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Clingy MacGuffin

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Poor kid has to spend the rest of the series finding another MacGuffin just to get rid of this one!
"How many times have you flung a magic ring into the depths of the ocean, and when you come back and have a nice bit of turbot for your tea, there it is?"
Nanny Ogg, Wyrd Sisters

Applied Phlebotinum with one specific quirk: you cannot get rid of it. It cannot be removed, lost, given away, buried, thrown in the ocean, blown up, or separated from the owner in any way. It's usually not intelligent or sentient, but is nonetheless bound to you, for better or worse, till death do you part, or otherwise.

This can be found in Fairy Tales, particularly those where Self-Fulfilling Prophecies are not to be thwarted by a condition such as "You have to get this ring back to marry my daughter."

The most benign form is an Empathic Weapon that's a little too empathic. It's not necessarily something you would want to get rid of, but it can sure make maintaining the Masquerade much harder if your Glowy Sword of Doom simply will not let you leave it at home. Also, if a villain is after it, you can't easily comply with a demand to hand it over to save a friend. In this case, the only chance they have of getting it is killing you.

The evil version is more like an implacable stalker. From the moment it crosses your path, no matter what you do to get rid of it, it will always be there. If you're lucky, it will just make you a Weirdness Magnet. If you're unlucky, it'll be an Artifact of Doom that will make your life a living hell until you fulfill The Quest to destroy it or seal it away for the next hapless victim.

If a Clingy MacGuffin appears in an ongoing series, expect several episodes about the character's attempts to get rid of it so that he can lead a normal life. He might even succeed a couple of times but circumstances will always manage to bring the two of them back together because otherwise, there wouldn't be a show. The character might also come to accept or even enjoy their new life and actively seek to regain the Clingy MacGuffin.

Technically, any comedy in which a hapless person gets something — a paintbrush, a Post-It note, etc — physically glued to their body and can't dislodge it could qualify as a (non-magical) descendent of this trope. If the attached object is relevant to the plot (e.g. the accidental lipstick stain that can't be wiped off, sabotaging the protagonist's romantic chances with his girlfriend), it actually is this trope.

If the MacGuffin is a piece of clothing, it's a Clingy Costume. If it's a living thing, it falls into The Cat Came Back. Compare Loyal Phlebotinum, which can be physically separated from the owner but still only works for its Chosen One. If the MacGuffin physically can be removed, but magically ensures that the owner won't want to, it's an Artifact of Attraction. Contrast Slippery MacGuffin and Rejected by the Empathic Weapon .


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk: An egg-shaped stone called a Beherit might get lost or change hands temporarily, but is ultimately fated to find its way into the hands of the person who is destined to use it to summon the God Hand for a Deal with the Devil in their moment of deepest despair. According to Flora, if it is meant for you, then even if you throw it away it will find its way back to you. If it is meant for someone else, then no matter how you cling to it it will somehow escape your grasp. A good example of this is how the jailer accidentally drops Griffith's Crimson Beherit down a drain, so that it is seemingly lost forever. However, Zodd assures Griffith that it will come back to him when the time is right, and so it comes to pass: When Griffith ends up crippled and broken in the shallows of a lake, the beherit finishes its trip downstream from the dungeon's drain and appears before Griffith exactly when he needs it.
  • Bleach:
    • Ichigo's Hollow mask. If removed from his person it will disintegrate into nothing, but it always returns on him, appearing to block fatal blows early on. When his Hollow gains enough power to start interfering in Ichigo's fights, it becomes downright dangerous. The "Hollow" is revealed much later to be his true Zanpakutou spirit Zangetsu; the "Old Man" really being a manifestation of his Quincy heritage. Ichigo can't get rid of it because it's part of his own soul, and accepting it as a part of himself is quite the part in his Character Development.
    • Gin betrays Aizen and steals the Hogyoku from him, only for it to teleport back to Aizen.
  • Buso Renkin: Kazuki Muto's First-Episode Resurrection involved replacing his destroyed heart with an alchemical device known as a kakugane. This sees Kazuki begin his life as a Stock Shōnen Hero , and halfway through the series we find out that the kakugane is of the black variety, which tends to make the user absurdly powered, but he has to nourish on other people's energy to subsist.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi and especially the prequel Fushigi Yuugi: Byakko Senki, the Universe of The Four Gods both plays this trope straight and subverts it:
    • Straight example: Not only it's impossible to destroy, but no matter how many times its temporary owner Takao Ohsugi stores it away to keep it from swallowing his daughter Suzuno inside, the book alway finds it way out and back to Suzuno's surroundings. It even happens after the Great Kanto Earthquake, where Suzuno barely escapes from being crushed by her house's debris and finds herself with the Book in her hands... and then the wounded Takao sends her inside the Book, counting on it being indestructible enough to keep her safe in the chaos and destruction.
    • Subversion: In Chapter 3, when Suzuno is sent back to Tokyo and then is almost Made a Slave by child traffickers, one of them grabs the Universe... easily from her hands, and after she's rescued by Seiji and Dr. Oikawa the book goes completely missing. Considering how the Universe would later be stored for decades in the Tokyo Central Library and would only start "reacting" when Miaka and Yui note  went into the building together, it looks like the book will only fit into this trope when it's time for any of the Priestesses to raise into action.
  • In Gintama once Hijikata gets the cursed sword, which alters his personality, he can no longer leave it, always taking it with him. He himselfs talks about the problem while stirring his drink with said sword.
  • The title character of Gokudō planned to abuse his magic sword in a similar manner as in Dead Last, though his genie stops him before he can even try.
  • In GTO: The Early Years, Saejima sells a motorcycle to Makoto. It turns out to belong to Katsuyuki, whose friends (including Makoto's friend Eikichi) have sworn to find and return it. A terrified Makoto tries repeatedly to get rid of the stolen bike — leaving it in a junkyard, only for it to literally fall off the back of a truck in front of him; tossing it off a short cliff, only to hit someone with it; crashing it into a pole, but the only thing that gets smashed is his face. His girlfriend suggests customizing it so nobody will be able to tell it's the bike they're looking for, but it's All for Nothing when someone just flips up the seat and sees Katsuyuki's initials carved into it.
  • The G Units from Guyver cannot be properly removed from their hosts without a specific piece of technology. Tearing out the control metal causes the armor to actually consume its host, but the metal regenerates the host shortly after.
  • Inuyasha: Kaijinbou forges Toukijin but cannot get rid of it. It controls his will, driving him to hunt Inu-Yasha and eventually (accidentally) killing Kaijinbou through sheer force of power. Death doesn't separate them, Toukjin just animates Kaijinbou's body and keeps going. In the end, Inu-Yasha has to hack off the smith's wrist to separate them, which allows the dead body to disintegrate, leaving Toukijin behind. When Sesshoumaru touches Toukijin, his will is so powerful it instantly defeats Toukijin's power, turning Toukijin into a Loyal Phlebotinum instead.
  • A "kinda" example from Legendz: in the first episode, Shuu tries to get rid of his Talispod, but the wind blows it back to him.
  • An episode of Lupin III has Lupin steal the Hope Diamond to make into Fujiko's engagement ring, unaware of its infamous curse. After bringing misfortune to everyone around it, Fujiko attempts to get rid of it, but it just keeps reappearing.
  • Magical Circle Guru-Guru has an award statue that reappears whenever Nike tries to dispose of it.
  • The Blue Water from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water. There's a moment when she throws it into the ocean, only to have it rise from the waves and return to her.
  • A chapter of the Ranma ½ manga has female Ranma ending up in a cursed swimsuit with the talking figure of a devil dog adorning it. No amount of efforts can remove it (panda Genma gets near it with a pair of scissors, but the devil dog's face eats them). The only way to get rid of this curse is to fulfill the swimsuit spirit's wish before the sunset... or it will drag Ranma to the bottom of the sea.
  • In The Rising of the Shield Hero the Legendary Weapons must always be on the Hero's person. Luckily for them, the Weapon's size and location on their body can be adjusted, so it's possible to use both hands for bathing and eating. They are also clingy in another way, as they will punish any Cardinal Hero for trying to use a Weapon that does not match their Weapon's nature.
  • The Silver Crystal from Sailor Moon. Despite the canon belief it can be taken, and in the anime it is passed on, present Usagi always, always, has a copy of it. Even when Chibi-Usa takes the future version, Usagi still has the past version. Usagi eventually gets that copy back as well. In the manga, Chibi-Usa even gets a new pink crystal so Usagi can keep the Silver Crystal. Not that she's trying to get rid of it.
  • In a Slayers OVA, Naga, on pure impulse, puts on a valuable bracelet made out of rare Orichalcum. Unfortunately, she discovers that she can't take it off. And what's more, a powerful superweapon became attracted to the bracelet and Naga and Lina got chased all over by this creature.
  • When Ichika from Uta∽Kata tries to throw away the charm given to her by Sei, it just flies back to her, signifying that it is too late already to change her fate.
  • The title item of Witchblade is a strange bracelet that turns the user into a Stripperific death machine. Its clinginess is demonstrated in a sad sequence when Masane tries to get it off... using dangerous tools that could cost her an arm. At one point it wakes up, slices a press into ribbons and goes back to sleep. Worse, if Masane dies, it passes on to her daughter. Eventually she sacrifices herself, taking the Witchblade with her.
  • Bakura's Millennium Ring in Yu-Gi-Oh!. In the Manga, the ring embedded itself into Bakura's chest. This didn't make it into the Anime. It did however always manage to find its way back to Bakura, regardless of what anyone tried to get rid of it.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Manjyome finds the spirit monster Ojama Yellow after he nearly drowns and finds himself at North Academy, and at first he finds himself physically unable to give it away, much to his chagrin. He eventually becomes attached to it and its brothers, though, and willingly keeps them in his deck for the rest of the series.
  • This is a major theme of Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL. All of the Numbers (except for Number 39: Utopia, maybe) are malevolent beings that corrupt whoever owns them, each causing its host to become drunk with power and become obsessed with it. What's more, the Numbers Holder is driven to find other Numbers by it. There are people, whoever, who are immune to this effect and those who can resist it, mostly Numbers Hunters like Yuma and Kaito, but they usually have some supernatural or technological aid.
    • This is made even worse because Number cards start blank (the only common point is they're XYZ monsters) and tailor themselves to whoever picks them up, both in deck and personality. And Utopia DOES possess someone who holds it without protection.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: Careful S. spends much of Season 5 episode 19 with a birdhouse stuck on his head after catching a bunch of items Happy S. was holding. The other Supermen make multiple attempts to free him from the birdhouse, to no avail; Careful S. eventually decides not to worry too much about it and goes about with his business casually donning the birdhouse on his head until the end of the episode, when a monster destroys it.

    Card Games 
  • In Magic: The Gathering, Liliana Vess eventually realizes that the Chain Veil is an Artifact of Doom and wants to get rid of it. She liked the power it gave her — enough power to kill two of her demonic masters — but the multitude of spirits in the Veil itself are just as eager to enslave her. And while her mind might want to throw it away, her hands refuse to obey. At one point, she even tries summoning a skeleton and ordering it to take the Veil from her. The skeleton does so, then quickly falls apart as the magic that animated it fades. As it falls, the Veil "coincidentally" drapes itself over her arm. The spirits of the Veil explain to Liliana that they are not done with her yet, and that deep down she doesn't really want to be rid of the Veil either. They even point out that she put on the Veil again during their conversation, and she didn't even notice it was on her face before they mentioned it.
  • In the card game Munchkin, there is a curse called "cursed thingie". It curses an equipped Item, which then doesn't give any bonuses anymore and can't be removed voluntarily. The result is, that it still occupies its slot (for example footgear), therefore blocking it. Therefore, the cursed player wants it on an item which is small and does not occupy a slot or hand. The other players want it on something that occupies both hands or a slot and is big, for maximized inconvenience.

    Comic Books 
  • Blue Beetle: Jaime Reyes became the third Blue Beetle when the Scarab the original used (but didn't properly activate) bonded to his spine. Now if it's removed, he gets a gaping back wound if he's lucky, and dies instantly if not.
  • Conan the Barbarian: Conan once came into possession of the Ring of Molub, an artifact connected to an ancient, Nigh-Invulnerable demon of the same name. The demon will relentlessly pursue and slaughter the bearer of ring, which can only be disposed of by passing it on to someone without their knowledge, condemning that poor bastard to an extremely horrific death. Conan gets rid of it by slipping it on the finger of that story's Big Bad... and then breaking his hand for good measure.
  • Crimson Avenger: The current Crimson Avenger is a woman who bought a pair of Colt handguns to exact revenge on a murderer who escaped justice. The guns are cursed, and bonded permanently to her hands. They also lack triggers and never need to be reloaded, apparently firing by themselves and using her as a "host", to bring about vengeance on those who go unpunished for their crimes. She gets an "assignment" by reliving the death of the killer's victim, then involuntarily teleports to the killer's location. One time she tried to kill herself instead, but the guns render her immortal.
  • Exiles: The Tallus, futuristic-looking wristband used to guide the Exiles, cannot be removed from its wearer's wrist. If, for instance, you cut off the current wearer's arm, it will just reappear on the other arm.
  • Green Lantern:
    • In Green Lantern (2005), when Hal Jordan was given a Blue Lantern ring, he was unable to remove it without hoping for something.
    • In Green Lantern (1990), Kyle Rayner, when he had the original power of Ion, modified his ring to become exactly this because of all the times people tried to take his ring.
  • Iron Man: A villainous example occurs with the Mandarin and his alien rings, which give him a variety of fantastic powers. The rings are attuned to him and cannot be taken from him by force. A partial subversion comes from the fact that the Mandarin can voluntarily lend his rings to his minions, although if they're knocked out or killed the ring automatically comes back to him. If the Mandarin himself loses consciousness, all the rings automatically reappear on his fingers, which left his Mooks powerless to stop the Stark employees they had kidnapped from escaping on one occasion after Iron Man knocked out their boss.
  • Quasar: The Quantum Bands that come with the job of Protector of the Marvel Universe, once put on, don't come off again until the death of their wearer. As a result, Quasar gets killed once precisely because the Big Bad of that story arc is after the bands and discovers that the bands can't even be removed from his wrists after cutting off his lower arms. (He does eventually get better.)
  • Mickey Mouse Comic Universe: There's a Mickey Mouse comic that combines this trope with Mundane Utility. Mickey receives a cursed miniature sculpture that is so ugly that no-one wants to keep it, but it will remain with the person who found it until they can find someone else to voluntarily accept it. At the end he is still unable to get rid of it, and finds a cave filled with thousands of identical copies of the object. After thinking for a bit, he makes them into keychain holders and starts a booming business selling them, as whoever buys one will never lose their keys again.
  • Mortadelo y Filemón: One of these features prominently in one of the issues of the Spanish comic, titled "The Warlock": a magical note, enchanted to kill anyone who reads it. The title characters subsequently try to remove it by the most varied means, chucking it into the bin, shredding it, burying it, tying it to a rock and throwing it to the sea, and hitting it with a full discharge of a flamethrower. And yet the note manages to never be actually harmed due to some kind of karmic immunity that causes people around it to suffer instead. They do manage to get rid of it. How? They send it back to the guy that commissioned the warlock to send the note to the Super.
  • The New Universe: The Star Brand, an energy source that can do anything the user wants to. However, even if you do find a way to get rid of it, a piece of it will still live on in you and recharge itself.
  • Pierino e il burattino (Peter and the Puppet, an Italian comic, by Antonio Rubino, 1919) used this trope as subject. Obsessively. Although defining the puppet as Applied Phlebotinum can be excessive: it has no apparent property or power, but it comes always back to its unwilling beholder.
  • The Sixth Gun: The Pistols bond to whoever picks them up after their previous owner dies. Anyone else gets burned by green fire.
  • Spider-Man. The alien symbiote-suit that does get forcefully removed (although not easily), and promptly sees about finding itself a more appreciative host (thereby becoming Venom and its offspring, Carnage and Toxin). Even having successfully removed this MacGuffin from his body, the Web-slinger still isn't free of it: year after year, host after host, it comes back to fight him. It also has a "crazy ex-girlfriend" thing going on, and several comics have stated that it would gladly go back to Peter if he accepted it, which means it's still trying to be even clingier.

    It's gotten worse in recent years. The symbiote messed with the physiology of its last two long-term hosts, making them literally unable to survive without it. This forced Mac Gargan to be locked back into an upgraded Scorpion suit, and nearly killed Flash Thompson when the suit possessed the Superior Spider-Man. Numerous stories have seen Venom, Carnage or other symbiotes "permanently bonded" to their hosts such that they can never be removed again. Hell, it's noted in Venom's first appearance that this happened to Eddie Brock. It never sticks.
  • Tales from the Crypt: In "The Sliceman Cometh" in issue #44, a French Revolutionary executioner who killed an innocent man at the request (and payment) of the victim's brother keeps trying to dispose of the head only to have it return to him in various plausible ways. Finally he decides to chop it to bits — which is when the headless corpse shows up looking for it...
  • Tintin: Parodied with the piece of sticking plaster from Tintin: The Calculus Affair. When Captain Haddock tosses it off, it sticks to someone else, who in turn shakes it off. And so it goes all over the bus, before coming to the Captain's cap. It then follows him aboard the plane, eventually makes its way to the cockpit (causing the pilots to momentarily lose control), lands on the Captain again by the end of the flight, is thrown away at the police station, only to return yet again on the captain's clothes in the hotel room!
  • Witchblade: The Witchblade doesn't like attempts to remove it. When Mary tries to use bolt cutters on it in Switch (2015), it results in the bolt cutters being destroyed. Another girl who tries to use a car press to remove it has the car press shredded to pieces.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Winsor Mccay's "A Pilgrim's Progress by Mr. Bunion", a parody of Pilgrim's Progress , the main character always tries to get rid of a suitcase (labeled 'Dull Care') only to get it returned to him in the last panel.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bridge (MLP):
    • A Siren's magic necklace can only be removed by its wearer. Even someone with Super-Strength cannot steal it and it will protect itself with a tiny forcefield. When Aria Blaze's heart stops, the effect is removed, but returns when she is revived. Later, the Windigos are able to steal Sonata Dusk's necklace, horribly injuring her in the process. It is implied they were able to steal it because they are the Sirens' fathers.
    • In The Bridge: A Shimmer in the Dark, Countess Mircalla dons Nightmare Moon's old suit of armor and gains her powers. However, when she decides to take a break, she cannot remove it and is informed only someone like Nightmare Moon herself would be able to remove it. Eventually, Sunset Shimmer is able to nullify the armor's magic, allowing Mircalla to remove it.
  • In several Harry Potter fics, the Deathly Hallows have been portrayed as unable to be left behind, given away or permanently destroyed. Some, such as crawlersout, even go as far as having the Deathly Hallows consider Harry their master no matter what time, place, or dimension they're in.
  • The plot of both the original My Hostage, Not Yours and its rewrite involve Gaz getting an alien device stuck on her body that she needs Zim's long-term help to remove. In the original, it's a device called a LEECHY with unclear but important military value, while in the rewrite it's Invader Larb's PAK.
  • The Echo Ranger: The Echo Morpher seems to be one. Izuku goes to bed with the Echo Power Coin under his pillow. He wakes up wearing a watch he doesn't recognize. A watch with no clip, snaps, or other means to attach or detach it. So for in the story he has not tried (onscreen) to take it off, but has mentioned he couldn't revert it to Coin form.
  • In Safe Space Harry is unable to get rid of the Sword of Gryffindor after Voldemort finally kicks the bucket.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Black Cauldron has Eilonwy's "bauble", which floats around chasing rats. This is a huge departure from the books, in which the bauble was neither sentient nor able to move under its own power, but had many other magical properties.
  • The Piece of Resistance from The LEGO Movie, the only thing that can stop the Kragle (a tube of Krazy Glue), is glued to Emmet's back for most of the film.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bud's titanium wedding band in The Abyss. At first this is just psychological; he and Lindsey are on the brink of divorce, but he still loves her and can't bring himself to stop wearing the ring. (At one point he takes it off and throws it into a chemical toilet, but is unable to leave it there. He fishes it out, staining his arm blue to the elbow.) When he uses his hand to stop a hydraulic door from closing (which saves him from drowning), the ring prevents the door from crushing the hand, but is deformed just enough to make it physically impossible for him to remove it.
  • The "Mister Babadook" pop-up book in The Babadook. Amelia rips it up and stuffs it into a rubbish bin. After the ominous knocking, she finds the book on the doorstep, taped back together, and with the blank pages filled in with even more terrifying illustrations.
  • In Click, the "Universal Remote Control" given to the main character. After he realizes the detrimental effect it could have on his life, he tries to get rid of it only for it to immediately appear back on his person. He throws it in the trash, he's holding it again, throwing it further away outside just makes it appear in his pockets, his pants, on his head, as he removes more articles of clothing. Then he strikes upon another idea
    Michael Newman: Oh, yeah? I'll take my clothes off. Then what's—?
    Morty: I wouldn't do that if I were you. There's only one place left for it to pop up.
  • The bracelet-gun in Cowboys & Aliens. Later subverted when it turns out he just didn't know he needed to empty his mind of thoughts in order to unlock it.
  • In The Gods Must Be Crazy, Xi's tribe tries to throw the Coke Bottle away, but it keeps coming back (occasionally causing mayhem in the process), leading up to Xi's Quest to throw it off the edge of the world.
  • The rings from A Haunting at Silver Falls. After Jorden puts one on, she can't get it off, no matter what she tries — and no matter what Holly tries, as the ghosts are only haunting her in an effort to get their rings back.
  • In Help!, this is taken to the point of absurdity: Beatle Ringo Starr has an Eastern sacrificial ring stuck on his finger, and nothing anyone can do (and everyone tries) can get it off. It can only be removed by an act of courage from Ringo, so it isn't until the end of the movie that it gets removed.
  • Indiana Jones's fedora. Through all four movies (and the video games, as well) it's constantly with him, and seems to follow him everywhere when he's not wearing it. See toward the end of The Last Crusade, where Indy sits resting after the tank fight and the wind magically blows his hat back to him.
  • Loki's Mask from The Mask (the Jim Carrey movie) falls into this category: when Stanley tries to throw it out the window, it boomerangs right back to where he picked it up from. It also functions in a Hostage for MacGuffin scenario, although this is subverted by the fact that Stanley himself is the hostage, trying to save his own life.
  • In The Mummy Returns, Alex tries on a bracelet that turns out to be the key the bad guys are looking for. It's not detachable. It will also kill him if he does not reach the pyramid at Ahm Sher in time.
  • In Oscar, there is a subplot revolving around three identical valises — one containing money, one containing jewels, and one containing the maid's clothing and undergarments. The police and other gangsters are made suspicious by the way the valises keep going in and out of the house, but whenever a valise is seized and opened, it is invariably the one that contains the maid's clothing.
  • Once the ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz appear on Dorothy's feet, they become stuck and won't come off, something the Wicked Witch of the West remembers the hard way when they shock her as she tries to remove them.

  • In The Fabled Lands if you earn the favor of Nagil, the god of death, you can be gifted with his White Sword. Besides its staggering +8 combat bonus, you'll have it forever. Even if you die and are brought back to life, you'll lose all the rest of your stuff, but not the sword.
  • Pipe Down, a title in the Super Mario Bros. Nintendo Adventure Books gamebook series, has this happen to Princess Peach when she receives a mysterious pair of red sneakers for her birthday. When she puts them on, they begin forcing her to dance a la the Hans Christian Andersen tale, and she eventually becomes the unwilling star of a Koopa basketball ballet. If Mario and Luigi manage to find her in the desert in one sequence, she'll tell them that she's tried over and over again, but the sneakers just won't come off her feet.
  • The hero of J.H. Brennan's Saga of the Demonspawn gamebooks, Fire*Wolf, comes across a sentient magical sword that he keeps with him because it's a powerful weapon. It's only later that he learns he was destined to inherit it and finds he can't get rid of it. At the end of the series, when the Big Bads try to cripple the hero by stealing all his weapons, they find they can't deprive the hero of the sword.

  • The Affix always chooses a keeper. After its former keeper passed away and Mike found it in a storage unit, it stuck with him even after multiple attempts to get rid of it. His final attempt, getting his more responsible friend Matt to hold onto it, worked: by the Affix now choosing Matt as its new keeper. Then it wakes up, ratcheting its causality-breaking ways up.
  • All The Skills - A Deckbuilding LitRPG: Any card, once added to a person's heart deck, becomes part of them. They can remove it, but it leaves an aching void inside them until it's put back. Arthur encounters this with his Return to Start card, which is so two-edged that he needs to take it out, but he feels wounded afterward until he finds a solution that lets him restore it. Furthermore, no one else can remove a card from a heart deck without first killing the owner. For this reason, card anchors have been created that allow most cards to be used without adding them to a heart deck and becoming attached to them; however, anchors don't get the protection from theft.
  • Michael McDowell's novel The Amulet features the eponymous amulet as an Artifact of Doom that is passed from resident to resident in a sleepy Alabama town. Anyone who stumbles across it is invariably compelled to hold it up around their neck and press the ends of its broken chain together, often to imagine how it would look on them. The chain then magically fuses together, resisting any subsequent efforts to remove it — until after the wearer has perished in a terrible freak accident, after which it comes loose of its own accord for the next unsuspecting victim to find.
  • In David Eddings' The Belgariad, Princess Ce'Nedra is given a magical amulet by Belgarath, Polgara, and Garion that once belonged to Garion's ultimate grandmother. Once accepted and donned willingly, it cannot be removed by anything short of the wearer's death. Being the Alpha Bitch as well as a Tsundere, Ce'Nedra at first bursts into tears thinking they are giving her a symbol of enslavement, but later discovers that the amulet gives her unique powers of perception.
  • The Book of Lies (2004): In order to stop Marcel from escaping the orphanage, Lord Alwyn gives him a tracking ring that can only be removed through courage. Marcel manages to take it off by threatening to cut off his finger, which the ring registers as a courageous enough act.
  • Played with in Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series, which takes place billions of years in the future. The hero, Severian, believes that the tiny claw shaped piece of Lost Technology called the Claw of the Conciliator that he had been carrying with him for a while was destroyed in an artillery bombardment. However, he later pricks himself on a bush and finds that the thorn is the Claw. However, later he discovers that he had actually subconsciously created a new Claw using a psychic link to some Imported Alien Phlebotinum that he did not know he had. He later goes back in time and gives the new Claw to the same religious order that he got the old one from, creating a Time Paradox. During the same time trip he acquires his link to Imported Alien Phlebotinum from Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, giving his younger self the power to create the Claw.
  • In Robert Louis Stevenson's story The Bottle Imp, the title MacGuffin (Exactly What It Says on the Tin, it's a bottle, with a devil inside) grants the owner's wishes... but the only way to get rid of it is to sell it at a loss, and still having it in your possession when you die means eternal damnation. The problem is averted when the bottle ends up sold to a minor character who doesn't care about the cost because he fully expects to go to hell anyway, and exchange rates permit the sale even when the bottle was bought for a single penny.
  • Robert Westall's The Cats of Seroster features a knife that conveys immortality on its owner and if you try to discard it will come back to you or bring you back to it. The only way to get rid of it is to trick someone else into taking it.
  • The chain letter in Chain Letter by Christopher Pike. Once the letter is sent to you and you are on the list, the only way to free yourself from eternally being commanded to perform tasks (each task progressively becoming more malicious and difficult) is death.
  • Vain from Stephen Donaldson's second The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant trilogy, who was brought to life to serve some mysterious purpose. He doesn't actually do much except hang around grinning like an idiot, but he's virtually indestructible and has a knack for overcoming insurmountable obstacles to return to the protagonists whenever something detains him. Not so much a case of The Cat Came Back because, as it turns out, he's an embodiment of pure order that will become one-half of the new Staff of Law when combined with an embodiment of pure magic.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian novel The Hour of the Dragon, the Heart of Ahriman cannot be held by the sea.
  • Cradle Series: Suriel gives Lindon a small marble, a glass bead with an ever-burning blue flame inside. The marble will let her find Lindon again when she chooses to, and cannot be lost because it is tied to him with strings of Fate. Many times, he drops the marble, or it is taken from him, only for him to find it again in his pocket minutes later.
  • A minor case in The Dark Wizard Of Donkerk where the Boreal Crown can be removed or thrown away, but will return upon the owner's head the moment they think of it.
  • In Katharine Kerr's Deverry Series, the Silver Daggers Otho make are usually enchanted to return to him when lost or when their owners dies (something he neglects to mention to the mercenaries who "rent" them from him). However, Rhodry's dagger, due to an attempt to remove its glowy anti-Elf charm, starts seeing Rhodry as its true owner, and finds him under any circumstances. Including politically risky ones.
  • Discworld:
    • The Luggage and Rincewind in many of the books, which can follow its owner to non-magical worlds and the end of time itself. The Luggage is made of sapient pearwood, a rare wood that grows in high-magic areas. Anything made of sapient pearwood gains virtual immunity to magic and the ability to follow its owner anywhere in the multiverse, which is why a traveling chest made of sapient pearwood is said to be more valuable than anything and everything that said chest could possibly contain. And given that it's also a Bag of Holding, that can be quite a lot of stuff.
    • In Wintersmith Tiffany's horse pendant turns out to work exactly as the ring in the folk tale; she gets rid of it near the start of the book to keep the Wintersmith from finding her, and near the end of the book finds it in the guts of a pike caught by her little brother. Later still, Granny Weatherwax makes some remarks hinting she anticipated something like this might happen, even asking what kind of fish Tiffany found the necklace in.
    • The sentient hellblade Kring — or possibly a purgatory blade — was thrown into a very deep sea from a very great height by an owner who had been driven to insanity by its continual boring chatter. A parody of Moorcock's Stormbringer (see above), it shares a few characteristics, except, unfortunately, Stormbringer's ability not to sink in water.
    • Considering that the Discverse is largely made up of Narrativium, this is just an example of the Theory of Narrative Causality at work. Any sufficiently important item in the Discworld will behave in this way, from the Archchancellor's Hat to Vimes' silver cigar case (though the latter took a lot of work).
  • The Device of Time Journeying in Weis and Hickman's Dragonlance novels stays with the person to whom it is given.
  • The Elric Saga: Elric, Last Prince of Melibone, is a sickly albino who keeps himself competent as a badass cliché hero through drugs, magic, and his evil Empathic Weapon, Stormbringer. After destroying his kingdom and losing his true love he has a narmy sequence where he tries to get rid of it and it stands in the ocean smirking at him and Elric becomes... very dramatic on the topic of realizing he's stuck with it. Bonus points for the illustration: it is in the fantasy-illustration style that includes every tiny detail of his outfit, and he gives an impression of faking female orgasm. Of distress. Possibly fainting, too. Perfectly normal for his type, really.
  • The young adult novel The Eyes of Kid Midas features a pair of sunglasses that allow the wearer to change reality any way he wants... but the glasses cannot be removed.
  • Goblins in the Castle: Solomon's Collar (which lets the user understand and be understood by animals, among other things) in Goblins on the Prowl. Once on, it won't come off... until Fauna confesses the truth to William that it was meant for him, but she put it on herself. When she admits this, the collar comes off, and she's able to put it on his neck, breaking the spell keeping his spirit out of his body.
  • Goosebumps:
    • Slappy the recurring Demonic Dummy and his one-shot equally evil peer, Mr. Wood.
    • Inverted in another book, with a demonic sponge that kills the possessor in 24 hours if left alone. It made a habit of running off to try and kill the protagonist.
    • The Haunted Mask, which is incredibly difficult to remove once you put it on. In fact, it claimed the faces of several previous wearers.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it is implied that the Elder Wand can't simply be destroyed: neither McGonagall nor Harry think about it when the chance presents itself. Though Harry does believe Dumbledore's plan will work — if all goes well, at least. The Elder Wand can be passed on fairly easily, the wielder just needs to lose a fight. The curse, so to speak, comes from the fact that it was usually passed on by lethal force. This isn't a requirement, but since very evil people tend to be the most covetous of its power it's no surprise that murder is a common method of "defeating" the current owner.
  • Heralds of Valdemar:
    • The enchanted sword Need chooses its own bearer, and until it decides otherwise, you're stuck with it. Just trying not to use it takes a certain amount of willpower. Once Need becomes fully conscious, she no longer has those drawbacks (though she still decides who is going to carry her).
    • Tarma and Kethry, in one of their short stories in Oathblood, find a cursed bad-luck coin in their possession. They can't get rid of it in any ordinary fashion, but they do manage to find a way to pass it onto a more deserving group. It required considerable self-sacrifice on their part, with someone else inadvertently taking it.
  • In the Hurog series, there is a ring that makes the wearer the owner of the eponymous castle. You only can take it off when you're dying, although there seems to be quite a long timespan between being able to take it off and actually dying. Ward is not happy when that is revealed, mainly because rings are impractical in combat.
  • The walking stick in Iron Kissed, by Patricia Briggs. The protagonist Mercy Thompson acquires a magical walking stick, exact properties unknown. She tries to return it to the fairies several times, but it keeps coming back. A slight twist in that the stick shows up "in places where I live", like in her bed, her car and her work area. Mercy later uses this fact to lure her attacker into a trap. She could have retrieved the stick from any area she spent time in, but only told him about the spot that was protected. Apparently, it also has the power to ensure that all the owner's ewes will bear twins — not particularly useful for a Volkswagen mechanic. It comes in handy in Bone Crossed — apparently it was made by Lugh of the Shining Spear, and so can be used as a spear when needed.
  • Lensman: E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lens is this after a fashion. Yes, those who acquire it do so deliberately and in full knowledge of the cost, and the thing is not intrinsically troublesome, but earning it elevates one to a rank that carries grave responsibilities for all its wearers; promotion to the elite ("Unattached" status) carries a 90% mortality rate (and the survivors are mostly artificial parts); and you can't ever give the thing away because it'll kill anyone who comes into more than fleeting contact with it. Come the final battle against the Eddorians, even Lensmen long since retired are required to do their bit.
  • In the Lord Darcy novel Too Many Magicians, when Sean O'Lochlainn is arrested, the carpetbag containing his wizardly paraphernalia is left in his hotel room. The narrative then follows various people absentmindedly picking it up and leaving it somewhere else until, inevitably, the warden checking what Sean wants for dinner takes it into the cell with him.
  • In The Green Pearl by Jack Vance, the eponymous green pearl is so beautiful that it fills the hearts of everyone who sees it with greed. Unfortunately, the pearl is cursed: no-one will buy it, and if thrown away or given away it will always return to the current owner (even if it has to animate a corpse to carry it back). It can however be transferred by being stolen, which half the time involves the murder of the current owner.
  • In John Bibee's Magic Bicycle series, most supernatural objects are like this, especially number cards.
  • In Memories of Ice Picker acquires a set of self-tightening torcs through not-exactly-legal means. They quickly become a nuisance to her, and the only one who can help her with the problem is the one they were originally intended for anyway. She delivers them just in time for them to become important to Gruntle's ascention to Mortal Sword of Treach.
  • The title swords of Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn behave in this manner. They do not have any powers of movement, but subtly influence those around them to do their bidding. As their power grows throughout the story, it becomes impossible for their bearers to willingly give them up. (Yes, this was heavily inspired by The Lord of the Rings.)
  • The Misenchanted Sword by Lawrence Watt-Evans is about a sword that is a flawed Clingy MacGuffin. It makes one almost invincible in single combat (against adult males) about 100 times — then will pick a new owner and kill its old owner. And each owner will get betrayed faster. When sheathed the sword must stay within a certain distance from the wielder, but it becomes far more clingy once drawn and prior to killing; the blade must maintain contact with the wielder at all times. Trying to throw it away or hide it won't work, and is dangerous — the spells used cause an earthquake to return it at one point. On the other hand, nothing except the sword can kill its owner. The way the owner deals with it is refreshingly different than you'd expect: he used it as a mantle piece. Someone tried to steal it, and the resulting chaos almost wrecked his bar. Finally he got tired of it and just kicked it under his bed.
  • In Monday Begins on Saturday by the Strugatsky Brothers, the protagonist accidentally obtains a "non-changeable dime" that returns to the owner every time it's spent.
  • The creepy monkey in King's short story "The Monkey" is also resilient and extremely hard to get rid of.
  • In Stephanie Burgis's A Most Improper Magick, the Magic Mirror is this to Kat.
  • In Larry Niven's short story "Not Long Before the End", the barbarian warrior Belhap Sattlestone Wirldess ag Miracloat roo Cononson (his friends, who tend to only be temporarily so, call him "Hap") is rightly proud of his magical sword, Glirendree, and the fact that he cannot put it down or let it go doesn't really bother him... until the Warlock informs him that Glirendree is actually a demon forced into sword-form, and the reason he cannot put it down (or even transfer it from his right hand to his left) is that the demon has already sunk its fangs into his hand.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Percy Jackson's magic pen/sword Anaklusmos ("Riptide") can't be lost. Every time it's seperated from Percy, it simply returns to his pocket as a pen.
  • In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Giant Monster, the Heart of Vermiel is a group of four pieces of a crystal heart. All four pieces are destiny-bonded not just to the person who most recently held that piece, but to each other, meaning each piece is clingy to four entities - a person, and the other three pieces of the Heart. Without powerful binding magics, chance and fate will bend to guarantee they keep returning to their destiny-bound person and causing their destiny-bound holders to keep finding each other.
  • Louisa May Alcott wrote a considerably more lighthearted and benign version of Andersen's The Red Shoes with The Skipping Shoes. A naughty girl named Kitty puts on a pair of new shoes that force her to behave, and that won't come off her feet when she tries to remove them. The shoes do have their upside, as when Kitty starts trying to be nice the shoes actively help her do it. They also give her the ability to talk to animals and even start teaching her how to dance. While their magic wears off at the end of the story, Kitty learns that Good Feels Good and continues to act as if she was still wearing the shoes.
  • Retired Witches Mysteries: Molly's amulet, which is said to be a gift from a lesser sea god, can't be removed from around her neck once she puts it on, even by herself; it's said later that it can only be removed by a family member, or once she dies. She doesn't mind so much though.
  • The title painting in Stephen King's short story The Road Virus Heads North, which not only shows scenes of mayhem occurring in its wake, suggests that the subject of the painting is following the protagonist and fully intends to kill him as well when he catches up. It is suggested that the painting cannot be gotten rid of or destroyed by any means. It's also suggested at the end that the painting isn't actually a painting, but part of its painter's ghost; the other part is hunting after the protagonist.
  • The Secrets of Droon: A rotten old stick keeps getting stuck in Eric's shoelaces, even after he throws it away repeatedly. It's only when he gets back to Earth that he realizes it's the Wand of Urik.
  • Another Borges example is "Shakespeare's Memory". The narrator — a German Shakespeare scholar — meets a man at a party and unwittingly agrees to accept Exactly What It Says on the Tin: the personal knowledge of all the experiences of William Shakespeare, recollections of which encroach more and more upon his thoughts, threatening to displace his own identity. He can only get rid of it by convincing another person to willingly accept it.
  • Another Tolkien example, from The Silmarillion, is the Silmarils and the Necklace of the Dwarves (which was built around one of the Silmarils). Morgoth is unable to part with the Silmarils even though their holy light burns him, and later Beren is unable to throw away the Necklace when he is told to, instead giving it to Lúthien to wear.
  • The Southern Reach Trilogy features an otherwise ordinary broken cellphone brought back from the Eldritch Location Area X, which always somehow returns after being thrown away. Control is stymied by his inability to get rid of it in Authority, and flashbacks in Acceptance reveal that it had previously behaved in a similarly clingy fashion towards the psychologist.
  • The John Bellairs novel The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull features a miniature skull that can fit in a pants pocket... and returns there after the protagonist drops it into a lake.
  • The Power of Stormhold in Stardust, which Yvaine must carry until the heir of Stormhold asks her for it. But we don't know how clingy it is, because she never actually tries to get rid of it in any other way. In the book, Yvaine's lugging the gem around is explained as an obligation — though it knocked her out of the sky it's not hers, and as stars take obligations very seriously, she can't just leave it. She dislikes having to carry it, but will not get rid of it until the right person asks — that would be inexcusable for any star. A sort of culturally-induced Clingy MacGuffin.
  • A dragon scale keeps appearing in the path of the heroes in Mercedes Lackey's One Good Knight in her Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series. Fortunately, Sir George knows better than to disturb it; they eventually find that a fox has been following them and moving it around. In fact, the Tradition is a reliable source of Clingy Macguffins — if it's Traditional for a wizard to have a stuffed alligator in his office, he will have one there no matter how often he disposes of the existing one. The only way to escape Tradition is to shift one's personal circumstances so that they no longer suit that particular tale.
  • In one of the stories from Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror, The Demon Bench-End, the eponymous item is this, overlapping with Driven to Madness and Driven to Villainy. Moreover, its current owner cannot get rid of it on purpose — it has to be stolen from them. It's implied that attempting to destroy it simply causes the owner to destroy something that they hold dear instead.
  • In the Undead... Series by Mary Janice Davidson, there is the Book of the Dead.
  • In The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, the watches made by the title character can never be lost or sold — they always return to their owner after a few days. Pawnbrokers in the city refuse to accept them anymore.
  • The Welcome to Night Vale book has the piece of paper that says "KING CITY". Early on in the book, the main character tries many times to get rid of it, only for it to regenerate every time.
  • In Wicked, when Elphaba finally confronts Dorothy, she demands Nessarose's silver slippers, which Dorothy is wearing. Unfortunately, Dorothy finds that the slippers won't come off her feet, much to her and Elphaba's mutual frustration. Dorothy Lampshades this trope by stating that she's been trying to get the slippers off for days... and now her socks are so sweaty that "it's not to be believed."
  • In The Wizard of 4th Street, the runestones keep reappearing in the pockets of Wyrdrune or Kira when they try to sell or discard them. Later, when they're joined by Modred, the three stones fuse themselves with the three characters, becoming permanently Clingy.
  • The short story "The Zahir" by Jorge Luis Borges involves a variant on this trope. The title object is cursed, causing anyone who sees it to become gradually unable to think of anything else. The main character succeeds in getting rid of the zahir itself, but is unable to get it out of his head.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A non-magical example occurs on Ally McBeal when the title character is dragged to a bowling alley by her friends after work. Since she doesn't have a ball, she borrows one from another bowler. Unfortunately, Ally's fingers swell up in the holes and the bowling ball becomes stuck to her hand. She tries to get it sawed off, but the bowler she borrowed it from pleads with her not to do it, since it was a memento of his dead wife. Ally is forced to take the ball with her to the office the next morning, just as they're about to try an important case. Fortunately, the swelling in Ally's fingers goes down and the bowling ball slides off... only to land right on her foot.
  • The Amanda Show has this played for laughs — Amanda's character (in a sketch) was trying to sleep, only for the doll to be constantly talking and wake her up. She even throws it out the window, and then it jumps back in. She has her dog eat it, only to hear the voicebox still functional.
  • Many objects in sci-fi/horror anthology shows fall into the evil stalker category: the Curious Camera in Are You Afraid of the Dark?...
  • The Glove of Myneghon from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Revelations". It's an all-powerful gauntlet that will not release its hold on the wearer until death.
  • In Chuck, the title character accidentally has a database of government information uploaded into his brain, setting off the events of the series. A recurring storyline is Chuck's attempts to have the Intersect removed. Though he succeeds a couple of times, circumstances usually force him to re-upload it.
  • In the short-lived series Dead Last, the Talisman owned by the main characters that allowed them to see ghosts always returned to them, no matter how they tried to dispose of or destroy it. One character actually took advantage of this in different ways — for example, he pawns it repeatedly in the first episode and makes a sizable sum of money.
  • The baseball from Defying Gravity in the episode "Rubicon" is a variant on this. It is a symbol of Donner's unresolved guilt for being forced to leave his girlfriend to die on the Mars mission. Once in each of the two time periods that the episode takes place in Donner gives the baseball up; both times he gets the ball back. The episode ends with Donner chucking the ball out the airlock, a symbol that he's finally given his guilt up.
  • Parodied in Everybody Loves Raymond with the canister episode. A jar to hold crayons and cookies becomes symbolic of Marie's never-ending hold on Debra and the Barone family.
  • In a season two episode of Evil, Kristin notices that the Monster of the Week's victim has a children's white tea set identical to that of her daughter, Lexis. As she is already concerned that the girl and Alexis may have had their original embryos corrupted in-utero, she finds this quite unnerving. She promptly goes home and surreptitiously throws away Lexis' copy of the tea set. However, at the end of the episode when putting Lexis to bed, she notices the tea set has mysteriously returned, and is now colored an ominous shade of red.
  • In The Invisible Man, an artificial gland that allows a person to become invisible is implanted into a convict named Darrien Fawkes. The only person who can remove it is killed by the series Big Bad, who wants control of the gland.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Kuuga: Once someone puts on the Arcle, it fuses itself into their body and can only be removed by retrieving it from their corpse. It even shows up on x-rays.
    • Kamen Rider Wizard: The Beast Driver, like the Arcle, can't be taken off once it's put on. Unlike the Arcle, it's also an artifact that demands the wearer use its mana-devouring abilities on other spellcasters on a regular basis or else it'll eat them instead, so the wearer's days are numbered once they put it on. The only way to take it off is to use a sufficiently powerful weapon to break the Driver, releasing the chimera spirit inside, and then give the spirit a nice big meal of mana so that they'll leave while their hunger is satisfied. Fortunately the big bad's weapon is powerful enough, and his evil plan will do nicely for the meal.
  • The key to the Lexx can only be removed from its owner through death, or late in the series as things get even more silly, at the peak of sexual ecstasy.
  • Lost's mysterious numbers are an intangible but Clingy MacGuffin for Hurley. They keep turning up, though Hurley runs from them at every turn.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "The Gun", a gun dealer named Donald Finley (who is really an alien in disguise) sells a strange gun to Matthew Logan for $300. As soon as Matthew uses it to kill his wife Sandra for having him sent to prison for abusing her, the gun became fused to Matthew's hand and all attempts to remove it failed. The fusion process intensified every time that he used the gun as he was slowly transforming into the ultimate killing machine. His father-in-law Cord van Owen is given an identical gun by Finley which likewise fuses itself to his skin after he fires it. However, it detaches itself when he refuses to kill Matthew in front of his son Ty, much to Finley's disappointment.
  • Power Rangers:
    • In Power Rangers: Dino Thunder, the white Dino Gem is much more powerful than the others. This makes it a very bad thing, as in this state it's (a) unremovable, (b) turns the user into an insane dark Ranger who fights simply because he can, and (c) you can't control when it will activate. Having some of its energy drained resulted in the loss of those qualities, but also makes Trent no stronger than the other Rangers.
    • In Power Rangers Wild Force, the Evil Mask containing Zen-Aku's spirit can't be removed even while you're still yourself — a condition that won't last long.
  • The demonic vessel box that holds the Weapon of the Week in Reaper.
  • The magic car that Sabrina bought without her aunts' permission in Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
  • In Smallville, Clark Kent at one point is tricked into putting on a ring that takes away his powers. It wouldn't come off and was seemingly indestructible (it was unaffected by Clark using a grindstone on it). He considered cutting his finger off, but Chloe begged him not to, so he didn't try. It took the power of the Fortress of Solitude to get rid of it.
  • Stargate Atlantis:
    • Rodney once found an Ancient forcefield device that protects its wearer. Then he can't take it off. It turns out it's controlled by the user's mind, which means Rodney only has to want to deactivate it. Since he's... well, Rodney, his fear keeps it from ever deactivating, protecting him from bullets, falls, eating (his fear of random accidents was greater than his fear of starvation), etc. At least until he realizes it makes him the perfect candidate for a dangerous mission, at which point it promptly falls off. (A later episode shows that it does not protect one against drowning.)
    • In the episode "Tracker", the Runner Kyrik (Runners are human big game prey for the Wraith) is in possession of an ancient armband artifact that fused onto him, and allows him to teleport short distances as long as it's powered up.
  • In Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery, Discovery is given the collective knowledge of a living planetoid. The data thwarts all attempts to destroy it; attempting to delete it from their systems causes it to encrypt itself, and attempting to destroy Discovery (first through the Self-Destruct Mechanism then through conventional weapons) causes it to hijack the ship to prevent its destruction. What's problematic about this is that the data doesn't particularly care where it is, only that it remains intact, and the Big Bad of the season wants the data for itself.
  • A benign example of this, similar to the Ring of Polycrates story, can be found in the miniseries The 10th Kingdom. Wolf purchases an engagement ring for Virginia, and after being rejected, he throws it into the lake. At the end of the story, Virginia ends up ordering the fish that ate the ring and Wolf takes this chance to propose again, with greater success.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • In "Living Doll", Erich Streator cannot rid himself of the doll Talky Tina no matter what he tries. He throws it in the trash and it reappears in his stepdaughter Christie's bed. He then attempts to destroy it using a vise, a blowtorch and a circular saw, but it is completely undamaged. Erich later trips over Tina on the stairs and falls to his death.
    • In "The Encounter", Fenton tells Arthur Takamori that he took the samurai sword from a Japanese officer whom he was forced to kill on Okinawa in order to save his own life. He claims that it keeps turning up in spite of his numerous attempts to get rid of it over the years. It bears the inscription "The sword will avenge me." As soon as he picks it up, Arthur experiences a strange sensation and says "I'm going to kill him. I'm going to kill him. Why?" He later appears to be come under the supernatural influence of the sword and attacks Fenton with it. From this experience, Arthur realizes that Fenton killed the Japanese officer and took the sword after he had already surrendered. The former owner of the sword eventually has his vengeance when Fenton falls on it and is impaled.
  • Many of the Artifacts on Warehouse 13 could be pretty clingy. The pilot had one that would mysteriously appear in someone's hand without them picking it up. Others would move themselves to places they shouldn't be. One episode had a pair of underwear which gave their wearer the ability to manipulate their own mass, but once they powered up they couldn't be removed and threatened to collapse the wearer into a black hole.

  • The title doll in Jonathan Coulton's "Creepy Doll".
  • The title Thing in Charles Randolph Grean's "The Thing".
  • in Vicki Vomit's "Wohin mit Oma's Leiche" he can't get rid of his dead grandmother.
  • In Kate Bush's "The Red Shoes". The musicvideo contains scenes from the short movie "The Line, the Cross and the Curve" The story is a mash up of the fairy tale "The Red Shoes" and making a deal with the devil.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The story of the ring that returns to the owner (and often carries with it a bad omen) is Older Than Feudalism. It goes back to Ancient Greece, but appears in folklore in many variations: The oldest version is probably the story of Polykrates, tyrant of Samos, as recounted in The Histories by Herodotus of Halicarnassus (5th century BCE). Polykrates threw a precious ring into the sea as sacrifice to the gods, because his friend, the pharaoh Amasis, was afraid that Polykrates' legendary luck might anger the gods and they would destroy him. A few days later, a fisherman caught a beautiful fish and brought it to his king as a gift. When the fish was cooked and cut open, Polykrates' ring was found in its belly. A bad omen, since this meant that the gods had rejected the sacrifice. The German poet Friedrich Schiller based his poem "The Ring of Polykrates" on Herodotus.
    • In Schiller's poem, the smart friend immediately packs his bags and leaves, because somebody with that good luck is bound to get Karma Backlash soon.
    • The English fairy tale "The Fish and the Ring" is named for its use of this trope: the baron is trying to forestall a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy by refusing to let his son live with his wife, a peasant girl, until she presents him with a ring he threw into the sea. She takes a job as a cook. He is served a dish containing fish — and the ring. The girl had cooked it. He ceases to resist fate.
    • Also happens in a tale told about Saint Mungo — in this case, the ring clears a queen of infidelity. The fish and ring are on the Glasgow city coat of arms.
    • The Brothers Grimm used a slightly different version of the trope in the fairy tale "The White Snake", only this time the lost ring belonged to an unnamed queen and was found in the belly of a duck.
    • The quote by Nanny Ogg at the top of the page hangs a lampshade on Polykrates' story. it's immediately subverted: after some consideration, Granny Weatherwax replies, "Never. Nor have you." (Naturally, in a later book it actually happens to them.)
  • The title Red Shoes from Hans Christian Andersen's tale. Poor, poor Karen. What is it with red shoes? Apparently they always cause tragedy and horror. Well, according to a The Kids in the Hall sketch, only whores wear red shoes. Also according to Granny Weatherwax:
    Granny: You know what they say about women who wear red boots.
    Nanny: Just as long as they also say they have dry feet.
  • Similar story, "The Lady of Stavoren", of an extremely rich woman ordering shiploads of grain to be dumped into the sea as starving people watch. Someone cries out that the rich woman will one day regret it. The rich woman laughs, takes a ring off her finger, throws it into the ocean and says she will believe that if she ever sees that ring again. Cut to later when her cook is preparing her dinner and finds a ring inside a fish. Said cook takes the ring to her expecting a reward (he didn't know of her boast). Almost at once she begins getting reports on how her businesses are failing, and she ends up completely destitute.
  • Mahabharata:
    • Karna with his father's gift "kavach kundal". He ended up having to cut the thing off his body.
    • The ring in fish version also appears in the story of Śakuntalā. Unfortunately, the ring, which restores the cursed king's memory of her, only appears after much drama where she begs him to acknowledge her and her child, and after being sheltered, is taken off for the birth by her supernatural mother.
  • In Japanese Mythology, after Hachikatsugi-hime's dying mother puts a huge wooden hat on her daughter, she can't take it off for anything. The hat causes Hachikatsugi to be mocked and looked down, first by her Wicked Stepmother and then by the people she works as a maid off, but it also saves her life as she once falls into a river and a fisherman grabs the hat and then her out of the stream. In a more benevolent example, it turns out the hat is a Bag of Holding that contains Hachikatsugi's dowry (kimonos, jewelry, etc.) and proof of her Blue Blood, which lets her marry her boyfriend aka the son of her employers.

  • In Jemjammer, Aelfgifu cannot remove her Ring of Flight once it starts sending her back and forth between planes. Cacophony says it's either cursed or she just needs butter.
  • In Sequinox, the charms that allow the girls to transform can't be removed from their phones unless Tellie takes them away. Throwing them away just causes them to reappear.

    Puppet Shows 
  • A mild example occurs in The Dark Crystal. Jen throws the Crystal Shard away into a dark swamp at night. That should be one very lost shard. But the next morning there it is, far less than a stone's throw away from where the heroes have slept.

  • In the Suspense episode "The Pasteboard Box", a man murders his twin brother in order to take his place, dismembers the body to dispose of it more easily — and then just can't get rid of the pasteboard box containing the head. Until the end, when the police show up to arrest the other twin for murdering his secretary. He tries to prove his true identity by showing them his brother's head, and opens the pasteboard box to find that he did manage to get rid of the head after all, and this box only contains the fishbowl he ordered earlier.

  • Severance from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues is a floating spear that never leaves Harriet's side. Whenever it gets more than thirty feet away from her, it will instantly teleport back to her. This proves to be problematic when she needs to go to school and find a way to hide it during class.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The obscure fantasy game Dragon Warriors featured Vallandar's swords in the first adventure. Vallandar was the universe's King Arthur-equivalent who would return to his kingdom at the end of the world, and anyone who took one of the swords (they were just standing there) would have it with them forever so that they could join him. Bury it in the woods, drop it in an ocean, and a few days later it would return to your inventory. These were good swords though, and would even become magical if the player played his cards right.
  • Many cursed items in Dungeons & Dragons do this:
    • The Loadstone: Weighs down the user, decreasing his base speed, and appears in one's possession even if destroyed.
    • The Talisman of Zagy: When used wrong, it acts like a loadstone. But in a subversion, not only CAN you destroy it, but it turns into a diamond if you hold onto it for a few months.
    • Many cursed weapons (e.g., the ever-popular sword -1) will appear in your hand every time you enter combat, forcing you to use a sub-par weapon. Players quickly found clever uses for this item. After all, you can never be disarmed and never have to carry a weapon when you're "cursed" with the sword. Fighting with a -1 weapon is far better than fighting with no weapon.
    • Unless it's a cursed berserking weapon, which in a fight will force the wielder to attack everyone in sight (even their own allies) until they're dead, incapacitated, or the only one left alive. Ironically, those types of weapons often have magical bonuses.
    • A more benign version are the Legendary Weapons from 3.5th Edition. Once a character has started to take levels in the Scion Prestige Class for such a weapon, it can't be separated from its owner for very long, as fate literally will find a way to reunite them. Adding to the fact those weapons are quite hard to destroy, it insures the character will hardly ever be disarmed.
  • In Exalted, a Lucky Rock is an otherwise ordinary stone that always reappears in its owner's possession. Simple (but expensive) magic can transfer this quality to javelins, arrows, and other tools of war. The effect is not immediate, so a "lucky arrow" is not a bottomless quiver in and of itself, but the enchantment has obvious utility regardless.
  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters: Each Sin-Eater has a Keystone Memento, an object that exists partially in Twilight and represents the Bargain they struck with their geist. It can never be taken from the Sin-Eater, and if it is, it just disappears and reappears the next time they call on it.
  • The Signature Gear advantage in GURPS is the benign version. A character with Signature Gear cannot be permanently seperated from it unless they voluntarily give it up (at which point they lose the advantage) or it's destroyed beyond repair. It's also very hard to destroy, and even then the character will find a replacement as soon as it's even slightly plausible for them to do so.
  • In one Paranoia module, the PCs are ordered to dispose of a trash bag full of treasonous Communist propaganda pamphlets, which prove to be indestructible (and if they just ditch it somewhere, then someone ends up finding it and returning it to them). Eventually, they get the pamphlets superglued all over themselves (though this does at least let them survive a massive weapon blast just before the final confrontation).
  • Princess: The Hopeful: A Princess's Phylactery is the extra-convenient version of this trope. She can be separated from it, and could even leave it behind if for some peculiar reason having it on her person would be an issue, but if she ever wants it, she can summon it by spending a Wisp and concentrating for a few moments. The same methods can be used to recreate a Phylactery which has been destroyed, and the rulebook specifies that cutting the bond a Princess uses to summon her Phylactery will always destroy it.


    Video Games 
  • A recurring hazard of many fantasy roleplaying games (both pencil-and-paper and computer/console) are cursed magic items which not only carry some in-game penalty but which force the cursed character to continue using them until the curse is magically removed.
    • Cursed items in NetHack and most roguelikes will weld themselves to your hand — if you have the misfortune of trying to use a two-handed cursed sword or a cursed sword and a cursed shield you'll be unable to cast spells or use most of your inventory because both your hands are attached to a chunk of metal. There's also items like Nethack's loadstone, which begins doing this the moment you pick it up — it cannot be removed from your backpack in any way until its curse has been lifted and weighs more than most full suits of body armor, and more than the entire weight that some weak characters can carry without being slowed down by the load. And heaven forbid you make the mistake of wearing a cursed blindfold... though the worst is probably putting on an amulet that turns out to be a cursed Amulet of Strangulation.
    • There's a few of such undroppable cursed items in Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon. However, getting rid of them just require one Remove Curse spell, which is accessible to both mages and clerics. So it's only a problem if your characters are too low level to cast it (or can't rest and regain spells, but then you have a much bigger problem on your hands).
    • Cursed artifacts in Planescape: Torment cling to the wielder (like a toothy ring) once they equip them and can only be removed via a cleansing spell. In their defense, they usually offer good buffs so you will only want to get rid of them if you find a something even better for the respective slot. This was true for most cursed weapons and equipment in Infinity Engine games. The difference about it in Torment was that relatively few of the "cursed" items had a downside other than it being impossible to remove them. The true Clingy MacGuffin of the game, however, was Moridor's Box, a quest item that can't be removed unless you give it away, open it, or leave a specific area without completing the quest.
    • Some of the medium-high bracket of weapons and armour in Golden Sun are cursed, which means when you put them on you cannot take them off again unless you go to the games' resident healers and pay through the nose for what can only be described as "curse solvent". Also cursed weapons have a habit of paralysing you for a turn in battle.
      • Medium-high for the second game, at least, but the cursed items in the first game were the strongest you'd get, or at least, strong enough that you'd want one of your characters to use them (along with the Cleric's Ring, which nullified every part of the curse except the inability to take them off.) The only reason not to have them is that it prevents you from "fixing" the Random Number God for the item drops.
    • Same goes for the Dragon Quest games. Once you equip a cursed item, you cannot remove it unless you go to a healer. It may appear to be a high-end weapon, but only give a lousy change in stats.
      • One notable exception is the Sword of Destruction in the second game: it is far and away the strongest weapon in the game, with a boosted critical hit rate as well, but it prevents you from attacking roughly 1/3rd of the time. As long as you're okay with that, it can be extremely effective.
    • Cursed items have functioned like this in Camelot's games since even its earliest RPG, Shining in the Darkness, and the Shining Series in general as well.
  • In a meta sense, plot-relevant items which cannot be removed from your inventory are this especially if item space is limited and infuriatingly if they are completely or nearly useless. For example, the Mars Star you drag around for the entirety of Golden Sun and the ATM Cardnote  from EarthBound (1994).
  • Ancient Domains of Mystery
    • Downplayed with ordinary cursed items (that is, ones that have the "cursed" status): once equipped, they can't be unequipped because you can't bring yourself to do it, even if the item is somehow killing you. Remove the cursed status, though, or somehow get the item destroyed, and the problem is solved. "Trapped" armour is a step further because it can only be removed by destroying it.
    • The self-replicating, seemingly useless artifact known as the "si" can cause major problems if a player tries running the Infinite Dungeon while carrying it. Extra sis can't be ditched inside the Infinite Dungeon, and the artifact will copy itself, over and over, until the player finds himself crushed under the weight of hundreds of them.
  • The Astral Prism in Baldur's Gate III due to the resident inside of it being a massive Control Freak. It's what allows the party to resist the Big Bad, it knows it, and it refuses to be left behind. If dropped or taken, it jumps back into the Player Character's hands. If playing as Shadowheart and Lae'zel attempts to make off with it, it detonates, killing her.
  • In Banjo-Kazooie, collecting the Stop N Swop items will cause them to stay in your inventory forever. You cannot get rid of them, even if you delete your save file. You can, however, get rid of them if you are playing the XBLA version of the game.
  • The Binding of Isaac:
    • Unlike every other trinket in the game, the Tick can not be swapped out for another trinket once picked up. Even the Flavor Text reads "Well, that's not coming off".note  At least it's a pretty useful trinket, removing 15% of the HP of any boss with over 60HP and giving you one red heart every time you enter an uncleared boss room.
    • Magic Skin removes one permanent Heart Container on use and lowers your maximum health for the rest of the run in exchange for spawning an item. If you think you can use it once and put it down to avoid any further downside, think again. If you're not holding it, there's a chance that any new item you encounter will be replaced with another fully-charged Magic Skin. The more you use Magic Skin, the more likely you are to find it again later, tempting you to keep using it.
  • In The ClueFinders 4th Grade Adventures: The Puzzle of the Pyramid, Joni gets an ancient Egyptian ring stuck on her finger, which doesn't come off until the bad guy's goons use a magic spell to attract it. Said ring turns out to be the key to releasing Set.
  • Cosmic Osmo: You can use various shortcuts to slip between worlds, but your spaceship the Osmobile will warp to the new location and wait faithfully in orbit.
  • The demon summoning app from Devil Survivor 2. Applying for the death site Nicea leads to the user eventually getting accosted by demons, and defeating them adds the app onto the person's phone. The app cannot be deleted, as Daichi unsuccessfully tries when he first sees it. Though given that having successfully managed to form a contract with a demon is an essential thing to have a fighting chance in the dying world, one doesn't want to delete it.
    • The same happens with the Metaverse app in Persona 5. The player can delete the strange app that appeared on their phone but it always comes back, likely because Yaldabaoth put it there and wants them to use it.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The series' in general plays this straight on a meta-level starting with Oblivion having "Quest Items". These items are flagged as essential and cannot be dropped until the associated quest is completed. Unfortunately, quite a few of them are bugged so that they remain undroppable even after the quest is completed, leaving you stuck with these items as eternal inventory clutter. Popular mods for both Oblivion and Skyrim removes the quest item tag altogether, which means being careful not to lose the items, just like the earlier games in the series.
    • In Oblivion, the Staff of the Everscamp is an in-universe example. Cursed by Sheogorath, the staff cannot be discarded by the owner. When the quest giver acquired the Staff, she tried to cast a spell with it but ended up causing a whole bunch of non-hostile Scamps to appear and start following her around. She couldn't bring herself to get rid of the staff due to the enchantment, but her friend learns that if someone willingly takes the staff from her, then the curse would transfer to them. That's where you come in... (Don't worry, the end of the quest is you finding a way to permanently get rid of it.)
    • Skyrim has an in-universe example with Hircine's Ring. Sinding, a werewolf, had stolen a ring of Hircine's in the hopes that it could help him control his transformations. However, Hircine, angered by this, cursed the ring such that it made Sinding's transformations even less predictable, and also bonding it to him unless he can find one willing to take the ring from him. The player character finds him in the jail of Falkreath town, and, if they take the ring from him, it becomes permanently equipped to them unless they can appease Hircine with a ritualistic hunt, culminating in the player either killing Sinding or the hunters that now pursue him. Sparing Sinding results in the ring's curse being lifted, and can be equipped by the player anytime to transform into a werewolf multiple times day. Before being lifted, the curse of the ring also affects the player. If they are not introduced to lycanthropy beforehandnote  then all it does is to hog your ring slot for no effect whatsoever. If they are, then they get a rather high chance to transform into a werewolf against their will, multiple times a day instead of the customary once-every-sunrise. And it happens even more frequently when neutral or friendly Non Player Characters are around, who'll instantly want you dead.
  • At one point in Eternal Darkness, Karim needs to place the Tome of Eternal Darkness into a special stand to unlock a nearby door. He is literally not allowed to move until he picks it back up again. It really underscores that all of the humans in the game are being manipulated by forces outside of their control, with the Tome as the conduit.
  • Fallout:
    • The Bethesda-era Fallout games (Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and Fallout 4) inherit their Elder Scrolls sister series' idea of Quest Items. And just like the Elder Scrolls, there are several mods available for each which remove the "quest item" tag so that the items can be discarded.
    • The series' iconic Pip-Boy 3000 is also a canon form of this. This wrist-mounted computer is nigh-indestructible and can't be separated from its host (voluntarily or involuntarily in most cases). This is taken to ridiculous extremes at times: the Brotherhood outcast sawed a vault dweller's arm off to try to get his Pip-Boy, but the device wouldn't work afterwards. This is a little inconsistent, however—at least three games in the series (Fallout 2, New Vegas, and Fallout 4) start with your character receiving a Pip-Boy which explicitly belonged to someone else. In Fallout 3, it is inconsistent within the game itself as well. The very same Pip-Boy 3000 that your player character received at their 10-year birthday was refurbished from some undisclosed origin (either a previous owner or a cargo crate, hinted to be the former), which was bombed point blank! And you thought the technician who gave you it was exaggerating...
  • In God of War (PS4) the Blades of Chaos are this for Kratos. Kratos has tried to get rid of them many times, but they always find their way back to him one way or another. Even tossing them into the ocean didn't work for long. This is why he has settled on keeping them hidden under his house. Like the ashes of his family grafted to his skin and the burn marks on his arms from the Blades' chains, the Blades themselves are a permanent reminder of his bloody past that he can never truly erase.
  • Greendog: The Beached Surfer Dude!: Greendog wakes up with a mysterious pendant around his neck that he can't remove.
  • Heroine's Quest has a cursed ring that you cannot remove. Worse, if you restore your game to a moment before you picked it up, you'll realize that you still have it!
  • "The Thing That Your Aunt Gave You That You Don't Know What It Is", in the old Infocom text adventure version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1984), can be briefly thrown away, but will always return automatically to your inventory. Even if you've time travelled or shrunk yourself and entered your own brain. It's mentioned in-game that you've been trying to get rid of it for years. But it's a good thing it always comes back, since it's also a Bag of Holding.
  • The Keyblade in Kingdom Hearts is a benign example of this trope. In fact, its inability to leave its user was used as a plot device, as Sora gave it to Captain Jack Sparrow as payment — and it naturally reappeared in Sora's hand later. Said inability is also used for one of the attacks in series; who needs a boomerang when a thrown weapon will unerringly reappear in the wielder's hand, no matter how many times he throws it at an enemy? It's used in a similar way when Roxas tries to disarm Sora by pinning one of his own keyblades into the ground in the handle. It returns Sora's hand, Roxas gets confused, and Sora deals a fatal blow.
    • It can however be passed to another worthy wielder so long as the original doesn't object and call it back to them. Sora and Riku repeatedly wind up holding each others Keyblades during the Xemnas battle. Also if a keyblader is in self doubt ala Sora thinking he wasn't really accomplishing anything, then another keyblader with stronger convictions can actually steal it until they get out of their funk. Sora, Riku, and Roxas have stolen Keyblades from each other and stolen them back throughout their various battles when one of their heroic resolves wavered. Lack of confidence can even lead to the wielder being unable to call the keyblade at all, though Xion can still use Roxas' own effectively when he lends it to her.
    • In the Days manga Roxas throws his keyblade out the window in a fit of anger and it come right back to him.
    • Despite all of the benefits and quirks listed above, the Keyblade's clinginess is actually somewhat of a case of Blessed with Suck. For all of the power it gives, it also acts as a permanent homing beacon for the forces of darkness, meaning every user will be unrelentingly attacked by Heartless, Nobodies, etc. for as long as the Realm of Darkness remains connected to the Realm of Light (which is, luckily, usually not the case). While this is really just a framing device to give a reason for Heartless to keep popping up in the games' combat areas, it's really a nightmare when you think about it; they never get a day off (unless somebody takes the dangerous journey to disconnect the Realms).
  • In Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel, quest items cannot be sold, broken down, or given to a container (the exception being when your entire inventory is removed, such as on the Leviathan in I or Citadel Station in II). This is a harmless example: at worst,MacGuffins you need exactly once (the Telos shuttle launch codes, the Khoonda master card key, datapads)remain on your person for the remainder of the game. There are two other notable exceptions, however:
    • In I, all quest items from Taris are removed from the inventory when you land on Dantooine.
    • In cut content for II, the Sonic Imprint Sensor turns out to be how the HK-50s are tracking you. When you meet and kill three squads of HK-50s, HK-47 is able to trace the location of their factory to Telos, shutting it down during the endgame.
  • The Soul Reaver of Legacy of Kain, as his "symbiotic weapon", becomes forever inseparable from Supporting Protagonist Raziel once he obtains it — more so in Defiance, where it serves as the only weapon he and Kain ever wield.
  • In the second The Legend of Kyrandia game, it is played for laughs with Zanthia's mixing stick. After the Hand steals it and is forced to return, it appears in Act 2 stuck in the fountain, and then serves Zanthia many various purposes. Even with Zanthia's Bag of Spilling tendencies, the Stick keeps appearing wherever Zanthia goes, from Moon Harbor and up to the Wheels of Destiny, and after it is used as a lever to lodge the missing gear back in place, it finally meets its demise and breaks in half.
  • Link and Zelda are stated to have had parts of the Triforce with them all along. In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, this forces Zelda to disguise herself as Sheik to stop the Big Bad from getting it, implying that there's no way to just remove it and hide it somewhere. In Link's case, this is implied to be the reason he's the one who has to go on the quest to save the world.
    • The Master Sword is this in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Unlike all other weapons, it can't be dropped, thrown or broken, with it merely 'resting' until it recharges if it's used too much. It's also likely this in most other games in the series (since outside of the final battle in Ocarina of Time, Link never drops it or has it taken away from him), though the fact every item he ever picks up is a Clingy MacGuffin with a few odd exceptions means it's hard to be sure.
  • Might and Magic has several variations.
    • In MM3 the quest items appeared normally in the inventory but could not be dropped or sold.
    • In MM4-5 they never show up in the regular inventory, but had their own section and could not be manipulated in any way. MM6-8 followed the traditional version of this trope, where after dropping a quest item somewhere and then going to talk to the Oracle the item would reappear in the party's hands.
    • Clash of Heroes brings us the Blade of Binding, which fuses with the users arm.
  • Anything designated as a "plot item" in all of Neverwinter Nights is undroppable and unsellable and un-give-to-party-members-able. You are stuck with it. For example, you can't get rid of the Relic of the Reaper in Hordes of the Underdark. At least, not until Mephistopheles, who turns out to be the one who bound it to you, takes it from you in person, and in doing so traps you in the frozen hell of Cania. The item description specifically mentions that when you tried to get rid of it in the past it somehow always turned up among your things again.
  • Quest for Glory IV has the Dark One Sign. A Zigzagged example in that, on one hand, you can use it to unlock the door to the local Creepy Cathedral, temporarily removing it from your inventory until you leave said cathedral. On the other hand, if you try to put it in your storage chest...
    You realize with horror that you are totally unable to put down the Dark One Sign here. It seems to have a will of its own.
  • RuneScape has a minor variant of this to keep players on their toes — sometimes a Strange Old Man will pop up near your character, give you a puzzle box, and disappear. This box can be solved for a small reward, but cannot be dropped or banked. What's more, if you don't solve it quickly the box doubles itself, taking up more inventory space until there is none left. Each box then has to be solved individually to make it go away, but you only get a reward after the last one is solved.
  • In Severance: Blade of Darkness, the fabled mighty and glowing Sword Of Ianna, which you heard so much about throughout the game, cannot be thrown out of your inventory once you acquire it – and since you receive it in a cutscene, you can't avoid acquiring it. The regular action of throwing a weapon, which sends a regular sword or axe flying in an arc, makes the Sword Of Ianna travel like a slow projectile along a straight path in the direction that you point it at, and when it eventually hits something, it teleports back into your hand again. The only way to get rid of it is to throw it far away, say off the edge of a cliff, and quickly pick some other weapon from the ground to fill the inventory slot. In this case, the clingy Sword Of Ianna will reappear on the ground right in front of you, and you are free to ignore it and walk away.
    • At least the Sword Of Ianna takes a brand new 5th weapon slot in your inventory when you acquire it – throughout the entire game before that moment, you only have 4 weapon slots. The bow is much more annoying in this regard – once you find a bow somewhere and pick it up, you cannot get rid of it ever, it is not a throwable item, and it takes up one of those 4 precious weapon slots that you have. What makes this infuriating is that the bow is rather useless as a weapon in this game, being unwieldy to use and dealing too little damage to enemies who are closing in on you fast. The only meaningful use for the bow is a couple puzzles here and there where you have to shoot a button that is out of reach.
    • In the Temple of Al-Farum, one can find an object named Amulet in one of the alcoves in the walls, which acts like a storable object that goes into your inventory for later use. However, this Amulet is a completely useless trinket that cannot be activated in any way whatsoever; it is widely believed that this is a mistake by the developers who probably wanted to place a Ghost Medallion there, an item that cures poison, which would make sense in a location full of archers with poisoned arrows. Unfortunately, this Amulet takes up inventory space, which prevents you from picking up a different object that is necessary to advance further through the level.
  • The dead fish in Space Quest 6. It's confiscated twice from you. First, when you're captured by the Big Bad's Mooks. When you teleport away, one of them throws it back to you ("Here's your fish!"). The second time is when you are capture by the security personnel on the DeepShip 86. When you escape on a stolen shuttlecraft, a bunch of Imperial stormtroopers show up, one of which throws the fish into the shuttle's engine with the same words. Subverted in that the fish turns out to be quite useful in the end.
  • The first game in The Spellcasting Series contains a book so good, you can't put it down. Literally. The only way to get rid of it is to give it to someone else, who then suffers the same problem. Doing this to the Big Bad in the penultimate puzzle thwarts his evil scheme, as he needs two free hands to activate the Sorcerer's Appliance.
  • The 27 True Runes of the Suikoden series. The True Runes are effectively the gods of the Suikoden world, but they (usually) can't do much without a human host. While the hosts can exercise varying degrees of control over their Runes, it's almost impossible to get rid of them. The Runes chose their own hosts, and also choose when (or if) they leave. Typically that only happens when the host dies, which could take awhile because immortality is one of the side effects. If the host would prefer to live a normal life and die eventually, but doesn't want to die now...that's just too bad. There are very few methods of removing a True Rune against its will, and they either result in either a drastically reduced lifespan (as in, death within a matter of days) or a Fate Worse than Death, both of which can only be averted by taking the Rune back. And sometimes not even death is enough for the host to escape; at least two of the Runes are confirmed to have absorbed the souls of their prior hosts. Also, while it's uncertain what their agendas are (or even if they have agendas that would be comprehensible to humans at all), what's very clear is that they very much want their power to be used. And they have some degree of control over fate, so they can push their hosts into situations where they're all but forced to cut loose.
  • Sword of Vermilion has the cursed Dark and Death Swords. If you equip either one, you won't be able to unequip it or cast any spells.
  • The Pyrite Parrot of Petaluma in Tales of Monkey Island, which survives being molten and keeps coming back to Guybrush Threepwood.
  • Ratatosk's Core does this to Marta in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. The only way to remove it is for her to die.
  • The Book of Claws in They Bleed Pixels has been confirmed to be immune to burying, burning, and dumping in the river with chains wrapped around it. It may or may not be intelligent, but it can almost certainly teleport.
  • Kurt from Unlimited Saga has a cursed gaunlet which he can't take off. If you play as him, Kurt will be forced to fight one-on-one with a monster from time to time.

    Web Animation 
  • In one Rooster Teeth short, Geoff experiences this trope with a box he stole from the Devil in a dream — it was on his chest when he awoke, throwing it into a dumpster only causes it to leap back out, and in spite of leaving it at home that morning, it was sitting on his desk when he got to work.

  • The amulets from Agents of the Realm always return to the Magical Girl of their choosing, even if she gives it away. Good thing for Norah, seeing what she got herself into...
  • Invoked, taken literally, and parodied in Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures when Mab tries to explain away some bear traps as "aggressive earrings":
    Alexsi: They're not on your ears, Mab.
    Mab: Very aggressive earrings with very bad aim!
  • When Parson ends up in Transylvito during a failed escape in Erfworld he offers to buy back his prediction bracer as part of the prisoner ransom. When Benjamin says they might not want to return it at all Parson stops smiling and offers his unsure theory that this would be a very bad idea and that the bracer would just end up returning to him anyway, probably harming Benjamin and Transylvito in the process. Though Parson wasn't entirely convinced that the bracer was a Clingy MacGuffin, the bracer's own prediction confirmed it when asked.
  • The Dewitchery Diamond in El Goonish Shive, seems to have a will of its own, somehow managing to thwart attempts to permanently hide it away from where "cursed" beings can touch it.
  • The Necklace of Septumet in the currently defunct comic For Your Eyes Only not only had a difficult to control (and undesirable, at least for the current wearer) power, but it transforms into a tattoo when put on, making it irremovable.
  • In Full Frontal Nerdity, Lewis has a cursed 20-sided die that is every gamer's nightmare; it always rolls a 1. The gamers give it a burial, but it returns. They bury it again, this time under a statue of the Virgin Mary, with a bunch of garlic. It returns again. The characters decide to de-curse it by mixing it with some dice that are extra lucky — they rolled every die in their gaming store and bought the ones that came up as 20 three consecutive times. But after doing this, all the dice start rolling 1s. ("It's like we tried to cure a zombie by locking it in a room with normal people!") Then the other cursed dice vanish, and the number 1 starts appearing world wide — sports all end up with a score of 1, clocks stop at 1:11, etc. The gamers decide that the only way to break the curse is to make rolling a 1 good. Fortunately, Nelson had the foresight to buy a lottery ticket with all 1s, and won $1,111. They use this money to bribe Wizards of the Coast to temporarily change the rules of Dungeons & Dragons so that 1s are good (version 1.1.1 — their word processor was cursed too). Lewis rolls the die in the hopes of getting a 1 and lightning strikes, destroying it.
  • The Gods of Arr-Kelaan has a pink rubber mallet which always returns to the main character.
  • Grrl Power:
    • The artifacts that give Sydney her powers. She can't get more than a few meters from them. The opposite is also true; Maxima assumes she can drag Sydney out from under an ambulance by pulling on the orbs, but instead they simply won't move past a certain point.
      Maxima: That's impossible! Do you have any idea how strong I am!?
    • Apprentice mage Elsbeth has a magical "Book of Holding" chained to her waist, which can't be removed. There is a discussion about how it's not the most comfortable thing for sleeping or bathing.
  • Blinker Stones from Gunnerkrigg Court are a rather benign variety. They can be retrieved from anywhere with a thought, even if you don't own the stone, though it's not clear whether one can be taken from its owner using this method.
  • In Hemlock the band Sindri slapped on Lumi can only be removed by him and it can harm her if she annoys Sindri enough.
  • Housepets!: The Alt Text of this comic suggests King has tried to get rid of Kitsune's statue multiple times, only for it to mysteriously reappear in a more provocative pose with the plaque changed to "can't get rid of me that easily."
  • Isla Aukate: At the end of "Rebuilding" Darius winds up with the fire stone attached to his neck after defeating the previous owner. When he tries taking it off it teleports back.
  • The Sword of Return in Kubera is a god-level item, a powerful weapon against sura that inhibits their Healing Factor. The problem is, it also inhibits the owner's Healing Factor, bringing it down to human normal. Furthermore, once the sword has bonded to an owner, only that individual may use it, and the only way to give it up is to die (at which point it returns to its resting place in the Temple of Chaos). Yuta claims that the standard rules don't apply to him; he could draw the sword, use it, then hand it off to someone else. It's not clear if this is because he's half-Chaos Clan (magic doesn't work on them quite the way it should) or if it's because his mother is the goddess Kali, who made the sword in the first place.
    • The Golden Knight qualifies as well. It's a bracelet that attaches itself to whoever is wearing it, and the only ways to get it off are to die, cut your arm off, ask the Priest of Earth how, or make a wish to a 5th zen god. Currently the heroine Leez is wearing it, and has no way to get it off since Asha bribed the Priest of Earth not to tell her.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Roy's family sword, because of everything he has gone through with it, has become a Legacy Weapon, with several useful magical powers. When Roy loses it over the side of an airship (when the circumstances won't allow them to turn back and retrieve it), he starts angsting over its loss, only to discover that one of said powers is the ability for Roy to summon it to his hand. He later exploits this to give himself a reusable ranged attack, via Throwing Your Sword Always Works.
  • The book of E-Ville in Sluggy Freelance, as illustrated when it is thrown through a window.
  • In Tales of the Questor, Quentyn's sword "Wild Card" is indicated to be just such a MacGuffin — its efforts to get back to its holder increase in direct proportion to the distance it is from him and the level of danger he appears to be in at the time... and it's pretty unsubtle in how it tries to get there.
  • Widdershins: The Mark of Thieves is an artifact created by the Spirit of Greed itself and further infused with the Greed of all thieves, so it can't be removed from a living owner's wrist unless it's being bargained back to Greed.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation:
    • The object SCP-050, which only switches owners if someone plays a good enough prank on its current owner. Hilarity ensues.
    • Also SCP-1015-1, which only switches owners if taken without permission, or the owner is killed.
    • A lethal Clingy Macguffin is SCP-607. It will commit suicide, come back to life a couple of days later and attach itself to a new owner then kill itself which kills the new owner at the same time...

    Web Videos 
  • In The Adventures of the League of S.T.E.A.M. episode "The Tiki Room", the title Tiki can't be removed from the living room of its owner, despite the efforts of the Leaguers.
  • In JourneyQuest, you have the Sword of Fighting. Sir Perfluous wants nothing to do with it (as he's a Lovable Coward, not the kind of hero who'd willingly wield a magic weapon in face of danger), but after accidentally picking it up he just can't get rid of it. Even after repeatedly throwing it away, including down a cliff, it just comes back. Worst, it's a Talking Weapon, and it makes very clear that it will always find Perf... "Everywhere!"
  • In Noob, Sparadrap's hacked staff (and presumably similar objects Tenshirock introduced into the game) can't be deleted by normal means and will be part of the Starter Equipment if its possesser get banned by a Game Master and creates a replacement avatar. It's actually so clingy that the Game Masters settled for getting it Brought Down to Normal the second time they ran into it.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventures of the Gummi Bears, a Gummi medallion cannot be taken from a Gummi Bear by force (humans, should they get one, have no such privilege) and will zap anyone who tries (unfortunately, it can be lost or dropped).
  • Adventure Time: Finn's Grass Sword becomes attached to his right arm (this is treated by most others as if it were a curse, but Finn finds it ''totally awesome''... the sword is a pretty good weapon, after all). Come Season 6, however, and the sword is removed... along with Finn's entire arm.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Two undying, self-mobile dummies (voiced by Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and T-Pain) plague the household. Smash them, bash them, they just return. Shake, in an odd moment of logic, uses them to create a profitable magic show. Turn one into splinters, it just wanders right back out from behind the curtain.
  • The Omnitrix in Ben 10 can't be removed without incredibly specialized equipment, skills, and technical knowledge — and a whole lotta pain. You could also kill the person wearing it or cut off the limb that the Omnitrix is attached to. Naturally, Vilgax tries this but is thwarted by the good guys before he gets the chance to hack the boy's arm off. Oddly, in the What If? episode where Gwen gets the Omnitrix, Vilgax indicates that he could remove it a lot less painfully (though Gwen hadn't been wearing it nearly as long), but wants to hack it off anyway For the Evulz. And as a side note, the reason it clings to Ben in the first place is because it's keyed to his family's genetic signature; his grandfather was the intended recipient, but he found it first.
    • Subverted in the immediate sequel, Ben 10: Alien Force. The series finale reveals that Ben has learned how to remove the watch himself using a voice command and Override Command, so it's not technically a Clingy MacGuffin anymore. It gets destroyed before the episode ends and is replaced by a new device.
  • In Captain N: The Game Master we find out that Princess Zelda was now connected to all three Triforces. When Eggplant Wizard and King Hippo steals two of the three Triforces, she's brought to the brink of death and Link and the N-Team have to hunt down the missing items.
  • One House of Mouse short was actually about Mickey Mouse having a hard time sleeping because of his new alarm clock's ticking noise. He always tries to get rid of it, but no matter how hard he tries, the clock will inevitably make its way back to his house.
  • Kim Possible:
    • The Nano Tick and the Centurion Project.
    • Another episode has our heroine donning a pair of red shoes that will allow her to move at hyperspeed to keep up with all her responsibilities. Unfortunately, once again they work too well, as they become stuck and won't come off her feet. For the rest of the episode, Kim (and Rufus, who also had a pair made for him) are stuck moving at hyperspeed, and at the end of the episode they're still wearing the shoes. Kim eventually Hand Waves this by assuring Rufus that the shoes will probably come off... eventually, anyway.
  • The Green Shoes in the Looney Tunes cartoon The Wearing of the Grin.
  • The Manacle of Osiris from The Mummy: The Animated Series is a quite literal Clingy MacGuffin in that it requires the use of another MacGuffin to remove.
  • The Alicorn Amulet from the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Magic Duel" is a variant of this trope: it can be removed, but only by the wearer. Since it grants immense magical powers to the wearer (Trixie in this episode), they will have no desire to remove it, but it also makes them evil (or just gives them too much power for most ponies to even consider removing it), so the main characters have plenty of reasons to want her to remove it. They succeed in making her remove it by tricking her with an even more powerful (actually fake) amulet.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Played for Laughs in an episode. The family goes on vacation to Hawaii and Candace finds a Tiki necklace that seemingly curses her with bad luck. She tries to get rid of it, but it keeps coming back to her. It later turns out the Tiki necklace was a restaurant gimmick, and earned her a free dessert, which she turned down.
    • And then there is the episode that parodied The Wizard of Oz. When the Wicked Witch (played by Dr. Doofenshmirtz) demands that Candace hand over the magic red-rubber boots, she replies that she would, but they've grown on her. By that, she means that thorned vines have literally grown onto her legs and they won't come off. It's only after Phineas and Ferb give her a red-rubber shoehorn that she's finally able to remove them.
  • Sabrina: The Animated Series has Sabrina getting a pair of magical dancing shoes for her boyfriend Harvey when he confesses that he can't dance. Unfortunately, the shoes work too well, as they won't come off Harvey's feet and force him to dance whenever he's in the vicinity of music.
  • In SheZow the main character's Transformation Trinket is bound to his finger, though the episode "SheZow for a Day" has him briefly able to give it to his sister (whom was intended to be SheZow).
  • The Amulet of Avalor from Sofia the First is worn consistently by the titular character, and she must not take it off, ever. It is frequently perused by Cedric, and eventually we learn a princess is trapped inside it.
  • Superman: The Animated Series: In the episode "In Brightest Day...", When Kyle Rayner first recieved the Power Ring, he couldn't remove it even when he tried.
  • In Trollhunters, the Amulet of Merlin is extremely difficult to separate from its titular Trollhunter. If the Trollhunter tries to get rid of it, it will simply teleport back to them and while this doesn't work if the amulet is instead stolen, the Trollhunter can still exert enough will over the amulet to make it fly back to them from wherever it is.
  • In the We Bare Bears episode "Jean Jacket", the eponymous jacket brings enormous good luck to its owner, but the Bears get into a huge fight over who gets to wear it. They decide to get rid of the jacket for good, but every attempt they make not only causes the jacket to return, but brings even greater luck, as if the jacket itself was trying to tempt them into keeping it.
  • In W.I.T.C.H., the Hearts of the World function as this as they can only be given away willingly and any attempts to steal them means they return to their original users. Nerissa uses this to her advantage throughout the second season.

    Real Life 
  • This can happen to people who wear the same ring for too long, such as a wedding band. Over time, a person's fingers can develop around the ring to the point where it becomes stuck and can't be removed without filing it off. It's common enough that specialist tools exist just for removing such rings.
  • Glitter (AKA "the herpes of craft supplies"). Try getting it off you.
  • Pet hair. Especially when you're wearing black.
  • Fine sand, especially from the beach. You'll find sand in places you never know could be possible.
  • Credit history, criminal records, educational records, and a myriad of other records collected by the government and private industry tend to follow, and potentially haunt, a person until they die. Or longer.
    • Similarly, the church refuses to destroy baptism records even if you renounce your religion.
  • Ankle monitor units issued to enforce parole or house-arrest restrictions are designed to resist attempts to remove them, for obvious reasons.
  • Information or anything else you post on the internet will be stuck to your persona or name for eternity.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Clingy Mc Guffin


The Vessel

Here we see that if Sam tries ignoring the vessel box without opening it, it "stalks" him, inexplicably appearing nearby.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / ClingyMacGuffin

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