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Bluebird of Happiness

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A king to marry and bluebirds to herald it.

"There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover tomorrow,
Just you wait and see
There'll be love and laughter, and peace ever after, tomorrow,
When the world is free,
The shepherd will tend his sheep,
A valley will bloom again,
Jimmy will go to sleep in his own little room again
There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover tomorrow,
Just you wait and see"
(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover

Feeling blue? Don't! Look, there's a bluebird perched there!

Perhaps it's because they're a shade of Heavenly Blue, but bluebirds are symbols of happiness — and this indeed, covers several entirely different species of songbirds, as long as they have blue feathers.

A common plot is to go on The Quest for one only to return home empty-handed and find it was already there. Outlining the lesson that home is where you will find happiness is optional. While they have learned to recognize it from the quest, it's usually not It's the Journey That Counts, because it is usually treated as something they should have recognized even before.

Besides this MacGuffin status, they can also be local color, but because of the symbolism, they are seldom the Loyal Animal Companion.

As true bluebirds (actually members of the thrush family) are only native to North America, any instance of them showing up in Europe is Misplaced Wildlife. However, some mentions of "blue birds" in popular fiction and poetry, such as the French play L'Oiseau Bleu, predate the discovery of the American bluebird; they are thought to be references to a different bird known as the blue rock-thrush.

Contrast Caged Bird Metaphor. For other birds with similar connotations, see Cute Owl and Doves Mean Peace.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Pretty Rhythm: Rainbow Live, Ann calls her Pair Friend, Poppun (a blue penguin), a "bluebird of happiness" when they first meet. At the time, she's forced to work in her family's senbei shop due to her Fantasy-Forbidding Father when she'd rather be at Prism Stone making sweets for customers.
  • Shiawase Tori-mingu: Translated into English, the title means "birdwatching happiness" in reference to the legend, which is discussed in the first chapter. Also subverted when one Literal-Minded character mentions that if you want to find a kingfisher (i.e. a literal blue bird) you should look for the giant piles of poop it leaves behind.

    Comic Books 
  • In Monstress, one briefly lands on a Cumaea leader's finger in a tender moment, before she crushes it.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side had one strip where a man is abandoned by the Bluebird of Happiness and is instead visited by the Chicken of Depression.
  • There was a Pearls Before Swine Sunday comic where Pig receives a visit from the Bluebird of Happiness, which makes Pig really happy since he never received a visit from such a bird. Subverted afterwards, when it turns out that the Bluebird actually had the wrong address, because he held the directions upside-down, and was really looking for Joseph C. Skalabonsky, so he flies away, leaving Pig sad and alone once again.
  • In Prickly City, a bluebird came up to and sang to a moping Carmen — she observes: "No anguish goes unchallenged."
  • In Frazz, a girl's bad mood is underscored by her ignoring a bluebird flying by.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Tangled, the birds flitting about Rapunzel after her descent were bluebirds.
  • Song of the South: "Mr. Bluebird is on my shoulder... It is the truth, it's actual, everything is satisfactual..."
  • At the end of Yellow Submarine, the Chief Blue Meanie decides a Heel–Face Turn is natural for him because "my cousin is the Bluebird of Happiness."
  • Snow White sings to one.
  • Shrek parodies this, having Fiona sing to one... causing it to explode.
  • The Rescuers: A flashback shows Rufus (the orphanage cat) comforting Penny, who is dejected because a couple who came to the orphanage to adopt a child chose another girl over her. Rufus points out a bluebird in the orphanage grounds, and tells Penny:
    "Faith is a bluebird you see from afar."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Maid Marion encounters a "happy little bluebird" as she sings about finding her true love.
    "Oof! That happy little bluebird has left a happy little doo-doo on your hand."
  • Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird subverts this. The captured Big Bird, painted blue by the Sleaze Brothers, is anything but happy.
  • Sadko, in both the original Russian and the English dub, has Sadko/"Sinbad" searching for the Bluebird of Happiness to bring joy to his homeland. He finds a magical bird, but it only brings sleep with its song, not happiness, resulting in the classic "happiness was home all along" ending.
  • (500) Days of Summer homages this during a (rather hilarious) scene where Tom is having a musical-like fantasy of victorious happiness after the first time he has sex with Summer. People in the street smile and shake his hand as they congratulate him, dancing in joyous celebration, and a little animated bluebird lands on his finger.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie's return to the bright and cheerful Toontown has little bluebirds chirping greetings.
  • In K-PAX, the mental patient/possible extraterrestrial prōt (Kevin Spacey) tasks his obsessive-compulsive fellow patient Howie with "finding the Bluebird of Happiness". Rather than his usual routines, Howie sits quietly in front of the windows for days, watching the trees. When the Institute is unexpectedly visited by a blue jay, he erupts into an ecstatic frenzy, and his joy is contagious to the rest of the patients and even the staff.
  • "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz mentions bluebirds.

  • The French fairy tale The Blue Bird is about a king named Charming who is turned into a blue bird. He visits his beloved princess, Florine, every night by flying up to the window in the tower her evil stepmother imprisoned her in. Most illustrations depict Charming as a large, fanciful bird resembling a pheasant, rather than an actual bluebird.
  • Parodied in Hogfather, when the Cheerful Fairy manifests with the Blue Bird of Happiness on her shoulder. It's a blue chicken.
  • In K-PAX the book, like in the movie, prot exhorts his fellow asylum inmates to find the "blue bird of happiness," and they eventually glimpse a literal one.
  • in Seanan McGuire's Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots, the Princess unsurprisingly has bluebirds among her helpful animal companions.
  • In Jennifer Crusie's Maybe This Time, Andie's brother-in-law had given her hoop earrings with bluebirds — bluebirds of happiness, he had told her.

    Live-Action TV 

  • The Vocaloid song "Desert Bluebird" by mothy is about two siblings going to search for a bluebird that can grant any wish in a world After the End, destroyed by (apparently) a nuclear war. As it turns out, they DO find the bluebird but it was in an old nuclear base. The radiation makes the older sister die, and the younger brother wishes to the bird to revive her; it does, and then disappears. The song ends with the sibling saying that they should rebuild the world with their own hands.
  • There was a hit song in 1934 called "The Bluebird of Happiness" which, according to The Other Wiki, is probably the origin of the American phrase (though the concept is much older in Europe).
  • The lyrics of the They Might Be Giants song "Birdhouse in Your Soul" from Flood, by John Linnell and about a night light shaped like a blue canary, include the phrase "blue bird of friendliness."
  • "(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover": World War II song urging hope.
  • The Wings song "Bluebird" uses the bluebird to represent freedom. The singer refers to himself as a bluebird and tells his love that if he kisses her, she'll turn into a bluebird, too, so that they can escape together across the sea.
  • "Big Rock Candy Mountain" chiefly cites the charms directly — lemonade streams and hens that lay soft-boiled eggs, but it does invoke the bluebird as symbolic:
    Where the bluebird sings
    On the big rock candy mountain
  • The Marina Diamandis song "Handmade Heaven" uses this as one of the bird metaphors.
    In this handmade heaven
    I come alive
    Bluebirds forever color the sky
  • Subverted with "My Blue Tears" from Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors, where Dolly tells said bird to fly away as she can't be cheered up.
  • Dave Matthews Band has the song, "Black and Blue Bird".


    Video Games 
  • There's a level with a "red bird of happiness" in Super Mario Sunshine.
  • Tokimeki Memorial 2 has, among its numerous Image Songs, one called "Aoi Tori" (Blue Bird). It's a Kaori Yae image song, in which the blue bird is the symbol of the main protagonist, who came into Kaori's wounded heart, telling her she's not alone, and bringing her happiness and love.
  • The Mother theme song "Pollyanna" has the following verse:
    I believe there'll come a day
    Maybe it will be tomorrow.
    When the blue bird flies away
    All we have to do is follow (it).
    I believe a dream can still come true,
    Why shouldn't I believe the same in you?
  • Inverted nastily in Odin Sphere. While the bluebird Spirit Advisor which gives voice to all of Gwendolyn's self-doubt repeatedly throughout Book 1 is never named, it might as well be called the Bluebird of Unhappiness given how viciously it mocks and berates her. It's actually the spirit of her dead sister Griselda.
    • Oswald's chapter has a more straightforward example: Hindel, before being struck down by Oswald, advises him to seek out a "blue bird". When he finds himself in the Netherworld, he sees a brief glimpse of a blue bird that gives him the hope and strength needed to fight his way out. He later believes the blue bird to be Gwendolyn, whom he met on the battlefield, with whom he fell in love, and whose hand in marriage he is offered by Odin.
  • Played With in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, or rather in its Show Within a Show A Blue Dove for the Princess: in this case, it's the Blue Dove who goes out on a quest to find a cure for the sick Princess, only to discover that he should have stayed with her all along upon return.
  • Harvest Moon:
    • Story of Seasons games have you propose to your spouse with a blue feather. While many games simply have you buy the feather from the store (apparently the grocer knows everyone's business and knows when he needs to start stocking feathers) or have the Mayor give it to you, some mention the bird by name and at least one makes you climb a mountain in order to find the bird and pick up a feather it's moulted.
    • In Harvest Moon: Light of Hope, you receive the blue feather for free from a bluebird that is the (blue-haired) Harvest Goddess in bird form). It's stated that people literally can't get the feather by force.
  • One of Chihaya Kisaragi's Image Songs in The Idolmaster is "Aoi Tori" (Bluebird in Japanese).
  • Final Fantasy XIV has the bluebird minion that can only be obtained from treasure coffers that are found by digging them up or within the Aquapolis treasure dungeon (though you can buy it from other players if you can afford it). The description states that the bluebird brings good fortune to anyone who already experienced it. Naturally, the minion is a very rare drop.
    • The Endwalker expansion introduces the character Meteion, a girl with Mercury's Wings on her head, tail feathers down her back and talons for feet as well as blue clothes, blue hair and blue eyes coupled with the ability to transform into an actual blue bird. She's also The Empath and was tasked by her creator with finding out what other people out there in the universe live for, what gives their lives meaning, and what fills their lives with hope and happiness. The realization that the premise of the question is flawed and the vast majority of the universe is in fact "inhabited" by the ruins and remains of civilizations that were unable or outright unwilling to keep living breaks her so badly that her color scheme is replaced with one of gloomy gray and black despair and turns her into a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • World of Warcraft: In the Valley of the Four Winds in Pandaria you can find blue feathers and turn them to some of the inhabitants to heighten your friendship with them. This comes into full effect when you give them to Old Hillpaw
    "...My Son Tai... he used to collect these as a little boy. When his Mother died, I told him they were messages from her, fallen from the heavens." <Old Hillpaw falls into a quiet silence>

    Visual Novels 
  • Virtue's Last Reward:
    • The optimistic Luna wears a bluebird necklace. There's a fragment of the story dedicated to her discussing the way to reach happiness.
    • On a meta-level, the campaign to get VLR a sequel was called Operation Bluebird.

    Web Animation 
  • B. Happy: The title character is a bluebird whose job is to bestow happiness, even being referred to as the bluebird of happiness. Ironically, B. Happy is anything but happy himself.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Zigzagged in Over the Garden Wall with Beatrice. She helps Wirt and Greg find their way to Adelaide and the way home, but is relentlessly sarcastic about nearly everything. She, alongside her family, was also transformed into a bluebird after throwing a rock at one, and is leading the two to the villainous Adelaide in exchange for the reversal of the curse. She eventually warms up to the kids, and defeats Adelaide and later helps Wirt rescue Greg from the Beast. Discussed when a tavern-keeper tries to kick Beatrice out when she sees her as bad luck.
    Beatrice: Bluebirds are good luck! We bring joy and happiness!
    Tavern-Keeper: [hits her with a broom] Good luck, bad luck, I don't need any of it!
  • Inverted with extreme prejudice in the Cybersix episode "The Bluebirds of Horror," with bluebirds being prominent among the Feathered Fiends pulling a Whole-Plot Reference to The Birds, up to and including the Monster of the Week, which resembles a giant, anthropomorphic, monster bluebird.