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Self-Guarding Phlebotinum

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For some reason or another, you can't get to the McGuffin because it produces a forcefield or has a forcefield surrounding it. Possibly due to it being a Loyal Phlebotinum or Empathic Weapon. Maybe there is an enchantment upon it that causes it to repel a certain type of being, such as demons, or maybe it's a curse that will let you touch the object but causes adverse side effects, such as death. Having proper Phlebotinum-Handling Equipment may help.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Inuyasha: The sword Tessaiga has a barrier around it that prevents demons from touching it. Humans and half-demons can touch it without pain, however, but only a human was capable of removing it from its initial resting place in Inu-no-tashio's grave.

  • The Wizard of Oz: When the Wicked Witch of the West tries to take the Ruby Slippers from Dorothy's feet, they generate an electric shock field that prevents their removal. In the original book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Silver Shoes don't have this property, and the Witch is able to steal one.
  • Colossus: The Forbin Project: The titular Master Computer's main defense is that it was built inside its own radioactivity spewing nuclear reactor.
  • Aladdin: The Cave of Wonders, where Aladdin first found both the flying carpet and Genie, would only allow one who was worthy, "The Diamond in the Rough", to enter. Even then it would not permit Aladdin to touch any of the treasure except for the lamp. Anyone who breaks the rules is swallowed by the Cave.
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: The Darkhold is actually fairly easy to destroy, with a single stab from a knife able to cause it to burn into nothing. However the sorceror who does this also demonstrates why this wasn't done previously, as she is incinerated along with the book.

  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • The Silmarillion: The Silmarils burned any evil creature touching them, such as Morgoth, while sparing the good-aligned heroes such as Eärendil. It becomes a plot point late in the book, when two remaining sons of Fëanor (Simarils' creator) finally get their hands on their "heirloom"—only to find that the Simarils reject and burn them, after all they have done to get them back.
    • Beren and Lúthien: Beren, one of the main heroes, suffers no harm whatsoever when he grabs a Silmaril. Shortly later, Morgoth's giant guardian wolf Carcharoth bites Beren's hand off, swallows the Silmaril down, and begins burning from the inside out.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle: Certified Arcanists of the University carry a token of rank that's sympathetically attuned to them. If anyone else tries to handle it, it slowly numbs their body until they let go.
  • In Lensman, the titular Lens will kill anyone but its owner if it's not being worn, to prevent anyone from impersonating the Lensmen. Boskone found this out scientifically in the prequel, by forcing enough workers to hold onto the thing and die until they were satisfied it wasn't coincidental.
  • In The Quest of the Unaligned, any aligned mage who touches the Prince's Crown will be burnt to ash unless they are "buffered" by the intervention of one of the rare unaligned mages.
  • Thanks to poor Broderick Bode, we learn in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that touching a prophecy in the aptly-named Hall of Prophecies at the Ministry of Magic has very bad consequences for you unless you're the subject of the prophecy. The protective enchantments placed around the prophecies make Voldemort's attempts just to listen to the complete prophecy about The Chosen One last an entire school year.
  • The Belgariad: The Orb of Aldur can choose its bearers, having nigh-unlimited power and a sense of its own purpose. The legend that Only the Pure of Heart can touch it and survive was invented wholesale by Belgarath the Sorcerer, but given that it permanently mutilated a god who abused its abilities, people don't handle it unless they're sure it approves of them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Charmed Ones see and possess a lot these.
    • Book of Shadows won't let you touch it if you happen to be evil.
    • There were also various amulets and charms which protected against evils including crystals that when placed in a circle formed a cage of energy that one couldn't cross, whether to get in or out.
    • Once when Piper pulled Excalibur from the stone, the sword would let no one else but her touch it, though a demon used a spell to amass a bunch of power and take it from her.
    • In season 7 Pandora's Box protects itself by teleporting to its next guardian when its current protector dies.
    • The Grimoire, the Evil Counterpart to the Halliwell's Book of Shadows would not let any good being come in contact with it.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. In "Dreadnought", B'Elanna Torres has to deactivate a sentient Weapon of Mass Destruction that she once programmed to defeat any attempt to stop it. Unfortunately one of those contingencies was the possibility that she might be captured and forced to disarm it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons adventure C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness: the Soul Gem is surrounded by an invisible force sphere which must be broken by the PCs if they want to retrieve it.
  • Mage: The Awakening: A mage may invoke this trope in Item Crafting, adding enchantments that trigger when a non-designated owner handles the item. One option delivers a potent electric shock; another simply teleports the item away.
  • Warhammer 40,000: One Imperial raid on a Tau base featured a human trying to take control of a battlesuit and use its guns against the Tau. The suit's AI didn't recognize his DNA and promptly fried him.

    Video Games 
  • In NetHack, artifacts may blast you for some damage if you try to touch them if you fail certain conditions: wrong alignment, negative alignment record, or polymorphed into (or naturally) something it specifically attacks.Exception  Intelligent artifacts are more forceful in this regard: they'll always blast users they don't like, have more powerful blasts, and those tied to a certain role can also blast characters of the wrong role, or even evade their grasp note .


    Web Original 
  • Rosaphir stone in Noob. If you want to pick it up, you'd better be ready for a Mirror Match.

    Western Animation 
  • Felix the Cat's Magic Bag of Tricks is more than capable of defending itself from The Professor should it fall into his hands. It has been known to violently attack or backfire on Professor whenever he tries to exploit its abilities, like turning into a giant balloon in "Felix Out West" or chasing Professor around like an angry dog in "Felix In Egypt".
  • In the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Jihad", the Soul of the Skorr is protected by a force field.
  • Adventure Time: In "City of Thieves," the King of Thieves' tower has a barrier around it that repels all thieves.
  • The Omnitrix from Ben 10 generates a small field around itself when someone who is not the person who it is currently attached to tries to touch it. You can get around this by just killing the current user, of course...
  • Puppy's locket in The Smurfs, which is said to contain "the key to all magic", shocks everyone who tries to open it with a lightning bolt except for Baby Smurf.
  • On Adventures of the Gummi Bears, a Gummi medallion cannot be taken from a Gummi Bear by force. Zummi's shocks anyone who tries to do so. (However, there's no rule against blackmailing the Gummi Bear into taking it off and giving it to you...)