The thing the characters are trying to do, the goal they're trying to achieve, throughout the whole series. This is the reason the hero was called
, the reason he gathered up his ragtag band of allies
, the reason he fights the bad guys. In short, the reason the series has for existing.
For obvious reasons, this isn't likely to be achieved until the end, if ever
— without it, there's no story, unless you create a new one. Will sometimes overlap with the Myth Arc
, if all or most the installments of the series advance the characters' journey towards the goal. This is by no means required, however — sometimes the Series Goal just exists to get the story started and keep the characters moving, but has no real bearing on the actual episodes or arcs
of the series.
See also MacGuffin
and Plot Coupon
, the acquisition of which may be this.
Anime and Manga
- Berserk gives Guts two goals - take vengeance on Griffith and the Godhand for the Eclipse and restore Casca's sanity. Don't bet too heavily on him succeeding.
- Code Geass - Lelouch's two-fold goal, as stated in the Opening Narration is to find out who killed his mothernote and to make the world a better place for his little sister. He accomplishes the first goal late in the second season (It was his evil uncle V.V.), and the second in the final episode (By making himself a Silent Scapegoat).
- Cowboy Bebop - Spike Spiegel's main goal is to reunite with his lost love Julia. He finally reunites with her in the final arc, but loses her to the Red Dragon's assassins in the final episode, setting the stage for a final showdown with his former friend and rival Vicious.
- D.Gray-Man - Defeat the Millennium Earl and the Noahs.
- Fairy Tail - Natsu's goal is to find his dragon father Igneel. Tragically, Igneel gets killed in battle with Acnologia shortly after his big return, at which point Natsu's goal shifts to killing Acnologia.
- Fist of the North Star has two main goals for Kenshiro — find and rescue his lost love Yuria and find and deal with his three other Hokuto brothers while dealing with every bad guy the wastelands have to throw at him and protecting the innocent.
- Fullmetal Alchemist - Find a way to return to human state; save Amesteris from becoming one giant Philosopher's Stone; defeat "Father" and the Homunculi, and maybe make peace with the other countries.
- The 2003 anime version - Create a Philosopher's Stone to return to human state (the Elric brothers) or become human (the Homunculi). Later on it's kill the Homunculi once and for all, and prevent them and their creator from causing another genocide.
- Future Diary - Becoming God's successor. Yuno, however, has "becoming one with Yukkii".
- Gundam (pretty much all of them): End the war before it destroys humanity/the planet/everything.
- InuYasha - Defeat Naraku, whose Evil Plan caused so much misery to everyone and destroy the Shikon Jewel. Our heroes eventually end up doing both at once. But it takes twelve years worth of comics to accomplish.
- Kill la Kill - Ryuko comes to Honnouji to find out who killed her father and to take revenge. Ryuko finds out who killed her father, but while she does kick Nui's ass, she is denied final vengeance. But at this point, she's found her long-lost sister and found out who she truly is, not to mention stopping an evil alien invasion bent on devouring humanity, headed by her own Evil Matriarch mother. Whew!
- Magic User's Club - Protect Earth from the aliens of the Bell. Practice their magic without hurting themselves.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! - Find Nagi Springfield. Progress is actually sort of being made on this during the latest arc... if Negi actually asks the questions he should.
- Monster - Tenma's goal is to kill Johan. Lunge's goal is to arrest Tenma. Johan's goal is... not made clear for a long, long while, assuming he has one beyond "Evade death/capture".
- In Naruto, the titular character's wish to be Hokage (lately taken a backseat to "bring back Sasuke", though it's more of a passive goal that he gets closer to by just getting stronger), and to a lesser extent, Sasuke's wish to kill his own brother which was (not quite) resolved in the manga.
- The search for the eponymous One Piece. One Piece itself is just a MacGuffin so far, never seen or explained; the series consists mostly of the characters wandering around doing good deeds.
- Something that might count as a Lampshade Hanging is Luffy making a specific point of not wanting to know what the One Piece is (or if it even exists) before he gets there, when another of his crew tries to ask someone who would know. He claims knowing what he is chasing in that way would render their adventure "boring."
- Aside from Luffy's goal of finding One Piece (and becoming Pirate King), it's notable that each member of his crew has an individual end goal. Zoro wants to be the world's greatest swordsman, Nami wants to draw a map of the entire world, Chopper wants to become a doctor that can cure all diseases, Robin wants to discover the true history of the world, etc.
- Ash's goal to become the Greatest Pokemon Master of All Time, in the Pokémon anime. The definition of "greatest" is evidently subject to numerous redefinings, because he never achieves it no matter how many people he beats, or how many ranks he's offered.
- In Samurai Champloo, Fuu's goal (and therefore Mugen and Jin's too) is to find the samurai who smells like sunflowers. She does. He dies soon after.
- Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- has Syaoran and company sent on a journey to find Sakura's memory fragments that have taken the form of feathers and are scattered through many different worlds. However, that's only the beginning... the goal slowly changes as we find out the Big Bad's reason for sending them on their travels; now their goal is to defeat the Big Bad, among other things. The series is a complete Mind Screw if anything—it's CLAMP, after all.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica has several Series Goals. Madoka's goal is to actually matter and do something helpful. Kyubey's is more subtle, but his goal to make Madoka contract conflicts with Homura, whose Whole Episode Flashback reveals her goal being to prevent Madoka from contracting, for her own good. In an interesting twist, two of these three goals are achieved. Homura failed in saving Madoka from being contracted, but due to the condition of the contract, plus tons of info on the magic system she'd use, makes a wish that ultimately makes the system a lot better to work with (namely, by averting the horrible fate that ultimately awaits Magical Girls who contract), and thus achieves her goal of making a difference.
- The first chapter of UQ Holder! pokes fun at this. Touta makes a big deal about how its his dream to "climb the tower" (really an orbital elevator), and goes on about how he "will" ascend it someday. Then Yukihime points out that if he pays the expensive but not-at-all-unreasonable price, he could ride the elevator whenever he wants.
- Ulysses 31 - Find the Kingdom of Hades, release the crew from stasis and return home to Earth. Achieved in the final episode.
- Detective Conan: Shinichi's goal is to stop the Black Organization and find a permanent cure to the De-Aging pill they gave him.
- Rogue Trooper - In the Rogue continuity, find and kill the traitor general. They eventually manage it, which left the writers without any decent plots for future stories, which led to the Friday reboot. In this version, the goal was to get to Highguard and find out the reason for the massacre on Hill 392 and why the Norts had GIs. This was achieved even more quickly, leaving Friday without a compelling reason to have more adventures. Eventually, the writers tried having Rogue and Friday meet, but again, the two had little personal reason to actually do anything.
- Deadman's goal is to find the man who killed him and bring him to justice.
- Swamp Thing - Swamp Thing (Alec Holland) regaining his humanity. Except Swamp Thing isn't Alec Holland after all. He never was.
- The Matrix - Destroy the Machines and save the humans. While not quite fulfilled, the two sides are at an uneasy peace.
- Star Wars
- Prequel trilogy - Defeat the Separatists and end the Clone Wars.
- Original trilogy - Defeat the Galactic Empire and restore freedom to the galaxy.
- Harry Potter - Defeat Voldemort.
- Stephen King's Dark Tower series - get to the titular tower and (for awhile) stop it from being destroyed.
- The Wheel of Time - Win Tarmon Gai'don, the great final battle against the Dark One.
- The Lord of the Rings - Destroy the One Ring and keep it from returning to the hand of its creator, Sauron.
- Animorphs - Hold off the Yeerk takeover of earth until the Andalites come to the rescue. Eventually changes to "stop the Yeerk invasion ourselves" when it becomes apparent that the Andalite military doesn't give a damn about earth.
- Our Miss Brooks - Connie's goal is to marry shy biology teacher Phillip Boynton. It finally happens in The Movie.
- I Dream of Jeannie: Jeannie wants to marry Major Nelson. Jeannie finally gets her wish midway through the fifth and final season.
- Subverted by How I Met Your Mother. Ted's goal is to find his future wife, however the story takes place in the past.
- Future-Ted's goal is to explain to his children how he met their mother.
- The Series Goal of Stargate SG-1 was originally to survive against the Goa'uld, which became defeating the Goa'uld. Over 8 seasons, whenever the team found a weapon that might defend Earth/destroy the System Lords, it inevitably was destroyed. Then, when the writers thought the series was going to end, the team was actually allowed to tie up all its loose ends...then they got another season, and the writers had to come up with another Series Goal.
- Sliders and Quantum Leap - Have the main character(s) get back to their home dimension/time frame, respectively it's implied this never happens in Quantum Leap.
- In the fourth season of Sliders, the goal becomes "find Quinn's original dimension and get the weapon they used against the Kromaggs in order to save Earth Prime from the Kromaggs". By the fifth season, it's revealed that the weapon destroyed Quinn's original world and isn't usable. And Quinn and Colin are seemingly lost forever, leaving them without a goal.
- Gilligan's Island - Get off the island. Ironically when they finally do leave the island ("Flight of the Phoenix"-style, to boot), they miss it so much they return to make it into a resort. But, of course, after it's turned into a resort they can come and go and communicate with the mainland when and as they please, while enjoying access to every luxury money can buy!
- Lost - Get off the Island, obviously. But like anything on Lost, an epic monkey wrench is thrown into these schemes halfway through the series: flashforwards reveal Jack, Kate, and others escaped the island and desperately want to go back, their lives sucking so bad that the island was all they truly needed.
- After they return, they do a bit of meandering before discovering their true purpose: stop the Man in Black/smoke monster from escaping the island. Jack finds his purpose is to save the island from destruction, which he successfully accomplishes. Additionally, in a callback to the original goal, all remaining characters except Hurley and Ben (who stay behind to protect the island) escape once again aboard the return plane, Ajira flight 316.
- Star Trek: Voyager - Find a shortcut back to Federation space, which is 70 years away at maximum warp (while a full success only happened in the finale, partial success was something that happened more than once — by the series' end they had gotten more than half the distance, despite only travelling for a tenth of the projected time). At a few points of low ratings it was actually considered to let them succeed and continue the show with a more traditional exploring space theme.
- Lost in Space was another get-back-to-Earth show in principle, but the Robinsons didn't seem to be trying very hard.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The original goal was to bring Bajor into the Federation and protecting them and the wormhole from the Cardassians which was not achieved, and was even advised against by Sisko in later years, which evolved into saving the Alpha Quadrant itself and defeating the Dominion.
- Battlestar Galactica (both versions): escape the Cylons and reach the rumoured planet Earth.
- In the original series, they eventually find Earth, but it's not sufficiently advanced to help them against the Cylons.
- In the new series, they eventually find Earth...but it turns out to be an irradiated wasteland. They then find a healthy planet and name it Earth, so everything's okay.
- Crusade - Find a cure for the Drakh plague, which will kill everyone on Earth in five years' time. According to Word of God, this would have been accomplished not too long into the series' intended five seasons; other problems would have arisen in the meantime.
- The Fugitive - Dr Richard Kimble wants to find the one-armed man and clear his name.
- Monk - Solve Trudy's murder.
- Farscape - John Crichton wants to get back to Earth. He actually succeeds before the end of the series, but realises he no longer fits in there. He later has to destroy the wormhole back to Earth to prevent the Scarrans from invading, meaning he can never go back.
- Quite a few examples from here. D'Argo spends the whole first two seasons determined to find his son. He finds him at the end of Season two, but he runs off early in the third season after having an affair with Chiana, to whom D'Argo planned to propose. Also Scorpius spends the entire series trying to gain access to John Crichton's wormhole knowledge.
- Red Dwarf - Get back to Earth and/or see if Humanity has survived in the intermittent 3-million-year period.
- They actually do end up getting back to Earth a few times. There's just always some kind of catch, like the time they accidentally prevented John F. Kennedy's assassination or when they landed on an Earth that was the same as ours except everything was literally backwards (including time; as Rimmer puts it, "You start off dead, then you have a funeral, then you become alive again").
- In one instance, the gang got access to a time machine and realized to their excitement that with a hyper drive they could easily get back to Earth. This is all well and good until they meet exceptionally rude future versions of themselves who have been abusing the time machine to enjoy fine dining (casually bringing up Louis XIV and Hitler as being among their closest friends). The heroes become so disgusted that they knowingly create a paradox that gets most of them killed just to prevent this future from happening.
- Yet another episode had Dave successfully go back in time and prevent the entire series from happening by giving his younger self advice that made him into a multi-millionaire. Then Rimmer went back in time to try and do the same thing himself only to accidentally set everything back the way it was before.
- Firefly - Get a job, stay flying.
- Rather, find out what River's deal is and get her cured. Mission accomplished as of the Big Damn Movie.
- Lexx - Find a livable planet to settle on, without getting it destroyed by the end of the episode.
- Edmund has one in every Blackadder series.
- The Black Adder - Become king. He does, but only for thirty seconds before dying himself.
- Blackadder II - Gain favour with the Queen, avoid being executed. Gains the favour, but is then murdered with everyone else by Prince Ludwig.
- Blackadder III - Gain money and power, possibly join the aristocracy. Goes one better: He lives as the Prince Regent (and eventually King) after a case of mistaken identity leaves the real prince dead.
- Blackadder Goes Forth - Somehow get out of the war alive. Heartbreakingly fails
- Hell, even two of the specials had a goal:
- Blackadder in the Cavalier Years - Save Charles I. He fails, so he Heel Face Turns (as much as a Villain Protagonist can anyway) to turn Baldrick (who was harboring the Prince of Wales) in.
- Blackadder Back And Forth - Find his way back to his time. He succeeds only to find he changed history, he goes back and fixes history, then he realizes he could change history to benefit himself and uses time travel to become king of the United Kingdom.
- Storm Chasers - The show is centered around the quest for IMAX filmmaker Sean Casey to use his custom designed Tornado Intercept Vehicle to get inside a tornado for the purposes of capturing footage for his Magnum Opus that will also provide financial security for his family. What happens if the goal is achieved is not currently known.
- The X-Files had Mulder's everlasting crusade to find the Truth about everything, from the abduction of his sister to the alien plans to colonize the planet.
- Merlin - For Merlin to keep Arthur safe long enough for him to become the famous king of legend and ensure that magic is reinstated throughout the land.
- The Walking Dead - Find somewhere safe.
- Community has Jeff going through college in order to get his job back, which he lost after his degree was discovered to be bogus. Accomplished as of the end of the fourth season, with the new goal being the rest of the Study Group graduating.
- Kamen Rider Decade had "You must travel to the nine worlds and save them from destruction, saving your world from destruction." Though twenty episodes later, the goal is dropped and it's revealed at the very end that Tsukasa failed. He was supposed to kill the riders, not make friends with them. He fixes this though.
- Power Rangers has, of course, defeat the Big Bad & save the world each year. Individual seasons have had their own, however.
- The third season of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers had rescuing Ninjor after he was captured at around the halfway point of the season,. They eventually accomplished this towards the end of the season.
- Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers, the mini-series that aired between the third & final Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Power Rangers Zeo had the original Rangers searching for the fragments of the Zeo Crystal in order to undo the effects of the Orb of Doom & restore everyone on Earth to their actual ages. This was accomplished in the finale, although Billy had managed to restore his age to normal beforehand, which would come back to haunt him later on in Zeo.
- Power Rangers Turbo: The first half featured Bulk and Skull, who had been turned into monkeys early in the season, trying to return to normal or at least tell someone they're actually humans. They eventually resumed human form by the end of "Honey, I Shrunk the Rangers - Part 2". Their goal for the remainder of the Turbo series was getting a job and not losing it.
- Power Rangers in Space had the goal of rescuing Zordon, the mentor to the original Rangers, after he was kidnapped by the new Big Bad. Ultimately, the Rangers fail to do this, because Zordon instructed Andros to destroy his energy tube & kill him, allowing Zordon's energies to spread across the energy and purify every Power Ranger villain at that point.
- Power Rangers Lost Galaxy was set on the space Terra Venture with the goal of finding a new planet for humanity to colonize. Accomplished purely by accident in the finale, as they're forced to crash land on Mirinoi, the planet the Rangers first acquired their powers on in the opening episodes after wandering through a portal.
- Power Rangers Time Force had the unique goal of apprehending the Big Bad rather than outright destroying him, and taking him back to the year 3000 to be tried for his crimes there. (Actually, to finish serving his life sentence since he was technically an escaped convict)
- Power Rangers Ninja Storm has the goal of rescuing the kidnapped students & teachers of the Wind Academy, and later, the Thunder Academy. And restoring their sensei from his unwilling transformation into a guinea pig.
- Power Rangers Operation Overdrive had the Rangers competing the various villainous factions for a group of powerful gems.
- Power Rangers Jungle Fury had the Rangers & Big Bad seeking out past Masters who thought in the Beast War to hone their skills before the other does so.
- Danger 5. The Colonel states their goal in every Mission Briefing. Kill Hitler!
- Friday the 13th: The Series has its two protagonists seeking to recover all the cursed antiques sold by their uncle as part of his Deal with the Devil.
- BIONICLE - First, it was the Toa's goal to reawaken the Great Spirit Mata Nui, and stop Makuta Teridax from taking over the universe (which is Mata Nui's body) — both resolved after 8 real-life years, though only the first was a success. Then, when LEGO attempted to renew the brand, the new goal was for Mata Nui to reclaim his stolen body, reunite the broken planet of Spherus Magna, and defeat Teridax. The series went on for a while after that without a specific goal, but got Left Hanging.
- Bionicle (2015): Find the lost masks of Ekimu and Makuta, as well as Ekimu himself, and save the island of Okoto.
- Mass Effect: Stop the Reapers from destroying all life in the galaxy.
- Closed Gate - The main character seeks to end the colonial rule over his home island, Terranova
- Problem Sleuth would very much like to get out of his office.
- Goats: Fix the flaws in the multiverse before it crashes in 2012.
- Looking for Group - Originally the goal was to discover the Sword of Truth. Currently, they are trying to restore Kethenecia and defeat the Legaran Empire.
- The Wotch - Anne finishes her training and defeats Melleck Xaos
- The Order of the Stick - Defeat Xykon and protect the Gates.
- Tower of God - Find Rachel. Season 2: Find Rachel again and ask her some serious questions about certain things she did.
- Another goal would be, since it's the one thing everybody has in common, to climb the Tower and fulfill ones greatest wish.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender - Restoring balance to the world by defeating the Fire Nation and Fire Lord Ozai. Later clarified as restoring balance to the world by defeating the Fire Nation before they become super-powerful at the end of summer.
- Dungeons & Dragons - Escape from The Realm and return to their own world. In the never-produced finale, the kids are offered a choice of either returning home or staying in The Realm to have more adventures.
- Samurai Jack - Return to the past, and undo the future that is Aku. A Matrix-themed episode shows that this wouldn't happen for a very long time.
- Speed Racer X - Speed aimed to win a Racing championship. Had this series not been Screwed by the Lawyers, the Champion would have been selected from a race with three entrants: Speed, Crasher Kid and Racer X.
- She-Ra: Princess of Power: Like She-Ra says in the intro, "to free Etheria from the evil forces of Hordak".