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Be Careful What You Wish For / Live-Action TV

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  • 7 Yüz: In "Prosedür", Rıdvan wants nothing more than to have a normal friendship with Banu, returning to the bond they shared before dating; he also expresses his wish for her to find another person who loves and appreciates her. After learning the extent of her emotional turmoil, he suggests she apply for the experimental procedure to ease her heartbreak and move forward with her life. However, the results of the procedure are more effective than expected, as her romantic memories of Rıdvan are relegated to a mere footnote.
    Rıdvan: I didn't want anything like that! I just wanted you to be happy! I didn't want you to remove me from your mind!
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  • One Episode of The Adventures of Shirley Holmes has a teenage girl who was constantly harassing the male child star for some unknown series, with the intent to get him out of the show, so that she could the star instead. The boy actually did want to quit, but the Corrupt Corporate Executive wouldn't let him. Shirley exposes the executive and helps the boy to nullify his contract, but didn't find any evidence against the girl. The narration then states: "But she did get what she deserved: her own studio contract, with lots of fine print..." Cue the sight of the girl, forced to do a "take 12" of some stupid episode, exhausted, angry, and clearly miserable after just a few days - and earlier it was established that the contracts with this studio have a minimum term of two years. For the girl, those years will be very long.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: In season 4, Dr. Radcliffe and Aida created an entire virtual world called the Framework to keep agents docile while they are replaced by Life Model Decoys. Aida was instructed to fix the single greatest regret of every new entry, and had to reboot the simulation several times to reconcile them all together. The problem is, she allowed these "fixes" to play out to their logical conclusion, so instead of the agents being themselves just minus their greatest regret, they are completely different people, living in a world where HYDRA won, and their emblem is emblazoned on the side of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s headquarters. Later episodes detail the specific changes:
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    • May killed a little girl because she was a crazy Inhuman with brainwashing powers who gets high off the suffering of other people. All May wanted was to save the girl. In the Framework, she did. Except the girl was still a crazy Inhuman with brainwashing powers, and went on to cause a very public incident at the Cambridge, Massachusetts school she was placed in after being brought to America. HYDRA happily capitalized on this incident to get themselves in power by stoking anti-Inhuman sentiment sky-high and presenting themselves as the only solution to the Inhuman menace. May now regrets not killing the girl far more than she ever regretted killing her, and blames herself for allowing the Cambridge Incident to occur. She now loyally serves HYDRA as an Inhuman hunter.
    • Coulson always wondered what his life would have been like if he hadn't joined S.H.I.E.L.D. In the Framework, he turned down Nick Fury's offer and became a high school history teacher instead. He's also a coward who repeats HYDRA's lies whole-heartedly despite not believing any of them for a second, even allowing them to take "subversive" students directly out of his class. It's implied that his absence is what allowed HYDRA to rise in this reality, as he was always a stabilizing influence on S.H.I.E.L.D. in general and May specifically.
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    • Fitz's father walked out on him as a child. In the Framework, he never left. Except he's still a giant asshole who thinks Virtue Is Weakness and outwardly showing emotion of any kind is for pussies. He beat all empathy out of his son, resulting in Fitz becoming a Mad Scientist Torture Technician who would make Mengele blanch.
    • Mack's daughter, Hope, died as a baby, resulting in him splitting with his wife. In the Framework, she lived. That worked out mostly okay for Mack, though his wife is missing and he never got around to joining S.H.I.E.L.D. He mostly keeps his head down around HYDRA, but when they push too hard he joins with S.H.I.E.L.D. because he is worried he is setting a bad example for his daughter. .
    • Mace is a Fake Ultimate Hero who just wanted to do some real good. In the Framework, he is a real Inhuman instead of just using a Super Serum, and he leads the remnants of S.H.I.E.L.D. as "the Patriot". He ultimately dies saving a kid from a collapsing building, mirroring the event in the real world where someone mistakenly believed he had saved someone from a collapsing roof and it got blown out of proportion. This also kills him in the real world since Your Mind Makes It Real. Like Mack, Mace probably considers this a good deal in the end.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?:
    • One episode has a boy running into a genie who grants him several wishes, but they all end up backfiring on him. For example, when he wishes for a brand new car, the boy gets it, but is later arrested when the police discover that the car is stolen. In order to end his torment, the boy finally wishes that he had never met the genie, effectively pressing the Reset Button.
    • Another episode uses a thinly-veiled version of The Monkey's Paw: One of the kids wishes to win a race, so a wild dog shows up and breaks his rival's leg, etc. The wishes escalate until one of them wishes his grandfather (who's dead) were there, at which point Zombie Gramps starts knocking on the door (you don't get to see it, though) until one of the kids wishes they'd never made the wishes.
    • In another one, a girl wishes to live in a fairy tale world, and her wish is granted by the Jackass Genie Sandman.
  • Babylon 5:
    • In response to being asked what he wanted, by Mr Morden.
      Londo: ...All right. Fine. You really want to know what I want?! You really want to know the truth?! I want my people to reclaim their rightful place in the galaxy. I want to see the Centauri stretch forth their hand again, and command the stars. I want a rebirth of glory, a renaissance of power. I want to stop running through my life like a man late for an appointment, afraid to... To look back, or to look forward. I want us to be what we used to be. I want... I want it all back, the way that it was! Does that answer your question?
      Morden: ...Yes. Yes it does.
    • Another thing Londo desires, is to get a better position at court rather than the ambassador to Babylon 5. He eventually gets everything he asked for, and ends up Emperor of the Republic for good measure. The process takes the next three seasons to fulfill and leads to several major galactic wars and millions of casualties. And he has no freedom at all.
    • This is Mr. Morden's modus operandi. Morden over the course of the series asks Londo, G'Kar, Vir and Lennier what they want. They all end up getting their wish, but the only one who is satisfied with the outcome is Vir, who simply asks for Morden's head on a pike.
      • Vir's exact wish: "I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike, as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I want to look up into your lifeless eyes and wave like this. Can your associates arrange that for me, Mr. Morden?"
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • The surviving Colonials tried their best to find Earth for three and a half seasons. They found Earth and it is utterly devastated.
    • In the Miniseries novel, Gaius Baltar is depicted as "somebody who spends first half of his life trying to get famous, then spends the rest wearing sunglasses [to be unrecognised]".
  • The plot of Beetleborgs centers around three kids who wish to be their favorite comic book superheroes. Consequently, the villains also appear, handing out several Curb Stomp Battles over the course of the series. The first episode of the second season, "Metallix", also showed that the wish had a second part - you get the powers, you get the bad guys. No more bad guys? No more powers. Thankfully, new bad guys showed up and the kids were back in action.
  • Standard episode plot for the Buffyverse.
    • Ensnaring wronged people with Be Careful What You Wish For is the whole modus operandi of vengeance demons in Buffy. They find somebody who's been wronged, get them to make a wish, and then make the wish come true in a gruesome manner that the wisher never intended.
    • In the episode entitled "The Wish", Cordelia wished that "Buffy Summers had never come to Sunnydale." In the Bizarro World which resulted, without Buffy to stop him, the Master and his vampires succeeded in taking over Sunnydale completely, turning Willow and Xander into vampires with Cordelia herself getting killed.
      • Which means that Cordelia never actually learns anything after the snapback at the end of the episode.
    • In "Older And Far Away", Dawn makes a wish to Halfrek that everybody would spend more time with her. Halfrek makes the dream come true by magically making it impossible for any of the guests at Buffy's party to leave the house. And then promptly picks up the Idiot Ball by entering the house herself, causing the curse to affect her.
    • In "Selfless", a girl who was cruelly dumped by her boyfriend in front of a dozen or so of his frat mates wishes that they all learn what it feels like to have their hearts ripped out from their chests. So Anya summons a huge spider demon that massacres the frat boys by ripping out their hearts from their chests. Willow later finds the girl locked in a closet, in fetal position, saying "I take it back" over and over.
      • Later, Anya makes a wish to D'Hoffryn that her vengeance curse be undone. D'Hoffryn answers that undoing the curses requires the death of a vengeance demon. Anya agrees to the price, assuming that she's the one who will die, but then D'Hoffryn summons Anya's friend Halfrek and kills her to undo Anya's curses.
    • Buffy wishes that her parental figures, Joyce (her actual mother) and Giles (her Watcher) would stop forcing her to be responsible. Later in "Band Candy", when the adults lose their ability to act responsibly, Buffy sees the disasters that can result when no one does what they are supposed to do, e.g. vampires can steal babies to feed to giant demon snakes if no one cares to watch out for such things. The Reset is rarely complete though - quite a few memories and changes were kept until the end of the show.
    • A more terrifying example occurs in the episode wherein Dawn uses a spell to bring Joyce Summers back to life. It's the classic Monkey's Paw, and the horror is only increased by the fact that except for her feet walking through the cemetery, we never see what Joyce looked like. She had been dead for some time, so...
    • Xander stepping up to the plate and taking his best shot with Buffy. "I want to dance with you". He gets his wish in "When She Was Bad", when a shell-shocked Buffy bumps and grinds against him to enrage Willow and Angel.
    • Quoted by Halloween costume fashionista Ethan Rayne. "Don't wish to blow my own trumpet, but it's genius. The very embodiment of 'be careful what you wish for'."
    • Buffy has a love-hate relationship with her job. She complains about being a Slayer, but is reluctant to give up her duties when Kendra and Faith threaten to edge her out of the gang.
    • "Helpless" depicts what would happen if Buffy were truly a normal girl stuck in a house with vampires.
    • In "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered", scorned Xander performing a love spell on Cordelia. Needless to say, it backfires.
      Giles: I cannot believe that you are fool enough to do something like this!
      Xander: Oh, no, I'm twice the fool it takes to do something like this.
    • Ken's "The Reason You Suck" Speech in "Anne". He ridiculing her for running away from Sunnydale and her old identity trying to disappear. "Congratulations. You got your wish."
    • The Trio in Season 6 wanted to be taken seriously as super villains. Willow completely flayed Warren, leading Jonathan and Andrew to flee the country to escape her wrath.
    • Eventually, they knew better than to say they wished for things aloud, given every time they do, something perverts the wish. This is much to the chagrin of Anya, who was trying to get them to wish for something so she could pervert it.
    • Liam always wanted to get out of Galway and see the world. So naturally, he jumped at Darla's offer to see it together. He didn't regret it for a moment (until...) but he probably didn't expect it to happen in quite that way.
    • Cordelia actually has this happen to her twice—given the opportunity in Angel to wish she had never reunited with Angel and gotten the visions which were killing her, she found herself in a world where Angel was insane, Wesley was missing an arm, and Fred was nowhere to be found.
  • From Castle:
    • Detective Beckett spends most of the first season and the beginning of the second mortified and annoyed that Castle's following her around for inspiration and research for his novel, and not-so-subtly wishing he'd just go away, stop writing about her and leave her alone. Then, in "When the Bough Breaks", not only is Castle's novel about to be finished, but he's been offered a very lucrative job writing a series of thrillers starring "a certain British secret agent", meaning everything that Beckett's been counting the days down about is about to come to pass. Only now that it's happening, Beckett is clearly a bit upset both about him leaving and the fact that he's apparently not interested in writing about her any more. When the contract for his series about her is unexpectedly renewed, she's clearly annoyed but, it's strongly hinted, a bit relieved as well.
    • In "Knockout", after an argument with Castle about her mother's case (and the unspoken feelings between them) has gotten out of hand and become very vicious, Beckett angrily goes to her boss demanding that Castle be kicked out of the precinct. His nonchalant agreement with her request completely throws her off-balance. Subverted, since her boss clearly could tell that she was just venting and her flustered back-tracking only confirmed that she wasn't serious.
  • Charmed has several genies corrupting the wishes of the characters that made them.
    • Lampshaded in one episode by Leo who points out that genies are bound to only follow the letter of a wish and not the consequences. He cites how someone could wish for a new car and they get one...when it's willed to them by their uncle suddenly dying. The genie in that episode claims he never means to be malicious, it's simply not his fault folks don't word their wishes right as he can only "go by what they say, not what they mean."
  • On Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Daniel Webster sold his soul to become the greatest lawyer alive who would never lose a case. He became that all right...only to realize he was only defending serial killers and other types of monsters and letting them go free. That really hurt him when one killer he just got acquited murdered Webster's daughter.
  • The Cosby Show did this plot, with Theo as the teenager who wanted to be treated like an adult, in its first season, but it has appeared in other series as well.
  • Subverted in Dad's Army, when Captain Mainwaring decides to give persistent grumbler Private Frazer a week's experience in commanding the unit in order to see that it is not as easy as he thinks, only for Frazer to grow increasingly tyrannical and arrogant with power; the catch is that Frazer, although unpopular with the rest of the men, actually proves himself a competent commanding officer whose skills are even recognized and rewarded by a superior officer.
  • Disney Channel had a weekend special where they did this with 3 of their shows:
    • Hannah Montana - Miley wishes she was just Hannah Montana all the time. It is granted and her dad married a Gold Digger, her best friend became Alpha Bitch, and her brother became a hobo.
    • Cory in the House - Cory Baxter wishes that he was president of the U.S.A. After it's granted, Cory uses his authority to get rich, and slacks off on his presidential duties. This leads to being completely unprepared for an alien invasion, and a literal Reset Button is pressed at the end.
    • The Suite Life of Zack and Cody:
    • Zack and Cody wish that they were superheroes. After having to defeat now-supervillian Mr. Moseby, the twins learn they'll have to fight evil 24/7 and give up all their free time. This prompts them to try and fix things by running fast enough to travel through time, to before they made the wish.
    • Though not an actual wish, in the episode "The Suite Smell of Excess" Zack and Cody get a chance to go to an alternate world where everything is reversed and they can play around as much as they like and do whatever they want when they want. However after a few days of excess, they realize that the "preferred" alternate universe Tipton is NOT the perfect place they thought it would be.
    • While not part of the weekend, they did this concept in a Halloween episode of That's So Raven. Raven and Chelsea use a wishing spell to get invited to Alana's party and win the costume contest, but accidentally drop a "Save the Cows" button into the wishing spell. While they get their wish, they also ended up accidentally turning themselves into cows in the process. Thankfully, it all ends up being a vision, Raven prevents it from happening and saves them from a lifetime of mooing and milking.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Borusa sought immortality in "The Five Doctors". He got it... as a living statue.
    • In the Big Finish audio plays, the Eighth Doctor wished to die alone. That happened not only to him, but also to the War Doctor and Tenth Doctor (in the form of regenerating).
    • "Father's Day": At the beginning, after Rose tells the Doctor she wants to meet her dead dad, he says this:
      "Your wish is my command. But be careful what you wish for."
    • "Tooth and Claw": Rose spends the whole episode trying to egg Queen Victoria into saying "We are not amused" as a reaction to what's going on. The Queen finally does say it... right before she banishes the Doctor and Rose from the British Empire, and later founding the Torchwood Institute, which would cause many problems for the Doctor and other alien visitors to Earth down the line.
    • In "The Lazarus Experiment", Dr. Lazarus wanted to have a longer life. Well, he did... as a horribly mutated human-eating monster.
    • "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood": The Family of Blood wanted immortality so badly that they hunted the Doctor for months, then on finding him proceeded to slaughter their way through a village in order to draw him out of hiding. When he does come out, there's hell to pay.
      Son of Mine: We wanted to live forever, so the Doctor made sure that we did.
    • "Amy's Choice": The Doctor's Enemy Without — specifically, a twisted manifestation of his self-loathing — is played by red-haired actor Toby Jones. Looks like the Doctor got to be ginger after all.
    • From "Day of the Moon":
      Silent: You should kill us all on sight!
      • This is recorded and implanted in the broadcast of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, thus ensuring that many, many humans see it and carry it out as a post-hypnotic suggestion. Just as the Doctor planned.
    • "Smile": The Doctor relates the legend of a magic haddock: A fisherman caught it, and it agreed to give him three wishes if he would let it go free. The fisherman's first two wishes were for his son to come home from the wars, and a thousand gold pieces. The next day, the son's body was brought home in a casket, with a thousand gold pieces sent home as a reward for his valour. Thankfully, the fisherman still has one wish left, and undoes the first two.
  • In Farscape, the Skarran Empire and Peacekeepers spent a great deal of effort trying to create wormhole weapons, with Crichton being their focus due to the knowledge embedded in his mind. In The Peacekeeper Wars, Crichton finally gives them a wormhole weapon... namely, a self-propagating black hole capable of consuming the entire universe. What follows is an absolutely epic Mass "Oh, Crap!" from everyone except Crichton.
    Crichton: Wormhole weapons do not make peace... wormhole weapons don't even make war... they make total destruction. Annihilation. Armageddon.
    • During the Mass "Oh, Crap!", some of the crew react with a What the Hell, Hero? to Crichton. He responds by berating varying members present with the trope.
      Crichton: [to Rygel] "Crichton, please make the wormhole so we can all have peace." "Crichton, you gotta make the wormhole! We all want peace!" "Crichton, make the damn wormhole! We gotta have peace!" HOW MANY TIMES DID YOU SAY THAT, SPARKY?! [to Chiana] Pip?! "Wormhole, peace. Peace, wormhole." [to Scorpius] HOW MANY TIMES, MR. "I BEG YOU PLEASE WITH A CHERRY ON TOP"?!"
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Sansa Stark, begs her mother to give her permission to leave Winterfell and marry Prince Joffrey Baratheon, because she wanted to live the privilege life of a Queen and give birth to the future King's children. Sansa quickly regrets this, after she realized what a monster he is at the end of season 1 and during season 2. He has her father beheaded, despite promising her, he'd show mercy if he admitted to treason. Then during season 2, he mentally and physically tortures her.
    • This happens to Sansa again at the end of season 2, when she finally gets out of her engagement to Joffrey. Unfortunately, as Petyr Baelish points out, she's actually worse off, since she's not allowed to return home, Joffrey is still free to beat and rape her without reprisal, and she doesn't have the minor consolation of being queen when it happens.
    • In Season 4, Sansa is finally free of the Lannisters, Joffrey and King's Landing by being forced to go on the run after the King's assassination, being a prime suspect with a large bounty on her head. The only persons keeping her safe is the real culprit, Petyr Littlefinger Baelish, and her place of refuge is the castle of her mad aunt Lysa Arryn.
    • Then there's Arya, the tomboy of the Stark family. She never wanted to be a lady. She said it herself. By the end of Season 1, her hair is cut and she is forced to disguise herself as a boy to escape Joffrey and the Lannisters.
    • In the Histories and Lore featurettes, Bran notes that he always loved Old Nan's scary stories, but not anymore because he's in one.
    • Catelyn prayed for the gods to take away Ned's bastard son, but repented when he fell ill and wasn't expected to live.
    • Gendry wishes he had a family, but things don't go well when Melisandre takes him to his nearest living relatives.
    • Oberyn wants nothing more than to face the Mountain in single combat and force a public confession for his murder of Princess Elia and her children. Unfortunately, he gets both as Mountain crushes his skull.
    • Maggy, the witch Cersei confronts in her flashback in "The Wars to Come", remarks that "Everyone wants to know their future... until they know their future."
    • Shireen adamantly tells her father she wants to help in "The Dance of Dragons". Unfortunately, she doesn't know that involves burning her alive.
    • Daenerys Targaryen wants to reclaim her ancestral birthright: to sit on the Iron Throne and rule the Seven Kingdoms. When Jon Snow, King In The North seeks an alliance with her to combat the looming Zombie Apocalypse - a threat that's frankly bigger than anything else they're fighting about - she tells him that she will not join him until he pledges loyalty to her. As far as she's concerned, he's a rebel lord who owes her allegiance, and her support is dependent on him acknowledging her as his Queen. Eventually Jon agrees to bend the knee, but out of gratitude, not loyalty. Dani rescues him from the Night King at the cost of Viserion, one of her beloved dragons. To regain a part of her family's empire she's forced to sacrifice what is essentially one of her children - and in so doing, she hands the Night King a new resource, in the form of an undead dragon, that may end up doing more harm than good in the end.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: Waterford was part of a coup that took over at least part of the United States, stripping women of their rights. Once women's place is firmly established in the home and they're not even allowed to read or write, he finds himself now utterly lacking any emotional connection in his marriage, and pathetically turns to Offred - the woman he's enslaved - in order to try getting some form of intellectual stimulation. Serena, his wife, who also supported the coup, is clearly unhappy with her lot as well. For instance, she once wrote in defense of their values, but her book not only is no longer read, as a woman she herself is forbidden from reading completely.
  • The third season finale of Heroes seems to drop a load of this in Sylar's lap if one looks back at his words from season 1:
    Gabriel Gray/Sylar: [to Chandra] When I was a kid I used to wish some stranger would come and tell me my family wasn't really my family. Oh, they weren't bad people, they were just...insignificant. And I wanted to be different. Special. I wanted to change. A new name, a new life.
    • Eden McCain (aka Sarah Ellis) has an extremely potent power of verbal suggestion. During an argument with her (horrible) stepmother, she unwittingly shouts at her: "I wish you'd just die!". Her heart immediately stops.
  • Home Improvement; one episode involves Jill dragging Tim to a group therapy session hoping he can improve via feedback. When he finally starts talking there, they side with him, viewing Jill as an Ungrateful Bitch for complaining about him. (He went to a bed and breakfast for her with no television during Indy week? Forgave her for destroying his hot rod? They never knew any other husband who'd do either.) As always, it takes Wilson to set her straight on the matter the way he always does.
  • On one occasion in How I Met Your Mother, Ted was angry at Barney, who offered Ted one free hit anywhere but the face. He didn't hit him in the face.
  • Julian Priest (David Bowie), the Mad Artist Horror Host of the second season of the anthology The Hunger, cites this trope by name as a way of summing up the events of his debut episode "Sanctuary", though the desire and its granting are unusual. Julian hated death and desired artistic immortality; he realized he could achieve it by making his suicide a piece of performance art. Now he's a lonely ghost, haunting the abandoned prison that was his home — perhaps Death's punishment for his defiance.
  • iCarly: The Christmas Episode "iChristmas". Carly wishes for Spencer to be normal, and an It's a Wonderful Life style homage ensues, ending with Carly more appreciative than ever of her life.
  • Played with in I Was A Teenage Werewolf when Merton's sister Becky finds a genie in a lamp. The genie bends over backward to give her what she actually wants regardless of wording, lets her have "run-on wishes" (several requests mushed together into one wish), and even advises her to alter wishes that might have unforeseen consequences before granting them. However, once he grants three wishes he is freed and she becomes the new genie of the lamp, where she'll be trapped until she learns how to cast magic and grant wishes herself (which will take a few thousand years, according to the genie).
  • The Imagin of Kamen Rider Den-O operate on this trope. They seek out people and grant their wishes, but only in letter. In one episode, when a park groundskeeper wished to make his park a safe haven for strays, the Imajin granting the wish responded by attacking any human who set foot in the park and barricading the entrances.
  • On Knight's Squad, Ciara is the princess of Astoria who uses a magical ring to disguise herself so she can be a knight as her father, the king, wouldn't want her to be one. Finding a genie, she makes the wish of "my father let me become a knight." Suddenly, she and Arc (with her when she made the wish) find themselves in an Astoria where Ciara's father is "king" of a local diner and the conniving Sage is the princess. They confront the genie who notes Ciara had felt her princess duties interfered with becoming a knight and her father being the king and thus making her father not the king was the most obvious action.
    Ciara: But I wanted to be princess and be a knight!
    Genie: ...Ooooooooh! Well, you should have been more specific!
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
    • There's an episode where a borderline retarded man raped an old woman to death (he saw it in a porno and wanted to try it, too) via a second heart attack. There's no argument that he did it so much as if he's competent enough to be charged with him banking on an insanity plea under the belief that an asylum beats prison, but the look on his face upon entering the ward says it all how much he really lost as the episode closes out.
    • The perp in the episode "Head" name-drops this trope at the very end of the episode as she's re-arrested for breaking the terms of her parole—contacting her victim. As she's led away, she rattles off how she's lost everything important to her because of her actions—her job, her marriage—but now has the one thing that was missing from this heretofore perfect life—a baby. Sired by the 12 year old boy she molested. Notably, it's a case of Tragic Monster; she had brain cancer, and realized she'd committed a crime only after doctors removed a tumor roughly the size of a golf ball.
    • One episode centers around convicted murderer Robert Morten and one of his followers. The follower's attorney plans to use her devotion to Morten as an insanity defense. ADA Casey Novak strikes up a deal with the killer - testify for the People, and he gets transferred to a federal prison ("better food, better accommodations," as Morten puts it). He doesn't play nice in court, actually helping the defense's insanity defense. In a play that can only be described as "karma's a bitch," Casey has Morten transferred to a federal prison - Florence Super Max, complete with 23 hours of supervision, and no contact with the outside world at all.
  • This happens to Robbie Rotten in "The First Day of Summer" on LazyTown. He wishes that everyone else in LazyTown would just disappear and seemingly gets his wish when they all head off to play at the beach. He quickly realizes, however, that all of the things that he enjoys about being a villain— the setting of traps, hatching evil schemes, etc., just aren't much fun without anyone there to actually scheme against. He ends up falling into one of his own traps, and when Sportacus comes to rescue him, everyone else follows. He's so happy to see them that he even joins them for the singing and dancing of the episode-ending "Bing Bang Song".
  • Throughout the Legends of Tomorrow episode "Legion of Doom", Malcom Merlyn and Damien Dhark are pissed because Eobard Thawne isn't treating them is equals and is withholding information from them, so they trap him in a vault with them until he spills the beans, having deduced that he can't stay in one place for too long or something will come for him. Then they all hear The Black Flash screech as it approaches. Thawne immediately notes that Merlyn and Dhark are about to get what they wanted: They're all going to be equally dead.
    • In "Fellowship of the Spear", Mick is talked into betraying the Legends to the Legion, partly because he's promised a world where he and Snart can go back to being the carefree criminals they used to be before their Character Development kicked in. However, the following episode, "Doomworld", shows that in the rewritten reality, Snart owns all the banks the pair are stealing from, and has a reputation as a harmless eccentric who likes to pretend to be a bank robber, so the police always let the two of them walk away without a fight. And while Snart himself loves this, it denies Mick the thrill of true theft, taking all the fun out of the situation.
  • Lost Jack wants nothing more than to get off the Island. Ben himself calls Jack out on having nothing to go back to off of the Island. Once Jack makes it off of the Island, instead of the heroic leader he was on the Island, he becomes an alcoholic suicidal delusional man who heavily regrets leaving the Island, and reluctantly knows that the man who told him not to leave was right all along.
  • Million Yen Women: At the beginning of the series, Shin is struggling to have his novels sell. His latest one does much better than the previous ones, but No Such Thing as Bad Publicity plays a big role in it. All the "bad publicity" elements involve unearthing sore points in Shin's family life and people he cares about getting killed.
  • In one episode of The Monkees, one of them finds a Monkey's Paw. They don't realize how dangerous it is until the owner says "I wish I could stop talking about it", only to have the wish granted before he can say the last two words of that sentence.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus used this in a sketch parodying a fairy tale; a witch invokes a curse upon the attendants of a wedding, turning everyone present into chickens. After a brief second, her eyes widen and she adds "EXCEPT ME!" It's too late, though.
    Witch Chicken: Oh, bugger.
  • In one Muppets Disney Xtreme Digital skit, the Newsman reports that a government aircraft carrying fresh mint money is experiencing some technical difficulties and it is causing the aircraft to dump untraceable cash from the sky. Suddenly a sack falls down on to the Newsman's desk and it is followed by bills of money floating down. The Newsman wishes it had been huge sacks of priceless diamonds and then, to his surprise, another sack falls down as diamonds rain down on him. Getting excited, the Newsman wishes for a 32oz T-Bone (medium well done) and a steak falls down on his desk. Getting even more excited, the Newsman also asks for a beautiful brown-eye blonde... But then a cow with blonde hair crashes onto his desk from above. He painfully crawls up and mutters that he should have been specific on that last one.
  • From Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • The short film A Case of Spring Fever, as featured on episode 1012, has an oddly specific example. A man, tired of trying to fix the sofa, wishes he never sees another spring in his life, only for it to be granted by the insanely cackling spirit "Coily, the spring sprite". Hilarity Ensues as his door locks, phone dial and car pedals stop working. Noooooooooo Springs!
    • The crew parodied Coily in episode 317 (the famous "waffle episode"), with Willy the Waffle, the Wonderful Whimsical Wisecracking Waffle granting Tom's wish for a world without waffles ("Noooooooooo Waffles! *coil spring noise* "). Willy appeared again in 423 to show Tom a world without advertising ("It was all I had, I had to work fast"). After Willy's spiel, Joel and Tom agree that they prefer the world without advertising.
    • They also parodied Coily in the host segments for the episode in which they watched "A Case of Spring Fever". While discussing the short, the crew wonders if there exists some Sprite for everything in existence out there, just waiting to pop up when ever someone wishes something away. Tom decides to try finding out by wishing never to see Mike again, which prompts a visit by Mikey the Mike Sprite, who makes Nelson disappear. The Bots aren't too bothered by Mike's absence, but Mikey eventually badgers them into at least half-heartedly pretending they've learned their lesson, and brings Mike back. Then Crow says he doesn't want to see Mike's socks again; cue Mikesocksy...
    • After winning a game of Three-Card Monte against Pearl, Mike wins the right to watch any movie he wants. He decides he wants to watch Hamlet, and Pearl responds by giving him an incredibly dull, black-and-white German rendition of Hamlet.
  • NewsRadio did a hilarious variation on this where Dave and Lisa put Bill in charge of the station for a day in order to show him how hard their jobs were; the twist was that Bill knew what they were doing from the start (going so far as to ask if they were doing it), but he still played along until they admitted to what they were doing.
  • Noel's Christmas Presents (which ran 1989-1999, then 2007-2011, with no episode in 1992), and its Spiritual Successor All Star Christmas Presents play this trope entirely differently; the wishes are entirely positive or humorous, but never the usual case of how this trope plays out in most live-action TV shows. Well, it is a documentary, not a drama. A subversion, in that there is nothing supernatural, and that the presenter is (metaphorically) Subbing for Santa.
  • The genie from the episode "Fruit of a Poisoned Tree" in Once Upon a Time says that he has granted 1001 wishes and 1001 times seen things end badly. We see three wishes granted during the episode, the King's wish for the genie's freedom, which results in the genie falling in love with the Queen and murdering the King, the second wish was for the genie to have the third allowing the genie's own wish to be able to stay with his true love forever and always be able to gaze on her face, resulting in him turning into the Queen's Magic Mirror, and they would seem to confirm the genie's statement.
  • One instance where the genie is as much a victim as the wisher is in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, where the Lizard wishes that Will, now a genie, could feel something and the magic complies, killing her dead and getting Will to feel something - grief and guilt.
  • Oz:
    • Said word-for-word by the narrator in the seventh episode, concerning Tobias Beecher's revenge against his abusive White supremacist cellmate Vern Schillinger. Beecher (a middle-class lawyer with zero street skills) spends most of the first season wishing he had some way of standing up to his constant barrage of abuse in prison, and ultimately gives Schillinger his comeuppance in a well-deserved No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. By Season 2, Beecher has become one of the most feared inmates in Oz—at the cost of his sanity and any semblance of dignity that he might once have held onto.
    • When Father Mukada is falsely accused of molestation by inmate Timmy Kirk, he prays for Kirk's death. The next day Kirk is murdered by a crazed inmate who believes he's carrying out God's will, whereupon Mukada tries to convince himself that God doesn't carry out that kind of request.
  • Power Rangers Dino Charge has the episode "Wishing For a Hero". A monster, Wistar, curses wishing cards so that the wishes come true. The catch is that afterwards, bad things start happening. So if you wished for a hamburger, you get food poisoning. You wish to meet a pretty girl who likes you? She breaks your heart afterwards. You wish for a picnic date? Ants attack. Wish to find a new ranger? Congratulations, you almost made a villain one and lost your McGuffin in the process.
  • Rome. After discovering his wife's infidelity, and realising his children conspired to keep the secret from him, Vorenus curses them all to damnation. This is Serious Business for a Roman so Vorenus is aghast when he returns to his house and finds them missing. Pullo assures him he can just lift the curse when his children return. They don't, having been abducted and sold into slavery by an enemy of Vorenus while he was absent from his house.
  • On Salem, Mary says this exactly to Mercy after recounting how she came to be George Sibley's wife. Namely, "the problem with becoming the Queen is that you have to marry the King."
  • In The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "The Mad Woman in the Attic", Rani feels left out when the rest of the team start reminiscing with former member Maria, so after running away when her old friend calls her to investigate supernatural activity, she wishes that they (Sarah Jane, Luke, and Clyde) would "leave [her] alone". Later on, after the group restore Eve's ship, the ship decides to grant Rani's earlier wish, to thank her for her help. This results in Sarah Jane, Luke, and Clyde, being erased from existence. Cut to about fifty years later, and Rani is living alone in Sarah Jane's attic, still resentful of the wish she made, until a kid named Adam comes along and, after listening to her story, decides to undo the wish for her, sending her back to the moment the ship regained power.
  • In an episode of Selfie, Eliza is trying to set Henry up so he'll have sex and be happier. However, Henry does eventually meet a girl and promptly begins a relationship with her, leaving him less time to spend helping Eliza. This also helps Eliza see her feelings for Henry a bit more clearly, as she at first does not like Henry's new girl at all.
  • In the pilot episode of The Sentinel, Blair wants to learn about Jim and write about him for his dissertation. When Jim offers to let Blair follow him at work, Blair excitedly declares that his book might be a best seller. In the final episode, when Blair's dissertation gets leaked to a publisher, he gets everything he wished for. He gets offered fame and money for his work... but Jim's life becomes a living hell now that the media knows about his abilities.
  • Sesame Street:
    • The Amazing Mumford and Abby Cadabby lack both the skill to control their magic and the ability to undo their mistakes. A number of episodes are based on this.
    • In "Elmo Saves Christmas", Elmo wishes for it to be Christmas every day. He gets his wish but after a year of nothing but Christmases, the Christmas trees have run out, the carol singers have lost their voices, the Count is bored of counting the Christmases, a lot of things are broken because the fix-it shop is closed (and Maria's bored of it being closed), there's nothing on TV but It's a Wonderful Life (which people are bored of) and Big Bird is sad because he misses Snuffy, who's been away visiting his grandma for a whole year. Eventually, he resets it by going back in time.
  • Smallville:
    • In "Hex", Chloe wished to become Lois. Zatanna complies. Hilarity Ensues.
    • In "Apocalypse", Clark wishes he hasn't existed as he brought so much pain and suffering. It's a Wonderful Plot, as he discovers that without him, Lex would be the President and, along with Brainiac, would unleash a nuclear holocaust.
    • Early in season 8 Chloe notes that Tess certainly seems like a Luthor-wannabe, and while Tess isn't the one saying it, it's pretty obvious that it's true. In season 10, Tess finds out that she is a Luthor, Lionel's bastard daughter, and let's just say that she is not happy about it.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: "Shore Leave" has the story conclude with the Caretaker of the strange planet the landing party is on explain that it's a essentially a giant recreation area where anything they think of will be created. He invites the crew to live it up for a while, as long as they follow this trope.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "Tapestry", Picard dies from his artificial heart failing him, and he encounters Q in what seems to be the afterlife. After much prodding by Q, Picard reveals he regrets getting into a fight with Nausicaans (mentioned in an earlier episode), in which he suffered a near-fatal wound to his heart, necessitating his artificial heart. So Q takes Picard back to that time so he can avoid the brawl. He does, but this new, "play-it-safe" Picard doesn't have the same drive that made him captain of the Enterprise, instead being stuck as a lowly science officer with no career prospects. Picard regrets this, so with some pleading, Q takes Picard back to that time again to let him get into that fight once more, believing that if he has to die, he wants to die as someone who did something with his life. He does, but in the present, he ends up recovering from his artificial heart's problems, perhaps a token of appreciation by Q.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
    • Starfleet security officer turned Maquis rebel Eddington framed his conflict with Sisko as Valjean vs. Javert. Once he went too far by using a bioweapon to drive Cardassians from one of the contested worlds, Sisko got tired of the song and dance and rendered an entire Maquis world uninhabitable for human life, and was going to keep going if not for Eddington's surrender.
    • Odo desperately wanted to find his people and learn where he had come from. When he finally does, he discovers his people are a ruthless, xenophobic, egomaniacal race that has already conquered the Gamma Quadrant and is now bent on conquering the Alpha Quadrant. He is, suffice it to say, devastated.
    • Garak desperately wanted to return home from exile. He eventually gets his wish at the very end of the show after Cardassia has been ravaged by an Occupation that caused war with the entire Alpha Quadrant, the loss of over eight hundred million lives and the complete devastation of its government, security forces, military forces, culture and infrastructure. It goes without saying that this is not the homecoming he dreamed of.
    • Martok, holding a grudge against aging Klingon warrior Kor for trying to ruin his career before it began, would like nothing better than to see the living legend slip up. When a bout of senility finally gets to the old man mid-battle, though, Martok can't take any pleasure in it. All he sees is a man losing a battle to the one enemy no Klingon can beat: time.
    • In the tie-in novel "Behind Enemy Lines" Ro Laren, after seeing her home devastated by the Dominion, swears to fight until Cardassia is equally devastated. In the later book, she reflects on her previous wish and how horrified she is now of Cardassia's fate.
  • Star Trek: Voyager
    • In "Blood Fever", it ends with Paris telling Torres he didn't really mind her "scary" Klingon side, and said he might like to see it again someday. She warns him this. It's what launched their relationship.
    • In "Learning Curve" a former member of the Maquis claims to Chakotay that he'd rather do things the Maquis way, rather than Starfleet's more regimented style. Chakotay then punches the guy to the ground, and tells him that Chakotay will keep punching him every day until he falls into line, because that's also the Maquis way.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: In "Oasis", Trip asks T'Pol if she ever gets frightened. When she says no, he responds, "Too bad. Nothing like a good scare." In season 3, T'Pol's fear that her loss of control would harm Trip is a major factor in why she keeps her distance from him after they have sex.
  • Supernatural
    • A second season episode sees Dean attacked by a Djinn, a creature that poisons its victims into a hallucinating "perfect" versions of their lives, so they have no interest in waking up. Dean finds his mom alive, Sam and Jess married, and himself also married to a lovely woman and living an apple pie life. At first Dean is thrilled, but he quickly comes to realize that without their difficult childhood and him essentially raising Sam, his relationship with his brother is almost non-existent, not to mention that he appears to have no real direction in life, leading him to be the family drunk with Sam purposely distancing himself from Dean because of it. This gets Dean moving on finding a way out of his coma.
    • There was a fourth season episode with a whole town full of this trope because of a wishing well that worked, involving most notably (and hilariously, in that depressing ''Supernatural'' way) a little girl wishing for a giant talking Teddy Bear. Who spent most of the subsequent episode drinking, watching porn and trying to commit suicide. Life as a giant talking Teddy Bear, apparently, makes Marvin the Paranoid Android's life seem full of cheer and meaning. In a possible aversion though, the brothers stop the wishing well before things go catastrophically bad. The original wisher was a man with a magic coin who wished for his high school crush to fall in love with him, which didn't quite turn out how he hoped either. She did love him, but obsessively so.
    • Two things some of the show's fans wanted to happen in season 11 were for Lucifer to come back and for Castiel to get more screen time. Technically, they both happened...
  • Tales from the Crypt:
    • "Last Respects", another adaptation of Monkey's Paw which features three sisters. After one sister wishes for a million pounds, another sister dies in a car crash with the third sister (who survives). Guess what the insurance payoff was? When she wishes that the sister hadn't died in the accident, she gets a call from the morgue, and finds out that she was murdered before the accident. When the third sister admits to the murder and comes after her, she deliberately invokes the "Comes back as a Zombie" part to let her slain sister avenge herself.
    • "Loved To Death", an episode loosely based on John Collier's "The Chaser", is about a scriptwriter who continuously fantasizes about his hot neighbour being sexually obsessed with him. His creepy landlady gives him a bottle of something to slip into her drink, which he does, and it works too well: she's now continuously badgering him for sex at every moment of the day, until he commits suicide to get away from her. Even that doesn't work because she throws herself out the window to be with him, and her (now horrifically disfigured) ghost continues to nag him for sex .
  • Tales from the Darkside:
    • The episode "The Milkman Cometh" featured a milkman that granted wishes that his customers wrote down and left in their discarded milk bottles. One guy gets addicted to having his wishes granted, and the family soon becomes rich, but his Genre Savvy son begs him to stop before they get screwed over. He refuses, and wishes that they had a second child, only for the milkman to grant it by breaking into the house and raping his wife.
    • Less squicky and more And I Must Scream is "Lifebomb"; a workaholic executive is offered, free of charge, the titular device - an implant on his back that instantly wraps him in a lifesaving cocoon should he have a heart attack. Turns out that the reason it's provided free of charge is that he's worth millions in life insurance - the insurance companies won't let him die, no matter how much his quality of life decays, until he cancels his insurance policies, which would bankrupt his family. The doctor who gave him the lifebomb says that though he developed the device for sick and elderly patients, the only people who would fund his research were insurance companies. Also a case of Laser-Guided Karma - he denied the families of workers who died in a mine collapse a settlement because they already received company insurance payoffs. "They got what they've been promised." Guess what that doctor says to him at the end of the episode?
  • The Talk: A rare real life example of this. Before co-hosting the show; In 2015, Eve remarked about Iggy Azalea (who was facing cultural appropriation accusations) and her place in hip hop as an Australian rapper on Sway in the Morning; "At the end of the day I get it. I get that people might be upset about certain things but yeah she's white but they grew up with our shit. Hip-hop is everywhere — every neighborhood, every country, every city — and it didn't just hit... yes it's from us and it's our thing but she's representing a group of girls right now as well. She's from a different place and I've said this before, it would be dope to hear her with her swag, Who are you, what are you, what is that?" Three years later, Eve ironically gave her co-host Julie Chen lessons on how to rap as part of the shows New Year's Evolution each co-host took on. Eve ate her own words listening to Chen's freestyle about being a Chinese MC and she was not pleased with the results. However, she had a change of heart after performing 2Pac's "California Love" with Chen which was overwhelmingly well-received including Eve herself. Although her feelings on Azalea did not change; Eve welcomed hip hop's impact as a global phenomenon with open arms and even admitting on the show that she is a fan of Fergie. She also was happy to find out hosting the Red Carpet event at the Grammy's Kelly Clarkson is a fan of hers and she admitted to Clarkson that she also is a fan of hers as well.
  • On Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, the Book's magic will always twist the user's intent into something that causes mass misery and death. With only a few exceptions, most users of the Book will come to regret what they've done (and remorseful or not, most users end up dead, anyway).
  • In an episode of Top Gear devoted to Lamborghini, James May learns this the hard way when he finally gets to drive the car of his dreams, the Countach. He lampshades this without mentioning the trope by name.
    James: And [the Countach] looked so good on the poster. In fact, I wish it had stayed there. I'm absolutely gutted. But you know it's not the car's fault; it's mine. I've broken the Golden Rule: You never, ever meet your childhood heroes. ...Stick with the memories. They're just better.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • "Time Enough at Last", starring Burgess Meredith. He wanted to be left alone so he could read and wound up the lone survivor of a nuclear war...with broken glasses.
    • "The Man in the Bottle": A hard-up antiques dealer gives an equally destitute old woman a couple of bucks for an empty wine bottle she found in the trash. The bottle turns out to house a genie, who grants him four wishes. After using the first wish to have the genie prove his power by fixing a cracked glass display case, the shopkeeper uses the second to wish for a million dollars cash; after he and his wife have gotten the money and given a fair chunk of it away to their friends and neighbors, the couple are presented with a tax bill from the IRS, which leaves them with a mere $5. The shopkeeper then wishes to be made the leader of a powerful, modern foreign country, one who cannot be voted out of office; he finds himself turned into Adolf Hitler in his bunker at the end of World War II. He then uses his fourth and final wish to return to his old life, which now looks better to him than ever before... even after he accidentally re-breaks the glass case, leaving him completely back at square one.
    • "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville": A ruthless, aging businessman desires to return to his hometown in the time when he was a young adult, so he could make a business deal for land that he knew was valuable in the present. He's sent back, but forgot a couple of details: (1)he didn't ask for his money to be converted to older currency, so when he tries to make the deal, it's dismissed as counterfeit; and (2) although he wished to look like his younger past self, his physical body is still that of an old man (which he learns the hard way after getting into a fight.) Well, what did you expect from a Deal with the Devil, even one played by Julie Newmar? (Although this devil is more sympathetic, and lets him return to the present at the cost of his fortune.)
    • "A Game of Pool": Jesse Cardiff wishes to play against a dead pool champion so that he can become the new best player. He gets the chance, and even bets his own life on the game. Ultimately, he wins, and is acknowledged as the best. But he has to keep proving it, over and over, even after his own death.
    • Invoked in "I Dream of Genie", which features a Genre Savvy wisher who is granted one wish by a genie, and featured Imagine Spots of each such wish...as well as the ways they could go wrong. He eventually decides to make an "original" wish: to become a genie himself and himself grant such wishes to those down on their luck.
    • "The Last Night of a Jockey" has Mickey Rooney as a washed-up jockey, banned for race-fixing, who wishes to be "big" so everyone else would look up to him. He wakes up to find that he's now 8 feet tall. It's then that he gets a call from the racing board informing him that he's been given another chance, only to realize that there's very little demand for 8-foot-tall jockeys...
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • "The Leprechaun-Artist": Three young boys get a wish apiece from the leprechaun they capture. It goes badly, and the boys end up under arrest by the police before the leprechaun takes pity on them and re-sets everything to normal.
    • "The Library": A woman gets a job in a magical library, the books of which can re-write people's lives. She can't resist the temptation to meddle, again things go badly before again (hopefully) being re-set to normal.
    • "Cold Reading": A egotistical old-time radio director rhetorically wishes that all the sound effects from his current jungle-adventure program came from something real. Unfortunately, he is indeed holding a real voodoo relic as he does so. Hilarity Ensues.
    • "Examination Day" has a boy wishes on his birthday to do well on the government exam. He does and it turns out people who do too well are killed.
  • The Twilight Zone (2002):
    • "Upgrade": A housewife, stressed by moving house, wishes that her family could be different. Immediately afterwards, her dog, her children, and her husband are replaced by more attractive people. As it turns out, her reality is actually a computer game being played by a little girl.
    • "The Pharoah's Curse": A young up-and-coming magician tries to find the secret to the titular act, in which two men are placed in spinning caskets and somehow switch places. Too late, he realizes that the trick is real magic, and his mentor uses it to keep himself young by switching bodies.
  • The White Queen: Anne Neville has wished to be the Queen of England since she was a little girl, but she learns the hard way that the terrible burden of wearing the crown has put an immense strain on her once happy marriage to Richard III, and the stress of holding the throne has ruined both her mental and physical health.
    Anne: I wish I could go back and never have been Queen.
  • In one episode of Wizards of Waverly Place, when Alex asks a genie to stop people from comparing her to Justin, no one remembers who he is.
  • The X-Files: In "Je Souhaite", Mulder meets a female genie who can grant anyone three wishes... but she is forced to interpret the wishes rather literally, causing her much frustration at the stupidity of people who don't think things through. It is revealed that she used to be a poor peasant woman in the Middle Ages, who found the original genie and squandered her first two wishes asking for a mule and a magic sack of turnips that never ran out. For her third wish, she asked for great power and eternal life: the other genie promptly turned her into a genie, too. The downside: She is now bound to act on the decisions of whichever idiot unrolls her from the carpet she is mystically connected to, and she cannot grant wishes to herself. When Mulder wishes for "peace on Earth", his wish is granted... by making every other person in the world disappear except him. The genie tells him it is impossible for her to change the minds of 6 billion people, but making them disappear was within the rules. Mulder uses his final wish by giving it to her, granting her the ability to make her own decisions and become a mortal woman again.


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