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The Fatalist

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"Here money is fleeting,
Here friend is fleeting,
Here man is fleeting,
Here kinsman is fleeting,
All the foundation of this world turns to waste!
The Wanderer, Old English poem

The Fatalist is a character who believes everything that happens is destined to happen and there is no way to escape it. They probably spend a lot of time telling the Determinator that You Can't Fight Fate and to Know When to Fold 'Em — in vain.

Sometimes they keep this attitude to the end, but sometimes they change once somebody proves to them that they can Screw Destiny. Maybe the reason they believe so strongly in fate is that they can see or predict the future. Maybe it's because Prophecies Are Always Right or Because Destiny Says So. Or maybe the outcomes are always inevitable no matter what choice you make.

And yes, the root here is referring to "fate", not "fatal" as in "death", but the word "fatal" is actually derived from "fate". It originally referred to anything caused by fate, which, of course, includes death, as any fatalist will tell you, so it works both ways.

When using these kinds of people as villains, expect some overlap with Straw Nihilist (they in particular tend to combine this with Finagle's Law and Cosmic Horror Story). There are however heroic versions of this, especially if they are accepting that fate may be demanding a Heroic Sacrifice from them. Never My Fault could be their personal philosophy; after all, if things are out of one's control, they're not responsible for their actions.

Contrast The Anti-Nihilist, Screw Destiny, the Anti-Anti-Christ, The Unchosen One, Do Not Go Gentle, and Defiant to the End for versions that at the least are more likely to end in a Dying Moment of Awesome.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Yuuko Ichihara from ×××HOLiC believes in everything being subject to "hitsuzen", a Japanese term usually translated as "inevitability".
  • Bleach: The aspect of death that Baraggan Louisenbairn represents is death by old age. His power is to generate a Battle Aura that causes anything or anyone in its vicinity to age rapidly to the point of decomposition. Baraggan proclaims that death by aging is the only form of death that can not be avoided and something that the mind cannot fathom, except that it's inevitable even for Soul Reapers despite their long lives. He lectures to Sui-Feng and Hachi that nothing can exist forever; even the word "forever" is meaningless, since it was born from the fear of death.
  • Justy Ueki Tylor, title character of Irresponsible Captain Tylor believes this, going so far as to point out "when it's time to lose you lose no matter what you do." However, unlike many here he turns this towards a positive end: If it doesn't matter what you do, then you may as well do what you want and things will work themselves out.
  • Deconstructed with Sir Nighteye in My Hero Academia. He is a firm believer of You Can't Fight Fate; no ifs, ands, or buts about it, he has a very cynical view of every situation and only sees worst-case scenarios. Consequently, his worldview hampers his Foresight Quirk, which itself is responsible for his negative attitude in the first place. Only when he's dying at the end does he realize that his visions only came true because he never actively tried to change them.
  • Naruto: Neji believes that certain people are naturally destined for greatness while he, as a member of the Hyuga "Branch" family is destined as little more than a sacrificial pawn, He does this to justify his Jerkass behavior toward those he looks down upon and he reacts violently when Hinata points out that he's trying to defy his own fate against her, a "Main Branch" member. Naruto ends up defeating him and breaking him of this mentality, even pointing out how he (Naruto) failed the Clone Jutsu, yet went on to master the harder Shadow Clone jutsu and telling Neji that he can do better since he's a "genius" and not a "failure" like Naruto. Additionally, a letter from his father (Hinata's father's twin brother) explained that he went through his own sacrifice not out of duty, but because of his own choice to protect his brother. Neji would follow in his example as he would sacrifice himself to protect Hinata and Naruto, whom she was trying to protect when the latter was trying to recover.
  • One Piece:
    • The Blackbeard Pirates, being Shadow Archetypes to the Strawhats are this. It's why they have a lackadaisical attitude toward their circumstances and why Blackbeard believes he will become King of the Pirates. However, they aren't wholly reckless (they leave when an attempted prison exchange just has Akainu be sent) and in fact, Blackbeard has the ignoble mention of being the only D. to cower in the face of death, showing he's not really worthy.
    • Basil Hawkins is a pirate and fortuneteller who does whatever his cards tell him has the highest probability of success, no matter how outrageous it may seem. And he hasn't been wrong yet. Fortunately, he doesn't waste time trying to convince other people of his point of view. Just to make an example. Marine Admiral Kizaru (the world's fastest man, who is also a nigh-invulnerable Person of Mass Destruction) turned up looking to arrest him. He calculated that he would survive, and then that the best option was to attack. And he got away almost entirely unharmed.
  • Tsunekichi Hatadaira from Talentless Nana has the "Talent" of prophetic dreams, documented throughout the night using a Polaroid camera. Everything depicted in the photos comes true one way or the other, and any attempt to say "Screw Destiny!" oftentimes causes said scene to come true. The exact moment he stopped caring about trying to control his destiny was when he got a prophecy of him failing his high school entrance exam; he crammed all night, got horribly sick the next day, and failed it anyway.
  • Kakyo in X/1999 is an interesting case, since he can see the future and knows it'll be bad. The entire X/1999 saga is about the great lengths a small group of people go to in an effort to change the foreseen future.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Ishizu Ishtar in the original Yu-Gi-Oh!. Her attitude is the result of her Millenium Necklace, which lets her see into the future. This was her conflict against Seto Kaiba, who even relished the chance of beating her with the Egyptian God Card she granted him (though doing so would've backfired and caused Kaiba to lose.) Kaiba only defied fate with the help of his Blue-Eyes White Dragon (which beckoned him mystically.)
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, The Dark Signers love ranting about fate during their duels.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: This is Two-Face's philosophy, represented by his habit of flipping a coin to decide what he does. This is in direct opposition to the philosophy he had as Harvey Dent. However, Two-Face isn't above abusing Exact Words to twist the coin flip's result.
  • Doctor Fate has the ability to see the future thanks to a combination of the Helmet of Fate and the Lords of Order.
  • In Runaways, Klara starts off as a fatalist, both because of her strict Calvinist upbringing and because her life before joining the Runaways is so horrible that the only way she can rationalize it is to assume that it's part of some divine plan. She throws off this kind of thinking during Secret Invasion (2008) when she prays for someone to save her friends, and in response, a tree nearly impales the Arc Villain, allowing her friends to escape. It turns out that she herself is a mutant who can control plants as her power. She ends up in a much happier position being adopted by a gay couple and thus refusing to rejoin the Runaways during Rainbow Rowell's run.
  • Destiny of the Endless from The Sandman (1989)... sort of. Considering his nature, it's probably more apt to say that he is fatalism.
  • Suicide Squad: Deadshot believes that if it's his time to die, he dies. That said, he's understandably pissed off when it's revealed to him that Amanda Waller had kept bringing him back to life so that he could serve on the Squad permanently.
  • In Watchmen, Doctor Manhattan embraces this viewpoint. It's justified, though — he takes this view because he can see the future himself (as well as the past and every point in time simultaneously). This fades when the tachyon swarm disrupts his ability to see the timestream. He becomes more emotional and proactive while relishing the uncertainty.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin once proclaims himself to be a fatalist, so he could blame the bad things he does on fate. Hobbes promptly trips him into a mudhole, saying: "Too bad you were fated to do that."

    Fan Works 
  • Absolute Trust: As in Avatar: The Last Airbender canon, the entirety of Makapu Village who believes so strongly in Aunt Wu's fortunetelling that they're practically unable to think for themselves. Katara correctly guesses that Aunt Wu and the village are the primary reason for Alec's Rule One (not using his future knowledge to warn the Gaang in advance or solve their problems for them, with rare exceptions).
  • Danganronpa: Memento Mori: Haruhi Hanazawa, the Ultimate Florist, quickly comes to the conclusion that the Killing Game was the fate set in stone for her and her classmates, and spends most of her time attempting to convince the others to accept their impending deaths. This turns out to be stemming from Haruhi herself having a terminal disease.
  • As in canon, the Persona 5 Adult Confidant AU's portrayal of Chihaya Mifune is introduced as one of these, her always accurate premonition abilities having caused her to come to the conclusion that You Can't Fight Fate. Luckily, Sojiro manages to snap her out of this belief, though she shows it from time to time.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Cyclopes in Krull made a deal with the Beast, sacrificing one eye to see the future, but were cursed to only be able to foretell their own deaths. It tended to leave them depressed by nature. Subverted in that they could defy how it would happen (if not when), but if they did, the death would be far more painful. Naturally, Rel ends up making exactly this kind of Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Smith in The Matrix films, especially after absorbing The Oracle and gaining her foresight, which reveals that he will defeat Neo. In the end, Neo resigns himself to the fact that Smith must defeat him in order for peace to be established between Zion and the machines. Smith was right that he would defeat Neo in battle, but he didn't realize until it was too late how that would lead to his own demise.
  • In A New Hope, C-3PO has his share of fretful moments when the Rebel craft is boarded by Imperial troops, nearly gives up hope when stranded in the Tatooine desert, and despairs when Luke and his friends are trapped in the garbage disposal; one of his frequent catchphrases is "We're doomed". At the beginning, he remarks "We'll be destroyed for sure, this is madness" and later notes that there will be no escape for Princess Leia.
    C-3PO: We seem to be made to suffer, it's our lot in life.
  • Tenet: Neil's knowledge of inversion gives him a "what's happened, has happened" mentality. This gives him a sense of peace about his impending Heroic Sacrifice in the final battle, but it doesn't change his heroic motives or his overall positive outlook.
  • Achilles in Troy (along with Hector and most of the other characters from The Iliad).
    "I'll tell you a secret. Something they don't teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we're mortal because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we're doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again."

Examples by author:
  • Marquis de Sade's libertines are often evil versions. They use the idea that their misdeeds are determined as a defense, saying they can't help themselves. However, they are generally hypocrites, whining about "oppression" by society seeking to stop them (though, logically, that would be determined too).
Examples by title:
  • Caliphate:
    • Pretty much all Muslims, even those like Mahmoud al Beshay who left their homeland to get away from Islamic culture, believe that something will or won't happen depending on Allah's will, up to and including surviving an incredibly nasty bioweapon the Caliphate is having created to wipe out their enemies.
    • One of the reasons why the Caliphate relies on the Janissaries for their military forces is that the Janissaries will practice and perform regular maintenance on their equipment so that it remains functional, as not being raised from birth in Islam means "as Allah wills it" isn't a core behavioral tenet.
  • Conan the Barbarian:
  • As described in Confessions (Saint Augustine), the Manichees held that all errors in life were really the fault of the all-powerful good substance, but Augustine recognizes later in life that this belief only served to help the Manichees fool themselves into ignoring their own freely-made errors.
  • The Divine Comedy: One of the wrathful penitents characterizes the wayward people of Dante's times as ascribing every single action to the will of Heaven. The penitent points out that this eliminates free will and ignores the fact that good and evil are clear to these same people who claim Heaven has forced them into sin.
    "Thus, if the present world has gone astray, in you is the cause, in you it’s to be sought."
  • The Dragon in Grendel is one of these, due to being omniscient. It makes him grouchy, sarcastic, and cynical rather than the standard Zen approach, though.
  • Played with in the final chapter of A Hero of Our Time, which is even titled "The Fatalist". An officer shoots himself in the head on a bet, despite the warnings of the main character, who has a premonition that the officer will die that day. The pistol jams, however, so the officer collects his money and heads home—only to be slashed to death by a drunken Cossack for no reason whatsoever, and his last words, referring to the main character, are "He was right!" The novel leaves deliberately open who the chapter title refers to: the main character, the officer, or the former's commanding officer with whom he discusses it at the end of the chapter and who simply states something along the lines of "You Can't Fight Fate" on the topic of the officer's death — before proceeding to criticize the pistol model he was using for jamming too often.
  • Archdeacon Claude Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a strong believer in the futility of struggling against the workings of fate, demonstrated when he rebukes Quasimodo for saving a fly from being eaten by a spider. His fatalism is mostly a coping method to deal with his dissatisfaction with his life, and as a way of avoiding responsibility for his moral shortcomings.
  • In The Iliad, Hector knows he is fated to lose to Achilles, and runs away from him for that reason. He eventually turns to fight and is swiftly killed.
  • In an Exactly What It Says on the Tin example, the eponymous Jacques the Fatalist of Denis Diderot's Philosophical Novel. Jacques is an unusual example of this, somewhat like a positive take on Pangloss' "best of all possible worlds" philosophy in Candide. Jacques believes that everything that happens in one's life is already written on high, and thus he enjoys positive things and reacts with stoicism toward negative ones because he believes that everything that happens is unavoidable.
  • Ensign Mashengo from Legend of the Galactic Heroes practically has You Can't Fight Fate as his catchphrase. They're also his last words.
  • Raffles believes that matters of life or death are "on the knees of the gods", a phrase that gives the title to one of the short stories in the collection.
  • Lady Evanna and her brother Hibernius Tall in The Saga of Darren Shan. Both of then ancient magical beings seem clever and playful at first, if in dark and creepy ways, but as the fatal confrontation draws near, they both grow solemn, preemptively mourning for the world if the Lord of the Shadows come to power in the ways they foresee. After the title character goes Anti Anti Christ in the end, Evanna sees that there can be hope if you create it and defies her father to encourage peace between the vampire clans.
  • The Tralfamadorians in Slaughterhouse-Five are a race of fatalists due to existing at all points in time at the same time. They know exactly how everything will happen and therefore don't see the need to get fussed about or try to change any of it. They even know how the universe itself will end; it's going to be their fault during a new fuel test, but they just accept it.
  • Somewhither: A common saying among the inhabitants of the Dark Tower is "Fate is fated." An understandable sentiment, since everyone's future is predicted years in advance, up to and including date of death, by astrologers, and the predictions are nearly never wrong.
  • Cinderheart becomes this in Warrior Cats after hearing Lionblaze's prophecy and rejecting him. She keeps saying they can't be mates because it would ruin their destinies. Finally, Lionblaze snaps her out of it.
  • Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn in The Wheel of Time, increasingly becomes this. His mounting insanity does not help raise his mood or help his not seeing things this way, as one might expect. More and more he sees his death and his withdrawing from the things that made him human, as inevitable consequences of who he is, and himself as just a slave to the Pattern. Once his prolonged psychotic break enters its worse phase, he briefly overlaps with Straw Nihilist as he contemplates just ending the cycle of suffering and apparent meaninglessness, by destroying the world. He manages to get a little better. Whether it sticks, we will just have to wait and see.
    "The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills."

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Huntsman in The 10th Kingdom is a villainous example, but with a reason: if he didn't believe in fate, he'd have to accept that his own actions led directly to the death of his son.
  • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: Captain Pike believes that due to a premonition of the future that his fate has been sealed, until 10 years in the future from when the show begins. After angsting about it in the first few episodes by the fourth episode, with the Enterprise facing being crushed by a black hole, he knows in that situation that the ship "will hold", and so he leads the crew onward through the danger under the protection of his personal Plot Armor, although it doesn't prevent everyone from being killed.
  • Supernatural: Castiel and all of the angels and demons (but mostly the angels). Castiel gets better later. In fact, he later teams up with Sam and Dean to help them out especially stop their supposed destinies.

  • In The Megas' History Repeating, Protoman argues that he and Mega Man are predestined by their programming. Mega Man begs to differ.
    Protoman: ("I'm Not the Breakman") You say these things you do are what you choose. This thing you call your will I call a ruse. We follow our path, we walk the program. I've accepted the machine I am.
    Mega Man: ("I Refuse (To Believe)") Stop pretending you don't have a choice, only that will set you free.
  • Another version of Protoman, from The Protomen's eponymous Act I album, has a variation: he wants with every fibre of his being to be proven wrong.

  • Hades from Classical Mythology firmly holds this opinion toward mortals. All mortals, by nature, are deaths waiting to happen as far as he is concerned. Though this is used less to devalue life than to validate why there is no need for him to end it prematurely.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mechanists from Genius: The Transgression take this trope to its logical conclusion, and will commit hideous atrocities without remorse because they're not responsible, destiny is.
  • The Fated in Planescape are a bit of a subversion. They claim to believe in the ultimate fate that no one can alter, but what they actually seem to believe in is not helping others (and, conversely, not expecting help themselves). They still strive to achieve things, though: if they succeed, then they were fated to do so and, if not, they've no business complaining about it.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Space Marine chapter the Doom Eagles holds the belief that death is inevitable, and that they will die eventually, which frees them of doubt in the face of a threat.
    • In the backstory, Primarch Konrad Curze was Dreaming of Things to Come — only he was shown the worst of the futures. This, combined with his certainty that the future would happen the way he had foreseen it and his apparent inability to resist his own violent urges, caused him to turn into an example of this trope.

    Video Games 
  • Xan, the chronically depressed elven mage from Baldur's Gate, leaves no doubt about how doomed he thinks he, the other party members, their quests, and their goals are. Many players find him darkly funny, to the point that when he was Demoted to Extra in the sequel, fans made a Game Mod that made him a playable character again.
  • In BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea, during one of the discussions Robert and Rosalind Lutece have about why exactly Elizabeth is attempting to change the course of the current dimension's events, Rosalind says that she doesn't understand why Elizabeth is trying, telling Robert that, "What's done is done. What's done will be done." He calls her a fatalist, which lines up with the fact that he's more tender-hearted than Rosalind, which is why the two of them set into motion the events of the main game since he felt guilty for having a hand in helping Comstock take Elizabeth from Booker when she was a baby.
  • Sabata from Boktai is an interesting case: He's aligned with the bad guys because destroying all life is "the will of the galaxy". Turns out he's right but still pulls a Heel–Face Turn not because he thinks they can win (he knows they'll lose, in fact), but because fighting is his way of life.
    Sabata: Our opponent is Dark, the Will of the Galaxy Universe, the origin of all life. Of course... Right from the start, I knew we didn't stand a chance. All the starts, all life... Everything is enveloped with eternal death. People die... But me... I don't care about all that. It's all about how I live. Resisting and fighting to the end. That's what it means to me... to live!
  • Azala, the leader of the Reptites in Chrono Trigger, is revealed to be this in the end. When you defeat her, she expresses shock that the heavens chose "the apes" over her race, and accepts her death even when Ayla tries to convince her to escape with them because it is their fate to go extinct.
    Ayla: Come! Azala, come!
    Azala: Absolutely not! The powers that be have spoken.
    Ayla: ...
    Azala: The future...
    Ayla: What about future?!
    Azala: We... have no future...
  • Emperor Yoshiro from Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 believes that his rise to power was preordained Because Destiny Says So, but eventually has a Villainous BSoD when he learns that his empire only exists because Cherdenko and Krukov went back in time to kill Albert Einstein.
  • Itherael of Diablo III — naturally, given that he is fate itself. One of the reasons he supports the Nephelem is that they are the only creatures he knows of that are Immune to Fate, and thus actually stand a chance of screwing the destiny he foresees.
  • Garland is given this characterization in Dissidia Final Fantasy. He is one of the few characters in the game who's aware of the "Groundhog Day" Loop they're all stuck in and has been completely broken by the endless repetition of divine war. He's resigned to become a Blood Knight because enjoying the conflict is all he has left to his life, and the mere suggestion that the cycle can be broken drives him furious because he refuses to believe in false hope.
  • The Grey Wardens in Dragon Age. After the Joining, it's explicitly spelled out for them that there is no going back and that every member must accept that for the rest of their life, (the next thirty years), they have sworn an oath to fight the Darkspawn horde. Then, when the Wardens have reached the age for their Calling, they will go down taking as many of the Darkspawn as they can with them.
  • Ulysses from Fallout: New Vegas is a deconstruction. He simply could not accept that the destruction of his hometown was a random accident, the destruction he had wrought was ultimately meaningless, and his actions caused unforeseen collateral damage. After enduring multiple tragedies and his own guilt on the matter, Ulysses developed an obsession with hidden meanings and symbols, seeing the world as a puzzle to solve and something for him to fix. After dwelling on these thoughts, Ulysses decided that the solution was to wipe the slate clean and start over, destroying both the NCR and Caesar's Legion with targeted nuclear strikes. Telling him that he has no way of knowing that he will get the results he wants is dismissed out of hand.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Uhai the Soaring Hawk joins the Black Fang because he's sure that The End of the World as We Know It is coming and he can't do anything to avoid it. More specifically, Uhai was already a member because he found a sense of kinship with Brendan Reed and his sons, whose philosophy of punishing the wicked and protecting the weak he agreed in. When Nergal took over the Fang, Uhai refused to defect — both from loyalty to his True Companions and from a belief that he's not powerful enough to oppose Nergal. Out of respect for Eliwood and his friends for successfully defeating him, though, he aids them with his dying breath, partially because he believes they might have a chance to stop Nergal and partly out of respect for their resolve and strength.
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening:
      • Gerome is a heroic example: having lost all hope after the Bad Future has taken place, he is one of the Kid from the Future group who believes the least in the chance to change Ylisse's destiny, but fights for it nonetheless.
      • The villain Validar smugly believes that Grima's return is destined and the heroes' efforts to thwart it are futile. His critical quote is "This is all written!", directly contrasting Chrom's "Anything can change!".
  • Galaxy Angel: Ranpha Franboise is a huge fan of fortune-telling, and is always absolutely convinced that her fortunes will always come true. The third chapter of the first game shows her agonizing about this because apparently the fortunes she follows have a 99% accuracy. At least, until she finds out that these readings are only accurate within the Transbaal system, making her realize she was fretting over nothing.
  • In Grand Theft Auto V, Lamar believes that he will die some day since it's the price to pay for being a gangbanger. Lamar's line of thinking makes him take reckless actions many times over, which causes Franklin to chew him out for it every time he has to go save him.
  • The Fateweavers in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning are able to see the threads of fate but have no power to actually change them, so it's understandable that they would adopt a You Can't Fight Fate mindset. That all changes when The Fateless One appears.
  • In the Legacy of Kain series, Kain at first seems this way to Raziel, who actually uses the term to describe him. It turns out he seems this way because he's watched the whole timeline and has it memorized, so he knows exactly what's going to happen and is waiting for the exact moment to Screw Destiny.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III, Emperor Eugent III is a firm believer that all things will come to pass and any attempt to steer fate would be a foolish idea. He tells Rean that this is the reason why he doesn't stop Osborne with his policies. He's proven very right about this, invoking the biggest Downer Ending of the Trails Series.
  • Saren Arterius in Mass Effect. He works to bring about the return of the Reapers from Dark Space, seeing the evidence that they have repeatedly harvested the galaxy for millions of years as proof that resisting them is futile and only those who prove useful to the Reapers will be spared the coming invasion. His fatalism is somewhat understandable, since he's later revealed to have been slowly Indoctrinated by Sovereign, and Paragon Shepard can convince him to resist long enough to shoot himself.
  • Yulia Lyuricheva from Pathologic 2 is a fatalist who designed the Town-on-Gorkhon's very strange road system. She manages to anticipate events much like the psychics in the town, but rather than using intuition, she takes a very scientific approach to fatalism and predetermination, which Lara Ravel finds depressing.
  • Kyurem from Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity opposes the heroes because he believes there's nothing he can do to stop the Bittercold, so there's no point in fighting it. It helps that he's got some ability to see the future, which is a large part of what fuels this belief. However, once the protagonist and their partner beat him, Kyurem steps back and allows them a chance after all.
  • In Red Dead Redemption 2, Arthur Morgan is fairly convinced that, even though he is intelligent and eloquent, he is still little more than a thug and ne'er-do-well who will likely ultimately die an ignoble death. Once he is forced to confront his mortality following a diagnosis of tuberculosis, however, he becomes confronted with the truth of the matter: with his death now just around the corner, the fact that he doesn't believe in anything leaves him feeling more scared than ever before. In an optional encounter with Sister Calderon, he even confides in her his fears of what is to come, quietly admitting: "...I'm afraid."
  • In Sabres of Infinity, Cazarosta displays this in his speech at the military ceremony, in which he declares the idea of free will to be a delusion.
    Cazarosta: We are sabres in the hands of infinity, to move and act as we are bid. The fact that we sometimes have second thoughts in the obeying gives us the delusion that we have some ability to determine our fates, that we are born with a freedom to choose our actions: to be kind or cruel, good or evil. That is mankind's most glorious and beautiful dream, but it is a delusion nonetheless.
  • Sans from Undertale is seemingly aware that he's in a video game (or at least bound by the mechanics of one) and has concluded that his choices are meaningless and the world is at the mercy of the player alone. As such, why bother trying to change anything, since said player could just reload their game and invalidate his choices? His main actions within the game are to try and encourage the player to feel gratitude and emotional connection to his friends, and to make them feel the emotional weight of any cruel or thoughtless actions. Should the player embark on a course that would lead to permanent damage to the world (such as a Genocide Run), he endeavors to frustrate the player into stopping.
  • In World of Horror, 'Fatalist' is a potential backstory a character can be played with. This forces the player to solve the game's mysteries in the order they're generated on the corkboard, instead of being able to freely choose the order. If the game puts Chilling Chronicle of a Crimson Cape in slot one, then that's just how it goes.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1 has Zanza, the Big Bad of the game. He's able to see into the future via visions, and strongly believes that everything he sees in them is inevitable and that the passage of fate is infallible. When his visions begin to cut off and point towards his death at the hands of Shulk, he starts suffering a Villainous Breakdown, unable to accept that the passage of fate can be changed.

  • This Awkward Zombie strip has Bowser criticizing Geno's belief that no wishes will be granted without the Star Road as fatalistic, as it's entirely possible to grant wishes entirely by one's own will, rather than waiting for a magical Star Road to do it.
    Bowser: I wish I was kicking you through the ceiling. [kicks Geno through the ceiling] FREE WILL, CHUMPS!
  • In Erfworld, Wanda once tried to fight against fate. Everyone she loved died as a result, and she still ended up working for the people it was foretold she would work for. This is why she believes it's impossible to fight against fate, and that trying to do so just causes suffering as fate reasserts its hold on you. Oddly, her love interest displays the exact opposite mindset, being willing to take all of that misery in the hope that she can change things for the better.
  • Goblins:
    • Dies Horribly, a victim of a tribal custom where children are named by fortune tellers, believes that his death is inevitable and that there's no fighting it, so he's a real coward. He ends up giving his life to a demon in exchange for an artifact that the rest of his party needs, but then is revived almost immediately afterwards due to a loophole in the contract.
    • Saves a Fox seems to be inching towards this attitude away from her initial stance of "Screw Destiny" after Dies tells her that the fox she killed "instead" of saving had acted like it was in the first stages of a slow and agonizing disease.
  • Homestuck:
    • Many people to an extent. Given that prophets and Stable Time Loops are both given and well understood, they've yet to be proven wrong. The Scratch is essentially them deciding to Screw Destiny, Only even it was foretold years in advance. Homestuck has made fatalists of fans, as in the comic there is arguably not a single moment of free will displayed by the characters.
    • The biggest fatalists tend to be the characters with the capability to Time Travel or see the future. An Image Song for Aradia illustrates this perspective very well:
      Everything's in order; everything will come in time...
      Just so long as I complete the tasks that are mine.
      It's pretty much this hard to keep just one timeline intact.
      I can see the endings that the realms will not permit...
  • Kill Six Billion Demons:
    • Jadis is The Omniscient, and cannot turn it off. She knows everything at all times, which includes perfect knowledge of everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen in the future including her own actions. This has not only rendered her a Mad Oracle entombed in a giant crystal, stuck with nothing but perfect knowledge of all that is and ever will be, but has also rendered her a major fatalist. When Allison asks her why she bothered rescuing and healing her, Jadis simply responds "it's what I do" (at that point in time).
    • Mottom is a more mundane version of this trope, believing herself Powerful and Helpless to the degree that she has no real control over her life and her own actions despite being a universe-conquering God-Empress, meaning that everything horrible that is done in her name is ultimately out of her hands and the inevitable solution to her situation. Allison disabuses her of the notion, somewhat violently, and Mottom suffers a breakdown when she realises she is inevitably going to die and no longer has a Status Quo Is God excuse.

    Web Original 
  • A major aspect of the Taoist religion in the Whateley Universe. We've seen them shrug off murder because it was destined.
  • Vista, a teenaged superhero in Worm, eventually comes around to this point of view, and struggles to reconcile it with her position as The Heart of her team.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • The townsfolk in "The Fortuneteller", who all believe Aunt Wu's foretellings with such certainty that they calmly walk into the maw of great danger.
    • To an extent, Zuko in the first two seasons is continuously obsessed about his "destiny", and despite hardly knowing what that means, chooses it over his happiness, sanity, and family.
    • Zuko's sister Azula also believes in this via the Mandate of Heaven: Ruling is a divine right only blessed to certain people.
  • Beast Wars deconstructs this with Dinobot, specifically during Season 2. When he discovers that they've been fighting on Earth All Along and steals the Golden Disc, he begins to ponder whether the future it shows is the only path available to him. He then ponders whether he should destroy them, but deduces this as cowardly and chooses to unlock the truth before anything else happens. Later, after witnessing Megatron using the disc to "test" whether the future can be changed — by destroying a mountain recorded, which promptly is erased from the Disc's records — he has his answer that the future isn't set in stone. He promptly chooses to accept his fate anyway because while he could choose to defy his fate, his strong sense of pride and honour dictates that he can't do so, having given Megatron back the disk in the first place. So, knowing that he will almost certainly die, he faces down all the Predacons in a Dying Moment of Awesome Heroic Sacrifice, saving the proto-humans (the ancestors of the human race) in the process.
  • DC Animated Universe:
  • Steven Universe: Sapphire has the ability to see the future, and is awfully resigned to it, as long as it's beneficial to her side. Even predicting her own temporary "death" doesn't faze her, since it will come with the end of a war. Being with Ruby, whose impulsive nature makes her Immune to Fate, has toned this down somewhat.
  • In season 4 of Teen Titans (2003), Raven believes that nothing she does can stop her father Trigon from entering the world. She knows full well Trigon needs her cooperation — but she also believes that, ultimately, she'll be forced to give it, because it's fated she'll do so.
    Raven: It has already begun. And there is no stopping what is meant to be.
  • The Tick is a rare positive example, since he believes that his destiny is to be a superhero, right wrongs, hunt evil, and protect the innocent. Even his Dare to Be Badass speech to Arthur is based on You Can't Fight Fate!
    "You're not going crazy, Arthur. You're going sane in a crazy world! Some people are destined for greater things! Arthur, you are one of those people. You can't hide from it. You've got to hug it. Hug your destiny, Arthur! Hug it..."

    Real Life 
  • The psychological phenomenon of this trope is known as learned helplessness, in which a human or a non-human being suffers from a sense of powerlessness brought on by traumatic, painful stimuli and/or repeated instances of failure. Even when given opportunities to escape an unpleasant situation, the subject's overbearing sense of powerlessness convinces them that they can't escape.
  • Any religion with predestination can easily lead to fatalism.
    • Calvinism holds that everything that occurs is the will of God and that human beings are passive agents in said occurrences, whether they be positive or negative.
    • The Muslim saying Insallah means literally if God wills, implying deep fatalism. It's said that God wrote down everyone's fate ahead of time in the beginning. Most however don't see this as God making people do things, but just viewing the future due to his divine foreknowledge. Whether or not that contradicts free will remains an issue of course.
  • General Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson was legendary for being as steady as a 'stone wall' in battle, even under cannon fire. He is quoted as saying "May mine and I, by God's grace, stand like a stone wall before the onslaught of the enemy, trusting that we are as safe on the battlefield as we are in our beds." believing that he would die whenever God willed it. Jackson was a devout Calvinist (see above). So his being shot and killed accidentally by his own men would have been a clear sign to even him that God had cursed him.
  • Any devout follower of a religion who believes similarly will qualify.
  • German philosopher Oswald Spengler (author of the non-fiction book The Decline of the West) was one and wrote a lot about it. Spengler though was fatalistic only in the largest sense. He believed that the general path of each civilization was set, with a given cycle going through recognizable stages, much like the recognizable stages in the growth, life, and death of an individual. He believed that the fine details were quite flexible, however. For example, as Spengler saw it, the coming of a figure who would be to Western Civilization what Augustus Caesar was to Greco-Roman society might be inevitable, but who that figure was, what kind of person he would be, and the details of the coming empire, were quite open to determination.
  • There is more information here about fatalism and how it differs from similar views, plus criticism of the idea.