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Keep Away

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The game of tossing an object around in a group to keep it away from someone else.

In one scenario, the heroes are trying to keep the MacGuffin away from the villain or villains. The villain is so focused on the item that they're not fighting the heroes who don't have it.

The answer is to throw the MacGuffin from hero to hero, with the villain being frustrated as he barely misses it each time. If there's a group of villains, expect multiple "yoink!" moments as the groups intercept it from each other.

In another scenario, the protagonist might be quietly minding his own business on the schoolyard when a group of bullies come up and take something of his, then pass it around to another one whenever he gets close. If he can make a plausible threat of getting them in trouble, expect them to transparently lie and claim that it was only a game; otherwise, they might just keep the MacGuffin. One way or another, the protagonist will need to find an effective way to deal with the bullies.

Polar opposite of the MacGuffin Delivery Service and Hot Potato. If the heroes and villains get into a physical scuffle during the "Keep Away" session, it's a MacGuffin Melee.


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  • In an advertisement for State Farm, a woman sings a jingle to summon her State Farm agent (Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there!) who tells her that her State Farm discounts saved her $150, so she's good to buy a fancy purse that she wants. Another woman, who's with her, sings I don't have State Farm, but insurance, please find me money, which summons a fisherman with a dollar at the end of his fishing hook.
    Fisherman: I got you a dollar! (woman snatches for it) Ooh, you almost had it! (jiggles fishing line) You gotta be quicker than that. (chuckles)

    Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece:
    • Luffy, having extendable rubber arms, is able to perform this trope all by himself to keep Usopp from drinking the group's water supply (and even names it as a technique: the "Gomu Gomu no Dame Da"; Dame Da roughly means "No Way" or "Stop That").
    • Around the time the Straw Hats depart Water 7, as part of their plan to recruit an unwilling Franky into the crew, they lure him to where the Sunny is docked by having the Franky Family steal his speedo, and passing it from person to person. Franky only gets it back after he joins.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • In chapter 166 (the No Dialogue Chapter), several of Negi's students play keep away with his ring-wand (they're 14/15, he's ten, teasing him is their favorite sport) until Akira, who was helping him look for it in the first place, brings it to a surprisingly abrupt end.
    • It is also done several chapters later with Negi's unconscious body at a sleepover. Boy's a deep sleeper.
  • There is a Pokémon: The Series episode where the heroes and villains fight over the then unhatched Togepi egg while maneuvering through Weezing's smoke. Pikachu ultimately catches it before it could shatter, but Misty's the main mom to it.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Jonouchi/Joey and Honda/Tristan throw around a piece of Yugi's Millennium Puzzle before Joey tosses it into a pool. Later on, when Yugi stands up for the two of them, Joey gives the piece back.
  • In one of the animated adaptations of Higurashi: When They Cry, Satako and a couple other students do this with one of Rika's books. Cue Rika beating the stuffing out of Satoko with a chair.
  • Ranma ½: In the manga, Ranma, Genma, and Sōun toss Happōsai between the three of them in order to keep him away from Pantyhose Tarō. The Dirty Old Man takes it in stride, even calmly smoking his pipe during those antics. Ranma even says:
    Ranma: Keep passing the pervert around!
  • In one of the Monster Musume OVA's, Papi and Suu does this while playing with Lala's head.

    Comic Books 
  • DuckTales: During the "Rightful Owners" arc, Scrooge, the kids, and Launchpad toss the candy-striped ruby back and forth to keep it out of the hands of the bad guys trying to steal it.

    Fan Works 
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: As in the original Equestria Girls film, the new Bearers use this to try and keep the Element of Magic away from Sunset, Snips and Snails. Unlike that film, the principals get involved too, as it's tossed towards them at one point. It doesn't work, unfortunately, as Sunset manages to get her hands on it and put it on.

    Films — Animation 
  • At the end of The Incredibles, the heroes do this with Syndrome's remote control, keeping it away from the Omnidroid it controls.
  • Titan A.E. has a scene where some bat-like aliens do this with the protagonist as the "ball" to keep him safe. They're running away from the villains, and they're passing Cale to each other as they're shot down by the bad guys.
  • Mr. Toad and his friends Mole, Water Rat, and Angus MacBadger actually do this to the deed for Toad Hall at the end of The Wind in the Willows segment of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad in order to get rid of the evil innkeeper Mr. Winkie and his army of weasels, who have taken over the mansion after framing Toad for allegedly stealing a car. Toad complicates matters enormously during the scuffle by tossing out dozens of paper-airplane decoy deeds, confusing everybody.
  • Baloo and Bagheera actually do this with Mowgli near the middle of The Jungle Book (1967) in order to rescue him from King Louie and the other monkeys. Curiously enough, the animation for this scene was actually taken from the above film.
  • Aladdin: The Return of Jafar ends with Aladdin and his friends trying to get Jafar's lamp away from him and Abis Mal in order to destroy it, because according to Genie, the only way to kill a genie is to destroy his lamp before his summoner can wish him free (at which the genie becomes invincible afterwards). Jafar finds out about this, and as a result he traps the heroes in a pit of lava, with the lamp just out of reach. Fortunately, Iago the parrot shows up in time, grabs Jafar's lamp, and throws it into the lava. Cue Jafar getting electrocuted, turning into a skeleton, screaming throughout, and exploding violently.
  • The climax of Shrek 2 does this with the Fairy Godmother's magic wand.
  • In The Boxtrolls, Snatcher tries to take away Lord Portley-Rind's white hat when Winnie takes it and tosses it back and forth between the other good guys, as a distraction while the Boxtrolls dismantle Snatcher's machine from under him.
  • Toward the end of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, the girls toss the crown of Princess of the Fall Formal between each other to keep Snips and Snails from grabbing it for Sunset Shimmer. It backfires when Twilight fails to check her throw.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The climax of Avengers: Endgame is a big game of keep away. The Avengers and their resurrected allies are trying to keep the second infinity gauntlet they made out of the clutches of Thanos.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze has the title turtles playing keep-away from the Foot with the last canister of mutagenic ooze. It eventually finds its way into Tatsu's hands when one of the defeated Foot lays a staff across the floor, causing Donatello, who is riding on a chair, to wipe out.
  • The climax to the second live-action Scooby-Doo movie features the gang trying to keep a piece of machinery away from a group of monsters.
  • The Black Comedy / Body Horror movie Street Trash does this with a homeless guy's severed penis.
  • The bullies in Beethoven do this to Ted with his glasses.
  • In the altered present in OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let's Go Kamen Riders, Eiji and Ankh run into trouble with some kids, who proceed to steal Eiji's OOO Medals and pass them around in order to inconvenience poor Eiji. Later, in the climax of the film, those same kids steal the OOO Driver from the Shocker Greeed; the gathered crowd decide to help them out and join in the pass-around until the captive Riders are freed and the Driver is returned to Eiji.
  • In Angel, Angel, Down We Go, Bogie takes a very expensive necklace from Astrid and tosses it back and forth with the band members, saying he'll only give it back if she goes skydiving with them.
  • A long take in Game Night has the protagonists running through a mansion with the Faberge egg, tossing it back and forth to each other as mooks catch up to them.
  • West Side Story (2021): In this adaptation's version of "Cool", Tony takes away Riff's gun that he just bought for the rumble and won't give it back unless he calls off the rumble while Riff tries to take it back. After Riff continues to refuse to back down, Tony tries to get rid of it, only for Riff to snatch it back. The rest of the Jets present then keep tossing it to each other to keep Tony from getting it again.
  • The Giant: At a bus stop late at night, some hoodlums take Rikard's hat and start playing keep away with it. Roland chases them away by throwing pétanque boules at them.
  • The Great Muppet Caper has loads of fun with this in the heist foiling scene. Once that diamond starts getting tossed around, the Muppets start bragging about their throwing skills, the host of The Wide World of Muppet Sports shows up, theme music starts playing...

  • In the The Berenstain Bears chapter books, this is just one of the ways the bullies pick on Ferdy.
  • In Judy Blume's Blubber, Jill joins the class Alpha Bitch and her crowd in a game of keep-away with Linda's notebook. Later on, when Jill herself becomes the target the same crowd plays catch with her math book before throwing it in the street.
  • In The Eyes of Kid Midas, the schoolyard bullies Bertram and Hal play keep away with the protagonist's glasses. They break. Luckily, he gets a new pair.
  • Moon Base Alpha: When Dash goes to Roddy to get help on hacking into Moon Base Alpha's computer systems, he finds Patton and Lily Sjoberg are doing this with a pair of VR Goggles on Roddy.
  • In Oliver Button Is a Sissy, the older boys do this with Oliver's tap shoes, before one of the girls stops them. Based on an actual incident from author/illustrator Tomie dePaola's childhood.
    • dePaola would later refer to this incident again in For the Duration, the final volume in the 26 Fairmount Avenue series.
  • In The Ring of Solomon, a prequel book of The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Bartimaeus successfully retrieves the titular ring from Ammet, the powerful spirit of Khaba the Cruel. Afterwards, he returns to Jerusalem and takes the form of the shadow of Khaba that Ammet always assumed, pretending to be Ammet who has come to return the ring to Khaba. As he draws closer...
    The shadow made as if to drop the Ring into his palm, then – at the last moment – jerked it out of reach. Khaba swiped for the Ring and missed. He hopped and danced, squeaking with annoyance, but now the shadow raised the Ring high above his head, dangling it teasingly from side to side. "Nearly got it," the shadow said. "Oo, that was a big jump. If only you were a little taller." "What are you doing, slave?" Khaba roared. "Give me the Ring! Give it to me!" The shadow clapped a hand against one of its outsize ears. "Sorry, ugly. I’m a bit deaf. What did you say?" "Give it to me!" "Nothing would give me greater pleasure." At which the shadow drew back, swung a fist and punched the Egyptian square on the chin, sending him bodily off the floor, whistling backwards through the air, and down onto one of the golden tables, which shattered beneath his sprawling weight.
  • The Tribe: Riley Callahan and his posse play a game of this with Spencer and his inhaler. It goes on until he can't breathe.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Doctor and Ace with the Bow of Nemesis in the Doctor Who serial "Silver Nemesis".
  • In a three-episode arc of The Good Place, all of the Janets play Keep-Away with the Judge's destroy the Earth thingy by hiding it in each of their voids. When the Judge finds out the thingy isn't in their voids, she marbleizes them all one by one.
  • House of Anubis: In the season one finale, Sibuna does this...with a jar of deadly sandflies they had managed to get from Rufus following Fabian tackling him to the ground. Seeing that it was extremely dangerous, it also seemed like a game of Hot Potato as well; nobody wanted to hold it, they just didn't want to drop it, and they wanted to keep Rufus from getting it. Jerome soon solved the problem by throwing it at the ground near Rufus himself and bolting, allowing Sibuna to escape while Rufus was attacked by the swarm of sandflies.
  • Kenan & Kel try this with a remote control in "Foul Bull" when they attempt to stop the former's father from seeing that they have something to do with Ron Harper's injury. It ends quickly when Roger grabs on Kel to get the remote.
  • Used as a spoof of Rugby in Maid Marian and Her Merry Men. Just to add to the spoof, they're using an actual egg.
  • Apparently Monk played this version right through College. It becomes useful.
  • Power Rangers:

  • One Rifftrax short features a young Woobie falling victim to this, courtesy of some neighborhood bullies. Riffer Bill Corbett notes that a game of "Monkey in the Middle" can quickly be ended by a good, swift crotch punch from the Monkey.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the climax of the March of the Machine story from Magic The Gathering, this is done with the character Wrenn. She's a dryad who's lost her limbs during the battle against New Phyrexians, but if she can get close enough to Realmbreaker (the supernatural tree they're using to send their forces throughout the multiverse) she might be able to bond with it and seize control of it. What little resistance fighters are still left take it upon themselves to toss her between each other so that she can reach the tree.

  • In the musical Violet, Monty does this after taking Violet's book.
  • Death and the Angels may play a game of Keep Away with the gun during the Mayerling Waltz.

    Video Games 
  • The recurring "Oddball" game mode in every Halo multiplayer game, which in-turn is based on the "Kill The Man With The Ball" mode in Marathon. In both cases, the 'ball' is a skull, and the objective is to hold on to it for as long as possible while the other team hunts you down. While holding the ball, you are limited to melee attacks and your position is broadcast to everyone.
  • Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric has Sonic and Knuckles doing this with the Radiant Crystal, with both Lyric and Eggman, respectively, attacking them in an attempt to get it. Deconstruction ensues when Lyric and Eggman call off their "partnership", Eggman's attempt to kill Lyric with Metal Sonic goes awry, and the latter razes half of Slowpoke Isle all because Sonic and company wanted to get them away from Bygone Island.
  • Occurs briefly in Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers: at the end of the game, Big Bad Tetelo is threatening Gabriel's friends, Detective Mosely and Grace, but can't attack Gabriel directly because of his Schattenjaeger amulet, which protects him. She demands the amulet or she'll kill them. The correct answer is to throw the amulet over her head (while taunting her) to Mosely, who then gets Grace out of danger while protected.
  • Mario Party 10: The minigame Keep-Away Mayhem places three players in a triangle shape in a sports field, with a solo player in the middle. The three players are given a soccer ball that they have to prevent their opponent from either kicking or stealing. They can use the A, 1, and 2 buttons on the Wii Remote to choose which teammate to pass the ball to, and if they can keep the solo player from getting the ball until the 30-second timer expires, they win the minigame.
  • Shantae and the Pirate's Curse: The "Do not give" option for the Module to the Ammo Baron, is "Sure... Yoink!" and his response on always failure is:
    Ha! I'll grab faster next time. Do it again!

    Web Animation 
  • In the Gotham Girls web Flash animated series, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy try to keep their loot from Batgirl in this manner. Unfortunately for the crooks, Batgirl takes advantage of Harley's childish gullibility and calls to her to throw the item to her. Harley, caught up in the tossing, does so and realizes too late that she's suckered while Batgirl makes her getaway.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends pilot "House of Bloo's", Wilt, Eduardo and Coco do this to keep Bloo from getting adopted by a bratty girl before Mac gets back.
  • In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Kid Stuff", the Leaguers do this to keep the "Amulet of First Magic" away from Mordred.
  • Given the Gotta Catch Them All nature of Jackie Chan Adventures, it's little surprise this often happens. The second season opener subverts it: once the keep-away session (with the Talismans) is completed, Uncle angrily reveals that the heroes have gone after the wrong MacGuffin.
  • Kim Possible does it a few times.
    • In "A Sitch in Time", it's the head of the Tempus Simia idol. They also do the schoolyard version.
    • In "Adventures in Rufus Sitting", everyone's after the microchip that the token naked mole rat has swallowed.
  • Transformers:
    • This is directly used as a spoof of American Football in season 3 of Transformers: Generation 1 as Blurr, Wheelie and the others throw Metroplex's conveniently egg-shaped Transformation Cog to one another while running. Indeed, the term "yoink!" in these moments is a sort of inside gag for Transformers fans, as it pops up in a lot of fan works.
    • In the pilot of Transformers: Animated, the Autobots do this trying to keep the AllSpark away from Starscream.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: The Kids Next Door do this once with a football-shaped bomb.
  • The Batman has an episode where he and Batgirl keep getting snatched from them (or dropped) the antidote that will cure the three villains.
  • The Simpsons:
  • In DuckTales (1987), the Beagle Boys and the triplets Huey, Dewey and Louie ended up doing this with a bag of form-changing powder, while engaged in a Shapeshifter Showdown on top of that!
  • Near the end of one episode of Cyberchase, the kids toss the Sun...
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "The Return of Harmony, Part 2", brainwashed Fluttershy leads this game to keep the Elements of Harmony Reference Guide away from Twilight Sparkle.
    • In "Daring Don't", everypony but Rainbow Dash play this game to keep the Ring of Destiny away from the villains. Dash and Daring Do, meanwhile, use the distraction to sabotage the rest of the rings.
    • In "For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils", the Cutie Mark Crusaders play keep-away with the box containing the sabotaged headdress so Sweetie Belle can fix it before it ruins Rarity's reputation and career.
  • In the Celebrity Deathmatch fight between Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Zombie, Ozzy and Mills do this with Rob's brain. (It Makes Sense in Context, seriously. Nick Diamond calls it a "game of Hot Potato", but Ozzy is trying to keep it away from Rob, so it more fits this Trope.)
  • In "Toby Braves the Bully" from Sheriff Callie's Wild West, the bully, Bradley Bulldog, pulls this on Toby, taking his newspapers and taunting him with them, before throwing them all to the ground.
  • On an episode of Doug, Roger and his gang play keep-away with AV nerd Larry's hat. This kicks off the main plot; when the hat lands on Doug's pencil and he holds it up, Larry mistakes him for playing along with the game and lashes out at him.
  • On ToddWorld, Todd loves playing keep away with his talking dog Benny, though not so much in "The Art of Change" when Benny takes a paintbrush of his and tries to keep it away from him because he wants him to play, even though Todd is trying to work on a mural.
  • During the climax of Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel, the heroes do this with the power source of the villains' superweapon in order to keep them from using said superweapon to destroy the Tri-State Area. Unfortunately, the villains do manage to get it back, but their victory lasts all of ten seconds before Phineas and Ferb's space station crash-lands right on top of the superweapon.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: In "World Wide Wabbit", the gang tries to keep Mr. Herriman from finding out about his status as an Internet celebrity (thanks to a viral video Mac and Frankie secretly taped). When he goes to fetch the newspaper, which has his picture on the front page, they take it and toss it to keep him from seeing it. When Eduardo catches it and Herriman has him cornered, he resorts to eating it.
  • Total Drama: In "If You Can't Take The Heat", Heather demands that Owen get her makeup bag from the cabin. When he returns after encountering bees, Owen ends up tossing the bag in Heather's direction, only for Leshawna to intercept it. Leshawna then throws the bag to Beth, who then throws it to Lindsay, with Leshawna motioning her to throw it in the walk-in freezer. When Heather snaps her fingers to get her makeup bag, Lindsay instead backhand throws the bag in the freezer, allowing Leshawna to lock Heather inside.


Video Example(s):


Xavitan and Darunia

Pursued by a group of Aguma Soldiers, Xavitan and Darunia toss the water regulator device between each other to keep it out of the Aguma's hands.

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Example of:

Main / KeepAway

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