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Be Careful What You Wish For

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Gaunter O'Dimm: In brief, I give folk what they ask for. You might say I simply grant their wishes.
Geralt: And drop them in a world of hurt.
Gaunter O'Dimm: No, not I! That would be their poorly-formulated wishes. I'm no cheat. I give folk what they want, nothing more. That they oft desire unworthy things... that is entirely the fault of their own rotten natures.

...because you just might get it.

A character makes a wish and actually gets what they wished for, only to find that the reality does not live up to their fantasy.

This trope is all about how a character who makes a wish comes to regret it; the actual circumstances vary. The wisher may or may not have known that their wish was actually going to be heard. The one which grants it may be anything from a wish-granting Genie who wants to show the character the error of their ways to a Jackass Genie who just wants them to suffer. A sudden appearance by Louis Cypher, ready to offer a Deal with the Devil, is not out of the question either. Sometimes the character gets a tour through an Alternate Timeline. Other times the mechanism of the granted wish is not even explained — the wisher gets what they want through nothing more than an ironic and coincidental twist of circumstances.

The "deal breaker" that makes the wish not worth it also comes in a lot of possible flavors. Perhaps the character finds out that what they wanted comes at the cost of something they wanted even more. Maybe the element of their life that they wanted gone is really essential to who they are; maybe the wish isn't all they thought it was cracked up to be; or maybe it just comes true in an unanticipated manner.

In many cases the character repents of their ill-considered wish and things revert to normal, though in some stories the character is stuck in the new situation and forced to deal with the consequences of their thoughtless wish.

This is an elementary form of deconstruction — the character wants X, and then they find out that X has unforeseen consequences or is less satisfying than expected. Nine times of ten this is an outright Aesop, though strictly speaking it doesn't have to be. A crucial element of playing that angle well is making the "deal breaker" a meaningful, inherent flaw to the original wish rather than something tacked on or that could have easily turned out differently if the character had more common sense. Otherwise, a Broken Aesop is guaranteed.

Often a cause of Blessed with Suck, though not the only one; wont to count as an Opinion-Changing Dream; Contains the same type of irony as Ironic Hell. In some cases the experience may lead the wisher to discover an Awful Truth.

Sub-Trope of Be Careful What You Say. Super-Trope of It's a Wonderful Plot, I Wish It Were Real, I Wished You Were Dead, Please Dump Me, and Rhetorical Request Blunder. Often overlaps with Full-Circle Revolution — "So you want new leadership? Meet the New Boss, same as the old boss."

Compare Accidental Incantation (which covers magical spells), Gone Horribly Right (when science or logic is involved rather than wishes), Wanting Is Better Than Having (when getting your wish ends with more disappointment than satisfaction), Tempting Fate (which does not specifically require a wish) and Original Position Fallacy (when someone wants something they know will be bad for some, but wrongfully assume they will benefit from it).

Contrast the Literal Genie, which ignores the intent of the wish in favor of the exact words; this trope is about the complications that arise when you get exactly what you wanted, rather than exactly what you said. A Jackass Genie is likely to cause this to happen, if they don't just twist your words entirely. The Benevolent Genie, too, may make this happen if they think you "need" to learn the lesson from getting your wish, or if they lack the common sense or human perspective to see that the wish is disastrous, or if they're just constrained to grant the wish no matter how disastrous it is.


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    Asian Animation 
  • Season 2 Episode 20 of Happy Heroes is about Doctor H. finding a bottle genie and wishing that he were married to his crush, Miss Peach. He ends up going through all three of his wishes trying to fix some problems inherent in the results, as side-effects of the wishes being made with no effort:
    • First, Doctor H. and Miss Peach are happily married, but with the trade-off that the heroes are now bullies and/or criminals due to Doctor H. ignoring them. The doctor consults the genie again and clarifies that he also wants the heroes to be good.
    • For the second wish, Doctor H. is married to Miss Peach and the heroes are well-behaved, but now Doctor H. has an incurable disease and could pass away from it at any second. Just before that happens, he makes it back to the genie and mentions that he also wants to be 100 years old so that no diseases will be able to hurt his younger self.
    • For the third and final wish, Doctor H. and Miss Peach are still married, but are now 100 years old just as the doctor wanted. The only problem here is that Doctor H. finds the senior citizen Miss Peach to be less attractive than her younger self... at which point he gives up on the wish entirely and begs for everything to go back to normal.
  • Mechamato: Pian yells for Rubika's hand to let go of Amato and open the door which was blocking him, but it opens instantly afterwards. The giant hand drops Amato and invites him in, but Pian just slowly backs out of the room in fear.

    Comic Strips 

    Eastern European Animation 
  • Gypsy Tales: In "The Gypsy Woman and the Devil", Vunida wants to feed her thirteen starving children. She gets her wish when the devil turns her into a cherry tree; while her fruit helps them survive into adulthood, they never realize the tree is their cursed mother, not even when they hear the wise old man tell the story of her encounter with the devil.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In "The Twelve Wild Ducks", a queen says, "If I only had a daughter as white as snow and as red as blood, I shouldn't care what became of all my sons." A troll witch hears and takes her sons.
  • In "The Seven Ravens," the father wishes his sons were ravens for their being so forgetful. (To add to the irony, he was mistaken about why they hadn't done as he said.)
  • In "The Myrtle", a woman wishes for a child, even a sprig of myrtle.
  • In "Hans the Hedgehog", the father wishes for a child, "even if it be a hedgehog". His wife gives birth to a child that is half-hedgehog, half-boy. Though the couple takes care of the boy, eventually the father secretly wishes that Hans would die.
  • Similar stories went around in seventeenth-century England. In some cases a Catholic or Anglican parent would rather their unborn child have no head than be a Roundhead; in others, a Puritan would wish for their child have no head rather than have a priest make the Sign of the Cross on it. Either way, they ended up with a headless baby.
  • In "The Ludicrous Wishes", a poor couple that rescues an elf and is granted three wishes in return. The wife, being hungry, wishes she had a nice, tasty sausage. Her husband scolds her for wasting a wish on such a mundane thing and blurts out in anger: "I wish that stupid sausage was stuck on your nose!" which is exactly what happens next. In the end, they have to use the third wish to get the sausage off the poor woman's face and have thus wasted all three of them.
  • There's a story from somewhere in Africa about a tribe that doesn't exist anymore, because when seeking a reward from some supernatural being, the men said that the best thing that could happen to them was for their wife to give them a son, and for their cattle to give them female calves. — So be it, all your children shall be sons and all your calves shall be heifers. — They rejoiced, until...
  • "Prince Ivan, the Witch Baby, and the Little Sister of the Sun": Your son does not talk. Wish for any child at all, because things can't be worse, and you get a witch child born with iron teeth who eats you up.
  • Played with in one fairy tale about a girl who lies dying during the early spring from a malady winter has afflicted her with who wishes that she could at least get to live for as long as the beautiful spring flowers in her garden still bloom so she can meet with her boyfiend who is set to return to her before summer. She near instantly becomes healthy and, unusually for the way these kinds of tales tend to work out, seems fully aware of the fact that her life is now tied to her garden flowers and starts taking good care of them to ensure her own survival. She never regrets her wish or angsts about how her days are numbered but is simply thankful for the additional time she has been given and is even more loving and kind to her family than usual... Cue her unknowing boyfriend returning while she's napping in the garden: he plucks the flowers, braids them into a crown and wakes her up by placing it upon her head. The girl quickly realizes what the boy has done and hurriedly sets the flowers in water but over the following days. As the flowers wither away, so does the girl. The story ends with the last petals of the flowers falling as the girl peacefully passes away with her family and devastated boyfriend at her side while the hushed laughs of The Fair Folk are heard from the garden.
  • In The Boy Who Found Fear at Last, the Fearless Fool protagonist goes through a series of terrifying adventures in his quest to "find fear", all without batting an eye. But when he's made a king at the end of the story, he finally finds fear at the prospect of the The Chains of Commanding and the burden of trying to be a good ruler.
  • In "Zeus and the Bee", one of Aesop's Fables, Zeus offers to grant the bee a wish after she presents him with honey. The bee tells him that she is constantly having her honey stolen from her and asks for a weapon to defend her honey. Zeus is displeased by the selfish nature of the wish, but being obliged to grant it, he gives her a barbed spear... which he implants directly into her abdomen, so that it will tear out her insides and kill her if she uses it.
  • One account of the story of the Flying Dutchman (first published in Blackwood's Magazine in 1821) goes that the captain was caught in a storm off the coast of South Africa, and swore he would make it around the Cape of Good Hope if it took him until Judgement Day. Sure enough, to this day he's still trying to navigate his Ghost Ship through the stormy seas.
  • In the Andrew Lang's tale "The Stonecutter", a discontent stonecutter makes contact with the spirit of the mountain from whom he cuts stone. The spirit offers him wishes which the stonecutter uses to change his lot in life. But with each new life he finds himself seeing someone more powerful and coveting that power. It culminates in him wishing he was the mountain, thinking that nothing can topple a mountain. After granting this wish, the spirit leaves since this last wish essentially caused the ex-stonecutter to replace him as the mountain's spirit. The new mountain spirit is satisfied with his wish at first, until he feels another stonecutter chipping away at the mountain...
  • The herdsmen in "Sennentuntschi" wanted a mountain wife, so they made themselves one of straw and cloth and treated it as they'd apparently treat a woman if she were alone up in the mountains with them. Then the doll comes to life and plays her assigned part. What the herdsmen failed to take into account is that they might be held responsible for their actions.
  • "Little Otik": After spending a long while wishing for a child, one couple are devoured by their adoptive child.
  • In "The Gold Mountain", the titular place's princess gives her husband a wishing ring to carry him right to his parents but begs one promise of him: He must never wish his wife or son from their home at Gold Mountain. He agrees and wishes himself home, but the King carelessly wishes his father could see his wife and son, and they are brought immediately before them by the wishing ring. The princess is furious, but holds her tongue. She takes her husband for a long walk and picnic and when he falls asleep she steals the ring and immediately wishes herself and her son home.
  • In "The Story of Prince Scursuni", a Sicilian variant of "Prince Lindworm", a childless queen prays to God to give her a child, "even if it's a scursuni" (a kind of serpent). God grants her wish as worded.

  • Somewhere in the Soviet Union... A Russian catches a goldfish, who speaks: "Dear man, free me and I'll grant your one greatest wish." The Russian thinks for a moment: "Well, I have a solid, well-paid job, a beautiful wife, two great children, a car, a flat... What could I wish for? I know! I want to receive the Hero Of The Soviet Union!" The fish nodded: "Your wish is granted!" Suddenly the guy is caught in a giant blast. As it recedes, the man finds himself sitting in a foxhole, wearing a worn-out battledress, with a rifle with a few bullets and several grenades and the bodies of other Russian soldiers lying all around. The man looks out and notices a large group of Nazi tanks advancing towards his foxhole. Suddenly, he realizes: "Holy fuck! It's a posthumous one!!!"
  • Another, post-Soviet one: "We always knew everything we were told about Communism was a lie. Only when it was too late did we realize everything about Capitalism was true."
  • Man catches a goldfish and wished for riches, power, and a beautiful wife. Next morning he wakes up in an opulent palace, surrounded by splendor, luxury and obedient servants. A gorgeous woman comes into the bedroom and tells him: "Ferdinand, sweetheart, get up. It's time we go to Sarajevo."note  Another variant has the man make the same wish, be surrounded by luxury, and then hear the words "If you'll step this way so we can take your picture, Tsar Nicholas." note 
  • A poor woman comes across a genie's lamp and is offered the choice of wealth, power, or wisdom. She thinks carefully about her options and eventually goes with wisdom, figuring that money can't buy happiness and that power always comes with too many responsibilities. The genie grants the wish; after a moment, the woman looks around, realizes she's still poor and powerless, and remarks "Fuck, I'm stupid."
  • Combining this trope with an Evil Lawyer Joke; a man who has lost a case in court and now has his wages garnished, finds a lamp and lets the genie out. The genie gives him three wishes, upon which the man says, “For my first wish, I want all lawyers to disappear.” Genie grants him his wish and Poof! All the lawyers in the world are gone. The man says, “For my second wish …” The genie interrupts him and proclaims, “No more wishes!” The man complains, “But you promised me three wishes! You have to keep your word.” Genie retorts, “So, I changed my mind. What are you going to do? Sue me?”

  • The Druid Of Seoul Station has Suho Park wishing to go somewhere where there are no humans and he ended up transported to another world where there are no other humans.

    Myths & Religion 
  • From The Bible:
    • Even God could be harsh in granting wishes when the wishers were being too whiny. In response to the Israelites complaining about all manna and no meat, He gave them meat for a month "until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you" (KJV).
      • Ten of the twelve Israelites sent to spy out the Promised Land insisted that its people were too strong to conquer, even though they had God on their side. The people declared that it would be better to die in the desert than try to conquer the Land. God, furious, declared that they wouldn't enter the Land until every man who complained had, in fact, died in the desert. Cue 39 more years of wandering.
    • During the time of the Judges, Israel had no king (except for God Himself). The Israelites decided they didn't like this situation and wanted a human king like all the surrounding nations. So God tells them, "Alright, I'll give you your king, but you won't like him very much". In no fewer than four kings (Saul, David, Solomon, Rehoboam), Israelites got so tired of all the work imposed by the king (particularly Solomon, who built the temple and many other great works) that 10 tribes chose to follow a different fellow named Jeroboam, instead of Rehoboam, son of Solomon, splitting the nation into the northern kingdom of Israel and southern kingdom of Judah. As if this wasn't bad enough, most of the time (starting especially with Jeroboam), the kings (and their foreign-born queens) led the nation into idolatry, until the northern kingdom of Israel was wiped out by Assyrians and the southern kingdom of Judah underwent a long period of captivity in Babylon.
    • Even the kings were occasionally punished for their wasteful wishes. When David fell in love with the married Bathsheba, he sent her husband Uriah to his death to have her for himself. God, furious, sent the prophet Nathan to tell David a story about two men, one rich and one poor. The rich man had many sheep, while the poor man had only one—but when the first man wanted to hold a banquet, he stole and slaughtered the second's sheep rather than serve one of his own. David, upset by this story, remarked that he wished the first man would be brutally punished for his selfishness and greed...whereupon Nathan told him that David himself was the rich man, as he'd taken Bathsheba despite having wealth and concubines of his own. The wish for punishment came true, as Bathsheba and David's child died in retaliation for their sins.
  • One particular instance is Draupadi, the Pandavas' wife, in the Mahabharata yearning for a husband in her previous life. She wanted her husband to be as strong as Vayu, as talented as Indra, as moral as Dharma and as beautiful as the Ashwini twins. She forgot to specify that she wanted one husband. As a result, in her next incarnation, she married five brothers and was the wife of five husbands simultaneously.
  • The legend of King Midas (the first part, at least) is a good example. Upon finding the drunken satyr Silenus, a follower of Dionysus, trespassing on his property, Midas treated him hospitably for ten days rather than punishing him. Dionysus offered Midas a reward for his charity, offering him anything he wanted; Midas asked that anything he touched be turned to gold. Although the god warned him that he had made a foolish wish, he still granted it. Though Midas was happy at first, it soon became obvious that he had indeed been foolish. His daughter was quickly turned into a statue by this power, and Midas couldn't even touch food without it turning to gold. When faced with starvation, he begged Dionysus to take the gift back...fortunately, Dionysus told him his condition could be fixed by washing in the river Pactolus, and Midas doing so cured him while turning the water and sand in the river to gold (which had a lot of electrum in it in ancient times).

    Pro Wrestling 
  • One particularly famous example occurred at ECW's Hardcore Heaven 1994. Terry Funk and Cactus Jack had beaten down Public Enemy for interrupting their main event match, and during so, they asked no one in particular in the audience to toss them a chair. Cue every one of their fans complied, subsequently burying them and Public Enemy in a pile of chairs. It even got to the point where Joey Styles had to ask the audience 5 times in a row to not throw chairs into the ring until they finally ran out.
  • Razor Ramon would often encourage children to be just like him, a disrespectful brute who took whatever he wanted. Well, one child did end up like Razor, and Razor Ramon turned out to not like having to deal with him.
  • The Four Horsemen and Kevin Sullivan's Dungeon of Doom, as tired of everyone else in WCW of Hulk Hogan, joined together to form The Alliance To End Hulkamania. Well, they failed, but everyone was still sick of Hogan, so Hulkamania ended up dying of natural causes. But Hulk Hogan didn't leave just because he no longer had the power of the Hulkamaniacs, oh no. He formed the nWo, a group worse for WCW than the Horsemen, Dungeon Of Doom and Hulkamania combined.
  • On Friday Night Smackdown, the fans voted for Randy Orton to be the first challenger to WWE World Heavyweight Champion Christian. The same fans were less than enthused when Randy won.
  • Monday Night Raw referee Brad Maddox wanted to be a wrestler, he wanted to have matches. So he got them, with Ryback, The Great Khali, Brodus Clay, Randy Orton and Sheamus. Subverted, in that Maddox was just a fall guy set up by Paul Heyman to protect CM Punk.
  • Said word for word when Sara Del Rey beat up Santana Garrett at EVOLVE 14, mocked the then new SHINE promotion for using Garret as a front runner, then challenged a wrestler she stumbled upon the prior month and deemed the best competition SHINE could offer, Jazz.
  • On the unauthorized ROH A Night Of Hoopla, The American Wolves were repeatedly mocked for wearing pants, Eddie Edwards by the Hoopla Hotties, Davey Ricards getting chants of "Take Your Pants Off" and "Pants Still On" from the crowd itself. However, when Richards actually did pull them down, the chant changed to "Keep Them On!".
  • When MVP became director of wrestling operations for TNA, Bully Ray would criticize him for not using the powers allotted by the position to their fullest potential. Then Don Sterling lost his National Basketball Association team, The LA Clippers, which not only lead to MVP using the powers allotted to him as director of wrestling operations to their fullest in the most spiteful ways possible, but him deciding that those powers were not enough. Soon Bully Ray was accusing MVP of having a god complex.
  • The Nexus wanted a newer, stronger leader than Wade Barrett. They got one in the form of CM Punk, a multiple-time world champion who is one of the few wrestlers that can go toe-to-toe with John Cena — who also happened to be a sadistic, Ax-Crazy Cult leader that didn't give a shit about any of them at all. Under Punk's leadership, the (New) Nexus suffered disturbing hazing and were eventually degraded into being his attack dogs in his vendetta against Randy Orton, who completely obliterated the entire stable except for Punk himself within three months.

    Tabletop Games 
  • One of the supplements for the Chronicles of Darkness series, Mysterious Places, has the Swimmin' Hole, which occasionally grants wishes to those who spill blood in it. One such example of the end result is a man named Eddie Lansdale, whose last wish was that his ex-girlfriend, Edith, would come back to him. She did, but the power behind the Swimmin' Hole had turned her into an undead abusive Yandere.
  • Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine has a special chart for Reality Syndrome characters, used to determine which foundations of a wish are likely to go well and which are more likely to end up failing horribly instead of entertainingly. A character who wishes for a friend because they are lonely and who has "a little lonely" on their sheet is likely to get it or something like it quite easily; wishing for your own pet shoggoth because you are lonely is...less likely to work out well, put it that way. (Incentive for the archetypal Reality Syndrome character, Chuubo, to fail horribly anyway is provided by a system wherein he gets bonus XP for making the other players Face Palm in an amused fashion.) In the Glass-Maker's Dragon campaign, the "standard" Wishing Child is expected to finish up their story by concluding that wishes just aren't worth the trouble and sacrificing that ability, instead choosing to make do with just the ability to turn into a giant snake - but there are plenty of opportunities to derail this in play if you have a different idea of where to go.
  • This trope is a staple of fantasy roleplaying when wishes are available to players, often spurring almost comic efforts to avoid loopholes, poor wording, or ill-conceived wishes. In Dungeons & Dragons, Wishes are most often obtained from literal Jerkass Genies and demons, which should be a pretty clear warning. The most powerful arcane spellcasters in 3rd edition can make wishes safely within certain parameters; beyond those, GMs are encouraged to get creative with unexpected side effects. Particularly if a player is trying to make a game-breaking wish.
  • You can ask a higher power to directly intervene in battle in Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok, but if the runes are not with you, they might very well appear on the battlefield and kick the crap out of your party instead of helping you.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The game has a cycle of Wish cards, the flavour text of each of which is a variant on the following: "He wished for X, but not for the [Required Secondary Power] to [effectively use] it." The Future Sight block added another one as one of its many Call Backs.
    • Braid of Fire is based around this. It gives you increasing amounts of mana at the start of your upkeep, and by its mana given/casting cost ratio is one of the best mana accelerants ever made. But unlike most it happened uncontrollably, and it was also made in the days of mana burn; if you couldn't find something to spend all that mana on before your mana pool emptied, you'd take increasing amounts of damage, giving you a choice between hoping something turned up before it killed you and giving up so much lovely extra mana.
    • Wishclaw Talisman, a Shout-Out to The Monkey's Paw, lets you get any card you want from your library for a ridiculously cheap mana cost. The catch? You have to give the talisman to one of your opponents after you do this and they get to do the same thing.
  • Warhammer 40,000: In the background fluff of the Changeling, the Dark Angels besieging the fortress of a rogue planetary Governor who'd turned to Chaos. The governor asks the daemon of Tzeentch for a way to break the siege, the daemon asks for the Governor's daughter in exchange for the favour. The Governor grimly complies and the Changeling hands him something and disappears. The governor just has time to wonder what it is before he is surrounded by the hulking blue force fields heralding teleporting Space Marine Terminators; the Changeling had stolen a teleporter homer from a nearby Ravenwing biker, which was keyed to that of the attached Deathwing Terminator Squads. The siege was indeed swiftly ended.
    • Horus's greatest wish was to be remembered. Now no one will forget his name.
    • The Necrontyr wanted immortality. The C'tan granted that turning them into undying robotic horrors. Not surprisingly, some of the Necrons who still have some of their mental faculties have decided that being fleshy short-lived mortals wasn't so bad after all.
    • Unlike Space Marines, who are only ever grafted into Dreadnoughts in order to save their lives, Orks queue up to be welded into Deff Dredds because Dredds are 1) big, 2) loud, 3) stompy and 4) covered in chainsaws and guns. Many soon discover that the drawback to being permanently wired into a giant metal can is that you have been permanently wired into a giant metal can.
    • As The Eldar fell deeper into depraved hedonism, the sane ones warned them that a new entity is forming in the warp, quite possibly a god. The hedonistic Eldars increased their efforts, because a god of hedonism is what they want now. They got it alright, and found out that eternal hedonism may not be synonymous with 'pleasure'.
    • Gallus Herodicus, Chapter Master of the Seekers of Truth Space Marine chapter, hated having to carry out mass executions for the Inquisition and prayed each night for a way to know when a man was lying, so that his warriors could know to only kill the guilty. Unfortunately, Tzeentch answered his prayer by giving the Chapter the ability to hear every lie spoken by mankind. The Seekers of Truth promptly went insane at the realisation how corrupt the Imperium was and went rogue in a matter of days, becoming a warband of Chaos Space Marines known as "The Scourged".

  • Hamilton:
    • Hamilton keeps goading Burr to take action and stand up for his beliefs. Burr then proceeds to run Hamilton's father-in-law out of a Senate seat and then becomes a potential presidential candidate.
    • Philip Hamilton sings that he wants a little brother. After he dies, his younger brother is named Philip.
  • In Shakespeare's Henry V, Henry asks three traitorous nobles what he should do with a drunk who called him a nasty name. The nobles, unaware that Henry knows of their treachery, tell him emphatically that he should show no mercy for this (minor) infraction and punish the drunk harshly. In doing so, they leave themselves no room to ask for mercy when Henry reveals his knowledge of their betrayal. He has them executed.
  • Shows up in I Married an Angel.
  • Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods: Everyone wishes for something at one point — in fact, the beginning prologue song comprised of mostly the lyrics "I wish, more than anything, more than life" — but it typically backfires. Cinderella wishes to go to the Festival but doesn't count on a prince chasing her around the woods. The Baker and his wife wish to have a child but don't intend to also run around the woods trying to get stuff for the Witch. This theme carries through the whole thing. Just when you think everything is resolved, someone whispers "I wish...", which kicks off the whole second half of the play.
    Company during Finale: Children Will Listen: Careful the wish you make, / Wishes are children. / Careful the path they take, / Wishes come true, / Not free.
  • In Jasper in Deadland, Agnes mentions that she wants her and Jasper to be one of "the great couples of all time", like Orpheus and Eurydice. She gets her wish when she drowns the next day and Jasper embarks on an Orphean Rescue to save her.
  • In Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, the hapless (and gormless) Tom Rakewell's troubles start with him wishing he had money, upon which a mysterious manservant appears to inform him that an estranged uncle has left him a fortune. Once Tom realises that urban decadence and high living are no substitute for the love he left behind in the countryside, he wishes he were happy, and his servant convinces him to marry a genderbending circus artist. Once the marriage falls apart, he dreams of a machine that turns stone into bread and, upon waking, wishes it were true; the servant wheels in a prototype. The machine is a complete fraud, and Tom is bankrupted. You'd think the fact that the servant gives his name as "Nick Shadow" would have rung a bell at some point...
  • Salem: Mary says this exactly to Mercy after recounting how she came to be George Sibley's wife.
  • The Snow Maiden. Kupava wishes her best friend the Snow Maiden (shunned by boys because of literal frigidity) would too find someone who'd love her. Five minutes later, cue Kupava's own bridegroom dumping her for the Snow Maiden, publicly humiliating Kupava in the process.
  • Jason Robert Brown's Songs for a New World features this trope in song form. One of the melodies in the cycle, "Stars and the Moon," is a singer reflecting on their life. The singer reminisces about meeting two men who offered them immaterial treasures, like hope, truth, adventure, passion, and the "stars and the moon" themselves. The singer turned both down, as they wished for a life of luxury and expensive things instead. The singer next met a multimillionaire "who retired at age thirty," and got all of the things they'd ever dreamed of—yachts, villas, cars, jewels...only to wake up one morning, look at all of their belongings, and realize, to their sorrow, that for all this, they'd "never have the moon."
  • During "The Wizard and I" in Wicked, Elphaba sings of one day being known by everyone in Oz. Since it's a Foregone Conclusion that she's going to become the Wicked Witch, she gets exactly what she wanted.

    Visual Novels 
  • Amnesia: Memories
    • Ikki was in elementary school and tended to be ignored by the girls. He saw a shooting star and wished to become popular with girls... and he was given the power to make any woman fall in love with him that looked him in the eye. Now he cannot go out in public without getting accosted by girls and women, and wearing sunglasses only has limited success in keeping them away.
    • Ukyo wished for the heroine's fate of death to be averted, and this summoned Lord Nhil to him. He sent Ukyo to alternate universes, where the heroine was still alive, to let them meet again and live, but the heroine either died or Ukyo died. This happened so many times that it caused Ukyo to go insane and be torn between loving the heroine and wanting her to live and his own, twisted sense of survival and willingness to kill her himself.
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: Depending on if you believe the mastermind, the entire game is this for the characters. According to Tsumugi, the characters were originally average, untalented, high school students who were extreme fans of the long-running reality show, Danganronpa, and auditioned to be on the fifty-third season. While only Kaede, Shuichi and Kaito's audition tapes were shown, all three were obsessed with the show, excited at the prospect of murder, and Kaito in particular was thrilled with the idea of massacring everyone. However, after being accepted, the students' personalities and memories were overwritten, and they were given new identities for the sake of pleasing the audience, making it so not one of them enjoyed their dreams being fulfilled.
    • Some of the executions also fall into this category, with Kaito having wished desperately to see space, and being sent there as part of his punishment. However, this ended up being subverted because his illness killed him before the punishment was completed, and thus he got his wish, which made Monokuma livid.
    • During the fifth trial, Shuichi sought to find the 'truth beyond the truth'. The case in question surrounded Kokichi faking Kaito's death and purposely having Kaito kill him, all the while making it impossible to deduce who the killer was in an attempt to nullify the killing game, which would have saved everyone. Unfortunately, Shuichi got what he wanted and ended up figuring out the truth, only to discover he had allowed Monokuma to catch on, resulting in Kaito's execution and Kokichi's plan being absolutely pointless.
  • Date Warp: When Janet finds out about how much Nathaniel loves Bianca she wishes that she was his princess instead. In his bad end, her soul ends up being stuck in Bianca's body.
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Discussed in many places throughout the novel, but generally averted. A prevading theme seems to be 'do what you can with your own ability, and accept your own failures if it doesn't work.'
    • In life, Archer wanted to save everyone but lacked the strength and ability to do so. He eventually made a contract with the world to become a Counter Guardian. It was only later he discovered that Counter Guardians don't save people, they slaughter humans en masse to prevent situations which would cause even more deaths.
    • Also played straight in "Unlimited Blade Works" when Shinji obtains the Holy Grail... by having it implanted in his body, transforming him into its vessel. He recovers and is noted to have reverted to a more pleasant personality after overcoming his obsession.
    • And played straight: Angra Mainyu/Avenger was an ordinary villager whose compatriots chose him to be the embodiment of all mankind's sins and sacrificed him in order to purify themselves. His soul was engraved with the "wish" for there to be a singular source from which all of humanity's evils stemmed, a wish which the Grail attempted to grant when it absorbed Avenger. As a result there now exists an Embodiment of Evil made up of every sin mankind has ever or will ever commit gestating within the Grail, waiting for a wish to free it.
  • Played with in Tatarigoroshi-hen of Higurashi: When They Cry. Keiichi wishes Irie and Ooishi were dead, then Irie commits suicide and Ooishi disappears. Then, thinking he had entered another dimension, he wishes the entire village of Hinamizawa destroyed... and it gets destroyed. His wishes had nothing to do with the deaths; they were pure coincidences.
  • This comes up in case 4 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney when von Karma jokingly suggests putting the witness's pet parrot on the stand. When you decide to humor him, he wastes no time raising an objection. Should've stayed quiet, old man.
    • Later, in Justice for All, Matt Engarde wants to be found Not Guilty to the point where he hires an assassin to blackmail Phoenix with the threat of Maya being killed. When all's said and done, he can absolutely get that Not Guilty verdict... after Phoenix has told the assassin he hired that Matt intended to blackmail him. The assassin is furious and states outright that if he ever sees his employer outside of prison, he will kill him. The guy eventually confesses to avoid getting a Not Guilty verdict and being put in the assassin's sights.
  • Spirit Hunter series:
    • Moe from Spirit Hunter: Death Mark is a big occult fan and has always wanted to meet a ghost. She found meeting Hanahiko terrifying.
    • Kaoru from Spirit Hunter: NG is a fan of the occult and geeks out at the genuinely threatening spirits that she fights alongside Akira. In one Bad End, she's decapitated by one of said spirits. While she claims to be excited at the genuine supernatural experience, the narrative notes that she's actually terrified in her last few moments before death.
  • One of the side stories in Kagetsu Tohya has Shiki living in a world based on Twin Threesome Fantasy fantasy scenario he had. The problem is, he realized such a thing could never happen unless they were in a world all by themselves plus he's currently already trapped inside a "Groundhog Day" Loop. So the Dream Within a Dream he has just traps him a world where he's living forever inside the mansion grounds with only Kohaku and Hisui, doing whatever he likes with them while slowly going insane.
  • The Jerkass protagonist of Yandere I Love You So I Want To Kill You wants to have sex with as many girls as possible. He gets his wish, but, as the title suggests, he gets a few Yandere girls who may try to kill him if he makes the wrong choice.
  • Brought up in Your Turn to Die's backstory: several people were approached and signed consent forms allowing the company behind those forms to grant them a single wish, whether it'd be to reunite with family or cure injuries. The price paid for those wishes? Forced participation in a Deadly Game.

    Web Animation 
  • In the season one finale of Camp Camp, after spending a good part of the season trying to breakdown his annoyingly optimistic and chipper councilor, David, Max finally gets David to come around to his cynical view of the world... and immediately feels like crap for it.
  • In the "Deadpool vs. The Mask" fight in DEATH BATTLE!, Wiz and Boomstick deliberately pit the Merc with a Mouth against the far more powerful Big Head for the former to be curb-stomped. They get way more than what they bargained for, however, as the two end up regretting their decision and while realizing their bias, a letter sent to them by The Mask during the fight arrives, and in one of the most poignant moments in the series, Deadpool thanks Wiz and Boomstick for letting him appreciate who he really is, and to finally drive the whole point of this trope home, Deadpool reappears in front of them, much to their horror, thanks to the Continuity Stone, allowing him to get the last laugh on the two.
  • Eddsworld: In "The End: Part 1", Eduardo, annoyed at Jon, says to him "I wish you were dead." In Part 2, Jon dies after Tord fires a rocket at Eduardo's house. He doesn't take it well.
  • AOK demonstrated this trope in both episodes of Very Off Parents, which is fitting considering that the shorts were spoofs of The Fairly OddParents! and the source material's penchant for that trope.
  • FreedomToons: "Game Stonks" has a rich person tell a poor person to stop buying lattes and invest his money instead. The poor person takes his advice and invests in Game Stop, resulting in the rich person being left in dirty rags and poor himself. The investor then declares that he can buy all the lattes he wants now that he's rich, resulting in the now poor rich man yelling a Big "NO!".
  • In Lucky Day Forever, 514 finally wins the lottery in this film, but he gets locked into the Lotus-Eater Machine and gets used as resources for the Whites.
  • RWBY:
    • Team RWBY desperately wants Ozpin to be honest with them, especially when they realise that some of his secrets carry the consequence of endangering lives. Although he tries to warn them that people who learn his secrets inevitably turn against him, they believe that they will be different and ignore his frustrated observation that he's heard that one before, too. When Oscar tells them how they can learn what Ozpin's hiding, they jump at the chance to finally understand what the Secret War with Salem is really about. By asking the Relic of Knowledge, they learn about the history of Ozpin and Salem, how their war began and the fact that the fate of humanity is at stake. However, the only thing they can focus on is the revelation that Salem is impossible to kill and that Ozpin doesn't know how to defeat her. This truth is so awful for them that they do exactly what Ozpin predicted: they turn on him in anger and his most loyal supporter, Qrow, wants nothing more to do with him.
    • Jaune Arc's original goal was to become a hero, a veritable Knight in Shining Armor. Over time, he comes to learn that heroism isn't all it's cracked up to be, leaving him a Knight in Sour Armor. Being trapped in the Ever After alone for years transformed him into the Rusted Knight, a fairy tale hero from one of Remnant's most beloved children's stories. However, he learns the truth behind the fairy tale is deeply unpleasant; Alyx is a selfish person who becomes increasingly paranoid and cruel over time, betraying both Jaune's attempts to help her and her own brother in her quest to get back home. Bitter, jaded and burned out, Jaune is now a Knight in Sour Armor who believes he can't even make it as a make-believe hero, never mind a real one.


Linda wants transparency

Linda wants Lucifer to be 100% with her. She gets it.

How well does it match the trope?

4.78 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor

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