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Honest Axe

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In one of Aesop's Fables (specifically, The Honest Woodman), a workman dropped his axe into the river. The god Hermes found out what was wrong, and offered his aid. First Hermes pulled out a silver axe, and asked whether it was the one the workman lost. He told the god that no, it wasn't. Then Hermes pulled out a golden axe, and asked whether it was his. Again... no. Finally, Hermes pulls out the original axe. The man says yes, this is his. For his honesty, Hermes gives him the golden and silver one as well. Later, another workman hears the story and tries to invoke it deliberately. But when he claims that one of the axes made of precious metals is his, Hermes knows that he is lying, and punishes him - by not only not giving him the axe in his hands, but also by leaving the original axe at the bottom of the river.

This story has been modified by many cultures with the alteration of Hermes being replaced with a "Water Sprite" or a river/lake spirit, or a more culturally relevant religious figure, such as a Buddha or even God. Anime and manga seem to love spoofing the original, and it is a fairly common puzzle in Video Games, especially Role-Playing Games.

This trope denotes situations where a similar test is given to a character, although perhaps with different results.

See also Secret Test of Character and Stolen Good, Returned Better. Can be played alongside an Honesty Aesop.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • This is one of several folktales spoofed in episode 5 of Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, during Bo-bobo's battle with the Ochazuke Alien. ("Did you drop this silver pig, or this golden pig?" He chooses the golden one.)
  • This happened once in Pani Poni Dash!, done by the always... odd... Ichijou.
  • In the "Letter Delivery" chapter of Cells at Work: Platelets!, Glancer and Gazer are sent on their own to deliver a letter as a test. Once they realise that they lost the map guiding them, they blow on an emergency whistle causing the other Platelets secretly following them to come out in Paper Thin Disguises offering them the choice between a gold map and a silver map. Glancer and Gazer are honest enough to say they had an ordinary map but on the other hand are quick to claim a map that comes with some bonus candy as well.
  • Spoofed in the anime Magic User's Club when Takeo is in the bathroom. A mysterious being asks him which roll he was using, the gold toilet paper or the silver toilet paper. Takeo responds that it was just regular toilet paper, and probably recycled paper at that.
  • Haunted Junction played with this. A ghost dropped his giant scissors into a lake, and another spirit came up offering him the choice the original scissors and a gold pair. Less a matter of honesty and more his attachment to his possessions in life; being both dead and a kid, what need would he have of gold?
  • In Those Who Hunt Elves, Junpei is trying to fish when a female sprite emerges, asking, "Did you drop the golden worm or the regular one?" Junpei isn't happy with this, as he just wanted to fish. The joke goes on several more rounds, with Junpei ignoring the fable and trying to fish, until he falls in the lake... the group catches up and the sprite asks them, "Did you want golden Junpei or regular Junpei?" The joke doesn't stop there...
  • Nurse Witch Komugi: After her apparent demise in her own show, Komugi herself was offered one of three magic syringes that might bring her back — maybe. Gold syringe, silver syringe... dangerous syringe. Guess which one she picked. It's a good thing, too; The dangerous syringe not only brought her back to life, but elevated her into her Super Mode. This is likely a reference to The SoulTaker, the anime in which her character was originally developed as a psychotic nurse with a fetish for giant syringes.
  • Spoofed in an episode of Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire: After finding out about a golden Sudowoodo in a forest, Jessie thinks of capturing a normal Sudowoodo and throwing it in a lake, so a fairy (that looks like her) would come out and offer to return the normal Sudowoodo or a golden one.
  • Spoofed late in the Violinist of Hameln manga, when Raiel's piano falls into the sea for convoluted reasons. A beautiful mermaid immediately floats up, asking if the lost piano was "this golden one or this silver one". Raiel points to the golden one, and she promptly sinks back, calling him a liar. The problem is, he was being perfectly truthful, as his piano really was made of gold...
  • Spoofed in Galaxy Angel. Mint is offered a gold animal costume and a silver animal costume at a time when she believes that wearing an animal costume will kill her. She's not very happy when the water sprite tries to give her both.
  • Spoofed in Nyoron Churuya-san. Churuya throws smoked cheese into the lake, and receives golden cheese in return. Said golden cheese is inedible. Nyoro~n...
  • Spoofed (yeah, again) in Sgt. Frog — Tamama accidentally smashes the soccer ball belonging to a new friend of his, and Momoka offers to replace it with a gold ball or a silver ball. Tamama just wants the old ball back the way it was, and it is repaired in due time.
  • Kinnikuman: This is how the Kinniku Tribe got the Gold and Silver Masks.
  • Spoofed (yet again) in .hack//SIGN. Tsukasa throws an axe into a pond, and a spirit pops up to ask if it was the gold or the silver axe... at which point he attacks it, sending it fleeing in terror. Bear notes that he likes to do the same thing when stressed.
  • In the Manga Ayu Mayu, while wading through a river Yousuke accidentally drops his compass, the river spirit Oguchi appears and asks him whether he dropped "this" compass (Yousuke's) or a Bulgarian one. Yousuke replies that it doesn't fucking matter which one he gives him and that he should just hurry up. He furthermore calls the water spirit a cosplaying old timer and tells him to shut his face whereupon a fed up Oguchi throws both compasses into the river and disappears.
  • One segment of Shugo Chara! Pucchi Puchi has Dia play the role of the angel when Pepe's pacifier falls into the pond. However, Pepe doesn't like the golden pacifier and drops it back in to get her old one back. Dia then gets annoyed at the gift being thrown away and keeps both.
  • In A.I. Love You, Hitoshi throws his computer out of the window, and Number Thirty and Number Twenty fall into the roles of the water sprites, asking him if he dropped an old 286 or a new Pentium. He lies, claiming it was the Pentium.
  • In Doraemon, one future gadget, a pond in which you drop an object, the spirit will appear with a more valuable item, but unlike the original story, she doesn't return the old object. Doraemon, Nobita, and Shizuka were honest and each received a large dorayaki, a new baseball glove, and a shiny dress. Suneo was dishonest when granted a large remote control airplane and had it taken away which angered him by kicking a pebble into the pond and received a boulder in return. At the end, Gian fell in the pond and a handsome figure of himself appeared at the hands of the spirit. Nobita and Doraemon desperately denied only to receive the "Handsome Gian" and while the real Gian is desperately trying to escape from the pond.
  • There's a The Lord of the Rings short manga where the various Fellowship members fall into the pool and lose their stuff. Highlights include:
    • Gandalf truthfully asks for his wooden staff, but the sprite can tell from his greedy face that he's trying to be Genre Savvy.
    • Boromir fails to grasp the situation entirely and just asks for the golden shield. She is not pleased.
    • The sprite really wants to give Legolas the golden bow (among other things), but he takes the wooden one instead. A golden bow is useless.
    • Finally the sprite drowns Frodo when the greedy little hobbit wants the golden ring instead of the wooden ring he dropped... oh, wait. Oops.
  • A recurring theme in the Yon Koma bonus section of the Please Twins! manga. The deity in question is called the Pier Goddess, and virtually every character gets a chance to drop and retrieve something.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run, Johnny and Gyro come across Sugar Mountain, a Stand linked to a massive tree and the puddles of water surrounding it, whose power is to "give back" whatever falls in the water as much more valuable items, including the Corpse Parts it's guarding. Its mouthpiece is a seemingly young girl who, much like the fable it's based on, asks the objects' owner which one is rightfully theirs. Giving a dishonest answer will result in death via disembowelment, while honest people will be gifted both the original object and its valuable counterpart. However, not using up your "gifts" before sunset (this includes selling them or exchanging them for something else) will cause you to become a part of the Sugar Mountain tree, freeing its current guardian and waiting possibly YEARS to take the latter's place. Gyro and Johnny take advantage of this by first obtaining tons of money and valuable items, and then tossing rabbit ears and a rabbit leg in the spring and getting the ears and right arm of the Holy Corpse in exchange, and they almost end up becoming part of the tree by their misfortunes in trying to get rid of them fast enough. It's later revealed that the Stand itself exists to guard the ears and right arm of the Corpse, and if both parts are obtained by someone and exchanged accordingly, the Stands will stop existing and all the people trapped in the tree, including its current guardian, will be freed.
  • Another spoof appears in the Maid-Sama! anime, during an All Just a Dream episode based on a variety of fairy tales. Those Two Guys (in the roles of Dog and Monkey) drop their last dumpling into the ocean while fighting over it, and Misaki's little sister Suzuna (in the role of water spirit) appears to ask if they dropped the dumpling, a set of coupons offering a chance to win more dumplings, or a postcard offering a chance to win a grand prize set. The hungry Dog and Monkey ask to just have the dumpling back; the spirit, impressed by their honesty, gives them the postcard instead - and doesn't give them back the dumpling.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist
    • An omake comic had Armor!Alphonse falling into the lake. The fairy emerges with golden!Armor!Alphonse, and even better, human!Alphonse. Edward gave the obvious answer of what he wanted, and ended losing BOTH Alphonses.
    • In a 4koma toward the end of the manga, Alphonse faces his Truth, and is asked which body he lost: a sexy version of himself, or his actual body which is emaciated from all the time behind the gate (in canon, he decided to refuse an opportunity to reunite with it, knowing that he would be too weak to help in the battle). He chooses the former and gets neither one, promising to return as he's dragged away.
  • Mio of Azumanga-alike show Nichijou runs into (or rather runs away from) a bear-headed schoolgirl, who asks her if she dropped a wooden fish...or a GOLDEN fish. Having dropped neither, Mio pays the bear two thousand yen to go away. Lesson learned? Not really, since the bear pulls out her mask to reveal her "true identity": a luchadore. And then she pulls that mask off to reveal she was actually Mio's sister pranking her.
  • Being a fairytale-based show, Spellbound! Magical Princess Lil'Pri had one of its recurring Fairylanders be a water sprite that had this as her primary shtick.
  • K-On!
    • A variation of this happens with a slightly different "axe". In episode 2, Season 2, Sawa-chan asks the girls to sell off an old guitar that was sitting unused in the clubroom for years. When the girls take it to a music shop, its appraised for 500,000 yen, since it's a valuable albeit old guitar. Later, Sawa-chan asks how much they got for the guitar, and Ritsu, the club president, lies and says they got 10,000. When Sawa-chan asks for the receipt so she could add the money to the club funds, Ritsu tries to eat the receipt, but is stopped by Sawa-chan. After she finds out how much they really got, she says she'll put the 10,000 Ritsu claimed they got for club funds, and says a shelf they bought used up the rest of the funds. Sawa-chan tells them if they had been honest with her about how much they got, she would've allowed them to keep it all.
    • Also in the anime, when the club wants an air conditioner for the Music Room, Ritsu and Yui go to Nodoka and act out a skit: Ritsu asks Yui if she wants a gold or silver air conditioner, but all Yui wants is a regular air conditioner.
  • My Neighbors the Yamadas played this mostly straight when Shige asks some kids if the ball they lost in the Yamada yard was the old worn-out one, or the new rubber one. (The scene even briefly features a storybook drawing depicting the woodcutter and the nymph.) However, after she gives away both balls and shares An Aesop about honesty, some other kids ask her if she saw the new rubber ball they lost, prompting her to deny finding it.
  • Anpanman has the character Izuminosei. He's a lake spirit that, whenever something is dropped into his lake, gives the person that dropped the item two choices: the item they actually dropped and a golden version of it. If they claim that the gold one is theirs, Izuminosei grows angry, and the person gets struck by lightning...but still gets their original item back. If they say that the original item is theirs, they'll be given the gold item. If they insist that they still want their original item even when offered the gold one... Izuminosei turns them into gold! Unfortunately, when this happens, it's very common for the fame of being golden to go to their heads...
  • Ah! My Goddess
    • Done in chapter 289, but with harps instead of axes. Then when the Goddess gives the musician both harps, he falls into the lake because a solid silver and solid gold harp are too heavy. He also gets upset because the gold and silver harps, while valuable, are not very good at making music.
    • Then, in chapter 292, twisted for some macabre humor. After the musician, with whom she had fallen in love, dies of old age, she throws a rusty axe into the lake, then appears out of the lake with the rusty axe and an "exceptionally sharp axe", asks herself which one she dropped into the lake, to which she answers honestly, and as a reward for her honesty she gives herself the sharp axe... And promptly uses it to cut the ribbons keeping her bound to the lake and preventing her from seeing the sea the musicians sung to her about.
    • Makes yet another appearance in chapter 299 when after Keiichi falls off the race track along with his bike, the Goddess appears with a gold and silver bike.
  • A variant of this happens in Let's Manage the Tower when Kosuke is offered two assistants, Kouhi and Mitsuki, with the hair color of both as a stand-in for the axes.
  • Parodied in Pugyuru. Kanato complains that her noodles are bland, and Mizore offers her ketchup or mayo. She doesn't want either — so Mizore pours them both on because she was honest.
  • After being saddled with the infant prince of Hell, the main character of Beelzebub relates the Honest Axe story to his friend, ending it with "Did you drop this axe... or this solid gold baby?" before trying to forcefully pawn the kid off on him.
  • In GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class, Kisaragi drops a pencil, and it rolls near Noda. Noda picks it up, asking if she dropped a gold "paintbrush" or a silver "paintbrush". Confused, Kisaragi says "Uh... umm... no...?" But when Noda asks if it was the lead "paintbrush", Kisaragi says it's hers, so gives her all three for being an "honest girl". She wants the tewo extras back right away, though. Namiko wonders why she can't just pick it up and give it back like a normal person.
  • In the fairytale-themed Smile PreCure!, this is referenced in the episode when the girls go to Marchenland. As we see the five girls meeting various fairy tale characters, Reika speaks to a fairy representing the lake spirit, and truthfully says she didn't drop any axe. The fairy is touched by her honesty and as a reward... pats her head while calling her a good girl.
  • Kin No Kanojo Gin No Kanojo ('Gold Girlfriend, Silver Girlfriend') uses this for the premise; a boy meets The Ojou he has a crush on at a sacred pond, and she ends up falling into it. The Goddess of the pond appears bearing golden- and silver-haired versions of her, each with a different aspect of her personality. After he honestly says it was neither, the spirit gives him both girls. This was actually the Goddess' way of granting the girl's own wish for somebody to trade places with her(sayeth the Goddess, the only person who can live your life is yourself), and the boy's wish of having a second chance with the girl. Hilarity Ensues. It takes a serious turn when it's discovered that her family has been exploiting this for years: If the heir(ess) grows too rebellious, they'll dip them in the pool, dye the dutiful Golden-haired twin's hair black, and lock the Silver-haired one away for the rest of their life.
  • Spoofed in the "Aesop's Fables that are Really Terrifying" skit in Osomatsu-san. A fisherman (Jyuushimatsu) drops his pole into the water, and a water spirit (really Choromatsu) gives him the choice of choosing between bronze and jelly statues of Asura in return. For denying both, the fisherman receives a small mustachioed man as a family heirloom. Whatever moral the two were trying to make was lost along the way.
  • Kyō Kara Ore Wa!! references it in a fairy tale told by Mitsuhashi. The narrator being Mitsuhashi and the character his Author Avatar, he bluntly tells the sprite he dropped a normal rock but wants the gold and silver ones too.
  • Referenced in Recovery of an MMO Junkie, with Sakurai and Koiwai eating lunch. Sakurai drops his chopsticks, then ends up dropping the replacement pair, and Koiwai goes to retrieve them. While he's under the table Koiwai asks Sakurai which pair of chopsticks he dropped; Sakurai responds that he doesn't want either because they've both been on the floor.
  • Referenced in The Quintessential Quintuplets when Yotsuba first meets Fuutarou and shows him the results of two exams: one with a perfect 100 score, and the other with an imperfect 0. He correctly tells her that his test is the one with the 100, and is disappointed to find out that the one with the zero on it is hers.
  • Parodied in the One Piece omake "Marchen Time", parodying various fairy tales. At one point, the lake spirit (Sanji in drag) jumps out of the lake offering a golden axe, a silver axe or "himself" to the Prince (who's played by Nico Robin in princely garb). Robin doesn't even look at him.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat Fun Class: Sports are Fun episode 9, Weslie and Wolffy are playing volleyball but are stopped when they lose the volleyball they were using. While searching for it, the two come across a magical hippo woman who has their ball, a silver ball, and a golden ball in front of her and asks which of the three is theirs. Wolffy is impressed by the golden ball and tries to convince the woman it's his, while Weslie gives the honest answer and says the normal ball is the one they were using; Weslie is then given all three balls as a reward for his honesty while Wolffy is magically turned into a volleyball himself, before Weslie requests he be turned back into a wolf.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • A Mickey Mouse storybook had Mickey working as a shepherd. When he goes to a well for a drink, he drops his staff into the well. A Well Sprite appears and offers to retrieve the staff and keeps coming up with finer and finer staffs each time. Mickey, being the honest mouse he is, denies each one is his. However, unlike the original tale, the Well Sprite is acting maliciously: he WANTS Mickey to take the bronze/silver/gold staffs so he can turn him to stone, and in fact several large stones we're shown earlier turn out to be shepherds who've already fallen prey to the sprite. When Mickey accepts his wooden staff, the Sprite angrily vanishes, and his spell on the previous shepherds is broken. Mickey then takes the expensive staffs left behind and gives them to the family he works for, who are quite poor, so they can sell them.
  • In Usagi Yojimbo, a water demon gives a woodcutter a gold axe to replace a lost iron axe. The woodcutter freezes to death in the winter because gold is too soft to cut firewood with. That's what you get for annoying water demons by dropping things in their lakes.
  • Specifically parodied in the graphic novel Flight, in the story "The Maiden and the River Spirit". There, a young woman drops her thermos into the river. The spirit brings up a gold thermos, which she says isn't hers, then a silver one, which she also denies. He finds the original thermos and gives it to her... and nothing else, save "the satisfaction of having been honest." After he was back under the water, she muttered to herself, "What a gyp."

    Fairy Tales 
  • There's an alternate version of the story in which the man is awarded only the golden axe for answering truthfully. He quickly discovers that gold is far too soft for cutting wood, but he can't sell the golden axe to buy a new one because giving away or selling a gift from the fair folk is a terrible insult that would result in a curse on his family line, so he ends up freezing to death that winter.

    Fan Works 
  • There was a Tsukihime doujinshi where Arcueid offered Shiki to choose which Ren has he dropped - black one or white one. White Ren was promising like a politician during elections to qualify for a gold axe, but Shiki chose black Ren. He was "rewarded" with both of them and had to explain why there are two underage girls in his bed now.
  • In the Saki doujinshi, "Captain Half," Kana falls into a river.
    "Nodocchi": (to Mihoko) Which is the Kana who just fell in? The Kana with unbelievably overwhelming luck? Or the Kana who's mastered the perfect digital playstyle?
    Mihoko: Neither! The Kana I know... is excitable, gets cocky easily, makes many careless mistakes and sometimes even loses 80,000 points by playing into others' hands!
    Narrator: Kana returned safely, but the atmosphere got a bit awkward.
    • Later on, Kana falls into a river again, and Nodocchi asks Mihoko if Hisa was the one who fell in. Mihoko says yes, but "In the end, Kana got back, but the atmosphere worsened a little bit more."
  • The Puella Magi Madoka Magica doijinshi "Dorikano" does this with Kyubey asking Homura if she dropped Ultimate Madoka with golden eyes, Magical Girl Madoka, or the normal human version "with no redeeming traits." Homura immediately picks the normal one; Kyubey is irritated that she got it right, but we don't see whether Homura is rewarded or punished for this. The next page reverses roles, making Madoka choose between Devil Homura, Magical Girl Homura, or the ordinary "glasses Homura." Madoka says they're ALL hers, and demands two additional variants as well.
  • Parodied in this one Touhou fan comic.
  • In this Fire Emblem: Three Houses fan comic, Sothis asks Edelgard which female Byleth she dropped into the pond- the one with H-cup breasts or the one with L-cup breasts. Edelgard says she doesn't know Byleth's breast size, so Sothis rewards her honesty by giving her both.
  • Parodied in this animation video, the woodcutter (penguin) drops its axe to the pond and answered correctly that it just lost the normal axe. Unfortunately, the normal axe cut through the spirit right on the head, so as a "reward", the woodcutter got bashed in the head with a big fragging axe (just the blunt part).

  • There's an extension of the story as a joke, where the same woodcutter has his wife falling into the same river. Hermes appears again, carrying Pamela Anderson and asks, "Is this your wife?" The woodcutter thinks and answers "Yes!" Hermes chews him out for lying. The woodcutter explains himself: "Great Hermes: If I had said no, you'd have pulled out Naomi Campbell next and asked again. I'd have said No, and then you'd have pulled out my wife, and then I'd have said Yes, and then you'd have given me all three women for my honesty. But I'm a poor woodcutter and can't possibly feed three women. So I had to lie, you see?"
  • There is a female version where the axes are replaced by thimbles, and Pam and Naomi are replaced by attractive actors. Rather than claiming that she can't feed all three men, she says that she wouldn't have the energy to keep all three happy.
    • Another extension of the above female version, after the wife explained to the spirit, the spirit decided that she has a point and gave back only her husband... who then kicks his wife into the lake, pats his chest proudly, and said: "I have the energy! Bring it!"

    Live-Action TV 
  • Toku example: In Mahou Sentai Magiranger, the main objects of Applied Phlebotinum are cell phones that extend into magic wands. Kai drops his into a spring while sparring with Hikaru. The Goddess of the Mini-Spring lets him play Honest Phone, offering a silver version of his phone or a golden version of his mentor's. He's not honest and takes the gold one, and it works great for a time... until a misspoken spell turns him into a giant spider monster, and then the phone stops working. He can't change back until he learns his lesson.
  • A Japanese stand-up comedy/skit TV show called "Spirit of Entertainment" (Enta no Kami-sama) featured a famous Japanese comedian named "Tomonori Jinnai". One of his on-stage skits features him playing with his pet dog, who he can now understand thanks to an extremely accurate bark-to-speech translator. After accidentally throwing the dog's ball into a pond, the same exchange takes place between the dog and a female spirit living in the pond. However, after rejecting the golden and silver versions of the ball, he claims the ball that was lost was a diamond one, losing out on both of the precious versions and getting his original one back. Even more hilarious, the dog later steals a toupee from someone and accidentally drops it into the pond, this time being honest and coming back with a pure-gold version of the toupee.
  • Referenced in Kamen Rider Saber, where the heroes draw their power from various stories and fairy tales. Sixth Ranger Kamen Rider Saikou uses a version of this story that uses swords instead of axes, and he transforms into a sword himself instead of a warrior.

  • This fairy tale is referenced in the Vocaloid song "Romeo and Cinderella," where the singer proclaims that she dropped the golden axe after deciding to herself that it's best to be honest in her desires.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible: A story in the Hebrew Nevi'im says that when Solomon became King of Israel, God appeared and offered to grant him a blessing: immense wealth or destruction of his enemies. Solomon instead asked to be blessed with wisdom, as he didn't feel he was good enough to be King. God granted him wisdom, and wealth, and destruction of his enemies.

    Video Games 
  • A variety version appears in Brave Soul, only with swords: You still pick between gold, silver, and iron, but choosing iron will just get you the same sword back, no other reward. However, having a certain party member with you takes the option away, she answers instantly and you get a special piece of equipment for her. Alternately, you can say you dropped all 3 in the lake. The spirit is so astonished at your greed she actually gives you a sword that replaces your exp gain with gold.
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm parodies this in the post-game DLC, where Anonymous falls into a pond and is fished out alongside a plushie that looks like him. The fairy asks Catie which one she dropped, and it turns into a comedy skit where Anon expresses indignation at not being recognized despite clearly being the real one. Ultimately, he goes back on his own and the fairy just gives the plushie to you.
  • In original four .hack games, you upgrade your weapons by dropping them into one of the many pools of water scatted across most above-ground maps. A water spirit will pop out and ask if you dropped a golden or silver axe. Answering that you dropped one of the precious-metal axes will get you an item that you can sell for a fair amount of money, but is useless in combat. Answering "neither" causes the water spirit to give you a different (usually better) weapon than the one you dropped in. If the item is already too strong to be altered by the spring, the spirit will direct you to a stronger one and give both the golden and silver axes along with what you tossed in.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • A Link to the Past does this twice: first with a normal fairy that will upgrade your boomerang and shield to a magic boomerang and red shield, then with a fat fairy that will upgrade the Master Sword or Tempered Master Sword into a gold one and a regular bow and arrow into silver ones (which you need to defeat Ganon). Both will also give you green medicine of magic in one of your bottles in the same way. However, in both cases you actually throw the things in the water (and if it's anything but the right item they'll simply give it back and ask that you be more careful with it).
    • In Oracle of Ages, there is a pond, accompanied by a sign reading "Do not throw things into the pond!" If you disobey it and toss in a bomb, the fairy will ask what kind of bomb you dropped. Telling her it was gold causes her to bomb you down to one heart, claiming it was silver and will confiscate your bombs; the honest answer upgrades your bomb bag.
    • The Minish Cap: A fairy fountain on Mount Crenel has a sign outside it reading "No bomb throwing!" If you disregard the sign and throw a bomb into the fountain, a Great Fairy pops out and asks you if you threw a Gold Bomb or Silver Bomb into her fountain. Answering "neither" nets you an expansion to your bomb bag.
  • Referenced in Onmyoji. Ebisu says "Did you drop the gold axe or the silver axe?" when tapped on in the shikigami inventory.
  • Spoofed in Silent Hill 3. In the New Game Plus mode, you can drop your steel pipe weapon into the sewers at one point, which causes a fairy to appear bearing silver and golden pipes. They have no difference in attack value, though.
  • WarioWare: Touched!: Spoofed in the intro, where Wario drops a Game Boy Advance and a GBA SP into an open sewer, and an old man appears to ask Wario whether he dropped the older systems or a Nintendo DS. Wario, naturally, tackles the old man and takes all three. The old man gets his revenge on Wario at the end of the game.
  • In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, Lex can trigger an event where he drops his Iron Axe in water and a spirit offers him a silver and then golden axe. He refuses them, which nets him the powerful Brave Axe. It seems to be a common fairy tale in Jugdral as the spirit was mentioned again in Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 when she meets Halvan's sister and gave her the Brave Axe as well. This is later parodied when Lex was added to Fire Emblem Heroes. His training sessions near a lake has him lose the axe, though in place of a spirit is a Hero who rewards his honesty invitation to a dedicated training group for axe users. Each time, however, he is down an axe.
  • In Digimon World DS, one of your Digimon will ask you to fetch an item they dropped into the sewers. Once there, you're greeted by a Prince Mamemon who offers you a powerful ring instead. Refusing gets you both items.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Played with in Dragon Quest Monsters. One of your monsters falls into a lake, and the lake spirit first offers you a piece of meat and an old man. If you're dishonest (including saying that your original monster didn't belong to you), you're simply booted out of the level. If you're honest, you get to fight a boss which you can recruit. So your reward for honesty is to be attacked by a giant insect...
    • And Dragon Quest III had a spring into which you could drop an item, summoning a fairy offering you a powerful axe weapon; however, there was no way to get it — if you were honest, she wouldn't give it to you because it wasn't yours, and if you lied, she wouldn't give it to you because you lied. If you actually got an axe of that type from a monster that drops it, then drop it in the spring as your item, she would give it back if you were honest, but this was absolutely pointless.
    • In Dragon Quest V, you come across an old man in a cave about mid-way through the game. He will ask if you dropped three valuable items; a mini medal, a reasonable defensive item, and a T'n'T Ticket. If you say no to all three, he gives you them all, despairing that so few people are honest these days.
  • Animal Crossing:
    • Often, talking to a villager throughout the series will have them remark "I found this [insert item here]. Is it yours?" However sometimes it's this trope (they're testing you) or they honestly did find it laying around and don't know whether or not you actually did lose it. There's no way of knowing if lying or telling the truth is how you get the item; it's merely a gamble.
    • The fable is spoofed in Animal Crossing: Wild World: If you give Pascal the Scallop, he will tell you that he dropped it on the beach. He will then ask you if you dropped a golden axe or a silver axe on the beach. Contrary to the original fable, however, you have to tell him you dropped a golden axe in order to get it, otherwise he gives you his picture.
    • Animal Crossing: City Folk: Serena, the goddess of a fountain that Tortimer can install after donating enough bells, seems to set this up... only to be ridiculously finicky about whether or not she rewards you for your efforts. Guide Dang It! doesn't even begin to cover it, as being honest, flattering her, or even admitting that you hate her is not guaranteed to yield any results.
  • Parodied in We Love Katamari: one of the stages has a water god rise out of a lake bed holding a gold axe in one hand and a silver axe in the other.
  • Ape Escape 2 has a parody of this story amongst its unlockables, but with bananas instead of axes.
  • Parodied in Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana. There's a lake with a key item, and in order to get it, you have to drop something into it. When you get there, a cutscene plays where Norn throws Delsus' wallet into the lake and you are asked if you dropped a stone or a jewel, it doesn't matter which one you choose. The stone is needed to progress the plot and in the off chance you pick the jewel instead, Norn says stone first. Later, you can drop any item into the lake and get a choice of one of two different items. Also, Delsus does not get his wallet back.
    • The spirit actually begins to complain about people dumping stuff in the spring. She offers the stone and jewel to get the party to leave and doesn't care about the wallet at all.
  • Disgaea's Gold Axe Silver Axe Magichange attack works this way. Your character's grip on the Magichanged Orc fails and it falls into the water, only for the Orc God to appear and offer a gold or silver axe. Your enemy runs up to grab the axe being offered, and the Orc God casts the axe towards the enemy... before becoming very angry and planting it into the foe instead!
  • The Dark Spire more or less plays this exactly. You attempt to chop down a tree with a Rusty Old Axe, but it flies out of your hands and lands in the water. A fairy appears holding a Golden Axe and asks if this was your axe. If you're honest she will give you the Golden Axe, which allows you to chop down the tree. You also keep it afterwards, but it's a weak weapon and you cannot sell it.
  • A variation appears in the first Final Fantasy if you stop to think about it: the dragon Bahamut promises you great power if you go to the Citadel of Trials and retrieve a "token of your courage". The item you get at the end is a simple rat's tail, when you would expect some kind of major artifact. Bahamut recognizes this as the true token and upgrades your party's classes.
  • You can get it as an Asmodian quest in Aion, granted by an item sometimes dropped by White-Foot Daru. The honest answer gets you a speech about the importance of honesty and compassion for Asmodians, given their difficult living conditions, and all three axes — the iron axe and the silver axe are just valuable, but the Gold Axe is a fairly good mace-type weapon for the point in the game the quest is available.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Mario is asked whether he dropped a treasure of everlasting wonder or a "shabby mustachioed man in green" into a strange pond of liquid. The spirit automatically assumes Mario would prefer the treasure, up until Mario insists that the "shabby mustachioed man" is his brother, and he doesn't care about the treasure. The spirit both returns Luigi and gives Mario the treasure.
  • Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love has a cutscene at the start of chapter 3 where Rikaritta/Rosarita gives people the choice of a gold gun or a silver gun. Only thing is, both guns are hers, and the one you pick is the one she'll shoot you with.
  • Monster World IV: In the water temple, there's a part where you must throw a bucket in a well and then honestly tell the magician which of the buckets is yours. If you lie, you have to restart the conversation. If you tell the truth, he wonders aloud if you cheated.
  • In Puyo Puyo Fever, Popoi will offer Amitie a gold or silver axe before his battle. She declines, even when he offers both axes for her honesty, since she is after Ms. Accord's flying cane.
  • Appears in Harvest Moon, where dropping your axe into a spring accessible after an earthquake results in a water spirit appearing, asking if you dropped a golden axe. Answering no, the spirit will give you the golden axe for your honesty. Saying yes, you will need to buy the golden axe from the tool shop.
  • Samurai Warriors Chronicles has a variant involving swords: Talking to Aya after a battle may give you a scene where she'll offer the protagonist a gold sword, then a silver sword, and then the protagonist's own sword. Answering honestly improves the protagonist's friendship level, and then Aya will say that she'd let you take the sword you accepted to battle, with the gold and silver swords being much worse for the cutting down of the many enemy soldiers and commanders you face in a battle.
  • One of the random rooms generated in Zettai Hero Project is a spring where you can toss items into, and possibly get something nice back. The room is decorated with large (ornamental) gold and silver axes.
  • If you choose to be a woodcutter in Fantasy Life, you will sometimes hear, Elmie, the protective entity of the forest, rant about this trope. She apparently has to deal with many axes "accidentally" dropped in water. The game also plays a song for those who master a given job and the one for woodcutters ends with the game world's version of the tale.
  • In Faria, an NPC in Somusa tells the axe legend about the goddess in the nearby lake, into which you have to drop one of your arrows to get the golden arrow you need to defeat the next boss. If you throw anything else in, you'll get fined 100 gold pieces for littering.
  • One of the Gag Reels of BlazBlue: Chronophantasma has Kokonoe sending Litchi, Tager and Roy Carmine to get her a rare plant known as the Blue Silver Vine. The place where the plant grows is protected by Jubei and a young Taokaka. After a brief scuffle, Tager is thrown into the nearby hot spring and a magical witch (played by Trinity Glassfille) comes out asking if they dropped the Silver Golden Tager (which Roy points out looks more black than silver), or the Golden Golden Tager. When told they dropped a "normal Tager" the witch rewards them with both the silver and golden golden Tagers... but doesn't give them back the normal one. Taokaka gets excited by the idea of getting a shiny golden something that she throws Jubei to the spring. The witch asks if she dropped a silver or golden Jubei doll, Tao being Tao, she claims she lost the golden one and gets nothing. Roy then inadvertently insults the witch, who pushes him into the spring, emerging soon after to ask Litchi if she dropped a silver or golden Arakune Litchi tells that it was her who dropped Roy and she wants him back. The witch complies and gives her back the normal Arakune, who she stills keeps calling Roy. Finally, they see the Blue Silver Vine being eaten by Taokaka and they break into a scuffle, throwing it into the spring. The witch emerges to ask them if they dropped a gold or silver kiwi. Tao screws things up again by claiming they dropped the golden one. Luckily, Arakune had eaten some of the vine while in the pond and they can get it from his body. Kokonoe somehow doesn't find it strange that Tager is golden or that Roy has become an Eldritch Abomination.
  • KUUKIYOMI 3: Consider It More and More! has this as one of its situations but your axe is embedded in the goddess's head.
  • Weird and Unfortunate Things Are Happening: One of the Fools Spaces has you drop a broken key in a pond, upon which a fairy will ask if you dropped the broken one or shiny golden one. Naturally, choosing the broken one gives you a fully-repaired Fools Key while lying gives you nothing.
  • In Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous a smith will come with a mundane-seeming rusty sword and an enchanted shining sword and asks the player to choose between them. Besides picking one, they also have the option of giving both of them to Nenio, who will "reveal" to the smith that the rusty sword actually bears a powerful hidden enchantment, then melt both of them down and reforge them into a new sword.

    Web Animation 
  • The AstroLOLogy "Honesty is the Best Policy" opens with Gerry, one of the Gemini twins, cutting down a tree when he loses his axe down a well. Sagittarius, playing the role of the classic water sprite, comes out and offers him a choice between the axe he lost and one made of gold. Gary, the other twin, makes him pick the old axe and they're given both. The twins fight over the golden axe and Gary throws Gerry down the well, leading to Sagittarius coming back out and offering Gary a choice between the original Gerry, who is understandably mad, and an angelic version; he picks the latter, which enrages her and she punishes the twins by magically fusing them together at the butt.

  • In this page of PepsiaPhobia, the shapeshifting mockingbird princess Mim offers to retrieve Phobia's sword from the lake bottom. Phobia and Klepto demonstrate their Genre Savvy.
    Klepto: If she comes up with a sword made of gold, refuse it.
    Phobia: Obviously.
  • Played with in Learning with Manga! FGO. The Male Protagonist offers level 4 and level 1 Siegs to level up Astolfo, with the one he doesn't pick given to level up Jeanne. Being a kind boy at heart, Astolfo asks him to fuse them into one and give the resulting Sieg to Jeanne instead. He gets both for his honesty... and the Male Protagonist stays up that night hoping that Astolfo uses them for a Twin Threesome Fantasy.
  • Parodied in one Flork of Cows strip. When offered a golden axe or a silver axe, the man angrily replies that what he actually dropped was a very expensive sex toy. The lake spirit bluntly tells him he's not getting it back.

    Web Original 
  • Danbooru has a tag for parodies of this. As expected of the site, it's somewhat Not Safe for Work and roughly half of it is Touhou. Parodied in one of the latter, where Suika, emerging from the lake, asks this of Reimu, who promptly tells her her axe was iron... but she wants the gold and silver axes. An impressed Suika instead decides to go with her rather than give her either axe.

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of Ewoks titled "The Tragic Flute" invokes this with a mystical entity called King Elbo, who resembles a sort of giant hermit crab creature. Princess Kneesaa drops her wooden anklet in a lake and summons King Elbo by accident. He offers her two golden and bejeweled anklets in turn, which she turns down, being honest, and as a reward, he gives her all three. Naturally, Latara, the greediest Ewok, seeks out the same spring and deliberately casts her crudely handcrafted wooden flute in, hoping to pull the same stunt. Unfortunately for her, she can't restrain her greed and ends up claiming all three are hers. King Elbo promptly spirits her away to his castle under the water as a punishment for her greed, forcing the other Ewoks to save her.