Follow TV Tropes
Is there an existing MacGuffin sub-trope where the MacGuffin that caused the plot to begin turned out to be a lie or didn't exist? An example that comes to mind is in the two-part Archer episode Sea Tunt where ISIS goes out to sea to recover a nuclear device that turned out to be a lie.
This might fall under No Macguffin No Winner
Makes me think if The Cake Is a Lie
Alright, maybe I missed the discussion (I did read one from the Morgue but I wasn't satisfied with the resolution cause this trope still has an issue) but has anyone made any effort to remedy the fact that, not just on this page, but probably hundreds, the MacGuffin is critical to the plot! People have continiously stated that the various "Mac Guffins" in the Indiana Jones franchise are necessary or at the very least serve a purpose in the resolution of the concflict! And they aren't the only ones, either. The Piece of Resistance from The Lego Movie can't be something else! It has to be what it is, or it doesn't end the plot correctly. So coupled with that and the Indiana Jones example, I think it seems this trope is misused. I can find more examples fairly easily, if they're needed.
I don't know. I've seen various MacGuffin sub tropes in the trope repair shop many times, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's the most misused trope behind Eldritch Abomination right now.
I honestly don't get how this kind of thing happens. We have pages more in the realm of common language like "Plot Device" or "Starfish Aliens", which seems to be what everyone is looking for but its the obscure language terms that haven't been common English for decades that end up with a thousand wicks (that are usually wrong, surprise!).
I agree. If the Holy Grail, right there in the main picture, were, say, Excalibur, then they wouldn't have been able to save Henry with it. It clearly does something, and it does it in the course of the movie, so it does not fit the description of what makes something a MacGuffin.
I think the problem is actually in the description of what makes it a MacGuffin. If it did not include the bit about it not doing anything in the story, or at least toned it down to not doing anything crucial in the story, it would make a lot more of these fit. Still wouldn't get the Ark from Raiders to fit, and probably not the Crystal Skull, but the stones and the Grail do minor enough things that they would still work.
This should be mentioned.
Archived TRS topics:
What would be the main diference between a Macguffin, and Phlebotinum?
I mean: In Indy & Last Crusade, The Grail is a MacGuffin, but in the end, it's haling powers are used... maybe a case of Applied Phlebotynum?
I'd say there's no reason an item can't be both. Whether the Grail has supernatural powers or not is irrelevant to its plot-driving MacGuffin nature.
I think there are a few examples that work like this- the device is mostly a macguffin as usual until the end when it does something that helps end the story. Maybe that should become a spin off trope. All of the items in Indiana Jones do it- The ark kills the Nazis and Belloq, the stones turn really hot and burn the villain thus giving Indy the chance to kill him, the Grail and its fakes cause the death of the major villain, heal his dad and destroy the location; the crystal skull + aliens kill that movies villain.
Actually, if I have several examples but they are from the same creators, does that count for the Three Rules Of Three?
I did not understand posing the Grial of Indiana Jones either. According to the very deffinition in the page, "It actually serves no further purpose" and "it won't actually do anything". I cannot see how this can be applied to an artifact which saves one of the protagonists. Applied Phlebotynum or not - this item simply does not match the definition provided.
Here is a possible rewrite:
Problem: I do not recall if the Sankara stones do anything to disqualify themselves as MacGuffins. I would probably need to watch the movie again to check if the Sankara stones are MacGuffins or not.
When Indy and Mola Ram are hanging on the bridge, Indy causes the stones to burn a hole in his satchel, burn Mola Ram's hand, and fall down (somehow). This wouldn't happen if they were, for instance, secret apple pie recipes.
what is an item that is like a macguffin but it does other things in addition to furthering the plot?
A plot device or plot coupon if it does something but is not actually wanted for what it does.
I see the joke that gave this trope its name, but I dont get it. Could someone explain the punchline?
Just to make this clear- the Nostalgia Chick is NOT using the official trope, but her own version. Fifth Element (I haven't seen Dune) does NOT count as the stones are used at the end and so have a purpose- you CANNOT replace them with a bag of gold.
At the same time, it is interesting that the Fifth Element review veers off into the same discussion we had on the forums a while back...
Spice is also not a Macguffin. It has qualities that affect the plot other than its desirability (Such as its addictive nature confining people to Arrakis), when the entire definition of the Macguffin is that it must be desirable without any other plot-affecting qualities.
I'd like to make an edit, but I'm new here. To me, Mac Guffin should be directly linked to Chekhov's Gun as an Antonym. If something is introduced, as a minor detail, it has these two possible paths. Mac Guffin is the "red herring" to a Chekhov Gun. Obviously there is a spectrum between these two tropes, but these are the opposite results: it either becomes incredibly important (gun), or it doesn't, and serves to distract the viewer's attention (Mac guffin).
On the same note as Mercury, I call "Foul" on identifying the Holy Grail as a MacGuffin. Since the Big Bad gets the Hero to find and give it to him by shooting his dad, the healing properties of the Grail are essential to the plot.
I'll link in here this minor discussion since it touches on the recurring issue with this trope and this discussion entries.
Has anyone yet pointed out that the crystal shard from The Dark Crystal is NOT in ANY WAY a Mac Guffin and shouldn't be included in the example picture? The shard is a piece of the titular crystal - it is vital to the plot, because reuniting it with the crystal saves the freaking world. If it were replaced by any other object in the universe it would, y'know, NOT save the world. Sorry for the tone, but it's pretty irritating to see something which is very obviously not a Mac Guffin half an inch from the description of what makes a Mac Guffin.
I thought the same thing, but then realised that though it looks like the Crystal Shard, I don't think it is, it's not purpleish in anyway, and it's lying on a completely plain table, which after recently watching the movie, I can tell you it never appears sitting on a table. I think its just intended to be a crystal of no importance, as crystals tend to be fancy "important" items that don't actually matter at all.
Isn't there a type of MacGuffin which is more abstract, like a pearl of wisdom, or is that a different thing entirely?
It seems to me that we should not have the first line of this be nearly identical in meaning to the first line of Plot Device. Hence my attempt at a change.
Community Showcase More