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The evening star is shining bright,And anything could happen...
So make a wish, and hold on tight,
There's magic in the air tonight,
Characters in stories always want something badly; it's one of the rules of fiction. To get what they want, some heroes use hard work, some use wit and charm, and some just look up at the nearest star and wish really really hard for it.
It always comes true.
Wishing has power in fiction; it's one of the main sources of Applied Phlebotinum. No matter what you want, from a new car to a sudden age-up, you can get it by wishing. Of course, you have to Be Careful What You Wish For and make sure that if you want to be special, normal, or want someone out of your life, that you actually mean exactly what you say. Good or evil, the wish-granter is almost always a Literal Genie who will gladly warp reality for the heck of it.
The best known wish-granter is probably the Genie in a Bottle (or other similar magical creatures) who generally grants Three Wishes. If he's lucky, the hero will get a Benevolent Genie; unlucky ones will have a Jackass Genie.
Other wishing methods, generally only resulting in one wish, include:
- Wishing on a star
- Seeing a shooting star
- Wishing wells
- Birthday candles and/or wishbones, which generally come with a proviso that telling anyone the wish means it won't come true
- Some sort of magic wish tool (like a monkey's paw)
- A lunar/solar eclipse
- Any number of other things, like blowing on an eyelash, blowing the seeds off a dandelion, or blowing on wishing/pixie dust
- The power of words
After the wish has been granted, the wisher may discover they don't like the way things are going and will use another wish to hit a Reset Button. Big wishes may end in a Wishplosion. The final shot may reveal that the wish story was All Just a Dream (Or Was It a Dream?), but some stories are much more subtle and leave it up to the audience whether the "wishes" really came true or were just a string of marvelous coincidences.
Fairy Tales and Folklore
- Any story that features a genie (Aladdin, many tales in the Arabian Nights)
- In "Sweet Porridge" wishing to never go hungry results in a family getting a pot that cooks porridge with commands to stop and go the wishers can't remember, which results in a massive flood of hot porridge (or sweet soup, depending on the story) before somebody remembers the command.
- In "The Sausage" a husband and wife arguing about how to use the wishes which ends with the husband getting fed up and saying "I wish that sausage was on your nose!" and then having to use the last wish as a Reset Button.
- In "The Fisherman and his Wife", a fisherman gets wishes granted to him by a magic fish because he spares it rather than catching it.
- In Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid", the mermaid in question sells her voice to the sea witch in order to get a wish for legs. After she fails to seduce him, her sisters sell their hair to kill the prince that caused her to make the wish and save her life.
- In some folklore, Mermaids are themselves able to grant wishes.
- In "The Monkey's Paw", the wishes made by the poor couple may or may not have been granted other than the first one which definitely was ...but not as they hoped.
Anime and Manga
- Mermaid Saga: eating the flesh of a mermaid is said to grant one wish: immortality. Actually getting immortality is extremely rare. More common is becoming horribly mutated and insane, and much, much more common is the usual result of trying this: dropping dead.
- In Eureka Seven, most of the things Renton wished for in the early episodes eventually came true (be good at reffing, getting an adventurous life, wanted Eureka as his girlfriend, wanting to hear Holland's "first love" story (episode 7), to see his father and sister, taking Eureka away to a distant place alone with her (episode 30), stop the war, kissing Eureka, etc). Ironically, the last episode is titled "Wish Upon A Star", whereby the 3 kids and Renton's grandpa makes a wish upon the stars in the ending.
- In the movie version ending, Eureka gets to have her long time wish came true: become human.
- This is the whole point of Dragon Ball: Goku (and everyone else in the series) is looking for seven dragon balls, so they can make a wish.
- In Pokemon, Jirachi is a cute legendary funsize mon that has the power to grant wishes. A Jirachi features prominently as the featured Mon of the sixth movie, Jirachi Wishmaker. On top of that, the ending theme for said movie is called "Make A Wish".
- The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer has its Mentor Mascots offering a wish in exchange for service in becoming Knights to battle an being that wants to destroy the world. The wish itself is granted in good faith, but it is possible to squander it.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica has Weasel Mascot Kyubey also offering a wish to turn girls into Magical Girls to fight Witches. While he's not technically a Jackass Genie; he has shades of Literal Genie (but he won't go out of his way to misinterpret) and the wishes have a price that he doesn't elaborate on.
- The Jewel Seeds in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha were able to grant the wishes of the Muggles who gets a hold of them. Of course, they tend to grant these wishes by way of a new Monster of the Week.
- Oh My Goddess has this as the central device that begins the story.
- Big, with a wish-granting machine at a fair.
- The 1986 movie Milly/Willy (aka I Was a Teenage Boy, Something Special), where a girl wishes to be a boy during the solar eclipse.
- Disney is loaded with examples (some cross over into folklore):
- Snow White, in a wishing well
- Pinocchio, on a star
- Aladdin, with a genie in a lamp
- In Enchanted, the villainess lures Giselle to the portal between her world and ours by saying it's a wishing well. (A Shout-Out to Snow White, where the Witch tricks Snow White into eating the poisoned apple by telling her it's a wishing apple.)
- The Princess and the Frog, both the heroine and her best friend make wishes on the evening star, although it's left ambiguous whether it's really the power of the star granting the wish or not. Also, one of the movie's messages is it's not just wishing, but hard work, that makes your dreams come true.
- In James and the Giant Peach (the movie, can't recall the book), James sends out a balloon wishing for help to take him to New York. Help appears in the form of a strange man with a bag full of magic glowing alligator tongues.
- Home Alone: "I wish my family would disappear." No magic here, just horrible, horrible bad luck, although Kevin does believe he magicked away his family.
- 18 Again has a grandfather and grandson who share the same birthday switch bodies after they wish on the same birthday cake.
- The film 13 Going on 30: Wishing powder transports the protagonist into the future
- Lifetime's How I Married My High School Crush has the teenage heroine transported to the future after making a wish during a solar eclipse.
- Liar Liar had a boy use his birthday wish to wish his lying father couldn't tell a lie for one day.
- Disney's Darby O'Gill and the Little People. Darby receives three wishes after capturing King Brian of the leprechauns.
- Labyrinth has the heroine wishing goblins would take away her baby brother, thus triggering the plot of her trying to rescue him.
- This was the central plot of Edward Eager's The Well-Wishers (children's lit).
- In a rather grimmer way, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Here, the wish (that Dorian's portrait would age rather than he) is definitely magic, but the question is, who granted it?
- Towards the end of The Magicians the protagonist captures a Questing Beast which then grants him three wishes. His first wish is impossible, as is the next one and the one after that. The Beast still counts them as his first wish.
- In one of the dialogues in Douglas Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach — an Eternal Golden Braid, the main protagonist Achilles finds a magical lamp whose Benevolent Genie grants him three wishes. Achilles tries to wish for more wishes, only to find out the genie can't do that for him; a wish about wishes is technically classified as a metawish, and in order to grant such wishes one would need a metagenie in a metalamp, whereas Achilles's genie merely is of the base variety… Luckily the genie happens to have a metalamp with a metagenie in, and even petitions GOD to grant Achilles a typeless wish (that could be about wishes, or metawishes, or metametawishes…), but Achilles still manages to mess it up.
- Joan Aiken's short story The Third Wish has our hero Mr. Peters freeing a swan from some thorn bushes, who turns out to be the King of the Forest, who grants him three wishes. Mr. Peters wishes for a pretty wife, which is exactly what he gets (her name is Leita), only it turns out Leita's actually a swan that the King turned into a human girl. She loves Mr. Peters, but misses her swan sister very badly. Mr. Peters uses his second wish to turn her back into a swan, and Leita and her sister stay with him as swans for the rest of his life. D'aww.
- Goosebumps tended to be quite fond of this trope as a device for lesson learning. "Be careful what you wish for" is probably the best example. Typically wishes don't go exactly as planned and the protagonist finishes the story by wishing nothing had ever happened
- The book Half Magic, which centers around four siblings finding a magic coin that grants wishes by half (e.g. if you wished for a house, you'd get half a house).
Live Action TV
- The premise of I Dream of Jeannie.
- Disney had a three-part crossover event called--guess--"Make a Wish Weekend," which had the stars of three shows wish on a shooting star and get their wish to come true. It backfired horribly, of course, and everyone rewound by the end of their episode.
- Seinfeld thoroughly explores this in the episode The Betrayal, which involves the wishing, counterwishing, and re-wishing of Kramer to "drop dead" using most of the methods in the description. There's also Jerry wishing Man Hands would acquire normal feminine hands. Neither comes true.
- Supernatural had the episode "Wishful Thinking," in which the brothers found a town with a working wishing well.
- The sisters in Charmed went up against a genie who delighted in giving you exactly what you wished for. Exactly what you wished for. Complete with every loophole you didn't close.
- Power Rangers Mystic Force had a genie cat named Jenji who granted each person a wish. However, if you wish for more wishes (as Xander did) you render the "contract" null and void.
- The 'Wishverse' of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where everyone was in a Crapsack World because Cordelia made an angry wish to someone who was really the vengeance demon Anyanka. Although Willow and Xander were together as bisexual S&M vampires working for The Master.
- At the end of "Innocence", Joyce presents her daughter with a makeshift 17th birthday cake and invites Buffy to blow out the candle and make a wish. As Buffy's innocence has been shattered forever by Angel becoming the evil Angelus, Buffy just replies, "Let it burn."
- A short silent sketch on The Benny Hill Show: Benny as an old man with his old wife comes across a wishing well. He throws a coin in, his wife disappears, replaced by a young bikini-clad bird. She then throws in a coin, and a muscular stud appears. He throws a coin in, and the bikini-clad girl disappears. Benny throws one last coin, and the muscle man disappears & his wife reappears.
- In Once Upon a Time, Jiminy tries everything he can think of, including dealing with Rumplestiltskin in order to escape his family's thieving ways, and accidentally kills Gepetto's parents. In desperation, he wishes on a star for a chance to escape and atone, gladly trading his humanity to become a cricket and serve Gepetto.
- Smallville begins with three year old Lana asking Martha to make a wish. She soon does get to "See a little face."
- There's also Chloe making a birthday wish of being Lois.
- Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger - The "Greatest Treasure in the Universe" the team have been looking for is revealed to have this power. Not only could it stop the Zangyack Empire, it could make it so Zangyack never existed in the first place. Unfortunately, doing so would take the power of all Super Sentai, erasing them from the new universe as well. After some agonizing, they decide it's not worth it and they'll stop Zangyack their own way - something they underline by blowing up the Treasure.
- Subverted in Sword and Fairy when the three main characters make various wishes on a falling star--none of which come remotely true.
- Dungeons and Dragons has the spells wish and miracle. The 3.5 versions of these spells have very specific things they can do without risking Literal Genie, Jackass Genie, and/or spell failure. (Well, miracle can fail if you try to do something against your deity's nature.)
- Magic: The Gathering has a few wish spells that allow you to take a card from anywhere in your collection, and bring it into the current game.
- The opening words of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods are "I wish..." Magic, however, comes in only indirectly - Cinderella going to her mother's grave to request silver and gold (a dress appears); the Baker and his Wife agree to fulfill the demands of the Witch, who would then allow them to conceive a child. However, all of their wishes come back to haunt them in Act II, which opens with the same words.
- The Star Fairies toyline featured the fairies responsible for granting wishes wished on a star. In the animated special, Princess Sparkle, the head fairy, makes her own wish using the Wishing Well (for a helper).
- In Nethack, there are a few ways to get a wish (most of them are based on the common tropes, like rubbing a magic lamp). If you find yourself fortunate enough to make a wish you can cause any item in the game to appear in your inventory, with certain limitations (e.g. wishing for enchanted equipment has a failure chance, you can't get artifacts that already exist elsewhere, you can't wish for the three plot required items, and you can't wish for things that would give you more wishes). The best type of wish is that from a Wand of Wishes, all of the other methods have some chance of going wrong (a wish itself is reliable, but a Jackass Genie will simply attack you and not give you a wish at all).
- The holy grail in Fate/stay night grants any wishes to the victorious master/servant pair of the Holy Grail War. Though it is later explained that it's a Jackass Genie due to a bad case of Demonic Possession, and will interpret any wish in a way that will cause maximum pain and suffering.
- In Tokimeki Memorial 2 Substories: Leaping School Festival, Akane, while talking with the protagonist under the starry sky, makes a wish upon seeing a shooting star, in an Event of her storyline. 
- In Dominions 3, you can research the high-level "Wish" spell and have one of your mages cast it. You have to type in what you want; there are about 20 possibilities, most beneficial but some quite literal...
- The Simpsons episode where Flanders starts the left-handed store; he and Homer share a wishbone, and Homer wishes for the store to fail. He briefly considers wishing for Flanders to die, but then decides it's overkill and goes back to wishing for the store to fail.
- Dragon Tales did this with a dragon scale in the introduction sequence
- In Shrek Forever After, the movie starts with Fiona wishing on a star for "every day to be like this one." Cue a Groundhog Day Loop and Shrek's midlife crisis.
- Danny Phantom had a recurring villain named Desiree, who would grant you any wish.
- This was the whole premise of The Fairly Odd Parents. Complete with the kid's inability to make a wish that didn't go horribly, horribly wrong.
- In the Christmas Special Christopher The Christmas Tree, when Christopher first meets Hooty, he expresses his belief in wishes, partially to explain why he's still optimistic about becoming a Christmas tree, despite not being picked year after year. "But I believe in wishes. I know they come true, as sure as the stars above." He also encourages Hooty to make a wish, which Hooty does, while a chorus sings about wishing on a star in the background (no, not that song). By the end of the special, both Christopher and Hooty have gotten their wishes.
- The album on which the animated special is based is even more explicit about wishing on a star, as Christopher tells Hooty, "You can have anything in the whole world you want, if you wish on the Wishing Star. But you gotta believe in it, or it won't come true."
- In both the album and the animated special, there's a little boy who wishes on the star on his Christmas tree, but since his wish is to be President of the United States, we don't get to see if his wish comes true or not.
- Lilo and Stitch The Series had an experiment which granted wishes, and could only do a certain number of them, and took your wishes literally (for instance, if you wish to become ruler of the universe, you will become a ruler, that is a stationery equipment). The episode ends up teaching the Aesop of "Be careful what you wish for".
- An episode of Tiny Toon Adventures has Elmyra wish on a star for her doll to become real, which it does. After being terrorised for a day she wishes on the star again to make the doll like all her other dolls...so they all become real!
- The Animaniacs Big Damn Movie had the entire cast racing to be the first to the Wishing Star. Wacko wishes for another haypenny.
- Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go has an episode with the Wigglenog, which is a Jackass Genie. Otto, the green monkey, outwits him with "I wish we'd never even found you in the first place!"
- I Dream of Jeannie also had a teenage version Animated Series -- her wishes, like Jeannie's, were unlimited.
- In the first of The Eighties' Strawberry Shortcake specials, The World of..., The Face of the Sun reveals that his birthday present for Strawberry is a "magic wish", and she winds up wishing for an army of trees (which, in Strawberryland, are sentinent) to defeat the Purple Pieman who had been causing trouble for the kids the whole story. The wish is granted with trees that can also march, and the result is the destruction of his Pie Tin Palace.
- The Flintstones when Barney and Betty wished for a baby after seeing a falling star. They later found Bamm Bamm in a basket on their doorstep.
- In PJ Sparkles, P. J. wishes for someone to love her on a star and is turned into a Magical Girl for it.
- In My Little Pony Twinkle Wish Adventure, the ponies celebrate the Winter Wishes Festival with everyone receiving a wish from Twinkle Wish, the star that is placed on top of the tree. Due to the circumstances of the movie, by the time Twinkle Wish takes her spot on the tree, she doesn't have enough power to grant any wishes. However, Pinkie Pie points out that all throughout the adventure, every one of them had said "I wish" something, and that something had come true. (And all the background characters just wished for snow, which they didn't need magic to get, anyway.)
- Parodied in the South Park episode "It's Christmas in Canada":
Mountie: It's OK, boys; the power is inside us to get to Ottawa. We can wish ourselves there!
French Canadian: Yes, let's wish ourselves there!
[they close their eyes, harp music plays]
Mountie: Is it working?
[no, it isn't]
- One episode of Samurai Jack has Jack seeking a wishing well that will send him back home. It's guarded by blind archers with perfect hearing. Turns out the well corrupts your wish - the blind archers wished to be the greatest hunters on Earth and ended up warped into its guardians. Jack destroys the well rather than allow anyone else to be hurt by it.
- The Make a Wish Foundation raises money to give kids with terminal illnesses a chance to do something incredible, like have a photo shoot in Seventeen magazine, or take their family to Disney World. Maybe humans aren't such bastards after all...
- In Japanese folklore, it's said that folding 1,000 paper cranes or 100 stars will allow you to make one wish.