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Mundane Wish

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Calvin: A sandwich?!? What kind of stupid wish is that?! Talk about a failure of imagination! I'd ask for a trillion billion dollars, my own space shuttle, and a private continent!
[cut to kitchen]
Hobbes: [eating a sandwich] I got my wish.

With a puff of smoke, Alice the Genie appears! Solemnly, she tells Bob that because of his tireless efforts in browsing TV Tropes for nineteen hours straight, she will grant him one wishanything at all.

Bob, after a moment's thought, wishes for a bag of potato chips.

Mundane Wish is the trope when a character, given the opportunity to choose any reward without restraint, intentionally picks something simple and commonplace. While this may be done simply for comedy, it is often used to establish the practical or humble nature of the wisher — such as if Bob simply doesn't want or need anything grand, or doesn't even think to ask for such. Alternately, Bob may wish for something simple in order to counteract the backfire potential of a literal or Jerkass Genie, or maybe just to test the genie's power. In non-magical settings, it may show cynicism about whether grander wishes are likely to be granted.

Typically appears in stories featuring magic (or a similar substitute), but can also appear in non-magical situations, like an Emperor offering an open-ended reward to a hero or a conversation between friends.

This trope is closely related to Wasteful Wishing, but differs in intent — Wasteful Wishing is when a request is mundane because the wisher was being frivolous or made a mistake. A Mundane Wish, in contrast, is intentionally chosen because that's all the wisher wants.

Related to Be Careful What You Wish For and Sold His Soul for a Donut. Subtrope of Three Wishes, evoking the first law. See Mundane Utility and Misapplied Phlebotinum. Someone who wants a mundane prize but isn't simply being offered it has a Humble Goal. A wish of this type may be created by an Indubitably Uninteresting Individual. Compare and contrast Ludicrous Gift Request.


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  • The Tim Tam genie ads were based on this premise: people would wish for a packet of Tim Tams that never ran out.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ah! My Goddess: When the goddess Belldandy shows up in Unlucky Everydude Keiichi's room to grant him a wish and emphasizes that he can wish for anything including unlimited wealth and total world destruction, Keiichi merely wishes for a beautiful woman like her to stay with him forever. Granted, he made such a mundane wish largely because he thought she was just pranking him, but he repeatedly makes it clear throughout the series that he doesn't regret his wish at all and wouldn't wish for something else if given the chance to take it back.
  • Carnival Phantasm (a parody of Fate/stay night):
    • When Shirou and Saber win the Holy Grail Grand Prix and are offered a wish from the Holy Grail, all they ask for is the money they spent on the race (their vehicle was coin-operated) to be returned to them.
    • In another episode, an oblivious Berserker destroys every other Servant while shopping for batteries and receives the Grail in the form of a water heater, which he presents to Ilya. However, since Berserker didn't get the right brand, the Grail interprets Ilya's demand for the batteries as her wish. Neko-Arc then gives her a single battery and disappears with the Grail. To add insult to injury, it wasn't the right brand either.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Emperor Pilaf has finally gathered the seven Dragon Balls, and is so overcome as he begins to make his wish to the dragon for the title of ruler of the world, but he stammers a bit. Oolong the anthropomorphic pig takes the opportunity to leap between Pilaf and the dragon and wish for women's panties (the world's most comfortable pair of underwear in the broadcast version of the dub). It would have been Wasteful Wishing except that the wish saved the world (Oolong finished his sentence first, so that's the wish Shenron granted) and Oolong was very happy with what he got.
    • Commander Red is eventually revealed to want the Dragon Balls to wish to be taller, as he believes his height makes it impossible for him to earn the respect of his men (not realizing that he already does). Upon hearing this, Staff Officer Black, enraged that he wasted so many resources on such a petty wish (not to mention many lives that were lost stubbornly underestimating Goku on the grounds that he's "just a kid"), shoots him dead.
    • Again spoofed near the end of the battle with Buu. Vegeta has a plan to defeat Buu, but it requires two wishes from the Namekian Dragon to work. Once those wishes are granted, Dende asks Vegeta what his third wish is, and Vegeta responds "A new pair of boots. Size 10." Dende realizes he's joking, which is good, since they do come up with a use for that third wish later.
    • Discussed with Yamcha twice. At the start of the series, he expresses an interest in using the Dragon Balls to wish away his fear of women. Puar calls this out as a waste, but Yamcha defends his reasoning that everything else he wants he can obtain by his own effort, but overcoming this phobia is beyond him. Later, when the heroes have a spare wish to burn at the end of the Cell Saga, Yamcha asks if no one else can come up with a better idea if he could wish for a diamond necklace his girlfriend has been asking for. When Krillin uses the wish to remove the bombs from Androids 17 and 18 (itself probably an example, as Bulma removed Android 16's bomb and likely could have done the same for the others) he apologizes to Yamcha for taking the wish. Yamcha laughs it off, saying he was kidding and of course, they aren't going to use Shenron's power for something so trivial.
    • Subverted in Dragon Ball Super. After winning the Universe 6 & 7 tournament, Beerus uses the Super Dragon Balls (powered by the God of Dragons and capable of granting any wish with no restrictions), to make a wish. Bulma asks what he wished for, and Berus replies that he asked for a comfier bed. Bulma calls him out on wasting the wish, but it's revealed what Beerus actually wished for: Universe 6's Earth, rendered desolate a long time ago by its human inhabitants, being restored and brought up to a state of development and culture on par with Universe 7's Earth, largely so that its cuisine would be available to the God of Destruction in Universe 6, his brother Champa. He claims he only did it so he could hold the favor over Champa's head.
    • Android 17's wish were he to win the Tournament of Power, provided by the almighty Super Dragon Balls? He wants a boat he can use to take his family on vacation (he thinks it would be funny to use something that powerful for a wish that mundane). When,17 actually does win as the last man standing, to everyone's surprise, he instead uses his wish to restore all the erased universes (an outcome that Grand Zeno actually foresaw and planned for). He still gets his boat though, implied to have been via Bulma and her insane wealth... only for her to do him one better and gets him a full-blown cruise liner!
    • Dragon Ball Super: Broly has a pair of equally petty wishes: Bulma has been gathering the Dragon Balls for a wish to be five years younger. Why only five? Because she doesn't want the change to be too obvious. Meanwhile, Frieza wants the Dragon Balls to be five centimeters taller. Because he wants to be taller but not make it too obvious.
    • By the time of Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, this trope is being invoked deliberately. After Frieza stole the Dragon Balls from Bulma's safe in Broly, Capsule Corp. opted to "enhance" their security by instead gathering the Balls and immediately blowing the wishes on whatever comes to mind, hence disabling and scattering them for a year each time. And as in Broly, a lot of said wishes involve Bulma asking for minor cosmetic upgrades.
  • Discussed in Metal Fight Beyblade: When the WBBA held a tournament promising to grant any wish to whoever won, Ginkga commented he intended to wish for a hamburger.
  • Frieren: Beyond Journey's End: One of the rewards for successfully becoming a first class mage is "the privilege", the opportunity to ask Serie, a millennia-old elf and the most powerful magic user alive by a considerable margin, to teach them any spell she knows. As one of her nicknames is "The Living Grimmoire", there are a multitude of extremely powerful spells to choose from. When Fern, Frieren's apprentice successfully passes the exam to become a first class mage, she requests to learn... a spell for doing the laundry. Serie is less than impressed by this request, though Frieren approves of it, in part because it annoys Serie.
  • Nagasarete Airantou: In the anime version of a story the characters find a genie that will grant 7 wishes. The wishes end up being: mame daifuku, "give me a second to think about it", "the previous wish didn't count", some candy, catch Chikage, release me, a cup of tea. Also, the purpose of finding the genie was to reverse the spell Chikage put on the whole island.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • Since Madoka can't think of anything to wish for but wants to help Mami as a Magical Girl Warrior, they decide to ask Kyubey for a cake feast. The idea was that they would have a party to celebrate their partnership and Kyubey would provide the food for it.
    • It turns out that in the first timeline, Madoka's wish was to save a random kitty that got run over.
    • In contrast to most of the series' Magical Girls, most of the Pleiades Saints in Puella Magi Kazumi Magica deliberately chose wishes that would act as stepping stones for what they wanted to achieve instead of wishing for them outright to lessen the Equivalent Exchange penalty the bigger wishes often result in.
    • Side material indicates that another magical girl did wish for a cake... a cheesecake to share with her dying mother in the hospital. Aww. While many fans assumed that that magical girl became the witch Charlotte upon realizing she could have wished to save her mother instead, Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story reveals that Nagisa knew full well she could have saved her mother but wished for the cheesecake to spite her out of retaliation for being abused.
  • In Ranma ½, Kunō gets three wishes from the Wishbringer during the Wishing Sword arc. He finds this a problem since he's already "Gorgeous, brilliant, rich and has a great personality." However, he also recognizes that he now has the power to conquer the world. His three wishes turns out to be: Beating Ranma in a fight once, a date with the pigtailed girl, a small statue to celebrate said date. Other candidates for his wishes include: a date with Akane (while he's about to start his date with Ranma), catching Ranma during a playful game of chase, create a café, bigger boobs for Ranma, find Ranma (not recognizing male Ranma as the pigtailed girl).

    Comic Books 
  • One of the Archie Comics shorts had a gag where Archie wishes he had a million dollars and Reggie wishes he had a billion dollars. Jughead meanwhile spots an ad for 50 cent hamburgers and wishes for a couple quarters.
  • When various villains from DC were offered anything for their souls by the demon Neron, The Joker wished for a box of Cuban cigars. It's up for debate as to whether this was wasted or not, as there is no doubt that Joker was going to Hell anyway, and he makes it clear they were good Cubans.
  • Hellblazer: A disguised Ellie summons the demon Buer, offering him the chance to take Constantine's soul. Buer is delighted, but points out that per the rules, he has to give something. Ellie acquiesces, then tells him to make a cheese sandwich, pointing him towards the kitchen.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • In a Sunday strip, Calvin asks Hobbes what he'd wish for; Hobbes says he wants a sandwich. Calvin doesn't understand why and wishes for enormous wealth. Hobbes gets his wish, and Calvin obviously does not. Another strip has Calvin ask a similar question, to which Hobbes replies that he'd wish for "a big sunny field to lie in." Calvin is aghast at how mundane this is, but then observes Hobbes sleeping in the grass. "Actually, it's hard to argue with someone who looks so happy."
    • In one comic, Calvin is writing up his massive Christmas wish list to Santa, and he asks Hobbes what he wants Santa to give him for Christmas. Hobbes can't think of anything he wants, because, as he says, "I've got a good home and a best friend. What more could a tiger want?" Calvin only pities his lack of imagination.
  • A Frumpy the Clown comic had the eponymous sarcastic clown and a kid encounter a wizard who claimed he could give them whatever would "make [their lives] complete." Frumpy immediately wishes for the first ABBA album on vinyl and a watermelon. While the kid complains that he could have wished bigger, Frumpy quips that he doesn't trust little men with wands.
  • Phoebe and Her Unicorn begins with a 9-year-old girl's wish that the unicorn she just freed would be her best friend. (It's a Mundane Wish compared to her first suggestions of "infinity wishes" or "infinity dollars.")

    Fairy Tales 
  • There's an old Arab tale about a man who got a wish from a genie in a bottle. He only asks that his net never come up empty of fish. He gets his wish and does well for the rest of his life.

    Fan Works 
  • Some of reasons members of World of Warcraft's Cult of the Damned have for joining in Frostblood are rather mundane over all. One wanted to be a mage but wasn't talented enough for Dalaran or rich enough to afford an apprenticeship. Another wanted to see everything the world had to offer and decided living forever was the best way to achieve that.
  • After learning Xander is a half-genie in Situational Eros, Faith wishes for a never-ending pack of cigarettes. His mother notes it's a good wish as Xander doesn't fully know how to use his powers so a simple wish like that would be hard for him to mess up.
  • Zero no Tsukaima: Saito the Onmyoji: Saito asks Princess Henrietta for a house after he saves her life. Normally such a thing wouldn't be that mundane but it's established as just about the only thing he can't ask for a noble title due to not risking his life while saving hers.

    Films — Animation 
  • During the climax of Wish Dragon, the Big Bad's goons make such wishes with the titular dragon; Tall Goon wishes for enough puppies to open a pet store, and Short Goon wishes for longer legs. At the end, they're shown to be perfectly happy with the results.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Beginning, the Prequel Film of Babylon 5, we get an exchange where Londo offers a young Centauri noble any one wish, topping it off with the Arc Words "What do you want?" The boy answers "Tell me a story!" Londo, obliging, wryly notes that the boy did far better on that question than he did.
  • Battle Beyond the Stars: Gelt is a Professional Killer who used to charge a high price for his work, but now he's living in the ruins of a Ghost Planet Reduced to Ratburgers because there's nowhere he can safely spend his wealth, having made so many enemies. He agrees to help Shad just to have a square meal and a place to hide. After Gelt gets killed in battle, Shad orders him buried with a full course meal, to keep his side of the bargain.
  • In the 2000 remake of Bedazzled, when the Devil tells Elliot to make a wish so she can prove that she's genuine, he asks for a Big Mac and a large Coke. They ride the bus to McDonald's and buy one (with his money).
    "There's no such thing as a free lunch."
  • In the 1967 original Bedazzled, it's a Frobisher & Gleason raspberry-flavored ice lolly, gotten the same way. Later, when Stanley is in a fix and can't wish his way out, the Devil points out that the ice lolly counted as one of the seven wishes he's now used up. To rub it in, he pays Stanley back the sixpence, telling him "Now we're even!"
  • A very un-politically correct joke Rocco tells in The Boondock Saints has three men (one each Black, Hispanic, and White) each granted one wish; the black man and the hispanic man each wish for their fellow blacks and hispanics to be back in their home countries and not in America, and when the white guy realizes that this means there are no more blacks or hispanics in America, he happily just asks for a coke.
  • In the 1937 adaptation of The Prince and the Pauper, Errol Flynn's character refuses to believe that the Street Urchin he's helping is really the heir to the throne. When the prince insists that no-one is allowed to sit in his presence, but allows the granting of a royal favour in thanks for his help, he says, "I wish to sit in the presence of the king!" which allows him to get on with eating his meal. This becomes a Brick Joke at the end of the movie when he enters the throne room and sees the Prince and Pauper, but can't tell if their plan has worked and the real prince is restored. He finds out just by grabbing a chair and sitting down on it. As outraged courtiers go to throw him out the prince stops them, saying this man has permission to sit in his presence.
  • A non-magical version appears in Sneakers. The team has been confronted by a group of armed NSA agents who want the Box, and is making demands in exchange for turning it over. Carl's demand is the phone number of one of the women holding a gun on him. He gets it because she's flattered that he could have anything and just wants her number, so she gives it to him herself.
    Carl: The young lady with the Uzi, is she single?
    Bishop: Carl... Excuse us. [takes him aside] This is the brass ring. You gotta think bigger thoughts.
    Carl: I just want her telephone number.

  • The joke where three soldiers in Afghanistannote  find a magic lamp and are each offered a single wish from the genie:
    American Soldier: I wish me and all my American comrades were back home.
    [the American vanishes]
    Canadian Soldier: That's a good idea. I wish me and all my Canadian comrades were back home.
    [the Canadian vanishes]
    Afghani Soldier: So all the Americans and all the Canadians are gone? I'll have a Pepsi, please.
  • Three soldiers of Napoléon Bonaparte — a German, a Pole and a Jew — have fought well in battle, and he decides to grant each of them a wish.
    German: Before the war, I had a brewery, but it was burnt down.
    Napoleon: You will get it rebuilt.
    Pole: My motherland is under the thumb of other nations.
    Napoleon: You will get it liberated.
    Jew: I like marinated herrings so much. Could I get a few of them?
    [Napoleon is surprised, but promises him the herrings; later, the Jew explains:]
    Jew: I don't think you'll get your brewery back, or your free Poland. But my herrings — I may actually get them...

  • At the end of Another Fish Story by Kim Newman, in payment for his services Derek Leech offers washed-up B-Movie actor Lon Chaney Jr. anything he wants with no strings attached. Chaney says Leech has already granted it by addressing him by his real name, Creighton. Given that Leech is planning to bring about the end of the world by exploiting people's greed, he's genuinely impressed.
  • Agatha Christie's Tuppence Beresford mentions that in her childhood she knew of a real magic well, where wishes did come true, though she did use to wish for things that were quite likely to come true.
  • Discworld:
    • From The Last Hero, when the gods of the Disc are granting requests to the heroes for preventing the destruction of the world, Rincewind asks for a blue balloon to replace one he had lost when he was six. He also speaks on behalf of the Librarian and asks for three thousand file cards, a new stamp, five gallons of ink, and a red balloon.
    • It's a Running Gag in the City Watch books that, at the very end, whatever else the Watch may or may not be granted from Vetinari, a new dartboard is always on the list.
    • In Night Watch, the People's Republic of Treacle Mine Road is talking about what they hope to accomplish, and Vimes says a hard boiled egg. He says that while he's pretty sure that tomorrow there isn't going to be a great deal of Truth, Justice, Moderately Priced Love, and so on around, he might just get the egg. It ends up being smashed before he can eat it.
    • In Interesting Times, Rincewind asks one of the Agatean peasantry (whose main profession has been repeatedly characterised as holding a water buffalo on a string and watching it "enrich the soil", and whose views have been repeatedly dismissed by all sides in the civil war, especially the one that's supposed to be fighting for them) what it is they actually want. The sheer profoundness of this question stretches out until it encompasses the entire universe... and then the man says he'd like a longer string.
  • In The Dresden Files book, Small Favor, Harry Dresden calls in the favor owed to him by the Summer Court of Faerie... and asks for a doughnut. The point is, however, is whom he asks that of, namely, the Implacable Man Mage Killer after his head, and when—namely, a few seconds before said killer rips him to shreds and a few minutes before the bounty on Harry officially expires. It's revealed in the next book that this little maneuver has made Harry famous among the fae. Well, more famous, anyway.
  • Mistborn: The Lost Metal: Harmony explains to a soul who just died in an explosion that people often have a last wish, some nagging question, before they pass on. The soul asks simply: "Was that the biggest explosion a person ever made on this planet?" Harmony is bewildered that that is the soul's question, but the soul replies that all the really important things will probably be answered in the Beyond. So Harmony confirms that, yes, discounting Acts of God, that was the biggest damn explosion ever made by a person on the planet. The soul passes on satisfied.
  • In Dani's One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale, the raja is impressed by Rani's honesty in returning a handful of spilled rice to him during a time of great drought and tells her that she can ask for any reward she wants from him. Rani initially asks for just one grain of rice. The raja, surprised, urges Rani to ask for something bigger and she amends her wish to get one grain of rice first, then two grains of rice on the day after that, then four grains of rice on the third day and so on for a month. If you're aware of the mathematics of this doubling-up pattern, you'll know that Rani's request wasn't nearly as modest as it seemed to the raja at first.
  • A Sesame Street storybook titled "Bert and the Magic Lamp" sees Ernie bringing home a dirty old lamp. When Bert cleans it, a genie pops out and offers him three wishes. He uses the first two on a bowl of oatmeal and a new pair of shoelaces, although in fairness, Bert does genuinely enjoy those things. When the genie remarks that Bert's requests are dull and suggests things like gold or a castle, Bert politely declines, although he does ask for an ornate pigeon cage with his last wish to make the genie feel better.
  • The Nightwatcher in The Stormlight Archive grants a single boon and curse to those who seek her out. The curse might not be proportional to the request, and the supplicant usually regrets it afterward. The only person known to not have a problem with his curse was a man who asked for help during a famine. He received a bale of fine cloth to sell, and in exchange saw the world upside-down for the rest of his life. He got used to it eventually.
  • In one of Caroline B. Cooney's The Vampire's Promise books, the titular vampire has gifted a high school student named Devnee with beauty and brains by draining the energy out of the classmates she wished she could have the qualities of. The climax of the book comes when Devnee, intending to stop the vampire before he can force her to let him feed on another girl, learns to her horror that her mother has found him and made a wish of her own — only to discover that her mother only wished for good weather.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Angel, it is revealed that a seventeen year-old Gunn sold his soul... for a truck. As Fred puts it: "Oh, Charles, your soul wasn't worth air conditioning?" It's played for laughs, but the undertones are actually rather dark. At that time in his life, Gunn was maybe a notch above homeless, in a city where the homeless are basically a vampire buffet. The truck was basically the only reason he lived long enough for the bargain to matter anyway, since it turned the tide in the war between his neighborhood gang and the local vamp nest.
    Demon: You will sell your future in exchange for present happiness?
    Gunn: What future?
  • In Babylon 5, Londo, ambassador of the Centauri, proved himself so good at his job that the Emperor had him name a wish for him to grant. Londo's wish? A divorce. Specifically, divorcing two of his three wives.note  Justified by the fact that the nicest one, who he eventually elects to keep when the Emperor had him choose, has a fully-deserved fame for biting, and the description below is actually flattering.
    "Here. Look. These are my three wives: Pestilence, Famine, and Death. Do you think I married them for their personalities? Their personalities could shatter entire planets! Arranged marriages. Every one. But they worked out, they inspired me! Knowing that they were waiting at home for me is what keeps me here — 75 light-years away!"
  • In one episode of Friends, Joey does a wishbone pull and is told his wish will only come true if he gets the bigger piece. He does get the bigger piece, and then it turns out that "the bigger piece" was the entirety of his wish.
  • In Gilligan's Island, Gilligan finds a tiki that gives him three wishes. His first wish is a gallon of ice cream, and relating his story to the Professor, accidentally wishes for a second gallon of ice cream. He finally is able to wish the castaways off the island, and the land they're standing on separates from the island and floats into the lagoon.
  • In one episode of I Dream of Jeannie, Jeannie gets downright exasperated that most of Tony's wishes are mundane — but considering Jeannie's cluelessness and occasional mischeviousness, it's hard to argue against him.
  • Impractical Jokers: Sal, in a challenge to have a stranger help fill out a survey, is asked what he would do with three wishes. He chose the ability to fly, to go to Long Island...then go to Long Island again.
  • Married... with Children: On the It's a Wonderful Plot episode "It's a Bundyful Life", Al wishes for his Christmas lights to work. He immediately regrets it.
  • In Once Upon a Time, the genie is found by a benevolent king. When offered three wishes, the king decides that he already has everything he could ever wish for, and instead uses his first wish to free the genie, letting the genie have the remaining two. Unfortunately, his generosity backfires as Regina is able to make the genie fall in love with her and convinces him to kill her husband.
  • A non-magical example in Person of Interest. At one point in season two, Finch and Reese need help on a job and enlist the help of their old mafia enemy Elias, who they helped put away. Elias agrees to use his network to help them on condition that Finch become his chess partner, because nobody else in the prison can play anywhere near as well as he can.
  • Power Rangers Dino Fury: The episode "Wishful Thinking" begins with Mucus meeting a monster who can grant any wish. She uses the opportunity to wish for a fancy hat. Then she learns he's a Jackass Genie, and the spell comes with the addition of turning her into a human at no extra cost. Later on, Ollie gets one of the wish tokens, but since he doesn't believe in wishes sarcastically wishes for a hug from his mom. Which he gets, though his mom is a little confused at suddenly being transported from Japan to America.
  • Red Dwarf: In "White Hole", the crew discuss when in history they would choose to live if they had a time machine. Kryten chooses... a week last Tuesday.
    Lister: ...Why?
    Kryten: Don't you remember? I did all the laundry, and then we watched TV. Wow, we won't see the like of those sorts of days again.
  • Justified in an episode of Supernatural, when the boys investigate an apparently fully functioning wishing well and Dean wishes for a sandwich. This allows them to test out if and how the wishing well actually works in a relatively safe manner, and in fact Dean later gets food poisoning, tipping them off that the wishes eventually turn bad. If the wish hadn't been mundane, the consequences probably would have been much worse.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "The Man in the Bottle", the couple's first wish (out of four) is to have a pane of glass in their shop repaired, in order to test the genie's power first. The couple then proceed to waste their remaining wishes, but in the end console themselves with the thought that at least the glass got repaired. Guess what happens next.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • In "Time and Teresa Golowitz", the Prince of Darkness offers the recently deceased Bluestone the opportunity to visit anywhere in the universe at any time. He is shocked when Bluestone wishes to have sex with Mary Ellen Cosgrove at a high school party in October 1948.
    • In "The Trunk", in order to test whether the titular object can really grant his every wish, Willy Gardner wishes for a jug of cool root beer. He is delighted when it appears in the trunk.
  • Done in a Whose Line Is It Anyway? Scenes From a Hat gag (and also supplying the page quote for Wasteful Wishing).
    Drew Carey: "Bad Choices to Make When Your Genie Grants You Three Wishes."
    Colin Mochrie: Uh, two Cokes and some chips.
  • The X-Files: In the episode "Je Souhaite", Mulder encounters a genie who was originally a medieval French peasant; she encountered another genie who made her take his place after her third wish of "great power and a long life". Her first two wishes were a stout mule and a magic bag full of turnips. After noticing Mulder's "What the hell?" facial expression, the woman once again points out she was a medieval French peasant. Also, when Mulder asks her what she would like to wish for now, she says she would like to enjoy life as it is in the moment over a cup of coffee. Mulder uses his last wish to turn her human and the episode ends with her fulfilling her own wish.


  • In a "Beyond Belief" segment of the Thrilling Adventure Hour titled "Djinn and Tonic", Frank and Sadie Doyle release a djinni from a bottle. They use the first wish on liquor and after that have no interest in making any further wishes. Eventually, after the djinni's union gets involved, the Doyles make two random wishes just to get rid of everyone.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Sesame Street:
    • In the Christmas special Elmo Saves Christmas, Elmo gets a magic snowglobe from Santa Claus. He uses the first wish to get a drink of water.
    • In the show proper there was another sketch where Zoe found a genie's lamp and wasted the first two wishes on having the genie go back into the lamp and pop out again, despite the genie's insistence for a better wish. After the first two, the genie said that he wished that his headache, a factor in him not wanting to keep popping out, would go away, to which Zoe says "me, too", which relieves the genie of his headache and makes him happy to pop out of the lamp again and again.

  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: A woman finds a magic lamp with a genie, who hurriedly introduces himself by saying she only gets one wish and cannot wish for more wishes, then strongly advises her to go for a small, tangible luxury like a sportscar, partly because he openly admits he's a Jackass Genie but also because a customer survey has shown the greatest wish-to-satisfaction ratio with such things. She dismisses this as people being selfish and wishes for world peace. This backfires horribly, as he warned.

  • Glowfic, with wishcoins. Justified because wishcoins come in sizes and the smaller ones can only do mundane wishes.
  • We Are Our Avatars: Upon gathering the possessions of Thor and placing them on his body, Chuck gets a wish. He promptly uses it on a very delicious strawberry milkshake.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • In a scene in The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark, a woman ponders what she'll ask for from a wish-granting automaton — wealth? world peace? — before deciding that what she most wants is a really big trifle.
  • Fate/Grand Order:
    • Marisbury Animusphere stands out as one of the most sensible winners of the Holy Grail War. Instead of pipe dreams like world peace or infinite power, he just asked for truckloads of cash and the respect of his peers. This stands as one of the most successful wishes the Grail has ever granted — particularly given that despite the Grail's nigh-omnipotence, it requires that the wisher has a clear idea of how exactly to attain their wish. His Servant, Solomon's, wish, was to live a normal human life, free from the weight of his power and responsibilities. It worked fine for a while, but in the end a very good case could be argued that he received only the first half of his wish at best, given that the instant he was granted the human life he so desired he was also gifted with the knowledge of the darkness to come and hit humanity. He of course allied himself with Marisbury and Chaldea, a path that ended in his Heroic Sacrifice.
    • One of the dialogue lines for every Servant is what they would wish for from the Grail. Some of the wishes are grandiose, but some are humorously or poignantly modest.
  • Genshin Impact: After the Traveler helps save the city of Liyue from a foreign plot and an ancient god, the new leaders ask what they want as a reward. Liyue is the nation of contracts; it has existed for thousands of years based on these contracts, entire generations of gods have been bound to the city's defense because they offered such a reward. The Traveler... asks for some help putting up posters for their missing sibling. Keqing accuses them of trying to look cool.
  • After having been turned into an ottsel in the beginning of Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Daxter gets his chance to turn back into a humanoid in the ending for Jak 3: Wastelander as the Precursors offer to grant him a wish. He wishes for a comfortable pair of pants. Granted shortly before that he had discovered that the Precursors are ottsels, so presumably the knowledge that he is a member of a legendary race borderline worshipped by his previous race rather than just a Funny Animal made his condition more bearable.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has a Summoning Chamber where you can summon demons. One of these demons promises to grant you your "deepest heart's desire", which turns out to be pies (he claims that most people really want pies, but they don't know it).
  • At the end of The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, the Ocean King owes Linebeck a boon for his aid. Linebeck simply asks to have his ship back after it was sunk during the final battle.
  • Pathfinder: Kingmaker: A series of encounter areas around Pitax chronicle the misadventures of an Academy of Arts student impersonating a cultist of Charon and trying to bind a daemon,note  but he always screws up the summoning and runs away leaving the real cultists to die. Why is he doing all this? Daemons stole the soul of his favorite writer and he wants to know how the series ends.
  • Murasaki in Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit enters the cooking tournament to get the wish-granting scroll to get herself a refrigerator.
  • In the alternate true ending of Tetris Plus 2, the stick offers the professor and his assistant one wish. The assistant wishes to remove the professor's hat, as she's never seen him without it.
  • In Twisted Metal, Calypso uses the stolen power of a demon to grant the winner of the titular demolition derby any wish they desire. Some ending show that he is forced to carry out the wish no matter what it is, making Calypso abuse the Literal Genie principle very frequently. However, some wishes fall under this, such as Sweet Tooth's wishes in 1 and 3 (for a paper bag and candy, respectively) and Hammerhead in 1 (to repair his truck's tires). Along with Cousin Ed's wish in 'Head-On'' where he just wanted his RV made in chrome so it's "shiny".
  • In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt DLC Heart of Stone, if you choose to side with a certain GOD, he will offer you to make a wish as a reward. Wish to be rich, and he will remark the banality of it. And let's face it, considering the impossible items he can offer you such as a never-ending flask of alcohol or never-ending horn of plenty, cold hard coin is downright mundane.
    "...Rich? Truly? Hmmm... banal, but, all right. I gave my word. You asked, and you shall receive."

    Web Animation 
  • Vete A La Versh: after Darkar finds a magic lamp and given three wishes, he first wishes for his roomate Mecoboy (a humanoid made out of semen) to explode. Then he wishes for his bathroom to be cleaned. Finally he wishes for a new remote because he lost the other one. When the genie starts protesting about how stupid his wishes were, Darkar wishes instead for the genie to eat the exploded Mecoboy. The genie immediately gives him the requested remote.

  • In Casey and Andy, God offers them both the answer to any one question of their choosing. They both ask "Why does Kim Possible have a picture of Shego in her locker?", with Andy stating his own preferred explanation.
  • Ennui GO!: Max and his friends win Izzy's "Happy Family Fun Day" competition and are offered anything they want as a prize. After thinking about it "real hard", they decide they want... fidget spinners. Izzy is nearly off the charts of Fiction 500, to the point of being a literal despot of her own island nation which she founded purely with money. She reminds them that they can have ANYTHING AT ALL, and Cricket amends that the fidget spinners should be Minecraft themed. Izzy is baffled, but buys them what they want.
    Cricket: Fidget spinners are cool.
  • One character suggests "infinite soda supply" as a use for Nancy in Ow, my sanity.
  • Parodied by The Perry Bible Fellowship here. A man wishes for true love at a one-wish-only wishing well, but looks disappointed after noticing everyone else's wishes were for things like a spaceship, being a superhero, or having a wheelbarrow full of money.
  • In Puppy Kitten Grand Aventure the title characters are granted one wish each by a genie. Puppy's wish? Fruit salad.
  • xkcd:
    • Done in this strip, where the character wishes for a human-sized hamster ball.
    • Another xkcd strip had a different character wish to see the worst Marty McFly costume ever made to avoid any Be Careful What You Wish For consequences.
      Genie: Not a billion dollars? Flight? Infinite wishes?
      Girl: These wish things are always traps. Just show me the worst McFly and we'll call it even.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • Jake has wished for a sandwich... twice (in "The Limit" and "Jake the Dog"). What makes this even weirder is that his life hung in the balance both times. Although Jake didn't actually get his sandwich wish the second time; Prismo just made him a sandwich and allowed him to keep his wish for something more important.
    • Also from "The Limit", when the Hot Dog Knights finally get the chance to make wishes, one of them wishes for a cardboard box.
  • In Aladdin: The Series, Eden actually refuses to grant her master's first wish for a sandwich (fortunately, lacking the words "I wish" in front of it) and instead talks her into wishing never to go hungry again.
  • In the Animaniacs movie special Wakko's Wish, Wakko wishes for two ha'pennies! This is not Wasteful Wishing because spending them helps revive his home town since it was simply so poor that everyone treated it like a fortune.
  • In the Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers episode "A Lad in a Lamp", Fat Cat's gang gain possession of a magic lamp which Fat Cat plans to use for world domination. (Unknown to them, the lamp's genie has just tricked Monty into swapping places with him.) When Mole is asked what he would wish for if he could have anything in the world, he replies "a candy bar." However, he never gets his wish. Instead, Fat Cat forces him to "wish the Rangers to their doom" and Monty, in his capacity as the genie, then tricks him into wishing for the Rangers to be "set free." In response to Mole's dimwittedness, Meps seizes control of the lamp, even though Mole still has a wish outstanding.
  • Invoked and lampshaded in The Fairly OddParents! Norm notes there's a pattern when he gives a person Three Wishes. The first is something useless and mundane ("The Sandwich Wish"), the second generally involves money and power, and the third is some variant of "I wish I never met you!" when the second wish inevitably lands his master in trouble. His foresight is actually his downfall, when he gives Chester a free sandwich sans wish, allowing him a third wish to hit the Reset Button.
  • In the Fancy Nancy special "Nancy and the Nice List", while Nancy wishes to have lots of wonderful presents for Christmas like a new bike, the girl Daisy she befriends only wishes to have "a nice Christmas". It comes important some time later.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Blendin's Game", Dipper and Mabel risk their lives to give Soos a reality-bending wish so he can be with his father. When he sees the twins are dirty and beaten up from their harrowing adventure, he uses it to clean them off and fix their wounds and clothing, having realized birthdays are about being with people who care about you and his dad never really cared about him. Blendin protests before Soos reveals that he also wished for an infinite slice of pizza.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy pairs this trope with The Ditz for Fred Fredburger in one episode: The only "interesting" thing he wants to do after winning a "Spend the Day with Grim" essay contest is "... to eet sum frozun yogert" (The minimum word count requirement is 500 words, so he wrote it ad infinitum on the pages of paper.)
  • Rick and Morty:
    • In the episode "Meeseeks and Destroy", Rick gives his family a "Meeseeks Box", which creates beings called Meeseeks that will fulfill any request the user wants and then disappear. Rick warns them to keep the requests simple since giving a Meeseek a request they cannot fulfill could have serious consequences. Beth and Summer ignore the advice and ask to be "a more complete woman" and "more popular", respectively. Jerry, on the other hand, decides to play it safe and asks to take two strokes off his golf game. This being Jerry, HIS wish is the one that leads to everything going to hell.
    • In another episode, when Summer sees her boss (AKA, the Devil) try to hang himself, she uses a Monkey's Paw she happened to be holding at the time to make a desk light enough for her to move, the noose to be untied and for her to know CPR. The Devil then notes that those are some pretty insignificant wishes to use on such a thing.
    • In "The Old Man And The Seat", it's revealed Jerry's greatest and wildest fantasy is to work as an appreciated blue-collar water delivery man.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the second Treehouse of Horror, Homer obtains a monkey's paw. Maggie makes the first wish and a limo pulls up. Homer starts to celebrate as the driver comes to the door. He gives her a new pacifier and then drives off. After the other wishes backfire, Homer wishes for a turkey sandwich and specifically forbids any unpleasant supernatural surprises. The wish still backfires because the turkey is a little dry.
    • In the fourth Treehouse of Horror episode, Homer sells his soul to the Devil (a.k.a. Ned Flanders) for a donut.
  • In the Skylanders Academy episode "I Dream of Ninjini", the Doom Raiders find Ninjini's bottle that she broke out of and make her grant their wishes. Broccoli Guy wishes for a best friend and gets his pet rock from his childhood, Kaos wishes that Glumshanks were with him, and Glumshanks, upset about being pulled back into Kaos' life after going on to pursue his dream of going to community college, wishes he was back where he was before.
  • In Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, when Plucky and Hampton's family travel through a tunnel holding their breaths and making a wish, Plucky doesn't get his wish to be at Happy World Land due to breathing before they leave the tunnel, but the rest of them get their wish, the same one they always make, "to be a happy and loving family forever and ever".
  • Wishfart: Dez often grants these, although since he can grant an endless number of wishes, the real danger is that his wishes never turn out as he or the wisher desire.

    Real Life 
  • Alexander the Great once visited Corinth. While there, according to the story, he offered the Philosopher Diogenes of Sinope, aka Diogenes The Cynic,note  anything he wanted and, being emperor of just about everything at the time, he could have granted it. Diogenes only looked up, slightly irritated, and asked him to get out of his light. Sometimes interpreted as Diogenes showing Alexander that all his worldly triumphs couldn't compare to the wonders of nature such as the sunlight. As an alternative interpretation, Diogenes unintentionally showed Alexander the joys of simplicity, because Diogenes was happier than Alexander despite Alexander being the emperor and having anything he wanted at the snap of his fingers.
    Alexander: Were I not Alexander, I would wish to be Diogenes.
    Diogenes: And were I not Diogenes, I would also wish to be Diogenes.
  • Josef Stalin:
    • There's a (likely apocryphal) story about Stalin and the author of the Soviet anthem. Stalin asked the author what he wanted in reward, a car or a dachanote . The author asked Stalin for his pencil, explaining that Stalin's pencil holds a symbolic value for him. Stalin gave him the pencil, and the car and the dacha too.
    • Another similar joke has Stalin asking four movie producers what they need in order to work properly. One complains about cramped surroundings — he gets a flat. The other complains he works best outside the city, and gets a dacha. The third has a dacha, but complains it's hard to get there — Stalin gives him a car. The fourth is hesitant, saying it's a big wish, but after Stalin insists, he asks for a copy of Stalin's book "The Questions of Leninism" with an autograph, for inspiration. He got the book... and a flat, a car, and a dacha as a bonus.


Video Example(s):


Big Bird's birthday wish

You know how they always say your birthday wish only comes true if you blow out the candles on the cake in one breath? Well, that was the case for Big Bird on his birthday. He wished for nothing more than that exact prerequisite itself.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / MundaneWish

Media sources: