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The “MacGuffin” or the “Big Dumb Object” (BDO) in books, movies and TV is a staple of storytelling. And for good reason. They don’t usually help the story along. They’re just there, motivating the characters to do things, from the heroic to the downright evil. That can be pretty powerful stuff. Here are some of the most well-known MacGuffins and BDOs in cultural history. Or not…
The Maltese Falcon
A true MacGuffin, the Maltese Falcon hardly makes an appearance in the very movie which introduced it. In fact, it’s more often referred to as “The Black Bird.” But, the lust and greed it inspires makes it one of the most illustrious BDOs in cinema and popular culture.
A police box? A phone booth? What is this thing that propels Doctor Who around the known universe and back and forth through time? Nobody really knows, or cares. It’s just damn cool…
The Supergate, originating from the Stargate galaxy of TV and movies, allows all those who enter a way to travel immense distances without a spaceship. What’s all the fuss? We’ve seen it before. It’s called a Worm Hole…
The Black Monolith
The Black Monolith is one of the most vexing and truly creative BDOs in history. If we understand 2001: A Space Odyssey correctly (but, really, who does?) then it’s the most important object to appear in the history of mankind. Because it, ultimately, shapes our Star-Child destiny…
Imagine waking up one morning and your sleepy, small town in America is suddenly covered by a transparent dome? Stephen King did and had his characters endure the mystery for just one week. CBS stretched the story out for 3 years until its conclusion, which was met by a giant yawn instead. Now THAT’S a Big Dumb Object…
The Death Star
Star Wars’ Death Star seems to be incapable of dying itself. Even though it’s been built and rebuilt over and over again. We get it. It’s a fake planet with plenty of room for battle cruisers, death rays and lots of storm troopers who can’t shoot straight. But, so what? It was part of a long ago galaxy, far, far away…
The Dyson Sphere
Here’s a BDO that at least has a positive message. It’s a gigantic, spherical, artificial sanctuary, capable of producing its own gravitational effect. Like an Earth-sized greenhouse. But, they may have to do something about that name. Doesn’t that guy sell vacuum cleaners or something?
The most ancient BDO/MacGuffin in history, there are still people searching for its remains thousands of years after the story was first told. Let’s face it, you can’t get a pair of all the animals in the world on one boat. And, even if you could, who wants to clean up all that poop?
The Holy Grail
The Holy Grail is, well, the holy grail of MacGuffins and Big Dumb Objects. It’s not even certain what it really is. A cup? The modern heir in the direct bloodline of Jesus Christ? If you ask us, we’ll stick to the Monty Python version. At least it’s funny…