For the few readers of Cracked that aren’t budding film majors, a MacGuffin is a term created by screenwriter Angus McPhail and popularized by talented director/creep Alfred Hitchcock that is reserved an object, device, or an event that drives the plot of a movie or TV show but serves no actually purpose aside from that.
A prime example is the Maltese Falcon in the classic film The Maltese Falcon. Sure, it’s the title and it seems important, but (SPOILERS FOR AN 80+ YEAR OLD MOVIE) it’s just a worthless item that motivated Sam Spade and all the other characters to interact together and turn itself into a movie. Sure, it’s a worthless prop, but it’s kind of the reason that caused tension or the call to adventure or whatever plot you wish to occur to happen in the first place.
Pop culture has a lot of MacGuffins that are great for various reasons, even if its importance is overblown.
The Briefcase in 'Pulp Fiction'
The One Ring in 'The Lord of the Rings'
The Rug in 'The Big Lebowski'
Private Ryan in 'Saving Private Ryan'
The Ruby Slippers in 'The Wizard of Oz'
Milton's Red Stapler in 'Office Space'
The Triforce in 'The Legend of Zelda'
A Way to go Back in Time in 'Samurai Jack'
Rosebud in 'Citizen Kane'
The One Piece in 'One Piece'
The Heart of the Ocean in 'Titanic'
The Infinity Stones in the MCU
The Green Destiny in 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'
The Holy Grail
The Soul Edge in 'Soulcalibur'
The Dragon Balls in 'Dragon Ball'
White Castle Hamburgers in 'Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle'