The idea of unforeseen consequences to wishes is a trope that is often used to show that characters either don’t really want what they think they want, don’t deserve what they want, or that they are better off dealing with their problems themselves. TV shows will often introduce a wish-granting mechanism, usually a genie of some description, to explore a subject that has been an ongoing problem or fantasy of the character.
Granting wishes is sometimes used to show characters the error of their ways, or in other cases the wish-granter is simply mischievous or evil, wanting to create as much chaos as they can in people’s lives. Another common story is that the personality traits of the characters influence how the wishes turn out, with the moral being that you don’t need someone or something to fulfil your wishes as you have the power to do it yourself.
Let’s look at some of the best examples of wishes that didn’t quite go as expected…
10. Goosebumps: ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’ (S2 E1)
This cautionary tale introduces Samantha Byrd, who struggles on the school basketball team and is bullied by classmate Judith. After finding an amulet, she meets a strange lady called Clarissa who offers to grant her three wishes.
Her wishes backfire, when after wanting to be the best player on the basketball team, the other players are just made worse and the team loses their game horrendously. Judith and her friends make fun of her again and she shouts that she wishes everyone would ‘buzz off’, causing everyone in the world (apart from her and Clarissa) to turn into flies.
For her final wish she asks for everything to go back to how it was but for Judith to really like her. This has the consequence of Judith becoming obsessed with her, including breaking into her bedroom at night. Samantha finds Clarissa, who agrees for her to re-do her final wish, and she asks that Judith be the one who found the amulet in the first place.
Clarissa takes pity on Samantha after watching Judith bullying her again, and when Judith wishes to be so beautiful that everyone would gather around to admire her, she turns her into a statue. The book has a different ending, with Judith wishing Samantha would fly away and turning her into a bird, but the TV episode shows that everything will work out in the end if you act with good intentions.