Something bad happens. Or the main character wants to achieve something, or reach somewhere. Either way, there may be an objective to fulfill in the near future. This objective may be the motivation to start an adventure. Not too long afterward, the character is told about how the objective can be achieved, and it may have to do with the collection of important objects, or the search for characters. This would be the start of a very long and difficult quest, enough to make the quest for the first object or character very difficult on its own.

Fortunately, the first MacGuffin or PlotCoupon appears as soon as the quest starts.

This first encounter is the '''Free Sample Plot Coupon'''. It serves as a good motivation to look forward to the remaining objects or characters, which (or who) are genuinely more difficult to find. Now, ''how'' the first [=MacGuffin=] appears may depend on the plot or the place:
* It may be found right next to the main character. Not too shabby.
* The QuestGiver already has it, and gives it to the hero.
* If it's an object, whoever holds it will appear instantly. If it's a character, he or she may appear instantly.
* Or, by some fortunate coincidence, the character may already have had it all along. Or he '''is''' the [=MacGuffin=].

Naturally, if the item or character takes a lot of effort to find (if not more than the others), then it doesn't fit the trope. Not to be confused with ThisIsYourPremiseOnDrugs.

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!!Examples:

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[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* Earlier arcs of ''Manga/DragonBall'', for the most part, revolves around looking for the Dragon Balls. But at the start of the first arc, Son Goku already has one at the start of the series, and Bulma meets him having ''two'', making the quest much easier already. After Shen Long is summoned and the corresponding wish is granted, the Dragon Balls scatter across the world after granting a wish, making finding them again harder.
* Downplayed in ''Manga/InuYasha''. Kagome already has the Shikon pearl inside her at the start of the series, but after some unsavory events it is fragmented into several pieces, scattered through Feudal Japan. Thus the objective is to retrieve them, and the first of them is held by a very powerful opponent, negating the trope entirely.
* In order to save Athena in ''Manga/SaintSeiya'', the main characters must walk through the twelve zodiac houses and confront the Gold Saints whenever it's necessary. Fortunately, Aries won't be a major concern. Mu, the house's guardian, is on the good guys' side, and after jokingly faking a battle with them, he proceeds to repair their (at that point weakened) armors so they can be better prepared. Mu also gives them suggestions about how to confront the remaining Gold Saints.
* The [[Manga/TheLegendOfZelda manga version]] of ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkToThePast'' has Link getting the first pendant from Sahasrahla.
* ''Anime/FutariWaPrettyCure'':
** It's revealed that the heroines needed to obtain all seven Prism Stones...which meant they needed to get five back from the bad guys, to go with the two they already had.
** A year later, they had to search for twelve of something called "Heartiels." They had absolutely no idea what that meant until the first one turned up on her own and introduced herself.
* In ''Manga/CardcaptorSakura'', while the rest of the Clow Cards were freed, the Windy remains (Sakura having had it in her hand when she read its name).
* The main conflict of ''Anime/YuGiOhZEXAL'' revolves around collecting the 100 Number monsters. They were released into the wild during a duel, and the first one we see chose main protagonist Yuma's opponent (and later rival), Shark. Luckily, Yuma himself got the second one.
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[[folder: Film ]]
* In ''Lockout'', Snow receives the lighter and briefcase from the dying Colonel and promptly stashes the briefcase (which turns out to be a Mock Guffin) and -- unknowingly -- keeps the lighter which is the ACTUAL item he seeking.
* ''TheGoldenVoyageOfSinbad''. The Grand Vizier of Marabia gives Sinbad a quest to find the three golden tablets before the evil Koura does. Luckily Sinbad accidentally acquired the first tablet from Koura before meeting the Vizier, and uses it to locate the area where the other two tablets can be found.
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[[folder: Literature ]]
* The quest for the Horcruxes in ''Literature/HarryPotter'' is a DoubleSubversion. The first Horcrux destroyed was Riddle's Diary, four years before Harry even knew it was such. And it took the plot of an entire book (''Chamber of Secrets'') to destroy it, so it wouldn't fit the trope. However, in ''Half Blood Prince'', when Dumbledore tells Harry about Horcruxes and the importance of destroying them, he tells him that not only is the diary already out of the picture, so is Marvolo Gaunt's Ring, which he and Snape had already found and gotten rid of prior to the events of ''Half Blood Prince''.
* In the novel ''Literature/TheDarkIsRising'', Will Stanton is given the first Sign, the Sign of Iron, before he even learns that he is an Old One and starts his quest for the other five Signs.
* In ''TheKeysToTheKingdom'', Arthur is given half of the first Key right at the start of ''Mister Monday'', and the first part of the Will has already escaped before he enters the House to find the rest of the seven Keys and free the other six parts of the Will.
* A villainous example occurs in ''Literature/TheDarkTower'', where [[BigBad The Crimson King]] is trying to end reality by destroying the six beams that hold up the titular Tower. By the time the story starts, two of the beams have broken on their own, and the King has destroyed another.
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[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* ''TheOuterLimits'' TOS episode "Demon with a Glass Hand". Trent must find the three missing fingers of his artificial left hand to save humanity from the Kyben invasion. Fortunately Trent's incomplete left hand is a computer that can help him find the three fingers.
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[[folder: Video Games ]]
* ''BanjoKazooie'':
** In all games, Jigsaw Pieces as [=MacGuffins=]. In the first game, they are required to complete magical pictures that open the levels they portray. Who tells the title characters about this? ''[[LiveItem The first Jigsaw Piece]]'', of course, which is found at the entrance lobby of Gruntilda's Lair.
** ''Banjo-Tooie'' similarly has Jingaling explain Jiggies to the protagonists while handing them the first one of that particular game.
* Largely averted in ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' games, where Link has to traverse through a dungeon and other places before gaining the first of the PlotCoupon items. However, there are a few exceptions:
** In ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime Ocarina of Time]]'', after Ganondorf takes over Hyrule and Link wakes up from his seven-year slumber, the first Sage tells him that all the others have to be awakened so they can together capture and seal Ganondorf. He also gives him the first Sage Medallion, Light.
** In ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess Twilight Princess]]'', Link and Midna must reunite the four fragments of the Mirror of Twilight in order to enter Zant's whereabouts. The first fragment, luckily, is still in the Mirror when they find it broken, so they only have to look for three more.
** Also in ''Twilight Princess'', Midna is already wearing the first piece of the four Fused Shadows when the player meets her.
** In ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword Skyward Sword]]'', the first Ancient Tablet is already given to him by Fi in Skyloft, allowing him to gain access to the first area of the Surface, Faron Woods. The trope is inverted in the Song of the Hero quest, as Levias is the character that tells Link about the song and the parts of it that were taught separately to him and the three Dragons guarding the areas of the Surface, but he won't teach him his part until all others are learned.
** In ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkBetweenWorlds A Link Between Worlds]]'', the Pendant of Courage [[ChekhovsGun is actually Zelda's special charm]], which she gives Link when he goes to warn her about Yuga.
* In ''VideoGame/StarFoxAdventures'', a character tells Krystal that the Krazoa Spirits are the only beings capable of bringing an end to the war that is wounding the population of planet Sauria. He even tells her that the shrine guarding the first Krazoa Spirit is a few steps on her right side.
* In ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'', the player is introduced to the quest for the [[spoiler: Star Maps]] by finding one just outside the Jedi Enclave.
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'', Shepard accidentally finds a Prothean beacon in the end of the tutorial level. It proves to be the first in line of {{Mac Guffin}}s you have to collect before you can beat the Big Bad, namely, [[spoiler:the Prothean Cipher that allows to decode the beacon's message, the MacGuffinGirl Liara who does the actual decoding, and the coordinates of the PointOfNoReturn kept by the Rachni Queen]].
* In ''VideoGame/KingsQuestMaskOfEternity'' the entire reason why Connor is the hero is because he picked up a piece of the Mask (one of five plot-necessary Mac Guffins) before the spell that turned everyone else to stone could hit. Everyone acts as though he's the destined hero, but if that's true then Destiny must've aimed that mask piece directly at him. This is confirmed by a Prophet and a prophecy later in the game.
* In ''VideoGame/SuperPaperMario'', Mario gets the first Pure Heart handed to him before the player even officially has control of him. Hilariously, you can avert ButThouMust by refusing multiple times to accept the first PlotCoupon, eventually leading to the giver just giving up and a NonStandardGameOver before the game even begins.
* Mario's goal in ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy'' is to retrieve the Grand Stars that fuel the Comet Observatory built by Rosalina. Luckily for him, the first of these Stars is the only one that isn't guarded by any of the bosses, in fact its power hasn't been fully used yet. Also a case of BackFromTheBrink.
* ''VideoGame/{{Okami}}'' has a sidequest-based example: In Shinshu field, a priest asks Amaterasu to hunt down five criminal demons, each marked with a sacred arrow. As soon as the titular wolf exits the priest's house to start the search, night falls and the first criminal demon challenges her to a fight.
* Averted in ''JetForceGemini'': When Mizar escapes from his palace after Lupus easily defeats him, he threatens the characters to redirect an asteroid to blow up planet Earth. Aware of this, King Jeff tells the protagonists that there is a huge mothership that will help them intercept the asteroid and find a way to stop it, but it's missing twelve pieces. Eleven of these pieces are scattered through the galaxy, so the three characters have to do a FetchQuest to retrieve them. The 12th piece, technically the first, is in Jeff's hands, but [[NoHeroDiscount he won't give it away until all 282 missing tribals in the game are rescued]]. He doesn't even care if the aforementioned asteroid manages to hit Earth in the meantime.
* In ''VideoGame/MacGuffinsCurse'', the main character gets the desired quest object at the end of the tutorial level. Then the real story begins.
* In ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure'', Tails already has possession of the first Chaos Emerald. ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure2'' has both Eggman and Tails with their own Chaos Emeralds.
* ''VideoGame/RomancingSaGa: Minstrel Song'' has the [=FateStones=], a selection of jewels that give various bonuses when equipped. One of the [[AndNowForSomeoneCompletelyDifferent main characters]], [[DanceBattler Barbara]], is given the Amethyst as a gift at the start of her storyline. Alternately, any of the other characters can recruit her and find she's already carrying it.
* Played straight in ''VideoGame/SkiesOfArcadia'', but you don't actually find out until more than halfway through the game. When Fina joins the party, she says that her quest is to find the six Moon Crystals, but she doesn't mention that one of them is already accounted for until you've collected four of them.
* ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'' gives you 3 out of 6, when you find out you need them. The coupons are the Fire Emblem itself and the five jewels that attach to it. The character who explains why you need them gives you a gem, and Chrom has had the Fire Emblem and the first gem since the first half of the game. The emblem (with first gem already attached) was important in the first half of the story, but its exact use wasn't established until the second half.
* Played with in all ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime'' games; each of them involves a PlotCoupon hunt, but it doesn't begin until about mid-way through the game.
** In the first game, the first of twelve artifacts can be found at the Artifact Temple you need to bring them all to in the first place.
** ''Echoes'' takes it further, as one of the ten keys needed to access the final area is already in its lock thanks to the efforts of a long-deceased Luminoth warrior, so Samus only needs to find nine. And one of those nine keys lies close to its required destination, needing little effort to find it; namely, its location is the DarkWorld version of [[spoiler:Samus's landing site]].
** In ''Corruption'', you're instead hunting Energy Cells to restore power as you go to portions of a derelict space vessel; conveniently, a wrecked fighter is crashed in its docking bay, with its Energy Cell having fallen out for you to grab and use right away.
** ''Hunters'' downplays this trope. The whereabouts of the first Octolith are found at the start of the game, but like all other Octoliths it's guarded by a boss that must be defeated.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]

* ''Webcomic/KeychainOfCreation'' has its whole premise centered around Misho and co. searching for the Keys of Creation. Fortunately, Misho already possesses Eternal Dawn, the Key of the Sun. Unfortunately, the bad guys ''also'' start with one already. Three more are left for the hunt.

[[/folder]]

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