->'''Sister Margaretta:''' Reverend Mother, I have sinned.\\
'''Sister Berthe:''' I, too, Reverend Mother.\\
'''Reverend Mother:''' What is this sin, my children?\\
''[The nuns look at each other, then reveal from under their robes the distributor and coil they have removed from the Nazis' cars, stopping them from catching the Von Trapp family.]''
-->-- ''Film/TheSoundOfMusic''

There's a MacGuffin everyone is after and the BigBad has just managed to snatch it right out of the Hero's hands and is [[EvilLaugh laughing]] as they make their escape, with TheHero left in a bit of a HeroicBSOD. But wait! The PluckyComicRelief, team thief, or even a [[HiddenDepths less obviously sneaky]] character suddenly brightens the mood by revealing that they've just done the same--stole the MacGuffin right out from under the villain's nose as he made his escape, too. Being a cheeky larcenist, the thief may even taunt the retreating villain with it, though they usually replace the stolen MacGuffin with a flawless decoy, worthless rock, mocking note, or other means of taunting the villain. If the MacGuffin is in a case, the thief may do a SatchelSwitcheroo.

As the page quote shows, the Stolen [=MacGuffin=] Reveal can also be used to other ways, such as removing engine parts to stop a villain in their tracks from getting the MacGuffin or another objective. Also worth noting is that the hero/villain roles can be reversed.

May or may not result in an EverybodyLaughsEnding.


[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* ''Manga/DeathNote''. At the end, [[spoiler: Near steals the Death Note and replaces half of the pages with fakes]] to prove that Light is Kira. [[spoiler:This saves Near's life and those of the other SPK members when Mikami goes on his final "sakujo" rampage with the book in question.]]
* In ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaStrikers'', it seems as though Sein has escaped with the case containing the Relic, but it turns out that [[TheSmartGuy Teana]] anticipated this and hid the real one under Caro's hat. The Combat Cyborgs only realize the mistake after they're back at base, and only after looking at an image of the action in thermal vision enables them to realize the heroes' ruse.


[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* There's an early ''ComicBook/ElfQuest'' story where Cutter and Skywise get captured by Picknose the troll and his family because Picknose believes the pommel of Cutter's sword is the key to a treasure chamber. After escaping, Cutter is upset that the sword he got from his father is now ruined--until Skywise reveals that he stole back the pommel and hid it in his mouth (explaining why he seemed so tight-lipped during their escape).
* In ''ComicBook/SonicTheHedgehog'', Knuckles went on a quest to find and retrieve the Sword of Acorns and, thanks to Mammoth Mogul's treachery, was able to get the Freedom Fighters and the Chaotix to fight each other. In the scuffle, Knuckles returns the sword, but it's revealed at the end that Mogul has the real sword in his possession. A few issues later, Sally calls back Knuckles in an attempt to ask him to try to retrieve it again after she, Rotor and Sonic find out the sword they have a fake (with Sonic quipping "What's fake? The sword or the cockamamie story?")


[[folder: Films -- Animated ]]

* In ''Disney/{{Aladdin}}'', immediately after thinking he's escaped from the Cave of Wonders, Jafar discovers he no longer has the lamp; cue BigNo. ''Then'' it's revealed, when Aladdin thinks Jafar got away with it, that Abu has stolen it back from him.
* ''Disney/{{Zootopia}}'':
** During Judy's MinorKidroduction, she confronts Gideon over stolen fair tickets and he pins her to the ground, telling her to "remember this moment" whenever she thinks a bunny can be a cop. After he leaves, she reveals that was the moment she stole the tickets back.
** When Nick and Judy [[spoiler: crash the drug lab hidden in a subway train and it explodes]], Judy is sure that all of the evidence is has been destroyed. Then Nick reveals that [[spoiler: when he jumped clear, he made sure to hang onto the briefcase containing Doug's pellet gun, saving some of the evidence.]]
* ''Disney/TheAdventuresOfIchabodAndMrToad'': In the ''Wind in the Willows'' segment, the four main characters try to reclaim the deed to Toad Hall from Winky and his weasel gang; after the deed is folded into a paper airplane and sent flying, Toad tries to make things difficult for the villains by launching dozens of them. After the four barely make it out with their lives, [=MacBadger=] laments that they didn't succeed, only for Toad to smugly take a paper plane out of his coat and unfold it to reveal the real deed.


[[folder: Films -- Live-Action ]]

* In ''Film/EscapeFromNewYork'', Snake Plissken is sent on a deadly mission to rescue the president and recover a tape that contains the secret of nuclear fusion. He succeeds but several good people die on the way. Snake then asks the president how he feels about that and figures he's a UngratefulBastard. He hands out the wrong tape and destroys the true one on his way out -- despite knowing this will further aggravate the [[WorldWarIII ongoing international conflicts]].
* Something similar happens in the sequel, ''Film/EscapeFromLA''. The new president is a downright [[PresidentEvil theocratic dictator]] who sends Snake to recover the controller of the "Sword of Damocles", a series of EMP cannons meant to shut down the weaponry and electricity of entire nations. At the end Snake fools everyone with a decoy controller and a hologram projection of himself, having decided he'd rather throw the whole world in the dark and hope people will be able to start anew than letting [[EvilVersusEvil either the president or the violent communist insurgency]] have their way.
* In ''Film/TheFifthElement'', the case carrying the four stones needed to stop The Evil is fought over intensely. After villain Zorg finally gets it, it's amusingly revealed to be empty, much to Zorg's frustration. Their guardian, Plavalaguna, showed how seriously she takes guarding them by revealing [[spoiler:she hid them [[SwallowTheKey in her stomach]]]].
* ''Film/HudsonHawk''. While Eddie is assembling the three parts of the da Vinci device that turns lead into gold, he secretly keeps one of the parts. When the {{villains}} try to use the incorrectly combined device, it explodes and kills them.
-->'''Eddie:''' What would happen if I didn't put that crystal together exactly right? Let's say I left out this piece of mirror here. Would that be bad?\\
'''Anna:''' Real bad.\\
'''Eddie:''' Good.
* In ''Film/MuppetsFromSpace'', [[TheMenInBlack Man in Black]] K. Edgar Singer threatens the aliens with a {{BFG}}, which then cheerily announces "[[ItWorksBetterWithBullets Please load weapon]]" in a ComputerVoice.
-->'''Kermit:''' That was a close one.\\
'''Bobo the Bear:''' Not as close as you think, my friend. ''[holds up futuristic gun clip]'' "Please load weapon"...
* In ''Film/{{Sneakers}}'', it's revealed that the good guys win because Martin surreptitiously stole a piece of the McGuffin device in the end.
* In ''Film/TheSoundOfMusic'', the Von Trapp family manages to escape pursuing Nazis because the nuns at the convent they are hiding in "sin" by removing engine components from the Nazis' cars.
* At one point in ''Film/SchindlersList,'' factory workers steal the firing mechanism from a pistol belonging to ThoseWackyNazis.
* ''Film/StarTrekIIITheSearchForSpock'': After Kirk and co. steal the ''Enterprise'', the SmugSnake captain of the ''Excelsior'' brags about how this will be the shortest hijack in history because his ship will quickly overtake the old relic. Scotty, meanwhile, has nicked some rather important bits of its engine, leaving the ''Excelsior'' floating helplessly in space.
-->'''Scotty:''' Here, Doctor, souvenirs from one surgeon to another. I took them out of her main transwarp computer drive.\\
'''[=McCoy=]:''' Nice of you to tell me in advance.
* ''Film/SherlockHolmesAGameOfShadows'' has Holmes reveal he stole Moriarty's red notebook with all his funds and assets. Though he doesn't hold the original, he gloats in having replaced it with one that he creatively drew a fisherman eaten by a shark in.
* ''Film/TheMummyTrilogy''
** In ''Film/TheMummy1999'', the final fight leads to Imhotep briefly trying to kill Jon before Rick takes his arm off with a sword, leading Imhotep to go for him instead, by which time the [[ChekhovsSkill the kleptomaniac Jon]] has already filched the key to the Book of the Dead.
** In ''Film/TheMummyReturns'' some bad guys steal a chest they think contains the Bracelet of Anubis but when they open it they find Alex's baseball trophy because Alex already took the bracelet out of the chest and put it on.
* In ''Film/OzTheGreatAndPowerful'', at the end of the battle between [[spoiler:Evanora and Glinda, it looks as if Evanora has won. Until Glinda opens her hand and reveals Evanora's necklace (the source of her power) crushed in her palm.]]
* In ''Film/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy'', it happens twice.
** As they make their escape from the Kyln, Peter Quill/Starlord returns to the prison to get an important possession of his that was confiscated, but leaves the other cast members on his ship. They scramble to find the orb, only for the camera to pan to Peter as he's tossing the orb around, keeping it as extra insurance to make sure they don't leave without him.
** After the final battle ends, [[spoiler: Yondu threatens to kill Peter if he doesn't turn over the Infinity Stone. Only he switches orbs (giving Yondu his own empty orb and keeping the one Gamora used to capture the stone) and doesn't come clean until well after the Ravagers depart.]]


[[folder: Literature ]]

* ''[[Literature/TheElusiveAvengers Crown of the Russian Empire]]'' ends with TheDragon Ovechkin thinking he threw the Russian Imperial Crown into the sea to avoid its repossession by Chekists... until the LovableRogue Naryshkin reveals that what Ovechkin threw was an empty bag, and the crown is safely with him, and hands it to the heroes.
* Creator/RoaldDahl's short story ''Literature/TheHitchhiker'' has the title character swipe a policeman's notebook after the protagonist gets a speeding ticket.
* Played with in Creator/RogerZelazny's ''Literature/ANightInTheLonesomeOctober'': one of the supporting characters attempts one of these to give his side an advantage in the final showdown, but he misjudges it with the result that his side comes close to losing before he explains what he did.
* Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Discworld/{{Thud}}'' ends on this note. A small army of dwarfs and trolls are scouring a cavern for a MacGuffin but Corporal Nobby Nobbs, with the infamous Nobbs' Sidle, already snagged it.
* In ''Literature/TreasureIsland'', Silver's crew finally reach the place where Captain Flint buried his treasure, only to find that it had been dug up already. Turns out [[{{Robinsonade}} a marooned Ben Gunn]] had found it years earlier and kept it hidden inside a cave.
* In ''Literature/TheHobbit'', the last few chapters revolve around Bilbo having stolen the Arkenstone, the one specific piece of treasure that the increasingly cantankerous and misanthropic Thorin ''really'' wanted to find amongst the vast hoard of the defeated dragon Smaug. Bilbo uses it to convince Thorin to make peace with the humans.
* In ''[[Literature/AuntDimity Aunt Dimity: Snowbound]]'', the hikers prove to be [[spoiler: the offspring of the American G.I.s who stole the Peacock Parure. They have the jewels with them]], and the plot goes from locating them to returning them to their proper location.
* Played with in ''Literature/ANightInTheLonesomeOctober'': During the climax, the bad guys appear to be winning, and then the larcenous wannabe-hero reveals that he switched out a key MacGuffin. However, he speaks up because he's realised that ''because'' he switched out the MacGuffin, which inadvertantly put a spoke in the heroes' main plan, the villains are now ''actually'' winning, and something needs to be done about it quickly or the heroes will lose.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* In the ''Series/{{Leverage}}'' episode "The Top Hat Job" they do this in a rather clever fashion, fitting as they are thieves. [[spoiler: As the VillainOfTheWeek is busily erasing the incriminating files about the tainted food his company was selling, he forgot an important detail, those weren't the most important thing on the company servers. Team hacker Hardison steals the company food patents, worth millions, and downloads them to the baddie's cell phone as they captured Hardison with his hard drive. After Hardison convinces the baddie to walk outside, Parker pickpockets the phone with the information and Nate uses that to blackmail him into pulling the tainted food.]] In general this is a fairly common concept on the show and one of Parker's specialties, she almost always [[ItWorksBetterWithBullets does this with guns]].
* Done repeatedly by Sheldon in ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'' episode "The Precious Fragmentation" while the guys are fighting over the One Ring prop. [[spoiler: Also done by Leonard after he claims to have mailed the ring back to Creator/PeterJackson.]]
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', "[[Recap/StarTrekTheNextGenerationS6E16StarshipMine Starship Mine]]": After a long, drawn out [[DieHardOnAnX "Die Hard" on the Starship Enterprise-D]] sequence, the bad guys still manage to get away with the highly unstable [[AppliedPhlebotinum trilithium resin]] they came to the ship to steal in the first place--until Picard reveals he stole the stabilising device on their container. Cue distant StuffBlowingUp.


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Attempted by Tails in ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure2'', by swapping one of the seven Chaos Emeralds with a replica set to malfunction and stop Dr. Eggman's plans to fire the Eclipse Cannon. Trouble is, Eggman had already seen signs of a duplicate emerald being around and easily [[YouJustToldMe tricks Tails into spilling the beans]].
* In Chapter 6 of ''VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor'', Mario and company finally get to the Poshley Sanctum to find that the Shadow Sirens had just broken in and took the the Crystal Star off of its pedestal, only for Pennington to reveal after they leave that the one they took was a fake, and the ''real'' MacGuffin was more well-hidden.


[[folder: Visual Novels ]]

* In ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyDualDestinies'', in TheReveal of the second case, we learn that [[spoiler: Tenma Taro was actually a large lump of gold that the superstitious townspeople were tricked into believing was a {{Youkai}}; Florent L'Belle broke into the Forbidden Chamber to try to steal it, but it had already been stolen decades ago by a PhantomThief.]] Kind of a more somber example, since it essentially rendered Rex Kyubi's murder completely pointless.


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'': Bart steals the keys to the Fighting Hellfish treasure from Mr. Burns while hugging him, asking to be brought along.
* In one episode of ''[[WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2003 TMNT: Fast Forward]]'', the MacGuffin in question is a piece of revolutionary technology that looks strangely like a coffee maker. Smuggler Torben Zixx enlists the turtles to help him steal it by claiming he wants to use it to destroy an asteroid which threatens earth. When he later reveals he only wants to sell it to the highest bidder and the disaster is a hoax, Donny reveals that he switched the device for an actual coffee maker when Torben wasn't looking. The episode ends with Torben trying to talk down an annoyed crimelord with the words, "You know, it really does make an excellent cup of coffee..."