Follow TV Tropes


Paradox Person

Go To

"You were never supposed to live. Took all of Nyx's strength to circumvent what should have been a certainty. Now you cannot stay dead. Such is the wry humor of the Fates."
Hades to Zagreus, Hades

There are certain people who have been brought into the world that seem to defy it by their existence alone. They don't exist within the natural order and often weren't planned by any of the Powers That Be that keep cosmic order. This might be because they weren't meant to be here in the first place or aren't truly here. Their otherness is a characteristic trait, but not holding a right to this world doesn't necessarily make them harmful.

A subtrope of Liminal Being. For the more dangerous variants that are of the grotesque and harmful kind, see Eldritch Abomination or Eldritch Location. Compare Ret-Gone, which might be the state these characters enter. They're almost guaranteed to be Immune to Fate. When this occurs as a result of game programming rather than storytelling, you have a Glitch Entity. When a character bears a contradiction or paradox in their own identity, rather than with respect to the world, that's Oxymoronic Being.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • It's noted in Attack on Titan that the Titans break every known law of physics. They are lightweight enough to allow their massive bodies to move and yet still have enough mass to rip through solid structures, their Healing Factor is supported by a bottomless reserve of organic material and energy as long as their weakpoint isn't targeted, and despite eating humans whenever possible, they don't get any nutrition out of it. That said, they're still very much killable with the right tools to the point In-Universe it's pointed out the latest technological advances (roughly WWI-era) are rapidly rendering the Titans obsolete as military assets and will only continue to do so as things continue with an ease much more manageable than many others on this page. Unsurprisingly, they're a supernatural existence derived from an Eldritch Abomination that bonded to a human.
  • At the end of Bleach: Memories of Nobody, Rukia tells Ichigo about their friend Senna, who was really just a person called Memory Rosary holding different memories of "Blanks" and was only created because so many blanks lost their memories.
    Rukia: One can't remember something that shouldn't have existed in the first place.
  • Dragon Ball Super: Goku Black's entire existence is paradoxical. Dragon Ball utilizes Alternate Timelines, so that any changes made in the past create a new timeline and leave the original future untouched. That is until Super introduces Time Rings allowing "acausal time travel" that do not create new timelines. Goku Black was created as the result of Present Zamasu using the Super Dragon Balls to steal the body of Goku, before traveling to the future. However, while Beerus takes the liberty of destroying Zamasu in the present, Goku Black still exists in the future. Black explains wearing the Time Ring allows him to evade being erased from existence and preserve his own history. It gets even more complicated in Episode 67, where it's revealed Beerus' actions did create a Time Ring (and by extension a new timeline) after all.
  • Ao Fukai at the end of Eureka Seven AO due to the final use of the Quartz Gun possibly erasing him from history.
  • By definition, Servants in Fate/Zero and Fate/stay night. They are the souls of heroes of mythical past given body to exist in this world. Since dead people are supposed to stay dead, the world will try to crush this contradiction, which means that Servants disappear if they aren't channeled with Mana. Except those who get doused by the corrupted Grail's mud and consequently gain a physical body, like Gilgamesh (who, atypically, has enough of a colossal ego to resist the actual corruptive effects of such a transformation).
    • Doubly so with Assassin, a Servant summoned by a Servant from a spirit who never existed.
  • Jack Rakan in Negima! Magister Negi Magi is a character of this type, though it's explained he just did ridiculous amounts of hard work. He even comes Back from the Dead with willpower alone.
    Chisame: Weren't you meant to be a freaking broken character with infinite cheats...? [said after Rakan disappears completely to Cosmo Entelecheia]
  • Homura Akemi in the end of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. She was once a normal human being (in her universe's first flow). But after continuous alterations to the universe's fabric, because of the nature of her success, everything that motivated her or developed her character never happened, which changes the nature of her magic. However, she still remembers the original circumstances even if no one else does.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, at the end of the Web Novel, Rimuru Tempest reaches this point after becoming the World's Strongest Man and a full-on Physical God, able to alter the past at will without compromising his own existence or the world resulting from his actions. He's able to Time Travel to the point where his past self Satoru Mikami was fatally stabbed, stops the incident from ever happening, and completely get away with it to let his old self live a happy life without causing a massive Grandfather Paradox.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- and its sister series ×××HOLiC have one of the most convoluted examples in manga, with both Original!Syaoran and Watanuki, his time travel duplicate who were born out of a wish to keep a certain person alive. Much of ×××HOLiC is eventually revealed to be an attempt to anchor that character to reality so they won't disappear when the paradox eventually catches up. Watanuki's ability to attract spirits is eventually revealed to be a subconscious wish to die because of their nature.

  • Long before Doctor Who returned to television, Big Finish Doctor Who had various examples of this.
    • The Eighth Doctor's companion Charlotte Pollard was a literal paradox person. When the Doctor saves her from the R101 where she was supposed to die, she becomes a living paradox and gateway for anti-time, meaning history starts breaking down.
    • In the War Master audio miniseries Only the Monstrous, the War Master goes to considerable lengths to deliberately create such a person. After the Msater saves pilot Cole Jarnish from the accident that would have caused his death, he manipulates Cole into a course of action that turns an innocent race of farmers into ruthless cyborg conquerors. This turns Cole into what the Master describes as a "potent living paradox", which the Master intends to use to power a weapon that he hopes will allow him to rewrite the whole history of the Time War.

    Comic Books 
  • Astro City: The Samaritan came back through time from the future in order to prevent an apocalypse, and in successfully doing so managed to erase the timeline from which he came... meaning technically he's never going to be born.
  • John Constantine is noted as a "glitch" in the universe, thus making him able to abuse the rules of the universe (via his Synchronicity Highway). As it was once put, "circumstances, people, events, even time and space, just line up for him".
  • Adam Warlock has become something akin to this, a being who stands outside and is not affected by otherwise universal forces of chaos and order or life and death. His sometime enemy the In-Betweener was similarly described in his first appearance, but has since been treated as a creation and servant of the Anthropomorphic Personifications of chaos and order. Adam's ally Gamora was plucked from the timeline to make her into such a being, but it didn't take.
    • Another Marvel Comics cosmic being, the Anomaly, is essentially the embodiment of Things That Should Not Be.
  • The Flash: The most famous Reverse-Flash, Professor Zoom, otherwise known by his real name Eobard Thawne, turned into one thanks to his connection with Negative Speed Force in The Flash (Rebirth), able to alter history and be the only one to remember the way things were before. In Flashpoint, he becomes a paradox in that universe due to being from the prior timeline, which allows him to try and kill Barry without fear of losing his powers (though he's killed by Thomas Wayne before he can go through with it). In The Button, his return to life gives him the idea to use this as a weapon against Dr. Manhattan, reasoning he can use it to steal his reality-altering power for himself. He's wrong. Very, very wrong, though notably he still comes back from even this. The "Paradox" arc shows that each time he dies he's reborn in the Negative Speed Force with his memories of what happened before; not only that, but he retains said memories even when he's at points in his timeline (like killing Nora Allen) where he shouldn't. Finally, his position as this is undone at the end of "Legion of Zoom" and "Finish Line" when Barry figures out that the reason this is happening is Thawne has nothing to ground him in the current timeline - so he phases through Eobard and imparts some Speed Force energy to him - acting as a lightning rod to anchor him to the here-and-now by having the connection to Barry he always wanted, erasing the Reverse-Flash as he is from existence and "resetting" him to the Nice Guy curator of the Flash museum in his home time period.
  • ''Donna Troy, aka Wonder Girl. A founding member of the Teen Titans with a Multiple-Choice Past as a result of so many retcons that both in and out of universe nobody's really sure where she came from, not even herself. And of course, the Speed Force complicates things further thanks to Wally West knowing her with Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory despite her latest "origin" contradicting it.
  • X-Men: X-Man is one of the few survivors from the Age of Apocalypse timeline which no longer exists. This is discussed (in a maddened gabble) by Legion, who unwittingly created the Age of Apocalypse, in X-Men: Disassembled.
    • So are Dark Beast and Blink. However, the AOA exists again. Don't ask.
  • Loki: The 3rd Loki tried to do a Heel–Face Turn and failed, becoming King Loki, but their turning back to evil came too late to do the damage they wished for so they travelled to the past to put their younger self on the right path sooner. Unfortunately said younger self would rather burn virtually everything that belonged to their past selves (which may or may not count as dying, cats and boxes and all) so instead of King Loki they became Loki the God of Stories... making that future an alternate timeline and both of them this trope by virtue of temporal paradox and being goddamn confusing.
  • Chronos: Walker Gabriel, the DC hero named Chronos (not to be confused with his mentor, the DC villain named Chronos), eventually ends up preventing his own childhood as the only way to save his mother's life. He's rather surprised when his time travel powers enable him to survive this, and he goes right on ahead existing. Unfortunately, an earlier adventure left him in a dystopian alternate timeline which he then had to fix, but with the result that his evil self from that timeline also survived (calling himself Anachronos), and he wants revenge. Also, an associate of his is the Contessa, a Renaissance Italisan noblewoman from a now-deleted timeline, who continues to survive only as long as she stays in the extradimensional city of Chronopolis; she's rather bitter about it.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): Silver, due to constantly Time Traveling back and forth between the present and his own Bad Future while causing various changes in the timeline, ultimately ended up "decoupled" from time. On the plus side, this means he remembers the past versions of the timeline before his various history-altering acts and he's immune to Ret-Gone. On the bad side, he needs to figure out what changed due to his actions the hard way by combing through the "new" records of history.

  • In the Futurama fic Blame It on the Brain, it is revealed that Fry's status as his own grandfather is important for more reasons than just his lack of the Delta Brainwave; as revealed by Nibbler, the Brainspawn and the Nibblonians are essentially the same race (the universe was created by a ‘mass-inversion event’ that turned the nothingness of pre-universe into the ‘something-ness’ of the universe, so the Brainspawn are the inversion of the Nibblonians who came before it/the Nibblonians are the pre-reflection of the Brainspawn), with the result that the three are linked as a complex cosmic trinity due their shared state of self-manifestation.
  • Child of the Storm has Doctor Strange, who has an unusual variation on immortality and a very strange relationship with time thanks to being empowered by the Time Stone. As a result, he's also a low-level Reality Warper, doing things that should logically being impossible and treating the Laws of Nature as vague guidelines.
    • 'Nathan' is this because he's a version of Harry from another reality, and thus an Outside-Context Problem (for the villains).
  • This is Braniac's view on Danny Phantom in Days of Justice.
    "Phantom," Braniac said. "You are aptly named. Your energy and physiology still intrigue me. You have no heart beat and you only breathe when you communicate verbally with others. You are unaffetcted by gravity, and move phase through matter as if it were not there. You can create concussive blasts of the same energy that you exude; yet it leaves no visible residue and dissipates before any data can be collected. You are a scientific anomoly. You should not exist; yet you stand before me."
  • Rainbow Dash in Austraeoh. After killing Discord, she became host to both Chaos and Harmony, the two constantly battling for dominance. As long as she's wearing the element of Loyalty, she can survive without adverse affects, but if she removes it, Chaos starts taking hold and she mutates into a chaos being like Discord. Her goal in the fic is to reach the midnight armory, where she can reforge the other elements, which would have the added benefit of making her immortal.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Miles learns he's one of these as the spider that bit him came from an Alternate Universe, leaving that reality without a Spider-Man and forcing history to correct itself in his own by killing off his Spider-Man to make room for him. It's for this reason that he was excluded from the Alliance of Alternates and Locked Out of the Loop.
  • Vanellope von Schweetz in Wreck-It Ralph is a Glitch Entity in a racing game called Sugar Rush, making her a paradox person within the world of the arcade. All of the Other Reindeer ostracise her and relegate her to live in a Dummied Out bonus level, and King Candy refuses to let her race out of fear that people would notice the glitch and unplug the "broken" game, which would leave most of the characters without a home and delete Vanellope herself from existence. Or so King Candy claims — turns out he's the one who doesn't belong, being an invader from an earlier racing game called Turbo Time. Vanellope used to be a legit character in Sugar Rush; in fact, she was originally the princess of the game world until King Candy deleted her, and she ends up returning to rule (as a president this time) after the usurper gets overthrown.

  • The end of Volume 10 of The Beginning After the End reveals that Sylvie, and by extension Arthur as he is now, is one of these. After her Heroic Sacrifice to save Arthur at the end of Volume 7, Sylvie's soul was displaced across time and space which allowed her to observe the entirety of Arthur's past life as King Grey. Upon reaching the moment of Grey's death, she witnessed her biological father Agrona taking Grey's soul. As this would lead to Grey being Reforged into a Minion, Sylvie realized at that moment that she had to be the one to intervene to ensure Grey would reincarnate as Arthur and not as one of Agrona's servants. She managed to wrest Grey's soul away from Agrona's grasp and take it to the Leywin family to be reincarnated into Arthur. Afterwards, Sylvie returned to the egg containing her unborn self where she waited until Arthur managed to restore her physical form. Sylvie would never have done this were it not for Arthur raising her for her entire life away from Agrona's machinations. In doing so, she created a Stable Time Loop that ensured both she and Arthur would end up opposing Agrona in the future rather than becoming his servants.
  • Discworld: In Mort someone becomes a Paradox Person by not dying properly. Mort, Death's apprentice, is supposed to reap the soul of a princess, but she's so beautiful he can't bring himself to do it. Since the event that actually killed her still happened, she's left between life and death, kicking off most of the major events of the book.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe:
    • Becoming a Paradox Person by abusing Time Travel is the basic membership qualification in the spinoff group Faction Paradox.
    • Over in the Eighth Doctor Adventures, there's Samantha Jones. Her timeline had been rewritten, so when she encountered a temporal anomaly, she got 'restored' to her original timeline... where she'd never met the Doctor. The original Sam ended up jumping into the anomaly again to save the Doctor, rewriting her timeline so she became the Sam who'd met the Doctor, and making her the person who rewrote her timeline in the first place.
    • In the Eleventh Doctor novel Touched by an Angel, the Weeping Angels attempt to manipulate Mark Whittaker into becoming one by sending him back in time seventeen years with a letter allegedly written by his future self. Most of the letter's advice helps Mark ensure that his own past works out as it should, such as giving his past self a winning lottery ticket and retrieving his stolen wallet during a holiday, but the Angels' ultimate goal is to trick Mark into saving his wife from the accident that killed her in 2003. Without that death, Mark would have no reason to want to go back in time in the first place, but he would therefore have no reason to do everything else he's done in the past, creating a potent paradox that these Angels can feed on.
  • In David Gerrold's The Man Who Folded Himself, the eponymous time traveler also manages to erase his own birth at least once...but by then he's created so many alternate timelines that there's thousands of him lurking around, all of whom are outside of the timeline and thus should not exist.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's mythology:
    • Dwarves were not created with the world and therefore would not exist in its first designing. They were created when Aulë, the smith god, grew impatient for the first of Ilúvatar's children (the elves) to awaken; he decided to create creatures for himself. However, because he didn't have the power of true creation, they were originally little more than automatons, with no free will. Ilúvatar questioned Aule's intentions for stepping outside the plans for the universe which led to the creation of a mockery of real life. Aulë responded that he did it only because he was compelled by his love for creating which drove him to give life to creatures to share in that love. He then repented and was sorrowfully preparing to destroy the first dwarves but because unlike Melkor he genuinely respected his creations and didn't see them as an extension of his will, Ilúvatar, seeing Aulë's grief, gave the dwarves free will. As a result, the dwarves exist in Tolkien's world, but they occupy a strange place in it: they are like the Children of Ilúvatar (elves and humans), and yet separate from them as they technically were made by the force of crafting and skill.
    • Tom Bombadil is an unusual... Person. He was apparently already there at the creation of Middle Earth and he isn't a Human, Hobbit, Dwarf, Elf, Vala or Maia. He's also completely immune to the effects of the one ring and defies the mythology of Middle Earth. It's never explained as to what exactly he is.
  • Young Wizards has the Transcendent Pig, an immortal being whose existence transcends space and time. He counts as a paradox person because none of the Powers That Be, who collectively created Reality itself, can remember creating him (a fact about which the Powers are rather embarrassed).
  • N. K. Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy:
  • In Asimov's The End of Eternity Noÿs appears to be this: Her existence seems to be so unlikely that Harlan can't find any altered version of the timeline that still includes her. This is because she is from the distant future.
  • The Wheel of Time: Invoked by the Dark One to create The Soulless Gray Men. Usually, soul loss leaves the victim a drooling Empty Shell, but extracting the soul within the Eldritch Location of Shayol Ghul creates a being with an intellect but no actual "self". This impossibility creates a Perception Filter that keeps people from noticing a Gray Man's presence.
  • The Long Price Quartet: In order to create an andat, a poet must somehow twist the concept he wishes to embody against itself, creating an innate paradox that keeps the andat from simply returning to the memetic void from which it was pulled. This is why all andat seek dissolution, because ceasing to exist is the only way by which they can resolve the intolerable self-contradiction that is their own existence. Freedom-from-Bondage, however, is called out as being this even by the standards of the andat. Other concepts such as Stone-Made-Soft or Clarity-of-Vision can be bound as andat, but there is no way to control something that embodies the impossibility of control. Freedom-from-Bondage could be created as an andat, but no poet could hold it in existence for more than the blink of an eye.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 12 Monkeys: The Primaries' prophecy in Season 4 speaks of "the Djinn", a person whose existence is the root cause of causality being twisted into an interconnected series of Stable Time Loops. It is naturally assumed that the Witness is this, as they fit the criteria (having used time travel to ensure their own existence). However, it actually turns out to be James Cole, the first successful time traveler, whose mother turns out to herself be a time traveler from the future, whose life was saved as a child by Cole (who didn't realize who she really was). Taken up a notch during the Grand Finale, wherein Cole lets himself be erased from all points in time in order to break the loop, only for a last minute change by Jones (and the blessing of time itself, which feels it owes him) ensures that he pops back into existence, despite the fact that his parents will now never meet, meaning he now has no timeline.
  • Arrowverse:
    • Eobard Thawne/the Reverse-Flash becomes this throughout the show. The first season ends with him being retroactively erased from history thanks to the Grandfather Paradox. Then a younger version of him shows up in season two, apparently protected by the Speed Force "until" all that other stuff happens. By the time he appears on Legends of Tomorrow, he's become such a timeline headache he has a unique form of Clock Roach gunning for him specifically. Strangely enough, the younger version of him somehow gained the memories of his older self. Even after this version is killed, another version of his older self pops up later, and only gives a dismissive “time travel, so very confusing” Hand Wave when asked where he comes from. Season 5 of The Flash explains it as him using the Negative Speed Force, which protects him from temporal changes.
    • At the end of Season 3, Savitar becomes this, after failing to kill Iris. With the Stable Time Loop broken, he only has a few hours to live, so he has to go with his plan B - having Cisco modify the Speed Force Bazooka into a quantum splicer, which will turn Savitar into a god, thus sparing him from being Ret-Gone. When he’s killed before completing the plan, he fades away in a similar way to the Thawnes from season 1 of The Flash and season 2 of Legends of Tomorrow.
    • At the end of Season 2 of Legends, the titular team itself willingly becomes this trope, interacting with their past selves, in order to stop the Legion of Doom. Most of the future team end up being killed anyway, while Sara vanishes into thin air after the Black Flash kills Thawne and the Legion is stopped. This means that forevermore, the Legends are walking paradoxes: they exist because they were saved by versions of themselves that they never became thanks to having been saved by those selves. People who can't exist at once thanks to their own actions had to work together to make those actions! ...mind you, this did cause damage to the space-time continuum that they'd spend quite some time cleaning up, but it should never have been able to happen in the first place and the Legends as we know them now should be impossible.
    • After the Crisis, Earth-1, Earth-38, and Black Lightning's Earth are all merged, while Earth-2 is destroyed and replaced with a new one which serves as the setting for Stargirl. However, for some reason, the Laurel Lance who appears in the last two episodes of Arrow is still the same one we've been following for the past four seasons. She still acts as if she came from Earth-2, even though it doesn't exist (and, post-Crisis, never did). In fact, the Laurel from Earth-1 who died all the way back in Season 4 is stated to be a different person and still dead (though thanks to Oliver saving Tommy from death, they were married), even though everyone else is merged with their Earth-2 selves. This is because Oliver specifically chose to save Earth-2 Laurel; with him being the Spectre, he had the ability to reconfigure the multiverse so she could continue to exist even when she should have not.
      • Similarly, the aftermath of the Crisis sees Dinah Drake return to her normal place in the Earth-1 timeline, long enough to attend the funeral of Oliver Queen... only to wake up the very next day in Mia's future, with all evidence of her past existence in the timeline having been erased.
  • Dark (2017): By the end, it turns out that no less than fourteen of Winden's residents specifically  were never meant to exist in the first place, and do so only as a result of the temporal anomaly caused when H.G. Tannhaus tried to change history in order to save his family, inadvertently splitting the universe in two, dooming both sides to destruction and the town's inhabitants to an endless cycle of misery caused by their own efforts to prevent it. Worse, all of them except for Silja, Agnes and Noah are products of circular family lines, effectively making them all living time anomalies. Ultimately, Jonas and Martha manage to change history so that Tannhaus' family survive, preventing the anomaly from occurring and saving all those not "part of the knot", but do so knowing that they and all the others will be eliminated from existence.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor's reference to "The Could-Have-Been-King with his army of Meanwhiles and Never-weres" suggest that some of these were fighting as part of the Last Great Time War.
    • There are plenty of time headaches in the main cast. To wit:
      • Rose saved the world by following the clues that were left by... herself, when she saved the world. Her two minutes or so of absolute power are felt throughout history. Most notably...
      • ...Jack Harkness is a "fact" of time and space thanks to Rose: he's immortal due to the fact that his body will always revert back to the way it was on Satellite Five. The TARDIS ran to the end of the universe rather than let him inside.
      • Amy Pond grew up in close proximity to a crack in time, and can remember things erased from time: Rory and later the Doctor himself were restored from her memory. Amy's own parents were also among those erased pre-series, and yet Amy still exists.
      • Clara Oswald (The Impossible Girl) exists in multiple places and times, due to dispersing herself along the Doctor's timeline.
      • Clara also exists a heartbeat from her own fixed-point-in-time Heroic Sacrifice, thanks to the Doctor abusing Time Lord technology to try to save her life. This leaves her functionally immortal, but also renders the Universe in danger of coming apart if she doesn't eventually repair the paradox by returning to her moment of death.
  • Kamen Rider Zi-O is straightforward by time travel TV standards, right? Our hero Sougo is the horrible villain Ohma Zi-O in the Bad Future; our secondary heroes want to keep him from going dark, or failing that, take him out; the bad guys are the Time Jackcers who want to take his place in history so they rule the world instead. Except... Sougo becomes Zi-O in the first place because Woz, who is from that future, gave him his transformation gear. Why'd he need it? Because the Time Jackers showed up. On top of that, one Time Jacker's plan to rule the future, unbeknownst to the others, is to set Sougo up to become Ohma Zi-O and manipulate his actions from behind the scenes. In other words, Ohma Zi-O only exists because of what several players are doing about the fact that Ohma Zi-O already exists.
  • Loki (2021): The protagonist Loki is the one that teleported away with the tesseract during Avengers: Endgame. This violated the Sacred Timeline, causing the TVA to arrest him. He's explicitly called a Cosmic mistake.
    • However, played with when it turns out that he didn't cause any real temporal paradox, and that the TVA isn't even designed to contain those; it's just enforcing one specific (and apparently arbitrarily chosen) timeline, and pruning anyone who makes decisions that would diverge from that- such as Loki variants that decide to be genuinely heroic.
  • In the third season of The Umbrella Academy (2019), the Umbrella Hargreeves siblings unknowingly become ones because Viktor's removal of his powers from Harlan wasn't entirely complete, so Harlan goes on to accidentally kill all of their mothers via these borrowed powers before they were born and create a Grandfather Paradox in which the siblings need to exist in order to travel back in time to give Harlan his powers to kill their mothers, but their timeline meddling means that they should never have been born in the first place to give Harlan his powers. Their very existence interacting with the Sparrow Hargreeves timeline of 2019 spawns the kugelblitz in the Academy's basement.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Chronicles of Darkness:
    • This is the whole point of Promethean: The Created. Reality itself rejects your existence and staying in one place for too long causes the location to decay.
    • Mage: The Awakening:
      • The Cult of the Doomsday Clock was born when a fight between two mage factions in a sensitive location ended up completely disrupting the time stream. They should have been wiped out of existence... but weren't. And now, they're not planning on leaving the timestream unless they can take everyone else with them...
      • Tremere liches induct new members by severing their soul (which normally destroys the victim's magic, followed by their mind) and baptising them in the Ocean Ouroboros (which normally erases anything from existence). Somehow, the rite instead lets them live on with a paradoxical un-soul that even hides their true nature from magic, so long as they consume souls to sustain it.
  • All characters are Paradox People in the card game Chrononauts, and un-paradoxing yourself (by changing history so that your birth happened) is one of the ways a player can win. Other players may come from different incompatible versions of history though, so they'll try to stop you, in order to prevent them becoming an even more impossible Paradox Person.
  • In Continuum, the players (as well as enemy time travelers) can become Paradox People through the accumulation of Frag, representing how out-of-sync their recollections are with history. It's not a pretty sight: the symptoms start with nausea and disorientation, leading up to gradual physical disintegration, after which the unfortunate time traveler becomes a barely sentient ghost. Doing this on purpose is called "Time Combat".
  • Dungeons & Dragons has the leShay, a powerful, ageless Mage Species who resemble albino elves with solid black eyes. Once they had a mighty civilization, but some magical catastrophe not only brought their race to the brink of extinction, it also changed history so that the leShay's empire never existed in the first place. Apparently trying to undo this would cause an even worse apocalypse to happen, so the few surviving leShay try to stave off ennui as best they can, the remnants of a past that never happened.
  • In Exalted, there is the Yozi Oramus. The first of the Primordials to awaken was Cytherea—yet when she did, Oramus asked what took her so long, because Oramus is the embodiment of paradox and the impossible. Unable to hold him in any lesser prison, the gods stitched Oramus' wings together and bound him within himself.
    • The Neverborn also qualify as this. As Primordials, they couldn't be killed, so when the Exalted killed them anyway, the afterlife basically crashed from trying to process the death of something that could never die. The Neverborn ended up trapped in an endless agony of undeath, and now seek to unravel Creation in order to escape their current paradoxical torment.
    • The mortals who become Getimian Exalted were never born because Heaven decided while planning the future that they, and their effects on Creation, should never come to be. The Getimian Exaltation brings that discarded destiny into existence; from a newly-Exalted Getimian's point of view, they've gone from a world where they were going about their lives to a world where they never existed, while from an outside observer's perspective, their original world never existed in the first place.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Sarkhan Vol, after the events of Fate Reforged. In that set, he traveled back in time to alter the course of history, saving the Spirit Dragon Ugin from death at the hands of Nicol Bolas. While this had a lot of side effects, one of the most profound was that Sarkhan himself was no longer born in the new timeline. Perhaps due to his Planeswalker spark, he still exists, despite the fact that he was no longer born.
  • Hunduns, powerful incarnations of entropy, are this in Pathfinder. One of their abilities is literally defined as reality constantly reconfiguring in their vicinity to correct the paradoxes generated by their existence. The Great Old One Cthulhu has a similar ability.

    Video Games 
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Nobodies are initially described as this. They are the remains of a person's body and soul after they lost their heart (which becomes a Heartless), animated by their strong will. They are born lacking hearts, which make them unable to truly feel, but their memories allow them to act out the appropriate emotions in the right situations. They are said to defy the laws of the universe to the point that neither the Realm of Darkness nor the Realm of Light accept them. As the series goes on, however, the Nobodies' inherent otherness becomes less and less emphasized, making it seem like the whole "unable to feel emotion" shtick is an Informed Flaw created so people can subject them to Fantastic Racism. It all culminates with The Reveal in Dream Drop Distance that everything established as fact about Nobodies is one enormous lie, simply conjured up by Xemnas to make the members of the Organization easier to manipulate. Nobodies are not contradictory; they are simply the natural state people endure when their hearts are ripped out. By all accounts, the state is temporary and Nobodies will eventually replace the lost hearts with new ones, unless (as with the Organization) they are made to believe that can't happen and ignore any hint of their own emotions.
    • A more straightforward example is Xion, who is an Artificial Human created from Sora's memories and is meant to be a clone and replacement of Sora's Nobody, Roxas. Because of her relationship with Roxas, she unwittingly absorbs Sora's memories, causing her to grow stronger and essentially becoming a person, but making both Sora and Roxas weaker. When she perishes, she is Ret Goned. Or so we think. It turns out that replicas, like Nobodies and other intelligent beings who lack hearts, are capable of growing them given time. Xion did, so when the heart is returned to her, everyone remembers her again.
  • Ciel from Tsukihime is a walking, talking paradox because she cannot live and cannot die at the same time, making her effectively a perfect immortal.
  • In BlazBlue Noel Vermillion never existed in previous timelines (as the result of being an Artificial Human Attack Animal of some sort). Terumi is able to use this knowledge (combined with the fact that that Tsubaki would have Jin to herself and withholding the fact that in the prime universe, she'd be dead and Jin would become Hakumen) to More than Mind Control Tsubaki, Noel's best friend into a Face–Heel Turn.
  • Serge of Chrono Cross, at least after falling into an alternate timeline where his counterpart died ten years ago. While this naturally disturbs everyone in that timeline's version of his hometown and leads to interesting conversations with a fortune teller ("You're not dead or anything are you? [...] You just might be the key to the destruction of this entire planet"), it also renders Serge vital to the plans of numerous forces hoping to use him to their advantage.
  • Waluigi from Super Mario Bros. is this from a postmodern perspective, as discussed in the essay "Critical Perspectives on Waluigi". In the author's words, "Waluigi is the ultimate example of the individual shaped by the signifier. Waluigi is a man seen only in mirror images; lost in a hall of mirrors he is a reflection of a reflection of a reflection. You start with Mario – the wholesome all Italian plumbing superman, you reflect him to create Luigi – the same thing but slightly less. You invert Mario to create Wario – Mario turned septic and libertarian – then you reflect the inversion in the reflection: you create a being who can only exist in reference to others. Waluigi is the true nowhere man, without the other characters he reflects, inverts and parodies he has no reason to exist. Waluigi’s identity only comes from what and who he isn’t – without a wider frame of reference he is nothing. He is not his own man."
  • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet introduced Paradox Pokémon, which are supposedly past/future versions of contemporary mons brought to the current day by The Professor's Time Machine. The game itself points out that several aspects of their existence don't add up, such as the fact that there were sightings of them before the time machine was even built, Roaring Moon is supposedly connected to Mega Salamence when Mega Evolution has only existed for 3000 years, Brute Bonnet has the same Poké Ball pattern as Amoonguss despite coming from an era that predates humanity, Scream Tail (prehistoric Jigglypuff) predates multicellular life, and the future mons apparently evolved (in the Darwinian sense, mind you) into robots. It's implied that these mons never actually existed to begin with, and were created by the machine drawing from people's imaginations as a result of the Mineral MacGuffin used to make it and the influence of a mysterious third Legendary shown in Arven's book which was later identified as Terapagos.
    • Of particular note are Walking Wake and Raging Bolt, the primal Paradox versions of Suicune and Raikou. These two are particularly egregious instances of the paradoxical nature of the Paradox Pokémon as they're Paradoxes of Pokémon that, as far as we know, didn't exist until much later as the Legendary Beasts came about when they were revived by Ho-Oh after dying as completely different Pokémon in the Tin Tower fire.
  • Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite. Being born of another universe and split between the two, she can access virtually any conceivable universe. The Burial at Sea Episode 2 DLC sees her lose this status, due to the fact that by returning to Rapture after the version of her there died at the end of Episode 1 by her own actions, her existence as a quantum suspension is "reset" and now she's stuck in that timeline and will die for real the next time (which ultimately happens at the end).
  • In Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker, Miyako Hotsuin, aka Cor Caroli, was created by the divine being Canopus as a replacement for Yamato Hotsuin after his data in the Akashic Records went missing. However, he is eventually brought back into the world, making Miyako this. Just trying to process the paradox of their simultaneous existence is enough to make the supposedly-invincible Canopus freak out so hard it becomes vulnerable.
    • The Player Character is himself a paradox in the storyline of Record Breaker as his data was erased in the second world, and in the current third world there are moments where he will still temporarily flicker out of existence while his data is being simultaneously repaired by Yamato and attacked by Canopus.
  • In the Persona 2 duology, Tatsuya Suou participated in the destruction of his world via the Oracle of Maya's prophecy, leading to the end of the Innocent Sin timeline. While Philemon rewound time to separate the True Companions to avert the Oracle by creating a new world (the Eternal Punishment timeline), everyone else in his group allowed themselves to forget each other. Tatsuya, however, refused to forget Maya, and his stubbornness instead sent him into the EP world's Tatsuya. Ironically, in his attempts to protect Maya, he wound up ensuring a repeat of many of the events of the IS world.
  • In Injustice 2, Reverse-Flash can't return to the future due to the fact that Superman's Regime in this timeline killed one of his ancestors, thus making him a paradox.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, Mephala is a Daedric Prince whose sphere is "obscured to mortals", but who is associated with manipulation and the themes of murder, sex, and secrets. All of these themes contain subtle aspects and violent ones (assassination/genocide, courtship/orgy, tact/poetic truths); Mephala is understood paradoxically to contain and integrate these contradictory themes. It's rather fitting then that Mephala has associations with Sithis, a primordial force representing chaos, change, and limitation. Sithis is described as an equal but opposing force to Anui-El, "the soul of all things", making Sithis is the antithesis of all things. Sithis Is Not.
  • In Tales of Maj'Eyal, Paradox Mages' power is increased by causing trouble in spacetime, and their Time Master powers are not limited by the rules of sanity, let alone causality. Fittingly, the class can only be unlocked when a Temporal Warden is killed by his own future self; this is only the start of the reality glitching.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Sylvanas Windrunner is viewed this way by the Alliance. She falls into the category of "The Powers that Be did not intend you to happen". She was killed and raised to undeath by the Lich King, but the Lich King was supposed to keep his army (called The Scourge) mind-controlled. Someone did some magic interfering with this, and Sylvanas managed to get free of the Lich King's mind-control. Oops. She also freed some other people including her former lover Nathanos Maris who always happened to be a brilliant tactician. Basically, The Scourge was screwed. The Alliance however views the undead as unnatural abominations, and therefore Sylvanas is a paradox person for them.
    • Illidan Stormrage thinks he's this due to consuming the Skull of Gul'dan and becoming a demon, but he might also just be an arrogant Jerkass Hero. Though with how weird the lore in this game is getting, one never knows for sure.
  • In the Legacy of Kain series, Raziel is one starting about a third of the way through the first Soul Reaver game. This is because he absorbed the soul of the titular reaver, which is his soul from a possible future. Since there are now always two of him at the same point in space/time wherever he goes, he is a walking paradox.
  • Jeanne D'Arc Alter Santa Lily of Fate/Grand Order is the idealistic child self of a being that was a) Born as an Adult and b) wished into existence by the Grail. The Throne of Heroes threatens her life because there is no concievable timeline or universe where she can naturally exist without some tie to the original Jeanne, and due to her young age she hasn't done anything that can connect her. Amakusa and the Protagonist manage to justify her existence in time by bringing her to the ocean, fulfilling a dream that Jeanne (and by extension Jeanne Alter) never got to experience in her youth.
  • In Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, Billie Lurk gains her new powers due to the canonical events of Dishonored 2, in which Emily tampered with the past, which resulted in Billie regaining her eye and arm as a side-effect. This somehow causes Billie to be a living time paradox and thus grant her unique abilities outside of the Outsider's powers.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie, Rean Schwarzer encounters a man who looks very similar to him yet at the same time is a Red and Black and Evil All Over version of him. This variation of Rean ends up causing reality to try and merge the two Reans into one being as only one Rean is supposed to exist in the timeline. It's revealed that the other Rean is a simulated version of him in an alternate timeline where he performs his Heroic Suicide as depicted at the end of Cold Steel IV, formally named as "Ishmelga-Rean".
  • In Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, You Can't Fight Fate is one of the defining features of the setting. So when the Fateless One comes along, it's a very big deal. The paradox is made evident early on: a man knows that he's fated to die at a certain time by the hand of a certain monster. But when the time comes, the Fateless One kills the monster, saving the man. This action indelibly alters not only the fate of the man, but also that of every other person he will interact with for the rest of his life (and everyone the monster and its future offspring would have interacted with, as well).
  • The climax of Mortal Kombat 11 sees the birth of Fire God Liu Kang, who comes into existence as a result of the fusion between the souls of Past!Liu Kang, Revenant!Liu Kang, and Raiden. This fact in itself already creates a paradox (as his past self's death would have been completely undone and it would have prevented his Revenant's existence), and he also exists outside of time as Raiden revealed to have been a property gods have. In Aftermath, when the three people that make up his being don't merge (with his human and Revenant possibly dying too), he still shows up in the end to confront Shang Tsung. Simply put, there are so many factors that prove that he shouldn't even exist but he still does due to being a god.
  • In the cosmology of Genshin Impact, all things belonging to Teyvat are recorded in Irminsul. However, these records do not account for beings like The Traveler that came from other worlds and are therefore "not of Teyvat". Irminsul's records are also not immune to tampering, which can result in a clash of divine laws.
    • Sumeru's Archon Quest explores this trope at length. Greater Lord Rukkhadevata realized this would be the result if she attempted to erase herself from Irminsul, and therefore created Nahida as her reincarnation to exploit a loophole. Her lingering memory and the corruption attached to it would cause numerous disasters throughout Sumeru until Nahida was finally able to purge Rukkhadevata from the world's memory. In doing so, Nahida herself is given credit for her predecessor's actions to account for everyone but the Traveler forgetting Rukkhadevata ever existed.
    • The interlude quest, "Inversion of Genesis", likewise centers on this trope. Scaramouche's attempt to erase his own existence results in him becoming such a being. As the amnesiac Wanderer, he encounters the Traveler and resolves to reclaim a hidden copy of his lost memories. As of the quest's conclusion, he resolves to take advantage of his Ret-Gone status to take revenge against the Fatui. The organization, normally so careful about cleaning up loose ends, has completely forgotten the existence of such a dangerous former member and all the secrets he knows.
  • The art prep room ghost from hololive ERROR: The Game may or may not be one of these in-universe (out-of-universe, it's just because the developers didn't want to injure the likeness of a hololive talent on-screen). Watchers of the motion manga would quickly realize that things simply don't match up, and not just in appearance, because not only does Mari Akagane not show up after her death, the deaths tied to the blood painting are associated with a simple curse there, not the ghost of the painter coming in and draining you of your blood to use as more paint. As such, it is very likely that the game version was created by the Perfect World itself, but it then would've had to reconfigure itself after Shino Misora found out the truth about Mari and thus wouldn't need the overly-violent stand-in anymore. However, even after the ending of the motion manga, she is still there in the game, suggesting that she somehow was unaffected and still exists despite the fact that she shouldn't. Shino even supports this, stating in "202 Accepted" that there is some kind of "error" in the new world.

    Visual Novels 
  • Mercurius from Dies Irae is a mysterious existence, a being so ancient that even his original name has been lost. But one thing that is known is that he is something that ought not be. He is someone who was supposedly born as he died and died as he was born, all thanks to another man trying to manipulate time to his advantage.

  • In anti-HEROES, Aldran is half fiend and half angel. Such a cross was thought to be impossible, but here he is, him and his brother Eldhin.
  • In Blip, the protagonist K is someone whose existence Heaven never predicted, so there's no place for her in the divine plan.
  • The Dragon Doctors: Delta X, "the result of a mad scientist kidnapping a girl and fusing as many things into her as he could—creatures with contradictory natures, like fire and ice."
  • Jones from Gunnerkrigg Court. A human (sort of) who already existed before the beginning of life on Earth. Nobody knows where she came from, not even herself. Her existence even predates the one of gods, who only exist in this universe because they were imagined by humans. The gods themselves don't seem to know what the deal is with Jones either.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has the sentient beings composed of literally nothing who form the population of the Nothingverse, where it is impossible for anything to exist.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • Chaz — a sword but a Talking Weapon so he's also a person — is stated to be from outside the Fate Web, which is why he's able to kill a god and why even the King Of Gods is unable to destroy him. Though the details remain sketchy, he was brought into the world from the hellish dimension the Never, by Satan.
    • Oasis the immortal gymnastic assassin is also said to be one of the few things that operate outside the Fate Web, though that doesn't go a long way towards solving the mystery of what she is.
  • Tower of God
    • The Irregulars are beings who have entered the Tower from the outside and are not subject to its rules, nor the limits set by its all-powerful Administrators, which is largely the same thing. The also seem to be Immune to Fate.
    • In the computer-program-like virtual reality of the Hidden Floor, Urek Mazino's sworn enemy is left behind when he leaves the program. He shouldn't continue to exist there and constantly has error messages floating around him.

    Web Animation 
  • DEATH BATTLE!: "Goku Black vs. Reverse-Flash" explores what happens when two Paradox People want each other dead. After duking it out the old-fashioned way in the first half of the battle, Thawne and Zamasu both get the idea to travel back in time and kill their opponents before the fight begins (a la Green Lantern vs. Ben 10)... only to find neither of them is affected by the deaths of their past selves. Thawne wins this one, courtesy of being a natural Paradox Person; Zamasu only possesses the status due to his Time Ring, which can be removed.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In "Gold Stars", the Lich mentions that before time started, there was nothing, and then mentions the group of monsters who were around before that nothing. Orgalorg (AKA Gunter) was one of them, the Lich and Marceline's father may be others.
  • Ben 10: Alien Force: A monster from 50 years in the past that accelerates time is destroying a town, and Ben and the gang is told the creature does not hold order in the time stream.
  • Futurama: Fry became his own grandfather, thanks to some mixups sending the crew to 1947. Because he is a paradox himself, he lacks a delta brainwave, which becomes a plot point later on.
    • Bender's Big Score: Time paradox doubles are also an example of this trope, being temporal copies brought about when a time-traveller breaks their own causality when interacting with their past self. These doubles inevitably die because they're paradoxes. Lars Fillmore, Leela's new love interest, turns out to be one of Fry.

"History abhors a paradox."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Extra Existential Entity


Why Aren't You Dead?

Goku Black and Reverse-Flash both travel back in time to kill their past selves, only to find out that it doesn't affect them in the present.

How well does it match the trope?

4.96 (56 votes)

Example of:

Main / ParadoxPerson

Media sources: