A minor character has an important MacGuffin or other Plot Device, but has been fatally wounded, or is otherwise about to die. This character then hands the object over to the main character(s) before dying. The main character(s) continue the dead person's mission to get the thing to wherever it's supposed to get to before the bad guys get it.
A good way to keep the true story a mystery (and to keep the audience interested) is to have the main character be an Unlikely Hero that has NO idea what's going on or who to trust.
Compare with It May Help You on Your Quest, Plot Coupon and MacGuffin Escort Mission. Also see Almost Dead Guy, who passes on information instead of plot coupons. For transactions involving human beings, see Take Care of the Kids.
When a physical item bestowing superpowers is passed on, it may also count as Bequeathed Power. Alternatively, if superpowers are directly transferred without an item, it's likely to be that trope but probably isn't this one.
- Although the characters are acquainted, the rest of the trope plays out as normal in Agni's Philosophy. Agni is apparently an acolyte in some sort of magic ritual. When they are attacked and their leader is shot, he passes on the smaller crystal that was part of the ritual to her as he lays dying.
- Cowboy Bebop:
- "Gateway Shuffle" starts off with this, with Faye finding a fatally wounded police officer drifting through space. He tells her to take a briefcase to the I.S.S.P and tells her not to open it. She does neither, and the object in the briefcase is sought after by the antagonist of that episode. She manages to steal it back and pocket it, only for it to come back into play at the very end of the episode to ruin her plans.
- In "Sympathy for the Devil", a dying bounty head gives Spike a ring and tell him that he's the only one who can save "him" now. Cue the crew spending the rest of the episode figuring out what the guy meant and what they're supposed to do with the ring.
- The man with the data card in the first episode of Dirty Pair Flash. The new incarnation of the Lovely Angels spend the episode arguing over which of them has to get the card back to Heroes "R" Us headquarters — and demolishing everything that gets in their way.
- This happens in Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden, when the dying Anlu the Oracle gives her necklace to the Genbu Senshi. Originally it was used to aid Takiko on the search for her Celestial Warriors, but then it would later become one of the Shinzahos required to summon the beast gods, Suzaku and Seiryuu in the future.
- The vaccine file in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. The file in question was a list of people who had received a vaccine for an otherwise incurable illness (the vaccine was rejected due to pressure from certain individuals and organizations who wanted to prevent their products from being rendered useless). The current owner of the file tries to give it to Togusa after the building's attacked by The Dragon and his Mooks. Togusa tries to get him to escape with it instead (he's caught and shot, meaning the protagonists have to make do with a video of what Togusa saw).
- Ralph Wednesday, the vanship courier with Alvis Hamilton in Last Exile.
- So begins the execrable anime adaptation of Gray Lensman.
- In Metal Armor Dragonar, the Power Trio comes across a badly wounded man carrying the discs needed to activate the titular Humongous Mecha. In a subversion, he begs them to give the discs to Giganos, obviously not realizing that the boys are Federation trainees.
- The end of the first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, where Banagher receives the titular mech from his father.
- Kakashi in Naruto gets his Sharingan this way. Notable in that the Macguffin in question is actually a body part. Also in the fact that the person who gave it to him ended up surviving...though it was a very long time before Kakashi found this out.
- In Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, after her ship crashes Nausicaa obtains the control crystal for the God Soldier from a dying (important) passenger.
- One Piece has a rather interesting variation of this. The former Pirate King Gold Roger, well aware of his impending death due to disease, turns himself in. He then challenges everyone to find his MacGuffin and proclaims that whoever finds it can have it. The World Government had been about to execute him to make an example out of him to other would-be pirates, but his stunt singlehandedly created an Age of Piracy. Made even more interesting by the fact that nobody (well, at least nobody who's talking) knows for sure whether the titular "One Piece" treasure really exists, much less what it actually might be.
- Confirmed by Whitebeard in his dying moments to actually exist but he doesn't say where or what.
- Happens from time to time on Ranma ½, and usually it's Happosai who gets the MacGuffin.
- In Saint Seiya, the dying Saint of Sagittarius hands baby Athena and the Golden Armor to Dr. Kido.
- A terribly wounded Saki tries to give her heart (and power source) to Steel Angel Kurumi, but it ends up as a Fusion Dance somehow.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds: It's revealed that Yusei's dying father gave the 3 Signer Dragon cards he had to Rex Godwin (a fourth — Ruka's — got lost en route).
- Combined with Bequeathed Power in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V with Yuto passing his soul, his Superpowered Evil Side, and his ability to Xyz summon onto Yuya by giving him his most powerful and magical card after Taking the Bullet for him. It's unclear right now if Yuto can ever be revived since his soul is still around, but the scene where this transaction occurs plays out like an example of this trope.
- Green Lantern corps recruit new members by passing their ring on before they die. If there is a worthy successor nearby, they will hand off the ring. If not, the ring will fly off under its own power upon the bearer's demise and scout out a suitable recipient.
- This is how John DiFool got The Incal, via a dying Berg disguised as a mutant.
- The somewhat-obscure Marvel Comics hero The Torpedo (see ROM: Spaceknight and New Warriors) got his supercostume from the dying scientist who had made it for an evil organization but then changed his mind... while he was waiting for an elevator. Then he just decided to put it on right then and there, which got him into a fight with Daredevil, who had been pursuing the scientist moments before!
- The Transformers (Marvel): During the Matrix Quest, Nightbeat, Siren and Hosehead find themselves in a Whole-Plot Reference to The Maltese Falcon, when a dying alien hands Hosehead a mysterious statue in the middle of a gang shootout. Suddenly the trio find themselves being chased by two different gangs, who really want that bird statue, but which could be used to restore the planet they're on to a less crappy condition.
- The Twelve: Fiery Mask secretly got his powers by confirming to the mortally-wounded previous Fiery Mask that his injuries were fatal, prompting this trope. Except the man's wounds were serious but he could have survived had Jack's I Just Want to Be Special not won out over his wanting to drive Fiery Mask to a hospital.
- This tends to happen to Usagi quite a bit. More often than not, it turns into a MacGuffin Escort Mission.
- The 'bowling ball' that the 'glowing man' drops before he is captured by 'The Enchantress', and that is later found by Twilight Sparkle. This gives her the ability to travel to other universes. She and her friends do so. Much joy, and much pain, await them. It's all in the MLP fanfic Songs Of The Spheres by GMBlackjack.
- Anyone: Exploited; Izuku kicks off the plot by making All Might think he's been fatally injured — using a combination of weakening, illusion, and ice quirks of people who were part of Anyone and thus handoff One For All to the first person he can find, which Izuku makes sure is him, rather than let the quirk die with him. Much of the rest of the fic is All Might trying to find him and Izuku acting as a vigilante while trying not to be found.
- Towards the end of Coraline, the Other Father is strapped to a praying mantis mech and forced to attack Coraline in order to stop her from claiming the first ghost eye. The mantis soon falls through a bridge and sinks into the water, but the Other Father has enough left in him to forfeit the treasure before he drowns along with it.
- In Epic (2013) Queen Tara is killed by a Boggan arrow while running from them carrying the pod which will bloom into her successor. MK finds her, and Tara bids her to take the pod to Nim Galuu before dying.
- This is how baby Roshan comes into the care of Manny and Sid in the first Ice Age film, after his mother succumbs to injuries sustained from jumping into a river to escape the pack of saber-tooth tigers.
- Disney's Treasure Planet. Billy Bones is not a long-term lodger, but instead crashes his ship on the inn's doorstep and dies almost immediately on setting foot inside, with the pirates right behind. Before he dies, he opens the chest and shoves the treasure map into Jim's hands.
- Up: In the opening, Ellie gives her Adventure Book to Carl not long before she dies; it then serves as one of the reasons Carl finally heads to South America, inspires him near the conclusion, and then loses importance when Carl finally comes to terms with her death.
- In Casablanca, Ugarte entrusts the letters of transit to Rick, only to be taken into custody and killed later that night.
- In Chill Factor, Mason receives a military super-weapon from Richard Long, with instructions to deliver it to a nearby military base, shortly before Long dies.
- In Cloak and Dagger, the FBI agent who is gunned down gives Davey the Cloak & Dagger video game cartridge containing important national secrets just before dying.
- In the 1981 movie Diva, a prostitute stashes a cassette implicating a high ranking official as a mob boss in a postman's bag just before being murdered.
- Enemy of the State involves a researcher with an incriminating videotape who dies soon after passing on the MacGuffin.
- The Fifth Element: Four of the Elements needed to save the galaxy are held by Diva Plavalaguna (inside her body!) who hands them over to Dallas as she is dying.
- The key that one of the aliens gives the monk in the pre-WWII prologue also serves as one.
- The Force Awakens: The movie begins with Lor San Tekka handing a data thing to Poe and saying "This will start to make things right." A minute later, as landing craft attack, he's telling Poe to run and seems resigned to his fate.
- Foul Play: A dying agent slips Goldie Hawn a microfilm cassette in a pack of cigarettes, unbeknownst to her. The bad guys try to kill her for the microfilm she doesn't know she has. The microfilm is eventually destroyed in a fire before anyone can view it.
- Parodied multiple times in Takeshi Kitano's Getting Any?, where a dying gangster (it's the same gangster, dying multiple times) comes up to the protagonist and gives him something (a gun, a car, etc.) and says "Guard this for me, will you?" Hilarity Ensues.
- The Gray Man (2022): After being mortally wounded by Six, Sierra Four gives him a hard drive with evidence of corruption within the CIA before dying. Taking said hard drive quickly makes Six a target, and his CIA handlers order his death to get it back.
- The wuxia Heroes of Sung have the heroine's father, moments before succumbing, reveal to his daughter the true hiding place of an all-important Imperial Seal, telling her to take it and deliver it to the capital city to warn of an impending Mongol invasion.
- Hitchcock would appear to have been fond of doing this:
- Both versions of The Man Who Knew Too Much feature a spy who, in his dying moments, passes crucial information onto a vacationing family, only for enemy agents to blackmail them by kidnapping their child.
- In The 39 Steps (1935), a female spy is killed and passes vital information onto a man she just met at the theater. Instead of being blackmailed, this time the character gets implicated in her death.
- Innerspace: After being shot, a scientist uses the last of his strength to inject nearby passer-by Jack with the syringe containing the miniaturized submersible.
- The Maltese Falcon hits the viewer hard with this trope. Everyone is after the titular bird (which is insanely valuable Pirate Booty but has been covered in enamel to hide the value). For the first half of the movie the police (who don't know about the bird) suspect the main character of unrelated murders (which were actually committed by the Big Bad while looking for the bird). Then, about forty minutes into the film, the bird has only been discussed up until now and nobody knows where the thing actually is or who's hiding it. The body count is mounting and people start saying the bird might be cursed because of all of the people who get the bird die right afterward. Then The Ghost suddenly bursts into the room, riddled with gunshots, carrying the bird, then dies at the protagonist's feet without any explanation. Now the main character not only has the statue that a bunch of violent people are after but also has yet another dead body to explain to the police, this time of a guy he's been going around town asking people about. This plot is a weird case of I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin, Pirate Booty, a possible Artifact of Doom, a sort of Artifact of Attraction (since the bird looks worthless), and a Clingy MacGuffin (since he can't let anyone know about the bird) all at the same time. The rest of the movie involves him trying to exonerate himself without letting anyone (especially the police, who would just decide he'd killed everyone with the bird as his motive) find out he has the statue.
- In Men in Black, a dying alien tells the heroes that they must "protect the galaxy on Orion's belt." This confuses them, since Orion's Belt is three random stars, not a galaxy. Orion is the alien's cat, and whose collar has a bauble with a tiny galaxy inside.
- Men with Brooms has Donald Foley arranging to have his ashes placed in the last of the Magellan Stones, and his will is basically him guilt-tripping his old curling team into reuniting and trying to win the Golden Broom.
- Motherless Brooklyn: It's not immediately obvious, but Frank insists Lionel take his hat. Hidden inside is a locker key needed to get important evidence.
- Billy Bones does this to Jim in Muppet Treasure Island as well.
- In The Net, Dale sends Angela a disk and later flies down in his Cessna to meet her. The bad guys mess with the radar, causing Dale to the crash his plane.
- The plot of Octopussy kicks off when 009, clutching a priceless Faberge egg, bursts into the British embassy in East Germany with a throwing knife stuck in his back.
- Paws: When Alex realises Anja has tracked him down, he gives his dog PC a computer disc and tells him to take it to Susie.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, while Elizabeth Swann is on Sao Feng's boat, they get attacked. Sao Feng gets stabbed by a giant piece of wood and hands over a seemingly useless trinket which later turns out to be one of the Pieces of Eight needed for the meeting, and for releasing Calypso from Tia Dalma.
- The Power of the Press: The DA was about to hand over the folder anyway when he got shot. He still manages to hand it to Jane and tell her it has important evidence before croaking.
- In-universe, in Pulp Fiction, the story Capt. Koontz tells young Butch about his father's watch.
- Rogue One: In the epilogue, a few rebel troopers aboard Admiral Raddus' flagship manage to obtain the recently-transferred Death Star plans and attempt to board the Tantive IV and escape. However, they are prevented from boarding the Tantive IV due to a faulty blast door, and soon Darth Vader arrives and begins slaughtering said rebels, with one screaming for the rebels on the other side of the door to help them. Once the lone rebel realizes he will be killed, he passes the Death Star plans through the little space, telling the rebel on the other side to take them, before he is killed by Darth Vader.
- This is kinda-sorta the plot of Shoot 'Em Up, with the baby as the McGuffin, handed off from the woman who's just given birth to it after she gets shot.
- Played for Laughs in The Suicide Squad. With his dying breath, Javelin bestows his namesake weapon to Harley Quinn, but he croaks mid-sentence, leaving Harley confused what she's supposed to use it for. Nonetheless, Harley carries it with her through the rest of the film using it to land a crucial blow in the fight against Starro.
- Fighting Fantasy:
- In The Forest of Doom, the dwarf Bigleg tells your character to take a hammer to Gillibrand before dying from arrow wounds.
- The very same hammer is brought to you by the last survivor of a dwarven expedition (who himself is dying of sunstroke) in Temple of Terror while you are pursuing an enemy. It is vital you stop for him, as the hammer is a necessary component in defeating the Big Bad once and for all.
- In Talisman of Death you receive the titular talisman from a band of adventurers about to be killed and overwhelmed by the forces of chaos, the lead adventurer who uses his last bits of energy to teleport you and the talisman to safety before he gets killed.
- Spectral Stalkers begins with you coming across a Winged Humanoid dropping from the sky, landing right in front of you. He then gives you a magical artifact, the Aleph, and tells you to keep it away from the hands of the titular Stalkers at all cost, hence kicking off your adventure.
- The Thirty-Nine Steps starts with a dead man leaving his little black notebook containing the cryptic title phrase to Richard Hannay.
- In the sequel, Greenmantle, a dying man staggers into a Kashnir outpost carrying a bit of paper on which is scrawled, 'Kasredin', 'v. 1' and 'cancer'. Cue race against time to decipher same...
- Animorphs is more a case of Bequeathed Power, as Elfangor gives the main human characters the power to morph into any animal they touch. Except the device that gives the power was not destroyed with the rest of Elfangor's ship, and becomes an important plot point later on. Also see below for the TV series.
- Twice, in quick succession, in Agatha Christie's 1959 novel Cat Among the Pigeons. A prince who suspects (correctly) that he's about to be assassinated entrusts his faithful servant with one last mission: smuggle some hotly-contested jewels out of the country for him. The servant concludes (also correctly) that the jewels will also make him a target for assassination, so he hides them in his visiting sister's luggage.
- Also happens at the beginning of The Secret Adversary, in which an agent on the ill-fated Lusitania passes a package to a female passenger in a lifeboat shortly before the ship sinks.
- The Cloakmaster Cycle started this way. Though the protagonist happened to be sensible enough and tried to get rid of the thing that brings overwhelming forces on his head, not that it was easy.
- Subverted in Dan Brown's Digital Fortress. As he's dying, Ensei Tankado holds out his ring to a stranger, the chase of which drives the plot. The trick is that the MacGuffin Tankado was actually trying to hold out was his gesture of three fingers — the number 3 is the failsafe code for the titular virus.
- In Empire Star by Samuel R. Delany, Comet Jo is out wandering the hills near his home when he encounters a crashed ship and a dying man who hands him a strange crystal, and begs, with his last breath, for Jo to get the message to Empire Star.
- At the beginning of Tom Holt's Expecting Someone Taller Malcolm Fisher receives the Tarnhelm and the Ring of the Nibelungs from Ingolf, the last of the Frost Giants, cleverly disguised as a badger who he's just run over with his car. Not being educated in Norse mythology or even having seen the opera poor Malcolm has no clue what he's getting himself into.
Ingolf: Cut my arm and lick some of the blood.
Malcolm: I'd rather not.
Ingolf: But you'll be able to understand the language of the birds.
Malcolm: I don't particularly want to be able to understand the language of the birds.
Ingolf: You'll understand the language of the birds and like it, my lad!
- In the chapter about drug dealers in Freakonomics, a grad student named Sudhir Venkatesh unwittingly got a firsthand look at the operations of a Chicago gang. When the FBI were hot on their trail, the gang's second-in-command, Booty, told Sudhir that he (Booty) probably didn't have long to live because the gang suspected him of having ratted them out, and asked Sudhir to take some of his notebooks and try to do some good for future generations with them. The notebooks turned out to be the gang's equivalent of accounting ledgers, and the entire premise of the chapter was based on what they contained.
- In Green Rider, Karigan comes upon a mortally wounded Rider in the forest and is given a two-part MacGuffin: the message he was supposed to deliver, and his Rider brooch (which, as she later finds out, comes with magical powers).
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has a pretty revelatory one towards the end. Snape, whose loyalties were a matter of some debate, has his throat ripped out by Voldemort's pet snake Nagini, but lives just long enough to give Harry a jarful of memories that reveal Snape's back story, motive, status as The Atoner, and also that Dumbledore's plan hinges on Harry willingly giving himself up to Voldemort. Ack.
- "Somebody Else's Magic", one of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Lythande stories, begins with Lythande comforting a dying woman, and getting stuck with the task of returning a magical artifact to the woman's people. (Lythande isn't very enthusiastic about this, but it won't leave her alone until she does...)
- The Maltese Falcon, for the same reason listed under Film.
- In The Orphan Train Adventures, the main plot of the fifth book, "A Dangerous Promise" is a varient on this. Mike and his friend Todd join the Union army in the American Civil War, and Todd makes Mike promise that, in event of Todd's death, Mike will deliver Todd's watch to his sister. Todd is then killed in battle, the watch stolen and Mike injured; after he recovers, the rest of the book is about Mike finding and delivering the watch.
- In the short story "Paladin of the Lost Hour", Gaspar is dying but needs to find a new, trustworthy guardian for a magical watch. Said watch holds the last hour of the Universe, in which anything can happen, but when it completes, the end of everything. If he dies without passing it on, the watch will begin to tick.
- Alther Mella in Septimus Heap passes over the Akhu Amulet to Marcia Overstrand before dying.
- In Josephine Tey's The Singing Sands, the MacGuffin is an unfinished sonnet, which the protagonist, who used to write sonnets in school, takes with him out of idle interest, then considers finishing as a gesture to the dead person; as he studies it, he realizes it is a code.
- Parodied in South by Southeast by Anthony Horowitz, which itself is one big Shout-Out to political conspiracy thrillers. The MacGuffin's name even is... well.
- In the Star Trek novel Star Trek: The Genesis Wave, book three, an alien fleeing from the Romulans with a portable Genesis Device gives it to a Bajoran monk before dying. Using the Lomarian Mind Control abilities, it convinces the monk it is actually Kai Opaka, and is bestowing upon him the "Orb of Life".
- In Robin Jarvis' Thomas, a prequel to his Deptford Mice books, Woodget Pipple is given a mysterious broken piece of ornately carved jade by his dying friend, Mulligan. He is told to swear that he will take it to Hara, "the city of the Holy One" in India, which he does. Along the way, he learns that it is part of an egg that needs to be kept from falling into enemy hands. Otherwise, the evil snake god Scarophion will be reborn.
- The Way of Kings (first book of The Stormlight Archive): King Gavilar gives Szeth, the man who killed him, a mysterious black orb as he's bleeding to death, only saying "They must not have it." Szeth believes very strongly in Last Requests, so he takes the orb and hides it despite having no idea what it actually is.
- At the beginning of Wyrd Sisters, the crown prince and crown of the recently murdered king are given to the three witches by a royal servant who dies just as he stumbles in. The witches try to get both off their hands ASAP.
Magrat (shivering in the cold of the open moor): What is there to be afraid of out here?
Granny (with considerable satisfaction): Us.
- Doyle passing on his visions to Cordelia via their Last Kiss.
- Echoed in Season 5, when Cordelia's visions pass on to Angel.
- The Animorphs TV series adds a new element not present in the books, with Elfangor throwing a mysterious disc to Tobias after giving him and the others the morphing power. It changes hands between the heroes and the Yeerks several times, though neither figures out how to access its contents until the end of the show. Meanwhile, the plotline about the morphing cube is absent.
- Chuck: Gets the Intersect in an e-mail from a dying Bryce Larkin. Though it turns out Bryce was Not Quite Dead. Oddly enough, though, Bryce passes off the Intersect (this time the 2.0) a second time to Chuck when he dies for real (or at least, dies slightly more permanently).
- The Colbert Report: Alpha Squad Seven: The New Tek Jansen Adventures, the Show Within a Show, had the better part of a whole episode with someone dying (with a massive crater in his torso, no less) but taking about three minutes talking with Tek Jansen about directions to get to the place that the MacGuffin needed to go, and only finally expired after plenty of fumbling, putzing around, and being interrupted.
- The Lost Room: The Key ends up in Joe's possession after it's previous owner enters his apartment and then dies from gunshot wounds.
- In Merlin the Fisher King gives Merlin a vial of water from Avalon's lake just before he dies (this is important in the final episode) and a witch gives Arthur a horn that can bring back the dead just before she dies.
- Power Rangers S.P.D.: Starts with one of these (though he gives Jack the plot device a bit before the Mecha-Mooks catch up with him, leading them away.)
- Revolution: In the pilot episode, knowing he is about to be captured, Ben Matheson gives his lanyard to Aaron. Then is accidentally and fatally shot a few minutes later.
- In the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "The Forge," Archer meets a Vulcan who then gets struck by sand lightning. Before dying, the Vulcan mind-melds with Archer — transferring the katra of Surak.
- Supernatural: The Colt is the focus of an entire season, and is handed to the main characters by its dying guardian.
- Warehouse 13: Regent Jane (aka Pete's mom, aka Captain Janeway) is given a bracelet by a fellow regent who was trapped by the rubble of the building they were trying to escape. It makes her "The Guardian" of Warehouse 13 and helps them "keep control" of it — details deliberately sketchy at this point.
- Oswald in King Lear, after being mortally wounded by Edgar:
Slave, thou hast slain me: villain, take my purse:
If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body;
And give the letters which thou find'st about me
To Edmund earl of Gloucester; seek him out
Upon the British party: O, untimely death!
- Of course Edgar doesn't give the letters to Edmund, his mortal enemy.
- Surviving a Zeppelin crash in the intro cinematic of Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, you are given a ring by a dying gnome, and told to "Find the boy".
- Subverted when the rings turns out to be completely unnecessary for anything more than selling it back to its owner for a petty sum. With the game's heavy Lord of the Rings references, this is likely intentional.
- Cave Story has the main character in the Labyrinth trying to escape. Dr. Booster gets teleported in and suffers a big fall. When you talk to them, they give you an item to proceed further into the Labyrinth. Dedicated players will find that the jump is possible without the item and will cause Dr. Booster to reserve his energy to live and give you the item at a later time, after improving it even more. People that play towards the end of the game will find a journal of Dr. Booster that details his wished to make the item, as long as he lives long enough.
- Dark Souls starts this way. The player encounters a dying knight who gives the player the Estus Flask, the key out of the Undead Asylum and the quest to ring the twin Bells of Awakening.
- This is how you get the kinesis module in Dead Space. A blinded, mortally-wounded woman manages to hang on long enough, alone in a monster infected Ghost Ship, to give Isaac a necessary tool for solving the various puzzles he'll be presented with later.
- Occurs in the tutorial of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, when Emperor Uriel Septim VII gives the Player Character the Amulet of Kings, an Only the Chosen May Wield McGuffin which can be used to identify a member of the Septim line, moments before being cut down by an assassin. (It's later used to confirm his Hidden Backup Prince, Martin, as his legitimate heir.)
- In Eternal Darkness, Michael Edwards is perfectly healthy but suspects that the Ancients are going to kill him not long after he gives his MacGuffin to Edward Roivas.
- The "Face-Tailor" story in Fallen London starts this way, with an NPC you've seen once before clutching a mysterious flint idol in his hands as he dies... but Death Is Cheap in the Neath, and instead of taking the thing you can just wait for him to come back in the hopes of getting some answers. This option is risky, of course, as his killer is likely sticking around, and you'll need to be Shadowy enough to ensure your own safety.
- If the dream of being a hero counts as a sort of McGuffin, then Zack and Cloud play this out in the Final Fantasy VII prequel Crisis Core.
- Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War has Sigurd receive his Holy Weapon, Tyrfing, this way.
- The plot of Heiwaboke Crisis is kickstarted when a man who accidentally released Sealed Evil in a Can (and was mortally wounded while escaping) staggers up to your chosen character and hands her a Mysterious Orb and a Book of Spirits.
- In Jak II: Renegade, Baron Praxis gives you the Precursor Stone after Kor kills him.
- and by "give", we mean he revealed the bomb containing the stone which would have destroyed the entire world if exploded. Dumb guy.
- Jeanne d'Arc opens with an anime Joan of Arc and her sidekick finding a dying man on horseback, carrying two very weird things: an extravagant gold bracer, and a giant purple frog. They proceed to kick ass against the Englishmen who now ally with a demon army. Unfortunately, they don't realize the real potential of these artifacts until one of them is doomed (and eventually executed) and the other is too far away to save her.
- If you didn't pick up the Arm Cannon Power up in Mega Man X when Zero Dies at the hands of Vile he gives X his Arm Cannon which then becomes the Arm Cannon Upgrade.
- Mother series:
- Done in EarthBound when Buzz Buzz is fatally wounded by Pokey's mother. Before he dies, he hands you the Sound Stone so you can record the Your Sanctuary melodies. He was going to give it to you in a bit, anyway.
- In the first game, EarthBound Beginnings, after R7038xx destroys EVE, your protector robot, the seventh Melody is found in its body.
- A rather interesting version in Mother 3: taking a MacGuffin is what causes its guardian Magypsy to die ( or rather, disappear). I'm Not Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin?
- Panzer Dragoon begins like this, only it's not a MacGuffin: it's a dragon, and its rider is shot and killed while fighting the Dark Dragon.
- Played with in Red Dead Redemption II. Arthur, realising that he is not going to survive, give his iconic hat and satchel to John Marston. Whilst the hat never gets seen again after 2, the satchel goes on to star in Red Dead Redemption, providing John with a semi-plausible place to keep his mountain of items. It gets re-MacGuffin'ed to Jack off screen in the epilogue, thus making it one of the few things to survive both games.
- In Resident Evil: Outbreak, Raymond the cop notices a gasoline tanker truck just before he's attacked by a zombie. He yells for the player(s) to unleash the gas from the truck and use it to set the zombies on fire, dropping a cigarette lighter in the process.
- Space Quest starts out with one. Roger was napping on the job and avoided the brutal Sarien invasion of the Arcada. He ducks into a laboratory, where the dying head scientist gives him the code to a cartridge containing plans to self-destruct the Star Generator, and for Xenon to rebuild the device in order to save their dying sun.
- Ted hands his Soul Eater True Rune to Tir in Suikoden, and the rest is history.
- In Tales of Symphonia, Governor-General Dorr gives Lloyd and his friends a gate pass just before he succumbs to a back stab given to him by Kilia. This is the only way the protagonists can get to Asgard, as the gate passes are being sold at 100,000,000 gald per person.
- Warcraft III: In The Frozen Throne expansion's Horde campaign, a dying orc gives the player character, Rexxar, a report meant for the orc warchief, Thrall. This brings Rexxar to the orc capital of Orgrimmar, but otherwise has little to do with the overall plot of the campaign.
- In ZHP: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman, you are given the Unlosing Ranger's belt by its previous holder, Pirohiko Ichimonji, as he lays dying after being hit by a car. This is also how Pirohiko himself received the belt, as well as everyone to take on the "Unlosing Ranger" title before him.
- The plot of Super Nova is kicked off when Templar dies in battle and passes his power armor (as a bracelet) to the nearby Nik, granting him the title.
- In Charby the Vampirate Jozk sends the Rose sisters to complete his task of delivering the snathe of the Demon Scythe to Zeno after he is fatally injured.
- Allison of Kill Six Billion Demons is given a Key of Kings by Zoss, the Conquering King, effectively naming her as his successor. There is speculation among the angels that the Key was intended for her boyfriend, Zaid, who she was trying to have sex with at the time. In truth, Zoss has gone through countless time loops trying to find the right successor, possibly includng Zaid, with Allison being his latest attempt.
- In The Noob, Ohforf (the titular noob) looks all set up for this as a high-level player reminisces about his achievements and how he is now in his final hours of his playing the game (the speech is a spoof of the Final Speech from Blade Runner). But haha, no, that would just be too easy on the poor newbie. Besides, the reality of it being in an MMO would make it quite unlikely he could be anyone important.
- The Order of the Stick used this as the origin story for Redcloak as the high priest of the Dark One. He was given his namesake mantle because the other priests couldn't escape when paladins sacked the goblin village for EXP.
- Appears in this strip of Penny Arcade, adapted from the beginning of a Dungeons & Dragons adventure Tycho ran back in 2009.
- Spinnerette: A young cop responds to a robbery at a convenience store, only to find an old man bleeding to death, complaining about getting killed by some random kid with a gun, of all things. The old man tells the cop that he can see goodness in him, then passes on the Spirit of the Tiger before expiring. The cop goes on to become Tiger, a respected superhero in the city. Notable in that no one else knows this; unlike most heroes (who share their origin stories at the drop of a hat), Tiger has always been extremely tight-lipped about his past and the exact nature of his abilities (except that they are not steroids).
- Adventure Time: The episode "The Pods" begins with Finn and Jake finding a very old Gnome Knight who was transformed into a frog and spent his life guarding a trio of magic beans, due to a prophecy that the fruit of one of the three beans would turn out to be pure evil. Finn agrees to take up the Gnome's tireless quest to guard the beans, allowing the Gnome to die, and Finn guards them... for about thirty seconds, until he and Jake decide to just grow all the beans and destroy the evil that comes out.
- In the pilot episode of Batman Beyond, Harry Tully, an associate of Warren McGinnis, Terry's father, passes on an infodisk about a new mutagenic nerve gas that's being developed by Wayne-Powers, after being "accidentally" exposed to it. After Warren gets killed for finding out about it, Terry finds the same infodisk hidden in a picture, which he brings to the elderly Bruce Wayne.
- In Disney's Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series, a cool mask is used by the leader of the Commando Squad to see through the illusion powers of their mortal enemy, Dragonis. However, during a mission that goes wrong, Canard needs to pull a Heroic Sacrifice to save his team, and gives his mask to his second in command Wild Wing, to carry on the mission.
Take it, you're team captain now.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars, "Citadel Rescue": To ensure the hyperspace route coordinates he's carrying gets to the Republic the dying Master Even Piell hands them off to Ahsoka.
- Lampshaded in Stroker and Hoop. A dying karate instructor entrusts the handle of a magic sword to Stroker's son Keith and warns that reuniting the handle with the pieces of the blade would be disastrous. Stroker asks why, if it's such a big deal, the sword wasn't destroyed completely, even suggesting flushing it down the toilet or something. When the sword is reassembled, it's nothing more than an oversized flashlight. Hoop, who was fighting with the villain using the sword, noted that when the sword was broken and separated centuries ago, that people in ancient China would've seen that as amazing or terrifying.
- In Transformers: Generation 1, the Matrix of Leadership is like the present in a Pass The Parcel game. The previous holder dies but just has time to pass it on to their most trusted friend. This happens multiple times, not just in the movie but in the third season too.
- This carries over to Transformers: Prime as well where Primus himself gave Optimus the Matrix before shutting down. In Season 3, a dying Optimus tries to pass the Matrix to Smokescreen. However, Smokescreen subverts this and instead uses an artifact to revive Optimus instead of using it to restore Cybertron. He's worried he made a horrible mistake doing this, but the other Autobots tell him that he made the right call.
- A dying Race Bannon gives a sample of a deadly bioweapon to Brock Samson and the Venture boys in The Venture Bros. episode "Ice Station — Impossible"