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In Arabic tales, most popularized in the west in the book 1001 Tales of the Arabian Nights
, the djinn
were a variety of spiritual species, somewhere in between Angels and mankind, capable of great acts, both good and evil. Some of the greatest magicians in Arabic lore were able to capture djinn to their service, and tied them to items such as lamps or rings. Djinn
were not usually obligated
to give wishes
to whoever helped them; if they did, it would be out of gratitude. Some djinn got impatient and settled for just leaving if freed, while others took revenge on humanity by killing/tormenting whatever stupid human released them
If they were bound to their prison, djinn were slaves to their owners but did not have any reality warping
powers per se. After all, the "wish" was more like a command
, and the djinn simply used their incredible powers to do their master's bidding. If their master wished for a castle, they built one (with varying levels of efficiency: a powerful djinni may do it in seconds whereas a weaker djinni may spend years on the task). If they wanted money, the genie pulled it out of their own coffers
(a human's mind being unable to comprehend how much they had). Nevertheless, a djinni was still allowed to refuse orders if his master asked for something beyond his abilities.
Much of this has been lost in the modern depiction of the Genie in the Bottle. In television, they are most often within brass oil lamps, of a type that is no longer used. Most Western viewers
(but not the Genre Blind
characters) upon seeing this kind of lamp◊
would immediately associate it with a genie.
They are summoned from the lamp via rubbing and offer to grant wishes unto the person who freed them. These wishes can be anything (although some give rule-based limitations
). A Benevolent Genie
will attempt to fulfill the spirit of the Master's wish. A malevolent genie will be a Literal Genie
or worse, a Jackass Genie
, and will fulfill the worst possible interpretation
. Typically, genies who do their best to follow their master's true wish will tend to fall into the hands of villains who will exploit them egregiously
that Genies grant have become a kind of Reality Warp
that requires a human master. A genie may have powers they can use themselves, but nowhere near what they can do if a human says "I wish..." first. This also seems to be a function of the lamp; as a freed genie will not be able to grant said wishes even if they want to.
Most modern depictions of Genies have a rule
that they can only
give their master Three Wishes
(and ixnay on the wishing
for more wishes
!). If this is the case, expect a none-too-bright master to waste the first one or two
on pointless fripperies
before learning their lesson and using the third
to make some meaningful change to their lives.
This one is well enough known that Christina Aguilera's first song was called "Genie In A Bottle" and featured many (somewhat sexual) references to this trope. Do not confuse with Fairy in a Bottle
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Anime and Manga
- Shenlong, the Eternal Dragon from the Dragon Ball series, could be considered a variation on this. He "resides" in seven orange balls that must be collected before he can be summoned. Once he appears, he can grant his summoner(s) one wish, so long as it does not exceed his own power (a concept which seems to grow more flexible as the series progresses). He is somewhat cranky, often threatening to harm summoners who take a while to make their wish, but never follows through on these threats. If the person who created the dragonballs dies, then so does the dragon.
- In one inversion of the genie trope, during the later days of Dragonball, King Piccolo makes a wish and then kills Shenlong to thwart anyone trying to throw a wrench in his designs for world domination. Shenlong is later revived since his creator was not killed.
- In Dragonball Z, we meet another such dragon, Porunga, on the planet Namek, where the creator of Earth's dragonballs (Kami) comes from. He is able to grant three wishes to whoever summons him.
- Also in Dragonball Z, Shenlong dies again when Kami re-merges with Piccolo Jr. He is revived again however, when Dende, another Namek, takes over the position of Guardian of the Earth. The 'Dende incarnation' of Shenlong looks the exact same, but can now grant two wishes instead of one.
- In Dragonball GT, we see a version of the Jackass genie when the Evil Dragons appear from the dragonballs as a result of all the wishes made over the years plus the dragonballs being contaminated when a portal to Hell is opened.
- There is also Majin Buu. A magical creation who waged war on the gods, and was trapped in smoke form and sealed in a ball. Babidi spends years trying to release him, in the hopes that Buu would use his immense strength and reality-warping powers to help him dominate the universe.
- Mr. Popo strongly resembles a genie, but doesn't live in a bottle or have any wish-granting powers. He does fly on a magic carpet sometimes, though.
- Hakushon Daimao: The Genie will grant wishes when someone sneezes. His clumsiness will often mess things up.
- Magi - Labyrinth of Magic, of course, since it's based on Aladdin. The genies really are different, though. Uugo is a giant blue muscleman who lives in a "lamp" (actually more of a flute) and helps him out in the same manner that a hypnotized Hulk would. They all used to be mortals too. Uugo was a former Magi and a good friend of King Solomon.
- Makun from Nagasarete Airantou.
- The Justice Society of America member Johnny Thunder, and later his Legacy Character successor, Jakeem Thunder, can summon and control a powerful genie named the Thunderbolt. After his death, Johnny actually merges with the Thunderbolt, becoming part of the genie himself.
- Gold Digger has a few genies, notably Madrid. The spoiled princess of the Djinn, Madrid's attempts to bypass the genie restriction on using magic for oneself led to the destruction of her kingdom. She became an Evil Twin of Gina, the super-genius explorer, when Gina was invited to examine the genies' power source. The mental and physical disguise turned out to be permanent. Over time her mind, overlaid with Gina's intelligence and moral compass, let her realize how she had always screwed herself over with her selfishness. Now human, she's kind of an alternate-universe Gina, exploring new worlds while the real Gina teaches at the university.
- It should be noted that Genies in Gold Digger evolved from the Pau, a series of fuzzy toys from an ancient and advanced civilization with minor reality-warping abilities. Some Pau had multiple arms/forelimbs, while others had their eyes on their bellies. When the genies evolved into their present humanoid forms, they kept those two features.
- In Fables the Djinn are a race of nigh-omnipotent super beings. They where forced into enchanted bottles due to their destructive natures. They are forced to grant three wishes to the wielder of their bottle, but with an added twist being that if the person doesn't use the third wish to put them back in the bottle the Djinn is free to do what ever it wants.
- The Gangreen Gang summons a genie and asks her to give them superpowers in The Powerpuff Girls story "I Green Of Genie" (issue #63).
- The Phantom (the third one) once encountered a Djinni that had been in service to king Solomon, who had been sealed in a wine bottle by a demon and thrown into the sea. Out of gratitude of being freed when The Phantom (inadvertently) opened the bottle, he offered The Phantom the typical three wishes, and even rescued The Phantom at the end of the story simply because The Phantom had (inadvertently) taken over his duty through an encounter with the demon.
- Iznogoud: In a shoe, actually. And a pretty shoddy genie it is.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- The movie Bernard And The Genie (starring Alan Cumming, with Lenny Henry as the Genie) is about this trope. And very funny.
- Wishmaster. The genie is in a jewel, and while it is explained that genies must grant wishes, they are then allowed to take your soul, and upon granting three wishes for the person who called them, a genie is free and can take over the world.
- The Thief of Bagdad, which borrows from the Arabian Nights story "The Fisherman and the Genie".
- The Brass Bottle is a comedy about this with Burl Ives as the genie. Though she isn't a genie in it, Barbara Eden, later of I Dream of Jeannie fame, is also in the cast.
- The Outing is a Slasher Movie with a genie from a lamp as its killer.
- Interestingly, although this trope is strongly associated with the Arabian Nights, the Nights themselves don't play this trope straight. Genies are found trapped in bottles and such from time to time, such as in "The Fisherman and the Genie" (one of the first stories in the collection), but they aren't slaves to whoever frees them. In fact, they're often trouble to whoever frees them—in the aforementioned story the genie is bitter over being trapped for thousands of years, and decides he will kill the fisherman. When genies are bound to masters, they're associated with a magic ring, not a bottle or lamp.
- The real Trope Maker is probably "Aladdin", which never appeared in any edition of the Arabian Nights until Antoine Galland's 18th century French translation. "Aladdin" features both a genie tied to a ring and a second and more powerful genie trapped inside a lamp, both of whom serve Aladdin.
- American Gods has a more traditional kind of djinn, an immortal man made of smokeless fire. He drives a cab for a living, and wears sunglasses so that people don't see the fire in his eyes. He does grant a wish, though, giving an unhappy passenger the chance to slide into his life. In return for some gratuitous fiery sex.
- Literary example: Castle in the Air, sequel to Howl's Moving Castle (the book not the movie) has traditional-style djinns and a Genie in a Bottle. The genie is Wizard Howl under a spell, is very pissed off at being confined to the bottle, and takes malicious pleasure in granting each wish to the letter in a way that causes as much misery as possible.
- Dealing with Dragons has a djinni stuck in a bottle as part of the dragon Kazul's hoard. What happens when it gets loose is far too neat to deserve being casually spoiled in a wiki bullet-point.
- This is what The Bartimaeus Trilogy is all about. It deals with the relationship between the magicians (masters) and the demons or spirits (slaves). They tend to be rather bitter and malicious, due to the fact they live in another dimension and are strictly bound as slaves whenever they are summoned to Earth. They are perfectly willing to kill someone trying to summon them if the magician messes it up.
- Children of the Lamp pretty much sums this up.
- In Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos, Stephen and Virginia are sent on a mission to deal with the Genie in a Bottle that the Arab forces fighting them in World War II have. It does not, however, have to grant wishes; Virginia uses psychological tricks to persuade it it never wants to leave the bottle again.
- Jack Chalker 's Dancing Gods series featured the Lamp of Lakash, whose genie was the last person to make the mistake of making more than one wish. The wish would be granted, but the wisher would become an all-powerful genie bound to the Lamp, and the previous genie would revert to his original state. (Presumably the original genie was from the home dimension of the Djinn, to which the Lamp had a link.)
- Interestingly done in Robert Louis Stevenson's story The Bottle Imp. The titular creature resides in a magic bottle and will grant wishes. Unfortunately, the caveat is that if you die without having sold the bottle for less than you paid for it, you burn in hell for all eternity. There's also the problem that if you are dissatisfied after selling the bottle, the imp will do something nasty to you to pressure you into buying it back. Differing from a traditional genie, the imp only appears once, when the owner wishes to see it, and never speaks, and is otherwise a shadow occasionally seen floating in the bottle. Basically, the story has a genie which is combined with elements of both Deal with the Devil and Artifact of Doom.
- Skeeve of the Myth Adventures series meets a genie (Djin) from the dimension of Djinger. Djins in this Verse are only three inches tall, they hire themselves out for Bottle Duty because their dimension is severely in debt, and their powers aren't anywhere near as great as the salesmen claim.
- A hoary old Bar Joke involving a foot-tall piano player is predicated on a genie of a beer bottle who happens to be hard of hearing.
- One shows up in Discworld's Sourcery. It's not always present seeing as he has many lamps, including a summerlamp. It's also a yuppie.
- One of the Bailey School Kids books involved the four friends opening a bottle and supposedly freeing a genie who granted them three wishes each.
- Jim Knee in Septimus Heap was formerly a woman who opted to become a Jinnee.
- Titular story of The Last Wish was deconstructing the concept - Genie doesn't have to grant your wishes unless you hold the seal to his bottle. And genies hate being ordered and try to murder potential master before he have a chance to speak. And once you manage to get a genie under your control, he will harass you until you'll use all wishes, so he can finally be free.
- Old Khottabych (or Starik Khottabych) is a Russian book by Lazar Lagin about a Young Pioneer named Volka who finds an amphora at the bottom of a river. Volka opens the vessel, and an old genie named Hassan Abdul-rahman ibn Khattab, whom Volka just calls Khottabych, pops out. The genie is friendly and offers to serve his savior in any capacity. This was later adopted into a children's film. The novel also features a friend of Volka's who finds another ancient vessel and releases a second genie, who turns out to be Khottabych's older brother. Unlike the benevolent Khottabych, his brother has grown bitter after spending countless years in the vessel. At first, he was quite willing to grant his savior three wishes but, as years went on and nobody released him, he has grown resentful towards humans and has decided to kill his savior in a manner of the latter's choosing. The boy tries to outwit the genie and tells him he wants to die of old age. The Literal Genie obliges and turns him into an old man. Khottabych manages to calm his brother down, though.
- "The Butterfly That Stamped" (from Just So Stories) has a more traditional take on it. King Suleiman-bin-Daoud has a magic ring. "When he turned it once, Afrits and Djinns came out of the earth to do whatever he told them." He can use the ring whenever he likes, and the Afrits and Djinns seem to be eager to comply. (But Suleiman has learned not to use it to show off.)
- George Selden's The Genie of Sutton Place featured a genie trapped in a carpet who could be released by reading the spell woven around the edge. Since the carpet was unable to be removed from the museum it was in without big problems, he took the place of the teenage main character's aunt's chauffeur and eventually fell in love with her maid.
- Gödel, Escher, Bach features a Genie too, and it wouldn't be Hofstadter if Achilles wouldn't try out what happens when he wishes that his wish wouldn't be granted.
- The Dukes of Hazzard: "When You Wish Upon a Hogg," where (only in Hazzard County) Boss and Rosco find an antique oil lamp in their office and debate whether to rub it and see if it will produce a genie. Common sense is thrown out the window when they actually believe the lamp is real ... and they rub it! Sure enough, a cloud of smoke later, a stunningly beautiful young woman named Trixie appears, seducing Boss and Rosco and conniving them into believing she will help them frame the Duke boys once and for all. Of course, it's all part of nephew Hughie Hogg's latest scheme to swindle Boss and Rosco out of everything they own, and Hughie's insight into the personalities of Boss and Rosco makes his plan easy to pull off. And, Trixie is soooo beautiful — and the unseen-in-this-episode Lulu is sooooo ug-lee! — that Bo and Luke cannot convince Boss and Rosco that the lamp is a fake.
- The X-Files: Mulder followed a case regarding a rather jaded Genie. He eventually freed her after a rash of Literal Genie incidents to get the wishes to stop.
- I Dream of Jeannie was a series of yesteryear about an astronaut who found a female genie and was given unlimited wishes. She didn't want to be freed, due to the appeal to those resistant of the feminist movement. Major Nelson rarely wanted Jeannie to ever use her powers. Mainly this was because she tended to complicate his everyday life. In the last season, they had them get married and the show completely became the Bewitched ripoff it was created to be.
- In one episode of The Monkees, Davy rubs against a table lamp and a genie appears. He turns to the camera saying "What do you know? Wrong show!".
- Jenji from Power Rangers Mystic Force (and by extension, his Mahou Sentai Magiranger counterpart, Smoky). He's naughty, but not as malevolent as some, using loopholes to get out of granting wishes. The story of his imprisonment is told, unlike most: he went after a booby-trapped treasure, and being connected to the lamp by the Sixth Ranger is the only thing keeping him alive. If he's out too long, the curse will reactivate again, and he'll turn to dust.
- Are You Afraid of the Dark?: In the episode, "The Tale of the Time Trap", The protagonist receives a box from a store-keeper holding a female genie who grants him any wish, but not the ones he desires.
- On Angel
Sahjan: Thank you, mortal, for releasing from my cursed prison. In gratitude, I grant you three wishes.
Sahjan: Nah. I'm just messing with you.
- In an episode of Fraggle Rock, Wembley frees an evil genie trapped in a bottle. The genie claims that he does not grant wishes, and proceeds to wreak havoc. They manage to trick the genie back in the bottle, but Wembley fells sorry for him and frees him again. Just when it looks like the genie is about to enslave the Fraggles, Wembley discovers that the genie does grant wishes if asked, so he wishes that the genie understand the difference between right and wrong, and is thus reformed.
- Twilight Zone:
- Episode "I Dream of Genie," a George P. Hanley purchases a lamp with the intent of giving as a gift to a co-worker. Once he brings it home, however, he discovers that it contains a genie. Most of the episode is spent going over what George imagines would happen if he wished for various things (a beautiful wife, to be president, or to be rich). In the end, George decides that none of these things would work out for him and wishes to become a genie himself. Probably the only case in history of someone intentionally wishing for this.
- Another Twilight Zone episode has a couple who own a pawn shop coming across a genie, who gives them four wishes. The first wish is to fix broken glass, the second is to have a million dollars, but it's all gone after giving it their friends and a visit from the tax collector. The man uses the third to be ruler of a powerful country and can't be elected out of office, wherein he becomes Hitler. His final wish is to be returned to normal.
- There's one genie in the Wizards of Waverly Place episode "Justin's Little Sister". They invented the macarena.
- There's one in The LazyTown episode "The Lazy Genie". Robbie orders a genie who at first only gives him one wish but gives him 3 after Robbie gives him some cake. Robbie then wishes for No More Sports Equipment and vegetables. But he didn't specify a a time so they return 5 minutes later. Then he wishes Sportacus away but he's too fast for The Genie and Robbie is wished away instead. Genie gives Sportacus a free wish who then gives to Stingy who wishes Robbie back. Wow. Just Wow.
- A magic lamp shows up at the end of the Fractured Fairy Tale Panto The Goodies And The Beanstalk. When rubbed, out comes a genie played by John Cleese who says "And now for something completely...". Tim tells him to push off, and he retorts "Kids' programme!"
- In an episode of The Worst Witch Sybil and Clarice cast a spell to create a lamp that will grant wishes. There's no limit on wishing for unlimited wishes - but the lamp has to draw energy from other things in order to grant the extra wishes. According to Miss Bat, magic lamps quickly develop minds of their own which is why they get buried in desert caves. Luckily Clarice has a solution - the object they turned into a lamp was a torch so they just remove the batteries.
- Two in different Charmed episodes. The first genie gains his freedom simply through granting three wishes though he can choose to re-enter his bottle if he wants to. The second appears four seasons later and she must be wished free. Sadly there's two catches - one the genie is actually a powerful demon who was sealed in the bottle. Two, whoever wishes the genie free is forced to take her place.
- In The Genie From Down Under, the titular genies are in an opal instead of a bottle or lamp.
- The Christina Aguilera song of the same name kind of seems to invoke this trope. It's a metaphor ("You gotta rub (her) the right way").
- David Bowie "Jean Genie" is more a pun on Jean Genet, but it's on the album "Aladdin Sane", doubling the allusion.
- In Dilbert, Dogbert rubs a lamp to see if there's a genie inside. He persists, and a genie eventually pops out:
Dogbert: Yes!!! Ha, ha!! Now you must grant me three wishes!
Genie: Get real, four-eyes. We don't have a binding contract here. I like living in a lamp. You disturbed me. I'm going to turn you into a wiener and go home.
- In Garfield, Garfield comes across a genie in a cookie jar when he was going to get a cookie. When the genie was going to give him three wishes, the titular fat cat just walks away, muttering "Where's a cookie when you need one?"
- Dungeons & Dragons has five main types of genies, each native to one of the different Elemental Planes (worlds made up entirely of a single classical element): the djinn from the Plane of Air, efreet for Fire, marid for Water, and dao for Earth; plus the jann, a weaker race of genies made up of all four elements that often serve the others. Djinn and efreet both have a limited ability to use the Wish spell for others and can be bound to certain magic items, namely the Ring of Djinni Calling and Efreet Bottle.
- Pathfinder has the same array of genies, except for the dao (whose name was copyrighted), which are replaced by the shaitan.
- Adult webcomic Ship In A Bottle runs on this trope for wacky hijinks and sex. Notable differences include that the wish count is unlimited, just long as someone's hands are on the bottle, and Miss Ship wants to get it on with her new master.
- I Dream Of A Jeanie Bottle is about an I Dream of Jeannie fan who finds an empty genie bottle and accidentally becomes the bottle's new genie himself via a poorly worded wish. "I would totally so do her" indeed.
- In Sluggy Freelance there's actually a Djinn of the Chamber Pot. It's a pretty huge example of a Jackass Genie, but only for the first wish; if someone manages to survive that one, it doesn't screw around as much with the second, and the third is withheld for tax purposes.
- Parodied in an xkcd strip: One of the characters rubs a lamp, which then spurts an...odd liquid. The alt text says, "That wasn't one of my wishes." "Who said anything about your wishes?"
- Deconstructed and parodied in a Cyanide and Happiness strip when a character summons a genie and is informed that he's limited to three wishes. He uses the first wish for more genies.
- Aladdin: The Series. Genie was freed, but stuck around to help out with his weakened powers. The evil Jafar was also turned into a genie, and proved that his lamp was both a prison and a Soul Jar, as he was killed when it was destroyed in the Direct-to-Video sequel Aladdin: The Return of Jafar. There was also a female genie named Eden, who lived in a bottle.
- DuckTales: Scrooge encountered two genies, in fact. One was the evil version in the cartoon series, whose lamp was buried and lost in the end; and a good variety in The Movie who was freed.
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers had an episode with a Genie, too. He lured Monty into the lamp to be free, and the whole episode eventually got so messed up that a Reset Button wish was required to revert things to normal.
- The Fairly OddParents had a few episodes with a genie character who could grant wishes without the rules the fairies had to follow. He comes in a lava lamp.
- He also stated that the "only three wishes" thing was a lie; Genies naturally come with three wishes, but humans can wish for more.
- Oddly enough, he also wants to be a fairy. He claims it's so he can make children happy, but in reality it's because he just doesn't want to be stuck in a lamp.
- In the Super Friends episode, "Rub Three Times for Disaster," the superheroes battle a villain in control of an evil genie. Eventually, Superman defeats him in an unusual way; he flies up to the genie and literally sucks the genie in smoke form into his own lungs just long enough to forcibly blow him back into his lamp.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle's Fractured Fairy Tales parodied this one repeatedly.
- Inverted with Farmer Smurf's genie, Gourdy.
- Bugs Bunny in "A Lad In His Lamp." With Jim Backus as Smokey the genie.
- Shazzan had the titular genie that could be summoned when the two kid protagonists joined their halves of the magic ring in which he was sealed. Shazzan was very powerful and easily stomped every foe the kids faced, but he could not send them home. Only Shazzan's true master, the Wizard of the Seventh Mountain, could do that. Aladdin and the Genie of the Lamp also appeared twice in the series.