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An object of tremendous power and potential is created or found. Unfortunately, almost immediately the entire cast starts fighting over it, demonstrating their inability to be in charge of such power. Ultimately one character - usually the wisest - then decides that the only way to stop the conflict is to destroy (or cast away) the object. With nothing left to fight over, peace and order is, indeed, restored.

This is the typical fate of all MacGuffins. See also: The World Is Not Ready, Status Quo Is God, Reluctant Mad Scientist.

Compare No MacGuffin, No Winner where the object is lost as a karmic punishment, rather than a willing decision in fear of the consequences. Also compare It Belongs in a Museum. Does not refer to powers that only women have, or should have.

Examples:


Anime and Manga

  • In the manga Tri Peace, two rulers solve the conflict between their nations by destroying the magical fountain that they are warring over.
  • Fate/Zero and Fate/stay night: The conclusion their respective main characters ultimately come to, regarding the corrupted Holy Grail.

Comic Books

  • The Marvel Crossover Infinity Gauntlet ended with Adam Warlock acquiring the eponymous gauntlet which granted the user god-like powers. Not soon after that, the Living Tribunal, a cosmic being meant to bring order to the cosmos, declared that the gauntlet's gems must never be used by a single person ever again. The gems were then scattered amongst Warlock's allies.
  • Elliot S! Maggin's Bronze Age Superman story, "The Day the Cheering Stopped" Superman gets magical sword which was apparently created at the dawn of time. It gives him incredible power(even for Pre Crisis Superman) and helps him defeat the villian. In the end he realizes the incredible power the sword will give him and feels that it will make him an all powerful protector. He decides he doesn't want this power and throws it into space. A voice(Possibly the voice of God) tells him he did the right thing.

Film

  • Played somewhat for laughs in The Gods Must Be Crazy, when a tribe of Kalahari bushmen find a bottle, and it proves to be so useful in their barren habitat that they are soon fighting over it. The conclusion is that it must be destroyed, which as far as they know is only possible by throwing it over the edge of the earth.
  • At the end of The Mask, the protagonist casts the magical mask into the river.
  • In Back to The Future, Doc Brown repeatedly promises to himself to destroy his own time-travelling technology, which finally happens at the end of movie 3. ( Almost immediately it turns out that he had built a new one.)
  • Forbidden Planet: Dr. Morbius insists that humanity won't be able to handle the power granted by the Krell artifacts. Captain Adams resents Morbius setting himself up as the arbiter of this technology; when Morbius himself can't handle the power, Adams realizes this really is too much power for humanity, so he doesn't object to destroying the entire Krell laboratory.


Literature


Live Action TV

  • On one episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the heroes embark on a quest to find the Sword Of Kahless, a very important religious artifact to the Klingons. So important, in fact, that whoever finds it and brings it back to the homeworld would gain the cultural/religious/political power to take over the Klingon Empire. As it turns out, it seems to corrupt it's wielder faster than The One Ring, and after seeing her cohorts plotting to take over the empire and fighting amongst themselves over who gets to do it, Jadzia beams the sword into space.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, when Q appeared in "Hide and Q" he endowed Riker with the power of the Continuum in an attempt to uncover how humanity might someday surpass his species. Picard immediately pressured Riker into resisting the urge to use this power, ostensibly to prevent Will from abusing it, and also to win a wager against Q in the hopes of making the God-like being sod off forever. Even though he is corrupted by the power, Riker ultimately decides to remain human and has the power taken away, with the moral being that humanity will take it's own path without needing to be uplifted by Q. This doesn't stop Q from continuing to harass Picard once a season for the rest of Next Gen's run, of course.
  • Parodied in one episode of The Big Bang Theory. The guys end up with one of the actual props of the One Ring from the Lord Of The Rings movies, and squabble constantly over who gets to keep it, while Leonard rolls his eyes. While they're asleep, Leonard takes the ring, and tells them he sent it back to Peter Jackson where it belongs. Subverted when it turns out Leonard kept it for himself.

Video Games

Web Comics

  • El Goonish Shive has Sensei Greg. Who eventually closed his dojo of "Anime Style Martial Arts" in part due to worries that it turned out to be a magical training and there's no way to ensure that good powers would be granted to the right people. Just before the dojo was wrecked by a sleepwalking magic-user and a dragon anyway.

Western Animation

  • Parodied on South Park. The boys see the girls playing with a paper fortune teller. After Butters successfully infiltrates their slumber party and steals it from them, the boys decide that the power to tell the future is to great and dangerous to possess, and destroy it with a spectacular explosion.
  • In the Gargoyles episode "Grief", the Emir manages to take the powers of Anubis (mastery of death) away from Jackal and becomes Anubis' avatar. The Emir then does what he can to repair the damage inflicted by Jackal during his brief tenure as Anubis' avatar. After seeing the destruction wrought by Jackal and becoming the avatar himself leads the Emir to two epiphanies: the first being that the dead should stay dead, and that no one mortal should have access to this kind of power ever again. He collapses the entire building on himself, destroying any trace of the knowledge needed to bind Anubis.

Real Life

  • Nuclear non-proliferation treaties are as close as real life gets to this trope.
  • Knowledge is power, thus scientists universally invert this trope.
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