Unfinished Business: Attaining Her Heart’s Desire
Featured In: Danny Phantom (2004-2007)
Voiced By: Peri Gilpin
Danny Phantom was a cartoon series that ran on Nickelodeon in a time when most American cartoons were undergoing a radical change from those of yester year. I say this in the sense that cartoons such Young Justice or even The Legend of Korra are being… not really censored but are slowly dying out due to their inherently mature themes.
Mature themes in the sense of cartoons of yester year like Batman: The Animated Series or even Tom & Jerry are considered too “violent” for younger audiences. In some cases, the cartoon series is either cancelled before it has a chance to truly shine or, in the case of Danny Phantom, are changed just slightly as to not offend concerned audiences that otherwise have no business getting in a tizzy over a cartoon show of all things.
When it began, Danny Phantom made it all but blatantly obvious that the ghosts that our titular hero combats are spirits of the dead and that prime example was Desiree herself. In life, Desiree had been a beautiful harem girl that had caught the eye of the ruling sultan who had promised her everything that her heart desired and even a kingdom of her very own. Unfortunately, the sultan’s wife, jealous of Desiree’s beauty had her banished from the land. Desiree would eventually die of a broken heart.
And old age but given that she likely lived in a time preceding Scheherazade and her Thousand and One Nights, that’s probably a lot younger than most people would think…
Either way, Desiree was the first and only ghost to be outright stated as being the spirit of a departed person. Sure, there were plenty that hinted towards the idea in subtle and not so subtle ways, particularly in the case of Ember McLain and her song “Remember”. It was with Desiree that the show revealed its potential to be another groundbreaker, to be a cartoon geared towards kids but not without any attempts at putting the wool over their eyes.
Then came the episodes that revealed that ghosts were not only considered as a separate species of existence altogether but that they could even reproduce AKA have children.
I just don’t… How do they…? They’re DEAD! They’re the spirits of the departed! Most of them are blatantly obvious about their unfinished business! There are dozens of media out there, from film to literature, that outright state that something that is dead is not capable of producing life without serious consequences! Though, to be fair, the circumstances in that particular episode were of extremely bad variety but still!
Like all of the ghosts in the show, Desiree has the staple set of abilities that all ghosts inherently possess that include intangibility, flight, invisibility, and spectral body manipulation insomuch that she can go from gaseous form to even changing her limbs into other things like a hangman’s noose. Yet, like the more powerful ghosts in the series, Desiree’s unfinished business was so deeply ingrained into her soul that she became a living embodiment of wish fulfillment or more specifically…
Desiree has shown that she is well and truly capable of granting any wish that she hears, but something occurred throughout the centuries that changed how she fulfilled them. In the flashback of her origin, it was shown that Desiree had gladly granted the wishes in their truest sense but was rewarded by seeing their happiness while she was left constantly reminded that her own desires were never granted and that her own heart lay broken somewhere in the desert sands.
Thus Desiree began granted wishes as she saw fit to grant them in a sort of… monkey’s paw fashion… For those who don’t know that story let’s use a few examples shall we? Say that you wished for a hundred bucks, Desiree would grant the wish by summoning a ghostly herd of bucks to run you out of town. If you wished to have a monster truck, she’d create a truck that was literally a monster.
Of course, Desiree is trapped by her own powers in two ways. The first being that she has to grant whatever wish she hears so long as the words “I want” or “I wish” are made and can grant those spoken from the heart rather than aloud if she’s granted enough wishes beforehand, which results in her increased power and strangely enough size as well. Of course, this leads to the second stipulation in that Desiree must stick to the boundaries of the wish. Yes, she can manipulate those that can easily be misinterpreted but those that are plainly specific she MUST grant no matter how much she doesn’t want to.
Ghosts and the like are no stranger in modern media and while there are plenty more ghastly and dangerous spiritual entities out there, I chose the likes of Desiree because she, like a good many other ghosts in Danny Phantom and even a few other media, are not strictly evil. Yes, she is certainly not at all nice about how she grants people’s wishes but given her history can you truly blame her?
Imagine being granted everything your heart could ever desire and having that all torn away from you to such a degree that you literally die of a broken heart. Imagine then rising from the grave as a ghost, an apparition that most people are incapable of seeing or hearing but having the power and means to grant to them their desires and travelling the globe doing just that. Imagine spending whole centuries granting wishes and never once being thanked or gratified, and constantly reminded of the self same tragedy that led to your own demise.
Could you still be a friendly ghost?
Unless your name happens to be Casper, I don’t think so.