"Allison. You had a nightmare that a woman named Susan Monroe was going to be brutally murdered by a man named Martin Greer? That could mean anything!
A person characterized by two things — they give correct and accurate warnings and predictions, and what they say is consistently mocked or ignored by the rest of the cast. You would think that the other characters would eventually decide that they can be trusted, but they seldom do. A particularly cruel plot twist is for the rest of the cast to believe Cassandra on the one and only time they are wrong, just to maintain the status quo
. Cassandra usually has some sort of personality quirk that makes them seem less believable, or their information may come from epistemologically shaky grounds like Tarot cards or dreams, but their record of near-perfect accuracy really should be enough to make the others listen to them.
The Trope Namer
is the mythical seer Cassandra
, who was cursed by the god Apollo to give prophecies which were always true but never believed, thus making this trope Older Than Feudalism
In natural disaster movies
or Science Is Bad
stories, Cassandra will usually be an Ignored Expert
: a scientist or other expert acting as the lone voice of sanity
. This character's role is to warn the others not to take a particular course of action — that will, of course, be taken. On the other hand, if Cassandra is one of the underclass, such as a street preacher or one of those Crazy Homeless People
, the Doomsayer
Subtrope of Cassandra Truth
. Compare Crying Wolf
, where a character is not believed when they tell the truth because everything else they've said has been a lie, You Have to Believe Me
, where the character is not believed because they and their story sound completely crazy, and Dude, Where's My Respect?
, which is often the result of this. See also Harbinger of Impending Doom
. Cassandra Did It
is when the cast add insult to injury by blaming Cassandra for the very disaster they tried to warn them about.
If Cassandra is a Waif Prophet
or an Oracular Urchin
, this may be because of All the Other Reindeer
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Kotoura-san has a very strange case which is partly caused by Values Dissonance. Japanese has the tendency to hide their thoughts as socially appropriate by lying. Haruka is a telepath who couldn't turn it off nor could she distinguish between thought and speech, and, what's worse, Innocently Insensitive. As a result, she was called a compulsive liar for blurting out what others were thinking. If not for her grandfather's protection she may actually have sent to the psychiatric ward already, as her mother, up to this day, still thinks she is severely delusional.
- Idiot Hero Daiya of Gaiking: Legend of Daiku Maryu tells stories of monsters that attacked him and his father five years ago, and that his father is still alive somewhere, but nobody believes him. In the first episode, however, Kaiju turn up and begin attacking.
- Subverted in Judge Dredd with Psi Judge Cassandra Anderson. As Mega-City One's most powerful psychic, her predictions are generally taken very seriously by everyone.
- In A Reckless Frame of Mind Harry was the victim of a Cassandra Curse which meant that whatever he said, wrote or gestured was both the absolute truth and interpreted as a deliberate lie.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
Live Action TV
- Quetza, in the Argentinian novel El Conquistador, is an embodyment of this trope. Despite him travelling all over the world, researching the origins of the Aztec people and seeing the close menace of the Spanish Empire, no one believes him.
- In "Goddess of Yesterday" but Caroline B. Cooney, a novel set in Troy, Cassandra herself exploits her curse in a moment of Genre Savvy as the main character is trying to escape the city by calling out that someone is trying to leave through the gate. The main character panics for a moment until she realizes that because no one believes Cassandra no one is bothering to look at her, giving her a chance to escape, and Cassandra blows her a kiss from her tower.
- No one listens to Mikhail Kutuzov in War and Peace. Battle of Austerlitz? Bad idea, says Kutuzov. The Russians intervene and get their asses handed to them and Napoleon conquers Austria. Oh well, no big deal.
- Several of the earlier Sherlock Holmes stories, perhaps most particularly A Study in Scarlet, show the great detective being mocked by the official police for his unusual methods and seemingly bizarre theories. Over time, however, as they find he's right almost unfailingly, the police shift their opinion and become admirers of Holmes. Lestrade even comments on it in The Adventure of the Six Napoleons, saying that they're not at all jealous of him at Scotland Yard, but on the contrary, "we are very proud of you."
- The Harry Potter series contains two examples:
- Harry himself, despite being The Chosen One, frequently gets this treatment, especially from his best friends. So much so that Dumbledore freely admits that part of his plan in the seventh book is counting on Hermione's Arbitrary Skepticism to slow Harry down long enough to think things through properly.
- Professor Trelawny is a reverse Cassandra, as the only time she dismisses one of her predictions is when it's correct. A more subtle one occurs in Half-Blood Prince. Harry is hiding from Trelawny, who's wandering drunkenly through the school, and pulling cards from a deck. Though it's never stated, it's entirely possible she's doing a reading on Harry. One of the cards she interprets as meaning the subject dislikes her (Harry can't stand Trelawny). She thinks about it for a second, and says "that can't be right," and starts going through the cards again. She also plays the trope straight on several occasions. When she does make an accurate prediction, her reputation means that nobody takes it seriously. This includes Harry shrugging off the prophecy about Pettigrew escaping and her statement that the first to "rise from" the staff table will die first which is true on both counts for Dumbledore.
- Antryg Windrose, the title character of The Windrose Chronicles, uses Holmes-ish deductive reasoning to figure out things that everyone else then assumes only the villain could know. Between that and his checkered past, he's never believed by anyone in a position of authority - and on the rare occasions when this is not true, he winds up being banned, banished and locked up anyway for telling truths people don't want to hear. Fortunately, he has the patience of a saint.
- Astrid in Garry Kilworth's novel House of Tribes is known far and wide for her prophetic powers. Naturally, when one of her visions is politically inconvenient, everyone comes up with reasons to assume she's wrong and blunders ahead anyway. After her vision comes true, her prophetic stock shoots up twenty places...until the next vision, which is again inconvenient and is again ignored by quite a lot of characters. There's a message in there somewhere.
- Heralds of Valdemar: In Arrow's Fall, Empath Talia has demonstrated a flawless track record of reading people, but is still doubted and ridiculed when she attempts to expose Evil Chancellor Lord Orthallen. Her fellow Heralds are at least willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, but Valdemar's councilors are not Heralds and see no reason to believe a girl barely out of training over a man with 20 years of service to the kingdom and enormous personal and political power. Orthallen, in his turn, recognizes Talia's threat to him and sows rumors to cast doubt on her reliability.
- Mairi Urqhuart in Janet Lunn's novel Shadow In Hawthorn Bay. Mairi has second sight and is able to predict the future, but the other people in her Upper Canada settlement do not not believe this. When she tries to tell people about her predictions, the usual response is to ignore her, say she's crazy, or tell her to stop frightening people with her gloomy predictions. When her predictions come true, she is accused of using witchcraft to make them come true.
- Lucy Pennykettle from The Last Dragon Chronicles. She finally gets her Cassandra Truth when it turns out that David isn't dead, just as she believed all along.
- In Everworld, the heroes meet Cassandra. Being Genre Savvy, they tell themselves that they have to believe her, but we see them suddenly develop a five-second amnesia, so they don't remember what she said, only that it was BS.
- In Rachel Griffin, there is a Xandra'' Harris, (also known as "Flops Over Dead Chick") who warns Nastasia, who has visions when she touches certain people, not to touch one particular student. Nastasia promptly does, and promptly gets a Poke in the Third Eye.
- Cassandra from Chameleon Moon lives up to her name, having horrific visions of the future that no one believes.
- The Trope Namer is Cassandra, princess of Troy in The Iliad. Apollo, god of prophecy, lusted after Cassandra, and stories differ on how Cassandra felt about him. In one version, she flatly refused him and he cursed her; in another, she held out on giving him her body until he gave her a gift of prophecy, and then, once he granted it to her, she backed out on their agreement. The gods cannot take back their gifts, but they can add complications, so Apollo cursed her so that no one would believe her. Cassandra therefore saw the entire siege before it happened — saw it from the moment her long-lost brother Paris entered the walls. She called out the Trojan Horse for the ruse that it was, and foresaw her enslavement and death in a faraway land, but no one ever believed her, not even her own family, instead considering her mad.
- Christopher Durang's Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike combines this with Sassy Black Woman. Cassandra, the housekeeper, continually makes prophesies that range from, "beware Greeks bearing gifts," to "avoid real estate transactions for the next 15 years," that are always ignored. Later subverted when she gets tired of her prophesies being ignored and decides to change the future using Voodoo.
- Two characters are this on The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios:
- Ethan Edwards in the western scene, warning the riders of the town they're about to enter and that they should turn back. His warnings end up falling on deaf ears.
- When either hijacker attempts to steal the jewel, a temple guardian note warns them that if they disturb the treasure of the gods, they'll pay with their life. Naturally, the hijacker doesn’t listen.
- Feizhi from Golden Sun makes many accurate predictions, but her father dismisses them as coincidences. If the player helps her save her friend Hsu, her father finally admits she can tell the future.
- Commander Shepard from Mass Effect is one as far as the brass is concerned. S/he can't convince them of anything important, no matter how damning the evidence presented is.
- Most of Shepard's predictions sound absurdly crazy from the perspective of the council or anyone else. The Reapers went to a lot of trouble to make sure there was virtually no evidence of their existence. The council very quickly changes their mind about Saren being involved in Eden Prime when s/he presented hard evidence. Admittedly, the witness testimony should have been given more weight considering he was identified by name by another Spectre.
- Gets even more absurd in Mass Effect 2, where the council (if you kept them alive) STILL doesn't believe you. Despite you having saved them personally from a Reaper. They blame it on the Geth, even if Legion (a geth) is in your party and says "Nope, wasn't us."
- Lampshaded with Legion in Mass Effect 3:
Shepard: So the geth believed your proof that the Reapers were coming back?
Legion: Of course.
Shepard: ...That must have been nice.
- In a confrontation in 3, where it might look like Shepard is attacking the Council, s/he assures them that s/he's just after Udina. Shepard's status as this is mentioned by the asari councilor when they debate whether to trust him/her.
Councilor Tevos: We've mistrusted Shepard before and it has not worked well for us.
- Daelin Proudmoore from Warcraft. After fighting a war with the (Old) genocidal Horde, he begins to attack their new settlements on Kalimdor after their demonic curse is lifted, claiming that the Horde will never change despite the protest of his daughter Jaina. Come Mists of Pandaria and the New Horde led by Garrosh Hellscream has attempted to take over Kalimdor, destroyed the formally semi-neutral city of his daughter and is now waging a war to control all of Azeroth. In her grief Jaina admits that her father was right all along in front of his statue after the destruction of Theramore.
- Kinzie spends some time in Saints Row: The Third claiming aliens will soon invade the Earth. Come Saints Row 4 - she was right. One of her Audio Log collectibles in the game has her lamenting her role as The Cassandra.
- There is a gypsy moth in the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode who predicts a soon and certain end to Chip's life. The Rangers' leader refuses to believe in that prophecy and continues on the case until all details but one have come true. The name of the moth is... Cassandra.
- Combined with Crying Wolf in Invader Zim, because Dib is almost always right, but it seems like he is wrong because he's always in the wrong place at the wrong time. That, and the fact that the entire world population (except Gaz who doesn't care about Zim because she knows he's an idiot who can do no real damage) are raging idiots.
- Phineas and Ferb has two Cassandras:
- Candace is constantly trying to prove to her mother that her brothers, the title characters, build all kinds of crazy projects in their backyard, but the evidence of said crazy projects has always vanished by the time she gets her mother's attention.
- Vanessa tries to prove to her mother her father is a Mad Scientist, but it always fails, largely because Doctor Doofenshmirtz isn't really good at villainy.
- Mr. Crocker on The Fairly Oddparents knows that Timmy Turner has "FAIRY GODPARENTS!", but everyone thinks he's insane. He is, but he's still right.
- Travis the head louse in the "Lice Capades" episode of South Park.
- This is Toxic Crusaders character Psycho in a nutshell: his entire purpose is to point out to Dr. Killemoff how his latest plan can go wrong, usually involving really unlikely circumstances that nevertheless always end up happening and yet Killemoff never listens to him, despite his predictions having always been right.
- Cassandra herself was a secondary character in the TV series based on Disney's Hercules. She's very bitter about her lot in life.
- Coop of Kid vs. Kat constantly tries to warn his town about Kat's evil schemes, only to earn a reputation as both a liar and a lunatic. However, unlike most examples, Coop gradually seems to realize his status as The Cassandra, eventually focusing on simply sabotaging Kat's plans privately instead of warning people about them. Fortunately, he's thrown a bone in the form of his best friend Dennis and his girlfriend Fiona, who are both aware of Kat's actual identity and are happy to help Coop out.
- PJ on Goof Troop is almost always the first (if not the only) person to notice something's gone wrong. He's also usually ignored, due to his total lack of assertiveness. However, "Tub Be or Not Tub Be" and "Talent to the Max" are even worse—he, who doesn't lie for his own self-interest without coaxing, and who has Undying Loyalty towards Max, is accused of betraying him. He tries to tell Max that he didn't mean to cheat and was trying to undo all the booby traps in the former, and that Max needs to dump the magic hat like a bad habit in the latter, but Max doesn't believe him.
- Anyone who can see through Chicken Boo's Paper Thin Disguises.
- The Novikov Self-Consistency Principle is a conjecture on Time Travel, which is theoretically possible under some interpretations of general relativity theory. Basically, if any event caused by a time traveler could change the timeline, then the probability of that event happening is zero. Time paradoxes are impossible no matter how much screaming you do.
- Many rape and abuse victims, sadly. Doubly so if they're male being abused by a female.
- Many of the early whistleblowers in The Thirties had this problem. The ruling bodies of Europe were not able to grasp the dangers of fascism until war was almost upon them. Thus, the intellectuals who tried to warn about imminent danger were often ridiculed, and many ended up fleeing to Britain or America, or otherwise imprisoned or executed during World War II as 'subversives'.