In a lot of good movie series, there are "MacGuffins' that are central objects that serve as a trigger for the plot. In the lord of the rings, it was the one ring. In Harry Potter, is was the horcruxes, in the last two Avengers films, it was the Infinity gauntlet (or, maybe the infinity stones) etc. etc. My question is: Is there a MacGuffin in Star Wars? I was thinking maybe the force is a sort-of MacGuffin (it kind of isn't though because it technically was the makeup of all nature and so it wasn't an actual thing) I mean throughout the entire series. Not each individual trilogy.

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    According to Wikipedia, “In fiction, a MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin) is an object, device, or event that is necessary to the plot and the motivation of the characters, but insignificant, unimportant, or irrelevant in itself.” By that definition, I wouldn’t agree that any of your examples are MacGuffins. Mar 4, 2021 at 1:49
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    In which Star Wars? Are you asking for every film, TV series, episodes, The Skywalker Saga, or A New Hope specifically? The problem here is that directors do not always agree on what constitutes a McGuffin? In earler films, it was considered something that drives the first plot, but doesn't remain as important, but for other directors like Lucas, it is suppose to be significant (can even be a character), which I think is more often the case with today's Blockbusters. Mar 4, 2021 at 14:26
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    Quite possibly there could be many MacGuffins pinpointed in most of the films, or series, but they aren't that "pronounced". This question is rather too broad and somewhat opinion based. Perhaps Death Stars play similar role to Tolkien's One Ring, but aren't typical MacGuffins
    – Mithoron
    Mar 5, 2021 at 2:18
  • These days the "MacGuffin" is cash for Disney. 27 hours of feature films alone now. Mar 6, 2021 at 21:46

2 Answers 2


The Death Star plans/R2 when he carries the plans are the MacGuffin. They set the plot in motion and are the trigger for getting Luke involved in the story, but ultimately don't mean very much to the audience.

Using Hitchcock's definition of a MacGuffin...

"what everybody on the screen is looking for, but the audience don't care"

...then the plans are it. Lucas says R2 is the MacGuffin because he believes

"that the MacGuffin should be powerful and that the audience should care about it almost as much as the dueling heroes and villains on-screen."

So as soon as the plans are put in R2 then he becomes the MacGuffin.

Note that once everyone gets in their X-Wing at the end for the final battle, no-one in the audience is thinking about the plans anymore, even though they seemed so important before. The MacGuffin served it's purpose and got us to the end. R2 has lost his function as the MacGuffin, but we still care about him.

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    Can you add the citation in your answer? Sometimes links die, then we won't be able to see what the actually quote is.
    – Luciano
    Mar 4, 2021 at 9:35
  • Why don’t we care about the plans? Aren’t they critical for saving the rebellion? Compare with the glowing briefcase from Pulp Fiction. We can’t care about it because we don’t even know what it is. Or perhaps the diamonds from Reservoir Dogs. Mar 4, 2021 at 13:15
  • @ToddWilcox Yes, they aren't as vague as some other MacGuffin's. But like I said, you don't care about them at all once they jump in the X-Wing. You care about R2 because he's a character you now love, not because he has the plans. Nor even while everyone is running around on the Death Star earlier in the film - the audience is asking questions like "how will they rescue the princess?", "will Obi-Wan disable the tractor beam?". It's only once they leave do the plans get mentioned again.
    – magarnicle
    Mar 5, 2021 at 0:05
  • @ToddWilcox Also, you could switch out the plans for something else and still get essentially the same plot. Off the top of my head, R2 himself could be a weapon that can destroy the death star. Not the greatest suggestion, but you get the idea.
    – magarnicle
    Mar 5, 2021 at 0:07

According to George Lucas in the commentary of Star Wars Episode IV, he claims that R2-D2 is a MacGuffin. The bit that @Todd Wilcox mentions regarding the MacGuffin needing to be, "insignificant, unimportant, or irrelevant in itself", is interpreted differently by different directors/producers so I wouldn't consider that a hard requirement on what can and can't be considered a MacGuffin.

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