Wiki Headlines
We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Dowsing Device
An object, such as a forked branch or wooden stick, used to locate hidden objects by consulting supernatural or magical forces. The Dowsing Device itself is not necessarily magical, but it functions as a focus at least.

Another variation is to use a pendulum, either by carrying it and following the direction of its movement or by holding it over a map.

This is a very old "folk magic" idea in the real world. In fiction, it tends to be used either as Functional Magic or as something for the skeptic to snark at - or sometimes, both at the same time.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • James uses one in an episode of Pokémon.
  • Numata of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service normally uses a pendulum to dowse for corpses. In one story, however, he uses the more traditional bent sticks to honor the man who taught him the technique, who's been murdered himself.
  • JK's Iconic Item in Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin. He can also use them as weapons, lockpicks and pretty much anything else.
  • Eila uses one in Strike Witches 2, episode seven, to track down the Neuroi that's been invading the girls' pants.
  • Kurapika in Hunter × Hunter uses one of his nen chains to locate people among others.

    Comic Books 
  • In Tintin, Professor Calculus occasionally attempts dowsing with a pendulum. Its success varies, but it generally finds something he's looking for but doesn't know he's looking for.
  • Used by a Smurf in a one-page Smurfs story who uses it to find treasure, and discovers what he thinks is an underground well of water that makes Smurfs feel funny — only to not realize that it was an underground distillery Papa Smurf was using to make sarsaparilla wine.

  • In The Princess Bride, Inigo prays to his late father to guide his sword — then successfully divines the entrance to the Pit Of Despair.
  • Coraline (at least in the movie version) uses one that turns out to be made of poison oak.
  • The Thing That Couldn't Die (a horror film which would have languished in well-deserved obscurity had Mike and the Bots not discovered it) centers around a young girl who can 'water-witch' and consequently discovers the body of a man (justly) condemned to a Fate Worse Than Death.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Munsters: Grandpa Munster had a transistorized one with multiple settings.
    Grandpa: Ah! Here it is! cackles with glee My radio direction finder.
    Herman: Direction finder? Grandpa, that's just an old-fashioned divining rod!
    Grandpa: True, true, heh, but I had it transistorized last month! Dials show that the direction finder can be set to find Water, Girls, Metal and Flying Objects.
  • Gilligan used a divining rod in an episode of Gilligan's Island.
  • Artemus Gordon, of The Wild Wild West, uses the forked branch variety in a rather elaborate plan to rescue his partner and another prisoner in "The Night of the Underground Terror."

    Newspaper Comics 

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon has the Itemfinder, also called the Dowsing Machine in Japan and, internationally, from Generation IV onwards. The Pokétch, introduced in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, features a Dowsing Machine application which essentially performs the same function.
  • In the first Broken Sword game, George briefly uses a divining rod to find an ancient well (he finds nothing but an extremely old tin can, but when he tosses it aside...).
  • Persona 4: Ms Sofue has one. One sidequest requires the MC to get special materials for her to build a new one once her old one has "stopped responding to her powers".
  • In Touhou, dowsing is Nazrin's schtick. Her rods appear to be weather vanes. Also uses a crystal pendant.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has this as a main mechanic, to search for keys, pick-ups and Zelda.
  • In Dishonored, Corvo is given a biomechanical Heart he can use to find Runes and Bone Charms.
  • Shadow of the Colossus has this as a main gameplay mechanic, where Wander's Sword is used to locate the next enemy, as well as its weak points.

    Western Animation 
  • The Super Hero Squad Show episode "Mysterious Mayhem at Mutant High": The Ringmaster has a divining rod that can find fractals.
  • Used in the first episode of Total Drama World Tour.
  • In one Looney Tunes short, Wile E. Coyote gets his tail on fire, so he uses a divining rod to find for water to douse it.
  • In the Ren and Stimpy episode "Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen", one is used to find a vein of Canada's greatest resource: dirt. It consists of a shovel with some fruit placed on top.
  • Used a few times in The Smurfs: once by a treasure-hunting imp who was looking for the treasure of the ancient Smurfs, and once by Gargamel to track down Smurfs.
  • She uses no rods herself, but Rarity from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic knows a spell that serves as this for gems. In "Cutie Mark Chronicles", filly Rarity's horn acted up on its own and dragged her across the landscape to a huge rock filled with gems.

    Real Life 

Domed HometownFuturistic Tech IndexDrop Ship
Downtime DowngradeAdded Alliterative AppealDramatic Drop
Down the Rabbit HoleSpeculative Fiction TropesDramatic Alien VTOL

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy