Put simply, MacGuffins are objects that drive the main characters of a narrative to do the actions that they do. The term was popularised by Alfred Hitchcock. And an example of this plot device can be seen in his 39 Steps, which released in 1935. MacGuffins have over-populated mainstream movies, TV shows, novels, etc. The recently released Men In Black: International is the latest popular film to feature them. Here’s a list of the most popular MacGuffins in the biggest movie franchises of our times:-
Infinity Stones – Marvel Cinematic Universe
The scale and success of Avengers: Endgame (at the time of writing, it had earned over $2.7 billion) emphasised that Infinity Stones were the most influential MacGuffins ever. They were the main driving force for almost all of the 22 movies in the series. When the Tesseract was first introduced in Captain America: The First Avenger, audiences soon learned that it was a part of something bigger. The stones came together in the last two installments of the Avengers movies to set up an exhilarating climax.
Horcruxes – Harry Potter
While we understand the significance of these mysterious dark objects in JK Rowling’s magical world only in the latter half of the series, they are the lifeforce of the antagonist, Voldemort. Harry, in the last two installments, makes it his mission to hunt and destroy all seven Horcruxes. Along with his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, Harry drops out of Hogwarts to wreck the objects before his final showdown with Voldemort.
Dragon Balls – Dragon Ball series
One of the most popular anime to cross the borders of Japan, Dragon Ball has made a name for itself throughout the world. The plot, for a long time, involved the enemies’ and the protagonists’ search for Dragon Balls, as these would grant them any wish. The latter half of Dragon Ball Z as well as Super opted for a different narrative while not entirely sidelining the focus on the Dragon Balls.
Death Star Plans and Maps – Star Wars
Star Wars was once the biggest pop-culture influencer until the advent of the MCU, because of its unique outer-space setting as well as the top- notch visual effects (for its time). The MacGuffins, here, were the various kinds of plans and maps the Resistance had to steal from the enemy. For instance, in A New Hope, when introduced, the Death Star plans became the sole focus of every character involved, and many even sacrificed their lives for it. As was the case as with The Force Awakens, in which the objective was to recover the map to Luke Skywalker.
Various Artefacts – Indiana Jones series
Every adventure of Indiana Jones has him, and other interested parties, go after a mysterious artefact, which is usually a source of supernatural power. Two factions — Jones’ team and the antagonists’ — would fight each other to lay their hands on the artefact first. The most prominent MacGuffins of this series are the Ark of the Covenant and The Holy Grail, which became iconic after the movies’releases.