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Midas Motif

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Instant Aesop, just add gold

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
Stratadrake on Sep 23rd 2011 at 11:06:56 AM
Last Edited By:
Morgenthaler on Apr 17th 2018 at 7:31:28 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

Do We Have This One?? Is This Tropable??

The fable of a king who could transform mundane objects into pure gold by touching them is so well-known that any time a character is presented as having such ability, it's automatically assumed to be a reference or Shout-Out to the tale. This ability differs from the Stock Superpower of transforming living creatures to stone, which is frequently Played for Drama — transforming things into something of monetary value (or similar desirability) almost invariably results in a Fantastic Aesop about the love of money.

A common manifestation is analogous to the Three Wishes: After acquiring the ability to transform things to gold, something Goes Horribly Wrong and the character realizes that they didn't really need it in the first place.



  • One commercial for Skittles candy involved a man whose touch turned objects into piles of the rainbow candy.[1] Like most commercials, it is Played for Laughs, although the man himself appears to view it as Blessed with Suck.

Film - Animated

  • In Disney's Aladdin and the King of Thieves, the band of thieves is after a legendary artifact, the "Hand of Midas" which can turn things to gold. The villain Saluk is turned to gold when Aladdin tosses the artifact to him and he catches it barehanded, then Aladdin's father decides to sink the entire ruins by turning them to gold as well. During their subsequent escape, he is also forced to leave behind his turned-to-gold cape because the weight was slowing him down.
  • The Golden Touch is an early Walt Disney film (directed by the man himself) retelling the traditional King Midas fable.


  • The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling is a story about a boy who loves chocolate more than anything, and receives an enchantment so that everything which touches his lips or mouth turns to chocolate. He quickly becomes sick of chocolate, then sick in general. Things get worse when he kisses his mother...
  • In C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the heroes' voyage takes them to a volcanic isle where Edmund and Caspian discover a magic pool that transforms ordinary things to gold — including one of the Telmar lords who fell (or perhaps was pushed) into it. Evil forces spark an argument between Edmund and Caspian over potential uses for it, but Lucy breaks it up before they can come to harm.


  • Florence And The Machine's song "Rabbit Heart" has a reference to the tale in its chorus:
    Midas is king and he holds me so tight
And turns me to gold in the sunlight

Video Games

  • God of War: Ghost of Sparta references the fable with one level where King Midas is a minor Puzzle Boss wandering alone in the mountains, driven to complete and oblivious insanity after having turned his only daughter to gold. The player is required to use Midas's ability to cross a river of lava without getting turned to gold in the process.
  • Referenced in the first Tomb Raider game in the "Palace of Midas", where turning bars of lead into gold is the level's central puzzle. Although the game doesn't allow the player to turn other inventory items to gold, they can climb on top of Midas's hand and watch Lara herself be turned to gold. Oops!

Western Animation

  • The series finale of DuckTales involved a cursed artifact called the "Midas Duck" which could turn anything to gold. Scrooge came to his senses after the Beagle Boys stole it and turned his three nephews to gold, then raced to return the duck to its hidden temple when the duck's curse started spreading, turning everyone and everything to gold.
  • In one episode of Olivers Adventures, Oliver gained the ability to turn things to chocolate by touching it and saying some Magic Words ("Chocolate, chocolate, my favourite treat, the only thing I'll ever eat"). Later on, he lost control of it, and anything he touched turned to chocolate whether he wanted it to or not.
  • The Yogi Bear episode "Touch and Go-Go-Go" saw Yogi given the ability to turn anything he touches into a pik-a-nik basket, including (by accident) Boo-Boo and Mr. Ranger.

Feedback: 40 replies

Sep 23rd 2011 at 11:44:17 AM

Subtrope and perhaps the Ur Example of Blessed With Suck.

We have a page for The Golden Touch, the Disney adaptation.

Oct 3rd 2011 at 10:00:10 PM

Hm... I've Seen It A Million Times, which admittedly makes it hard to think of specific examples...

Oct 3rd 2011 at 10:13:36 PM

Could possibly be extended to turning stuff into other substances. I've seen a couple of parody examples that do this:

  • In the cartoon Oliver's Adventures, one episode had a character granted the ability to turn things into chocolate.
  • An episode of Stickin Around had "The Mucus Touch" (turning stuff into snot.)

Oct 4th 2011 at 4:13:22 AM

there was a book about some kid that turned stuff into chocolate.

Oct 5th 2011 at 12:26:05 AM

Referenced in the Florence And The Machine song, "Rabbit Heart."

This is a gift. It comes with a price
Who is the lamb and who is the knife?
When Midas is king, and he holds me so tight
And turns me to gold in the sunlight.

Oct 5th 2011 at 4:41:54 AM

There was a really funny skittles advert about a man that could change anything he touched into skittles. Turns out it was called Midas Touch

Oct 5th 2011 at 1:58:32 PM

^4 The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling. It's about a boy who love chocolate more than anything else, and gets enchanted so that everything which touches his lips or mouth becomes chocolate. He quickly becomes sick of chocolate, then sick in general. Things get worse when he kisses his mother...

Oct 6th 2011 at 4:03:01 AM

Shirley Bassey's Goldfinger song should make the page quote.

Oct 6th 2011 at 4:50:04 AM

King Midas appears as himself in God Of War: Ghost of Sparta where he's now wandering the mountains. Accidentally turning his only daughter into solid gold drove him totally insane, and now isn't even aware of the surroundings.

Nov 1st 2011 at 12:25:22 PM

@Frank: I have a strong aversion to seeing lyrics as page quotes.

Nov 1st 2011 at 12:29:10 PM

^Is there a reason for that? I see nothing wrong with lyrics, if they're on topic.

Nov 1st 2011 at 1:27:57 PM

People have a tendency to quote entire verses, making it take up far more space than it's worth to begin with.

Nov 1st 2011 at 5:46:05 PM

I love that laconic.

  • Florence And The Machine's song "Rabbit Heart" has a line in the chorus referencing this trope.
    This is a gift, it comes with a price
    Who is the lamb and who is the knife?
    Midas is king and he holds me so tight
    And turns me to gold in the sunlight

Nov 1st 2011 at 11:01:47 PM

On the Yogi Bear episode Touch and Go-Go-Go a bear fairy godmother gave yogi the power to turn anything he touches into a picnic basket. Unfortunately boo-boo grabs his hand to lead him and he becomes a picnic basket to. Mr. Ranger then sees yogi carrying boo-boo and confronts him about it and he is also turned into a picnic basket

Nov 2nd 2011 at 7:54:36 AM

I see someone already mentioned Oliver's Adventures. I still remember the quote Oliver said before he turned what he was touching into chocolate at first. Later on he lost control of it, and anything he touched turned into chocolate, whether he said it or not.

"Chocolate, chocolate, my favourite treat, the only thing I'll ever eat."

Apr 30th 2012 at 10:06:42 PM

Yeah, I'm aware of that one.

Jun 1st 2015 at 7:05:56 AM

  • Examples section
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
    • Added the word "Examples".
    • Changed media section titles to All Caps.
    • Namespaced Creator and work names.
    • Alphabetized media sections.

Jun 1st 2015 at 7:08:35 AM

Other Sites

Jun 1st 2015 at 9:58:29 AM

Shel Silverstein wrote a poem the narrator turns everything he touches to raspberry jello.

Jun 1st 2015 at 8:28:43 PM

  • In Bells Are Ringing, the play Jeff is hired to write is titled The Midas Touch. From what little is said about the play, the title's significance may only be metaphorical, but it inspires Dr. Kitchell to write a perfectly awful musical number with Chorus Girls wearing tacky gold costumes.

Jun 1st 2015 at 9:03:21 PM

  • In Nukees Dionysus once cursed Gav with the ability to turn everything he touched into what he desired most. But when he saw that it was beer he revoked the curse.

Feb 13th 2017 at 4:37:06 PM

In the Duck Tales example, the artifact was not called the Midas Duck (that I can remember).

Feb 14th 2017 at 2:17:04 AM

Two (insert nationality of choice)men are stranded in a lifeboat and dying of thirst when they come across a magic lamp. The first man rubs the lamp and frees a genie to grant his wish. He instantly says: "I want you to turn the seawater into booze!" The genie complies and disappears, the first man is elated until he notices his companion is glaring furiously at him. "You complete and utter moron!!! Now we have to piss in the boat!"

Feb 14th 2017 at 7:40:34 AM

  • The Chainsmokers featuring ROZES, "Roses", with a Gender Flip
    Taking it slow, but it's not typical
    He already knows that my love is fire
    His heart was a stone, but then his hands roam
    I turned him to gold and took him higher

  • In an episode of The Suite Life Of Zack And Cody where the twins set up a successful 60's themed dance party, Zack compares himself to King Midas.
    Cody: [sarcastically] You really need to work on that low self-esteem thing.
    • That is until mishap ensues such as hiring dancers from the actual 60's (who are now hexagenerians) and causing chaos to the dance floor.
    Cody: Nice job, Midas. Everything you touched turned to old!

Feb 14th 2017 at 6:01:59 PM

  • Family Guy: In the Fatman and Robin segment from "Family Guy Viewer Mail #2", Peter is deeply offended by a roast of Robin Williams and wishes that everybody in the world was him, which causes lightning to strike him and grant him the power to turn everyone (and soon, everything) into Robin Williams, including his family. At the end, nothing returns to normal, and Peter resorts to cutting his hands off to end the curse.

Feb 15th 2017 at 7:46:45 AM

I suppose the myth of Midas is quite well-known, but maybe calling this trope Golden Touch would make it more clear?

Feb 15th 2017 at 8:53:46 PM

Sesame Street had an animation of "King Minus", where everything he touched disappeared. The story has him vanishing 5 dragons, with the narrator teaching the viewers subtraction when each one goes.

Also, in a "live" street segment, Cookie Monster had a fantasy sequence where he was "King Cookie", and everything he touched turned to a pile of cookies. He was quite happy with the ability at first, but was taken aback when he accidentally turned 2 of the adults into cookies.

Apr 25th 2017 at 11:39:03 AM

The name might need a tweak. I can think of one example that references the myth, but does not adapt it (and another that just uses the reference as a boast).

How about Midas Aesop?

Apr 25th 2017 at 3:29:02 PM

Subtrope of The Magic Touch.

^ No, this doesn't have to be limited to aesops.

Apr 16th 2018 at 11:44:37 AM

In Aladdin example, it's Cassim, Aladdin's dad, that threw the artifact to Saluk.

Apr 16th 2018 at 2:38:39 PM

This is a subtrope of Blessed With Suck. Many of the more recent examples in the thread have not been added to the description. I actually like Golden Touch (or a variant) as a title.

Apr 16th 2018 at 4:40:02 PM

This is a part of Motifs, right? Or is it about just any case where someone's able to turn something into money or other valuables, whether they have Power Incontinence or not?

Apr 16th 2018 at 5:53:42 PM

^^: I don't think Golden Touch is too good an idea since it's also an idiom (someone who can fix an item just by touching it).

We do have a trope called The Magic Touch, but just from skimming examples it seems like it's mostly used for when someone can enchant or enhance weapons by touching it.

Jay Jay The Jet Plane had an episode which one of the characters can turn anything they touch into candy. It was All Just A Dream, though.

Codename Kids Next Door: Operantion C.H.O.C.O.L.A.T.E. features Henrietta von Marzipan, who after falling into chocolate lava got turned into a chocolate monster that turns everything she touches into chocolate. This turned out bad for her when she got sick of chocolate and wanted a cheeseburger.

Apr 16th 2018 at 7:46:26 PM

^ enchanting weapons in general is called Spell Blade. The Magic Touch is more about touch-activated magic in general. Just that the two overlaps quite a number of times.

Apr 17th 2018 at 7:31:28 AM

^Excellent - I was worried it might be too similar, but it sounds like a subtrope is justifiable.