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"I am so omniscient, if there were to be two omnisciences, I would be
A character that knows everything. Either literally everything, or simply everything worth knowing under the circumstances. May or may not have Blue and Orange Morality
or a Omniscient Morality License
. Do Not Confuse With
who incorrectly believes himself to know everything.
Omniscience can be said to have three basic forms:
- Actual Omniscience: The character is a god (or God Himself) or Sufficiently Advanced Whatever who actually does know exactly everything.
- Awesomeness by Analysis and Super Intelligence taken to the extreme: Somehow all variables are identified and fully accounted for.
- They are Dangerously Genre Savvy thanks to being Medium Aware.
However, many Omniscient characters are hard to pinpoint. They tend to be mysterious entities, a trait that protects the plot from being destroyed by their omniscience. Alternately, their omniscience is imperfect
and prone to foiling
, or limited
can be perceived
Typically a background character, The Omniscient usually functions as oracle (mad
, Deus ex Machina
, Man Behind the Man
and/or leader of The Omniscient Council of Vagueness
. Often reluctant to help the protagonists even if he is benevolent without being terribly busy.
When featured as the protagonist or antagonist, this an Omniscient Hero
or an Invincible Villain
. To avert this, such characters tend to lose their status as The Omniscient at about the same time as they ascend to Main Character
status. Another way to try to keep the story interesting is to keep the readers/viewers in the dark about what the main character is really doing and why, while the character executes a Gambit Pileup
. Unless resolved fairly quickly the authors might let something go wrong and the character is brutally demoted to Not So Omniscient After All
For The Omniscient to face a Moral Dilemma
without becoming an Omniscient Hero
, the dilemma has to remain very abstract. In philosophy, many though-experiments are based on the outright or implied premise "What would The Omniscient do?" However, when such a thought-experiment is included in a story, having The Omniscient make such a choice tend to either morph him into an Omniscient Hero
kind of Mary Sue
or turn him into the Not So Omniscient After All
little Butt Monkey
of a Deconstruction
Compare The Omnipotent
, who often overlaps with The Omniscient
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Anime and Manga
- Yuko from Xxx HO Li C due to being an exceptionally old and powerful witch. Unfortunately for the main characters, she's bound by Equivalent Exchange rules where everything has a price, including information, pushing her into All-Powerful Bystander territory.
- The First President of the Genshiken seems to know everything that goes on around the school. He implies that he may have set up cameras around the school, but he never explicitly confirms it.
- Kuran Kaname from Manga/Vampire Knight being an ancestor of the vampire race, he demonstrates almighty abilities as mentioned in the fanbook, and ability to foresee the future as he once mentioned to his comrades when he saw Yuuki's image in the past.
- Interestingly, the main character, Aladdin, of Magi - Labyrinth of Magic is this, though not all of the time. He is a Magi who has the "Eye of Solomon," which lets him see the world, Rukh, and all of its secrets. The main antagonists, Al-Sarmen, want him for this reason. Also, he is not an Omniscient Hero.
- Amber from Darker Than Black knows everything that is going to happen that affects the main story for two reasons. First, she is a Time Master and has lived the main plot time and again to set things up the way she wants. As an example, she claims to have fought Heaven's War "...dozens of times to get it right." This leads to point two: she knows the entire plot because she set it up that way. She proves her omniscience when she continues to be... well everything in point two even after her death. As shown when she leaves the message for Misaki behind(ahead?) to keep driving the plot even after she is out of it.
- Ajimu in Medaka Box is type 1, although she intentionally makes herself unaware of certain future events to avoid spoilers.
- Ronnie Schiatto from Baccano. He got bored of it though, so he turned it off.
- Destiny in The Sandman. Note that he can't put this knowledge to any use because he doesn't have free will (thus he is symbolically chained to the book). At one point he calls a meeting for no apparent reason and when people ask why he did it Destiny explains that the book said he was going to.
- The Lucifer spinoff has Michael show up in Destiny's realm to ask about the oncoming apocalypse only to find that Destiny had invited the title character and Michael's daughter over to discuss the exact same thing. When he asks Destiny why he wasn't invited, Destiny responds that it didn't seem necessary, since he was already coming.
- Dr. Manhattan in most of Watchmen. He's not exactly omniscient, but knows everything that ever happened or will happen to him.
- The Watchers in the Marvel Universe have the ability to see and hear everything that happens in at least a solar system radius, and view alternate realities at will. They also share that information with each other periodically, so that any individual Watcher also knows what else was going on in the universe the last time that sharing took place. It is difficult but not impossible to hide activities from a Watcher.
- In X-Factor: Investigations Layla Miller's catch phrase is "I know stuff." While she's not totally omniscient, she does tend to know just about everything about many of the situations they get themselves into. Often to the detriment of the team or their trust in her. It later turns out that "knowing stuff" is not actually her ability, but a result of his future self downloading all her knowledge into her brain
- In the first ElfQuest series, Two-Edge apparently knew what all of the elves and trolls were doing, and spent years subtly manipulating them toward a final confrontation. Didn't work out too well for him in the end, though.
Films — Live-Action
- The Oracle in The Matrix is the second type of omniscient mentioned above: she is really, really good at predicting people's decisions. She does admit that her abilities have limits: if she doesn't understand a choice being made, obviously she can't predict what the outcome of that decision will be.
- Men In Black 3 has Griffin, an odd variant of actual omniscience. He can see all possible futures with perfect clarity... but he has absolutely no idea which possibility is going to actually occur until it does.
- In LOST, Ben or Jacob seem to know everything. Not at the same time, however. Ben's omniscience shrinks away as Jacob is gradually introduced as The Man Behind the Man.
- In Star Trek (from 'The Next Generation and Voyager), you have Q. They are an entire race of beings that seem to be omniscient s well as omnipotent. They are all named "Q", but one individual shows up far more often than the others of his race. This particular Q typically use his powers to be as awesome as possible.
- Also, in one episode a mysterious alien probe gives Barclay superhuman intellect — he proclaims "I understand... everything!"
- Commander Ivanova, the Executive Officer of Babylon 5, prides herself on this, in regards to the operating and goings-on of the station. When Captain Sheridan decides to bring her in on his big secret, that there is a secret Human-Minbari covert operations organization operating on the station, who will help the heroes fight the Shadows, Ivanova reveals that she already knows all about it, casually remarking that if you were to ever discover that something was happening on the station that Ivanova did not know about, then you should worry.
- Death appears to be this, although there are limits to his knowledge (such as assuming instead of already knowing what Sam, Dean, and Bobby summoned him for in episode 7x01, and surprise at being informed that they want him to kill "God" — i.e. Castiel). If not absolutely, he is at least functionally omniscient.
- God presumably also possesses this trait.
- The Doctor for all intents and purposes. He knows effectively everything that has happened or ever will happen across the whole of the universe, and on the occasions where he doesn't know something, it's because something is wrong and anyway, Awesome by Analysis will cover him until he sorts it.
- He does not, however, know his own personal future and actively avoids finding out about it, even with the presence of River Song (and to a lesser extent Amy and Rory), who know at least some of his future, including how he dies.
- The ascended Ancients in the Stargate Verse. Upon Ascending To A Higher Plane Of Existence, they become omniscient but can't share this knowledge with mortals nor can they keep it if they decide to be Brought Down to Normal.
- The title character of John Doe knows everything there is to know about everything, except his own identity.
- The Collector: The Devil. The limits of his awareness and power are not entirely clear, but he can see into people's minds across the whole universe.
- Averted by Ziltoid The Omniscient (who also provides the page quote), where Ziltoid claimed to be omnisicent, but later went to the Omnidimentional Creator, who plays this trope straight.
Mythology, Religion, and Folklore
- Yahweh/Allah of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc.) as well as God of monotheism in general — in theory and according to the common "official" interpretation. In practice, it gets difficult, and interpretations vary.
- The stories in The Bible, which no matter what some moderns may think were usually not meant by the ancients to be literal history, sometimes date back to times before monotheism, and often contradict each other in detail, can sometimes be read as describing Yahweh not knowing things without looking or waiting and seeing what will happen.
- Prescience is thought to conflict with human free will on the basis that a choice foreseen might as well be preordained. This depends on the view of just what free will means, though, which is more complicated than one might think. Among those who think there is a contradiction, some theologians/philosophers have let God maintain omniscience and compromised on human free will. Others have stated that since God is wholly outside time, he doesn't know things before they happen, so that's not a problem. Some have come to the conclusion that God's omniscience is limited so that he can't see the future past indeterministic events such as choices, though this can be accompanied by stating that just this is what omniscience really means, because you shouldn't ask for the impossible.
- According to one interpretation, while God has complete knowledge of the past and present, he selectively uses his ability to see the future, and thus can be surprised or caught unprepared (by Satan's Face Heel Turn, for instance). So, while he does know much more than humans, he doesn't technically know everything.
- People in general are not very good at applying such complicated concepts in their thinking even while theoretically accepting them, so a believer in God who states God to be omniscient might not actually think accordingly.
- Odin in Norse Mythology, courtesy of his Cool Chair that lets him see the whole world and precognition (which he bought with his eye.) The latter, however, overlaps with Blessed with Suck since not even the Allfather could defy Fate.
- In belief systems such as Hinduism and Pandeism, there is an omniscient Creator entity, but omniscience does not translate into action on its part; in Hinduism, Vishnu knows all things, but is busy being entertained by the events unfolding within it; in Pandeism, the Creator experiences all things as they happen but cannot interfere because it has become our Universe; it can not know the ultimate future course of events, because it has become our Universe in part to see what that course of events will be.
- The Final Boss of Touhou 13: Ten Desires, Toyosatomimi no Miko, who has the ability to listen to the ten desires, allowing her to know everything about any human she meets, as they are in the past, the present, and even the future. This was even more-so when she first resurrected, drawing all the desires of the humans in Gensokyo to her, allowing her to know a good deal of info about the Magic Land and its inhabitants before she even left her tomb.
- The Legacy of Kain series has the Elder God and Moebius, both of whom have such extensive knowledge of the timeline and predestination that they can be treated as this. Neither of them do any time-travelling themselves, yet both of them address Kain and Raziel as old acquaintances centuries before they chronologically meet them for the first time, and can continue conversations without any Time Travel Tense Trouble despite not seeing them for centuries. Unsurprisingly, they are very good at manipulating events and outcomes, at least until the Immune To Fate Raziel and Magnificent Bastard Kain work together to really screw things up for them.
- Specifically averted in Duel Savior Destiny. God is omnipotent but not omniscient, so he's really pissed when stuff happens that he wasn't expecting. This is why he wants to destroy and remake the universe into something simpler, something he has already done multiple times before.
- In Dota2, the hero Omniknight worships a being named the Omniscience, which crosses this over with aspects of a Crystal Dragon Jesus who grants him light-based healing magic.
- Los Hermanos, a member of the Global Guardians is a duplicator a'la Jamie Madrox from X Factor. He knows nearly everything worth knowing because sometime, somewhere, one of his duplicates has taken a course in it, or read a book about it, or currently works it as a profession. He's also Dangerously Genre Savvy.
- In Worm the Simurgh is so powerful a precognitive as to be effectively omniscient, being able to model the effects of her actions to achieve a domino effect which gets her what she wants. Unfortunately, she's also a monstrous Endbringer out to destroy humanity, and is arguably the Big Bad of the series.
- Parodied on Adventure Time with the demon cat with approximate knowledge of everything.
Demon Cat: Hello, Frank the human boy.
Finn: How did you almost know my name?!
Demon Cat: I have approximate knowledge of many things.
- Clockwork in Danny Phantom. Since he's the ghost of Time, he knows everything that has happened, is happening, or can happen.
- The god entity in Futurama know what you're going to do before you do it...unless you do something else.
- Also Bender in "Overclockwise." He managed to calculate the reason we exist, which ceiling-fans will fall and Fry's and Leela's ultimate fate as a couple and possibly a lot more.
- Played for laughs in Hercules with Hades and the Fates. He keeps trying to explain why he needs their help but they just keep saying "We know!"
Hades: I KNOW! You know, I know, I get it! I get the concept.
- Trigon from Teen Titans is said to have this ability.
Slade: "What you fail to understand is that Trigon is all-seeing. His mind can be at any place, at any time."
- Invader Zim's first episode has the Almighty Tallests described as "all-knowing" and "all-powerful." They're...really not.