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Selfless Wish

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God: Grace. You want her back?
Bruce: No. I want her to be happy, no matter what that means. I want her to find someone who will treat her with all the love she deserved from me. I want her to meet someone who will see her always as I do now, through Your eyes.
God: Now that's a prayer.

There is one thing that a character wants more than anything else in the world. They want it so badly that they go through great trials for the chance to be granted a single wish. When the time finally comes, they decide to forgo their chance of getting what they want and instead asks for something on behalf of someone else.

Freeing the Genie almost always overlaps with this. If the original wish wasn't something completely frivolous, the character may (one way or another) be granted it anyway.

Compare I Want My Beloved to Be Happy.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Inuyasha, it happens twice. Once in the backstory, Naraku expects Kikyo to use the Jewel of Four Souls to save her life (she takes it with her into the afterlife instead). This sets up the ending, where Kagome is trapped in the Jewel. Like Kikyo before her, Kagome doesn't make the selfish wish - she first refuses to make a wish, trusting in Inuyasha to find her, and when he does, she wishes for the Jewel to cease to exist, the only possible wish that the Jewel could not somehow pervert.
  • Fushigi Yuugi:
    • The whole thing with summoning the Beast Gods is this. The Priestess who summons the Beast God she represents gets three wishes, but there's a catch: she must be strong-willed and pure enough not to let the Beast God summon consume her soul. Typically, this means using the wishes to help others, not for her own happiness (the exception, of course, being perhaps a wish to get home safely). The biggest examples are:
    • In the prequel Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden, Takiko doesn't manage to stop Genbu from consuming her soul since she has heavy self-worth issues and is dying already. She does hold on long enough to make two of her wishes, which are both completely selfless and dedicated to helping the land of Hokkan and stopping the upcoming war with the Kutou country; her third one is fulfilled by the prayers of the grateful Hokkan citizens.
    • In the original Fushigi Yuugi, Yui is so consumed by her anger towards Miaka and a Break the Cutie process that she becomes a broken and spiteful Rival Turned Evil, thus allowing Nakago to manipulate her for his own ends. This is crowned by her making two very selfish wishes (including one specifically made to separate Miaka from Tamahome) and, once she realizes the damage she has caused, making a completely selfless one to fix said damage. Right after that, she's consumed by Seiryuu.
    • Also in the original series, Miaka, at first, wants to make hilariously selfish wishes. Later in the story, she thinks of balancing selfish and selfless wishes (helping the people in the book, fixing her and Yui's relationship, bringing Tamahome with her)... but the three wishes she actually makes are completely selfless, allowing her to "repair" both the Real World and the one in the Book. This lets her summon Suzaku without being consumed by him.
  • Pet Shop of Horrors:
    • In one story, there is a man, Roger, running for president. Though charismatic, he is also arrogant and ungrateful, in contrast to his kind assistant, Kelly, who lacks Roger's charm. Kelly is in love with Roger's fiancée, Nancy, but they can't be together. But then Roger receives a Kirin, a powerful beast that can grant wishes. On the ride home, Kelly sees a bus full of children in danger and quickly stops the bus from going over the cliff, but at the cost of his car going over. That is when the Kirin asks Kelly his wish. For a moment, Kelly thinks of wealth, power and fame, but remembered Nancy and simply wants to see her smile again. When he wakes up, he is confused why Nancy is calling him Roger and telling him that Kelly is dead. Then he finds out that he is in Roger's body. Because of his Heroic Sacrifice, he is guaranteed to become president and Nancy is technically now his fiancée. The Kirin saw that he passed the test and granted him everything.
    • In another story, a man is given guardianship over a "princess" staying with Count D. It turns out that said princess is an adorable little girl who has the ability to grant him great luck and thus win money through gambling. The man makes a number of selfish wishes for money, fame, and women, which leads to the girl becoming sad and him losing the luck she provided him. At the end of the story, he acknowledges that everything he had before wasn't really his, and just wishes for the little girl back. He gets her back in her true form (a kitten) and the ending implies that he will have lasting happiness with her through that.
  • A variant in YuYu Hakusho: Kurama, a demon who masquerades as a human, turns out to have stolen one of the three treasures of Spirit World so he can wish for it to save his human foster mother's life at the cost of his own. Yusuke, being a good-intentioned Idiot Hero, leaps in and tells the mirror to take his life instead. The wish is granted, and neither one dies: it turns out that two people trying to sacrifice themselves for the same wish nullifies the cost of making one. It ends up doing that because the force behind the mirror makes it so. Presumably he could have taken either or both of their lives. Said force was just so impressed with them it spared both. Yusuke's wish basically boiled down to not wanting a mother not to suffer at the loss of her son, for the mirror to take his life it would violate his wish since Yusuke was motivated by his own experience with his mother seeing her while he was dead and suffering as a result.
  • Deconstructed in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It's something of a theme in the series that there is no such thing as a selfless wish. Everyone who makes a wish for someone else's happiness is also unconsciously hoping that it will also benefit themselves, even if only indirectly — a fact which Mami (wishes for herself to be saved, later she laments that she could have used the wish to save her parents as well), Sayaka (wants to be loved by the ill boy she uses her wish for, a fact that Mami herself points out), Kyoko (wants to save herself and her family from destitution), and Homura (wants to be the one who rescues Madoka from death) all fall afoul of. Also, because hope and despair balance out to zero, seeing the chance for that selfish expectation slipping away with the equivalent rising happiness already given to someone else sends a Magical Girl deeper into despair — which is exactly what Kyubey wants, as this gives him plenty of grief seeds to eat when the Magical Girl witches out and is killed by her former comrades, and the emotional energy from the fall to despair is being used to defy the advance of entropy and try to avert the heat death of the universe. Then reconstructed at the end: Madoka's TRULY selfless wish becomes the most powerful force ever to exist, because she manages to learn from the examples of the other three, and knows exactly what she wants -- a better world for everyone, even if she has to be erased out of their memories to do so.
    • Madoka's wish can also be seen as a subversion: her wish was actually more selfish than anyone else's, and that's why it worked: wishing to be able to do something with her own two hands meant she actually got the benefit of the hope generated by her own wish. It can be seen as a Logic Bomb, in a sense.
    • Earlier in the Drama CD, Madoka wishes to save a cat, and that's it, she never wanted anything else indirectly. There's nothing can go wrong for a direct, simple wish.
    • Played With in Rebellion: Homura's wish is very selfish (seeing as she wants a happy ending after all the shit she's been through), but it results in the rest of the cast getting their happy ending while Homura herself is plagued with guilt. It's still selfish in terms of control because she went against the wishes of Madoka and forced her to be happy, but then it's also not selfish because Homura was acting in accordance with what she knew the first iteration of Madoka would want, and not the self-sacrificing Madoka who only existed as a result of Homura's mistakes with time travel. In essence, Homura was driven mad enough to make a selfless wish for a person who no longer existed because of her actions, while being incredibly selfish to a person who was exceedingly selfless.
    • Another variation shows up in Puella Magi Kazumi Magica: Kaoru wished for her soccer injury to be healed... so the rival player who'd injured her, and been bullied into a suicide attempt for doing so, would be forgiven. The seemingly-selfish wish is actually selfless in purpose, and Kaoru is one of the few characters to live to the end of the series.
  • Quite a few times on Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon uses the Silver Imperium Crystal to make selfless wishes. She wishes Fiore could understand love in the R Movie. In the S movie (and the manga story it's based on), she wishes Luna could be human for one night so she could properly speak to Kakeru. Her first wish, made at the end of the first season, was that all her friends were alive again and that they could all just be normal schoolgirls. She had to take back the second part of that wish when she realized it wasn't completely selfless since it left the world open to attacks by outer forces, so Luna had to undo Usagi's Laser-Guided Amnesia and later the other girls'.
  • In Red River (1995), Yuri is taken by the Black Prince as a prisoner of war, along with a good many other Hatusu soldiers. The Black Prince makes a deal with Yuri: if she can defeat a lion in combat, he will grant any request. If she succeeded, he expected her to request her freedom, with the plan that he would send soldiers to kill her in the desert as she was returning to Prince Kail. Instead, Yuri guesses his plan and instead requests that he treat the prisoners of war humanely.
  • In Dragon Ball:
    • In the first arc, all the characters are there for an ulterior wish (Bulma for a boyfriend, Oolong for treasure and riches, Yamcha to not be scared of women). However, this is thrown out the window when Oolong has to prevent Emperor Pilaf from wishing for world domination: he jumps in and wishes for something completely useless to Pilaf (a pair of panties) in order to save everyone on the planet.note  So in sense, it was a selfish wish done for a selfless purpose.
    • This is also discussed at the end of the Baba arc. Goku defeats his deceased grandpa Gohan and finds the last Dragon Ball required to have a wish granted so that his friend Upa can revive his murdered father. Upa questions if that's really okay considering Goku could easily wish for Gohan to be revived, but Goku being Goku, he says that it's alright. Uniquely, Gohan is still present to give his blessing on the matter as well! (For his part, Goku was never looking for a wish, he was searching for the Four Star Ball that Gohan had in his possession.)
    • This is the key to the end of the Universal Survival Arc in Dragon Ball Super. The Tournament of Power has, as the prize for being the surviving universe, the allowance of one wish on the Super Dragon Balls. In the end, Android 17 is the last one standing and he decides, after everything, to wish back the universes erased by the two Zen'Os during the Tournament. This was also a Secret Test of Character as knew this would happen and, had it not, they would have erased everything.
  • In Yuri is My Job!, the Liebe Girls' Academy salon holds a Blume election for its staffers, who are students at the eponymous school, and the winner gets the chance to make a single decree for the salon. Sumika, the winner of the election, makes the following decree.
    "Salon staff, let us all get along with each other so that for the next year, no one feels neglected. That is my Blume decree."

    Comic Books 
  • One story in Sonic the Comic had Tails meet up with an anthropomorphic unicorn who grants him a wish for saving him from the Badniks. True to his nature Tails wish is for Mobius to be free from Robotnik's rule. The Unicorn then takes Tails to a room looking down on Robotnik as he drives along in a parade. Tails is given a gun and told that if he shoots Robotnik Mobius will be free. Being who he is Tails throws the gun down and yells that it's wrong. The unicorn tells Tails that he made the right choice, and as long as he follows his good nature, one day, his wish will come true.
  • The key to the defeat of Neron in DC's Underworld Unleashed Crisis Crossover: when Captain Marvel wishes for nothing more than Neron to knock it off, that instantly defeats the demon, because Good Hurts Evil.

    Fan Works 
  • A Wish for Batman had Batman receive a wish in a crossover with Ah! My Goddess. After considering wishing for his parents or Dick's to be brought back to life, Batman ultimately wishes that his work as Batman would be complete and successful and that Gotham would become safe under his watch. Following the reality warp that allowed his wish, Bruce discovers that not only has Gotham become a safer city with more policemen, to the extent Bruce is now free to act largely on a global scale, but he is now happily married to fellow vigilante Selina Kyle, and that Harlequin is now sane. However, best of all, Bruce and Alfred discover that in this new world, Thomas and Martha Wayne are still alive, and Bruce breaks down in tears seeing them again.
  • In Kill la Kill AU, in Comic 41, we have Ryuuko, in light of Satsuki's illness, and she wishes to be the "sick one" instead of her then ill sister. This comes true and the comic ends with her in the hospital as her illness gets worse. When Satsuki finds out about this, in part II, she is devastated but makes a wish to be the sick one along with Ryuuko, so the latter won't be alone.
  • Fate/Parallel Fantasia:
    • False Rider wanted to use the Holy Grail to wish that all the land be returned to nature. When she is dying, she changes her mind and says she would have wished that Gaia (the spirit of the world) and Alaya (the spirit of humanity) would be able to work together in harmony.
    • When the heroes are all captured and about to be either killed or corrupted into mindless slaves, Shirou Emiya uses a Command Spell to ask that Saber be allowed to reach Avalon. This unexpectedly causes the Avalon Noble Phantasm that Shirou had been unknowingly carrying in his body to awaken, which saves them all.
  • Discussed in Gaz Dreams of Genie, when Gaz is struggling to come up with a use for her final wish that won't backfire on her, and Azie (the titular genie) suggests that she use it for someone else rather than herself. Ultimately, Gaz chooses to not do so, and regrets it. Because she opened Azie's lamp by breaking it, she was cursed to switch lives with her upon the completion of her Three Wishes, with a selfless wish being the only way to avoid this. Since she doesn't make one, she ends the story trapped in the lamp while Azie gets her life.

    Films — Animation 
  • The title character of Annabelle's Wish decides to permanently give up her Christmas voice in order to grant her human friend Billy, who'd lost his after a fire that killed his parents, his voice back. It pays off later in a Karmic Jackpot of sorts for Annabelle when at the end, she's saved from death by Santa granting her other big wish - to become one of his reindeer.
  • In Disney's Aladdin, Aladdin uses his third wish to liberate Genie instead of wishing to be a prince, losing his chance to marry Jasmine. This turns out to be the show of character that proves to Jasmine and the Sultan that Aladdin would indeed make a worthy husband, so the Sultan changes the law to let Jasmine marry whoever she wants. It also gives the genie opportunity and cause to help Aladdin throughout the sequels.
  • Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio: The Wood Sprite promises Sebastian one wish for anything he wants if he looks after Pinocchio. Sebastian muses about all the fame and fortune he could wish for when he hears this, but in the end, after growing fond of Pinocchio as a person, he uses his wish to bring him back to life.
  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney), Esmeralda, in the song "God Help The Outcasts", asks for God to bless and help those who are worse off than she is. To be placed into context, Esmeralda has asked for sanctuary in the cathedral of Notre Dame, and should she step out, the villain, Frollo, would arrest her and demand she either become his or face immediate execution.
  • In The Rugrats Movie, the babies are more than willing to make one after spending most of the movie looking for the magical "lizard" that they believe will grant them a wish, allowing them to go home. At the climax of the movie, they're set upon by a hungry wolf, but Spike appears and manages to drag the wolf into the river below, apparently sacrificing himself in the process. Believing they found the "lizard", Tommy steps forward.
    Tommy: Please mister lizard, we wish we could go... *he looks at the other babies* ...We wish we had our doggie back.
  • Wakko's Wish plays this for laughs and plays it straight at the same time. Wakko wishes for two ha'pennies, which at first seems wasteful, but his town is so poor they'll take any source of money, and they grant the wishes of all the characters in Animaniacs. With those two ha'pennies, Wakko pays for Dot's operation, then Scratchensniff uses the same ha'penny to hire Rita and Runt into his elixir making business, and gives them the home they've been searching for all those seasons, Slappy's tree blooms again, Skippy finally gets new friends, Buttons is finally rewarded for saving Mindy, the Goodfeathers get the respect they deserve, Hello Nurse gets appreciated for her brains. Pinky gets to spend more time with Phar Fignewton, and while Brain still doesn't get to rule the world, he ends up becoming the Warners Prime Minister, which suits him fine.
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Kenny dies before the halfway point of the movie, goes to Hell and meets Satan and his Fetishized Abuser, Saddam Hussein, who are planning to take over the Earth. When they succeed at the end, Kenny is able to climb out of Hell with their army. Throughout the film, though, he encourages Satan to stand up to Saddam, which he eventually does. For helping him, Satan offers Kenny any wish, and he requests that Satan undo every ill effect of the American-Canadian War, even though technically this means he'll have to go back to Hell with the other damned. The final scene of the movie shows him ascending to Heaven instead.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bedazzled (2000) has Elliot character using his last wish on I Want My Beloved to Be Happy. This ends up saving his soul since the fine print of his Deal with the Devil says that any Selfless Wish renders the whole contract null and void. A character (implied to be an aspect of God) claims it's not actually possible to sell a soul, the point of the wishes is to allow their recipient to damn themselves by what they wish for. The two explanations could both apply, since the Devil is an Unreliable Narrator who has been lying or twisting the truth throughout the film.
  • This is a major theme in The Forbidden Door. The old dragon that grants wishes tells the children that when you wish for something for yourself, someone else must pay the price, but if you wish for something for others, you must pay the price. Nimian asks to keep his country safe. His price is dying in defense of it. The children originally plan to ask for a bicycle and a trip to Venice, but realize how shallow they are. Later, they ask to repair their parents' relationship, and their price is leaving Dragonland forever.
  • Bruce Almighty: When God asks Bruce what he wants after Bruce is hit by a truck, Bruce replies that he wishes Grace find a man who may make her truly happy and see her through God's eyes, even if it is not Bruce. Grace chooses Bruce anyway after the truck hit makes her realize how much she loves him.
  • In Constantine (2005), John Constantine is a man damned to Hell for committing suicide when he was a child but revived thanks to the doctors, and now suffers from lung cancer because he smoked several packs a day. He saves the world by summoning Lucifer to him by committing suicide once more and alerting Lou to some of his people trying to take over the world before Lou can. Lucifer dispatches the threat with barely any effort and asks John what he wants in return. Rather than asking for more time, John wants the soul of the heroine's sister to be released from Hell. Lucifer does this and promptly tries to take John back with him, but when he finds John immovable and rising up into the light, Lucifer is quick to realize this Selfless Wish also counts as a Heroic Sacrifice, negating his previous sins and earning John a place in Heaven. Before that can happen, Lou heals all of John's ailments, confident John will sin and become his once more.
  • In Dragonheart: Battle for the Heartfire, the dragon Drago blames himself for King Gareth's family being fractured- Gareth's wife died due to her bond with a dragon, which drove away Gareth's son Walter- and Drago fears he will be refused entry into the Dragons' Heaven as the result. When Walter's children Edric and Mehgan are discovered, Drago takes it upon himself to heal the rift between them and their family, eventually earning himself a place in the stars when he allows himself to die because the alternative is to let Mehgan die of her wounds and the two siblings be separated again.
  • Subverted at the end of The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter with Bastion's final wish from Auryn: for Xayide to have a heart. Not only is it Cruel Mercy at best since it forces her to feel the gravity of all her evil deeds, but as the human personification of emptyness it proves outright fatal to her.

  • An old folktale has a guy who wants to ask one question, going to see a wise something-or-other who will answer three. On the way, he comes across three people in trouble and ends up asking their questions instead of his own. As a result, he ends up fabulously wealthy and gets a girl.
  • The story of Countess Cathleen (according to The Other Wiki, source tracing is problematic) who supposedly made a Deal with the Devil in order to feed starving people, and because her intentions were completely selfless, her soul was safe.
  • An old story has the Devil walking the earth, granting a nobody of a man a wish, with the perpetual underlying fear that this will be the one who, with an utterly selfless wish, will send him back to captivity in Hell. The little man wishes that, with no change whatsoever to himself, he would become the most spiteful, mean, self-centered man on earth. The Devil screams. note 

  • In The Master and Margarita, Margarita badly wants to find her vanished lover, but when the Devil offers to grant one request to thank her for having played hostess at his ball, she instead asks for mercy for one of the damned souls she met at said ball. It is then revealed that it was a Secret Test of Character, and, satisfied, Woland gives her the chance to formulate her real wish, which she does.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones's Deep Secret, Maree loses half of her soul and she and her cousin Nick have to undergo a dangerous journey in order to gain one wish each (so she can ask for it back). Instead, she wishes that her father be cured of cancer, so Nick, in turn, has to give up what he was going to wish for and use his wish to help Maree.
  • In Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's Roadside Picnic, the hero does this at the end of the story.
  • Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series novel Greenwitch: Jane and her companions are trying to retrieve an artifact of vital importance to the Light, which was lost in the first novel. When she first meets the Greenwitch in its inactive form, Jane is offered the chance to make a wish. Her wish is that the Greenwitch could be happy. At the end of the novel, the Greenwitch rewards Jane by returning the artifact to her.
  • Played with in Wizard's First Rule. A witch holds Richard's friends captive and says she will grant him one wish. He came to her because he needs the location of a Box of Orden from her. What does he do? He asks for his friends to be released. A Selfless Wish, after all, would be a waste, since the witch wants him to leave without the answer no more than he does.
  • In Wild Orchid, a retelling of the ballad of Hua Mulan, the emperor offers Mulan the deepest wish of her heart- anything she wants, he will grant. she realizes she could use this wish the way her father did, to wish for the chance to marry for love- but in her case, she doesn't know if the one she loves truly loves her. So rather than asking to marry Prince Jian, she requests that the emperor grant the deepest wish of Jian's heart, which is to be free to travel.
  • Codex Alera:
    • In Furies of Calderon Tavi has saved the day and is offered a boon by the First Lord. Much to the First Lord's astonishment, Tavi simply asks for his badly damaged farming community to be given help surviving the oncoming winter. The First Lord grants it, and after he correctly guesses what Tavi really wants for himself, he grants that too.
    • In Cursor's Fury Bernard and Amara play key roles in helping Lacy Placidia, a politically and magically powerful woman, escape from a treasonous High Lord Kalarus. She offers them a reward as thanks. Amara wants her to help Rook, Kalarus' top spy and assassin who worked for the man because he held her daughter hostage, and give her a quiet home away from all the politics and games to be with her daughter. And, as Rook promised her daughter to ride horses, a horse too. Bernard then gives his desire of a second horse, this one for Rook so she can teach the child as well. Lady Placidia is stunned and smiles.
  • At the end of the first Neogicia novel, Saly gets the opportunity to ask a favor from the Emperor of her faction. Her best friend has plans to save up so her father can get an expensive medical treatment to which the Emperor has free access. She asks for her friend's father to be treated for free.
  • In The Forbidden Door, at the coronation of Nimeon, both the new Dragon Emperor and the human protagonists David and Laura are given a chance to ask for something from the Master of Wisdom. However, they come to understand that asking something for themselves will require others to pay the price while asking something for others will require them to pay the price. Nimeon asks to be a wise and just ruler to his people and ends up paying with his life in a Heroic Sacrifice. The children rethink their selfish wishes, and later end up asking for their broken families to find reconciliation, at the cost of never returning to Dragonland.
  • In The Divine Comedy, Thomas Aquinas tells the story of King Solomon with particular emphasis on how selfless it was for him to wish for wisdom to better rule with when he could have asked God for wisdom in theology or mathematics or some other art that kings use to distract from their duties.
  • In Half Magic, a group of children find a magic coin that grants unlimited half-wishes. While they do use the coin to wish for things they want for themselves, they also frequently use it to make other people's lives better like wishing for a poor man to have exactly as many of his wishes granted as he deserves and adding "do a good deed" as a condition for their most self-indulgent wish to have a time-travel adventure. At the end of the book, they make a final big wish for all of their mother's wishes to come true and then leave the coin to be found by another family who needs it.
  • A Soviet short story called "The Flower of Seven Colors" (adapted into a cartoon twice) features a girl named Jenny being given a magic flower that grants seven wishes, and each wish takes up one of its seven petals. Toward the end, after several small wish-related adventures, she finally is reduced to just one wish. Then she meets a nice boy who turns out to be incurably lame and uses the last petal to cure him.
    • It is especially true in the 70s animated adaptation, in which the girl sees the boy several times and teases him... before he decides Screw This, I'm Outta Here and picks up his crutch. The sight causes her to say "I wish for him to be healthy again."
  • The prophecy in Mistborn: The Original Trilogy revolves around a selfless wish. The Hero of Ages would make the journey to the Well of Ascension, which would give him godlike power. But the prophecy strictly says he must willingly let go of that power to save the world from the Deepness. It turns out to have all been a lie. Ruin manipulated the prophecy to convince someone to take the power of the Well and release it, thus freeing him from captivity so he can finally destroy the world.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A planned storyline in Buffy the Vampire Slayer would have had Buffy receiving one wish. She then would spend the episode considering how to use it, such as removing Angel's curse (which would enable them to have a relationship). But at the end of the episode, she decides to resurrect Tara, Willow's late girlfriend. Sadly, Amber Benson was unavailable.
  • A couple of episodes of The Twilight Zone (1959) utilize this:
    • "The Night Of The Meek" has a mall Santa getting to play Santa Claus for real, and he wishes that he could do it every year. He gets his wish.
    • "I Dream of Genie" ends with the man wishing to become the genie, when he realizes the "usual" wishes such as love, wealth, and power aren't for him.
  • Full House: In "The House Meets the Mouse", after spending the entire episode abusing her wishes as "princess for a day"note , Michelle uses her third wish to make Stephanie princess for the rest of the day. As a reward for her generous act, she and her whole family are invited to ride in the Magic Kingdom parade.
  • Kamen Rider Ghost: In Episode 11, Takeru gains all of the 15 Eyecons and is now about to receive his wish. When the spirits ask him what it is, instead of resurrecting himself, he resurrects Kanon Fukami, the sister of Makoto Fukami, and with that, Makoto finally sides with Takeru despite him paying his sole ticket for revival.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "The Leprechaun-Artist", Buddy considers wishes for world peace or a Cure for Cancer using the wish that he received after he and his friend J.P. and Richie captured the Leprechaun Shawn McGool. However, he eventually wishes for X-Ray Vision so that he can see through girls' clothing.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In "Best Wishes, Winnie the Pooh" from The Book of Pooh, after Pooh tells everyone that he can grant wishes, most of them wish for big things, like Tigger wanting to take a trip to the moon. Piglet's only wish is to spend time with his good friend, Pooh. Notably, Piglet is the only one who gets his wish exactly as he made it.

    Video Games 
  • Bloodborne: Gehrman wishes that the Beasts can be freed from the plagued city Yharnam and the Hunters can be freed from the Hunter's Dream, he has gone so far that he poses a Self-Sacrifice Scheme to become a surrogate host of a nightmare and offers Mercy Killing to everyone he came across.
  • Waku Waku 7: The profile of Robot Maid Tesse states that she wants to use the power of the Waku Waku Balls To Become Human, but her ending has her making a wish to heal the scientist who created her from his illnesses.
  • Deconstructed in Valkyrie Profile. In what is considered either the saddest or Narmiest recruitment scene, we're introduced to Yumei, a half-mermaid girl who is treated like shit by her fellow merfolk, especially once her mother dies. She then goes to find where her father was and finds a fisherman and his son who saved her. The fisherman's son, Fuyuki, talks about the legend of the Lapis Lazuli that grants a wish, and he wants to wish for a big ship. Upon finding out that Yumei's human father is dead, she decides to commit suicide but says goodbye to Fuyuki after revealing her mermaid form to him. Her tears actually turn into a Lapis Lazuli, and Fuyuki picks it up. Rather than wishing for a big ship like he wanted, he then says wishes for Yumei to be with her parents. Unfortunately, her parents are dead...
  • In Puzzle Bobble Galaxy/Space Bust A Move, Bub and Bob's fairy assistant Snown performs a Heroic Sacrifice to stop the Big Bad. Having used up most of her magic to save the day, she starts to fade away in exhaustion though grants Bub and Bob one final wish of their choice in her dying breath. As they think, she notices she's stopped fading away. Bub and Bob take pride in their wish as the fully recovered Snown dances happily.
  • In Tales of Legendia, the mystical artifact called the Everlight is said to grant any wish to the person who finds it. Genki Girl Norma manages to find it after her Character Quest and uses her wish to restore a bitter old man's eyesight. She does it to show the old man that his pupil (Norma's teacher) was right about people being ultimately good since it was her teacher's last request.
  • The whole ending for The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Princess Hilda aimed to steal Hyrule's Triforce so that her own kingdom, Lorule, could be restored before it crumbled away. After getting a pep talk from Ravio on how her actions would doom Hyrule, Hilda accepts her kingdom's fate and sends Link and Zelda back home with their Triforce. Link and Zelda decide to use the power of the Triforce to make a wish and their wish restored Lorule's Triforce, granting Hilda's kingdom a second chance.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the king of Hyrule wishes for a future for Zelda and Link instead of the restoration of Hyrule, forever burying his old kingdom under the sea with Ganon.
  • In Skullgirls, the Skull Heart can grant a woman their wish, but if it isn't a selfless wish from someone pure of heart, their price for having said wish granted is becoming the next Skullgirl. The issue lies in the Skull Heart being a Jackass Genie whose criteria as to what counts as "pure" are so strict as to be nigh-impossible. Multiple characters (either in the backstory, or individual story modes) attempt a selfless wish, with varying results: for example, in Filia's ending, she wishes for Carol (Painwheel) to be turned back to normal so she can live a happy life. The Skull Heart decides that this doesn't count as selfless since Filia is doing it because she feels bad for her.
  • In Tales of Berseria, the Harbinger of the End pits Velvet and the others against Jude and Milla in a battle of fates. If Jude and Milla win, then they go back to their world and the world of Velvet and the others is destroyed. If Velvet and the others win, they get one wish, or more specifically, Velvet does, as she's asked to speak for the group as the leader. She wishes for Jude and Milla to go back to their world. "You said you have things to do back home, right? That's why." The Harbinger asks if she's certain, noting he can grant anything her heart desires, including the power to turn back time. She replies that she won't run away. At this point, he says that he senses no malice in her answer, so their world won't be destroyed.
  • Fallen London: One of four ultimate quests the player can pursue is the Heart's Desire ambition, a card game that will give the victor their heart's desire (or whatever the rulers of London and a giant sentient fortress can grant that's close enough, anyway). Towards the end, the player learns that one of their rivals plans to use the wish to permanently destroy the game itself; you face off against him in the final match and your final play is a guaranteed win. But then you can fold, for no reason other than to ensure that someone trustworthy will end the game permanentlynote , sacrificing all the progress you've made and your guaranteed victory so that someone else can achieve their heart's desire - making sure nobody else plays this life-destroying sucker's gamble ever again. note 
  • Petal Crash: Orphaned twins Penny and Deony both wish to find their long-lost parents under the assumption that it's what the other twin wants, even if it's not their own heart's desire. As a result, it ends up not being granted, but they're not too hung up on it since they already have each other.
  • In A Tale of Two Kingdoms, there's a Wishing Well you can use to skip one of a few puzzles. If you don't need the help, you can instead wish for health for Branwyn, which will increase your Honour score.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Fate Route. Shirou wishes to not to make a wish. The wish-granting artifact is cursed to cause destruction with every wish, so the hero and his Love Interest destroy the artifact, thereby saving the lives of probably the entire city. Unfortunately, the Artifact of Doom was the only thing keeping the Lady of War Saber in the modern era. She only has time to admit that she returns Shirou's love before being swept back to her time period and falls asleep, hoping that she will be able to see Shirou again. As history demands, Saber (who is revealed to be Queen Arthur of the Round Table) dies in her sleep, though they get together again in Avalon for eternity.
    • Archer made one such wish in his backstory by making a Bargain with Heaven, promising his eternal servitude to Gaia for the power to save a handful of people he was currently trying to rescue for no other reason than his inherent selflessness. 'Backfire' does not even begin to explain how utterly screwed over he ended because of this, and the game further deconstructs the mentality behind making this sort of wish by showing that Archer's selflessness ended up turning him into a bitter, hollow shell of a man who has lost his free will, forced to murder endless enemies and innocent bystanders for the greater good of saving more people than he slaughters, and is reduced to a bundle of self-loathing, who nonetheless cannot stop trying to save people because that's just the sort of man he is.
  • In Dandelion, all five animals-turned-human-men are participating in a game set up by the Wizard in which the person who gets Heejung, the game's protagonist, to fall in love with him will have a wish of his granted by the Wizard. Of these five people, Jieun is the only one whose wish is to have another person's wish granted; specifically, the wish of his knight Jihae who he feels guilt for clinging to so selfishly that he didn't warn him that the woman he loved was planning to commit suicide. Coincidentally (or not), Jieun also happens to be the only character who gets an unambiguously happy ending with Heejung.

  • Urchin of Sakana Yama gets a grand total of seven wishes from a genie he befriends and uses all of them selflessly to help his friends. The genie is so stunned at Urchin's generosity that he grants Urchin unlimited wishes. However, since Urchin is a Cloudcuckoolander in a cast full of them, the genie never outright tells him this.
    • Urchin's grandpa also makes a selfless wish to the same genie, wishing for Urchin to be united with his one true love. This prompts said "one true love" to be compelled to seek Urchin out.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Catscratch, Gordon sets out to defeat the Kracken in combat so it will grant him his wish (to have a bigger tail). When they find the Kracken, however, it rips off Mr. Blik's tail in the ensuing fight. When Gordon eventually wins, he wishes for his brother to get his tail back instead.
  • In Samurai Jack, there was a wishing well guarded by three extremely powerful demonic archers. After Jack defeats them and is about to wish to return home, the archers (who have reverted to human form) tell him that the well is cursed: they wished to become great warriors, and the well forced them to become its blind guardians. Jack then wishes for the well to destroy itself and not endanger anyone again. In the fifth season, it's revealed that the curse on the well was Aku's doing, so in hindsight, it's a really good thing that Jack didn't use the well to wish himself back to his original time period.
    • In another episode Jack attempts to rescue a trapped fairy that can grant any one wish (Including sending him home). When he is unable to free her (and himself as well), he says "I wish we were free".
  • Parodied in The Simpsons:
    Lisa: I wish for world peace.
    Homer: Lisa! That was very selfish of you!
  • American Dragon: Jake Long:
    • Jake makes the selfless wish of saving the day rather than seeing Rose again when given a magical transportation device. Really driven home when two portals open — the one he asked for aloud, and the one his heart asked for. Meaning he and Rose literally see each other, then he has to choose the other portal anyway.
    • In the climax of his fight against the Huntsmen, Rose uses the crystal skulls to destroy the Huntsmen even though that means she'll be destroyed in the process. Jake takes control of the skulls and wishes that the Huntsmen never took her away from her family. Even though this means she'll lose memory of who he is, he's happy in knowing that she's safe.
  • Subverted in Adventure Time: Finn and Jake both get a wish for reaching the center of a maze and at the moment, Jake has seriously injured himself. The plan is for Jake to wish himself healed, while Finn wishes for the Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant they've been coveting. Instead, Jake wishes for a sandwich. Left with the choice between healing his best friend or getting the Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant, Finn picks the latter. Double Subverted when Finn then takes mental control of the Elephant and makes it wish for Jake to be saved so that they get everything they want anyway.
  • Big City Greens:
    • In "Wishing Well", Cricket sets up a fake wishing well to get people to pay him and is torn when Tilly uses it. When his shoulder devil suggests he spend the money Tilly dropped in, he listens to him; but his shoulder angel punishes him for swindling her and forces him to do good deeds and give her back the money. Once he does so, he gives her the money and notes she should spend it on something worthwhile; but instead of spending it, she dumps all the money into Cricket's well, because she can't think of anything better to buy than a wish, forcing Cricket to come clean.
    • In the Christmas Episode, Cricket is worried he may end up on the naughty list because of all the bad deeds he did over the year. When he causes trouble when meeting a department store Santa, he is thereby deemed naughty and decides to resort to being naughty indeed by pulling pranks all over Big City. When his biggest prank, to steal the Christmas star and moon the whole city, goes wrong and Tilly is blamed for it, he realizes the error of his ways and encounters the real Santa, who gives him a magical gift which can be anything he wishes for. At first Cricket is content, but then he drops his head in regret and decides to use this wish to get Tilly back on the nice list, and also to be out of the blizzard because he realized all he really wanted for Christmas doesn't come in a box. On Christmas Day, Cricket discovers not only Tilly got presents, but himself as well, because of his selfless act of putting Tilly's needs before his, which therefore considers him nice.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Timmy needed money to buy tickets to "Crash Nebula: On Ice". He can't simply use his fairy godparents to wish for the tickets because it'd be theft and he can't wish for the money because that would be counterfeiting, so he opened a lemonade stand but his lemonade had a horrible taste until Cosmo dipped his used socks on it, which also caused the lemonade to grant wishes to anyone who drank it. After using almost all his lemonade to undo the damage caused by his customers, he intended to use the remaining lemonade to get the tickets but then he saw a thirsty boy who was forced to work making lemonade for Vicky's stand and Timmy decided to give him the lemonade and the boy, unaware that the lemonade would grant him a wish, he wished for his Dad. The kid turns out to be Doug Dimmadome's long-lost son, Dale Dimmadome. Doug Dimmadome owns the place where the show's performance would take place and rewarded Timmy and his friends by giving them jobs selling lemonade at the stadium, so they could still see the show without actually needing tickets (Doug Dimmadome wouldn't have been able to give Timmy and his friends tickets anyway, as the show was completely sold out at that point).
    • Otherwise, Timmy's selfless wishes don't count for the trope since his wishes are not limited by number.
    • In "Fairy Idol", Chester used his last wish to undo the damages caused by Norm.
  • In the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes episode "Contest of Champions", Ben is awarded one wish for having won the contest. However, rather than taking the opportunity to regain his lost humanity, he uses it to free his teammates and the villains who lost.
  • Twice in the Gravity Falls episode "Blendin's Game". Dipper and Mabel win the time wish and, instead of using it for themselves, they give it to Soos. Then Soos, instead of using his wish to meet his dad (who hasn't seen him since his fourth birthday), uses it to clean up the twins from their battle and to have a slice of pizza that doesn't end because spending time with them is the best present of all.
  • In the South Park episode "Woodland Critter Christmas," Stan uses his wish from Santa Claus to resurrect the Mountain Lion Queen whom he'd been tricked into killing earlier. (Though note that this episode was All Just a Dream.)
  • In Over the Garden Wall, after Wirt and Greg fall asleep, Greg goes to a Dream Land where he is offered a wish by the Queen of the Clouds. Greg asks to go home, but the Queen explains that she'd have to send him alone, because Wirt has fallen into despair and is already under the Beast's power. Taking to heart Wirt's earlier claim that their situation was all his fault, Greg instead asks to meet the Beast so that he can bargain for Wirt's safety.
  • The Emperor's New School: In the Christmas Episode "Giftmas", Kuzco wants Papa Santos to make him emperor again as his Giftmas wish. However, Papa Santos refuses because Kuzco is put #1 on the naughty list because of how much of a Jerkass he naturally is. He gives Kuzco a list of good deeds he has to do in order to get off the naughty list and make up for his past actions. Kuzco not only fulfills the tasks he was required to do, but he also helps Papa Santos deliver the presents by turning himself into a llama againnote  and substituting himself with one of the llamas on Papa Santos' slay which was frozen by Yzma in an attempt to stop Papa Santos from making Kuzco emperor again. However, after the presents are delivered and Kuzco is removed from the list, Papa Santos reminds Kuzco that Tipo is saddened because Kuzco made him believe that Papa Santos doesn't exist. Kuzco (somewhat reluctantly) instead wishes to Let There Be Snow making Tipo's dream come true. Subverted when Tipo seemed like he was going to use his own wish to make Kuzco emperor again, but instead he simply has Kuzco changed back to human form, much to Kuzco's dismay.
  • In Strawberry Shortcake: Berry, Merry Christmas, when Santa Claus asks Strawberry what she wants for Christmas, she sobs because she's worried that she won't be able to find a gift for Huckleberry. After reassuring her that things will be alright with Huck, he asks her just what it is that she wants, but she can't come up with anything other than that she wants to make sure all of her friends get good gifts. A sort of exaggerated version, since Strawberry was so selfless she never wanted anything for herself. The whole time, it was all about her friends. To further drive home the point, most kids have a Christmas list of things they want for Christmas. What Strawberry calls her "Christmas list" is actually her list of things she plans to buy for her friends.
  • Little Einsteins has one that's even more so than the immediately above adventure. In the Christmas Episode, "The Christmas Wish," Annie uses her wish box to wish to be with all of her friends on Christmas. This was something she already had, since she was there, at the time, on Christmas, with all of the other Little Einsteins.
  • In an episode of Muppet Babies, the kids find a toy lamp that looks like a genie's lamp. While most of them make random wishes while imagining the results, Kermit spends most of the episode wondering what to wish for. Finally, he makes up his mind at the end. He wishes that "we all stay together as friends all our lives and become famous in movies and TV together". After a clip from The Great Muppet Caper is shown, Gonzo says that's a strange wish, while Scooter tells him he won't know if it comes true for a long time; but Kermit is pretty sure it will come true...
  • In a Valentine's Day Special starring The Smurfs, a selfless wish was used to prevent a rather catastrophic selfish one. The Wicked Witch Chlorhydris wanted to use a special wishing well to purge the world of love (and yes, she did have a motive for this which was explained in a later episode). The well could only be used when there was a full moon on Valentine's Day, which only happened once every thousand years, and she needed to offer it a cat. Not just any cat would do, and apparently, Gargamel's cat was perfect (for some odd reason). Of course, taking Azrael from him caused him to find out about it, and naturally he wanted to use the well's powers for himself (to catch the Smurfs, of course). The Smurfs themselves got involved, and after the well's power was activated, the two villains got into a struggle to use its power. while they were doing that, Smurfette briefly considered using the well to find true love, but after realizing how crazy it was, she told it, "I wish we were all back where we belong!" sending Gargamel to his hovel, Chlorhydris to her observatory, and the Smurfs to their village. (And as a bonus, preventing the well from being used again for another thousand years.)
  • In "Wally Saves the Trollidays" on Wallykazam, Bobgoblin uses up almost all the Trolliday wishes in the sack, leaving just one, which is given to Wally. He's upset that nobody else will get to have any wishes, so he uses his wish to wish for the sack to be filled with wishes again. It's never said, but something like this presumably only could work if the wish were selfless. When the wishes are given out and he gets another, he uses it to wish for a sled for his dragon Norville, while Norville wishes for one for Wally. Bobgoblin gets another wish too and wishes that everyone has a happy Trollidays... and for another big purple hat.
  • Ultimate Book of Spells: In "Once in a Blue Moon", Zarlak finds a magic ring that he can use to wish himself back into the surface. but first he must let the main heroes use it to have one wish granted for each one. Fortunately, Zarlak summons the ring back before Cassy has a chance to make a wish and must figure out a way to force her to make a wish. Cassy wishes the ring will never be used for evil.


ADJL - I'll Be Okay

Jake finally grows tired of his grandfather lecturing him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (18 votes)

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Main / SelflessWish

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