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Anime and Manga
- From Part 5 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Trish Una is the recently discovered illegitimate daughter of the local mafia boss. All of the boss's enemies want to capture and/or kill her, so she ends up under the protection of the heroes, thus driving most of the plot.
- Princess Charlotte from Berserk while being one of the kindest and sweetest people in the story, is only sought after for her position as being the sole heir to the throne of Midland, a kingdom that everyone wants for some reason.
- Jen in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the governor's daughter and her parents scour the earth for her after Lo "kidnaps" her.
- Doug from The Hangover, who is given all the characterization of a very Nice Guy to both his friends and brother in law. So much so that you can honestly believe these guys would shake down all of Las Vegas to find him.
- In Kill Bill, finding Bill so she could kill him is the entire focus of the Bride's Roaring Rampage of Revenge... well, that and revenging herself on the people who could lead her to him.
- Private Ryan in Saving Private Ryan, the search for him in the warzone is the plot.
- Kee in Children of Men. She's the first woman to get pregnant in almost 20 years. The main characters have to try to keep her (and the baby) alive and out of the wrong hands.
- Apocalypse Now is centered entirely around Willard's mission to travel to the compound of an insane colonel and to kill him. He becomes even more determined to find and confront the colonel as he learns more about him from previous military reports.
- The plot of the film Poetic Justice has four friends go on a road-trip from Los Angeles to Oakland, California to visit Lucky's cousin, Kalil. They find out he's been shot and killed once they arrive.
- Roxanne from A Goofy Movie is the reason Max is traveling. He wants to show off to her at a place opposed to his father's destination.
- Elysium: Max becomes one when all the security coding for Elysium gets uploaded into his brain, coding that would basically let the user do anything they want. Spider and co. want the information to disable the Elysium security systems and make everyone on Earth register as a citizen, Delacourt wants it to overthrow Elysium's current leadership, and Kruger wants it to take over Elysium and do... unpleasant things.
- In Jacqueline Lichtenberg's first Sime Gen novel, House of Zeor, she had to introduce complex biology and historical-political background. To support the worldbuilding, rather than pile a complicated plot on top of a complicated SF premise, she uses a simple MacGuffin plot: The Gen protagonist Hugh's girlfriend is kidnapped by Simes because she works for the Gen government in the department that prints money. (they want to flood the Gen economy with forged currency). We don't even meet her until the climax of the story, and she clearly serves only as devices to force Hugh to infiltrate Sime Territory. The real core of the novel is Hugh's developing relationship with Klyd, the Sime who helps with his mission.
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- Another male example is Edric Storm, King Robert's bastard son. Some people just want to protect him; his Strong Family Resemblance to his father is considered evidence for the illegitimacy of Cersei's children; and one faction wants to burn him alive to bring a stone dragon to life and save the world.
- After the death of her older brother and the presumed deaths of her younger brothers, Sansa Stark becomes this as several factions try and get their hands on her claim to Winterfell.
- Laura in Perfume. She is the driving force of much of Grenouille's plot - by dint of nearing sexual maturity and smelling really nice. And that's about it. She has a larger role in the film version but in the book she does literally nothing except get moved from place to place, and then get killed.
Live Action TV
- Human Target, episode "Victoria", the Queen's daughter is targeted as she wants to drop her husband for an EMT, which would bring great shame to her family.
- In Connor Undercover, Connor is given the responsibility of looking after the daughter of the (fictional) Cordoban president.
- Kamen Rider Ryuki has Yui, who has been Dead All Along and is actually the centerpiece of the Rider War, as the person who runs it is her Knight Templar Big Brother is trying to rig in his favor so that he may save her life.
- Resident Evil 4 had Ashley, the president's daughter. Unlike most examples, the bad guys had a pretty good reason for picking her beyond the ransom. They plan to infect her with Las Plagas parasite and send her back home to daddy.
- Princess Zelda, most notably the original The Legend of Zelda. She is usually the key to saving the world and is kidnapped by the Big Bad in order to give him whatever power he needs for the game's plot. Traditionally, this is her segment of the Triforce, but not always. Zelda herself lampshades this in The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, saying that being a distressed damsel is a family tradition. While she's usually a MacGuffin Super Person, there are a handful of games that fit this trope as she's kidnapped for her beauty or status as a princess, not her magic powers.