What is a MacGuffin?

by Gunther Heinrich, 14 Nov 2007 in Analyses

(Note: if you already know the term MacGuffin, you probably won’t learn anything new)

Do you know what a MacGuffin is?

Since Alfred Hitchcock invented this term and used it extensively I think it is the best to let him tell a story to describe the term:

Imagine two men sitting in a train in Scotland. The first one looks up and asks “What is that package over your head?”. The second answers “Well, that is a MacGuffin”. The first one asks “And what is a MacGuffin?” The other one says “Oh, it is an apparatus to catch lions in the mountains of Andirondak.” The first one says “But there are no lions in the Scottish Mountains.” The other one answers “Well, then that’s no MacGuffin. You se, a MacGuffin is nothing at