Genie in a Bottle

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
(Redirected from Djinn)
"What wouldst thou have? I am ready to obey thee as thy slave, and the slave of all those who have that lamp in their hands; I and the other slaves of the lamp."

In Arabic tales, most popularized in the west in the book 1001 Tales of the Arabian Nights, the djinn were a variety of spiritual species, somewhere in between Angels and mankind, capable of great acts, both good and evil. Some of the greatest magicians in Arabic lore were able to capture djinn to their service, and tied them to items such as lamps or rings. Usually Djinn didn't have to give wishes to whoever helped them; if they did, it would be out of gratitude. Some Djinn get impatient and settle for just leaving if freed, or killing/tormenting whatever stupid human releases them. Also originally the wish was simply the djinn using their incredible powers. If their master wished for a castle, they built one. It may just take seconds because of the Genie's mystical powers and servants, but he still directly did the task. If they wanted money, the genie pulled it out of their own coffers; a human's mind being unable to comprehend how much they had.

Much of this has been lost in the modern depiction of the Genie in the Bottle. In television, they are most often within brass oil lamps, of a type that is no longer used. Most Western viewers (but not the Genre Blind characters) upon seeing this kind of lamp would immediately associate it with a genie.

They are summoned from the lamp via rubbing and offer to grant wishes unto the person who freed them. These wishes can be anything (although some give rule-based limitations). A Benevolent Genie will attempt to fulfill the spirit of the Master's wish. A malevolent genie will be a Literal Genie or worse, a Jackass Genie, and will fulfill the worst possible interpretation. Typically, genies who do their best to follow their master's true wish will tend to fall into the hands of villains who will exploit them egregiously.

Most Genies often have a rule that they can only give their master Three Wishes (and ixnay on the wishing for more wishes!). If this is the case, expect a none-too-bright master to waste the first one or two on pointless fripperies before learning their lesson and using the third to make some meaningful change to their lives.

The modern depiction of the Genie in a Bottle seems to indicate that the lamp is in fact the source of the Genie's power. Without it, he or she is either weakened or turned human. However, the Lamp is also their prison. They must give wishes to whoever rubs their lamp, and cannot resist. They also cannot directly harm their master. See Literal Genie, however, for passive-aggressive means of rebellion; and Jackass Genie for less passive means.

This association of "genie" with "slave" means that we don't, generally, see free genies anymore, and that the intrinsic nature of genie "slavery" can be used as a plot point, as in Disney's Aladdin (You wished to be an all-powerful genie? Now you're stuck in that lamp!). Given the U.S.'s history with slavery, Western depictions of heroes who acquire genies will almost always free them in the end (provided that they're good). What the genie was imprisoned for originally is typically not mentioned.

Another interesting change is how the nature of wishing has become a kind of reality warp. The genie activates some kind of command written into the fabric of existence, and *poof*, the universe is that way. Just as a Genie is slave to the Lamp, the Wish seems to be something more complicated and powerful than they themselves are; they just facilitate its invocation. While they may have some magic tricks they can use for themselves, they cannot consciously use the same powers the Wish facilitates.

Since Genies are usually Shapeshifters, they usually also have a Red Right Hand such as blue skin, Eyes of Gold, appearing in a puff of smoke or some other feature that distinguishes them in any form. While today's image of a genie is fairly standardized and stereotypically Middle Eastern—a muscular, shirtless man, without legs, in a turban and usually with an ornate Arabic sword—this kind of standard visual preconceptions only seems to have arisen during the twentieth century; earlier depictions of genies by Western artists are very varying.

The djinn were originally spirits of dust devils, hence the term, and almost Exclusively Evil in the oldest stories. Whenever you see a dust devil, that is a genie in its natural element. In the desert of the Sahara, or the plains of West Texas, dust devils can be powerful enough to snatch up livestock and small children, and those swirling leaves tend to follow you around, hence the origin of the belief isn't as illogical as you might think.

This one is well enough known that Christina Aguilera's first song was called "Genie In A Bottle" and featured many (somewhat sexual) references to this trope. Do not confuse with a Fairy in a Bottle.

Examples of Genie in a Bottle include:

Anime and Manga

  • Makun from Nagasarete Airantou, in direct competition with Penguin Chiyo for title of "cutest damn thing to exist in a manga".
  • Shenlong, the Eternal Dragon from the Dragon Ball series, could be considered a variation on this. He "resides" in seven orange balls that must be collected before he can be summoned. Once he appears, he can grant his summoner(s) one wish, so long as it does not exceed his own power (a concept which seems to grow more flexible as the series progresses). He is somewhat cranky, often threatening to harm summoners who take a while to make their wish, but never follows through on these threats. If the person who created the dragonballs dies, then so does the dragon.
    • In one inversion of the genie trope, during the later days of Dragonball, King Piccolo makes a wish and then kills Shenlong to thwart anyone trying to throw a wrench in his designs for world domination. Shenlong is later revived since his creator was not killed.
    • In Dragonball Z, we meet another such dragon, Porunga, on the planet Namek, where the creator of Earth's dragonballs (Kami) comes from. He is able to grant three wishes to whoever summons him.
      • Also in Dragonball Z, Shenlong dies again when Kami re-merges with Piccolo Jr. He is revived again however, when Dende, another Namek, takes over the position of Guardian of the Earth. The 'Dende incarnation' of Shenlong looks the exact same, but can now grant two wishes instead of one.
    • In Dragonball GT, we see a version of the Jackass genie when the Evil Dragons appear from the dragonballs as a result of all the wishes made over the years plus the dragonballs being contaminated when a portal to Hell is opened.
    • There is also Majin Buu. A magical creation who waged war on the gods, and was trapped in smoke form and sealed in a ball. Babidi spends years trying to release him, in the hopes that Buu would use his immense strength and reality-warping powers to help him dominate the universe.
  • Hakushon Daimao: The Genie will grant wishes when someone sneezes. His clumsiness will often mess things up.

Comic Books

  • The Justice Society of America member Johnny Thunder, and later his Legacy Character successor, J.J. Thunder, can summon and control a powerful genie named the Thunderbolt. After his death, Johnny actually merges with the Thunderbolt, becoming part of the genie himself.
  • Gold Digger has a few genies, notably Madrid. The spoiled princess of the Djinn, Madrid's attempts to bypass the genie restriction on using magic for oneself led to the destruction of her kingdom. She became an Evil Twin of Gina, the super-genius explorer, when Gina was invited to examine the genies' power source. The mental and physical disguise turned out to be permanent. Over time her mind, overlaid with Gina's intelligence and moral compass, let her realize how she had always screwed herself over with her selfishness. Now human, she's kind of an alternate-universe Gina, exploring new worlds while the real Gina teaches at the university.



  • American Gods has a more traditional kind of djinn, an immortal man made of smokeless fire. He drives a cab for a living, and wears sunglasses so that people don't see the fire in his eyes. He does grant a wish, though, giving an unhappy passenger the chance to slide into his life. In return for some gratuitous fiery sex.
  • Literary example: Castle in the Air, sequel to Howl's Moving Castle (the book not the movie) has traditional-style djinns and a Genie in a Bottle. The genie is Wizard Howl under a spell, is very pissed off at being confined to the bottle, and takes malicious pleasure in granting each wish to the letter in a way that causes as much misery as possible.
  • Dealing with Dragons has a djinni stuck in a bottle as part of the dragon Kazul's hoard. What happens when it gets loose is far too neat to deserve being casually spoiled in a wiki bullet-point.
  • This is what The Bartimaeus Trilogy is all about. It deals with the relationship between the magicians (masters) and the djinn (slaves). The djinn tend to be rather bitter and malicious, due to the fact they live in another dimension and are strictly bound as slaves whenever they are summoned to Earth. They are perfectly willing to kill someone trying to summon them if the magician messes it up.
    • Only one group of the spirits in the trilogy are actually referred to as djinn; they are the middle-class of the spirits. The spirits in the trilogy seem to be a fusion of both demons and genies, having traits often attributed to both in myths and folktales.
      • Well, when one takes into account Hermetic tradition, Djinn and demons are rather similar, magicians capture and bind both to do their will (well, demons have to be summoned more than captured, but there you go).
    • Bartimaeus also mentions how being confined to a bottle via the spell of indefinite confinement is a relatively common punishment for spirits who give their masters too much lip, and one he has extensive experience with. Of course it's not always a bottle;

"On one occasion I pushed my master too far during his breakfast and found myself imprisoned in a jar of raspberry jam."

  • Children of the Lamp pretty much sums this up.
  • In Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos, Stephen and Virginia are sent on a mission to deal with the Genie in a Bottle that the Arab forces fighting them in World War II have. It does not, however, have to grant wishes; Virginia uses psychological tricks to persuade it it never wants to leave the bottle again.
  • Jack Chalker 's Dancing Gods series featured the Lamp of Lakash, whose genie was the last person to make the mistake of making more than one wish. The wish would be granted, but the wisher would become an all-powerful genie bound to the Lamp, and the previous genie would revert to his original state. (Presumably the original genie was from the home dimension of the Djinn, to which the Lamp had a link.)
  • Interestingly done in Robert Louis Stevenson's story The Bottle Imp. The titular creature resides in a magic bottle and will grant wishes. Unfortunately, the caveat is that if you die without having sold the bottle for less than you paid for it, you burn in hell for all eternity. There's also the problem that if you are dissatisfied after selling the bottle, the imp will do something nasty to you to pressure you into buying it back. Differing from a traditional genie, the imp only appears once, when the owner wishes to see it, and never speaks, and is otherwise a shadow occasionally seen floating in the bottle. Basically, the story has a genie which is combined with elements of both Deal with the Devil and Artifact of Doom.
  • Skeeve of the Myth Adventures series meets a genie (Djin) from the dimension of Djinger. Djins in this Verse are only three inches tall, they hire themselves out for Bottle Duty because their dimension is severely in debt, and their powers aren't anywhere near as great as the salesmen claim.
  • A hoary old Bar Joke involving a foot-tall piano player is predicated on a genie of a beer bottle who happens to be hard of hearing.
  • One shows up in Discworld's Sourcery. It's not always present seeing as he has many lamps, including a summerlamp. It's also a yuppie.
  • One of the Bailey School Kids books involved the four friends opening a bottle and supposedly freeing a genie who granted them three wishes each.
  • Jim Knee in Septimus Heap was formerly a woman who opted to become a Jinnee.
  • Titular story of The Last Wish was deconstructing the concept - Genie doesn't have to grant your wishes unless you hold the seal to his bottle. And genies hate being ordered and try to murder potential master before he have a chance to speak. And once you manage to get a genie under your control, he will harass you until you'll use all wishes, so he can finally be free.
  • In Godel, Escher, Bach, they try to wish for more wishes, but the genie doesn't grant meta-wishes. They manage to get permission from GOD to grant typeless wishes, and then they wish that this wish would not be granted, and then...

Newspaper Comics

  • In Dilbert, Dogbert rubs a lamp to see if there's a genie inside. He persists, and a genie eventually pops out:

Dogbert: Yes!!! Ha, ha!! Now you must grant me three wishes!
Genie: Get real, four-eyes. We don't have a binding contract here. I like living in a lamp. You disturbed me. I'm going to turn you into a wiener and go home.


  • The Dukes of Hazzard: "When You Wish Upon a Hogg," where (only in Hazzard County) Boss and Rosco find an antique oil lamp in their office and debate whether to rub it and see if it will produce a genie. Common sense is thrown out the window when they actually believe the lamp is real ... and they rub it! Sure enough, a cloud of smoke later, a stunningly beautiful young woman named Trixie appears, seducing Boss and Rosco and conniving them into believing she will help them frame the Duke boys once and for all. Of course, it's all part of nephew Hughie Hogg's latest scheme to swindle Boss and Rosco out of everything they own, and Hughie's insight into the personalities of Boss and Rosco makes his plan easy to pull off. And, Trixie is soooo beautiful—and the unseen-in-this-episode Lulu is sooooo ug-lee! -- that Bo and Luke cannot convince Boss and Rosco that the lamp is a fake.
  • The X-Files: Mulder followed a case regarding a rather jaded Genie. He eventually freed her after a rash of Literal Genie incidents to get the wishes to stop.
  • I Dream of Jeannie was a series of yesteryear about an astronaut who found a female genie and was given unlimited wishes. She didn't want to be freed, due to the appeal to those resistant of the feminist movement.
    • Of course, Major Nelson rarely wanted Jeannie to ever use her powers. Mainly this was because she tended to complicate his everyday life. In the last season, they had them get married and the show completely became the Bewitched ripoff it was created to be.
    • In one episode of The Monkees, Davy rubs against a table lamp and a genie appears. He turns to the camera saying "What do you know? Wrong show!".
  • Jenji from Power Rangers Mystic Force (and by extension, his Mahou Sentai Magiranger counterpart, Smoky). He's naughty, but not as malevolent as some, using loopholes to get out of granting wishes. The story of his imprisonment is told, unlike most: he went after a booby-trapped treasure, and being connected to the lamp by the Sixth Ranger is the only thing keeping him alive. If he's out too long, the curse will reactivate again, and he'll turn to dust.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?: In the episode, "The Tale of the Time Trap", The protagonist receives a box from a store-keeper holding a female genie who grants him any wish, but not the ones he desires.
  • On Angel

Sahjan: Thank you, mortal, for releasing from my cursed prison. In gratitude, I grant you three wishes.
Connor: Really?
Sahjan: Nah. I'm just messing with you.

  • In an episode of Fraggle Rock, Wembley frees an evil genie trapped in a bottle. The genie claims that he does not grant wishes, and proceeds to wreak havoc. They manage to trick the genie back in the bottle, but Wembley fells sorry for him and frees him again. Just when it looks like the genie is about to enslave the Fraggles, Wembley discovers that the genie does grant wishes if asked, so he wishes that the genie understand the difference between right and wrong, and is thus reformed.
  • In the Twilight Zone episode "I Dream of Genie," a George P. Hanley purchases a lamp with the intent of giving as a gift to a co-worker. Once he brings it home, however, he discovers that it contains a genie. Most of the episode is spent going over what George imagines would happen if he wished for various things (a beautiful wife, to be president, or to be rich). In the end, George decides that none of these things would work out for him and wishes to become a genie himself. Probably the only case in history of someone intentionally wishing for this.
    • Another Twilight Zone episode has a couple who own a pawn shop coming across a genie, who gives them four wishes. The first wish is to fix broken glass, the second is to have a million dollars, but it's all gone after giving it their friends and a visit from the tax collector. The man uses the third to be ruler of a powerful country and can't be elected out of office, wherein he becomes Hitler. His final wish is to be returned to normal.
  • There's one in the Wizards of Waverly Place episode "Justin's Little Sister".
    • They invented the macarena.
  • There's one in The LazyTown episode "The Lazy Genie". Robbie orders a genie who at first only gives him one wish but gives him 3 after Robbie gives him some cake. Robbie then wishes for No More Sports Equipment and vegetables. But he didn't specify a a time so they return 5 minutes later. Then he wishes Sportacus away but he's too fast for The Genie and Robbie is wished away instead. Genie gives Sportacus a free wish who then gives to Stingy who wishes Robbie back. Wow. Just Wow.
  • A magic lamp shows up at the end of the Fractured Fairy Tale Panto The Goodies And The Beanstalk. When rubbed, out comes a genie played by John Cleese who says "And now for something completely...". Tim tells him to push off, and he retorts "Kids' programme!"

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons & Dragons has both Djin and Efreet, who are Outsiders native to the Elemental planes of Air and Fire, respectively. They both have a limited ability to use the Wish spell for others and can be bound to certain magic items, namely the Ring of Djinni Calling and Efreet Bottle.

Video Games

  • The Sims (Livin' Large) has a lamp that can be bought. Every 24 hours it can be rubbed, and a wish can be made. However the genie inside isn't very good, and occasionally messes up, such as granting a wish for money, but instead filling the house with overdue bills.
    • In The Sims 2: Free Time, the matchmaker NPC can bring a genie lamp to a household whose sims are accomplishing great things, and the genie will grant the household members three wishes chosen from a small list of options. Your sims can take their time making these wishes.
  • The MMORPG RuneScape has a drastic variation of this. From time to time, a genie will randomly appear and speak to the player character. If the character does not reply, the genie - who is an in-game mechanic to discourage macroers - will teleport the character someplace far away. If the character speaks to the genie, the genie will give the character a lamp, then disappear. The character may then rub the lamp to receive experience points in a skill, after which the lamp disappears.
  • In the video game Final Fantasy V, there is a "magic lamp" item. Instead of a wish-granting genie, it releases one of the game's Summons (even ones that the characters have not obtained yet); however, every time it is used, the Summon provided is weaker. Taking the lamp back to the place it was found "recharges" it so that it starts with the most powerful Summon again.
    • In Final Fantasy VIII the "magic lamp" summons the demonic-looking Guardian Force Diablos, who immediately attacks. If defeated, he becomes a party summon.
  • Sonic and the Secret Rings mixes this trope with classical Djinn lore. The beings are alternately referred to a Spirits, Djinn, or Genies throughout the game. It's noted that they lay eggs (!), and most of them run wild causing havoc. The great deal of them don't look human except for the main villain and Shara. Erazor, who is supposed to be the Genie of the Lamp from Aladdin, also ignores the U.S. take on Genies, as it's explicitly said he was imprisoned there by Solomon for being evil, and at the end of the game he's not only stuffed back into the lamp, they toss it into a volcano for good measure. Also, one of the bosses is a water djinn ("Marid") comprised of jelly-fish like monsters combined into a giant pirate and the other is a fire djinn ("Ifrit") that's a giant flaming robot. Our Genies Are Different?
  • There's also Sonic Riders, which had the Babylon Rogues be descendants of genies. And Babylon Garden had a security system that was a huge (probably) holographic genie. They don't go into much detail about it since they find out near the end, but it does say that they had a flying carpet that was really a prototype of a Hover Board, and that only getting three wishes seems to have been a life philosophy for them.
  • King Graham from King's Quest encountered two different genies. The first genie automatically gave Graham free Plot Coupons every time he rubbed the lamp and disappeared after three rubs. The second genie was a less benevolent genie who would imprison whoever rubbed the lamp into the lamp. His son Alexander also met up with a genie named Shamir Shamazel who was the Big Bad's sidekick. He fulfilled as many wishes as the owner of the lamp wanted, and his personality would match the owner's. Stealing the lamp is therefore one of the two ways to defeat Shamir.
  • Outright subverted in the description of one of the pieces of treasure in Wario Land Shake It, with a magic lamp that... just lets out thick smoke when rubbed. The description even says so: This lamp issues a thick smoke when rubbed. That's all. What were you expecting?.
    • Played straight with the Genie as the final boss of Wario Land 1.
  • You can get genies out of magic lamps in Nethack if you rub them, though you're not guaranteed of getting a wish from them (in fact if you're unlucky, the genie might get mad for disturbing them and decide to attack you).
  • Dark Cloud has two of these. One was sealed in an urn centuries ago, and does not at all grant wishes. Its master uses him to rain destruction on the earth. The other is a humanoid female freed when Toan breaks a lamp, and instead of granting wishes, she simply joins the party after he explains the situation at hand.
  • Pokémon Black and White has a trio of Legendary Genie Pokemon, incredibly fitting for a series that already lets you trap God.
  • An early Sidequest in Baldur's Gate 2 involves freeing a djinni from his lamp. A fan-made Game Mod adds a second one in an extension of the circus side quest. Certain spells and items can also summon djinn or efreet to fight for you.
  • Quest for Glory II: Trial By Fire features it as the Sealed Evil in a Can the djinni Iblis whom the game's Big Bad Ad Avis (A vizier. Who would've thunk it.) wants to unleash upon the world. It also features a djinni in a ring, just like in Aladdin.
  • The Legend of Zelda Links Awakening has this as the second dungeon boss. First you have to destroy the bottle before you can defeat the clownlike Djinni.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network 3: White has MistMan.EXE who's very obviously djinni based.
  • In the Mario Party series, players can purchase a magic lamp. The Mushroom Genie will take you right to the star. The cheaper Lucky Lamp houses his female counterpart the Mushroom Jeanie who will just move the star to a different space on the board.
  • The Cataclysm expansion of World of Warcraft introduces the Djinni: air elementals that are currently aligned with Deathwing.
  • Genies can be used as soldiers in several games in the Heroes of Might and Magic games, often aligned with the 'wizard' faction. Some games give them the ability to bestow a random 'buff' spell on another friendly stack of troops (or a curse on an enemy), and they often vanish inside a lamp as part of their death animation.
  • Shantae is the eponymous heroine of her series. She's a sexy female djinni of Arabesque design, lovable, clumsy, sassy and has limited magic powers.

Web Comics

  • Adult webcomic Ship In A Bottle runs on this trope for wacky hijinks and sex. Notable differences include that the wish count is unlimited, just long as someone's hands are on the bottle, and Miss Ship wants to get it on with her new master.
  • I Dream of a Jeanie Bottle is about an I Dream of Jeannie fan who finds an empty genie bottle and accidentally becomes the bottle's new genie himself via a poorly worded wish. "I would totally so do her" indeed.
  • In Sluggy Freelance there's actually a Djinn of the Chamber Pot. It's a pretty huge example of a Jackass Genie, but only for the first wish; if someone manages to survive that one, it doesn't screw around as much with the second, and the third is withheld for tax purposes.
  • Parodied in an Xkcd strip: One of the characters rubs a lamp, which then spurts an...odd liquid. The alt text says, "That wasn't one of my wishes." "Who said anything about your wishes?"

Web Original

Let the genie out of the lamp, and we just have to let him join the union

  • This (NSFW) Oglaf comic Simon the Wanderer.
  • Akinator is a typical genie in a lamp, but he doesn't grant wishes; instead he forces people to play "twenty questions" games about real and fictional characters with him.

Western Animation

  • Disney's Aladdin: Genie was freed, but stuck around to help out with his weakened powers. The evil Jafar was also turned into a genie, and proved that his lamp was both a prison and a Soul Jar, as he was killed when it was destroyed in the Direct to Video sequel The Return of Jafar. There was also a female genie named Eden, who lived in a bottle.
  • DuckTales (1987): Scrooge encountered two genies, in fact. One was the evil version in the cartoon series, whose lamp was buried and lost in the end; and a good variety in The Movie who was freed.
  • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers had an episode with a Genie, too. He lured Monty into the lamp to be free, and the whole episode eventually got so messed up that a Reset Button wish was required to revert things to normal.
  • The Fairly OddParents had a few episodes with a genie character who could grant wishes without the rules the fairies had to follow. He comes in a lava lamp.
    • He also stated that the "only three wishes" thing was a lie; Genies naturally come with three wishes, but humans can wish for more.
    • Oddly enough, he also wants to be a fairy. He claims it's so he can make children happy, but in reality it's because a genie's wishing power stops at three (since he's actually not allowed to tell that you can wish for more wishes) but a fairy's is unlimited.
    • Actually, he rather clearly stated his purpose was to be free from his lamp, as he was perfectly fine with just trying to escape his lamp most of the time.
  • In the Superfriends episode, "Rub Three Times for Disaster," the superheroes battle a villain in control of an evil genie. Eventually, Superman defeats him in an unusual way; he flies up to the genie and literally sucks the genie in smoke form into his own lungs just long enough to forcibly blow him back into his lamp.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle's Fractured Fairy Tales parodied this one repeatedly.