Midas Motif YKTTW Discussion

Midas Motif
Instant Aesop, just add gold
(permanent link) added: 2011-09-23 11:06:56 sponsor: Stratadrake edited by: Arivne (last reply: 2015-06-01 21:03:21)

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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.


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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