In most cases, Destiny is tied to the concept that any event, when played through multiple times in the exact same context, will never have a different outcome. This concept is assumed to be most applicable on small scales, on the order of individual atoms or trajectories of single butterflies, etc. When those tiny events are all part of a sequence, like a war, than it follows that their interaction in the larger event or sequence of events will also have the exact same outcome no matter how many times repeated. This is applicable to any and all events and gives cause-and-effect predictions absolute weight. This in term implies that any event or series of events can be perfectly predicted, 100% accurate and precise.
One conclusion to draw from the above assumption is that all events in life can be tracked through a cause and effect chain to the very first event in the universe. As such the end result of any action or event is caused by an individual so much as it was determined at the beginning of the universe. This turns choice into something external. The concept of those choices being external and of all events being predetermined is Destiny. This can be interpreted in a few ways:
The fatalist might assume all his or her choices, whether they have a positive or negative consequence, to be the result of a cause-and-effect chain of events that could not have been changed. The idea that the choice, whatever it might be, and the consequence, whatever it might be, is/was unchangeable makes the action acceptable. In this case, the individual will not discriminate between possible actions.
Those with a basic amount of faith might also understand that only one sequence of events can ever take place. Not knowing what this sequence is, arbitrary assumptions can be made that certain desirable or logically possible outcomes will be part of the sequence (that is to say, the individual considers a goal possible). The actions that most likely lead to those outcomes will then be treated as perpetuating Destiny. The end result is the same or similar action as if the individual was unaware of the concept of Destiny.
Anime & Manga
Berserk: When the Eclipse happens, Void said that the Band of the Hawk and the demons were all gathered to that cozy place called hell, in order to make Griffith a new demon lord and to make his followers sacrifices for the rite, because causality said so. And Guts, being one of the few survivors of this event, continues to deny that notion to this day.
The Skull King actually stated that since Guts and Casca survived being offered as sacrifices during the Eclipse when they were fated to die, they now stand outside of fate. And this is why they are able to fight the Godhand (Though Casca at present isn't mentally capable of doing so at the moment).
At the end of Code Geass: Nightmare of Nunnally, this is essentially what C.C., formerly known as Lelouch vi Britannia, gives as his motivation going forward. Nunnally has a slightly different interpretation of things, though.
According to the book read by Hap to Stoner in Eureka Seven movie, Eureka is destined to have a male partner and together they will "change" the world. Apparently this comes to pass for both TV and movie version.
The book never directly states Eureka's name, just referring to her as "the Maiden with wings", thus it's only valid to the TV series world because in the movie, Eureka never grows any wings. Interestingly, the movie ending does have references to the golden Bough that Holland and Dewey read in the TV series about the wife of the sacred king (Renton), the goddess of Earth (Eureka), went through death and rebirth.
Glass Fleet characters seem to rely far too much on Destiny, with a prophecy being one of the central aspects to the series. However, characters don't always interpret the words correctly...
Boingo's Stand Thoth, of Jojos Bizarre Adventure, takes the form of a comic book, and tells the immediate future, and it will happen, no matter what, as proven by what becomes of Oingo and Hol Horse.
The Big Bad of part 6, Enrico Pucci, decides that heaven is a world where everybody knows their own destiny...and sets out to make it that way.
In Juushin Enbu, Main character: Taitou is fated by the Hagun to face Keirou, the Big Bad, and his companions are fated to have to choose between allying themselves between the two by the constellation that watches over the mark (for the most part). Taitou just wants to face Keirou out of revenge instead.
Himemiya Chikane and Kurusegawa Himeko in Kannazuki no Miko are the reincarnations of priestesses who fought Orochi and are destined to do so again.
Fuu, Umi, and Hikaru of Magic Knight Rayearth must fulfill an ancient prophecy — but what they think they have to do and what they actually must do are two very, very different things.
Borderline in Neon Genesis Evangelion. The Secret Dead Sea Scrolls possessed by the mysterious Seele organization supposedly predict the arrival of attacking Angels, although these predictions seem useless for all practical purposes.
Seele is very prone to panicking when things don't seem to go exactly as the scrolls describe, which is just about every single time something a major event in the series occurs.
In Rebuild of Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone, Misato tells Shinji that piloting Eva is "simply his destiny".
While the secret of EVA-01 is that it has been constructed so only Shinji can be it's pilot.
A prophecy twist example: "Thus the earth shall turn to ash"...which turns out to refer to Ash Ketchum in Pokemon 2000.
This is more a case of Because 4Kids Says So, since in the original (Japanese) version of the anime Ash is named Satoshi, whose name has nothing to do with the prophecy (which just refers to an "exceptional Trainer"). The prophecy is actually pretty bleak, prompting Satoshi to say "Screw Destiny!"
RahXephon subverts this. The prophecy is only revealed in the antepenultimate episode, and its origin is far from supernatural. The protagonist also goes out of his way to state that he's doing what he's doing because he wants to, not because destiny says he must.
Used extensively in Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon is fated to find the Moon Princess and then be the Moon Princess once she discovers her true identity, the Inner Senshi are fated to protect the Moon Princess, the Outer Senshi (minus Saturn) are fated to protect the Moon Kingdom (and by extension Earth) from outside threats, and Sailor Saturn is destined to bring her Silence Glaive down on worlds whose time has run out.
It also seems to be the only reason Mamoru and Usagi are together, as they hate each other before their civilian identities are revealed to each other.
Only in the anime. Manga-wise the two where on friendly terms as their civilian selves and had apparently already started to like one another in their secret identities.
Also, in the Japanese version of the anime while the two do bicker almost every time they meet, their bickering does get less antagonistic and more banter-like in nature; it arguably starts to reach a level of Slap-Slap-Kiss prior to the reveal. And in the episode where Tuxedo Mask's identity is revealed, Usagi is clearly disturbed when the conversation she starts with Mamoru doesn't follow that pattern; that along with the shoulder wound makes her realize something's wrong.
Subverted in the live-action series, when Mars decides to actively work against what was decided by their past lives.
Fuma Monou in X1999 kills his beloved sister, turns against his best friend and tries to eradicate humankind, simply because destiny says so.
X is pretty much made of this trope, honestly.
Xxx Holic: "There is no coincidence in the world. What is there is 'hitsuzen'."
For those who don't speak Japanese "hitsuzen" refers to "inevitable fate" or "what is determined".
However, it is important to note that hitsuzen is not as written in stone as the Western concept of destiny is, and can be altered to some extent. "What is determined" is a better translation than "inevitability", really.
The entire Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise revolves around this trope and Screw Destiny. Depending on which series you're watching and even which season, the heroes may be trying to fulfill their destinies, or trying to change them.
Two characters particularly offensive are Yami Yugi in the original Yu-Gi-Oh! series, and Sartorius in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. Watch the English dub of the second season and keep track of how many times Yami mentions "I will defeat Marik, it is my destiny". Sartorius' deck is based on Tarot cards with supposedly random effects, but he claims Destiny Says So, and thus their effects are already predetermined and he knows exactly how they'll turn out.
Kaiba:(to Yami Yugi) If I had a dime for every time you talked about destiny, I'd be even richer.
Played with quite a bit in Princess Tutu, although in this case it's more "Because Drosselmeyer Says So". All of the main characters have a particular destiny laid out for them, and most of them gladly accept their roles...until they figure out where the story is headed. Autor actually invokes this trope at one point, but he's perfectly content to submit to destiny, even if it means losing his heart or a horrible death.
In Sandman, even Destiny the character has no free will. He calls a certain fateful meeting of the Endless because his Book told him he was going to.
Although, Delirium escapes this trope by being the incarnation of insanity.
Delirium: Do you know why I stopped being Delight, my brother? I do. There are things not in your book. There are paths outside this garden. You would do well to remember that.
Is Loki bad because he was born that way or is he bad because Destiny pegged him as the kickstarter of Ragnarok? It depends on the writer! His latest Batman-Gambit, however, was all about getting killed and reincarnated so he'd escape Destiny's clutches...
Rapunzel: Something brought you here...Fate...Destiny... Flynn:A horse.
Films — Live-Action
Twelve Monkeys: The past is immutable. Everything the characters do to try to change the past leads to ensuring events unfold just as they did.
Sphere: One character notes the logging of a certain event in a future spaceship (falling down a black hole) as unexplained. He believes that this means that he and his colleagues will die down there, or else the event would be known in advance. In the event, they don't, but they end up choosing to use the Sphere's power to erase their memories of what happened.
The Mummy Returns resorts to this to explain several coincidences in the movie. The most blatant is the artifact the heroes carry through the entire movie despite the fact that they have no clue what the MacGuffin is for; naturally, it turns out to be completely necessary at the end. So why do they even have it? Fate, of course.
It's specifically stated by Ardeth Bey that everything that happens is preordained. Evie is the reincarnation of Princess Nefertiri due to her part-Egyptian heritage (although they forget that the "Egyptian" in this case means "Arab", not the original Egyptian people). Meanwhile, Rick turns out to be a Medjai, one of the protectors of the secrets of the pharaohs. It's not entirely clear why an American infidel would be a Medjai. Rick joins the French Foreign Legion and travels to Egypt. Why? Read the trope name.
In a cut scene from Star Trek, future Spock says this is why Kirk and company are all serving together on the Enterprise despite meddling villains from the future. The destiny aspect remains implied in the final cut of the film.
Excalibur has Arthur: 'I was not born to live a man's life; but to be the stuff of future memory.'
The members of The Adjustment Bureau will do everything in their power to ensure "things happen according to plan", regardless of reasoning.
Of course,the ending clearly shows that plans can change.
It goes much farther than that. At the end, the Chairman who runs the Bureau states their eventual goal for humans to grow beyond the need for their plans
Zig zagged in The Chronicles of Riddick; destiny is actually "odds", calculated by the Elementals. And even then it's not perfect—just because a path is more likely doesn't mean it's assured. And of course once Riddick becomes Lord Marshall the odds go all to hell.
Aereon:[ever-so-slightly smug] Now what would be the odds of that?
Mandos, the Doomsman of the Valar in the works of Tolkien, knows everything that's going to happen ever, though he never volunteers this information except under the command of Manwe (there's one time in The Silmarillion where he does spontaneously offer up a cryptic remark, but it turns out to reference something that's already happened ... though it's just happened and no one present besides him knows about it yet).
In Brothers of the Snake, the Space Marine squad Damocles disgraced itself in its leader's eyes, confessing to breaking rules; he refused to let them go on a certain undertaking. Somewhat thereafter, Petrok insists on their going on the rescue mission for that undertaking. He tells the leader that first, he has dreamed of it and second, he thinks the squad's disgrace was Fate's way of ensuring that they would be kept off the mission itself, so as to be available for the rescue.
Gaunt's Ghosts has this with the involvement of the Ghosts in general, and Gaunt and Milo in particular, in the reincarnation of Saint Sabbat.
In Richard Adams' novel Watership Down, the story of El-ahrairah and the Black Rabbit of Inle involved the rabbit hero trying to bargain with the Black Rabbit, to exchange his life for his people. However, the Black Rabbit refuses saying that there is no bargain; what is is what must be. In the animated film, Hazel makes a similar attempt to bargain with the sun god Frith and receives the same answer. Fortunately, what followed was largely a complete victory over General Woundwart's forces.
Basically the entire reason why Bella and Edward from Twilight are in love. They have nothing in common, hardly know each other, and don't even seem to like each other. But it's twue wuv, really!
In David Drake and S.M. Stirling's The General series the AI supercomputer Center's power to extrapolate future events from data is indistinguishable from prophecy - even if Center does include numerical odds.
Center seems to particularly enjoy (as much as an emotionless AI can) showing the protagonist the Bad Ends that could result if things go wrong. Since the tech level is mid-19th century and politics is very much a Byzantine blood sport, they can go very wrong indeed...
David Eddings' Belgariad enjoys this trope throughout the series - Destiny is nothing so much as a chessmaster who is constantly annoyed by his pieces arguing with his orders.
And Destiny is snarky. What's not to love?
Played with in that there are two conflicting prophecies. They mostly agree on the actual events (though each has its own spin) up to a pivotal point, at which they diverge rather wildly. Belgarath and company are rooting for the one in which Belgarion defeats Torak. Torak and his worshippers, obviously, aren't (well, some of them may be; Torak is more definitely more feared than loved).
David Eddings' Elenium series, however, takes a slightly different stance; Destiny tells every man, woman and child roughly what their role in life is - and Gods and the most powerful of wizards can sense this and even see it. Sparhawk, on the other hand, has no destiny. And you wouldn't believe just how nervous that makes the Gods.
Of course, it turns out he actually did have a destiny, it was just one that was set by a higher power than the gods and planned over a much longer time than they were used to.
In Teresa Edgerton's The Queen's Necklace, Rath recounts how the religious group who raised him thought him a miracle: a Maglore appearing centuries after (they believe) the Maglore had been wiped out. Obviously, he had been transported through time for a purpose. Although he later learned that they were wrong about the wiping out, he had survived several things that should have killed him as a child, and he thinks it may have been his destiny that saved him.
It's probably easier to count the Redwall books not hung on this trope. There's even a Prophecy Twist: the beginning of The Bellmaker has the prophecy "Five will ride the Roaringburn, but only four will e'er return"; five leave Redwall, but Joseph stays behind to help the country they save rebuild itself.
Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time novels take this trope and turn it up to eleven. Not only must the Prophecies of the Dragon (which apparently run on long enough to fill a largish book) be fulfilled, but various characters are either having prophetic dreams, seeing prophetic visions, or travelling through magical gates to get prophetic answers, all of which inevitably come true. It's very nearly reached the point where major characters can fulfill a half dozen ancient prophecies without even meaning to just by having breakfast.
This is also a literal case of Because Destiny Says So when the Chosen One, not knowing what to do next, consults the prophecies written about himself in a deliberate effort to fulfill them.
At the same time it is stated in the books that the prophecies are just a guideline under which events could play out the way one hopes. Characters are warned that intentionally attempting to fulfill the prophecies could really fuck things up while in an interesting twist ignoring them could do just the same. In Book 3 a Portal Stone trip through countless parallel worlds shows the many ways that already could have happened in this age alone...
In The Dark Tower, Ka is the driving force between all of the main characters' actions. The particularly creepy tarot scene sums up Ka's position. In addition, in the twist ending Ka forces Roland to begin his life again. It's mentioned that this isn't the first time it's happened.
Two of the main characters in Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens possess a book of highly accurate (if not always understandable) prophecies from Agnes Nutter, witch. The Because Destiny Says So reaches such a point that, toward the end of the book, these two characters realize correctly that they can pretty much select any prophecy at random and it will be exactly the one they need at that time.
Later, Leonid speculates that they recovered a woman from a daemon's control in order that he might not die alone, since she comes from his regiment.
In His Dark Materials, various witches claim that most of what Lyra does is destiny (although just because it's destiny doesn't mean it has to happen).
Because Destiny Says So is a factor in the Sign of Seven trilogy by Nora Roberts. After their friends have gotten involved in relationships with each other. Gage and Cybil are actually pretty annoyed at the idea that they should get romantic because destiny said to. (They do anyway.)
From Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix onward, the Harry Potter books were all about the prophecy "...neither can live while the other survives." Technically, all of the books (or at least Voldemort's motivations) were about that, but until OOTP, neither Harry nor the reader knew it.
Oddly enough, in the sixth book Dumbledore outright told Harry that he was under no obligation to do anything the prophecy said, and hinted that some of the genuine magical prophecies from the fifth book had NOT come true. And the only reason it matters is because Voldemort firmly believes in this prophecy. Then when Dumbledore asks what would Harry choose if he didn't know of this prophecy, considering all the evils Voldemort has done, Harry admits he wants to fight.
At the end of Red Fury, Seth declares that the events of the novel had been sent by the Emperor to test the Blood Angels and to remind the other Chapters from Sanguinius's gene-seed that they were not cousins but brothers.
In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 novel Faith & Fire, when Verity is the sole survivor of a transport, she is told that the Emperor has plans for her.
In Nick Kyme's novel Salamander, an artifact calls Dak'ir toward it — so powerfully that he doesn't even notice that he ransacks crates, looking for it, or that he had found it. He confides in another brother later, who agrees that it looks as if he were meant to find it.
Later, a strange eruption from the planet Nocturne is regarded as a portent of ill fortune.
Destiny is very much the driving force in Virgil's Aeneid. The gods repeatedly tell Aeneas, as well as one another, that the Trojan refugee has a destiny to fulfill; and at the point when Aeneas finds himself comfortable & happy, pretty much playing house with Dido in Carthage, the gods get impatient and interfere, reminding Aeneas of his duty to keep sailing until he reaches Italy so he can get around to founding what will become the Roman empire. Definitely Older Than Feudalism.
The Tralfamadorians, an imaginary alien species from Slaughterhouse-Five take this to ridiculous extremes. They literally experience the entirety of history at once, and don't understand the concept of free will. They know they're going to destroy the universe doing pilot testing but don't try to stop it. Of course, to them, if something is ever alive, they can infinitely look at when it was, so death isn't a big deal to them.
It's not so much that they "don't understand the concept of free will" as the fact that they know for a fact that it doesn't exist.
Taken really literally in Left Behind. There doesn't have to be logic behind some of the things people will do. They do it because it's in the prophecy.
How much of Dune and its sequels are The Chosen One acting out a preordained destiny, and how much is actually the Messianic Archetypechoosing his own destiny and then being forced to live it out unto the bitter end? Frank Herbert would like you to think about it.
"I meddled in all the possible futures I could create until, finally, they created me."
It's stated that "absolute prediction = completion = death". The Guild Navigators can get away with it because their glimpses into the future are limited to allowing their FTL ships to avoid disaster, and are done on a journey-by-journey basis, but anything more than that is implied to be a lethal trap for the prognosticator.
The Bene Gesserit have muddied the waters somewhat as well by deliberately planting prophecies in various societies so that a member of their order can exploit these in a bind. "We shouldn't kill her, she's the Chosen One of the prophecy!"
This trope drives the whole plot of The Prophecy of the Stones. Literally every action taken by the protagonists is to fulfill their role as foretold by the eponymous prophecy.
In Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain there is the Book of Three, a book that details the past, present, and possible futures of the land of Prydain. At least the future until all enchantment is broken in the land. At the end, The Magic Goes Away and prophecy goes with it.
In the Warrior Cats series, Firestar is told that he is the subject of a prophecy, "Fire alone can save our clan". Later, three of his kin find out about their own prophecy "there will be three, kin of your kin, who will hold the power of the stars in their paws".
As if this weren't enough, Destiny made it impossible for Jayfeather to be a warrior on top of his blindness
More of the "powerful ancient mage says so" than this in Night Watch with Anton and Svetlana, whom Geser predicted would have an extremely-powerful child. Anton, who has knows Geser for years, trusts him implicitly and simply goes along with this. Svetlana is, understandably, a little more reserved and is upset that Anton is with her mainly due to some prediction. Then again, her previous marriage was a failure, with her ex suing her for custody of their child (something that is only mentioned once and completely forgotten in later novels), so it's understandable why she'd be wary of future relationships. Eventually, this frustration results in her having a threesome with a couple of Anton's coworkers...with Anton sleeping next door. The next morning, she's even more infuriated that he doesn't seem to care that she did that (one of her justifications appears to be that she hasn't had sex since the end of her marriage, which means that Anton hasn't even made a move to be more intimate). Somehow, though, their relationship and, later, marriage, works out.
In Mistborn, the ancient prophecies tell of the Hero of Ages, whose destiny is to take the power of the Well of Ascension and release it to defeat the Deepness and save the world. Vin, the central hero of the story, believes that Alendi, who was the original, intended Hero of Ages, failed in his mission, because he was murdered and his killer took his place, stealing the power of the Well and becoming the Lord Ruler. She studies the prophecies and realizes that she is destined to be the next one to become the Hero of Ages, and sets out to right the failures of the previous Hero. BZZRT! WRONG! No one stopped to wonder if their written prophecies were accurate, and no one considered that there was something out there that changed the prophecies to get what it wanted....
In Andre Norton's Ice Crown, Niles Ismay had an ancestor who slightly escaped Psychocrat conditioning and passed down stories. As a consequence, he, unlike most people on his planet, can understand Roane's story about the conditioning machinery. He thinks it must be destiny; she's less convinced, it's just chance.
An interesting example is Daenerys in A Song of Ice and Fire, who treats prophecy as absolute and immutable even after it's demonstrated that it's not (or at least, it's prone to wild misinterpretation) when her son turns out to be a demonic miscarriage instead of the Stallion That Mount The World. Doubly strange given that one of these "prophecies" (that she'll be unable to bear further children) is delivered by an Unreliable Expositor.
Deconstructed by Glory in the Thunder. It quickly becomes clear that the Will of the World is an intelligent and seemingly malicious entity, which Tsovinar actively fights against.
Why a bunch of inexperienced kids are the ones sent after Black Hat in Akata Witch when older, powerful, more experienced sorcerers failed.
In Season 8 this is averted. Angel and Buffy are destined to fuck a new universe into existence, which they do. Then they abandon it to save this one, which they weren't supposed to. Then they destroy all magic to save this universe from the new one.
The (highly accurate) prophecies of Valen are a central pillar of Minbari culture for a thousand years. Unlike many shows, however, there is a reason for the accuracy of Valen's prophecies...Other characters (Lady Ladira, Elric the Technomage) were also prophetic, mostly in regard to the future of Londo Mollari. (Londo himself had prophetic dreams on many occasions.) In fact, the use of prophecy in Babylon 5 is so extensive that there's an entire Web page detailing it. As with all good prophecies, however, when the events foretold eventually come to pass, they rarely happen in the expected or obvious context.
In The Passing of the Techno-Mages trilogy, it's revealed that Elric's "prophecy" was based on little more than psychology and common sense. The technomages don't have any precognitive powers. They're just trained from young age to be good observers and performers.
In Kings, it's more like "Because God says so." And He's not always nice about it.
In the third season of LOST, Desmond regularly sees flashes of the future, always seeing Charlie die. He saves him a couple times, but You Can't Fight Fate and Charlie dies in the season finale.
On Lost, you cannot kill yourself before the Island is done with you. And if you try to run away from your destiny, then you end up a wreck. Just ask Jack.
In Merlin, Merlin is told by the last dragon that he is fated to protect Arthur until he can grow up, become king and have his own great destiny, so it's kind of recursive. Also a lot of the decisions he makes to secure this destiny were infuenced by this prophesy and the great dragons rather biased directions on how to go about achieving it. E.g. poisoning Morgana in the Fires of Idirsholas to save Camelot even though she had little to no idea of what was acually happening at the time or her role in causing it.
Supernatural: From the beginning, a very evil (albeit vague) destiny was hinted at for Sam Winchester. By the fourth season, it was insinuated that Dean also had some sort of destiny: "The righteous man who begins it is the only one who can finish it". "It" being the Apocalypse, which Dean inadvertently started when he tortured souls while in Hell. By the beginning of the fifth season after Sam unknowingly releases Lucifer from Hell, the brother's shared destiny is revealed: they were born to finish the battle between the Archangel Michael and his brother Lucifer, started in Heaven eons ago, when Michael banished Lucifer to Hell. Sam is Lucifer's vessel, and Dean is Michael's. As the Archangel Gabriel says in one episode: "As it was in Heaven, so shall it be below."
Not to mention the fact that Michael's whole reason for fighting his brother is the fact that it's his destiny. Of course, it's pretty much subverted in Swan Song as Michael's instance on killing his brother because destiny said so gets him in locked up in Hell with Satan.
Note that for Michael (and Gabriel for that matter, who believed You Can't Fight Fate almost to the end) it's a personal matter, because this is a Christian setting, 'destiny' is 'God's plan,' and God is their dad. Those two actually knew him personally. Michael doesn't say 'destiny says so,' he says "I am a good son."
Unsurprisingly in a miniseries based on fairy tales, in The 10th Kingdom it is apparently Virginia's destiny to stop the Evil Queen, save all the monarchs of the Kingdoms, and restore Prince Wendell to his rightful throne. Granted, seeing as the Evil Queen is her long-lost mother, this might be seen as her responsibility, a personal problem she must clean up after. But when the Gypsy Queen vaguely intones that she has "a destiny that stretches way back in time", and Snow White tells her that Wendell "needs you to save his kingdom, we all do," you get the feeling there's something rather arbitrary about all this. The fairy godmother does do a very good (if slightly Anvilicious) job of comparing her life to Virginia's to explain why she "found the right person." But when, after killing her mother in self-defense with the poison comb, Wolf tells her it was not her fault, even Virginia seems to buy into it by saying the fateful words: "It was my destiny..."
In the 1998 Merlin series, whether destiny is absolute or not is a point of contention among the main characters. The Lady of the Lake accepts her impending demise because, "It's fate," and Merlin attempts to kill Vortigern to fulfill a prophecy he'd seen about Uther defeating him.(Though he had ample reason to do so besides the prophecy.) However, Mab is determined to Screw Destiny and keep herself alive, and Merlin quite often attempts to escape what is told is his destiny at points as well.
He also accuses the Lady of the Lake in lying to him about a knight from across the pond finding the Grail and saving the kingdom, when, in fact, he simply assumed that the knight would be Lancelot and not Galahad, Lancelot's son.
The whole point of Lexx is that everything you do will happen again, to the point of Eternal Recurrence. Well, at least as long as the Time Prophet is alive...then everything goes off the scales and off most expectations.
Stargate Universe features the Ancient starship Destiny, the most advanced rust bucket you'll find this side of the cosmos. The characters find themselves dependent on Destiny's needs for their own survival (like material to get the air filters working), but Destiny conveniently brings them to planets where they can gather the necessary materials. Some characters early on decide to Screw Destiny and abandon ship, but most of the crew members view the ship's presence at a location as proof enough that it is worth exploring.
Also, those who abandon ship are revealed not to have survived the winter. An unknown entity temporarily resurrects them and brings them to the Destiny aboard a brand-new shuttle, only for them to die one-by-one in the same manner they previously died. But hey, the Destiny crew has a new shuttle!
There are tons of prophecies in Legend of the Seeker. Somehow, they all end up working out in one way or another. How does Richard defeat Darken Rahl at the end of the first season, as he is prophecied to do? He doesn't. Rahl dies trying to break up a ritual set up by Richard and Kahlan to mind-control all of D'Hara. The second season is resolved in an even more improbable manner. Richard ends up unknowingly handing the Keeper the Stone of Tears, which would ensure the end of the world. Then Kahlan kills Richard, snaps out of her "blood rage", and sheds a tear on Richard, which somehow turns into another Stone of Tears.
Which is pretty much how it worked in the source material: the prophecy always comes true, but rarely how you'd expect.
Only cursorily invoked overtly in Smallville, but viewers knew from season one that Lex Luthor might be trying to be a good guy now, but he was Doomed by Canon, and he and Clark were going to become archenemies, and there was no stopping it. Also, ancient Native American / Kryptonian prophecy said so.
In MythQuest, two teen Intrepid Fictioneers are able to journey into a myth from any culture. Unfortunately, if they change the myth, the real world will be destroyed. Needless to say, this trope gets used a lot.
A major theme of The Secret Circle, with just about everything happening because of it. As well, Adam's father claims that he and Cassie's mother were destined to be together, and things went wrong because that didn't happen.
Wizards of Waverly Place: In "Future Harper", the future Harper wondered if Alex's bad mood was because of Mason breaking up with her. A second one from 'Future Harper': She mentions that one of the four of them will reveal magic because he or she 'has a big mouth'. They blame Max in the episode despite the fact that Justin revealed magic to the government and Alex suggested that they need to reveal magic to the world. Luckily the whole situation wasn't real.
Clara realised after hearing about the Dalek Asylum that it was inevitable for her to jump into the Doctor's Timestream, scattering herself into a million pieces, to save his life. She even states that she was "Born to save the Doctor."
Her doing this was so important that the majority of things that have happened in the show wouldn't of happend without her input. The Doctor wouldn't have even stolen the current TARDIS he owns without her.
Played for Laughs in an episode of Barney Miller, when Nick finds a horse named "Pick-Me-Nick." When Wojo suggests it's a sign, Nick says "Sign? It's an order!" (And he wins, too, which settles the fate-versus-chance discussion that happened for unrelated reasons.)
It's essentially the job of the Sidereal Exalted to ensure this. Complicating matters are the facts that a) Fate is designed by committee, with all the attendant foibles, b) it can be defied by sufficiently powerful beings or simply through Heroic Willpower, and c) certain beings exist outside of Fate entirely, and tend to function as the Spanner in the Works whenever they come into contact with anyone or anything that doesn't share their immunity.
This applies hard to the Five Maidens. The Maidens possess the ability to observe samsara (the underlying blueprint of reality) in order to be given hard knowledge of the future and their own purpose in it, but they become completely bound to whatever they see. It's suspected that the Maidens (and possibly the world in general) have a lot more freedom if they don't actually look at samsara, but that is (of course) unverifiable.
The eponymous king in Agamemnon is fated to be killed. Cassandra tries to warn him about his destiny, but . . . it's Cassandra.
Prometheus's accounts to Io in Prometheus Bound: both her miserable wanderings, and that her descendant will free him.
The Hero (the player) from Dragon Quest V was fated to get married, but he obviously wasn't fated to marry his childhood friend, Bianca Whitaker. Because "The Legendary Hero," of folklore was born, regardless of whether the player took his marital vows with some blonde country bumpkin girl or not. So in a way it's almost like a subversion with Screw Destiny because the player can literally screw Bianca over by marrying somebody else. (If they're cold-hearted enough. Or if they dislike Bianca for whatever reason.)
Knuckles from the Sonic the Hedgehog series is fated to spend the rest of his life on Angel Island, guarding the immensely powerful Master Emerald (although, considering the number of times it's been stolen or broken to pieces by a baddie or even himself, Knux is a pretty bad guardian). Whether he does this solely out of choice or whether someone told him to be the guardian isn't clear.
Either that, or he subconsciously wants to be be done with fate.
Either way, fate's not doing a very good job. You said he's fated to spend the rest of his life on Angel Island guarding it, but based on how many times, like you said, it's been stolen or broken, how long does he actually spend on Angel Island doing what fate ordains for him? He's probably on Angel Island at most 1/3 of the time, and less than that guarding the stupid thing.
The expanded universe basically has Knuckles realizing that he can't guard the emerald all the time (he has to sleep and so on), and that attempts to grab it are rare enough that he can screw off and do whatever he wants until it does get stolen. It's much easier to get it back than it is to prevent the theft in the first place, in his book.
Treasure of the Rudra, The Danan Prophecies. If you play as Sion you will know what they are in Ramylith's Castle late in the Sky Island portion of his scenario.
In the dating sim/RPG Ar tonelico, one of the potential love interests has to spend her entire life singing in a special room to prevent the Sealed Evil in a Can from waking up, Because Destiny Says So. Her conflict between commitment to fulfill her duty and desire to avoid this fate and be free comes to the forefront many times if you pursue her.
This isn't really a case of Destiny Says So. This is more of a case of inheriting the position and everyone uses the word Destiny as an excuse.
Subverted, ironically enough, in Tales of Destiny. The title is actually misleading: One of the legendary Swordians tells the main character he's the Chosen One, but later on it's revealed that the Swordian was just telling him that so he'd play Hero.
On the other hand, this plays a giant role in Tales of the Abyss, with the existence of the Score, a telling of fate lasting thousands of years, and whether or not the heroes decide to fight it or go along with it. Abyss arguably deconstructs the whole trope because it shows that most people are dependent on knowing their own part in the Score at all times, and that most of it is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy because the people blindly act according to what the Score has told them to do. It has given rise to a massively powerful Corrupt Church (even though the head of the church is a pretty nice guy) that has monopoly on reading the Score. The Big Bad is motivated to destroy the world to free it from the Score, as the predictions in the Score led to the war that destroyed his homeland.
It's even worse here, because the known Score is actually incomplete, the Seventh (and final) Fonstone detailing the Score having been lost 2,000 years previous, so they are following a Score that predicts not the "unprecedented prosperity" the Sixth Fonstone promises, but destruction, as written on the Seventh.
Played with in Final Fantasy Mystic Quest: The Dark King informs you at the end that he made up the prophecy foretelling his defeat. When you beat him, your Trickster Mentor reveals he's the Crystal of Light - implying that he arranged things so that you'd fulfill the prophecy, true or not.
Played with in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, where Snake, when you call Sigint while equipping the cardboard box, displays such a fondness for it that he claims that it was his DESTINY to be in the box.
Maria from Silent Hill 2, who chooses to follow her fate, although she was told that James is a "bad man".
Used in an interesting fashion in the Baldur's Gate series-the prophecies of Alaundo, which you discover towards the end of the first game, seem to lay out a specific path for the protagonist and his/her siblings, which indeed appears to be true throughout the first and second games-and in Throne of Bhaal, even the bad guys are still operating from the prophecies and what they mean. The twist comes late in Throne of Bhaal, when you find out that the prophecies aren't a foretelling of what you will do-they're warning of what will happen if you fail, and that the Big Badis using the prophecies to manipulate everyone, and has no intention of following them.
The meaning behind the word "Survivor" in the title of Devil Survivor is a combination of this and Screw Destiny—the main characters are told the major events of every day and the exact date of their (and most other peoples') deaths, and the goal of each day is to find a way to get around it.
This is pretty much the driving force of any Zelda game. It's destiny that if you are a blond-haired boy who wears a green tunic at any point in his lifetime, you are morally/contractually bound to Save the Princess.
There is, however, no specific prophecy or god stating that Link must save Zelda/Hyrule. Instead, it's almost always a case of Link choosing to save Zelda. There's only one instance where there's a prophecy, which is Zelda II The Adventure Of Link, in which he still technically has a choice. In other words, Link saves the day not because he's The Chosen One, but rather because he chooses to be The Chosen One.
In most cases, Link is usually destined to be the one to save the day and is pretty much the only one who can use the Triforce of Courage and Master Sword since he is chosen for it. In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the incarnation of Link in the game is not related to the Link from the legends. This means that this version of Link is not chosen by destiny and he has to prove to the gods that he is worthy of wielding the Master Sword AND the Triforce of Courage.
In Ocarina of Time, destiny decides that Young Link is too young to wield the Master Sword- so it seals him away for seven years.
Subverted in Quest for Glory I. The Muggles of Spielberg believe there's a prophecy concerning a hero who will restore the missing royal children and drive off the witch Baba Yaga, breaking her curse on the valley. Erasmus explains that the "prophecy" is actually just a counter-curse - put simply, a list of instructions on how to break the curse.
And in the sequel, Ad Avis invokes a prophecy to revive the evil djinn Iblis, which implies that he is guaranteed to win. It isn't until after you beat him that you learn that the prophecy Ad Avis was using was horrifically mistranslated. The true prophecy predicts that an attempt to revive Iblis would occur, but did not ensure that it would succeednote which does not, however, mean that it can't.
The reason Ness must go on his journey in Earthbound.
Played with in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. You have to run around completing the prophecy, because the prophecy says so. You aren't The Chosen One, and the prophecy is really just a check-list of tasks a person, any person, must complete to be considered The Chosen One. If they fail, clearly they weren't the right person and someone else would eventually come along to try.
This trope turns out to be behind a lot of plot developments in Final Fantasy VIII. In particular, Cid handing command of Garden and SeeD to Squall, a newly-graduated SeeD with limited field experience and no actual successful missions under his belt - Cid doesn't exactly come out and say that it's because Squall is destined to defeat the sorceress, but he treats it as enough of a foregone conclusion that Squall, shocked and confused by the sudden unwanted promotion, protests, "Don't talk about this like it's been decided since my birth!" In fact, Cid is acting on foreknowledge of a Stable Time Loop in which Squall is indeed the one who not only defeats the sorceress but, having accepted his role in the whole thing, provides Cid and Edea with the foreknowledge upon which they founded SeeD to begin with.
In Record Of Agarest War, the second generation protagonist Ladius is the only one who follows this trope to the letter because he's inheriting something from his father Leo.
This trope is the foundation of The Order of the One True Way in Suikoden Tierkreis. Followers believe in it so strongly that they don't even think to move to safety when a cleric announces that lightning will strike and kill in a crowd, because destiny said that it would happen. Disconcertingly for the heroes, all of their predictions do come true. The priests can predict the future because their leader can read their world's Chronicle, a history of all its natural events. It doesn't say anything about what people will do, though, and it can (and has) been rewritten to suit the Order's desires.
This is the reason for all of Kyurem's actions in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity. Having seen the world's destruction in the future, he's decided that it's something that was meant to be (The world's sorry state not helping any in that regard), and works with his followers to eliminate any threats to that fate, even if it means opposing the will of the world itself.
It even applies to things like online chats and online memos:
CCG: THIS IS AS GOOD A TIME AS ANY TO START A NEW MEMO.
CCG: IN FACT IT'S A BETTER TIME THAN ANY BECAUSE ACCORDING TO THE LAWS OF CHAT CLIENT PREDESTINATION I DON'T REALLY HAVE A CHOICE DO I.
Goblins: Many Goblins are named by the clan fortune teller based on predictons of what they will do later in life, so there are Goblins with names like Chief (the clan chief), Complains-Of-Names (who dislikes the Goblin naming tradition), Dies-Horribly (Who is incredibly nervous), etc. Saves-A-Fox attempts to avert this, killing the fox she was meant to save and invoking Screw Destiny, but ends up doubly-subverting it when Dies-Horribly theorises that the fox may have had a terminal illness and she 'saved' it from a painful and prolonged death.
Somewhat subverted though, since Chief was not supposed to be the chief, the fortune teller lied about who would be the best chief because of what she foresaw happening if she picked the right one. Which arguably makes Chief the right one after all, so maybe destiny is just cleverer than she thought.
The Water Phoenix Kingplays with this trope as a core part of the setting. The force Tamantha (a sort of synthetic fate constructed by a Lawful Stupid god) does things such as pushing those who defy it towards insanity, but it is not all-powerful, and the protagonists are out to destroy it.
In Erfworld how much the Fate affect the life is an important part of the characterization and a source of drama to the characters. In Erfworld, fighting Fate is possible, especially with Carnymancy, but it is very difficult. Trying, and especially succeeding, results in Fate punishing you, causing you and everyone around you more suffering. This is for example the reason of the fatalism of Wanda Firebaugh. In her early life, she refused to believe she couldn't decide her own Fate and tried to rebel against the prophecy made on her. It didn't turn out well and so she came to believe that the only way to avoid suffering is trying to fulfill your Fate as quickly and directly as possible.
In the Whateley Universe, Bladedancer seems to be stuck with this in her role as Handmaid of the Tao. The most glaring example to date may be the incident where she was forced to kill an innocent man 'because the Tao required it'. Though the mentor telling her so wasn't necessarily helping her own case by afterwards revealing that she'd been flat-out lying about the actual reason why...
This was also Iroh's reason for leading the siege of Ba Sing Se: he had a prophetic dream about conquering the city. Only after a siege of 600 days, the death of his son and three years of banishment, he understands he has to take it back from his own nation, rather than conquer Ba Sing Se for the Fire nation.
Another Cartoon NetworkSuperhero team series, Justice League Unlimited, used a similar prophecy twist to the Pokemon example, in an episode where Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and Supergirl are abducted to the 31st century by the Legion of Super-Heroes. The Legion is concerned, because all their records indicate that Supergirl won't return from the future, which we are led to believe means she's going to die. Indeed, she does have a Disney Death, but returns in the very next scene... but then decides to stay in the future, as she had fallen for Legionnaire Brainiac 5.
Jaga: For it was written that he would be born of fire, a king to lead his people to victory, against ancient spirits of evil.
This is how the Avalon skiffs in Gargoyles work. They don't give their rider a choice of destination; wherever the skiff winds up, that's where you're needed, regardless of any foreknowledge you have of the location.
In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, ponies get a "cutie mark," a symbol that magically appears on their flank, when they realize their destiny. Many of the show's older fans questioned this apparent case of determinism, asking if any ponies ever get stuck with a cutie mark they don't want. The season 3 finale "Magical Mystery Cure" tackles this issue head on when the main characters' marks are switched around by a spell gone wrong. Moreover, half of the Mane Six have jobs not inherently related to their special skillnote Rarity (finding jewels) is a seamstress and fashion designer, Pinkie Pie (causing laughter and joy) is a baker, and Twilight Sparkle (magic) is a librarian.
Winston Churchill wrote the following about his accession to the office of Prime Minister on May 10, 1940, the same day that the Germans launched their long-awaited attack on the Western Allies:
...on the night of the 10th of May, at the outset of this mighty battle, I acquired the chief power in the State. ...I cannot conceal from the reader of this truthful account that as I went to bed at about 3 a.m. I was conscious of a profound sense of relief. At last I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene. I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial. Ten years in the political wilderness had freed me from ordinary party antagonisms. My warnings over the last six years had been so numerous, so detailed, and were now so terribly vindicated, that no one could gainsay me. I could not be reproached either for making the war or with want of preparation for it. I thought I knew a good deal about it all, and I was sure I should not fail.
Before the Civil War, many pro-slavery activists were saying that slavery was colored peoples' God-given duty.