[[quoteright:320:[[Film/TheLordOfTheRings http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/crystal_ball.jpg]]]]
[-[[caption-width-right:320:The ''[[SurveillanceAsThePlotDemands palantír]]''! Great reception, guaranteed no signal interference, and free evening and weekend calls!]]-]

->''"I don't need help, it's obvious what this means: there's going to be loads of fog tonight."''
-->-- '''Ron Weasley''' looking into a crystal ball, ''Literature/HarryPotterAndThePrisonerOfAzkaban''

Common prop used by witches, {{Fortune Teller}}s and [[{{seers}} psychics]] (and Hollywood UsefulNotes/{{Romani}}) for fortune telling, [[SurveillanceAsThePlotDemands scrying]], and [[{{Telepathy}} long distance communication]]. Most commonly it's a dinner plate sized sphere of clear glass, but these can be of just about any size and material, so long as they're shiny.

Despite their ubiquity, there are many, ''many'' more ways to tell the future or view remote locations. [[InstantOracleJustAddWater Pools of water]] are mystic favorites, as are thrown bones, [[{{squick}} giblets]], and of course {{Magic Mirror}}s.

See also SurveillanceAsThePlotDemands, BlindfoldedVision, CrystalSkull and {{Chronoscope}}. Compare DataCrystal.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* [[FortuneTeller Konoka and Anya]] in ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'' sometimes use these (strange in Konoka's case, since she uses [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Ching eastern-style]] fortune telling). Evangeline uses hers to communicate over a long distance like a phone.
* In ''Anime/FinalFantasyUnlimited'', [[{{Narrator}} Fabula]] is rarely seen without her trademark blue crystal ball. [[spoiler:It shatters early into the second season, however.]]
* The third Hokage in ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' had a crystal ball which he used two times within the first two episodes, and never again.
* Fabia of ''Manga/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaVivid'' has one for scrying purposes [[spoiler:and is shown using one to spy on Hayate and the Vivid cast while they're talking about Ancient Belka]].
* Both Queen Beryl and Wiseman/Death Phantom had those in ''Franchise/SailorMoon''.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicIDW'' Queen Chrysalis used one to communicate with the Mane 6, telling them to confront her in three days. It even provides a map. [[spoiler:She also uses it as a means of surveillance and source of entertainment, since the heroes land in all sorts of trouble along the way.]]
* In ''ComicBook/{{Swordquest}}'', the evil sorcerer Konjuro watches the protagonists with a large glass sphere.

* In the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' fanfic ''Fanfic/{{Flutterspy}}'', Fleur de Lis uses crystal balls as monitors.
* ''Fanfic/DungeonKeeperAmi'': Used for communication, as revealed in [[https://forums.sufficientvelocity.com/threads/dungeon-keeper-ami-sailor-moon-dungeon-keeper-story-only-thread.30066/#post-6355663 Deal with the Devil]]:
--> Her gaze turned to a round object sitting on one of the lab benches when she felt the magic around her react to it. The crystal ball, for it looked as if it had emerged straight from a fortune teller's tent. A glowing white nimbus surrounded it, and fog within was swirling to form a face.
--> One of the devices in [Nicodemus Asbraxe's] study alerted him that a Keeper was searching for some unspecified item, and the fence quickly pulled his hood down until his face was hidden in a pool of darkness out of which only a long, mangy beard protruded. He then muttered a well-practised incantation, and a picture formed in the air above his coffee table, showing him the prospective client[.]

* Jareth in ''Film/{{Labyrinth}}'' keeps plenty of these on hand, watching Sarah through them and occasionally channeling his magic through one. He sometimes spins them in one hand; this is not, however, Music/DavidBowie doing these tricks. Michael Moschen (a professional juggler) is standing right behind him and doing them blind.
* The All-Seeing Eye in ''Film/TheThiefOfBagdad'' that shows Abu where to find Ahmad.
** And the similar item in ''Film/TheThiefOfBagdad1924,'' that shows the Prince of India that the princess is ill.
* ''Film/TheWizardOfOz'' has two crystals. Professor Marvel has a small one in which he claims to see Aunt Em searching for runaway Dorothy, crying and possibly having a heart attack. The Wicked Witch of the West has a much larger one in which Dorothy herself briefly glimpses her Aunt Em and tries to communicate with her.
* Madam Estrella, the gypsy fortuneteller used one when she wasn't creating or commanding ''Film/TheIncrediblyStrangeCreatures'' (of [[Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000 MST3K]] fame), you feelthy peeg!
* In''Film/TheBarbarians'', Ibar, the future substitute leader of the Ragni tribe, is shown holding on to one in the opening. Whether the thing could predict the future is never answered, as it is used as a magical grenade against the villains.

* ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' has the ''palantíri'', a set of seeing stones that allow the viewer to scry far off locations and communicate between each other. Of course, some were destroyed, and one fell to Sauron, making their use incredibly dangerous considering his penchant for MindRape or MindControl.
** Middle-earth has a few other clairvoyance-granting artifacts. The Mirror of Galadriel (actually a basin filled with water) could show things from the past, present, and possible future. The seat at Amon Hen allows one to see far-away present events, and, while never explicitly stated, its counterpart at Amon Lhaw presumably does the same for hearing.
** Parodied in ''Literature/BoredOfTheRings'' with the ''mallomar'', "the magic watchamacallit of the elves." Moxie thinks it works like a Ouija board, but it's really a glorified Magic8Ball.
* Of all things ''Literature/HarryPotter'' seems to eschew this convention. Madam Trelawny spews prophecy regardless of props, and the crystal balls act more like storage devices for the visions rather than having any intrinsic ability to see the future. The Ministry keeps a room full of them, which ends up being the site of a battle where most if not all of them are trashed.
** Interestingly, Pensieves fulfill this function. Snape uses Dumbledore's Pensieve to store memories he didn't want Harry to see [[spoiler:yet]]. And the memories in the Pensieve (when not actually using it) are described as halfway between silvery water and gas.
* Large shiral crystals are used this way in the Literature/{{Deryni}} works. Alaric Morgan has a fist-sized one in a golden gryphon holder in ''Literature/DeryniCheckmate'', and the Camberian Council have a larger one suspended from the ceiling of their meeting chamber.
* The windows of The House in ''Literature/TheRedemptionOfAlthalus'' serve this purpose.
* Used both straight and subverted in Literature/{{Discworld}} novels. Wizards often complain they can't get good reception on them (ironically enough, using it to watch a rock concert in ''Discworld/SoulMusic''). Witches and mediums such as Mrs. Cake only use them when paying customers hang around, but in the privacy of their own house they can use bits of glass or water or anything else they like.
** Wizards have refined the crystal ball concept to create the "omniscope". They used one in ''Discworld/GoingPostal'', with this result:
---> '''Ridcully''': It's not working, Mr. Stibbons! Here's [[Film/LordOfTheRings that damn enormous fiery eye]] again!
** The first time Granny Weatherwax used a crystal ball, in ''Discworld/EqualRites'', she strongly distrusted the thing, since it seemed like wizardry.
--->'''Granny''': Never could get the hang of this damn silicon stuff. A bowl of water with a drop of ink was good enough when I was a girl. Of course, we had to make our own enchantment in them days.
** [[Discworld/{{Hogfather}} Jonathan Teatime]] seems to have put one ''[[MagicalEye into his eye socket]]'', which might explain why he can do impossible feats like OffscreenTeleportation.
* Creator/StephenKing puts a novel twist on this trope in ''Franchise/TheDarkTower'', as the thirteen color-coded crystal balls of the Wizard's Rainbow are each a corrupting ArtifactOfDoom.
* In ''Literature/TheRiftwarCycle'', the first sign that Pug had potential as a magician came when he inadvertently saw something in a crystal ball.
* Called a Gramerhain in the BahzellBahnakson Series, and far more limited than most. The victory in the third book probably wouldn't have happened if they'd been as omnipurposable as most crystal balls.
* In Creator/RobertEHoward's Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian story "Literature/AWitchShallBeBorn" the title witch holds this in contempt as a means to study, but uses it for communications.
-->''I could never endure to seclude myself in a [[GoldMakesEverythingShiny golden]] tower, and spend the long hours staring into a crystal globe, mumbling over incantations written on [[EyeOfNewt serpent's skin]] in the [[ThePowerOfBlood blood]] of [[VirginPower virgins]], poring over [[TomeOfEldritchLore musty volumes in forgotten languages]].''
** The BigBad of "Literature/TheScarletCitadel" has one. Another sorcerer says it's a toy, but one which is useful when you have no time for something serious.
* In Creator/GeneWolfe's ''The Sorcerer's House'', the psychic has a fake crystal ball that sees good stuff and the real thing.
* One of the [[CompanionCube talking magic items]] Aahz collects in ''[[Literature/MythAdventures Myth-Gotten Gains]]'' is a crystal ball, in which the face of a female of the observer's species manifests when it's communicating with people.
* In ''Literature/{{Cerberon}}'', these are called scryballs. They are used to view other locations, communicate with other scryballs like a telephone, or to spy through uncovered scry balls. Aladavan keeps a miniature scry ball on a chain around his neck, which he keeps under his shirt when he's not using it. He's able to easily spy on and track Thedrik because his sword has a small scryball on the pommel, which Thedrik never covers. Scryblocks are employed to prevent people from using scryballs to spy on them, and to protect against mental eavesdropping.
* In the DungeonPunk world of ''Literature/TalesOfMU'' crystal balls are used like computers, forming an "aethernet" even.
* In Victoria Hanley's ''Literature/TheSeerAndTheSword'', a crystal is need to trigger Torina's abilities.
* A variant combining the CrystalBall and lot-casting concepts crops up in Michael Reaves' ''The Shattered World'': the "casting sphere". Used by inhabitants of the still-liveable, orbiting fragments of a fantasy world that broke apart long ago, such spheres are constructed of pieces of polished wood, coral, ivory or crystal, that fit together like a 3-D jigsaw. Each piece represents one of the fragments; when the hollow sphere is dropped, its pieces scatters into patterns from which future events can be divined.
* A variant is seen in the [[Literature/EnchantedForestChronicles Enchanted Forest]] novel ''Dealing With Dragons'' in the form of The King's Crystal. Owned by the King of Dragons, it actually took the form of a crystal plate and was used for divination and scrying. Heroine Cimorene expresses surprise over it not being a traditional ball shape, only to be told by Kazul that the odd shape gave it more range and power.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}'' had a prophetess in New Caprica use a bowl of water to divine the future for Number Three. Then there's the Cylon's UnusualUserInterface, which consists of placing their hands in streams of water; and the prophetic Hybrids in the baseships, who are submerged in water.
* The Viewing Globe in the original ''Series/MightyMorphinPowerRangers'' was one.
** ''Series/PowerRangersMysticForce'' also has one, able to detect dark magic anywhere in the world and reveal its source.
* The fortune teller in ''Series/TheMonkees'' episode "Monkee See, Monkee Die" has one at the seance (& another one that's just a snowglobe).
* Nimueh in ''Series/{{Merlin}}'' can spy everything that goes on in Camelot with something like a font filled with water.
** Similarly, Morgause uses a crystal.
* [[Series/UltramanLeo Commander Black]] summons Flying Saucer Creatures using one of these.

* Music/IronMaiden's "Can I Play With Madness?" is about a man going to a prophet with a crystal ball - in which, for the man himself "there's no vision there at all".
** In fact, ''Seventh Son of a Seventh Son'' (the album that song is on) is a concept album about a man blessed and/or cursed with prophetic sight by virtue of his being, well, the seventh son of a seventh son.
* The protagonist of the Music/RunningWild album ''Black Hand Inn'' uses his crystal ball to "tell tales of past and future" in the eponymous inn. It also comes in handy in privateer business, as it shows where "he has to steer".
* Music/{{Keane}}'s song "Crystal Ball" is about... [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin well, yeah]].

* The HotGypsyWoman astrologer in ''Pinball/StarGazer'' uses one for scrying.
* Appears on the spinning spider roulette in ''Pinball/ScaredStiff'' - lighting them awards you with Elvira's "Telepathetic Power".

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In most editions of ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' crystal balls are magic items that replicate the ''scry'' spell for users unable to cast it normally. They often come with additional abilites such as the ability to see invisible things or foil illusions.
* Conrad Mac Dowell uses one to comminucate with the ghost haunting Warwick Manor in ''TabletopGame/{{Mysterium}}''.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* There are several Crystal Balls in ''VideoGame/{{Loom}}'', all of which are used for [[{{Precognition}} telling the future]] (and learning new drafts).
* There is a sidequest involving a fortuneteller's crystal ball in ''VideoGame/ArcanumOfSteamworksAndMagickObscura''. The consequences of stealing one are... severe.
* Nigel gets his fortune told in one in ''VideoGame/TheLostCrown: A Ghost-Hunting Adventure''. Later, he and Lucy use one as the centerpiece for a seance, and receive a vision of what happened to [[spoiler: Hardacre]].
* The casual game ''VideoGame/AdventuresOfRobinsonCrusoe'' includes a minigame where you must identify pictures in a crystal ball, using as small an area of the picture as possible.
* One acts as a map in ''VideoGame/TheAdventuresOfRobinHood''.
* ''VideoGame/FireEmblem'':
** The Archsage Athos from ''[[Videogame/FireEmblemElibe Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword]]'' uses one off-screen to watch over the group's battles with the Black Fang.
** Tharja from ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'' also mentions having one for her spells, but she never uses it onscreen either.
** Unless in her human form, Lilith from ''VideoGame/FireEmblemFates'' rides around on a levitating one. My Castle (the army's living quarters) [[PocketDimension is supposedly located inside it]], as stated in the ''[[AllThereInTheManual Making of Fire Emblem 25th Anniversary]]'' book.
** In ''VideoGame/FireEmblemEchoesShadowsOfValentia'', [[VainSorceress Nuibaba]] [[http://fireemblem.wikia.com/wiki/File:Nuibaba_Echoes.png uses hers]] to spy on the heroes.
* ''VideoGame/TheMaidOfFairewellHeights'': It's in Jinn's room, the magic room, on the table. On activating it, Marshmallow says:
--> I see these things all the time!
--> Too bad I can't see anything in it...
* ''VideoGame/AVeryLongRopeToTheTopOfTheSky'': A Crystal Ball is an Accessory that boosts Spirit by 50, and its FlavorText says:
--> Vague images of the future are projected inside.
* A Crystal Ball is one of the many [[AnInteriorDesignerIsYou furniture items]] in ''VideoGame/{{Terraria}}''. Interacting with it gives the player a temporary boost to their magic power.
* Madame Fate owns one in the ''VideoGame/MysteryCaseFiles'' series. It is used extensively in its' debut appearance in ''Madame Fate'' to discover who was about to murder its' owner. [[spoiler:It is revealed in later games that this ball was the starting point to the entire ''Ravenhearst'' arc, as it was in fact the AncientArtifact coveted by Alister Dalimar in his quest for immortality.]]
* One of the downloadable items in ''VideoGame/TheSims3'' is a crystal ball.
* Queen Himiko uses a giant and very powerful one in ''VideoGame/{{Okami}}''.


* Xykon from ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' uses one to scry upon the heroes regularly. It's even widescreen.
** And has screen within screen. ''And'' [[BlandNameProduct Teevo]] so he can record them while he isn't around (it also recommends other heroes and MacGuffin quests he might enjoy watching)
* Early on, in ''Webcomic/AdorableDesolation'', Shopclerk peers into [[http://adorabledesolation.comicgenesis.com/d/20081117.html one]], first he sees a vision of a skull and then the CrystalBall cracks in half.
* ''Webcomic/DominicDeegan'' has numerous forms of crystal balls. Usually they're just for divination and scrying, but they have also been used similar to telephones. They also aren't just the conventional clear, either. Miranda Deegan uses one made out of onyx.
* ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' has both Rose and Jade using crystal balls for remote viewing; Jade combines hers with a super computer so she can remote view [[UpToEleven all possible locations at once]]
** There's also the Magic Cue Ball which answers any question it's asked, but unlike a Magic 8 Ball, the Magic Cue Ball is completely opaque and the answers to its questions can only be seen by using some sort of special power to see inside of it.
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive''
** This is used to frame a sketch in [[http://www.egscomics.com/sketchbook/?date=2003-01-30 this filler comic]].
** Nanase can use marbles as [[http://www.egscomics.com/index.php?id=847 them]]. [[spoiler:In her fairy form]].
* In ''Webcomic/ImpureBlood'', they have [[http://www.impurebloodwebcomic.com/Pages/Issue3/ib070.html timepieces that print out messages -- or ought to.]]
* Jackson Adler of ''[[http://thewretchedoneswebcomic.com The Wretched Ones]]'' uses one of these to tell Nicholas Thomas' fortune. He doesn't see anything.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''Literature/WhateleyUniverse'': Some students use them for scrying:
** Palantir can generate magical balls to do things, as said in [[http://whateleyacademy.net/index.php/stories/371-the-three-little-witches The Three Little Witches]]:
--> Palantir shook her head. “How’re we gonna do that, with all the detention we got? I got a much better way!” She cupped her hands before her and…
--> “Oh. THIS again,” Abra grumped.
--> “You’re just jealous ‘cause you don’t have a natural gift for this sort of thing.”
--> “Sure, sure, I’m all green with envy, ‘cause you’re the Goblin King from Labyrinth, David Bowie,” Abra mocked.
--> ...
--> Palantir concentrated on the magic ball, which glowed. As the three of them peered into it, an image of a low-slung rock in front of a gray-painted sheet of metal set into a hillside. A strange pale flame flickered over the rock. “That’s IT!” Palantir said with a triumphant smirk in Abracadabra’s direction. Using a general sense of proximity that she got from the ball, Pally led them through the gloom. They walked quite a ways, and Clover was starting to complain about being tired when Palantir said, “There it is!”
--> “Where’s that fire we saw in the crystal ball?”
** Twitch (Tek Witch) from Generation 2, in [[http://whateleyacademy.net/index.php/2nd-gen-canon/729-following-the-path-of-cute Following the Path of Cute]], as she's a witch. [[spoiler: Not Really]]. She's using it to look for invisible bunnies:
--> “I made a crystal ball…” She proudly held up what appeared to be a crystal ball, about the size of a softball.
--> [[spoiler:“It sure looks like a crystal ball,” Tyler agreed. “What is it really?”]]
--> [[spoiler:Michelle hesitated a moment before answering, “It’s an omnidirectional camera and monitor unit.”]]
--> “If there are any invisible bunnies in here, I’ll be able to see them…”

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Madam Wu in ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' heats bones and studies the cracks. Aang has [[TheChosenOne such a huge destiny]] his bone ''[[ExplosiveInstrumentation explodes]]''. When madam Wu excitedly tells him of his destiny to fight Fire Lord Ozai in order to restore balance to the world, he's more interested in if there's anything about his love life in the smoking splinters. (He already knew about Ozai, after all.)
* In the ''Series/{{ALF}}'' cartoon episode, "Housekeeping For Pokipsi," Madam Pokipsi the "Fortune Smeller" has a Magic Ball that is not only use for divination, but is the source of ''all'' her arcane powers; when Gordon messes with it, he ruins her magic tricks ("Vhat haf you done ma Crystal Bawwwwl, Yunk Mayun?").
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Thundercats 2011}}'' the Sword of Omens is a hybrid of this and a MagicMirror. StaringThroughTheSword prompts the spherical cabochon [[PowerCrystal Eye of Thundera]] in its hilt to send a vision visible in the BladeReflection.
* The Duke's "Viewing Stone" in ''{{WesternAnimation/Gawayn}}''
* ''WesternAnimation/RockyAndBullwinkle'': "Eenie, meanie, chili-beanie! The spirits are about to speak!"

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Practitioners of ceremonial magic and some forms of witchcraft use crystal balls. Rather than expecting to see anything ''in'' them like a TV set, you are supposed to use them simply as a focus of attention, similar to meditation. Anything you see should appear in your mind, not in the crystal.
* The world's largest polished sphere of solid quartz crystal, weighing more than 100 pounds and measuring over a foot in diameter, can be found at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. The display advises you to look into the ball to see... an inverted image of the room behind it, just like any other large convex lens.