Be Careful What You Wish For
"So this is it; this is what I wished for; just isn't how I envisioned it..."...because you might just get it. A character makes a wish and actually gets what they wished for, only to find that the reality does not live up to their fantasy. This trope is all about how a character who makes a wish comes to regret it; the actual circumstances vary. The wisher may or may not have known that his/her wish was actually going to be heard. The one which grants it may be anything from a wish-granting Genie who wants to show the character the error of their ways to a Jackass Genie who just wants them to suffer. A sudden appearance by Louis Cypher, ready to offer a Deal with the Devil, is not out of the question either. Sometimes the character gets a tour through an Alternate Timeline. Other times the mechanism of the granted wish is not even explained — the wisher gets what (s)he wants through nothing more than an ironic and coincidental twist of circumstances. The "deal breaker" that makes the wish not worth it also comes in a lot of possible flavors. Perhaps the character finds out that what (s)he wanted comes at the cost of something (s)he wanted even more. Maybe the element of her/his life that (s)he wanted gone is really essential to who (s)he is; maybe the wish isn't all (s)he thought it was cracked up to be; or maybe it just comes true in an unanticipated manner. In many cases the character repents of her/his ill-considered wish and things revert to normal — though in some stories the character is stuck in the new situation and forced to deal with the consequences of her/his thoughtless wish. This is an elementary form of deconstruction — The character wants X, and then s/he finds out that X has unforeseen consequences or is less satisfying than expected. Nine times of ten this is an outright Aesop, though strictly speaking it doesn't have to be. A crucial element of playing that angle well is making the "deal breaker" a meaningful, inherent flaw to the original wish rather than something tacked on or that could have easily turned out differently if the character had more common sense. Otherwise, a Broken Aesop is almost guaranteed. Often a cause of Blessed with Suck, though not the only one; wont to count as an Opinion-Changing Dream; Contains the same type of irony as Ironic Hell. In some cases the experience may lead the wisher to discover an Awful Truth. Sub-Trope of Be Careful What You Say. Super Trope of It's a Wonderful Plot, I Wish It Were Real, I Wished You Were Dead, Please Dump Me, and Rhetorical Request Blunder. Compare Gone Horribly Right, when science or logic is involved rather than wishes, and Wanting Is Better Than Having, when getting your wish ends with more disappointment than satisfaction. Contrast the Literal Genie, which ignores the intent of the wish in favor of the exact words; this trope is about the complications that arise when you get exactly what you wanted, rather than exactly what you said. A Jackass Genie is likely to cause this to happen, if he doesn't just twist your words entirely. The Benevolent Genie, too, may make this happen if he thinks you "need to learn the lesson from getting your wish, or if he lacks the common sense or human perspective to see that the wish is disastrous, or if he is just constrained to grant the wish no matter how disastrous it is.
open/close all folders
- In the very first issue of "Action Comics 1" — the comic book that began the saga of Superman — the feature story included an episode where three gangsters kidnap a woman (later known as Lois Lane) as she is traveling home from a nightclub in a taxi. Clark Kent and Lois were dancing at the nightclub when one of the gangster's, Butch, smugly tries to cut in, but Lois refuses. Kent tries to stand up to Butch but gets nowhere. Later, after Butch and his goons have kidnapped Lois (no doubt planning to take her to a remote location to brutally beat and rape her), Butch arrogantly hopes that Kent will come after him ... not knowing that Kent (now as Superman) is coming to the rescue. The confrontation leads to Superman catching and (easily) picking up their car, shaking it violently so that the bad guys fall out and then, after securing Lois' safety, vaulting the now scared-out-of-his-wits Butch onto a telephone wire to await the authorities.
- In the "Id" story line of JLA, a group of 6th-dimensional beings release an entity capable of granting wishes... unfortunately, it's a Literal Genie. It affects the league, splitting them into their superheroic and secret identities, and wreaks havoc (most hilariously when some guy wishes his boss would go to hell). In the end, Plastic Man's alter-ego pulls the league back together, comes up with a plan to defeat Id, and saves Earth.
- In Avril Lavigne's Make 5 Wishes since there is no Reset Button at the end. Protagonist Hana, having used up all five wishes and finding herself no better off, maybe even worse, than at the beginning of the story, decides to jump off a bridge so as to get rid of the demon Romeo and prevent his magic from harming anyone ever again. Romeo somehow escapes from the box before they reach the riverbed, claiming that he "can't die." The last page shows a news report saying that Hana's body has still not been found.
- "Wish You Were Here", a 1953 story from the EC Comics horror title The Haunt of Fear, uses a variation of "The Monkeys Paw" story: A businessman's wife discovers an enchanted Chinese figurine and wishes for a fortune. Learning that her husband was killed while driving to his lawyer's office (after naming her the beneficiary of a generous life insurance policy) and remembering what happened in "The Monkey's Paw", she wishes for him to be brought back to the way he was "just before the accident"; unfortunately, he's still a corpse since his actual death was due to a heart attack. She uses the third and final wish to make him "alive now, alive forever!"...which condemns him to eternal pain and agony, since his dead body had been embalmed. Even her hacking him to tiny bits can't put him out of his misery. (The comic was later adapted for the 1972 movie anthology: Tales from the Crypt.)
- From Knights of the Dinner Table:
- When given the opportunity for a Wish, resident Rules Lawyer Brian pulls out a 20-page legal document he's been carrying around for just such an opportunity. It's so complex that the Dungeon Master has to call several other DMs to help him interpret it.
- Ultimately, B.A. is able to invoke this trope. While the wish was airtight the immortality granted to Brian leaves a vengeful deity he previously pissed off free to attack him with full force. Fortunately for Brian, a clause of the wish stated that if he died as a direct consequence of the wish, all effects of the wish would be undone and Brian would get a 25,000 gp consolation prize.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation comic "Artificiality", Captain Picard, at a crewmember's funeral, wishes that all of his crew were as durable as Data. Q obliges him by turning the whole crew into Soong-type androids.
- This tends to happen quite often in the Grimm Fairy Tales comic series.
- The 2011 "Heart of the Monster" arc in The Incredible Hulks is built around this trope - Hulk and his team encounter a Wishing Well. Everyone involved is Genre Savvy enough to know what it will twist every wish it grants. What they don't know is the intentions of the Red She-Hulk, who used it to wish doom on her ex-husband.... if she meant it, his circumstances are going to improve, but if she liked him... As it turns out, she hated him at the time, meaning all of his dreams briefly came true.
- Doctor Strange, in a moment of grief after losing Clea, wished he were dead. Enter D'Spayre, who put him through a series of Mind Screws so painful that Strange nearly took his own life.
- In a Transformers: More than Meets the Eye sidestory, Trailcutter briefly wishes that he no longer had his signature forcefield before going to sleep as he feels that is the only thing people remember about him. When he awakens, an malfunctioning pulse weapon has frozen everyone else on the ship and taken away his ability to project forcefields. He later learns that his forcefields are what protected him from the inventions effects.
- In the Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog comic Mina Mongoose, after being traumatized by the Iron Dominion's occupation of New Mobotropolis and of NICOLE's brief Magitek-induced Face-Heel Turn, uses her status as a music icon to send a message across the city to inspire them and raise awareness concerning possible problems should NICOLE become compromised again. In comes Ixis Naugus, who uses his magic to augment all existing feelings of anger and fear in the public to turn NICOLE into a Hero with Bad Publicity and eventually get her exiled from the city altogether, which, combined with the revelation that NICOLE was acting as The Mole proceeding Sonic and Sally's departure from the city, leaves Mina guilt-ridden. When Mina goes to Freedom HQ, the place of NICOLE's exile, to speak with her and apologize, NICOLE explicitly informs her that with her exile, she got what she wanted.
- A laser guided version occurs in The Sandman. Richard Madoc participates in the sex-trafficking of a muse because, as a writer, he needs ideas. It all works pretty well for him until Morpheus gives him more ideas than his brain can handle.
- In a sense, in Seconds, as Katie starts using the mushrooms to make long term changes in her life. As you can imagine, she quickly finds out there's no such thing as a "perfect" life.
- In The Just #1, Damian Wayne says that the world needs a genius supervillain like his mom or his grandad. It has one. He's sleeping with her.
- Paul Patton, a.k.a The Fox, originally became a costumed crimefighter to better attract stories and scoops, being a photojournalist and everything, but by the time of The Fox Hunt, he can't seem to stay away from front page news (read:crazy dangerous villains) and has begun to see his Freak Magnet-ness as a curse.
- In Empowered three high-school students were given an art assignment to imagine themselves as superpowered people. They imagined themselves as a pair of angel and devil Conjoined Twins, a warrior with cynderblocks for hands and head, and a Tyrannosaurus rex-human hybrid... And when they woke up the next morning, they had become just that. Only the tyrannosaurus was happy with it.
- In Art Sansom's The Born Loser, the strip's main character Brutus Thornapple finds a lamp with a genie, who will grant him one wish. In an Aside Comment, Brutus says to us, "Boy, I wish Gladys [his wife] could see this!" Gladys suddenly appears in the genie's place and deadpans "You called?"
- A Crown Of Stars:
- When Shinji says he can not forgive his father and he can go to Hell, Daniel warns him about being careful about what he wishes for, since he can make it happen:
“Be careful what you wish for around here, Shinji. If that’s what you want, I can make it happen. I maintain and operate my own Hell, for those truly unworthy or unwilling to seek penance and redemption. And I know of even worse places than that.”
- Kensuke wished he had a girlfriend, right like his friends. Then he met one girl was interested in him. Then another girl came along. Then both girls argued. Then they agreed to share him. And he has absolutely no idea of how handling the situation.
- When Shinji says he can not forgive his father and he can go to Hell, Daniel warns him about being careful about what he wishes for, since he can make it happen:
- Advice And Trust: Asuka wanted to show everybody that she was the best pilot, and she wished that Shinji got her blatant hints. At last Shinji got her hints and because she became more psychologically stable -thanks Shinji- she became the Number One, and she and Shinji defeated an enemy together... but because they did not win as Gendo wanted, he fired them, rendering her accomplishments irrelevant.
- Evangelion 303:
- Asuka wanted to get the B-1C assignment. After doing a bit of soul-searching and bonding with Shinji she managed to become the chief test pilot for the experimental jet... and she was not happy because Shinji got to leave for one week as she got to stay to take part in the program. And during the assignment she had to put up with a harsh (albeit well-meaning) drill instructor while wearing an embarassing suit.
- After a crash sends Asuka into a coma for several months Shinji spent the entire time desperately praying for her to wake up. She did eventually recover, but was an absolute mental and emotional wreck due to the trauma; becoming angry, spiteful, and lashing out at him constantly. For Shinji, this was like going from one hell to another, and sometimes made him wonder if this was what he had been wishing for. Fortunately she got better.
- HERZ: Kensuke wished being an Humongous Mecha pilot. He managed becoming a jet fighter pilot, which it is almost so good in his opinion… but it entails that Asuka is his superior officer, and they never got along well.
- The My Little Pony fanfiction The Curse of Beauty involves a story within a story about six pony princesses, each named for a fairy tale heroine, who each recklessly used a spell from a magic tome called "The Excess Magic of Wishes", with disastrous and ironic results: Princess Snow White wishes she weren't so tall, and shrinks to a tiny size; Princess Goldilocks wishes to be more "sensitive", and suddenly everything feels too hard or too soft, too cold or too hot, etc.; Princess Rapunzel wishes for a longer mane, and ends up with enough hair to swamp a tower; and so on. Princess Cinderella "merely" gets trapped in a giant pumpkin after losing her concentration while casting a powerful spell.
- In The Second Try, Shinji and Asuka were sent back in time because of an offhanded wish they made one night. They got their wish, but it came with a heavy cost. They wished that they could do something to allow their 3-year old daughter a normal life; a life where she could have friends. By going back in time they got their chance to make such a world, but it also erased their daughter from existence. Shinji doesn't take this very well when he learns of it. Ultimately averted when it turns out she was sent back as well, but to a later date than her parents.
- In More Than No Good, instead of Tsuna being the heir of the mafia, his twin OC brother is. When Gokudera challenges the brother and ends up being defeated, the brother rejects him and refuses to make him his right hand man. In an effort to make the brother reconsider and show how effective the bomber could be, Reborn has Gokudera guard Tsuna. Obviously Gokudera is not happy about this, and spends most of the time with Tsuna calling him names and wishing he could be his brother's right hand man. In Chapter 12, he gets his wish, only to realize it wasn't as good as he thought it would be. the brother is a petulant, cowardly asshole, who treats everyone around him (especially Gokudera) like shit. Instead of protecting people, or doing anything remotely worthwhile, his new boss uses his followers to belittle and make fun of others. Worse, his boss doesn't even bother treating him like a person, referring to him as a dog more than once. Gokudera realizes too late that he left Tsuna, a person who honestly cared for him and treated him like a friend, for someone who treats him no better than a pet.
- Thousand Shinji: Keel and the rest of Seele sought reaching Instrumentality to create a new god and become one with it. When Third Impact happened, it turned Shinji, Asuka, Rei and Misato -the four persons in the whole world who had suffered the most at the Seele's hands- into gods. And they were pissed off. Cue the Seele members receiving horrible, horrible punishments.
“You and the other members of SEELE wanted to shed your bodies and become one with a new god… well, no one ever said that God would be nice or particularly like you and your cronies for your involvement in its birth. I hope you prepared for the eventuality of an eternity being horrifically tortured by your worst nightmares.”
- When All Your Dreams Come True, a horrifyingly plausible Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfiction, in which Zuko’s dream of catching the Avatar and being reinstated as his father’s heir comes true…and promptly turns into a scene so nightmarish that he eventually loses himself in increasingly desperate daydreams trying to wish the new reality away.
- A Future Of Friendship A History Of Hate: Episode 5 is built on this trope — Scootaloo, tired of the downsides of being a kid, accepts Miserain's aid in becoming an adult... only to figure out pretty fast that she has no idea how to be one, getting her into all kinds of trouble, eventually leaving her completely depressed. Which is what Miserain wanted, as Scootaloo's despair fed the woebeghoul sealed in the Tear of Covet. Once everything is over and done with, Scootaloo learns the episode's Aesop about waiting to grow up.
- The Pony POV Series has this as the origin story of General-Admiral Makarov. The Hooviet Empire was struggling to stay afloat after the Dragon-Hooviet War (which ended with the Dragon's leader Queen Tiamat Curbstomping their entire military and leaving half the empire blazing ruin) and sought to create the Ultimate Lifeform to enable them to lead them back to greatness. The resulting Super Soldier experiment created Makarov. The good news? He's doing exactly what they wanted him to do. The bad news? He's playing his leaders for pawns and has his own goals of world domination. Made more literal by the fact he's actually a Equineoid Abomination called the Shadow of Chernobull created by Pandora and imprisoned in her box. A Hooviet experiment with an imagination engine ended up releasing him from his prison, after which he fed off their desires and wishes to become Makarov, in the process eating the existences of countless deer and threatening the entire world.
- The Reading Rainbowverse has Bonbon being a bit annoyed that Lyra isn't taking their relationship seriously... and then Lyra finds out how Bonbon feels and breaks up with her, thinking that she can't return the affections.
- Transformers Mosaic: The Final Lesson a continuation from the Marvel story Aspects of evil. The Autobot student wanted to know what true evil was, and sought out Unicron. He demands the Fallen to take him to Unicron, and the Fallen does so, teleporting him to a seemingly endless glassy wasteland. The Student is trapped there for months, until he finally realizes his mistake.
"In the eyes of Gods we are all just motes of dust."
- In a "what if?" Yu-Gi-Oh! fanfic called Isn't It Grand What I've Managed to Do?, Pegasus beats Yugi during their duel, claims Yugi's Millenium Puzzle, and then uses the Millenium Items to bring Cyndia back to life, just as he wanted. However, before he brings her back, he is warned both by Shadi and by the pharaoh's spirit that although he will find what he seeks, it will end badly for him. He doesn't care, and resurrects Cyndia anyway. No, it's not a monkey's paw twist; she doesn't come back as a zombie or anything. In fact, at first, everything goes smoothly. Pegasus has Cyndia back the way she was before, and they make the most of their happy reunion. So why does "be careful what you wish for" come into play? Because as we know, Pegasus had to steal people's souls in order to pull off the resurrection...which Cyndia discovers. She then becomes absolutely furious that Pegasus would murder people to bring her back to life, and tells Pegasus to his face that she barely recognizes him, that she hates him, and she doubts he really loves her at all if he would treat her like a lost possession to be brought back at any price. This causes Pegasus to wish he had never brought Cyndia back to life; he would rather have her dead and loving him than alive and hating him, and he has a humongous My God, What Have I Done? moment. They do eventually reconcile when Cyndia, recalling Pegasus' childhood refusals to follow the rules, manages to forgive Pegasus...but Pegasus has to fake his own death in order for him and Cyndia to be able to live happily together.
- In Love Hina: Like It Could Have Been, Naru and Makoto successfully drive Keitaro away from the Hinata Inn, meaning they don't have to deal with a male manager. Instead, they have to cope with the fallout, as a coldly furious Haruka promptly declares the girls will have to split all the chores he would have taken over.
- Based off To Love-Ru, this darker fan fic, "To-Love-DEATH" has an element of this. When the alien Gruello kills Princess Lala, Rito freaks out and immediately regrets wishing his life away. Although his panic attack is cut off short when Gruello enters his chest cavity.
- Harry Potter fanfic Wish Carefully is pretty much this. Thanks to a deal made with Harry Potter, the Death Eaters get what they want (no Muggle-born wizards, no contact with the Muggles, full control over Magical England, all of their enemies out of the way), but instead of being able to reveling in what they have done, Lucius Malfoy eventually realizes that their wishes have actually condemned them. He actually mentions the trope, and calls it trite.
- The Big Bad in Warriors of the World: Soldiers of Fortune fully possesses someone who asked to become the strongest because the villain is the strongest there is. The poor victim gets consumed for his troubles.
- Account Transfer has Ryoga wish he had Ranma's problems instead of his own. He gets Ranma's Jusenkyo curse, Akari and Ukyo both get engaged to him, Shampoo starts chasing him after he defeats her in a fight (earning Mousse's enmity in the process), he accidentally learns the Nekoken, subsequently getting a phobia of cats, has to go to a school where Principal Kuno and Hinako work, and finally gets the same relationship with the Kuno siblings Ranma had. To add insult to injury, Akane gives Akari her Hyperspace Mallet, and Happosai vows to give Ryoga's female form all his attentions.
- In Fist Of The Moon Rei Hino is very bossy and tends to snipe at Usagi's leadership skills. Then they have to split the team, and Usagi leaves Rei in charge. The fiery girl is panicking about potential attacks and catastrophes less than an hour after Usagi leaves, because she can't bear the thought of disappointing her leader...it's lampshaded by another character that while Rei likes to be in charge and opinionated, the responsibility of leading is too much for her.
- In Gensokyo 20XX, this happens to Chen when she tells Yume Ni that she wishes for her to suffer and she does,... through long-term illness, from which she dies. Chen notes she wishes that weren't the last thing she said to her.
- Played for pure Nightmare Fuel in The Last Train From Oblivion, where Rio Deneter, a member of the PER, wanted nothing more than to be rid of her Dark and Troubled Past and she was convinced ponification would solve all of her problems and take the pain away. Rio does get her wish to become a pony granted, but given the nature of how the conversion process goes, she quickly regrets her decision but it's already too late for her. What happens next is a Mind Rape so through that even when Rio tries to fight it, she just loses more and more of herself until she's nothing but a hollow mockery of a pony with no free will or sentience.
- "No Maturity Here", a short My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic comic, shows Fluttershy getting upset by Discord's pranks and demanding of him, "Act your age!" As it happens, saying this to a Reality Warper that is millenia old isn't a wise thing: Discord takes an undead form as starts terrorizing Ponyville.
- Kill la Kill AU: In Comic 41, we have Ryuuko, in light of Satsuki's illness, and she wishes to be the "sick one" instead of her then ill sister. Unfortunately, this comes true and the comic ends with her in the hospital as her illness gets worse.
- In Winter Is Coming Along With Ideas, Rhaegar gets his wished second daughter for his "three-heads of the dragon" prophecy from his love, Lyanna Stark. Unfortunately while Rhaegar survives to become king and put down the rebellion, Lyanna dies in childbirth and his wife and son are killed. He spends the story repenting for his actions and taking care of his daughters, Rhaenys and Joanna.
- Cersei Lannister gets to marry the man she always wanted, unfortunately Rhaegar hates her because her father killed his wife and child and only married her because she was only one close to his age. She also has no Jaime to take comfort in because Jaime was banished to the Wall.
- Sonic X: Dark Chaos has some particularly disturbing examples, most of them combined with a Deal with the Devil. Venus the Seedrian wished for the power to kill Tsali and prevent the destruction of her race. Not only did she fail to save her people, but her wish doomed her to slowly turn into a robot and damn her soul forever. Tsali made a similar wish for the power to get revenge on the Seedrian race for what they did to him. He got what he wanted - at the cost of his soul, sanity, and the utter destruction of most of the galaxy.
- Meg's Family has the chapter Time Stew. Stewie, after having a dream that Maddie will stop his plans of world domination, goes back in time to prevent Maddie from being born by making it so that Meg and Zack never met. Of course, Stewie realizes just how much he cared about Maddie and tries to get her born again. This goes to hell when after getting Meg and Zack (Whose married to Nikki in this timeline) together, Zack ends up murdered and Meg kills herself afterwords. Brian even says this trope word for word.
- In A Jealous Wish Goku, after seeing Oopa's joy at having his father back, wishes to Shenron to have his own father back. An Affably Evil Saiyan who could destroy all life on Earth in a matter of hours if given reason (assuming he doesn't just blow up the planet) and has no idea of what's going on beyond the fact the son that in his visions would defeat Frieza has wished him back to life and isn't anywhere near strong enough to take on the monster that will come to try and murder him.
- In the Facing The Future Series, much like in the cartoon, Desiree works with this trope until she finds love with Sidney Poindexter.
- In "The Twelve Wild Ducks," a queen says, "If I only had a daughter as white as snow and as red as blood, I shouldn't care what became of all my sons." A troll witch hears and takes her sons.
- In "The Seven Ravens," the father wishes his sons were ravens for their being so forgetful. (To add to the irony, he was mistaken about why they hadn't done as he said.)
- In "The Myrtle," a woman wishes for a child, even a sprig of myrtle.
- In "Hans the Hedgehog," the father wishes for a son, even a hedgehog.
- Similar stories went around in seventeenth-century England. In some cases a Catholic or Anglican parent would rather their unborn child have no head than be a Roundhead; in others, a Puritan would wish for their child have no head rather than have a priest make the Sign of the Cross on it. Either way, they ended up with a headless baby.
- There is a fairy tale about a poor couple that rescues an elf and is granted three wishes in return. The wife, being hungry, wishes she had a nice, tasty sausage. Her husband scolds her for wasting a wish on such a mundane thing and blurts out in anger: "I wish that stupid sausage was stuck on your nose!" which is exactly what happens next. In the end, they have to use the third wish to get the sausage off the poor woman's face and have thus wasted all three of them.
- There's a story from somewhere in Africa about a tribe that doesn't exist any more, because when seeking a reward from some supernatural being, the men said that the best thing that could happen to them was for their wife to give them a son, and for their cattle to give them female calves. — So be it, all your children shall be sons and all your calves shall be heifers. — They rejoiced, until...
- "Prince Ivan, the Witch Baby, and the Little Sister of the Sun." Your son does not talk. Wish for any child at all, because things can't be worse, and you get a witch child born with iron teeth who eats you up.
- Played with in one fairy tale about a girl who lies dying during the early spring from a malady winter has afflicted her with who wishes that she could at least get to live for as long as the beautiful spring flowers in her garden still bloom so she can meet with her boyfiend who is set to return to her before summer. She near instantly becomes healthy and, unusually for the way these kind of tales tend to work out, seems fully aware of the fact that her life is now tied to her garden flowers and starts taking good care of them to ensure her own survival. She never regrets her wish or angsts about how her days are numbered but is simply thankful for the additional time she has been given and is even more loving and kind to her family than usual... Cue her unknowing boyfriend returning while she's napping in the garden: he plucks the flowers, braids them into a crown and wakes her up by placing it upon her head. The girl quickly realizes what the boy has done and hurriedly sets the flowers in water but over the following days. As the flowers wither away, so does the girl. The story ends with the last petals of the flowers falling as the girl peacefully passes away with her family and devastated boyfriend at her side while the hushed laughs of The Fair Folk are heard from the garden.
- In The Boy Who Found Fear at Last, the Fearless Fool protagonist goes through a series of terrifying adventures in his quest to "find fear", all without batting an eye. But when he's made a king at the end of the story, he finally finds fear at the prospect of the The Chains of Commanding and the burden of trying to be a good ruler.
Film - Animated
- In the Looney Tunes compilation movie Daffy Duck's Fantastic Island, Daffy, Speedy Gonzales, Yosemite Sam and the Tasmanian Devil are stuck on an deserted island with only three wishes after the map that works a wishing well is destroyed. Speedy and Daffy play this trope straight when Speedy wishes for a burrito and Daffy, annoyed over the wish, wishes it was on his nose. When Daffy suggests using the last wish to get it off, he finds out that Sam and Taz has averted the trope by wishing for a new ship, leaving the other two behind.
- Referenced in DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, by the Genie himself. He knows that "Big wishes always lead to big trouble! The bigger the wish the bigger the trouble!" and asks the Nephews to keep their wishes small. But Webby can't help but fall into this trope twice- Her first wish was a baby elephant whose sudden appearence terrifies Mrs. Beakly, and her last was to turn her toys into Living Toys, which quickly go on a rampage. The Nephews had to use their own wishes to undo Webby's.
- Disney's Aladdin uses this idea, but even without a Literal Genie it doesn't turn out as desired.
- Aladdin wishes to become a prince, but he only wants for Jasmine to love him. He certainly gets to be a magnificent prince, but Jasmine is put off. Once he starts acting like a street rat, Jasmine is once again attracted to him.
- Jafar caught this too - he wants power, and eventually to get the level of power he wants, he becomes a genie and is bound to a lamp. So he had vast power but at the same time, no power at all.
- In the sequel Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, Jafar becomes a Literal Genie and tricks Abis Mal into wasting two wishes by making him wish for a sunken treasure... and teleporting him to the bottom of the sea, making him use his second wish to go back to Agrabah. One of themes of the movie is that while it's one of the three genie rules that a genie can't kill you, "you'd be surprised what you can live through."
- Lady and the Tramp 2: Scamp's Adventure: Scamp desires to be "wild and free" and not be restricted by rules. However, when he gets his chance and discovers the harsh realities of that kind of life, he changes his tone:
Scamp: "I got all I ever wanted... and it stinks."
- In Bolt, the director pulls one of these when Mindy-from-the-Network asks for a less than happy ending. He ends it abruptly and says to Mindy "How does your audience feel about... cliffhangers? You wanted unhappy 18-35 year olds, I'll give you unhappy 18-35 year olds. Small example but it works."
- A cover for the film version of Coraline features the trope name, word for word, written on a wall.
- The Princess and the Frog: Dr. Facilier promises to "make all [Lawrence and Naveen's] wildest dreams come true." To quote Discworld, remember some of your dreams?
- In this case, Facilier uses Exact Words and double-meanings to convince the pair to accept his deal; Facilier identifies Naveen as "Wanting to be free" and to "hop from place to place" and offers "Green" to get that (The card for future shows Naveen on a lily pad). Lawrence is recognized as always being a servant, but is offered a chance to improve his station (Lawrence's future card shows him and Naveen in switched positions). When they accept, Naveen is turned into a frog and Lawrence is given Naveen's appearance.
- This drives the movie Shrek Forever After. When Shrek wants "one day where I can be an ogre like I used to be," he gets it. Too bad the deal he made with the Big Bad has rather unpleasant consequences.
- This happens to Merida in Brave when she wished that her mother would "change" without saying specifics and to the prince of the legend who wishes for "the strength of ten men", was turned into a bear and caused him to kill everyone in the throne room and his brothers were among the victims.
- In Wreck-It Ralph, the Nicelanders challenge Ralph that if he can get a medal, he can get the keys to the penthouse. Ralph does manage to get a medal, but because of his and Fix-It Felix's (who went to find Ralph) absence, Fix-it Felix Jr. has already been declared out of order and will be unplugged soon. As promised, Ralph gets the key to the penthouse but it is now abandoned.
- Toy Story 3 has the main characters wishing early on that they would get played with again. When they do, it's at a day care where they happen to be assigned to toddlers who handle them too roughly. (All the main characters are toys meant for older kids than toddlers.) (And when Buzz Lightyear tries to negotiate with Lotso, the toy in charge of all the other toys, to get himself and the rest of the main characters put into the room with the older kids, Buzz and eventually the other toys find out that Lotso runs the place like a prison.) note
- In Superman vs. the Elite, the titular team is a group of anti-heroes who try to convince Superman that his Thou Shall Not Kill policy is hopelessly outdated in the modern world. After a series of confrontations, Superman shows them how terrifying he would be if he gave up his morals.
- Mentioned by name in How to Train Your Dragon 2:
Eret: If we don't turn up with dragons and fast—(Astrid's dragon Stormfly snatches Eret off his ship) YEAGGH!Astrid: Careful what you wish for.
- Strange Magic: Marianne says something to this effect to herself as she had expressed a desire to have adventures and was now forced to break into the local Evil Overlord's castle to save her sister.
- Somewhere in the Soviet Union... A Russian catches a goldfish, who speaks: "Dear man, free me and I'll grant your one greatest wish." The Russian thinks for a moment: "Well, I have a solid, well-paid job, a beautiful wife, two great children, a car, a flat... What could I wish for? I know! I want to receive the Hero Of The Soviet Union!" The fish nodded: "Your wish is granted!" Suddenly the guy is caught in a giant blast. As it recedes, the man finds himself sitting in a foxhole, wearing a worn-out battledress, with a rifle with a few bullets and several grenades and the bodies of other Russian soldiers lying all around. The man looks out and notices a large group of Nazi tanks advancing towards his foxhole. Suddenly, he realizes: "Holy fuck! It's a posthumous one!!!"
- Man catches a goldfish and wished for riches, power, and a beautiful wife. Next morning he wakes up in an opulent palace, surrounded by splendor, luxury and obedient servants. A gorgeous woman comes into the bedroom and tells him: "Ferdinand, sweetheart, get up. It's time we go to Saraevo."note
- The titular character of Marilyn Manson's concept album Antichrist Superstar rises to become the Physical God he always dreamed of being, but crosses the Despair Event Horizon in the process and destroys the earth in a nihilistic rage. The last words of the album are actually "when all of your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed" - repeated over and over amidst a wall of static.
- The titular King in Metallica's "King Nothing" did get the title he worked for, but alienated his would-be subjects in the process, leaving him alone to attend to a crumbling kingdom.
- The Talking Heads song, "Burning Down The House" from Speaking In Tongues opens up with "Watch out, you might get what you're after"
- The McBusted song "Before You Knew Me" is about a man who manages to hook up with his crush, only to find that the reality doesn't quite live up to his fantasy, and that he himself is seemingly dragging her down and tarnishing her "perfection". He laments in the chorus that he liked her better before they were together, and that she should break up with him for her own sake.
- Kinda done in "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Albuquerque":
"I see this guy Marty tryin' to carry a big ol' sofa up the stairs all by himself. So I, I say to him, I say 'Hey, you want me to help you with that?' And Marty, he just rolls his eyes and goes 'Noooo, I want you to cut off my arms and legs with a chainsaw!' So I did."
- Eurydice in Anais Mitchell's Hadestown" wants to "lie down forever," so she's taken to the underworld.
- The narrator of Rush's song "Xanadu" wishes he could visit the stately pleasure dome of Coleridge's poem and gain immortality by drinking honeydew and the milk of paradise. He succeeds, but finds himself eternally trapped within the dome.
- The song "Carnies" from Clockwork Angels has the protagonist realizing that wishing to get away from his ordinary life wasn't going to go the way he meant it to.
- Mentioned in the Art of Dying song "Completely"; the lead-in line to the chorus in (both versions) is "watch what you wish for, you know you just might get it..." In the original, there is a line in the chorus about how "everything you want/ain't always what you need..."
- The song "Black Fox" by Heather Dale. Whilst out on a unsuccessful fox-hunt, the master huntsman proclaims "If only the Devil himself come by, we'd run him such a race!". A little black fox then appears, and the huntsmen chase it until it crosses a river... and promptly turns into the devil, whereupon the huntsmen have a collective Oh Crap! moment and flee, pursued by the (now-laughing) little black fox.
- Her other song "Changeling Child" is about a woman who longed for a "babe" of her own so she ask the Fairies to give her one. They give her exactly what she asked for: a child that forever stays as a babe.
- "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin (and covered in the 1990s by Ugly Kid Joe). "I'm gonna be like you, Dad!" The boy's ambition will come true in a most depressing way.
- As per the page quote, this is a recurring theme in Eminem's raps, especially after his best friend and fellow rapper, Deshaun "Proof" Holton died. The track "My Darling" also covers this trope extensively.
- Kanye West professes to having a love/hate relationship with fame, especially after his mother died from complications from extensive surgery after they were enveloped in Hollywood.
- Explicitly quoted by the protaganist of WASP's concept album The Crimson Idol Jonathan Aaron Steel just before his onstage suicide. He got fame, money and glory but at the expense of his family, his sanity and health and never knowing if anyone saying they loved him actually meant it or were just saying it because of who he was.
- Home by Daughtry. The song follows the narrator as he looks back at abandoning his old life and deciding to return to it, even Name Dropping the trope
- "Be Careful What You Wish For" by Steeleye Span from the Wintersmith Concept Album, loosely based on the various Tiffany Aching examples above.
Be careful what you wish forDreams seem different in the light of dayBe careful what you wish forThat deep desire to have your wayCould burn you, and turn your head around
- The English symphonic metal band Pythia has a song named "What You Wish For". The title of this trope is mentioned there:
So be careful what you wish forFor it is never what you need
- The trope image comes from Calvin and Hobbes, during a storyline where Calvin gets sick.
- Two arcs of FoxTrot relating to one of Jason's money making schemes are a direct result of this trope: The first one related to Jason making his own website, and the second dealt with a greeting card, both times were the result of Roger, his father, ranting about how he would make a lot of money creating a site and at the cost of buying Christmas cards, respectively. The second time, Jason wasn't even in the same room as Roger, implying that Roger was talking about to Andy loud enough for Jason to hear it from another room.
- Garfield has a few examples:
Garfield: Reruns! Yesterday's news... Leftovers! There's never anything new around here!
- A subversion:
Jon: Run for your life! The plumbing backed up, and thousands of piranha are spawning in the toilet!!
Garfield: Nice curse, Garfield.
- In another strip, Garfield wished for a fifty-pound pan of lasagna. It fell on him. (At which point he mused, "Now wouldn't you think I'd know better than to make a wish like that on a Monday?")
- In a ''very'' early strip, Garfield is shown hanging onto the screen door simply because he's bored complaining of his boredom. He wishes for something to happen. A very mundane yet apparently painful aftermath occurs when Jon announces lunchtime.
- One strip has Garfield stranded up a tree. Garfield says to it "Stupid tree...May all your stupid branches fall off!" Needless to say, all the trees branches broke off and fell to the ground. Including the one he was on.
- Garfield wished for a pizza and then he got it. He then wished for some music and a piano fell on him.
- When Jon and Liz were about to take their Christmas card photo, Jon called for Garfield and Odie, claiming they wanted everyone in it. Garfield then brought several characters, including the pizza delivery guy ("He's like family," according to Garfield).
- U.S. Acres: Roy wanted his eyes to be bigger. Too bad for him it was Lanolin who granted that wish.
- Liō went to a wishing well and evidently wished that his crush Eva would love him back. He turned into a sword, which she loved.
- SCP-738 ("The Devil's Deal"). The entity connected to SCP-738 grants wishes as part of a bargain, but it will only give exactly what it has agreed to and no more. For example, one subject who asked for "freedom" disappeared from custody, but was captured again a few hours later.
- Not Always Learning has this tale, in which a class-cutting student tells the professor that all they want from the class they skipped so much is a passing grade. At the end of the semester, the student gets a C... even though they completed enough coursework to earn an A.
- On the Pokémon-themed egg-hatching website Poké Farm Q, several Gen 6 Pokemon had question marks instead of actual sprites. In response to users constantly demanding that the sprites be completed right now, the admins granted their wish... uploading incredibly bad MS Paint-style artwork for every Pokémon currently without a sprite. In a subversion, the fanbase took it on the chin, with many finding the sprites hilarious.
- Razor Ramon would often encourage children to be just like him, a disrespectful brute who took whatever he wanted. Well, one child did end up like Razor, and Razor Ramon turned out to not like having to deal with him.
- One particularly famous example occurred at ECW's Hardcore Heaven 1994. Terry Funk and Cactus Jack had beaten down Public Enemy for interrupting their main event match, and during so, they asked no one in particular in the audience to toss them a chair. Cue the ENTIRE FRONT ROW (and then some) of fans all tossing in their chairs to assist Funk and Jack, subsequently burying them and Public Enemy in a pile of chairs. It even got to the point where Joey Styles had to ask the audience 5 times in a row to not throw chairs into the ring until they finally ran out.
- The Four Horsemen and Kevin Sullivan's Dungeon of Doom, as tired of everyone else in WCW of Hulk Hogan, joined together to form The Alliance To End Hulkamania. Well, they failed, but everyone was still sick of Hogan, so Hulkamania ended up dying of natural causes. But Hulk Hogan didn't leave just because he no longer had the power of the Hulkamaniacs, oh no. He formed the nWo, a group worse for WCW than the Horsemen, Dungeon Of Doom and Hulkamania combined.
- On Friday Night Smackdown, the fans voted for Randy Orton to be the first challenger to WWE World Heavyweight Champion Christian. The same fans were less than enthused when Randy won.
- Monday Night Raw referee Brad Maddox wanted to be a wrestler, he wanted to have matches. So he got them, with Ryback, The Great Khali, Brodus Clay, Randy Orton and Sheamus. Subverted, in that Maddox was just a fall guy set up by Paul Heyman to protect CM Punk.
- Said word for word when Sara Del Rey beat up Santana Garrett at an EVOLVE show and said she wanted to face the best the then new SHINE promotion Garrett was plugging really had, reasoning it was Jazz.
- On the unauthorized ROH A Night Of Hoopla, The American Wolves were repeatedly mocked for wearing pants, Eddie Edwards by the Hoopla Hotties, Davey Ricards getting chants of "Take Your Pants Off" and "Pants Still On" from the crowd itself. However, when Richards actually did pull them down, the chant changed to "Keep Them On!".
- When MVP became director of wrestling operations for TNA, Bully Ray would criticize him for not using the powers allotted by the position to their fullest potential. Then Don Sterling lost his National Basketball Association team, The LA Clippers, which not only lead to MVP using the powers allotted to him as director of wrestling operations to their fullest in the most spiteful ways possible, but him deciding that those powers were not enough. Soon Bully Ray was accusing MVP of having a god complex.
Religion and Myth
- From The Bible:
- Even God could be harsh in granting wishes when the wishers were being too whiny. In response to the Israelites complaining about all manna and no meat, he gave them meat for a month "until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you" (KJV).
- Ten of the twelve Israelites sent to spy out the Promised Land insisted that its people were too strong to conquer, even though they had God on their side. The people declared that it would be better to die in the desert than try to conquer the Land. God, furious, declared that they wouldn't enter the Land until every man who complained had, in fact, died in the desert. Cue 39 more years of wandering.
- During the time of the Judges, Israel had no king (except for God himself). The Israelites decided they didn't like this situation and wanted a human king like all the surrounding nations. So God tells them, "Alright, I'll give you your king, but you won't like him very much". What followed was a whole succession of mostly bad kings, which led to the split of Israel into two nations, followed eventually by a long period of captivity in Babylon.
- Even God could be harsh in granting wishes when the wishers were being too whiny. In response to the Israelites complaining about all manna and no meat, he gave them meat for a month "until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you" (KJV).
- One particular instance is Draupadi, the Pandavas's wife, in the Mahabharata yearning for a husband in her previous life. She wanted her husband to be as strong as Vayu, as talented as Indra, as moral as Dharma and as beautiful as the Ashwini twins. She forgot to specify that she wanted one husband. As a result, in her next incarnation, she married five men and was the wife of five husbands simultaneously.
- The legend of King Midas (the first part, at least) is a good example. Upon finding the drunken satyr Silenus, a follower of Dionysus, trespassing on his property, Midas treated him hospitably for ten days rather than punishing him. Dionysus offered Midas a reward for his charity, offering him anything he wanted; Midas asked that anything he touched be turned to gold. Although the god warned him that he had made a foolish wish, he still granted it. Though Midas was happy at first, it soon became obvious that he had indeed been foolish. His daughter was quickly turned into a statue by this power, and Midas couldn't even touch food without it turning to gold. When faced with starvation, he begged Dionysus to take the gift back...
- In Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, the hapless (and gormless) Tom Rakewell's troubles start with him wishing he had money, upon which a mysterious manservant appears to inform him that an estranged uncle has left him a fortune. Once Tom realises that urban decadence and high living are no substitute for the love he left behind in the countryside, he wishes he were happy, and his servant convinces him to marry a genderbending circus artist. Once the marriage falls apart, he dreams of a machine that turns stone into bread and, upon waking, wishes it were true; the servant wheels in a prototype. The machine is a complete fraud, and Tom is bankrupted. You'd think the fact that the servant gives his name as "Nick Shadow" would have rung a bell at some point...
- Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods: Everyone wishes for something at one point - in fact, the beginning prologue song comprised of mostly the lyrics "I wish, more than anything, more than life" - but it typically backfires. Cinderella wishes to go to the Festival but doesn't count on a prince chasing her around the woods. The Baker and his wife wish to have a child but don't intend to also run around the woods trying to get stuff for the Witch. This theme carries through the whole thing. Just when you think everything is resolved, someone whispers "I wish...", which kicks off the whole second half of the play.
- In Shakespeare's Henry V, Henry asks three traitorous nobles what he should do with a drunk who called him a nasty name. The nobles, unaware that Henry knows of their treachery, tell him emphatically that he should show no mercy for this (minor) infraction and punish the drunk harshly. In doing so, they leave themselves no room to ask for mercy when Henry reveals his knowledge of their betrayal. He has them executed.
- Shows up in I Married An Angel.
- During "The Wizard and I" in Wicked, Elphaba sings of one day being known by everyone in Oz. Since it's a Foregone Conclusion that she's going to become the Wicked Witch, she gets exactly what she wanted.
- Salem: Mary says this exactly to Mercy after recounting how she came to be George Sibley's wife.
- This trope is a staple of fantasy roleplaying when wishes are available to players, often spurring almost comic efforts to avoid loopholes, poor wording, or ill-conceived wishes. In Dungeons & Dragons, Wishes are most often obtained from literal Jerkass Genies and demons, which should be a pretty clear warning. The most powerful arcane spellcasters in 3rd edition can make wishes safely within certain parameters; beyond those, GMs are encouraged to get creative with unexpected side effects.
- You can ask a higher power to directly intervene in battle in Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok, but if the runes are not with you, they might very well appear on the battlefield and kick the crap out of your party instead of helping you.
- Magic The Gathering:
- The game has a cycle of Wish cards, the flavour text of each of which is a variant on the following: "He wished for X, but not for the [Required Secondary Power] to [effectively use] it." The Future Sight block added another one as one of its many Call Backs.
- Braid of Fire is based around this. It gives you increasing amounts of mana at the start of your upkeep, and by its mana given/casting cost ratio is one of the best mana accelerants ever made. But unlike most it happened uncontrollably, and it was also made in the days of mana burn; if you couldn't find something to spend all that mana on before your mana pool emptied you'd take increasing amounts of damage, giving you a choice between hoping something turned up before it killed you and giving up so much lovely extra mana.
- Warhammer 40,000: In the background fluff of the Changeling, the Dark Angels besieging the fortress of a rogue planetary Governor who'd turned to Chaos. The governor asks the daemon of Tzeentch for a way to break the siege, the daemon asks for the Governor's daughter in exchange for the favour. The Governor grimly complies and the Changeling hands him something and disappears. The governor just has time to wonder what it is before he is surrounded by the hulking blue force fields heralding teleporting Space Marine Terminators; the Changeling had stolen a teleporter homer from a nearby Ravenwing biker, which was keyed to that of the attached Deathwing Terminator Squads. The siege was indeed swiftly ended.
- Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine has a special chart for Reality Syndrome characters, used to determine which foundations of a wish are likely to go well and which are more likely to end up failing horribly instead of entertainingly. A character who wishes for a friend because they are lonely and who has "a little lonely" on their sheet is likely to get it or something like it quite easily; wishing for your own pet shoggoth because you are lonely is...less likely to work out well, put it that way. (Incentive for the archetypal Reality Syndrome character, Chuubo, to fail horribly anyway is provided by a system wherein he gets bonus XP for making the other players Face Palm in an amused fashion.) In the Glass-Maker's Dragon campaign, the "standard" Wishing Child is expected to finish up their story by concluding that wishes just aren't worth the trouble and sacrificing that ability, instead choosing to make do with just the ability to turn into a giant snake - but there are plenty of opportunities to derail this in play if you have a different idea of where to go.
- Meta Example in the Yu-Gi-Oh! game. In the 2015 Forbidden/Limited List, several cards that had been Forbidden for years after becoming Tier Induced Scrappies (including Dark Magician of Chaos, Sinister Serpent, Ring of Destruction, and Crush Card Virus) that many of their former users would have loved to use again were upgraded to Limited - with a catch. These cards were given new errata that give them serious nerfs, making the powerful strategies they were outlawed for completely unusable, even in Traditional Format.
- This is one of the main subtexts of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, as the game shows exactly what the players who wanted to be Solid Snake would have to go through with Raiden.
- Calypso, from the Twisted Metal games. He grants the winners of his competitions their wishes in a manner that either kills them or results in an outcome different from what they had envisioned.
- A case of the former in Twisted Metal: Head-On is when the driver of Spectre, Chuckie Floop, wished for a lot of money and was then buried alive underneath a massive pile of cash. In Warthog's ending for Twisted Metal 2, Calypso delivers a sickeningly brilliant example of the latter when he grants the 105-year-old Captain Rogers's wish for a youthful body ... sans the head to match.
- Occasionally, Calypso will grant a wish straight, only for the winner to experience the inevitable or natural consequences of their wish.
- And for all his trickery, Calypso has indeed suffered a reversal of this (Sweet Tooth in Twisted Metal: Black).
- Carl Roberts (Outlaw) to his sister Jamie: "I wish you'd shut up!" Jamie's mouth grows shut.
- Most of the "bad" endings in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl consist of this, with the player character succumbing to the temptation to make a wish to the mysterious artifact in the middle of Chernobyl (the wish chosen depending on certain conditions). All of these wishes end up backfiring on him:
- "I want the Zone to disappear": the PC goes blind
- "Mankind is corrupt, it must be controllednote ": Images of war and death start flashing followed by the PC standing in a black void
- "I want to be rich": the PC sees gold coins falling from the sky...which turn out to be an hallucination: the "coins" are actually bolts falling from the ceiling which collapses on the PC, killing him.
- "I want to rule the world": the PC is absorbed into the C-Consciousness.
- "I want to be immortal": the PC is turned into a metal statue.
- In Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal you get the wish spell. It's a lot more powerful than the limited wish spell and also level 9. It's also extremely tricky to cast, as the Djinn that you summon is a grumpy so-and-so who's out to get you and as such you will need a very good Wisdom score to be able to handle him okay. A WIS of 18 is nigh-on essential to get the most out of this spell, and anything under 9 WIS is catastrophic. When you cast the spell, time is stopped and the casting character negotiates with the Djinn for some hours - finally he presents you with "a list of 5 ways I can interpret your wish - choose one".
- Planescape: Torment utilizes a classic and particularly chilling incarnation of the trope. An NPC named Yves Tale-Chaser will trade stories with the Nameless One and his companions. One of them begins with a man who comes to in an alley, remembering nothing. An old woman is in front of him, and she asks, "And your third wish?" He says he doesn't understand, and she explains she had offered him three wishes, and he'd already used two - and the second wish was to undo and forget his first wish. So, for the third, he asks to know who he is. She cackles softly as she prepares to grant his wish, and he asks what's so funny. "That was your first wish." It's heavily implied in another part of the game that this actually occurred between the Nameless One and the Night Hag Ravel Puzzlewell.
- Eternal Darkness has this happen once. Bored Cambodian temple dancer Ellia finds herself all alone with nothing but what she thinks is an innocuous book of legends to entertain herself, wishes that something exciting would happen to her, and ends up immediately getting locked inside the temple, finding herself entangled and directly involved in the book's "legends," and killed as a result of all this. Now, was that exciting enough for you, Ellia?
- There's a wish-granting Mana (the main character) in Mana Khemia Alchemists Of Alrevis. The first wish it ever granted was death, although, in a subversion, that wish was exactly what the person who wished it was asking for.
- Jak and Daxter:
- The Precursors offer to turn Jak into one of them as thanks for his services. All of a sudden Count Veger arrives with a gun demanding that HE be turned into one instead. The Precursor says "Be Careful What You Wish For" and does something to Veger. Shortly afterwards it's revealed that the Energy Being they were talking to was just a hologram and that the Precursors... are ottsels. Cue Karmic Transformation when Veger realizes the implications of this.
- Later, Daxter, finally in peace with his ottsel appearance, asks for a set of pants. His girlfriend then says that those pants are so cute, she wished she had a pair of them herself. Cue the precursors' "Be Careful What You Wish For" a second time, and the girl getting a pair of pants just like that... and turned into an ottsel so she could fit into them.
- In NetHack, it is possible to be granted a wish. A common choice is to wish for a blessed Archon figurine, which when used has an 80% chance of netting you an extremely powerful pet. There is, however a 10% chance that it will instead be generated hostile. Have a Nice Death!
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance has a group of kids who wish they can live in the fantasy world that their video game (which is also called Final Fantasy) presents. Their wish is granted, though Marche isn't keen on the idea of staying in a fantasy world forever.
- Persona 2: Innocent Sin puts a spin on this. You don't so much have to be careful what you wish for, as be careful about wishing at all. Having your wildest dreams handed to you without struggle or effort will eventually rob you of your ideal energy, causing you to fade away to nonexistence.
- Left 4 Dead:
- This was the case on the production level for Left 4 Dead 2. Valve is notoriously known for their Valve Time due to how long they take to produce games in order to perfect them and/or delaying games after they get close to a release date. People got sick of Valve taking too long to produce anything, so Valve made Left 4 Dead 2 nearly one year after the first game was released in order to prove to people that they CAN release on time and on a fixed schedule. While Left 4 Dead 2 was generally well received, the more dedicated fans complain to this day about random bugs and balance issues with some people stating Valve Time is actually a good thing and Valve should not be rushed.
- Similarly, corner camping became a huge issue in Left 4 Dead 1; it was a technique used by survivor players where they huddle in a corner or in a closet and mow down all infected that came their way. People complained about the exploit and started to make suggestions to counter corner camping, which Valve implemented for Left 4 Dead 2 with new infected that dealt with survivors that holed up in a spot (Spitter, Charger, and Jockey), allowing common infected to rush in from more places, and included gauntlet crescendos where survivors have to keep moving through a never ending horde and stop the source (such an an alarm). This worked too well since now most survivor players will always rush the maps and hardly stop, making it difficult for zombie players to be able to spawn in time or attack effectively. Naturally, people are complaining about the changes and want even more special infected that has the ability to stop a survivor from running.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Daedric Prince Clavicus Vile is essentially this trope given corporeal form. The cave in which you find his shrine is populated with vampires that wished for an end to their suffering, which they presumably thought meant a cure for vampirism. He gave them a heavily armed adventurer. Vile sends you after the Rueful Axe, which he granted to a wizard who wished to end his daughter's lycanthropy.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As Portable: The Gears of Destiny: As Levi mentioned with her dying breath, Lord Dearche finally got the nigh-unlimited power that she had always wanted. However, it came at a price she was never willing to pay, namely, the lives of Stern and Levi, her two loyal retainers. Unsurprisingly, her main motivation for the rest of the game is to reverse this so she could get Stern and Levi back.
- Ragnarok allows you to make wishes if you can find the wand of wishing. However, if you don't have sufficient luck, or you wish for certain unique items you will get an evil item instead.
- PAYDAY The Heist has the Cloaker, a special SWAT unit who can instantly down players by kicking them. The sequel was supposed to have Cloakers, but they were Dummied Out due to them causing the game to crash if they kicked a player. The Cloaker was MIA for several months and everyone kept demanding for the Cloaker to return. The Cloaker eventually was brought back, still doing his instant takedown kicks. Most of the people that wanted the Cloaker now don't want him anymore.
- In Final Fantasy XIII-2, Noel mentions that he wanted the Power of Chaos that Caius had so that he could be a "true guardian." In one of the Paradox Endings, you find out what happens if he actually gets it: he's driven nearly catatonic by it, and mentions that having it is the beginning of a nightmare.
- Cloud Strife of Final Fantasy VII fame did not like the fact that he was a muggle and a mook, and envied his Super Soldier friend and his Super Prototype perfect warrior commander, wanting to be like them. His wish was fulfilled, but not in a good way: the Mad Scientist Dr. Hojo, the creator of Shinra's superhuman project, press-ganged him into his experiments and turned him into another human-Jenova hybrid at the cost of his memories and sanity. Cloud got the cool powers he wanted, but it damaged his personality, partially fusing it with that of his aforementioned friend, and made him vulnerable to mind control, which had a huge impact on his later life. Hojo thought Cloud to be a failed experiment, however Cloud ended up as the only successful human-Jenova hybrid on the side of good.
- Pokemon Mystery Dungeon 2 does this too, subtly. In the Special Episode "Bidoof's Wish", Bidoof finds and wakes Jirachi, who grants him a wish because that's how wish gods work. His wish is for a new apprentice that he can show around and be friends with. He gets his wish in the form of the hero and partner, but the wish's implementation causes Darkrai's evil scheme and the entire Time Gear crisis to bring the hero in from the future. At least he's happy with what he gets.
- Tales of the Tempest: Caius just wanted to be allowed to see the world. As soon as he voices this a dying knight gives him a MacGuffin, his village gets attacked, and his father gets kidnapped by the Corrupt Church, prompting Caius to go rescue him.
- In Wishbringer, one of the wishes you can make with the titular stone is for flight...straight back to the Magick Shoppe, which nets you an automatic Game Over because you won't have the owner's asked-for pet with you at any time you're capable of making the wish.
- Discussed in detail in Fate/stay night, but for the most part averted. Except for Archer. I want to save everyone! I know, how about I make a contract with the world? Guardian Spirits gets to save people all the time! Oh wait, they actually kill people en masse indiscriminately to prevent them from killing even more people. Woops. Other than that little mistake, it seems the idea is 'do what you can with your own ability, and accept your own failures if it doesn't work.
- Also played straight in "Unlimited Blade Works" when Shinji obtains the Holy Grail... by having it implanted in his body, transforming him into its vessel. He recovers and is noted to have reverted to a more pleasant personality after overcoming his obsession.
- And played straight in the case of the Bigger Bad of the whole story: Angra Mainyu/Avenger was an ordinary villager whose compatriots chose him to be the embodiment of all mankind's sins and sacrificed him. In doing this they wished for there to be an external embodiment of evil they could dispose of in order to purify themselves. The Grail, when it absorbed Avenger, attempted to grant that wish, and as a result there now exists a being made up of every sin mankind has ever or will ever commit, an Embodiment of Evil, and it is not pleased at all with humanity for having created it. Nice going, ancient villagers.
- One of the side stories in Kagetsu Tohya has Shiki living in a world based on Twin Threesome Fantasy fantasy scenario he had. The problem is, he realized such a thing could never happen unless they were in a world all by themselves plus he's currently already trapped inside a "Groundhog Day" Loop. So the Dream Within a Dream he has just traps him a world where he's living forever inside the mansion grounds with only Kohaku and Hisui, doing whatever he likes with them while slowly going insane.
- Rob from Dimension Heroes wishing for a less boring summer. Boy, did he get that wish granted...
- The Creepypasta titled "The Wishes".
- Invoked in an intentionally nonsensical manner in the Something Awful parody "horror film" Doom House. "My name is Reginald P. Linux, and ever since my wife died, I've been very depressed. This is why I've been searching for the house of my dreams. But as a philosopher once said, be careful what you dream for, because you just... might... get it." Since he wasn't "dreaming for" a house haunted by an odd-looking figurine and built over a terrorist burial camp, this makes no sense, and it's only put there as a parody of bad writing.
- Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is this trope played deadly straight. Billy/Dr. Horrible wants to be a supervillain and join the Evil League of Evil. He also wants to get a girlfriend. Well, he gets one of his wishes when the Evil League demands that he commit a heinous crime ("a murder would be nice of course") as a membership test. This turns out to be Foreshadowing, as the final confrontation with his Arch-Enemy, Captain Hammer, ends with the latter's humiliating defeat and the world bowing to him in fear due to the murder of... his girlfriend, Penny. Cue his entry into the Evil League, having both gained and lost everything he wanted.
- From one of The Cinema Snob's reviews, Beware Children at Play...
Snob: You know, the kids are evil, just fucking kill them!(Massacre of children begins as the Snob watches in horror)Snob:...I wasn't serious about killing them!
- Dragon Ball Abridged:
- Gohan points out this trope in his nerdish way after he and Krillin realize the recently-revived Picollo was brought back to Namek...on the other side of the planet from where they are standing.
Gohan: Oh, so it's a sort of monkey's paw. You have to be careful with the hubris in your wishes.Piccolo: (in the distance) NEEEEEEEERRRRDDD!
- Krillin wished for the perfect Christmas tree. Shenron delivered. Thanks for the special, you two!
Reject Mall Santa: Turles, sir! Our ship has mysteriously changed course for a new planet: Earth!
Turles: Does it contain the sufficient amount of joy?
Reject Mall Santa: According to our sensors... yes!
Turles: Well, then... merry Christmas!
- Gohan points out this trope in his nerdish way after he and Krillin realize the recently-revived Picollo was brought back to Namek...on the other side of the planet from where they are standing.
- Several JonTron fans kept constantly whining about a lack of new videos, so Jon decided he should please them by leaving Game Grumps to go work on his own videos. While Danny Sexbang, his replacement, is not getting nearly the same amount of hatred he did when he first showed up, there are still many fans who wish they just kept their mouths shut in the first place.
- In Lucky Day Forever, 514 finally wins the lottery in this film, but he gets locked into the Lotus-Eater Machine and gets used as resources for the Whites.
- In Doom House, when Reginald informs the audience of his ambition to move into the house of his dreams in his Opening Narration, he is still quick to remember the words of a philosopher, "Be careful what you dream for because you just might get it."
- "A Caution to the Wise" from The Wanderer's Library.
- In the Tales of the Folly series in the Chakona Space setting, you really should be careful what you wish for on the Folly, as there are a number of fairly mischievous, and meddlesome Rakshani Deities hanging around. The trope is lampshaded word-for-word on a couple of occasions.
- In Noob, we find out that the reason Judge Dead quit playing the MMORPG in which the story is set and got himself hired as a Game Master was that another player among the elite turned out to be his father attempting to connect with him. Judge Dead didn't take it well due to suffering from an Inferiority Superiority Complex and his father being much better at him at stuff having become a pattern over the years. Once a Game Master, Judge Dead decided to use his new power to spite the other player, who had also quit. A message along the lines of "If you want to apologize, log in your avatar one last time and let me ban it forever." gets sent. The other player did log in his gaming avatar Clark Kenting as the hacker known to always get himself in the game despite the best efforts of the Game Master team in the main timeframe.. The whole story can very well qualify for Create Your Own Villain.
- The Open-Source Wish Project tries to find perfect, loophole-less wordings for wishes to avert this trope. While it might work against the Jackass Genie, it doesn't really strike at the heart of the lesson of this trope; if you get exactly the thing you wanted, there's still the possibility you'll find you don't like it.
- In a rough flowchart of the endings for Mass Effect 3, BioWare writer supposedly noted that he wanted the endings to cause LOTS OF SPECULATION FROM EVERYONE. He/They got his/their wish; Mass Effect 3's ending is quickly becoming as infamous for being infuriatingly confusing and nonsensical as that of Lost and that of Neon Genesis Evangelion, the Trope Codifier for Gainax Endings. They eventually released an Extended Cut that tried to cudgel most of it into making at least narrative (although not scientific) sense, presumably as an attempt to synthesise a wish that they hadn't made the first wish.
- In 2001, the city of Buffalo, NY had no snow in November and most of December, the first time in recorded history, and it was possible that the city would have no snow on Christmas. On Christmas Eve, the kids who wanted a white Christmas got their wish: That night was the beginning of a 5 day long blizzard that killed at least 4 people and dropped seven feet of snow onto the city, leaving it incapacitated for nearly a month and cancelling a play named "Lake Effect".
- Richard Heene's attempt to become a reality star with his Balloon Boy stunt on October 15, 2009. Looks like he succeeded, just not in the way he had hoped for.
- After viewing his teammate going past him for the win as an act of betrayal, Gilles Villeneuve vowed never to speak to Didier Pironi ever again. He got it: Villeneuve was killed in qualifying the very next race.
- As it was entering its third season, the producers of Moral Orel asked the creators to give them the darkest season they could. And boy did they get it. One episode in particular, the infamous "Alone" was so dark, the producers sliced season three's original episode count in half, and axed the show.
- Chicago Bears fans wished to be rid of Rex Grossman for throwing too many interceptions (despite leading them to the Super Bowl in his first season as a starter). Then came along Jay Cutler, who led the NFL in interceptions.
- When Lena, a young German girl, moved out from her parents' house at 18 (this was in 2007), they were not happy about it and had repeatedly tried to convince her to come back. Then Lena got caught in the 2010 Love Parade Disaster. Since then, she returned to her parent's house - and she refuses to leave and constantly clings to her parents.
- Carrie Fisher had complained about how boring Princess Leia's wardrobe was from the first two Star Wars movies, so George Lucas had wardrobe make the iconic Slave Leia costume for Return of the Jedi. She would describe it as "what supermodels will eventually wear in the seventh ring of hell".
- Natalie Portman did something similar and got the black corset number she wore in Attack of the Clones.
- "Better Hitler than Blum!" - Slogan of the French ultra-conservatives. [Blum was the Socialist Premier of France from 1936–37.] Sometimes fate can be a Literal Genie.
- Many Teen Titans fans who didn't like how the show ended wanted to have the characters return and to have their stories continue. Seven years after the finale, Teen Titans Go! happened.
- Wall Street got its wish when Elizabeth Warren was blocked from taking the top spot at her brainchild the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. After the notoriously outspoken consumer advocate wasn't even nominated - because the President knew he could never get her confirmed in the Senate - Warren went back to Massachusetts and launched her campaign against incumbent Senator Scott Brown. She won the election by an eight-point landslide, Wall Street lost its favorite Senator, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has no intention of stopping her crusade any time soon, is now not only part of the very body that wanted to send her back to her ivory tower, but (thanks to John Kerry's promotion) Massachussetts's senior Senator and a member of the Senate Banking Committee — which is where Wall Street absolutely did not want her. Oooops! And then the awesome continued to just keep coming; most notably, the presiding officer of the Senate holding the gavel when Richard Cordray was finally confirmed as head of the CFPB was none other than Senator Elizabeth Warren. Holy cow.
- Scott Brown's own election was an example of this. In 2004, the heavily Democratic state legislature was concerned that if then-Senator John Kerry became President, then-Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, would choose his successor and Massachusetts would have a Republican senator until at least the next regular election. So, they passed a law requiring a special election in case of a Senate vacancy. Kerry lost the election and remained in the Senate, and the next vacancy was when Ted Kennedy passed away in 2009. By then, Massachusetts had a Democratic governor who appointed a Democrat to succeed him- until the special election the Democrats had put in place back in 2004, which Scott Brown won.
- Early on in 2001, a couple found out that their 12-year-old son was gay. So they prayed to God that they would no longer have a gay son. After several years, their son became so depressed and frustrated that he started doing drugs. Even though he eventually kicked his habit, he started hanging out with his friends who were still doing drugs. He wound up using drugs again, and subsequently died of an overdose. And now the couple doesn't have a gay son...
- Engineer Henry Winstanley achieved what was thought to be the impossible when he successfully built a lighthouse on the the notorious Eddystone rocks. He was so pleased with it that he often expressed a wish to be inside it during "the greatest storm there ever was". On 27 November 1703, his wish came true, as he was overseeing repairs when the Great Storm of 1703 struck the south coast of England. The lighthouse was completely destroyed and Winstanley was never seen again.
- For many years, fans of The Stooges wished that Iggy Pop would remix their Raw Power album, which suffered from a rushed, thin mix by David Bowie. In 1997, he finally did, but the result was so painfully loud that the rest of the band and even many fans preferred the earlier version.
- The late Clarence Ray Allen was spending life imprisonment for a murder he committed in 1974. While in prison, he wanted a new trial so that he could be acquitted and get back out on the street. He contracted a fellow inmate to murder the witnesses who testified against him before. The murders got carried out. When the authorities found out that Allen had arranged the murders, they did give him a new trial - he was convicted of several counts of murder and executed in 2006.