The most basic form of Plot Coupon. There's a number of somethings spread far and wide, and the cast is tasked to go find them. Each one has its own subplot, which could be as short as a few frames of a Montage or as long as a Story Arc; but, of course, the most common pattern is for the cast to collect one per episode. Often the reason for Walking the Earth, specially as a step in the way To Be a Master. Often each coupon is guarded by a boss monster.
Convenient for TV series, as it provides an easy Story Arc for the whole series (or season) just by virtue of there being more than one MacGuffin to find. Meantime, each episode can have its own obstacles, villains, and setting, and be written by a different author, just as long as the plot coupons keep getting found. Also popular in video games because it's easy to implement; some of the earliest non-Excuse Plot videogames (e.g. The Legend of Zelda) were built on it, and it continues to be ubiquitous today.
The Twelve Labours of Hercules are perhaps the earliest occurrence of this. (Originally Hercules was expected to perform ten, but the Dungeon Masterdecreed that two of them didn't count and made him do two extra.)
In all media, common things that must be found include:
In interactive media, they can also be categorized as follows:
Crucial: You must collect all of these items to complete the game.
Important: You need to collect some of these items and they're prominent in gameplay, but you only need all of them if you're going for 100% Completion (or perhaps for the good ending, if the game developers were being sadistic). Hopefully a Completion Meter tells you how many you've already acquired.
Compare and contrast Gotta Kill Them All, which follows much the same pattern, but takes a more...destructive approach.
If the item in question can be bought, then lets hope it's crack. If each item is individually useful, but as a complete set very powerful, it's because of the Set Bonus.
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A commercial for an auto parts dealer showed a young man biking to the store over and over, each time retrieving a different component to repair a roadside clunker. At the end, he drives to the store to show off the car he's Caught All the necessary replacement parts for.
In the first season of Sailor Moon, Luna and Usagi must find her comrades, and then the group must find the seven Rainbow Crystals to reform the Silver Crystal. The S season also has the Three Talismans, but there's only the three.
Keima from The World God Only Knows has been tasked to capture Escaped Souls from hell by romancing the girls they possess. At one point he finds out that there are about 60,000 left for him and other buddies like him to collect. He is not entertained.
Pokemon Special had some fun with this. Like the game that inspired it, this is Professor Oak's dream so he can make a comprehensive Pokédex. Since he's too old, he just hands out Pokédexes to the main characters and asks them to do the job. Problem is, the Dex Holders all have their own goals, and this isn't high on the priority list. Oak is understandably pissed about this, and he ends up hiring Crystal to do the job. She succeeds... and then it turns out there's a whole other generation to catch. Poor Oak.
The main goal of Cardcaptor Sakura is imprisoning every escaped Clow Card into the magical Book of Clow again.
Dinosaur King revolves around new dinosaurs appearing in every episode, with the D Team and the Alpha Gang racing to get them. The DS game makes this mandatory, including a Dinosaur Encyclopedia that catalogues the Mesozoic beasties that you obtain, with rewards for getting certain amounts.
This is essentially Dark's main goal in D.N.Angel—he's stealing all of the magical works of art created by Satoshi's family, the Hikaris—who also created him.
In Fushigi Yuugi, Miaka, being the Priestess of Suzaku, must gather the seven Celestial warriors in order to summon Suzaku. Cue an Unwanted Harem of men. In the second half of the series, they have to race their enemies for two Shinzahous.
The cast of InuYasha are searching for the umptynine pieces of the Shikon Jewel, an artifact of incredible power (that, incidentally, will allow the main character To Become Human). The Big Bad wants all the pieces too, so that he can become stronger.
Appears in Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, after a sudden Genre Shift with the story getting more serious and actually having a plot. It is revealed that in order to become the next Vongola leader, Tsuna must assemble all six of his Bishōnen guardians (Rain, Storm, Thunder, Mist, Sun and Cloud, with him being seventh element - Sky). Tsuna ends up having to do this twice, the second time being after he time travels 10 years into the future.
In Princess Tutu, the main character searches the town for shards of the Prince's heart, which was shattered when he imprisoned the raven from the story.
Those Who Hunt Elves spoofs this by scattering the runes of a spell to send the cast Trapped in Another World home. However, the runes are on the bodies of the elf inhabitants, so the cast decides that the logical (huh huh) thing to do is to strip every elf they come across in order to find the runes.
Hyakkimaru from Dororo is hunting down the 48 demons that took his body parts as part of a Deal with the Devil his father made.
How many story arcs in the various Dragon Ball series have involved the heroes and villains racing to see which side can obtain all 7 of the Dragon Balls?
Soul Eater is a partial example. Each weapon/meister pair has to collect 99 kishin eggs and one Witch soul. However, there are implied to be thousands of Kishin eggs out there, more than enough to go around.
Also a rather dark partial example, since those "kishin eggs" are the souls of humans on Shinigami-sama's hit list. Admittedly evil and occasionally goofy souls, yes, but high school kids are still collecting them by killing people. With weapons who are actually other high school students. Oh, and the witches can kill most of these students fairly easily.
In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, Astral's memory has been broken into 100 parts (the "Numbers" cards, one of which he got to keep). When a Number is defeated in a duel by Yuma, Yuma gains it and Astral gains a piece of his memory back. A number of other characters are also searching for the numbers.
Transformers Armada was all about racing to retrieve the Mini-Cons, though getting all of them isn't necessary. The series even acquired the Fan Nickname "Pokeformers."
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has the Jewel Seeds, dangerous artifacts that Yuuno lost on earth. Nanoha decides to help him collect them, but troubles arise when she meets Fate, a Dark Magical Girl who is also collecting the seeds for her mother. The usual "one MacGuffin per week" scheme doesn't survive past the second episode (out of twelve) and by the middle all Seeds have been caught - they are just in different hands.
Technically speaking, the main plot of Fruits Basket is how the Zodiac curse afflicting the Sohmafamily is finally broken. But all fourteen members of said family must go through various stages of Character Development before that even becomes a possibility. The curse is (early on, anyway) just a Framing Device for the characters' adventures, and a pretext for exploring the viewpoints of various Sohma members. (Of course, as each character becomes more filled out, the curse's full effect on their lives- and the reasons it must be broken- become disturbingly clear.)
Yuki: So now it's Haru...They just keep showing up, don't they?
The first series is about a girl and her friends having to find the Jewelpets that fell into the human world.
Twinkle is about mages-in-training gathering twelve Jewel Stones each, so they can enter a tournament.
Kira Deco is about a Five-Man Band gathering items called Deco Stones to repair a Mirror Ball.
Happiness is about three girls having to gather all Magic Gems for some as of yet unspecified reason.
A Donald Duck comic by Don Rosa, "Recalled Wreck", has Donald doing this after he finds out that his neighbor (without any bad intention) sold the pieces of his beloved car to the neighbors.
The 99 is initially about Dr. Ramzi's efforts to track down the 99 noor stones, but that goal shifts in the first issue to finding the people who have been bonded to them.
One of the subplots of Brightest Day concerns the search for the Emotion Entities. A mysterious being is hunting them down for some reason and has already captured Parallax and Ion.
The Vasyn in With Strings Attached was sundered into three pieces and scattered across dimensions five hundred years ago. Guess who's asked to put it together?
The second half of My Little Unicorn is devoted to heroes and villains trying to find the "Rainbow Stones," which would grant them new powers; the second sequel has them search for the shattered remains of the Crystal Heart.
Subverted with the Deathly Hallows themselves. After learning about them, Harry debates for a while and then decides not to race Voldemort to the last one. Perhaps a double subversion, since Harry does get it in the end?
In Douglas Adams' Life The Universe And Everything, the third book in the series, it's the villains who are collecting the pieces of the Wikkit Gate, and our heroes are trying to stop them (or, some of them are. The rest would rather get a drink and have a lie down).
On a more lighthearted note, there is Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged, who has grown so bored of immortality that he's made it his mission to track down and verbally insult every sentient being in the universe. In alphabetical order.
In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, the Knights of the Cross have, over the centuries, collected some of the demon-possessed coins of the Order of the Blackened Denarii, but cannot finally defeat the Denarians until they get them all. This was a major plot point in Small Favor.
In each volume of Jack Chalker's The Four Lords Of The Diamond, one of the Assassin's alter egos must find and either kill or subvert the Lord of the particular Diamond world to which he is assigned, as well as investigating his particular piece of the overall puzzle.
Lyndon Hardy uses a variant of this trope in Master of the Five Magics, in that his protagonist learns the use of his world's five known types of magic over the course of the novel, and needs to use all five in combination to win in the end. The sequel, Secret of the Sixth Magic, inverts this scenario by requiring its protagonist to fail at all five magics, before catching on that a sixth form actually exists.
Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom combines at least two forms of this; in each book, the protagonist must find one of the seven separated parts of the Will of the Architect (each of which is a character in its own right) and one of the seven Keys.
Author Matthew Reilly is overly fond of this trope... To the extent that his latest piece of alliterative schmutz Six Sacred Stones ends with a mid-plot cliff-hanger where the badass Hero has not caught them all with his bionic arm and we simply must buy another book for the resolution.
And in that one, he STILL doesn't succeed in collecting them before the big End of the World Deadline, and ends up dropping one down a bottomless shaft (that is actually bottomless!) so that no one has that complete set.
Subverted in the Twelve Treasures Trilogy - The plot of each novel involves restoring one of the stolen Treasures of the magical kingdom, and (obviously) there are Twelve Treasures, but only three of them have actually been stolen (that the readers know of; a different noble house keeps each one, and no one will admit to having lost one, so things get a bit murky).
The Holders Series are an odd subversion. The idea is apparently for the Seeker to "Catch" one or two of them to prevent them from ever being brought together, which will result in The End of the World as We Know It. Then again, it also says that not bringing them together will result in something which may or may not be just as horrible ...
In And Eternity, Orlene makes a deal with Nox, Incarnation of Night, to restore her son to life and cure him of a disease that afflicts him whether he is alive or a ghost. She must collect: a blank soul from Death, a grain of sand from Time's hourglass, a thread from Fate's loom, a seed from Mars, a tear from Gaia, a curse from Satan, and a blessing from God. It is hinted that the items were not necessary, but the entire journey was just a Secret Test of Character for Orlene.
In Bridge of Birds, the characters gather five pieces of a special ginseng root.
Septimus Heap combines this with Dismantled MacGuffin, since while the Paired Codes don't work at all if they're split, Septimus and Marcia have to collect The Darke Index and The Undoing Of The Darkenesse as well to make The Great UnDoing work.
Variation in The Twelve Chairs, protagonists needed to obtain just one of the eponymous chairs (in which treasure was hidden), but they didn't know which one. Due to combination of bad luck and Rule of Drama they still ended up tracking down all of them.
Much of the plot of The Silmarillion is the various forces of Maiar, Valar, Elves, and Men seeking the three Silmarils of Fëanor — particularly the sons of Fëanor, who have sworn a terrible vow to oppose anything in the entire cosmos that prevents them from gaining the Silmarils.
Live Action TV
One Hundred Deeds For Eddie Mc Dowd: A show on Nickelodeon. The title character, a juvenile delinquent, was turned into a dog and needed to do 100 good deeds in order to regain his human form.
Armor Hero: In this first ever Chinese Tokusatsu show, they have to seal 52 monsters into 52 cards, in 52 episodes. It's quite a clean show like that.
Brimstone: Ezekiel Stone, the main character of this short-lived 1998 series by Fox, is released from Hell by the Devil to use his police skills to track down and retrieve 113 damned souls who escaped the afterlife back to Earth. Short life meant he got nowhere NEAR his goal.
Chousei Kantai Sazer X: The twelve Cosmo Capsules. When united, the twelve of them grant one wish. So naturally everyone is after them. Each episode even keeps a tally on who has what Capsules.
One of the Devil's clients got the ability to get rid of guilt by transferring it to others through tattoos, turning them into sinners. His redemption required finding them all and completing their tattoos, restoring his memories of the guilt's reason as well as their original behavior.
Another client had to re-absorb the people made from her split personalities.
Subverted Trope in 'Last of the Time Lords' where Martha talks about having to travel around the world to collect the four hidden pieces to a gun that could kill the Master and prevent him from regenerating. When the Master catches her and reveals that he knows her plan, she laughs at him and says, "You really believed that?" Turns out the whole thing was a bluff and her actual plan was something else altogether.
Dream House: Both editions of this game show (ABC, 1968; NBC, 1984) had couples vying for rooms of a house in each show. Collecting seven rooms won them a new home.
Friday The 13th: The Series: The premise is that Micki and Ryan must recover all of the cursed antiques purchased from their uncle's store.
The Legend Of Dick And Dom: The heroes are questing for potion ingredients (the claw of a siren, the mists of time, a pint of milk...) to cure a plague.
The Lost Room: In this Sci-Fi show, characters are, for various reasons, seeking artifacts known as Objects, which originated in a 1960s motel room and are endowed with curious properties (for instance, one Object is a watch which can boil an egg placed inside the band).
My Name Is Earl: Earl must fix all the things he's ever done wrong in order to clear his karma.
These shows have created a meta-example of this. To further make use of the Merchandise Driven nature of the show, the number of Humongous Mecha have expanded in recent years. Gaoranger/Wild Force is seen by many as the start of it, with 22 Power Animals/Wild Zords, all of which were released in toy form.
However, there are times when the plot really is 'collect the six whatevers.' Operation Overdrive revolved around the five jewels to a magical crown (other artifacts empowered by them were clues, but also powerful themselves.) The Rangers also once had to go collect the pieces of the Dismantled MacGuffin (which they broke and scattered. Didn't want the bad guys to get the Zeo Crystal, didn't realize they'd actually be needing the thing.)
Reaper: The main plot point of this show is that the lead has to catch escaped souls from Hell, similar to Brimstone mentioned above.
Revolution: In the episode "Soul Train", Rachel explains to Big Bad Monroe that there are 12 pendants and that they are the key to getting the power back on. This turns into a Subverted Trope later. Rachel destroys two pendants in "Ghosts", and Randall Flynn reveals that he is not at all interested in collecting the pendants. A number of the pendants are not even located in the USA, and if they are, they are well hidden, as shown on a map in "The Children's Crusade". The first season finale has the power turned back on, and the pendants had absolutely nothing to do with that.
Seven Keys: This 1961 ABC game show had a player collecting up to seven keys to open a vault full of prizes by completing a board of 70 squares in fifteen chances. Getting all seven keys won everything automatically.
Supernatural: Season 4 revolved around the protagonists trying to stop demons from breaking the seals that keep Lucifer locked. It was pretty hard, since the demons only had to break 66 seals of the 600 that exist. In season 5, they learn that the rings of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse could be used to lock Lucifer again. Luckily, they already had two of them at that time.
Warehouse13: This is a show, similar to The Lost Room above, where objects have special powers for one reason or another (for example, a gun invented by Nikola Tesla is shoots energy bursts that knock people unconscious), and the Warehouse is trying to collect them.
WMAC Masters: This short-lived show that was a strange cross between Professional Wrestling, American Gladiators, and Power Rangers, featured this as its central mechanic. Winning a competition allowed one of the competitors to take his opponent's "symbol" (a medallion with a symbol engraved that relates to the character's nickname), and once one of the competitors got the symbols of each of the others, he could challenge for the championship.
Johnny Cash's song "One Piece at a Time" is about a man who builds a Cadillac in this manner.
The series of Vocaloid songs (by producer mothy) called Evillious Chronicles features the Vessels of the Seven Deadly Sins. Gallerian Marlon (Kaito) wants to collect them all, because he believes he can make his dream come true if he does. He gets help from a mysterious woman calling herself MA ( Elluka Clockworker (Luka), who was originally asked by the tree of Eldoh to collect them), even having a movie theatre built, and after he dies, his "daughter" ( actually the Vessel of Sloth, the Clockwork Doll, sung by Miku) takes over her "father"'s ambition.
Older Than Dirt: In Egyptian Mythology, after he was murdered and dismembered by his evil brother Set, Isis searched for and reassembled the pieces of her husband Osiris's body. Technically she didn't Catch Them All, but that's a deficiency the couple just had to learn to live with. If you don't know what that means, the missing part is his penis. A fish ate it.
Then (still in the flashback) a bunch of heroes turned mutant hunchbacks were trying to save every surviving monster in the city after an attack of Giant Spiders, while also gathering the six Makoki stones.
And then (present), the heroes from earlier were given a big list of things to do, including collecting several ancient artifacts.
After that, the heroes were trying to collect some magical keystones to open a big magical door.
Also worth noting is Onu-Metru, a city that consists of a huge underground museum where a sample of everything is kept; quite obsessive folks, aren't they?
Lately, on Bara Magna, Tahu had to collect the six pieces of the Golden Armor in order to defeat a legion of Rahkshi.
Into the Woods - the Witch requires the Baker couple to retrieve four fairy-tale related items to break a curse.
The Trope Namer is a U.S. advertising slogan for Pokémon, which had both the creatures and the Gym Badges. Interestingly, the catching of the monsters themselves are just optional, given that there's a large number of creatures present in the game. The Gym Badges, meanwhile, are of the crucial variety, given that they are needed to advance the plot.
And it's not just the Pokémon themselves. Throughout the series there are medals to collect, items to gather, and many other things.
There's this Pokémon called Vivillon, a butterfly whose wing patterns vary depending on your 3DS region. There are 18 patterns to gather, and some are even rare because of player rarity! There's a reason why people joke about it being the 666th Pokémon!
Demons in Shin Megami Tensei, and Personae in the Persona series. Enjoy filling the Compendium! In later games Demons and Personae's skill sets are entirely customizable allowing the player to even save their custom layouts.
Strange Journey has this with the Exotic Material and Cosmic Eggs
Graffiti Kingdom is a platformer/RPG hybrid in which you can draw your own characters, or use any enemy as a base, bosses included, up to and including Satan. And, unlike somegames, the way you draw your creature has a huge impact on how it controls and what it's capable of.
This also includes a number of cameos that need to be found... including some VERY unlikely ones. (Flying Maidennote Reimu Hakurei, anyone?)
Glider PRO: "There are 6 stars in the house. Get every star to win."
Guild Wars. Hoo boy. There are 1,319 skills including 293 elite skills, 26 heroes, and 33 charmable animals to add to your Zaishen Menagerie. Aside from the elite skills, it's all just for fun and/or 100% Completion; the elite skills contribute to four maxed titles toward the thirty required (and thirty-eight available, so you don't technically Gotta Catch ThemAll, and in fact can't) for the game's ultimate Bragging Rights Reward: the God Walking Amongst Mere Mortals title.
The player must collect each of the three pieces of the legacy, one from each time period / location in the game.
Collecting the piece held by the Shangri-La monastery requires that the player unlock a staircase in a particular chamber. This involves locating each of the six Buddha statues around the monastery, giving each something it requires in order to get the object that will unlock a corresponding section of the staircase.
Kakurenbo Battle Monster Tactics has 125 types of monsters to defeat, each with their own type of pawprint (called a Montac) and a skill to learn if the defeated monster has enough power. (Some monsters give up the same skills though.)
In King's Bounty, in order to find the scepter that was the game's ultimate goal, one had to find the pieces of the map detailing its location. As a Shout Out, its successor series, Heroes of Might & Magic, has generally allowed you to similarly gather pieces of a map to find some special building or artifact, although it's now a Side Quest, rather than the game's central plot.
Koala Lumpur: Journey to the Edge. The player has to locate four pieces of a sacred scroll, each of them concealed in a different "world" within the game. The gameplay of each world is completely unrelated to the others and except for the first one, can be played in any order as the player chooses. It sort of smacks of a committee of writers who couldn't get along and were separated for their own good.
The Zelda series always have some of sort: 8 pieces of the Triforce, 6 medallions, 8 instruments, 3 jewels, 4 masks...the apparent only exception is Zelda II The Adventure Of Link, in which the hero has to put 6 jewels on statues, but the principle is the same...
In The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, you have Kinstones, which each matching pair having a different effect (unlocking secret paths, removing barriers, making special items available, etc.)
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, which has the Nintendo Gallery. You have to take pictures of pretty much every character, enemy, and boss- all 133 -in the game. Well, here's your Picto Box. Have fun!
Gold Skulltulas. Technically they're a case of Gotta Kill Them All, but you still have to catch the tokens. There's a whole hundred of them, and you have to revisit some dungeons with new equipment you didn't have the first time around to get them. Have fun.
Majora's Mask should get special credit; it's one of only three N64 games that was so detailed and complicated in gameplay that it needed the RAM Expansion Pak to play (and the only one of the three that didn't have Rareware in a dominant part of the development). In addition to Pieces of Heart, weapons, songs, wallets, fairies, hidden bosses, and various other odds and ends, the game has 24 masks to collect. Only five of them are absolutely necessary to complete the main storyline (though some others make it easier), but the other 18 are necessary for 100% completion. Oh, and the 24th one? Obtainable only by collecting all of the other masks.
Twilight Princess has the Golden Bugs and Poe Souls, in addition to the Tears of Light, Fused Shadows, and Mirror Fragments.
 continues the tradition. Besides the usual, there are 100 baby Maiamais that have to be found, and every ten you find lets you upgrade an item. Except when you get all 100, which upgrades your sword.
Rareware seems to be in love with this trope, managing to shoehorn huge numbers of things you need to collect into practically every game.
Simply put, this is because there is a ton of collectables. There's 200 Golden Bananas (Plot Coupons), 3500 regular Bananas (required to access each level's boss; there's 100 bananas for each of the five Kongs on each of the seven Levels), 35 Banana Medals (required to access minigames required to beat the game), 20 Banana Fairies (which boosts your carrying capacity for Crystal Coconuts and unlock the secret 201st Rareware Golden Banana if you collect them all), 40 Blueprints (increases time limit of the final level's Timed Mission and can be exchanged for Golden Bananas), 8 Boss Keys (required to open the way to the final battle), and countless Banana Coins (currency to obtain new skills, which include 3 potions per Kong and three potions for all Kongs, a weapon for each Kong and its subsequent upgrades, and a musical instrument for each Kong and its subsequent upgrades), among others. There's also the Nintendo Coin and Rareware Coin, which are vital to the game's completion and only attainable through side quests that involve beating in-game arcade games, and the Bananaportals that let you warp from place to place on each level. Now you know why it's one of the three N64 games that needs an Expansion Pak to be played.
Perfect Dark, the last and best FPS game created for the N64, also requires the Expansion Pak.
Neverwinter Nights is almost entirely based off this trope. First, you need to collect the bits of fantastic creatures to cure the plague, then you need to collect the journals of the cultists to prove they are in Luskan, then after Luskan you need to collect the Words of Power, after which the final battle begins.
Shadows of Undrentide: You begin by collecting the artifacts stolen from Drogan, arranged in such a way so that the important one is last, then you collect the Three Winds so as to get into the spire on top of the city of Undrentide.
Mass Effect 1: You collect bits of a coordinate, more coordinates that tell you how to use what you find when you get to the first coordinates, and somebody who can understand the whole thing. A checklist of planets, each with a beginning, middle and end, and each with their own miniature scenario which you must resolve as part of your quest to Save The Galaxy.
Mass Effect 2: This is very nearly the entire point of the game. Most of the game revolves recruiting teammates for your suicide mission (with DLC, there are 12 members in total, though you technically only need 8 to complete the game) and then gaining their loyalty so they don't die during the final mission.
The Megaman Battle Network series does this. In each of the 6 games in the series, you battle with battle chips. Each game has a couple of hundred to find by either defeating enemies quickly or simply picking them up. Collecting them all usually allows you to fight a Bonus Boss.
The Mega Man Zero series until the fourth game also does this, with the cyber-elfcomputer programs. These little critters are collected all over the place, powered up, and used to give Zero useful bonuses. The games inhibit the latter feature, though, by lowering Zero's rank with each use.
In Mother, you needed to collect eight melodies throughout the game (although this wasn't obvious). In EarthBound, most of the game consisted of visiting "Sanctuary" locations, and collecting... eight melodies. Finally, a big part of Mother 3 was pulling needles. The catch was, your literal Evil Twin was too.
Virtually all the Nancy Drew video games require Nancy to track down missing pieces — gears, dolls, crystals, mirrors, whatever — for some sort of mechanism. The Last Train To Blue Moon Canyon interlaces three collect-em-all subplots.
The Neverhood requires you to collect twenty videotapes telling the story of the world, narrated by Willie Trombone. You can watch these and get a good idea of what's going on even with several tapes missing, but collecting all twenty is important, since it unlocks the final part of the movie, allowing you to get a key from Willie.
Ōkami: The plot has you collect the thirteen Zodiac Gods; you can also collect treasures, fish, and Stray Beads just for the hell of it.
Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal had fifteen trophies; nine found in various levels, two found be collecting 40 titanium bolts and 30 skill points respectively, two found by completing every type of a certain challenge, and two found by maxing out your health and every weapon. The kicker? You had to beat the game once, then play through it again just to get everything.
In Resident Evil 5, there is an achievement/trophy which requires you to get every single type of treasure in the game. This may require a guide or FAQ due to a few obscure ones: eg. from killing many enemies during a part where the game wants you to run.
In Skies of Arcadia, you do this with both the Moon Crystals(the 5 you actually can get are promptly stolen from you when The Dragon ambushes and destroys your base; you do not get them back) and optionally with crew members.
Though you need to find all Discoveries and at least 90% of the game's chests in the GameCube Remake if you want the Three Secrets an Infinity+1 Sword for Vyse, another Discovery worth lots of money and a Bonus Boss.
In Tales of Xillia 2, a long term sidequest has you go out and find a total of 100 cats hidden all over the world, in places ranging from normal (Like towns and fields) to downright bizarre (A volcano and an Eldritch Location in another dimension, for some examples).
Thief: The Dark Project: you must find each of the four elemental talismans to unlock the wards on the Haunted Cathedral. In Dark Project this involves two quests, while in the Gold version each talisman has its own quest.
In Ultima IX: Ascension the Avatar had to collect each of eight corrupted runes of the virtues and their eight corresponding sigils in order to cleanse the eight shrines of the virtues. Eventually, he also needs to collect three additional sigils for various virtues.
Unreal 2's Tosc-unlocking thing. You hop around all but two missions (the first and the defense one) gathering pieces of the artifact. Then it turns out that it alters the most harmless sentient creatures in the game into killing machines with black hole guns, so what you just spent the entire game doing turned out to be a really bad idea.
Animal Crossing. Too many things to collect. Furniture... Clothes... Fish... Bugs... Fruit... Flowers... Gyroids... The list goes on forever!
Jigsaw has the player reassembling an ... enchanted? hyper-tech? ... jigsaw puzzle, unlocking more destinations for their time machine with each piece found. Then, at the end of the game, you find out you were also supposed to be sketching animals to achieve the (only slightly different) good ending. Better start over!
MANY classic Interactive Fiction games rely on this concept: learning all the spells (Enchanter, Spiritwrack), assembling the Dismantled MacGuffin or some other piece of machinery (Starcross, Stationfall, Wonderland), or retrieving all the treasures from a dangerous area (Zork, Adventure, Hollywood Hijinx, dozens more).
The Great Cave Offensive game in Kirby Super Star lets you win by just running straight to the right and beating a few bosses ... but it's not a VICTORY unless you pick up the 60 treasures along the way.
Dynasty Warriors 4, of all games, has two of these. In The Symbol of the Mandate, the objective is to find the Imperial Seal. Meaning that after smashing the enemy force (maybe four minutes if you're taking it nice 'n easy), you have to break all ninety-nine empty crates scattered around the building to make the one with the Imperial Seal appear, three of which aren't even present at the start of the stage. (And of course, Sun Jian will act like it's a normal stage, meaning he'll sit on his royal butt in the corner and periodically whine about how long you're taking.) Even better, the Seal appears automatically once the timer is down to 3 minutes, meaning that if even one crate is still standing by then, you've run all over the place and worked yourself into a lather for nothing. In the Battle of Yi Ling, on the Wu side, you have to destroy all the archer towers before Zhu Ran reaches shore for the fire attack to automatically succeed, otherwise you have to escort him to the Shu camp. Since leaving even ONE tower standing results in failure, which is very bad if you're hunting down towers instead of taking out the Shu forces which are going to be on Zhu Ran like a pack of rabid wolves, it's a much better idea to forget the towers and just make as safe and simple a trek for Zhu Ran as possible. Needless to say, Koei never used the idea again.
Both the Baten Kaitos games have the Gathering, a sidequest to document every Magnus in the game. Including pictures of enemies, quest magnus, and other things that can be easily Lost Forever. In the first game, one magnus takes 336 hours, or two weeks in-game time to transform. And it does nothing in battle.
In the Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty campaign, Raynor must complete certain missions to acquire all the pieces of a Xel-Naga artifact before unlocking the final three missions of the game. The artifact is the key to defeating Kerrigan. Other missions are optional, but a certain number must be played to unlock each of the artifact missions.
In Chack'n Pop, Chack'n has to recover a bunch of hearts that have been stolen by Monstas and trapped inside cages. It's just that kind of game.
Warzone 2100's campaign practically revolves around finding new parts to upgrade your forces - lest you get stomped to bits by your enemy.
Super Paper Mario also has Catch Cards. The game says these Catch Cards increase the damage done to an enemy (plus, they stack). However, some of these Catch Cards do nothing, and are there just for the sake of collecting them, like the Pixl cards and the cards containing the partners from the previous Paper Mario games.
Many of the Ys games revolve around such a quest, such as the Books of Ys in the first game, the Statues in Wanderers from Ys and Oath in Felghana, the elemental power crystals in V, and the pieces of the Mirror of Zeme in The Ark of Napishtim, as well as the optional Tabulas in that game.
Pikmin: Olimar's ship was hit by a meteor and 30 parts were scattered throughout the planet. You have 30 days to collect at least the 25 essential parts before your life support runs out.
Pikmin 2 has Olimar and Louie collecting treasure to pay off their company's debt, this time without a time limit.
Runescape: While the player doesn't need to do this, it's implied the gods themselves are fighting over the artefacts left behind by the elder gods. There are twelve, and one of them, a crown, can locate the others. Saradomin wears it.
This is the focal point of the Scientist Path of Wild Star. The Galactic Archive isn't going to fill itself!
The vast majority of The Riddle of Master Lu is spent collecting the pieces of information that comprise the titular riddle. The ancient Chinese sage Lu has built the tomb of China's first emperor so that it can only be entered after interpreting a tablet he left behind, requiring knowledge of ancient scripts from three different places around the world he'd traveled to and a sort of key that shows which parts are to be read.
Tsukumogami fits the 'Important' template above. Despite the English title of the game being '99 Spirits'', there are actually a bit less than that to capture - but if you just want to get through the game and get the Normal Ending, you won't need to capture and train more than a dozen or so - a handful for solving riddles, and a handful for supporting you in combat. However, the Golden Ending requires you to have Caught 'Em All... (Among other things.)
Keychain of Creation chronicles the story of a group of heroes searching for the five Keys of Creation, powerful weapons which can open any lock or unseal any can, in order to keep them out of the wrong hands. About two hundred comics later, they still only have the one they started with.
Alien Dice involves scattering a number of "dice" over a planet and capturing the animals they bond to. It's supposed to be a deconstruction of the Mons genre if you couldn't guess.
The main quest in Our Little Adventure is to collect pieces of a wish granting artifact known as the 'Magicant.'
Wasted Youth has 50 Piggymon cards for you to collect, a card game with hamsters.
Lab/Treasure/Land maps, Talisman pieces, collectable plushies... Petsites are full of these, and they always have a final goal, that's it, some sort of status for the users that collect these, since it's impossible to have all the pets at once.
While lists of best movies can stimulate this kind of behavior, website Icheckmovies (which even gives a Cosmetic Award for progress in official lists) turns this into an art form. Many user pages or list comments admit they're watching many movies only complete some sets - as one comment in All-Time Worldwide Box Office (every movie that passed $200 million worldwide, currently at 518) goes: "3 to go. I've slogged thru some crappy movies, but the completionist in me is willing me on."
A ton of old G.I. Joe episodes involved Cobra's attempts to Catch Them All, perhaps the best-known being their collection of historical military leaders' DNA to create Serpentor. The 5-part G.I. Joe miniseries MASS Device involves the Joes in a race with COBRA to collect three rare elements from various places to power their teleportation machines. One of the rare elements is heavy water which is in pools at the bottom of the deepest ocean (obviously).
The premise of Lilo & Stitch: The Series (a Recycled: The Series of the Disney movie Lilo and Stitch) is that everyone has to find the other 625 experiments (Stitch's "Cousins") lost throughout Hawaii. As of the finale movie Leroy & Stitch, this has been completed, up to and including Leroy, who is unofficially Experiment 629
The crew of the Wraith in The Pirates of Dark Water were supposed to collect 13 treasures. The show only lasted long enough for them to get 8, in part because the eighth took the entire (truncated) second season to find.
In Transformers Animated the All-Spark shatters into umpty-nine pieces each which affects Future-Detroit's technology as well as the giant robots in different ways. The cast has to find them. The similarity to Inuyasha didn't go unnoticed by the fans.
The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes has the team founded with the intent of re-capturing 74 villains, who break out of prison in the sixth episode. However, only a handful of episodes from the first season have re-capturing an escapee as the main focus. Most of them get captured during subplots or Offscreen Moment Of Awesomes, occurring while the Avengers tackle threats that could destroy the world unless foiled.
The Honeybee badges of The Mighty B!. Unlike most examples, however, this is not necessary, and is a personal goal Bessie has set for herself (believing she'll become a superhero if she succeeds).
Bailey's Comets, an obscure De Patie Freleng Enterprises cartoon from 1973, had ten roller derby teams in cross-country races trying to find clues to a hidden treasure.
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated has Scooby and the gang involved in a double-edged assignment: locate the whereabouts of the original Mystery Inc. and obtain the six pieces of the Planespheric Disc which leads to the hidden treasure of Crystal Cove.
The South Park episode Chinpokomon mercilessly sends up the Pokemon phenomena through the medium of the kids being swept up in the craze, and the bafflement of their parents at the impenetrable non-sequeterial nature of Japanese animation.
Many real world scientific fields started out as someone looking at something incomprehensibly vast and trying to "catch" them all. At some point in human history, somebody, somewhere decided to document EVERY animal in existence and created zoology. Others decided to try to document every plant in existence (botany), every star in the sky (astronomy) and even document the living things too small to see (microbiology).
And the really kicker of all that: NONE of those fields have actually succeeded in that task. New animals, plants and stars are still being discovered.
And you know what? No one ever will, new stars are created, new species evolved as older ones die out. If someone lives long enough, every possible carbon-based life form will be recorded. Of course then you know what comes next. Yup. Everything NOT carbon-based.
The MIT Mystery Hunt, probably the world's most famous Puzzle Hunt, has this in the form of puzzle and meta-puzzle solutions: You need to solve puzzles in order to solve the meta-puzzle their answers are associated with, and you need to solve meta-puzzles in order to solve the meta-meta-puzzles, and so forth. However, generally speaking, these are designed such that you don't need to solve all the puzzles in a given set; it's often possible to guess at the answer to a meta-puzzle once you have some portion of its component puzzles completed. Technically, if you could find the answer without solving any of the puzzles, you could jump right into it, but that's basically impossible, so they're Semi-Important.
One of the great mathematical accomplishments of the 20th century is the classification of all the finite simple groups. Fits this trope because beyond the well-behaved, predictable cyclic groups of prime order, alternating groups, and groups of Lie type there are the twenty-six so-called sporadic groups which do not readily fit into any category.
The attempt to "catch" all 94 naturally occurring chemical elements. Finally achieved with plutonium in 1941. But, rather like the Pokémon creators, science now gives us the possibility that element 121 may also occur in tiny amounts in nature.
Participants in the Human Genome Project spent years sequencing the DNA of all 46 human chromosomes. Continued efforts to actually determine the functions of ~30,000 human genes, now that we know what their code looks like, will keep geneticists Catching Them All for the forseeable future.
randomforumgoer115: THIS 100% WORKS!!!!!! get 9000000000$ then press "build", dont pick any of the options, write down "huge circular tunnel". now build it wherever (i used switzerland), now buy lots and lots of dipole and quadrupole magnets, like 1300 dipole and 400 quadrupole, you need the superconducting ones or it wont work. now this is very important you need like 100 tons of LIQUID HELIUM! or itll overheat and youll blow the whole thing. now you need to throw protons into there, the idea is to make them go fast (this is why we bought the magnets, they make them go in a circle), but usually this wont be enough, at this point youll get a suggestion to buy the linear accelerator and the synchrotron booster. now this is tricky, youll get proton beams and you need to make them run into each other, youll have to play with the magnets until it more or less works. now buy the best detection kit and use it on the tunnel, its a pretty low chance so itll usually take like 2 or 3 years but if youve done everything right youll get the HIGGS BOSON!!
To many collection hobbyists, either of the regular or exotic type, this trope applies, making this particular entry of the trope a subtrope of Crack is Cheaper. These people tend to be known as Completists.