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Shadi: And so, with the help of gypsy woman Ishizu, Pegasus hid the Egyptian God Cards where even the craftiest of Jews would not be able to find them.

Yugi: Yeah, because obviously he couldn't have just destroyed them or anything.

Shadi: The power of the cards was too great for them to be simply destroyed.

Yugi: Riiiight, so the power of the Egyptian Gods prevented a guy from tearing up a few pieces of paper that he painted himself. Sure. Okay.

Shadi: As I was saying—

Yugi: [coughs] Bullcrap! [coughs]
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File:JustEattheMacGuffin2 7904.png

So, the Big Bad plans on grabbing the MacGuffin to take over the world, and Blah Blah Blah, whatever. Sheesh. You can't help but wonder just what the deal is here. If it weren't for the MacGuffin, status quo would reign and most of the conflict in the plot would vanish. Everyone would be happy. In light of the inconvenience the MacGuffin is causing the universe, you really have to wonder why nobody decides to go ahead and Just Eat the MacGuffin.

Well, there are reasons. A common one is to make the MacGuffin completely indestructible, and thus a major inconvenience for anyone to try to effectively get rid of. It could regenerate. There could be so many of them that simply getting rid of them all in this way isn't an option. The MacGuffin might serve some essential purpose that would screw everything up if it was obliterated. And even then destroying the MacGuffin is floated as a possible last resort should it get in enemy hands. Or it could turn out to be a person and the only way to get rid of it is to kill her...AndThatWouldBeWrong.

At worst this trope can manifest itself at the last minute with no attempts at justification. It's a bit of a cheat, after all, to resolve the plot with MacGuffin destruction when the MacGuffin could have been destroyed at just about any previous point in the story.

Another excuse is to Just Think of the Potential. Also compare We Win Because You Did Not and No MacGuffin, No Winner.

For when the problem is a character rather than a MacGuffin, see Just Eat Gilligan.

If there are sound reasons given within the work for why the "single simple action" can't be taken, or won't work, it's not this trope. Don't add it as an example. If the characters do try the single simple solution and it doesn't work, it's also not this trope. Again, don't add it as an example. This trope is not just eating the MacGuffin in the literal sense; this trope is asking the question why not just destroy the damn MacGuffin.

Examples of Just Eat the MacGuffin include:


Anime and Manga

  • Goku literally attempts to do this to one of the Dragon Balls in an effort to stop Syn Shenron from becoming Omega Shenron (again) in Dragon Ball GT. The results are: a Crowning Moment of Funny watching him nearly choke to death in the attempt to swallow it, a W-T-F moment when the ball APPEARS IN HIS FOREHEAD for no discernible reason, and eventually failure when Syn Shenron manages to re-absorb it anyway.
  • In the original Dragon Ball manga and anime, Piccolo Daimao actually swallows two of the titular Mac Guffins to prevent the heroes for stealing them, though he's able to spit them back up with ease.
  • In Vision of Escaflowne, the characters spend several episodes in a futile effort to keep the Big Bad from getting access to a sealed vault full of energy needed to implement his plans. Since the entire purpose of the nation guarding the vault is to ensure that nobody ever opens it, one has to wonder why they didn't just destroy the key centuries ago.
  • In Kyou Kara Maou, there are four keys needed to unlock the Sealed Evil in a Can, which can bring about the end of the worlds as we know them. Four easily destroyed keys. Of course, there are several good reasons not to...

Comics

  • The Infinity Gauntlet -- an artifact that grants literally unlimited power when assembled -- cannot be used to will itself out of existence. The best the Marvel heroes can do is remove and scatter its six component gems, with mixed results.

Film

  • One of the complaints of the second Hellboy movie was that they destroyed the crown pieces at the end, when they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble by doing it as soon as they found them.
  • In the live-action Transformers film, Optimus Prime says that if there's no other way to keep the Allspark out of Megatron's hands, he'll shove it into his own spark to destroy it. This option is a last resort because it would also kill Optimus. In the end, Sam shoves it into Megatron's instead. But as the sequel shows, turns out that doesn't quite work.
  • The ending to Titanic involves this. Not for any reason, mind you. She just destroys it for the symbolism. And she doesn't really "destroy" it so much as "put it in a place where absolutely no one will find it and didn't tell anyone." Or maybe she wanted the guy who had spent his life sifting through stuff to find something interesting in the Titanic wreck, and gave what she could.
  • Double Subverted in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indy threatens to destroy the Ark, but Belloq calls his bluff.
  • In the movie For Your Eyes Only, James Bond is ordered to obtain the MacGuffin if he can and destroy it if he must. He has to do the second.
    • By throwing said MacGuffin off the top of a giant cliff. Good work, Bond.
  • In the first Tomb Raider movie, the Illuminati want to assemble the MacGuffin to take over the world. Lara just happens to find a part and, despite knowing what he wants with it, assists the Big Bad in finding the other. All because she wanted to use it herself, just to get closure on the fate of her father. That's right, she risked the entire world on a personal issue that was resolved in half a minute, and then destroyed the MacGuffin anyway.
  • Under Siege 2: Dark Territory: Steven Seagal spends half the movie keeping the specially encoded CD the villain needs to carry out his evil plot out of the evil villain's hands. He should have just broken the darn thing.
  • In The Incredible Hulk (2008 film), Bruce Banner eats the flash drive containing the information he needs to cure his condition. However, in this case it's not to protect it from the military so much as from the Hulk, as Bruce realized he was about two minutes away from Hulking out.
  • In The Twins Effect one of the girls does just this to kill the Big Bad.

Literature

  • In The Lord of the Rings, destruction of the Ring is explicitly addressed as the only means of victory -- and there's only one place where it can possibly be destroyed. So in this instant, eating the MacGuffin is actually the whole purpose of it in the first place.
    • The film hilariously averts this. Gimli just decides to deal with the One Ring right now and takes his axe to it. His axe is the one to get shattered to bitty pieces.
  • It's not exactly a world-threatening example, and happens before the start of the book, but the 'Gonne' (gun) in the Discworld novel Men At Arms. Lord Vetinari gave specific instructions to the Assassins that it be destroyed to prevent its use. They put it in a museum instead. Even Sam Vimes doesn't destroy it at the end of the book, though Carrot does finally smash it to bits. And buries the bits in a coffin.
    • Heavily lampshaded, of course -- Vetinari asks the assassins why they didn't destroy it; their response is to ask him why he gave it to them to destroy, instead of doing it himself. Ultimately, the fact that Carrot can destroy it in cold blood is a major character point. It has an effect on people.
  • The whole plot of Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone wouldn't have happened if Dumbledore had just destroyed the stone in the first place like he did at the end.
    • Said stone was keeping Flamel alive, though. It was only at the end that Flamel decided to die.
    • Also, it can be argued that much of what occurred was actually set up by Dumbledore as part of Harry's Training From Hell. How else could you explain the stupidity of sending Hagrid on the "secret" mission to retrieve the stone, when he knew Harry would be with him.
    • In fact, with Dumbledore's use of the Mirror of Erised, it was basically impossible for Voldemort to get the Stone, so no destruction was necessary. Its could be interpreted that it was destroyed as an effect of Harry's fight with Quirrell, rather than a conscious decision of Dumbledore's. Alternately, it may be that he decided Voldemort could find a way through that particular defense in the future, and so there was no longer a truly safe place for the Stone.
      • There's even an interesting theory proposing that the Mirror of Erised was actually a trap for Voldemort. If true, justified because the MacGuffin was actually a bait. [1]
  • The ending of the Forgotten Realms trilogy of books Shadowdale, Tantras, and Waterdeep is the presentation of the MacGuffin -- the Tablets of Fate -- to the overgod Ao. Who then promptly crushes them with his bare hands. Some readers felt cheated.
    • Has it ever been stated just how important the Tablets were in and of themselves? Not having read the actual novels, I was always operating under the assumption that Ao intended them to be Plot Coupons and that it was their return that was important, not the objects themselves.
      • The Tablets of Fate listed each of the gods and their duties. They didn't have any signifigance in and of themselves, being true MacGuffins, and their theft was merely a large scale act of rebellion by Myrkul and Bane and their return was a condition of ending the Time of Troubles by Ao. Basically, the Godly equivalent of clean your room or no supper.
  • Played straight at first but eventually subverted in the Tom Swift novel Mind Games. Tom and friends have been invited to playtest a computer-based tabletop RPG called Galaxy Masters. As the heroes, Tom and company try to keep a pair of Memory Cubes out of the hands of the villain Dedstorm, who needs both cubes to activate an ancient army and conquer the universe. Their own objective is to activate said army's self-destruct system, which requires only one of the two cubes. Eventually, Tom realizes this mechanic works in their favor, and to everyone's surprise destroys one of the two memory cubes, locking Dedstorm out of victory. (The move surprises the game's creators so much that they realize there's a gaping hole in the game's design. It's not the only one, as Tom eventually demonstrates in his favor.)
  • Shako, the polar bear eats a top-secret capsule with The Virus in it.
  • In World of Ptavvs, the characters are chasing after a powerful alien Mind Control device. The Earth and Belter agents trying to get to it before its alien owner do have a mutual understanding that it must be destroyed because neither trusts the other with something that dangerous.
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 "If you try to bring it home, I'll kill you."

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  • In The Moonstone, the heroine inherits an enormously valuable diamond from her uncle. She soon learns that he had stolen it from an Indian cult, murdering several cultists in the process, and that three cult members are in England trying to get it back. Given that they were the stone's rightful owners, if she had just given it to them (or sold it to them for a penny to make everything legal), this could have saved everyone a lot of trouble.
    • The central family of the story is very scared and suspicious of the three cultists - after all, right to the stone or not, they are Indian. Plus the diamond is stolen before they can figure out long-term goals - or even that the diamond is being hunted.
  • Subverted in Lloyd Alexander's The Black Cauldron, where the good guys would like nothing better than to eat the titular MacGuffin, and half of the plot of the book is them trying to figure out how to destroy the damned thing. As it turns out, to destroy the Cauldron, you have to willingly jump into it, sacrificing yourself in the process. The climax of the book is the good guys all running for the Cauldron, attempting to throw themselves in it before the bad guys can get it, or before one of their friends jumps in, instead. It also includes a Tear Jerker and Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, when one of their former foes reaches the Cauldron first.

Television

  • The classic Doctor Who serial The Daleks' Master Plan is basically a long chase story after the First Doctor steals a key component of a Dalek superweapon. He mentions that he has plans to destroy it, but isn't able to do so before he's eventually forced to turn it over. Then Death by Irony sets in at the end of the story, after the Doctor sabotages the weapon itself and the Daleks are forced to try to destroy it themselves.
  • Played with (lampshaded, averted, subverted, or any combination of the above) in the first season finale of Krod Mandoon and The Flaming Sword of Fire, when Krod attempts to swallow the MacGuffin, which is a vial of pagan tears (just go with it), rather than hand it over to the Big Bad. He then proceeds to choke on it and eventually cough it up. His cohorts mock him and offer alternative solutions: he could have crushed the vial, or opened it and swallowed just the tears. The Big Bad then laments that he was rather looking forward to dissecting Krod to get the vial.
  • Played with in the season 6 finale of Stargate SG-1 when the team is pinned down by Anubis's forces in the temple on Abydos. O'Neill attaches a block of C4 with a remote detonator to the MacGuffin, then trades it for safe passage to the gate.

Video Games

  • In Skies of Arcadia, the characters all live in a world of Floating Continents where falling off of an airship is as good as death. Even assuming the Moon Crystals are indestructible, tossing them overboard would make them impossible for anyone to acquire. Although it is eventually revealed that they were originally hidden in dungeons in case the Silvites wanted to use them again, not because of their destructive potential, no such excuse exists for the protagonists, who are only interested in preventing anyone from using them.
    • Even after the protagonists learn The Empire actually has technology that allows them to reach the the planet surface beneath the clouds, leaving them to search the entire world's worth of muddy sea floor equivalent would still mean the Big Bad would die of old age long before finding them.
    • At one point during the game, Enrique even mentions that he considered destroying the crystals (exactly how is never explained, other than dropping them into Deep Sky), but decided to give them back to our heroes for sake of the plot. If only he had know what would happen later, he probably should have.
  • Justified in Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door, where one of the partners suggests that they might not want to gather the Crystal Stars (which sealed away the Shadow Queen), in case they got them together only to have the villains steal them to use them to open the door and take over the world, but Frankly says that as the seal on the Thousand-Year Door is weakening over time, they need to use the Crystal Stars in order to seal The Shadow Queen, which would also preclude destroying the stars.
  • Mega Man ZX Advent actually demonstrates the Genre Savvy use of this trope. In the Quarry, Grey/Ashe have an encounter with Aile/Vent, and the two get in a fight over what to do with the Model W in its depths. The former finds the Model W fused to a Spidrill and are forced to destroy both. It turns out that destroying the Quarry's Model W was the whole reason Aile/Vent were there in the first place! Unfortunately, just its destruction wasn't enough to keep Ouroboros from forming, but you have to give the gang credit for trying.
  • In the third Ace Attorney game, nearing the end of the first case, Phoenix attempts this with a crucial piece of evidence... That piece of evidence being a glass vial that was once full of poison.

Web Comics

  • Part of what makes the Winslow the MacGuffin in the Gallimaufry arc of Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire is the fact that it's explicitly indestructible. Even the Prime Movers don't seem to have found any better way to deal with it than to hand it to some promising species or other and let them hide it.

Western Animation

  • The Justice League episode "A Knight of Shadows" has the heroes trying to keep the Philosopher's Stone away from Morgan Le Fay. When they acquire it, they lock it in the Watchtower--and it ends up being stolen. The story concludes with the stone being crushed to dust--which raises the question of why they bothered to lock it in the watchtower in the first place.
    • Similarly in "Paradise Lost", where the League are forced to retrieve three artifacts that combine into the key that can free the Sealed Evil in a Can. In this case, the League can't destroy the key before the end of the episode, because there are lives at stake, but why didn't the people who locked him up in the first place destroy the key instead of just breaking it into three easily-recombinable pieces?
    • Also in the Static Shock JL crossover, with the League keeping the last piece of Brainiac in the Watchtower. Batman even lampshades the fact that they'd be better off with it destroyed, but why it's kept intact goes unexplained. Naturally, it gets loose mere minutes later.
  • In Xiaolin Showdown after Master Fung's demonstration, Omi opts to "destroy" the Golden Tiger Claws in order to keep it away from the villains. A bit of a Senseless Sacrifice, since he could have just used said Golden Tiger Claws to teleport away.
    • Entirely a Senseless Sacrifice, as he doesn't destroy it, he just warps it to the center of the Earth where it's easily retrieved with the Serpent's Tail.
      • Considering that said Macguffin and any of the wu are simply stolen by the villains every few episodes or so, this may be somewhat justified. Plus at the time Omi had no knowledge of such a shen gong wu.
  • Jackie tries this in Jackie Chan Adventures by destroying the talismans rather than allow the Big Bad to take them. Uncle then yells at him, by destroying the talismans he's released their power into the world and now they Gotta Catch Em All all over again.
  • It was standard procedure in the 2002 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series for He-Man to stop Skeletor or another villain from obtaining a rare artifact of great power by destroying it. Even when the artifact actually belonged to someone else and the act was done without permission. In one poignant example, one such artifact belonged to an ancient warrior whose sole remaining purpose in life was to protect it from harm, and his situation was quickly resolved by shanghaiing him onto the protagonist team.
  • In the Avalon arc of Gargoyles, the Archmage literally eats one of his MacGuffins, the Grimorum Arcanorum, so as to make the knowledge contained within an inherent part of him. This ultimately led to him getting lethal indigestion when Goliath steals the Eye of Odin, the MacGuffin that enabled the Archmage to safely contain the book within his body.
  • In the Garfield special Garfield's Feline Fantasies, Garfield's main dream involves the Banana of Bombay as the MacGuffin. After recovering the banana, he eats it and explains to Odie "it's just a fantasy".
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