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My Significance Sense Is Tingling

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"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened."
Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope, following the destruction of Alderaan by the Death Star.

Often used in stories featuring cosmic villainy. In the immediate aftermath of a noteworthy event, there will be a brief (usually no more than three panels) cut-away to an easily recognizable character from the same fictional universe. The character will then remark that his super-powers or Applied Phlebotinum sensors indicate an event of great significance has taken place, although he does not know what that event might be.

Note that the sense itself is referenced on the Spider-Sense page. This trope here is the use of that sense (or something that works just like it) to know that something has just happened instead of knowing something is about to happen.

Compare The Force Is Strong with This One (a character who can sense another character's Power Level), Seers, Gut Feeling, I'm Crying, but I Don't Know Why, Synchronization and Sneeze Cut.



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    Comic Books 
  • In the Marvel Universe:
    • Spider-Man is the serial perpetrator of this trope. Whenever something cosmic goes down, his Spider-Sense goes haywire.
    • Doctor Strange is a similar barometer for Big Events in the magical world.
    • Uatu the Watcher shows up and stands around ominously whenever the writers feel the need to add cosmic weight to an event. Used by genre-savvy villain Thanos in the Infinity Gauntlet mini-series to identify the start of hostilities. He knows it's about to go down because the Watcher has appeared in space by his temple. This may well be why Marvel did away with Uatu in the Original Sin crossover in 2014. Virtually everyone in the Marvel universe knew that Uatu's presence was a bellwether for Important Cosmic Stuff.
    • Single-issue example: Wisdom #5 comes at it from both ends, with the fairy and the alien both sensing a "change in the worlds".
    • In the original Dark Phoenix story, when Jean initially goes crazy in Central Park and easily whups the X-Men, about three or four panels show the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, and the Silver Surfer reacting to the massive outpouring of bad energy.
    • Something very similar was caused purposely by the Silver Surfer in the early stages of Atlantis Attacks. And an even more similar stance happened in the mid-1970s Avengers story that featured Michael Korvak slaughtering Starhawk.
    • Captain Marvel possessed an ability named "cosmic awareness" which allowed him to detect threats and perceive changes in the universe as long as they are important to him for some reason. This ability could be used internally, allowing him to know he was dying of cancer before it was even confirmed. His Distaff Counterpart and later successor Carol Danvers had a limited variant of this ability that would activate against her control.
    • In his original incarnation, one of Drax the Destroyer's powers was Telepathy which he could use to track Thanos across vast distances. After his second reincarnation, Drax loses his telepathy but possessed the ability to either sense Thanos or other beings who have been in recent contact with Thanos, alongside a precognitive ability to sense when beings will be in contact with Thanos in the near future.
  • In The DCU:
    • The Joker ceasing to laugh has been used as a sign that something really bad is happening.
    • And The Phantom Stranger will always be drawn to the scene of any universe-altering calamity.
  • Parodied in the underground comic normalman.
  • The Sandman occasionally has Destiny turning the pages of his book and looking troubled. One of these, in issue 5, is the first time we ever see Destiny (in The Sandman, at any rate).
  • Parodied in Scott Pilgrim: When Scott's sister and girlfriend strike up a friendship independently from him, Scott is suddenly struck with an ominous feeling.
  • Parodied in Gold Digger. Future-Gina-from-the-past uses a technique that prompts this reaction from a HUGE number of people. Said technique, using the force of time itself? Millennium Pimp Slap! (She uses it to smack her bitch up!)
  • Hellboy
    • In Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, when Rasputin begins waking the Ogdru Jahad, the action briefly cuts to a group of aliens from another dimension who exclaim that "It's moving! Its Readings Are Off the Scale!"
    • Another Hellboy story has a flashback to Hellboy, aged 2, being persuaded to eat a pancake for the first time. Cut to Hell, where a bunch of high-ranking demons react with horror. "He has eaten the pancake." "Truly this is our darkest hour." (It's never explained just why eating a pancake is so significant. Word of God is that the scene isn't entirely canonical, and is just supposed to be funny.) It actually is explained (though a little Fridge Brilliance might help) since the eating of the pancake makes Hellboy too happy with leaving Earth as it is to fulfill his destiny and destroy everything. Of course, the fact of the matter is, the whole thing just falls under Rule of Funny anyway.
  • In the Emerald Fallout arc of Guy Gardner: Warrior (which preceded Emerald Twilight in Green Lantern), Guy receives a vision of Oa's destruction, and of Hal Jordan killing Sinestro, after his yellow power ring began to malfunction.
  • Happens very frequently in ElfQuest. Savah and Suntop pretty much embody the trope, Dewshine had her moment when Scouter and Tyleet Recognized, and Pike knew when Skot died.
  • In Strikeforce: Morituri, Scanner had clairsentience, though he initially thought it was super senses until the psychic aspect became known.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Baby Blues comic, Daryl decides to throw out Zoe and Hammie's Whistling Monkey Cowboy Band video cassettes because they have lost interest in them. Or, not entirely—when dropped in the bin, Zoe rushes to Hammie's bed in the middle of the night and says "I sense a disturbance in the force."
  • Parodied in Zits. Jeremy has just received a credit card; meanwhile, in another room of the house, his father suddenly remarks : "I sense a disturbance in the Force".
  • Unintentionally defied in the Spider-Man newspaper comic strip, where Spider-Man's spider-sense frequently just seems to cease to exist.

    Films — Animation 
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 has Master Shifu sensing Po being shot by Lord Shen's cannon. Also at the end, Po's biological father senses his son is alive and well.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avengers: Infinity War does this in an absolutely heartbreaking way after Thanos erases half of the life in the universe with the complete Gauntlet. Mantis's empathetic powers allow her to sense the pain, sorrow, and fear of countless sentient beings turning to ash—" happening..."—just before she is taken herself. Immediately after this, Peter Parker's Spider-Sense starts going haywire: "Mr. Stark? I don't feel so good..." Since this power allows him to foretell danger, it's an indication that his body knows he's about to be consumed, too, and he spends his last seconds alive begging Tony to save him: "I don't wanna go..."
  • In one scene from Babylon A.D., kooky Precog and the film's resident MacGuffin Aurora declares, "They're all dead." A split-second later, a television screen displays a news report on how the peaceful church of women she comes from was blown up by a missile.
    • Not quite — the news report is playing on a multi-screen TV, and other character just brings up the report to full screen after she reacts to it. She does have the ability to take in and process vast amounts of information though, so the effect is the same. Earlier in the movie she knows a bomb is going to go off in the marketplace before it happens.
  • In the Highlander series, Immortals can sense the nearby presence of others of their kind.
  • The Lord of the Rings
    • In the Peter Jackson version of The Return of the King, immediately after Frodo puts on the Ring and the Eye turns to Mount Doom, the movie cuts to Gandalf. His expression is one of utter despair; it isn't clear whether he knows exactly what's happened, but he obviously knows how bad it is. He knows that Frodo has fallen to the Ring and alerted Sauron of his presence.
      • He may have sensed it through his possession of Narya (one of the Three Noldor Rings, of which The One Ring would be Master if Sauron got his hand on the latter).
    • And the scene earlier on in which Legolas is commenting that "something stirs in the East," just before Pippin tries to use the Palantír and draws Sauron's attention to Edoras.
  • Seen in the Mystery Science Theater 3000-featured movie The Pumaman. The main character will often grab his forehead when he "senses danger." Just what you want in a superhero — when he senses danger, he gets a headache. Not to mention he only manages to do so once or twice out of the several times he's attacked.
  • Star Wars:
    • Naturally, Obi-Wan Kenobi's famous line in A New Hope after the destruction of Alderaan, quoted at the top of the page.
    • Although he doesn't say anything, Yoda is visibly weakened and suffering as he feels the Jedi across the universe being wiped out in Revenge of the Sith.
    • In both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, Yoda also reacts to pivotal moments in Anakin's descent towards the Dark Side when he gives in to his anger.
    • Also in Star Wars, the protagonists — Force-sensitive and non-sensitive alike — possess a tendency to "have a bad feeling about this".
    • The lack of this feeling indicates to Leia that Luke is still alive after the Death Star II explodes.
    • It was also inverted in Return of the Jedi when Han Solo has a funny feeling that he's not going to see the Millennium Falcon again — but the ship goes on to survive (narrowly, and more due to test audience results than anything else) the destruction of the Death Star.
    • In The Force Awakens, Leia feels Han's death through the Force, after he is killed by their own son.
      • Likewise in the novelization, she is so overcome with the Force that she collapses from all the terror, pain and death she feels from the doomed denizens of the Hosnian Cataclysm.
    • Used again, in The Last Jedi, as both Rey and Leia sense Luke merging with the Force after using an Astral Projection to buy time for the Resistance to escape from Crait aboard the Millennium Falcon. Earlier, averted by the fact that Luke didn't sense Han dying, having purposely avoided using the Force for years out of guilt.
    • Then in The Rise of Skywalker, Leia is able to feel the fight between Rey and her son, who in turn the two are able to feel Leia's death from giving herself to the Force to stop said fight. Later, Finn appears to sense Rey's death; fortunately Ben Solo revives her.
  • All over the place in The Shadow, but there's one moment that stands out. The Shadow's cabbie, Moe Shrevnitz, is reading a book called How to Unlock Your Psychic Abilities. "I sense somebody's coming," he muses. Sure enough, a Mongol Warrior falls from a great height.

  • The Animorphs series gives this ability to Cassie. In the fourth book, she's able to feel Ax's psychic calls for help in vague dreams. It reaches a pinnacle in Back to Before, when Crayak alters history to keep the Animorphs from ever walking through the abandoned construction site where they met Elfangor and began their quest to save the world. Despite the massive changes to the fabric of space-time, Cassie is still able to detect that something is horribly wrong. The Ellimist then reveals that Cassie is an "anomaly" who always senses the way reality is supposed to be, regardless of any alterations made to it. Her presence naturally disrupts and eventually destroys any new timelines, forcing Crayak to "play fair" in his everlasting game against the Ellimist.
  • Isaac Asimov's Pebble in the Sky: The Mind Touch, part of Schwartz's Psychic Powers, gives him the ability to sense the location and intentions of the people around him, up to a great distance and through solid walls. It doesn't exactly give him the ability to predict their actions, but to know what they've decided to do before they're able to do it.
  • In the Doctor Who Missing Adventures novel Millennial Rites, the transformation of half of London into a Low Fantasy Cosmic Horror Story setting is detected by a blond haired man in a dirty trenchcoat in a Dublin pub and a thoughtful man levitating in a voluminous blue cloak in a New York brownstone.
  • Everworld: When Senna throws open the gateway, she instantly feels all the gods of Everworld, as well as Merlin and the nameless force between the worlds, turn around and notice her.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry's link to Voldemort's mind allows him to determine what Voldemort is feeling during times of high emotion, anger, happiness, etc. However, since Voldemort is usually far away and the visions are not always clear, this ability is often useless, with only a few exceptions. On one occasion, it is even worse than useless when Voldemort plants a fake vision in Harry's mind to lure him into a trap.
    • This is also subverted when it comes to the Horcruxes. Dumbledore guesses (correctly) that Voldemort cannot tell when a Horcrux is destroyed, although Voldemort tries to assure himself (after starting to catch on to the heroes' efforts) that surely he would magically sense if they succeeded in destroying any of his Soul Jars. Dumbledore's theory is that Voldy has sundered his soul so much that he can't detect any further trauma to it. This ends up being crucial later as it means he doesn't realize he accidentally turned Harry into a Horcrux when he tried to kill him.
  • The One Ring and the Palantírs in The Lord of the Rings give their owners some knowledge of the thoughts and actions of the Dark Lord Sauron, at the cost of being at risk of being detected themselves. Sauron himself can see the entire world with his Eye, but only one place at once, and he must know where to look.
  • In the Polish book series Opowieść Piasków (Eng. Story of the sands) by Krzysztof Piskorski, descendants of the gods can sense each other's presence and power level, and are affected by whatever happens to their godly parents. When most of these gods are killed, their descendants all over the world wake up screaming. Some of them go mad or even die from the pain.
  • In Pact, practitioners and Others are sensitive to the function of the universe. Events that realign large numbers of people or disrupt these workings attract attention. When the protagonist is magically made into an Unperson, the effects are felt across all of Toronto.
  • The Riftwar Cycle: Jimmy the Hand has what he calls his "bump of trouble" whenever something big is going down, or while in the presence of magic.
  • Sisterland: When Kate's mother dies of a reaction to her medication, Kate feels desperately sad even though she doesn't get the news until the next day.
  • Inverted in K.H. Metzger's Skye Sparkler, where the title superheroine has a "trouble sense" that tells her when (and approximately where) something bad is about to happen.
  • Star Wars Legends: This of course happens quite often with Jedi and non-Jedi alike.
    • One of the more notable occurrences is in the novel The Last Command, where Grand Admiral Thrawn thinks something is wrong with his race of secret death commandos, but can't for the life of him figure out what. They've turned against the Empire, and one of their number assassinates him in the end.
    • Any time an inhabited planet is destroyed, it creates a "wound in the Force" which is instantly sensed by any Force-Sensitives, trained or not. In Death Star, mildly Sensitive Warrior Poet Nova Stihl wakes up screaming as Despayre is used to test the Death Star out, in the narration saying that it was as if he'd heard a million people cry out, all at once, as they were killed. Later he passes out with a Psychic Nosebleed when Alderaan is destroyed. Untrained Tash Arranda felt it and immediately knew her family was dead. In the Jedi Academy Trilogy a star is forced to go supernova, taking out Carida, and in I, Jedi Corran, while recovering, thinks that "disturbance" is far too mild a term.
  • Time Scout's Ianira Cassondra's clairvoyant trances are powerful enough that she can almost see the face of a blandly bland Master of Disguise.
  • Tortall Universe: In Song of the Lioness, Alanna of Trebond tends to get an itchy nose when magic is occurring nearby. On both occasions when her Goddess appears to her in person, she has an outright sneezing fit.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 novels, Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM's palms have a tendency to tingle or itch whenever he's about to head into some new "bowel-clenching terror." Apparently, this is his subconscious telling him, "I know something you don't, and you're better off this way."
  • The Wheel of Time
    • This composes almost an entire book. One character does something epic and earth-shaking, and the next book is mostly composed of reaction shots of people all over the world sensing it.
    • Later, several channelers get an Obi-Wan Kenobi-style horrified reaction to a "balescream" when The Chosen One uses his +9001 Amplifier Artifact to balefire things out of existence in exactly the same way that nearly destroyed the universe during the last war.
    • Mat has a constant sensation of "dice rolling in his head" which stops at appropriately important moments, but he has no idea what to expect. On one occasion the dice stop when he walks into a room, and he flips out and wonders if one of the Forsaken is going to burst from the fireplace or something. Made hilarious on a second read when you know that 1. the dice stopped because one of the women in the room is his future wife, and 2. Incidentally, one of the other women in the room is one of the Forsaken.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Crow says this after Mike blows up Earth in the episode "The Deadly Mantis" - "I felt... a disturbance... as if a million monkeys cried out at once... and were suddenly silenced."
  • The Amazing Spider-Man (1978) had Peter's spider-sense manifest as precognitive flashes of upcoming or currently-happening-elsewhere events, e.g. a burglary in progress or an upcoming confrontation.
  • Blake's 7.
    • In "Children of Auron", resident telepath Cally senses the mass death from the Synthetic Plague that's wiping out her people and goes catatonic. In the same episode Servalan uses the Auron cloning facility to create children in her own image. However when The Dragon fools her into destroying the facility with Orbital Bombardment (telling her the embryos have been switched), she senses their deaths immediately, and murders The Dragon in revenge.
    • Unfortunately it becomes Nightmare Fail when Cally first lays eyes on Ultraworld and covers her face in horror as she experiences a hallucination of... a disco glitter ball? Blakes 7 didn't have much budget for special effects.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor, and in fact all Time Lords, have the gift of being able to sense the timelines. Though this is only vaguely defined, the Doctor is shown to have instinctive knowledge of when time is fixed or in flux, and has been shown to have an almost physical reaction to time being subverted. For example, Captain Jack, as a fixed point in time, makes the Doctor extremely uncomfortable, even to look at him, until after they spend a year in captivity by the Master, and in "The Waters of Mars", after his whole Time Lord Victorious speech, he sees flashes of the timeline changing.
  • Downton Abbey season 2 had that moment where both Daisy and Mary both sense the men they love, William and Matthew, are in danger when they get injured fighting in World War One.
  • Farscape:
    • Thanks to the neurochip Scorpius implanted in Crichton's brain (and the neural clone that developed from it), Scorpius can sense when Crichton is reconstituted after being crystallized in "The Peacekeeper Wars" and where he is. Crichton is not amused.
    • During the "Liars, Guns and Money" trilogy Stark breaks down screaming when he senses that Scorpius has just executed 10,000 slaves, including members of Stark's species, that the crew of Moya were trying to save.
  • River sometimes in Firefly. In "Out of Gas" she senses incoming fire that kills the engines, though the others assume she means the fire on Simon's birthday candles. It's linked to her brain being altered and her being able to feel emotions and things. It's also how she knows about Miranda in the film.
  • Arthur seems to have this in BBC's Merlin but he muffles it with his Genre Blindness. He says in the pilot that "There's something about you, Merlin. I can't quite put my finger on it." and then promptly forgets it completely. After rescuing a druid boy in The Beginning of the End, he learns the boy's name: Mordred. He seems uneasy and worried, but this never comes up again. In that case it's justified, since he has yet to see him again.
    • Merlin's ability to sense magic can be seen as this. Queen Mab later teaches him how to expand on it to find his way out of an enchanted forest.
  • The Werewolves of The Order hear an annoying ringing sound whenever someone uses dark or harmful magic. This is useful as they are sworn to protect people from dark practitioners, it's also inconvenient as most of the wolves are college students and the ringing is even more annoying when hungover.
  • Scrubs's The Todd has one of these for, er, well:
    [in the doctor's lounge, Carla and Elliot kiss]
    [meanwhile, in the cafeteria...]
    The Todd: Something wonderful is happening.
    [later, in the doctor's lounge]
    Turk: And for the love of God, honey, no more girl-on-girl kissing demonstrations.
    [cut to the cafeteria]
    The Todd: Something horrible has happened.
  • Spock in Star Trek: The Original Series has an Obi-Wan moment nine years before the Trope Namer in "The Immunity Syndrome", where he senses the shock and terror of 400 Vulcan crewmen who were eaten by a giant amoeba. But then again, Vulcans are usually somewhat telepathic if the plot demands it.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation this was one of Troi's main jobs. However, it was a Story-Breaker Power for many mystery solving episodes and so her abilities varied wildly from one episode to another.
    • When Troi wasn't around, Guinan had this ability, especially in regards to the antics of the Reality Warper Q. In "Q Who?", she spends the first portion of the episode with a vague feeling of unease and, when Q makes his appearance, declares "I knew it was you." In "Yesterday's Enterprise," time-travel antics lead to changes on the starship, with Guinan the only person able to realize that something isn't right. The film Generations would reveal that Guinan's powers are possibly derived from the time she spent trapped in the Nexus, giving her a mild degree of omniscience.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Tears of the Prophets," Sisko senses when the Prophets are attacked and the wormhole collapses.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. In "Time and Again", an industrial disaster wipes out an entire planetary civilization. Kes sleeps through the shockwave as it strikes Voyager, but sits up in bed as she telepathically senses the massive death toll.
  • In Stranger Things' third season, Will can sense when the Mind Flayer is active or nearby, apparently as an aftereffect of it having possessed him previously.
  • In Two and a Half Men when Charlie's girlfriend talks to Alan about how her large breasts are causing her back pains, Alan suggests that she gets breast reduction surgery. As soon as he says that, the scene is switched to upstairs, where Charlie immediately awakens and sits up, realizing that something is wrong.
  • In the episode of The Addams Family called "The Addams Family Meet the VI Ps", two Russian diplomats choose a random location from a phonebook using a pin from one of their suits. The scene cuts to Morticia, who fees as if she was struck by a pin.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Mayfair's DC Heroes game actually includes a specific superpower, "Awareness", which is essentially a distillation of this effect.
  • In Nomine has the concept of Disturbance — since angels and demons aren't supposed to be on Earth, it causes a supernatural "noise" whenever they break something, hurt something or kill something that belongs to the physical world. This Disturbance can be heard by other celestials and "aware" humans, who can try to track the noise down to its source. Likewise, using Essence, Songs, and several kinds of Attunement (various supernatural powers) also sets off a Disturbance. And if several of these events happen nearby in time and space, it creates a series of ever-louder "echoes." Big battles with lots of property damage can be heard by a celestial in the next county.
  • In Mage: The Awakening all mages possess an "Unseen Sense" that allows them to realise when any supernatural power is used in their presence (with the possible exception of powers that are supposed to conceal). Mage: The Ascension has the Awareness ability that does the same thing (Alertness is for noticing normal things like someone sneaking up on you).
    • Actually, awareness is just a New World of Darkness ability in general, it's what mortal investigators who are mystically inclined or trained in an occult tradition use. It's not (or not necessarily) supernatural in itself, just this trope played extremely straight in the form of an instinct for incoming plot.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, Psykers can sense when a Tyranid swarm is invading their world... by going insane and dying. Untrained ones can also sense Chaos by becoming demonically possessed.
  • In White Wolf's Vampire games (both Masquerade and Requiem), elder vampires tend to become sedentary... so when they move, it tends to be a big deal. From the New World of Darkness sourcebook Chicago:
    Elders rarely move to Chicago, because elders rarely move, because Kindred who move rarely survive to become elders. Thus, when one shows up, people notice. It's not just the Harpies, not just the courtiers, not just the hooked-up Invictus Ventrue political hacks. Any Kindred who talks to any other Kindred is likely to hear rumors, no matter how half-baked, or illogical. No matter how faded the truth may be from cycling through Chinese Whispers, every Kindred with even the faintest fear of his own kind will hear: something big is coming.
    An elder can sneak into Chicago and conceal her person, but she can only mitigate her impact, not hide it.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Some of the most powerful spells disrupt the Background Magic Field so that wizards of the same school of magic can detect the disturbance from miles away. Generally they'll investigate and take an extremely dim view of a fellow wizard using those spells frivolously.

    Web Animation 
  • Upon a fragment of the Emperor of Mankind being resurrected in If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, we are treated to a quick montage of nearly every psyker in the galaxy briefly freaking out at the massive shockwave of psychic power enveloping the galaxy.
  • In Sonic for Hire, when Mario kills Sonic, instead of sensing worry, the gang suddenly feels a sense of nourishment. Even to Mario's surprise, the outcome ended up making world peace.

    Web Comics 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): I Sense A Disturbance In The Force


Great Disturbance in the Force

Obi-Wan senses the moment Alderaan is destroyed.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / MySignificanceSenseIsTingling

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