- “The Fairy Godmother should have a kindly voice with a certain age in it. I don't see her as being goofy or stupid, but rather as having a wonderful sense of humor.”
- ―Walt Disney
The Fairy Godmother's design underwent numerous changes in development, with the original source becoming difficult to narrow down. Eventually, layout artist Ken O'Connor looked to his wife, Mary Alice O'Connor, for inspiration. The Fairy Godmother's design was what Ken tried to imagine how she'd look a few decades older. Dedicated to community work and charities, Mary Alice's personality served to fit the character as well.
The Fairy Godmother is a motherly, kind, and genuine character with an optimistically pure heart. She serves as a physical symbol of hope in Cinderella's life and speaks with a gentle tone. Though wise to a degree, the Fairy Godmother tends to be comically absent-minded, continuously loses sight of the obvious, and has a habit of both losing her wand and forgetting her magic words of "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo". Even so, she can piece together her mind quickly enough and enjoys her ability to ensure dreams come true, treating Cinderella as her own daughter, in a sense.
For all of her sweetness, she doesn't sympathize with those who are cruel or unforgiving towards others. This is evidenced by her scene in the original film, where Lucifer tries to attack Gus, only to be scared off after she turns the mouse into a majestic horse. As Lucifer retreats in fear, the Fairy Godmother teasingly blasts sparks of magic from her wand towards him, while tauntingly saying, "Serves him right!"
After her wicked stepsisters cruelly destroy the dress she plans on wearing to the ball when they recognize the beads and sash that they threw earlier, Cinderella runs out to the backyard of her stepmother Lady Tremaine's chateau near her father's fountain. There, she breaks down in sorrow as she has no way of getting to the ball now, beginning to lose her faith in dreams. However, her faith is still strong enough to summon her Fairy Godmother. Fairy Godmother explains that she has arrived to help Cinderella in her time of distress. To get her to the ball, she transforms an ordinary pumpkin into a carriage, and four of Cinderella's mice friends into horses for the carriage. She attempts to turn Lucifer into something, but he flees, and it is unknown what he would have transformed into, or if he managed to dodge it.
She then turns Cinderella's horse, Major, into a coachman, and her dog Bruno into a footman. Finally, after Cinderella points out her tattered gown, Fairy Godmother measures Cinderella with her wand and bestows a beautiful white dress upon Cinderella, complete with two enchanted glass slippers that only Cinderella can wear due to their small size. Before she departs, the Fairy Godmother gives Cinderella a word of caution: at the stroke of twelve, the spell will be broken, and everything will return to normal. Grateful for the gifts anyway, Cinderella thanks her Fairy Godmother and happily rides off to the ball as Fairy Godmother bids her farewell.
In the second installment of the Cinderella series, Cinderella II: Dreams Come True, the Fairy Godmother is shown at the very beginning telling the story of Cinderella to the mice. Jaq, Gus, and the other mice then decide to create a storybook of their own, reflecting on various events that occurred since they first arrived at the castle.
The Fairy Godmother happily assists the mice in creating the book and actually appears in the second story: Tall Tail. Here, Jaq desperately wants to help Cinderella with her daily duties around the castle, but because of his small size, he cannot. Soon enough, Fairy Godmother appears and offers to help Jaq by turning him into a human - Sir Hugh - which he accepts. However, he causes more trouble as a human than he ever did as a mouse.
In the end of the segment, Fairy Godmother returns again, changing Jaq back into a mouse. Though he learns a great lesson from his human adventure, Jaq apparently grows a disliking of magic. In the end of the film, Fairy Godmother helps the mice take their completed book to Cinderella who gladly reads her new book together with the mice.
In the third installment of the Cinderella film series, Cinderella and Prince Charming are celebrating an entire year together filled with magic and romance. Unfortunately, during the festivities, the Fairy Godmother accidentally loses her wand, which falls into the hands of Anastasia, one of Cinderella's stepsisters. Anastasia quickly takes it to her mother and sister Drizella.
As she witnesses Fairy Godmother's magic doings with the wand, she tries to convince her mother and sister that it is magic. Lady Tremaine and Drizella find the conversation to be absurd until Fairy Godmother arrives, requesting the return of her wand. Anastasia fights her back, accidentally turning their cat Lucifer, into a half goose, half cat hybrid. The astonishing sight convinces Tremaine, and Anastasia accidentally transforms the distracted Fairy Godmother into a stone statue.
With the magic of the wand in her hands and no one to stop her, Lady Tremaine alters time and history, so that Anastasia was the one to fit the slipper. Fortunately, Cinderella, Jaq, and Gus catch on, and battle against Lady Tremaine for the wand, win the battle, retrieve the wand and restore the Fairy Godmother. Alas the Fairy Godmother retrieves her wand, and she lastly uses it to restore Cinderella's wedding attire, which was destroyed by Lady Tremaine. Before the film closes, Fairy Godmother asks if Cinderella and Prince Charming would like to return to their normal lives, but the couple seems happy enough as it is.
Fairy Godmother is a guest character in the series, often seen with Cinderella.
In "Goofy's Menu Magic" after she eats her meal, Fairy Godmother accidentally places her wand on her plate. It is taken to the kitchen and Goofy accidentally uses it to make an incredible stew. In the end, the club is flooded with stew but is saved when Fairy Godmother regains her wand. In "House of Magic", the wand is stolen by Daisy Duck in order to do a magic trick. In "Ladies' Night", Minnie Mouse wears Cinderella's ball dress in a fashion show, but Fairy Godmother accidentally forgets to warn her that it will eventually transform back into ragged clothes, just like in the film.
She also appears in a non-speaking cameo in Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse.
An emoticon version of Fairy Godmother appeared in the Cinderella entry of the As Told by Emoji short series.
The Fairy Godmother, portrayed by Catherine Lough Haggquist, makes a small appearance in the fourth episode of the ABC series Once Upon a Time. Arriving as Cinderella's proposed godmother, the Godmother is greeted by Rumplestiltskin, who murders her for her incredibly powerful magic wand, taking her place as Cinderella's guardian as part of the Dark One's growing plot.
She is later mentioned by Rumplestiltskin to Regina (the Evil Queen) after the curse is broken when he uses her wand once more.
In the 2015 live-action Cinderella film, the Fairy Godmother is played by Helena Bonham Carter. The character has a slightly larger role in this film than in the animated movie, where she is disguised as an old beggar who watches over Cinderella before revealing herself as the magical being she truly is. She is also the narrator of the film.
The Fairy Godmother is first seen as an aforementioned beggar woman, following the Tremaine family's departure to the Royal ball. As Cinderella falls into despair, the beggar woman arrives and asks for nourishment, to which Cinderella obliges. Afterward, she reveals herself to be the girl's Fairy Godmother and, like the original film grants her access to the ball. Before she departs, the Fairy Godmother casts a further spell to ensure that her step-family will not recognize her, warns Cinderella of the time limit, and sees her off after bestowing a pair of magical glass slippers, that will ultimately lead to the girl's happy ending.
In the television movie, the Fairy Godmother is played by Melanie Paxson. She is the headmistress of Auradon Prep and has a daughter named Jane who is shy and insecure but fascinated with magic, even if she doesn't let her daughter use it. When the descendants of the heroes' sworn enemies come to Auradon, they have been tasked by their parents to steal her magic wand. The Fairy Godmother teaches Remedial Goodness to the villain kids to teach them how to be good.
Despite her younger appearance in the film, Cruella refers to her as an "old bat".
In Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, which sets ten years before the first game, the Fairy Godmother lives in Castle of Dreams, where she watches over the poor Cinderella, who begins the world's storyline serving Lady Tremaine, Anastasia and Drizella like in the classic Walt Disney film. When she finds herself unable to attend the ball, the Fairy Godmother appears before her, dressing her in an elegant gown for Prince Charming's royal ball, and creating a carriage using a pumpkin with her magic. After Cinderella was sent off to the ball, she asks Terra if he has a heart that believes in dreams.
When Prince Charming begins his search for Cinderella, Lady Tremaine locks the poor girl in the attic room. The Fairy Godmother appears before Aqua, asking her to help Cinderella before shrinking her to the size of a mouse and transporting her into the inside of the manor where she helps Jaq get the key to Cinderella. She is seen at the gate with Aqua when they observe the reunion of the couple, and she tells her about Terra and renews Aqua's hope.
During the ending credits, she can be seen watching over Cinderella and Prince Charming from the balcony with Jaq and then filling the ballroom with joyful fireworks.
Sometime prior to the events of Kingdom Hearts, her world, Castle of Dreams, was destroyed by the Heartless, but she managed to escape safely. Sora and friends first met her in Traverse Town, where she was living with Merlin in his house. She stayed in the form of a small carriage (similar to the one that Cinderella uses to arrive at the Ball) and only assumed her true form when Sora needed to talk to her. Somehow, she knows that Cinderella is still alive somewhere and shares her worries with Sora.
Whenever Sora found a new Summon Gem, he gave it to her so she could restore that being's spirit, allowing Sora to summon them in battle. After Sora obtains all six summons, she gives Donald the Lord Fortune staff.
After Sora seals Kingdom Hearts, the Fairy Godmother returns to her world with Cinderella.
The Fairy Godmother is a supporting character in the game. Cinderella's world has been frozen and only Cinderella and the heroine can set things straight. The Godmother was found at Cinderella's chateau using her magic to assist the young heroine.
Fairy Godmother is seen at the parks as a meetable character. She appears as a face character in the US parks and an atmosphere character in other international parks.
Formerly, at the live celebration of the Christmas season in the Magic Kingdom park, the Fairy Godmother appeared as the mistress of ceremonies. In the event, Fairy Godmother used her magical abilities and the power of dreams and imagination to turn Cinderella Castle into an ice castle. She was replaced by Elsa the Snow Queen from Frozen in 2014.
Fairy Godmother has her own spell card known as "The Fairy Godmother's Pumpkin Bash" in the attraction Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom.
The Fairy Godmother once hosted the fireworks spectacular Magic, Music and Mayhem during the Princess and Pirate Party. In the show, Fairy Godmother along with the Three Good Fairies and King Triton host several elements including romance and adventure. Later on, they are joined by Tinker Bell, who helps defeat Captain Hook and his crew when they attempt to take over Cinderella Castle.
In Mickey's Magical Celebration, Fairy Godmother was one of Mickey Mouse's mentors who help make his dreams of becoming a magician come true. Fairy Godmother helps him out by giving him his Sorcerer's Apprentice costume.
In Mickey and the Magician, the Fairy Godmother is the first to encounter Mickey on his quest to become a magician.
In the show Believe, on board the Disney Dream cruise ship, Fairy Godmother is one of the "magic makers" who help Dr. Greenway believe in dreams and miracles. Fairy Godmother is assisted by Cinderella, Prince Charming, Aladdin and Jasmine.
- In 2010, Fairy Godmother christened Tiana for her welcome into the Disney Princess court in New York City, New York.
- Verna Felton, the Fairy Godmother, provided the voices for many other famous Disney roles, including Mrs. Jumbo in Dumbo, the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, Aunt Sarah in Lady and the Tramp, and both Flora and the Queen in Sleeping Beauty.