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A Living MacGuffin sought after for some supernatural ability or quality they have. Searching for the Apocalypse Maiden or Barrier Maiden is common, or perhaps they have some other power that would be useful, such as curing a disease.

Characters who are sought after due to their status go under Hostage MacGuffin. Characters with some mundane trait (beauty, intelligence, etc) that makes them a target go under Mundane MacGuffin Person, while ones who were originally literally objects go under MacGuffin Turned Human.

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Often a Person of Mass Destruction.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Attack on Titan, Eren is hunted by everybody so that he either gets to be humanity's greatest weapon, dissected, executed, or be brought back to fellow Titans. It's later revealed that he is also able to control titans to an extent. This is why people with powers the same as, or even stronger than his were willing to go to such lengths to capture him alive. Christa also becomes an example later on, due to her heritage and ability to reveal the secrets of the Walls being revealed. The Survey Corps' solution to this is to sweep both of them under the rug until they reach adulthood, upon which they can deal with it better.
  • Azmaria from Chrono Crusade is a young choir singer. She's sought after by the bad guys beacuse she's an apostle; a human with holy power. In her case it's healing power.
  • C.C. from Code Geass gets used as a Living MacGuffin, as evidenced by the existence of a special canister designed to contain her. In Code Geass R2, she has this role because she has a special power that is needed in order for The Emperor's master plan to work.
  • Crime Zone starts off with Aburaya Shiro, the main character who thought that he was just an Ordinary High-School Student finding out that he is somehow key to the plans of the vampires who've been put on the run by humankind, and that the government has been keeping a close watch on him for years as a result.
  • Digimon Adventure: Hikari/Kari is hunted by Myotismon because she's the eighth digidestined and the holder of the Crest of Light. Heck, one of her image songs is even called "Holy Light."
  • Being a young child who is also a walking Fantastic Nuke, Fabien in Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte was subjected to multiple kidnapping attempts. This causes him to become afraid of people, especially taller males.
  • In Franken Fran, a girl is this to a sect. The building of the sect becomes her body. Then she gets pregnant. And when the embryo awakens, mother and child merge to become the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
  • Inori of Guilty Crown. At first, she's just the Mystical Waif, but she is later revealed to be the vessel for the Apocalypse Virus. Which is intelligent, and angry that everyone is treating her vessel like an actual person.
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, Itsuki Koizumi plays this role in "The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina". Yuki Nagato wants to steal his hidden esper powers, and the eponymous Mikuru Asahina is charged to protect Itsuki.
  • The first half of Last Exile concerns Claus and Lavie (and later, the entire crew of the Silvana) trying to keep Alvis out of the clutches of the Guild. Why they're hunting her isn't revealed until the last episode. Turns out she's a living "ignition key" for the eponymous space ship.
  • Maken-ki!: Himegami was initially sought by Kamigari, on suspicion of attempting to break the Amo no Iwato seal, which was later revealed to be a false charge. The true reason they're after her, is because she's the biological daughter of Yamato no Orochi and the seal can only be broken with her Orochi blood.
  • Vivio of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, who is sought after by the villains because she's the clone of the last Sankt Kaiser, and they need her to activate and control the Saint's Cradle.
  • Nectar of Dharani: Sakra has the Ambrosia, one of the last pieces of magic left in the world. It can be used to give any human temporary superpowers, but there are implied to be other uses, which is why The Empire wants it.
  • Shirahoshi in One Piece. Vander Decken wants to marry her so he can use her ability to control Sea Kings.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Madoka Kaname has a huge potential to become a powerful Magical Girl. This drives a lot of the conflict, as Team Pet Kyubey wants her to take up the role, but Dark Magical Girl Homura wants to stop her from doing so, going as far as shooting and killing Kyubey right when she decides to make a contract. Eventually we learn that in this setting, being one goes hand in hand with being an Apocalypse Maiden.
    • For the added twist, Homura mereley wanted to save Madoka, trying countless times across different timelines, but actually making Madoka just THAT MUCH MORE potent as a Magical Girl.
  • So, I Can't Play H!: To everyone's surprise (including her own), Mina turns out to be "The One" Lisara and the others had been searching for. The near boundless energy contained within her being can potentially save all of Grimwald, and stems from her overwhelming feelings toward Ryosuke.
  • Kagura in Speed Grapher, the daughter of a supermodel-turned-financial-superpower, can also turn people's fantasies to real superpowers with her kiss. The entire series is about rescuing her from her family.
  • Variable Geo: The Jahana Group pressures Satomi into joining the VG Tournament as their test subject, after Damian senses the magnitude of her aura and has a background check done on her. It revealed she had one of the highest fighting potentials on record, making her the ideal specimen for the "Black Goddess" project: the means by which to resurrect Miranda Jahana.
  • Witch Hunter: The Hero, Tasha Godspell, is revealed to be both the key to the Big Bad's plans for wiping out humanity, but also the key to stopping these plans and saving mankind. Exactly how this works has yet to be explained. There are also several other witches out to capture him, including his own sister.
  • Kaname of Full Metal Panic! is a downplayed example, as there are others with her abilities, and she plays an active role in the story outside of being protected/sought.
  • In QQ Sweeper Fumi has both a White Queen and a Black Queen inside her, and either one emerging will greatly impact the world.
  • In Noein, Haruka's Dragon Torque ability allows her to choose from possible futures, and the villain wants her to merge the worlds into one future.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Kuwabara becomes a Distressed Dude in the Chapter Black arc because of his Spirit Sword's ability to cut through anything, which his kidnappers believe includes the barrier between Earth and the demon realm. Unfortunately for Kuwabara, the fact that one of the villains is a power copier means that his cooperation - and survival - are not mandatory.
  • In the movie My Hero Academia: Heroes: Rising, the Big Bad Nine has the ability to steal other peoples' Quirks, however, overusing his abilities damages his cells. For this reason, he seeks out Katsuma, who has the Cell Activation Quirk, which would allow him to use his powers without limit and make him powerful enough to enact his vision of a world ruled by the strong. The heroes' goal is therefore to protect him and stop Nine from finding him.
    • This occasionally happens in compressed format with Eraserhead in the main series. Due to his Power Nullifier ability, villains often target him first (such as in the Shie Hassaikai raid) and heroes/he himself take pains to prioritize his Quirk (such as in the Paranormal Liberation War).

    Comic Books 
  • In Monsters Unleashed, Kei Kawade is sought after by SHIELD and various villain groups like the Intelligencia due to the global security threat his Inhuman ability to summon titanic monsters with his drawings poses. The Inhumans want him for the same reasons as well as the fact that he's The Chosen One and the reincarnation of their fabled queen of old.
  • Superboy, particularly the Jon Kent version, is a Half-Kryptonian with the potential to become more powerful than Superman. Naturally all of Superman's enemies want to either control or kill Superboy.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): In this Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) fanfiction, Ghidorah prioritizes capturing the half-human, half-Ghidorah Monster X partly because Ghidorah wants to forcibly use the hybrid as a Baby Factory for spawning more Ghidorah-derived monsters.
  • In a way, Socrates of Calvin and Hobbes: The Series is one of these, due to the alien transmitter embedded in his head. He's Locked Out of the Loop about it, but it comes up as a plot device occasionally.
  • The Final Sword: Rebora, crossed over with MacGuffin Turned Human, whose level of importance reaches the extent that she makes the entire Touken Ranbu universe about her. Being "the sword created to bring victory", the central conflict of TouRabu now can't be solved without her, and with the massive jackpot she hits at the Superpower Lottery, canon swords now serve no purpose but to gawk at and praise her feats of non-canonical superpowers and canon enemies now desire her by any means possible.
  • The Heart Trilogy, a series of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings fics, has Kathryn, one of the last Seers. Her power of clairvoyance gets the attention of several factions on both sides of the moral line. Even her lover Smaug initially takes interest in her because of her heavenly singing voice and Seer powers before he develops feelings for her. However, the most dangerous threat to Kathryn is Fankil who wants to use her visions to locate the Door of Night and release his father Morgoth from the void.
  • In Son of the Western Sea the Olympians consider the nascent god of spaceflight to be one, as whichever Pantheon has the first one will have too great an advantage over their rivals in expanding their influence into space to ever let them go. Hephaestus goes so far as to state that they have won the space race as a result after Percy is confirmed by Poseidon as being an emergent god with spaceflight as one of his domains. Percy himself has no idea that this is going on or even the fact that he is a god.
  • Much like how the Kraang needed April's DNA to perfect the mutagen in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), April becomes a priority asset in Sacrifice (Ravenshell) to the Earth Protection Force — her blood is a key ingredient in creating retromutagen to cure the new mutants and her Psychic Powers induce a Restoration of Sanity on the mutants who's sudden mutations made them savage and distressed. While not a prisoner, she is held up at Earth Protection Force's facility for her own protection.
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    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Golden Child in The Golden Child is something of a child lama, desired by both sides. He doesn't count quite as a MacGuffin since his own abilities and efforts are conducive (if not critical) to his own escape.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Vision has one of the Infinity Stones implanted in his forehead. Unfortunately for him, there's a Galactic Conqueror out there hell-bent on gathering all six of them. This comes to a head in Avengers: Infinity War: the villains are actively hunting him, while the heroes can destroy the stone but want to spare his life by extracting it safely first. Ultimately, Thanos just tears it out of his forehead, killing him.
    • America Chavez has the ability to create portals to other universes. In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Wanda Maximoff wants to steal this power from her so she can go to a universe where her children are real, and continue using the power to ensure nothing ever hurts them. Unfortunately, taking away America's powers will also kill her.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X2: X-Men United: William Stryker kidnaps Professor X in order to force the latter to commit genocide against mutants. Once Magneto gains the upper-hand, he modifies the settings of Dark Cerebro so that it targets humans instead.
    • X-Men: First Class: Sebastian Shaw wants Xavier to join the Hellfire Club because the latter is a more advanced telepath than Shaw's Dragon Emma Frost.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: The titular villain desires Charles' ability for his own because it's "the answer" to Apocalypse's quest for divinity.
      Apocalypse: For the first time in a thousand lifetimes, I have you. For all my gifts, I have yet to possess the one I needed most. To be everywhere. To be everyone.

    Literature 
  • The Dresden Files has the Archive, a repository of all written works from all of human history. Because knowledge is very literally power in the Dresdenverse, she's a terrifyingly powerful wizard when called upon. While most wizards see her only as the Archive, Harry calls her "Ivy". Names have power in the Dresdenverse, so calling her that actually makes her more human and less scary-supercharged-twelve-year-old.
  • In Cerberus High, the peculiar existence of Kazuki alone has piqued the interests of many within the school due to his status of being neither human nor canid breed. Something entirely new and unique.
    • Xiomara is a notable example as, throughout the Brazen Youths Arcs, Xiomara tries to sway Kazuki into joining her assassin's league as he possesses a great power like no other.
    • He also becomes a key piece in Neo's plans of godhood due to him possessing the blood of Hades.
  • In Everworld, Senna has various magical powers, but the one that interests the power players is the fact that she can open the doorway between Everworld and ours. Loki wants her so that he can abandon Everworld to Ka Anor, Ka Anor presumably wants to keep any gods from escaping, Merlin wants to put her where she can't be used by others, and our main characters just want her to send them home. However, unlike most of the characters on this page, Senna knows how to milk her situation and winds up being part of the Big Bad Ensemble.
  • In Good Omens, Warlock, the child anti-christ falls into this, being contended for by both Aziraphale and Crowley. Except not as due to a mix-up at birth, the potential anti-christ is growing up elsewhere with another family.
  • Lyra Belacqua in His Dark Materials is the "involved in a prophecy version." To be precise, she is the new "Eve" and thus her destiny is to end destiny, without knowing what she's doing. Needless to say, the bad guys do not want to this to happen, while her allies do their best to protect her until her moment comes.
  • In Neverwhere, Door spends most of the book being chased by everyone in sight because a) she's Lord Portico's daughter and b) she has the family ability to open doors. This is a lot more valuable than it sounds.
  • In The Tygrine Cat, Mati is the last living member of the Tygrine dynasty, the guardians of the soul and consciousness. If he dies, every cat on earth will turn into an Empty Shell. The Sa Mau dynasty want to kill him in order to Take Over the World, while everyone else wants him to stay alive for obvious reasons.
  • Merlin (the Arthurian one) in That Hideous Strength is sought by both the bad and the good guys for his magical acumen. So is Jane, for her Dreaming of Things to Come and Dream Spying abilities.
  • Dawnshard: By the end of the story, Rysn has become the Dawnshard of Change. While she cannot use her powers on her own, there are multiple factions who will be hunting her, seeking to gain control of a Dawnshard or prevent other factions from doing so.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: By A Dance with Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen has no less than 6 different men who seek her for various reasons. Two are merely curious, while the the rest want to ask her hand in marriage. The shared desire, however, is to see whether she really is the Mother of Dragons, since none of these men have seen dragons in action.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003) used this with Hera, the first successful Cylon/Human hybrid. She was kidnapped by both sides, fought over, hidden from her parents and even "killed" in the service of filling this trope.
  • Farscape: Poor John Crichton. By the end of the series, half the Galaxy which he's close to blowing up is after him for his knowledge of how to traverse and control wormholes. He's close to a Ginger Snaps moment.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Den-O has Hana, who is revealed to be the Junction Point, a special type of Singularity Point whose destruction will ensure the existence of the Imagin.
    • Kamen Rider Double has Phillip, who's Dead All Along and was responsible for the creation of the Gaia Memories due to his connection to the Earth as he was brought back as a Data Being after dying. As an interesting variant, the bad guys already had Phillip in the beginning, though he was rescued by Shotaro and his mentor.
    • Kamen Rider Fourze has Kengo, who's actually a being created from an alien artifact that is sought after by the Zodiarts.
    • Kamen Rider Wizard has Koyomi, who's you guessed it, Dead All Along, though she's temporarily brought back to life through a ritual that kickstarted the series. She only becomes important in the endgame as not only is her time running out, prompting her father to step up his game, but also because another Phantom wants the thing that keeps her alive: the Philosopher's Stone.
  • Stargate Atlantis: Teyla's baby is a MacGuffin for Michael as he wants to use the newborn's DNA to advance his hybrid research. Since Teyla's an Action Mom, he doesn't get very far.
  • Supernatural: Jack Kline, a nephilim conceived by Lucifernote  and political aide Kelly Kline, is sought after by both angels and demons while still in the womb. After he's born as a young man he exhibits enough power to scare even God.
  • The X-Files has Baby William, who is heralded as this. He is described as "more human than human", a normal human child with none of the human frailties. He is seen as the salvation of the human race from alien invasion; he is the epitome of what the Syndicate has been trying to do for years: create a human/alien hybrid. While they did it in a lab (with diastrous results), William was gestated naturally. If they can figure out to replicate that, or make a vaccine against the alien virus, the human race has a chance of surviving. So, they're after him. And the Super Soldiers, who are bent on making sure alien invasion is swift and that resistance is futile, are after him to kill him. On top of that, he is kidnapped mid-season 9 by a UFO cult who are convinced he is connected to a UFO they found. He has supernatural powers, most notably telekinesis. He is seen making the mobile above his crib move on its own (scaring his mother to death in the process). He also has a Christ-like birth, with Scully giving birth in a shack in the middle of nowhere, a guiding star, and the Lone Gunmen acting as the Three Wise Men. Though it took place in mid-May, not December.

    Video Games 
  • Mithra from Asura's Wrath can freely manipulate Mantra to a point where she can be used as a power source to increase the power of the deities. And is apparently the perfect vessel for The Golden Spider to regain his full power.
  • Joule in the first Azure Striker Gunvolt is the holder of the power of the Muse, a Septima that uses Magic Music to empower other Adepts. Sumeragi needs her power to track down and capture Adepts across the country (and eventually power a mass Mind Control device in a well-intentioned but nonetheless evil bid to Take Over the World). Gunvolt wants to keep her out of Sumeragi's hands, partly because of Sumeragi's evil intentions but also because he knows what she's been through and wants her to live a normal life.
  • BioShock:
    • BioShock 2 is centered around the player's quest to find Eleanor Lamb, the Little Sister you were formerly bonded to as a Big Daddy. As it turns out, just about everyone in Rapture is trying to claim her or keep her: you want her because she's the only thing keeping you from dying; sleazy businessman Augustus Sinclair wants her as his means of getting out of Rapture and striking it rich on the surface; Sofia Lamb, Eleanor's mother and the game's Big Bad, wants to transform her into "The First Utopian," a collectivist messiah that will act only for the common good - counting on Eleanor's immunity to the negative effects of Splicing to make sure the plan works; plus, everyone else in Rapture worships her as a savior thanks to Sofia's efforts. Subverted near the end, when it's been revealed that the events of the game were all part of Eleanor's plan to escape her mother's control; she then becomes a Big Sister and helps you fight your way out of the city.
    • In BioShock Infinite, Elizabeth is wanted by just about every vaguely-influential character or faction in the game for a variety of reasons - including her unique power to open Tears in the fabric of reality. In order of appearance: the player character, Booker DeWitt, has been instructed to rescue her from Columbia under the orders of a client offering to pay off his gambling debts; the main villains of the game, Father Comstock and The Founders, want to keep her imprisoned (and later, recaptured) so that she can one day take up Comstock's mantle and bring the apocalypse to "the Sodom below"; by the end of the game, the Vox Populi are out to kill her simply because she was such an integral part of the Founder's belief system; finally, Booker's "client" wants her secured so she can use her powers to prevent Comstock from ever becoming a threat. However, during the ending, Booker's goals are subverted all to hell: it turns out that his memories have been badly mangled by dimensional travel, and he's not out to pay off his debts at all; he's out to rescue his daughter.
  • The Lords of Cinder in Dark Souls III. One way or another the Ashen One needs to sit their asses on their thrones to access the First Flame. Too bad only one, Ludleth, is willing to do so (he's already sitting on his throne). The rest of the Lords of Cinder you have to slay for their ashes so you can dump them on the thrones.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: Emerald, the child telepath, is kidnapped by the Dark Force Army in their search for powerful sources of magic.
  • In Final Fantasy XIII the awakening/reanimation of frozen Apocalypse Maidens Vanille and Fang prompts Cocoon's government to start massacring everyone in Vanille and Fang's vicinity. Unfortunately, The Chosen Ones are among those people. Oops.
  • A somewhat older version is the teenaged Deirdre from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, since if she ever gave birth, there would be a high chance for said kid to be a vessel for a Dark God.
  • Jedi Knight Bastila Shan in Knights of the Old Republic essentially served as a Barrier Maiden for The Republic, as her Battle Meditation ability allowed her to give massive buffs to allied troops and turn any conflict into a Curb-Stomp Battle. As a result, she becomes a Damsel in Distress at the start of the game after crashlanding on a nearby planet during a skirmish with Darth Malak with both the Player Character and the new Sith Empire trying to track her down.
  • Rui, the girl from Pokémon Colosseum who can identify Shadow Pokemon by sight.
  • Emma Smith of The Secret World. A mysterious little girl with unprecedented magical powers, she's mysteriously vanished from her quarters up in the Carpathian Mountains by the game's final arc, and almost every relevant faction in the area wants to seize her for their own ends: the Orochi Group - who were holding Emma captive in the first place - want her back so she can play a vital role in the Prometheus Initiative; the Phoenicians want to capture her on behalf of a mysterious high-paying client; the Templars want to secure her against future misuse of her powers; The Illuminati want to exploit her; the Dragon want to keep her concealed... and then there's the mastermind behind the vampire invasion - AKA Lilith , who wants Emma for her own mysterious agenda. As it turns out, Lilith is actually the Phoenicians' client and a powerful Orochi executive, having set out to burglarize company projects in her attempts to a) seize control of the Gaia Engines and b) cleanse the Filth from Tokyo.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • The Fall Maiden is introduced in Volume 3 as a scarred and comatose woman, whose body is being kept in a secret location while her protectors try and figure out what to do about her. Amber was hunted by Cinder to steal her magical powers. Cinder was able to steal half her power before Amber was saved by Qrow, but it left Amber comatose. Ozpin's inner circle have no choice but to try and find a trustworthy heir to receive Amber's remaining power before Cinder locates her and steals the other half. Choosing Pyrrha to inherit that power is the plot device that allows Cinder to obtain great magical power and kill off one of the main characters. The method Cinder uses to obtain Amber's power, and the deaths of both Amber and Pyrrha, is what brings the main characters into the plot, activates Ruby Rose's secret ability, and leaves Cinder hateful and vengeful against Ruby for maiming her. Amber herself barely regains consciousness before her death, and takes no active part in the plot beyond a flashback revealing how Cinder stole the first half of her power.
    • The Winter Maiden is introduced in Volume 7 as an elderly woman who needs to be hidden away to prevent her power from being stolen. Advanced old age has left her very forgetful, easily confused, and on her death bed. Cinder engineers the means by which Ironwood's actions reveal Fria's secret location, allowing her to go there in an attempt to steal Fria's powers. Fria is able to use her power just long enough before dying for the heroes to arrive in time to prevent Cinder obtaining the power. Fria's sole role in the story is therefore to show the audience what a natural Maiden transfer of power looks like, what a fully-trained Maiden is capable of after decades of mastering the power, and to give a power-up to an existing character.
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    Western Animation 
  • Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender is the avatar's latest reincarnation; the bad guys want to capture or kill him because if he becomes a fully realized avatar then there will be no stopping him from ending their Evil Plan, while others chase after him for the bounty.
  • Lena turns into one of these in the second season of DuckTales (2017). She ends up fusing with the amulet form of Magica's magic staff after being rescued from the Shadow Realm, meaning that Magica will either have to drain her powers or physically find a way to remove the amulet if she is to regain her magic.
  • Bloom, the main protagonist of Winx Club . She has the mythical Dragon's Flame power and the Trix's target in Season 1 is steal this power. They managed to "steal" Dragon's Flame until Bloom, with Daphne's help, realized that she had never lost her powers, but was unable to use them because of her doubts, and therefore regained her powers and defeated the Trix.
  • In season 4 Star Wars Rebels, events conspire so that Ezra is the only one who can access the World Beyond Worlds, leading the Emperor to seek him out. At first he tries to use Sith magic to trick him, then force him to let him through, then later tries to tempt him into opening the door with a vision of his parents. Ezra manages to resist the temptation both times, then destroys the portal to make sure he doesn't try it again with someone else.


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