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The Navigator

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"Just like math homework, except a wrong answer will strand us in Peru."

"Give me a stopwatch and a map, and I'll fly the Alps in a plane with no windows."

A character who is really good at locating places and objects. This character knows their way around maps and are good at giving directions. If they are part of a Five-Man Band or a Command Roster, expect this character to double as The Smart Guy. This type of character is often found in works with a military or maritime setting. If the setting is magical or an Eldritch Location, expect The Navigator to wield a Magic Map or compass. Their ability to navigate and detect might even be due to magic or a superpower in these settings.

Contrast with No Sense of Direction, a character who is incredibly bad at maps and directions. Not to be confused with Buster Keaton film The Navigator.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Iggy in Max Ride: First Flight, who despite being blind, is described by Max as "a human compass" because he was genetically engineered with the power to know the exact location of where he is at any given time.
  • Eden Fesi, Manifold introduced in Secret Warriors is developed to have a preternatural sense of navigation as a Required Secondary Power of being able to conjure portals to anywhere in the universe. He can simply intuit where anything needs to go. His main limit is that he needs to maintain his bearings, so if he gets turned around within a windowless enclosure he can't use his powers at all.

    Films — Animation 
  • Radio on The Brave Little Toaster gives himself the job of navigator, homing in on radio signals to get to the city.
  • Milo Thatch guides the team in Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire, as Milo is the only one who can decipher The Shepherd's Journal that details the route to Atlantis.
  • Young Max Goof is appointed "Chief Whichawayer" of the cross-country road tour of the United States by his father in A Goofy Movie. This sets up a Plot Twist when Max misuses this power to divert the tour to Los Angeles.
  • Legend Of The Guardians The Owls Of Ga Hoole: Gylfie recognizes constellations and tells Soren she thinks she could find her way by them. Later the Echidna dubs her the navigator.
  • Moana: This is becoming a lost skill in the thousand years since Maui took the Heart of Creation. The seas have become hostile to travelers and since sailing on the open sea has all but disappeared, the skills of navigation, called Wayfinding, have vanished as well. Moana eventually learns that her people were once skilled sailors and navigators, but now Maui is practically the only one left who knows. He (grudgingly at first) teaches Moana, which in turn allows her to lead her people back out to sea, teaching them the ancient art of Wayfinding and other maritime skills.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • David, the titular navigator in Flight of the Navigator.
  • On The Hunt for Red October Mr. Kamarov is the Red October's navigator and guides the boat through the infamous Red Route One, a complex series of paths within an underwater canyon through which Soviet submarines would run to get across the Atlantic while hiding from NATO sonar nets. The margins are very tight for a submarine, especially one as large as the Typhoon-class Red October — being even just one boat length off could mean crashing into a canyon wall.
  • Twister has Rabbit, the guy who gets the storm chasers to where the twister is. He has a truck full of maps (rolled, not folded) and knows all the shortcuts across the Kansas countryside.
  • One of the roles of astromech droids in Star Wars is to calculate hyperspace jumps using coordinates they've stored for the ship they're plugged into.
  • Memphis Belle: Lt Phil Lowenthal, navigation officer on the titular B-17, very important in the days before electronic navigation.
  • The Finest Hours: Bernie is able to find the Pendleton stern and then find his way back to port, most of it after his compass was lost, just from his knowledge of the currents in the area and figuring where the ocean was taking them.
  • Adrift has a young couple getting caught in a hurricane leaving their boat ruined and for off course. Since they are well off the beaten path for both sea and air travel, Tami has to use celestial navigation to get them back to civilization.
  • Subverted in James and the Giant Peach, the centipede insists he is one of these, which the grasshopper continually doubts. Grasshopper is eventually proven right since, without a compass or any knowledge of wayfinding the centipede accidentally steers the peach to the north pole.

  • The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi: Of Amina's pirate crew, Majed isn't much use in a fight, but is the uncontested expert in the scholarship and practice of navigation, safely leading ships on routes that no sane captain would have attempted.
  • In the Dune universe, Navigators have consumed so much spice that their bodies have deformed and they have to stay in a special tank filled with spice gas. They are able to use a limited form of prescience to safely navigate interstellar space in a starship called a heighliner.
  • Kynddelig (or Cynddylig) from Culhwch and Olwen, about whom it is said "as good a guide was he in a land which he had never seen as he was in his own".
  • Percy Jackson, because his father is the god of the sea and patron of mariners, knows exactly where he is and is able to navigate perfectly when he's in the ocean.
  • Horatio Hornblower in the eponymous series is a dead-on navigator. In The Happy Return he sails across the Pacific and makes land exactly at the bay that is his intended destination. His entire crew is amazed at their captain's pin-point accuracy.
  • Kushiel's Legacy: Azza, one of Elua's companions, is responsible for teaching navigation.
  • Starman Jones thanks to his Photographic Memory. He can navigate by the stars while planetside and has memorized entire books of astrogation tables.
  • Eärendil in The Silmarillion. Also his descendant Elendil.
  • In Men Against the Sea, the second book of The Bounty Trilogy, Captain Bligh shows that he excels at this. And it saves the asses of the men in the open boat with him, as he gets them across 3600 miles of open ocean to safety in Timor, after they are set adrift by The Mutiny on the Bounty.
  • City of Bones by Martha Wells: Khat, like all the bio-engineered Krismen, has an innate sense of true north and an unrivaled knowledge of the Waste's geography. It's said that it's impossible for a kris to get lost... unless he's in Another Dimension.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: Pavel Chekov is the Enterprise's navigator.
    • Star Trek: Voyager: Seven of Nine effectively becomes the navigator of Voyager because she runs the astrometrics lab.
    • Star Trek: Discovery: Paul Stamets navigates Discovery through the mycelial network whenever they spore-jump.
    • Star Trek: Picard: Enoch is the Emergency Navigational Hologram on La Sirena, and in addition to navigating the ship, he ensures that the navigational sensors are operating at peak efficiency.
  • Once Upon a Time: Killian Jones, aka Captain Hook, was brought along on his brother's ship because he didn't trust anyone else to chart their course on this particular voyage.
  • The Amazing Race:
    • Season 3: The Duphiney brothers had this as one of their biggest strengths.
    • Season 9: The Lararuses, the the only team on the season with any ability to navigate.
    • Season 10: Lyn Turk & Karlyn Harris. Their superior navigation skills gave them a needed advantage over the more physically fit teams late in the season.
    • Season 12: The father-daughter Hsu team demonstrated this by being able to deftly navigate around the closed roads in Italy, making their way to the Roadblock by back roads.
    • "Unfinished Business": Zev Glassenberg & Justin Kanew. Several times they made up huge gaps because of their ability to navigate. Twice they won legs because of this, once when they made up the hour the teams on the first flight had on them in Japan, and then when they went from 5th to 1st in Austria, including passing Flight Time & Big Easy, who were completing the Roadblock right when they showed up.
  • As shown in the "A Study in Pink" episode, Sherlock has all the streets of London memorized and can predict a cab's likely path and come up with an intercept course in a matter of seconds.
  • The Orville: John LaMarr serves as the Orville's navigation officer, though he can fly almost as well as the helmsman as well. Until he's promoted to The Engineer.
    • In Season 3, Charly Burke takes on this role. She shows herself to even have the ability to think in three and four-dimensions, which allows her to take on a vital role in working with Issac.
  • Christy of McHale's Navy has the rate of Quartermaster which is what the U.S. Navy calls their navigators.


    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Book of Mormon: Nephi takes this role during the family's voyage across the sea to the promised land.
  • In Classical Mythology, Lynceus had eyesight so sharp he could see the stars during the day, which made him very useful aboard the Argo.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine: Entropy II, the Angel of Fortitude has a excellent sense of place.
  • The One Ring: Codified in the rules for long journeys. The Player Party assigns a Guide to plot the route and keep them from going off-track or falling behind, represented by the Travel skill.
  • In any Ryuutama party, one character is expected to take on the role of Mapper, who is in charge of making Direction Checks to navigate the party through rough terrain. Failing a Direction Check will halve your party's movement, while a Critical Failure causes your party to go in circles. Minstrels gain an inherent bonus to Direction Checks, and magic users may summon a magical compass to provide support.
  • Navigators in Warhammer 40,000 are mutants whose Third Eye lets them see the currents of the warp and guide ships safely.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The advanced skill Navigation lets characters plot long travel routes based on maps, the stars, and their own sense of direction. It's trained by a range of Careers including survivalist types like the Scout, outdoor trades like Fisherman and Miner, and the scholarly Cartographer.

    Video Games 
  • Tun Luiec in The Longest Journey is a freelance navigator looking for work in Marcuria. She is also a woman, so no captain wants her aboard his ship until April pulls some strings for her.
  • In Uncharted Waters: New Horizons, you can assign any one of your mates to the Chief Navigator position, but if this mate has the Celestial Navigation perk, it unlocks the auto-travel function of the game.
  • In Mass Effect, Pressly was said to be the Normandy's navigator before he became XO.
  • In The Secret of Monkey Island, Guybrush has to convince the talking Shrunken Head of a beheaded navigator, reanimated by voodoo magic, to show him the way through Monkey Island's underground cave system to reach LeChuck's ship.
  • One of the skills you can give your character in Sid Meier's Pirates! is "Skill at Navigation" which gives you better sailing stats.

    Web Original 
  • DSBT InsaniT: Lizzie claims to know the precise geography and layout of any place he has ever been to.
  • Natural Habitat Shorts: The titular rat in "GPS Rat". Because rats in Real Life have an amazing ability to remember where things are and locate them, this rat is used as a "GPS" by a weasel, giving him directions while he's driving.
  • hololive: AZ Ki has been interested in travelling and map-reading since her youth, which translates into her regularly getting perfect scores in GeoGuessr with extremely low margins of error. Her pinpointing skills are so great that she essentially showed Bae, an Australian, the way around Australia, a country AZKi never visited.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Christopher Columbus did much of his own navigation, particularly on his first voyage.
  • Mary Patten, wife of Joshua Patten, captain of the clipper ship Neptune's Car became the ship's navigator when her husband became ill from exhaustion, due to having to perform his duties as well as the First Mate's, who was in the brig. Only 20 years old, she was able to do it, because she had studied navigation on earlier voyages as a hobby, as well as act as nurse for her husband, from Cape Horn, all the way to San Francisco. And she was pregnant the whole time.
  • Fred Noonan was known for pioneering many of Pan Am's routes to China and trained a large number of their navigators. He was eventually chosen to be Amelia Earhart's navigator on her final attempt to circumnavigate the globe.
  • Henry the Navigator, one of the first great pioneers of the Age of Discovery, planned many routes for voyages and founded a maritime school, leading to the beginning of the Portuguese Empire.
  • This is fairly common when two people embark on long drives to locations they never visited. One of them will take the steering wheel keeping their eye on the road, while the other will be taking the atlas switching their focus between road signs and the maps.
  • Required for anyone trying to sail the Baltic Sea, especially the Finnish or Swedish archipelagos. The Baltic is very shallow, and the coastlines are sprinkled with islands, islets, and underwater rocks, making them beautiful but extremely dangerous. It is said that 90% of all world's spar buoys are located in Finland and Sweden.
    • A successfully completed navigator's examination, which includes usual nautical calculations and dead reckoning, is a prerequisite for yacht club membership in Finland.
  • London black cab drivers have to commit hundreds of routes to memory before they're even allowed to get behind the wheel of a taxi. Not only that, but they also have to memorize landmarks and places of interest, no matter how seemingly mundane, as well. They have to sit a series of exams called "The Knowledge", where an examiner gives them a start and end point and the prospective driver then has to recite the route (calling out stoplights, roundabouts, and street signs along the way) and immediately come up with alternate routes if the examiner decides to throw in unexpected obstacles. Because of this, it takes at least a year for a cab driver to become licensed and the memory centers of some drivers' brains physically enlarge due to the effort.
  • While William Bligh may have lacked as a commander, his skills as a navigator were without question. During The Mutiny on the HMS Bounty, he and the crew still loyal to him were left stranded on a launch some time after they left Tahiti. There, he managed the nigh impossible feat of navigating the open waters to Coupang, Timor, over six thousand kilometers from their starting point. His cartography skills were similarly praise-worthy, as maps that he made (such as of Hawaii) were still in use well over a century after his death due to their accuracy.