A magical being whose role is to help out the protagonist of a tale, sometimes appearing in their darkest hour to grant their fondest wish, sometimes through less direct methods (and often with the aid of a Magic Wand). Why they do this is seldom specified — nor why they failed to appear a lot earlier in the story when a little change could have made all the difference. (If they are asked why they are just showing up now, they may express in some form how previously, the protagonist needed to learn something.)
They sometimes are part of an agency or an organization. And yes, in early fairy tales, they were meant to be their ward's actual godmother.
This is also a highly Discredited Trope these days, usually associated with the most archaic parts of Fairy Tales, even though this trope is Newer Than They Think; most Cinderella variants have her aided by her dead mother, or (in such variants as "Catskin" and "Cap o' Rushes") by nothing but her own wits and some advice.
It's still often played straight too, it's just so useful that writers can't resist it, although they often disguise the fairy godmother as something else.
Some stories might make this a Deus ex Machina. An occasional subversion is to make the Fairy Godmother evil, amoral, Literal-Minded, or just not particularly good with magic.
A Sub-Trope of Our Fairies Are Different. Often associated with the Cinderella Plot.
Compare Fairy Companion, God Was My Copilot, Guardian Angel, Magical Nanny and Mrs. Claus.
Contrast Fairy Devilmother, Wicked Stepmother and Wicked Witch.
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- The anime adaptation of Grimms Notes has a Fairy Godmother in its adaptation of Cinderella. In a blatant deconstruction of what typically happens to people helped by them, this one explains to the trio of protagonists that she has helped thousands of successive Cinderellas and that not all of them found happiness afterwards. This serves as the worry used by the Chaos Tellers to turn her into the Monster of the Week. Even then she becomes much of a Well-Intentioned Extremist having decided that instead of having Cinderella fulfill her assigned role within the story, she'll lock her in a very happy dream.
- Miz Bijou of Bodie Troll
- Edge of Spider-Verse (2022): Spinderella has a fairy-gob mother, called Norma, who offers her spider powers in exchange for retrieving something Spin's mother stole from her. She also rattles off a bunch of fine print to the deal such as "no clones, no deals with the Devil, no wizards undoing everything and no Beyonders". If the deal isn't finished by midnight that very night, Spin will never find true love.
- Mayda Munny of the Richie Rich comic books gets one in a story, who gives Mayda a spell that makes her be pleasant and nice only up until midnight, when her normal bitchiness returns. At a party she attends at the Rich Mansion, the spell lasts for a good while, and Mayda is enjoying herself and her company is enjoying her presence, but strangely around 10 PM, Mayda reverts back to being a bitch and she ends up leaving the party on a sour note. The Fairy Godmother looks at Mayda through a crystal ball and realizes that her magic isn't powerful enough to overcome Mayda's level of natural bitchiness.
- Charles Perrault's "Cinderella" is probably the Trope Codifier. While most adaptations have the godmother appear out of nowhere, it is noteworthy to mention in the original Perrault text, she is literally Cinderella's godmother and actually seems to live with the family.
- In "Adalmina's Pearl", the princess has two.
- In "Sleeping Beauty", she had seven, or twelve, in Charles Perrault or The Brothers Grimm respectively. However, after they made their initially good wishes, the fairies do never return to aid Sleeping Beauty (though the seventh fairy in Perrault's version puts the rest of the palace - except the king and queen - to sleep so the princess won't be lonely when she awakens). Many variants — such as "Sun, Moon, and Talia", an older variant, and in fact the oldest known — have no fairy godmothers at all, however.
- Madame d'Aulnoy:
- In "The Blue Bird" and "The White Doe", the fairy godmothers help rivals of the protagonists.
- Several fairy godmothers, including an evil one, appear in "Princess Mayblossom".
- Her story "Finette Cendroun" is an early Cinderella variant that plays the fairy godmother trope straight however, and even predates Perrault's use of the trope.
- In Henriette-Julie de Murat's literary fairy tale "Bearskin", the princess had a fairy godmother who is quite offended that she was not consulted about her goddaughter's marriage and so refuses to help for a time.
- Another de Murat fairy tale, "Anguillette", plays this trope tragically. Princess Hebe is blessed with all sorts of great gifts, but is warned that when she falls in love, the love will get out of control. Hebe falls in love with a prince, but she ends up marrying another prince. This leads to the two princes killing each other in a duel.
- In "Donkeyskin", the godmother delivers advice rather than gifts. Ironically, it does not help the heroine at all.
- Deconstructed in the story of "Rapunzel", Dame Gothel, the witch who keeps Rapunzel prisoner, is not only her godmother (which is the actual meaning of "Dame Gothel"), but was a fairy in earlier versions, including the Grimm's original publication. This is also the case in early French versions.
- In the Grimms' "One-Eye, Two-Eyes, Three-Eyes", the heroine, Two Eyes, is aided by a mysterious lady. Some translations and retellings refer to her as her fairy godmother.
- In the Grimm's "The True Bride" (link), a mysterious fairy helps the heroine complete three Impossible Tasks demanded by her stepmother. Once again, some translations and retellings refer to her as her fairy godmother.
- Another French version of the Cinderella story has the Wicked Stepmother start out as the heroine's Fairy Godmother... fortunately, the girl has a helpful aunt who is also a good fairy.
- In "Heart of Ice (Andrew Lang)", Fairy Genesta raises and looks after Prince Mannikin until he has grown into a mature adult and become a good warrior and ruler.
- The Great Disney Adventure Saga gives us Sophia, the fussiest fairy godmother ever.
- The Contractually Obligated Chaos series features the Fairy Godfather, a Marlon Brando expy who is not really a fairy, but a Lawful Neutral ghost with a lot of unusual powers even for the setting. Fortunately for the heroes, he becomes rather fond of them and finds ways to circumvent his own rules about favoritism.
- In "The Adventures of Dodo and Ick," a Story Within a Story in the Skyhold Academy Yearbook series, the title characters end up taking on a number of overlapping Fetch Quests, one of which is to find a fairy godmother for the Rainbow Princess's unborn baby. The entire series being what it is (a Lighter and Softer, somewhat nonsensical take on Dragon Age), this does not get resolved the way anyone expects.
- In the video Anastasia/Quasimodo – We Hit a Wall, Anastasia and Quasimodo's fairy godmother turns out to be their housemaid Cinderella. She grants them their wish to become more attractive, so that that they won't ever be looked down upon for their looks again.
- Queen Chrysalis called herself a fairy godmother to a younger Twilight in Love Bites. She promises her three wishes, and while she doesn't have literal wish-granting magic, she still tries to make them come true.
- Shrek 2 has a fairy godmother for Fiona, but she's actually the Big Bad and the mother of Prince Charming, and is almost a throwback to older, more malevolent fairies down to being very prideful.
- Of all the Disney princesses, only Cinderella and Aurora have fairy godmothers.
- The titular Scary Godmother is a friendly witch who appears to Hannah after she’s scared due to a mean prank by her older cousin and his friends. She whisks Hannah away to her haunted house and helps her conquer her fears of monsters by introducing her to all her equally, if not more so, friendly monster pals who quickly befriend Hannah and even give her bullies a good scare.
- Twice Upon a Time has a Deadpan Snarker version who tries to help the heroes out. She doesn't seem to have much faith in Ralph and Mumford, nor in Rod Rescueman, the rookie superhero she hires to help them on their quest.
- Deconstructed in Ella Enchanted, with a godmother who's a fairy but is inconspicuous about it, and another fairy who has a bad habit of going to the christenings of complete strangers and giving them magical gifts they don't want or need. In the original book, however, Mandy is Ella's actual Fairy Godmother, and she plays this straight, being a Cool Old Lady; Lucinda just happened to be at the baptism.
- In A Simple Wish, Martin Short plays Murray, the world's first and only fairy godfather, whose first assignment is to grant a little girl's wish that her father could get the lead role in a Broadway musical... while simultaneously fighting an evil fairy-godmother-turned-Wicked Witch's plot.
- The Slipper and the Rose, being a musical adaptation of "Cinderella", of course has a Fairy Godmother.
- Ditto the Cinderella (Rodgers and Hammerstein) movie musical.
- In Maleficent, Aurora mistakenly believes that Maleficent is her Fairy Godmother. And she effectively is.
- Maid to Order (1987) has spoiled Beverly Hills heiress Jessie Montgomery (Ally Sheedy) getting busted for drug use among her many wild acts. This pushes her father to offhandedly wish he'd never had a daughter. The next day, Jessie is bailed out by Stella, her fairy godmother, who reveals that, sure enough, she's used magic to effectively erase Jessie's entire existence. Jessie now has to work as a maid to learn some humility.
Jessie: Some fairy godmother you are! I thought you guys were supposed to turn maids into princesses, and shit like that.Stella: Some maids deserve to be princesses. Some princesses deserve to be maids.
- One of the translations for the name of Xiannang from the Mulan remake literally MEANS “Fairy Godmother.”
- In Descendants the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella has become headmistress of the Royal School with a daughter of her own. She's mostly given up on magic with her wand displayed in a museum.
- In The Dresden Files, Harry has one of these, literally, and The Fair Folk are a lot scarier than in the Disneyverse. The kick is that Cinderella's fairy godmother would have been with the more Disney-esque Summer Court, while the Leanansidhe, Harry's godmother, comes from the Winter Court. While scary, dangerous, and insane by most reasonable standards, Lea truly does want to protect Harry and wants the best for him... in her own way. Due to a Magically-Binding Contract, he belongs to her, and she sometimes tries to collect. What happens if she wins? You know those hunting dogs that herald her arrival? They weren't dogs originally. Later, Harry's "contract" is bought off by Lea's boss, Queen Mab, giving Lea the chance to prove herself to be very good (if scary) to have as an ally.
- Interestingly, during Changes, she plays with the classic Cinderella storyline by dressing Harry for a very different kind of party. Being of the Winter Court, her gifts vanish at noon instead of midnight.
- Played with in Witches Abroad, where the protagonists are trying to stop a fairy godmother from making the peasant girl marry the prince.
Ella: Everyone gets two. The good one and the bad one. You know that. Which one are you?Magrat: Oh, the good one. Definitely.Ella: Funny thing. That's just what the other one said, too.
- Magrat is also (temporarily) a Fairy Godmother, having been left a wand with a tendency to reset to pumpkins by Desiderata Hollow.
- In-series fairy godmothers are treated as a subset of witches, and in some cases the two seem to blend into each other; in Carpe Jugulum, which starts as a parody of Sleeping Beauty, the Lancre witches are invited to attend the birth of the princess.
- In the Myth Adventures series the Mob has a Fairy Godfather.
- In The Ugly Duckling by A. A. Milne, the protagonist (a princess, not a duckling) has a relative who fits the fairy godmother role, though technically she's actually a great-aunt.
- In Mercedes Lackey's Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series, "fairy godmother" is a trade taken up by women who can't fill the roles that "the Tradition" tries to shoehorn them into and end up with great magical power as a result. The job of being a fairy godmother involves using the Tradition against itself to minimize the harm done to everyone involved; they were originally actual fairies, but eventually the role got handed down to human women and the "fairy" part was only retained as a title.
- The Godmother by Elizabeth Anne Scarborough. Dame Felicity Fortune ("Fair Fates Facilitated, Questers Accommodated, Virtue Vindicated.") is a human recruited by The Fair Folk to act as an agent for them among humans, and is summoned by a social worker in Seattle who wishes for "a fairy godmother for the city". Unfortunately, since magic is uncommon in the world, she has to deal with the occasional Obstructive Bureaucrat to get things done. Sequels include The Godmother's Apprentice, and The Godmother's Web.
- In Andrew Lang's Prince Prigio, the queen does not believe in fairies and so insists on not inviting them for their first son. They show up anyway and shower him with gifts until the last godmother says that he shall be too clever.
- In the Old Icelandic "Tale of Norna-Gest" (c. 1300 AD), baby Gest is visited by some norns who make wishes for his life. The set-up is very similar to that of "Sleeping Beauty", and the "norns" are functionally Fairy Godmothers. Though, like in "Sleeping Beauty", they do not return after they made their initial good wishes.
- In C. S. Lewis's The Magician's Nephew, Uncle Andrew explains that he may well be the last person to literally fulfill this trope: his godmother, Mrs. Lefay, was one of very few women alive with fairy blood. However, she was apparently not very nice to anyone other than him, and wound up locked up in prison toward the end of her life. She was also the one who passed on the magic dust that Uncle Andrew used to travel between worlds.
- In E. D. Baker's The Wide-Awake Princess, fairy godmothers roam all about the Fractured Fairy Tale landscape. One made Annie's sister Sleeping Beauty, and another, to protect her, made Annie immune to magic.
- In John C. Wright's The Hermetic Millennia, Narcis D'Arago sneers at the idea of natural rights, which he groups with phlogistan and fairy godmothers as unreal.
- Inverted in Teresa Edgerton's Goblin Moon, in which the Duchess (a three-quarter fairy Uneven Hybrid) was supposed to become Elsie's godmother, but arrived so late to the christening ceremony that a substitute was chosen. Outraged at this perceived insult, she plotted revenge for years by pretending to consider Elsie her "goddaughter" nevertheless, but scheming in secret to marry her off... to an evil troll disguised as a Prince Charming, who'd drink the girl's blood on their wedding night.
- Oddly Enough: In "Am I Blue?", Melvin is a Camp Gay Fairy Godfather in every sense of the term. As an angelic being who, as a human, was killed in a gay-bashing, he insisted on reclaiming the term when choosing his Heavenly career.
- Prince Cinders is helped by a particularly inept one.
- In Robin McKinley's Spindles End, the princess has a number of these granting her assorted blessings. However, when the Fairy Devilmother shows up and curses her as in the source material, the last of the fairy godmothers ends up sort of kidnapping her for her own protection.
- In the A Tale of... series, fairies go through schooling to become fairy godmothers. Maleficent had attempted this, but she was bullied into homeschooling for her unconventional looks.
- Scary Godmother revolves around a Halloween equivalent. Scary Godmother is a bit spooky and macabre but she's well-meaning.
- Once Upon a Time:
- Cinderella's fairy godmother arrives to grant her wish...and is immediately incinerated by Rumpelstiltskin, who offers her a Deal with the Devil instead.
- Season 7 has an alternate universe version of the Cinderella characters including Fairy Godmother. This time, the Fairy Godmother awakens to find she has been captured by Lady Tremaine and one Cinderella's stepsisters, her wand has been stolen and her wings have been cut off. Lady Tremaine promptly waves the wand and kills the fairy by turning her into dust. The Fairy Godmothers just can't catch a break in this show.
- In Gilligan's Island, Mrs. Howell has a Dream Sequence in which she is Cinderella and Gilligan is her "Fairy Godfather".
- Likewise, in The Jeffersons, George has a dream wherein Tom is his Godfather.
"Watch it with that fairy stuff."
- Nora Darkh in Legends of Tomorrow gets tricked into taking the place of Tabitha, who is supposed to be a classic Fairy Godmother, but in reality is an evil Jackass Genie. While Nora gets exasperated by the wishes of kids under her charge, she actually takes the job seriously, and is not above helping the Legends when they need her magic.
- Norse Mythology: Prose Edda relates that besides the three chief norns Urd, Skuld and Verdandi, "there are yet more norns, namely those who come to every man when he is born, to shape his life". Obviously these norns who visit newborn children to "shape their lives" are functionally the same beings as the fairies dispensing blessings (or curses) on newborn children in many fairy tales.
- In the Cantabrian mythology exist the figure of the Anjana, which is very close to the taditional depiction of fairies normally seen in different media: they help wounded or ill people, help lost children in the forest to find their way to home, benefit with their magic the good and honest and punishes the evil ones, and are one of the few protections available against the attack of the ojancanu, a terrible cyclops from that same mythology.
- Ms. Fairy Godmother from Big Bad is portrayed as shrill and demanding, to the point of coming off as less sympathetic than Evil Stepmother.
- In Fairy Godmother Tycoon, your faerie character is hired by a Fairy Godmother to run her potionerie and to knock the competitors off the town.
- The Fairy Godmother from Cinderella will help you activate summons spells in Kingdom Hearts. In the prequel, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, she plays a small but fairly critical role in Aqua's character arc early in the game.
- In the first Banjo-Kazooie game, Gruntilda has a sister named Brentilda who is a fairy godmother. If you find Brenty, she will give you the answers to questions about Grunty in the "Grunty's Furnace Fun" mini-game, and refill your health if you're running low.
- The Dark Parables, being based on classic fairy tales, have a number of these. One of them is actually one of the villains.
- The Fairy Godmother from Cinderella appears in Revolve 8 Episodic Dueling as Cinderella’s producer (with Cinderella being a motorsports enthusiast pop idol). Not only is the Fairy Godmother depicted as being a lot more attractive than most versions, she’s also a lot harsher, having roped Cinderella into a contract that has to be renewed every single night before the stroke of midnight. Ultimately, as revealed in both her storyline and Cinderella’s, she was once an idol herself in her younger days and that she truly believes that Cinderella could one day be the perfect idol.
- The Fairy Godmother Stories series of hidden object games from Domini Games has a fairy godmother as the player character, helping assorted fairy tale characters in the storybook community of Taleville.
- A rather dark example can be found in RWBY. In keeping with the Fairytale Motifs, Big Bad Salem acts as the fairy godmother for her subordinate Cinder Fall (who's based on Cinderella). Cinder's fondest wish is power, so Salem helps Cinder acquire power and learn how to properly use it so she can better serve Salem's goals.
- El Goonish Shive: Weird version. Tedd's god-father is Adrian Raven, the half-immortal elf who teaches history at Moperville South. Raven's mother, Pandora, has decided that this makes Tedd her "grand godson," and that she needs to help and protect him. Unfortunately, Pandora is insane, bored, and wasn't really that helpful even back when she was sane. Her first attempt to help Tedd results him turning into a girl in the middle of a crowded comic shop and getting hit on by creepy guys. Later attempts include her randomly empowering Tedd's friends with magic, invading his girlfriend's dreams, and roping one of his friends (who she previously randomly empowered) into fixing a problem Pandora herself caused.
- In the setting of Peritale and Life of Melody, being a Fairy Godparent is one of the fairy realm's most prestigious jobs, tasked with fulfilling fairy tales in the human world. The protagonists of these tales usually have no actual say in the matter, which can lead to... complications:
- Peritale's main plot centers around an eager young magic-less fairy named Periwinkle and her quest to become a godmother. Her first case brings her to a bright young witch named Vallery, who's destined to fall in love with the Prince and live Happily Ever After... but is also a huge recluse who's generally satisfied with her life, and not particularly interested in the whole "fall in love" arrangement. Over the course of Peri's journey, she learns a great deal about humans and fairies alike.
- The B-plot focuses on Peri's eldest sister Hydrangea, an experienced godmother... who finds out that her latest charge, Agatha, is actively working to keep fairies and other magic types like her from meddling in her affairs. The pair do ultimately reach an agreement to carry out Agatha's tale, and swap positions on the matter very quickly; Hydrangea immediately regrets her choice to attach herself to someone so insufferable, while Agatha is delighted to learn of her destiny as "Greatest Champion".
- In Life of Melody, fairy godfather Razzmatazz has grown frustrated with humans' "uncooperative" nature, and comes up with an idea to circumvent it: adopt his protagonist as an infant and raise her himself until she's old enough to complete her tale. He finds the child alongside a beastman named Bon, and the two of them agree to raise her together. The three of them briefly appear in Peritale, by which point Razz has rejected the tale altogether, left the fairy realm for good, and settled down with Bon to raise their daughter in the human world.
- In the Thomas & Friends Storytime podcast episode "Thomas and the Fairy God Engine" (a retelling of Cinderella), Thomas's Fairy God Engine rewards Thomas's kindness in choosing to listen to Salty's story instead of heading back to the sheds to get ready for Sir Robert's costume ball by turning him into a knight engine so that he can go to the ball.
- Cinder-Weasel gets a Fairy Godfather in the I Am Weasel episode of the same name.
- 101 Dalmatians: The Series: Spot has a Fairy God-Chicken in the episode "Spot's Fairy-God Chicken" that transforms her into a dog like she's always wanted.
- The Fairly Oddparents stars Timmy Turner and his Fairy Godparents Cosmo and Wanda. Fairies are an entire species who seek out miserable children to grant their wishes and help improve their lives until the day the children no longer need them.
- Gargoyles: Puck essentially becomes this to Alexander Xanatos, when the faerie king Oberon bars him from ever using his powers except when either protecting the boy or teaching him to use his own magic.
- In Magic Adventures of Mumfie episode "Scarecrowella", Electric Eel appears as Scarecrow's Fair-Eel Godmother.
- My Little Pony 'n Friends: In "Would-Be Dragonslayer", the characters encounter Emilda, a princess's fairy godmother, who's an actual fairy resembling a short, squat and insect-winged woman in high medieval finery, complete with a horned headdress. She seems to be responsible for the princess's well-being, and erected a forest of brambles around the castle to keep danger away for her wedding.
- The Private Snafu series had Technical Fairy First Class, a kind of Sergeant Rock subversion of the trope.
- The Real Ghostbusters: "Janine, You've Changed" shows Janine under the influence of an evil demon passing as her fairy godmother. This as a way to explain Janine's radical changes in look and behavior throughout the series (which were due to Executive Meddling).
- The Smurfs (1981): One appears and, in a rather extreme variation of the theme, she's the actual godmother of a young child, and also a Mama Bear who is willing to hunt down and use violence against anyone who tries to harm or kidnap her godson, turning people into mice if they won't cooperate in her quest to do so.