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Mundane MacGuffin Person

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A Living MacGuffin sought after for some mundane ability or quality they have. In terms of traits, they are usually "desirable" or "questable" for any of a hundred reasons. Common ones include: great beauty, great goodness, kindness and loving or being loved by the hero, being royalty, knowing the answer to an urgent problem, etc. Alternately, they may carry the negative trait of having kicked the hero's dog at one point, and so they want to find them (or a way close to them) for revenge.

People who are sought after due to their status go under Hostage MacGuffin. People with some a supernatural trait like a Barrier Maiden are examples of MacGuffin Super-Person, while ones who were originally literally objects go under MacGuffin Turned Human.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • From JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind: Trish Una is the recently discovered illegitimate daughter of the local mafia boss. All of the boss's enemies want to capture and/or kill her, so she ends up under the protection of the heroes, thus driving most of the plot.
  • Princess Charlotte from Berserk while being one of the kindest and sweetest people in the story, is only sought after for her position as being the sole heir to the throne of Midland, a kingdom that everyone wants for some reason.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Due to Kaguya's position in her family, her personal maid Hayasaka has a wealth of blackmail material on all three of her older brothers. The youngest of the three, Un'yo, ends up targeting her during the Class Trip arc for this reason, since she had chosen to retire and was no longer under Kaguya's protection.

    Comic Books 
  • Ramona Flowers in the Scott Pilgrim books: the protagonist must go through several obstacles to be with her, but we are shown very little about the relationship, or even Ramona Flowers herself, except that we are assured of her awesomeness.

    Fan Works 
  • In Fear No Evil, a My Hero Academia fanfic, Izuku is kidnapped by the Humarise cult because he is one of the few Quirkless children. Humarise fetishizes and worships Quirkless people, but especially children because they are seen as "pure." Izuku is forcibly smuggled out of Japan due to his genetics being closer to pre-Quirked era people which the cult is hoping to replicate and weaponize in their genetically engineered plague.
  • White Sheep (RWBY): Yang Xiao-Long gets captured by Atlas because they had been told that she was mind-controlled by the Grimm. They were not informed that she was the fiance of the Crown Prince of the Grimm, and he is willing to wipe Atlas off the map to get her back.

  • Roxanne from A Goofy Movie is the reason Max is traveling. He wants to show off to her at a place opposed to his father's destination.
  • Apocalypse Now is centered entirely around Willard's mission to travel to the compound of an insane colonel and to kill him. He becomes even more determined to find and confront the colonel as he learns more about him from previous military reports.
  • Kee in Children of Men. She's the first woman to get pregnant in almost 20 years. The main characters have to try to keep her (and the baby) alive and out of the wrong hands.
  • Jen in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the governor's daughter and her parents scour the earth for her after Lo "kidnaps" her.
  • Elysium: Max becomes one when all the security coding for Elysium gets uploaded into his brain, coding that would basically let the user do anything they want. Spider and co. want the information to disable the Elysium security systems and make everyone on Earth register as a citizen, Delacourt wants it to overthrow Elysium's current leadership, and Kruger wants it to take over Elysium and do... unpleasant things.
  • Doug from The Hangover, who is given all the characterization of a very Nice Guy to both his friends and brother in law. So much so that you can honestly believe these guys would shake down all of Las Vegas to find him.
  • In Kill Bill, finding Bill so she could kill him is the entire focus of the Bride's Roaring Rampage of Revenge... well, that and revenging herself on the people who could lead her to him.
  • Aaron from Mean Girls is Cady's crush and she ruins Regina's reputation just for a chance to be with him. Once they end up together, he disappears from the story.
  • The plot of Poetic Justice has four friends go on a road-trip from Los Angeles to Oakland, California to visit Lucky's cousin, Kalil. They find out he's been shot and killed once they arrive.
  • Private Ryan in Saving Private Ryan; the search for him in the warzone is the plot.
  • Deconstructed in Unforgiven. Delilah is a prostitute who is attacked by one of her johns. A bounty is put on the cowboys who hurt her. She is seen as object of desire, a payday for unscrupulous bounty hunters and a martyr for women pretty much against her will. She is helpless as events spin out of control, all in her name. It is her face that is last seen as the movie ends because it is always been about her.

  • In Jacqueline Lichtenberg's first Sime Gen novel, House of Zeor, she had to introduce complex biology and historical-political background. To support the worldbuilding, rather than pile a complicated plot on top of a complicated SF premise, she uses a simple MacGuffin plot: The Gen protagonist Hugh's girlfriend is kidnapped by Simes because she works for the Gen government in the department that prints money. (they want to flood the Gen economy with forged currency). We don't even meet her until the climax of the story, and she clearly serves only as devices to force Hugh to infiltrate Sime Territory. The real core of the novel is Hugh's developing relationship with Klyd, the Sime who helps with his mission.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Another male example is Edric Storm, King Robert's bastard son. Some people just want to protect him; his Strong Family Resemblance to his father is considered evidence for the illegitimacy of Cersei's children; and one faction wants to burn him alive to bring a stone dragon to life and save the world.
    • After the death of her older brother and the presumed deaths of her younger brothers, Sansa Stark becomes this as several factions try and get their hands on her claim to Winterfell.
  • Laura in Perfume. She is the driving force of much of Grenouille's plot - by dint of nearing sexual maturity and smelling really nice. And that's about it. She has a larger role in the film version but in the book she does literally nothing except get moved from place to place, and then get killed.
  • In Cooking With Wild Game, a village of mostly-Noble Savages adopts a chef who is really good at making money. Most villagers don't care about the latter, because they take great pride in living off the land, but one particular family is greedy enough to try kidnapping him. Cue awesome battle scene as the other villagers team up to free their golden goose.
  • In The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign, Kyousuke is targeted for his sanity; specifically, his ability to retain it despite the White Queen's insanity-inducing aura. There are other people with this ability, but they're either incredibly powerful or unknown to the world at large, so Kyousuke is the most vulnerable target. This makes him an excellent toy/social lodestar/minion for the Queen, so many of her cultists try to capture him to please her or lure her to their location. The fact that this has always ended badly in the past does not stop them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Human Target episode "Victoria", the Queen's daughter is targeted as she wants to drop her husband for an EMT, which would bring great shame to her family.
  • In Connor Undercover, Connor is given the responsibility of looking after the daughter of the (fictional) Cordoban president.
  • Kamen Rider Ryuki has Yui, who has been Dead All Along and is actually the centerpiece of the Rider War, as the person who runs it is her Knight Templar Big Brother is trying to rig in his favor so that he may save her life.

    Video Games 
  • Resident Evil 4 had Ashley, the president's daughter. Unlike most examples, the bad guys had a pretty good reason for picking her beyond the ransom. They plan to infect her with Las Plagas parasite and send her back home to daddy.
  • Princess Zelda, most notably the original The Legend of Zelda. She is usually the key to saving the world and is kidnapped by the Big Bad in order to give him whatever power he needs for the game's plot. Traditionally, this is her segment of the Triforce, but not always. Zelda herself lampshades this in The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, saying that being a distressed damsel is a family tradition. While she's usually a MacGuffin Super-Person, there are a handful of games that fit this trope as she's kidnapped for her beauty or status as a princess, not her magic powers.
  • Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story has Iroha Tamaki looking for the mysterious 'Ui' Tamaki, a girl that she is certain is her little sister, but Ui seems to have disappeared completely off of the face of the earth. Nobody can remember that Ui ever existed, leading to Iroha eventually arriving in Kamihama city, eager to find her. Ui's body and soul were separated into the former locked into Embryo Eve's necklace and the latter into the Li'l Kyubey wandering Kamihama. Act 1 ends with Ui's body and soul, as well as the two sisters, reunited.