of Fire, and Deathly Hallows. Crossover with Character Name and the Noun Phrase.
  • The Sword in the Stone, though You Should Know This Already.
  • The Legend of Zelda is full of this trope. Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, The Minish Cap, and Four Swords to various extents.
  • If I recall correctly, the entire Fire Emblem series is a case of this.
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