Follow TV Tropes


Sensor Character

Go To
Few examples are this literal.

A character with a sixth sense that they can use to detect other characters. Telepaths reach out to look for the minds of other characters. Others might detect lifeforces or auras, use a Tracking Spell, or perhaps a specific type of phlebotinum. A more realistic version might be a character with enhanced hearing or sense of smell who can track others down. Depending on the setting, it might be the special skill of a single character or a basic secondary power anyone can use.

Compare Aura Vision, Bizarre Alien Senses, and Third Eye. For the technological counterpart, see Everything Sensor. May be related to Enemy Scan. See also The Force Is Strong with This One and Utility Party Member.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Clover:
    • As a wind mage, Yuno is particularly good at detecting mana. When his senses are deprived by Catherine, he shows astonishing ability with mana detection, using it to locate her presence and defeat her with Sylph's power.
    • All the Magic Knights captains acknowledge Luck's skill in mana sensing, which Yama states is better than even nobles'. He can sense magic from miles away and even differentiate the magic attributes of group members close together. When entering a dungeon, he shortly senses Lotus as a strong mage and goes off to fight him.
  • Bleach:
    • It's a basic secondary ability of anyone who is spiritually aware to be able to sense the reiatsu of other spiritually aware/active beings. How well they can interpret and react to it depends on their level of exposure to the spirit world, however. Even characters who are said to be bad at reiatsu-control have no problem sensing the reiatsu of others, unless anyone is actively working to suppress their reiatsu.
    • In the first filler arc, mod souls which can specifically sense the Bount are introduced.
    • Used ironically with Yachiru, who consistently claims to be a sensor character for Kenpachi, despite the fact that she's just as bad at sensing reiatsu as him.
  • In Bungou Stray Dogs, Steinbeck's grapevines can serve as an extension of his senses and can also graft onto other plants to further spread his reach, though what he can detect through plants seems to be largely limited to touch and vibration.
  • Claymore features several characters whose uncanny abilities at sensing the yoki (demonic energy) have led to them being mainly used for remote observation of other Claymores and yoma. Case in point: "God Eye" Galatea and "Tracker" Dietrich.
  • In Cyborg 009, one of the nine cyborgs is a woman whose only special ability is super-senses at long range. The nine are intended to function as a unit, and her job is to detect incoming threats (though she does get a laser gun to defend herself with).
  • In Darker than Black, emotionless children known as "Dolls" are used for remote scouting and searching. They're capable of sending their senses out through some medium — the exact medium varying from Doll to Doll. The most common type — used en-masse by the antagonists — sees through powerlines and electrical appliances. Other types we've seen can see through any surface of water, or any surface of glass. Often, they work in concert with Contractors, spotting targets for them.
  • Starting with the Saiyan Arc in Dragon Ball Z, the ability to sense ki/power levels without a Scouter is part of what separated the good guys (who have intimate familiarity with ki and how to control it) from the bad guys (who treat it bluntly as a hard number). Sensing ki becomes an important ability on Namek because the villains have their Scouters destroyed, meaning they can't tell how strong their opponents are or where they may be. However since Vegeta became the first non-hero to learn it after picking it up on Earth, the good guys spend a lot of time suppressing their ki so they aren't detected by him, limiting how fast they can travel.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Xingese warriors like Lan Fan have the ability to detect the Qi of others. Lan Fan can detect the homunculi because of their twisted life energy.
  • Inuyasha:
    • Youkai can sense the aura (jyaki) of other youkai. Spiritually capable humans such as monks and miko can also sense these auras. This also applies to humans who don't have spiritual abilities but who have been trained to deal with youkai, for example, professional youkai-exterminators such as Sango and Kohaku.
    • Kagome is the only member of the main cast who can sense Shikon jewel shards. This makes her a major asset to the team (particularly early on when her other skills are undeveloped), and also provides Inuyasha with a convenient excuse to deny romantic involvement with her. He sometimes does this by derisively referring to Kagome as a "shard detector", much to her annoyance.
  • Shamal of Lyrical Nanoha has this role in addition to being The Medic. Her ability to detect enemies is advanced enough that she could spot someone hidden from more conventional magical and technological sensors employed by The Federation. Other characters can also use spells like Area Search.
  • My Hero Academia: Ragdoll of the Wild Wild Pussycats has a Quirk called "Search", allowing her to observe and monitor up to 100 people at a time, including their location and weak points. A Quirk this powerful makes her a very attractive target for All For One to drain of her power.
  • Naruto:
    • Being able to see the chakra used in ninjutsu is one the innate abilities of the ocular jutsu Sharingan and Byakugan.
    • "Sensor-type" ninja are able to detect and identify individuals' chakra from kilometers away. This was at first implied to be an ability unique to Karin, but a while later shown as fairly common (even though none were mentioned before).
    • Naturo himself gains extremely powerful sensory powers in Sage Mode, able to sense chakra as well as emotions. The latter let him see through Zetsu impostors despite them being able to perfectly mimic the chakra of people they shapeshift into.
  • Rebuild World: This shows up in multiple forms:
    • Since an Everything Sensor is standard equipment for hunters, some people like Elena specialize in their use to serve as a Target Spotter.
    • There is a type of Differently Powered Individual who have superb intuition that allows them to sense danger or people they like from long distances with their Gut Feeling. This is noted to be inherited from Transhuman modifications by the Old World Precursors.
    • High-ranking hunters have been known to get a cybernetic modification to have different types of sensors wired directly to their brains as a sixth sense, as many as a dozen different ones for some. Alpha eventually does this wirelessly through the Old World Domain to connect Akira to his Everything Sensor. It's described as a subtle vibrating sensation.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Gyokuro Shuzen is said to be the very best. She can detect every presence in the Fairy Tale base and discern abstract things like distaste.
  • In Sailor Moon Minako/Sailor Venus has a slight ability to sense and track down threats, and is usually able to notice the enemy before the others. Galaxia taking her out in the final arc leaves Usagi wide open when Tin Nyanko infiltrates her school, infiltration that in the old anime had been indeed foiled by Minako pointing at her in disguise every time she tried to approach.
  • In Soul Eater, certain Meisters are capable of using something called Soul Perception, which allows them to see the souls of individuals, including other Meisters and enemies. It's stated to be a sixth sense of sorts.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, Kaya Irimi has such exceptional senses that she is able to serve as Mission Control for her group. She simply sits on a hillside overlooking the enemy stronghold and listens to track the movements of their allies and enemies in a multi-story and multi-building complex. She teaches these skills to Hinami, another Ghoul with exceptional Super-Senses.
  • SHWD has a variation with Nonoka, who, rather than possessing any supernatural abilities, has a body that's extra susceptible to the sounds of the Dynamis. She realizes this means she can effectively turn herself into a living Dynamis radar and helps the team track an unusually small Dynamis, at the cost of her bearing the full brunt of a Dynamis attack. A supervisor mentions that they may be able to use this method again in the future, horrifying Leone.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men:
    • Pretty much any telepathic mutant (Prof. X, Jean Grey, Emma Frost...) can fill this role.
    • On the same subject, Wolverine's senses are so high-tuned he can recognize and track people by individual scents — this ability also allows him to see through shape-shifter disguises.
    • Rachel Summers was forced to use her psionic abilities to detect and hunt down mutants in a dystopic alternate future and is semi-frequently asked/made to hunt her fellow mutants by others. She's never happy about it, even if at the same time it's unnervingly easy.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Diana can sense magic, and when the Saturnians are using the invisibility tech to stay invisible and communicating telepathically to keep silent she can tell where they are and even "see" them if she focuses.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm has all telepaths as being capable of this to one degree or another, though it's implied that this takes training, as Harry's abilities in this area are noted as not being totally reliable near the start of the sequel. The stand-out example is Maddie Pryor, which is unsurprising since she's this universe's version of Rachel Summers - though here, she's Jean's stolen-at-birth twin, raised by Sinister as a weapon, rather than temporally displaced daughter.
  • Soul Eater: Troubled Souls:
    • Marcellus Ardsen has an ability called Wavelength Sonar. More specifically, Marcellus manipulates his own soul wavelength and emits it in the form of sonar waves. When they come into contact with other stuff, the wavelengths of those other people will bounce off his own like a sort of echo. Things like animals only very faintly appear on radar.
    • Nayumi Ardsen has something called Wavelength Radiation. Concentrating her wavelength so that it’s sensitive to infrared radiation, Nayumi is able to detect the heat signatures of living objects. This has advantages over Soul Perception and Marcellus’s Wavelength Sonar in that she can still detect organisms that are protecting their wavelengths.
  • A Hollow in Equestria has Ulquiorra Cifer and his pesquisa technique, just like his Bleach counterpart. He can detect and identify ponies from a distance, even though mana and reiatsu aren't fully compatible with one another.
  • Resurgence Series;
    • To a degree, this applies to Bella Swan. Her core ability is being able to negate the powers of other superhumans, either being basically immune to such powers or outright disabling others' abilities, but as she masters her own power, she learns how to sense when she is in the presence of other evolved humans based on her awareness of their abilities. She even develops some awareness of particular powers; at one point, she was able to identify that another person possessed the power of invisibility based on the fact that she ‘recognised’ that power from Peter’s use of it.
    • After a mass blood transfusion from Claire is used to bring Bella back to life, Claire and Bella have the ability to sense the other based on them sharing the catalyst; at one point Claire is immediately aware that she has travelled in time to a point where Bella doesn't exist, and while the two of them are in the same period they possess at least a general sense of their location in relation to each other.
  • In Start Again, thanks to the Phantom Thieves' memories being sent to the past at different points in time, each group of Phantom Thieves gained their own Navigator.
    • In Haru's team, Goro Akechi uses his Wild-Card power to obtain the Persona Defarge, who can scan for shadows and loots.
    • Futaba, of course, for her and Yusuke's group. After Futaba's mother Wakaba wakes up from her coma, she joins their group as Archive and obtains the Persona Hypatia that lets her scan the architecture of a palace.
    • For Ryuji's group, Yuuki Mishima awakens his Persona Eulenspeigel and becomes their Navigator Mirror.
  • The Devil's in the details: When Matt tells Fury that he can detect recognizable things if they give off energy, electricity in his cell phone being one example, Fury realizes that Matt could help SHEILD find the rest of the Infinity Stones. Unfortunately for both of them, Matt suffers from Sensory Overload when Fury exposes him to one, Matt's only advice being to keep it as far away from the Earth as humanly possible. The second time he suffers from this by being near the Time Stone, Stephen Strange diagnoses that it gave him a seizure.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Chronicles of Riddick (2004): The Necromongers have their fallen soldiers modified into units known as Lensors, who have received cybernetic implants that their comrades can use to detect things like body heat, sounds, air composition, and even starships outside a planet's atmosphere.
  • All Force-sensitive individuals in Star Wars can sense the presence of other Jedi, Sith, etc., as well as powerful emotional outbursts from normal people.

  • Tobias of the Animorphs has several major strengths, and this role as a Sensor Character is perhaps the most important. He is Mode Lock ed into the form of a red-tailed hawk, and therefore he has extremely superior vision and hearing. The other characters can also change into hawks or the like, but since Tobias spends all of his time in the form of a hawk, he is still better at using these hawk senses than they are. The aliens also provide more fantastic examples, like Ax with his ability to sense the passage of time as accurately as a clock, or the Leerans with their psychic senses.
  • The Belgariad: Sorcerers, being telepathic, can project their minds over a wide area to detect people from their thoughts. Polgara is especially good at it, but one character fools her by posting the dumbest of Dumb Muscle as lookouts — they don't have enough thoughts for her to notice at range.
  • Wizards in the The Black Company series can learn to be those. In fact, the company owes most of their victories to Boring, but Practical applications of magic (as opposed to Stuff Blowing Up favored by the villains).
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry Dresden can sense the presence of magic in others. He can even tell how skilled a user the other person is from minimal contact.
    • In-universe, Halloween is a very powerful time magically when all sorts of status quos can change. Naturally, a number of major showdowns happen then. In order to counteract this trope, one of the early Merlins (successor to the Merlin) invented Trick-or-Treating so that the immortals wouldn't know if they were about to try and snack on a squishy human or a not-so-squishy deity. Lulz presumably ensued.
  • In The Ear, the Eye and the Arm, the title Ear, Eye, and Arm are mutant detectives with super sensing — hearing, vision, and some vague empathetic/psychic power (as well as really long limbs). The Ear and the Eye have to wear earmuffs and very dark sunglasses so that normal sights and sounds don't overwhelm them.
  • Ward of Hurog can find people. He just has to concentrate on a person, and he immediately knows where they are. This doesn't always make him happy, as he doesn't know whether they are safe. When he senses his sister several metres below him, he's horrified, as she could be severely hurt by a fall. She isn't. This ability also causes some Nightmare Fuel when he tries to find his mother, who is nearby, and can't find her - her body is there, but she isn't. There is also Oreg, who can sense the presence of magic in others, and also how powerful they are.
  • In The Mysterious Benedict Society, beginning with the second book, The Perilous Journey, Constance Contraire can usually sense other people's presence or when someone is coming and can usually figure out who it is as well. This saves the Society's bacon more than once when she detects the presence of the villainous Mr. Curtain's agents, the Ten Men. She's not sure how she does it, though she says it may have to do with what Mr. Benedict told her about her being good at recognizing patterns.
  • Over the course of the first few The Wheel of Time books, Perrin's connection to wolves grants him a sense of sight and smell on par with that of a wolf. He routinely notices people walking up behind him by catching their scent before they make a sound.
  • In the Twelve Houses series, Cammon can sense the presence of people nearby as a side effect of his Empath mystic powers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: Telepaths have the ability to sense each other or the thoughts of mundanes unless special care is taken to block them (extreme mental discipline on the part of the person trying to hide, forcing the telepath to take ability-suppressing drugs, or having another telepath provide Psychic Static).
  • Immortals can sense other immortals and proto-immortals in Highlander.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Stargate Atlantis: As a result of experiments performed on her ancestors, Teyla can sense the Wraith, allowing her to warn her fellow Athosians of impending attacks. She is later able to tap into that ability to spy on Wraith ships, use their technology, and even (briefly) take over the body of a Wraith Queen.
    • Current or former hosts to Goa'uld symbiotes in Stargate SG-1 have the ability to detect Naqadah at close ranges due to having traces of it in their bloodstream. This means that after a brief stint as a host in season three Carter can usually tell if there's a disguised host somewhere in the area, even if she isn't sure who it is.
      • As seen on "Show and Tell" episode of Stargate SG-1 the hosts of Goa'uld symbiotes can sense the presence of the Reetou as the symbiote writhes in pain and discomfort in the immediate presence of the Reetou.
  • Deanna Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation worked this way when she was well-written.
  • Cole can sense the alien fugitives on Tracker.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the BattleTech universe, the Raven class of BattleMechs are lightweight (relatively speaking — they're still 35 tons though the heaviest ones in the series can get up to 100 tons) mechs designed to hold a sophisticated array of sensor suites to detect enemies at long range so that other mechs they're teamed with can plan and blast them.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Illithid Elder Brains can automatically detect every mind within a large radius of their lair, scry on areas beyond their view, and telepathically direct their subservient Mind Flayers and thralls to deal with any intruders, to say nothing of the Elder Brain's own fearsome Psychic Powers.

    Video Games 
  • The Grey Wardens of Dragon Age are able to sense the presence of Darkspawn due to being subjected to a suspended assimilation into the Darkspawn hive mind. In return, Darkspawn can sense Grey Wardens. The more senior a Grey Warden is, the better his understanding of the Darkspawn becomes, to the point that some of the older ones can understand the Archdemon. When a Warden feels their sense of the Darkspawn growing stronger, they go on a Suicide Mission to the Deep Roads to take down as many Darkspawn as they can before dying. In the unlikely event that they survive long enough, the Darkspawn will eventually come to consider them a fellow Darkspawn and ignore them.
  • In the The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel games, several of your characters have the ability to sense the presence of others nearby. It's first noted early on when the main protagonist Rean Schwarzer is chatting with his classmate Elliot Craig in their dorm area and says that everyone else must have already left because he "can't sense anyone else on this floor," leading Elliot to wonder exactly what he means. The ability often comes in useful as the group finds themselves out in tricky situations in field studies, though sometimes some certain powerful characters have the ability to hide from this type of detection. As for exactly how they do it, it's not explained clearly, though they said it's a result of their training.
  • Sylas of League of Legends was born with this power in the heavily anti-magical kingdom of Demacia. While most mages would face serious persecution, he allowed himself to be inducted into Demacia's mageseekers, who would use his skills to find other mages within the kingdom to imprison or exile them. While that position eventually fell through after it was discovered he had other, more dangerous magic abilities, he still retains the ability to distinguish and track down magic-users.
  • Pokémon Sun and Moon introduces Palossand, a haunted sandcastle that uses a rotating shovel placed on its top as a radar to detect and hunt prey. Pokémon Sword and Shield gets more on the nose with the Blipbug/Dottler/Orbeetle evolution line, which are insects with Psychic Powers themed after military radar systems.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 3: Mitsuru, and later Fuuka, with their abilities to detect Shadows crossing with Mission Control.
    • Persona 4: Teddie, and later Rise have the role of finding where the people who get thrown into the TV world are exactly. Teddie uses his sense of smell, while Rise uses her Persona's abilities, which are said to be more effective. Leveling up also grants Rise the ability to improve the minimap's radar, showing the positions of Shadows from farther away.
    • Persona 5: Futaba Sakura serves as the Mission Control for your team, providing data on enemy stats, abilities, and weaknesses.
  • Each faction in Dawn of War has units that can detect infiltrated enemy units; all psykers, for example, are detectors.
  • Touhou: Star Sapphire, one of the three fairies of light, has the ability to detect living beings around her. Worth noting is the fact that she seems to be a step above the chronic stupidity that plagues fairies in this setting, most likely because of her ability to detect trouble and just move away from it, usually leaving her partners in crime to receive the punishment for whatever mischief they just caused.
  • Starcraft gives each playable race a different unit with the ability to detect invisible or underground enemies- the Terran Science Vessel, the Zerg Overlord, and the Protoss Observer.

  • Some magical girls in Sleepless Domain have a knack for being able to sense the locations of monsters. Undine, for example, can do this but, because her powers are centered around Making a Splash, her success rate is dependent on how humid the weather is. Heartful Punch is particularly good at this, such that rather than follow a set patrol like most do, she just goes after any monsters she senses and wings it. The only person shown to beat Heartful Punch is Undine on a foggy night.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Nanase can sense how many people can see her and how many are looking.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Finnish mages can detect the proximity of the setting's Undead Abomination monsters.

    Web Original 
  • In Worm Skitter can identify and track anyone within her range by tagging them with insects. Her spatial awareness is also increased due to knowing the location of every bug and using them to mentally map her surroundings at all times. She's actually somewhat bothered by how she subconsciously uses this ability after learning about the shard that powers it.

    Western Animation 
  • This was one of the powers of Ma-Ti's heart ring on Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
  • In Justice League, J'onn J'onzz often fulfills this role, thanks to his telepathic abilities.
  • In Book 4 of The Legend of Korra, it is revealed that Toph Beifong has picked up the ability to sense people's locations through their connection to the spirit vines. Korra learns this trick as well, and while it isn't used often, it's very handy in a pinch.


Video Example(s):


You Hear That, Everyone?

In the "The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel" games, Rean Schwarzer has the ability to detect the presence of other people nearby. In "Cold Steel III," he uses this to detect the presence of his Class VII students, who are outside the door eavesdropping on a conversation between him and his fellow instructor, and former classmate, Towa Herschel.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / SensorCharacter

Media sources: