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Wishing Tropes

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"When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.
[Beat Panel, nothing happens]
If Jiminy Cricket were here, I'd skoosh him."
Calvin, Calvin and Hobbes

Wish granting is a popular concept in fiction with numerous tropes, and several magical creatures and artifacts acquiesce to these desires. It's typically genies or fairies, but witches and wishing wells are not unheard of.

The wishes are commonly defined by the way they're granted. Hopefully they'll be carried out as you intended, but watch out if your words are taken literally, and woe betide you if they're deliberately misinterpreted...

See also Deal with the Devil for outright infernal entities who will grant your wish, although they usually have a rather demanding price.

Not to be confused with Wish-Fulfillment, which is about the audience's wishes being fulfilled in the story.


  • All Wishes Granted: The wishes of everyone in the group have been granted, one way or another.
  • Bargain with Heaven: Getting what you desire by making deals with angels, deities, or other benevolent/neutral entities.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Someone makes a wish and, once it is granted, learns the hard way that their desire has its downsides.
  • Deal with the Devil: Getting what you desire by making a deal with a demon or other malevolent entities, usually at a very deep personal cost.
  • Fairy Tropes: Tropes about elves, fairies, leprechauns, and other fey.
  • Genie Tropes: Tropes about genies, also called djinn or jinn.
    • Becoming the Genie: Someone ends up turning into a wish-granting entity themselves.
    • Benevolent Genie: A genie who does their best to ensure that their master is safe and gets what they want.
    • Freeing the Genie: Using a wish to free the wish-granting entity so they don't have to grant people's wishes anymore.
    • Genie in a Bottle: A genie trapped in a bottle or lamp.
    • The Genie in the Machine: A genie who's a well-meaning but hopelessly logical computer program.
    • Jackass Genie: The genie deliberately misinterprets their master's wish or makes it so that the wish is granted at a terrible price.
    • Literal Genie: The genie grants a wish based on the literal wording due to not knowing any better.
    • Our Genies Are Different: The various portrayals of genies in fiction.
    • Three Wishes: The tendency for genies and other wish-granting entities to only allow their master three wishes.
  • I Wished You Were Dead: Someone wishes a person they dislike was dead, then feels guilty when the person actually dies.
  • I Wish It Were Real: A character's favorite fiction becomes real.
  • Make a Wish: A character makes a wish.
  • Mundane Wish: Someone uses a wish to grant an ordinary desire.
  • Quest for a Wish: A character, or characters, go on an arduous journey to have one wish granted.
  • Retroactive Wish: A character, or characters, wishes for one thing, unexpectedly gets it, and wishes for something else in the vain hope it happens again.
  • Selfless Wish: Someone forfeits their wish on behalf of someone else.
  • Sold His Soul for a Donut: A character, or characters, sells their soul for something comically insignificant.
  • Wasteful Wishing: A person wastes their wish on something frivolous.
  • Wishing for More Wishes: Getting around the three wishes limit by wishing for more wishes.
  • Wishing Well: Making a wish by throwing a coin in a spring or well.
  • Wishplosion: Defeating a wish granter by making certain wishes.
  • Wish Upon a Shooting Star: Making a wish upon seeing a shooting star in the sky.