Follow TV Tropes


Be Careful What You Wish For / Live-Action Films

Go To

  • The Andrei Tarkovsky film Stalker takes this a step further. It's about three men - Writer, Professor and Stalker, travelling through a partially-industrialised Zone with eldritch properties to reach the center of the Zone to a place known as the Room, which is said to grant the deepest desires of those strong enough to make it there. As it turns out, you do not ask for your wish loudly or even consciously; the Room probes your mind and fulfils your greatest desire, a desire so deep and buried within your mind that you don't even truly know you want it. Do you even want to know what you really want? Do you dare find out? One previous man who found the Room, Porcupine, went in hoping to resurrect his brother only for the room to present him with a vast sum of money instead, his true inner desire; Porcupine left the Zone a rich man but not long after he killed himself because he couldn't live with the shame and guilt. The Writer and the Professor eventually reach the Room and chicken out because of this fear.
  • Advertisement:
  • In the Robert Zemeckis film Forrest Gump, Jenny tells Forrest that her dream is to "be up on a stage with just my guitar and my voice…" She gets that dream, all right, but she neglected to mention whether she'd be wearing anything, and when the time comes she isn't.
  • In the Frank Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life, protagonist George Bailey's life falls apart so dramatically that he wishes he was never born. His guardian angel, Clarence, decides to show him exactly how much of a suckfest his home town of Bedford Falls would have become without his influence. This in turn was parodied relentlessly.
  • In the "Fiction" section of Storytelling, white girl Vi wants to have sex with her black literature professor Mr. Scott. The actual experience turns out to be traumatic; she realises she is the latest young, impressionable white girl in a series of sexual conquests, and Mr. Scott has a proclivity for racial epithets that makes the scene memorably disturbing.
  • Advertisement:
  • This is how Labyrinth starts. Frustrated at her baby half-brother, Sarah carelessly wishes that the villain from her favorite book would take the brat away and is more than a bit shocked when he actually does. Whoopsie.
  • There's a lot of this in Absolutely Anything. Notably, Neil's command to end global warming, remove all reasons for wars to be fought, give everyone their dream house, and grant everyone an unlimited supply of food nearly dooms the Earth (an Ice Age kicks in, wars are being fought everywhere with absolutely no reason at all, the entire space becomes a boarding house and people are becoming extremely obese).
  • This is the main plot of the Tom Hanks film Big.
  • Ditto for the Jennifer Garner movie 13 Going on 30, which is the same premise with a girl.
  • In 17 Again, Mike O'Donnell wishes that he could go back in time to change his life. Courtesy of a whirlpool, he does. It's not quite what he thought it would be.
  • Advertisement:
  • Bedazzled (1967) has this as its main premise.
  • In the Disney Movie Blank Check the protagonist feels left out because he has no money while everyone else in his family does. While blowing out the candles on his birthday cake, he wishes to be rich. Shortly afterwards, his bike gets run over and he is handed a blank check to cover for his bike, he cashes it for 1 million dollars. After buying a house and loads of fancy toys, he realizes that he is just as friendless as before. The final scene has him considering his wish for his next birthday while admiring the attractive female FBI agent that saved him from the villains.
  • For Your Eyes Only: Shown in The Teaser, Blofeld learns this lesson the painful way. When hanging by the skids of your own helicopter high over the ground, it's a dumb idea to say, "Put me down." 007 is only too happy to oblige, as he drops his opponent down the smokestack, wheelchair and all.
  • The Disney Channel movie 16 Wishes combined this trope with An Aesop about appreciating what you have.
  • Indiana Jones:
    • In Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Nazis want to use the Ark of the Covenant as a weapon against their enemies (and Belloq wants to have the glory of finding it). When they open it, they wind up having the honor of its divine wrath being poured out on them, instead.
    • Played for laughs in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, where Indy, after having stopped a mining cart with his foot and resulting in his boot smoking, cries out "Water! Water!". Mere seconds later...
    • Also applies to the villains of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, though subverted. Donovan wished for eternal life as he drank from what he thought was the holy grail; ironically, he disintegrated after rapidly aging to death. Moments later, Dr. Elsa Schneider attempts to leave with the true holy grail that she would have "done anything" to get. Her wish is granted - or so she thinks - until she crosses the seal and creates an earthquake inside the temple. She nearly falls into a crevasse chasing after the grail, but Indiana catches her. Instead, she chooses to reach the grail using his grip. Just before she can get it, her hand slips from its glove and she loses her life.
    • In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the Big Bad asks the movie's extradimensional aliens for all of their knowledge. She gets it all, so much in fact that she explodes from the information overload.
      • What happens to her in the novelization of the movie is even worse. She feels her skull start to crystallize and sees the true forms of the aliens right before she explodes.
  • The Russian film Adventures of Petrov and Vasechkin (two children) has a subplot about wishes. For example, Vasechkin states how great it would be to be invisible, only to collide with other person and shout: "What are you thinking, didn't you see me?!" When they really get wishes granted, things get even uglier.
  • The Incredible Mr. Limpet: Ultimately the trope is subverted, as it turns out he really is happier as a fish.
  • In Leatherheads, "Dodge" Connelly (played by George Clooney) wants professional football to become a legitimate, respectable way to make a living. A variant in that there's nothing supernatural to grant his wish. The government steps in and appoints a Commissioner to clean things up. Once this happens, he discovers there's no longer a place for him or his style of play.
  • A Day Without a Mexican. The film starts with several Californians expressing their contempt and animosity for Mexican immigrants (mostly the illegal ones), then suddenly all Mexican immigrants start vanishing all over the state forcing them to see how much they relied on them and then making them long for their return.
  • In the Olsen twins movie Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, Agatha wishes that she and her identical twin Sophia were "completely different". Agatha grows up to be an evil witch whom relatives avoid unless they need money, and Sophia grows up to be a kindly woman whom everyone loves.
  • In Freaky Friday (1976), the heroine and her mother both wish to be each other "just for one day". Since they make the wish at the same time, this being Hollywood, it happens. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In The Thief of Bagdad (1940), Abu accidentally wishes Ahmad away this way.
  • In Bernard and the Genie, the Genie warns Bernard "Use the words 'I wish' with the caution you used to reserve for the words 'Please castrate me.'"
  • In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the Lieutenant working with Uhura at the Transporter station asks for "a little excitement"...and he gets it, but not what he had in mind. Uhura even lampshaded it right before Kirk walked in for their master stroke.
    Uhura: Well, you know what they say, Lieutenant. "Be careful what you wish for. You may get it."
  • It's somewhat overshadowed by the main "foiling the burglars" plot, but Home Alone plays this straight with the protagonist wishing his family didn't exist, and ultimately coming to regret their being gone.
    "I made my family disappear!"
  • The horror movie Open Graves (as reviewed by Phelous) ends with the character being granted a wish, and using it to rewind time to before the tragic events of the film occurred. Since he neglected to mention that he wanted some kind of foreknowledge of what was going to happen it proceeded to just happen over again. To make it worse, the witch who created the cursed game that set this in motion showed up to tell him his wish was stupid and maybe he should make a different one, and he just insisted that was what he wanted.
  • The plot of the Grade-Z horror film Hobgoblins.
  • The Banker. The titular character invokes this trope on a fellow who is blackmailing him. Let's just say that things don't go too well for the blackmailer after that.
  • Doctor Strange, Kaecilius is working to bring Dormammu to Earth as he believes that humans will achieve eternal life in Dormammu's Dark Dimension. In the conclusion, Strange forces Dormammu to leave Earth and bring his followers with. Too late, Kaecilius realizes that Dormammu's offer of "eternal life" meant being transformed into a horrific mindless creature in everlasting agony inside Dormammu's home. Strange even lampshades it by stating "you're getting just what you want...I don't think you're gonna like it."
  • In Dead Friend (aka The Ghost) Su-in, completely by accident, got what she wished for - She becomes Ji-won. Unfortunately for her, there were some nasty consequences.
  • Lenina Huxley, a huge fan of the pre-Utopia history, wished for some real action in Demolition Man and then Simon Phoenix broke out of the cryo prison.
  • The Movie of Wizards of Waverly Place had it too. Alex yells at her mother when the latter grounds the former, ultimately wishing that her parents never met. At all. And because she is holding the wand, the wish that Alex unintentionally makes comes true. Ironic that she'd wish that on vacation in the one place where her parents first met.
  • Essentially the plot of most Hellraiser films, especially the first two and the ninth where the cenobites are simply Sense Freaks. Hedonists who open the box looking for sensation the normal, dull, unfulfilling world can't provide learn this lesson very quickly, but far too late. In Hellraiser: Deader, Pinhead delivers the trope name to Winter for trying to cheat death but messing up and delivering himself right into Pinhead's waiting chains.
  • Interstate 60: O.W. Grant often grants wishes this way if he thinks the wish is boring or doesn't like the person making the wish. As he explains: "Now one young couple wished to be married and live happily ever after. So I blew up their car at the church on the way to the honeymoon. Another guy he wanted great, perfect sex every day with his choice of gorgeous women - no pregnancies. So everyday he gets a Fed Ex delivery of a skin magazine and a box of tissues."
  • In In Time, Sylvia was bored of her sterile, rich life and wanted a life of adventure. Then, Will kidnaps her and she nearly dies a few times. After getting over the initial shock, she falls for him and joins him in his quest.
  • In the movie Battleship, Earth people want to contact another planet, known to be circling a similar star in a similar Goldilock's zone (not too hot, not too cold). What they don't realize is, if the civilization has the technology to actually send their people here, while all we can do is send a radio signal there, they might be a little more advanced technologically. And they might want to use that same technology (ours) to call for reinforcements.
  • The Sex Monster is about a man who wants his wife to agree to a threesome with them and another woman. She eventually does agree, and has such a good time that she ends up going on what can only be termed a lesbian rampage. He ends up being very unhappy about this; this trope, then is effectively the plot of the whole movie.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Selina Kyle wishes for the rich to "wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us." Her opinion changes after seeing just how destructive Bane's "liberation" of Gotham is.
    • Also, twice, this happens with Daggett. First time is when he's going to his office:
    John Daggett: And can we get some girls in here?
    Selina Kyle: Careful what you wish for. [immediately pounces on Daggett, throws him across the room, and pins him against the wall with her left boot and right hand] Cat got your tongue?
    John Daggett: You dumb bitch!
    Selina Kyle: Nobody ever accused me of being dumb!
    • There's also Daggett's confrontation with Bane:
    John Daggett: How the hell did Miranda Tate get the inside track on the Wayne board?! I mean, has she been meeting with him?! Has she been sleeping with him?!
    Philip Stryver: Not that we know of.
    John Daggett: Ah, clearly you don't know much of anything, do you?! Where is Bane?!
    Philip Stryver: Well, we told him it was urgent.
    John Daggett: Oh, where is the masked-
    Bane: Speak of the devil....and he shall appear. [Daggett whirls around to see Bane has instantly appeared]
    • This second time does not go so well for Daggett's neck.
  • The old pilgrim in the beginning of The Sword of Doom was praying for death, but he probably wasn't asking for it in the form of Ryūnosuke cutting him down right then & there.
  • In Breaking the Waves every time any character prays, this happens, along with lots of From Badto Worse.
  • Newton in Pacific Rim desired to see a Kaiju up close, being a huge "Kaiju groupie", as his co-worker called him. He got his wish when Otachi specifically came to Hong Kong to kill him and he nearly got eaten by Otachi Jr. Raleigh even lampshaded this and warns Newton he wouldn't want to see a Kaiju up close.
  • In Bride of Chucky, Tiffany proposes to Chucky after he returns to life and kills her ex-boyfriend, but Chucky only remarks that the only reason he gave her the ring was due to its value of the last victim he killed before becoming a doll. Tiffany does not take the fact kindly and locks up Chucky to force him into changing him mind. Chucky however doesn't like that and kills Tiffany to get back at her, then proceeds to resurrect her into a nearby wedding doll, making them inseparable.
    Tiffany: YOU SON OF A BITCH!! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?!! [punches Chucky in the face, Chucky then gets up and holds the Ring that Tiffany proposed to him earlier with.]
  • The titular character in Eve's Bayou finds this out the hard way when she wishes her father would die and enlists a voodoo practitioner to make it happen. Eve then realizes that she didn't actually want her dad to die and blames herself when he does (though it's left ambiguous whether or not her curse killed him.)
  • In The Bourne Identity, Jason Bourne spends much of the movie wanting to learn who he is. He soon discovers he's actually a black-ops agent, one who's so dangerous that his fellow operatives have all been summoned to take him out.
  • Wishmaster goes way beyond even what you'd expect from a Jerk Ass Genie. Be Careful What You Say At All might be a better advise, because the evil Djinn will interpret it as a wish and then twist it to murder you in the most horrific way possible.
  • In "Road to Morocco" Bob Hope and Bing Crosby are locked in a jail cell awaiting beheading when Hope is slipped a magic ring with three wishes. He stupidly wishes for a cold beer and gets one, then exclaims "Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle!" and is transformed into a monkey and then back to human, wasting all three wishes.
  • The whole Aesop of Into the Woods.
  • The Cabin in the Woods: Hadley always wanted to see a Merman being summoned through the ritual, but never happened. When the monsters are set loose, he's killed by the merman. He only gets to groan "Aw come on!" before he gets eaten.
  • In Seconds, a middle-aged banker whose life has become boring for him wishes that he could find a way to start over and become young again. Then he hears of a company that will help him do so. Unfortunately, he didn't think of what would happen next...
  • Everest (2015): As the team ascends, Helen hopes they don't wind up with another year of no clients at the top. Well, they get to the top, but many of them don't come back.
  • In The Houses October Built, Bobby is intent on finding the truth behind the legendary "extreme" haunted houses, as well as discovering the ultimate scare for Halloween. A group of psychopaths are happy to oblige.
  • The W segment of ABCs of Death 2, Wish, involves two kids wishing to help the fictional hero Fantasy Man of Champions of Zorb, which they are then transported. Turns out that Fantasy Man really does need help, as he is losing the war badly and the kids are imprisoned, with one being executed.
  • In the end of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Wonka tells Charlie An Aesop moral not to forget about the guy who everything he wanted.
    Wonka: Charlie, Don't forget about that guy who got everything he wanted!
    Charlie: What happened to him?
    Wonka: Well, He lived happily ever after.
  • The Woman in Red: Basically the point of the story. This was even acknowledged in the tag line on the original poster.
  • Obviously, the premise of the film Wish Upon, only it's Up to Eleven...
  • A key element of the film A Wish Come True, as protagonist Lindsey Corwin finds all of her birthday wishes for the last years coming true on her thirtieth birthday just as she burns the list, ranging from her vision improving so that she no longer needs glasses to her winning a contest for a large house and expensive car, with mixed results.
  • In Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, right before they stow away on a vessel manned by Battle Droids, Obi-Wan reminds his Master, Qui-Gon, about the irony of what he had said earlier, before they were assaulted by the Trade Federation's forces before any meeting with the Viceroy had taken place. Qui-Gon can't help but be amused by said irony.
    Obi-Wan: You were right about one thing, Master: the negotiations were short.
    • In The Last Jedi: Supreme Leader Snoke hoped that Kylo Ren would be a second Darth Vader, but stronger and without Vader's Noble Demon tendencies - an immensely powerful darksider with no love, loyalty or trace of goodness in him. He got his wish.
  • In the B-horror movie When Evil Calls, students at a British boarding school receive mysterious text messages telling each of them that they have won a wish. The students are granted their wishes after texting them through their phones, but with terrible consequences.
  • The Return of Count Yorga opened with Yorga arriving at a costume party fundraiser for an orphanage and the guests there start talking about vampires. One of them, Ellen, who likewise is the sister of Cynthia, the girl he becomes infatuated with, comments that she finds them cool and wishes they were real much to Yorga's amusement. Later that night, Yorga sends his vampiric harem to attack the household to kidnap Cynthia so he can claim as his own. Poor Ellen's wish horrifyingly comes true as her every escape route is blocked by an undead, she's quickly wrestled to the ground, bitten and fed on, being the first of the family to die. Much later, we see her among Yorga's brides, pale-skinned and messy hair, helping to attack her boyfriend when lured to Yorga's mansion and joining the other brides in psychologically torturing her amnesiac sister when she's trying to escape the house.
  • The Brides of Dracula: Gina, one of the schoolteachers at the charm school whom main heroine, Marianne, befriends, expresses her playful envy that Marianne was picked to marry the Baron Meinster, wishing he has picked her. She gets her wish...but only after discovering he's a vampire when he sneaks into her bedroom that night not long after he introduces himself in his human guise. She's quickly hypnotized, bitten, drained and killed. Soon becoming one of the Baron's undead brides, stripped of any of her morality, subservient to him and more then willing to aid him in in preparing to attack the charm school where she once worked. starting with nearly biting Marianne.


Example of: