->''"Free will! By the Titans' toe-cheese, they told me you were sharp but I had ''no idea''. Yes, Parson Gotti, Lord of Hamsters, do you believe Fate is a mighty wind? One that propels us inexorably to our final destination? Or do you believe... that the ''individual'' can steer the ship of self, to the port of his ''choice'', however emphatically the world may try to blow him?"''
-->-- '''[[ScrewDestiny Jojo]]''', while speaking to [[{{Protagonist}} Parson]] of defying fate, ''Webcomic/{{Erfworld}}''.

How much free will do characters really have?

The relationship between free will and fate is not necessarily constant. It can vary between stories and even inside those stories, although how much this is actual change and how much it is simply the revelation of the true nature of Fate also differs.

The relationship between fate and free will can be classified this way:

* '''Neither Fate Nor Free Will Exist'''
** This one denies free will stating that our choices are just brain-made "echoes" while also denying any "higher power" that decides fate. In theory you can predict people's actions but you would run up against the same problems as predicting the weather and such predictions are in no way mystical.

* '''BecauseDestinySaysSo'''
** All things are predestined and we all just play our parts. At some point the father will act in such a way as to kill his son and [[YouCantFightFate nothing can be done to avert that]]. [[YouAlreadyChangedThePast Even trying to change fate through time travel is pointless]].

* '''Fighting Fate Is Hard'''
** Fate exists but is not the be all and end all. Either only [[ImmuneToFate some people]] can [[ScrewDestiny defy fate]] or defying fate takes a lot of effort or resources, almost as if Fate is reality's path of least resistance. Unless a lot of effort is expended or a hero gets involved at some point the father will act in such a way as to kill his son.

* '''Prophecies Are Guides, Not Rules'''
** While there is fate it is simply the expression of what will happen if nothing else changes and is predictable, but knowledge of fate allows you to overcome it without extraordinary effort. If the people involved are not warned then at some point the father will act in such a way as to kill his son but as soon as someone involved knows that then it may not end up happening.

* '''Prophecies Are Predictions'''
** Predicting the future is like predicting the weather. There is no plan but it is possible to make prophecies and identify destinies by extrapolating from now. The father killing the son is simply the most likely outcome given the current situation but it is open to change at any time.

* '''[[MultipleChoiceFuture Prophecies Are Optional]]'''
** Much like how one can find over a dozen different brands of coffee and chocolate and milk at the supermarket, there holds as many possible futures. There is a [[TheChosenOne Chosen One]] for every crisis and a divergence for every choice made. When the future is a multiple choice question with no wrong answers, one SelfFulfillingProphecy means a near-infinite supply of [[SelfDefeatingProphecy Self-Defeating Prophecies]].

* '''ScrewDestiny'''
** Either there is no such thing as fate or there is no way to find out what is "fated," no way to see into the future and no prophecies, two states that are effectively indistinguishable. If the prophecy exists then it is little more than a portentous guess with no actual power or fate behind it.



[[folder:Anime & Manga ]]
* The ultimate message and conflict of ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSeedDestiny'' revolved around this, as a battle of Freedom vs Destiny.
* ''Anime/PrincessTutu'' has themes regarding these. The show's catchphrase is "May all who accept their fate find happiness. May all who defy their fate find glory."
* ''Manga/{{Berserk}}'' lies somewhere very high on the scale. Causality plays a big role in the Berserk universe. People like Guts are able to struggle against causality, but are unable to completely overcome it and/or maintain their struggle indefinitely. One character who would know (but who may not be [[UnreliableExpositor the most reliable source]]) compares him to a fish in a stream: the fish can leap into the air, but it cannot alter the course of the stream. If accurate, that would put it somewhere between YouCantFightFate BecauseDestinySaysSo and Fighting Fate Is Hard, depending on how much importance you want to place on the fate of the fish versus that of the stream.
* ''Manga/CardcaptorSakura'' is high in the Fate scale.
* ''Manga/XxxHolic'' ranks quite high: "There is no such thing as coincidence in this world - there is only inevitability."
* ''Manga/TsubasaReservoirChronicle'' is considered high in the fate scale.
* In ''Manga/FutureDiary'' the Future Diaries can be changed almost immediately as they predict.
* ''Anime/MawaruPenguindrum'' is all about working the scale: On one hand, we have a crazed stalker character (Ringo) who firmly believes in fate and sets out to fulfil the fate that's written down on her diary, and on the other, we have the Takakura siblings (Kanba/Shoma) who hate "fate" and wish to take destiny into their own hands. Then we have their sister Himari, who bestows fate ''according'' to her own rules.
* The ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' manga can't seem to make up its mind where it is on the scale. Naruto's fight with Neji contrasts the viewpoints of ScrewDestiny and YouCantFightFate, with Neji advocating a belief that everyone's abilities are determined from birth, and only those with great parentage can truly excel, with Naruto contesting that anyone can succeed [[{{Determinator}} if they try hard enough]]. Naruto wins the fight, which would seem to vindicate his position, but it turns out that Naruto is the son of the Fourth Hokage [[spoiler:and his mother was the previous Kyuubi jinchuriki and a descendent of the [[PhysicalGod Sage of Six Paths]].]] Furthermore, Naruto's own skill proved insufficient to overcome Neji's and he won that fight entirely because of the inherent advantages of being a [[SealedInsideAPersonShapedCan jinchuriki]]. On the other hand, Neji didn't know who Naruto's parents were, and based his opinion of Naruto primarily on his academic performance. The issue is definitely worthy of debate. YMMV on whether it's simply a BrokenAesop or if the message all along was that it's not as easy to determine the future's possibilities as Neji presumed.
* ''VisualNovel/SteinsGate'' solidly demonstrates that Fighting Fate is Hard. Timeline alterations tend be to ultimately inconsequential, as [[RubberBandHistory "Attractor Fields"]] lead [[AlternateTimeline diverging world lines]] to converge and lead to the same end result... ''unless'', that is, you locate a critical event and alter time drastically enough to shift to a world line in a ''different'' Attractor Field.
* ''Manga/MagiLabyrinthOfMagic'' exists on the Free Will end of the scale, but the primary villains want to change that. Ironically, they recruit people by [[BlatantLies claiming that destiny is to blame for all of their problems]].

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In Franchise/{{the DCU}}, [[ComicBook/GreenLantern the Guardians of the Universe]] currently believe willpower is the source of chaos, when their attempt to make a corps defined by willpower went awry. Thus, they had created the Third Army with the goal of eradicating everyone's free will.

* The ''WesternAnimation/InsideOut'' fic Fanfic/{{Intercom}} includes this in its discourse on the relation between a human and their (living) emotions. On one hand, when a human is awake, their emotions do have great control over memories and general emotional responses to certain things. However, when Riley visits her own Headquarters and asks about how much they control her reactions, the emotions say they only provide the general mood to react with. It's Riley who chooses how to move those moods into action.
* The ''Film/StarTrek'' fic ''Fanfic/WrittenInTheStars'' has this as a theme. The Fem!Kirk of the Alt Reality wants to make her own choices, while her Prime counterpart tries to convince her to hook up with Spock, since the Primes did in the original universe. When it's revealed that Fem!Kirk and Spock hooked up in two other realities, it leaves the question of whether they're all just making the same choices or whether the two are just fated to be together.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda'' is high in the fate scale as it can be seen from this quote:
-->"One often meets his fate on the road he takes to avoid it."
* ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda2'' reinforces this as when the villain tried to stop his fate, being defeated by a warrior of black and white, he instead sealed it for [[spoiler: when he massacred the Panda village and Po escaped, [[GenocideBackfire he just simply transferred him to where he would be in a prime position to stop him]].]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/LawrenceOfArabia'', Lawrence's batman disappears in the desert. The bedouin refuse to try to save him because "it is written" (and because a bedouin would know well enough to be afraid of the desert). Lawrence rides off claiming, "nothing is written" and comes back in a few hours with his batman. [[spoiler:However it is ultimately revealed that it really was written, given that Lawrence ultimately has to execute the batman]].
* This was a major theme in the ''Franchise/TheMatrix'' series, with [[StrawNihilist Smith]] and Neo becoming the embodiments of fatalism and free will respectively. The climax of the trilogy sums it up nicely with this exchange:
---> '''Agent Smith''': Why, Mr. Anderson, why? Why do you persist?
---> '''Neo''': Because I choose to.
* In ''Film/{{Push}}'' Watchers see the outcome of decisions, not really fate. But their predictions usually either come true or get worse.
* The ''Franchise/{{Terminator}}'' films absolutely cannot make up their minds about where they stand on this because of the TimeyWimeyBall. The dominant theme overtly stated in the [[Film/Terminator2JudgmentDay second film]] was "No Fate But What We Make," but the film's ScrewDestiny finale was offset by film three which just showed it as delaying the inevitable, and then there's the fact that none of the series should work if not for the StableTimeLoop.
* ''Film/MinorityReport'' showed us that [[spoiler:he who knows his own future can change it if he wants to.]]

* ''Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism'' in which the men were sent away by Solomon. The story usually ends with Death saying he hadn't meant to frighten the person, it's only that he was so surprised to see them when he had an appointment with them in the town they were fleeing to.
* Literature/TheElricSaga: Elric is quite probably a 2. He could have fought Fate (in his case, by abandoning his sword [[EvilWeapon Stormbringer]]), but he was unable to do so, despite many bitter soliloquies bemoaning his circumstances.
* ''Literature/HarryPotter'' is at least a 3. Because people care a lot about prophecy. However there are prophecies that do not come to pass. Dumbledore also makes it clear to Harry that [[spoiler: the prophecy about him and Voldemort fighting to the death]] will only happen because Voldemort ''chooses'' to follow it; according to Dumbledore, it's a type 4.
* This crops up a lot in the ''Literature/AlexVerus'' series, as you'd expect when the main character's power is to see the future. Alex's magic works on the "Prophecies are Predictions" model - he can see the probable consequences of any action, but it's explicitly stated that people do have free will and he can't see past a choice that hasn't been made. However, a character encountered late in the first book can apparently control fate, and the draconic prophecy seems closer to BecauseDestinySaysSo.
* ''Literature/UnLunDun:'' Its heroine Deeba is the Trope Namer for TheUnchosenOne. She fought the BigBad even though the Book of Prophecies listed her as PluckyComicRelief.
* ''Literature/TheBelgariad'' -- Both the ''Belgariad'' and its sequel, the ''Malloreon'' focus on two sides working towards two mutually exclusive prophecies. However, as absolute as these prophecies appear to be, at the same time there is a lot of scrambling by folks such as Belgarath to make certain events go as outlined.
** It's later stated that they purposefully make sure to follow either of those prophecies, because it limits the world to two predictable outcomes, one of which is desirable. Failure to keep up will cause the emergence of a ''third'' prophecy with UnpredictableResults. [[spoiler:Oddly, they ''don't'' [[TakeAThirdOption take the third option]] here, and stick to accomplishing the good prophecy to the end.]]
* Modern literature is filled with examples of vague prophecies that are stoppable, twist-able, or just plain wrong since YouCantFightFate fell out of favor and was replaced by ScrewDestiny.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'': There is definitely a Destiny - the History Books kept by the Monks of Time describe the complete history of the Disc from beginning to end, Death's life timers start off with the appropriate amount of sand, ''something'' ensures Carrot arrives in Ankh-Morpork just as it needs a dragon-slaying king, and so on. But the History Monks can change what the books say, life timers can be smashed, turned over, or just mutate to eke out the sand as much as possible, and Carrot can decide Ankh-Morpork doesn't need a king after all. The ''Companion'' says "On the Discworld, the future is set. The job of everyone is to fight back."
** It helps that several of the books are explicitly framed as a game being played, using the world as a game board, between the AnthropomorphicPersonification Fate and The Lady (i.e. Lady Luck), so the position on the scale largely depends on who's winning at the moment.
* ''Literature/{{Twilight}}'': Alice's predictions of the future will change if somebody involved in the vision makes a decision that would change the future.
* In ''Literature/SlaughterhouseFive'' the main character jumps through time at random to different points in his life- his honeymoon to his death and back to the war where he was taken prisoner- because all time is happening at once. Even the end of the world "has always happened and will always happen." In fact, according to the aliens that visit Earth, it is the only planet where people believe in free will.
* ''Literature/{{Deverry}}'' uses the term "Wyrd" and states that the future is shaped as much by chance as wyrd. You may inherit certain traits and tendancies from past lives as your wyrd (such as a talent for magic, a crush on a certain person or a tendency to get in a certain kind of trouble) but this can be influenced at changed by conscious choices or random chance. Occasionally a sorceror can create a true prophecy but these are susceptible to ProphecyTwist (E.g. "He shall not die in battle except by a sword, but no man can kill him with a sword" - was killed by a girl, but he could also have been killed by his chief rival who turned out to be a half-elf.)
* ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' weaves [[BecauseDestinySaysSo how people live and what they do]], and although there are people, ta'veren, around whom the wheel weaves, even they don't have anything to say in their own lives, because YouCantFightFate.
** The entire series is weird in regards to how much power the wheel actually has. On the one hand you have the main character who's constantly struggling with why he fights, TheDragon trying to convert him and [[spoiler: only recently finding that motivation, during his attempted destruction of the world]], then you have cases like Verrin, who was completely unable to use her magic properly because the wheel wanted her in a specific spot.
** This series has an oddly MagicAIsMagicA approach to prophesy and destiny, maybe to a unique degree. Everyone has a destiny for their lives from start to finish, and detailed millenia-old prophesies explain the only possible way the world can be saved from the BigBad. However, free will exists - just because someone is destined to be a peddler doesn't mean they couldn't choose to pursue a career at a smithy, or kill themselves. How do both free will and destiny exist? Because of people called ''ta'veren'', an in-universe term that almost literally means "main character." ''Ta'veren'' have the involuntary power of WindsOfDestinyChange: when one is nearby, random events happen that push people in the direction of what destiny has in store for them. HeadsTailsEdge suddenly becomes common and people will make impulsive decisions that completely change the course of their lives. So basically, people in the Wheel of Time world live by "Prophecies Are Guides, Not Rules," except for when a ''ta'veren'' is in town, when everything becomes BecauseDestinySaysSo. (Note that this is involuntary for the ''ta'veren'', and the changes destiny causes result in misfortune for others and themselves about as often as not. They tend to be heroes, but [[HurtingHero of the hurting variety]].)
* In ''Literature/TheFoundation'' series, psychohistory makes quite good predictions but it can go off-course - the predictions are not 100% sure [[spoiler: as clearly demonstrated by Mule]].
* In Robin Hobb's ''Literature/RealmOfTheElderlings'' the Fool describes fate as like a wagon wheel in a rut, getting deeper entrenched as it continues going back and forth over the same kinds of events until it finally breaks, taking the world with it into unending misery. But a specific person known as a Catalyst, guided by a true prophet, can act as a wedge that jars the wheel of fate out of its rut and on to better things (at least until it begins wearing a new rut). The Catalyst gets treated exactly as harshly as the metaphor implies, even if he succeeds.
* In ''Franchise/{{Dune}}'', the {{Seers}} do not prophesy to others but use their prophecies to guide their actions, as the prophetic visions themselves are not absolute inevitabilities but rather one of several possible paths (although the longer you fulfill a particular vision, the harder it is to avert the rest of it).
* This is a major theme in the works of R. Scott Bakker, and he may be one of very few authors whose works are squarely '''Neither Fate Nor Free Will Exist'''.
** ''Literature/SecondApocalypse'': One character has been raised by a sect of monks dedicated to pure logic. Among other things, he can read people's emotions and thoughts in their faces and is able to manipulate people to a high degree. Being a fantasy series, there are prophecies, but it is unclear if they really mean anything.
** ''Literature/{{Neuropath}}'': The brain is a physical organism, therefore it is governed by the same laws of nature as everything around us. People's actions are completely predictable and can be manipulated to an extreme degree, as one character does using a futuristic device.
** ''Literature/DiscipleOfTheDog'': The main character has a perfect memory and is able to see the patterns in people's behavior that those people are themselves often unaware of.
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles:''
** In the short story ''The Warrior'', the archangel Uriel explains that it's possible for beings like himself to look downstream in the "river of time" and make a good estimate of what's going to happen. But he also explains that nothing is set in stone. If someone exercises free will, the effect is like digging out a trench and changing the direction the "river" will "flow". Harry improved peoples' fate this way three times over the course of the story, almost inadvertently.
** A recurring character of Sirgun Gard, a genuine Valkyrie, has limited perception of future events when it comes to a strong warrior about to die. She gets a glare and fixates on the person who will soon perish and believes it is their destiny. However, this is not guaranteed because mortals have free will and if another mortal were to step in, what she foresees may not come to pass. She is miffed when her mortal employer saves Harry from his death, and states there will be repercussions. The employer's response:
-->"What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?"
* ''Literature/TheIdhunsMemories'' trilogy by Laura Gallego has an interesting variation, since prophecies are actually [[spoiler: commands given by the gods to their people, which is implied they're fulfilled by the people's subconscious. Thus making it a SelfFulfillingProphecy where the ones involved don't need to know of the prophecy]]. Since there are different races created by different gods and [[spoiler: each god can only "move their pieces"]], it doesn't really fall under any of the categories given here (though it might be a mix of Fighting Fate is Hard and ScrewDestiny).
* This is the nature of a theological debate in ''Literature/TalesOfTheBranionRealm'', where precognitive {{Seer}}s play a major role.
* Both fate and free will exist in ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', where several characters appear to have a fate planned out by [[{{God}} Eru Ilúvatar]] but only comes to pass through their own decisions and those of others. Aragorn is fated to become king but can only do so if he accepts his destiny and saves Gondor from [[BigBad Sauron's]] invasion force. Gollum is fated to destroy the One Ring but only because Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam spare his life. Faramir's fate to go to Rivendell and become part of the fellowship is actually averted because Boromir JumpedAtTheCall and Faramir let him take his place.
* ''Literature/WingsOfFire'' is type 4. [=NightWings=] [[spoiler:though far fewer of them then the [=NightWings=] would have you believe]]have the power of prophecy, but there are multiple potential futures even when it comes to random events and they are ultimately just predictions. Even the most talented seers are marked by being able to see all of the potential futures, not a single one.
* ''Literature/TheSight'' is type 2 - characters can have visions of the future and it is difficult and requires effort to change them, though it is still possible. [[spoiler:Larka realizes this just a bit too late to save herself]], but it does provide some hope given that [[spoiler:it turns out the most likely future is humanity nuking everyone and destroying the environment.]]
* ''Literature/WarriorCats'' basically subscribes to Prophecies Are Guides, Not Rules. [=StarClan=] can warn cats that bad stuff is going to happen, and with this foreknowledge cats are often able to avert terrible events. ''Warriors'' probably exists somewhere between this and Fighting Fate Is Hard, because only some cats succeed in thwarting fate. On the other hand, [[spoiler:Rock claims to have seen the whole future in a vision and is the one making sure it plays out exactly as it's supposed to. And it does. He's the source of all [=StarClan=] prophecies, who themselves have no clairvoyance. So you might say that any signs of free will simply come from [=StarClan=] not knowing the original vision.]]
* In ''Literature/TheDivineComedy'', Dante's crusader ancestor explains that God's absolute knowledge of the future (what we'd call "fate") in no way limits man's freedom, in the same way knowing a ship on a river will move downstream in no way causes it to go downstream.
* In ''Literature/TheAffix'' the words of the gem's previous long-term keeper imply fate and free will are both valid, and should be kept in balance. Just because the universe is deterministic doesn't mean a person's choices aren't their own. Various characters have wildly differing beliefs on the subject, but Matt sides with his predecessor's embrace of compatibilism.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/TerminatorTheSarahConnorChronicles'', firmly believes in "No fate but what we make" and the entire series comes down to Sarah and John trying to prevent the events of T3 right up to the end. Then the series throws the whole thing for a loop when [[spoiler: John Connor jumps ahead through time past the point of Judgment Day, and it turns out that the resistance is still alive and kicking without him.]]
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' and ''Series/{{Angel}}'':
** It comes very close to "you can't fight fate" (although you certainly ''can'' make it literally true but mean different things). A prophecy showed Buffy was destined to die fighting The Master. Despite Buffy's attempt to avert it by not fighting him (she changes her mind), Giles' attempt to avert it by wanting to be the one to fight the Master (Buffy knocks him out), and an attempt by Xander to fight it as well, it happens...but then Xander [[RevivalLoophole brings her back to life with mouth to mouth.]] Oh, and just to screw with them further, Buffy's first attempt to fight the Master is what gives him the power to escape his prison.
** "Becoming Part One" ends with things going FromBadToWorse for the heroes, and Whistler narrating how "the big moments" in your life are always going to come, no matter what you do. He then refutes the idea that that makes us puppets, saying that it's what you do ''after'' those moments that defines you.
** Then there's "The Father Will Kill The Son" relating to Angel and Connor. Even though it was placed in a prophecy book to mislead the heroes, it nevertheless came true, though again just literally: Angel "killed" Connor, but as part of a deal that gave Connor a new, more normal, life. The demon who planted the fake prophecy to try to stop the ''real'' one - that Connor would kill him - nevertheless was in fact killed by Connor. The only aversion of literal fate in the two series might have been Jasmine's defeat in ''Angel'' Season 4; and while the Tro-Clon prophecy sort of suggested something like Jasmine's rise, whether it ruled out her eventual defeat is questionable.
* ''Series/{{Merlin}}'': everything the Dragon advises Merlin to do is BecauseDestinySaysSo. The Dragon gives advice to save Arthur. But when it comes to Mordred or Morgana, he advises Merlin to make them die to prevent destiny from happening. But Merlin never follows ''this'' advice.
* ''Franchise/PowerRangers'': Sometimes, through tremendous effort, fate can be changed... and sometimes it can't, and trying to change things changes only the details. Prophesies tend to be fairly spot-on, and time-travelers usually need several attempts to come even close to changing things, although with [[Series/PowerRangersTurbo one notable]] [[Series/PowerRangersInSpace exception]], they're usually successful if they're Rangers.
* ''[[Series/FlashForward2009 Flash Forward]]'': free will works but fate will take steps to 'correct out' any changes you make (i.e. if you kill yourself to prevent your flash-forward, someone else will end up doing what led up to your flash-forward). Nevertheless, [[spoiler: Demetri surviving to the end of the series]] shows that while it's a severe uphill struggle, fate can be changed.
** Specifically, Flash Forward's verse is based on the concept 'what would happen if quantum mechanics worked on a macrosopic scale?' - so you can screw destiny on the small scale but not on the large.
* As indicated by the page quotes, ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' experiments with this trope quite a bit. While Jor-El pushes Clark to fulfill his destiny (completing tasks that seem to push him towards becoming Superman), Clark manages to defy Jor-El and his own destiny on occasion in character-establishing moments that push him towards... becoming Superman.
** A season three episode features a character who can see people's deaths by touching them, but Clark manages to prevent one of these deaths, something no one before had been able to do. Clark is speculated to be able to change people's destinies.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'': Starting in Season 4, the angels try really hard to convince the main characters that the world is immutable -- for example, sending Dean back in time to save his parents only to inform him he was doomed to fail because YouCantFightFate. Undaunted, in Season 5, [[PowerTrio Team Free Will]] (Sam, Dean and Castiel) make it their mission to "ScrewDestiny. Right in the face!" and they ultimately succeed, though at [[BittersweetEnding significant personal cost]].
* ''Series/BabylonFive'': Although averting fate is clearly possible, only [[spoiler: Londo]], manages to do so over the course of the series, and even then [[spoiler: the option of changing his destiny]] had already been predicted. Other characters have no luck in averting fate. [[spoiler: Sheridan]] tries to avert destiny and actually causes the future to happen, [[spoiler: Babylon 5 is blown up]] at the end of the series, and [[spoiler: Lennier]] betrays [[spoiler: the Rangers]] despite all efforts not to.
* ''Series/{{Charmed}}'': Premonitions usually come true, but it is possible to stop them from happening with such knowledge.
* ''Series/{{Fringe}}'' is difficult to place, but the general rule seems to be that prophecies are predictions. [[spoiler: The Observers are a group emotionless cyborgs who have the ability to jump around in the timeline with a great deal of freedom, but their predictions are probabilistic in nature and they can't be absolutely certain that their manipulation of the timeline will succeed, as they are ultimately destroyed by their failure to stop a ButterflyOfDoom: A genetically anomalous child Observer (later named Michael) proves to be a SuperiorSuccessor by possessing advanced cognitive and [[TheEmpath empathic]] abilities [[OneHeroHoldTheWeaksauce without needing an emotion-removing implant like the rest]]. The Observers realize that the child is a threat to their existence and attempt to dispose of him, but Michael is eventually sent back in time to [[RetGone stop the research that created the Observers in the first place]].]]
* The premise of "Series/EarlyEdition" is that the mysterious paper Gary receives every day shows what will happen if Gary does not intervene. It's intended for Gary to use the knowledge to save people, putting it firmly in the "prophecies are guides, not rules" category.

[[folder:Mythology and Religion]]
* Myth/{{Greek|mythology}} and Myth/NorseMythology are high up on the fate scale as not even the gods can escape it.
* The concept of Wyrd in Nordic- and Germanic-derived Neo-Pagan traditions (Heathenry, Asatru) basically states that every choice people make is woven into the web of Wyrd, and that web determines the choices which will be available to be made from there on in.
* ''Literature/TheBible'' varies. If {{God}} makes a prophecy about something He wants done, it will be done. Prophecies about the future decisions of people tend to be more like suggestions.
* Islamic doctrine includes the idea of Predestination (essentially synonymous with Fate of Destiny). Interpretations obviously differ, but as generally taught to non-scholars it ties into the concept of Omniscience as possessed by God. God knows everything, so he knows what's going to happen. The popular interpretation is that humankind's actions dictate the map of the future, and not the other way around. God just saw how it would all pan out from the Beginning. So... the future's like the weather, with the assumption that God is the best weatherman ever. If we could see the future, then theoretically its more of a guide, with the assumption that God saw it all coming anyway.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Gerrard from ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' is an interesting example. He's a very ScrewDestiny GuileHero kind of person, and when prophecies start turning up calling him TheChosenOne, he scoffs at them and tells his friends that destiny isn't real. It gets harder and harder, however, when prediction after prophecy all agree on his being TheHero, and all of his friends and allies begin to view him as such. Still denying fate, he then discovers the truth: his bloodline was genetically engineered for a thousand years by a godlike {{Chessmaster}} named Urza as part of a master plan, and his entire life he had been [[BatmanGambit Batman Gambitted]] into being TheHero. Bitter, he eventually duels a depowered Urza to death in the BigBad's [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=209132 arena]] in both an attempt to both bring his friend Hanna back from the dead in a DealWithTheDevil and to ScrewDestiny. He does kill Urza, but he later escapes the BigBad as the BigBad becomes a nightmarish, sentient cloud of murderous death that begins to swallow the world. In the end, Gerrard consigns himself to his fate, [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=19135 sacrificing himself to save the world]]. It's left open whether it really was his destiny, or whether it was his decision alone.
** In the novel of ''Mercadian Masques'', he seems to come to a conclusion about the nature of prophecies. He believes that prophecies are not predictions for what will be, but prescriptions for what ''should'' be.
** Indeed, one of the main reasons Black and Blue are enemy colors to Green is that they dislike Green's belief that YouCantFightFate.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'', fate is the plans of the Five Maidens and the Sidereal Exalted. Mortals, gods and Exalted alike are caught up in it, but those with sufficient power and will can break the chains and forge their own destiny.
** The contradiction between Fate and free will is actually a relevant source of trouble for the Sidereal Exalted. When you've devised the pattern of history according to one assumption of what somebody will do, and that person just plain doesn't do it (even if they're a mortal), it creates problems with the general fabric of causality that need to be addressed.
** Of course, then there's [[YouCantFightFate Samsara]], the pattern that develops from Creation's cosmological foundations, although the setting is vague on how much this is "incontrovertable future" or "unshakable compulsion in the only people who can observe it". It hasn't been wrong yet, but that's at least partly because everyone who can read it is immensely powerful and devoted to bringing about its existence.
** Interestingly, ''fate'' only applies to Creation itself. [[PrimordialChaos The Wyld]], TheUnderworld, and [[{{Hell}} Malfeas]] are all outside Fate, and people from those places don't have a destiny. Even then, though, their destiny may be written in samsara, and lesser beings from the Wyld may be ensnared in fate simply by entering Creation.
** One of the reasons that everyone wants to make ''sure'' that the Yozi Sachverell doesn't awaken is because if he does, he will (so far as anyone knows) lock the world into [[YouCantFightFate absolute predestination]].
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Scion}}'', Fate can be overcome but is very powerful and some individuals and pantheons have been totally ensnared by it (the Norse for one).
* ''TabletopGame/ChangelingTheLost'' is somewhere in the middle (and [[IncrediblyLamePun particularly]] [[TabletopGame/NewWorldOfDarkness dark]]) with fate working for and against the Players as well as being avertable.
* ''TabletopGame/GeniusTheTransgression'' includes time travel and thus is complicated. The past used to be immutable and you could not change it. However, after the elimination of the Terminals you can change the past but it takes a lot of resources. The setting overall depends on who you ask and what wonder is being used to make the prophecy. It isn't that they disagree, it is that the laws of metaphysics differ depending on what they think they should be. The timeline currently exists in a causality trench, but if it breaks out (which the Guardians of Forever work overtime to prevent) the universe would probably become chaos.
* In the ''TabletopGame/{{Eberron}}'' Campaign Setting, the Draconic Prophecy tends to give "if A then B" scenarios, with various groups trying to cause or prevent A. It's more of a suggestion than a prophecy, really.
* Fate is a very strong theme in ''TabletopGame/LegendOfTheFiveRings''; it is said that everyone has their Dharma, their place under Heaven, and that they WILL fullfill their destinies. Of particular importance are the Seven Thunders, the champions of Heaven that define the destiny of the world every 1000 years, when they fight the Champion of Hell; the outcome of the battle, however, is anyone's guess. So, destiny can be changed, only by a few, select, destined individuals...

* Invoked by the Narrator in ''Theatre/MurderBallad'': ''"Free will and fate both played their part..."''

* ''Franchise/EverAfterHigh'' has this as part of its theme. The characters are children of fairytale characters and each have their own views on their destinies. The Royals believe that they should follow their parents destiny, Apple White is sure to have a happy ending, but Duchess Swan is doomed to become a swan permanently. The Rebels choose to not follow the destinies set before them, Raven Queen for one refuses to follow her mothers footsteps as the next Evil Queen.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'': It is stated that fate is undefeatable. However, [[spoiler:later it is not only revealed that can fate can be fought, but that humans are the only ones with true free will -- something not even the Fal'cie had. Hence the reason Fal'cie create lu'cie, to use their unlimited potential]].
* Whole point and theme of the aptly named ''VideoGame/ExitFate''. "Fate" merely refers to a non-universal way of pre-determining someone's life. The game is (among other things) about the main character's discovery that his life is fated and his struggle to break the control over him. [[spoiler:Interestingly enough, the game ''does'' feature a supernatural entity called "the Hand of Fate" that has the power to manipulate destiny in whatever way it wants but, since it's part of the BigBadDuumvirate, it's actually working with the mortals to create their own naturalistic system of destiny.]]
* ''VideoGame/ChronoCross'' is an absolutely free universe that's presented as a deterministic one thanks to an absurdly powerful supercomputer from the future.
* ''VideoGame/LegacyOfKain'' shifts back and forth. Several times YouAlreadyChangedThePast is demonstrated, such as in ''Soul Reaver 2'' when [[spoiler:Raziel kills his human self in the past]]. However, history can be changed by creating a temporal paradox powerful enough to distort the timestream, at which point it will restructure itself according to the outcome of the situation that created the paradox, adjusting to the new chain of events in a butterfly effect-like ripple. Raziel [[spoiler:has a future version of his own soul bonded to his arm as a sword]], so by nature of simply existing Raziel [[spoiler:is a walking paradox]] and has the power to change history with every action he takes. However, even he isn't completely immune to destiny, as ''Soul Reaver 2'' ends with [[spoiler:Kain warning Raziel about the Hylden]], which means Kain remembers the results of something Raziel hasn't done yet. ''Defiance'' clarifies this with Moebius saying that Raziel's free will means his path can't be foreseen, but the results of his actions based on his current path ''can'' be seen, though he can still change his mind.
* ''VidoeGame/ShinMegamiTensei'' slides between both fate and free will.
** ''VideoGame/DevilSurvivor'' and its follow-up put a spin into this - it's possible to ScrewDestiny, but not only does it require a lot of willpower and strength to do so, and unless you're extremely careful, you will wind up being nothing more than a toy of Fate.
* ''VideoGame/ShadowOfDestiny'' basically uses this scale like a teeter toter, using both ends ''at the same time''.
* The ''VideoGame/HouseOfTheDead'' has James Taylor - and about every hero - with a ScrewDestiny attitude, especially toward any villains he faces, who are always with YouCantFightFate.
--> '''James Taylor:''' Only man can change the fate himself! You (the Magician) are nothing!!
* By the end of ''VideoGame/AsurasWrath'', it is definitely [[spoiler: Free Will that wins in the end, via ScrewDestiny]].
* In ''VideoGame/TalesOfTheAbyss'', we have the Yulia Score, a prophecy that [[BecauseDestinySaysSo cannot be avoided in any way]]. Turns out [[spoiler: the main character, Luke, is a replica, and thus isn't predicted in the Yulia Score, so he isn't bound to it.]] The plan of the BigBad is to bring forth TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt and then [[spoiler: [[WellIntentionedExtremist replacing it with a replica world that isn't bound to the score]]. [[{{Irony}} By doing so he is actually fulfilling the Score of destruction predicted by Yulia]].]] Luke manages to deviate from the Score a couple times (mainly in the [[spoiler: Tower of Rem, where Asch was supposed to die]]), and in TheVeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon he manages to [[ScrewDestiny overthrow the Score]].
--> '''Lorelei''': [[spoiler:So the world did not vanish. To think the future I saw would be rewritten. You have done admirably.]]
* ''VideoGame/BaldursGate'' is complicated, with both free will and fate being strong. The PlayerCharacter is saddled with a role in a divine plan that could be expected to make them evil, but all choices between good and evil are left to the player. In the first game, whichever they choose, it is also made clear that they are their own person -- not a pawn to the god even if they choose evil. In the last part, ''Throne of Bhaal'', it turns out that all their actions are nevertheless within the bounds of fate and parameters set by the prophecy of the seer Alaundo. The prophecy turns out to be contingent for its outcome on just the actions of the PlayerCharacter -- not their choice of who to be and what to become, which is free but does not affect the outcome, but whether they or their opponents prevail.
* ''VideoGame/TheTalosPrinciple'': A bit of a running theme throughout the game, especially when talking with Milton, who is convinced there's no such thing as free will. The game itself falls roughly into the idea that fighting fate is hard, at least for the robots running around in the program, as [[spoiler:it takes at least 100 generations to find one bot that is willing to defy Elohim's guidance, climb the tower, and be able to climb to the very top and end the simulation]].

* ''Webcomic/HitmenForDestiny''[==]'s backstory states that its world is actively sliding along the scale, and every prophecy that someone manages to break causes destiny to weaken throughout the universe. Both Destiny and Free Will have secret agents actively trying to keep/prevent prophecies coming true.
* ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'': The universe and Sburb seems to be custom-engineered to prevent the characters from using TimeTravel to change anything because it automatically crafts a StableTimeLoop so YouAlreadyChangedThePast. The [[AllTrollsAreDifferent Trolls]] always maintain that the kid protagonists are doomed to fail and mess up their session so badly that it retroactively broke the Trolls' as well. However, none of this stops the kids from continuing to ''try'' and ScrewDestiny, especially Rose. We probably won't know where for sure the series comes to rest between the two extremes until the story ends, and we find out whether the kids really do manage to succeed in their quest or not.
** [[spoiler: As the GrandFinale shows, it's [[ScrewDestiny Free Will]].]]
* ''Webcomic/TheWaterPhoenixKing'' has Tamantha, which is a mix between fate and karma. Rather than being an inherent part of the world, it is instead a metaphysical construct of a powerful god (who is now dead). Because Tamantha operates on a morality that is somewhere between BlueAndOrangeMorality and LawfulStupid, the protagonists are out to destroy it altogether.
* ''Webcomic/{{Roommates}}'' is pretty high up on the fate side. As at least "Fighting Fate Is Hard" high but probably closer to "BecauseDestinySaysSo" and because it's as meta as it is fate should be read as the TheoryOfNarrativeCausality. This doesn't stop the characters from trying (Jareth even desperately tries... it earned him the CosmicPlaything standing if nothing else) though and results in most of the series' tear jerkers.
* ''Webcomic/ExistentialComics'': The issue of how much (if any) free will people have, plus what it even means, is discussed in detail with "[[http://existentialcomics.com/comic/70 A Dialogue On Compatibilism]]".

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' plays with this often, as seen in ''The Fortuneteller'' and Aang's final decision against the Fire Lord.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'': Despite all the crazy, time-altering crap Phillip J. Fry has managed to do over the series, he's ''still'' managed to be born in order to save the universe from giant evil brains, Mom, nudists, and a tentacle god thing, even though he had to be his own grandfather to do it.
** Not so much fate as it is programming when it's revealed that Bender ironically has no free will but every decision he makes is part of his predetermined program, which raises the question what kind of nut programed Bender to do the things he's done.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'' puts a YouAlreadyChangedThePast clause on time travel, but from the various WordOfGod statements it appears the universe overall is mutable.
* ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse'' plays with this a lot, as two main characters, Garnet and Sapphire, have future vision
** The way Garnet describes her Future Vision in the eponymous episode makes it out to be a "Prophecies are just predictions" scenario- she can see every choice someone might make, and the consequences of each choice, but cannot know which path someone will take until they make that choice
** However, Sapphire's is presented a bit differently in the episode "The Answer," seeming to be more of a case of "Fighting Fate is Hard," as Ruby, a foot soldier assigned to her, was fated to die in battle. When she instead escapes her fate to fuse with Sapphire, she's astonished, to say the least, and it's revealed in the end of the episode that the only way Ruby managed to escape her destiny was through Trope/ThePowerOfLove .
* In ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'', since everyone is stuck on prehistoric Earth, Dinobot spends most of the second season agonizing over whether he truly has freedom of choice, or if YouAlreadyChangedThePast is in effect. [[spoiler:He gets his answer when he witness Megatron directly changing the future by blowing a chunk off a mountain, which causes an image of the future version of the same mountain to change and show the chunk missing. Since Megatron plans to wipe out the human race before it even exists by exterminating its prehistoric ancestors, Dinobot notes the irony that knowing he can, in fact, make his own choices is the very thing that makes him feel he has no choice but to pull a HeroicSacrifice and stop it from happening.]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueCrisisOnTwoEarths'', Owlman discovers that neither free will nor fate exists. Any time anyone anywhere makes any choice, the universe itself splits into multiple branches, so it doesn't matter whether you chose A or B, because another universe was just created where you chose the other one. This revelation causes him to go very much off the deep end and attempt to make what he feels is the only choice that truly matters: [[spoiler:[[OmnicidalManiac destroying the entire multiverse]].]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* It's not known what governs reality, but the main theories among philosophers are:
** '''Neither Fate Nor Free Will Exist''': [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incompatibilism#Pessimistic_incompatibilism Pessimistic incompatibilism]]. The future cannot be determined from the past, but that's just due to inherent randomness in the laws of physics, not to any sort of free will.
** '''BecauseDestinySaysSo''': [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Determinism Determinism]]. This has [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_determinism hard]] and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_determinism soft]] variants, for whether or not free will exists. For example, in the hard variant, the father will kill his son. He has no choice. In the soft variant, he will have a choice, but certain influences will help make that choice.
** '''Prophecies Are Predictions''': [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarianism_(metaphysics) Libertarianism]]. Not the political movement.
* Religions run the gamut, as it's largely just a question of to what extent God intervenes. '''Screw Destiny''' is probably one of the most debated issues with various schools of thought having different standpoints and justifications for them.