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MacGuffin Melee

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The MacGuffin of Infinite Power is on the floor, a pair of feet away. Who will take it first?note 

There is an important MacGuffin that two or more characters want. One character manages to get their hands on it, and now they need to escape. Unfortunately, now everybody is after their ass, and they won't stop until they get it. In fact, they probably will get it, in which case, the hunter now becomes the hunted, as this character must flee, before the others snatch the MacGuffin back from them.

Often the reason the character opt to run instead of fight is due to a time crunch. They can't afford to take the time to fight, or no-one is strong enough to beat the other without getting badly injured. Perhaps they are evenly matched as fighters, but the object may allow to make the difference. Or maybe there a just so many people involved in the chase, it's impossible to keep track of all the players. Expect the aforementioned MacGuffin to trade owners numerous times. Sometimes one person finally comes out on top, and claims the prize, but - often due to all the fighting - it is destroyed either due to someone dropping it by accident, or one person deciding that destroying it is better than letting the enemy claim it.

In some older cartoons, it would often have one character running off with the MacGuffin, only to have another character coming from the opposite direction run by, and snatch it out of his or her hands, only to have someone else do the same to them. That is when they don't just stick out their foot and trip the other character. This is usually done in the more humorous stories.

A Sub-Trope of Chase Fight, with a bit of Cat-and-Mouse Boss thrown in, with the twist that rather than getting a power up that makes the boss run from you, you claim an object that means now you have to run from him. Will likely either be the result of, or caused by a Mêlée à Trois. Also see Crowd Hockey, particularly for when the melee takes place in crowded areas, as well as Loot Drama. Compare Stolen MacGuffin Reveal, where the MacGuffin is only stolen once (twice, tops). Overlaps with Apple of Discord, particularly if the MacGuffin is deliberately set as bait to start a fight, and can overlap with Fighting Across Time and Space when teleportation is involved. A Slippery MacGuffin lends itself especially well to this trope.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) story arc "Treasure Team Tango" is basically this. Especially the last part.
  • Trinity War climaxes in this, with members of three different Justice Leagues fighting over Pandora's Box as a result of the Box's influence. The winner? The Crime Syndicate of Earth-3, which has been manipulating all three Leagues as preparation for an invasion of this Earth. During the melee, Pandora's Box activates and the Crime Syndicate emerges and curb-stomps the Leagues.

    Fan Works 
  • Just like in Canon, Total Drama Do Over features this in the finale of the first season. The chase ends in a much larger crash and a largely similar outcome to the canon season. Of course, with 45 contestants, this trope is exaggerated with moose, helicopters, green jelly, and an atv.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Olympian Journey, just like its source material, has the heroes and villains constantly fighting over the story's Macguffins, in this case the objects containing the essences of the Olympian gods.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim: Season 1 has repeated fights between the heroes (Dib and his new friends) and the villains (Zim and Tak's respective teams) over the Meekrob crystal containing the transponder codes that lead to Project Domination.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Adventures of Tintin (2011) has this with not just one, but three scrolls (which together form a clue to the location of the sunken treasure of the Unicorn) in a chase through the street, on and rooftops and walls, of a North African city.
  • Kung Fu Panda: The final fight between Po and Tai Lung over the Dragon Scroll. This is one of the reasons why Tai Lung loses the fight, as he's concentrating on trying to grab the scroll instead of turning his full strength on his opponent. Po knows the scroll is worthless, except to deliver An Aesop.
  • Happens in the climax of two entries in the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls series, with the same person coming out on top both times.
    • In the first film, when Sunset Shimmer fails to intimidate Princess Twilight into giving up her magical crown, she and her lackeys Snips and Snails move to seize it through brute force. Twilight and her friends toss the crown between each other to keep it out of their hands, but in the confusion of the fight one ends up tossing it right to Sunset.
    • In Sunset’s Backstage Pass, Sunset (now long removed from being a villain) and Pinkie Pie, having learned PostCrush are wielding the Equestrian artifact that’s been keeping Sunset trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop, try to snatch it, resulting in another fight where the artifact is tossed around the room as the various combatants scrabble for possession. Sunset again wins and crushes the artifact under her foot, freeing herself from the loop.
  • The Swan Princess has one between Puffin, Speed and Jean-bob, against Rothbart's assistant over a map of the area, which ends with them playing baseball, football, and hockey with it.
  • The climax of The Wind in the Willows segment of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, in which the characters fight over possession of the deed to Toad Hall.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Some Hong Kong movies combines this with Mêlée à Trois.
    • Millionaires' Express ends with a 25-minute battle between the heroes, bandits and a trio of samurai for a priceless Qin Dynasty scroll.
    • Three Against the World has the protagonist Charlie and his girlfriend, the triads, and master thief Ma fighting each other over a priceless Quran.
  • Batman & Robin play literal hockey with a diamond Mr. Freeze is attempting to retrieve.
  • Buddha's Palm has a scuffle between the hero Long Jian-fei and the hermit Du Gu, over an enchanted Golden Egg. Subverted when Long accidentally drops the egg, which then releases the chi of a spirit living in it... that gets swallowed by Long's pet kirin.
  • In Children's Party at the Palace, when Burglar Bill appears on stage with the the former Queen Elizabeth II's handbag hidden in his SWAG bag after the magic spell is initiated by Mr. Plod and the audience, many of the other storybook characters chase him down. He ends up in a Kneel, Push, Trip situation where the protagonists push him over and dogpile him, ending in his defeat and the handbag to be retrieved by the Goodies.
  • The Great Muppet Caper climaxes with one of these. The MacGuffin in question is the fabulous Baseball Diamond, which the Muppets end up actually playing baseball with.
  • The lounge scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, where Indiana Jones, Willie Scott, and Lao Che's goons fight over a diamond and the antidote to the poison Indiana drank.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Happens twice in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), first with Peter retrieving an orb which contains an infinity stone on Morag, only to be cornered by Korath and Ronan's other lackeys. He escapes them, but shortly after gets attacked by Gamora, Rocket, and Groot on Xandar. (Although, to be fair, at that point Rocket and Groot are after Peter's bounty, not the actual orb.)
    • There's one in the climax of Avengers: Endgame involving Tony's full Infinity Gauntlet. It trades sides several times until Tony manages to secretly remove the Stones with his nano tech.
  • A long extended sequence in the middle of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest involved this, as almost all of the regulars competed for control of the chest containing Davy Jones' heart (or the key that opens it).
  • Rush Hour 2's Red Dragon Casino fight, involving a bomb detonator.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze has a battle in the TGRI labs over a canister of mutagen.

  • In The Affix, about a dozen antagonists go after the jewel, frequently obstructing one another and even killing to thin the herd. This is partly the result of the causality-warping gem drawing them together. The entire series embraces this trope.
  • Several factions want the eponymous Black Cauldron in the second book of The Chronicles of Prydain, including the heroes, the villain, and The Starscream. Considering that the power of the cauldron enables the creation of an undead and fanatically loyal army, it's pretty clear why the bad guys want it, and why the good guys want to destroy it. Unfortunately, to destroy it requires a live sacrifice.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel has a living variant in Season 3: Several different factions want to get their hands on Angel's baby son.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Who Mourns for Mourn?" Everyone fights over Morn's latinum.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • WWE: For a while the WWE Hardcore Title was defended on the "24/7 rule." Anybody could challenge for the belt at any time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no matter what the champ was doing, as long as they had a WWF ref to call the match. Frequently the new champ would then be attacked by one of his friends, who would win the belt only to be challenged in turn, and so on.
    • Now there is a literal 24/7 Title, and the fights over it are much more comical than violent, assuming they aren't just running away from a horde of contenders. R-Truth is the most famous (and frequent) champ; previous ones include Pat Patterson, Gerald Brisco, Candice Michelle, Mayor Glenn Jacobs, and Marshmello.

  • GET THAT PIZZA! is all about stealing a pizza from the other posters. Even a dimension full of pizza doesn't quell the violence.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Paranoia: This is the basis for the first three sections of the adventure The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues. Almost every secret society and service group in Alpha Complex wants the titular Black Box, but most of them don't even know what's in it. It changes hands repeatedly between the various groups during the missions.

    Video Games 
  • There is an entire gameplay type for multiplayer FPSs generically known as "capture the bag" where you gain points by carrying the "bag". The idea is to kill whoever has it and hold onto it yourself for as long as possible.
  • Persona 3 FES: The Answer has one point where all of the main party members are fighting each other over their individual pieces of the Key of Time.
  • Space Station 13. Changelings, Nuclear authentication disks, wizards, RC Ds, EVA, and to many others to count. The game is a giant one.
    • Special mention goes to the Nuclear Authentication Disk. There's an entire game mode, Nuclear Emergency, about a team of Syndicate operatives trying to steal it from the crew in order to blow up the station. The crew's goal is to prevent this, generally by fighting the baddies and/or passing the location-tracked disk around like the world's hottest and most bullet-filled potato. It's also on many servers a possible objective for ordinary traitors to steal in other rounds.

    Western Animation 
  • The The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode "Hail Hydra" had this between the Avengers, Hydra, and Advanced Idea Mechanics a.k.a. AIM for the Cosmic Cube.
  • BIONICLE: The end of the 2006 and the entire 2007 storyline was this involving the mask of life.
  • DuckTales (1987): It happens several times, including both the very first and very last episodes.
    • In "Don't Give Up The Ship", Huey, Dewey and Louie and the Beagle Boys fight over the eponymous model ship.
    • In "The Golden Goose Part One", it's a fight between the thieving Dijon and the Beagle Boys.
    • In "The Golden Goose Part Two", it's a scramble at an abandoned automobile factory between Scrooge, Glomgold, Launchpad, the Beagle Boys, Dijon and his monk brother Poupon.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures also did this. The Talismans of Shendu, the demon portals, the Noble Animals that contained the Talisman powers after the Talismans were shattered, the Shadowkhan masks, and then finally the chi powers of the other Demon Sorcerers (not to mention the various episodic Macguffins not connected to the story arcs). They were always hunting for something, and when both heroes and villains converged on said Macguffin at the same time, one of these usually ensued.
  • Kim Possible has a four way battle between Kim, Shego, Monkey Fist and Duff Killigan for possession of Ron's naked mole rat Rufus.
  • Numerous Looney Tunes episodes, especially ones where Sylvester and another cat compete over who gets to eat Tweety. The winner is always Tweety.
  • Happens in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Vanessassary Roughness", when Doofenshmirtz goes shopping. Several cast members have a reason to get the glowy Macguffin, and of course it's the last one in the store. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In the Pink Panther short "Extinct Pink", the Panther, a caveman, a Tyrannosaurus rex and a small dinosaur go after the same bone.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man did this when Spidey, Hammerhead, Silver Sable, and eventually the Rhino, all throwdown over a disk with technology that will allow the wielder to create their own Rhino-like henchman. Spider-Man and Rhino team up since they don't want that (Spidey does not want more Rhino's, and Rhino likes being the only game in town), allowing them to break the stalemate.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants had a special where Prehistoric Spongebob, Prehistoric Patrick and Prehistoric Squidward have a battle for a flaming log. In the end, the rain puts it out.
  • Likewise, Tom and Jerry sometimes had episodes where Tom had to compete against another cat in order to eat Jerry, and in one case, for a female cat.
  • Total Drama invoked this in the finale of the first season by releasing a case of one million dollars into Camp Wawanakwa with anyone of the 22 competitors in their various groups able to get it. Of course, it gets eaten by a shark.
  • Wander over Yonder: In "The Battle Royale", Wander's attempt to get Hater and Dominator to hook up accidentally causes every villain in the galaxy to fight over what they think is a Ring of Power, but is really just a blorpberry-flavored candy ring.
  • Xiaolin Showdown was arguable one big Macguffin Melee. Heroes and Villains knocked each other all over the place over the Shen gong wu, until two of them grabbed it at once and were forced into a Xiaolin Showdown to determine the winner.


Video Example(s):


Fight For the Queen's Handbag

When Burglar Bill appears thanks to the "Accio Her Majesty’s handbag" spell, the Goodies immediately start rushing in to obtain the MacGuffin: the Queen's handbag, from him.

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