Created By: Stratadrake on September 23, 2011 Last Edited By: Arivne on June 1, 2015

Midas Motif

Instant Aesop, just add gold

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The fable of a king who could transform mundane objects into pure gold by touching them is so well-known that any time a character is presented as having such ability, it's automatically assumed to be a reference or Shout-Out to the tale. This ability differs from the Stock Superpower of transforming living creatures to stone, which is frequently Played for Drama — transforming things into something of monetary value (or similar desirability) almost invariably results in a Fantastic Aesop about the love of money.

A common manifestation is analogous to the Three Wishes: After acquiring the ability to transform things to gold, something Goes Horribly Wrong and the character realizes that they didn't really need it in the first place.


Examples

Advertising
  • One commercial for Skittles candy involved a man whose touch turned objects into piles of the rainbow candy.[1] Like most commercials, it is Played for Laughs, although the man himself appears to view it as Blessed with Suck.

Film - Animated
  • In Disney's Aladdin 3: King of Thieves, the band of thieves is after a legendary artifact, the "Hand of Midas" which can turn things to gold. The villain Saluk is turned to gold when Aladdin tosses the artifact to him and he catches it barehanded, then Aladdin's father decides to sink the entire ruins by turning them to gold as well. During their subsequent escape, he is also forced to leave behind his turned-to-gold cape because the weight was slowing him down.
  • The Golden Touch is an early Walt Disney film (directed by the man himself) retelling the traditional King Midas fable.

Literature
  • The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling is a story about a boy who loves chocolate more than anything, and receives an enchantment so that everything which touches his lips or mouth turns to chocolate. He quickly becomes sick of chocolate, then sick in general. Things get worse when he kisses his mother...
  • In C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the heroes' voyage takes them to a volcanic isle where Edmund and Caspian discover a magic pool that transforms ordinary things to gold — including one of the Telmar lords who fell (or perhaps was pushed) into it. Evil forces spark an argument between Edmund and Caspian over potential uses for it, but Lucy breaks it up before they can come to harm.

Music
  • Florence And The Machine's song "Rabbit Heart" has a reference to the tale in its chorus:
    Midas is king and he holds me so tight And turns me to gold in the sunlight

Video Games
  • God of War: Ghost of Sparta references the fable with one level where King Midas is a minor Puzzle Boss wandering alone in the mountains, driven to complete and oblivious insanity after having turned his only daughter to gold. The player is required to use Midas's ability to cross a river of lava without getting turned to gold in the process.
  • Referenced in the first Tomb Raider game in the "Palace of Midas", where turning bars of lead into gold is the level's central puzzle. Although the game doesn't allow the player to turn other inventory items to gold, they can climb on top of Midas's hand and watch Lara herself be turned to gold. Oops!

Western Animation
  • The series finale of DuckTales involved a cursed artifact called the "Midas Duck" which could turn anything to gold. Scrooge came to his senses after the Beagle Boys stole it and turned his three nephews to gold, then raced to return the duck to its hidden temple when the duck's curse started spreading, turning everyone and everything to gold.
  • In one episode of Olivers Adventures, Oliver gained the ability to turn things to chocolate by touching it and saying some Magic Words ("Chocolate, chocolate, my favourite treat, the only thing I'll ever eat"). Later on, he lost control of it, and anything he touched turned to chocolate whether he wanted it to or not.
  • The Yogi Bear episode "Touch and Go-Go-Go" saw Yogi given the ability to turn anything he touches into a pik-a-nik basket, including (by accident) Boo-Boo and Mr. Ranger.

Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • September 23, 2011
    Duncan
    Subtrope and perhaps the Ur Example of Blessed With Suck.

    We have a page for The Golden Touch, the Disney adaptation.

  • October 3, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Bump?
  • October 3, 2011
    X2X
    Hm... I've Seen It A Million Times, which admittedly makes it hard to think of specific examples...
  • October 3, 2011
    PapercutChainsaw
    Could possibly be extended to turning stuff into other substances. I've seen a couple of parody examples that do this:
    • In the cartoon Oliver's Adventures, one episode had a character granted the ability to turn things into chocolate.
    • An episode of Stickin Around had "The Mucus Touch" (turning stuff into snot.)
  • October 4, 2011
    Andygal
    there was a book about some kid that turned stuff into chocolate.
  • October 4, 2011
    Ryuuma
  • October 5, 2011
    PapercutChainsaw
    Referenced in the Florence And The Machine song, "Rabbit Heart."
    This is a gift. It comes with a price
    Who is the lamb and who is the knife?
    When Midas is king, and he holds me so tight
    And turns me to gold in the sunlight.

  • October 5, 2011
    Jallen
    There was a really funny skittles advert about a man that could change anything he touched into skittles. Turns out it was called Midas Touch
  • October 5, 2011
    Generality
    ^4 The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling. It's about a boy who love chocolate more than anything else, and gets enchanted so that everything which touches his lips or mouth becomes chocolate. He quickly becomes sick of chocolate, then sick in general. Things get worse when he kisses his mother...
  • October 6, 2011
    Frank75
    Shirley Bassey's Goldfinger song should make the page quote.
  • October 6, 2011
    Ryuuma
    King Midas appears as himself in God Of War: Ghost of Sparta where he's now wandering the mountains. Accidentally turning his only daughter into solid gold drove him totally insane, and now isn't even aware of the surroundings.
  • November 1, 2011
    Stratadrake
    @Frank: I have a strong aversion to seeing lyrics as page quotes.
  • November 1, 2011
    Tiiba
    ^Is there a reason for that? I see nothing wrong with lyrics, if they're on topic.
  • November 1, 2011
    Stratadrake
    People have a tendency to quote entire verses, making it take up far more space than it's worth to begin with.
  • November 1, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    I love that laconic.

    • Florence And The Machine's song "Rabbit Heart" has a line in the chorus referencing this trope.
      This is a gift, it comes with a price
      Who is the lamb and who is the knife?
      Midas is king and he holds me so tight
      And turns me to gold in the sunlight
  • November 1, 2011
    RAF
    On the Yogi Bear episode Touch and Go-Go-Go a bear fairy godmother gave yogi the power to turn anything he touches into a picnic basket. Unfortunately boo-boo grabs his hand to lead him and he becomes a picnic basket to. Mr. Ranger then sees yogi carrying boo-boo and confronts him about it and he is also turned into a picnic basket
  • November 2, 2011
    GreenMachine
    I see someone already mentioned Oliver's Adventures. I still remember the quote Oliver said before he turned what he was touching into chocolate at first. Later on he lost control of it, and anything he touched turned into chocolate, whether he said it or not.

    "Chocolate, chocolate, my favourite treat, the only thing I'll ever eat."
  • April 30, 2012
    morenohijazo
  • April 30, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Yeah, I'm aware of that one.
  • June 1, 2015
    Arivne
    • Examples section
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Added the word "Examples".
      • Changed media section titles to All Caps.
      • Namespaced Creator and work names.
      • Alphabetized media sections.
  • June 1, 2015
    Arivne
    Other Sites
  • June 1, 2015
    Chabal2
    Shel Silverstein wrote a poem the narrator turns everything he touches to raspberry jello.
  • June 1, 2015
    Prfnoff
    • In Bells Are Ringing, the play Jeff is hired to write is titled The Midas Touch. From what little is said about the play, the title's significance may only be metaphorical, but it inspires Dr. Kitchell to write a perfectly awful musical number with Chorus Girls wearing tacky gold costumes.
  • June 1, 2015
    zarpaulus
    • In Nukees Dionysus once cursed Gav with the ability to turn everything he touched into what he desired most. But when he saw that it was beer he revoked the curse.
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