"See all you gotta do is rub that lamp, and I'll say:
'Mister Aladdin, sir,
What will your pleasure be?
Let me take your order, jot it down.'
You ain't never had a friend like me!"
As it turns out, not all genies
are by-the-book bureaucrats who are more interested in doing exactly what you say
than actually getting you what you want. Nor are they all complete jerks
who seem determined to make whatever wish you utter cause suffering regardless of how well you word it. Some genies are just really cool. Maybe you helped them do something and they're giving away wishes as a legitimate reward rather than out of obligation.
Maybe you're a good person at heart
and the genie just can't bear to screw you over at risk of helping the bad guys. Or maybe the genie is just so nice, so subservient, or both
, that they can't even conceive of granting a wish
in a way that directly hurts good ol' master.
This is the Benevolent Genie, the generally lesser-used character type of the three. This is because the very existence of such a genie is a Deus ex Machina
for most problems if the genie is so powerful they can just magic them away, becoming a Sidekick Ex Machina
. One common way of adding conflict is to make the genie so ditzy that their usefulness can end up screwing things up in a Stop Helping Me!
kind of way, by limiting the number of wishes that can be made, or at least giving the genie some sort of exploitable weakness.
Note that the attitude of this genie can quickly revert to one of the other two if they're exploited by a character they dislike enough.
More often than not, the ultimate ending for this type of Genie tends to be its master wishing it free
. Depending on the work, this sometimes makes the Genie have unlimited power or in other cases makes them normal humans.
See Also: Literal Genie
, Jackass Genie
, Genie in a Bottle
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Anime & Manga
- The Goddesses from Ah! My Goddess run a wish-granting service to help balance karma's books, allowing someone who's been horribly unlucky but lived a good life to be rewarded with a single wish. They attempt to be as helpful as possible, though the wish-granting system itself isn't as benevolent (it operates in accordance with its own laws and doesn't cleanly fit into any of the three tropes).
- Shenron from Dragon Ball. He may not be all that polite, but he grants you anything you want, no strings attached. Unless it is outside of his power to do so, in which case he will state plainly that he cannot do it, and demand a different wish.
- Porunga, the other wish-granting dragon from Dragon Ball Z, is even nicer, despite his rather frightening and demonic appearance. When our heroes wished for everyone on Earth to be resurrected after Buu killed them, he went the extra mile and rebuilt all their cities and buildings free of charge. (He has been known to be a little sarcastic at times, however. When faced with someone who can't decide what to wish for, he once said, "wish for nothing three times so I can go". Most dragons would have threatened a mortal in that situation.)
- In Tenshi Na Konamaiki, the finale reveals that the Jackass Genie was a Benevolent Genie all along who granted Megumi her wish to the best of his ability and pretended to be a jackass genie to faciliate the illusion.
- Alluka from Hunter × Hunter will grant anyone a wish, and done in the most beneficial way possible, to anyone who fulfills three of his requests. However, the requests vary in difficulty and expected willingness based on the scale of the previous wish. Said requests range from patting Alluka on the head to donating vital organs to him, and if someone fails to fulfill these requests, that person dies, along with a number of other acquaintances, again depending on the scale of the previous wish. A story arc revolves around Alluka, particularly the exact rules and exceptions of his wish-granting powers. (Alluka is not a Jackass Genie, as only the requests are potentially dangerous. No known wish asked of Alluka has ever been detrimental to the person who wished it.)
- The genie in the XXXenophile short "Wish Fulfillment". Though he in bound by the three wishes limit, and acts as a Literal Genie when he wants to, he is very benevolent towards his "chosen" mistress.
- The d'jinni Anhikiahl in Poison Elves acts as a (somewhat) Benevolent Genie for Lusiphur, but only because she feels guilty for attacking him after being freed. When Lusiphur tries the old "wishing for more wishes" trick she points out that she can be a Jackass Genie too if he doesn't keep his wishes reasonable. (It later turns out that the wishes she ended up granting weren't that problem-free either, due to certain "mandatory bylaws".)
- The Fisherman and his Wife has its fisherman protagonist spare the life of a talking fish. The fish is so grateful that it offers the man unlimited wishes. The man consults his wife about what to wish for... which was probably inadvisable. Each time the fish grants a wish, the wife becomes increasingly greedy and power hungry, to the point where she wishes to be Queen of the Universe. This is the last straw for the fish and it revokes all of its gifts.
- Or, in the original version, rather than revoking his wishes, the fish grants the final one with a clever twist: when the fisherman tells the fish that his wife wants to be like God, they are returned to destitution, as God has no need for titles or material possessions. The "revoking wishes in outrage at just how greedy she's gotten" is a common bowdlerization to avoid mentioning God.
- In yet other versions, the fish would ask what the fisherman's wish is, and fisherman would say he wished his wife would be happy, to which the fish would make the wife happy with what she already has.
- In a famous Russian version, the wish that finally pushes the fish over the edge is when the wife wishes to be the ruler of the sea, and to command the fish itself.
- The original version of Aladdin in Arabian Nights had two genies, and they both seemed to fit this trope, although they seem to be unable to disobey or harm anyone able to command them (as the lamp genie follows the evil magician loyally when he gains the lamp). The ring genie is later unable to directly help Aladdin against the magician, as he cannot undo anything his much stronger brother has done, but is still willing to give him a useful warning that helps him defeat the villain.
Films — Animation
- The Genie in Aladdin functions like this, even interpreting an unconscious head bob in the best possible way (as "Genie, I want you to save my life"). In fact, he's nice to a fault — when Jafar takes control of him late in the film, it doesn't even occur to him to try to use some Literal Genie interpretations to screw Jafar out of his wishes (for example, simply teleporting Jafar to a Death World when he wishes to be the most powerful sorcerer in the world, or making Jafar the "sultan" of an oasis). Fortunately, Aladdin himself thinks of a loophole and tricks Jafar into using it. The Genie doesn't even realize what Aladdin's plan is until after he already granted the wish. (Compare Eden from The Series under "Western Animation," who is smart enough to play this as a Zigzagging Trope.)
- The sequel Aladdin: The Return of Jafar shows that Genies are not required to be benevolent. And the only reason he counted that head nod as a wish is because Aladdin tricked him into a free one before. Has Aladdin not done that, it probably wouldn't have been counted as one.
- That and he really liked Aladdin and actively wanted to save his life but was limited by his own previous statements, so he took any opportunity he could get.
- Some of the limitations may be self-imposed. The Genie claims he can't bring people back from the dead, but implies that it is because they Came Back Wrong rather than an actual limitation. However, it may also have been him clowning around.
- The prohibition against killing is definitely a real limitation, though; Jafar mentions in the sequel that he is unable to kill directly, and despite all of his attempts, he fails to kill anyone, even Iago, though the latter notes, "You'd be surprised what you can live through."
- In Aladdin: The Series, he's not even obligated to help Aladdin or Jasmine at all anymore. He just does so because he likes them. (And there are hints that they're better friends than any other humans he's known.)
- In DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, the genie is a curious but good-natured fellow who even tells the nephews that he is "eternally grateful" when they first free him. He takes no pleasure in granting wishes that are liable to cause trouble or are otherwise harmful, but he can't resist for long before he is somehow compelled into bringing it into existence anyway. He even warns them early on to try and keep the wishes relatively subtle, as flashy displays of his magic invariably cause trouble. Not least of which is a former master of his, an immortal sorcerer who has a talisman that gives him limitless wishes and a very cruel nature. Two other wishes the genie was forced to grant him included sinking Atlantis back when it was a prime vacation spot after the sorcerer couldn't get a reservation and causing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius (in his words, "Poor Pompeii! Vesuvius wouldn't have blown its top if Merlock hadn't!"). The genie openly weeps when recounting these facts.
Films — Live Action
- Fakrash al-Amash (Burl Ives) in 1964's The Brass Bottle is a djinn who is so grateful to architect Harold Ventimore (Tony Randall) for freeing him from his bottle, that he is continually making extravagant gifts to him — alll of which only complicate Ventimore's life and make him miserable. Barbara Eden is featured in this film, though not as a djinniyah.
- Josephus in Bernard and the Genie befriends the much-harrassed former art dealer Bernard and grants him unlimited wishes. Although they as expected mess things up at first (Bernard gets arrested for having the Mona Lisa on his wall, and stabbing a policeman with a sword), Josephus later reveals that he can just turn back the clock, and they set everything straight. They then decide that since it's Christmas, they should make a few Christmas miracles and spread good cheer. (This includes getting back at Bernard's cheating ex-girlfriend and ex-best friend, as well as his ex-boss, who is played by Rowan Atkinson.)
- Josephus only became one after the wish "I wish you would stop trying to kill me", however. Before that he was more 'pissed off former thief with a large scimitar who had been trapped in a bottle for thousands of years'.
- Starik Khottabych ("Old Man Hottabych") by Lazar Lagin is about a Soviet boy in the 1930s who accidentally frees the genie Hassan Abdurrachman ibn Hottab (and disrespectfully dubs him "Hottabych"). The book is about Hottabych adapting to Soviet everyday life while trying to "serve" his master. Later in the book, Hottabych finds his Aloof Big Brother, a classical malevolent genie, who eventually gets sealed away again.
- There's a short story where the main character is so Genre Blind that he uses up all three of his wishes on the rhetorical style of literal wishing, because he thinks he's talking not to a genie, but to some annoying guy who came into his house for no reason. Two of the wishes really did go to waste, but his second wish was "I wish you jerks would just stop giving me a hard time." After his third wish, he realizes that he just blew his chance to make some good wishes. But the next morning, he discovers that all the bad drivers on the freeway are staying out of his way, his boss is uncharacteristically understanding of his difficulties, and the IRS has sent him a letter saying that he is now exempt from all the duties of a taxpayer. His life promises to be much easier with this wish granted.
- Isaac Asimov's Azazel is a demon (or, in some stories, a hyper-tech alien) who grants wishes to his master's friends. He really does do his best, but virtually all of his wishes end up backfiring horribly anyway.
- In Isaac Bashevis Singer's book for children, A Tale of Three Wishes, three children go out on the night of Rosh Hashanah because they've heard that Heaven opens its doors then—and anyone who sees the doors open will be granted one wish. One of the boys wants to be as rich as King Solomon; the second boy wants to be as wise as the Talmudic scholar, Moses Maimonides; and the little sister of the boy who wants to be rich wants to be as beautiful as Queen Esther. Each wish gets wasted—but, when the kids grow up, the boy who wanted to be rich becomes a hard-working and extremely wealthy businessman called "a modern Solomon"; the boy who wanted to be wise becomes a Talmudic scholar known as "the Maimonides of our time"; and the little girl who wanted to be beautiful spends all her time helping her people, to the point where everyone says she's as lovely and as kind as Queen Esther.
- As You Wish by Jackson Pearce is about a genie (known as jinn in their universe) who appears to a random girl, Kayla, and they fall in love with each other. The jinn (who has no name) is supposed to be more of a Literal Genie, but he falls in love with her and ends up being nice to her.
- Somer, from A Fantasy Attraction, embodies this trope quite nicely, being, according to him, a guardian genie; and does in fact spend most of the story helping and protecting the other characters.
- Near the end of The Seventh Tower, Tal meets a being known as the Old Khamsoul, which is some kind of sentient whirlwind that is said to be an oracle: you may ask it one question, which it will answer truthfully. Tal asks several questions, each of which the Old Khamsoul says don't count because, really, if Tal thought about them a bit, he already knew the answers. Ultimately Tal decides that he will come back one day when he has found a worthy question, and the Old Khamsoul replies that it will be waiting.
- The eponymous Magical Girlfriend of I Dream of Jeannie tries to be as useful as she could, although her attempts rarely go particularly well, partly because she's a bit scatterbrained, and partly because she's from a time and place so different than the 20th century US, she might just as well be an alien.
- In The 10th Kingdom, Snow White is one of these.
Snow White: You may ask for one wish, and I will try and grant it. But be sure to ask for the right thing.
Virginia: Okay, I wish... I wish that Dad's bad luck was over. Oh! And that his back wasn't broken anymore.
Snow White: Strictly speaking, that's two wishes. But it's done.
- In Bernard And The Genie, Lenny Henry plays one of these to Alan Cumming's Bernard.
- The Twilight Zone episode "I Dream of Genie" features a genie who can only grant one wish and so encourages the man who finds him to carefully consider what he really wants. The hero rejects various ordinary wishes for wealth, love and power, and finally wishes to become a Benevolent Genie himself, one who can grant three wishes and arranges for his lamp to be found by the homeless and needy.
- You Wish features a genie who is accidentally freed by a single mother with two kids. The mother rejects various ordinary wishes for wealth, love and power, and through the short series of only 13 episodes mother, genie, and children learn to function as a family helping each other become better "people".
- The heroic Imagin in Kamen Rider Den-O, who choose of their own free will to help the Kamen Riders battle their evil brethren, and do so without granting wishesnote . The few times they do grant wishes, it's always for a noble purpose, like Gentle Giant Kintaros turning Ryotaro's New Year's Resolution into a wish so he could pull a Big Damn Heroes moment.
- Fraggle Rock had two episodes in which Wembley encountered a wish-fulfilling creature; while the first one was a Jackass Genie who initially refused to grant any wishes, the second one (a spider-fly that Wembley rescued and turned out to be a sort-of Fairy Godmother) was a clear example of this trope, even stopping Wembley from wasting his one wish on trivialities.
- The Japanese Super Sentai series Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger featured a genie named Djinn who was found by a group of children, and used to grant a number of simple and childish but otherwise harmless wishes. Djinn truly seems to enjoy granting the wishes of children, however, and plays with them happily until the witch, Bandora, tries to turn the genie's formidable power to her side.
- In King's Quest VI, evil Vizier Abdul Alhazred has a genie named Shamir who keeps trying to get you to kill yourself in creative ways. It's explained that genies don't have personalities of their own, rather they reflect the personality of their master. This makes them "benevolent" in the sense that they can't subvert their master's wishes. Once you capture Shamir's lamp, he's relieved that he no longer has to work for a villain.
- Shara in Sonic and the Secret Rings. She has unlimited wishes but she's limited in power and certainly can't do anything against the all mighty (3-wish) granter and villain Erazor.
- Despite being the Big Bad, Erazor unwillingly acts as a Benevolent Genie in the end. Erazor's triumph is completely undone when Sonic reveals that he has Erazor's lamp and forces him to fix everything.
- Solmyr in Heroes of Might and Magic III to some extent. He was so grateful to the man who freed him from a genie bottle that he swore himself to his service for the rest of his life (for all eternity, since the man happened to be immortal). Although in the next game Solmyr's master turned crazy/evil. But HoMM IV takes place on a different planet and Solmyr had promised to be in his service "as long as he walks the earth" or some-such. So he finally had a loophole to escape his master. Different world, no longer bound.
- Following the movie Aladdin(see "Film" above), Genie is very much a benevolent genie in Kingdom Hearts. During the first boss fight against Jafar, although the Genie is forced to serve Jafar and attack Sora's party, his attacks are generally very weak, he usually says, "I'm sorry, Al," and "Get out of the way!" before attacking, and sometimes after an attack will generate health balls for the party to pick up, increasing their health points. Later, after Aladdin wishes for Genie's freedom, Genie agrees to travel with Sora to help find Jasmine. He even comments that, although he is no longer required to grant Aladdin's wishes, he's quite happy to do him a favor.
- Ship of Ship In A Bottle is a good example. Even when she disagrees with her master, she makes sure to help him as needed and grants wishes as accurately as possible. It probably also helps that she and her master are sex buddies.
- Obscure web comic Sakana Yama had main character Urchin find a genie, who granted him the wishes he wanted. However, Urchin only used his wishes to improve the lives of his friends, keeping none for himself. This impressed the genie so much, he granted Urchin unlimited wishes. (Not that the genie ever told him that.)
- Angelique of The Wotch is one of the few genies that actually likes humanity. Unfortunately, when she's summoned, she's summoned through a cursed bottle that forces her to grant any wish she hears from anyone, not just Jason, who summoned her. Some of the wish-granting on poorly-done wishes is done in Jackass Genie style, but it's implied that Angie isn't doing it deliberately.
- In Krakow!, a character makes a wish for a perfect girlfriend, and specifies that she must be "an airplane". She has metal wings and fins and consumes gasoline. Could be a Literal Genie, but it's hard to imagine what else that wish could have possibly meant.
- Weesh is about three kids and their very benevolent genie.
- Dorf Quest has Aldwin seeking out a djinn and wishing for Goldmoon to be brought back to life, which surprisingly turns out well with no negative side effects (at least, none that were the djinn's fault). It may have helped that Aldwin had the foresight to ask the djinn what it might want in return - and his dialogue even implies that it would have done so even without payment.
- SCP-1481 used to be this kind of genie, by his own admission... until some jerk wished he was stoned out of his head, entirely out of spite. Now, SCP-1481 is rendered completely incompetent because of his drugged-out state, and the really sick thing about it is, the jerk who made him that way also wished that it couldn't be wished-away, ever.
- An animated version of the The Fisherman and his Wife tale on the Rocky and Bullwinkle show has a happier ending (and also replaces the fish with a mermaid but that's not important). The story follows the same plot, but in the end, the mermaid asks the fisherman what he wanted. When he says that all he wants is for his wife to be happy, the mermaid reverts things back to the way they were before — except now the fisherman's wife appreciates what she already has instead of complaining about what she lacks. Unfortunate Implications aside, it was a pretty happy ending.
- Aladdin: The Series
- There's a female genie called Eden, who is also benevolent. Unlike Genie however, she's wise enough to become a Literal Genie when dealing with Jerk Ass Abis Mal. When the villain wishes Genie imprisoned in the bottom of the ocean, she gives him an escape hatch because Mal didn't say forever. When Mal wished to be the biggest and strongest being in the world, she including a method of relieving him of his power; and when the little girl who finds her wishes for everything to be all right, she turns Abis Mal into a bug as a "freebie". She also went out of her way to encourage the little homeless girl to come up with better wishes; when the girl wished for a sandwich, she convinced her to wish for a lifetime supply of food instead.
- A different episode featured a benevolent "genie" surrounded by jackasses - it's a little fuzzy creature that grants the wish of whoever scares it as a defense mechanism. Iago befriends it, and at episode's end, shows it a mirror while screaming. "Squirt scared himself", so its own wish is granted - to return to the homeland of its species.
- The genie in the Hanna Barbera cartoon Shazzan does this, promptly doing whatever the protagonists want. Except taking them home, which is ostensibly the whole plot. Mostly, he just answers wishes of "save us from this evil guy who wants your power". In the one cartoon where the bad guy succeeds, he uses a Literal Genie interpretation of his wish to keep from killing his "real" masters.
- Cosmo and Wanda in The Fairly OddParents, since making Timmy happy is their job as fairy godparents. On the other hand, they sometimes make mistakes, and Timmy's wishes can have unintended consequences. They do warn Timmy about the possibility of a wish backfiring and urge him to alter his wishes to minimize risk if possible.
- It also seems that sometimes they have to be literal, or at least, can't undo something they've already granted literally. Or something; it kind of changes with the plot. They always mean well, though.
- Captain N: The Game Master once had the heroes stumble upon a genie who granted their wishes as they intended them. It was a critique of the newly-developed patch devices; Kevin wishes for enhanced skills, and quickly realizes Victory Is Boring. Mega Man wishes for enhanced strength, and nearly knocks down the palace. Princess Lana immediately wishes that "no one had made any wishes", returning things to normal for the moment so they can get on with the plot.
- Daffy Duck once briefly obtained a treasure that included the services of a genie who really wanted to help him... but Daffy, being who he is, attacks the genie as a rival for his treasure. The consequences are not good.
- One episode of Garfield and Friends featured Odie finding a genie at the beach, who was a rather nice guy. Since Odie only had one wish (to fly), he even decided to give Odie his wish three times so that his wishes wouldn't be wasted.
- Prismo from Adventure Time, while obligated to give "monkey's paw"-like twists by the rules of his magic, is actually an absurdly nice wish-granter. He even ignored Jake's wish for a sandwich to just make him one for free and essentially told Jake exactly the wish he needed to save everyone.
- Played With on Gargoyles—Demona, a villain, summons Puck of the Third Race and tries to use him to Kill All Humans (or at least, as many as his great-but-limited power can). The thing is, Puck likes humans, so by acting like a Jerkass Genie he's actually keeping humanity safe.