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Not So Omniscient After All

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"I have seen everything that has ever happened. Ever will happen. Ever could happen. And yet, what the hell is this?!"
Uatu the Watcher, What If…? (2021)

A character that knows everything, except that he actually doesn't know everything.

He believes himself to be omniscient, other people trust him to be omniscient, or both. In either case, the results can be catastrophic.

Maybe he's just a wannabe, a Small Name, Big Ego or Know-Nothing Know-It-All who talked his way into some undeserved credibility. Or maybe he used to be omniscient, but lost his touch - a dethroned Chessmaster who is no longer on top of the Gambit Pileup, a God who surrendered part of his divinity to be able to live among mortals as one of them, or something.

This is the standard way to dethrone an Omniscient Hero so he becomes more interesting, and a common way for protagonists to get to have a chance against something that looked like an undefeatable Invincible Villain.

This turning point is likely to be a retroactive Moral Event Horizon, as it turns out that all the sacrifices were for nothing. If the character has any insight, then such an event is likely to be a My God, What Have I Done? Heel Realization.

Not So Omniscient After All is a great way to Deconstruct certain Aesops and moral dilemmas: Make them fall apart by showing how complex the world can be and how hard it is to overview a situation without overlooking a lot of stuff that can prove relevant later on.

Compare What If God Was One of Us?


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    Anime and Manga 
  • A Certain Magical Index has Aleister Crowley. He has access to an incredible amount of information as the Board Chairman of Academy City, thanks to surveillance systems like satellites and nanomachines that fill all of the city. He's still caught off guard when Shiage, a Level 0, manages to defeat the Level 5 Shizuri. There are more examples later in the light novels: he doesn't know about World Rejector or Lola Stuart actually being Coronzon.
  • The arbiters in Death Parade come across as this to the deceased souls whom they are tasked with adjudicating, to the point where some guests seem to believe that they are God, but in truth they are simply glorified judges with their own internal biases who make mistakes and aren't given all the information needed, instead often having to fill in the blanks themselves.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Goku is surprised that King Kai with his antennae can observe events of significance in the Milky Way, and telepathically contact anyone in that range; doesn't know where the new homeworld of the Namekians even is, much less be bothered to keep tabs on them, because he assumed that he "knew everything." He was also somewhat alarmed by him knowing nothing of the Cell situation on Earth. King Kai basically retorted that he has a lot of "important godly things" that occupy his time. Goku found him napping in a lawnchair when he met him again. It seems that just because a being CAN see everything, doesn't mean they actually bother to look, or even know where to look.
  • Xiaomei from EDENS ZERO is this entirely by choice. Although she is rumored to know everything across all of time, she really only knows the past and present with absolute certainty. Her knowledge of the future, on the other hand, is limited to various possibilities that (bizarrely enough) all hinge on the outcomes of battles, because a.) knowing everything that will ever happen would be boring, and b.) she gets off on watching people fight.
  • At the end of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Madoka pulls an Abstract Apotheosis and becomes The Omniscient by existing in all points of space and time. Later in Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion, Kyubey creates a space that is isolated from all forms of external influence, preventing Madoka from entering it and blocking out her omniscience. However, the show doesn't explicitly say this, and expects the viewers to figure it out on their own. In fact, Madoka does enter the isolated space...but she has to take the form of a human to do so, causing her to lose her omniscience via losing her omnipresence. Even when the isolated space is broken, this gap in omniscient enabled a shocking event to take her by surprise.

    Comic Books 
  • Chaos War: Hercules temporarily became omniscient. Despite this, he was tricked repeatedly and had to be guided to victory by others. Omniscience is useless if one either ignores it or does not bother to use it.
  • The Infinity Gauntlet: This bites Thanos in the ass hard. Even when the gauntlet grants him complete mastery over every conceivable domain of existence —including the mind— he still writes off Nebula as being a mindless, husk of an organism he just keeps around to torture. Even after he usurps Eternity's position of being the omniscient, omnipresent force of the entire Universe... he's still shocked when it turns out Nebula had at least enough mental faculties to simply take the Gauntlet for herself, take his position for her own, and serve as the Big Bad for the remainder of the miniseries.
  • Lucifer:
    • Invoked when, for one brief moment, Destiny had his omniscience foiled, according to Lucifer. As Lucifer destroys a page in the book of destiny to Destiny's total surprise. In fact it's the first time he shows any emotion. However the ash falls to spell "Yggdrasil" both answering Lucifer's previous question leaving him with no choice about what to do next, as Destiny had predicted.
    • In a different story Destiny gets rid of his book after the interference of people Immune to Fate render it useless.
  • Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan is an omniscient Non-Linear Character. During the storyline, something happens that make him unable to see past a certain point in the future, and he speculates that it could be the fallout and EMP from a large nuclear exchange mucking with his extra-temporal senses. It turns out to be Ozymandias bombarding him with Phlebotinum so that he won't catch on to Ozy's plans too soon.

    Fan Works 
  • The Amazing Spider-Luz in: Across the Owl-Verse!: Emperor Belos presents himself as all-knowing, due to the Titan speaking to him, as part of his Propaganda Machine. However, Lilith starts to realize that this isn't the case, as her conversations with Luz and about her with others makes it clear that Belos is completely oblivious to what things are really like Earth, as he knows nothing about the existence of superheroes and thinks that Luz's powers are unique. By the time he expresses his "divine intuition" that Luz is actually Eda's half-human daughter and that this is the source of her abilities, Lilith finally know for sure that he's lying through his teeth.
  • The Lucifer (2016) fic "The Beginning of Time" opens with Charlotte/the Goddess sending Chloe away to remove her influence over Lucifer, which results in Chloe being sent back in time several thousand years to a point shortly after the dinosaurs became extinct. Once God establishes that she is from the future, he explains that he was unaware of this as his omniscience doesn't extend that far forward, which also limits his ability to send Chloe back to her time as he cannot precisely see the date in question.
  • In Brutal Harry, Dumbledore comes to this realization about himself when he's informed of exactly how badly Harry was abused at the Dursleys and essentially allowed all of his students to suffer under Snape and other bullies at Hogwarts due to his inattentiveness. It's justified by the fact that Dumbledore, in addition to being the headmaster of Hogwarts, is also the Supreme Mugwump of the ICW and the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, and all three jobs are pretty stressful and time-consuming. It's also not helped by the fact that some people are a bit blinded by their faith in his judgement, and thus, rarely question his choices.
  • Child of the Storm has the canonical example of Albus Dumbledore, while the likes of Loki and Nick Fury can also make an excellent stab at it.
    • Doctor Strange, however, outshines them all, to the point where pretty much everyone thinks that he actually is omniscient (a belief he has carefully cultivated). His one-time apprentice Wanda Maximoff claims that to her knowledge, his predictions have never failed to come true (except for when he was claiming she would clean her room). As it is, he's implied to be a combination of Seer and time traveller with the ability to see possible futures. His reputation mostly comes from his habit of knowing what's going on, always being where he needs to be and dropping cryptic hints about what people should do next - which inevitably means that they end up doing what he wants them to do, whether they know it or not, or want to or not. While this doesn't usually seem to do much, since he's planning on a multi-millennia scale, the finale of Book I reveals what it looks like when he gets all of his ducks in a row.
    • And chapter 8 through 15 of the sequel, Ghosts of the Past, show what it looks like when he's flying blind... it's not pretty.
      • Fortunately, he gets back on the ball afterwards, the above incident being due to a rare blind spot in his Sight. Proof of this comes when he gives Harry a book called Blood Magic for Morons to express his opinion of how Harry told Ron and Hermione about the Dark Phoenix...well before Harry had actually done the deed.
  • Communication has Consensus: the representative of the players of this questline, meaning that this enity knows every single canon event that occurred or will occur in the world and character that they find themselves inserted...the keyword being canon. Because these quests take place in a world that can differ ever-so slightly in the stories they know, Consensus has more than once found themselves blind-sighted when something unexpected happened.
  • Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger: Despite his experience with magic and the Maidens, Ozpin's allies are surprised to learn that he's just as in the dark as they are about the source of Jaune's seemingly magical powers. Ozpin's POV focuses on how he's dealing with factors that he has no knowledge about, like the Force, the terentatek, and a Sith ghost.
  • In Know Thyself, while the Oracle knows about Harry's origins and is aware of the Wizarding World, she admits that she doesn't know everything because it is "out of [her] jurisdiction... [it] has its own Oracle."
  • Linked in Life and Love: Roman Torchwick was only going through with Cinder's plan to destroy Vale because he assumed Ozpin knew about it. Cinder wasn't exactly subtle; she was even running trains down the old subway tunnels, and how could Ozpin miss that? Roman figured the cops and the Huntsmen would show up right before the end, giving him a chance to escape while stealing as much as he could in the process, with no real harm done. He is horrified when he realizes Ozpin knew none of this, meaning Cinder's plan had a much higher chance of succeeding than expected.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Hercules, the Fates brag early on that they know everything... but at the end, are caught off-guard when Hercules gains immortality just as they were about to cut his thread of life. Hercules did the impossible by choosing his own fate.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In The Matrix, it is noted that the Architect, the program that created the Matrix, can at least calculate or guess the likely outcomes of certain events, such as in his confrontation with Neo in The Matrix Reloaded. However, the Oracle later affirms that the Architect is incapable of actually seeing the future and knowing for a fact what will happen, explaining that he sees choices as variables in a balanced equation and cannot take the human element into account.
  • In Mortal Kombat: The Movie, Liu Kang asks Raiden (god of lightning) in the end if he knew all along what would happen. It's hard to tell whether his response is serious or sarcastic. He follows the comment with his trademark laugh.
    Raiden: I had no clue. You humans are so unpredictable.
  • Oh, God!:
    • Invoked with this dialogue:
      Jerry: ...I thought you could tell the future.
      God: Absolutely I can tell the future — the minute it becomes the past.
    • Once this rule is established, though (and even a bit before) He's shown to be omniscient in every other aspect.
  • In Star Wars. The Force can give its practitioners, both Light and Dark side, visions of the past, present, and future. Canonically, the future is "always in motion" and difficult to predict with any kind of accuracy, and self-fulfilling prophecies are common.
    • Zigzagged specifically with Emperor Palpatine, who loves to crow about how "everything has proceeded according to my design." His vision and manipulations of others are precise and flawless right up until his right-hand man throws him down a shaft to his death, which most viewers assumed he did not foresee. Then comes The Rise of Skywalker, where he claims he did foresee and plan for the possibility of Vader's Heel–Face Turn. But he finally meets his end when Rey defies his command to kill him and thus enable his soul to take her body, and instead turns his own power back upon him to kill him once and for all.

  • The Belgariad:
    • The Prophecy normally knows everything except for the outcomes of key meetings between the Child of Light and the Child of Dark. It usually sets things up far in advance, but in the fourth book, when Olban tries to kill Garion the Prophecy warns Garion at the last second, suggesting it didn't see this one coming.
    • In the prequels, Belgarath and the Alorn kings' theft of the Orb of Aldur from under the god Torak's nose was intended to be a foregone conclusion, as it wasn't an EVENT (the Prophecy of Light won the last one)...but neither Prophecy anticipated that Torak would refuse the Dark Prophecy's orders by attempting to reclaim the orb personally. After a moment of panic and hasty negotiation, both prophecies agree to allow the orb to be used against him.
  • There are a few verses in The Bible that imply God isn't really omniscient as is commonly thought. For example: Hosea 8:4 talks about how the Israelites set up Princes and without God knowing about it. There's also a few verses throughout where He asks the human characters things like where someone is. That said, these are in the Old Testament, as it wasn't until the advent of Christianity that the whole idea of God being Omnipotent and Omniscient (as opposed to just really powerful and smart) became the official doctrine.
  • There's a brief moment in Blood Meridian where Judge Holden, the hyperintelligent, demonic something-or-other who, before and after, never seems to fail at anything, loses track of a member of the Glanton gang... and genuinely can't account for him. Even fellow gang member Toadvine is surprised and thought the judge knew where he went. The judge seemingly makes a point of never mentioning it again, although later in the book, he makes it his stated purpose to know and understand everything in the world and so take control of his destiny, or words to that effect.
  • The Cosmere: Hoid is a centuries-old worldhopper with access to several of the universe's various magic systems. He spends most of his time in the shadows, offering cryptic clues to main characters to steer events and help out. One his abilities, referred to as Fortune, lets him know when and where he need to be to influence major events. Unfortunately, it doesn't necessarily let him know why he needs to be there or what exactly he should do. For example in Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, he spends the majority of the second book wandering Terris Dominance looking for the Well of Ascension, not knowing that the Lord Ruler had moved it. There are also more minor examples; in The Stormlight Archive, Hoid is happily surprised to find that the Ryshadium are near-sapient horses of great strength. He privately notes that he's glad he can still be surprised after so long.
    Kaladin: What do you know?
    Hoid: Almost everything. That almost part can be a real kick in the teeth sometimes.
  • Cradle Series: The Arelius family have a bloodline ability that allows them to detect everything within a certain radius. Eithan Arelius has a detection web of at least a hundred yards, likely far larger, and he is famous for always knowing everything, always. One book started with an assassin hunting down more and more desperate means of killing him, only to discover every time that Eithan has already gotten there and removed any possibility of the weapons/monsters being used against him. In Blackflame, someone Eithan kills turns out to have been Faking the Dead through clever use of an Auto-Revive and a bound ghost. Eithan is horrified to realize he accidentally let an enemy live with knowledge of some of his greatest secrets, but Emperor Naru Huan, Eithan's old friend, is just enjoying the novelty too much to care.
    Naru Huan: Am I to understand that I just received accurate information before the Arelius Underlord? Let me just... [sighs happily] breathe it in. This is a good day.
  • Vetinari of Discworld fame definitely fits the bill, if rarely. He occasionally plays dumb or ignorant, but he is almost always already aware of everything and gently steering it into an ideal outcome, which makes moments in which he is genuinely clueless entirely surprising to those that know him. In Thud!, his reaction to what A.E. Pessimal did during the riot sees Vetinari literally unable to believe that A.E. Pessimal, a bureaucrat assigned to the Ankh-Morpork City Watch by Vetinari, attacked a rampaging, crazed troll with his teeth. Discworld trolls, by the way, are beings of solid living stone with diamonds for teeth. This was an act of courage so outrageous and unexpected that Vetinari was legitimately caught off-guard.
    Vetinari: Excuse me, are we talking about the same A.E. Pessimal? Small man, very clean shoes?
  • The Dresden Files:
    • The power of intellectus is the ability to know the answer to a question just by asking it without going through the usual channels of learning it. At first confused with omniscience, the difference is that with omniscience one knows everything all the time, while intellectus only lets you know something when you ask the question. Both are limited in that you have to ask the right questions, and so far the only beings who have it have it in a limited form.
    • Intellectus also doesn't tell you why. For example, using it to find out how to hurt Harry Dresden will tell you to go after his friends and daughter. It will not tell you that this is because he loves them or that he will respond by grabbing as many weapons as he needs to end you.
    • It is also limited to the domain of the entity holding it. For an ancient island containing intellectus, the island will know everything that happens on its lands and shores but not about the region beyond or even a person standing on a dock connected to the land. Angels, ancient gods, demons, and Mothers Summer and Winter likely have a wider range of knowledge.
  • In Flatland, the King of Pointland (a dot) knows exactly nothing and sees exactly nothing. The result is that the King has nothing to compare with, and thus considers itself omniscient. The main character ("A Square", a character who is two-dimensional both metaphorically and literally) sees right through the King's delusion, but is unable to make it understand that its knowledge is limited.
  • In God-Emperor of Dune, Leto II has been working to make himself this through a millennia spanning breeding program. The goal being that no one like himself could ever control all of humanity ever again. He succeeds with Siona and as a result she is able to kill him.
  • Many characters in the Harry Potter universe hold the view that Dumbledore always knows what's going on and what he's doing. Dumbledore himself, however, is perfectly aware that he can make mistakes. Notably in HBP, Draco actually succeeding in getting Death Eaters into Hogwarts via the Vanishing Cabinet catches him off guard and him gaining mastery of the Elder Wand was not something Dumbledore prepared for. As a result he dies ahead of schedule before he can impart valuable information to Harry, leaving his plans unfinished.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Sauron can see anything in the world, but can't see everything at once. Much like a person, he has to focus on one particular thing at a time. Therefore while he can see anywhere in the world, this doesn't help him if he doesn't know where to look. The heroes use this to their advantage by distracting his attention from Mordor, allowing Frodo and Sam to pass through unnoticed. There are also a few creatures in Middle Earth who are capable of blocking his sight from certain areas, but in such cases he knows he is being blocked. He's also capable of misinterpreting what he sees and is at times hindered by Evil Cannot Comprehend Good (in fact, the main plan of sending the ring to be destroyed in the first place hinges on Sauron not even considering anyone who finds the ring would ever want to give it up, let alone destroy it).
  • In Mistborn, the Lord Ruler thought himself to be completely invincible with absolute knowledge of everything in his empire due to his Inquisitors and Kandra spies. He also thought that since he knew every metal (he didn't) and every other character was ignorant of the true number of metals he would be unbeatable. He did not expect to be defeated by Vin wielding Malatium, who was able to figure out his true identity and his weakness; his reliance on the metalminds he wore.
  • Safehold:
    • Merlin Athrawes has access to uber-high tech spying devices which give him near-omniscient spying capability. Especially considering that his enemies are all using renaissance-level tech. However he can't keep up with everything at once, and things occasionally slip past him; resulting in much guilt on his part over things that happened that he feels he should have been able to prevent.
    • Also a critical problem for him is that he can't send his gear too close to the Church's headquarters for fear of tripping still functioning high-tech sensors. This results in critical knowledge gaps if the plans being developed are kept sufficiently quiet: the terrorist attacks such as those in the fifth book, How Firm a Foundation, are an example in that Merlin had no idea they were coming.
  • The Saga Of Billy provides several examples:
    • Blathnat, god of Knowledge, is known for his inescapable gaze, but Nyses, deity of secrets, is the only being he has always failed to see.
    • Atella, goddess of Peace and war, is able to see through every manifestation of her children, the shield and the sword. This way, she can see almost anything happening on the battlefield. However, a good strategy cannot account for everything, and she can be blind to an unarmed person. Thus, the tide of battle could be changed without the patron of strategy ever seeing it coming.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happens on and off with the First Evil in Season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There are plenty of instances that show the First Evil is both omniscient and omnipresent, as it seems to be constantly lurking in the background watching the protagonists (even multiple places at once), and knows exactly how to mess with each character with great success. Yet at other times, the protagonists seem to surprise it with their plans, such as Andrew wearing a wire to reveal the First Evil's plans, and the Slayers and Potentials opening up the Hellmouth to lead an offense. Really, whether or not the First Evil is omniscient is entirely up the writer and seems to be turned on and off like a switch depending upon the needs of the plot.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor can often be perceived as omniscient; he's one of the most intelligent beings in all of the universe, with an excellent knowledge of culture, science, history and language, and manipulative enough to initiate many a plan. To many, he appears like a God figure, with titles such as "The Lonely God" and "the Oncoming Storm" (or if you're a Dalek, the Destroyer of Worlds). But he can make mistakes, and he makes them hard.
    • "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit" demonstrates that even some of the Doctor's assumptions about the fundamental nature of the universe can be entirely wrong when he encounters something that makes an excellent play at being Satan, which uses script so old that even the TARDIS can't translate it.
    • In "Midnight", he is constantly expected by the human characters to know exactly what is going on, but as he insistently tells them time and time again, the entity they encounter is something he literally knows nothing about.
  • Played for Laughs in Mystery Science Theater 3000 — Observer/Brain Guy is supposedly an all-powerful omnipotent being, but in truth he's more an Oxymoronic Being who barely does anything with his powers and mostly just serves as Pearl's henchman (at one point he even states "I'm not that omnipotent, Pearl!"). There are various potential justifications for why his powers aren't very effective (ie. Bobo carved up Brain Guy's brain for use as sandwich meat), but the MST3K Mantra fully applies in any case.
  • Despite being able to see the future and being established as both a Manipulative Bastard and The Chessmaster, Rumpelstiltskin from Once Upon a Time is continually blindsided by various foreign-factors that continue to catch him by surprise, including falling in love with Cora and Belle (and the various hurdles and complications that come from it), meeting Zelena, the prophecies boy that is his undoing being his own grandson, etc. Justified, considering the Seer that granted him his prophetic abilities explained that he sees multiple probable futures and is forced to cherry pick the most likely of them to make any sense of it.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Enabran Tain. Even in retirement The Spymaster stays on top of everything, right down to knowing when people have made impulsive, last minute decisions to visit him and what their favorite drinks are. In the end, he comes out of retirement to head a joined Obsidian Order/Tal Shiar task force intent on destroying the Dominion. It does not end well. Unfortunately, he doesn't realize that his second-in-command (the Tal Shiar leader) is actually a disguised Founder who had instigated the entire task force with the intention of wiping out both organizations as a prelude to invasion. When Tain realizes what's happened, it's too late, and he observes to Garak that he's clearly lost his touch because he'd never have been deceived prior to his retirement.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Evil versions occur with the Goa'uld and the Ori. The best, and therefore most recurring, way to convince the Goa'uld's or Ori's followers that their gods are false gods? Show they're not omniscient, usually by figuring out a way to kill a Goa'uld, or the Ori's Priors.
    • The beginning of Teal'c's defection (or just the end of his faith in the Goa'uld) came when he decided to disobey orders, allowing a prisoner to escape, then lied to his "God" about having carried out the order to kill. Apophis believes him and you can see the look in Teal'c's eyes confirm everything he had feared.
    • An episode involves android duplicates of SG-1 getting captured by Cronus. Robot!Daniel is about to be executed by a staff weapon blast to the face. The blast results in his head flying off, showing everyone that he's not human. The look of utter shock on Cronus' face convinces a large number of the locals that he cannot possibly be a god.
  • When Chuck becomes the Big Bad in the final seasons of Supernatural, theu plays the cast like a fiddle to get the outcome they desire, gloating of their omniscience as the heroes learn they're screwed. However, small details they don't predict regularly frustrate them, and ultimately unforeseen outcomes coupled with their own cockiness spells their defeat.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted:
    • The Fatal Flaw of the Sidereal faction is to get into large groups, predict the future, and then make horrible, horrible decisions. One time they did this, right before the Usurpation, led to the temporary annihilation of the Solars, mass deaths among the Terrestrials, and genocide against the Solar's allied races, in order to establish a lesser but safer and more stable response to the Golden Age. So many beings in Exalted have Screw Destiny as a passive power, though, that this eventually led to the deaths of nine tenths of the human population of Creation.
    • The Maidens of Destiny (most particularly Jupiter, Maiden of Secrets) are, between the five of them, virtually omniscient, able to use their powers (and authority in the Celestial Bureaucracy) to know virtually anything. They do have certain limits; there are some things that are not in any of their domains, their fellow Incarnae tend to escape their vision (the Unconquered Sun is big enough that prophecy kind of warps around him, and Luna is extremely unpredictable), and there are some things (like the creation of the Exalted) that they just don't see coming (although it's vague if this is because the source of their visions doesn't know it either, or if it simply withholds the information from them).
  • Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution: Scryers can do amazing things, but there are limits to their powers.
    • The Psychometry talent can give you a perfect understanding of an event that happened in the past as thought the you were an omniscient, neutral observer, but you're more likely to get random thoughts or glimpses of what was witnessed by people who were there. It gets more likely that you'll get the omniscient perspective as you gain levels in scrying, but you're never guaranteed to get the best result.
    • Precognition can give you prophetic dreams, but (if you fail a secret will check the GM makes and they feel like jerking you around a bit) sometimes it will give you dream with false information instead.
    • You need to have telepathically communicated with someone in the past to use Mind Scan to locate them and it doesn't work outside of your clairsentience range.

  • This is the plot twist in William Shakespeare's Macbeth. Macbeth uses the advice three oracles give him to conquer a nation. He was given a warning that "No man born of woman" will be able to kill him. He is later killed by MacDuff, who "was untimely ripped" from his mother's womb, after Birnam Wood came to in, the soldiers attacking his castle used branches from the forest to camoflauge their numbers.

    Video Games 
  • BlazBlue had the supercomputer Takamagahara which was omniscient by virtue of being able to observe every single variation in the time-space continuum at once. However, when Big Bad Hazama / Terumi pitted Ragna The Bloodedge and Kusanagi: Sword of the Godslayer against each other, all three minds got so occupied with observing the possibilities of the battle that it lost track of one possibility for 1/470000th of a second. That lapse in attention, it turns out, was all Hazama/Terumi needed to infiltrate Takamagahara and expose it to a magical supervirus, thus putting it out of commission.
  • A good half of the plot in Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars: Kane's Wrath, is juggling threads behind the scenes so that the eponymous Magnificent Bastard can pull off his usual schtick in the main storyline. From Rio to Sarajevo to Egypt, Kane is always one step ahead, but only through considerable effort on behalf of his top-secret special forces. And Alexa Kovacs's scheming and betrayal of Killian and Kane himself comes as an outright shock even to the master manipulator.
  • In Devil Survivor your constant screwage of destiny causes the future-predicting Laplace Mail system to start barfing out errors and eventually shut down.
  • Played with in the Dishonored series. The Outsider is omnipresent, all powerful, and can see everything, but a significant part of the plot is that he can't see the future and he knows it. For this reason, he amuses himself by interfering in the human world just to see what would happen, and gets curious if a human makes an unexpected choice in response to his interference. Basically, he's gotten very good at predicting the future, and so gets amused by the rare occasions when he's wrong.
  • In DragonFable:
    Vaal: How can I be omniscient when people do not tell me what they are doing?!
  • Done in Eternal Darkness. Pious magickally contacts the Ancient he is serving — potentially Chattur'gha, Xel'lotath or Ulyaoth, depending on the player's choice — and inquires what should be done about any potential opposition. The Ancient responds with utter lack of concern, stating they have had a vision of the future where they triumph over a rival Ancient, so their victory is assured. Unfortunately for them, Mantorok, humanity's main supernatural ally, has gamed the system such that the Ancients are actually seeing visions of parallel timelines; in the player's current playthrough, protagonist Alex ensures Pious' Ancient fails by summoning the other rival.
  • In Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, people who rely on Fateweavers to know how things turn out are always caught off guard when the Fateless One gets involved.
  • Moebius spends most of the Legacy of Kain series being an excellent Chess Master who manipulates everyone else into doing exactly what he wants, but he slips up towards the end of Defiance when he gloats over Kain's death, only to realise Kain is alive and standing right behind him:
    Moebius: It is a small price to pay for Kain's demise.
    Kain: You're a bit premature...
    Moebius: Kain!?
    Kain: Is there a crack in your omniscience after all, Moebius?
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III and IV, Musse Egret is able to see all kinds of futures if someone moves at a certain way but there are times that she won't see things coming. An example would be that she knew that Osborne was going to try something against Olivert but she couldn't predict that Osborne would give the order to blow up the Courageous while it's still in the sky. Or the fact that she could have seen that Ash was going to pick up a gun made by an enemy nation and use it to shoot the emperor.
  • Messiah mentions that the Earth government has discovered ways to keep some secrets unknown even to God; hence why God dispatches Bob the angel to Earth, to gather intel.

  • 8-Bit Theater:
    • Sarda is shown to be completely omniscient until Red Mage finds one place he can't get into - his A-hole. That is, where the Light Warriors end up when Red Mage puts them between two portable holes (the A-hole and the B-hole) and drops them into each other.
    • Despite making several comments about his non-linear view of time letting him see all of history before it happens, Sarda is still susceptible to the Rule of Funny. Bikke manages to surprise him by throwing an orb of power at him. Sarda is so impressed that he lets Bikke live.
  • In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures, the scariest thing a Phoenix Oracle can say to a person is, "I don't know."
  • Dominic Deegan, as the series progressed and he got more powerful, would occasionally slip into this. Sometimes, it was due to overconfidence due to his belief in his own plans causing him to overlook small details, or from things and creatures serving as an Outside-Context Problem that his second sight couldn't get a bead on.
  • Dubious Company's heroes ask Phred, why he can't just kill Kreedor. Phred gives 3 reasons: Kreedor is the better fighter, the other gods don't trust Phred, and manipulating the odds of success is just wrong.
  • In El Goonish Shive, there were hints before Sister 3 that Immortals are this, but those were downplayed in that the Immortals in question were not paying close enough attention. Come Sister 3 though, it turns out that they're all capable of making huge errors, and can't know everything. Specifically:
    • Jerry's reincarnation was very, very, wrong about Diane and Susan being sisters.
    • Pandora didn't know Elves could have children themselves.
    • And the main kicker, Pandora didn't know Magic has a will of its own and that said will would try to disrupt her goal to give everyone magic.
    • After magic decides to only make minimal changes, Voltaire assumes that it's because Seers aren't as rare as he thought they were and that a Seer other than Tedd or Arthur was involved. However, while it's true that there was a third Seer and that Seers aren't as rare as Voltaire expected, it was indeed Tedd who convinced magic to make minimal changes.
    • Although Voltaire will deny it if asked, claiming that it was part of a larger plan, he did not know that he could have made Tedd ineligible for advising magic's change by just telling him about the second purpose of Seers.
  • Vanamonde of Mechanicsburg in Girl Genius is well known for knowing everything about the town, and uses it as a deterrent for acting against him. Due to his reputation, he is accused of aiding a criminal plot in these strips, because the crime is so serious that if Vanamonde knew about it and didn't stop it, he must have been part of it.
  • Psionic Minmax in Goblins is a Clock King who can use his genius-level intellect coupled with his knowledge of the Maze of Many's reset mechanics to accurately predict how each of the parties travelling through the maze will behave...until Kin decides to take a course of action that he had absolutely no way of predicting. As a result, at one point, he confidently makes a prediction that he has at least 8 minutes to finalize his plans before any of the other parties have a chance to finish the maze, only to emerge from his hideout to find Kin and Forgath standing by the maze exit, thanks to a Dungeon Bypass.
  • In the Gunnerkrigg Court chapter "Coyote Knew This Would Happen All Along" it quickly becomes apparent that the thing Coyote is bragging he knew would happen all along (Loup-as-Jerrick falling in love with Annie) is not, in fact, the thing that happened (Loup-as-Jerrick falling in love with Lana). When they finally manage to explain this to him, he blames Loup for not doing what he was "supposed" to, and Lana's creator (who he doesn't realise is Kat, and in a futher blow to his omniscience decides is probably Zimmy) for her existing.
  • Doc Scratch of Homestuck is functionally omniscient. He still has gaps in his knowledge. Though due to his enormous intellect he's often able to fill those gaps in with near-perfect deductions, so he doesn't mind so much...usually. His gaps are mostly caused by the Power of the Void and Alternate Timelines. He also has some trouble with Spades Slick and the author.
    Doc: How were you able to contact me? Oh, never mind, I figured it out instantly.
  • In Kid Radd, The Seer, who else? has one of these moments when he takes over Crystal's body, taking away his omniscience and causing him to miss two vital things that let Radd win: the Lucky Penny and the health power-up inside Bogey (or perhaps just Bogey's presence inside Chimera). Doubles as a Villainous Breakdown.
  • An interesting variation happens in Magellan. Goanna went to a psychic for info on a symbol and she told her to take an airplane overseas. Goanna does so and the plane nearly crashes but is saved by the hero Epoch. When Goanna returns to her (quite angry) the psychic repeatedly screams, "You should be dead!" A later story revealed she was right. Goanna should've died on that flight and she did, in an Alternate Timeline.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe, people trust the Avatar to be the world's intelligent, skillful, omniscient and pretty much perfect savior. Too bad Aang's just a kid who was trapped in an iceberg for a hundred years. He's still wise for his age when he takes things seriously, but he's also much more gullible and ruled by his emotions than an older, more experienced man would be.
    • It's not much better in The Legend of Korra. The Avatar this time around is a teenage girl who was raised in an isolated compound for most of her life and thus has no idea how to handle real life matters like politics, romance, laws, or even buying food. She's skilled at bending, with the exception of Airbending, but not much else. The people of Republic City still trust her to be the perfect hero that will solve all of their problems. The look into the past explaining the Avatar's origins reveals that the Avatar was never a perfect savior. Both halves of the original Avatar, the spirit and the human, were well-intentioned but flawed people who caused almost as many problems as they solved. It's also made clear that every Avatar was just an ordinary person trying their best to bring peace to the world and just as prone to making mistakes as anyone else.
    • Wan Shi Tong is a giant knowledge spirit whose library contains all sorts of knowledge and whose name means "He who knows 10,000 things". However, the quality of information also starts deteriorating after isolating his library from the outside world, especially since he was always reliant on fox spirits gathering information for him. This leads to things like believing that radios have tiny people inside of them.
  • From the Futurama episode "Godfellas", when Bender meets a being who may or may not be God (it isn't sure itself):
    Bender: So do you know I'm going to do something before I do it?
    God Entity: Yes.
    Bender: What if I do something different?
    God Entity: Then I don't know that.
  • Steven Universe: It turns out that Walking Spoiler White Diamond, supreme ruler of the Gem Empire, has the clairvoyant power to see details that neither she nor her subjects could have witnessed in person, such as the truth behind Pink Diamond's "shattering", the Crystal Gems' insecurities, and the details of Steven's life on Earth. However, she has a case of Evil Cannot Comprehend Good that means she can't properly interpret a great deal of what she sees. Most importantly, she doesn't realize that Steven is not being used by his dead mother as a Meat Puppet until pulling out his Gem causes it to form another version of him instead.

Alternative Title(s): Know It Most