A character is given a special ability so that everything they touch turns into a certain substance of superficial value to the character that gets it, such as gold or candy. However, that character soon finds out that this ability is actually undesirable. Often something Goes Horribly Wrong with this new ability and they have to reverse it. The lesson is often that Greed is bad.
The myth of King Midas is the Trope Codifier. It tells of a king who wished everything he touches would turn to gold. The Greek god of wine Dionysus gives him this ability, which he enjoys at first but finds it has its drawbacks, such as when he can't really eat anything and turns his daughter into gold by hugging her.
This power can turn a person or creature into Brown Note Being, if the touch is harmful.
- Skittles: A man in "Touch the Rainbow" has a hands-only touch that turns objects into piles of the rainbow candy. He is unwaveringly clear about the fact that it makes his life hell.
- In the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, the reason Magica De Spell is after Scrooge's #1 Dime is that it's the final ingredient for a spell to obtain it. Magica being far smarter than most people on this list, the Touch would be the effect of a removable charm, neatly bypassing the usual downside-that, upon believing she had found an adequate substitute, she tried to weaponize in The Treasury of Croesus by shaking hands with Donald as soon as she had completed and put on the charm.
- In Disney's Aladdin and the King of Thieves, the band of thieves is after a legendary artifact, the "Hand of Midas" which can turn things to gold. The villain Saluk is turned to gold when Aladdin's father tosses the artifact to him and he catches it barehanded. When escaping the ruins, he is also forced to leave behind his turned-to-gold cape because the weight was slowing him down. Eventually, he decides the hand was not the ultimate treasure he truly wanted, and throws it into the ocean...but not before it lands in the boat of the other thieves first, turning it to gold and causing it to sink.
- The page image is from The Golden Touch; an early Walt Disney film (directed by the man himself) retelling the traditional King Midas fable.
- A car mechanic receives the Midas Touch. Now everything he touches turns into a muffler.note
- The Chocolate Touch is a story about a boy who loves chocolate more than anything, and receives an enchantment so that everything which touches his lips or mouth turns to chocolate. He quickly becomes sick of chocolate, then sick in general. Things get worse when he kisses his mother...
- In C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the heroes' voyage takes them to a volcanic isle where Edmund and Caspian discover a magic pool that transforms ordinary things to gold — including one of the Telmar lords who fell (or perhaps was pushed) into it. Evil forces spark an argument between Edmund and Caspian over potential uses for it, but Lucy breaks it up before they can come to harm.
- Lords and Ladies has the Lancre Morris Men discuss the legend.note When the one of them asks how the king went to the lavatory, the others say that's the point; you could be holding a fortune in your hands and have nothing to spend it on.
- Bassie & Adriaan: In "De Verzonken Stad", which is set in Greece, Bassie hears about the legend of King Midas, and proceeds to have one of his daydreams in which he imagines himself as the king (though in a modern day setting). At first he enjoys his ability to turn everything to gold, until he finds out that it prevents him from eating anymore cream pies (they too turn to gold the moment he touches them). And to make the nightmare complete, he accidentally turns Adriaan to gold as well.
- In one episode of Mystery Hunters, Christina investigates whether King Midas' suppose ability to turn everything he touched into gold was true.
- In the first-season finale of Trust, Fletcher Chace recounts the story of King Midas as he discusses the upheaval in J. Paul Getty's life following the failed opening of his museum. Having alienated much of his family with his stingy behavior, disowned his grandson (the only person who still looked up to him), and wrecked his reputation as a connoisseur of the arts with his gaudy museum, Getty finds himself still one of the richest men in the world, but also incredibly isolated.
- Hercules: The Legendary Journeys used the Midas story as the backstory for "All That Glitters" when Hercules pays his old friend a visit. We're told that (much like the myth) Midas was excessively greedy and eventually obtained this ability, but Hercules helped him undo it when it got out of hand and taught him a lesson about greed. In the episode proper, Hercules worries Midas has lapsed into old habits by opening a casino (dubbed The Golden Touch, of course) and reminds him what happened before, but the kingdom has actually fallen on hard times and been taken advantage of by villains of the week.
Salmoneus: I bet people travel from far and wide to shake the hand of the man with the Golden Touch!
Midas: Ex-Golden Touch.
Salmoneus: I'm so sorry about your loss.
Midas: No, don't be. If I still had it, you'd be a golden statue!
- Discussed in the the Imagine Dragons song "Gold", which is about how the blessings of fame are actually curses.
When everything, everything
Everything you touch turns to gold, gold, gold
- Also discussed in Florence And The Machine's song "Rabbit Heart", which is about the dangers of fame in the music industry.
Midas is king and he holds me so tight
And turns me to gold in the sunlight
- Switchfoot's song "Faust, Midas, and Myself" combines this trope with Deal with the Devil. The singer dreams about meeting a old man with "a crooked smile" who offers him, "You could have your pick of pretty things." The singer wakes up as a golden man, in a world completely made of gold, and quickly comes to hate it. Eventually he wakes up for real, back in the normal world, with a greater appreciation for his routine life of before.
As my reflection passed
I hated what I saw
My golden eyes were dead
And a thought passed through my head
A heart that's made of gold can't really beat at all
- The Greek myth of King Midas is the Trope Codifier. Midas is obsessed with gold and so Dionysus, the god of wine, grants him the ability to turn everything he touches into gold. However, he finds eating and drinking is nearly impossible with this ability (in another version he turns his daughter into gold after hugging her). Dionysus instructs Midas to wash his hands or anything he turned to gold in the Pactolus river to reverse it, which transferred the ability to the river and caused its sands to turn gold, thus explaining why the Pactolus river had a lot of electrum (a natural alloy of gold and silver) in it in preceding centuries.
- The Binding of Isaac has the aptly named Midas Touch, which causes any enemies the player touches (even bosses!) to turn to gold, freezing them in place and causing them to drop coins when they die, as well as negating most of the damage scaling on Ultra Greed, allowing the player to kill them much easier.
- Ultra Greedier, being a statue made of gold, turns the entire boss room into gold when he dies.
- God of War: Ghost of Sparta references the fable with one level where King Midas is a minor Puzzle Boss wandering alone in the mountains, driven to complete and oblivious insanity after having turned his only daughter to gold. The player is required to use Midas's ability to cross a river of lava without getting turned to gold in the process.
- Referenced in the first Tomb Raider game in the "Palace of Midas", where turning bars of lead into gold is the level's central puzzle. Although the game doesn't allow the player to turn other inventory items to gold, they can climb on top of Midas's hand and watch Lara herself be turned to gold. Oops!
- In Leather Goddesses of Phobos, King Mitre is under a curse that causes everything he touches to turn into a 45 degree angle.
- in The Sims 3, the Supernatural expansion has an elixir called Midas Touch that either gives the drinker this power for a few hours, or - if thrown at someone - turns the target into a gold statue for a while.
- Exaggerated in this comic of Dinosaur Comics, where Midas the dinosaur king gets the ability to transform everything he touches into gold. The planet he's standing on turns into gold, and then the air he breathes turns to gold, and the air molecules around him turn to gold.
- In Nukees, Dionysus applies the Midas curse to Gav, which turns everything one touches into the thing they desire most. In Gav's case it's Guinness, which impresses the alcoholic god enough to rescind the curse.
- Warcraft III: The Goblin Alchemist's ultimate ability Transmute instakills a target enemy and gives the alchemist the unit's gold cost.
- Codename: Kids Next Door: "Operation C.H.O.C.O.L.A.T.E." features Henrich von Marzipan, who after falling into chocolate lava got turned into a chocolate monster that turns everything he touches into chocolate. This turned out bad for him when he got sick of chocolate and wanted a cheeseburger.
- The series finale of DuckTales (1987) involves a cursed artifact called the "Golden Goose" which could turn anything to gold. Scrooge comes to his senses after the Beagle Boys steal it and turns his three nephews to gold, then races to return the duck to its hidden temple when the duck's curse starts spreading, turning everyone and everything to gold.
- The episode "Goldfingers" of the animated adaptation of Iznogoud revolves around Iznogoud meeting Karat of the Black Mountains, a distant descendant of King Midas. He still carries the curse of his ancestor, but over the course of many generations it has degraded from turning everything into solid gold to merely covering it with a layer of fake gold. Iznogoud tries to get Karat to do this to the Sultan, but in the end Iznogoud himself suffers this fate.
- In one episode of Ollivers Adventures, Olliver gains the ability to turn things to chocolate by touching it and saying, "Chocolate, chocolate, my favourite treat, the only thing I'll ever eat." Later on, he loses control of it, and anything he touches turns to chocolate whether he wants it to or not.
- The Yogi Bear episode "Touch and Go-Go-Go" sees Yogi given the ability to turn anything he touches into a pik-a-nik basket, including (by accident) Boo-Boo and Mr. Ranger.
- Jay Jay the Jet Plane has an episode in which Tracy can turn anything she touches into candy. It's All Just a Dream, though.
- Hercules: The Animated Series: "Hercules and the Golden Touch" is a parody of James Bond movies, in which Hercules must stop King Midas from using this ability and sandals stolen from Hermes to turn the entire world into gold. Marigold (the king's daughter) ultimately helps Hercules foil the plan, but Midas vows he'll just try again. When Marigold tries to reason with him, he thoughtlessly clasps her mouth shut and realizes too late what he's just done to her. At the suggestion of Hercules, a reformed Midas sincerely begs Bacchus to remove the Golden Touch and restore everything to normal, and Bacchus grants this request.