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A MacGuffin doesn't necessarily have to take the form of an object. This is the case where the MacGuffin is an actual location -- a place where everyone's trying to get to (or get there first), but the actual place doesn't have any impact on the plot.

This happens quite often in shows featuring races -- it often doesn't matter whether the finish line is in Cairo, New Zealand, or Omaha.

Compare with Going to See the Elephant.

Examples of MacGuffin Location include:


Anime

  • In addition to the location of the titular treasure, the actual island of Raftel in One Piece is also sought after, mainly due to the Rio Poneglyphs.
  • Outlaw Star has people searching for the location of the fabled Galactic Leyline, presumably a giant stash of valuable minerals or other treasure. Actually, it's a repository of knowledge, and after it's found it runs away again so that the chase can start all over.
    • Technically the place seems to be a Literal Genie Genius Loci, capable and willing to fulfill any wish that a person reaching its core chooses to make. A person wishing for knowledge will be swallowed in its datastream, however.
  • Shinzo in, well, Shinzo. There's just one problem, There is no "Shinzo" in the original Japanese version[1].
  • Paradise in Wolf's Rain.
  • The true Clair Bible in Slayers NEXT turns out to be this, as it was previously assumed that the bible was a book.

Film

  • Five Weeks In A Balloon. The heroes and a band of slavers are trying to get to a piece of territory that no nation owns in order to claim it for their respective governments.
  • The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. Sinbad and Prince Koura both try to reach the Fountain of Destiny first in order to gain its rewards.
  • The Great Race: the title New York to Paris race.
  • Tarzan and the Valley of Gold. The title valley (and the city of gold therein), which both Tarzan and the Big Bad are trying to reach.
  • The Big W in It's a Mad, mad, Mad, Mad World. Parodied after a fashion by the Big Why (Y) in The New Avengers.
  • El Dorado, a city supposedly made entirely of gold somewhere in South America, from films such as Road to El Dorado.
  • Rat Race: the train station in Silver City, New Mexico

Literature

  • Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth and all of its adaptations.
  • Treasure Island has its titular island. So, too, does its Recycled in Space counterpart Treasure Planet.
  • The Dark Tower has...well...
    • King kind of lampshades this at the end. He stops to say it should be enough to just get there, but since some of you will insist, he'll also provide the ending that actually tells what happens there... which when read makes it no less a MacGuffin Location.
    • The poem that inspired the series is all about the existential meaninglessness of searching for a place for so long, "Childe Roland" has pretty much forgotten why he's searching for it.
  • The Malloreon, by David Eddings, features a Mineral MacGuffin (the 'Sardion', a rock) and a MacGuffin Location, "The Place Which Is No More".
  • The Spitsbergen island in the Svalbard archipelago, from His Dark Materials.
  • Tanelorn in several stories by Michael Moorcock.
  • The Chamber of Secrets in Harry Potter
  • The Tomb Of Sephotic in Robert Westall's Urn Burial. Somewhere on Fiend's Fell in Cumbria, there's a hidden tomb to an alien weapons maker, that's filled with weapons he built that no one knows how to build or counter any more.

Live Action TV

  • Every location on The Amazing Race.
  • Similarly, the finish line of nearly every Top Gear Car v. Something Else race challenge.
  • The Doctor Who episode's eponymous Utopia. That turned out well, didn't it?

Web Comics

  • Familiar Ground: The cave. because they do not, in fact, get any answers
  • Dark Wings has the fabled lost city of Eryl, home of scholars/demons/angels/mages/insert-exalted-group-here, where they had everything and knew everything and yada yada yada.

Web Original

Western Animation

Video Games

  • In Final Fantasy VII, Shinra's main motivation is to find the 'promised land'.
  • "Your Sanctuaries" in Earthbound.
  • The Tower in the Panzer Dragoon Series
  • The Vault in Borderlands
  • A slightly odd example is Releeshahn in the third Myst game. Releeshahn is a book that is an access to a location, and you have to retrieve the book.

Religion

  • Heaven for Christians.

Truth in Television

  • Shangri-La, a Himalayan paradise where people live far longer than the normal human lifespan, was invented by James Hilton in his 1931 novel Lost Horizon. The novel and subsequent movie inspired many people to believe that Shangri-La was real; the Nazis sent an expedition to Tibet in 1938 to look for it.
  • Atlantis, a powerful island nation destroyed by earthquake, was written about by Plato. To this day treasure-seekers wonder how much of Plato's story was inspired by a real place, and continue to search for the location of the "real" Atlantis.
    • Even though he starts the narration by pointing out that Atlantis is not a real place, but an hypothetical example of how governments should be run.
  • Until the real thing was discovered near Istanbul, Turkey, many scholars thought that Troy was one of these as well. The same is true of many other locations in ancient lore (and sometimes even people).
  • The races to reach the North and South Poles, being the first to climb Mount Everest, the Race to the Moon between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. and so on.
    • To be fair, the Moon was supposed to be more than a MacGuffin Location, but then the sequel got cancelled.

Notes

  1. called "Mushrambo", after the main character's fusion form
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