Created By: TakeHomeRena on July 7, 2012 Last Edited By: TakeHomeRena on July 23, 2012
Troped

Accidentally Broke The MacGuffin

After finally getting the Mac Guffin, somebody is clumsy and breaks it.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
The heroes have finally found the MacGuffin. After so much effort and Your Princess Is in Another Castle, they're going to return it, use it, or whatever they were supposed to do with it.

Then somebody breaks it, making the whole endeavour pointless.

A particularly frustrating form of a Diabolus ex Machina. The other character's reactions usually range from shock to a anger burst. Double points if the MacGuffin can NEVER be replaced. In a story where The Good Guys Always Win, if the villain gets their hands on the MacGuffin, it's either taken from them or this happens.

This usually happens during the middle of the series, not during a Grand Finale which would change the course of who wins. Often used in a Shaggy Dog Story.

Contrast Dismantled MacGuffin, where the MacGuffin is not broken, but is meant to be put back together. Often leads to No MacGuffin, No Winner. This only refers to objects, so The President's Daughter (obviously) does not count.

Examples:

Anime And Manga

  • In InuYasha, near the beginning of the series Kagome shoots an arrow at a bird carrying the shikon jewel, but the arrow hits the shikon jewel itself spreading shards of the jewel over Warring States Era Japan and setting our heroes on a quest to gather the shards before they land in the hands of evil.
  • In Tokyo Mew Mew, the MacGuffin, Mew Aqua, is supposedly broken on multiple occasions. Subverted, as Mew Aqua does not break, and the Mew Aqua they thought they broke is not real.

Film

  • A minor one in Apollo 13. When the astronauts' carbon dioxide is getting too high and they discover the filters won't fit, Mission Control MacGyver's a solution, which includes using their spare urine bag. Which leads to this exchange:
    Fred Haise: Shit, I tore it.
    Jack Swigert: Shit.
    Fred Haise: Houston, what do we do if we rip the bag? Can we tape it?
    Andy (CAPCOM - WHITE): They just tore the bag.
    Technician (facepalming): Oh, no.
  • In Bedknobs and Broomsticks, the characters have retrieved the Star of Astromov, imprinted with the words for the Substituary Locomotion. But as they arrive home, they find the star has disintegrated during the journey. And it turned out to be unnecessary, as one of the kid's storybooks had an illustration of the star, and more importantly, the words to the spell.
  • In Disney's Cinderella, Lady Tremaine trips up the servant carrying the glass slipper, causing it to break. Luckily, Cinderella had the other one.
  • Zigzagged on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs with the FLDSMDFR kill code. As they fly to stop it, Flint almost drops the flash drive with the code, saying "Can you imagine if I dropped this?" The window then breaks and the drive gets sucked out. After much difficulty, Flint gets his father to e-mail him the code to his cell phone. He plugs it to the FLDSMDFR, activates it, and... it turns out his dad sent the wrong file!
  • A humorous example; in Ice Age, the gang spends a whole scene trying to get a watermelon from a "cult" of dodos so they can feed it to the baby they're protecting. After a hilarious slow-motion sequence, Sid the Sloth finally manages to retrieve it from the onslaught of birds......only to spike it into the ground like a football, shattering it.

  • Played straight in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen with the Matrix of leadership, but then inverted.

Literature

  • In the fourth Book of Ember, The Diamond Of Darkhold, Doon throws the titular diamond at a pack of wolves to save Lina. The diamond hits the rock that Lina is standing on and shatters into hundreds of pieces. Luckily, The diamond is only a sample. There are exactly one thousand diamonds in a hidden room in the cave. The diamonds are ancient technology that turns solar power into electricity.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the record of the prophecy Voldemort tricks Harry into stealing from the ministry is shattered as Harry and his friends try to make their escape from the ministry, pursued by Voldemort's minions.
Live Action TV

Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • July 7, 2012
    polarbear2217
    In the fourth Book of Ember, The Diamond Of Darkhold, Doon throws the titular diamond at a pack of wolves to save Lina. The diamond hits the rock that Lina is standing on and shatters into hundreds of pieces. Luckily, The diamond is only a sample. There are exactly one thousand diamonds in a hidden room in the cave. The diamonds are ancient technology that turns solar power into electricity.
  • July 7, 2012
    JonnyB
    A minor one in Apollo 13. When the astronauts' carbon dioxide is getting too high and they discover the filters won't fit, Mission Control Mac Gyver's a solution, which includes using their spare urine bag. Which leads to this exchange:
    Fred Haise: Shit, I tore it.
    Jack Swigert: Shit.
    Fred Haise: Houston, what do we do if we rip the bag? Can we tape it?
    Andy (CAPCOM - WHITE): They just tore the bag.
    Technician (facepalming): Oh, no.
  • July 7, 2012
    abk0100
    After Buffy dies the second time, the scoobies find a one-of-a-kind sacred urn that will let them resurrect her. Demons interrupt their spell, and the urn gets dropped and broken, but it turns out the resurrection was completed moments before that.
  • July 8, 2012
    reub2000
    • In Inu Yasha, near the beginning of the series Kagome shoots an arrow at a bird carrying the shikon jewel, but the arrow hits the shikon jewel itself spreading shards of the jewel over Warring States Era Japan and setting our heroes on a quest to gather the shards before they land in the hands of evil.
  • July 8, 2012
    Astaroth
    In Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, the record of the prophecy Voldemort tricks Harry into stealing from the ministry is shattered as Harry and his friends try to make their escape from the ministry, pursued by Voldemort's minions.
  • July 10, 2012
    TheChach
    Played straight in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen with the Matrix of leadership, but then inverted.
  • July 14, 2012
    KZN02
    What about Mac Guffins that break by themselves?
  • July 14, 2012
    TakeHomeRena
    This only counts for Mac Guffins that are broken by somebody.
  • July 16, 2012
    KZN02
    So that would exclude Mac Guffins that are sentient or something?
  • July 16, 2012
    abk0100
    If you had, like, a sentient necklace, and you dropped it, that would probably count?
  • July 16, 2012
    TakeHomeRena
    It counts, because it's a breakable object that somebody broke. Sentinent or not, it's breakable.
  • July 16, 2012
    KZN02
    Err, I was thinking a sentient Mac Guffin that broke itself.
  • July 17, 2012
    TakeHomeRena
    oh. ok, sorry. If it breaks itself, it doesn't count. This is when somebody else breaks it.
  • July 22, 2012
    TonyG
    • In Disney's Cinderella, Lady Tremaine trips up the servant carrying the glass slipper, causing it to break. Luckily, Cinderella had the other one.
    • Zigzagged on Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs with the FLDSMDFR kill code. As they fly to stop it, Flint almost drops the flash drive with the code, saying "Can you imagine if I dropped this?" The window then breaks and the drive gets sucked out. After much difficulty, Flint gets his father to e-mail him the code to his cell phone. He plugs it to the FLDSMDFR, activates it, and... it turns out his dad sent the wrong file!
    • In Bedknobs And Broomsticks, the characters have retrieved the Star of Astromov, imprinted with the words for the Substituary Locomotion. But as they arrive home, they find the star has disintegrated during the journey. And it turned out to be unnecessary, as one of the kid's storybooks had an illustration of the star, and more importantly, the words to the spell.
  • July 22, 2012
    GoopsWorld
    A humorous example; in Ice Age, the gang spends a whole scene trying to get a watermelon from a "cult" of dodos so they can feed it to the baby they're protecting. After a hilarious slow-motion sequence, Sid the Sloth finally manages to retrieve it from the onslaught of birds......only to spike it into the ground like a football, shattering it.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=ac1izen993u1mzhve1vqm93j