Author Powers

When a character is an author, or the author is a character, and he is shown interacting with the characters in his works, he is often shown to have god-like control over the world of his characters. Note that often, the characters themselves will appear to have independent wills from the author, and may even try to stop him, even though the author should be able to control them like puppets, too.

A common variant involves an artist for a comic or animation changing the character's appearance in cruel and unusual ways, drawing monsters to chase him, or even threatening to erase characters out of existence.

Compare Rewriting Reality, in which a character has or gains this ability through literally rewriting the world. See also Interactive Narrator.


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    Anime & Manga 

  • Grant Morrison inserted himself into Animal Man as a character called 'the Writer' with the ability to alter reality. Later, John Ostrander and Yale figured, hell, if Morrison appeared in an issue of Animal Man, then he's part of mainstream DC continuity, right? Fair game, right? They featured 'the Writer' in Suicide Squad #58, where he altered reality by typing a comic book style script into a computer. He is killed when he gets writer's block in the middle of firefight and is unable to write a way to save himself.
  • In Cerebus the Aardvark, Dave Sim does this. He even has conversations with Cerebus in which he's speaking in Cerebus' thought balloons with nothing to differentiate his words from Cerebus', and yet somehow always manages to make it clear which of them is speaking at any time. He also alters reality around Cerebus in ways that only a completely omnipotent being could, although he makes it clear to Cerebus that, while he is Cerebus' creator, he isn't the god Tarim that Cerebus normally worships.
  • In Concrete, creator Paul Chadwick steps into one story to basically give the character of Concrete some time off: He turns him back into a human, gives him some time alone with Maureen, then tells us the reader to give them some privacy while he conjures up some crazy artwork out of thin air and spends some quiet time creating little worlds. He has also spent time away from proper plots to imagine crazy little things like what would happen if Concrete left a trail of himself everywhere he went...
  • A one-shot Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic that was an extended tribute to Jack Kirby featured Donatello meeting cartoonist named Kirby who'd found a magic crystal that, when tied to his pen, allowed anything he drew with it to come to life. Donatello and Kirby end up being pulled into Kirby's comic book world, and they get caught up in a battle between Kirby's heroic characters and his evil characters. Kirby helps Donatello and the heroic characters defeat the villains by drawing special weapons for Donatello to use and eventually binding all the villains with specially designed shackles. The story ends with Donatello returning to New York, although Kirby chooses to stay so that Don can return and gives him a sketch as a parting gift.
  • In one Archie Comics story, Reggie sends the writer on vacation and writes a story in which Jughead suffers the worst day of his life. On the last page, Jughead sends the story's artist on vacation and draws his own ending where he gets revenge on Reggie.
  • Fables has a variation on this; the various fairy tale characters living in the mundane world are aware of the stories about them right from the start, but are unsure as to the exact relationship between the stories and their own existence. The spin-off "Jack of Fables" introduces the Literals, who are Anthropomorphic Personifications of literary concepts (such as genres, the Deus ex Machina, the idea of bowdlerisation etc.) and this includes Kevin Thorn, the actual writer. The Great Fables Crossover has them having to deal with his omnipotent Rewriting Reality powers and his view that the world (both the fairy tale homelands and the supposedly "real" mundane world) is his story that has gotten out of hand and needs to be erased so he can write a better story in its place.

  • Christof in The Truman Show is an interesting example. Truman is not a fictional character, but every aspect of his life, including the people around him, is controlled by Christof. In the film's climax Christof makes the sun rise in order to stop Truman's escape.
  • The Black Beast in Monty Python and the Holy Grail vanishes when the animator has a fatal heart attack, implying some combination of this trope with No Ontological Inertia and a good dose of Beyond The Fourth Wall.
  • In Delirious, a soap opera writer gets hit on the head and wakes up as a character inside his own show. His typewriter comes with him, and he can use it to alter and plan out events in the show, even affecting other characters' behavior. However, a rival author has been hired to write show scripts as well, leading to a rare case of someone with Author Powers being in a Rage Against the Author situation.
  • Near the end of In the Mouth of Madness, Cane's powers have become so vast that the entire world is his story, and he doesn't even need to write about it anymore. If he thinks it, so shall it be, demonstrating it to Trent by turning the entire world blue just because it's his favourite colour.
  • The premise of Stranger Than Fiction.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who, "The Mind Robber": The Doctor discovers that they are in the Land of Fiction, a realm of a different dimension presided over by The Master of the Land, an English writer from the 1920s who has been yanked out of his own time and is being controlled by the Master Brain computer. The Master wants the Doctor to take the writer's place and the two enter a battle of wills using fictional characters.
  • Young Blades, which is very loosely based on Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers, features Dumas as a character in the series finale who explains to the main characters that he is writing their story.
  • Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger. Toei Productions becomes the Bigger Bad, using Author Powers to change everyone's goals, end certain arcs, and ultimately end the show.
  • In one episode of The Twilight Zone, "A World of His Own", an author speaks into a tape recorder and makes real people, including his perfect wife and his mistress. He could also destroy the creations by destroying the tape. Cut to Rod Serling's closing monologue about how the story was complete fiction. The main character interrupts Rod to warn him about saying such things, revealing a line of tape labelled "Rod Serling" and tossing it onto the fire. This was the first appearance of Rod onscreen to do the monologue and was so well received that he came on for almost every episode afterwards. However, it was the only time he interacted with the story's characters. The original story by Richard Charles Matheson was far darker, and involved the author becoming bored with Reality Warping and making people, even creating monsters and other horrors.


  • Parodied to confusing and hilarious effect in the Goon Show episode "Six Charlies in Search of an Author". ("Ten pounds, Neddie, to be paid in money before Chapter Ten! And don't try to slip past us, Neddie, because we have an armed man in the index!")

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Adventure WG7 Castle Greyhawk. One of the dungeon levels has the author of that level being omnipotent and interacting with the PCs as they explore the level.
    • The April Fools section of Dragon magazine #36 has the Dungeon Master (the person who creates an adventure) as a monster who has the power of a deity.

  • The play Six Characters In Search Of An Author explores what happens when the author of an unfinished play dies before its completion. Two of the characters are doomed to die, over and over again because the play into which they were written never made it to the stage.
  • A 2008 Viennese production of M. Butterfly featured the composer, Giacomo Puccini, as a character. He observed the events onstage, occasionally sung lines meant for the male lead, and was haunted by the spirits of the tragic heroines from his other operas as he made the decision to kill Butterfly. It was presumably intended to be a commentary on the cruelty of the audience for wanting to see characters tortured and killed for the sake of drama, and how the composer's hands were tied from making a better, kinder story because of the demands of the audience.

    Video Games 
  • This Cracked article details the case of a game (Asheron's Call) where a group of players prevented all others from reaching a boss and made it grow stronger by allowing it to kill them. The admins descended, recruited great heroes from the players, gave themselves the best equipment, and... managed to beat the blockade on the third try.

    Visual Novels 
  • Due to the meta-narrative in Umineko no Naku Koro ni, the game has a few In-Universe examples with the Game Masters, but also notably Featherine, who at one point outside the games stops the plot to kill someone without actually describing how, promising to do that later on.

    Web Animation 
  • Animator vs. Animation features a battle between a stick figure and his off-screen animator in Adobe Flash.
  • Just Some Random Guy does this in a homage to the below mentioned Duck Amuck with Deadpool standing in for Daffy though the author is never shown in this version so its a more direct example.

  • In 0 0 0 This Comic Appears First Alphabetically, the author has a sketchbook that contains the entire comic. He can use it to control all of space and time, and everyone within it. Until he loses it, that is.
  • In Bob and George. the Author is an occasional cast member of the comic. The cast of the comic frequently gets into arguments with him, makes fun of the fact that sprite comics are all he can manage and generally treat him like a normal member of the cast. Never mind that he has been known to raise the dead in order to fix their mistakes and bend reality to suit the needs of the plot.
  • In Books Don't Work Here. the Author is the narrator and takes an active hand in directing the characters. Not that it does him a lot of good most of the time.
  • Some of the El Goonish Shive filler strips feature Dan Shive interacting with the characters and warping reality, usually dishing out Gender Benders and other transformations to anyone who annoys him.
  • Played with in Homestuck; while Andrew Hussie does exist in universe (and is even shown physically drawing the strip), he has stated that the extent of his interference in the story proper will be limited to "exactly one yard." Turns out to be the length between two fourth walls.
  • Subverted in 1/0 where characters succesfully rebel against the author and get him to swear off direct intervention.
  • As the AuthorAvatars, Kingwerewolf and Brogalio have control over Nintendo Acres but purposely restrict their direct involvement so the characters don't get lazy.
  • The two authors in L's Empire have all the powers that gods have and can also freeze time, create portals to anywhere, see the future, and manipulate the fabric of reality as they see fit. They have also written one character out of the comic multiple times. This becomes problematic when Dark Star turns himself into an author.
  • Christian Weston Chandler, creator of the infamous Sonichu webcomics, writes himself as the Mayor of the city the series is set in, gives himself all sorts of super-powers and eventually displaces the title character as the real star of the comic.
  • Karate Bears can absolutely write their own scripts.

     Web Original 

  • On Das Sporking, the sporkers tend to wield this sort of power to force fictional characters to spork with them, summon food for therapy, set loose tortures on hated characters, or revitalize co-sporkers who died in some way as a result of the sporking.

    Western Animation 
  • The Looney Tunes cartoon "Duck Amuck" is a famous version of this; Daffy Duck is tormented by the animator who turns out to be Bugs Bunny. It also has a less famous sequel, "Rabbit Rampage", with a similar premise.
  • Animators from The Cleveland Show fit this trope. They live in Cleveland's basement and can draw or erase anything. First they used it to mess with Cleveland, erasing the box he carries, and then another drew a sexy Na'Vi woman for himself.
  • Subverted in an episode of The Simpsons. Homer spots a panel from Life in Hell in an Art Museum and insults Matt Groening's work. A giant pencil descends eraser first onto his forehead. It is actually two movers bringing in a modern art exhibit.