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Prophecy Twist / Literature

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Prophecy Twists in literature.

  • A historical novel has Catherine de' Medici 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 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • 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.
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  • 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 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.
  • The Camp Half-Blood Series:
    • 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:
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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".
  • Jane Yolen's Great Alta Saga. It is prophesized 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: In Life, the Universe and Everything, Arthur Dent learns that he will at one point visit Stavromula Beta, a place no one in the galaxy seems to have heard of. He spends the rest of the series confident that he won't die because he hasn't been to said place until, in Mostly Harmless, he unwittingly stumbles into a night club on Earth owned by a Greek/German man named Stavro Mueller. The second nightclub owned by Stavro Mueller, or, more simply, Stavro Mueller Beta. Arthur is promptly vaporised, along with his daughter, most of his friends, the entire earth and every single version of it in every parallel universe, ever. Of course, it's also important that the person giving the "prophecy" has a very messed-up mouth, so Arthur misheard the name of the place.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Lawrence Watt-Evans' The Lords of Dûs series it was prophesied 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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....
  • Mary Stewart's The Merlin Trilogy 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.
  • Mistborn: Used in several ways in the original 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Emily Rodda's Rowan of Rin 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In the Neil Gaiman story "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains", an old woman reads Callum MacInnes' 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


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