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Make a Wish
aka: Wish Upon A Star
Anyone want to tell him that's actually Jupiter?

"The evening star is shining bright,
So make a wish, and hold on tight,
There's magic in the air tonight,
And anything could happen..."

Characters in stories always want something; it's one of the rules of fiction. Some heroes work very hard in pursuit of their dreams, some use wit and charm, but a few look up to the nearest star and make a longing, desperate wish.

It always comes true.

Wishing has power in fiction; it's one of the main sources of Applied Phlebotinum. No matter what you want, from a new car to a sudden age-up, you can get it by wishing. Of course, you have to Be Careful What You Wish For and make sure that if you want to be special, normal, or want someone out of your life, that you actually mean exactly what you say. Good or evil, the wish-granter is almost always a Literal Genie who will gladly warp reality for the heck of it.

The best known wish-granter is probably the Genie in a Bottle (or other similar magical creatures) who generally grants Three Wishes. If he's lucky, the hero will get a Benevolent Genie; unlucky ones will have a Literal Genie or even a Jackass Genie.

Other wishing methods, generally only resulting in one wish, include:

  • Wishing on a star
  • Seeing a shooting star
  • Wishing wells
  • Birthday candles and/or wishbones, which generally come with a proviso that telling anyone the wish means it won't come true
  • Some sort of magic wish tool (like a monkey's paw)
  • A lunar/solar eclipse
  • Any number of other things, like blowing on an eyelash, blowing the seeds off a dandelion, or blowing on wishing/pixie dust
  • The power of words

After the wish has been granted, the wisher may discover they don't like the way things are going and will use another wish to hit a Reset Button. If after all the wishes have been used up, the wisher ends up no better off, they've been Wasteful Wishing. Big wishes may end in a Wishplosion.

The final shot may reveal that the wish story was All Just a Dream (Or Was It a Dream?), but some stories are much more subtle and leave it up to the audience whether the "wishes" really came true or were just a string of marvelous coincidences.

Subtropes include Wonderful Life, I Wish It Were Real. Also see Mundane Wish for the comic version. Often involves a Reality Warp.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Fairy Tales and Folklore 
  • Any story that features a genie (Aladdin, many tales in the Arabian Nights)
  • In "Sweet Porridge" wishing to never go hungry results in a family getting a pot that cooks porridge with commands to stop and go the wishers can't remember, which results in a massive flood of hot porridge (or sweet soup, depending on the story) before somebody remembers the command.
  • In "The Sausage" a husband and wife arguing about how to use the wishes which ends with the husband getting fed up and saying "I wish that sausage was on your nose!" and then having to use the last wish as a Reset Button.
  • In "The Fisherman and his Wife", a fisherman gets wishes granted to him by a magic fish because he spares it rather than catching it.
  • In Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid", the mermaid in question sells her voice to the sea witch in order to get a wish for legs. After she fails to seduce him, her sisters sell their hair to kill the prince that caused her to make the wish and save her life.
    • In some folklore, Mermaids are themselves able to grant wishes.
  • In "The Monkey's Paw", the wishes made by the poor couple may or may not have been granted other than the first one which definitely was ...but not as they hoped.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Mermaid Saga: eating the flesh of a mermaid is said to grant one wish: immortality. Actually getting immortality is extremely rare. More common is becoming horribly mutated and insane, and much, much more common is the usual result of trying this: dropping dead.
  • In Eureka Seven, most of the things Renton wished for in the early episodes eventually came true (be good at reffing, getting an adventurous life, wanted Eureka as his girlfriend, wanting to hear Holland's "first love" story (episode 7), to see his father and sister, taking Eureka away to a distant place alone with her (episode 30), stop the war, kissing Eureka, etc). Ironically, the last episode is titled "Wish Upon A Star", whereby the 3 kids and Renton's grandpa makes a wish upon the stars in the ending.
    • In the movie version ending, Eureka gets to have her long time wish came true: become human.
  • This is the whole point of Dragon Ball: Goku (and everyone else in the series) is looking for seven dragon balls, so they can make a wish.
  • In Pokémon, Jirachi is a cute legendary funsize mon that has the power to grant wishes. A Jirachi features prominently as the featured Mon of the sixth movie, Jirachi Wishmaker. On top of that, the ending theme for said movie is called "Make A Wish".
  • The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer has its Mentor Mascots offering a wish in exchange for service in becoming Knights to battle a being that wants to destroy the world. The wish itself is granted in good faith, but it is possible to squander it.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica has Weasel Mascot Kyubey offering a wish in exchange to turn girls into Magical Girls to fight Witches. He's a Literal Genie and the wishes have a price that he doesn't elaborate on but the miracles are genuine.
  • The Jewel Seeds in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha were able to grant the wishes of the Muggles who gets a hold of them. They tend to grant these wishes by way of a new Monster of the Week.
  • Ah! My Goddess has this as the central device that begins the story.

    Films — Animated 
  • Disney is loaded with examples (some cross over into folklore):
    • Snow White, in a wishing well
    • Pinocchio, on a star
    • Aladdin, with a genie in a lamp
    • In Enchanted, the villainess lures Giselle to the portal between her world and ours by saying it's a wishing well. (A Shout-Out to Snow White, where the Witch tricks Snow White into eating the poisoned apple by telling her it's a wishing apple.)
    • The Princess and the Frog, both the heroine and her best friend make wishes on the evening star, although it's left ambiguous whether it's really the power of the star granting the wish or not. Also, one of the movie's messages is it's not just wishing, but hard work, that makes your dreams come true.
    • Lilo & Stitch, with Lilo wishing on a shooting star for a friend. That star turns out to be a crashing spaceship carrying Experiment 626.
    • Chicken Little has the star fall on Little, revealed to be the panel of a spaceship.
  • In Shrek Forever After, the movie starts with Fiona wishing on a star for "every day to be like this one." Cue a "Groundhog Day" Loop and Shrek's midlife crisis.
  • In Turbo, the title character, a snail, wishes on a star to be fast. The star turns out to be an airplane, yet another reminder of his lack of speed. He nevertheless gets his wish.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Big, with a wish-granting machine at a fair.
  • The 1986 movie Milly/Willy (aka I Was a Teenage Boy, Something Special), where a girl wishes to be a boy during the solar eclipse.
  • In James and the Giant Peach, James sends out a balloon wishing for help to take him to New York. Help appears in the form of a strange man with a bag full of magic glowing alligator tongues. (This is only in the movie; in the book, the strange man just appears.)
  • Home Alone: "I wish my family would disappear." No magic here, just horrible, horrible bad luck, although Kevin does believe he magicked away his family.
  • 18 Again has a grandfather and grandson who share the same birthday switch bodies after they wish on the same birthday cake.
  • The film 13 Going On 30: Wishing powder transports the protagonist into the future
  • Lifetime's How I Married My High School Crush has the teenage heroine transported to the future after making a wish during a solar eclipse.
  • Liar Liar had a boy use his birthday wish to wish his lying father couldn't tell a lie for one day.
  • Disney's Darby O'Gill And The Little People. Darby receives three wishes after capturing King Brian of the leprechauns.
  • Labyrinth has the heroine wishing goblins would take away her baby brother, thus triggering the plot of her trying to rescue him.
  • In Ted, it's a childhood wish by John brings Ted to life and it's an adult one by Lori that saves Ted in the end.
  • In Throw Momma from the Train, Larry says about his divorced wife "I hate her, I wish she were dead!" She turns up missing and presumed dead, and since he said it in the middle of a crowded lunchroom, everyone suspects him.
  • The made for tv movie "Whiskers" is about a boy who has a misunderstanding with his parents thinking they want to get rid of his pet cat, so he makes a wish on a star to turn his cat into a boy. The wish backfires because the cat becomes a grown man because it was going by cat years, and he has to teach the cat how to be a human.
  • The made for tv movie "A Dog's Tale": a boy makes a wish on a star to get a dog, but as he makes the wish a bee flies by making it sound like he says "I want to be a dog", so he turns into a dog and he must find a way to reverse the process.

    Literature 
  • This was the central plot of Edward Eager's The Well-Wishers (children's lit).
    • Eager's Half Magic centers around four siblings finding a magic coin that grants wishes by half (e.g. if you wished for a house, you'd get half a house).
  • In a rather grimmer way, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Here, the wish (that Dorian's portrait would age rather than he) is definitely magic, but the question is, who granted it?
  • Towards the end of The Magicians the protagonist captures a Questing Beast which then grants him three wishes. His first wish is impossible, as is the next one and the one after that. The Beast still counts them as his first wish.
  • In one of the dialogues in Douglas Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach — an Eternal Golden Braid, the main protagonist Achilles findsnote  a magical lamp whose Benevolent Genie grants him three wishes. Achilles tries to wish for more wishes, only to find out the genie can't do that for him; a wish about wishes is technically classified as a metawish, and in order to grant such wishes one would need a metagenie in a metalamp, whereas Achilles's genie merely is of the base variety… Luckily the genie happens to have a metalamp with a metagenie in, and even petitions GOD to grant Achilles a typeless wish (that could be about wishes, or metawishes, or metametawishes…), but Achilles still manages to mess it up.
  • Joan Aiken's short story The Third Wish has our hero Mr. Peters freeing a swan from some thorn bushes, who turns out to be the King of the Forest, who grants him three wishes. Mr. Peters wishes for a pretty wife, which is exactly what he gets (her name is Leita), only it turns out Leita's actually a swan that the King turned into a human girl. She loves Mr. Peters, but misses her swan sister very badly. Mr. Peters uses his second wish to turn her back into a swan, and Leita and her sister stay with him as swans for the rest of his life. D'aww.
  • The Sabrina the Teenage Witch novelisation "All That Glitters" featured a substance called Wish Dust that would indeed grant any wish and there didn't seem to be a limit. Unfortunately the dust has a life of its own and finds its way into other people's hands. The kicker has got to be Neve Campbell, Brad Pitt, Leonardo Di Caprio and Winona Ryder ending up at school because one kid heard they were shooting a new movie.
  • Goosebumps tended to be quite fond of this trope as a device for lesson learning. "Be careful what you wish for" is probably the best example. Typically wishes don't go exactly as planned and the protagonist finishes the story by wishing nothing had ever happened
  • In a Shel Silverstein poem, the protagonist received a wish from a goblin and used it to wish for two more wishes - lather, rinse, repeat. He eventually died without ever having used even a single wish for anything worthwhile. ("In a world of apples, and kisses and shoes/He wasted his wishes on wishing.")
  • Household Gods begins when Nicole annoyedly tells what she believes to be normal statues of the Roman gods Liber and Libera - but which were actually avatars of the real gods - that she "wished she'd lived then" (ancient Rome), and the gods, ecstatic to have a wish they can grant, are more than happy to grant that wish. She wakes up the next morning extremely confused.
  • In Ruth Frances Long's The Treachery of Beautiful Things, the Leczi gives Jenny one. She tries to use it twice and is warned that it comes in its own time. At the end, Puck shoved her out into the mortal world with the instruction that it works more slowly but more surely there.
  • In Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, the circus acquires the Wishing Tree where you light a candle from the ones already lit. Only some patrons can find it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The premise of I Dream of Jeannie.
  • Disney had a three-part crossover event called—guess—"Make a Wish Weekend," which had the stars of three shows wish on a shooting star and get their wish to come true. It backfired horribly, of course, and everyone rewound by the end of their episode.
  • Seinfeld thoroughly explores this in the episode The Betrayal, which involves the wishing, counterwishing, and re-wishing of Kramer to "drop dead" using most of the methods in the description. There's also Jerry wishing Man Hands would acquire normal feminine hands. Neither comes true.
  • Supernatural had the episode "Wishful Thinking," in which the brothers found a town with a working wishing well.
  • The sisters in Charmed went up against a genie who delighted in giving you exactly what you wished for. Exactly what you wished for. Complete with every loophole you didn't close.
  • Power Rangers Mystic Force had a genie cat named Jenji who granted each person a wish. However, if you wish for more wishes (as Xander did) you render the "contract" null and void.
  • The 'Wishverse' of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where everyone was in a Crapsack World because Cordelia made an angry wish to someone who was really the vengeance demon Anyanka. Although Willow and Xander were together as bisexual S&M vampires working for The Master.
    • At the end of "Innocence", Joyce presents her daughter with a makeshift 17th birthday cake and invites Buffy to blow out the candle and make a wish. As Buffy's innocence has been shattered forever by Angel becoming the evil Angelus, Buffy just replies, "Let it burn."
  • A short silent sketch on The Benny Hill Show: Benny as an old man with his old wife comes across a wishing well. He throws a coin in, his wife disappears, replaced by a young bikini-clad bird. She then throws in a coin, and a muscular stud appears. He throws a coin in, and the bikini-clad girl disappears. Benny throws one last coin, and the muscle man disappears & his wife reappears.
  • In Once Upon a Time:
    • Jiminy tries everything he can think of, including dealing with Rumplestiltskin in order to escape his family's thieving ways, and accidentally kills Gepetto's parents. In desperation, he wishes on a star for a chance to escape and atone, gladly trading his humanity to become a cricket and serve Gepetto.
    • In the pilot, Emma blows out a candle (topped with a blue star) on a birthday cupcake immediately before Henry shows up. At the end of the episode, she tells Regina that she had actually made a wish, not to be alone on her birthday.
  • Smallville begins with three year old Lana asking Martha to make a wish. She soon does get to "See a little face."
    • There's also Chloe making a birthday wish of being Lois.
  • Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger - The "Greatest Treasure in the Universe" the team have been looking for is revealed to have this power. Not only could it stop the Zangyack Empire, it could make it so Zangyack never existed in the first place. Unfortunately, doing so would take the power of all Super Sentai, erasing them from the new universe as well. After some agonizing, they decide it's not worth it and they'll stop Zangyack their own way - something they underline by blowing up the Treasure.
  • Subverted in Sword and Fairy when the three main characters make various wishes on a falling star—none of which come remotely true.
  • In The Worst Witch Sybil and Clarice turn a torch into a magic lamp and immediately ask for unlimited wishes. That's absolutely fine...except the lamp has to drain energy from everything around it to facilitate the extra wishes.
  • In Free Spirit, Cute Witch Winnie Goodwin first meets Gene Harper after Gene wishes for someone to spend time with him while his father and older siblings have become busy with other things.

    New Media 

    Pinball 
  • This is a key game mechanic in Tales of the Arabian Nights, as making wishes allows the players to choose various bonuses or skip missions entirely.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has the spells wish and miracle. The 3.5 versions of these spells have very specific things they can do without risking Literal Genie, Jackass Genie, and/or spell failure. (Well, miracle can fail if you try to do something against your deity's nature.)
  • Magic: The Gathering has a few wish spells that allow you to take a card from anywhere in your collection, and bring it into the current game.
  • Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine: It's right there in the title - although, being a setting focused on the wishing power of the heart, there are other ways to make wishes as well. No matter what the wish is, no matter how impossible it is, no matter how world-changing, it will happen. The fun is dealing with them.
  • Exalted has Green Sun Princes and the Akuma of Cecelyne. They have a charm chain named Verdant Emptiness Endowment, which allows them to grant wishes they overhear. Recipients owe the Infernal a favor, but can gain virtually anything from greater skill with the sword to Sorcery. Fan upgrades include true love and helper demons. The original creators referred to the charm concept as 'Evil Desert Genie'.

    Theater 
  • The opening words of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods are "I wish..." Magic, however, comes in only indirectly - Cinderella going to her mother's grave to request silver and gold (a dress appears); the Baker and his Wife agree to fulfill the demands of the Witch, who would then allow them to conceive a child. However, all of their wishes come back to haunt them in Act II, which opens with the same words.

    Toys 
  • The Star Fairies toyline featured the fairies responsible for granting wishes wished on a star. In the animated special, Princess Sparkle, the head fairy, makes her own wish using the Wishing Well (for a helper).

    Videogames 
  • In NetHack, there are a few ways to get a wish (most of them are based on the common tropes, like rubbing a magic lamp). If you find yourself fortunate enough to make a wish you can cause any item in the game to appear in your inventory, with certain limitations (e.g. wishing for enchanted equipment has a failure chance, you can't get artifacts that already exist elsewhere, you can't wish for the three plot required items, and you can't wish for things that would give you more wishes). The best type of wish is that from a Wand of Wishes, all of the other methods have some chance of going wrong (a wish itself is reliable, but a Jackass Genie will simply attack you and not give you a wish at all).
  • The holy grail in Fate/Stay Night grants any wishes to the victorious master/servant pair of the Holy Grail War. Though it is later explained that it's a Jackass Genie due to a bad case of Demonic Possession, and will interpret any wish in a way that will cause maximum pain and suffering.
  • In Tokimeki Memorial 2 Substories: Leaping School Festival, Akane, while talking with the protagonist under the starry sky, makes a wish upon seeing a shooting star, in an Event of her storyline. note 
  • In Dominions 3, you can research the high-level "Wish" spell and have one of your mages cast it. You have to type in what you want; there are about 20 possibilities, most beneficial but some quite literal...
  • Jirachi from Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire is said to have the ability to grant wishes, and is based on the Tanabata festival. It can't actually grant wishes for the player, though.

    Webcomics 

    Weboriginal 
  • In Red vs. Blue, Sarge has been wishing on shooting stars every night for the past decade. The wish is, of course, for Grif's violent and untimely death.
  • In The Guild, Codex spends one opening monologue waiting for a star to fall so she can make a wish and fix all her problems.
    Codex: The stars are being sticky little bitches tonight, huh?

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons episode where Flanders starts the left-handed store; he and Homer share a wishbone, and Homer wishes for the store to fail. He briefly considers wishing for Flanders to die, but then decides it's overkill and goes back to wishing for the store to fail.
  • Dragon Tales did this with a dragon scale in the introduction sequence
  • Danny Phantom had a recurring villain named Desiree, who would grant you any wish.
  • This was the whole premise of The Fairly Oddparents. Complete with the kid's inability to make a wish that didn't go horribly, horribly wrong.
    • Norm the Genie on the same show lives in a lava lamp and the third wish sucks him back into the lamp. The third wish is always the Reset Button, too, because Norm is a huge Jackass Genie, and tweaks the wishes to screw over the wishers. Norm parodies this trope too, expressing frustration that the first wish is always something mundane like a sandwich, the second wish is grander but goes wrong, and the third wish is putting everything back the way it was. On an additional note, Norm reveals that you CAN wish for extra wishes, the genies just tell people that you can't.
  • In the Christmas Special Christopher The Christmas Tree, when Christopher first meets Hooty, he expresses his belief in wishes, partially to explain why he's still optimistic about becoming a Christmas tree, despite not being picked year after year. "But I believe in wishes. I know they come true, as sure as the stars above." He also encourages Hooty to make a wish, which Hooty does, while a chorus sings about wishing on a star in the background (no, not that song). By the end of the special, both Christopher and Hooty have gotten their wishes.
    • The album on which the animated special is based is even more explicit about wishing on a star, as Christopher tells Hooty, "You can have anything in the whole world you want, if you wish on the Wishing Star. But you gotta believe in it, or it won't come true."
    • In both the album and the animated special, there's a little boy who wishes on the star on his Christmas tree, but since his wish is to be President of the United States, we don't get to see if his wish comes true or not.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series had an experiment which granted wishes, and could only do a certain number of them, and took your wishes literally (for instance, if you wish to become ruler of the universe, you will become a ruler, that is a stationery equipment). The episode ends up teaching the Aesop of "Be careful what you wish for".
  • An episode of Tiny Toon Adventures has Elmyra wish on a star for her doll to become real, which it does. After being terrorised for a day she wishes on the star again to make the doll like all her other dolls...so they all become real!
  • The Animaniacs Big Damn Movie had the entire cast racing to be the first to the Wishing Star. Wakko wishes for another ha'penny.
  • Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force Go has an episode with the Wigglenog, which is a Jackass Genie. Otto, the green monkey, outwits him with "I wish we'd never even found you in the first place!"
  • I Dream of Jeannie also had a teenage version Animated Series — her wishes, like Jeannie's, were unlimited.
  • In the first of The Eighties' Strawberry Shortcake specials, The World of..., The Face of the Sun reveals that his birthday present for Strawberry is a "magic wish", and she winds up wishing for an army of trees (which, in Strawberryland, are sentinent) to defeat the Purple Pieman who had been causing trouble for the kids the whole story. The wish is granted with trees that can also march, and the result is the destruction of his Pie Tin Palace.
  • The Flintstones when Barney and Betty wished for a baby after seeing a falling star. They later found Bamm Bamm in a basket on their doorstep.
  • In PJ Sparkles, P. J. wishes for someone to love her on a star and is turned into a Magical Girl for it.
  • In My Little Pony Twinkle Wish Adventure, the ponies celebrate the Winter Wishes Festival with everyone receiving a wish from Twinkle Wish, the star that is placed on top of the tree. Due to the circumstances of the movie, by the time Twinkle Wish takes her spot on the tree, she doesn't have enough power to grant any wishes. However, Pinkie Pie points out that all throughout the adventure, every one of them had said "I wish" something, and that something had come true. (And all the background characters just wished for snow, which they didn't need magic to get, anyway.)
  • Parodied in the South Park episode "It's Christmas in Canada":
    Mountie: It's OK, boys; the power is inside us to get to Ottawa. We can wish ourselves there!
    French Canadian: Yes, let's wish ourselves there!
    [they close their eyes, harp music plays]
    Mountie: Is it working?
    [no, it isn't]
  • One episode of Samurai Jack has Jack seeking a wishing well that will send him back home. It's guarded by blind archers with perfect hearing. Turns out the well corrupts your wish - the blind archers wished to be the greatest hunters on Earth and ended up warped into its guardians. Jack destroys the well rather than allow anyone else to be hurt by it.

    Real Life 
  • The Make a Wish Foundation raises money to give kids with terminal illnesses a chance to do something incredible, like have a photo shoot in Seventeen magazine, or take their family to Disney World. Maybe humans aren't such bastards after all...
  • In Japanese folklore, it's said that folding 1,000 paper cranes or 100 stars will allow you to make one wish.


Literal GenieWishing TropesMundane Wish
Magically Regenerating ClothingMagic and PowersMundane Wish
Landfill Beyond the StarsStellar IndexThe Milky Way Is the Only Way
Magical AccessoryApplied PhlebotinumMatter Replicator
Major Injury UnderreactionNarrative DevicesManufacturing Victims
Gag NoseImageSource/Animated FilmsNo More for Me

alternative title(s): Wish Upon A Star
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