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A common [=MacGuffin=] story setup can be summarized as "Quickly! We must find X before ''they'' do!". A standard {{Plot Device}}s broader, being anything that motivates a character to get from point A to point B and beyond, which could be as simple as an invitation to the party; the invitation gets the plot going but is not the goal of the characters. Compare MagneticPlotDevice, which is an explanation of why the characters are getting into repeated adventures.

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A common [=MacGuffin=] story setup can be summarized as "Quickly! We must find X before ''they'' do!". A standard {{Plot Device}}s PlotDevice is broader, being anything that motivates a character to get from point A to point B and beyond, which could be as simple as an invitation to the party; the invitation gets the plot going but is not the goal of the characters. Compare MagneticPlotDevice, which is an explanation of why the characters are getting into repeated adventures.

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* ''FanFic/BringMeToLife'' has a couple of examples:
** The Keystone, a crystal which [[UltimateEvil the First]] needs for its plan to [[spoiler: access the Eye of Creation and [[OmnicidalManiac destroy reality]]]].
** Hope's Dagger, a weapon forged at the dawn of time, which is the only thing capable of harming the First.

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* FakinMacGuffin: Someone creates a counterfeit [=MacGuffin=], either to throw pursuers off their trail, or to resolve a HostageForMacGuffin situation without actually giving away the real [=MacGuffin=].

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* HastilyHiddenMacGuffin: A valuable stolen object, hidden to avoid detection by the authorities, which the thieves then must scramble to get back.


If you want to start [[JustifyingEdit arguing]] that your favourite series' most awesome magical thing isn't a [=MacGuffin=], remember that TropesAreTools. Having a [=MacGuffin=] is not necessarily bad writing, depending on how it's handled -- concretely defining or giving a central role to the object of a chase can ''detract'' from a work, if the point is to focus on the characters.

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If you want to start [[JustifyingEdit [[Administrivia/JustifyingEdit arguing]] that your favourite series' most awesome magical thing isn't a [=MacGuffin=], remember that TropesAreTools. Having a [=MacGuffin=] is not necessarily bad writing, depending on how it's handled -- concretely defining or giving a central role to the object of a chase can ''detract'' from a work, if the point is to focus on the characters.

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* ''Fanfic/TheNewAdventuresOfInvaderZim'' has the Meekrob crystal containing the codes that lead to [[LostSuperweapon Project Domination]], which all three teams are after (Zim and Tak and their respective allies to conquer Earth with it, Dib and his friends to stop either of them from doing so).


[[quoteright:309:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/McguffinCollage.jpg]]

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[[quoteright:309:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/McguffinCollage.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mcguffin_collage_1.jpg]]

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** The ''High Programmers'' variation also recommends throwing in some [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Code_of_the_Woosters "Cow Creamers"]], side goals for the Ultraviolets to fight over so they can trade them to a NPC.

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* SlipperyMacGuffin: No one can seem to hold on to it for very long.


Hitchcock and Angus [=McPhail=] were not the first to formulate this concept. Silent-film actress Pearl White starred in cliffhanger serials (most famously film ''Film/ThePerilsOfPauline'') in which the characters spent most of their screen time chasing each other for possession of a roll of film, or some other doodad. This device occurred so often in Pearl White's serial films that she routinely referred to the coveted object as a "weenie", using the term precisely as Hitchcock would later use "[=MacGuffin=]".

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Hitchcock and Angus [=McPhail=] were not the first to formulate this concept. Silent-film actress Pearl White starred in cliffhanger serials (most famously in the film ''Film/ThePerilsOfPauline'') in which the characters spent most of their screen time chasing each other for possession of a roll of film, or some other doodad. This device occurred so often in Pearl White's serial films that she routinely referred to the coveted object as a "weenie", using the term precisely as Hitchcock would later use "[=MacGuffin=]".


Hitchcock and Angus [=McPhail=] were not the first to formulate this concept. Silent-film actress Pearl White starred in cliffhanger serials (most famously "The Perils of Pauline") in which the characters spent most of their screen time chasing each other for possession of a roll of film, or some other doodad. This device occurred so often in Pearl White's serial films that she routinely referred to the coveted object as a "weenie", using the term precisely as Hitchcock would later use "[=MacGuffin=]".

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Hitchcock and Angus [=McPhail=] were not the first to formulate this concept. Silent-film actress Pearl White starred in cliffhanger serials (most famously "The Perils of Pauline") film ''Film/ThePerilsOfPauline'') in which the characters spent most of their screen time chasing each other for possession of a roll of film, or some other doodad. This device occurred so often in Pearl White's serial films that she routinely referred to the coveted object as a "weenie", using the term precisely as Hitchcock would later use "[=MacGuffin=]".


As you might have guessed from the sheer number of [[SubTrope sub-tropes]], this is a very common {{trope}} in fiction. So common, in fact, that it [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacGuffin has its own page]] on TheOtherWiki.

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As you might have guessed from the sheer number of [[SubTrope sub-tropes]], this is a very common {{trope}} in fiction. So common, in fact, that it [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacGuffin has its own page]] on TheOtherWiki.
Wiki/TheOtherWiki.


If it passes both of these criteria, congratulations: its a [=MacGuffin=]!

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If it passes both of these criteria, congratulations: its then congratulations - it's a [=MacGuffin=]!


* ''Is the nature of the item irrelevant to the plot?'' All [=MacGuffin=]'s have some extraordinary value, whether it be monetary, prestige, historical significance, supernatural power or forgotten knowledge. These things are often, but not always, explained in detail within the story so that the audience understands the desire. But these elements are not vital to build the plot, any usefulness from having the item is either nonexistent (often due to NoMacGuffinNoWinner) or relegated to the coda of the story and the plot and the desire for the item is over.

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* ''Is the nature of the item irrelevant to the plot?'' All [=MacGuffin=]'s [=MacGuffin=]s have some extraordinary value, whether it be monetary, prestige, historical significance, supernatural power or forgotten knowledge. These things are often, but not always, explained in detail within the story so that the audience understands the desire. But these elements are not vital to build the plot, any usefulness from having the item is either nonexistent (often due to NoMacGuffinNoWinner) or relegated to the coda of the story and the plot and the desire for the item is over.


* ''Is the nature of the item interchangeable?'' If it is an object of great value there is little difference between a diamond, priceless painting or exotic statue, the quest surrounding it would be exactly the same. The plans surrounding its theft would be the same, the mission to transport it to a specific place would be the same, the investigation to locate it would be the same, etc. Imagine when reading the script, replace the name of the item and ask if the story is all that different.

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* ''Is the nature of the item interchangeable?'' If it is an object of great value there is little difference between a diamond, priceless painting or exotic statue, the quest surrounding it would be exactly the same. differ only trivially. The plans surrounding its theft would be largely the same, the mission to transport it to a specific place would be largely the same, the investigation to locate it would be the same, etc. Imagine when reading the script, replace the name of the item and ask if the story is all that different.

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