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Author Powers

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"Me? I'm the evil mastermind behind the scenes. I'm the wicked puppeteer who pulls the strings and makes you dance. I'm your writer."

When a character is an author, or the author is a character, and they are shown interacting with the characters in their works, they are often shown to have god-like control over the world of their characters. Note that often, the characters themselves will appear to have independent wills from the author, and may even try to stop them, even though the author should be able to control them like puppets, too.

A common variant involves an artist for a comic or animation changing the character's appearance in cruel and unusual ways, drawing monsters to chase them, or even threatening to erase characters out of existence.

Compare Rewriting Reality, in which a character literally rewrites the world. See also Interactive Narrator. Often implicitly relies on The Power of Language. This is not to be confused with Meta Power, as that deals with powers that influence other powers, as this trope deals more in the meta-narrative.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Puni Puni☆Poemi, Nabeshin is Poemi's father and he and his wife survive their certain death with no explanation other than he's the director.
  • One of the main plot points of Princess Tutu. Drosselmeyer was a tragedy-obsessed writer with this power who has his hands cut off when the townsfolk got sick of his "stories", so he wrote one last story in his own blood. Drosselmeyer's descendants also inherit this power, most notably Fakir.
  • The plot of Yamatogawa's doujinshi Power Play! is about the author of a self-published Visual Novel struggling with women from his past life who have been recast as characters in his latest game. Since all of them have enough mystical power to extinguish his life several times over and three of them vowed to destroy him, he is forced to use his knowledge of their characters to try to reach an accord. Since the whole story is softcore hentai, there is a certain predictability to his methods.
  • Re:CREATORS establishes that authors do have the powers to assist their characters' existing powers by augmenting them with whatever they can write. But it's not just limited to their original author; anyone who's written for a character's series has this power as well, meaning the author of a light novel has just as much will over a character as the scenario writer for the novel's anime adaptation. There is a catch, however— the authors may be able to excise these powers on the world their characters live in, but the audience has to accept it first for the changes to become permanent. Keeping all of this in mind, the Creators try writing an animated special featuring the creations in order to give them enough power to combat the immensely powerful Altair.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 8 episode 36, series creator Huang Weiming demonstrates his authority over the show's characters to Big M. by having the scriptwriter punish Little M. for killing an unhatched bird by making a bunch of rocks fall on him, and then reward Happy S. for helping a senior citizen by making some coins fall on him.

    Comic Books 
  • Grant Morrison inserted themself into Animal Man as a character called 'the Writer' with the ability to alter reality. Later, John Ostrander and Yale figured, hell, if Morrison appeared in an issue of Animal Man, then they're part of mainstream DC continuity, right? Fair game, right? They featured 'the Writer' in Suicide Squad #58, where they altered reality by typing a comic book style script into a computer. They are killed when they're hit by writer's block in the middle of a firefight and are unable to write a way to save themself.
  • In Cerebus the Aardvark, Dave Sim does this. He even has conversations with Cerebus in which he's speaking in Cerebus' thought balloons with nothing to differentiate his words from Cerebus', and yet somehow always manages to make it clear which of them is speaking at any time. He also alters reality around Cerebus in ways that only a completely omnipotent being could, although he makes it clear to Cerebus that, while he is Cerebus' creator, he isn't the god Tarim that Cerebus normally worships.
  • Partway through The Unbelievable Gwenpool, Gwen Poole, who supposedly was born in the real world but somehow traveled into the Marvel universe, realizes she can interact with the medium and control it, in addition to having knowledge of everyone's secret identities from reading comics. Her powers include entering the gutter space, breaking panel walls, muffling noises by grabbing the sound effects, and traveling through time and space by moving between pages. However, her powers are also constricted by editorial mandate, so she cannot do anything the higher-ups would never let a minor character like her do, like killing Doctor Doom or becoming an Avenger.
    • The issue with her supposedly being from the real world is addressed in Gwenpool Strikes Back, which has Gwen's powers coming to a climax. Gwen, afraid of disappearing into Comic-Book Limbo, somehow self-retcons herself as being a mutant with reality-warping powers who always lived in the Marvel universe, but suppressed her "true" memories out of trauma when her powers first emerged. This means she is officially an X-Men character and can live on Krakoa, allowing her to live on in future X-titles.
  • In Concrete, creator Paul Chadwick steps into one story to basically give the character of Concrete some time off: He turns him back into a human, gives him some time alone with Maureen, then tells us the reader to give them some privacy while he conjures up some crazy artwork out of thin air and spends some quiet time creating little worlds. He has also spent time away from proper plots to imagine crazy little things like what would happen if Concrete left a trail of himself everywhere he went...
  • A one-shot Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic that was an extended tribute to Jack Kirby featured Donatello meeting cartoonist named Kirby who'd found a magic crystal that, when tied to his pen, allowed anything he drew with it to come to life. Donatello and Kirby end up being pulled into Kirby's comic book world, and they get caught up in a battle between Kirby's heroic characters and his evil characters. Kirby helps Donatello and the heroic characters defeat the villains by drawing special weapons for Donatello to use and eventually binding all the villains with specially designed shackles. The story ends with Donatello returning to New York, although Kirby chooses to stay so that Don can return and gives him a sketch as a parting gift.
  • In one Archie Comics story, Reggie sends the writer on vacation and writes a story in which Jughead suffers the worst day of his life. On the last page, Jughead sends the story's artist on vacation and draws his own ending where he gets revenge on Reggie.
  • Fables has a variation on this; the various fairy tale characters living in the mundane world are aware of the stories about them right from the start, but are unsure as to the exact relationship between the stories and their own existence. The spin-off "Jack of Fables" introduces the Literals, who are Anthropomorphic Personifications of literary concepts (such as genres, the Deus ex Machina, the idea of bowdlerisation etc.) and this includes Kevin Thorn, the actual writer. The Great Fables Crossover has them having to deal with his omnipotent Rewriting Reality powers and his view that the world (both the fairy tale homelands and the supposedly "real" mundane world) is his story that has gotten out of hand and needs to be erased so he can write a better story in its place.
  • Completely inverted in Dykes to Watch Out For — an out-of-continuity strip reprinted in The Indelible Alison Bechdel depicts Bechdel as a prisoner chained up in a dungeon by her characters and forced to draw the strip!
  • The page illustration comes from a Fantastic Four story where the team literally meets God. They're surprised to find that He looks like Jack Kirby, co-creator of their comic book. He assures them that it is the most appropriate way for Him to look to them. He then uses a pencil to erase the recent scarring on Reed's face and restore Ben to his Thing form.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): When Robert Kanigher retooled the book he wrote himself in as a character that called up a bunch of characters from the story to tell them they were being let go and wrote them and their histories out of that universe, while the characters themselves were quite confused about what was happening.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Christof in The Truman Show is an interesting example. Truman is not a fictional character, but every aspect of his life, including the people around him, is controlled by Christof. In the film's climax Christof makes the sun rise in order to stop Truman's escape.
  • The Black Beast in Monty Python and the Holy Grail vanishes when the animator has a fatal heart attack, implying some combination of this trope with No Ontological Inertia and a good dose of Beyond The Fourth Wall.
  • In Delirious, a soap opera writer gets hit on the head and wakes up as a character inside his own show. His typewriter comes with him, and he can use it to alter and plan out events in the show, even affecting other characters' behavior. However, a rival author has been hired to write show scripts as well, leading to a rare case of someone with Author Powers being in a Rage Against the Author situation.
  • Near the end of In the Mouth of Madness, Cane's powers have become so vast that the entire world is his story, and he doesn't even need to write about it anymore. If he thinks it, so shall it be, demonstrating it to Trent by turning the entire world blue just because it's his favorite color.
  • The premise of Stranger Than Fiction. Slightly played with as the author, Eiffel, has no idea of the power she has. Even when writing a scene where her protagonist is searching/calling her, she doesn't realize it's her actual self until she answers the phone and almost has a breakdown when her "fictional character" Harold Crick is on the other line. She then has to contemplate several things; it's implied all her books end with the main character's death, which is what started the search in the first place, and Crick is next. She's written at least six other books, and wonders if she killed those main characters in real life as well. Her book, as written now, has to have his death for the ending to be good and have any meaning. Her "power" is limited to the actual manuscript written on her old typewriter, as she already has the ending planned out on legal pads, allowing Crick to read her novel and willingly accept his death.

  • Recurs in Robert A. Heinlein's works, particularly in his later period.
  • Played for Laughs in Spike Milligan's novel Puckoon, where Dan, the lead character, has frequent arguments with the narrator ("Did you write these legs? Who wrote your legs?"). At the end of the book the narrator has the last laugh by leaving Dan stuck up a tree forever.
  • Kurt Vonnegut makes a cameo appearance in Breakfast of Champions, and demonstrates his Author Powers a bit. However, he also finds out that his creations have a habit of slipping out of his control.
  • In the setting of The Reader And Protagonist Definitely Have To Be In True Love, the author of the Novel Within a Novel has complete control over the world of his novel but later realizes that he himself might also be a character in a novel. He is correct.
  • Robert Rankin sometimes appears in his own "far-fetched fiction" with Author Powers, usually leading to the characters complaining about the outrageous Deus ex Machina endings they cause.
  • In Geraldine McCaughrean's metafictional children's book A Pack of Lies, the protagonist and her mother start realizing that various things about recent events don't add up, leading to them Noticing the Fourth Wall. It is then revealed that another character who the protagonist met at the beginning of the book is the (in-universe) author's Canon Sue, and the inconsistencies that surround him are the result of the author patching over his improbable awesomeness.
  • When Stephen King appears as a character in The Dark Tower series, it's as himself, the author of the book he's appearing in. However, I Just Write the Thing is in full effect; he's not a god, just some guy God picked to write Roland's story into existence, so any Author Powers he has are either extremely limited or can't be used consciously. Even though being "the writer" makes him a Cosmic Keystone - Roland's quest won't finish if Stephen King dies before the ending can be written - the most he can do to help Roland with his quest is to write some lucky breaks or a Deus ex Machina into the plot. (It's strongly hinted that some of the subsequent events actually are a result of King trying to help from behind the scenes.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who, "The Mind Robber": The Doctor discovers that they are in the Land of Fiction, a realm of a different dimension presided over by The Master of the Land, an English writer from the 1920s who has been yanked out of his own time and is being controlled by the Master Brain computer. The Master wants the Doctor to take the writer's place and the two enter a battle of wills using fictional characters.
  • Young Blades, which is very loosely based on Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers, features Dumas as a character in the series finale who explains to the main characters that he is writing their story.
  • Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger. Toei Productions becomes the Bigger Bad, using Author Powers to change everyone's goals, end certain arcs, and ultimately end the show.
  • In one episode of The Twilight Zone, "A World of His Own", an author speaks into a tape recorder and makes real people, including his perfect wife and his mistress. He could also destroy the creations by destroying the tape. Cut to Rod Serling's closing monologue about how the story was complete fiction. The main character interrupts Rod to warn him about saying such things, revealing a line of tape labelled "Rod Serling" and tossing it onto the fire. This was the first appearance of Rod onscreen to do the monologue and was so well received that he came on for almost every episode afterwards. However, it was the only time he interacted with the story's characters. The original story by Richard Charles Matheson was far darker, and involved the author becoming bored with Reality Warping and making people, even creating monsters and other horrors.
  • Season 4 of Once Upon a Time introduces The Author, a person tasked with recording all history in the storybook using a magic quill that makes him a Reality Warper. Anything the Author writes with the quill will come true, though there are limitations - an Author cannot change the true past, including bringing back the dead (though these limitations do not apply to anything that happens in an alternate reality created by the Author, as Isaac Heller did by writing Heroes and Villains - reverting everything to normal caused everyone who died in that timeline to be restored to life), they cannot change the outcome of a Savior's Final Battle, and if they use the pen to write their own happy ending, they lose their powers as an Author.
  • The final episode of Brazilian sitcom Toma Lá Dá Cá imbues the character whose actor is the show's lead writer with this so the cast can escape a helpless situation - i.e. a literal case of Only the Author Can Save Them Now.
  • The first-season final episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law reveals that the AI overseer K.E.V.I.N. is responsible for writing all of the stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When Jen complains that the finale is too formulaic — with villains stealing powers via a blood transfusion, a big CGI-overdosed fight, and the gratuitous return of forgotten characters — [[spoiler:K.E.V.I.N. agrees and rewrites the ending to address her complaints.


  • Parodied to confusing and hilarious effect in The Goon Show episode "Six Charlies in Search of an Author". ("Ten pounds, Neddie, to be paid in money before Chapter Ten! And don't try to slip past us, Neddie, because we have an armed man in the index!")

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Adventure WG7 Castle Greyhawk. One of the dungeon levels has the author of that level being omnipotent and interacting with the PCs as they explore the level.
    • The April Fools section of Dragon magazine #36 has the Dungeon Master (the person who creates an adventure) as a monster who has the power of a deity.
    • It should be noted that multiple DnD media, as well as other Tabletop Game media is general, greatly discourages a DM of pulling this trope, both because the players aren't there to watch the DM go on a power trip with a self insert, but also because it enforces bad habits when it comes to story crafting.

  • The play Six Characters in Search of an Author explores what happens when the author of an unfinished play dies before its completion. Two of the characters are doomed to die, over and over again because the play into which they were written never made it to the stage.
  • A 2008 Viennese production of Madame Butterfly featured the composer, Giacomo Puccini, as a character. He observed the events onstage, occasionally sung lines meant for the male lead, and was haunted by the spirits of the tragic heroines from his other operas as he made the decision to kill Butterfly. It was presumably intended to be a commentary on the cruelty of the audience for wanting to see characters tortured and killed for the sake of drama, and how the composer's hands were tied from making a better, kinder story because of the demands of the audience.
  • Fairview: The play is about an upper-class black family having a dinner party. In the last act, four white people from the audience enter the play and start changing the story. Jimbo enters as Tyrone, and plays Tyrone, previously described as an attorney, as a rapping gangsta draped in gold chains. Dayton the responsible husband and father is suddenly said to have gambled away all the family's savings. Then the white people, continuing to improvise, change the story to say that actually Beverly spent all the family's money on drugs and Dayton has syphillis. Keisha, who was earlier said to be a lesbian, is now pregnant.

    Video Games 
  • This Cracked article details the case of a game (Asheron's Call) where a group of players prevented all others from reaching a boss and made it grow stronger by allowing it to kill them. The admins descended, recruited great heroes from the players, gave themselves the best equipment, and... managed to beat the blockade on the third try.
  • In a rom hack of Paper Mario 64, Paper Mario: Dark Star Edition, the final Boss Fight of the added Dark Temple is a mysterious dark sword. A ShadeBlade, even. It has the power of disabling your ability to use items, or press the B button, and the reward you get for beating it is access to the mod's source code.
  • Maxwell from Scribblenauts and its sequels has limited author powers, being able to write down anything (as a free action, mind you) to will objects into existence (including versions of everyone who made the game), modify objects (himself included) with nearly any adjective, and erase objects from existence. He can't, however, manipulate the terrain or buildings with proper interiors.
  • In The Simpsons Game, The Simpsons fight Matt Groening who creates an army of Bender and Zoidbergs from sketches on paper.
  • In The Stanley Parable, the narrator acts as a sort of fickle Game Master, capable of making considerable changes to Stanley's world to humor or spite the player for taking his story Off the Rails.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Animator vs. Animation features a battle between a stick figure and his off-screen animator in Adobe Flash.
  • Just Some Random Guy does this in a homage to the below mentioned Duck Amuck with Deadpool standing in for Daffy though the author is never shown in this version so its a more direct example.


     Web Original 
  • On Das Sporking, the sporkers tend to wield this sort of power to force fictional characters to spork with them, summon food for therapy, set loose tortures on hated characters, or revitalize co-sporkers who died in some way as a result of the sporking.
  • Ask Vector Prime, a Transformers Facebook post series, reveals that all writers of Transformers fiction are known in-universe as wielders of the Quill, a reality-altering device.
  • The SCP Foundation deals in "pataphysics" (borrowed from the French term), referring to a branch of anomalies that involve, among other things, the link between authors and story:
    • The earliest form of the concept originated in the form of articles that use the premise of "anomalous incidents" to indirectly & even explicitly relate these anomalies to authors who can torture characters at will or rewrite their story to change reality in the blink of an eye. One article suggests that the Foundation has prepared a potential counter-measure to the "bunch of horror writers" in charge, even if that might cause their own fictional reality to vanish.
    • SCP-2747 is an entity existing in narrative space that devours anti-climactic narratives, purging the associated work from history but allowing discussions on the narrative to remain; this effectively makes the idea of the work a form of fiction. Its advance is temporarily halted in SCP-5317 when the Pataphysics Department gets the authors to write a story (the ending of the SCP in question) about how some of the other truths about its nature are never to be discovered. Temporarily, because SCP-2747 breaks through and admits it controls six of the Groups of Interest and the Scarlet King by writing its own ideal stories through them anyways.
    • The Archetypicals series features Dr. Placeholder McDoctorate trying to exploit this trope to juice up a machine he's been working on, which is able to travel through stories (but more practically the far reaches of outer space at FTL speeds.) Apparently, audience reactions can be transformed directly into a form of energy, so Place spends the series trying to elicit certain reactions to get the right amounts to power up the machine.
    • Don Quixote as a fictional character works for the Foundation, having grown past his foolishness and changed his name to Dr. Pierre Menard, head of the Pataphysics Department. A throwaway note from SCP-423 describing him as literally writing the book on metafiction implies he carries some author powers of his own, which is how he's kept his job (and is also how he can keep damaging a wind farm back in Spain every now and then to humor his past and Sancho.)
  • The main character of "Nothing Like The Sun" eventually finds out that she is a fictional character, and brings her authors in to her world in an attempt to force them to use their author powers to get rid of her glowing eyes. However, this doesn't work because the authors only have author powers in their own world, not hers.

    Western Animation 
  • The Looney Tunes cartoon "Duck Amuck" is a famous version of this; Daffy Duck is tormented by the animator who turns out to be Bugs Bunny. It also has a less famous sequel, "Rabbit Rampage", with a similar premise, with Bugs being tormented this time around, with the animator turning out to be Elmer Fudd.
  • In the Adventure Time episode "A Glitch Is a Glitch", Finn says that professional animators must "have no life whatsoever". He then immediately punches himself in the face.
  • 1991 short Manipulation has a similar premise to Duck Amuck, only in this one it's a live-action animator screwing with the cartoon man the animator drew on the page, doing things like blurring the cartoon man's face or stretching out his arms to an absurd length.
  • Animators from The Cleveland Show fit this trope. They live in Cleveland's basement and can draw or erase anything. First they used it to mess with Cleveland, erasing the box he carries, and then another drew a sexy Na'Vi woman for himself.
  • In the South Park "Vaccination Special", Conspiracy Theorist Mr. White takes Mr. Garrison on a journey to take down the "Hollywood elites" behind everything... including the show's creators, who deform and shift him in various ways while he angrily shouts at them before settling on turning him into a giant penis with eyes.
  • Subverted in an episode of The Simpsons. Homer spots a panel from Life in Hell in an Art Museum and insults Matt Groening's work. A giant pencil descends eraser first onto his forehead. It is actually two movers bringing in a modern art exhibit.
  • The episode of Beetlejuice "The Chromazone", where the title refers to a The Twilight Zone-like Show Within a Show created through such powers by Tod Sperling, including when he's Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud. Beetlejuice is recruited to save Tod from Ima Loony, a rebellious character of his who started doing her own scripts and wants to do a Hostile Show Take Over. It's all solved when Beetlejuice's friend Lydia uses the typewriter to make Tod and Ima fall in love.
  • The End: The characters in a cartoon find out that they're in a cartoon, and the animator tells them that he controls them completely. Then the animator realizes that he is a character in his own cartoon and can control his reality. The end of the cartoon has the animator morphing through several different body shapes and flipping between genders as he realizes he has complete control over everything.


Video Example(s):


Brandon Rogers

While Brandon Rogers' characters can throw all the shade they want, they are still under his power.

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