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Prophecy Twist

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"And be these juggling fiends no more believed,
That palter with us in a double sense;
That keep the word of promise to our ear,
And break it to our hope."
Macbeth, finally cottoning on, Act V scene viii

Prophecies are funny things. They always come true (except when they don't), but they almost never mean what you thought they did.

It's even worse when you think you have them figured out.

Half the time they work much like a Literal Genie. A prophecy may seem to predict the death of a character, or of a set of characters, or The End of the World as We Know It, but then it turns out that there's some other reason for such-and-such to occur. (Like if a character "isn't coming back" from some sojourn to, say, The Future, they may survive, but then stay in the future.)

The other half are impossibly cryptic, often using incredibly flowery metaphors. "The sun will rise on Christmas Day" has an obvious literal interpretation, but the sun in question might actually be the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli, an H-bomb, or the British tabloid. It might, through standard symbolism, mean gold, or something golden, love in general or a particular pair of lovers. It could refer to Japan, Uruguay or the Jesuits, all of whom use a sun in their flag. It could be a person whose name means 'sun', such as Elanor, Eloise, Sol, Sorin... It could be any of a thousand things. And if it's spoken rather than written that opens up situations where the prophecy refers to a "son" rather than "the sun."


"Rise" has multiple meanings too, and there are several possible dates for Christmas. If the prophecy is said to be a translation, there's additional room for obscurity. Perhaps rise should be raise - the same word in some languages. Perhaps the real meaning involves trilingual puns, or Hittite idioms. The technical term for the little "twist" in such a prophecy (or any riddle, contract, etc) is "quibble" (although it's most commonly used for when the twist turns on legalistic nitpicking).

Ambiguous Syntax can be another technique: in "The duke yet lives who the king shall betray," will the king betray the duke, or the duke the king? And since most prophecies are spoken, there is always the possibility that it was simply misheard. Remember, when it comes to prophecy, homonyms are definitely not your friends. If the prophecy is old enough to have been recorded in a dead language, the original wording may also be forgotten, replaced by a less-clear translation — or in the worst-case scenario, multiple translations, at least two of which directly contradict each other.


In any case, the prophecies generally rely on a heaping dose of Double Meanings to give them their ambiguous nature.

Sometimes, of course, the most literal meaning is correct. Such an instance can still be a meta-Twist if the witnesses to the prophecy's proclamation suspect a twist.

Deciding what the prophecy actually meant, and whether it's literal or deeply cryptic, is then impossible until after it has happened, which is part of the mechanism of many Self Fulfilling Prophecies. It's because no one understood the real meaning that the attempts to avert it made it come true.

This is Older Than Feudalism; the "cryptic" prophecy was a staple of ancient Greek Mythology.

See also No Man of Woman Born, False Reassurance. For when the "real meaning" relies on an extremely dubious interpretation (beyond what a reasonable person would consider valid) of the original prophecy, see Metaphorically True. For when the vision looks like someone dying, but turns out to be a clone, robot, shapeshifter, identical twin, or other impostor, see Actually a Doombot, Doppelgänger, Twin Switch, Backup Twin.

Since the mere fact that there is a twist to a prophecy is often a spoiler, feel free to turn back at this point.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Discussed in the extended version Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. Goku at one point theorises that "Super Saiyan God" isn't a level, but rather another surviving Saiyan named "God".
  • Fuu, Umi and Hikaru of Magic Knight Rayearth must fulfill an ancient prophecy — but what they think they have to do and what they actually must do are two very, very different things.
  • The manga of Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch had Lucia raised as a civilian, in the human world no less, because it was foreseen that she would see great hardship as the sea kingdoms were destroyed. Of course, it happened anyway, and she turned out all right. The anime didn't even include the prophecy and gave her a normal princess life.
  • The entire main plot of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers is based around this, with the military unit the characters serve in being formed to prevent a seemingly apocalyptic prophecy. As it turns out, they interpreted the prophecy correct in some areas (the "Tower of Law being burned to the ground" referring to the TSAB Ground Forces HQ being attacked and wrecked), but got another part wrong: the "ship of Law that protects the stars" doesn't refer to the TSAB's fleet and space base, but rather to the Saint's Cradle, a massive warship from the ancient Kingdom of Belka. It's co-opted by the Big Bad near the end, and the last few episodes are the protagonists going all out to stop it...which they succeed in disabling, allowing the Cradle to be vaporized in orbit by the combined TSAB fleet sent to stop it.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders features Boingo, user of the Stand named after the Egyptian god Thoth, which is a book that predicts the future. Of course, to keep the characters and audience on their toes, every prediction is subject to this or Prophetic Fallacy. For example:
    • Thoth predicts Jotaro will be blown up by a bomb disguised as an orange. Boingo's brother Oingo goes to set the trap. (Oingo has to use his own Stand to disguise himself as Jotaro to avoid being caught, and gets stuck with the bomb. Note that the prediction is shown through an illustration of Jotaro getting blown up.)
    • Later, Thoth shows Hol Horse a prophecy that says "At 12:00, the bullets go through the head!", with a picture of Jotaro getting shot. (Hol Horse follows the prophecy's prediction but misses the heroes, then discovers his wristwatch was fast and he fired too early. Panicking, he grabs Thoth and holds it up in front of him... at which point the bullets ricochet and pierce the picture of Jotaro to hit Hol Horse.)
  • RG Veda has a particularly tragic example: the prophecy that everyone thinks predicts the overthrow of Big Bad Taishakuten by the Six Stars actually predicts Ashura awakening to his true identity as the god of destruction, killing all of his companions, and annihilating the world. Taishakuten's acts of tyranny had actually been attempts to prevent this from coming to pass. It almost came true, too, except that Ashura couldn't bring himself to kill Yasha-oh, and turned his blade on himself instead.
  • In Chrono Crusade, Mary Magdalene is a seer that has had constant dreams of someone named Chrono would be the one to "take her life". When she meets the person from her dreams and tells him of the prophecy, both assume that it means he'll kill her—but it turns out the prophecy's wording is deceptive. In reality, Chrono literally takes away her lifespan to supply his powers through a demonic contract. It appears he kills her completely (and in the manga he believes that was the case), but her spirit lives on inside the watch that seals his powers, guiding him and Rosette.
  • In Rave Master, Musica sees a vision of Haru stabbing a helpless Ellie with his sword Ten Commandments. The event later plays itself out when Haru is seemingly forced to kill a self-destructing Ellie, but is revealed in the aftermath to have used an alternate form of the sword to merely phase the sword through her body and seal her unstable powers.
  • In One Piece, Madame Shyarly, the resident fortuneteller of Fishman Island, makes a prediction that Luffy will destroy Fishman Island, very soon. The arc ended with Straw Hats saving the island, but it's highly likely this prophecy will come true. Said soothsayer has NEVER been wrong, accurately predicting Great Era of Pirates, and Whitebeard's death.
  • In the first chapter of Doraemon, the titular character proves he's from the future by predicting that main character Nobita will hang himself in 30 minutes and then be burned alive ten minutes later. Nobita scoffs, but then thirty minutes later, he slips while getting a shuttlecock off the roof and his shirt collar gets caught on a tree branch, making another character joke that he hung himself. Ten minutes later, he falls into a full bathtub and dries himself out in front of a space heater. The phrase "to burn alive" in Japanese is similar to "to warm in front of a fire."
  • One story in The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service involves an actuary with the ability to kill people by luring them into scenarios where he's calculated the odds are greatest they'll die in a freak accident. As he watches our heroes nearly get washed away by a flash flood, he boasts to himself he'd calculated there were good odds he'd be killed in a plane accident today, and had thus put off his planned escape flight. The villain meets his end a few pages later, when he's hit in the eye with a loose screw that fell off a passing airplane.
  • In Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the prophecy states that the Earth will be saved by "one garbed in raiment of blue and descending upon a field of gold..." but it didn't say that they would be red clothes drenched in Ohmu blood so much that it dyed them blue, or that the "golden field" would be made of Ohmu tendrils. Or, for that matter, that The Chosen One would be a girl. Heck, the tapestry depicts The Chosen One having a bird of prey on his shoulder. Nope, it's Nausicaa's Animal Companion, a cute foxsquirrel.
  • All the time in Mawaru-Penguindrum. Ringo's diary has future events written down, which she claims to be destiny. For example, her diary proclaimed that her and the man she loves would have lunch at 12:30, and he would find it delicious. Therefore, she makes him lunch... but that gets eaten by birds, and so they had to have the food that had been prepared by a third party. Tabuki did indeed find it delicious. How accurate these prophecies are is further muddled in that Ringo directly tries to make the diary's events happen.
  • The Mysterious Cities of Gold has a prophecy that stated that the white man would try to take the cities of gold in the future. As it turns out, that white man that would threaten the cities of gold? It's not the Spaniards... but the Olmecs.
  • Brynhildr in the Darkness: Kana's forecasts show what will happen, but not why. For example, in episode 5 she sees Kotori smiling while standing over Kuroha's body and thinks Kotori killed Kuroha. In episode 6 we learn that it's actually Kotori being a Stepford Smiler to hide her sadness.
  • In Naruto Shippuden The Movie, Shion sees a vision of Naruto dying. It turns out that what she saw was one of his Shadow Clones . In her defense, she didn't know about those when she had the vision.
  • In the English dub of Pokémon 2000, an ancient prophecy seems to predict the end of the world but, through a clever bit of wordplay, it actually reveals the Chosen One who can save everything: the main character, Ash.
    The Collector: Disturb not the harmony of Fire, Ice, or Lightning, lest these three Titans wreck destruction upon the world in which they clash. Though the water's Great Guardian shall arise to quell the fighting, alone, its song will fail. Thus the Earth shall turn to ash. O, Chosen One, into thine hands bring together all three. Their treasures combined tame the beast of the sea.
    • However, in the Japanese version, there is no such wording loophole, so Ash (Satoshi) just says "Screw Destiny."
    • There is at least one translation that has Misty say to Ash "That's it! Your name! It means "ashes" in English!" However, since the Prophecy Twist relies on both the terms "turn to" and "ash/Ash" having a Double Meaning, this renders the pun still Lost in Translation in dubs that use a wording closer to "the world shall become ash" or similar.
      • At least in the Italian translation, upon Misty's realization Ash just meekly protests about how much he desires to have a less Meaningful Name.
      • That's in English as well. "Right now I kinda wish that my Mom named me Bob instead of Ash."
    • Happens again in the 13th film, Kodai has a vision early in the film of him getting the Time Ripple he's been searching for. Turns out he actually saw himself absorbing an illusion Time Ripple created by Zoroark.
  • Pacifica, the main character of Scrapped Princess, spends the whole series being hunted down due to being prophecised as an Apocalypse Maiden who will bring about The End of the World as We Know It. By the end of the series, she does exactly that, in a way, by destroying the Medieval Stasis being enforced on the world by the powerful Peacemakers, who invented said prophecy to get people to hunt down and kill Pacifica because of the threat she posed to them.

    Comic Books 
  • Dream Girl of the Legion of Super-Heroes sometimes has problems with this; her visions of the future always come true, but she isn't always seeing what she thinks she is. (Invoked in her first appearance, in which "the Legion will die!" turned out to mean "some robot doubles will be destroyed.") Her powers work "literally", in a visual sense. Previsualization, not true precognition. Usually.
  • In Thessaly: Witch for Hire, the Virgin of the Wall prophesies that "nothing and no-one" can kill a Tharmic Null. The solution turns out to be to remove all the souls making up the composite ghost Fetch, then use magic to keep him from just dissolving. Now that he's literally "nothing and no-one", his fighting the Tharmic Null results in both ceasing to exist.
  • In an EC Comics story "Dead Right!" (Shock SuspenStories #6), a woman marries a rude, fat slob, because a Fortune Teller told her, that he will inherit a large amount of money, and die violently soon after. Eventually, she wins twenty-five thousand dollars, and decides to leave her husband. When he hears this, he kills her in a fit of rage. Thus, he inherits her money, and dies in the electric chair the day after.
  • In the Very Special Episode one-shot Shazam: The Power of Hope a disillusioned Captain Marvel is sent from the Wizard Shazam to help several terminally ill, or otherwise afflicted kids in the Fawcett City hospital, predicting he'd be able to bring hope to the kid that needs it the most. After helping out the most desperate of the bunch Captain Marvel realizes that the most needful kid, in a personal Twist Ending, was Billy Batson himself, his human identity, needing to find back his spark to act as a force for good.
  • A gypsy woman predicts that Hieronymus Jobs (from a story illustrated by Wilhelm Busch) "will speak, and many will hear him; he'll scare the thieves and console the ill". Which is why his parents pay for his studies to become a priest. At the end of the story, he'll become instead a nightwatch man.
  • The events in Zita the Spacegirl are kicked off when aliens kidnap Zita's friend because of a prophecy they believe indicates that he'll save their world from a giant meteor. Once we see the prophecy, it turns out to be a visual depiction showing a light emitting from his chest. The events of the picture do come to pass, but the light turns out to be coming from a freshly-repaired robot designed to destroy the meteor that's currently positioned behind him. It only looks like it's coming out of him from the perspective the picture shows and the perspective the aliens see it from.
  • X-Men:
    • As revealed in the Uncanny X-Men "Flash Back Month" issue, Bolivar Trask's paranoia about a mutant-created Dystopia was increased by his precognitive son, whose visions of a Bad Future seemed to jibe exactly with Trask's fears. Therefore, he built the Sentinels to protect the world from mutants. The future Larry Trask was seeing was actually the "Days of Future Past" setting, a dystopia run by the Sentinels.
    • The Thieves' Guild has had a prophesy since ancient times that foretold that Gambit (referred to by his moniker "Le Diable Blanc") would come into great power, uniting Heaven and Earth, turning the gaze of all people towards the light of the New Son. Unfortunately, there was a Son/Sun mix-up, and what the prophesy actually meant by "unite Heaven and Earth" was that he would lose control of his newly godlike powers, going supernova and killing every living thing on Earth.
    • In Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men, Blind Seer and Waif Prophet Blindfold is troubled when the majority of the X-Men—Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Armor, Colossus, and Beast—are transported to space, and remarks that "Not all of them" will return. She's not referring to death—she's referring to Kitty pulling a massive Heroic Sacrifice and bonding herself with a planet-destroying bullet to save the Earth. She later comes back, meaning that Blindfold's prophecy only meant that the X-Men wouldn't be returning at the same time, or that she can't see with certainty years into the future..
  • A prophecy foretold that The Mighty Thor would die (no, this is not about Fear Itself), and Odin attempted to engineer a prophecy twist to circumvent that. His solution was to banish Thor from his position and have a human named Red Norvell fill the role of Thor.
  • In Prince of Persia: The Graphic Novel, a prophecy says that a man born on a certain day will kill everyone in the city, so every boy born in the city on that day is rounded up and killed, except for one, who goes on to lead the families of those that died in a revolt. At first this seems like a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy... until a bunch of Mongols show up at the city gates. Turns out the guy from the prophecy wasn't from the city at all; he was Genghis Khan.
  • In the All-Star Squadron sequel series The Young All-Stars, Fury has a dream that a giant Mekanique attacks the All-Star Squadron within a futuristic city. As it actually turns out, Mekanique doesn't turn big — she shrinks the All-Star Squadron to doll-size (except for Fury and the Young All-Stars) and attacks them within a model of a futuristic city.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Spider-Island includes a prophecy that only Peter Parker can kill the Big Bad. This is a problem, as Peter had not only recently reaffirmed his no-kill policy, but also pledged that nobody involved in his adventures will die, period. His Anti Heroic clone Kaine does the deed.
    • Spider-Geddon: In Spider Girls #3, Anya, Mayday and Annie learn that there was actually a fourth person that's connected to the Web of Life and Destiny, called the Pattern Maker. Annie ends up being this, an extension to her oddly-defined Spider-Powers.
  • Invoked in Aquila: there is no way to stop a new god from rising in Rome, but Ficus realises said god need not necessarily be Nero; for example, the carpenter god worshipped by that new religious group with a thing for fish seems like a nice enough chap.
  • In Big Trouble In Little China we're told "seeking the House of the Seven-Faced Widow is a fool's errand." It doesn't mean that you're a fool for seeking her, it means that literally only someone who is foolish can find the way.
  • During The Transformers: Dark Cybertron, Scoop tells Starscream of an ancient prophecy he once read, about a "false prophet", one who would among other things "unravel the gaze of Primus". During the event, several of the things the prophecy states supposedly come true. Then, a few years down the line in The Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Optimus Prime has a vision, with the same passage repeated again. Only this time it has a few additions, and suggests the so-called false prophet is none other than Optimus himself. And then, toward the end of the following series, it turns out the prophecy was talking about Shockwave and Unicron. Namely, Shockwave does the unravelling, by revealing he manipulated all of Cybertronian history just to see what would happen, and inadvertently created Unicron, "the adversary", in the bargain.
  • Judge Dredd: A dying Psi-Judge prophesizes that a child with an eagle mark on his forehead would have to become the Chief Judge of Mega-City One to save it from destruction. Judge Dredd traverses space to find him, but abandons (and later kills) him when he realizes that the Judge Child is truly evil. When Dredd travels to a Bad Future later on it turns out that the Judge Child would save the city from himself by becoming Chief Judge, as he would otherwise mutate into a hideous monster that would destroy the city.
  • Arawn: Siahm has a vision of future for her four sons: the first would become a god, the second would have his heart eaten by worms, the third would die in his sleep and the fourth would betray his blood, and that none of them would survive. She tries her best to make the first part come true at least, and avert all the rest. She grooms her eldest son Math, whom she believes will become a god and rebukes her youngest Arawn believing that he would betray his blood. It turns out that Math is the one to betray his kin by kidnapping and killing Arawn's wife, and its her third son Engus who becomes a god instead of Math. By the fifth volume, her second son Kern is murdered by a power-crazed Engus, who also kills Arawn in a duel and Math is killed by Siahm herself when she realizes too late the mistake she made. Then, Engus is killed by a resurrected Arawn who later becomes a god himself after taking his brother' place. In a sense, the prophecy was fulfilled with Arawn becoming a god and he along with all his siblings dying - the prophecy didn't state that he would stay dead.
  • In Enemy of the Empire, Karda is informed that his hated superior, General Nim, will meet an untimely end which will result in his own promotion. This foretelling does indeed come true, but not as he would have liked; Karda kills Nim when he tries to take the casket, resulting in his promotion to Enemy of the Empire.
  • Examples from Superman comics:
    • The Black Ring: Vandal Savage was told that Luthor's use of the black energy spheres would bring him great happiness. At the end of their conflict, he's yet to be made happy. Then Luthor achieves near-godhood and starts broadcasting messages (at the Zone Child's insistence) of peace and tranquility across the multiverse, making Vandal, and everybody else, greatly happy.
    • In Action Comics #338, villain Raspor, who boasts of infallible precognition, foretells Supergirl will marry him, even though she openly hates him. His vision indeed appears to come to pass when Supergirl agrees to marry him... until Supergirl reveals their "wedding" was a sham -part of a complex plan concocted to get rid of him and at once punish his crimes-, and Raspor realizes his vision never showed him what happened after the "I Do" bit.
  • Angel (IDW): Angel's "death" in After the Fall technically fulfills the Shanshu Prophecy, even though the Reset Button is pressed.
  • In The Defenders, the Hulk-Strange-Surfer-Namor team broke up because of a prophecy saying that if they ever worked together again, it would lead to a huge cataclysm. Much later, Doctor Strange said he'd found this to be a hoax... but the next time all four of them did work together was The Infinity Gauntlet battle, which was unquestionably a huge cataclysm. Also the prophecy ended up coming true when the four founders became "The Order" and tried to conquer Earth.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): When Hippolyta learns of a prophecy stating Wonder Woman will die she decides to save her daughter by holding a contest for the role while siphoning power from Diana to Artemis to ensure Artemis wins. While Polly's machinations do get Temi killed, they also end up causing Diana's death, and the prophecy is really foretelling that everyone who legitimately holds the title for even a little while, including Hippolyta herself and Donna Troy, is going to end up killed by it even if they all get better.

    Comic Strips 
  • This strip: Garfield read this from a fortune cookie fortune: "Today you will be whisked away to a large white building where all you have to do is lie in bed all day as lots of people pay attention to you and bring you food". As Garfield said it sounded "too good to be true", he failed to notice he was about to fall from the table.

  • Naturally common in Harry Potter fanfiction, since the Prophecy and its possible consequences are so central to the original:
    • In The Parselmouth of Gryffindor, Hermione, expert in Loophole Abuse, immediately starts thinking of ways she could twist the Prophecy's wording into a non-lethal meaning for either Voldemort or her friend.
    • In the AU A Different Fate a different ancient prophecy spoken by Morgan Le Fay names a "Child of mid April drawn, born light as the sun himself" as The Chosen One. However it's later suggested that the prophesy was not referring to The Chosen One's moral leanings but his complexion and that Draco Malfoy is The Chosen One.
    • As pointed out in Harry Riddle the Prophecy never said "the Dark Lord" is Voldemort. If "the Dark Lord" is Grindelwald then Voldemort also "defies" him.
    • Prophecies in Black Sky are always unveiled to the one concerned or their ancestor. Dumbledore should have been more open-minded about the "Dark Lord" vanquished by "the one born of those who thrice defied him" with a "power he knows not". Maybe he could have prevent his own demise at the hands of Blaise Zabini, a Soulfire-user born in the Zabini family who were staunch political opponents to Dumbledore.
    • Hinted at in the Harry Potter/The Matrix crossover fic "Know Thyself"; while it is not explicitly stated, although Trinity has fallen in love with Neo despite him not being the One in this fic, she comes to love the true One, Harry Potter, but this love is maternal rather than the sexual and romantic love Trinity initially assumed it would be.
    • The prophecy in Princess of the Blacks states that one of the twins would "know only darkness". Dumbledore assumed this means Jen was born evil, but Word of God confirms fan theories that it actually refers to her blindness.
    • In Enter the Dragon a clan of Centaurs believe they must sacrifice one of their maidens to the "Great Wyrm" or they will all perish. The Great Wyrm in question is an eight year old Harry Potter who's been turned into a dragon and thus befriends the centaur maiden he was expected to eat. When the clan is attacked by a swarm of acromantula, Harry saves them because they're his friend's family.
    • In the epilogue of Harry Potter Kidnapped!, Voldemort is killed by three foreign-born wizards working together, who have all been scarred in previous battles with him ("marked as his equal"), are using spells unique to them by nationality/family/invention ("powers he knows not"), and were born on the same day... of different years. Dumbledore's assumption that the prophecy referred to Harry Potter note , which he'd used to justify the titular kidnapping, was not only baseless but completely wrong, which could have been pointed out to him by anyone else a long time ago if he'd just told them about it.
  • In The End of Ends, the condition of being able to use the Dark Prognosticus is to have an empty heart and have never found true happiness. A cybernetic heart's essentially the same as an empty heart... Though it's unsaid how Beljar managed to fulfill the latter part.
  • Discussed in Reality Is Fluid. Captain Kanril Eleya says she doesn't put much stock in the Bajoran religion's prophecies because even when they do come true, they never do so in any way anyone predicted (she specifically cites Trakor's Third Prophecy from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Destiny", below). Benjamin Sisko pretty much agrees with her:
    "... they either get fulfilled or they don't, in the course of sapient beings acting on their own."
  • In the Kung Fu Panda fanfic The Vow, the Soothsayer foretells that the marriage between Lord Shen and Lady Lianne will happen "beneath tears of snow". When it's attempted to be held in midwinter when real snow falls in Gongmen City, a snowfall never happens and the ceremony is interrupted with Shen's canon act of mass murder being exposed. When Shen and Lianne are finally married after so much pain thirty years later, he cries for the first time since his childhood and sheds tears that look snowy with their cloudiness and milky white coloring.
    • Also, Shen is defeated by a Warrior of Black and White for continuing his dark path just like in canon. However, the prophecy said that he'd be defeated, not killed.
  • In the backstory of Sonic X: Dark Chaos, the Seedrians prophesied that they would be destroyed from within by the Black Wind. The prophecy never said a Seedrian would be the "Black Wind" though.
  • In Rose and Saffron, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, the Curse Escape Clause of the Beast learning to love and be loved in return remains the same... but the Belle in this universe turns out to be only ten years old, dashing the Beast's hopes of her breaking the curse. Fortunately, the curse escape clause never specified that it had to be romantic love; the Beast and Belle growing to love each other like a father and his daughter turns out to work just as well.
  • In The Matrix fanfic Rescue Run, the Matrix is destroyed and the human race freed when Captain Dena Reese, a representative of humanity's inter-planetary forces who left Earth centuries ago to colonise other worlds, crash-lands on Earth and starts a chain of events that lead to the entire population of Zion being evacuated and given a new planet. However, when Dena asks Morpheus if he still believes in the prophecy of the One, Morpheus affirms that he does, as not only does he consider it unlikely that Dena's original crash was a complete accident given the odds against multiple engine failures, but he also finds it significant that she was first discovered by the Nebuchannezer and was initially spotted by Neo.
  • A somewhat meta example is pulled on the reader in Fist of the Moon, as Chibi-Usa sees Usagi fawning over Mamoru.
    Chibi-Usa: The Fool is with pops! I have to break them up so that mom and pop can get together!
  • Early on in the Dangerverse, Luna receives a vision showing that she will be weeping at a grave with Draco Black's name on it when someone who looks exactly like Lucius Malfoy comes to her. She will then say that she never loved "the one buried here", declare her allegiance to the one who looks like Lucius, and leave with him. It's confirmed by literal Word of God that nobody in that scene was lying, and everything that Luna Saw will happen. What we don't find out until much later is that the corpse in the grave is that of Lucius Malfoy, unrecognizable due to being burnt to ashes, and the person who looks exactly like Lucius is Draco disguised with an Aging Potion.
  • Happens to Manannan mac Lir in Son of the Western Sea, though we only find it out after the twist happened. The seers of the Tuatha de Danaan made a prophecy about a son of the sea, a member of The Wild Hunt, a horse that ran on waves and a journey. Manannan notes that though he did not want to abandon his home in the Blessed Isles he would have followed the prophecy. Then Percy (a son of Poseidon) accidentally gets inducted into the Hunt and uses his powers to allow Blackjack to run over the sea during his trip around the world, meaning the prophecy was about Percy instead. Manannan's own Cool Horse Enbarr finds the whole thing hilarious.
  • Lampshaded by Count Dooku in Back From the Future in regards to the prophecy (which no one has ever seen or heard in full) about The Chosen One who will "bring balance to the Force". The Jedi believe it means Anakin will destroy the Sith and Obi-wan refuses to believe the Sith could destroy the Jedi and corrupt Anakin until Dooku points out an alternate interpretation. Though the Jedi's interpretation ends up true when Darth Vader, who's from the future, kills Palpatine and Luke Skywalker brings together all the various Force using organizations.
    Dooku: There’s a certain symmetry to it all, don’t you think? The Jedi wipe out all but one Sith. The Sith wipe out all but one Jedi. Doesn’t that look like balance to you?
  • Let the Galaxy Burn has an in-universe case (that there is a prophecy is revealed to the reader after the events that twist it plays out, so narratively it fits closer to Dramatic Irony): Rhaegar cites a prophecy as reason to believe the North will not yet rebel against him. Despite Rhaegar's advisers being understandably doubtful, the prophecy is entirely correct... but the twist is that nothing in the prophecy said anything about Rhaegar being aware of the events — situations fitting the criteria had already happened, Rhaegar just wasn't aware of them because his intelligence on events in the North is near non-existent.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Last Unicorn. Haggard's previous magician, Mabruk, tells Haggard "You have let your doom in by the front door, but it will not depart that way!" We assume that he's referring to Amalthea (and maybe that's all that he realizes). But Haggard's doom is actually caused by Lir, who was left on Haggard's doorstep as a baby. If Lir hadn't sacrificed his life, the unicorn would have just gone into the sea and would not have fought back against the Red Bull.
  • In Frozen, protagonist Anna is accidentally cursed so that she's slowly turning into pure ice, but is told that only an "act of true love" can save her. The main characters quickly assume this means romantic love, in the form of True Love's Kiss, and rush to get her to her romantic interest. However, in the end, Anna selflessly sacrificing her life for her sister is what does it...
  • Played with in The Princess and the Frog. To break Naveen's curse (he has to be kissed by a Princess), he and Tiana hope to exploit it by taking advantage of an honorary title bestowed upon her friend Charlotte. That fails (due to time running out, whether or not it actually would have worked is unknown), but by then Naveen and Tiana have fallen in love with each other, and decide to get married. But since Naveen is still an actual Prince, marrying him makes Tiana a Princess. Kissing the bride breaks the spell.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Bullet Proof Monk features a trio of prophecies that determine the one most worthy to protect a scroll that grants great power. The protagonist monk had already performed these prophecies at the movie's beginning. As the plot progresses, we see the male lead, Kar, perform modern-day versions of the prophecies. The real twist however, is that Kar's Love Interest, Jade, participated in the same events that fulfilled the prophecies for Kar. Thus, at story's end, both become the next guardians of the scroll.
  • In Willow, Elora Danan is prophesied to bring about Bavmorda's end. However her defeat actually comes by the hands of those protecting the infant princess; Elora Danan is the catalyst who brings about Bavmorda's end, not herself the agent of it.
  • Star Wars:
    • The prequels are based on one of these, as Anakin Skywalker is prophesied to bring balance to the Force, which the Jedi believe is destroying the Sith and bringing peace to the galaxy. However, even that does not preclude him from falling to the Dark Side, slaughtering his fellow Jedi, and enslaving the galaxy first. And if Kylo Ren is anything to go by, the Prophecy doesn't mention that it stays balanced.
      • Additionally, both the Jedi and Darth Sidious (aka Palpatine) believe that Anakin having the highest number of midi-clorians is the key to the Sith's destruction. After Anakin became Darth Vader, Obi-Wan and Yoda came to believe the prophecy actually refers to Luke Skywalker, Anakin's son, rather than Anakin himself. Even Sidious starts to believe it to be the case, and tries to subvert it by attempting to convert Luke to the Dark Side or if that fails, fry him with Force Lightning before he has a chance to fight. What Sidious fails to realize is that the Chosen One is still Anakin, and Anakin's love for his son is what caused him to turn on Sidious and throw him off the ledge. It was the creation of the Skywalker family, not their strong Force-potential bloodline, that became the undoing of the Sith.
    • In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin has a vision in which Padmé dies in childbirth. He falls to the dark side in order to protect her, when Darth Sidious promises him the power to save people from death. His fall causes her to lose the will to live, and she gives birth to the twins and just gives up. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!. It probably also didn't help that because of Anakin's actions, Padmé gave birth not in a state-of-the-art hospital in the wealthiest district of the galactic capital on Coruscant, but in a clinic on a remote mining colony where the medical droids were optimized for non-humans.
    • The Last Jedi:
      • When Supreme Leader Snoke is torturing Rey, he gives a play-by-play of Kylo Ren's thoughts. He expects him to kill Rey, as he detects Kylo preparing to strike down his 'true enemy'. However, he fails to sense that Kylo is about to kill him, slicing him in half using the confiscated Skywalker lightsaber sitting on Snoke's throne.
      • Both Rey and Kylo Ren see a Force vision of the two of them fighting together. Kylo interprets this as Rey falling to the dark side and joining him, while Rey believes it means Kylo will return to the light. Neither of them considered the possibility that they might team up without either of them switching sides.
  • In The Thief of Bagdad (1940) the prophecy predicts that a tyrant shall be overthrown by the lowest of the low, who appears on a cloud. Pretty much exactly what it says in the prophecy happens, so it's not as much of a twist as some of the other examples, but it's still an example of vague prophecy, since the fact that the prophecy never named the tyrant left the common people thinking it was Ahmad, not the usurping evil vizier Jaffar who is actually tyrannical as opposed to Ahmad's mere incompetence.
  • Lawrence of Arabia: Gasim gets lost in the desert. The Arab army refuses to go after him because "it is written", at which point Lawrence says "Nothing is written" and goes into the desert alone to rescue him. A few days later, Gasim kills a man from another tribe and Lawrence is forced to execute him to prevent a feud. The head of the tribe asks why Lawrence looks so distraught. When someone mentions Lawrence had saved Gasim's life just days earlier, he nods and says, "So it was written, then."
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • A kind of inverted subversion is in the first movie (extended version only): When Aragorn tells Frodo about the Story of Lúthien, who gave up her immortality to live a mortal life with the man she loved, Frodo asks him how it turned out. To which Aragorn simply replies "She died."
    • But played straight with the Lord of the Nazgûl: "not by the hand of man will he fall". Of course, he is killed by a woman and a Hobbit.
    • Subverted by Gladriel's prophesy regarding Frodo coming to realise that "the quest will claim his life," while he survives, on his return and having been through so much, he cannot go back to the life he once knew, instead leaving to the Gray Havens.
  • In the film adaptation of The Hobbit, the "last light of Durin's Day" that shines upon the keyhole to Erebor isn't the last ray of sunlight like in the book, but rather the light of the moon.
  • Depending on your interpretation of the last scene between Syrena and Philip, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides may contain this: People say that a sailor who's kissed by a mermaid won't drown. They're right - the mermaids usually eat the sailors after kissing them. And dead men don't drown.
  • After the Driving Question of what The Matrix is about is answered, Neo must figure out how his abilities as The One are to end the Man-Machine War. Neo realizes that the Oracle is, in fact, a Machine intelligence herself, rooting for and supporting the humans. She tells him that the One must find the Source to end the war. But it seems that the Oracle's prophecy is nothing more than a manipulation by the Oracle's counterpart and the Matrix's creator, the Architect, into a "Groundhog Day" Loop of man/machine detente for the virtual world's existence, Neo Takes a Third Option. When Neo inadvertently freed Agent Smith and turned him into a nihilistic destroying virus in the Matrix, he is able to use Smith's relentless destruction that also threatens the real world into a pact with the Machines in the real world. The false prophecy of the Oracle and the Architect becomes truth From a Certain Point of View — specifically, from a point of view outside of the Matrix.
    • The Oracle tells Neo that he is not the One, he has to decide that either he or Morpheus will die and he seems to be waiting for another life. While this discourages Neo at first, technically all of this comes true: when Neo makes a choice to go into the matrix to save Morpheus, he starts to bend rules of the matrix but is not yet the One. He is gunned down by Smith (= he is killed instead of Morpheus) but resurrects himself (= waiting for another life) to finally be the One (= the prophecy for Morpheus that the One will return).
  • In The Wolverine, Yukio predicts Logan will die on his back, with blood everywhere and with his heart in his hand. She's never wrong. Logan does die (in medical terms: his heart stops functioning for an extended period of time) lying on his back on an operating table, with his blood everywhere and has his "heart" in his hand, but his healing factor kicks back in soon thereafter and he is able to return to the land of the living.
    • In Logan, Logan actually dies, but Yukio's prophecy still held true for that occasion, as he dies lying on his back, with his and his enemies' blood all over him, and holding his heart figuratively in his hand with him holding the hand of his "daughter", Laura, as he dies.
  • In Back to the Future Part III, the photograph of Doc's tombstone accurately predicts that he will die on Monday, September 7, 1885 by Buford Tannen shooting him in the back over a matter of $80 if history continues on the same course. Doc and Marty fail to realize that just because he dies on Monday does not mean he gets shot on Monday, hence Doc's surprise when Buford shows up to shoot him on Saturday is quite genuine.
  • Thor: Ragnarok features the eponymous prophesy that Ragnarok will happen, destroying Asgard, and the film opens with Thor learning the specific circumstances that will make it happen and preventing them. Then they pass the Godzilla Threshold and Thor realizes the prophesy is basically a set of instructions on how to take care of the actual threat, once the actual inhabitants that make Asgard matter have been evacuated.
  • In Jessabelle, the title character, nicknamed Jessie, moves back in to her childhood house with her estranged father, Leon, and finds some old tapes that turn out to be home movies of her late mother, Kate, who died shortly after she was born. In the first tape, she addresses Jessie by her full name and does a tarot reading for her: Two of her predictions, that she'll never leave her hometown and will spend a lot of her time near water, already seem inaccurate. The third deals with an "unwanted presence" though, and that seems to relate to a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl Jesse's been seeing ever since she moved in. It turns out the tapes weren't meant for her at all - Kate had an affair which resulted in a child (Who was also named Jessabelle), who was then killed by Leon, Jessie was then adopted to cover it up. So Jessie is the unwanted presence, and the other two predictions apply to Kate's birth child, who was buried in a swamp not far from the house.
  • Babylon A.D.. Aurora predicts they're all going to die in New York. Rebeka is indeed killed in the New York shootout. Toorop also dies, but he gets revived. Aurora dies during childbirth in a hospital in the state of New York.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes Made-for-TV Movie The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, a fortune teller tells Holmes that the church will save him. At the end of the film it turns out a man who rescued Holmes when the murderer pushed him into traffic is named Reginald Church.

  • Dune has Paul Atreides, seer of the future, dipping into various possible ways things might turn out and finding that most of them end with him dead of a knife wound but none of them show him who his killer is. There are three possible pivotal moments in the first book alone when this might occur, but none of them turn out to be the lethal moment. When the reader is finally shown the moment of his death, it's not for another two books and he's blind, so he never gets to see his attacker.
  • In Summerland, Ethan Feld comes to believe that he's The Chosen One picked to save the universe from destruction because of a prophecy from an oracular clam saying "Feld is the wanted one, Feld has the stuff He needs". Later it turns out that "Feld" actually refers to Ethan's father. "Stuff" refers to an experimental chemical that he's developed, which "He" (Coyote, the Big Bad) plans to use to destroy the universe.
  • Subverted in The Prophecy of the Stones, when everyone (including the girls) interprets the line of the prophecy "one will convince the other two to die" as "one will betray and kill the other two." When Jade learns that it's HER, she declares that she'd never do anything to hurt her friends. But it turns out that the prophecy was pretty darn direct when she discovers that the ONLY way to save the world is for the girls to die... and tells her friends that little fact.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • In Cressida Cowell's How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse, the soothsayer, Old Wrinkly, sees a boy dying of Vorpentitis. However, it is not the character we are led to believe.
  • In Shaman of the Undead, Ida foresees that Mikołaj will die in certain circumstances and she is to collect his soul, so naturally, when he's attacking her, she expects Big Damn Heroes, as the situation is right. Turns out she was the one to kill him.
  • In Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, Woland tells a prophecy in the first chapter of the book. A few pages later, oil is indeed poured and a Berlioz, the main character of the prophecy, decapitated by a young woman. The story goes on without him. Berlioz slips in a puddle of oil and falls under a tram driven by young woman. Oh, and Woland is Satan.
  • In Grace Chetwin's Gom on Windy Mountain books, Gom Gobblechuck was told that he would "never love a mortal maid of Ulm." So of course he falls for an immortal girl from another world.
  • In Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series, a prophecy states that six people will defeat the Dark, and then "five shall return, and one go alone". At the end of the series, after the final battle, Merriman goes "outside of time" rather than returning to the mundane world.
  • In Michael Crichton's Sphere, one of the characters notes that the spaceship from the future they're in lists the accident that brought it here as "unexplained". They believe that this means they won't be able to leave the ship and explain it; however, they survive and leave, but use the sphere's power to erase their memories of what happened.
  • In Peter David's Star Trek: New Frontier novel Martyr, the prophecy of a Savior that unites a planet does come true. Every note of it. The twist is, it isn't who anyone thought was the Savior.
  • Discussed in the novel A Hero Born by Michael A. Stackpole, where the main character's father was prophesied to kill a great demon lord.
    Roark: Now, whether your father ran Kothvir through with a sword, or served him a plate of bad oysters, the outcome would be the same.
  • In Teresa Edgerton's Celydonn series:
    • At the beginning of The Moon and the Thorn, a brief segment of backstory describes the effects of the wizard Glastyn's presence at major events—while he sometimes gave genuine prophecies, people tended to read too much into what he said (which once led to an unfortunate baby being given the name of the wizard's horse). One of his genuine prophecies led to Gwenlliant's mother giving her her name, which translates as "the White Flood"—the meaning of which is revealed later on in The Moon and the Thorn.
    • In The Moon in Hiding, it is prophesied that Gwenlliant will be married three times. She goes through a marriage ceremony in The Castle of the Silver Wheel when Tryffin rescues her from her would-be husband and marries her himself. Then in The Grail and the Ring, since they have been separated for a year under circumstances that legally dissolved their marriage, she and Tryffin remarry. It's pretty clear that when his term as Governor as Mochdreff is complete, Tryffin will arrange a proper royal wedding in his father's capital, thus completing the prophecy.
  • In Neil Gaiman's and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens, Agnes Nutter's prophecies are always accurate, but it's difficult for her descendants to figure out what they're referring to until the prophecies have already been fulfilled. She might have been wrong on some too, though it's difficult to tell with all the implied maneuvering going on. Hilariously played with for one prophecy, where the descendants wondered what it was about for centuries only for it to be a direct and clear instruction once relevant — "Do notte buy Betamacks".
  • In Neil Gaiman's Stardust, Tristran's mother can only be set free from her enslavement if the moon should lose her daughter in a week in which two Mondays come together, a seemingly impossible set of circumstances. In the end, she goes free when Yvaine, the eponymous star and daughter of the moon, falls in love with Tristran, and Victoria Forrester marries Robert Monday, bringing two Mondays together. And then Una reveals that she had planned it that way when she seduced Dunstan, Tristran's father, 18 years previously.
  • Terry Goodkind's The Sword of Truth books devote entire books to this premise. The main character is involved with so many prophecies (Are they right or wrong? Neither! What a twist!) that not even evolution can explain it.
  • In Brian Jacques' The Bellmaker, one of the Redwall books, a prophecy names the five people—well, Talking Animals—who will go on a quest, and states "Five shall ride the Roaringburn, but only four will e'er return." Many characters thought that "obviously" one of them will be killed. What happens instead: One character stays behind in the kingdom they were fighting to save to help rebuild it, instead of returning to Redwall Abbey.
  • Midway through The Dark Portal, the first volume in Robin Jarvis's Deptford Mice trilogy, Arthur Brown climbs into the attic to seek the advice of the bats. They deliver a series of cryptic prophecies to Arthur—and later, also to Arthur's friend Twit—that foretell the events of the entire rest of the trilogy, right up until the final page of the third volume. Of course, the prophecies are so cryptic that no one has a hope of putting them to use. One particularly twisty example speaks of "death stalking the summer fields in straw-clad form" and warns Arthur to "beware the ear that whispers". It isn't until volume two, The Crystal Prison, that we find out the prophecy refers not to an ear of corn, as we might think from context, but to an actual ear—specifically, the tattooed ear of the rat fortune-teller Madame Akkikuyu, used by Jupiter to communicate with her from beyond the grave.
    • In the prequel book, The Oaken Throne, the bat Vespertilio is cursed by the high priest of Hobb to die at the sound of bells. Subsequently he becomes terrified whenever he hears any. As it turns out, however, he is killed among rustling bluebell flowers.
  • In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time
    • One of the prophecies mentions Rand wearing a crown of swords. Readers generally took this to mean his reign would be a militaristic, brutal dictatorship, but by the end of the book it is revealed that the prophecy was literal—a country in which the traditional crown has small, ceremonial swords on it.
    • Min's prophecy of Sheriam shows her surrounded by rays of silver, blue, and gold. Ultimately, this describes the bright, sunny day on which she is executed for being a Black Ajah Mole for the Dark One.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness takes place on a world with Foretellers, people who have 'tamed hunch to run in harness' as part of a mystical tradition. Their answers are very expensive and often worded vaguely. One lord asked on what day he would die and was answered 'On [the nineteenth]' without a month or year specified, which drives him to paranoia and seclusion. Many months later, his lover asked how long the lord would live and received the answer 'Longer than [the lover.]' Upon hearing this answer, the lord flew into a towering rage and smote his lover's brains out with a stone table. He then hanged himself on the nineteenth.Very tragic world, Gethen.
  • In Meredith Ann Pierce's The Firebringer Trilogy, all prophecies about the Firebringer come true in ways the unicorns never expect. "Born out of a wyvern's belly"? After being poisoned by a wyvern, he's carried into the middle of a magical lake in the skin of a dead wyvern and, when healed, rises "weak as a newborn colt". "Sparking hooves"? His hooves hardened by fire, he's able to strike sparks by trampling across hard stone. "Sired by the summer stars"? His father's name is Calydor, which translates as "Summer Stars". These are only a few examples.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Discworld books:
    • Near the start of Guards! Guards! a character briefly mentions (and dismisses) a prophecy that "Yea, the king will come bringing Law and Justice, and know nothing but the Truth, and Protect and Serve the People with his Sword." Although hardly anyone notices, the prophecy is fulfilled exactly. Note that the prophecy doesn't actually say he'll take the throne.
    • In Hogfather, Susan is rushing to save the Hogfather because Death informs her if she doesn't, the sun will not rise in the morning. At the end of the book he mentions that if she had failed, the sun would not rise, but instead "a mere ball of flaming gas would have illuminated the world." In other words, humanity would lose its... well, humanity... and that little tendency we all have to make the extraordinary ordinary and the ordinary unbelievably important.
    • In Thief of Time, Death tells Susan try to prevent The End of the World as We Know It at the hands of the Auditors, but says he can't help himself. His only role in the end of the world according to the prophecies is that he and the four horsemen of the Apocalypse must ride out. Once they do ride out however, Death points out the prophecies don't specify they have to ride out against the world. So they attack the Auditors instead.
    • In Jingo, Nobby asks a fortune-teller about his romantic prospects, and she predicts he'll soon find himself sharing the intimate company of several attractive women. This technically comes true, as he winds up disguised as a woman in a Klatchian city and engaging in "girl talk" with some local ladies. This gets Lampshaded; he was offered "the tenpenny future, that's what you see. Or there's the ten dollar future, that's what you get", and went for the 10p version.
  • In Emily Rodda's Rowan books, the wise woman Sheba's prophecies always come true... just not in the way one would expect.
    • In the first book, the "bravest heart" is the fearful Rowan, who has none of the crippling fears the other strong, brave members of the expedition do.
    • In the second book, the "secret enemy" that "hides in darkness" "beneath soft looks" is a pretty shrub which turns out to be the young form of a flesh-eating tree.
    • In the fourth book, "five leave, but five do not return". Eight return.
    • In the fifth book, "four must make their sacrifice". Zeel sacrifices her kite, Shaaran sacrifices the silks, Norris is prepared to sacrifice himself and Rowan is prepared to sacrifice his friendship with the others.
  • J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Dumbledore explains that the part of the prophecy that states that "the Dark Lord shall mark him as his equal" means that it has to be Harry, because Voldemort heard of the prophecy and went to kill Harry, rather than Neville Longbottom, leaving Harry's scar as his "mark". Voldemort didn't hear the second half of the prophecy and thus never knew that he chose Harry as his "equal" and the one capable of defeating him.
  • The classic children's book The Monster at the End of This Book features the Sesame Street muppet Grover pleading with the reader to stop turning pages so he will never need to see the monster the title of the book refers to. In a twist children of all ages can appreciate, that monster turns out to be Grover himself.
  • In the Haruhi Suzumiya novels, Kyon is told by a Future-Mikuru what he will do in the next days. Most of the things are rather ridiculous, such as a prank call on Haruhi. When the moment arises, it all makes sense though.
  • In the Tad Williams series Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, Simon Mooncalf and his companions, following an ancient prophecy, struggle to find three legendary swords to help them fight the evil, usurping king. Unfortunately it turns out that the prophecy was written by the bad guys and uniting the swords will give King Ineluki unlimited power....
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In Timothy Zahn's novel The Last Command C'baoth, the insane Jedi, has a vision of Mara Jade bowing before him. She eventually does kneel before him—to avoid his attacks, while stabbing him to death. Also, Mara constantly hears The Emperor's voice telling her YOU WILL KILL LUKE SKYWALKER, and she ends up killing Luuke, his clone.
    • In Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, young Padawan Whie Malreaux often has psychic dreams of the future, always confusing and without context. Thanks to one of those, he knows that he'll be killed by a Jedi, and at a young age, and it will surprise him. He assumes this means that he'll fall to the Dark Side and be hunted down. Really, Anakin Skywalker kills him in Revenge of the Sith.
    • In the novelization of Revenge of the Sith by Matt Stover, Anakin sees the end of his duel with Count Dooku before it happens—the count kneeling with two lightsabers at his throat. Anakin assumes this is his blade and Obi-Wan's, subduing Dooku and taking him prisoner. In reality, it's Dooku's saber and Anakin's, both in Anakin's hands, just before Anakin murders the helpless man.
    • In Dark Lord—The Rise of Darth Vader, Darth Sidious subscribes to the theory that the prophecy of the Chosen One has been fulfilled by Anakin Skywalker's fall to The Dark Side and extermination of the Jedi.
  • Done rather infuriatingly in David Zindell's Ea Cycle. There was a prophecy that if the hero killed the Big Bad the hero would die. It was also prophecied that if the Big Bad died the world of Ea would end. And this was resolved how: The hero is immediately resurrected from Disney Death. The other prophecy is solved by the good guys renaming the planet after their victory.
    • As a semi-charitable way of interpreting what happened, the good guys might be wrong, and the stage is set for a sequel. So that the Big Bad is really Not Quite Dead and the feeble attempts at prophecy twist are only the good guys' mistaken attempts at figuring out how their happy ending was possible, so as to end the series on a high note.
    • The Ea Cycle also has a prophecy that was misinterpreted due to it having been translated from an ancient language that had no definite articles but had genderless pronouns for people.
  • Used a few times in Warrior Cats. "Fire alone will save our clan"—The "fire" is Firepaw/heart/star, which, while obvious to the readers, wasn't understood by the main character until he was told by Bluestar before her death. "Four will become two, lion and tiger will meet in battle, and blood will rule the forest"—The four is referring to the four Clans, the lion and tiger are LionClan and TigerClan, and blood is BloodClan. "Blood will spill blood, and the lake will run red"—The first blood is in terms of family, meaning Brambleclaw and Hawkfrost.
    • The twistiest one was probably the prophecy from the first half of the second series: it concerned "Fire and Tiger coming together", somehow related to "Danger to the forest." Firestar and the others interpret that this refers to Firestar's daughter Squirrelpaw and Tigerstar's son Brambleclaw, and that they will cause great danger to the forest. Only after their meddling drives the two cats away together, do they realize that the prophecy most likely meant that the two would save the forest from this danger. Oops.
    • In the third series, The Power of Three, the prophecy "There will be three, kin of your kin, with the power of the stars in their paws" does not refer to Firestar's three grandkits Jayfeather, Lionblaze, and Hollyleaf. No, Hollyleaf is dropped from the prophecy entirely (part of the reason she dived into a collapsing tunnel on purpose just to escape the life she knows), in favor of one of Firestar's nephew's daughter's kits. And only ONE of the kits. The other is left out of the prophecy, causing her to make some bad decisions because everybody loves her sister so much more. NICE JOB STARCLAN. THE PROPHECY WAS SO CLEAR YOU ONLY SCREWED OVER 2 CATS.
    • Actually, there has yet to be a prophecy (at least, one given fully in words) that does not have some twist unforeseen to the recipients. There are a few prophecies that have yet to be carried out, however.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians:
    • In the first book, The Lightning Thief, every line in the prophecy is a twist, especially the line: "And you shall fail to save what matters most, in the end." It turns out that Percy fails to save his own mother because instead he gives her the ability to save herself. However, it could also refer to him failing to save his friend Luke from Kronos's influence.
    • In a beautiful play of this trope, we have The Titan's Curse where the twist is that Zoë Nightshade is the one who gets killed by her father's hand. The reader is led to believe that it'd be either Thalia or Percy being killed by their father's hand. The twist is only for the reader (and Percy) though because Zoë knew she'd be the one to die from her father Atlas.
    • In The Battle of The Labyrinth Annabeth, a daughter of Athena, is given a prophecy that mentions "the child of Athena's final stand", but it's about not her at all; it's about Daedalus, another child of Athena.
    • In The Last Olympian we finally here the entire prophecy which includes the lines: "The hero's soul, cursed blade shall reap. A single choice shall end his days. Olympus to preserve or raze.'' It turns out that "hero" doesn't necessarily mean the person who turned 16. It was actually Luke, who had originally done a Face–Heel Turn, now going back to the good side, and forgiving the gods for all the bad they had done him.
  • Sequel Series The Heroes of Olympus:
  • Mary Stewart's Arthurian books have Merlin's prophesies often turning out this way, most notably the one about Merlin's own "end" (it was much less cruel than anticipated, and did not actually mean his death), and the one about Mordred being Arthur's doom. The inevitable tragedy isn't really Mordred's fault at all; it's largely the result of some terrible misunderstandings and unfortunate accidents. Moreover, this is Lampshaded by Nimue (in The Wicked Day), when she tells a reluctant Mordred several ways in which this could happen without his actually doing anything.
  • In one of the Dragaera books, Vlad does to a fortune teller who prophesies that "his left hand will rebel against his right". Some time afterward the Left Hand of the Jhereg (evil magic users) try to take over the Right Hand (basically The Mafia) and threaten Vlad's family and friends. However, as was noted by readers, Vlad also ends up losing a finger on one of his hands (presumably the left) thanks to a Torture Technician, and the prophesy could also be read as predicting this.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • For most of her life, Cersei Lannister has been haunted by a prophecy that she will become queen, only for a figure called "The Valonqar" to bring about her downfall ("valonqar" being a High Valyrian word meaning "little brother"). As a result, she's suspicious of her younger brother Tyrion (a dwarf) for years, seizing every possible opportunity to subject him to emotional abuse. And when her son Prince Joffrey is assassinated, she quickly jumps to the conclusion that Tyrion did it, and tries to have him executed. But her increasingly paranoid behavior gradually causes her twin brother, Jaime (who is also her lover), to drift away from her, culminating in him rebelling against her to free Tyrion and later declining to come to her aid when she is imprisoned for adultery. Too late, Cersei remembers that Jaime was born a few minutes after she was, and is thus technically her "little brother", too. Whoops.
    • A Dance with Dragons twists the valonqar prophecy even further. After all of Cersei's paranoia over which one of her brothers will bring about her downfall, it's hinted that the prophecy may not even have referred to her "little brother". As it turns out, Rhaegar Targaryen's son Prince Aegon (his second child) is still alive, and being groomed to retake the Iron Throne from Cersei. Note that the Targaryens trace their lineage from Valyria, so the prophecy being in High Valyrian may have been a hint that the valonquar was a Targaryen all along. To make it even more ambiguous, a discussion about another prophecy originally written in the same language opens the possibility that valonqar might be a gender-neutral word hidden behind the default male pronoun (and associated baggage) usually used in the most common translations...
    • Regarding all prophecies in this series, consider this quote from Gorghan of Old Ghis, via Archmaester Marwyn:
      Marwyn: Gorghan of Old Ghis once wrote that a prophecy is like a treacherous woman. She takes your member in her mouth, and you moan with the pleasure of it and think, how sweet, how fine, how good this is...and then her teeth snap shut and your moans turn to screams. That is the nature of prophecy, said Gorghan. Prophecy will bite your prick off every time.
    • A new preview chapter shows Melisandre's prophecy to wake the dragons "Two kings to wake the dragon. The father first and then the son, so both die kings." So Melisandre and Stannis want to find a pair of kings and sacrifice them. Unfortunately for them, the dragons are already awake. There were two three sets of kings who could potentially have filled the conditions—first, Aerys the Mad and his son Viserys, who was technically the true king of Westeros, second, Khal Ogo and his son Fogo, "who was khal when [Drogo] slew him", who gave Drogo the wound that killed him, and third, Khal Drogo and his unborn son, rendered braindead and stillborn respectively by the magic of Mirri Maz Dur. The latter seems likely, since it was Khal Drogo's funeral pyre that eventually woke them.
    • Melisandre should already know better — she foresees that if Stannis marches against Kings Landing, his brother Renly will crush him, but if he attacks Storms End he'll defeat his brother. Turns out both happen; at Storms End Stannis uses Melisandre's sorcery to kill his brother, forcing a large chunk of Renly's army to come over to his side. He then marches against Kings Landing, only to be crushed by a combined Lannister/Tyrell army led by 'Renly's ghost' (actually someone wearing Renly's armour in an El Cid Ploy).
  • Used in several ways in the Mistborn Era 1 trilogy. The ancient prophecy refers to the "Hero of Ages", and is not only extremely unambiguous, it also got screwed with by the resident God of Evil so it will accomplish the exact opposite of what it was meant to do - dealing with said God of Evil.
    • And then it turns out that the OTHER god's Batman Gambit accounted for the prophecy being manipulated, and ended up placing the right people in the right place at the right time to get rid of said God of Evil anyway.
  • In the Deathstalker series, Owen Deathstalker is given a prophecy in the first book stating that he will die, far from friends and allies, alone and helpless. They'll even take his boots. This prophecy hangs over his head throughout the series until, during the final book, he dies in just such a manner. However, the twist is that he had already died by the time the prophecy was given! Traveling back in time in order to defeat the Recreated, he ended up exhausted and unable to defend himself and was promptly murdered by half-insane drug addicts.
  • In Un Lun Dun, the Book of Prophecy says that "Nothing and the UnGun" can defeat the Smog. Having already been wrong before, the Book assumes that this is a misprint or mistake. Deeba realizes differently at the end, when she realizes that firing the UnGun when there was nothing loaded in it causes it to suck things in.
  • In James Thurber's The 13 Clocks, the duke is told his niece will be saved, and married, by a prince whose name does and does not begin with "X". In due course, he learns of a prince whose assumed name begins with X and whose name does not.
  • Happens at least twice in The Inheritance Cycle.
    • In Eragon, Angela prophesies that Eragon will be betrayed by a member of his family. He takes this to be Roran, his cousin, as this is the only family member he knows of. He is naturally distraught by this, but it turns out to be Murtagh, his half-brother.
    • In Eldest, Angela, the somewhat odd seer, and Eragon have this exchange:
      Eragon: What do you think of Nasuada's plans?
      Angela: Mmm... she's doomed! You're doomed! They're all doomed! Notice I didn't specify what kind of doom, so no matter what happens, I predicted it. How very wise of me.
  • Jane Yolen's Great Alta Saga. It is propesized that Jenna will prove she is the Anna by killing the Ox, the Hound, the Bear, and the Cat, four famous enemy warriors. The Cat she kills turns out to be a close friend of hers, who was called Cat for short.
  • The Last Unicorn. Haggard's previous magician, Mabruk, tells Haggard "You have let your doom in by the front door, but it will not depart that way!" We assume that he's referring to Amalthea (and maybe that's all that he realizes). But Haggard's doom is actually caused by Lir, who was left on Haggard's doorstep as a baby. If Lir hadn't sacrificed his life, the unicorn would have just gone into the sea and would not have fought back against the Red Bull.
  • Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series. In the third book Alec receives a prophecy about him fathering a child of no woman. The poor guy frets to never have children now—just to get a quite adorable creepy child created out of his bodily fluids one book later.. Not to mention the squicky, nasty prophecy in the first two books.
  • In Lawrence Watt-Evans' The Lords of Dûs series it was propheised that the Fifteenth Age would bring the end of Time. As it turns out, Time in this sense was a name; the god of time Dagha and the fourteen gods he created would all end with the Fifteenth Age. Dagha expected this would destroy the world as well; thanks to Garth, it was not.
  • Simon R. Green's Shadows Fall is set in a community of fictional characters, awaiting their turn to pass through the Forever Door to whatever afterlife lies beyond. A much-feared prophecy states that James Hart will one day put an end to the town. He does, by opening the Door permanently so that everyone, the reborn dead included, can move through it freely in both directions. Thus, the town is no longer needed.
  • Happens all the time in The Underland Chronicles. Then it is subverted in Gregor and the Code of Claw, when Ripred points out that the prophecies could be loosely interpreted to cover a variety of situations, and that people are often adapting what happens in reality to fit the prophecy so that it is fulfilled (their society is strongly based around the prophecies their founder wrote). He then gets deliberately gives himself a wound that will fulfill yet another prophecy.
  • In Who Fears Death, it is revealed that a Nuru Seer has prophesied that a tall Nuru male sorcerer will come and change the Great Book to make life better for both Nuru and Okeke. It is revealed, however, that he changed the prophecy because he refused to believe what it actually said: that the prophesied messiah would be an Ewu sorceress.
  • Magic: The Gathering's Invasion cycle has the prophecy of Keldon Twilight, which states that in their hour of greatest need, Keld's greatest heroes will rise. The Keldons interpret this as meaning that their heroes will return from the dead, so during the Phyrexian invasion, they hide out in their Necropolis. The dead do indeed rise, but they take the side of the invaders. Of course, those warriors who fight in this battle are recognized as Keld's greatest heroes.
  • In the His Dark Materials trilogy, Lyra is prophesied to commit a great betrayal against someone she loves, and that it will hurt her terribly. That section of the prophecy seems to have been fulfilled at the end of the first book, but it turns out the betrayal of which the prophecy speaks isn't her bringing Roger to Lord Asriel, but her willful-but-necessary abandonment of Pan, which happens in The Amber Spyglass.
  • In the 4th book of The Power of Five series, the chairman of Nightrise once received a prophesy stating he'd die on a boat thus he spent his entire life at the top of a tower to avoid even looking at a boat. During a hurricane he learnt the twist to the prophesy. Turns out, the boat was coming to him.
  • In the Xanth series, Prince Dolph is engaged to two different women: Nada Naga, who he must marry because of a prophecy, and Electra, because she's under a curse that will kill her if Dolph doesn't go through with the marriage. In the end, he marries both—by performing Nada's wedding ceremony (fulfilling the prophecy via the other meaning of "to marry"), and actually being married to Electra.
  • A historical novel has Catherine de Medicis consult a soothsayer who tells her she'll die in front of Notre-Dame. So she trusts that she in no immediate danger until a young man is presented to her by the name of Nostradamus...
  • In The Ables, some superheroes believe in a prophecy foretelling the return of Elben, a superhero of old with all possible powers. Among other things, the prophecy says that Elben's reincarnation will be "an outcast, one who is not like us, who does not see the world as we do." The story's villain believes that the prophecy is true and refers to protagonist Phillip Sallinger, who is blind and, like the other disabled superheroes, an outcast at school. The prophecy is true, but it actually refers to Donnie, a superhero with Down syndrome.
  • The Aeneid, unusually, has a prophecy that's much better than it sounds. Aeneas had heard the grim prophecy that he and his people wouldn't finish their wandering until they had grown so hungry that they gnawed on their tables. Much later, he makes landfall in Italy and his men eat a frugal picnic of wild fruit on wheat cakes, set on the grass. When the hungry men finish the fruit and start eating the wheat cakes, Aeneas's son jokes, "Are we so hungry that we're eating the tables?" And Aeneas remembers the prophecy, and realizes they've found their home.
  • In the Neil Gaiman story "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains", an old woman reads Callum MacInnes's fortune in his left hand (warning him that this makes it a left-handed fortune) and tells him "You return to where you began. You will be higher than most other men. And there is no grave waiting for you, where you are going." He assumes this means he's not going to die. At the end of the story the narrator leaves him in a hawthorn bush to die, near the top of the mountain where he first set on the road that led to the narrator wanting to kill him.
  • In the Night Huntress books, Mencheres has visions of the future which are always accurate, but subject to interpretation. When the only thing he sees in his future is darkness, he assumes that he is soon to die. At the end, a god makes a comment that causes him to realize the true meaning. His love interest's name, Kira, is Celtic for darkness, and what he's been seeing is her filling every aspect of his future.
  • In the third book of The Lost Years of Merlin, a prophecy claims that no one can defeat the dragon Valdearg except the descendant of a past enemy, and that their battle will end with both dying. Since Merlin's grandfather Tuatha defeated the dragon years earlier, Merlin assumes the dragon's doomed enemy will be himself. As it turns out, the long-ago enemy is the dragon's natural enemies, the monstrous, magic-destroying kreelixes. Merlin is, in fact, the "power still higher" that the prophecy foretold would decide the battle's outcome.
  • In the first trilogy of The Black Company there's a prophesy that all of the major events in the life of The Empire and it's rulers will happen when a certain comet is in the sky. The comet has a thirty year cycle, and the prophesy has held true for centuries. When the final battle unexpectedly flares up twenty years before the comet is due again, the damn thing somehow shows up anyway.
  • In the Star Darlings series, Stealing Starlight contains a revelation that a Dark Starling will rise and decide the fate of Starland. The cast assumes it's Alpha Bitch Vivica, but had the series continued, The Hero Sage leaving Vivica behind on Earth would have made her the prophesied Dark Starling, and Vivica forgiving Sage would save her and Starland.
  • In Anno Dracula: One Thousand Monsters, Drusilla's prophecies are so obtuse that most people just ignore them all together. The ones who act on them usually discover that they didn't mean what they sounded like at all. For instance, Kotsaki is told "Seems like Genevieve is in danger. Don't draw your sword, don't get tangled", and decides that whatever the risk, he has a duty to rescue her, only to find the whole scenario was a lifesized puppet-show. Something that seemed like Genevieve was in danger, and as he stands amongst the puppet strings, he realises he's literally got tangled.
  • In Briarley, a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling where the Beauty's father is the one who stays with the Beast instead of her, the father suggests to the Beast when he learns about his Curse Escape Clause of "learn to love and be loved in return" that he get a puppy to try to invoke this trope. It doesn't work, but the Beast's curse being ultimately broken by the father's growing love for him may still qualify for this trope given how convinced the Beast and his servants were that a woman's love was needed to break the curse.
    Beast: A puppy! The curse says nothing about a puppy.
    Father: It says nothing about a maiden either. I see no reason not to give a puppy a try. If you feed it and play with it, it will love you within a week, and puppies are very easy to love in return, I find.
  • Tim Pratt's Another End of the Empire has the Evil Overlord protagonist inadvertently cause this while first trying to be clever about defying fate and later basically just wanting to run out the clock and die from something else before the prophecy can come true. The prophecy is "A child dwells in the village of Misery Chin, in the mountain provinces to the east. If allowed to grow to manhood, he will take over your empire, overthrow your ways and means, and send you from the halls of your palace forever", and the overlord is very well aware that burning the place to the ground would just leave a single miraculous survivor to swear vengeance. So instead he works on making things better in the village while having his probability witches try to figure out which child is the prophesied one, adopting the three likeliest candidates to keep a closer eye on them. He then indulges their reform impulses, and finally realises that the prophesy has come true — because in indulging them his ways and means have been replaced since he wouldn't have gone that far in his reforms on his own, and he's about to abdicate and hand over the throne to the most governance-focused of the three children, leaving the palace to never return because he's gotten to feeling useless and out of place there, and wants to spend more time with his seeress, who he has fallen in something like love with. The implication is that any attempt to avert a prophecy in this universe will be twisted towards a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, but the right actions can invoke a prophecy twist that makes it a lot less unpleasant than it initially seemed.
  • Greenmantle revolves around a foretelling that a great Islamic prophet will reveal himself to the people at a time when they are in great need. The villains are trying to set up a puppet prophet to gain influence over the Islamic world. Sandy, who has infiltrated the villains' operation undercover, gets picked to be the false prophet after the original candidate dies suddenly, and subsequently does a runner wearing the full prophetic regalia to forestall the fake revelation. Later, after the villains are defeated and the Allied forces have, with the heroes' help, won the Battle of Erzurum, the heroes go to join the army heading into the city, with Sandy in particular so keen to be back in the fighting that he doesn't bother to change out of the regalia, which he's still wearing. Observing the reaction of the defeated Turks as Sandy rides past in the van of the conquering Allied army, the narrator observes that the prophecy has technically been fulfilled. "Greenmantle had appeared at last to an awaiting people."
  • The Traveler's Gate: Alin is prophesized to put an end to the sacrifices, kill the King of Damasca, and open the gates of Heaven. All of this happens, without any significant twists or turns. People should have asked what would happen after. Alin becomes the Elysia Incarnation, a rampaging god of virtue who will destroy any and all evil, no matter how small.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of Agatha Raisin, the titular sleuth investigates two murders whilst staying at a castle. It turns out there's murky legal grounds as to who is to inherit the castle, due to a curse placed on the family centuries ago; but a prophecy foretells the curse will end when "a raven takes power." One of the murder suspects (who has dark hair) thinks this refers to her, and already has a lawyer waiting to press her claim in court. It turns out the prophecy actually refers to the current owner's daughter, who has black hair that's currently dyed blue, so no one noticed it.
  • In an episode of Are You Being Served? Mr. Humpries reveals that he can read palms. A reading for a customer comes true, so the others want him to read their palms. For Mrs. Slocombe, Humphries sees a tall distinguished man lying at her feet. In Captain Peacock’s hand he sees opportunities, climbing ladders and a new hat. Peacock thinks this means he's going to be promoted to Mr. Rumboldt's position. Instead, at the end of the episode, he's helping the ladies clean up their department by placing a box of hats on a shelf. He climbs a ladder in the storeroom to put them away. Mr. Lucas opens the door, making Peacock fall right at Mrs. Slocombe's feet, with one of the hats from the box on his head. AND he doesn't get the promotion.
  • Babylon 5:
    • The episode "War Without End" puts rather a significant twist on the Prophecies of Valen; Jeffrey Sinclair travels back in time 1000 years, transforms himself into a Minbari, and becomes Valen. He goes on to write the prophecies that, 1000 years later, would inspire Jeffrey Sinclair to travel back in time...
    • Londo's precognitive dream that he and G'Kar will kill each other, and his instant dislike of him as a result. By the time the vision comes true, he and G'Kar are good friends. G'Kar is acting at Londo's request, because he cannot kill himself. That action frees Londo from his Drakh Keeper, and allows Sheridan and Delenn to survive and escape.
    • And a vision of the station's explosive destruction turns out to be a simple demolition after B5 is decommissioned and abandoned.
    • Kosh predicts that if Sheridan goes to Zha'ha'dum he will die. Sheridan seems to fulfill the prediction when he makes a kamikaze run in a White Star. He does indeed die. He gets better.
  • In Blake's 7, ORAC the supercomputer is asked to predict the future. He shows them a picture of their ship blowing up in space. Naturally, they seek to avoid this future, but ORAC assures them that they cannot. They decide to keep away from any region of space where the star patterns would match those shown in the prediction, but then the ship is dragged to that location by its original builders. Of course, they have other ships identical to the crew's, so it's one of them that blows up. ORAC arranges the destruction of the other ship to make his prophecy come true.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
      • The climax of Season One revolves on the prophecy that the Master shall kill the slayer. This happens when he drowns Buff in a pool of water. Nothing in the prophecy prevents her friend Xander from administering CPR to the clinically dead slayer and reviving her, where she proceeds to toast the old vamp.
        The Master: You were destined to die! It was written!
        Buffy: What can I say? I flunked the written.
      • The Master himself invokes this trope earlier in the same episode (and regarding the same prophecy), as well.
        The Master: You tried. It was noble of you. You heard the prophecy that I was about to break free and you came to stop me. But prophecies are tricky creatures. They don’t tell you everything.
        You're the one that sets me free. If you hadn't come, I couldn't go. Think about that.
      • The prophecy is fulfilled in a more conventional manner in the season 3 episode "The Wish," where we see an alternative universe where Buffy didn't go to Sunnydale for high school. Buffy comes to Sunnydale on a short visit to assist Giles and hears about the master; she goes to fight him, and he kills her. The implication seems to be that Buffy's destiny hinges on her friends.
      • In season 5, Buffy is trying to find out what the real meaning of being a Slayer is, and repeatedly hears the words "Death is your gift." She thinks this means that the Slayer is nothing but a killer, bringing only death, but it actually means that she will give her life to save the world.
      • In "Surprise" Buffy dreams Angel's death at the hands of Drusilla. It turns out Drusilla will set in motion a sequence of events that will result in Buffy sleeping with Angel, removing the 'curse' of his soul and causing him to revert to the evil Angelus.
    • Angel goes on to pull a few of these, such as Wesley turning against Angel upon learning of a prophecy indicating that Angel is going to drink the infant's blood (the beginning of said prophecy about the child noted there would be "no birth, only death", which assured some of the baddies it was nothing to worry about, until Darla kills herself to save her child, leaving only a dusty infant, and no birth having taken place). Turns out that he's actually being dosed with the stuff as part of a plan. One of the villains even quotes the "No man of woman born" twist scene from Macbeth on hearing about it. It turns out that another villain, Sahjhan, is using Time Travel to edit the prophecy in hopes of causing the death of Angel's son...because the original version said that Angel's son would kill Sahjhan. And, of course, the Shanshu Prophecy, which tells Angel that he will die as a result of saving the world. Angel is understandably upset by this, until it turns out that a better translation might be "die some years later of entirely natural causes as he will now be a regular mortal human" (attributed to the idea that the translation was complicated by the fact that 'die' in this context could only refer to a natural death, which was the one thing that couldn't kill Angel as a vampire). It also turns out that the Shanshu doesn't specifically say Angel will save the world, only that he'll play a pivotal role in the final battle between good and evil. Most importantly, it doesn't say which side he'll be on. This is why Wolfram & Hart's Special Projects Division is so interested in Angel, and specifically doesn't try to kill him: they want to find a way to turn him him evil without removing his soul, so that he can serve an Anti-Christ-like role in the final battle. And for that matter, it doesn't specifically say it's about Angel. The prophecy refers to "the vampire with a soul", which was assumed to inherently mean Angel, since he was the only such vampire that had ever existed...until another vampire with a soul emerged, his arch-rival Spike.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Beast's prophecy from "The Satan Pit" that Rose will "die in battle". As revealed in "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday", there is a battle, but she is instead ported to an Alternate Universe, and gets declared officially dead in the real world.
    • "The Fires of Pompeii": The Doctor says that Pompeii's destruction is a fixed point in time that he can't prevent, even though thousands will die. At the climax, he realizes that he has to make Vesuvius erupt to save the rest of the world. He's understandably stunned, as is Donna when he tells her.
    • The implication in "Turn Left" that Donna will die... but in a Temporal Paradox, so it unravels itself.
    • "Journey's End": And then a certain Mad Oracle predicts an "everlasting death for the most faithful companion." Donna gets Victory-Guided Amnesia, losing her memories of all of her adventures with the Doctor. If she ever remembers, her mind will burn up. This undoes all of her development that happened during her time with the Doctor, the new Donna was essentially "dead".
    • The prophecy in "Planet of the Dead" stating that "he will knock four times", leading to the Doctor's "death". In "The End of Time", everything related to the Master's drumbeat is a Red Herring; when the Master is defeated, the Doctor is relieved that he has survived the entire ordeal... then he stops upon hearing Wilfred trapped in a chamber and about to die, knocking four times on the door. Cue Heroic Sacrifice and subsequently, regeneration. The twist is how unmetaphorical this particular prophecy is.
    • "The Wedding of River Song" is all about how a prophesy/fixed point in time regarding the Doctor's death MUST come true, or time itself will shatter. Turns out the fixed point wasn't the Doctor dying, it was getting shot, so he just needed to find a way to survive getting fatally shot other than regeneration.
    • In "The Name of the Doctor", the Whispermen say "The girl who died, he tried to save, she'll die again inside his grave." Refering to Clara "dying" when she jumped into the Doctor's timestream, scattering herself into a million pieces to save his life. She didn't die, of course.
    • The arc that followed the Eleventh Doctor around, namely the Silence's prophecy/belief that "on the Fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the Eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a question will be asked — a question that must never ever be answered: 'Doctor who?'" was interpreted by the Great Intelligence to mean that the Doctor must give his name to save his companions from death at its own hands. In fact, as revealed in "The Time of the Doctor", it refers to the fact the Question, asked by the Time Lords, was a shibboleth could not be answered out of risk of restarting the Time War.
  • In the Femme Fatales episode "The White Flower", a criminal is told by a fortune teller that a white flower will be the last thing he sees before he dies. Naturally, he avoids white flowers like the plague. He is eventually shot in the head, and the gun's muzzle-flash looks like a white flower in the darkness.
  • The Flash (2014): An ambiguous case in the Season One finale. Towards the end of the season, the characters find an article from 2024 whose byline is "Iris West-Allen", confirming that Iris will one day marry her best friend, Barry Allen. The characters (and by extension, the viewers) are initially led to believe that this is because Iris will one day break up with her current boyfriend Eddie Thawne and get together with Barry, which is only supported by an earlier episode confirming that Iris returned Barry's feelings to a far greater extent than she did Eddie's. Eddie himself broke up with Iris after he learned about this, as it confirmed his suspicions about how she really felt about Barry. However, they moved past that and get back together in time for the season finale, even getting engaged — and then Eddie commits a Heroic Suicide to stop the season's Big Bad, Eobard Thawne. It's an ambiguous case because it was never outright confirmed that this was the reason Iris ends up marrying Barry, as the future is constantly changing, not to mention that Barry and Iris were married in the previous timeline.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Part of the arc for Stannis Baratheon is his and Melisandre's belief that he is the "Prince That Was Promised", someone who is the world's Messianic Archetype sent by the Lord of Light to restore order to the world and become a king. However, Stannis is betrayed by his army and killed after sacrificing his daughter for a miracle. After this, Melisandre goes to search for whoever else the prophecy may have referred to. So far, the closest candidates include Jon Snow due to how his mother Lyanna made her brother, Ned Stark, promise to take care of him, and possibly Daenerys Targaryen due to how the original language of the prophecy used a gender neutral term of "ruler".
    • Cersei was told by an oracle when she was young that she would marry a king, have three children she would outlive, and rule as queen before another queen, younger and more beautiful, would come and depose her. Cersei believed that Margaery was the younger queen that would depose her and gets her out of the way by killing her. However, all this does is push her last surviving child Tommen to commit suicide. While Cersei is crowned Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, she is killed by the younger Queen Daenerys, who is killed herself shortly after.
    • In the second season finale, Daenerys has a vision of walking through the snow-filled ruins of the Red Keep's throne room. At the time, this appeared to be a warning of what would happen if she didn't stop the White Walkers. However, the White Walkers are destroyed before they get anywhere near King's Landing. Daenerys herself is the one who destroys the Red Keep, and the vision is actually a warning of her death, which takes place shortly after she sets foot in the ruined throne room.
  • Hand of God: Pernell believes this has happened with him. God promised his son back, which he thought was PJ. However, PJ died and he lost his faith. Then it turned out Tessie is pregnant with another son of his...
  • Heroes:
    • Almost all of Isaac's paintings. Almost everything he paints comes to pass, exactly as depicted, but any meaning you read into it is your own look out: He paints Hiro fighting a dinosaur (Hiro is startled in a museum and draws his sword on a statue), Nathan in the Oval Office (it's Sylar, using illusion powers), Claire's murder by Sylar (Sylar kills the wrong cheerleader — the painting in which she's dead was finished by Peter, who drew it badly enough that you can't recognize the face), and Peter's death afterwards (He dies, but regenerates when Claire runs up to him and he mimics her power).
    • Sylar only posed as Nathan in the averted Explosion Future in the episode "Five Years Gone". However, given that the Volume Four storyline is similar to that of the aforementioned episode and that Sylar has recently acquired shape-shifting abilities, the Sylar-as-Nathan scenario may come to pass anyway.
    • A somewhat mean-spirited prophecy twist occurs in the finale of season 3 with Angela's dream vision that Matt Parkman would save Nathan. Nathan is already dead when they arrive, and Angela and Bennet must then convince Parkman to mind-wipe Sylar and replace his memories with Nathan's, creating some sort of bizarre pseudo-Nathan.
  • In House of AnubisThe Touchstone of Ra, there is a prophecy about, well, the touchstone of Ra: whoever touched the stone will be turned into stone themselves, unless the Osirian makes the ultimate sacrifice: their life. Eddie was ready to die and save his friends, but when it was over, it instead turned out that he had instead lost his powers. The Osirian did die, as in there would be no more Osirians, but Eddie survived.
  • In the last episode of Inhumans, Maximus asks Bronaja if he'll be victorious. Bronaja tells him he saw Maximus as the undisputed king of Atilan, and Black Bolt gone. Since at this point, Black Bolt is already planning the evacuation of the city, it's not hard to see where this is going.
  • Lucifer:
    • In Season Four, Father Kinley discovered a prophecy that said "when the devil finds his first love, evil will walk the Earth." He recruits Chloe Decker, the woman Lucifer loves, in a plot to send Lucifer back to Hell. This seems like a Xanatos Gambit to him. If it works, great, Lucifer is gone. If it doesn't, he's driven a wedge between Chloe and Lucifer and prevented the prophecy. Bishop Hoffman (who doesn't believe that Lucifer is really the devil) points out a rather glaring flaw in Kinley's logic: He's assuming that Chloe is Lucifer's first love. Enter Eve, the First Woman, Lucifer's ex-girlfriend and a Toxic Friend Influence who encourages all of Lucifer's worst habits out of a desire for "fun".

      Then, to make it even more complicated, it turns out that Chloe is Lucifer's First Love, as Lucifer himself admits in the season finale. As it turns out, it's a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: by attempting to drive a wedge between Chloe and Lucifer, Kinley allowed the latter to be susceptible to Eve's advances. Thus, when Lucifer inevitably broke up with Eve, her obsessive Love Martyr tendencies would cause her to kidnap Kinley while he's on the way to prison so she could convince him to tell Lucifer the prophecy is false. During their brief time together, they come up with the idea to kill someone meant for Hell so a demon can possess their body and convince Lucifer to return to Hell with Eve as his queen...except, Kinley instead decides to cut the knot and kill Eve to prevent it entirely. Eve then kills him in self-defense, summons Dromos using his body as a vessel, who then spends the finale killing people en masse so they can be possessed by his demon brethren, causing "evil" to "walk the Earth".
  • This arguably happens on Merlin. For five years (ten years in-show) Merlin is told that Arthur will bring about the Golden Age of Camelot, unite the kingdoms of Albion and legalize magic throughout the land. He dies before any of this occurs, but he has paved the way for his wife Guinevere to do it all in his stead. By the end of the show, all of Camelot's major enemies are dead and Guinevere is aware that Merlin has magic, suggesting that she'll go on to do all the things that Arthur was destined to do.
  • In the 1998 Merlin mini-series, Merlin is told by the Lady of the Lake to sail across the sea, where he will find a brave knight to bring about the golden age of Camelot. He does as she says and finds a boy named Galahad, who takes him to his father Lancelot. Merlin brings Lancelot back with him, but Lancelot ends up falling for the Queen and riding off with her, while Arthur is left with a civil war on his hands, eventually resulting in his death. When Merlin angrily confronts the Lady of the Lake, she tells him that she never told him that Lancelot was the man in the prophecy, forcing Merlin to realize that the prophecy spoke of Galahad.
  • MythQuest: The Oracle of Delphi gives the prophecy that a great army will fall when King Croesus marches on Persia. This causes a sticky situation later and Cleo has to clarify that she didn't specify whose great army would fall.
  • One episode of The Nanny had a fortune-teller telling Fran that Maxwell Sheffield would end up in bed with a leggy blue-eyed blonde in Beverly Hills. Maxwell then announces that he's going on a business trip to Beverly Hills with C.C. Babcock (a blue-eyed blonde woman). Fran worries that he's going to cheat on her with C.C., so she and Niles follow them to Beverly Hills. In the end, Niles (a blue-eyed blonde man) walks into the wrong room at the end of the day and lies down next to Maxwell in bed by accident.
  • Once Upon a Time: A seer tells Rumplestiltskin that his actions on the battlefield will "leave [his] son fatherless", which he quite naturally assumes means he's going to die. He's not happy when he runs into the seer again and she remarks that her prophecy came true.
    Rumplestiltskin: Well, in a manner of speaking. I hobbled myself on the battlefield, was branded a coward. My wife ran away and left me. Then my son was called to the front. Oh! - Then I became the Dark One. Then Bae left me. So, yes, my actions on the battlefield left my son fatherless. But it would've been nice to know about all the pesky details.
    • There's a second part to that prophesy that says a boy (that Rumple later figures out to be his grandson, Henry) will "be his undoing". Again, he assumes this to mean he's going to die, even though it's not what the first part meant. Then again, perhaps the writers just think the Viewers Are Morons.
  • An episode of Perfect Strangers had a seer who predicted that Larry would sit on a sheep, eat a golden ring, and find death at the door. He dismisses this until he does sit on a sheep (Balki's stuffed animal Dimitri) and eat a golden ring (a plain doughnut). Right after death doesn't make the prescribed appearance, he and Balki sit down to watch television. When they turn on the television, we hear the theme song from The Twilight Zone.
  • Happens all the time in Person of Interest. The core plot device is the Machine, a surveillance supercomputer that provides the heroes with the social security number of someone who is about to be involved in a violent crime. There's usually some ambiguity about whether a number will be the victim or perpetrator, but on top of that, there's been cases of a perp whose crime was justified, a victim probably who deserves it, criminals targeting each other, identity theft, villains gumming the system as a way to get at the heroes, and more than a few occasions where the number was a victim and a perp.
  • The miniseries adaptation of The Pillars of the Earth has a neat twist in the curse against Bishop Waleran: "You will one day climb very high, only to fall." It's naturally assumed that this means he'll achieve a great deal of power only to lose it, which does indeed happen. But it's also literally true: when his crimes are exposed he's chased to the top of a cathedral, where he commits suicide.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World gives us a prophet who makes three prophecies: Veronica will turn into a tree, Roxton will be betrayed by a two-faced woman, and Malone will have the heart ripped from his chest. Veronica falls into a pond, gets covered in vines and leaves and believed to be a tree by someone, Roxton is discovered by a woman wearing a mask and betrays him, and Malone has a heart shaped necklace Marguerite gave him ripped from his shirt pocket.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • One episode of Stargate SG-1 had Jonas Quinn develop precognition. At one point, he has a vision of Carter being wheeled away on a stretcher. He tells the others about this and they decide to keep Carter at base for the next mission. While the next mission is happening off-world, Jonas learns there was an accident on base and Carter was injured. Cue her being wheeled past him on a stretcher exactly like he saw in his vision.
    • This happens several times in an episode of Stargate Atlantis. The Atlantis team comes across a seer who can show people visions of the future. While the visions do come to pass, the characters often make the wrong assumptions on the consequences or events leading up to these visions. The biggest one would be Carter's vision of Atlantis being destroyed by an enemy ship... except it's later revealed that it's just a city that looks like Atlantis that is destroyed. Prior to the vision coming true, the characters discuss the vision, and one of them claims that there is no specific timeline associated with it, meaning it could happen tomorrow or in a thousand years. Cue another character to point out that this is how life pretty much is anyway.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • The episode "Destiny" is all about a prophecy twist. A disastrous Bajoran prophecy about "three vipers peering into the temple gates...the temple will burn, and its gates shall be cast open." One of the charactrs believes the three vipers to be the scientists studying the wormhole - the temple gates - and that their actions will destroy the wormhole. However, the end of the episode reveals the vipers to actually be three comet fragments, and the "burning of the temple" referred to the wormhole being ignited by a silithium trail, a good thing as the wormhole will now never close.
    • There's also the prophecy in "The Reckoning", which gives us this exchange:
      Dax: During the reckoning, the Bajorans will either suffer horribly or... eat fruit.
      Sisko: ... Eat fruit?
      Dax: Given the tone of the rest of the inscriptions, I would bet on the horrible suffering.
  • In Supernatural:
    • The prophecy the Winchester brothers twist is REVELATIONS. The actual, Biblical Revelations. This is done by befriending the horseman Death, finding the keys to trap Lucifer again (along with Michael), and Dean refusing to be Michael's vessel. Lucifer's prophecy about Sam saying yes to him, however, is played with as being actually fulfilled AND twisted. Sam DOES say yes and gets possessed by Lucifer, but he ends up taking control of his body in the end anyway, making Lucifer's possession null and void.
    • Chuck's prophecy about Sam making a deal with Lilith in a "night of fiery demonic passion" is twisted in that, yes, Sam agrees to make a deal, but can't finish his "fiery passion" session before Dean arrives with Chuck, who is protected by a powerful Archangel (also, Chuck is probably God anyway, so just seeing him should scare Lilith away).
  • A truly glorious and self-perpetuating one on Survivor. When Russell Hantz turns up in Samoa, he predicts to the camera: "I'm going to show America just how easy it is to win Survivor." Over the course of the game, he bulldozes his way to the final three by treating the rest of his tribe like crap, destroying their belongings, bullying and threatening everyone, and blithely ignoring the social skills of his would-be goat. So Russell did show America how easy it was to win Survivor... that is, how easy it was for Natalie to win Survivor. Knowing that the jury hated him for how he behaved toward them, all she had to do was make sure that she was sitting next to him in the final three. He had to beat sixteen people - she only had to beat one, and she did so by a landslide.
  • In Tales from the Crypt episode "Dead Right", Gold Digger Cathy marries a man she loathes because a fortune teller promises that he will inherit a fortune from a relative, and then die violently. Unfortunately she turns out to be the relative in question. He dies violently because after murdering her, he gets sentenced to death.
  • Almost every episode of That's So Raven hinges on the main character's future visions, though the path to those visions is rarely what she or anyone else thinks.
  • Somewhat of a minor case, but still. On Top Gear, during the Race Across London, when Hammond pulled away on his bicycle, Clarkson remarked that it would be the last time he was in front. He wasn't wrong, it was. Pity said lead lasted the entire race.
  • Plot of the first few episodes of Season 3 of The Vampire Diaries. Klaus thinks he killed Elena as a necessary step to break his hybrid curse, which among other things should let him convert werewolves into hybrids like himself. It isn't working. The audience (and Stefan) know Elena survived, and think that's why Klaus's hybrids are dying. This is confirmed by The Original Witch; turns out she was lying and Elena's blood was the key to successful hybrid transformation. Fortunately (sort of), Klaus realizes the witch was lying and experiments before simply killing Elena again.
  • Short-lived gem Wonderfalls used this trope constantly: Jaye's animal muses spoke entirely in these.
  • An early episode of Xena: Warrior Princess covers this trope. A king reluctantly ordered the deaths of all newborn baby boys, fearing a prophecy that a boy born during that period would replace him as king. Xena eventually convinced the king to raise the kid prophesied to replace him as his son, so that when he does replace him, it will be as his heir, not as his conqueror.
  • In the The X-Files episode "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose", Clyde predicted he would die in bed with Scully. This turned out to be true, technically, but it didn't turn out as he expected. He died in bed, and Scully was in the same room, but she wasn't in bed with him.

  • There is a song called "Plastic Jesus", which ends with a - yes, you guessed it - plastic Jesus figurine lodged in a woman's womb after a car crash, WTF? Someday he'll be born again indeed.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • After returning to TNA in 2014, Low Ki had two title shots against for the X Division Title involving Samoa Joe, the first being a triple threat match also involving Seiya Sanada, whom Joe choked out, and then a one on one match which Low Ki lost. Following these incidents, Low Ki asked Joe to be his partner in a tag team tournament to become number one contenders to the American Wolves, saying Joe's presence would "Guarantee Victory". Joe agreed but he and Low Ki lost to Matt Hardy and Jeff in the final round, in which Joe was injured to the point he had to vacate the X Division Title. Low Ki would go on to win the belt in Joe's absence.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the Fraggle Rock Grand Finale, Doc, having recently learned of the Fraggles' existence, is now moving to the desert with Ned Shimmelfinney (or, in the UK version, BJ is moving to a castle because the lighthouse is being automated). When Gobo asks the Trash Heap for advice about losing his new friend, the Heap says to tell him "You cannot leave the magic". He interprets this as meaning Doc/BJ mustn't be allowed to leave, but it's too late. However, it turns out "cannot" means "it's impossible to..." rather than "you mustn't...", when Gobo finds a hole leading to Doc/BJ's new home.

    Religion & Mythology 
  • The Bible:
    • While the New and Old Testaments have plenty of straightforward prophecies, they are also full of Prophecy Twists. As an example, the Messiah was prophesied to be a Nazarene, which was a Jew who had taken a certain special type of vow, as well as the title for people from the town of Nazareth. Saint John the Baptist was the former sort of Nazarene, while his cousin Jesus Christ was the latter.
    • On the other hand, Jesus several times prophesies that he will be killed, and will rise on the third day—and yet, both his death and his resurrection seem to take his disciples completely by surprise. Presumably they were looking for a Prophecy Twist that wasn't there. After all, the Messiah can't die, so there's got to be a hidden meaning... (maybe they assumed it was symbolic or something)
      • Quite a few of his prophecies of oncoming death and resurrection are of the "bizarre metaphor" variety, such as saying the Temple will be destroyed and he will rebuild it in three days. (The Temple in question is his body, not the big building.)
    • Isaiah's prophecy of Jesus' birth also has a Double Meaning. Certainly, he did mention a virgin having a child, but at the time he was talking to the King about a young woman in their time who was about to be married, and certain events that would take place between her having a child by her husband and that child's coming of age; she certainly wasn't going to be a virgin by the time the kid was born! As with much else concerning Jesus, his Virgin Birth was a retread with a bit of a twist on old prophecies that had—in a way—been fulfilled already.
    • The prophet Jonah told the people of Nineveh that in forty days, their city would be "overturned." The people of Nineveh then repented so thoroughly, God decided not to destroy them. The twist: the Hebrew word for "overturn" also means "transform."
  • Oedipus the King. While exiling himself so he didn't kill his father and marry his mother, Oedipus killed some dude (late we find out, he was the King of Thebes) on the road who set his servants on him, then proceeded to save the city of Thebes from a monster and married the newly-widowed Queen of Thebes. Too bad Oedipus didn't find out he was adopted until after he had four kids with his biological mother, even though his birth parents left him on a mountain to die. Oops.
  • Greek myth: According to some stories, the soothsayer Calchas was told by another fortune teller that he would die, and set the exact day. When the day came and Calchas was still alive, he was overcome with laughter and died.
  • Herodotus recounts the story of Croesus, King of Lydia (in modern Turkey), who expended a considerable portion of his vast wealth to get the Oracle at Delphi's opinion on whether he should attack the Persian Empire. The Oracle responded that "If Croesus attacks the Persians, a great empire will fall," or something to that effect ("...he will destroy a great army!"). Croesus attacks the Persians, and it turns out that the empire the Oracle was talking about was his. Cyrus, however, is a nice conqueror and decides to make Croesus an advisor.
    • That example was the second question he asked on the subject. After the first "Can I beat the Medeans?", the oracle responded "Unless they make a mule their king." He asked for qualification and got the more famously twisted answer. The Medean succession, meanwhile, passed to the half-Medean, half-Persian Cyrus.
  • Legend says that Aischylos heard from an oracle that he would be struck down by a house. To escape his fate, he went to the plains. An eagle carrying a turtle was looking for a rock to crack the turtle's 'house' open. Apparently, bald heads are mistaken for rocks easily from above...
    • A variation has him 'to be struck down by a bolt from above'. So he never went out during storms.
  • In the Ulster Cycle, Medb is the enemy of King Conchobar of Ulster. She asks a druid which of her sons will kill Conchobar and is told "Maine". Since none of her sons are called Maine, she renames all of them, just to be sure. Having thus averted the One Steve Limit, her son Maine the Swift goes on to kill a completely different Conchobar.
  • In one version of Odysseus' death, it's prophesied he'll die by the sea. He ends up getting killed inland... from a spear made from a stingray's tail.

  • In The BBC Radio 4 Stanley Baxter's Playhouse episode "The King's Kilt", Sir Walter Scott is subjected to an ancient Highland curse: that he will spend eternity sitting on a stone chair, in a room without any walls, and the birds of the air will do their business on his head. Flash forward to the present day and the Scott Monument.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The early Warhammer Fantasy campaign The Tragedy Of Mac Death, being a Macbeth parody, has its own take. The part about being safe until Klinty's Wood (cute) comes up to his castle is made a lot easier when you know Klinty is the leader of the treemen, and No Man of Woman Born is much riskier when your opponents feature not just a man who was born by C-section but a woman, the aforementioned treemen and dwarven miners.

  • Macbeth: The Three Weird Sisters promise him that No Man of Woman Born can kill him, and that his reign will last until "great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him." (Unlikely at best, as the two are about 12 miles apart on a straight line, or just over 18 miles apart following the roads. With a couple of river crossing in between them as well.) In the final battle between Macbeth and Malcolm's armies, Malcolm has his men camouflage themselves by breaking off branches form the trees of Birnam Wood and put them in their hats before they march on Dunsinane hill. Just before the final duel, there's this exchange between Macbeth and Macduff:
    Macbeth: Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests;
    I bear a charmed life, which must not yield
    To one of woman born.
    Macduff: Despair thy charm,
    And let the angel whom thou still hast served
    Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother's womb
    Untimely ripp'd.
    Poor Macbeth believed it and thought himself safe.
    • The 2006 film with a Setting Update to a modern day gangster story has the Birnham Wood part fulfilled by Malcolm's forces using a lumber truck to break down the front gate of Macbeth's house. The Patrick Stewart version has Macduff's troops use branches from the wood as camouflage instead.
  • Another Shakespeare example occurs in Richard III. Richard created a false prophecy to set his brother Clarence and the king against each other. The prophecy stated that "G" would murder the king's heirs. The king decided this must be George, Duke of Clarence. Richard, who ultimately did murder the king's heirs, was Duke of Gloucester.
  • In Henry VI Part 2, a prophetic spirit is asked what will become of the Duke of Somerset. It says he should "shun castles." He is killed by a young Richard Gloucester outside the Castle Inn in St. Albans. The spirit says the Duke of Suffolk will meet his death by water. He is taken prisoner and put into the keeping of a soldier named "Walter" (whose name in some English dialects would be pronounced the same as "water").
    • The same spirit, asked about the contest between King Henry VI and the Duke of York, says "The duke yet lives that Henry shall depose / But him outlive, and die a violent death." This is as ambiguous as the prophecy given to Pyrrhus (under "real life" below). As with that prophecy, it ends up being fulfilled both ways...York and Henry "depose" each other, and both die violent deaths.
  • Another Shakespeare example in Henry IV: King Henry was told a prophesy that he would die in Jerusalem, and believed this would entail going Crusading or otherwise journeying to the Holy Land to repent of his sins. Toward the end of the second part of the play, Henry becomes ill and collapses and is brought to a room in the palace. He asks the name of the room, and is told it is called the "Jerusalem Chamber". He then realizes he will die in the room.
  • In Once Upon a Mattress, the King is cursed to remain mute "until the mouse devours the hawk." The literal attempt to fulfill this condition obviously fails: by Dauntless's account, "the mouse got scared and ran away and the hawk bit Daddy." The prophecy is ultimately fulfilled when Dauntless stops being a Momma's Boy and yells at his mother to shut up.
  • Elements of the upbeat song "The Wizard and I" in Wicked follow this - Elphaba (the future Wicked Witch of the West) envisions her future popularity, in which "when people see me they will scream" and there'll be "a celebration throughout Oz that's all to do with me". Thinking about it apparently makes her "so happy I could melt". So... Yeah.
    • Fiyero has his moments of this as well, once in the song 'Dancing Through Life' when he says "Life's more painless/for the brainless" as well as in 'As Long As You're Mine' when he says "Maybe I'm brainless" He eventually becomes the Scarecrow
    • Even the Wizard joins in on the fun, when he says in the song 'Sentimental Man' that he is "a sentimental man/who always longed to be a father" at the end of the play, it turns out that the Wizard is Elphaba's father.

    Video Games 
  • In the for-now last installment of the Legacy of Kain game series, "Defiance", we learn that both the Ancients and the Hylden have prophecies about each race's individual messianic warrior destroying the other race's own champion. However, what they - and everybody since - didn't realize was that both warriors are one and the same person. The champion of the Ancients is supposed to save Nosgoth and restore the Vampire race to glory, while the Hylden champion is supposed to ruin Nosgoth and free the Hylden from their prison. By using the heart of darkness to revive Janos, Raziel provides the Hylden with the vessel they need for their General to possess Janos, allowing him to enact a plan that eventually leads to a time of great ruin for Nosgoth and frees the Hylden. But then, by allowing Kain to kill him and purifying his corruption, Raziel gives Kain the power to restore the pillars lead Nosgoth into a golden age.
    • As for the "one champion destroys the other" part? Raziel willingly commits suicide to heal and arm Kain. For bonus points, he does so using the Reaver - his own time-displaced self!
    • Also, it is prophesied that Raziel will kill Kain eventually. And he does. They didn't know that as the Scion of Balance, Kain can't die and he just comes back to life later.
    • Raziel is prophesied to wield the Soul Reaver, except that his destiny predicts he'll be drawn into the sword and become its soul-devouring spectral half. So he can't go near the sword because it'll kill him, but due to a time paradox integral to that destiny, he wields the spectral version of the sword independent of the material version. As the dialogue goes:
      Janos: Raziel, you are ordained by prophecy to wield the Reaver.
      Raziel: *manifests the sword, earning a shocked gasp from Janos* And so I do... Though not quite as you had envisioned.
  • In the Eldar campaign of Dawn of War II: Retribution, Autarch Kayleth is motivated by the following prophecy:
    "The dead shall bear death, the damned shall be damned, every soul of a Craftworld lost, slain without a word".
    • She is told she can prevent this doom by going to the planet Typhon. As such, the prophecy is interpreted as "The Spirit Stones of the dead Eldar contained in the buried Craftworld on Typhon will be destroyed by the Imperial Fleet bent on Exterminatus unless you stop them". Things get complicated when another group of Eldar show up, claiming that their prophecy says a Craftworld will be lost unless Autarch Kayleth is killed. When Kayleth kills them in self-defence, it turns out they were delaying the Imperial Fleet, and Typhon Craftworld is destroyed shortly afterwards. It turns out that Kayleth's prophecy actually meant "Undead, silent robots will kill everyone on an unrelated Craftworld nicknamed "the Damned", unless you recover a Macguffin from the Big Bad who happened to be near Typhon at the time". While she does end up fulfilling that prophecy, that's presumably cold comfort to all the souls lost on Typhon.
  • In the web RPG DragonFable, the main story of Book One revolves around a prophecy which states that two dragons- whose eggs are contained in the White and Black Dragon Boxes- will be involved in a titanic duel which places the world of Lore in jeopardy. The egg from the White Dragon Box will hatch into a dragon who saves a world while its opposite in the Black Dragon Box destroys a world. Despite Sepulchure transforming the dragon from the White Dragon Box into an undead behemoth while the dragon from the Black Dragon Box becomes the DragonFable hero's pet- causing everyone to think the prophecy had been broken for a time- the prophecy is fulfilled, but with a twist. After Fluffy is bound to Drakath and subsequently the Super Mega Ultra Darkness Dracolich, he returns from the dead to telepathically alert you and your dragon of his weak point, thus saving the world with its information, and your dragon defeats the SMUDD. Whether the SMUDD is seen as literally being a planet has been hotly debated.
  • Tales of the Abyss's Big Bad exploited the crap out of his local prophecy that the world would see a Chosen One by cloning him. Since the prophecy is strong enough that the odd deviation here or there won't throw it off-track, he intended to let the clone die when the original was supposed to, so that he could keep the true Chosen One around for his stronger hyperresonnance. However, what said Big Bad didn't realise was that the prophecy was also a secret message begging humanity to avoid destruction by rejecting and overturning it; which the protagonists are implied to use to their advantage to win the day.
    • There's also a bizarre Prophecy Twist regarding said clone. Initially, the Score reads something like "The Chosen One will bring his people to the miner's city. There, the youth will turn power to calamity, destroying himself and the city." For most of the game, this is assumed to be Akzeriuth, so it seems to be a subverted prophecy since The Chosen One -both of them, actually- makes it out alive. Then, much later in the game, Luke leads ten thousand replicas, quite literally his 'people,' to the Tower of Rem, which is revealed to be built over a miner's city. At the tower, Luke sacrifices himself to destroy the miasma. He dies slowly, admittedly, but in a way the prophecy comes true.
  • Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame: "He Who Would Steal the Flame Must Die!" Simply jumping into the Flame is Self-Immolation. You actually obtain the Flame for yourself by means of a Fission Mailed.
  • In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner, one of the Drive-Thru Whale's lines is the rather ominous-sounding "When the End Times come, we will all dance the Conga of the Apocalypse". This might be interpreted as a very oblique clue for the endgame, where getting everybody out of Strong Bad's house involves getting them to dance in a conga line. In fact, much (but definitely not all) of what the Whale says can be interpreted as a clue in the various episodes of SBCG4AP:
    • In Strong Badia the Free, the Whale instructs you to "Get your lighter from the anvil, please." If Strong Bad allies with The Cheat (who has been compared to an anvil in some of the cartoons), the Cheat will give Strong Bad a lighter he can use to solve some puzzles later in the game.
    • In Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective, one of the Whale's lines is "On a sunny day, don't forget to bling out your power tools." In the endgame, Dangeresque fights a robotic duplicate of Dangeresque Too on a space station orbiting the Sun, and has to defeat him by putting a "diamond-tipped diamond" on an industrial drill and tilting the space station so the drill rolls into the robot.
  • Odin Sphere:
    • This is Lampshaded and, in a way, Deconstructed by the prophetic dragon Hindel. He explains that he no longer speaks with humans because they constantly misinterpret his words to mean something completely different.
    • Even the doomsday prophecy has a twist. The prophecy states that only two people will survive Armageddon, but this does not include Pookas, allowing two more people to survive.
    • Said prophecy also states that King Onyx's rampage will be stopped by the World Tree. When Armageddon comes, Onyx burns down Ringford forest and massacres the fairies, boasting that there is no World Tree to be found...until he finds out Queen Mercedes' true name: Yggdrasil, the World Tree from Norse Mythology.
    • Yet another twist in the doomsday prophecy, combined with something outside of it. Though the actual prophecy states that Gallon will be killed by "the shadow of the lost master" (the lost master being the late Queen Odette,) Gallon also reveals another caveat; he can only be slain by Titanian royalty, and since Cornelius, the only surviving member of the Titanian royality, has no real connection to Odette, Gallon is effectively invincible. Cue Oswald, wielder of power granted to him by Odette, taking him on anyway and having a Really Royalty Reveal as he successfully kills Gallon.
  • From the end of Mega Man X3: "To save mankind, X must destroy Zero." A straight example in Mega Man X5: Zero and X indeed fight, but X wasn't able to destroy Zero (although he did die, by Sigma's hands), because they were the best of friends. The same prophecy was then averted much later, in the Mega Man Zero series. According to Inafune, X is originally the Big Bad of the first game, a Knight Templar exterminating Reploids for the sake of humanity, and Zero The Hero trying to save the remaining Reploids because they were wrongly accused of being "Mavericks". It was only because of Executive Meddling on the X series, that the true, "twisted" events of the prophecy never came to pass, replacing X with a clone.
    • It should be pointed out that, in the Japanese version of X3, the ending states that, deep down, X (somehow) knows he and Zero are fated to fight, which does happen in X5 and thus it all works out, even with the Executive Meddling that changed Zero 1.
  • The opening narration of Guild Wars Nightfall states, "Night falls. The Time of the Five Gods is at an end." And sure enough, by the end of the campaign, you've destroyed the banished god Abaddon and set up Kormir to take his place alongside the Five True Gods, beginning the Time of the Six Gods.
  • King's Bounty: The Legend has a variant. Researchers have almost activated the Artifact of Doom, and discovered that it will only serve an owner who claims it by force out of rage, and who then wets it with his blood. The head researcher tells about this to the King's courier at length: the courier can't stand the blather but grabs the artifact, fumbles it, and in trying to catch it drops it corner-first on his hand. The jury is out on whether this is blatantly stupid or marvellous.
  • Weaponlord: The Big Bad learns that a "Weaponlord" will rise up and kill him. Rather than run, he decides to meet destiny head-on and organizes a tournament, figuring the Weaponlord would be whoever wins, and he can then face him in single combat. In his ending, he is elated that the prophecy was proven false... until he learns it wasn't meant for him, but rather his predecessor, an even worse monster he had killed to take over. In other words, the prophecy came true before the game even began.
  • In the Fan Remake of King's Quest II, the Big Bad levels a curse on Graham before departing. At each turn of the curse/prophesy, it gets twisted. His family in jeopardy? Yes, but Alexander-Gwydion manages to escape and thwart the dragon plaguing Daventry. While celebrating this happy news, the second part of the curse kicks in, causing Graham's "heart to slow." Rosella intervenes by getting the magic fruit from Tamir and saving her father. The last part of the curse? Well, Alexander ends up ruling the faraway Land of the Green Isles. Rosella may or may not move to Etheria with Edgar... and even if she does, there's Connor MacLir
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, one of the stories you can hear from Jolee Bindo is about a young Jedi who was told that his destiny would involve changing the galaxy. Of course, he believed that it made him immortal, and flouted about his 'destiny' to anybody who would listen. In the end, a warlord who had captured him finally grew sick of hearing about his so-called 'immortality', and threw him into an intake pipe. As it turns out, he must have hit something vital, because no more than 30 seconds later, the ship, and the warlord were space debris.
    Bindo: Changed the political course of the entire sector for centuries to come. I'd call that quite a destiny, wouldn't you?
    PC: I hate you, old man.
  • May or may not have been intentional, but in the first Jak and Daxter, Samos states that the answer to the whole Precursor riddle rested on the shoulders of a young boy. This could obviously refer to Jak's important role in the events of the games, but it may also refer to the fact that Daxter, now a Precursor, stands on Jak's shoulder for the majority of the adventures.
    • And another case in the first game, the precursor oracle statues state that the dark light (which is taken to mean Dark eco) has twisted the fate of one of them, and the pure light (Light Eco?) would put it right again. By the end of the first game, it seemed to refer to Daxter, who had been changed by dark eco, and could be changed back by light eco. Then at the start of Jak II: Renegade, Jak is corrupted by dark eco. In Jak 3: Wastelander, this is restored by the precursors giving him light eco powers. The prophecy in the first game, which was more of a meaningful background detail than part of the plot, took on a completely different meaning in retrospect.
  • In Ultima VI, a gargoyle prophecy states that the only way to prevent of the destruction of their people is by "sacrifice of the False Prophet". Most gargoyles believe this means they must sacrifice the False Prophet (and boy, do they try!), but in the end the situation is resolved by the False Prophet sacrificing something else entirely. One of the more philosophical gargoyles even points out that the wording of the prophecy might mean one of three things: the False Prophet is sacrificed, the False Prophet performs a sacrifice on another person, or the False Prophet sacrifices a valuable possession.
  • In Super Paper Mario, it is said that the "Man in green" (Luigi) will determine whether the Chaos Heart is used to destroy the universe or not. Much to the glee of The Starscream, Dimentio, it doesn't say anything about whether the man in green has to consciously decide, nor anything about whether he has to be 100% himself. Subverted when the Luigi-Dimentio hybrid is defeated regardless of what destiny says, and the other characters outright state that his prophecy means nothing.
  • Combined with You Can't Fight Fate in Um Jammer Lammy: In the original version of Stage 6 ("Vital Idol"), Lammy avoids getting hit and run by an out-of-control car so as not to end up in hell (as Chop Chop Master Onion has foretold in her dream). As she keeps running, she doesn't notice the Banana Peel that PJ Berri has left because she is in too much of a hurry, then slips on it, falls down, breaks her neck and dies, thus fulfilling Chop Chop Master Onion's dream prophecy.
  • The prophecy that opens Diablo III ominously states that "Justice shall fall upon the world of men". Turns out the prophecy is a much more literal play on words: the Fallen Star that sets up Act I is actually Tyrael, the Archangel of Justice, after renouncing his angelic status in protest and subsequently falling to Sanctuary.
    • The forlorn priest in New Tristram lost his faith in the gods because of the zombie outbreak (which has to do with the above prophecy), only to slowly realize that the prophecies in his archives are slowly coming true. Among them are "Though the three will be made one, never again will the four be made whole" signifying the reforging of Tyrael's sword but not his angelic connection to it, and "weep, Sanctuary, Justice must die for Wisdom to be reborn" where Tyrael resigns his post as the aspect of Justice to take up a sorely needed Archangel of Wisdom position, not to mention that he was the actual angel of wisdom due to a clerical error of epic proportions. By the end, he's gained faith in the player character, and most of his strangely-worded prophecies end up happening in some way or another.
  • The bees in The Secret World warn against falling prey to this; namely, they advise caution against dismissing every false prophecy about the end times, because an "end" is not necessarily instantaneous. Separately, Kirstin Geary tells Illuminati players that a prophecy foretold the exact time the Council of Venice would fall; the time has long since come and gone and the Council of Venice still exists, but the time noted in the prophecy coincides with when the Council began its decline into near-irrelevancy.
  • Played with in Chrono Trigger. The party is present to see Crono dying right in front of them in a Heroic Sacrifice to save them from Lavos. Since this is a game about time travel, they can retroactively change this event by using an artifact from the Guru Of Time and the doll offered as a prize in the Millennial Fair at the very beginning of the game to make it so that what they saw killed was Actually a Doombot, thus making a Prophecy Twist out of their own past experiences.
  • In the story of Mortal Kombat 9, Raiden receives visions of things to come that are sent to him from himself in a Bad Future along with the words "He must win." He proceeds to interpret this as 1) Liu Kang winning the Mortal Kombat tournament (does nothing, as this is what happened anyway in the original timeline) 2) Kung Lao winning the Outworld tournament (just gets a Neck Snap from Shao Kahn, leading Liu Kang to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and inadvertently causing the same conclusion). What he really was supposed to do was let Shao Kahn win, as doing so would violate the terms of Mortal Kombat and the Elder Gods would take direct action against him. He doesn't come to this conclusion until the eleventh hour, by which point nearly every Earthrealm warrior is dead and he tried to cross the Godzilla Threshold by seeking a truce with Quan Chi in exchange for his own soul.
  • Age Of Empires II. In Attila The Hun's second-to-last mission, Attila receives a prophecies from his priests which state his army will lose but enemy leader will be slain. Attila considers it to be a fair trade. Everyone not history geek will assumes slain commander is Flavius Aetius but in reality Flavius' ally, a leader of Visigoth.
  • In The Elder Scrolls backstory, the Greybeards, masters of the Thu'um, summoned The Chosen One who would restore the Empire and conquer the elves to High Hrothgar, their monastery on the Throat of the World. Wulfharth Ash-King, the legendary ancient King of the Nords, famous Shezarrine who had died and come back to life at least three times, and noted Elf-hater, Jumped at the Call and went to the Greybeards. Instead, Wulfharth is "blasted to ash" by the Greybeards who declare Hjalti of High Rock (a young Tiber Septim) to be the one instead. The Greybeards do leave him with a message though: "remember the color of betrayal." When Tiber Septim makes an Armistice with Morrowind, validating the rule of the Dunmeri Tribunal that Wulfharth hates so much, Wulfharth believes this to be the "betrayal" and leaves Septim. It turns out that this is not the case. Septim later contacts Wulfharth and agrees that the Tribunal must be destroyed. However, when Wulfharth arrives, he is ambushed by Zurin Arctus and Imperial soldiers. Arctus soul-traps Wulfharth within the Mantella, but not before Wulfharth kills Arctus with his dying breath. This was the betrayal the Greybeards spoke of.
  • Forever Home has the Future Stone, which can show a person's potential future if it's placed on their head. If the vision has a blue tint, it means the vision won't come true and most people assume this means the subject doesn't have long to live.
    • When Kina gets a blue-tinted vision of her and the party in Glarefrost, only for her to commit suicide before the party visits that city. However, she ends up rejoining with a different appearance and memories sometime after the party visits Glarefrost, showing that the blue tint doesn't always mean the subject will die in the near future.
    • When Xero uses the stone to view Enda's future, he sees another vision with a blue tint, which when combined with his knowledge of a previous timeline, causes him to believe that Enda will die in the second Aquadome. She ends up surviving the Aquadome in the current timeline, making Xero believe she escaped her fate, only for the two to perform a Heroic Sacrifice in the ending.
  • In StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, a prophecy states that the Xel'naga shall stand against Amon yet when Artanis finds the home of the Xel'naga, they've all been slaughtered by Amon. As it turns out, there's one left alive and he goes on to ascend Kerrigan into a Xel'naga, who stands against Amon. By that point, she's the only Xel'naga in existence except Amon. So indeed the Xel'naga stand against Amon; the prophecy just never stated whether that was singular or plural.
  • Shadow Man's plot revolves around the Prophecy and its multiple twists. The Prophecy itself states that the Shadow Man will try to fight the Five during the day and fail, allowing Legion to collect the Dark Souls and bring about the Apocalypse; this prompts Michael (the titular Shadow Man) to twist the Prophecy, by getting the Dark Souls himself to get stronger, and by fighting the Five at night (via magical eclypse) so that he can actually defeat them. Unfortunately, there's a second twist: Legion himself wrote the Prophecy specifically to push the Shadow Man towards that path. The plan was to make the Shadow Man collect a lot of Dark Souls, only for Legion to defeat him and take many Souls in one quick swoop. Then there's a third twist: Mike, using part of the Dark Souls' power, manages to get strong enough to disable Legion; then dumps the Souls's full power into him, fulfilling the "And Legion took the Dark Souls unto him..." verse. This causes Legion to undergo a Phlebotinum Overload, which completely destroys both him and his Cathedral.
  • Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal is centered around the prophecy that the children of the dead murder god Bhaal (one of which is the Player Character) will destroy the Sword Coast. It's generally assumed that the prophecy refers to the Player Character, but as it turns out, the prophecy speaks of what will happen if the Player Character fails to stop the destruction.

  • Played with in The Order of the Stick, with the singularly confusing prophecy "When the goat turns red strikes true." At first Roy thinks it's usual prophetic nonsense, but when Nale turns on the group he figures it out, telling Haley to shoot Nale, making a Million To One Shot. As he explains later, the prophecy should be "When the goat turns, red strikes true", "goat" referring to Nale (who has a goatee), and "red" to the redheaded Haley.
    • The Oracle gives Belkar a prophecy that Belkar will cause the death of at least one of the people on his hit list, which includes the Oracle. Belkar ends up giving a magical item to one such person, causing that person to use it to bite off more than they could chew and get killed, as well as annoying another enough to make a Face–Heel Turn resulting in death, and getting another sent back to the Celestial planes as a result of a series of events where Belkar's involvement is a bit questionable. When Belkar and the Oracle meet again, he tries to pass this off as fulfillment; Belkar stabs him. "Worth a shot." Of course the Oracle had already set up his revenge and resurrection.
    • Yet another one is that the Oracle says Vaarsuvius will gain "complete and total ultimate arcane power" "by saying the right four words to the right being at the right time for all the wrong reasons." According to a loose literal interpretation of the Oracle's words, it has been fulfilled: The twists were that the four words were, in fact, three and a stammer (or possibly a repeated word for emphasis, depending on how you read it), the right being was Vaarsuvius themself, and "complete and total arcane power" referred to the set of soul splices giving Vaarsuvius three aspects of magic currently barred to them: necromancy, conjuration, and spontaneous casting. Along with a ridiculously high effective caster level, probably in the low 90s (for comparison 21 is Epic level, something most characters will never reach), for as long as he's able to hold onto all 3 spliced souls.
    • The Oracle also predicted that Durkon would only return to his homeland posthumously. Durkon is overjoyed, because that means he'll be buried in the family crypt instead of his corpse becoming some monsters' dinner. However, Durkon eventually dies at the hands of the vampiric Minister Malack, who then raises the deceased dwarf as a vampire. This is particularly scary when it is combined with a previous prophecy that Durkon will bring "death and destruction" with him next time he returns home. Making things even worse: the vampire-spirit now controlling Durkon's body is a follower of the evil Dwarf goddess Hel, with his likely domains being "Death" and "Destruction".
      • That previous prophecy was also subject to a twist: Durkon was exiled to the human lands by the previous High Priest of Thor and ordered to not return until given the say-so (which the High Priest had no intention of doing) in an attempt to Screw Destiny. Unfortunately, the High Priest never considered the possibility of Durkon's physical body returning without the consent of Durkon, the man who would never disobey an order from his superiors.
      • And yet even then, the "death and destruction" bit contains its own twist: "death" part is fulfilled when Durkon as vampire kills and converts so many of his people to vampires themselves... but the "destruction" part, Durkon decrees, will be fulfilled by himself, with a lightning hammer artifact!
    • Before the Oracle predicted "Belkar would take his last breath ever some time this year", he insisted he was phrasing it as unambiguously as possible, as if in defiance of this trope. The twist was subverted when it looked like Belkar would be vampirized, as that would technically kill him and certainly stop his breath, but he was not. It's not too late to zig-zag though; it's obvious the Oracle was trolling Roy, but was he doing it with the honest truth or a misleading truth?
    • A version in which the twist is obvious from the start: Roy asks the Oracle which Gate Xykon will visit next, and remembering how the Oracle screwed with him the first time he visited him, specifically words the question to prevent the Oracle from giving a useless answer, in a way that inadvertently excludes the actual answer (in short, he asked if Xykon would go to Girard's Gate or Kraagor's Gate next). To his credit, the Oracle tries to convince Roy to reword his question, but Roy insists, so the Oracle answers that of those two Gates, Girard's will be the first one Xykon goes to. The twist is that Roy forgot to include Soon's Gate in the question... and guess which Gate Xykon and his forces were marching towards at that time?
  • In Goblins, many goblin children are named based on a fortune teller's vision of their future. One of these, Saves-A-Fox, deliberately killed the fox she was supposed to save. However, as noted by forumgoers, the aforementioned fox was never in any apparent danger, and her name isn't Rescues-A-Fox — but she HAS been saving that fox's tail as a memento all these years...
    • Dies later revealed the fox she killed was suffering from an incurable disease as good as a Fate Worse than Death, and she actually saved it by killing it.
    • Dies Horribly has indeed died horribly by being slaughtered by demons for his soul. However, he somehow had two souls- one more than was agreed upon by the characters- and was released after his "mistress" was banished.
    • However, this is hilariously subverted in the form of "Piss off I hava headache", and his unseen clan-mate "Stop the ceremony I swallowed a bug" - both named because their teller sucks at naming.
  • Subverted with extreme literalism in Exterminatus Now.
    "Dammit, the one time my horoscope was right. 'Beware of Old English sheepdogs carrying Kaiser Lawgiver Model V .38in revolvers.'"
  • Non-prophecy example (but an answer from an oracle) in Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures: "The life of Destania has ended at the hands of Daniel Ti'Fiona." The real meaning is very much figurative. She married his soon-to-be father, completely changing as a person after he was born - as she puts it herself, her old life ended when they met; she even changed her name, though her married name has yet to be revealed.
    • Dan lampshades this and wonders why oracles/prophecies are always so twisted. Apparently the Oracles' Union charter states that they have to be intentionally vague and they can't give a straight answer. This may be a very, very bad thing, as she may have finally lost the last of her humanity and gone completely off the deep end, meaning the original Destania, who could love, no longer exists, as shown by her callous disregard for the life of her adopted daughter.
    • And Pyroduck demands a straight answer from one of his caretakers. They reveal that there are some things in the universe that are too well-cloaked in time and space for the Oracles to see past, and that one of them is in the way of Dan's adventure, which explains why Oracles never give straight answers. This shakes him to his core.
  • Oh-so-ripe-yet-unexplained prophecy abounds in Last Res0rt:
    The Otherworlders will head the call
    They shall return when all shall see
    a Dead Inside where none should be.
    • Veled even lampshades this trope as soon as she says it, admitting that there may be a few errors in its translation, but it's not like she'll pass up a chance to make Jigsaw piss herself.
  • In Jayden and Crusader the character Crusader is reading ahead the script of the page, and everything comes to pass just as foretold
  • Gaia Online's Halloween 2008 event-comic revolved around Ms. Fortune's predicting a new threat to Gaia, and that "one group shall survive, or all shall perish!" The fantastic races of Gaia began fighting amongst themselves to be the one group to survive— with the exception of dhampyr Ian, who pointed out that the fantastic races already existed, so the prediction couldn't mean them. The next month, Gaia Online's MMORPG zOMG! entered Open Beta; the new threat Ms. Fortune predicted was the Animated (or possibly the Predator Prarie Pups or the Hive World denizens), against which Gaians of all races had to unite as a single group.
  • In Nedroid, Reginald and Beartato find a scroll that tells of two great heroes who "became known throughout the land, and their were hailed as kings, and were cheered and hooted by the citizens of the village", which Reginald concludes to refer to them. Which it does, as next they are in the crowd cheering at the heroes being paraded through the streets.
  • Parodied in Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal when King Croesus from the Mythology example gets fed up with the prophecy twists that screw him over.
    Croesus: Why can't you just give straight predictions?! Why is everything a mystery?!
    Oracle: You shall be known for conquering many young warriors!
    Croesus: I'll take it!
  • In Kid Radd, rumor has it that anyone who visits the Seer is "destined" to die not long after. Radd, Sheena, Crystal and Bogie all visit the Seer before the comic is halfway through. All of them "die" before the comic ends, but the twist part kicks in. Crystal was absorbed by the Seer and ends up trapped forever in a ghost form (she messed up and never picked which "death" program subroutine to follow if she was ever beaten - a bad move when there are five conflicting sets for her code to pick from.) Radd and Sheena technically died, but it was really just their doubles from a dolled-up sequel game. Bogie forced Radd to shoot him to claim a power-up, but he gets better with the help of an emulator.
  • In Vampire Cheerleaders, a vision of a terrible military loss puts the Reptillians into a millennia-long vendetta against the peaceful Mothmen, their aggression leading the Mothmen to induct a transformed human as a more militant queen, and an attack by them becoming the slaughter they foresaw.
  • Erfworld: A standard part of the world. Fate is a Sentient Cosmic Force and decrees how things will end, but not how events will reach that end. Therefore, things can happen in entirely unexpected ways. If you try to fight your Fate, things will inevitably go very very wrong—but still end up in the same way you were Fated to.
    • In book 0, Wanda is Fated to serve under Olive Branch. Wanda's brother tries to turn Olive to their Side so that they can fulfill the Prediction that way, but Olive poisons him, crushes their Side, and captures Wanda. Later, Jillian is Predicted to croak the Ruler of Haffaton, Judy Gale. Since Olive is the heir, she both wants this to come true and not; she's fine with Jillian croaking her Ruler, but is worried that someone else might croak Judy, and then Jillian will croak Olive. When Judy escapes Erfworld, Olive becomes Ruler, and Jillian does indeed croak her despite massive interference from her father.
    • These experiences have made Wanda a Fatalist who will always allow Fate to happen—except where Jillian is concerned. Jillian aside, she makes a mistake regarding Parson and Charlie. She believes that Parson is Fated to croak Charlie, so she stops Lilith from doing it despite having an excellent chance to do so. This action puts Gobwin Knob at war with the Magic Kingdom, gets Wanda and all her decrypted captured, the Arkentools declared OP, and set to be executed. Wanda's mentor, a Predictamancer, points out that since Charlie has been cheating Fate for so long, they have to be prepared to cheat Fate back. She says that Lilith croaking Charlie, then having Wanda decrypt him and Parson execute him, might have been enough to fulfill the Prediction. Parson further theorizes that since he gave the order for Lilith to croak Charlie in the first place, that might have counted as well.
    • When Sylvia was a lowly stabber, she was Fated to croak in a fire. When she was caught in a fire and incapacitated (to the point that she'd croak the next day), the court Carnymancer, Jojo, was in love with her, so he cast over her for days to change her Fate. He made it so that she would only croak by her own hand—mostly to cheat Fate, but also because he believes strongly in the right to suicide. This made her essentially invincible, and she quickly rose through the ranks. She got croaked by a volcano at one point, but was actually resurrected by the next turn. She finally croaks for good when a fire she set herself gets out of control. Jojo admits he didn't consider the possibility that she'd accidentally croak herself.
    • In the Digdoug side story, Digdoug's Side receives a Prediction that they will suffer a massive air attack. They try to prepare, but know they can't do enough in time, so they hire a Carnymancer to find them a way out. She suggests they attack themselves. They hire Charlie to attack with minimal force, which he does. But their parent Side hires Charlie to come back and attack them for real. They do not survive, and Digdoug himself is left a barbarian.
    • According to the Predictomancer Marie, a lot less is Fated than people think. As far as Fate is concerned, the vast majority of people and events simply don't matter and so the details are flexible. When Fate does care, her Predictions suddenly go from vague or twisty to being precise down to the second.

    Web Original 
  • Atop the Fourth Wall: The poem about the Entity reads as thus (albeit in all caps):
    "Beneath the seas, beside the flame
    Off the coast where the lost beast came
    To bring the world misery and shame
    A piece of the world is missing"

    "The path you should have never crossed
    The beast exacts a heavy cost
    The number of the beast is lost
    You will know it by its hissing"

    "The bones from hell you cannot tame
    Devour your life and all your fame
    That is the price to play its game
    And all while you're reminiscing" .
    • Linkara cannot figure out what it means until The Entity posing as 90s Kid says "Heavy". Heavy. As in, Heaviest Pokemon. Missingno. The poem suddenly fits like a glove. The "beneath the seas, beside the flame" refers to the spot on volcanic Cinnabar Island where Missingno is found. The lost beast in the first verse is Mewtwo (who came ashore in the area), not Missingno. The twist that makes it fit: The last line of the first verse is properly rendered as "A piece of the world, is Missing." (Meaning that Missing is a part of the world). The "path you never should have crossed" is the path one must cross to find Missingno as well as referring the fact that you need to use cheat codes to do it. Missingno costs you your save file and a lot of other things. It's number is indeed lost, hence the name "Missing Number". As well, it's made of incomplete number codes. It has a distinct hissing sound as its noise. The "bones from hell you cannot tame" are the images of fossil Pokemon Missingno sometimes appears as. You cannot tame fossil Pokemon normally. It devours all your life and fame by dint of the glitch that makes it appear corrupting the save file you have devoted so much time to and corrupting your Hall of Fame data. That's the price you pay for catching it. On top of everything else, the style of this twist is an homage to the "The Earth shall turn to Ash" twist from the second Pokemon movie.
      • Although the prophesy doesn't work quite as well when you realize that Missigno does not in fact corrupt your save file, or cause any other kind of permanent harm other than messing up your Hall of Fame pictures, which is hardly a huge loss.
  • In Greek Ninja, the prophecy from Delphi clearly states that the Legacy of Hiroyuki is necessary for the victory of mankind in the war with an unknown power aiming to destroy them. The Legacy of Hiroyuki is Hashimoto Daichi, the son of Hiroyuki. Everyone thinks that his role is to defeat the threat, being the strong warrior he is, however all he was needed for was to be the person that motivated Sasha to kill Creon, the one behind the whole destroy-the-world plan, in order to save him.
  • The Lord of Dark in Eliezer Yudkowsky's The Sword of Good argues that the pivotal Choice between Good and Bad in the Prophecy of Destiny is this - it is not so much a choice between a good alternative and a bad alternative as a matter of deciding which is which.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Johnny Bravo episode titled "The Hunk at the End of this Cartoon", the title turns out to refer to, not a hunk muscling in on Bravo's territory (not that he has any), but a hunk of cheese.
  • The "character not coming back but that's because he's staying where he is" came from an episode of Justice League Unlimited where Supergirl travels to the future of the 31st century Legion of Super-Heroes. All their records indicate she won't come back, and sure enough she looks dead enough at one point, but returns in the very next scene... but then decides to stay in the future, as she had fallen for Legionnaire Brainiac 5. (Of course, this episode had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Cartoon Network was introducing a new Legion series the very next fall.)
  • In "Mardi Gras", Mamma Lui from Jem and the Holograms had this for the Holograms and the Misfits. Her prophecy was the following: A pirate coming for Shana and that the pirate will protect her. It turns out to be a hologram from Jerrica Benton's computer, Synergy.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Iroh realises that this applies to his old prophetic dream of one day taking the Earth Kingdom capital Ba Sing Se. As a young man, he had believed that he was thus destined to take it as a conqueror for the Fire Nation, but in the Grand Finale reveals that he now realises he was instead supposed to liberate it from the Fire Nation.
    "Destiny is a funny thing, Prince Zuko. It never happens the way you expect."
    • If Ursa's backstory in The Search is of any indication, the fire sages prophesized for Fire Lord Azulon that Ozai's and an Avatar-descendent' bloodline would yield a powerful bloodline, Azulon took it as a means to continue his Villainous Legacy in the coming centuries. But, as we have seen in the series, they were likely referring to Zuko being the Fire Nation's salvation from tyranny.
    • All of Aunt Wu's prophecies wind up coming true, even though she claims that destiny isn't set in stone. One of her predictions was that the nearby volcano would not destroy the town that year; naturally, the heroes discover that the thing is about to erupt, but then rally the townspeople to divert the lava. Sokka is annoyed when a townsperson points out that technically, Aunt Wu never predicted that the volcano would stay dormant, just that it wouldn't destroy the town.
  • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Seer No Evil" contains one of these. Near the beginning of the episode, a fortuneteller bug by the name of Cassandra predicts several events that (with some creative interpretation) all happen throughout the episode, but it's her last prediction - the one related to Chip - that gets the twist. At the end of her predictions, she points to Chip and tells him that "the trunk shall fall...then thppppth *throat-cutting gesture* ...then all is darkness." In the final third of the episode, a somewhat-paranoid Chip is left alone outside a carnival funhouse with a giant elephant statue that's swaying back and forth above the entrance, while the other Rangers enter the funhouse to track a thief (with everyone thinking that the statue will fall down and crush Chip). Chip, in arguably the biggest test of his sense of duty, eventually rushes underneath the statue to the funhouse entrance, and is relieved when he sees that the prediction didn't come true. But just a few moments later, he runs into the funhouse, and is seemingly crushed by a falling chest (or, if you prefer, trunk) containing the thief's loot. The thief's helper monkey sees this and makes a throat-cutting gesture (as well as letting out a raspberry, or thppppth) as the thief leaves the funhouse, and the Rangers believe Chip is dead...except he's actually trapped underneath the trunk in a hole in the floor (which, obviously, would make things pretty dark for Chip).
  • Kim Possible:
    • In "Royal Pain", King Wallace II of a small country contacts the heroes about threats on his son's life. It turns out that the men responsible have a prophecy that the kingdom's monarchy will end with Wallace III, and they're doing their part to make the prophecy come true. At the end of the episode, Kim captures the villains and the prince is still alive; however, having been exposed to democracy throughout the episode, he announces that, while he won't interfere with his father's kinghood, after his father's death, he'll convert the kingdom into a democracy and run for president. Ron is quick to point out how this meshes with the prophecy.
    • In "Monkey Ninjas in Space", Monkey Fist receives a prophecy from a monk telling him to follow a suitable monkey into space, where "the ultimate monkey master will be unstoppable". At the end of the episode, the monk explains to the monkey ninjas that the prophecy actually said "the ultimate monkey master will be Ron Stoppable".
  • An episode of The Penguins of Madagascar uses this; Rico gets a fortune cookie which reads that he will meet 'a foul end'. The group tries for the majority of the episode to find ways to prevent such a curse (or convince Rico that it's silly superstition), until the very end, when a duck crash-lands on him. Fowl end, you see. Private is highly amused.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: Two (actually more if you bother to keep count) prophecies were twisted in "Body Guard Duty". The first one stated Trixie and Spud would "tie the knot", much to Trixie's horror. The second was that Jake would be hit by a boulder and it didn't help that the prophecy specified how fast the boulder would be. At Ogre Bowl, an ogre threw a boulder that hit Jake at the specified speed, thus fulfilling the prophecy. However, Jake was flying at a slightly slower speed and it didn't hurt him. At the end of the episode, Spud's shoe was untied and Trixie tied it, meaning the prediction about them tying the knot wasn't about marriage.
    • In a smaller scale, it is predicted that somebody would take the last pudding at the cafeteria before Rose could get to it. And it looks like someone else is about to get it, but then Jake takes it — and gives it to Rose. Trixie protests, but the oracles point out that they never said Rose wouldn't end up with it; just that someone else would take it first. Also, it was predicted chocolate milk would be spilled onto Spud's shoes. Trying to defy the prophecy, he went outside the school, where it was unlikely to happen, and a truckload of chocolate milk crashed, spilling some of its contents into Spud's shoes.
  • In the first episode of All Hail King Julien, Masikura the chameleon predicts that the king of the lemurs will get eaten by a fossa... and Julien has just inherited the throne. He does get eaten, but only a small part of his rear end is bitten off.
  • In one episode of Tabaluga animated adaptation season 2, Shouhou's crystal ball shows that a great stone thrown by Humsin will destroy a net protecting Greenland. Greenlanders try to fight destiny. At the end, the stone destroys the net and than Humsin land, because Humsin's hanchman, Kayo, has stolen the net.
  • In Samurai Jack, the Guardian sees an older version of Jack in his time portal to the past. He assumes this means Jack will eventually surpass him and earn the right to use the portal that he's guarding. Aku destroys the portal and the Guardian before Jack can surpass him, but the samurai eventually uses one created by Ashi in order to fulfill his destiny.

    Real Life 
  • According to Plato, Socrates, and Chaerephon, the Oracle at Delphi, when asked whether anyone was wiser than Socrates, responded with a simple "No." Socrates then spent the rest of his life trying to figure out the twist.
    • And his conclusion—that nobody really knew anything, but that he alone knew he knew nothing, thus making him wiser—pissed off enough people to help with his death. It was also his Moment of Awesome.
      • Notice that the question is about being "wiser than", not "as wise as".
  • In about 279 BCE, the Celtic army was approaching Oracle at Delphi, and the Greeks knew they couldn't hold out against them. Fearing the temple would be sacked, they asked the priestesses what could save the temple. The oracles considered the matter and replied that the temple would be saved by the "white virgins". The Celts advanced, the Greeks retreated, and the Celts sacked the temple, stealing much of its wealth. Then the weather changed and the Celts decided fighting in the snow wasn't fun, so they went home. The Oracles returned to what was left of their temple and declared it had been saved by the snowflakes, just as they predicted. Some members of the Greek army were less than certain about this.
  • During Xerxes' invasion of Greece, the Athenians supposedly asked the Oracle of Delphi about their chances and were basically told they were screwed... but that "a wooden wall" might yet save them. A group of Athenians refused to evacuate their city, and holed up on the Acropolis behind improvised wooden barricades, where they were killed by Xerxes' army. Then, the wooden-hulled Athenian navy kicked Persian keel at the Battle of Salamis, forcing Xerxes to withdraw. Military historians have been referring to Age of Sail warships as "wooden walls" ever since.
    • Harry Turtledove's short story "Counting Potsherds" has a eunuch chronicler visit the ruins of Athens years after the successful Persian invasion. He finds that the Athenians had taken the prophecy quite literally, as the diehards did above, and their wooden wall rather understandably failed to keep out Xerxes' huge army.
  • According to Suetonius, when Nero consulted the Oracle of Delphi, he was told that he must look out for the seventy-third year. He thought he would die at that age, and was relieved, since he was just around thirty. He was eventually dethroned and Driven to Suicide by Galba, who was seventy-three at the time. Or so the story goes - according to modern historians, Galba was born 3 BC, and dethroned Nero in 68 AD. (Seeing as how there was no year 0 he would have turned 73 in 71 AD.)
  • The sons of the last Roman king once went to the Oracle of Delphi (initially, to ask another question their father was concerned about, but we don't know the answer) to find out which one of them would become the next ruler of Rome. The answer was "the one who next kisses his mother". Now their cousin Lucius Iunius Brutus (a distant ancestor of the guy who killed Julius Caesar) who accompanied them interpreted "mother" to mean the Earth, so he pretended to trip and kissed the ground.
  • And while we're at Caesar and mother Earth: He once had the extremely squicky dream that he raped his own mother. He was very disturbed about this, until one seer interpreted that dream this way: The Earth is the mother of all humans, figuratively speaking, so this dream means that Caesar would become ruler of the Earth. Julius definitely liked this interpretation.
    • Yet another story: when Julius Caesar went on his expedition to Africa, he tripped as he got off the boat. However, he covered by shouting "Africa, I embrace you!," thus converting a bad omen into a good one.
      • William the Conqueror did something similar in his conquest of England.
  • Constantine approached Rome in the fall of 312, aiming to unseat his imperial rival Maxentius. Meanwhile, Maxentius wondered whether he should stay at Rome and try to endure a siege or ride out with his army to meet Constantine. Entrenching was a safer option, but Maxentius was becoming unpopular in Rome, due in part to Constantine's wild success as he swept through Italy. Nervous about his position, he consulted the keepers of the Sibylline Books, who told him that this very day, "the enemy of the Romans" would die in battle. Emboldened, Maxentius rode out to meet Constantine and was defeated with his army, and killed, at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. Poor Max never considered that he himself might have been the enemy they were talking about.
  • A legend has it that an astrologer predicted to the Czech king Wenceslas IV that he would die before the tower of the St. Vitus Cathedral. Fearing the prophecy, the king ordered the tower to be demolished; however, he died of stroke before the work could be completed. So the prediction came true: the king died, not standing before the tower, but rather before the tower did.
  • A prophecy told Henry IV would die in Jerusalem. The king assumed this would mean he died on a crusade. He instead died in the house of the abbot of Westminster - in the Jerusalem Chamber. Shakespeare later references this event.
  • Invoked (and parodied) by Benjamin Franklin when he predicted in his 1736 almanac that the sea would rise and put New York and Boston under water, and that American ships would be put out to sea by a power America was not at war with. A year later, he announced that his prophecy had come true - evaporated sea water rained on the cities, and America was not at war with the wind.
  • Towards the end of Julius Caesar's life, there was a popular prophesy that Parthia could only be conquered by a king. This was likely spread either to support Caesar's bid to be crowned King of Rome, or by his enemies to stoke fears that he would seek kingship. Regardless, Caesar died before the Parthian campaign, and Rome never did conquer it. When Parthia finally was conquered, however, it was done so by a king. It just turned out to be the king of Persia when they'd assumed Rome would be the one to conquer Parthia.
  • During the Battle of Marathon, the Persians had with them the old Hippias, a former Athenian tyrant. When he disembarked, it is claimed a tooth of his fell out and was lost in the dirt. Hippias considered it a bad sign - apparently, it was predicted that his bones would lie in the Attican soil, and this kind of interpretation wasn't exactly what he had had in mind.
  • The legend of Y Mab Darogan, the Destined Son, spoke of a Welshman who would rule over England. Most believed that it would mean either that the Welsh would drive out or would conquer the English. It motivated men like Llywelyn the Last and Owain Lagoch to mount ill-fated rebellions against the English king under the belief that they were the figure in question. In the end, the Welshman who mounted the English throne turned out to be King Henry VII.
  • The Indian fortress of Gawilghur was set atop a mountain, and built over a ravine separating the inner and outer gates. Given nicknames like "the sky-fortress" or "the fortress of the Gods", it was intended to be the final redoubt of the Rajah of Berar - his last "Oh shit, time to get serious" refuge, from where he could negotiate as an equal (since no enemy wanted to even try and assault Gawilghur). Indeed, it was often said that "All the armies of India could not take Gawilghur", and indeed it is sometimes reported that there was a prophecy to that effect. A prophecy that did Berar absolutely no use when the British arrived in 1803, blasted a road up the mountain and unleashed their Highlanders. Arthur Wellesley raised the Union flag above the ruins on the 13th of December. It had taken his army only two weeks and 150 men.
  • In the early first century CE, there was a prophecy going around that the ruler of the world would come out of Judaea. The Jews took it as sanctioning the Jewish Revolts, which they lost, with their conqueror Vespasian becoming Emperor of Rome and first being hailed in Judaea. The Jewish writer Josephus, whose patron was Vespasian, claimed the prophecy referred to Vespasian. And there's always the chance it didn't mean physical ruler...see Jesus.

Alternative Title(s): Quibble


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