[[quoteright:300:[[Anime/DragonBallGT http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/JustEattheMacGuffin2_7904.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:300:[[DontTryThisAtHome Warning: Choking hazard]]]]

->'''Shadi''': And so, with the help of gypsy woman Ishizu, Pegasus hid the [[ArtifactofDoom Egyptian God Cards]] where [[PoliticallyIncorrectHero even the craftiest of Jews]] would not be able to find them.
->'''Yugi''': Yeah, because obviously he couldn't have just ''destroyed them'' or anything.
->'''Shadi''': The power of the cards was too great for them to be simply destroyed.
->'''Yugi''': Riiiight, so the power of the Egyptian Gods prevented a guy from tearing up a few pieces of paper that he painted himself. Sure. Okay.
->'''Shadi''': As I was saying--
->'''Yugi''': [[CoughSnarkCough ''[coughs]'' Bullcrap! ''[coughs]'']]

So, the BigBad plans on grabbing the MacGuffin to take over the world, and BlahBlahBlah, whatever. Sheesh. You can't help but wonder just what the deal is here. If it weren't for the [=MacGuffin=], [[StatusQuoIsGod status quo would reign]] and most of the conflict in the plot would vanish. Everyone would be happy. In light of the inconvenience the [=MacGuffin=] is causing the universe, you really have to wonder why nobody decides to go ahead and Just Eat The [=MacGuffin=].

Well, there are [[JustifiedTrope reasons]]. A common one is to make the [=MacGuffin=] completely indestructible, and thus a major inconvenience for anyone to try to effectively get rid of. It could regenerate. [[DangerousDeviceDisposalDebacle There could be so many of them that simply getting rid of them all in this way isn't an option]]. The [=MacGuffin=] might [[CosmicKeystone serve some essential purpose that would screw everything up if it was obliterated]]. And even then destroying the [=MacGuffin=] is floated as a possible last resort should it get in enemy hands. Or it could turn out to be [[MacGuffinGirl a person]] and the only way to get rid of it is to kill her...AndThatWouldBeWrong.

At worst this trope can manifest itself at the last minute with no attempts at justification. It's a bit of a cheat, after all, to [[NoMacGuffinNoWinner resolve the plot with MacGuffin destruction]] when the [=MacGuffin=] could have been destroyed at just about any previous point in the story.

Another excuse is to JustThinkOfThePotential. Also compare WeWinBecauseYouDidNot and NoMacGuffinNoWinner.

For when the problem is a character rather than a [=MacGuffin=], see JustEatGilligan.

If there are sound reasons given within the work for why the "single simple action" can't be taken, or won't work, ''it's not this trope. Don't add it as an example.'' If the characters do try the single simple solution and it doesn't work, it's ''also not this trope. Again, don't add it as an example.'' This trope is not just eating the MacGuffin in the literal sense; this trope is asking the question, "why not just destroy the damn MacGuffin?"



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Goku literally attempts to do this to one of the Dragon Balls in an effort to stop Syn Shenron from becoming Omega Shenron (again) in ''Anime/DragonBallGT''. The results are: a CrowningMomentOfFunny watching him nearly choke to death in the attempt to swallow it, a W-T-F moment when the ball APPEARS IN HIS FOREHEAD for no discernible reason, and eventually failure when Syn Shenron manages to re-absorb it anyway.
** In the original ''Manga/DragonBall'' manga and anime, [[SealedEvilInACan Piccolo]] [[CardCarryingVillain Daimao]] actually swallows two of the titular {{MacGuffin}}s to prevent the heroes for stealing them, though he's able to spit them back up with ease.
** And in ''DragonBallZ'' during the Frieza saga, when the Ginyu Force manages to steal most of the Dragon Balls from the heroes, Vegeta tells Krillin to destroy the last remaining one they have to prevent them from delivering them all to Frieza. Krillin attempts to smash it to pieces, but Guldo freezes time long enough to get the final ball from him.
* In ''VisionOfEscaflowne'', the characters spend several episodes in a futile effort to keep the BigBad from getting access to a sealed vault full of energy needed to implement his plans. Since the entire purpose of the nation guarding the vault is to ensure that nobody ever opens it, one has to wonder why they didn't just destroy the key centuries ago.
* In ''KyouKaraMaou'', there are four keys needed to unlock the SealedEvilInACan, which can bring about [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt the end of the worlds as we know them]]. Four easily destroyed keys. Of course, there are [[MacGuffinGirl several]] good reasons not to...
* ''Manga/OnePiece'' has a villainous and justified version. The World Government would probably prefer to destroy the Poneglyphs that have the only known record of the Blank Century inscribed on them, with the possible exception of the one describing the location of [[LostSuperweapon Pluton]]. Said Poneglyphs are frustratingly impervious to harm, so the Government resorts to killing anyone who can read them. Tom the shipwright also kept Pluton's blueprints despite the risk of someone steaing them just in case he needed to build another ship to counter the threat of the original Pluton. He eventually does destroy the blueprints after they are almost stolen.

* The Infinity Gauntlet -- an artifact that grants literally unlimited power when assembled -- cannot be used to will itself out of existence. The best the Marvel heroes can do is remove and scatter its six component gems, with mixed results. [[spoiler:So of course when they actually need them in ''ComicBook/NewAvengers'' to prevent multiversal destruction, they break after one use.]]

* One of the complaints of the second ''Film/{{Hellboy}}'' movie was that they destroyed the crown pieces at the end, when they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble by doing it as soon as they found them.
* In the live-action ''Film/{{Transformers}}'' film, Optimus Prime says that if there's no other way to keep the Allspark out of Megatron's hands, he'll shove it into his own [[OurSoulsAreDifferent spark]] to destroy it. This option is a last resort because it would also kill Optimus. [[spoiler:In the end, Sam shoves it into ''Megatron's'' instead]]. But as the sequel shows, turns out that doesn't ''quite'' work.
* The ending to ''Film/{{Titanic}}'' involves this. Not for any reason, mind you. [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotSymbolic She just destroys it for the symbolism.]] And she doesn't really "destroy" it so much as "put it in a place where absolutely no one will find it and didn't tell anyone."
* [[DoubleSubversion Double Subverted]] in ''Film/RaidersOfTheLostArk'' when Indy threatens to destroy the Ark, but Belloq calls his bluff.
* In the first ''Film/LaraCroftTombRaider'' movie, the Illuminati want to assemble the [=MacGuffin=] to take over the world. Lara just happens to find a part and, despite knowing what he wants with it, ''assists'' the BigBad in finding the other. All because she wanted to use it herself, just to get closure on the fate of her father. That's right, she risked ''the entire world'' on a personal issue that was resolved in half a minute, and then destroyed the [=MacGuffin=] anyway.
** The individuals responsible for separating the Triangle over 5000 years ago clearly believed that no-one should have the power of the Triangle, yet decided to hide the pieces at the ends of the Earth instead of ''destroying'' them.
* ''UnderSiege2DarkTerritory'': Steven Seagal spends half the movie keeping the specially encoded CD the villain needs to carry out his evil plot out of the evil villain's hands. He should have just broken the darn thing.
* In ''Film/TheIncredibleHulk'' (2008 film), Bruce Banner eats the flash drive containing the information he needs to cure his condition. However, in this case it's not to protect it from the military so much as from the Hulk, as Bruce realized he was about two minutes away from Hulking out. Later, when he's back to normal, we hear him... Uh, "[[VomitDiscretionShot retrieving it]]", so to speak, in a motel bathroom.
* In ''Film/TheTwinsEffect'' one of the girls does just this to kill the BigBad.
* Adam Sandler's character tries to do this to the [=MacGuffin=] in ''Film/{{Click}}'' by either throwing it away or destroying it, but each time he does it keeps magically reappearing on his person. He finally gives up after learning the next time it appears on him it'll be "where the sun don't shine." [[spoiler: At the very end when he's given the chance to redo things over, he again receives the remote and immediately disposes of it. It doesn't come back this time.]]
* In ''Film/TheAvengers'', when Black Widow tells [[ComicBook/IncredibleHulk Bruce Banner]] about the Tesseract and how it emitts gamma radiation, he asks if Fury wants him to swallow it.
* In ''Film/ForYourEyesOnly'', Film/JamesBond is sent to recover a British nuclear missile launching device before the Russians can get it. Of course, the British don't really need it, they just need other people to not have it. It's sunk to the bottom of the ocean, so Bond dives down, carefully defuses the bomb that it's attached to... why? Just trigger the bomb in some fashion. Okay, maybe he can't do that remotely for some reason. So, he defuses the bomb and starts to make his escape, and the bad guys attack! Bond fights to protect the device instead of just destroying it. Bad guys steal it. Bond tracks them to their layer and steals it back. Only at the last minute, when Bond is in a pincher between two advancing groups of bad guys does he throw it off a cliff and watch it shatter. He then dares to call this "detente" and suggest the game is a tie because neither side got it. Even worse, the Russians accept this argument! But his side didn't need it! The British got exactly what they wanted!

* In ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', destruction of the Ring is explicitly addressed as the only means of victory -- and there's only one place where it can possibly be destroyed. So in this instant, eating the [=MacGuffin=] is actually the whole purpose of it in the first place.
** The film plays with the idea. Gimli just decides to deal with the One Ring right ''now'' and takes his fellow dwarf's axe to it -- only for the ''axe'' to wind up shattered into itty-bitty pieces.
* It's not exactly a world-threatening example, and happens before the start of the book, but the 'Gonne' (gun) in the Literature/{{Discworld}} novel ''Discworld/MenAtArms''. Lord Vetinari gave specific instructions to the Assassins that it be destroyed to prevent its use. They put it in a museum instead. [[spoiler:Even Sam Vimes doesn't destroy it at the end of the book, though Carrot does finally smash it to bits. And buries the bits in a coffin.]]
** Heavily lampshaded, of course -- Vetinari asks the assassins why they didn't destroy it; their response is to ask him why he gave it to them to destroy, instead of doing it himself. Ultimately, the fact that [[spoiler:Carrot ''can'' destroy it in cold blood]] is a major character point. It has an effect on people.
* The whole plot of ''Literature/HarryPotterAndThePhilosophersStone'' wouldn't have happened if Dumbledore had just destroyed the stone in the first place ''like he did at the end''.
** In this case, there was a good reason not to destroy it sooner. It was needed to produce an immortality elixir that its creator, Nicholas Flamel, relied upon to survive. However, after seeing how close [[BigBad Voldemort]] came to obtaining the stone, Flamel finally agreed to let himself succumb to old age rather than risk letting the stone fall into the wrong hands.
** ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows'' is centered around the heroes trying to eliminate [[BigBad Voldemort]]'s seven {{Soul Jar}}s. Unfortunately there's very little that can actually destroy them, so they wind up having to carry one around for months before they find a way to do so.
* The ending of the ForgottenRealms trilogy of books ''Shadowdale'', ''Tantras'', and ''Waterdeep'' is the presentation of the [=MacGuffin=] -- the Tablets of Fate -- to the overgod Ao. Who then promptly crushes them with his bare hands. [[ShaggyDogStory Some readers felt cheated.]]
* Played straight at first but eventually subverted in the TomSwift novel ''Mind Games''. Tom and friends have been invited to playtest a computer-based tabletop RPG called Galaxy Masters. As the heroes, Tom and company try to keep a pair of [[MacGuffin Memory Cubes]] out of the hands of the villain Dedstorm, who needs both cubes to activate an ancient army and conquer the universe. Their own objective is to activate said army's self-destruct system, which requires only one of the two cubes. Eventually, Tom realizes this mechanic works in their favor, and to everyone's surprise ''destroys'' one of the two memory cubes, locking Dedstorm out of victory. (The move surprises the game's creators so much that they realize there's a gaping hole in the game's design. It's not the only one, as Tom eventually demonstrates in his favor.)
* Shako, the polar bear eats a top-secret capsule with TheVirus in it.
* In ''[[Literature/KnownSpace World of Ptavvs]]'', the characters are chasing after a powerful alien MindControl device. The Earth and Belter agents trying to get to it before its alien owner do have a mutual understanding that it must be destroyed because neither trusts the other with [[JustThinkOfThePotential something that dangerous]].
-->"If you try to bring it home, I'll kill you."
* In ''Literature/TheMoonstone'', the heroine inherits an enormously valuable diamond from her uncle. She soon learns that he had stolen it from an Indian cult, murdering several cultists in the process, and that three cult members are in England trying to get it back. Given that they were the stone's rightful owners, if she had just given it to them (or sold it to them for a penny to make everything legal), this could have saved everyone a lot of trouble.
** The central family of the story is very scared and suspicious of the three cultists - after all, [[ValuesDissonance right to the stone or not, they]] ''[[ValuesDissonance are]]'' [[ValuesDissonance Indian.]] Plus the diamond is stolen before they can figure out long-term goals - or even that the diamond is being hunted.
* Subverted in Creator/LloydAlexander's Literature/ChroniclesOfPrydain novel ''The Black Cauldron'', where the good guys would like nothing better than to eat the titular MacGuffin, and half of the plot of the book is them trying to figure out how to destroy the damned thing. As it turns out, to destroy the Cauldron, you have to [[spoiler: willingly jump into it, sacrificing yourself in the process]]. The climax of the book is the good guys [[spoiler: all running for the Cauldron, attempting to throw themselves in it before the bad guys can get it, or before [[FromBadtoWorse one of their friends jumps in]], instead.]] It also includes a {{Tearjerker}} and CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming, when [[spoiler: one of their former foes reaches the Cauldron first]].
* Used literally in ''TheGuardiansOfChildhood'' when Ombric's bookworm Mr. Qwerty eats his whole library in order to keep its knowledge out of Pitch's hands.
* [[ClockPunk Titan clocks]] in ''[[Literature/DoctrineOfLabyrinths The Doctrine of Labyrinths]]''. Since the clocks don't really do anything special except drive the odd person to suicide with their [[BrownNote tolling]], the Marathines scrapped theirs long ago, but the Kekropians are hanging on to theirs out of... tradition, maybe?. Edwin Beckett also thinks it's a good idea to restart the Corambin one, but the Corambins apparently have enough sense to consider shutting it down.

* The classic ''Series/DoctorWho'' serial ''The Daleks' Master Plan'' is basically a long chase story after the First Doctor steals a key component of a Dalek superweapon. He mentions that he has plans to destroy it, but isn't able to do so before he's eventually forced to [[HostageForMacGuffin turn it over]]. Then [[spoiler:DeathByIrony sets in at the end of the story, after the Doctor sabotages the weapon itself and the Daleks are forced to try to destroy it themselves.]]
* Played with (lampshaded, averted, subverted, or any combination of the above) in the first season finale of ''KrodMandoonAndTheFlamingSwordOfFire'', when Krod attempts to swallow the MacGuffin, which is a vial of pagan tears (just go with it), rather than hand it over to the BigBad. He then proceeds to choke on it and eventually cough it up. His cohorts mock him and offer alternative solutions: he could have crushed the vial, or opened it and swallowed just the tears. The Big Bad then laments that he was rather looking forward to dissecting Krod to get the vial.
* Played with in the season 6 finale of ''Series/StargateSG1'' when the team is pinned down by Anubis's forces in the temple on Abydos. O'Neill attaches a block of C4 with a remote detonator to the MacGuffin, then trades it for safe passage to the gate.

* In ''VideoGame/SkiesOfArcadia'', the characters all live in a world of {{Floating Continent}}s where falling off of an airship is as good as death. Even assuming the Moon Crystals are indestructible, tossing them overboard would make them impossible for anyone to acquire. Although it is eventually revealed that they were originally hidden in dungeons [[spoiler:in case the Silvites wanted to use them ''again'', not because of their destructive potential]], no such excuse exists for the protagonists, who are only interested in preventing anyone from using them.
** Even after the protagonists learn TheEmpire actually has technology that allows them to reach the the planet surface beneath the clouds, leaving them to search the entire world's worth of muddy sea floor equivalent would still mean the BigBad would die of old age long before finding them.
** At one point during the game, [[spoiler:Enrique]] even mentions that he considered destroying the crystals (exactly how is never explained, other than dropping them into Deep Sky), but decided to give them back to our heroes for sake of the plot. [[PlotTwist If only he had know what would happen later]], he probably should have.
** Fina was under explicit orders to retrieve them, not destroy them.
* ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'':
** Justified in ''VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor'', where one of the partners suggests that they might not want to gather the Crystal Stars ([[spoiler:which sealed away the Shadow Queen]]), in case they got them together only to have the villains steal them to use them to open the door and take over the world, but Frankly says that as the seal on the Thousand-Year Door is weakening over time, they need to use the Crystal Stars in order to [[spoiler:seal the Shadow Queen up for good]], which would also preclude destroying the stars.
** Inverted in ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiDreamTeam''; when the Pi'illos used the Dark Stone to [[SealedEvilInACan seal]] [[BigBad Antasma]] in the [[DreamLand Dream World]], Antasma crushed it as he was imprisoned, [[TakenForGranite turning the Pi'illos to stone]]. [[spoiler:Subverted later on when Dreambert tells Peach and Starlow to do the same to the Dream Stone to keep Bowser from wishing on it; they successfully shatter the Dream Stone, but Bowser simply inhales the fragments and goes OneWingedAngel as a result.]]
* ''MegaManZX Advent'' actually demonstrates the GenreSavvy use of this trope. In the Quarry, Grey/Ashe have an encounter with Aile/Vent, and the two get in a fight over what to do with the Model W in its depths. The former finds the Model W fused to a Spidrill and are forced to destroy both. It turns out that destroying the Quarry's Model W ''was the whole reason Aile/Vent were there in the first place''! Unfortunately, just its destruction wasn't enough to keep Ouroboros from forming, but you have to give the gang credit for trying.
* In ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney: Trials and Tribulations'', nearing the end of the first case, Phoenix attempts this with a crucial piece of evidence... That piece of evidence being a glass vial that was once ''full of poison.''
* A villainous and justified version occurs in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess''. Zant broke the Twilight Mirror into four pieces, and scattered them across Hyrule to prevent someone from using it against him. It is explicitly stated he did not merely destroy it instead, because as a usurper king he couldn't. All he could do is fracture it, whether or not he could have fractured it into more than four pieces is another question. [[spoiler: At the end of the game, Midna destroys the mirror to prevent someone from using it for evil ever again.]]
** In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkBetweenWorlds'', [[spoiler:this is what Hilda's ancestor's did to Lorule's Triforce to end the wars over it. Turns out that [[CosmicKeystone without the Triforce, Lorule began to fall apart]]. [[NiceJobBreakingItHero Whoops]].]]

* Part of what ''makes'' the [[spoiler:Winslow]] the [=MacGuffin=] in the Gallimaufry arc of ''ComicBook/BuckGodotZapGunForHire'' is the fact that it's explicitly indestructible. Even the [[SufficientlyAdvancedAlien Prime Movers]] don't seem to have found any better way to deal with it than to hand it to some promising species or other and let ''them'' hide it.
* In ''CucumberQuest'', [[OnlySaneMan Cucumber]] wants to destroy the [[SealedEvilInACan Disaster Stones]], thereby [[DefiedTrope Thwarting]] [[YouCantThwartStageOne Stage One]], however his [[ContractualGenreBlindness contractually genre blind]] allies deliberately prevent him from accomplishing this on more than one occasion.
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', Raven [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2009-06-09 asks Abraham why he has not simply destroyed the Dewitchery Diamond yet.]] Abraham claims the Diamond is impossible to destroy and [[ClingyMacguffin seems to thwart attempts to hide it away permanently]]. Raven jokes that he could have considered [[Literature/LordOfTheRings Mount Doom]] and Abraham admits he never considered using a volcano. After that conversation, the destruction of the Diamond is never brought up again.

* The ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' episode "A Knight of Shadows" has the heroes trying to keep [[PublicDomainArtifact the Philosopher's Stone]] away from Morgan Le Fay. When they acquire it, they lock it in the Watchtower--and it ends up being stolen. The story concludes with the stone being crushed to dust--which raises the question of why they bothered to lock it in the watchtower in the first place.
** Similarly in "Paradise Lost", where the League are forced to retrieve three artifacts that combine into the key that can free the SealedEvilInACan. In this case, the League can't destroy the key before the end of the episode, because [[HostageForMacGuffin there are lives at stake]], but why didn't the people who locked him up in the first place destroy the key instead of just breaking it into three easily-recombinable pieces?
** Also in the ''WesternAnimation/StaticShock'' JL crossover, with the League keeping the last piece of Brainiac in the Watchtower. Batman even lampshades the fact that they'd be better off with it destroyed, but why it's kept intact goes unexplained. Naturally, it gets loose mere minutes later.
*** They're {{Technical Pacifist}}s who don't consider machine life to be a non-human.
* In ''WesternAnimation/XiaolinShowdown'' after Master Fung's "WeWinBecauseYouDidnt" demonstration, Omi opts to "destroy" the Golden Tiger Claws, a teleporting Shen Gong Wu. He opens a portal to the Earth's core and throws the Claws themselves through it. Subverted in a later episode when the heroes need the Claws to defeat an otherwise-unstoppable monster - Omi uses the [[{{Intangibility}} Serpent's Tail]] to retrieve them.
* Jackie tries this in ''WesternAnimation/JackieChanAdventures'' by destroying the talismans rather than allow the BigBad to take them. Uncle then yells at him, because by destroying the talismans he's released their power into the world and now they GottaCatchEmAll all over again, this time with their powers imbued into living animals.
* In ''Westernanimation/RobotBoy'', Dr. Kamikazi would not be able to take over the world if you destroy the show's title character. The reason the other characters don't do it is simple: he's their ''friend''.
* It was standard procedure in ''WesternAnimation/HeManAndTheMastersOfTheUniverse2002'' for He-Man to stop Skeletor or another villain from obtaining a rare artifact of great power by destroying it. Even when the artifact actually belonged to someone else and the act was done without permission. In one poignant example, one such artifact belonged to an ancient warrior whose sole remaining purpose in life was to protect it from harm, and his situation was quickly resolved by shanghaiing him onto the protagonist team.
* In the Avalon arc of ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'', the Archmage literally eats one of his [=MacGuffins=], the Grimorum Arcanorum, so as to make the knowledge contained within an inherent part of him. This ultimately led to him [[spoiler: getting lethal indigestion when Goliath steals the Eye of Odin, the [=MacGuffin=] that enabled the Archmage to safely contain the book within his body.]]
* In the Garfield special ''Garfield's Feline Fantasies'', Garfield's main dream involves the Banana of Bombay as the MacGuffin. After recovering the banana, he eats it and explains to Odie "it's just a fantasy".
* Happens to a magnet in ''WesternAnimation/{{Reboot}}''.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'', all of the fighting over the Orb was rendered meaningless because one guy in the past asked himself "why not just break the damn thing?" and did it.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* When Park Chung-Hee came to power in South Korea via MilitaryCoup in 1961, one of his foreign policy goals was establishing formal diplomatic ties with Japan as he felt the biggest threat to the country was North Korea. Among the ''many'' obstacles to this was the Liancourt Rocks, which South Korea currently has ''de facto'' control of but Japan also claims (Koreans call it Dokdo, Japanese call it Takeshima - ''[[BerserkButton be very careful]]'' [[RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgement what you call it if you dare to approach the subject at all]]). Supposedly, Park at one point was so fed up at how much ownership of the rocks was bogging down the negotiations he proposed just blowing them up so that neither country had it. The two countries ultimately left the issue unsettled when they reestablished ties in 1965.