The dream that you wish, she'll grant you.
A fairy tasked with helping out the protagonist of a tale, whether it's granting wishes, or other things, often with the aid of a Magic Wand
. Why this is so is almost never said, although some stories will have an organization of them. And yes, in early fairy tales, they are actually meant to be their ward's actual godmother.
This is also a highly Discredited Trope
these days, usually associated with the most archaic parts of Fairy Tales
, even though this trope is a lot more recent than most of those stories
, and in fact very rare in fairy tales collected by folklorists; most Cinderella variants have her aided by her dead mother
, or (in such variants as Catskin
and Cap o' Rushes
) by nothing but her own wits and some advice.
It's still often played straight too, it's just so useful that writers can't resist it, although they often disguise the fairy godmother as something else.
Some stories might make this a Deus ex Machina
. An occasional subversion is to make the Fairy Godmother
evil, or cause problems from being not very bright.
of Our Fairies Are Different
Compare Magical Nanny
, Fairy Companion
, God Was My Copilot
, Mrs. Claus
, Guardian Angel
. Contrast Wicked Stepmother
open/close all folders
- Charles Perrault's "Cinderella" is probably the Trope Codifier. While most adaptations have the godmother appear out of nowhere, it is noteworthy to mention in the original Perrault text, she is literally Cinderella's godmother and actually seems to live with the family.
- In "Adalmina's Pearl", the princess has two.
- In "Sleeping Beauty", she had seven, or twelve, in Charles Perrault or The Brothers Grimm respectively. However, after they made their initially good wishes, the fairies do never return to aid Sleeping Beauty (though the seventh fairy in Perrault's version puts the rest of the palace - except the king and queen - to sleep so the princess won't be lonely when she awakens). Many variants — such as "Sun, Moon, and Talia", an older variant, and in fact the oldest known — have no fairy godmothers at all, however.
- Madame d'Aulnoy uses this trope in "The Blue Bird" and "The White Doe", where the fairy godmothers help rivals of the protagonists. Several fairy godmothers, including an evil one, appear in "Princess Mayblossom".
- Her story "Finette Cendroun" is an early Cinderella variant that plays the fairy godmother trope straight however, and even predates Perrault's use of the trope.
- In Henriette-Julie de Murat's literary fairy tale "Bearskin", the princess had a fairy godmother who is quite offended that she was not consulted about her goddaughter's marriage and so refuses to help for a time.
- Another de Murat fairy tale, "Anguillette", plays this trope tragically. Princess Hebe is blessed with all sorts of great gifts, but is warned that when she falls in love, the love will get out of control. Hebe falls in love with a prince, but she ends up marrying another prince. This leads to the two princes killing each other in a duel.
- In "Donkeyskin", the godmother delivers advice rather than gifts. Ironically, it does not help the heroine at all.
- Deconstructed in the story of "Rapunzel", Dame Gothel, the witch who keeps Rapunzel prisoner, is not only her godmother (which is the actual meaning of "Dame Gothel"), but was a fairy in earlier versions, including the Grimm's original publication. This is also the case in early French versions.
- In the Grimms' "One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes," the heroine, Two Eyes, is aided by a mysterious lady. Some translations and retellings refer to her as her fairy godmother.
- In the Grimm's "The True Bride," a mysterious fairy helps the heroine complete three Impossible Tasks demanded by her stepmother. Once again, some translations and retellings refer to her as her fairy godmother.
- Another French version of the Cinderella story has the Wicked Stepmother start out as the heroine's Fairy Godmother...fortunately, the girl has a helpful aunt who is also a good fairy.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- Deconstructed in Ella Enchanted, with a godmother who's a fairy but is inconspicuous about it, and another fairy who has a bad habit of going to the christenings of complete strangers and giving them magical gifts they don't want or need. In the original book, however, Maddie is Ella's actual Fairy Godmother, and she plays this straight, being a Cool Old Lady; Lucinda just happened to be at the baptism.
- In A Simple Wish, Martin Short plays Murray, the world's first and only fairy godfather, whose first assignment is to grant a little girl's wish that her father could get the lead role in a Broadway musical...while simultaneously fighting an evil fairy-godmother-turned-Wicked Witch's plot.
- The Slipper and the Rose, being a musical adaptation of "Cinderella", of course has a Fairy Godmother.
- Ditto the Rogers and Hammerstein Cinderella movie musical.
- In Maleficent, Aurora mistakenly believes that Maleficent is her Fairy Godmother. And she effectively is.
- In The Dresden Files, Harry has one of these, literally, and The Fair Folk are a lot scarier than in the Disneyverse. The Leanansidhe protects him from dangers of Nevernever... in her own way. Due to a Magically Binding Contract, he belongs to her, and she sometimes tries to collect. What happens if she wins? You know those hunting dogs that herald her arrival? They weren't dogs originally. However, lately, she's proven to be very good (if scary) to have as an ally.
- Interestingly, during Changes she plays with the classic Cinderella storyline by dressing Harry for a very different kind of party. Being of the winter court, her gifts vanish at noon instead of midnight.
- Played with in Witches Abroad, where the protagonists are trying to stop a fairy godmother from making the peasant girl marry the prince.
- Magrat is also (temporarily) a Fairy Godmother, having been left a wand with a tendency to reset to pumpkins by Desiderata Hollow.
Ella: Everyone gets two. The good one and the bad one. You know that. Which one are you?
Magrat: Oh, the good one. Definitely.
- In the Myth Adventures series the Mob has a Fairy Godfather.
- In The Ugly Duckling by A. A. Milne, the protagonist (a princess, not a duckling) has a relative who fits the fairy godmother role, though technically she's actually a great-aunt.
- In Mercedes Lackey's Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series, "fairy godmother" is a trade taken up by women who can't fill the roles that "the Tradition" tries to shoehorn them into and end up with great magical power as a result. The job of being a fairy godmother involves being Genre Savvy enough to use the Tradition against itself to minimize the harm done to everyone involved; they were originally actual fairies, but eventually the role got handed down to human women and the "fairy" part was only retained as a title.
- The Godmother by Elizabeth Anne Scarborough. Dame Felicity Fortune ("Fair Fates Facilitated, Questers Accommodated, Virtue Vindicated.") is a human recruited by The Fair Folk to act as an agent for them among humans, and is summoned by a social worker in Seattle who wishes for "a fairy godmother for the city". Unfortunately, since magic is uncommon in the world, she has to deal with the occasional Obstructive Bureaucrat to get things done. Sequels include The Godmother's Apprentice, and The Godmother's Web.
- In Andrew Lang's Prince Prigio, the queen does not believe in fairies and so insists on not inviting them for their first son. They show up anyway and shower him with gifts until the last godmother says that he shall be too clever.
- In the Old Icelandic "Tale of Norna-Gest" (c. 1300 AD), baby Gest is visited by some norns who make wishes for his life. The set-up is very similar to that of "Sleeping Beauty", and the "norns" are functionally Fairy Godmothers. Though, like in "Sleeping Beauty", they do not return after they made their initial good wishes.
- In C. S. Lewis's The Magician's Nephew, Uncle Andrew explains that he may well be the last person to literally fulfill this trope: his godmother, Mrs. Lefay, was one of very few women alive with fairy blood. However, she was apparently not very nice to anyone other than him, and wound up locked up in prison toward the end of her life. She was also the one who passed on the magic dust that Uncle Andrew used to travel between worlds.
- In E. D. Baker's The Wide-Awake Princess, fairy godmothers roam all about the Fractured Fairy Tale landscape. One made Annie's sister Sleeping Beauty, and another, to protect her, made Annie immune to magic.
- In John C. Wright's The Hermetic Millennia, Narcis D'Arago sneers at the idea of natural rights, which he groups with phlogistan and fairy godmothers as unreal.
Live Action TV
- Norse Mythology: Prose Edda relates that besides the three chief norns Urd, Skuld and Verdandi, "there are yet more norns, namely those who come to every man when he is born, to shape his life". Obviously these norns who visit newborn children to "shape their lives" are functionally the same beings as the fairies dispensing blessings (or curses) on newborn children in many fairy tales.
- Ms. Fairy Godmother from Big Bad is portrayed as shrill and demanding, to the point of coming off as less sympathetic than Evil Stepmother.
- In Fairy Godmother Tycoon, your faerie character is hired by a Fairy Godmother to run her potionerie and to knock the competitors off the town.
- The Fairy Godmother from Cinderella will help you activate summons spells in Kingdom Hearts.
- In the first Banjo-Kazooie game, Gruntilda has a sister named Brentilda who is a fairy godmother. If you find Brenty, she will give you the answers to questions about Grunty in the "Grunty's Furnace Fun" mini-game, and refill your health if you're running low.