Dumbledore: The odd thing is, Harry, that it may not have meant you at all.
The Chosen One is always the only person who can save the world and/or defeat the Big Bad. And there is usually some specific requirement that only they fulfill that makes them The Chosen One. But sometimes, there is more than one individual who fulfills that requirement, and either The Chooser of The One or fate itself has to make the ultimate decision as to who will actually become The Chosen One. Sometimes this can happen because there are multiple choosers who do not agree with each other.
There are several scenarios in which this trope can manifest in a work:
- Scenario 1: Where there are several candidates that fate itself chooses from. Either by prophecy or pure dumb luck, one of them happens to receive that "special destiny" that makes them The Chosen One. One particular way this can play out is if there is a prophecy about The Chosen One that more than one individual is capable of fulfilling.
- Scenario 2: Where there are several candidates that The Chooser of The One character chooses from based off of specific requirements that the candidates meet that make them special.
- Scenario 3: A combination of the first two where a character intends to be The Chooser of The One for one (set of) candidate(s) but is preempted by destiny/luck itself who chooses another. This may lead to a situation where the rejected candidate(s) is/are more qualified to be The Chosen One than the actual Chosen One.
Each scenario is "multiple choice" in the sense that who or what is doing the choosing has several options to choose from, instead of a situation where only one person is capable of being The Chosen One. Subtrope of The Chosen One. Compare with The Chosen Zero and The Poorly Chosen One, where the wrong Chosen One is selected. Contrast The Chosen Many, where all possible candidates are chosen. One of the less/not worthy may end up as The Chosen Wannabe.
- In Noir, only two female assassins can become Noir, but there are three candidates: Mireille (who developed outside of Altena's influence), Kirika (who was partially raised by Altena but then let out into the world and got Laser-Guided Amnesia), and Chloe (completely raised by Altena). This is complicated by the fact that there are multiple choosers in Les Soldats: Altena prefers Kirika and Chloe, others prefer Kirika and Mireille, and the male leaders want to scrap the whole Noir thing completely and kill all three. In the end, it is Kirika herself who chooses Mireille as her partner, and then both abandon the Noir ritual.
- In Ushio and Tora, prior to Ushio being chosen by the Beast Spear, the only weapon that can kill Hakumen No Mono, there were four other candidates who were chosen as potential wielders. When they find that the spear didn't go to any of them, but someone who hadn't even been trained for it, they were initially upset, but after meeting Ushio they become supportive allies.
- When Doctor Strange loses the right to be the Sorcerer Supreme due to his actions during World War Hulk (long story), he knows that there are several possible candidates to be the next Sorceror Supreme (he even shows the Avengers their images). The Eye of Agamotto has vanished and will go to the candidate, and Dr. Strange must find and train him or her.
- Green Lantern: When then-Green Lantern Abin Sur is dying on an alien planet (Earth) he finds two men exactly equally qualified to be the next Green Lantern. The only reason he chooses Hal Jordan instead of the other one is that Jordan is nearer. Later, that other one (Guy Gardner) becomes Earth's "backup Green Lantern" and still later a Lantern in his own right.
- In Kung Fu Panda, Master Oogway is to choose one of the Furious Five (who have all received extensive kung fu training) to become the Dragon Warrior, but ends up choosing Po by pure dumb luck. However, he accepts this as destiny and sticks with his decision.
- In the Star Wars original trilogy, there are only two Force-sensitive individuals among the younger generation: Luke Skywalker and his sister Leia. But Obi-Wan chooses to send Luke to Yoda for training, and does not seem to consider the other. Yoda is mindful of the other option though, just in case Luke falls to the Dark Side or dies.
- In Harry Potter, Trelawny's prophecy about The Chosen One to defeat Lord Voldemort applied to both Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom at the time that she said it, but Voldemort himself chose Harry when he tried to kill him, which applied the final part of the prophecy to Harry only. Neville still ends up being instrumental to his defeat.
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Initially, there's only one candidate for The Chosen One specified in the Great Prophecy, Percy Jackson (since it necessitates a demigod child of either Hades, Zeus, or Poseidon to reach their Dangerous 16th Birthday, and he's the only one they know about). However, more candidates appear in later books — other demigod kids of those three gods born earlier and have had their aging halted by extraneous circumstances — and the gods attempt to manipulate which one the chosen one will be to suit their own ends.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: There is an oft-mentioned prophecy about the prince that was promised, or Azor Ahai, who will save the world from darkness. In-universe, it has been speculated at different times to refer to Rhaegar Targaryen, Daenerys Targaryen, and Stannis Baratheon. The vagueness of the criteria of the prophecy and its applicable parallels to stories of the heroes means it could apply to other characters too, such as Jon Snow.
- Played with in The Brightest Shadow. If one Hero is killed, The Legend pretends that person was never the Hero at all and a different person was supposedly the Hero all along.
- In The Malloreon, this is the result of an ancient catastrophe that divided the universe: two Prophecies, each a Sentient Cosmic Force with a long chain of Chosen Ones to champion it, and the final victory of one Prophecy over the other decided by a mortal third party.
- Takes place at a species level in Lensman. The Arisians have been selectively breeding four species to the point where their offspring would be Stage 3 Lensmen. They eventually settle on humans.
- The Lost Years of Merlin combines this with Prophecy Twist in the third book: a dragon has awoken and is destined to undergo a Mutual Kill with a descendant of someone he fought in the past—which happens to include Merlin's grandfather. However, at the end of the story we learn that said dragon also once fought the kreelixes, Anti-Magic creatures that have been causing trouble throughout the book.
- The Great Tree Of Avalon takes an interesting approach, as there are two Chosen Ones: the Ambiguously Evil Child of the Dark Prophecy, said to be born during Year of Darkness, and the Heir of Merlin, a Big Good who is described as being "like a brother" to the former. Throughout the first book it's implied that the adoptive brothers Tamwyn and Scree, both born during the Year of Darkness, fit the two roles, but it's not clear who is who. It turns out that Tamwyn is both.
- In Legend Of The Animal Healer, Martine (who is white and half-African) feels guilty about being chosen because she's not native to the region. Her mentor explains that every child has the chance to be chosen, but that Jemmy was looking for one with a very complicated, specific mix of heroic traits. It's not about race, or even moral superiority, but having the willingness and ability to do a very specific job. A job that involves healing animals all across the world, not just African ones.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 7 we learn about Potentials, girls all over the world who have the potential to become the next Vampire Slayer once the current one dies. Buffy gathers a bunch of them together in her house to teach them about slaying for when the time comes that one of them will be chosen.
- Dragon Age
- At the start of Dragon Age: Origins, Warden-Commander Duncan chooses which of six potential recruitment leads - chosen based off of their potential abilities to resist/fight the Blight - to follow up on and make a Warden. Accordingly, the game has Multiple Game Openings, one for each possible recruit who can become the Player Character, while the other five die shortly thereafter without Duncan to save them.
- At the start of Dragon Age: Inquisition, four individuals, one from each of the races the player can choose from, are present at the Conclave for various reasons. One of those four overheard the Divine being attacked and interrupted a blood magic ritual, resulting in that person gaining the Anchor that makes them the only person capable of doing anything about the Breach. The other three were among the many casualties of the Breach's opening.
- In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, about halfway through the main quest the Player Character finds the Cave of the Incarnate, where the shades of several Dunmer who met the basic conditions of the Nerevarine Prophecy can be found. They all died under various circumstances before they could fulfill the prophecy. A popular fan theory is that there isn't really one true Nerevarine, but that anyone who fills the criteria set forth in the prophesy can become the Nerevarine via a strange phenomenon in the Elder Scrolls setting known as "mantling."
- Kingdom Hearts has a rare instance where The Chosen Many is multiple-choice. In order to create the χ-blade, Xehanort requires a grand total of 20 candidates: seven Guardians of Light and thirteen Seekers of Darkness. The original plan was to use the seven Princesses of Heart and the members of Organization XIII, but the former were rescued by Sora, while approximately half of the latter weren't up to snuff. For Xehanort's second attempt, the seven could be either the Princesses or exceptional Keyblade wielders on the side of good, while he has settled for the thirteen to be different versions of himself across time, including victims of a mass-Grand Theft Me plan (i.e., the other half of the original Organization). By the time this is made known to the heroes, only one seeker of darkness is left undecided, while the heroes have to scramble to secure four other Keyblade wielders so the Princesses won't fall prey to Xehanort again.
- In Wandersong, this is what ultimately starts the plot. Everybody in the world got a dream involving the Angel and the sword, but only Audrey Redheart passed the test, making her the Hero.
- Rice Boy: T-O-E is a Seeker, charged with finding and naming the Fulfiller of an ancient prophecy. According to the terms of the prophecy, the Fulfiller will bring back the Avatar of Mind and restore balance to the world by changing form three times, journeying to the Iron Tower, and then dying. The twist is that T-O-E's word is no guarantee that a designated Fulfiller will succeed at the quest, or even try in the first place. He's been naming Fulfillers for thousands of years, and they've all turned into Knights Templar or otherwise proven themselves unsuitable.
All of that's in the backstory. In the present, T-O-E's latest candidate is the humble Rice Boy—who, to everyone's surprise, looks like he might actually fulfill the prophecy. Rice Boy changes form three times, and he reaches the Iron Tower. And at that point, he realizes the final twist: T-O-E, who accompanied him to the Iron Tower for his protection, has also changed form three times, and could very well be the Fulfiller himself. Sure enough, an old enemy kills T-O-E immediately after, and that finally fulfills the prophecy.
- One episode of Mighty Max has Virgil introduce Max(well) to a boy named Max(imilian), explaining that the two were born five minutes apart and thus this new guy might be the real Mighty One. As such, both go on a mission to see who will turn out more successful. Naturally the new guy isn't the right candidate, and in fact is currently being Mind Controlled by Skullmaster.
- In Miraculous Ladybug, technically anybody can use a Miraculous, so the team often switch and/or combine jewels to overcome tricky obstacles. Even so, every hero feels drawn to a specific jewel, and they will be less effective using one that isn't "theirs". The episode Desperada shows an example: Cat Noir tries many times to save someone using the Snake Miraculous' power, but Luka (who was, ironically, the Guardian's second choice) succeeds almost immediately.