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The Magic Word

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Say "Please" if you want something.

This trope has been Nuked
Proposed By:
LavonPapillon1 on Dec 5th 2017 at 2:52:11 PM
Last Edited By:
Pichu-kun on Dec 8th 2017 at 4:14:26 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Hawk Moth: Ladybug has joined the party at last! Bring me the miraculous Befana.
La Befana: You didn't say the magic word.
Hawk Moth: ...Ahem, please.
La Befana: Much better, Hawk Moth.

Context is what is important. We ask for the magic word to small children to teach them how to be polite and considerate. With adults however, then you're just being cheeky.

See also Please Don't Leave Me and Please Wake Up.


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    Film - Live-Action 
  • When Walter Peck in Ghostbusters (1984) asks Peter Venkman to show him around the containment unit. Peter (in his usual Bill Murray snark) denies him entry, saying that it is because he didn't say "the magic word."

  • In the beginning of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Vernon demands (not asks, demands) Harry pass the frying pan over to Dudley so that he could have more bacon. Harry then responds by saying that they "[forgot] the magic word." Taking this out of context, the Dursleys are in a panic, only for Harry to quickly correct their assumptions.

    Western Animation 
  • In the The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Sickly Sweet", Billy and Grim place the cursed artifact known as the Mask of the Beast onto Mandy's face. The more monstrous she behaves, the more monstrous she becomes on the outside and the only way to get it off is if she behaves otherwise. One of the things Billy has her do is "say please" when she asks for their help. She practically chokes on her own words to say it, only for Billy to demand that she then says "pretty please with sugar and sprinkles and a marshmallow on top." It goes about as well as you'd expect.
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug episode "La Befana", the Monster of the Week Befana has Hawk Moth say "please" in an Actually Pretty Funny moment.

Feedback: 12 replies

Dec 5th 2017 at 3:55:13 PM

There's a bit too much wiggle room here. When this is used with children, it's a totally different trope than just "The Magic Word" (i.e. Prime And Proper Rearing) whereas when this is done to adults, it's a stock phrase (see No New Stock Phrases) or it's a specific type of joke (i.e. Polite Snarker or something). I think if this gets a more detailed description or more focus, then it could work. But as-is, I think it's too encompassing.

Dec 5th 2017 at 7:36:12 PM

There is a classic Russian short story called "The Magic Word" by Valentina Oseeva. It's about a boy who wants to run away from home because he is refused everything, but some old man teaches him a magic word which solves all the problems...

Dec 5th 2017 at 7:44:24 PM

  • Parodied in The Addams Family. The family is at the dinner table when the following conversation occurs:
    'Wednesday: May I have the salt?
    Morticia: What do we say?
    Wednesday: NOW!
Morticia smiles and passes the salt.

Dec 6th 2017 at 1:53:10 AM

In the Grand Finale of Farscape, John forces Scorpius to say "Pretty please with a cherry on top" in order to get a glimpse of the finished wormhole-control weapon.

Dec 6th 2017 at 5:05:41 AM

  • The Fairly Odd Parents: When Timmy's wish goes awry (as usual) on a magical photocopying machine that turns toys into living beings, he pleads for Wanda to do something.
    Wanda: You got it! And would it kill you to say "please"?

    • And when the situation got dire when Timmy fights against a Darth Vader Expy:

    Timmy: (begging to Wanda) Do something!
    Wanda: (clears throat)
    Timmy: Please?
    Wanda: (excitedly) You got it!

Dec 7th 2017 at 1:30:17 PM

Either way I look at this, the description is still a stub. Moreover, despite what the first sentence in the current description says, the examples aren't describing the context for asking for "the magic word." This looks like a ZCE magnet.

Dec 7th 2017 at 6:54:50 PM

Live Action TV

  • Fred Sanford of Sanford And Son at first refuses to hire Julio because Fred adheres to the stereotypes about Hispanics. However, when Fred finds himself wedged and stuck between his son's pickup truck and some driveway junk, he has to ask for help. Julio cleverly offers to rescue Fred, provided Fred says "Tio" (Uncle) first. While initially stubbornly silent, Fred's predicament compels him to relent.
    Fred Sanford: "Tio. Tio! TIO! Now get me out of here!"

Dec 7th 2017 at 8:28:04 PM

  • Futurama: In "The Cyber House Rules", when Bender adopts a bunch of orphans and takes them out to dinner at Elzar's.
    Elzar: Which one of you cutie-muffins gets the children's spicy squab?
    Orphan: Me!
    Bender: Ah-ah-ah-ah! What do we say when someone gives you something?
    Orphan: 'Bout time!
    Bender: That's my boy.
  • Gravity Falls: In "Boss Mabel", Grunkle Stan refuses to say words like "Please", saying that it "never made me money". Later, when competing on a game show, Stan blows his money trying to answer an double-or-nothing question where "Please" was the answer.
    Stan: Apparently, that word can make you money.

Dec 7th 2017 at 8:40:07 PM

This seems to be about the specific term, suggesting a stock phrase, and those are no longer au fait in this wiki. You might want to expand it to a particular type of situation, for example, when a character demands they be treated politely before they acquiesce to a request or demand.

Dec 7th 2017 at 8:50:33 PM

This has no meaning! It's just a thing that people say a lot in real life! There's a difference between, for example, a Stock Joke or Stock Phrase that holds meaning and a joke or a phrase that is said a lot but is only used at face value and has no significance! People keep making these, please stop!

Dec 8th 2017 at 4:14:26 AM

The description should be that "The Magic Word" is for children who must be taught to be courteous to their parents and their elders when asking for something.