MacGuffin Title

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A work has a title that refers to a specific object. Because the object is so specific in the title, you know without knowing anything else about the story, that, obviously, the heroes will have to quest to find this object, or protect it from the bad guys, or recover it from the forces of evil, or destroy it somehow. This often leads to a Title Drop.

Something of a pet trope for fantasy novels and video games, (especially those with Mad Lib Fantasy Titles, but can occur elsewhere. Sometimes results in an Artifact Title if the series moves on. Can involve a Character Name and the Noun Phrase title, especially if the Noun Phrase in question is nothing more than a MacGuffin itself.

A Sub-Trope of Mad Lib Fantasy Title and Super Trope of Character Name and the Noun Phrase.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga 
  • In a surprising twist, Attack on Titan is this in the original Japanese. "Shingeki no Kyojin" was intentionally mistranslated to hide that it actually refers to Eren, the current host of the "Attacker Titan".

    Comic Books 
  • Swordquest is about two heroes on a quest for a sword.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Brick. The title refers to a brick of heroin, the theft of which sets off the film's entire plot.
  • The Rover: the hero is trying to get back the Range Rover that some bandits stole, though it's a Double-Meaning Title: He's actually only interested in the dead dog in the trunk.
  • The framing device of V/H/S is centred around a group of criminals trying to find a certain VHS tape.
  • Witchboard is titled in reference to the Ouija board used in the film.
  • Schindler's List is titled after the list of indispensable workers Schindler used to save so many Jews.
  • The Fifth Element has the protagonists working to get the titular Fifth Element, Leloo, to the other four elements to save the universe.

     Literature 
  • Memory, Sorrow and Thorn does this recursively: Not only does the series-name refer to the three MacGuffins, but the titles for individual books (The Dragonbone Chair, The Stone of Farewell and To Green Angel Tower) all refer to various important objects.
  • Maggie Furey's Artifacts Of Power series has titles like "The Harp of Winds" and "The Sword of Flame".
  • Keeper of the Swords by Nick Perumov is kinda like that. It sounds like a word salad at first, but later you learn that the eponymous Swords are the McGuffin. The first book in this series, Diamond Sword, Wooden Sword, plays the trope completely straight.
  • The Darksword Trilogy centers around the forging and use of a powerful Anti-Magic sword In a World... of magic users.
  • TheodorFontane's novel L'Adultera doubles as a Foreign Language Title; on the surface it refers to a painting by Tintoretto ("The Adulteress before Christ").
  • Interstellar Pig by William Sleator. The title refers first of all to the fictional board game titled "Interstellar Pig," and second of all to an entity called The Piggy which is central to both the board game and the plot as a whole. The board game Interstellar Pig wouldn't seem extremely important when it first appears, but of course the title is something of a giveaway that it is important.
  • The Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note series often has titles of this type; the first three books that has an Animated Adaptation are The Missing Bicycle Knows, The Egg Hamburg Steak Knows, and The Backyard Knows.
  • ''The Brightest Night'' is not an example, but the name of its third part is The Eye of Onyx, referring to a MacGuffin that the protagonist is looking for to end the continent-wide war.

     Tabletop Games 
  • The Spelljammer setting of Dungeons & Dragons is named after a powerful, magical, sentient ship that everyone in the setting dreams of finding and commanding. The captain who successfully claims it as his own will be unstoppable. It is also named for the generic name for spacefaring ships, and for the people crewing them. Spelljamming and spelljammer have lots of related meanings in Spelljammer.
  • Paranoia: John M. Ford's adventure The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues. There is, indeed, a black box.
  • Warhammer Fantasy was named for Ghal Maraz, the dwarf-made warhammer belonging to the Emperor. However, it shows up little in canon, and is something of an Artifact Title now.

     Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda series has several of these as subtitles, to various extents:
    • Ocarina of Time, the titular ocarina being a magical instrument required to progress the plot in many areas of the game.
    • The Wind Waker, which is also the name of the conductor's wand used to control the winds and travel in the game.
    • Four Swords, the sword the main character uses to fight this game's specific antagonist. Well, sort of — it's actually named the "Four Sword", singular, but it splits the hero and itself into four, so there are in fact four of them.
  • The Fire Emblem series as a whole is a case of this, as the titular object is almost always a plot-important item in the games; the only time it isn't important to the plot is in Fire Emblem Jugdral, where it is only mentioned off-hand by a certain character.
  • Another Code: "Another" is the name of the device at the heart of the story.

    Western Animation 


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