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The thing the characters are trying to do, the goal they're trying to achieve, throughout the whole series. This is the reason the hero was called, the reason he gathered up his ragtag band of allies, the reason he fights the bad guys. In short, the reason the series has for existing.

For obvious reasons, this isn't likely to be achieved until the end, if ever -- without it, there's no story, unless you create a new one. Will sometimes overlap with the Myth Arc, if all or most the installments of the series advance the characters' journey towards the goal. This is by no means required, however -- sometimes the Series Goal just exists to get the story started and keep the characters moving, but has no real bearing on the actual episodes or arcs of the series.

See also MacGuffin and Plot Coupon, the acquisition of which may be this.

Examples of Series Goal include:


Anime and Manga

  • Ash's goal to become the Greatest Pokemon Master of All Time, in the Pokémon anime. The definition of "greatest" is evidently subject to numerous redefinings, because he never achieves it no matter how many people he beats.
    • Well, in the games this is almost explicitly defined as catching every Pokemon, which Ash never shows any desire to do. So, umm, good question!
      • In all likelihood, Ash isn't quite sure what it actually means either.
  • The search for the eponymous One Piece. One Piece itself is just a MacGuffin so far, never seen or explained; the series consists mostly of the characters wandering around doing good deeds.
    • Something that might count as a Lampshade Hanging is Luffy making a specific point of not wanting to know what the One Piece is (or if it even exists) before he gets there, when another of his crew tries to ask someone who would know. He claims knowing what he is chasing in that way would render their adventure "boring."
  • In Naruto, the titular character's wish to be Hokage (lately taken a backseat to "bring back Sasuke", though it's more of a passive goal that he gets closer to by just getting stronger), and to a lesser extent, Sasuke's wish to kill his own brother which was (not quite) resolved in the manga. Itachi is Dead for Real, but 1)Sasuke didn't technically kill him and 2) Itachi might've been a good guy the whole time.
    • No, he isn't dead for real. And now he's fighting alongside Sasuke. If he is dead for real, he's going to stay as a zombie, but still act alive.
  • Inuyasha - Defeat Naraku, whose Evil Plan caused so much misery to everyone and destroy the Shikon Jewel. Our heroes eventually end up doing both at once. But it takes twelve years worth of comics to accomplish.
  • D.Gray-man - Defeat the Millennium Earl and the Noahs.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist anime - Create a philosopher's stone to return to human state (the Elric brothers) or become human (the Homunculi).
  • Fullmetal Alchemist manga - Find a way to return to human state; save Amesteris from becoming one giant philosopher's stone; defeat "Father" and the Homunculi, and maybe make peace with the other countries.
  • In Samurai Champloo, Fuu's goal (and therefore Mugen and Jin's too) is to find the samurai who smells like sunflowers. She does. He dies soon after.
  • Berserk gives Guts two goals - take vengeance on Griffith and the Godhand for the Eclipse and restore Casca's sanity. Don't bet too heavily on him succeeding.
  • Monster - Tenma's goal is to kill Johan. Lunge's goal is to arrest Tenma. Johan's goal is... not made clear for a long, long while, assuming he has one beyond "Evade death/capture".
  • Mahou Sensei Negima: Find Nagi Springfield. Progress is actually sort of being made on this during the latest arc... if Negi actually asks the questions he should.
  • Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle has Syaoran and company sent on a journey to find Sakura's memory fragments that have taken the form of feathers and are scattered through many different worlds. However, that's only the beginning... the goal slowly changes as we find out the Big Bad's reason for sending them on their travels; now their goal is to defeat the Big Bad, among other things. The series is a complete Mind Screw if anything--it's CLAMP, after all.
  • Magic Users Club: Protect Earth from the aliens of the Bell. Practice their magic without hurting themselves.
  • Mirai Nikki: Becoming God's successor. Yuno, however, has "becoming one with Yukkii".
  • Gundam (pretty much all of them): End the war before it destroys humanity/the planet/everything.
  • Code Geass: Lelouch's two-fold goal, as stated in the Opening Narration is to find out who killed his mother[1] and to make the world a better place for his little sister. He accomplishes the first goal late in the second season (It was his evil uncle V.V.), and the second in the final episode (By making himself a Silent Scapegoat).

Comic Books

  • Rogue Trooper - In the Rogue continuity, find and kill the traitor general. They eventually manage it, which left the writers without any decent plots for future stories, which led to the Friday reboot. In this version, the goal was to get to Highguard and find out the reason for the massacre on Hill 392 and why the Norts had GIs. This was achieved even more quickly, leaving Friday without a compelling reason to have more adventures. Eventually, the writers tried having Rogue and Friday meet, but again, the two had little personal reason to actually do anything.

Film

  • Star Wars - In chronological order: Defeat the Separatists and end the Clone Wars, defeat the Galactic Empire and maintain the New Galactic Republic.
  • The Matrix - Destroy the Machines and save the humans. While not quite fulfilled, the two sides are at an uneasy peace.

Literature

  • Harry Potter - Defeat Voldemort.
  • Stephen King's Dark Tower series - get to the titular tower and (for awhile) stop it from being destroyed.
  • The Wheel of Time: Win Tarmon Gai'don, the great final battle against the Dark One.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Destroy the One Ring and keep it from returning to the hand of its creator, Sauron.

Live Action TV

  • The Series Goal of Stargate SG-1 was originally to survive against the Goa'uld, which became defeating the Goa'uld. Over 8 seasons, whenever the team found a weapon that might defend Earth/destroy the System Lords, it inevitably was destroyed. Then, when the writers thought the series was going to end, the team was actually allowed to tie up all its loose ends...then they got another season, and the writers had to come up with another Series Goal.
  • Sliders and Quantum Leap - Have the main character(s) get back to their home dimension/time frame, respectively it's implied this never happens in Quantum Leap.
    • In the fourth season of Sliders, the goal becomes "find Quinn's original dimension and get the weapon they used against the Kromaggs in order to save Earth Prime from the Kromaggs". By the fifth season, it's revealed that the weapon destroyed Quinn's original world and isn't usable. And Quinn and Colin are seemingly lost forever, leaving them without a goal.
  • Gilligan's Island - Get off the island. Ironically when they finally do leave the island ("Flight of the Phoenix"-style, to boot), they miss it so much they return to make it into a resort.
  • Lost - Get off the Island, obviously. But like anything on Lost, an epic monkey wrench is thrown into these schemes halfway through the series: flashforwards reveal Jack, Kate, and others escaped the island and desperately want to go back, their lives sucking so bad that the island was all they truly needed.
    • After they return, they do a bit of meandering before discovering their true purpose: stop the Man in Black/smoke monster from escaping the island. Jack finds his purpose is to save the island from destruction, which he successfully accomplishes. Additionally, in a callback to the original goal, all remaining characters except Hurley and Ben (who stay behind to protect the island) escape once again aboard the return plane, Ajira flight 316.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: find a shortcut back to Federation space, which is 70 years away at maximum warp.
    • Lost in Space was another get-back-to-Earth show in principle, but the Robinsons didn't seem to be trying very hard.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: the original goal was to bring Bajor into the Federation and protecting them and the wormhole from the Cardassians which was not achieved, and was even advised against by Sisko in later years, which evolved into saving the Alpha Quadrant itself and defeating the Dominion.
  • Battlestar Galactica (both versions): escape the Cylons and reach the rumoured planet Earth.
    • In the original series, they eventually find Earth, but it's not sufficiently advanced to help them against the Cylons.
    • In the new series, they eventually find Earth...but it turns out to be an irradiated wasteland. They then find a healthy planet and name it Earth, so everything's okay.
  • Crusade: find a cure for the Drakh plague, which will kill everyone on Earth in five years' time. According to Word of God, this would have been accomplished not too long into the series' intended five seasons; other problems would have arisen in the meantime.
  • The Fugitive: Dr Richard Kimble wants to find the one-armed man and clear his name.
  • Monk: Solve Trudy's murder.
  • Farscape: John Crichton wants to get back to Earth. He actually succeeds before the end of the series, but realises he no longer fits in there. He later has to destroy the wormhole back to Earth to prevent the Scarrans from invading, meaning he can never go back.
  • Red Dwarf: Get back to Earth and/or see if Humanity has survived in the intermittent 3-million-year period.
  • Firefly : Get a job, stay flying.
    • Rather, find out what River's deal is and get her cured. Mission accomplished as of the Big Damn Movie.
  • Lexx: Find a livable planet to settle on, without getting it destroyed by the end of the episode.
  • Edmund has one in every Blackadder series.
    • The Black Adder - become king. He does, but only for thirty seconds before dying himself.
    • Blackadder II - gain favour with the Queen, avoid being executed. Gains the favour, but is then murdered with everyone else by Prince Ludwig.
    • Blackadder III - gain money and power, possibly join the aristocracy. Goes one better: He lives as the Prince Regent (and eventually King) after a case of mistaken identity leaves the real prince dead.
    • Blackadder Goes Forth - somehow get out of the war alive. Heartbreakingly fails
    • Hell, even two of the specials had a goal:
      • Blackadder in the Cavalier Years: Save Charles I. He fails, so he Heel Face Turns (as much as a Villain Protagonist can anyway) to turn Baldrick (who was harboring the Prince of Wales) in.
      • Blackadder Back And Forth: Find his way back to his time. He succeeds only to find he changed history, he goes back and fixes history, then he realizes he could change history to benefit himself and uses time travel to become king of the United Kingdom.
  • Storm Chasers: The show is centered around the quest for IMAX filmmaker Sean Casey to use his custom designed Tornado Intercept Vehicle to get inside a tornado for the purposes of capturing footage for his Magnum Opus that will also provide financial security for his family. What happens if the goal is achieved is not currently known.
  • The X-Files had Mulder's everlasting crusade to find the Truth about everything, from the abduction of his sister to the alien plans to colonize the planet.
  • Merlin: For Merlin to keep Arthur safe long enough for him to become the famous king of legend and ensure that magic is reinstated throughout the land.
  • The Walking Dead: Find somewhere safe.
  • Community has Jeff going through college in order to get his job back, which he lost after his degree was discovered to be bogus.

Multiple Media

  • Bionicle: First, it was the Toa's goal to reawaken the Great Spirit Mata Nui, and stop Makuta Teridax from taking over the universe (which is Mata Nui's body) -- both resolved after 8 real-life years, though only the first was a success. Then, when LEGO attempted to renew the brand, the new goal was for Mata Nui to reclaim his stolen body, reunite the broken planet of Spherus Magna, and defeat Teridax. Now, it's very vague.

Webcomics

  • Closed Gate: The main character seeks to end the colonial rule over his home island, Terranova
  • Problem Sleuth would very much like to get out of his office.
  • Goats: Fix the flaws in the multiverse before it crashes in 2012.
  • Looking for Group: Originally the goal was to discover the Sword of Truth. Currently, they are trying to restore Kethenecia and defeat the Legaran Empire.
  • The Wotch: Anne finishes her training and defeats Melleck Xaos
  • Order of the Stick: Defeat Xykon and protect the Gates.

Western Animation

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: restoring balance to the world by defeating the Fire Nation and Fire Lord Ozai. Later clarified as restoring balance to the world by defeating the Fire Nation before they become super-powerful at the end of summer.
  • Samurai Jack - Return to the past, and undo the future that is Aku. A Matrix-themed episode shows that this wouldn't happen for a very long time.
  • Dungeons and Dragons: Escape from The Realm and return to their own world. In the never-produced finale, the kids are offered a choice of either returning home or staying in The Realm to have more adventures.

Notes

  1. And explicitly not to get Revenge, because he thinks it's meaningless
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