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Magic 8-Ball

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A Magic 8-Ball is, in general, any tool that is used in order to gain advice or try to predict the future. It must be a prop or other physical object, since any characters would fall under Mentors or some other advice dispenser instead. It must be able to accept questions and respond in turn.

In reality, a Magic 8 Ball is a classic toy consisting of a hollow plastic sphere containing blue liquid and a 20-sided die with different phrases printed on the sides. You would ask it a question, then flip it over and a random response would come up in the window built into it. As a result, there are various uses of the possible responses involved, as well as of the Magic 8 Ball itself. The details and phrases involved can be found on Wikipedia.

See also Ouija Board and Crystal Ball.


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    Comic Books 
  • Fateball from the The Craptacular B Sides gets her name from her 8-ball that accurately tells the future with the occasional bit of snark.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Arc Corp: When Blake infiltrates the Schnee auction in Vale, the anomaly on offer is an unassuming magic 8-ball toy, except it apparently gives specific and accurate answers to any question it's asked; something that has to be a trick given how the Schnees usually operate. After Blake, Jaune, Ruby, and Qrow (the latter under Ozpin's employ) snatch it in the middle of a criminal gang war over who gets to own the device, they discover that it's only magic so far as it can read the user's mind and spit back out any information they know, meaning it can only be used to jog one's memory. Qrow leaves upon this realization, and Arc Corp end up using it as a glorified paperweight for lack of anything else.
  • Chaos Theory Z: The Scroll of Knowledge is this. When the Z Fighters first summon Shenron to revive Yamcha, and Kami tells them to wait a year so he can train with King Kai, Kayos takes the opportunity to wish for an indestructible magic scroll that will answer any question he asks of it, which he uses as a significant aid for the group’s training.

    Films — Animation 
  • One of the original DVD bonus features for Shrek featured the Magic Mirror functioning as a Magic 8-Ball, playing a randomly selected response at the press of a button. Many of the mirror's answers, such as "Without a doubt" and "My sources say no" are quoted directly from the 8-Ball itself.
  • Woody consults one in Toy Story, hoping that Andy would take him to Pizza Planet since he's only allowed to bring one toy. The result: "Don't count on it."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used by a player in the 1994 version of Angels in the Outfield in an attempt to get a prediction on the outcome of the upcoming game. He hastily re-shakes it when it initially comes up negative.
  • The hero of Interstate 60 gets the magic ball after wishing for "An answer to my life." The ball does give correct, if vague answers. Near the end the hero throws the ball away in frustration, but by then it's obvious the true answer is at the end of the road, and the ball was only guiding him in the right direction.

  • The Lord of the Rings parody Bored of the Rings. The mallomar (its version of the palantír) acts like one of these, including giving the answer "Reply Hazy, Ask Again Later".
  • The Spell of the Eighth Sphere in The Legends of Ethshar series: A literally magical 8-Ball.
  • In the John Bellairs novel The House With a Clock in Its Walls, the protagonists use a Magic 8-Ball to find the eponymous clock. Wizard Jonathan and witch Mrs. Zimmerman both try to use the 8-Ball without success. Eventually, Jonathan's nephew Lewis is able to get the 8-Ball to display the message "COAL BIN." (Like any magical object, the 8-Ball only works for its owner).
  • In George Alec Effinger's short story "The Great God Quay" from the Star Wars anthology Tales from Jabba's Palace, the Weequay all carry totems resembling the Magic 8-Ball, and firmly believe that their god Quay can communicate with them through it. They don't always get an answer, but assume that Quay must be busy with someone else's totem, and will happily keep shaking the thing until they get a response.
  • In Harry Turtledove's The Valley-Westside War, it is strongly implied that the Valley's king consults one of these to decide whether to go to war with the Westside and ultimately chooses to do so. Fridge Horror, especially when you consider that the 8-ball is significantly more likely to give an affirmative response than a negative one.
  • In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, Greg ends up with a Magic 8-Ball. It gives surprisingly accurate answers and good advice whenever he consults it. He gets in trouble when he uses it during a test and the teacher accuses him of bringing a cheating device. A more reasonable person has to point out that the 8-Ball is just a toy. The 8-Ball eventually breaks and Greg stops using it. Until the end of the book, when he tries to shake it one last time for fun, accidentally drops it, and while searching for it finds the Easter Egg with the diamond ring in it.
  • Gil's All Fright Diner: A teenage witch consults a spirit-inhabited Magic 8 Ball toy for information. Its responses are more varied than the original toy's options, but because the spirit doesn't like her much, it's not always much help.
  • The Trials of Apollo: A magical Magic 8 Ball is used to communicate with a ghost. This ghost cannot speak because he's missing a head and he's touchy about being illiterate, so he communicates with an 8 Ball that occasionally shows what he wants to say.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents called "The Money", Hitch has a giant 8 Ball as a prop in the intro.
  • Angel. Spoofed in "Players" with a literal Magic 8 ball that Lorne uses to tell fortunes.
  • The Big Bang Theory: After the cast builds a battle robot, Raj suggests using it to cut open a magic eight ball to discover what is inside it.
  • Big Wave Dave's: Referenced when Dave has an important decision to make, he asks Richie what he should do because Marshall (his usual go-to guy for this sort of thing) is out of town.
    Richie: In that case why don't you ask your magic 8 ball?
    Dave: I did, it always came back "ask again later."
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: After the department hires a new IT person (one who had previously hacked their system), Sgt. Jeffords explains how the team looks out for each other. He then rhetorically asks a magic 8-ball what would happen if the new guy ever betrayed them. Instead of shaking it, he crushes it with one hand.
    Sgt. Jeffords: Answer unclear, try again later.
  • The Colbert Report: In the first installment of the "Stephen Colbert's Bears and Balls" segment (parodying Jim Cramer's Mad Money and its reliance on sound effects buttons), Colbert's giant red button only had four phrases, "Yes!", "No!", "Ask again later," and "We'll be right back!"
  • In the Friends episode "The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS", when Ross is faced with either divorce or cutting Rachel out of his life he resorts to consulting an 8-ball. His friends think the idea is ludicrous (except for Phoebe), but they can't come up with anything better. When it keeps displaying the "ask again later" message Ross gets mad and assumes it's broken so Monica decides to test it.
    Monica: Will Chandler have sex tonight? (turns over the ball) "Don't count on it". Seems like it works to me.
  • iCarly: In "iMeet Fred", Spencer relies on a "magic meatball" for all of his decisions. It makes him go through with several bad choices, e.g. drinking ketchup and buying an ostrich, but he finally tosses it when it won't tell him to take an offer to display his pop art sculptures in a gallery.
  • On The King of Queens, the Mentalo toy from Doug's childhood (as well as its knockoff, Mental-Man) was a pull-string fortune-teller in a turban (or fez, respectively), but the character of its answers qualifies it as a variant of the eight-ball.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: In "Guide to Failing," Ned relies on a Magic Pyramid toy to keep him from failing his exam, and he ends up getting a B. Shortly afterward, the abrasive school counselor smashes it to make Ned focus on actual study methods.
  • In The Pretender episode "Past Sim", Jarod learns about the Magic 8-Ball, and near the end of the episode he leaves one for his pursuers, displaying the message "Don't count on it".
  • In a Scrubs episode, J.D. has an Imagine Spot where Kelso uses Ted as a "human magic 8 ball"; he holds Ted's head between his hands, shakes it, then asks him a question.
    Ted: Ask again later. OH GOD WHY WOULD I SAY THAT?
  • Seinfeld: In one episode, Patrick Warburton's character, Puddy, buys a jacket with a giant 8-Ball logo on the back.
    Elaine: Are you going to wear that all the time?
    Puddy: [points at the back of his jacket] All signs point to yes.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "Nick of Time", the "Mystic Seer" fortune-telling machine is this, the always-accurate predictions having a tendency to drive people mad with obsession.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Fallout 2: A Magic 8 Ball may be found at a pool table in New Reno. Besides vague advices, it occasionally reveals valuable in-game information such as a computer password. If the protagonist's Luck stat is high enough, humorous messages from the authors may show up too. The protagonist ends up wondering how advanced the ancestors were if they created such a miracle.

  • Magic 8-Balls are in Homestuck, but there's a more powerful variant in the Magic Cue Ball, which gives perfect answers but has no window through which to see them and so only people with special vision like Vriska are able to use them. Vriska has an addiction to breaking actual Magic 8 Balls.
  • An arc of Precocious parodied this with the "On Cue Ball," which didn't so much give advice as it ridiculed everything and everyone.
  • The Foolamancer from Erfworld, Jack, wields a staff topped by a Magic 8-Ball, and occasionally consults it. He has also referenced the lines used by it when asked a question.
  • Knights of the Dinner Table #170 had an ad on page 74 for "ThinkGeek's Magic d20 of Destiny". It's shaped like a 20-sided die the size of your fist, and the messages it gives are appropriate for an RPG like Dungeons & Dragons; e.g., "Run! It's a trap!"
  • In this strip of Adventurers!, Karn obtains and consults a "Magic Eight Squall."
  • Penny Arcade has an interesting subversion in the Magic Hate Ball. See it here.
  • In Level 8 of Rusty and Co. the "8-bit 8-ball" is an artifact that predicts the future. It's easy to identify as a powerful magic item, since its mere presence makes the comic's picture all around it getting low-resolution, as in an 8-bit picture. It is artifacting.
  • The Order of the Stick: When given the choice between a high-level Incarnum user, fortune cookies and a magic 8-ball to perform a divination, Redcloak orders to bring the cookies and keep the 8-ball on standby.
  • The webcomic Safely Endangered features a two-panel strip where a person asks his Magic 8-Ball if he's stupid. The second panel reveals that he's holding a bowling ball.

    Web Original 
  • Parodied in Twitch Plays Pokémon, where the players keep checking the Helix Fossil every few minutes, asking it for guidance. It now has its own website.
  • "Kurt Cobain's Magic Talking 8-Ball" was a page (defunct for years) where you could type in a question and be answered by a soundbite from the eponymous musician.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • "Club Spongebob" has the Magic Conch Shell, a toy with a pull string that answers questions. Squidward is skeptical of the advice, especially when he, Spongebob, and Patrick get lost in a kelp forest and it tells them to do "nothing".
    • In the episode "Mr. Krabs Takes A Vacation", SpongeBob's eyes form the triangles seen in a Magic 8 Ball.
  • On Rocko's Modern Life, Ed Bighead rises through the ranks at Conglom-O by following the advice of the Magic Meatball. Then it breaks and he has a nervous breakdown that culminates in him losing his promotion and having to join a support group for people who are overly reliant on the Magic Meatball for advice.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Bart's Friend Falls in Love": Milhouse gets a Magic 8 Ball for his birthday. Bart has to tell him what it even is because Milhouse thinks it's an "oversized novelty billiard ball". The two boys ask a few questions which result in very undesirable answers from the Magic 8 Ball, which negatively affects the boys' state of mind. Eventually, Bart uses the 8 Ball as a weapon when an enraged Milhouse attacks him. Afterwards, he looks at its broken remains and quips "Boy, I bet the 8 Ball didn't see that one coming."
  • The Venture Brothers: Manic 8-Ball is a superhuman with powers greater than a Magic 8 Ball, because while he works the same way, his answers aren't random and they aren't limited to a preset selection. He started out as an underling of Baron Underbheit, but when the latter betrayed him and his other generals, he got out.
  • An episode of The Angry Beavers had the Beavers use a "mystical seven ball" for advice on how to deal with a group of lumberjacks destroying their forest. At the end of the episode, where the Beavers have a Pyrrhic Victory due to the lumberjacks finally leaving (with all their timber), the ball shows up and mocks them for taking advice from a billiard ball replica.
    Norb: Dag, get my hammer.
    Dag: Ball-peen or framing?
    Norb: Both.
    Dag: Indeed.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: The pilot short had Timmy, who is stuck at home with Vicky, ask his "Magic 9 Ball" when his parents will come home from the movies. It responds, "Titanic: Director's Cut", suggesting that they'll remain absent for quite a while. A frustrated Timmy then throws the ball at the wall, causing it to crack open and reveal Cosmo and Wanda.
  • Family Guy: In "Stewie's First Word", Peter finds an old Magic 8-Ball at a goodwill store and spends some time playing with it. When he asks it if FOX will survive in the age of streaming, it promptly explodes.
  • Close Enough: In "Skate Dad", when Josh is trying to get Candice interested in his old toys, one of them is a Magic 8 Ball with "7+1" printed on it.
    Josh: Magic 8 Ball, are we havin' a great time right now? (shakes ball)
    Magic 8 Ball: We?
    Josh: Huh? (looks up, sees Candice back on her tablet)