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Dismantled MacGuffin

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Professor: Obviously, I'll also leave that here with y... Leave... It's only logical, so that the device... So I'll leave it... Lea... I'll leav...
Professor: NO!!! I'm sorry, but the urge is too strong! I'll separate the punchcard into seven pieces and hide them deep within seven monster-infested dungeons distributed all over the country!!! Tell that to any group of people who might come asking for it...

A common way to produce Plot Coupons of the "Gotta Catch Them All" variety is for the Precursors to split a powerful Ancient Artifact that was used to defeat the bad guy into three or more parts and, yes, distribute them across the world on a vague premise of it being "too dangerous to ever use again". Then, when the bad guy raises its head Exty Years Later (and it always does), the heroes must set out to reassemble said artifact.

More generally, someone has split an important object into pieces, and stored those pieces in different locations. Anyone who wants to possess the object must recover and recombine all the pieces.

If the said artifact was disassembled because it possesses an evil will of its own, this overlaps with Sealed Evil in a Six Pack. If it was disassembled because there was a good chance that evil would get their hands on it in the present, this overlaps with Fling a Light into the Future. If the assembled artifact has far stronger (and useful!) properties, it's due to the Set Bonus. If the pieces end up in the hands of different characters as they search for it, it may become a Signature Device and/or lead to a case of Two Halves Make a Plot.

Despite the trope name, the dismantled object might or might not be a MacGuffin. If the object does something after being reassembled, it's not a MacGuffin. If the plot is about reassembling the artifact but not about using its powers, then it can be a MacGuffin.

See also Accidentally Broke the MacGuffin.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In D.Gray-Man, all the innocence were originally one giant powerful innocence that was split after the earl was defeated for the first time.
  • In a filler episode of Dragon Ball, there is a rumor that the seven Dragon Balls used to be one big 28-star ball that split up due to its abuse by humankind. Turns out that Kami, the creator of the Dragon Balls, made them as seven separate MacGuffins in the first place.
  • Inverted in GoLion (the basis for the first part of Voltron): a space goddess dismantles GoLion / Voltron because he/it was too arrogant.note  The five heroesnote  spend much of the pilot trying bring back GoLion / Voltron in order to fight the Galra Empire.
  • Inuyasha: The Shikon Jewel was broken into shards at the beginning of the story. The rest of the story was essentially a quest by almost everyone alive (with the sole exception of Sesshoumaru) trying to collect the shards in an attempt to either gain great power or to prevent others from gaining great power. In the end, the Dismantled MacGuffin turned out to be an Artifact of Doom that not only unleashed The Heartless against Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha but was also The Man Behind the Man that could only be defeated by Kagome.
  • Jewelpet Kira☆Deco!: The heroes are on a quest to collect all the Deco Stones that form the Mirror Ball, which was shattered in the backstory. Putting it back together will restore Jewel Land's goddess and rid the human world of darkness.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run, the Holy Corpse parts are scattered across America, which grant mysterious powers to those who hold them. It's eventually explained that they naturally separated via (super)natural means after Jesus died and his corpse was mummified.
  • In Kill la Kill, after Nui Harime cuts Senketsu into dozens of pieces, Satsuki takes them and gives them to the Elite Mooks sent to invade Kyoto, Kobe, and Osaka. Ryuko only has one piece left, and travels to all three cities to cut the pieces off the Goku uniforms and get them back.
  • In Naruto, we eventually find out the tailed beasts were split apart from the Ten-Tailed Beast, one giant Eldritch Abomination.
  • Mostly subverted in Neon Genesis Evangelion. The whole series is essentially the protagonists trying to keep the Angels from reuniting with Lilith. Partial in that a few of the "protagonists" secretly WANT an Angel to reunite with Lilith, only on their timetable.
  • Inverted and then played straight on all sides in Ronin Warriors. Originally, the Ancient defeated Talpa, and divided his armor into 9 parts, which were then separated. However, Talpa managed to survive and recover 4 of them. The Ronin Warriors were given the other 5, which they had to recover. Eventually, the Ronin Warriors gain all 5 armors and combine them into the Inferno armor, however this is where the trope gets averted (or played straight on the other side) as this merely puts all 5 armors in one place for Talpa to get ahold of. Finally played straight when the Ronin Warriors AND Talpa's evil henchmen give him exactly what he wants, and overpowers him with the rejuvenated force of all 9 armors, thus defeating him permanently.
  • In the first Sailor Moon anime (but not the manga or Sailor Moon Crystal), the Silver Crystal split into the the seven Rainbow Crystals after Queen Serenity used it to send her daughter and the Sailor Senshi and Prince Endymion's souls to Earth for reincarnation. The Rainbow Crystals had to be found by those wishing to reassemble them into the Silver Crystal — with the Sailor Senshi, Tuxedo Mask, and the villainous Dark Kingdom all after it. Each crystal was contained within the body of a normal human who (unbeknownst to them) was a really a reincarnation of the "Seven Great Youma".
  • The first season of Saint Seiya has this apply to the Gold Sagittarius Cloth repeatedly. It starts off as a solitary object to be competed over. Then Ikki steals it and divides the nine piece suit of armor up across his followers. The Bronze Saints recover four pieces from four unnamed mooks, then go in pursuit of the rest. After reclaiming four additional pieces from the Black Saints, they confront Ikki for the helmet. Once he's beaten, a Saint from Sanctuary show up and steals the mostly reassembled armor, leaving them with just the helmet they had taken from Ikki, kicking off a new sub-arc.
  • Princess Sakura herself in Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, who was actually disassembled by the Big Bad, intending for Clone!Syaoran (it's complicated) to reassemble her soul feathers, dragging poor Sakura's unconscious (and memory-less) body through countless dimensions to, in a sense, map the whole universe. Of course, this is just the cliff-notes version...
  • Subverted / Played for Laughs in the book/manga version of Van Von Hunter, when Van Von Hunter accidentally tricks The Flaming Prince into crushing the Ebon Eye ("Or as I like to call it, 'The Blarble'!"). Van then wonders aloud if they're going to have 'to spend the next half of a century searching for the dark shards of that thing' (which could be a possible Shout-Out / Take That! at Inuyasha), but The Flaming Prince tells him no, all of the (broken) Ebon Eye is here.
  • Turns out Zuzu and her counterparts of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V cross this trope with Living MacGuffin- each of them is a human Soul Jar for the true Living MacGuffin.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: The League of Shadows sends assassins to collect all the bits of a map to Nanda Parbat which are held by the creatively named "families of the map". Even a map doesn't help achieve their goals with usually unmappable location, as a pure and good heart is required for what they want from the place, which the fact that they were killing off the map holders in Robin (1993) #168 made fairly clear was beyond them.
  • Black Science: The forevermids of Tarana are powerful artifacts in themselves, but when combined become the omnimid. While it's never seen in action, everyone thinks it's pretty sweet.
  • The Infinity Gauntlet in the Marvel Universe is a device that grants the wielder control over... everything. It requires six gems plus the gauntlet itself. Thanos at one point gained it, but it was wrested from him by Adam Warlock. However, the Living Tribunal deemed that he was unworthy of wielding it, so Warlock formed the Infinity Watch, and gave five of the six gems to each of the other five members, keeping the Soul Gem for himself. Later, even this proves ineffective, and the Tribunal forbids the six gems from ever being used together. Most recently, The Illuminati (a secret council of the six most powerful figures in the world) have each taken and hidden a gem to prevent the Gauntlet from being reassembled. Captain America and the Illuminati later used them in an attempt to stop the Incursions in the Time Runs Out story arc, but the Gauntlet and stones were destroyed. They were eventually reformed in the new universe, but after Gamora assembled the Gauntlet to try and use it against her father, Adam Warlock used the Soul Stone to grant the other Stones a form of sentience and they dispersed across the universe to find new guardians.
  • JLA/Avengers revolves partly around the two superhero teams competing to find magical artifacts from their two universes. This turns out to be a trick by the Grandmaster; once all the artifacts are in one place, he uses them to imprison the evil Krona.
  • Justice League of America: Several early issues feature the Demons Three, three vaguely Lovecraftian ancient giant demons who are imprisoned at three separate locations under the Earth's surface. The demons' power was dependent upon three magical artifacts — a bell, a wheel and a jar — which are separately useless but of great magical power when used together.
  • Monstress: Key to the Myth Arc are the five pieces of a mask created by the ancient Shaman-Empress, which even in the reduced power of its fragments can commune with the imprisoned Old Gods or free them from their prison. Just about every major faction is after the pieces for their own agendas.
  • Secret Empire: The Cosmic Cube fragments (more specifically of Kobik, a sentient cube who had actually transformed Steve Rogers into a sleeper agent of the terrorist organization HYDRA via Cosmic Retcon). Hawkeye assembles a strike force of Ant-Man, Hercules, Mockingbird, and Quicksilver to find them with the hope of returning Steve to himself. Meanwhile, Steve sends out Helmut Zemo to collect the shards for HYDRA. This leads to conflict with those who found the shards — so far, T'Challa, Namor, and Ultron — throughout the event.
  • In Sojourn, Arwyn and her allies are on The Quest to find and reassemble to five segments of the golden arrow: the only artifact that can the undead overlord Mordath.
  • Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn has the parts of the coordinates of the location of the sunken ship, The Unicorn, copied on three pieces of paper and each hidden in the mast of a model of the sailing ship. It's only at the end that Tintin realizes that you have to hold the papers together against a strong light to see the numbers properly.
  • In one story from Topolino, Indiana Goofs (Goofy's cosuin who is a adventurer and treasure hunter)is searching for Magical Sandals made by Merlin's mother in law for Lancelot. Since they were too small for the knight, sandals were stored away in a chest and hidden. Indiana and a group of criminals finds the sandals location and fight over the chest. Finally the leader of criminals gets his hands on the chest. He opens it only to find ash and strings. Sandals,magical or not are made of leather and very unlikely to survive the test of time. Indiana Goofs even Lampshades this.
  • In Wizards of Mickey, in the Great Wizard Tournament, the wizard teams compete to collect and gather all the Diamagics to recreate the Great Crown, a powerful magical artifact whose owner will become the Supreme Sorcerer of Dolmen and gain great powers.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): The notes detailing how to make the Devitamizer formula were split into three and given to three people the creator trusted before their murder. Only one of the three pieces is still with the person it was given to by the time Eeras and Steve started tracking it down.

    Fan Works 
  • Alternate Tail Series: The Gospel Key, which was split apart by Joseph Mcgarden into four equal pieces and given to four of his colleagues and students, is needed to summon the warrior goddess Brigid. Both Fairy Tail and Clan Garten race against each other to acquire the four pieces.
  • The Bridge: The spell needed to break the seal keeping Grogar in Tambelon is split up in portions amongst the four dark magic tomes that are in turn divided up amongst Grogar's students. Additionally, in order to carry out the spell, the magic of an alicorn is required.
  • Crimson Rising: As part of their effort to gain new powers to oppose Ooze’s forces, the Rangers have to reassemble the Zeo Crystal, which was relocated to different parts of the galaxy after the Zeo Rangers changed to the Turbo powers; Green and Pink are on Earth in storage facilities owned by Adam’s family and Kat’s ex-husband, while Blue, Yellow and Red were left on Aquitar, Triforia and K0-35 respectively, although the Blue Crystal was left drifting in space after Aquitar’s destruction until it landed on Onyx.
  • Ice Fury: Basically applies to the Dragon Eyes; to keep the Eyes safe, Hiccup gives them to Elsa, as he trusts her ability to protect them but she doesn't have a dragon who could use the Eyes as Wintergale doesn't generate fire, essentially depriving the Eyes of their power source.
  • Infinity Crisis: In the spin-off Of Kryptonians and Queens, this trope applies to the Infinity Stones after Thanos's defeat. As explained in a flashback, Strange and the Vision retain the Time and Mind Stones, but the Soul Stone's location is unknown as it disintegrated after Cyborg and Shuri 'hacked' it to restore the victims of Thanos's Snap, although they all guess that it will reform elsewhere. As for the Space, Reality and Power Stones, Captain America gave them to Supergirl, the Flash and Superman respectively, each hero hiding the Stone in their relevant universes to limit the chance of the Gauntlet being reassembled.
  • The Keys Stand Alone: The Nine-part Key must be put together in order to breach the impregnable Black Tower.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim: In Episode 13, the Meekrob data crystal leading to Project Domination is shattered during the fight over it, leaving both Dib's team and each of the Irken factions in possession of a piece. But it doesn't work unless its complete, so no one's going after the weapon any time soon. In Episode 16, Norlock is able to secretly steal the other teams' pieces, allowing Zim to reassemble the whole.
  • In The Other Side (memoriaeterna), after the other half of the universe is killed by the Snap (Avengers: Infinity War), one of Peter Parker's first major projects as the new head of Stark Enterprises and initially unofficial leader of the Avengers is to find a way to undo the Snap. After about a year of work, the surviving heroes have managed to find the near-microscopic fragments that are all that remains of the Infinity Stones, but have also determined that contact with those who previously had ties to certain stones- Peter Quill and Power, Jane Foster and Reality, Doctor Strange and Time, Wanda Maximoff and Mind, etc.- can subtly enhance the amount of power they gather as they regenerate, even if that method is still too slow for the heroes to want to rely on it. After the time-displaced Stones accelerate the restoration of their counterparts, Peter and Wanda use Mind to reactivate the Vision while returning Time to Strange and asking the Guardians, the Asgardians and SHIELD/SWORD to deal with Power, Reality and Space while Spider-Man handles Soul.
  • Pony POV Series: The side-series 7 Dreams/Nightmares makes use of this in Patch's story. The backstory reveals that the Paradise Estate ponies allowed the Rainbow of Light to be split up so that the separate pieces could be used to power a world-wide wish-granting spell meant to start a golden age, only for the draconnequi to sabotage it in order to avert the G3 world, with the resulting disaster sending the world back into The Dung Ages. In the aftermath, Patch is tasked the quest of tracking the fragments down in order to restore the Rainbow. Unfortunately, all seven (there were originally seven, Discord later destroyed the Element of Trust) have their own individual powers and most fell into the hooves of Evil Overlords she has to take out.
  • The Sweetie Chronicles: Fragments: Twilight Sparkle gets Taken for Granite and is split into a series of crystals spread over The Multiverse. Sweetie Belle must gather these crystals by traveling through various Alternate Universes.
  • With Strings Attached: The Vasyn. It's a thirty-foot-tall vaguely DNA-ish pink granite statue that was broken into three pieces that were scattered across different universes. Restoring it will remove the curse on Ketafa that prevents the gods from seeing that continent. Guess what the four have to do in order to get home?

    Film — Animation 
  • My Little Pony: A New Generation: Sunny discovers in Zephyr Heights that there are two crystals — one on the queen's crown and another in the possession of the unicorns — which she believes will bring back magic if reunited. It turns out that the earth ponies also have a crystal, and in the end it's shown that the three will only rejoin and restore magic if the three pony tribes return to living in harmony.
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf - Mission Incredible: Adventures on the Dragon's Trail, the goats and wolves have to find the key to the Dragon Den, which is split into three parts which are scattered throughout the dragons' world.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Crossworlds: The Big Bad is after an ancient artifact that will allow him to break down the barriers in The Multiverse and allow him to merge all realities into one and conquer it. The artifact consists of a scepter (kept in a museum) and a crystal (left by the protagonist's late father and worn on his neck as a pendant). The goal of La Résistance is to keep at least one of the pieces (ideally, both) out of the Big Bad's hands.
  • Cutthroat Island: The Treasure Map is one of those disassembled treasure maps that must be reassembled.
  • The Dark Crystal: The eponymous Dark Crystal needs to be reunited with its missing shard to restore the UrRu and Skeksis to their natural state and make the world safe again.
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army: The three-piece crown, which has very sophisticated re-mantling technology. It unleashes the Golden Army.
  • Hellbound: An ancient demon who was about to unleash Hell on Earth is stopped by King Richard the Lionheart who sealed him in a tomb and broke the demon's magical scepter into several pieces, which were then sent for safekeeping to Christian orders across Europe. After the demon awakens he spends decades tracking down the pieces to reignite his plan.
  • Josh Kirby Time Warrior had a disassembled superweapon that could destroy all of creation when assembled. Technically it was the disassembled countermeasure to the superweapon that could destroy all creation but that's revealed at the end.
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: Lara Croft must find the two halves and one fleck-sized fragment of the All-Seeing Eye/triangle of light which will allow the user to time travel so that she may reunite with her dead father.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: The six Infinity Stones that have been introduced throughout the movies are exceptionally powerful on their own, but when all of them are placed in the Infinity Gauntlet, they allow the user to erase half of all life in the universe with a snap of their fingers. In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos does exactly this, and Avengers: Endgame revealed that he destroyed them to prevent anyone undoing his actions; the Avengers are forced to travel through time and gather past versions of the Stones to assemble a new gauntlet and undo the Snap.
  • Mythica: The Darkspore is the heart of the long-dead Lich King. In the backstory it was broken into four and the pieces scattered. The villain Szorlok wants to find the pieces and reassemble them to gain the Lich King's ability to raise armies of the dead and make them do his bidding.
  • The Ninth Gate: The main character is tasked with determining which of three versions of a Tome of Eldritch Lore is authentic, i.e. capable of summoning the devil, as it's widely believed at least one is a forgery. It turns out the 'correct' material is divided equally among all three books.
  • The Phantom (1943): When the Lost City of Zoloz was abandoned and the population split into seven groups, each group took part of the map so that the city would remain lost until the groups reunited. As one of the characters remarks, that didn't work out so well; over the centuries, various bits of the map fell into the hands of outsiders, and at the beginning of the story Professor Davidson already has all of them except one.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: The Nine Pieces of Eight turn out to be the missing ingredients in a spell to free Calypso.
  • R.I.P.D.: The Staff of Jericho was destroyed in 1500 BC. In the present, the deados are collecting the pieces to reassemble it and bring the dead back to Earth.
  • Star Wars: In Episode VII: The Force Awakens, the Resistance (an unofficial military group in the New Republic) and the First Order (the reorganized Galactic Empire) are all after a map leading to the now-reclusive Luke Skywalker. Resistance pilot Poe Dameron retrieves the map, but it's eventually discovered that the map is incomplete; no known star systems are featured on it. Towards the end, the remaining section of the map is found inside the shut-down R2-D2.
  • Underworld: Evolution: The vampire lord Viktor kept half the key to William's tomb sealed to his sternum; the other half is in Sonja's pendant.
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League: The three Mother Boxes Steppenwolf needs to assemble into the Unity to start turning the Earth into a hellish world like the one he comes from, Apokolips. A coalition of the Earth's forces separated them ages ago and (safe for the Amazons, who don't age) their descendants have kept them hidden ever since.

  • The Forest of Doom revolves around the player's quest to retrieve the magical Warhammer of Stonebridge, stolen and lost somewhere in the titular forest. But shortly after the adventure, the player realized the Warhammer has been found and dismantled by two goblins, each of them in possession of the handle and hammerhead, at which point the quest becomes twice as lengthy because the player need to enter the forest at least twice to recover both parts.
  • In the second Sorcery! book, Kharé — Cityport of Traps, the object is to pass through the titular cityport into the Baklands. The only way to exit through the city's North Gate is to find all four lines of a spell which will unlock it, although for security reasons only the First Noble of Kharé (who never appears in the game) knows the spell in its entirety. Four other nobles each know one of the lines, and the objective of the game is to find all four and get them to tell you their line (and an additional puzzle is also working out what order they have to be read in).

  • Aunt Dimity: The self-lighting lantern that figures in the Penford family legend is disassembled and hidden in the finial of a birdcage arbour in the garden by Grayson's grandmother for safekeeping. Derek spends a portion of the novel searching for it, thereby stumbling on evidence that Grayson was involved in the career and "death" of rock star Lex Rex. Despite being in pieces, it lights by itself during the climactic storm in Aunt Dimity and the Duke.
  • In the Black Trillium novel and its sequels, the Neglectful Precursors left behind the disassembled Scepter of Power which the three heroines have to reassemble to beat the Big Bad.
  • The main plot of Bridge of Birds: A Tale of China that Never Was, involves finding all the pieces of a seven part MacGuffin, with three bonus Plot Coupons to get the last one.
  • CIRCE from Timothy Zahn's The Conquerors Trilogy is such a powerful weapon that it was deliberately broken into pieces, each of which was hidden on a different planet, so that it couldn't be easily misused. Subverted later, as it turns out that CIRCE never actually existed.
  • The Corpse Came Calling: The mystery in this detective story turns on a train station claim check to a briefcase that has been torn into three pieces, with three hoodlums holding different pieces. The briefcase is a Briefcase Full of Money.
  • Deltora Quest features a belt that protects the land with seven gems, which each become scattered across Deltora. The three protagonists must rescue the gems from their respective MacGuffin Guardians, and then find the heir to Deltora to wear the belt — with absolutely no leads. Fortunately, the heir is a lot closer to home than they originally thought.
  • The Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel Shining Darkness has the antagonists (and kidnapped Donna) on a quest to reassemble their superweapon.
  • Forgotten Realms novel Thornhold features Kezefbane — artifact used to win second Trollwar. Three activation tokens were split between three brothers who last used it and then their respective successors, separated far from each other and thing itself. Hilarity Ensues, of course.
  • In In Search of Dorothy, one piece of the Magic Shoes fell off on Dorothy's return to Earth, meaning even when the Witch obtains the shoes she isn't fully unstoppable.
  • In Garth Nix's other series Keys to the Kingdom, Arthur Penhaligon must find and reunite the seven parts of the Will of the Architect. However in order to do this he first has to collect the seven keys to the seven kingdoms.
  • The first half of Laszlo Hadron and the Wargod's Tomb is concerned with tracking down three shards of a larger artifact of the long-gone Sagittarian Empire.
  • Life, the Universe and Everything: The Wikket Gate, or Wikket Key, which has been divided into five pieces — the Steel Pillar of Strength and Power, the Wooden Pillar of Nature and Spirituality, the Perspex (Plexiglas) Pillar of Science and Reason, the Golden Bail of Prosperity and the Silver Bail of Peace. Assembling all of them again will unlock the time-slowing field surrounding the planet Krikkit and release the inhabitants to destroy the rest of the universe.
  • The Mummy Monster Game: In book 1, "The Mummy Monster Game" revolves around restoring the mummy of Osiris, which has been divided into fourteen pieces — his feet, his legs, his arms, his head, his four internal organs (which are all kept together), his eye, his body, and the jeweled scarab that represents his heart. Upon winning, all fourteen pieces reassemble automatically.
  • The first Noob novel has a powerful artifact that exploded a long time ago, but whose fragments still hold a piece of its power. Getting enough pieces to actually do something with them is difficult, but not impossible.
  • In a sense, Orannis the Destroyer in Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy. "Broken in two and buried under hill, forever to lie there, wishing us ill." In a twist, the two halves are right next to each other — the problem is putting them back together, as they repel each other like magnets.
  • The Otherworld Series has the Spirit Seal, an artifact with the power to open portals between Earth, the Otherworld, and the Subterranean Realms. It was split into nine separate pendants, which were given to the Elemental Lords for safekeeping.
  • In the Rainbow Magic series, some of the magic items are shattered, such as the Ocean Fairies' conch shell.
  • Septimus Heap:
    • The Paired Codes, the main MacGuffin in Darke, don't work at all if they're split. Finding the Manuscriptorium part of the Code is a main plot point.
    • The Shadow-Safe in Flyte will only work as a Shadow-Safe and as a Death Trap engineered by DomDaniel when it is complete, and it gaining completeness is the prelude of the climax of Flyte.
  • The golden capstone of the great pyramid of Giza in Matthew Reilly's Seven Ancient Wonders. It is the key to stopping the end of the world, but also gives its possessor invincibility in battle. Alexander The Great got bored with its power and split it into 7 pieces, hiding each in one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
  • Simon Ark: In "The Treasure of Jack the Ripper", it is revealed that the Jack the Ripper murders were a cover for the murder of five specific prostitutes: the mutilation of the bodies being designed to hide the theft of a patch of skin from each of the victims. Placed together, these tattoos form a Treasure Map.
  • Villains by Necessity: The Spectrum Key, which was split into six pieces by the gods and hidden for safekeeping in case it was needed again.
  • In the last Well World series, the villains are attempting to find all the pieces of the dismantled Straight Gate. As it was an artifact of the Markovians, it was indestructible, so it had to be split up, scattered, and removed from the history books to keep it from being misused.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "The Well," Team Coulson has to find the three pieces of an Asgardian Berserker's staff, to keep it out of the hands of a group of Neo-Paganists.
  • Andromeda had the Engine of Creation, an artifact that supposedly created the entire universe, and was supposedly split into five pieces. Oddly, only one piece is found during the show's run, it is only mentioned in passing in a few other episodes.
  • The Blacklist:
    • In Season 2, it's shown that the mysterious Fulcrum that Reddington is using to blackmail the Cabal with is a stash of photocopied documents which prove the Cabal's existence. Said photos are stored on a special drive which can only be viewed by a uniquely-designed projector, which in turn can only be activated by a key specifically designed for it. To keep the Fulcrum out of the wrong hands, Red separated these three items and hid them all in different places.
    • In the Season 10 episode "The Hyena", the case of the week involves finding the hidden fortune of a deceased billionaire who, prior to his death, liquidated all his assets and converted the money to cryptocurrency, hiding it all in a digital wallet. Said wallet can only be accessed by a passcode that the billionaire split into three pieces and hid separately, leaving behind a poem of clues to lead his bickering daughters to the code fragments, all in the hopes of teaching them to work together for once.
  • Inversion seen on Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes "Surprise" and "Innocence", where the split MacGuffin is the ultimate evil and the bad guys have to assemble it.
  • Charmed (2018):
    • The Scythe of Tartarus, which can open portals to said Prison Dimension, was long ago split into three pieces, each of which was given to a different magical creature to protect it.
    • In the Season 1 finale, the Charmed Ones deal with the Source by transferring it into a necklace that is split into three pieces in the process. They then scatter those pieces to different corners of the world, and have Harry wipe their memories of those locations, in order to make sure no one ever finds the pieces.
  • The Columbo episode "Undercover" has Columbo on the trail of somebody seeking pieces of a photograph that, when pieced together, shows where the proceeds from a bank robbery is stashed. The story is a reworking of the 87th Precinct novel "Jigsaw."
  • In Continuum, the time travel device splits into several pieces. For much of the first two seasons, Kiera has one piece while the antagonists have the others, preventing either side from using it.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Keys of Marinus": The Doctor and companions are sent to collect the Keys (scattered throughout the planet Marinus) that control the Conscience Machine, which made everyone peaceful on the planet till it malfunctioned.
    • The Key to Time arc, in which the titular device could stop time throughout the universe once its six parts were transmuted back into their original forms and reassembled.
      • The Big Finish audio plays feature the Fifth Doctor searching for the Key segments again when his previous use of the Key is revealed to have damaged the link between the segments (the Doctor assembled five segments and a substitute sixth in a desperate situation), forcing him to reassemble the Key to avert the damage and destroy it.
    • "Last of the Time Lords" subverts the trope by revealing Martha's search for the four pieces of an anti-regeneration gun to be just a smokescreen for her real mission. She laughs at the Master for actually buying that the Doctor would send her to find a weapon to kill him.
  • The Cup of Ankh in House of Anubis. According to Fabian's book on Egyptian mythology, Amneris took the Cup and hid it inside the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen. Anubis was angered by this and split the Cup into seven pieces, preventing its use. Rufus later explains that Anubis and Amneris reached an agreement whereby the Cup could be put together once every twenty five years at a certain hour, but only by a member of Amneris's bloodline.
  • Variation on Knight Rider, combined with Secret-Keeper: KITT's super-strong armor was made from a secret formula that had three ingredients. Three trusted men were each told two parts of the formula. That way, no one man could make more, but any two of them could.
  • Legends of Tomorrow:
    • Season 2 is a race between the Legends and the Legion of Doom to assemble the Spear of Destiny (the spear of Longinus from The Bible), which gives the user the power to rewrite reality, its pieces scattered throughout history. The key to finding the pieces of the spear is the Legends' missing leader Rip Hunter, who did the scattering after uncovering the spear with the Justice Society.
    • The back half of Season 5 sees the Legends hunting for the Loom of Fate, the artifact which the Fates of Classical Mythology used to determine the lives of every mortal, before Clotho (now known as Charlie) chose to give humanity the right to choose their own paths and shattered the Loom into three pieces, hidden throughout history in the form of rings. The season then becomes a race between the Legends and Clotho's sisters to recover the rings.
  • In Season 2 of Lucifer (2016), Lucifer, Amenadiel, and "Mother" are seeking the Flaming Sword (the one used to defend Heaven), as it's a weapon that can cut through anything, including God. They find out that not only has God split the sword into three parts (Azrael's blade, "God" Johnson's belt buckle, and Amenadiel's necklace), but only Lucifer is capable of lighting it (hence his name "Lightbringer"). Lucifer eventually uses the sword to cut open reality itself in order to send his mother through the tear out of God's universe and into her own, as it's the only way to keep the two divine beings from destroying one another. And then he throws the buckle and blade after her to keep the sword dismantled.
    • And then in Season 5, Michael has Gabriel (whose powers as Angel of Messengers allows her to travel between dimensions) retrieve the other two pieces from the Goddess' universe while stealing the necklace himself, so that he can reunite the sword and use it to browbeat the other angels into acknowledging him as the new God after the old one retires.
  • In the third season of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, they broke the Zeo Crystal into five pieces, and threw them into unstable time portals, so the five pieces were literally scattered throughout space and time, their locations unknown even to the Rangers. Not such a good idea, as they ended up needing it again less than a year later.
  • Star Trek:
    • A number of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes revolved around re-assembling some piece of phlebotinum scattered throughout the galaxy. The most notable are Gambit, which involves finding the components for an ancient Vulcan weapon, and The Chase, revolving around a search for a secret message hidden within the genomes of life forms from dozens of different planets.
    • The Story Arc for Season 5 of Star Trek: Discovery is a sequel to The Chase above, as it features the hunt for the pieces of an artifact which will lead to the Progenitors' long lost life-creating technology, which were scattered and hidden on various different planets.

    Multiple Media 
    • The Makoki stones were six pieces that formed a sphere which unlocked an underground passageway. Being remnants of an abandoned concept, they were re-imagined a couple of times:
      • Originally, the stones would have been used to "reboot" the brain of the defeated deity Mata Nui. As the Toa gather the stones on their quests, their experiences "imprint" on the stones. Once assembled, the Makoki would act as an emergency memory-reset device that transfers the Toa's knowledge into Mata Nui to awaken and re-energize him. Ultimately, this function was cut.
      • In the 2001 Mata Nui Online Game, the Toa assemble the Makoki stones to act as a key, opening the entrance to the underground lair Mangaia. The game doesn't explain what the stones are, how the Toa got them or what happens to them afterward.
      • In the unreleased The Legend of Mata Nui game, the Toa locate the stones on their quests. Like in MNOG, they use them to find Mangaia, where they combine three-three Makoki stones into two half-spheres, which then activate two chambers that merge three-three Toa into two powerful Toa Kaita. With this game being cancelled, the idea that the Toa needed the stones to become Kaita was also abandoned.
      • The 2005 The Search for the Mask of Light also presented the Makoki as merely a disassembled key. 1,000 years in the past, the Rahaga stole the Mask of Light and the Makoki from the Brotherhood of Makuta, scattering the stones across the island Metru Nui. The Toa Hordika had to find them to unlock the secret compartment where the Rahaga had hid the Mask of Light.
      • Finally, the 2006 novel Legacy of Evil re-imagined the Makoki stones as parts of a tablet rather than a sphere, which contained the secret history of the Brotherhood of Makuta. Thousands of years ago, the tablet was stolen, split into six pieces and sold to the highest bidder — which happened to be the Brotherhood.
    • Inverted with the six elemental Great Disks in 2004. Vakama has to carve a disk into the Legendary Mask of Time but he can't find the right disk that's strong enough. When tinkering with the Great Disks, the curious Vakama merges them into one, inadvertently creating the Disk of Time, which he then carves into the Mask of Time. He had no idea that the separate disks contained pieces of the power of time.
    • 2008 featured six other keystones that opened the entrance to the Codrex, the energy source of Mata Nui's heart. When assembled, the stones formed a humanoid shape symbolizing Mata Nui.

  • In The Adventure Zone: Balance, this turns out to be the true nature of the Grand Relics. Each of them contains 1/7th of the Light of Creation.

  • In Rain Quest, the meteorite containing a powerful substance called Solarite is shattered, and the pieces land in different places across the land, so Joel and Nina's goal is to travel across the land to find each piece.
  • The main plot of We Are All Pirates' Revenge is centered around the main characters trying to find the Legendary Egg, a magical object that has the power to grant wishes. However, it's only able to do so if it's whole. Unfortunately for the crew, the Legendary Egg is in six pieces and scattered across six different islands.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Discworld Roleplaying Game scenario "Full Court Press" has the characters get involved with the young not-quite-Duchess of a cider-producing region, who thinks that restoring the family's ancient cider-press will prove her right to rule. It was last seen in Ankh-Morpork and, inevitably, in pieces which are now scattered around the city.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has the "Rod of Seven Parts" (originally known as the "Rod of Law", which shattered when used). Each piece has powers on its own, and can point in the direction of the next-longest piece. The more parts are combined, the more powers they grant. This artifact is even the subject of a module that is named after it.
  • In Pathfinder's Shattered Star adventure path, the primary goal is to find and reassemble the artifact known as the Sihedron, used by the ancient wizard-king known as Xin. It was destroyed when he was assassinated by his lieutenants, who became the infamous Runelords. The first five adventures in the path chronicle the party's collection of the seven pieces; the final adventure deals with the consequences of reassembling the ancient artifact.

  • The Golden Scarab pendant from Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier has two halves. When they are put together, the way to the Tiger-head Cave containing the Djinn's lamp will be revealed. Ja'far gets the first half from Sherrezade before she is taken to the Sultan's harem, and he later hires someone to find the second half (a merchant had it).

    Video Games 
  • Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore: The titular Jewel of Faramore begins the game broken into five pieces and Arzette must tavel the land to reassemble it by defeating five bosses.
  • The two Aura games, Fate of the Ages and The Sacred Rings involve several enchanted artifacts that form part of a control mechanism for the teleporters that the Keepers clan use to colonize other worlds. The protagonist, Umang was sent by the Keepers to collect and assemble these artifacts before the evil Durad or the bloodthirsty Shadow Legion controlling him did. Strangely, at the end of the second game, though, after getting rid of the Shadow Legion, he took out his crowbar and ''destroyed'' the very thing he spent the first game putting together, and continued on like nothing happened. There was a third sequel meant to explain what was to become of Umang later on, but it is currently in Development Hell.
  • Most of the plot (such as it is) in the original Xbox game Blood Wake involves you locating and assembling the pieces of the "Shield of Four Souls". Possibly partially averted/subverted in that you find the first piece or two without really knowing what they are, let alone what the assembled thing does.
  • Borderlands:
    • The first game's Excuse Plot has the Vault Hunters assembling the four actually, three pieces of the Vault Key before the Vault is closed off for another 200 years.
    • The Borderlands 2 DLC Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty has Captain Blade's compass, split into four pieces to prevent anyone from finding his lost treasure. Scarlett already has one piece and knows where the other three are; you just have to do the hard work of collecting them for her.
    • Tales from the Borderlands has the Gortys Project, although in this case it's not dismantled so much as it is "We built all the pieces in separate labs all over Pandora and were going to assemble it, but then this crazy psycho bitch out for Revenge killed us all, and now YOU have to do all the legwork."
  • Born of Bread: Long ago, a goddess split the Sunstone into five pieces fearing that it would fall into the wrong hands. One she gave to the people, the other she hid in the Forest of Roots, one she hid on top of Mount Lamasery, one she hid in the Frosty Flats, and the last one she hid in the belly of a whale.
  • Many of the newer games in the Castlevania series use some variant of this trope. In Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, you must prossess Dracula's rib along with other body parts to resurrect and defeat Dracula once and for all.
  • Done intentionally in Dark Fall by George Crabtree. The piece of vellum containing the 12 symbols designed to re-trap the titular Dark Fall creature, was cut into individual pieces and scattered within the hotel, some of them given with instructions to the guests and staff staying there. Other pieces were destroyed by the creature, but there are ways to recover them.
  • Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool has Chester's motorcycle, whose pieces you have to collect throughout the game.
  • In Conan Hyborian Age, the quest's goal is initially to explore a dungeon to find a sword crafted in a superior metal. Said sword being found broken in two (the part with the handle and the lower part of the blade is usable as a dagger), the last objective is to reforge it at Whiterun's Skyforge, either as a one-handed sword or a greatsword.
  • Every single item in the Dark Parables games, and other similar games from the same developer, is broken into fragments that must be assembled by solving hidden object puzzles.
  • In Darkstone, an artifact called the Time Orb was split into seven Crystals of Virtue, which must be collected by the Player Character in order to reassemble the Time Orb to save the world.
  • In Demon Sword, the titular sword is only dagger-length at the start of the game, but its missing pieces are added as you progress in the game.
  • Devil May Cry: after having sealed off the underworld from the mortal realm, Sparda split the key (an amulet) in half and handed both down to his sons (along with two swords he owned) and made sure only his own blood and the maiden whose blood he sacrificed could re-open it. Down in the deepest pits of hell was the sword he sealed all his power away in (he was frightened of the terrible degree and scale of his own strength). The sword could only be grasped and fully wielded by (yes, you guessed it) his sons. Naturally, Dante gained the blade in the end, and when the ultimate evil rose again (Demon Emperor Mundus himself), Dante defeated and re-sealed him, warning, "Give my regards to my son."
  • Much of the first act of Diablo III has you seeking out the three pieces of a powerful sword that was wielded by the Stranger you found in the impact zone of the Fallen Star, while fighting off the efforts of an evil coven to do the same. The sword in question is El'druin, the sword of Tyrael, who has become mortal because he's had enough of the Angiris Council's inaction regarding the demons and wants to give humanity a chance.
    • Later on in the game, you have to recover the parts of the body of Zoltan Kulle, an Evil Sorcerer who was decapitated and dismembered by his fellow Horadrim, so that he can be resurrected to lead you to his creation, the Black Soulstone, which you need to seal Belial and Azmodan, the last Lords of Hell. Being that Zoltan Kulle is an evil and treacherous bastard, you ultimately have to kill him again.
  • The Sulevin Blade in Dragon Age: Inquisition falls under this trope. Its recovery isn't central to the plot - it's a completely optional sidequest - but if the Inquisitor travels to the Cradle of Sulevin and gathers all the fragments of the lost blade, it can be reforged into one of the best two-handed swords in the entire franchise.
  • Dreamscapes The Sandman features a broken dreamcatcher which, once reassembled, somehow prevents the title villain from taking over the body of the Damsel in Distress.
  • Elden Ring has, well, the Elden Ring, a mystical Ring of Power that is the source of power for the Erdtree, bestowed unto Queen Marika by the Greater Will. For some unknown reason, Queen Marika shattered the Elden Ring and vanished, leaving the Lands Between in a succession crisis between many demigods vying for control of the Great Runes, pieces of the Elden Ring. Now, all that remains of the once majestic Empire is a broken land beset by a bloody Forever War that even the Greater Will has abandoned... until the Tarnished are summoned.
  • The Elder Scrolls: Arena has the Staff of Chaos, which was used by the Big Bad to trap the rightful Emperor in Oblivion while he usurped the throne. He split it into eight parts and spread them across the eight provinces of Tamriel. Naturally, the Player Character has to acquire them all, defeat the big bad, and then use it to restore the rightful Emperor to the throne.
  • In the E.T. video game for the Atari 2600, E.T.'s communication device is in 3 pieces scattered around the game board. When he finds them, he can call his spaceship. Then he has to be at the landing site when the ship arrives.
  • Piles of Final Fantasy games rely on this trope. Orbs, Crystals, Espers, Materia, if there's a Big Bad out there, it's virtually a guarantee that whatever MacGuffin you need to defeat it will be scattered across the entire planet (and sometimes more than one).
    • The example that pulled this trope in the grandest scale was Final Fantasy V, wherein the dismantled MacGuffin happened to be the entire planet, which was split into two to prevent the Interdimensional Rift from reforming. The villain seeks to merge the two planets back into one, and inevitably succeeds.
    • An early mission in Final Fantasy X-2 sees the Gullwings find a half sphere, only for it to be later stolen by rivals the Leblanc Syndicate. The Gullwings wonder why Leblanc wants that broken sphere, until they infiltrate Leblanc's HQ, where they find that the Syndicate has the other half.
  • Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem and Fire Emblem: Awakening have the Shield of Seals, with five spheres scattered all over the world, needed to defeat the Big Bad.
  • The title object in Forgotten Books The Enchanted Crown.
  • Frogger's Adventure 2: The Lost Wand involves collecting all the pieces of the title object so that the balance of magic can be restored and random events like a remote turning into a bouquet of flowers will stop happening.
  • Occurs in the Sega Genesis Ghostbusters (1990) game. Four Boss Ghosts hold the pieces of a stone tablet. The fifth holds a red gem that, when placed in the center of the tablet, causes a gigantic hole to open right in the middle of New York City. The final boss holds a blue gem that, when placed in the center of the tablet, undoes the damage.
  • In Golden Sun: The Lost Age, the Trident of Ankhol, which was split into three pieces, then scattered across the Eastern Sea. It is a Sword of Plot Advancement because it's the only way to remove a certain Beef Gate boss' invincibility.
  • Inverted in Grandia II: the evil god Valmar was split into several parts and the heroes travel the world to destroy his parts. However, it turns out that by "killing" the parts, they were actually manipulated to collect them within Millenia/Elena, whom the Big Bad than uses to fully resurrect Valmar.
  • Haunted House: The plot is that you are traveling through a mansion trying to find pieces of a magical urn that belongs to the town while avoiding the ghost of the mansion's previous owner, along with spiders and a bat. The pieces of the urn must be collected to reassemble it.
  • Incredible Dracula 6: The Ice Kingdom involves collecting the five pieces of the mirror the Ice Queen was formerly imprisoned in so she can be re-imprisoned.
  • The Dragon Amulet in Jade Empire; reassembling it is the main goal for much of the game, and it is shared by the heroes and the villains. In Dirge, this also applies to the side quest for the Tome of Release, which you need to put to rest or banish the ghosts of the soldiers who died in the siege.
  • In Kingdom of Loathing, the Holy MacGuffin is hidden; in order to locate it, you have to first find the Staff of Ed, which is of course split into 3 pieces, located in entirely unrelated parts of the Kingdom.
  • Most Kirby games feature this.
    • In Kirby's Adventure, Kirby must recover all seven pieces of the Star Rod in order to repower the Fountain of Dreams. Turns out Dedede had to split it in order to seal the Nightmares in the fountain, and the Star Rod is the weapon capable of defeating their embodiment.
    • Kirby's Dream Land 2 sets a rule of mandatorily getting all the MacGuffin items as Kirby has to find the seven rainbow tears in order to assemble a Sword capable of defeating the True Final Boss, Dark Matter. Not finding them locks you out of said battle and nets you the bad ending.
    • This happens again in Kirby's Dream Land 3, for Kirby and co. to make the 30 denizens (and guests, as well) of Pop Star happy in order for them to produce enough energy to create a wand to fight Dark Matter (again) and Zero. Only by gathering them and defeating all the other bosses you can access the final Boss level (and not to fight the other bosses again); otherwise you get the bad ending.
    • Once again with Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, given these three games are a trilogy, with Kirby and co. helping Ribbon to gather all 72 pieces of the Fairy Crystal Trophy (a few obtained from Bosses, and the majority with the Copy Abilites) in order to drive Miracle Matter out of the Fairy Queen's body and unlocking the final shortest level and this game's True Final Boss: Zero Two, which is weak to the crystal weapon. Failing to do so gets you a rather creepy Bad ending.
    • This happens again in Kirby & the Amazing Mirror with all eight Mirror Shards, in order to access the Final Bosses, and in Kirby's Return to Dream Land with all of the Lor Starcutter parts with the same purpose. Luckily, as these are won after every Boss Battle, you don't risk seeing a bad ending here.
  • Much of Knights of the Old Republic revolves around hunting down Star Maps, which together reveal the location of the Star Forge.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Princess Zelda breaks the Triforce of Wisdom into eight pieces to keep it out of Ganon's hands and sends Impa to find someone to recover the pieces before he does. She finds Link and that's where the game begins.
    • The second half of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and the entirety of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker revolve around Ganondorf's attempts to reassemble the Triforce after he unintentionally split it (leaving him with the Triforce of Power) when he first tried to claim it.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, a song where one character only remembers the first few notes, and the rest must be learned from someone else, plays a major role in the second stage of the game.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess does this thrice on its own! The boss key of the second dungeon is split up into three pieces, and when assembled, it gives you access to a Fused Shadow (the first set of Plot Coupons). Then you have to reassemble the Mirror of Twilight in the second stage of the game. And that's not to mention the ludicrous number of pieces of heart in the game.
  • In the parallel world in Lighthouse: The Dark Being, a group of Priests built six pieces of a "Particle-ionizing vacuum cannon", the only thing that can capture and incapacitate the titular Dark Being. The Priests were en route to put the gun together, but they died with one of the parts on board when their ship sank, so naturally you have to find and assemble the gun yourself.
  • In Mass Effect 3, the Crucible can be considered a variation of this, with the plans discovered in the Prothean archives on Mars. It is later revealed that the device has been built and the plans improved upon by countless civilisations over millions of years, but was never actually finished until now...
  • Misao: The eponymous character's corpse, which is scattered in six pieces around the school. Finding all of them is the only way to end her curse.
  • Monkey Island:
  • Musaic Box: Each music sheet is in parts which have to be found. Sometimes they're on items which themselves have to be reassembled, like a broken vinyl record and a musical orchestra.
  • Nox had the player reassemble the Staff of Oblivion, a Game-Breaker weapon that was story-wise wielded by a single man to defeat an entire army of necromancers. The said man later disassembled the staff to prevent anyone from using it for evil deeds. It is a perfectly usable weapon (mostly for warrior, because two other classes are Squishy Wizards) on every step of assembly, but in complete form it can clean entire screens of mooks. And you do right after obtaining it.
  • PAYDAY 3 does this with the heist Syntax Error - the drone data the crew's looking for is split across three servers, each in a separate server room. All three servers must be found and verified before the drone data can be secured and the crew can make their escape.
  • Petal Crash has the seven Sacred Blossoms, which have been scattered across the land and found by various individuals, have to be gathered and brought back to the Royal Garden to make their wishes come true.
  • The runes Arle gathers up in Minna de Puyo Puyo are actually parts of a whole tablet that Dark Prince shattered to lead her on. What does the finished product put together? A hot springs ticket. Arle is thoroughly unamused and tosses it away, to the prince's displeasure.
  • In Resident Evil Village, Ethan is looking for his daughter, Rosemary, in a mysterious European village and learns some way in that this is what happened to her. The lords of the village chopped her into pieces for their mistress' ritual and he needs to seek them out to find the rest of her.
  • Pretty much what drives most, if not all of the RHEM games.
  • The goal of Sabre Wulf is to collect four pieces of a broken amulet, which are found randomly in four different areas in the maze-like jungle.
  • In the remake of Shadow Warrior, the Nobitsura Kage is a legendary weapon that can kill demons and even Ancients. As Hoji explains to you upon obtaining it, there are three swords that go by the name, each carrying a piece of the original weapon. Only by reassembling it does it take on its full power.
  • Sid Meier's Pirates!: Some Treasure Maps are obtained one quarter at a time through purchase, loot, or sidequests. Downplayed in that the treasures are present in the game world from the beginning, so the player can sometimes get lucky and follow an incomplete map to the destination.
  • The basic premise in Sly 2: Band of Thieves. Clockwerk is still dead from events of the first game, but his pieces have been acquired by various criminals across the globe, and the gang needs to retrieve them before someone gets the bright idea to try to put them back together.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Knuckles' storyline in Sonic Adventure, as well as the main reason for the plot's existance, is because the Master Emerald shattered due to heavily implied interference by Eggman. He proceeds to collect the shards to restore it, which somehow scattered from the island into a casino, an underground temple, and one of Eggman's bases.
    • This plot point returns with less influence in Sonic Adventure 2; this time, Knuckles himself breaks it as Eggman tries to do away with it. This time there's two characters collecting the pieces.
  • The Xel'naga artifacts in Starcraft II count, since they form a Lost Superweapon when combined.
  • In Starship Titanic, the ship's central AI, Titania, was sabotaged in a scuttling plan, and without her being functional, the ship was put in a very unstable state, hence why it crashed into your house in the first place. One of the saboteurs hid her components around the ship before it took off, often hidden in very obscure spots.
  • In La Statuette Maudite de l'Oncle Ernest, the player must reassemble the Eye of Shiva, which was divided into three pieces.
  • Strife has The Sigil, some assembly required. Acquiring the pieces as part of general actions against The Order drive the plot, and it serves as a weapon with different abilities according to how many pieces the player has.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Sydney Hunter and the Curse of the Mayan: Kukulkan has broken apart the Mayan Calendar "Haab" and scattered it throughout the various temples in the pyramid. Sydney Hunter needs to get all the pieces and put Haab back together within five days, or else time stands still for all eternity.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge has the parts for Krang's robot body, which are used to power various machines installed by the Foot Clan, so that his plan can progress. After it's reassembled and destroyed, Krang reveals that this was nothing more than a diversion, as his actual plan involved the Foot remodelling the Statue of Liberty into a new body for him to use.
  • The Pandora Directive, the most ambitious entry in the Tex Murphy series, featured one of these. The titular directive had to track down the pieces.
  • Used repeatedly in the Tomb Raider series. For instance, the original Tomb Raider I has Lara search for and reassemble the three pieces of the Scion, while Tomb Raider: Legend has Lara finding the different pieces of Excalibur and reassemble them.
  • Two Worlds: The key to Aziraal's tomb, which is split into five pieces scattered across the kingdom.
  • Cap'n Hawk's treasure map in Ultima VI is split into nine parts. Somewhat subverted in that it's possible to skip the entire quest—possibly without realizing it.
  • Unreal II: The Awakening uses this. Oh, does Unreal 2 use this: you spend most of your game traipsing from planet to planet picking up pieces of an ancient artifact. When the artifact is finally assembled and used, it turns the least powerful creatures on the ship where it's used into the most powerful creatures, complete with guns that shoot black holes. Suffice to say, the artifact doesn't last long.
  • The Gong of Wonder in Virtual Villagers 2: The Lost Children
  • the white chamber: You find several dismembered body parts over the course of the game, assembled into a single corpse in an effort to find out what happened on the station. Try to Sequence Break and the corpse manifests its disapproval.
  • World of Warcraft loves this trope with regards to its Legendary Weapons.
    • You have to collect numerous pieces of the weapon from raid bosses, then complete additional quests (for example, doing something unusual during boss fights). Sometimes you would also need a big pile of cash for buyable materials. And in the end you get yourself a nice, flashy weapon that will last you for a couple of content patches at most and end as a Bragging Rights Reward later.
    • In Deepholm, you must find the missing Fragments of the World Pillar and reunite them to prevent Deepholm's collapse.
    • In the End Time dungeon, if you're sent to the Azure Dragonshrine, you must find all 16 pieces of Jaina's staff in an area patrolled by trash mobs before you can fight the Echo of Jaina and proceed onward after defeating her.
  • The Mirror of Zeme in Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim is broken into three pieces by Ernst's three Fairies in their plot to revive the Ark. Another variation is Sara's crystal in the first game, which initially allows you to use the teleportation statues in the Shrine, then you combine it with another object in Darm Tower, which allows you to use the warp mirrors. The second game has the Dreaming Stone Idol that you have to use to un-petrify the people in the underground hideout, which is initially missing an eye.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction, the Millennium Puzzle is eventually broke into pieces.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Dingo Doodles "Fool's Gold" campaign, Erina has a fragment of a crystal which grants her incredible magic power. Legend has it that the crystal belonged to an immensely powerful being which disappeared after the crystal shattered. The crystal is the soul of the artificial god Xanu who has regained awareness due to the majority of the fragments being fused in Sips.


    Western Animation 
  • The Mask of Ultimate Power in BIONICLE (2015): The Journey to One, a forbidden mask forged by Makuta that united the powers of the elements into one. The mask exploded into six shards when Makuta's brother Ekimu knocked it off his face, the ensuing energy blast locking Makuta in the Shadow Realm. Makuta's minion Umarak the Hunter is tasked with reassembling the mask to let Makuta regain his power and return to the real world. Makuta is shown wearing a dark duplicate of the mask in the Shadow Realm, the existence of which (and its possible relation to the original) goes entirely unexplained.
  • Centaurworld: The artifact that brought Horse to Centaurworld turns out to be a piece of a key that opens a bridge between Centaurworld and the human world. Horse and her new friends have to get the other pieces from five powerful Shamans living across Centaurworld in order for her to get home.
  • Season 4 of Craig of the Creek introduces the King's Cube, a dismantled Rubik's Cube with the stickers on it forming a map to "the Heart of the Forest". Each of the twenty-six pieces (discounting cube's core) is located somewhere in the far side of the creek, or entrusted to one of the kids who leads the various cliques of the far side of the creek.
  • In The Deep (2015), the Efemicrom is this in season one.
  • Happens for almost no reason whatsoever in the five-episode series premiere of Filmation's Ghostbusters. The prop here is a uniquely-shaped stone tablet which reads: "Ghostbusters — the ones who find fathers and save the future." It turns out the shape of the thing's the key to defeating Prime Evil — lock him in the mine vault, just like they did in the first episode.
  • In the second G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero mini-series, Cobra tries to play God with a weapon called the Weather Dominator, which can control weather and rain tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts, and other disasters on whole cities. The Joes' first attempt to stop them blows it into three pieces, which actually makes these disasters worse, turning the story into a race between both factions in an attempt to recover and reassemble it.
  • In Gravity Falls, there are three Journals that each hold secrets of the paranormal and supernatural. When brought together, they prove to collectively contain the activation code for a dimensional portal machine.
  • In season 2 of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021), Skeletor is after the Sigil of Hssss, an Artifact of Doom that can raise an undead army. The Sigil was broken into three pieces by King Grayskull and hidden across Eternia. Now the Masters of the Universe and the Dark Masters are racing against each other to get the sigil pieces first.
  • When Demon Lord Shendu was originally sealed as a statue in the backstory of Jackie Chan Adventures, the wizard who cast the spell scattered also turned Shedu's powers into 12 individual stone talismens and scattered them around the world. The Dark Hand are trying to find the talismens to bring Shendu back to full power, while the heroes are trying to stop them.
  • Justice League: "Paradise Lost" sees sorcerer Felix Faust blackmailing Wonder Woman into collecting three pieces of the key to Tartarus so Faust can set Hades free.
  • Occurs a few times in Kim Possible, usually in stories involving Lord Monkeyfist. One example is the Tempus Simia in "A Sitch in Time", which was split in three parts and distributed into monkey-themed temples all over the world. You could also say that the superpowers of Team Go are also treated that way in their first appearance, especially since they all originate from the same meteor.
  • The Kyber Saber in LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures is an ancient weapon that destroyed an entire moon with a single Sword Beam. When Baird Kantoo realized how dangerous his creation was, he broke it and had Jedi hide the pieces on different planets.
  • This shows up in season 4 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, in which the six keys to the chest given by the Tree of Harmony must be found to defeat the villain of the season finale. However, by the time the ponies realize this, they have already found all but one of them. In season 7, this shows up again when they must assemble artifacts once owned by their precursors in order to undo their imprisonment in Limbo, although in this case this also frees a Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • The Friendship Heart in Puppy in My Pocket: Adventures in Pocketville. Zull splits the jewel in two halves on accident when trying to fetch it for Eva, leading in Ava's disappearance and a Two Halves Make a Plot situation. One of the halves ends up in Kate and Magic's possession while the other is being held captive by Eva. The protagonists will have to go on a quest to retrieve the missing half and bring Ava back to Pocketville.
  • In Sonic Prime, the Paradox Prism was shattered, creating the Shatterverse and scattering its shards within each new dimension. Sonic is out to find the shards to undo the damage caused by the shattering.
  • Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea: the entire series.
  • The Allspark fragments in Transformers: Animated.
  • In an episode of The Venture Bros., Dr. Venture has to find a portal his father created that has been split into four parts hidden across the globe.
  • The Codex in Winx Club is split into four parts, hidden in Alfea, Red Fountain, Cloudtower, and Pixie Village. All four are necessary to open the portal to the Realix dimension.
  • Happens in Xiaolin Showdown, specifically the Shen Gong Wu used in conjuction to create Mala Mala Jong. Individually, they're a magic breastplate, helmet, gauntlet, boots, sash, and pendant. Add in the Heart of Jong, with the power to make Animate Inanimate Object? You get a Physical God that can absorb the weapons you use to fight him, with single-minded dedication to ending the world.

    Real Life 
  • Need to back up your passwords in case something happens to you? Don't want it to take just one person to betray you or have it stolen from them? This trope is for you.
  • The '11 herbs and spices' recipe for KFC is deliberately not fully known by a single person or company, in order to protect the recipe as a trade secret.


Video Example(s):


Story of the Six Strings

Peppy explains to Poppy and her friends the story of the creation of the six musical strings and how the six tribes (supposedly) went their separate ways to live in isolation.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / WhenItAllBegan

Media sources: