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MacGuffin Location
A MacGuffin doesn't necessarily have to take the form of an object. This is the case where the MacGuffin is an actual location — a place where everyone's trying to get to (or get there first), but the actual place doesn't have any impact on the plot.

This happens quite often in shows featuring races — it often doesn't matter whether the finish line is in Cairo, New Zealand, or Omaha.

Compare with Going to See the Elephant.

Examples

Anime
  • In addition to the location of the titular treasure, the actual island of Raftel in One Piece is also sought after, mainly due to the Rio Poneglyphs.
  • Outlaw Star has people searching for the location of the fabled Galactic Leyline, presumably a giant stash of valuable minerals or other treasure. Actually, it's a repository of knowledge, and after it's found it runs away again so that the chase can start all over.
    • Technically the place seems to be a Literal Genie Genius Loci, capable and willing to fulfill any wish that a person reaching its core chooses to make. A person wishing for knowledge will be swallowed in its datastream, however.
  • Shinzo in, well, Shinzo. In the original Japanese version it's called "Mushrambo", after the main character's fusion form.
  • Paradise in Wolf's Rain.
  • The true Clair Bible in Slayers NEXT turns out to be this, as it was previously assumed that the bible was a book.
  • The land of fairies in Berserk is reputed to be the only place safe from the demonic legions that want the protagonists dead as well as the location of the only one who might be able to cure Casca of her insanity.

Film
  • Five Weeks in a Balloon. The heroes and a band of slavers are trying to get to a piece of territory that no nation owns in order to claim it for their respective governments.
  • The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. Sinbad and Prince Koura both try to reach the Fountain of Destiny first in order to gain its rewards.
  • The Great Race: the title New York to Paris race.
  • Tarzan and the Valley of Gold. The title valley (and the city of gold therein), which both Tarzan and the Big Bad are trying to reach.
  • The Big W in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Parodied after a fashion by the Big Why (Y) in The New Avengers.
  • El Dorado, a city supposedly made entirely of gold somewhere in South America, from films such as Road To El Dorado.
  • Rat Race: the train station in Silver City, New Mexico

Literature

Live-Action TV
  • Every location on The Amazing Race.
  • Similarly, the finish line of nearly every Top Gear Car v. Something Else race challenge.
  • The Doctor Who episode's eponymous Utopia. That turned out well, didn't it?
  • In Star Trek, the Federation and the Klingon Empire are disputing the right to colonize Shermanís Planet. Thatís why the Enterpise receive a Priority one distress call to protect grain storage.

Video Games
  • In Final Fantasy VII, Shinra's main motivation is to find the 'promised land'.
  • "Your Sanctuaries" in EarthBound.
  • The Tower in the Panzer Dragoon Series
  • The Vault in Borderlands
  • A slightly odd example is Releeshahn in the third Myst game. Releeshahn is a book that is an access to a location, and you have to retrieve the book.
  • The artificial island Paradise and the Cardinal Shaft in Hellsinker.
  • Ilos in Mass Effect, a planet only accessible via a lost mass relay only the last Rachni Queen kept in captivity on Noveria knows the location of and which Shepard and Saren are racing to get to first.
  • Fallout: New Vegas revolves entirely around the biggest landmark in Nevada, the Hoover Dam. It provides clean water and free electricity to the entire state. He who controls it controls the future of the entire Mojave desert, so it's actually a pretty damn good justification of this trope. It's not magical, it's not full of unobtanium, it just provides what you need to live.

Web Comics
  • Familiar Ground: The cave. because they do not, in fact, get any answers
  • Dark Wings has the fabled lost city of Eryl, home of scholars/demons/angels/mages/insert-exalted-group-here, where they had everything and knew everything and yada yada yada.

Web Original
  • Charlie The Unicorn: "Candy Mountain, Charlie!"
  • In the Yogscast's modded Minecraft series MoonQuest, the idea is that they start from scratch and have to collect the resources to build a facility, equipment, and a rocket ship to travel to the Moon. After 45 episodes of distractions, setbacks, misadventures, and general shenanigans, they finally send Simon Lane to the Moon and then have to build another rocket to go there again after he crashes and is stranded there.

Western Animation

Religion
  • Heaven for Christians.

Truth in Television
  • Shangri-La, a Himalayan paradise where people live far longer than the normal human lifespan, was invented by James Hilton in his 1931 novel Lost Horizon. The novel and subsequent movie inspired many people to believe that Shangri-La was real; the Nazis sent an expedition to Tibet in 1938 to look for it.
  • Atlantis, a powerful island nation destroyed by earthquake, was written about by Plato. To this day treasure-seekers wonder how much of Plato's story was inspired by a real place, and continue to search for the location of the "real" Atlantis.
    • Even though he starts the narration by pointing out that Atlantis is not a real place, but an hypothetical example of how governments should be run.
  • Until the real thing was discovered near Istanbul, Turkey, many scholars thought that Troy was one of these as well. The same is true of many other locations in ancient lore (and sometimes even people).
  • The races to reach the North and South Poles, being the first to climb Mount Everest, the Race to the Moon between the U.S. and U.S.S.R., and so on.
    • To be fair, the Moon was supposed to be more than a MacGuffin Location, but then the sequel got cancelled.

MacGuffin GuardianMac Guffin SnowclonesMacGuffin Melee
MacGuffin GuardianMac GuffinMacGuffin Melee
Lover's LedgeSettingsMage Tower
MacGuffin Delivery ServiceNarrative DevicesMade of Temptation

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