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Literature / Star Darlings

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Star Darlings is a Disney-published franchise created in 2015 by Shana and Ahmet Zappa. The franchise focuses on the inhabitants of Starland, who live on a star and grant human wishes. To the Starlings, Earth is Wishworld and we're Wishlings.

Due to a positive wish energy crisis, it's decided that 12 young female Starlings, called Star Darlings, will take up the difficult task of granting young Wishlings' wishes. It's hoped that doing so will provide greater amounts of energy. But finding what, or who, is behind the crisis may prove more difficult than granting wishes, and keeping Starland safe from danger afterwards may be even harder.

A series of chapter books and novels are the main story focus. An animated web series, TV specials, supplementary books, dolls, lifestyle and storytelling apps, and music supplement the series. After January 2017, all franchise activity halted with the cancellation of three planned books and discontinuation of the toyline and web series.


The official Star Darlings website is here.

This franchise contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Vega, who is the top student of Starling Academy.
  • Actionized Adaptation: The Power of Twelve special adds several action sequences to the Star Darlings' battle with Rancora, getting Lady Stella involved in the action as well for a 10-minute fight. In the book, it was over in roughly two hits while Lady Stella and Indirra just stood there.
  • Adapted Out: Sage's mother, Indirra, isn't seen or mentioned at all in the show.
  • All There in the Manual: A Wisher's Guide to Starland has character profiles, lore, and official art of almost the entire cast, including the teachers and Vivica. Notably missing is Ophelia.
  • Allergic to Evil: Negative energy is toxic to Starlings and Starland as a whole.
  • Alternate Continuity: The animated series is in a different continuity than the books.
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  • Alpha Bitch: Vivica, who's mean to everyone in the main cast out of a desire to be popular and get attention. In Stealing Starlight she even works under Rancora to get what she wants.
  • Always Night: It's always nighttime on Starland in the web series.
  • Anti-Magic: Negatite, made by granting negative wishes, can counteract positive wish energy.
  • As You Know: One of the first things learned in the books and web series is the basics of wish-granting, which the characters know already.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Deconstructed. The various prophecies related are fated to be accurate, and while this is positive for the girls, it was negative for Lady Stella, who saw her friendship with Rancora disintegrate and her former best friend turn evil. The headmistress at the time, Lady Astrid, noted that she couldn't accept Cora back at the Academy, not only because of what she'd done, but because doing so would undermine the prophecy.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Libby's book has her successfully grant her Wisher's wish despite the mix-up, but Scarlet is told she isn't a Star Darling.
    • In Leona's book she succeeds in granting two wishes, but her Wish Pendant becomes useless, meaning none of the energy was collected. She has an argument with Scarlet as a result.
  • Body Horror: In the Power of Twelve special, Lady Cordial's skin cracks off as the Star Darlings wear her down, followed by Rancora bursting out of Lady Cordial's body and discarding the empty shell.
  • Born as an Adult: From birth, baby Starlings can walk, talk, and have basic knowledge beamed into their brains.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: As the positive energy crisis reaches critical levels, Starlanders are forced to do things by hand, with Tessa's parents using antique watering cans for gardening.
  • Broken Masquerade: Adora's book has her Wisher see her true appearance, stranding her on Earth until the other Star Darlings help.
  • Broken Record: In "Super Stars" Leona constantly sings Starlight while vacuuming.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": To such an extent that every book has a glossary in the back.
  • Cassandra Truth: Cassie tries repeatedly to warn everyone about the negative energy flowers, but isn't believed until she gets Starling botanists to look at them.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Energy from granted wishes is what powers Starland, so using excessive amounts of energy granting small wishes makes Star Darlings exhausted.
  • Cast Speciation: Every Star Darling has their own unique power to help with wish-granting. Sage can read minds, Libby can transform objects, Leona has super hearing, Vega can control minds with her thoughts, Scarlet can affect objects' gravity, Cassie can amplify or lower sounds, Piper has x-ray vision, Astra can teleport, Tessa can hear animals' thoughts, Adora can heal injuries, Clover can freeze time, and Gemma can rewind time.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Glowfur songs are passed around to every glowfur that hears them, and the Song of Secrets can reveal deep truths. In Gemma's book, Lady Stella and Indirra compose a song this way to reach Itty, who alerts the other Star Darlings to where they are.
    • Leona's burnt-out Wish Pendant, and Ophelia's identical one, are some of the clues that the Star Darlings use in their investigation. In Gemma's book, Leona's pendant is restored and helps defeat Rancora.
  • The Chosen One: Prophecies, both good and bad, are seen throughout the series.
    • In Good Wish Gone Bad, Lady Stella and Lady Rancora were both subjects of a prophecy, with Stella saving Starland while Rancora would bring it to ruin.
    • An ancient book foretells of 12 young Starlings whose wish-granting will save Starland. In the web series the girls learn this immediately, but in the books they don't learn it until the very end of Tessa's book.
    • In Stealing Starlight another prophecy reveals that a Dark Starling will rise and decide the fate of Starland, and Rancora believes it's Vivica. The canceled book One Star Too Far would have had Sage become the Dark Starling after abandoning Vivica on Earth during a Wish Mission gone wrong.
  • Clear My Name: Scarlet's book starts with her investigating her removal from the Star Darlings, convinced it was a mistake. She proves herself when she saves Ophelia and the mission.
  • Cliffhanger:
    • Libby and the Class Election ends with the girls learning that Scarlet isn't actually a Star Darling. Later books have her trying to clear her name.
    • Cassie's book ends with the girls suspecting Ophelia of wrongdoing. They go to her room and find she's vanished, and for the first time in Starland's history the lights go out.
    • Stealing Starlight ends with Lady Stella discovering the prophecy about the Dark Starling and assuming it must be Vivica.
  • Compelling Voice: The Star Darlings have this power and use it to get around on Earth and get close to their assigned Wisher.
  • Compilation Movie: The first two TV specials were the webisodes spliced together to fit 22 minutes of runtime.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The third TV special, The Power of Twelve, is an abridged version of Gemma's book, mainly focusing on the Star Darlings' confrontation with Rancora.
  • The Corruption: The negative energy flowers that made everyone argue came from the Isle of Misera, a negative energy dumping ground. Negative energy in general threatens the way of life in Starland and makes people negative and evil, and in Astra's book some appears on Earth to block the girls' way.
  • Curtains Match the Window: The Star Darlings' eye colors all match their hair colors.
  • Cut Short: The books were canceled in January 2017 with three planned books being shelved, the webseries last aired in late 2016, and Jakks Pacific has ceased producing the toys. The books that were canceled, Star-Crossed Summer, Dark Starling, and One Star Too Far, would have continued dangling plot threads from Stealing Starlight, which ends on a cliffhanger.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Lady Stella and Lady Rancora had a troubled past as teens, which is revealed in Good Wish Gone Bad.
  • Deus ex Machina: Unlike the other Star Darlings, Clover and Gemma discover their special powers only in time to save their Wish Missions.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The franchise's main theme Wish Now, and other songs are performed by Alisha Wainwright, voice actress for wannabe singing sensation Leona.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The Power of Twelve special ends with Rancora defeated and disappearing, but in the last 5 seconds, her necklace flies away on its own to parts unknown, hinting she's far from gone.
  • Ensemble Cast: There are 12 main girls, each with her own book, as well as several Starling students and adults as well as inhabitants of Earth.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: Starlings' skin and hair have a natural sparkle to them.
  • Evil Counterpart: Rancora has a teardrop-shaped necklace that acts as a negative counterpart to the girls' Power Crystals.
  • Extreme Doormat: Libby is a people-pleaser to the extent that it's hard for her to make her own decisions and say no to people.
  • First-Episode Twist: The second book ends with Scarlet's dismissal from the Star Darlings, which isn't fully resolved until the fifth book.
  • Five-Man Band: While there are 12 Star Darlings in total, the web series and most merchandising primarily focuses on Sage, Libby, Leona, Vega, and Scarlet, who are also the first five Star Darlings focused on in the book series and the only ones part of a literal band.
  • Flintstone Theming: Many Starland terms and expressions have the word 'star' in them, to the point that there's a glossary at the back of the books to explain them.
  • Foil: As teens, Stella and Cora contrasted in many ways. Stella was devoted to being a Wish-Granter, frequently put the needs of others before herself, and was adept at reading situations while Cora wanted to be an actress, was selfish, and often misunderstood people and situations.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Subverted in-universe, as around 50 percent of wish missions end in failure, usually due to misidentifying the wisher, misidentifying the wish, or running out of time to grant it.
  • Full-Name Basis: Starling Academy professors are all referred to by their full names, by characters and in narration. The only exception is Lady Stella, whose last name, Albright, wasn't revealed until Good Wish Gone Bad.
  • Glamour: Star Darlings and Starlings in general adapt human appearances on Earth, covering up their skin's natural sparkle and unnaturally-colored hair and eyes.
  • Good Hurts Evil: Positive energy is toxic to the villain, Lady Rancora.
  • Grumpy Bear: Scarlet is usually broody and snarky all the time.
  • Hate Plague: Starting with the second book, Libby and the Class Election, something in Starland causes the girls to argue amongst themselves. It turns out to be the flowers in the girls' rooms, though this isn't explicitly confirmed until Scarlet's book.
  • Humans Are Morons: Compared to Starland, Earth is woefully primitive and weird, and several of the teachers find Wishlings very backward.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Stealing Starlight reveals Vivica wanted to be seen and admired like the Star Darlings, and turned to Rancora so she could get the attention she desired without any competition.
  • Intrigued by Humanity: Scarlet's greatest wish is to live on Wishworld, and she loves studying about it.
  • It's All About Me: Leona is pretty self-centered and has a loud personality, making working with her difficult at times.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: The Star Darlings have a calming effect on adult humans, usually involving them smelling their favourite dessert, which makes them susceptible to what the starling tells them.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: The books have an overarching story in the background, and details of what is going on in Starland are revealed a little at a time.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: After granting a wish, the Star Darlings erase their Wisher's memories of them. Sage notes in a later book that goodbye is the hardest part of the mission.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The villain of the series, Lady Rancora, is one of the direct subjects of Good Wish Gone Bad despite not fully being revealed until Gemma's book, the twelfth and final in the initial series. She's even on the cover of the book.
  • Long-Lived: Starlings can live for thousands of years. In the third book, Leona is surprised that humans consider a century to be a long time.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The details of granting good and bad wishes are delved into frequently.
  • Magical Accessory: The Star Darlings all have their own unique wish pendant, ranging from Libby's necklace and Piper's bracelets to Adora's wristwatch and the buckles on Scarlet's boots. Not only do these accessories disguise the Starlings as humans and contain wish energy, they light up to lead them to their designated Wisher.
  • The Masquerade: Besides the fact that Starlings can't be seen in their true forms on Earth, the Star Darlings themselves must act normal to the other students since their mission is a secret.
  • Mind-Control Music: In Gemma's book, Rancora uses Vivica's song about Starshine Day to brainwash almost everyone into being excited for it and wasting energy.
  • Mind over Matter: All Starlings have telekinesis via wish energy manipulation. Sage in particular is an expert at it.
  • Minimalist Cast: The webisodes mostly feature the core 5 Star Darlings, with the other 7 and side characters appearing occasionally.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: When a Mirror Mantra is said before a mirror, the Star Darlings can see their true appearances and gain a confidence boost.
  • Mistaken Identity:
    • Sage mistook a Wishling who wanted her classmates to attend her party as the one she was supposed to help, when it was actually a person behind her.
    • Libby has this happen with the wish itself. She mistook Ava's wish as wanting to win the class election when she actually wanted to stay friends with her campaign rival, Kristie.
  • The Needs of the Many: Lady Stella used this rationale for telling Lady Astrid what she and Cora had done, as it was a threat to all Starland, not just themselves. Cora, in contrast, was solely focused on herself and avoiding the trouble she caused.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • In Good Wish Gone Bad, Stella and Cora's attempt to inspire a girl instead causes her to make a bad wish. Cora's illegal attempt to destroy the orb ends up threatening Starland and exposing her to the negative energy unleashed, altering her personality and resulting in her expulsion.
    • The canceled book One Star Too Far would have had Sage abandoning Vivica on Earth and becoming a Dark Starling, and she would try and rescue Vivica and earn her forgiveness before it's too late.
  • Nigh-Invulnerable: The special Starland nail polish that gives everyone annoying habits is completely impervious to everything on Starland, and can only come off with nail polish remover from Earth.
  • Not Himself: After a party for all 12 Star Darlings in Cassie's book, every Star Darling begins to act oddly. The cause turns out to be the nail polish, though this isn't explicitly confirmed until Astra's book.
  • One-Gender School: The Star Darlings go to Starling Academy, an all-girls' school. A male equivalent, Star Prep, also exists.
  • Opposing Sports Team: Stellar School is a rival to Starling Academy in starball, and Vivica and the Visionaries acts as a rival band for the Star Darlings.
  • Out of Focus:
    • Besides Lady Stella and Lady Cordial, the other teachers at Starling Academy get very little focus.
    • In the web series, Cassie, Tessa, Clover, Gemma, Piper, Adora, and Astra get very little screentime, with some never getting speaking roles until the Power of Twelve special.
  • Painting the Medium: Vega's book opens with a crossword puzzle, which she's revealed to have made one page later.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: Astra, who has mastered every sport in the academy.
  • The Perfectionist: Vega wants to be the top student at the academy, and strives for the best grades.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: This wallpaper shows Sage, Libby, Leona, Scarlet, and Vega in Disney Princess-esque ballgowns.
  • Pinocchio Syndrome: Scarlet is fascinated by Earth and wants to live there, despite her life on Starland.
  • Polluted Wasteland: The Isle of Misera is a barren, dark island full of negative energy. Rancora later makes it her hideout.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Lady Astrid only showed Stella the prophecy involving her and Cora after it became relevant by happening. Lady Stella ends up repeating this with the 12 Star Darlings, which causes them to mistrust her.
  • The Power of Rock: In Stealing Starlight, the Star Darlings band uses music to save the day when everything else they try fails.
  • Prophecy Twist: Stealing Starlight contains a revelation that a Dark Starling will rise and decide the fate of Starland. The cast assumes it's Vivica, but had the series continued Sage leaving Vivica behind on Earth would have made her the prophesied Dark Starling, and Vivica forgiving Sage would save her and Starland.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: Once the Star Darlings defeat Rancora, the Wish Energy calculator swings so far to Good that it shatters.
  • Real Is Brown: When traveling to Wishworld, the Star Darlings' hair and eye colors changes to more realistic colors to blend in.
  • Recap Episode: Libby's book has a recap of Sage's adventure a fourth of the way through. It's justified in-universe as a teaching example, pointing out what Sage did wrong as well as what she did right.
  • Robot Maid: MO-J4, who attends the Star Darlings' daily needs. Starlings in general have Bot-Bots that fulfill this purpose.
  • Scenery Porn: The web series has beautifully-animated backgrounds and magic effects, and the music videos take them to an even greater level.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: At the end of the first arc, Lady Stella and Indirra are trapped in a cave guarded by negative energy crystals, and are saved by teaching the resident glowfurs a new song to pass onto Itty.
  • Secret Identity: The girls have to keep their mission as the Star Darlings a secret from others, to avoid risk against the negative magic.
  • Self-Serving Memory: Rancora's recollection of the events leading up to the series are very different from Lady Stella's, even before her exposure to negative energy.
  • Series Continuity Error: In the books "star salutations" is used to thank someone, while in the webseries it's used as a greeting.
  • Shared Family Quirks: Sisters Tessa and Gemma both have difficulty keeping focus.
  • The Sixth Ranger: Ophelia is a Star Darling brought in to replace Scarlet, though it later turns out she isn't one.
  • Skunk Stripe: While disguised on Earth, Star Darlings retain a streak of their natural hair color.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: In Stealing Starlight Vivica projects a negative energy force field to keep the Star Darlings away from her and her Wisher.
  • Space "X": Star is often used this way. To name a few: starmin/starsec, starcar, starkin, and star salutations.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The web series, Stealing Starlight, and most merchandising primarily focuses on Sage, Libby, Leona, Vega, and Scarlet, who are the only ones in the Star Darlings band.
  • Star Power: Starlings live on a star, use their magic to grant wishes to humans, and travel to Earth as shooting stars.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Averted with the Star Darlings' powers, as while they could solve a lot of problems on Starland, they only work on Wishworld.
  • Strictly Formula: The twelve Star Darlings' Wish Missions play out like this: A) Star Darling finds Wisher B) Star Darling makes mistake because of personal hurdle C) Another Star Darling comes to help and offer insight D) Star Darling's special power saves the day E) Mission is successful.
  • Sudden Name Change: In early books, the website, the cartoon, and the toys Cassie's pet glowfur is named Bitty, but in later books, including the collected volumes of the first books, it's named Itty.
  • Superior Species: Starlanders use magic to destroy their trash, have magic robot servants, can download basic knowledge into their brains, and on the whole are far more technically advanced than humans. Most of them are confused and amused by Wishworld's primitive ways.
  • Survival Mantra: Each Star Darling has a Mirror Mantra, which helps them focus and feel better about themselves in tough situations.
  • The Symbiote: Starland and Wishworld have the mutualism variant of this, as Starlanders grant Wishworlder's wishes to keep their planet alive. Without positive wish energy Starland would die out, and without granted wishes Earth would be a depressing place to live.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Scarlet and Sage, the two Star Darlings who are the best at manipulating wish energy. Sage has the natural talent and was a Child Prodigy, while Scarlet worked and studied hard to become The Ace she is today.
  • Timed Mission: Every wish-granting mission is timed by a Countdown Clock.
  • Toyless Toyline Character: Tessa, Astra, Adora, Gemma and Clover don't have dolls, and Piper only has a Wishworld outfit, not a Starland doll. Cassie has only a Wishworld outfit in the US, but a Starland doll with her pet Itty in the UK only.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: In the last two books of the first arc, Clover's Parent Fix and Gemma and the Ultimate Standoff, Lady Stella disappears and Lady Cordial is registered as temporary headmistress. Since she's actually Rancora the Big Bad, Cordial's period of power is spent posting robot guards around the academy and wasting wish energy under the guise of rationing it.
  • Uncoffee: Starland has Zing, which is brewed from leaves like tea, but serves all the purposes of coffee.
  • Unfortunate Names: When trying to think of a fake name, Libby gives herself the last name Liverwurst.
  • Utility Magic: Magic in Starland is used to grant wishes, but also to change clothes, create magic cafeterias that give you any food you want, recreate a person's room from home in their school dorm, and telekinetically move objects and people, among other uses.
  • Veganopia: No one on Starland, including animals, eats meat. When Libby sees an Earth zoo exhibit about sea lions eating fish, she's unsure how to feel, having never seen carnivores before.
  • Victory-Guided Amnesia: After the Star Darlings defeat Rancora in public, Lady Stella wipes everyone else's memories, saying they're not yet ready to be known to all yet. Vivica, however, resisted.
  • Wham Line: The last sentence of Clover's book throws everything the Star Darlings thought about the energy crisis into question, as Sage realizes the scientist working with Lady Stella is her mother.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Good Wish Gone Bad details Lady Stella and Rancora's history, showing how they were once best friends, how they had a falling out, what they did in the time leading up to the series, and Rancora's plans for the future, as seen in her journal.
  • Wish Upon a Shooting Star: Wish-on-a-star motifs are common throughout the franchise, particularly in how the Star Darlings get to Earth as well as the songs.
  • Wizarding School: The girls reside in Starling Academy where they learn to grant wishes on Earth.
  • Worldbuilding: Each book has a detailed glossary to explain terms, and goes into detail about Starland's world, culture, seasons, food, and life cycle. Tessa's book explains how contact between Starland and Wishworld began, and Good Wish Gone Bad explains a lot of Rancora's negative energy powers.
  • World-Healing Wave: After Rancora's defeat, the influx of positive energy sweeps across Starland and restores everything to normal.
  • You Go, Girl!: Lady Stella discovered Inspirational Wish Orbs and solved an energy drought by helping girls achieve things they hadn't before, such as being the first girl to win a scholarship.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Each Star Darling has a different, usually impossible hair color.
  • You Mean "Xmas": Starland has "Wish Giving," which, same as Thanksgiving, is an Autumn holiday celebrating the harvest. Other celebrations are closer to a Fictional Holiday, but "Light Giving Day" could be compared to the Vernal Equinox, and the Festival of Illumination to pre-Christianized Winter holidays like Yule and the Winter Solstice.
  • Your Normal Is Our Taboo: In Astra's Mixed-Up Mission, it is implied that a thumbs-up is the Starland equivalent to giving someone the middle finger.


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