These MacGuffins are Easily Recognizable Even to People who Didn't watch the Movie
A MacGuffin is usually some kind of object (although it can be a goal or even a person) that moves a film's plot along. The hero and the villain both want it for different reasons--sometimes the hero wants it just so the villain can't have it. MacGuffins may be some made up object, something real, or something intangible like success or love. MacGuffins can also be found in novels, video games, and any other area where a story is told. Here are four of these MacGuffins that have become very well-known.
The Holy Grail. This MacGuffin has appeared in many different films. In fact, it's one of the earliest MacGuffins in storytelling, dating back to the tales of King Arthur. It appears in various forms: sometimes as a literal chalice, but it's also been interpreted as a person (The Da Vinci Code). Other films driven by the Holy Grail include Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Fisher King, plus it features in many movies based on the Arthurian Legends.
The One Ring. Even those who have never read The Lord of the Rings novels by J.R.R. Tolkien or watched the movie adaptations by Peter Jackson know of the Dark Lord's One Ring. This simple golden ring has the power to make people invisible, but if it falls into the hands of evil, all of Middle Earth will be destroyed. Like many MacGuffins found in fantasy, the One Ring is given incredible magical powers but also has rules in place so the heroes can't simply use it to defeat evil.
The Ark of the Covenant. Indiana Jones films are known for their MacGuffins, so much so that they're often in the title of each movie. The Ark of the Covenant pitted Jones against Nazis trying to take over the world using the Ark and its fantastic powers, but by the end, Indy triumphs and the golden box is put away. Other Indiana Jones MacGuffins include the alien crystal skull and the Sankara stone from The Temple of Doom.
Rosebud. Citizen Kane is considered one of the greatest films of all time, but it's plot is driven by a MacGuffin just like many others. The movie revolved around finding out why Charles Kane said "Rosebud" before he died. When the movie finally reveals the truth, it almost doesn't matter. Rosebud drove the plot to the end without even being in the film until the very end.