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Prophecy Twist / Live-Action TV

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Prophecy Twists in live-action TV.

  • In one episode of Agatha Raisin, the titular sleuth investigates two murders whilst staying at a castle. It turns out there's murky legal grounds as to who is to inherit the castle, due to a curse placed on the family centuries ago; but a prophecy foretells the curse will end when "a raven takes power." One of the murder suspects (who has dark hair) thinks this refers to her, and already has a lawyer waiting to press her claim in court. It turns out the prophecy actually refers to the current owner's daughter, who has black hair that's currently dyed blue, so no one noticed it.
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  • In an episode of Are You Being Served? Mr. Humpries reveals that he can read palms. A reading for a customer comes true, so the others want him to read their palms. For Mrs. Slocombe, Humphries sees a tall distinguished man lying at her feet. In Captain Peacock’s hand he sees opportunities, climbing ladders and a new hat. Peacock thinks this means he's going to be promoted to Mr. Rumboldt's position. Instead, at the end of the episode, he's helping the ladies clean up their department by placing a box of hats on a shelf. He climbs a ladder in the storeroom to put them away. Mr. Lucas opens the door, making Peacock fall right at Mrs. Slocombe's feet, with one of the hats from the box on his head. AND he doesn't get the promotion.
  • Babylon 5:
    • The episode "War Without End" puts rather a significant twist on the Prophecies of Valen; Jeffrey Sinclair travels back in time 1000 years, transforms himself into a Minbari, and becomes Valen. He goes on to write the prophecies that, 1000 years later, would inspire Jeffrey Sinclair to travel back in time...
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    • Londo's precognitive dream that he and G'Kar will kill each other, and his instant dislike of him as a result. By the time the vision comes true, he and G'Kar are good friends. G'Kar is acting at Londo's request, because he cannot kill himself. That action frees Londo from his Drakh Keeper, and allows Sheridan and Delenn to survive and escape.
    • And a vision of the station's explosive destruction turns out to be a simple demolition after B5 is decommissioned and abandoned.
    • Kosh predicts that if Sheridan goes to Zha'ha'dum he will die. Sheridan seems to fulfill the prediction when he makes a kamikaze run in a White Star. He does indeed die. He gets better.
  • In Blake's 7, ORAC the supercomputer is asked to predict the future. He shows them a picture of their ship blowing up in space. Naturally, they seek to avoid this future, but ORAC assures them that they cannot. They decide to keep away from any region of space where the star patterns would match those shown in the prediction, but then the ship is dragged to that location by its original builders. Of course, they have other ships identical to the crew's, so it's one of them that blows up. ORAC arranges the destruction of the other ship to make his prophecy come true.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
      • The climax of Season One revolves on the prophecy that the Master shall kill the slayer. This happens when he drowns Buff in a pool of water. Nothing in the prophecy prevents her friend Xander from administering CPR to the clinically dead slayer and reviving her, where she proceeds to toast the old vamp.
        The Master: You were destined to die! It was written!
        Buffy: What can I say? I flunked the written.
      • The Master himself invokes this trope earlier in the same episode (and regarding the same prophecy), as well.
        The Master: You tried. It was noble of you. You heard the prophecy that I was about to break free and you came to stop me. But prophecies are tricky creatures. They don’t tell you everything.
        You're the one that sets me free. If you hadn't come, I couldn't go. Think about that.
      • The prophecy is fulfilled in a more conventional manner in the season 3 episode "The Wish," where we see an alternative universe where Buffy didn't go to Sunnydale for high school. Buffy comes to Sunnydale on a short visit to assist Giles and hears about the master; she goes to fight him, and he kills her. The implication seems to be that Buffy's destiny hinges on her friends.
      • In season 5, Buffy is trying to find out what the real meaning of being a Slayer is, and repeatedly hears the words "Death is your gift." She thinks this means that the Slayer is nothing but a killer, bringing only death, but it actually means that she will give her life to save the world.
      • In "Surprise" Buffy dreams Angel's death at the hands of Drusilla. It turns out Drusilla will set in motion a sequence of events that will result in Buffy sleeping with Angel, removing the 'curse' of his soul and causing him to revert to the evil Angelus.
    • Angel goes on to pull a few of these, such as Wesley turning against Angel upon learning of a prophecy indicating that Angel is going to drink the infant's blood (the beginning of said prophecy about the child noted there would be "no birth, only death", which assured some of the baddies it was nothing to worry about, until Darla kills herself to save her child, leaving only a dusty infant, and no birth having taken place). Turns out that he's actually being dosed with the stuff as part of a plan. One of the villains even quotes the "No man of woman born" twist scene from Macbeth on hearing about it. It turns out that another villain, Sahjhan, is using Time Travel to edit the prophecy in hopes of causing the death of Angel's son...because the original version said that Angel's son would kill Sahjhan. And, of course, the Shanshu Prophecy, which tells Angel that he will die as a result of saving the world. Angel is understandably upset by this, until it turns out that a better translation might be "die some years later of entirely natural causes as he will now be a regular mortal human" (attributed to the idea that the translation was complicated by the fact that 'die' in this context could only refer to a natural death, which was the one thing that couldn't kill Angel as a vampire). It also turns out that the Shanshu doesn't specifically say Angel will save the world, only that he'll play a pivotal role in the final battle between good and evil. Most importantly, it doesn't say which side he'll be on. This is why Wolfram & Hart's Special Projects Division is so interested in Angel, and specifically doesn't try to kill him: they want to find a way to turn him evil without removing his soul, so that he can serve an Antichrist-like role in the final battle. And for that matter, it doesn't specifically say it's about Angel. The prophecy refers to "the vampire with a soul", which was assumed to inherently mean Angel, since he was the only such vampire that had ever existed...until another vampire with a soul emerged, his arch-rival Spike.
  • In the lead up to Crisis on Infinite Earths (2019), one truth lingering over in The Flash (2014) was that Barry was to vanish in the Crisis, dying similarly to his comic counterpart. It was even emphasised in the first episode of season 6, when the Monitor informs Barry that "the Flash must die". In Part 3 of the event, Barry, Cisco and Caitlin discover the Earth-90 Flash being forced to power an Anti-Matter Cannon. They get him out, but the cannon is rigged to go all out when they do so. Earth-1 Barry realizes what needs to be done and he goes to tearfully bid Cisco and Caitlin goodbye while a just recently-arrived Jefferson Pierce tries to hold back the cannon as long as he can. However, at the last minute, the Earth-90 Barry stops him and temporarily takes Barry's speed and hops back into the cannon, taking Barry's place and running himself to death to destroy the cannon. After all, the Monitor's prophecy never stated which Flash would lose their life.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Beast's prophecy from "The Satan Pit" that Rose will "die in battle". As revealed in "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday", there is a battle, but she is instead ported to an Alternate Universe, and gets declared officially dead in the real world.
    • "The Fires of Pompeii": The Doctor says that Pompeii's destruction is a fixed point in time that he can't prevent, even though thousands will die. At the climax, he realizes that he has to make Vesuvius erupt to save the rest of the world. He's understandably stunned, as is Donna when he tells her.
    • The implication in "Turn Left" that Donna will die... but in a Temporal Paradox, so it unravels itself.
    • "Journey's End": And then a certain Mad Oracle predicts an "everlasting death for the most faithful companion." Donna gets Victory-Guided Amnesia, losing her memories of all of her adventures with the Doctor. If she ever remembers, her mind will burn up. This undoes all of her development that happened during her time with the Doctor, the new Donna was essentially "dead".
    • The prophecy in "Planet of the Dead" stating that "he will knock four times", leading to the Doctor's "death". In "The End of Time", everything related to the Master's drumbeat is a Red Herring; when the Master is defeated, the Doctor is relieved that he has survived the entire ordeal... then he stops upon hearing Wilfred trapped in a chamber and about to die, knocking four times on the door. Cue Heroic Sacrifice and subsequently, regeneration. The twist is how unmetaphorical this particular prophecy is.
    • "The Wedding of River Song" is all about how a prophesy/fixed point in time regarding the Doctor's death MUST come true, or time itself will shatter. Turns out the fixed point wasn't the Doctor dying, it was getting shot, so he just needed to find a way to survive getting fatally shot other than regeneration.
    • In "The Name of the Doctor", the Whispermen say "The girl who died, he tried to save, she'll die again inside his grave." Refering to Clara "dying" when she jumped into the Doctor's timestream, scattering herself into a million pieces to save his life. She didn't die, of course.
    • The arc that followed the Eleventh Doctor around, namely the Silence's prophecy/belief that "on the Fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the Eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a question will be asked — a question that must never ever be answered: 'Doctor who?'" was interpreted by the Great Intelligence to mean that the Doctor must give his name to save his companions from death at its own hands. In fact, as revealed in "The Time of the Doctor", it refers to the fact the Question, asked by the Time Lords, was a shibboleth could not be answered out of risk of restarting the Time War.
  • In the Femme Fatales episode "The White Flower", a criminal is told by a fortune teller that a white flower will be the last thing he sees before he dies. Naturally, he avoids white flowers like the plague. He is eventually shot in the head, and the gun's muzzle-flash looks like a white flower in the darkness.
  • The Flash (2014): An ambiguous case in the Season One finale. Towards the end of the season, the characters find an article from 2024 whose byline is "Iris West-Allen", confirming that Iris will one day marry her best friend, Barry Allen. The characters (and by extension, the viewers) are initially led to believe that this is because Iris will one day break up with her current boyfriend Eddie Thawne and get together with Barry, which is only supported by an earlier episode confirming that Iris returned Barry's feelings to a far greater extent than she did Eddie's. Eddie himself broke up with Iris after he learned about this, as it confirmed his suspicions about how she really felt about Barry. However, they moved past that and get back together in time for the season finale, even getting engaged — and then Eddie commits a Heroic Suicide to stop the season's Big Bad, Eobard Thawne. It's an ambiguous case because it was never outright confirmed that this was the reason Iris ends up marrying Barry, as the future is constantly changing, not to mention that Barry and Iris were married in the previous timeline.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Part of the arc for Stannis Baratheon is his and Melisandre's belief that he is "The Prince That Was Promised", someone who is the world's Messianic Archetype sent by the Lord of Light to restore order to the world and become a king. However, Stannis is betrayed by his army and killed after sacrificing his daughter for a miracle. After this, Melisandre goes to search for whoever else the prophecy may have referred to. So far, the closest candidates include Jon Snow, who is not only the son of Rheghar but also legitimate, due to how his mother Lyanna Stark made her brother adopt him under the lie of being Ned's bastard and not Rhegar's recently married's son, and possibly Daenerys Targaryen due to how the original language of the prophecy used a gender neutral term of "ruler". In the end, the most likely candidate was ironically the king who cheated and manipulated his way to winning the throne; Bran, who quite possibly tricked the nobles into believing he would make the perfect Puppet King; a brain-damaged cripple who could double as a near-perfect oracle to prevent them from screwing themselves over, only for him to use his knowledge of foresight to restructure the entire empire into a federation that would eventually re-purpose the wheel of oppression into a vehicle of endless freedom. 'Born in salt and smoke' refers to the Brain Uploading from the Three-Eyed Raven (in a salty cave filled with torches), Lightbringer is the Akashic Records giving him the foresight to predict how to make his enemies die weeks in advance (hence the sword-of-light from the flames analogy referencing him using his bright ideas as a weapon, and how he ultimately used it by turning his enemies' own flaming weakness (pride) against them), and most importantly, he is one of the few characters who knew exactly who his true enemies (the darkness) were.
    • Cersei was told by an oracle when she was young that she would marry a king, have three children she would outlive, and rule as queen before another queen, younger and more beautiful, would come and depose her. Cersei believed that Margaery was the younger queen that would depose her and gets her out of the way by killing her. However, all this does is push her last surviving child Tommen to commit suicide. While Cersei is crowned Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, she is killed by the younger Queen Daenerys, who is killed herself shortly after.
    • In the second season finale, Daenerys has a vision of walking through the snow-filled ruins of the Red Keep's throne room. At the time, this appeared to be a warning of what would happen if she didn't stop the White Walkers. However, the White Walkers are destroyed before they get anywhere near King's Landing. Daenerys herself is the one who destroys the Red Keep, and the vision is actually a warning of her death, which takes place shortly after she sets foot in the ruined throne room.
  • Hand of God: Pernell believes this has happened with him. God promised his son back, which he thought was PJ. However, PJ died and he lost his faith. Then it turned out Tessie is pregnant with another son of his...
  • Heroes:
    • Almost all of Isaac's paintings. Almost everything he paints comes to pass, exactly as depicted, but any meaning you read into it is your own look out: He paints Hiro fighting a dinosaur (Hiro is startled in a museum and draws his sword on a statue), Nathan in the Oval Office (it's Sylar, using illusion powers), Claire's murder by Sylar (Sylar kills the wrong cheerleader — the painting in which she's dead was finished by Peter, who drew it badly enough that you can't recognize the face), and Peter's death afterwards (He dies, but regenerates when Claire runs up to him and he mimics her power).
    • Sylar only posed as Nathan in the averted Explosion Future in the episode "Five Years Gone". However, given that the Volume Four storyline is similar to that of the aforementioned episode and that Sylar has recently acquired shape-shifting abilities, the Sylar-as-Nathan scenario may come to pass anyway.
    • A somewhat mean-spirited prophecy twist occurs in the finale of season 3 with Angela's dream vision that Matt Parkman would save Nathan. Nathan is already dead when they arrive, and Angela and Bennet must then convince Parkman to mind-wipe Sylar and replace his memories with Nathan's, creating some sort of bizarre pseudo-Nathan.
  • In House of AnubisThe Touchstone of Ra, there is a prophecy about, well, the touchstone of Ra: whoever touched the stone will be turned into stone themselves, unless the Osirian makes the ultimate sacrifice: their life. Eddie was ready to die and save his friends, but when it was over, it instead turned out that he had instead lost his powers. The Osirian did die, as in there would be no more Osirians, but Eddie survived.
  • In the last episode of Inhumans, Maximus asks Bronaja if he'll be victorious. Bronaja tells him he saw Maximus as the undisputed king of Atilan, and Black Bolt gone. Since at this point, Black Bolt is already planning the evacuation of the city, it's not hard to see where this is going.
  • Lucifer:
    • In Season Four, Father Kinley discovered a prophecy that said "when the devil finds his first love, evil will walk the Earth." He recruits Chloe Decker, the woman Lucifer loves, in a plot to send Lucifer back to Hell. This seems like a Xanatos Gambit to him. If it works, great, Lucifer is gone. If it doesn't, he's driven a wedge between Chloe and Lucifer and prevented the prophecy. Bishop Hoffman (who doesn't believe that Lucifer is really the devil) points out a rather glaring flaw in Kinley's logic: He's assuming that Chloe is Lucifer's first love. Enter Eve, the First Woman, Lucifer's ex-girlfriend and a Toxic Friend Influence who encourages all of Lucifer's worst habits out of a desire for "fun".

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


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