MacGuffin Blindness YKTTW Discussion

MacGuffin Blindness
When the object or objects that characters are searching for is right in front of them, and they don't know it
(permanent link) added: 2012-04-03 20:24:40 sponsor: Rytex (last reply: 2012-06-18 19:49:18)

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Stormtrooper: These aren't the droids we're looking for.

Simply put, the good guys and the bad guys are always looking for that one thing that will be the weakness to the opposition. Sometimes, they both are the same thing. A classic example comes from Star Wars, where the stolen plans for the Death Star are held by R2-D2, and the Empire is trying to find it to secure the plans, and so spell doom for the Rebels, and the Rebels are trying to find the plans to find a weakness in the Death Star.

Sometimes, however, the object they are searching for shows up right in front of their face and they are any of the following: convinced (by someone else or just don't believe it themselves) that it is something else unrelated to what they're looking for, magically tricked into believing otherwise, or just don't even notice it.

MacGuffin Blindness Scale:

Class 1: Convinced by themselves that it isn't what they're looking for.

Class 2: Convinced verbally by someone else that it isn't what they're looking for.

Class 3: Magically tricked into believing otherwise.



  • Bleach: Urahara hid the Hogyouku [[spoiler:inside Rukia, without her knowledge or consent to keep Aizen from finding it.
  • In Sailor Moon S, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune look for three artifacts, said to be inside the hearts of normal people. They are, respectively, inside Sailor Uranus and Neptune themselves, and inside Sailor Pluto.

  • Many times this is done in Looney Toons. Say Elmer Fudd is hunting Bugs Bunny. Elmer will often ask Bugs if he's seen a rabbit. Bugs will describe himself to a T, to which Elmer will affirm him, but Bugs will then say "Nope. Haven't seen one." A humorous example of Class 2.

  • In Harry Potter, after Harry learns what horcruxes are, he attempts to hide a potions book in the Room of Hidden Things. In order to distinguish this cupboard so he can find it again, he puts a bust of a wizard on top of it, and puts a battered old tiara on top of that. That tiara is actually the Diadem of Ravenclaw, one of the horcruxes Harry is supposed to hunt down. This is a Class 1 because, although he doesn't verbally or mentally convince himself it isn't what he's looking for, he's too distracted by something else to really give a care.
    • The reason why the locket is not considered one is because at the time he handled it, Harry did not know he would have to hunt it down.
  • In Alan Dean Foster's Glory Lane, the protagonists' adorable shape-shifting Companion Cube turns out to be the item everyone else in the entire book is looking for, and no one realizes it till the end.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
  • Doctor Who, Series 2, Episode 1: "Rose." The Doctor is looking for a big round antenna in the heart of London in which the Nestine Consciousness may have hidden his transmitter. As he's saying this, right behind him framing his head is the London Eye (a giant Ferris Wheel). Rose spots it, but the Doctor doesn't pay attention until Rose points it out.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Glory searches all through season 5 for the key, but doesn't until right near the end realize that it was Buffy's sister Dawn all along.

  • Star Wars, as seen in the quote above. In Mos Eisley, four stormtroopers ask to see the identification of Luke and Obi-Wan, and investigate into the droids briefly, but Obi-Wan uses The Force to trick the head stormtrooper that they aren't the droids they're looking for. An obvious example of Class 3.
  • Averted in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The Holy Grail's in front of them, and they know what it is, but they don't know which one it is.
  • In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (The Movie sequel to FFVII), Rufas Shinra, who's been stuck in a wheelchair (as he's dying from Geostigma) being interrogated by the villains for most of the film, reveals that not only is he much more well than he lets on, but the head of Jenova was on his lap in a sealed box the entire time. Class 2, because Shinra was doing a good job of hiding it and playing on Kadaj's personality.

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • Final Fantasy VII gives us a bit of one, though it's slightly averted, as they soon discover that the Black Materia they're searching for is actually the entire Temple of the Ancients, which they've been exploring for the previous thirty minutes. Class 1.
    • Also, the White Materia Aeris carries in her ribbon. The only thing that can stop said Black Materia, and no one knows what it is or does until the end of the game. Aeris thinks it does nothing and is only decoration for a while. Class 1.
  • In Quest for Glory there's a thief-specific subplot running through the series regarding the search for a legendary blackbird statue, a Shout-Out to The Maltese Falcon. In the second, third, and fourth games you can find a fake blackbird, and in the fifth you finally find the real one. However, the real bird also appears in the first game, but you can't pick it up because your character doesn't know what it is yet. Although the game is trying to convince you it isn't what you are looking for, which makes it a Class 2, in the context, you yourself don't know what it is, so it is a Class 1.
  • Skies of Arcadia Legends For much of the game, Vyse and company travel the globe in search of the moonstones, to keep them out of Empress Teodora's hands. They manage to find all but the silver moonstone, not knowing it was hidden inside Fina all along. She was unaware of this, herself, until Ramirez revealed that all Silvites are born with one!
  • Pokemon Black and White: The Dark/Light Stone, depending on your version, is sitting in plain sight in the Nacrene Museum, but Team Plasma doesn't notice it. It doesn't look like what they thought it would.
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