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Hostage for MacGuffin

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Seize something [the enemy] cherishes and he will conform to your desires.

The villains have captured... someone. Anyone. Usually a family member or loved one, but it really could just be the guy down the street, because the main character loves everyone.

The Villains are willing to propose a trade. Give them the superpowered item that will let them conquer the Earth and kill far more people than just their one hostage, or they will kill their hostage.

The good guys not only go through with it, it's apparent that they would in fact completely honor their side of the deal.

But all hope is not lost, because the villain, halfway through the deal and before completely securing the super-doohickey will doublecross the heroes, usually resulting in their defeat since it voids the agreement. They could have just taken the Crystal of Ridiculous Levels of Power but no, they just had to sneer at the heroes and attempt to kill someone completely irrelevant to their goal. It just goes to show that man's worst enemy is often himself.

Played straight, this trope often turns into a nasty Straw Vulcan where handing the MacGuffin over is obviously the wrong choice, succeeding only by sheer dumb luck. If it succeeds at all. In Super Sentai, for instance, the villain is likely to blow up a few buildings afterwards, but who cares? The hostage with a human face is saved.

Fortunately, not all heroes are that stupid. If there's a decoy MacGuffin kicking around, they might be able to pass that off as the real one. If you have a particularly savvy protagonist or an Anti-Hero, most often times they'll subvert this trope by throwing the item in the air or threatening to destroy it anyway, causing the villain to panic and make a mistake. They can even avert this trope altogether by just shooting the villain or destroying said item on the spot.

Common in video games; the villains usually let the heroes collect the seven whatevers and then step in with a trade. The games will even tease you with the choice of not doing it, But Thou Must!.

This trope is a variation on the Hostage Situation and is similar to Put Down Your Gun and Step Away. See also Friend-or-Idol Decision and I Have Your Wife. This can be the beginning of an Unhand Them, Villain!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Inverted in After War Gundam X. The antagonists have captured Garrod's companion and Love Interest Tiffa, and are holding her near their newly-completed Wave-Motion Gun, made out of a space colony. Garrod arrives with his own Wave-Motion Gun, the colony-destroying Satellite Cannon, and demands her return or else he'll cripple their superweapon. After a demonstration on Garrod's part, the antagonist's leader realizes his best move is to send Tiffa over. As soon as she is safe next to her soon-to-be boyfriend in the Double X, Garrod blows it up anyway.
  • In Buso Renkin, Chouno promises to give Kazuki the antidote for the homunculus core that is taking over Tokiko's body in return for his kakugane. However, Kazuki can't be separated from his kakugane, and as Tokiko reveals when she shows up, the antidote was a fake anyway.
  • In Death Note, Sayu Yagami is taken hostage by Mello and traded for the Death Note. Uncharacteristically, Mello takes precautions so that the Note cannot be traced by the SPK or Japanese police, but makes no attempt to kill the hostage or Souchiro (who delivered the Note) after the trade — this makes a lot more sense in the manga, where he later blackmails Souchiro for information about the police investigation.
  • In Doki Doki! PreCure, Red-Eyed!Regina demands Mana give her the Royal Crystals, or she'll smash her petrified friends. Joe breaks the stand-off and saves the Precure.
  • Inuyasha:
    • Invoked and subverted when the Thunder Brothers kidnap Kagome. The younger one was originally going to just eat her, but she convinces them that if they do, Inuyasha will have to avenge her death... but if they don't, he will gladly give them their Shikon Jewel Shards in exchange for her safe return. (It doesn't work, but only because the older Thunder Brother gets impatient and simply attacks him for them.):
      Elder Thunder Brother: Now give us your shards of the Sacred Shikon Jewel or you will never see your beloved again!
      Inuyasha: [to Kagome] You told them I was IN LOVE with you?!
    • Played straight, however, in the "The Tragic Love Song of Destiny" anime special with Mistress Centipede, who attacks Kaede and attempts to take her hostage with the intent of ransoming her to Kikyo for the Shikon Jewel; fortunately, InuYasha shows up at that moment and chops Centipede into confetti before she can carry out that threat. Also subverted in that same case; though InuYasha also desires the jewel, he has no intention of holding Kaede hostage for it, preferring to take it from Kikyo in a fair fight.
  • Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water does this when Nadia, Marie, and King are taken hostage by Gargoyle, and Jean is told to trade the Blue Water for his friends' lives.
  • Vincent takes Sharon hostage in PandoraHearts (and poisons her) to get Break to destroy Alice's memories he got from Cheshire in exchange for the antidote and her freedom. He does it and true to form Vincent throws the antidote off the balcony, fortunately it's saved by Echo.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, Noland gives Guile Hideout the translated Jirachi report in order to save Anabelle's life, thus allowing Guile to nearly flood the world with a magically wished-up Kyogre.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Team Rocket has pulled this a few times as they captured anyone who is closest to Ash's Pikachu in order to get him to cooperate with them.
      • However, during Pokémon the Series: Black & White, Team Rocket captured Pikachu and Ash and used them as hostages so the Mythical Pokémon Meloetta would cooperate with them.
    • In Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl, a wild Frosslass held Team Rocket's Mewoth and Dawn's Piplup hostage to get both Team Rocket along with Ash and his friends to find her friend Snorunt, although those intentions were to find a friend instead of a villainous way.
      • Although later in the series, Ash, Brock, and Dawn were taken hostage by Team Galactic as their leader, Cyrus, wanted to make sure that the Legendary Lake Guardians would do whatever he told them to do, due to their connection with them.
    • During the Team Flare arc of Pokémon the Series: XY, Lysandre planned to use Ash and Greninja as part of his scheme. However, realizing that they wouldn't cooperate with him willingly and taking advantage of their good nature, Lysandre also made sure to capture his Pikachu and the rest of his Kalos Pokémon as hostages to ensure their cooperation.
  • Slayers:
    • In the first season, Rezo threatened to turn all the people in a town to stone if he didn't get the statue Lina stole in the first episode. To her credit, Lina was mostly just using it to get close enough to try to kill Rezo after he made his threat.
    • Also a bit of Forgotten Phlebotinum, as the statue in question is known to contain the Philosopher's Stone (which, in this universe, makes sorcerers much more powerful). At this point, Lina is already a world-class Sorceress (both she and Rezo have a color, i.e. are recognized as Archmages). She could easily have turned the people back or even prevented them from doing so, as any discrepancies in power would be clearly made up for by the Stone.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, a beastwoman has taken all the female cast (and Gimmy) hostage from a hot spring and projects an image of them in their cage with a mosaic over their naughty bits. In exchange for Kamina giving up control of Gurren, she offers to remove the mosaic from the display, which Kamina immediately accepts. The beastwoman keeps her word, only to reveal everyone (except, of course, Gimmy) is wearing towels, and the Gurren was stolen while he was distracted.
  • Used rather nastily in Transformers: Armada: The hostage turns out to be The Mole. Also played straight when Megatron kidnaps Billy and Fred and holds them in exchange for the Mini-Cons.
  • In Transformers: ★Headmasters, Sixshot takes Wheelie prisoner and threatens to execute him unless he gets the secret of Fortress Maximus' sword. He was apparently willing to let Wheelie go if Fortress came up with the goods, but Wheelie was rescued by Chromedome before his full intentions were revealed.
  • Happens twice in Transformers: Robots in Disguise, though the first time was by accident. On the first occasion, Sky-Byte started attacking a tower just to be evil, but turned it into a hostage situation when Wedge mistook it for one. Later on, Megatron threatened to kill Wedge unless Optimus Prime handed over the O-Parts, but Sky-Byte messed it up.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! had quite a few of these, as well: The first season had Pegasus hold Yugi's grandpa hostage for his Millennium Puzzle, while simultaneously holding Kaiba's brother hostage for his company. The second season and Virtual Nightmare sub-arc had Kaiba's brother held hostage yet again, first for Kaiba's Egyptian God Card, then for Kaiba's own body, while Yugi had Anzu and — later — Jonouchi held hostage for his God Card and Millennium Puzzle.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX:
    • Saiou threatens to let Edo fall into a Lava Pit unless Judai hands over the access key to a laser weapon in space. Judai complies to save Edo, then challenges Saiou to a duel for the fate of the world. Saiou points out what only the truly most Genre Blind would forget: the time to make a challenge is before you hand over the Plot Coupon, not after.
    • Also, in the first season, one of the Seven Star Assassins holds Kaiser's brother hostage for his Spirit Gate Key. He was actually willing to go through with it too until Sho said he didn't mind being sacrificed. Kaiser surrendered anyway.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Happy Heroes and the City of Mystery episode 6, Rock Warrior captures Lisa and requests that Careful S. and Kalo give him Star Pieces if they want her freed. Lisa does a poor job of being a hostage, acting like her captor is a friend and even offering him an apple as a bribe.

    Comic Books 
  • This drives the plot of the Big Trouble in Little China comic as Qiang Wu, a former disciple of the movie's villain Lo Pan, challenges Jack to collect the souls of Lo Pan's dead Co-Dragons in exchange for the lives of his kidnapped friends.
  • Justice League of America: In a crossover with the Justice Society and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Mordu the Merciless holds Green Arrow, Black Canary, and some of the Legion captive and demands that the JLA and JSA go find three magic artifacts for him, or he'll kill GA and Black Canary. The superheroes naturally know Mordu has no intention of upholding his bargain, but there's not a lot of choice. When they're done, Mordu uses the artifacts to summon some demons, who promptly tell Mordu he can get lost.
  • In an issue of Nodwick, a pair of dragons have captured a noble knight and his retinue and demand a series of powerful artifacts for his return. After the party succeeds in making the trade and the dragons leave, the now-freed knight instantly proceeds to chew them out for their stupidity in handing the wyrms the means to cause suffering to an untold number of innocents... enraging the party fighter and wizard into pummeling him senseless.
  • In War World, Mongul kidnaps Superman's friends Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, threatening to kill them if Superman doesn't retrieve a device called the Crystal Key (which allows activating a planet-buster super-weapon) and hands over it to him.

    Fan Works 
  • All Mixed Up!: Mariana Mag's act of rebellion involved her anagramming some of her co-workers and parts of Precinct 13579's Headquarters, then demanding that words and language be incorporated into Odd Squad's skillset and modus operandi in exchange for turning the agents and the Headquarters parts back to normal. Oprah agrees to the deal, but as soon as Mariana upholds her end and turns all of the agents and parts back to normal, the Director doesn't uphold her end whatsoever. She sends agents to seize and destroy Mariana's Anagram-inator gadget, orders her to reveal who built it and who helped her, bans any agent from going to see Carlos again, demotes Oksana to the Food and Beverage department, and to top it all off, she takes Mariana's badge and wipes part of her memory.
  • Examples from the Calvinverse:
    • Chapter 9 of Calvin and Hobbes: The Movie has one of these - either Calvin hands over the Earth or his friends and alter egos die.
    • In Calvin & Hobbes: The Series, Dr. Brainstorm tries to hold Hobbes hostage and get Calvin's inventions in exchange for him, but due to several complications, he gets Socrates instead.
  • Crowns of the Kingdom averts this when Minnie and Daisy flee with the Serpent Crown, trusting the guys to handle themselves with the Dispirations.
  • In ''Game of Doctors'' Chapter 7 the Doctor's companion Norine is Bound and Gagged by the Petrans and held hostage for the Doctor to give up a piece of equipment, the Petran Leader threatening to shoot her in the head if the Doctor doesn't give himself up on the count of 10.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Lost Tracks of Time, the Big Bad kidnaps Emmet and asks for the Toxic Plate in exchange. It takes Cold-Blooded Torture to get the heroes to accept the terms.
  • Queen of All Oni: In chapter 12, Finn (empowered by Kuro's mask) kidnaps Viper and holds her hostage in exchange for Ozeki's mask.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • In Won't Tell a Soul, after the Educator captures Nino, Hawk Moth recommends she use him as this. Hawk Moth later gets personally involved and kidnaps Nino again, but the heroes rescue him.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension: Lord John Whorfin demands that Banzai turn over the Oscillation Overthruster or he'll kill his love interest, Penny Priddy. What he doesn't know is that the Overthruster is actually in Penny's purse (she got it in an I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin moment just seconds before being captured but has no idea what it is herself). Banzai, however, does know this, and uses the Tracking Device in it to locate Whorfin's base and mount a rescue mission. Which fails. Momentarily.
  • Assassin's Creed (2016): The Templars kidnap the Prince of Granada to get the Sultan, an ally of the Assassins, to turn over the Apple of Eden.
  • In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos uses this method to gather three of the Infinity Stones, ransoming Thor to get the Space Stone from Loki, Nebula to get (the location of) the Soul Stone from Gamora, and Tony to get the Time Stone from Dr. Strange.
  • In Casino Royale (1954), Le Chiffre eventually grabs Valerie and threatens Bond, demanding an exchange of her for Bond's winnings.
  • Twice in Dungeons & Dragons (2000). Snails is held hostage by Damodar, who demands the Dragon's Eye in exchange for Snails's life. Just as Ridley is about to comply with the demand, Snails pulls out the map he had pilfered from Damodar and tosses it to Ridley, causing an enraged Damodar to knife him to death. Later, Ridley has gotten the Rod of Savrille from its resting place and leaves the cave to find Damodar has taken the rest of his friends hostage. When Ridley hesitates, Damodar reminds him of what happened to Snails, putting a cut on Marina's neck for emphasis. Ridley caves and gives him what he wants.
  • El Dorado: The villains capture Cole Thornton and offer to trade him for Bart Jason, the Living MacGuffin, who is in jail awaiting trial for murder.
  • This is the plot of Frantic. Sondra disappears from their hotel room after she picks up the wrong suitcase at the airport. Once the villains realize that they've grabbed the wrong person, they offer to exchange Sondra to her husband Richard for the suitcase containing the MacGuffin — Richard is willing, but a rival faction that also wants the MacGuffin interrupts things.
  • In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Prince Nuada makes such a demand of Abe Sapien. Which is strange, because Nuada's hostage is his own sister, and any injury she suffers is transmitted to him, making his threat the equivalent of holding a gun to his own head. But Abe's holding the Idiot Ball, so he complies anyway.
  • Hisss: The Big Bad captures and holds the Nagini's mate in a glass cage in the hopes that she will attempt a rescue, and he will then release it in exchange for the Nagamani, a jewel in the Nagini's possession that can cure his cancer.
  • Hocus Pocus: Winifred Sanderson has Danni. Max has the potion the Sanderson Sisters want and that they've spent the movie in pursuit of. Winifred threatens Danni if Max doesn't hand over the potion, while Max threatens to smash the bottle if Danni's hurt, to which Winifred replies that she will kill Danni if he smashes it. Max Takes a Third Option: he chugs the potion himself.
    Max: Now you have no choice! You have to take me.
    Winifred: Thou art a fool to give up thy life for thy sister's!
  • Happens twice in The Lost Medallion: The Adventures of Billy Stone:
    • The two men who were spying on Billy later show up at Billy's home with his dad tied up, and offer an exchange for the magic medallion.
    • Later, Cobra grabs Allie and threatens to kill her if Billy or Huko don't give him the medallion.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series:
    • Mission: Impossible III: Davian has Ethan's wife abducted both to get back at Ethan for daring to capture and inconvenience him and to force Ethan to steal the "Rabbit's Foot" for him in return for a chance at saving Jules' life.
    • In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Big Bad Lane abducts Benji and puts him in a public place in London with a time bomb strapped to him, leaving Ethan and the rest of the team time until midnight to hand him the unlocked disk.
  • Mortal Kombat: Annihilation: Shao Kahn threatens to kill hero Johnny Cage, and Raiden immediately threatens to respond by killing all four of Shao Kahn's greatest warriors right there on the spot. Then in a defining Idiot Ball moment, he instantly backs down from his threat. Johnny Cage pointlessly dies moments later.
  • Mystery Date (1991) has Mr. Lew try to get Tom to trade the tape for Geena.
  • Parodied in The Naked Gun 33 1/3 when Rocco has Jane held at gunpoint and Drebin is holding the bomb Rocco wants. Naturally Drebin refuses, prompting Rocco to mention Jane. Drebin then agrees, only for Jane to intersect and explain how they'd all die if Rocco got the bomb. After several different suggestions, all work out in no real way where Drebin and Jane can be alive together, Drebin points out the madness and says that he's the cop, he should have the gun, and that Rocco's the villain, and he should have the bomb. They then engage a swap, and as expected, Rocco snatches the envelope, and hands over the gun, as everyone slaps their heads at the stupidity of it.
  • Averted in RoboCop (1987): during an attempted rape stopped midstream by the appearance of the titular hero, one of the wannabe-rapists grabs their victim, trying to use her as a meat shield. RoboCop shoots the hostage taker in a VERY sensitive area, right through the woman's skirt. The other wannabe rapist surrenders rather quickly after this.
  • Subverted in The Rock when General Hummel threatens to execute a civilian hostage if Stanley Goodspeed, and John Mason don't return the guidance chips for the General's nerve-gas equipped missiles. When it looks like Goodspeed might go through with the deal, Mason crushes the chips.
  • In Romancing the Stone the villain Ira captures Joan's sister to exchange for the map that Joan's brother-in-law mailed to her before his death (which indicates the location of a valuable emerald). Unusually for the trope, when the villain gets the MacGuffin, he follows through on his end of the bargain and releases the hostage.
  • This backfires badly in Ronin (1998). Gregor reveals that he has a sniper who is currently aiming at the girlfriend of the Russian faction's leader to ensure his leaving with the money after their exchange. Unfortunately, they're entirely willing to let her die just to kill Gregor and take back their money.
  • Shanghai Noon: In Shanghai Knights, when the heroes finally recover the Chinese imperial seal from a street urchin who stole it from them earlier in the film, some Boxer rebels take the boy, and threaten to kill him if the heroes don't hand over the seal. They do, and the boy goes free as the rebels flee into the London night.
  • Shark Attack: After a confrontation with Miles at his lab, Steven steals his research, but Miles captures his female companion before they can both get away. He calls Steven and offers to deal one for the other.
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow: A couple of Dr. Totenkopf's Mooks capture Polly Perkins, Joe's love interest.
    Thug: Give me the vials and the girl will live.
    Joe: What vials? What are you talking about?
    Thug: I will not ask a second time.
  • Sneakers: Big Bad Cosmo captures Liz and threatens to kill her unless Martin Bishop gives him the box containing the decoding chip. He promises to let them go once he has the box, but double-crosses them. Luckily, Martin has a couple of aces up his sleeve.
  • In The Sorcerer's Apprentice, the villain offers to trade the hero's girlfriend for his magic ring. You expect his mentor Balthazar to berate him for it, but he just admits that he would have done the same thing.
  • A humorous throwaway scene in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, made to demonstrate the Serious Business of the race to get golden tickets around the world, shows a detective on the phone negotiating for the return of a woman's husband for her case of Wonka bars. She hesitates to make a decision, then asks him, "How long will they give me to think it over?"
  • Subverted in The Wizard of Oz when the Wicked Witch of the West has Dorothy and Toto trapped in her castle. The Witch threatens to kill Toto unless Dorothy gives her the ruby slippers, and Dorothy tearfully agrees to do so, but the ruby slippers are stuck to Dorothy's feet and won't come off, something the Witch remembers the hard way when the slippers shock her.

  • In the Narnia Solo-Game "Return of the White Witch", it is possible to be in a position to screw up the enemies' plans, having two key components the villains need to resurrect the Big Bad. Preventing this will save many, many lives; however, the villains get you to give up by threatening a random baby squirrel (which seems less weak when you remember that animals are the same as people in Narnia). If you insist on the "needs of the many" route and call their bluff, Aslan steps in and forces you to submit, and your Karma Meter takes a hit. No arguing with Big Lion Jesus.

  • Subverted in The Da Vinci Code when Teabing has Sophia hostage and demands that Langdon hand over the cryptex, which contains the location of the Holy Grail. Knowing that Teabing's legs are crippled, Langdon throws the fragile cryptex in the air, causing Teabing to panic and fall over attempting to catch it.
  • In the Deptford Mice book Thomas, the evil Dahrem Ruhar threatens to kill the temple maiden Neltemi unless Mulligan hands over the ninth fragment of Sarpedon's egg. Mulligan is ready to comply, but Neltemi stabs herself with Dahrem's poisoned blades so that he won't have to make the choice and can escape.
  • In Dale Brown's novel Edge of Battle, Jason Richter is threatened with the lives of some children if he doesn't give up the activation command for a CID. He gives it up... and Zakharov not only lets him go, but also doesn't backstab him afterwards.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Luciuis tries to get Harry to hand over the prophecy for his friends' safety, however, he didn't actually have any hostages yet. Later he and Bellatrix get hold of Neville and Bellatrix says she'll torture him until Harry hands over the prophecy as she did to Neville's parents until they lost their minds. Luckily the Order arrives shortly after they start because Neville would have never forgiven Harry if he'd handed the thing over and Harry was having a hard time seeing his friend being tortured.
  • Mr. Motley makes this offer to late into Perdido Street Station. Lin's life in exchange for the slake-moths. However, the resident Satisfied Street Rat says that he's seen Motley pull this trick before, and every time, the hostage was dead before the demand was even made because there's nothing in it for him not to kill them. It later turns out that Motley actually did have a reason to keep Lin around (not that Lemuel would have had no way of knowing it), but it's still unlikely that he'd have kept his end of the bargain.
  • Peter and the Starcatchers:
    • In the first book, Slank takes Molly hostage and demands the trunk of starstuff in return.
    • In the second book, Umbra and his crew capture Shining Pearl for the same reason. The Molluscs don't have the starstuff, though, so they end up using her to guarantee safe passage back to their ship.
  • The Radix: Metzger does this to Brynstone's wife and daughter.
  • In Rainbow Magic, the goblins try this in Leona the Unicorn Fairy's book, but it turns out to be a bluff.
  • The Ripple System: Ersatz kidnaps Lars and Sarah, and threatens to murder them both so that Ned will continuously respawn so that they can kill him over and over again, eventually getting all his gear and most importantly the Ax of Unbridled Knowledge. Then he almost kills them both first, and Ned has to point out that this would defeat the entire purpose of taking hostages to enforce compliance.
  • Subverted in Book the Tenth of A Series of Unfortunate Events, in which for once it's proposed by the heroes, neither they nor the villain are capable of carrying out their side of the bargain.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant has Living MacGuffin Fletcher Renn traded for the Grand Mage. The heroes acknowledge that this is obviously not a straight trade. Both sides have a number of double-crosses up their sleeves.
  • Much of the plot of Small Favor revolves around this, but with the subversion that Harry and the Big Bad both know neither side intends to follow through with their end of the bargain but keep up with the pretense because it's the most profitable course. It is... slightly more complicated than that. Both Harry and the Big Bad know that the other side will try a trick. But both are sure they have a better trick. Also, a very profitable course. For the Big Bad, at least.
  • In the sixth volume of The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign, the heroes and villains are fighting over three artifacts: the Founder's Map, the Diamond Master Key, and the Golden Treasure Chest. Kyousuke's group has the first two, while Bridesmaid has the third and has also kidnapped the Meinokawa sisters. They offer to trade the two of them for the remaining two artifacts. Kyousuke's group lay traps in the zoo where the hostage exchange takes place, allowing them to rescue the sisters without handing the artifacts over.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In "Choices": The Scoobies have captured the Box of Gavrok belonging to Mayor Wilkins, while Mayor Wilkins has captured Willow. The Scoobies debate the morality of destroying the box instead of giving it to the Mayor but agree to make the trade. Wesley, however, insists on destroying the box rather than letting Wilkins have it, but Oz then proceeds to smash the pot needed for the ritual to do so, to ensure that they will trade for Willow. The Mayor does not attempt to kill Willow anyway, and releases her once he has the box. The result is that Willow is safe, but the Mayor has the box.
    • An Averted Trope in "Bad Girls". The demon Balthazar has captured Giles and Wesley, and is threatening to torture them unless they reveal where they've hidden his Amulet of Concentrated Awesome.
      Wesley: Now, hold on. We can deal with this rationally. We have something you want. You have something we want.
      Balthazar: Hmm... A trade. Intriguing. (considers) No. Wait. Boring. Pull off his kneecaps!
  • Doctor Who:
    • Subverted and played straight in "The Daleks' Master Plan". The first time it happens, the Doctor goes for the third option and gives the Daleks a fake MacGuffin so he can get the TARDIS back. The second time this trope plays out straight, but only because for once the Doctor's Indy Ploy didn't come off right.
    • Subverted in "Terror of the Autons", where the Master says that if the Doctor doesn't return the Master's dematerialisation circuit, he'll kill Jo. The Doctor is about to give the Master his own TARDIS' dematerialisation circuit (which is broken), but Jo fails to realise this is what he's doing, panics, and gives the Master a bunch of information in the hope he'll change his plan.
    • "Dragonfire": Ace for the Dragonfire.
    • "The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos": The villain, Tzim-Sha, murders one of Paltraki's crew and tells him to return the MacGuffin, a mysterious crystal, before lightfall if he wants the other two alive and in one piece.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Ryuki has a rare example where the character actively chooses the MacGuffin over the hostage. Kagawa Hideyuki (Alternative Zero) wants to stop the war of the Kamen Riders and the bloodshed it causes. When Big Bad Kanzaki Shirou threatens to kill Kagawa's family, Kagawa lets him do it and continues to fight for the greater good. This is held against him, of course, since Kagawa is the local Straw Vulcan. (The family survives because Kido Shinji butts in and saves them without Kagawa's knowledge.)
    • Kamen Rider Gaim has a subversion. Kouta's older sister Akira is kidnapped and held for ransom, but when Kouta goes to collect her, it turns out that the Bound and Gagged woman is actually Kamen Rider Marika in disguise. She proceeds to violently attack him as soon as he gets close enough to untie her wrists.
    • Kamen Rider Build: Utsumi holds Kazumi's farm workers hostage, then he calls Kazumi and demands he steals the Pandora's Box from Kazumi's ally. As much as it pains him, Kazumi doesn't give in, and his workers don't hold it against him either, and fortunately, Gentoku frees them instead when Utsumi orders him to execute them, reasoning that they're no longer needed now that Utsumi's plan fails.
  • Leverage: When Sterling foiled the team's attempt to steal from his boss and captured Hardison and Parker, he offered to free them in exchange for an item that Sophie stole years ago. Sterling had no intention of keeping his end of the bargain and was going to hand the entire team over to law enforcement after he got what he wanted. The team saw this coming a mile away and made a plan to escape after the exchange, but Sterling still got his MacGuffin.
  • In an episode of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, everyone in Angel Grove is kidnapped by Rita, and the Rangers must give up their power coins (making them powerless) to have them released. They comply, but Rita doesn't hold up her end of the deal. Thankfully for the Rangers, she overlooked the fact that Jason didn't give her Tommy's old coin...
    • A subversion comes in a later episode when the same trick is tried again. Not surprisingly, this time the villains get chocolate coins.
  • On NCIS, the Weatherman leaves a kidnapped, drugged little girl lying on a pressure plate, which is wired to electrocute both her and a bank of computers if she moves. Given more time, the agents might've been able to deactivate the trap without destroying the computers' crucial information; unfortunately, the girl starts to wake up and they have to snatch her off the bed fast, saving her life but forfeiting the stored data.
  • Once Upon a Time has Cora holding Aurora hostage in exchange for the magic compass in Emma's possession. Aurora sneers at the notion that people she just met will trade something so valuable for her, but Cora is assured that Snow and Emma's inherent goodness will cause them to fold. It ends up being moot when Hook frees Aurora though not before removing her heart, which is used to control her and lure the others into a trap.
    • In another episode, Cora takes one of Snow's childhood friends' hearts and wants to trade it for the Dark One's Dagger which could be used to make Rumplestiltskin kill her and her family, and Snow eventually gives her the dagger. Her friend's heart is returned before she is thrown out the clock tower window.
    • During season 5, Hades gets his hands on a contract that, should he cash it in, would give him custody of Rumplestiltskin's child. Hades uses it to get Rumple to make a portal to Storybrooke and kidnap Robin Hood's infant daughter, among other things. In order to escape Hades' control, Rumple and Peter Pan go after Hades' only known weakness: his True Love, the Wicked Witch of the West. Hades destroys the contract without hesitation to ensure her safety.
  • In RoboCop: The Series Robo is forced to steal components for a prototype weapon (a heart-attack gun, yes seriously) to secure the freedom of his (ex)wife; putting him at odds with his programming and police.
  • Warehouse 13: In "Nevermore", MacPherson, after manipulating Pete and Myka into being the Macguffin Delivery Service, holds Myka's parents hostage for the Poe artifact. He holds up his end of the deal after getting the artifact.

  • In the events portrayed on Dawn of Victory, by Rhapsody, the Princess Irene is captured by evil forces, who threaten to kill her unless the Emerald Sword is surrendered to the evil king. Subverted: when the heroes arrive they are captured and made to watch while the Princess is raped to death by demons. One of the heroes escapes, sans Emerald Sword.

    Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed III, Abstergo captures William Miles during an ill-advised solo mission to recover a Plot Coupon. Vidic then offers a trade: Desmond's father in return for the Apple of Eden. Desmond obliges, but not quite in the way that Vidic expects. It turns out that letting a man with a Lost Superweapon walk into your office is not such a great idea.
    • To be fair, Vidic has no way of knowing that Desmond knows how to use the Apple, since the Bleeding Effect of the Animus hasn't been explored by Abstergo much.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, after it becomes clear to the Big Bad that Ezio cannot be stopped by any man or army in his quest to recover the Masyaf Keys, he instead pulls a classic "I have your girlfriend" ploy. Ezio, who is at this point weary to the bone of the constant struggle, accepts the terms but has his fellow Assassins prepare for the inevitable treachery, which gives him an opportunity to chase down the villain and recover the keys.
  • Beyond Oasis plays it completely straight: the Big Bad kidnaps the protagonist's sister and demands a MacGuffin from the castle in exchange for release. The protagonist has no choice but to comply though to their credit the villain keeps their word and releases the hostage unharmed.
  • In Brave Fencer Musashi after obtaining the Sky Crest, the Flatski demand Musashi to hand over the completed sword Lumina for the captive princess. Musashi hands over the sword and Flatski activated it on the crest causing the Sealed Evil in a Can to be released.
  • In The Cliffhanger: Edward Randy, at the end of the first age, the villain makes Randy give him the prism in exchange for the girl.
  • At one point in Clive Barker's Undying, one of the villains demands a magic stone from the main character in exchange for his friend's life. Despite his friend's protests, and despite the fact that killing the friend has seemed to be the sole goal of the villains up to this point, he hands it over. This doesn't play out so much to standards of the trope, as to how it realistically would — the baddie kills his hostage, then uses the stone to enhance his powers.
  • Discworld Noir: Played straight, Horst holds Ilsa for the Golden Sword.
  • DmC: Devil May Cry has this when Mundus stages a raid on The Order's headquarters and kidnaps Kat, then asks for Virgil in exchange. The Order counters by Dante going to Lilith's nightclub, subduing her, and offering the trade of Kat for Mundus's unborn child. Both parties agree to this exchange. But when this exchange happens, Virgil shoots Lilith in the stomach, killing both her and Mundus's unborn child, and manages to escape with Kat too, subverting the trope.
  • In Epic Mickey, the Phantom Blot threatens to kill Oswald and Gus if Mickey doesn't surrender his heart. Mickey spends the rest of the game trying to stop the unleashed Blot and get his heart back.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy IV has a slight variation of this trope, approximating the MacGuffin Delivery Service, when Golbez holds Rosa hostage in the Tower of Zot and demands that Cecil fetch and hand over an elemental crystal as ransom. Predictably, once Golbez has what he wants, he orders his minions to execute Rosa anyway, and Cecil must rescue her, but in this case, Golbez gets to keep the MacGuffin. To nail it further, the Crutch Character dies in a Senseless Sacrifice, although that last part was heavily foreshadowed (if you didn't know it already).
    • Final Fantasy IX has this. When you're trying to invade Kuja's fortress, he takes your group hostage and has half of them go off and steal a Plot Coupon from a dungeon he can't breach due to its Anti-Magic field. The other half manages to escape, but not quick enough to prevent the hero from handing the item away. In addition, since Garnet is a magic user and Zidane isn't, the player will probably leave Garnet in the hostage party, fulfilling the "hostage is the hero's lover" variant of this trope.
    • Final Fantasy Legend II: In a relatively unusual variant of the trope, once your characters hand over the 76 MAGI they collected, the villain releases the hostages and leaves. The door he leaves through is sealed and requires MAGI to open, so he assumes that you will never be able to reach him. He never knew about the 78th MAGI.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics:
      • The villains try to use this scheme to push Ramza into handing over the Zodiac Stones and the Germonik Scriptures. He sees through this enough to negotiate a compromise and only hands over the Scriptures. Unfortunately, this plus the two Zodiac Stones the villains already had eventually proves to be just barely enough when push comes to shove...
      • In a separate instance, the villains hold Mustadio's father Besrodio captive so that they can get Mustadio's Zodiac Stone. After Mustadio tells them where it is and Ramza hands it over, the villains gloat and attack the heroes anyway. Joke's on them, however: Mustadio gave them a fake.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In Chapter 6 of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, Novala, a Grado commander, demands that Eirika give him her bracelet or else he will execute a child hostage. Eirika complies, believing that a mere piece of jewelry is not worth sacrificing a child's life, but refuses to turn over her weapons, resulting in Novala trying to feed the child and her parents to spider monsters. Eirika only finds out the bracelet's true importance- one of two seals on Renais' Sacred Stone- after Novala is killed and the bracelet is recovered, since her bodyguard Seth had kept that information secret on her father's orders.
    • In Fire Emblem: Awakening, Gangrel tries to pull one by capturing Emmeryn and threatening her execution if Chrom doesn't hand over the Fire Emblem. This gets foiled when Emmeryn Takes a Third Option and pulls a Heroic Suicide, denying Gangrel leverage as well as demoralizing troops on both sides of the conflict.
    • In Chapter 14 of Fire Emblem Engage, Hortensia takes Seforia, queen of Solm, hostage and demands that Alear hand over the remaining Emblem rings, believing that Sombron will revive her father with them. Seforia's children Timerra and Fogado refuse, knowing it would be a betrayal of all their mother stands for, while Alear points out that Hortensia doesn't have it in her to deprive Timerra and Fogado of their mother, having lost her own father recently (as well as her mother, as her supports reveal).
  • Late in Ganbare Goemon 3 Shishijurokube No Karakuri Manji Gatame, the villain Shishi Jurokubei demands the Conch Shell used to summon Goemon Impact in exchange for Omitsu, the hero's Love Interest. The exchange is made without a hitch until the hostage is revealed to actually be Creepy Crossdresser Sister Bismaru, the real Omitsu having been with Jurokubei all along.
  • Happens in both Golden Sun games; the characters have been told that handing over the MacGuffin will destroy the world, yet they do so anyways. Yes, later it's revealed unlocking the MacGuffin is a good thing, but at the time, they didn't know that.
    • In the first game, the antagonists are holding a girl hostage and they demand the party to hand over a staff in exchange that the girl won't be harmed. The party hands the staff over and then complain to the antagonists that they are not holding up their end of the bargain, saying they would let her go. The antagonists then gleefully point out that those were their terms; they only agreed to not harm the girl.
  • Used in Gunstar Heroes Not only do you have to give the Big Bad the Gems you got, but you have to fight your way to the Big Bad and take out The Dragon before you perform the transaction.
  • Attempted by Thrivaldi in Heroine's Quest, but the titular heroine manages to rescue the hostage.
  • In Holy Umbrella, Emperor Dondera traps the Princess and Saki's father in a Crystal Prison to get the Kid Hero to hand over the Rainbow Orb. The crystal breaks soon after.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
  • In LostMagic, at the end of the descent from the peak of the Balance Temple, the Diva of the Twilight shows up, verbally confounds Trista, her sister, effectively making her a hostage, and then gives you the option to either give Isaac's Wand of Light to the Diva or hold on to it. You actually do get to choose in this case, although the game really wants you to give up the Wand.
  • Near the end of Act I of Neverwinter Nights 2, the githyanki that have been periodically bothering you for the length of the chapter attack the Sunken Flagon and kidnap Shandra Jerro. Interestingly they don't demand the Plot Coupon at first because they think Shandra knows where it is. It's only after you battle your way to their inner sanctum that they bring the trope into play. Then it turns out that you have another Plot Coupon embedded in your chest, and they attack to get it.
  • In the first Ninja Gaiden (the NES one), Jaquio makes Ryu give him the Demon Statue that will let him summon the Ancient Demon; or else he would kill "the girl." (Irene, but Ryu at this point didn't even know her name.) Naturally the Demon is summoned, but fortunately Ryu kills the Demon anyways.
  • PAYDAY: The Heist does this twice in Diamond Heist. If the codes for the vault leading to the diamonds don't work, you're then told by your Voice with an Internet Connection to go find the CFO of the building and escort him to the helipad where he will be used as a bargaining tool against the CEO for the codes. Simply put, the codes, or the CFO's life. Due to the randomness of the game, sometimes the CFO himself will give up the codes and his life is spared. If the CEO refuses to negotiate, then the crew has the CFO booted out of the helicopter as he crashes into the glass dome and dies on impact. The crew is then told to go find the CEO's son to use him as leverage. If it reaches that point, the CEO will always give in.
  • In Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia your idiot rival gets himself captured by the Bad Guys and they offer him in exchange for the shiny gem you've just caught that would ruin their plans to plunge the world into everlasting darkness. Despite the rival insisting that you keep the gem because even he can see how obviously better of a decision it is, But Thou Must! is in full effect and you have to make the trade no matter what.
  • In the opening cutscene of Shenmue, Lan Di threatens Ryo's life to coax his father, Iwao, to give up the location of a certain mirror.
    Hand over the Mirror...or else, your son...
  • It gets used so often that your Karma Meter in Skies of Arcadia goes down if you actually fall for this — and Aika will instead refuse on your behalf, after calling you an idiot.
  • In Solatorobo, Bruno kidnaps Elh to make an exchange for Red's medallion and indirectly his life.
  • Sonic Adventure 2, where Eggman has Amy Rose held hostage and Sonic has the final (fake) Chaos Emerald in his possession. Eggman, however, correctly guesses the Emerald is a fake and promptly launches Sonic into space.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, Yuan holds the hero hostage to get his father, Kratos to give Yuan the Eternal Sword, with which he intended to save the world himself. It might have worked, if the Big Bad hadn't interrupted.
  • In Trials of Mana, whichever villains correspond to your chosen main character will kidnap the Faerie in a bid to get the Mana Sword. In a rare twist, all of the villains keep their part of the bargain and return the Faerie unharmed.
  • Vandal Hearts: Ash and his team are forced to trade the Royal Ring in exchange for their captured companion Kira. Unsurprisingly, the baddies take the ring and attempt to kill Kira anyway. Kira is successfully rescued upon completion of the level, but they get to keep the ring.
  • The very first Wild ARMs game has a Princess handing over a magic stone that will enable the villains to destroy the world; because they want to destroy her kingdom. In the Video Game Remake Alter Code F, she gets into a hefty argument with another party member over the morality of this. Her reasoning is that the people of the city are dying now, and handing over the MacGuffin will save them, but doom the planet to a slow death, which she reasons can be averted by getting the MacGuffin back. So she wasn't entirely naive.
  • This occurs during the ending of Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant. After you defeat the Final Boss and find the Astral Dominae, the real Dark Savant shows up. He's captured Vi Dominia and makes the standard demand. The game does let you refuse, but if you do, you die instantly. If you agree, he takes it and teleports away, leaving you and the girl behind, setting up the sequel.
  • In Ys IV: Mask of the Sun, Bammy confronts Adol in the Citadel and makes a bargain for him to turn over the Plot Coupons. Refusing results in a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction, Bandit Keith holds Ishizu hostage to force you to hand over the Millennium Items. When you then defeat him in a duel, he ups the ante and orders you to hand over your Egyptian God Cards.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Marco & the Galaxy Dragon, Dosgoro plants bombs throughout the town of Gold Cord and takes Marco’s new friend Ruri hostage to coerce Marco into handing over the Lizard Stone. Marco does so, and Dosgoro actually lets Ruri go, deactivates the bombs, and leaves. It isn’t until sometime later that he realizes Marco tricked him.
  • Inverted in Melody. Bethany and Steve steal Melody’s guitar, planning to threaten to destroy the guitar unless the protagonist comes back to Bethany. She only gives the instrument back after he hands in his resignation as Melody’s manager to Hank Sharp (that is, unless the player is on Melody’s romantic path).
  • In Case 3-4 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations this trope Gone Horribly Wrong is one of the charges against your client. Jeweler's daughter has been kidnapped in exchange for a precious diamond and falls into the river during the exchange. Client escaped from prison after being found guilty of her murder. Not only said girl is alive and well, but she was actually a mastermind behind the "kidnapping".

  • In Ctrl+Alt+Del, a corporate executive abducts Lilah to force her boyfriend Ethan to surrender the crown of Wintereenmas, as he believes this will give him control over the gaming industry. Ethan complies immediately, telling Lilah she's much more important than the crown, but the cute twist comes when the gamers rebel and reinstate Ethan as the King of Wintereenmas.
  • Dubious Company's Imperial Guards and Sky Pirates quickly turn this into a Gambit Pileup.
    • Gary holds a fireball to Sal demanding the pirates' surrender. Walter reminds him of the errors in killing the Barrier Maiden and takes back Sal.
    • This gives Leeroy the idea to takes his sword to Sal, demanding the Imperial's surrender. In response, Marty takes Elly hostage.
    • Since Elly is Mary's Love Interest, Mary's Clingy Jealous Girl instincts kick in and the debacle dissolves into Enemy Civil War.
  • In Modern Day Treasure Seekers, Sam is kidnapped in exchange for the gem that Cade found, which the bad guys need since it's actually a Cool Key.
  • In Strays, the fox woman tries this. It would have worked better if 1. Meela had been Feral's pup, and 2. Feral had the thing she was looking for.

    Web Original 
  • In a YouTube video called "Blaze Goes to Disneyland," there is one scene where Eggman kidnaps Cream and offers her back if Blaze gives Eggman the Chaos Emerald. Despite Cream telling Blaze not to give the Chaos Emerald... despite Blaze demanding that Eggman put Cream down right now, Eggman, being the villain he is, threatens to throw Cream into the lake, causing Blaze to give the Chaos Emerald anyway... and Eggman runs off without giving Cream back.
  • Ducktalez: Vegeta kidnaps Scrooge's nephews after their first fight in an attempt at getting the Lucky Dime.
  • The gaming clan Shack Tactical used to run a unique multi-sided player vs player mission built from an ARMA game mod nicknamed "Dark Business". In these scenarios, the Independents have captured two American agents wanted by the Russians and are arranging to trade them to the Russians in return for a shipment of weapons, ammunition, and other supplies. Both sides are planning to betray the other and keep everything for themselves, and the often long negotiations between them are just an excuse for them to get into position and attempt to kill or scam the other side. Meanwhile, there's yet another faction, in the form of a very small but extremely well-armed and equipped American special forces team looking to try to save the hostages and bring them home alive.
  • SEGA's web series to promote Sonic Mania Plus, Sonic Mania Adventures, has Metal Sonic do this in episode 4. Near the end of the episode, Metal Sonic takes Ray under his clutches, and will only give him back if Mighty gives Metal Sonic the Chaos Emerald that Mighty has. Mighty can’t attack because Ray might get hurt in the process, so Mighty decides he has no choice but to give the Chaos Emerald to Metal Sonic so that Ray will be unharmed.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Amphibia second season finale, "True Colors", after Polly successfully takes the Calamity Box from Andrias's pedestal, he warns her to put it back, otherwise Sprig, who is in his hand, will be forced to learn "how to fly". Despite Sprig saying not to give in, Anne tells Polly to put the box back. Unfortunately, after she does, Andrias throws Sprig out the window anyway to show Anne how useless and futile friendships are. This ends up being a mistake as it sends Anne into an Unstoppable Rage, awakening her Calamity powers.
  • In Ben 10: Alien Force, Vilgax holds Gwen and Kevin hostage for the Omnitrix. Ben hands it over almost immediately.
  • Code Lyoko:
    • Inverted twice. The Lyoko Warriors put Aelita in danger to force XANA to back off his attack. Good thing she's only useful to him alive.
    • Played straight in the appropriately named episode "Ultimatum," when XANA possesses the school principal and kidnaps Yumi and Odd whom he threatens to "liquidate" should Aelita not give herself up to him in the given time frame.
  • In the climax of the Donkey Kong Country episode "Follow That Coconut", K. Rool grabs Diddy Kong and threatens to drop him off a cliff unless DK gives him the Crystal Coconut- or at least the right one, as the episode has also focused on a decoy. After K. Rool issues an ultimatum to drop Diddy once he finishes counting to ten, DK kicks the fake coconut into a wall of ice and buries the Kremlings- luckily, K. Rool didn’t account for a breach just beneath where he was holding Diddy that stops him from falling. This would all be a very tense scenario… If it wasn’t delivered in a rap.
  • Briefly attempted by Viggo in Dragons: Race to the Edge, when he holds Astrid at knifepoint in a desperate attempt to get the Dragon Eye from Hiccup. Hiccup instead throws the Dragon Eye behind Viggo into an active volcano to destroy it. Viggo rushes towards it as it falls, ends up standing right on the edge of the crater, and suffers a Disney Villain Death as the ledge collapses under him.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021): After He-Man and his allies make it to Castle Grayskull, Evelyn and Kronis capture the others while Keldor distracts He-Man in a fight. Keldor then demands that He-Man unlock the power of Grayskull and give it to him or he would use the power of Havoc to turn his captured friends into monsters. He-Man is able to stall Keldor long enough for Teela to pick the lock on her cuffs and free the others.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures lampshades and justifies this trope in the season one finale when Zhang holds Pepper hostage and forces Tony and Gene to retrieve the fifth Makluan Ring for him or else he will kill Pepper. Pepper responds to this with a sarcastic 'Gee, THAT'S original'. However, this allows Pepper to get close enough to Zhang to steal back the other four Makluan Rings which Zhang stole from them earlier.
  • In LEGO Star Wars: Terrifying Tales, Vaneé, who has gone One-Winged Angel thanks to a Sith Holocron, is trying to retrieve the holocron from Poe and Dean before his power fades, so he captures Poe and dangles him over lava, threatening to drop him in unless Dean gives him the holocron. Dean instead chucks the holocron towards the lava, and in his panic to try and catch it Vaneé drops Poe laterally back onto safe ground while ending up in the lava himself.
  • My Little Pony 'n Friends: In "The Great Rainbow Caper", Danny and Surprise are kidnapped by the Gizmonks, who demand the Rainbow of Light for ransom.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Twilight's Kingdom Part 2", when it becomes apparent their powers are at a deadlock, Tirek resorts to this to get Twilight to surrender her and the Princesses' powers, bringing forth the trapped and powerless Mane Six, Spike and Discord. He was honestly surprised Twilight only agreed if he freed her old enemy Discord as well, despite Discord having betrayed them to Tirek, and it ultimately bit him in the ass because despite getting the Princess' powers, Twilight finally unlocked the MacGuffin and used its power to crush him, take the magic back, and send him to Tartarus.
  • In the first season finale of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the turtles are captured by Baron Draxum and the Foot Clan, forcing Splinter into a Sadistic Choice of either giving the Foot the final piece of the Dark Armor to save them or hiding it and leaving his sons to die. The turtles end up freeing themselves, but Splinter, unaware of that, hands over the last piece.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus pulls one of these when Spider-Man plays keep-away with the Applied Phlebotinum Doc Ock needs to power his Artificial Limbs. The chase leads toward Coney Island, where Octopus realizes Spidey feels obliged to save Innocent Bystanders from the resulting chaos. Exploiting this, he grabs a nearby damsel and leaves her hanging precariously from a rollercoaster to force Spider-Man to give up the power source. The damsel is actually Peter Parker's then-girlfriend (sort of) Liz Allan, though neither she nor Octopus knows Spidey is Parker.
  • Subverted in the season 1 finale of Star vs. the Forces of Evil; Star offers her magic wand to Toffee in exchange for Marco's life, but the villain has other plans:
    Toffee: Do you think I'm like Ludo? I don't want your wand. Destroy it.
  • In Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, a Brainwashed and Crazy Sprx holds Nova hostage and threatens to kill her if the team doesn't give him the Skeleton King's skull. Fortunately, Nova manages to bring him back to normal with The Power of Love before the team gives him the skull.
  • Proposed by Leonardo instead of the villains in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) when Leo has recovered Shredder's missing helmet from a thief and will happily hand it over to its original owner in exchange for Karai. Shredder gives them a Karai-shaped bomb instead.
  • Used in Transformers: Animated, with the justification that the villain making the threat plans to start with the hostages and keep up the death and destruction until he finds the MacGuffin himself. Neither party intends to honor the agreement.
  • Transformers: Prime: The Decepticons capture the three humans and hold them hostage in exchange for the Omega Keys, which have the ability to restore Cybertron and end the war. The Autobots give up the keys and the minute Megatron gets them, he tries to destroy all the other humans by terraforming their planet, and Optimus is forced to destroy the machine and doom their planet to the barren husk it currently is. It gets better
  • Winx Club:
    • In "Date with Disaster", the Winx are forced to give Stella's ring to the Trix in order to save Stella. The Trix think the Solaria ring contains the legendary Dragon's Flame, a power their ancestors spent their lives pursuing.
    • The Winx would face this again in season 3, this time letting that season's Big Bad get away with a magic box in exchange for saving a guy who's interested in Aisha (Aisha is completely uninterested in him, and she doesn't know that he's her intended, but obliges anyway).


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Hostage For Mc Guffin


Orin's Demands

In Act 3, Orin kidnaps one of the player character's companions and takes their place, eventually revealing herself before the party to declare her demands: Kill Enver Gortash and deliver his Netherstone to the Temple of Bhaal, and she will release the captive companion as well as engage the player character in a Duel to the Death for control of all three Netherstones.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / IHaveYourWife

Media sources: