“Some rare folk are what’s called fateless, ye see. They wander through their lives doing as they see fit, creating their own destinies. Ye have no fortune to tell, scarred one… none at all. I’ve nothing to tell ye… and so here is yer coin.”
You Can't Fight Fate
. Everything that happens, has happened, or ever will happen has been pre-ordained from the moment the universe came into being. No one can escape the inexorable tide of destiny. Except for that guy over there. Yeah, no way of telling what he's
gonna do. Spanner in the Works
is his job title. From the perspective of a Seer
, he may as well be a Man of Kryptonite
An interesting side of this trope is that it happens rather often to video game protagonists. Since all but the most linear games can't yet predict player's actions, this provides an opt-out for the writers of the story whenever there is a risk of a player going Off the Rails
story-wise, or of fate- or foretelling-related Fridge Logic
kicking in. As leading characters rather tend to be uncommon people, this also works to underline their uniqueness.
This is a character who has the power to Screw Destiny
as a special ability. Everyone else in their universe may be bound by fate, but all the prophecies you can conjure up don't mean squat if this person gets involved.
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Anime and Manga
- Ginji in Get Backers might be this. One thing for sure, not even Makube X could predict what he would do.
- The Spiral Power in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is, as Viral puts it, the "burning blood that cuts through Fate".
- In Bleach Inoue Orihime's powers are introduced as barrier abilities that cut, heal and shield. As an Actual Pacifist she only heals and shields. Her powers are eventually revealed to Screw Destiny by rejecting events - injuries are rejected as never having occurred rather than being healed.
- In Vision of Escaflowne, the Big Bad is desperate to capture Escaflowne because it is the one thing his Fate Alteration Engine can't control the future of.
- Sartorious from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX is basically fated to win any duel he enters, which automatically gives him the best of all possible outcomes in his very luck based deck. That is, until he met Jaden...
- This is the ultimate goal of Guts (and the Skull Knight). After the events of the Eclipse, he has vowed to Screw Destiny and Rage Against the Heavens, occupied by the God Hand who control and use fate to their advantage. While he didn't die the day he was fated to (thanks to a combination of being improbably Bad Ass and the timely intervention of the Skull Knight), he does not yet truly qualify for this trope as the Brand of Sacrifice is still trying (and failing) to "correct the mistake" fate made by drawing demons to him at night to kill him.
- It's debatable whether he was truly fated to die during the Eclipse. Femto and the God Hand are able to pull off some pretty neat magic tricks that wouldn't be possible if Guts, Casca, and Skull Knight were dead, leading one to wonder whether this means they were fated to live, or just that the God Hand are masters of the Batman Gambit and Xanatos Speed Chess.
- Pacifica Casull, a.k.a. the "Scrapped Princess", a.k.a. the Providence Breaker. She's genetically engineered to be Immune to Fate, and she manages to avoid the one fate she wasn't supposed to avoid.
- Bellcross of Heroic Age's special power is "existence". He's punched his way out of a black hole he was trapped in, and was in one case attacked by a time traveler in tens of thousands of different timelines at various points. He survived in all of them.
- Yukiteru Amano from Future Diary could not only change his own fate, but also others' fate.
- An unusual variation of this exists in Ann Cassandra: Banjou is fated to die on his 20th birthday. Because there was a prediction of him dying on that specific day, he can't die before that day. This means that he can do all sorts of Leeroy Jenkins-style stunts without worrying about dying, as fate warps itself around him to keep him alive. Knowing this, Banjou uses his reality-warping presence to protect the lives of people fated to die, often by using himself as a human shield against whatever is about to kill that person. Given that Ann Cassandra is about teenagers who can see the future and want to stop terrible things from happening, this power is quite relevant most of the time. (The reason this isn't a straight example is because while he is immune to death, he is NOT immune to getting hurt, and he spends almost half of the entire series either in the hospital or with bandages on his body.)
- In Medaka Box, this becomes the power of Zenkichi during the Successor arc. However, the power in question, Devil Style, simply removes fate from the equation during any conflict Zenkichi takes part in. It effects both him and anyone he's up against in any sort of contest.
- Both Thanos of Titan and his good counterpart Adam Warlock have been remarked on as being outside the purview of Order and Chaos, and thus in some sense outside of fate.
- In Warlock's case this may be because he changed history by killing himself, thus preventing himself from becoming an evil god. He got better, though.
- A recent reinterpretation of DC Comics' Challengers of the Unknown indicates they have this ability, a result of their living in "borrowed time" (they survived a fatal plane crash.)
- In Flashpoint, Professor Zoom boasts to Barry Allen as being able to do this as he's a living Temporal Paradox. Batman (Thomas Wayne) promptly shoves a sword through his chest.
- In Corto Maltese, the eponymous main character's backstory includes an episode from his childhood where a palmreader tries to predict his destiny. She fails because according to her his hand lacks a "fate line", i.e. he completely lacks a predetermined future. His response? He takes a knife and slices his own hand, creating a scar to serves as his fate line. This is his way of declaring that his fate lies in his own hand and only he will decide what his life will be.
- In DC Nation, this is broadly hinted to be something of a superpower for the otherwise Badass Normal Roy Harper. He's flipped off Eldritch Abominations and Jerkass Gods alike. In-universe, he is completely unreadable to Dr. Fate. At one point, Dark Angel is howling for his head, saying he should have died in Crisis on Infinite Earths. He shrugs it off.
'All you're telling me is that I've pissed in your Cheerios more than once, and I did it beside Donna. Lemme tell you, those are two things that make me a very happy little camper...And hey, extra bonus for me at the end of it? I pissed you off when I didn't even mean to! Little ol' me. A guy. A dude. A very attractive but semi-normal human fleshbag.
Man, I'm good.
- In Shinji and Warhammer 40k, there are quite a few powers betting on the outcome of the Evas vs Angels war and trying to manipulate events all according to their interpretation of ancient prophecies. The problem is that Mana Kirishima is not an Eva pilot, so the prophecies don't say anything about her, yet she can still influence events thanks to piloting Magnos Tancred. Kaworu complains that "It's as though canon refuses to accept her existence."
- In the Veronica Mars meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic Martian Manhunter, Veronica is told (by Drusilla, of all people) that she has no fate or destiny that anyone can discern. Dru even explicitly makes the comparison to Sparhawk.
- This comes up in Shining Armor's side story in the Pony POV Series. According to Reznov, due to the very reason the Blank Wolf is after Shining, his future AND past are completely unpredictable, even considering that fate in the Pony POV Series has many roads. Instead of going down a river, he's described as being adrift at sea. However, this also leaves him immune to Makarov's powers, meaning he's the one with the best chance of stopping him.
- It turns out this is because Shining literally didn't exist prior to the start of his story, and his timeline's been filling itself in both ways ever since.
- Sir Sparhawk, Champion of the Pandion Knights in David Eddings' The Elenium and The Tamuli series. The gods know him as 'Anakha', literally "without destiny", and most of them were in favor of simply not letting him get born. Because he has no fate, even the gods can't predict what he'll do from one moment to the next, making him able to fight them... in the end, the only reason they even allowed him to exist, is that sometimes, it's handy to have a godslayer around... providing they're careful where they point him.
- At the end of the second trilogy, it's revealed that he has this power, and more, due to being created by Bhelliom, the Cosmic Entity that created the world. Because Sparhawk was created by something more powerful than the gods, they lack any direct power over him.
- In the later Dune books by Frank Herbert, the God Emperor Leto II spends three and a half thousand years breeding humans to make a gene as widespread as possible that prevents prescient people from seeing what people with the gene are going to do.
- Rincewind, while in general being a Cosmic Plaything who can't fight fate, plays this specific role for Death. Due to Rincewind being favored by Lady Luck — Fate's arch-enemy — not even Death knows when he's going to die. (His hourglass has an...interesting shape.)
- More literally, there is Coin the Sourcerer from Sourcery — according to Death, Sourcerers make their own destiny. They touch the world lightly.
- Some people such as some witches can tap the power of the story to either bind people to a certain destiny or, which is where this trope comes in, to change it.
- The entire Kender race (most notably, Tasselhoff Burrfoot) in the Dragonlance series. Elves, Humans, and Ogres were created by the gods at the beginning to embody light, balance, and darkness, respectively. Kender, and related races such as dwarves and gnomes, were created by the Graygem, an Artifact of Doom containing the essence of pure Chaos. Needless to say, all three have the potential to massively screw up the timeline, with kender being the most likely to because they're naturally adventuresome and impulsive.
- There is a Jewish legend about a sage meeting Death and asking him about when he's going to die. Death's answer? "Sorry, but sages as righteous as you get delays all the time".
- In Diana Wynne Jones' The Magids, part of the job description of the Magids is being disentangled from fate... to a certain extent. While they are separated from human workings, Them Up There are free to meddle in their affairs.
- Meta-example: in Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, Kilgore Trout writes a novel about a man who discovers he is the only free-willed being in the universe, which then causes an aged business magnate to go on a killing spree after believing this applies to him also. It doesn't.
- Firekeeper, titular heroine of the Firekeeper Saga, is a human woman who has been Raised by Wolves. This causes her to have a chaotic nature such that skilled Seers, such as the Wise Jaguar, Truth, cannot accurately predict events she is directly involved in.
- In Stephen King's Insomnia, people are defined by being born to the "Purpose" (important to the Multiverse in some way) and the "Random" (random extra as far as the greater Multiverse is concerned). Trouble brews when the Grim Reaper normally tasked with ending the lives of "Random" people cuts the lifeline of someone who isn't defined as "Purpose" or "Random". Main characters Ralph and Lois are conscripted by the "Purpose" Grim Reapers to prevent this act from screwing over the Multiverse.
- Illium and Olympos by Dan Simmons features as one of its main characters Achilles in an alternate timeline of the Trojan War. In it, Paris dies before he can kill Achilles, as the prophecy dictates. For the rest of the story, Achilles becomes immortal and indestructible, as his fate became impossible to bring about.
- In Terry Pratchett's The Dark Side of the Sun, the Jokers are completely invisible to probability math, which can otherwise predict the future with near certainty.
- In the Sword of Truth books, Richard typically says Screw Destiny, or rather claims he knows best despite wizards having studied them for years telling him otherwise. And somehow, he's always right, possibly because he's the hero.
- And, yet, he ends up fulfilling prophecies all the time by ignoring them and finding alternate interpretations, some even give him epiphanies. There are also the "Pillars of Creation" that have no link to magic, so prophecies can't see them. Though, this was never really taken advantage of.
- It is stated in The Silmarillion that Men are free to make their own choices outside of the Great Music (i. e. Fate) while other races (Ainur, Elves, Dwarves etc.) have their Fates determined by it.
- In "The Heroes of Olympus" Frank Zhang is this to Gaia and her plan, as she can see the future. While she can manipulate the destiny of the remaining cast emotionally, he is described as an open book- so she wants to kill him. His ability to change his fate also connects to his unique talent, shapeshifting.
- In the third volume of Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series, the Incarnation of Fate allows several fortune-tellers to attempt to scry her. A charlatan would actually attempt it, while the real deal somehow recognizes her and refuses.
- In the seventh volume of The Wheel of Time, the resident seer, Min, who sees visions around people foretelling their fate, cannot see any around Padan Fain, resident Darkfriend, Humanoid Abomination, and Corrupter who is a Wild Card for both sides and as determined to bring down the Dark One as the hero Rand. This implies he is somehow "outside the Pattern" and therefore this trope, and by Word of God he is something unique that has never happened before; at the very least he is unpredictable.
Live Action TV
- Time Travel on LOST follows, for the most part, the You Already Changed The Past model. The exception is Desmond, thanks to how the Island's electro-magnetism messed up his head. When he sees a vision of Charlie dying, he's able to prevent it, but has to keep on saving Charlie's life as destiny keeps finding new ways to off him. And when Daniel Faraday tells Desmond something in the past, present day Desmond shoots up in bed, suddenly remembering a conversation that, until just then, hadn't actually happened.
- The Doctor from Doctor Who, Depending on the Writer.
- "The Waters of Mars", however, provides a particularly chilling deconstruction of the trope: while the Doctor himself is immune to Fate (with the exception of his death, though he can usually avoid that by regeneration or Faking the Dead,) his human allies are not.
- Other episodes demonstrate that you CAN Screw Destiny but if you screw with it TOO MUCH, as in The Wedding of River Song, you break the Universe, or in the case of Father's Day you have Clock Roaches trying to eat you.
- Steven Moffat interprets "The Day of the Daleks" this way. The Doctor can break the Stable Time Loop creating the alternate future of the Dalek rule as he is not subject to the usual laws of time.
- The Doctor also has a "Time-Sense" which allows him to see possibilities, disturbances in Time, as well as whether a certain event is set in stone or changable, which certainly comes in handy him, as well as why he never been attacked by Clock Roaches until Rose messes it up in Father's Day
- Clark Kent in Smallville is implied to be this in the episode "Hereafter". There was a kid who could see the future (specifically, the deaths of whoever he touches, and he can't turn it off) and became The Fatalist because nothing he did could alter his visions. His attitude changes when Clark rescues someone who he predicted would die, even though Clark had no knowledge of the vision and was just doing his regular superheroing since they hadn't even met yet.
- He also tells Clark that everyone is fated to die, but in Clark's future, all he saw was a cape fluttering in a sea of stars.
- In Supernatural the brothers are so entwined in Destiny they seem mostly unaffected when Balthazar stops the Titanic from sinking and changes the timeline in a major way. The closer people and things are to the brothers and their destiny, the less affected are they by the changes.
- In the fifth season, Sam and Dean are constantly told by the angels that, as the human vessels of Lucifer and Michael, they are fated to give in and that no matter how hard they try to avoid it, it's inevitably going to happen anyway. Sam eventually says yes to Lucifer, but Dean does not, forcing Michael to adopt their half-brother Adam Milligan as a makeshift vessel so they can follow through with their plan. Then Dean figures out a way to avert the end of the world anyway.
- In season six the brothers actually meet one of the Fates who is pissed off at them for stopping the Apocalypse. The boys are apparently not so Immune to Fate as she seriously threatens to kill them.
- In The Cape Dice is unable to see Vince in her predictions.
- In Fringe, Peter Bishop proves to be a bit of a temporal wildcard due to some very unusual circumstances. After the main timeline's Peter Bishop dies of illness as a child, his father Walter Bishop interprets some important instructions given by a time-traveler ("The boy is important. He has to live.") to mean that Michael is a Living MacGuffin who must survive in some way, which becomes a sort of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. Walter Bishop invents technology that allows him to travel to a parallel universe, where he kidnaps an alternate version of his son who would have died of the same illness in order to cure him. It is later revealed that Walter misinterpreted the time traveler's instructions and almost caused a ClassX-5 in the process, but Peter proves instrumental in saving both timelines because his unexpected survival makes him a sort of Butterfly of Doom that the BigBads are unable to stop. The title of the series' final episode, "An Enemy of Fate" is a nod to this trope.
- From Greek Mythology, king Admetus (see Euripides' Alcestis). It's not so much that he's immune to fate, it's just that he got fate drunk so it would give him a pass.
- GURPS has the "Temporal Inertia" advantage, basically making a character immune to death by fate (among other things).
- In Mage: The Awakening, mages with high levels of the Fate Arcanum become "Unfettered"; they are automatically able to detect and resist any attempt to magically alter their destiny, such as curses, attempts to bind their fate, mind control, or tampering with their soul. (On the other side of the coin, mages of the Mastigos path are terrified of mages with Fate, because Fate implies free will isn't all it's cracked up to be.)
- Mages reaching the apex of the Sphinx Legacy take this about a thousand steps further - they can "walk between" the patterns of the world, isolating themselves from it. They are literally immune to any magical attempt to alter, define or predict their destiny. Any attempt to use Sympathetic Magic on them automatically fails unless the caster knows their True Name. They even become extremely hard to pay attention to. However, by the same token, they disable one of their Legacy's other abilities, and are rendered practically unable to alter the destinies of anyone else, either.
- A sufficiently powerful time mage can do this retroactively, fulfilling the requirements of fate to satisfy the magical aspects of curse spells and gaesa, then erasing the timeline in which the conditions were fulfilled, allowing them to reap the benefits of screwing destiny without suffering the horrible consequences. Similarly, advanced prime mages can eventually counter or dispel essentially anything, including destinies laid by non-mage supernatural creatures.
- Exalted has legions of these. The Underworld, the Wyld, Malfeas, and Autochthon are all outside Fate. Of them, Autochthonians are the only ones who would feel at all guilty about disrupting Fate by walking in Creation - one charm submodule lets them become part of Fate just to avoid screwing things up. Everyone else considers it a job perk.
- Dungeons & Dragons features a fourth edition epic destiny for revenants called Free Soul with this as its schtick. You have won freedom from the goddess of fate, be it by arms or charms, and are now immune to the laws of death and destiny. It comes with nifty powers that pretty much let you roll saves as you see fit.
- One of the Fan Made Pantheons for Scion is the King Arthur mythology. The King Arthur stories are well known for their You Can't Fight Fate theme. However the highest level of the Pantheon perks, is that you bitchslap fate and then her to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up. It takes a lot of the equivalent of mana to do so but you can stop anything fated to happen, including the Apocalypse for a few minutes.
- The Fateless One in Kingdoms Of Amalur Reckoning. Seeing as how s/he starts the game off dead and comes back to life, there's a lot of ways s/he can break the world around him/her.
- In the Legacy of Kain series, Raziel is essentially this trope. The only way to escape fate is to cause a paradox and take action right at the paradox, but Raziel is a wraith carrying his own soul from a different time on his arm, so he's a paradox on legs, and everything he does can potentially alter history or, to put it another way, he's the only character who has real free will. However, being immune to the power of destiny does not make him immune to being manipulated in more conventional ways, and he spends a huge amount of the series as an Unwitting Pawn to various factions.
- A book of background fluff in Baldur's Gate references a Forgotten Realms folk tale; when something is born the Goddess of bad luck calls a coin toss by the Goddess of good luck and the victor decides the newborn's fate, but sometimes the coin lands on edge...
- Both a Hermit in Baldur's Gate and a fortune teller in Baldur's Gate II tell the main character that their coin landed on the edge. The fortune teller also gives them a refund.
- The Nameless One in Planescape: Torment. A fortune teller flat-out tells him as much, before giving him a full refund.
- Ironically, he's also a case of You Can't Fight Fate. No matter what he does, if he dies he will go to Hell; the eons-long gambit of his first incarnation to avoid it was always in vain. The best you can do is either exist forever as an ever-more-empty shell of a man, or obliterate yourself so completely that it's as if you never existed.
- While he's at the very center of the maelstrom of fate in Chrono Cross, Serge seems to be astoundingly immune to being screwed by it. Crono from Chrono Trigger, not so much...
- In The Legend of Spyro, the Purple Dragon is specifically said to be able to guide the fate of the era he/she is born into. Whenever someone predicts a destiny he doesn't like, Spyro tends to Screw Destiny. The Chronicler tells him that Cynder will turn evil again when Malefor is revived? He pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment and saves her while killing that particular game's Big Bad (though Word of God states that the Chronicler was aware Spyro may not go along with the future he fortold and taught him what he'd need anyway, it still counts). Malefor tells him the fate of the Purple Dragon is to destroy the world? He and Cynder kick Malefor's tail and Spyro restores the world.
- A fortune teller in Seiken Densetsu 3 is shocked when he tries to tell the main character's future, and all he can see is a faerie. The Faerie then appears and says that, when she inhabits a human, his or her future becomes impossible to determine.
- In Final Fantasy XIII, humans can transcend any kind of limitations, even their own fate. Fal'Cie, on the other hand, cannot: despite being infinitely more powerful than humans, they cannot act outside of very specific roles the Creator Deity assigned to them. Which is why they create l'Cie, in an attempt to control the fate-defying human will.
- Certain background lore in The Elder Scrolls suggests that being a Hero is a limited version of this: you lose your ordinary fate (enough that a book supposed to tell you your future is blank), but are still restricted and controlled by forces outside your control (mainly the relevant prophecies about the Event that the Hero is connected to)
- The Nephalem (those who have awakened humanity's original power as angel/demon hybrids) in Diablo III are not mentioned in the Scroll of Fate and thus are the only ones capable of averting anything that is written in it such as stopping Diablo, the Prime Evil, from destroying Heaven.
- Runescape: After the quest The Chosen Commander, cave goblin Zanik is forsaken by the gods in retribution for defying and defeating the avatar of Bandos (with your help). It's yet to be seen if this has any explicitly negative consequences, but one odd thing that's happened to her since is visiting the Varrock Fortune Teller, only to be told that her future cannot be seen.
- In Tales of the Abyss, replicas are this. Although they look and sound and act (sometimes) similar to their originals, they are in fact separate entities. As such, they are the only beings in the world whose destinies aren't controlled by the Score - a prophecy that controls every single aspect of every person's life. The Big Bad, recognising this, aims to free the world from the Apocalypse How prophesied by the final part of the Score by replacing everything - the people, the animals, the land, the cities, all of it - with replicas in order to thoroughly Screw Destiny.
- In Exit Fate, this is one of the perks of being possessed by the Hand of Fate. The others include effectively being able to rewrite it on the fly and having a much better chance of things going your way than most people.
- Okage Shadow King has the main character, Ari who exists outside of the fates and rules of the land's "god". Represented by his Neutral alignment in the elemental trinity.
- In Sluggy Freelance Oasis is said to be one of small number of beings who aren't part of the Web of Fate and has the potential to severely screw up destiny, possibly leading to The End of the World as We Know It.
- Chaz, the Unholy Evil Death Bringer, AKA the Weeping God, also exists outside the Web of Fate, and can kill gods, demons, and souls.
- In Digger, wombats are rarely, if ever, mentioned in any prophecy even when things they cause are (such as the hole Digger uses to reach the surface at the story's beginning). This is actually Justified, as one of Digger's ancestors demanded making his children and descendants Immune to Fate his price for helping in the binding of a mad god. The only ones who seem able to give wombat-involved prophecies are oracular slugs.
- In Captain SNES: The Game Masta, the Sovereign of Sorrow is capable of seeing everyone's future... except Schrodinger the cat, who has already interfered with several of the Sovereign's prophecies.
- K from Blip is a "cosmic mistake"—God himself somehow never foresaw her existence, so he had no place for her in his predestined plan. Any action of hers has the potential to completely upend God's plans. (K herself is completely unaware of any of this.) Unfortunately, she ends up as a Cosmic Plaything because of the angels constantly screwing up her life, stifling her creativity, and doing whatever they can to prevent her from realizing her true potential, since the less significant she is, the less harm she can do.
- According to characters in Homestuck, this is apparently the the reason Big Bad Lord English is always triumphant. As the Lord of Time, whatever he wishes happen in the alpha timeline will happen in the alpha timeline.
- John eventually gains similar powers. Ironically, both he and Lord English gained the ability to travel and freely alter the alpha timeline from the same artifact.
- Parson from Erfworld, by virtue of being able to subvert and outright break some of the rules that define Erfworld. Some residents of Erfworld hope that he will be able to break the "game" and bring true peace. Others are terrified of him for the same reason.
- Also, the Carnymancers, whose specific magical power is the ability to break the rules and counteract Fate. Notable in that this is a major exception to Erfworld's usual You Can't Fight Fate rule.
- Ironically, Parson is also The Chosen One being Fate's weapon to get rid of Charlie.
- In Thalia's Musings, the Fates wonder if Thalia and thus the rest of the Muses are this. The Fates don't like this idea.
- In Worm, a few key beings and entities are specific blind spots for precogs.