Follow TV Tropes


Psychic Powers / Live-Action TV

Go To

Psychic Powers in live-action TV.

  • Although Buck, Caleb, and Merlyn are all shown to have varying examples of such powers (the latter never hinted at in life but justified by her new position), in the very first episode of American Gothic (1995) Gail Emory is also implied to have some form of a Psychic Link with her cousin. After he has vanished from the hospital to answer his sister's summons to their old house, Gail somehow 'feels' a connection to him, even seems to indulge in a bit of Psychometry when she touches the door, and then instantly 'knows' where Caleb has gone. Even the writers, when speaking in the commentary, noted that they didn't really know how she did it, that it was only introduced as a way to get all the characters together for the climax, and the ability is never shown again.
  • Advertisement:
  • Angel: Lorne can read people's futures. Allegedly only when they sing, but there have been plenty of occasions when he's read people who aren't singing. Each time he brushes it off as them broadcasting unusually strongly because of their emotional state. It happens frequently. He can also mystically sense when Cordelia is about to receive a vision and has the ability to surf her connection to the Powers That Be and tap into her visions as a result. He needs to be touching Cordelia to do this latter but he's even able to tell when Cordelia's being sent fake visions from an earth-based psychic and indicates that it requires genuine skill to be able to work that out as the fakes were very convincing.
  • Babylon 5: Telepathy, telekinesis, and in the case of the Centauri, a form of precognition.
    • The Centauri took this Up to Eleven: Specially trained-from-birth in four woman teams of telepaths could communicate with each other across interstellar distances. Their purpose is to travel with the Emperor and give him up to the second information on what the court is doing as well as tell the court how the Emperor is doing.
    • Advertisement:
    • Among humans, one in a thousand displays any telepathic ability at all, and most of those aren't strong enough to do much more than make the test go "ping". Of those one in a thousand, one in ten thousand displays any telekinetic ability. About half of those suffer from some form of mental disorder, and among the ones that are sane enough to understand and use their abilities it's exceedingly rare to find someone who can do more than flip pages in a book or move a coin across a tabletop. There are also a few others, but they are solitary cases and most likely the result of Psi Corps Playing with Syringes.
    • The Narn, notably, have no telepaths among them, and repeated attempts to develop telepathic abilities among the Narn have all failed. There is a reason why, but going into too much detail would spoil about half the series..
  • Advertisement:
  • Believe revolves around this as a "next evolution of mankind" (as described by geneticist Roman Skouras). All of the psychics shown in the series have telekinesis; the most powerful ones can also read minds, see the future, start fires spontaneously, neutralize gaseous weapons, and cure diseases. (The first, second, and fifth are exhibited by Bo; the first, third, and fourth are exhibited by Dani.)
  • Beyond: Holden has astral projection, precognition, telekinesis and teleportation. Telekinesis is his most frequent and powerful, though none of them are in his control at the start.
  • The Dead Zone, based on the Stephen King story is entirely based on the premise of Psychic Powers.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Time Lords have psychic powers that vary in strength and manifestation between individuals and incarnations of those individuals:
      • The Doctor has telepathic powers. He can read minds, share thoughts with someone or even wipe someone's memory by just touching their head. The Doctor's telepathy is also used to enable him to change settings on the sonic screwdriver in the new series — hence he can just point it at a thing and make it do what he wants. The TARDIS is also able to telepathically translate for him and his companions, as well as doing it in such a way that companions don't even notice that's what it's doing, although some of the cleverer ones have pointed it out — this ability is linked to him and if he goes down for long enough, so does the translation. He apparently also has the gift to detect the presence of other Time Lords. While uncanny by most standards, it's implied that by Time Lord standards, his psychic abilities are at best barely average. The Fourth Doctor was the most powerful psychic incarnation thus far — his hypnosis bypassed Touch Telepathy entirely and he could entrance people mid-sentence just by making eye contact with them and perform feats of telekinesis, as well as very rarely experience visions of the future.
      • The Master, at least in the original series, possessed uniquely powerful telepathy, able to "completely control a human mind". He also possessed the ability to steal and reshape bodies and to expel his ghost from his body upon death in the form of a snake-like apparition. The John Simm incarnation also had mind control abilities, but due to his new brain they now worked in a completely different way.
      • Susan's sensitive to psychic phenomena and apparently a very gifted and powerful telepath, but unskilled. Nevertheless, she's able to communicate with the psychic aliens in "The Sensorites" even over great distances.
      • Some other rogue Time Lords also have unique abilities, like Salvayin, who is capable of temporarily copying parts of his own mind (such as information) into other people's minds and manipulating perception filters.
    • The "psychic paper" used in the new series, which shows someone looking at it whatever identification they think you need. Occasionally it breaks down — it doesn't work on psychics, it occasionally shows things that are rather unconvincing if the user would honestly rather it showed that (like when Jack accidentally gave Rose psychic paper saying he was single and works out) and it completely shorts out when the Eleventh Doctor tries to make it tell someone that he is "universally recognized as a mature and responsible adult".
    • Humans are all very, very slightly psychic in the Verse, although rarely enough to matter. However, average humans can send out psychic distress waves that very sensitive beings — like Time Lords — can pick up on, large groups of humans thinking the same thing can have a powerful psychic effect, and the occasional human is shown to have significant powers, usually precognition.
    • Many other aliens are psychic, like the Sensorites (telepathy), the Macra (emotion control, at least in the original series), Eldrad (mind control) and the Ood (telepathy) for just a few examples. The Expanded Universe contributes many more psychic beings, at least partially because psychic powers are more fun to do in prose or audio than on low-budgeted television.
    • Human psychics appearing in the new series include Gwyneth, Timothy Latimer, Carmen and Emma Grayling.
    • "The Fires of Pompeii": The seers of Pompeii have psychic powers thanks to the Pyroviles, who are channelling it to them thanks to the volcano dust they're breathing in, as well as the force of the eruption and earlier earthquake rippling through time. The Doctor does make a distinction between psychic powers and seeing the future.
  • An early episode of Earth: Final Conflict deals with psychics. Most characters are convinced that their abilities are real, with only Lili being skeptical. By the end of the episode, even her skepticism is dispelled. A psychic either intentionally or accidentally invades the Taelon Commonality. She learns that humans have psychic abilities because they were given to us by Ma'el, an ancient Taelon scientist who visited Earth thousands of years ago. His goal is to allow for better communication between the two races and to get the Taelons to treat humans as equals.
  • Firefly: River Tam demonstrates the ability to know things about people she can't possibly know unless she's read the thoughts in their mind. In one episode, she's shown to be 'overhearing' fragments of thoughts of the people around her. In the same episode, the crew have a meeting to discuss her abilities and openly float the idea that she might be a 'reader' (a telepath). In the DVD Commentary, the creator mentions that the writing team asked him how far they wanted to take the concept of psychic powers in the show, and he told him this was as far as they should go. There are some hints in the episodes that Simon may have already known that River was a telepath, but the film confirms that River is a telepath, that Mal finds the ability to useful to have around, and that Simon knew all along. The bonus feature on the Serenity DVD title "The R.Tam Sessions" implies that River already had some form of latent psychic ability before the Academy started working on her.
  • The Frankenstein Chronicles: William Blake is portrayed as having clairvoyance apparently-he could see "the beast" as he's called him committing the murders. Interestingly, there is some belief that the real Blake did have this. His painting The Ghost of a Flea, shown in the series and its opening credits, Blake claimed came in a vision he had. Blake also claimed to see ghosts regularly.
  • Daphne on Frasier claims to be "a little bit psychic" in the pilot. This is phased out after a few seasons.
  • On Fringe, William Bell and Walter Bishop tested a drug on young children that was supposed to give them Psychic Powers in adulthood. Several have been encountered by the team so far, including Olivia. They seem to have both telekinetic and telepathic powers, and apparently have an easier time crossing to other universes.
    • Olivia demonstrated pyrokinesis in an event during the drug testing in her childhood, in which she used her mind to char and incinerate most of the room she was in.
    • In the season 2 finale, one of the now-adult children on whom Bell and Bishop performed experiments has a short-lived role and demonstrates strong pyrokinesis; she is able to create balls of fire with her mind and throw them.
  • Ghost Whisperer: Melinda plays with this by claiming she isn't a psychic, and honestly compared to Allison's powers she's quite limited: she can't see the future at all, psychic dreams and postcognition are directly caused by spirits, and psychometry only works on items related to the ghost-of-the-week. Her "partner" Eli James is even more limited: he can only hear spirits after a near-death experience and surprisingly her husband Jim has no powers at all despite actually dying, taking over a new body, and dying again, although it did bring his memory back.
  • Oddly enough, an episode of Gilligan's Island has our castaways discovering a plant whose seeds give them mind-reading powers. Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Haunting of Hill House: All of the Crain women have some psychic abilities, though Theo's is the most potent.
  • Heroes has several characters with Psychic Powers, among them a mind-reader, a precognitive painter, and a man who can delete memories and "damper" other characters' powers by creating a psychic static. In fact, it's implied all the characters' powers are technically Psychic Powers, as the "seat of power" is universally in the brain.
  • JAG: "Psychic Warrior" deals with a Navy Intelligence experiment on remote viewing in which one of the test subjects committed suicide.
  • Examples from Lost:
    • Desmond, who can see the future after the implosion of the hatch, and later can travel in time by jumping into his past self, though involuntarily.
    • Walt, whose powers were never quite explained, but there were several hints-most notably the time he was trying to get everyone to look at a picture of a bird in a book. When no one looked... a bird of that species promptly hit the window and died.
    • Numerous smaller examples, such as the psychic from Claire's flashbacks who claimed in Eko's flashback to be a fraud. But his daughter had a prophetic dream of Eko's brother Yemi.
    • And then there's Miles, who can hear dead people's thoughts, but only the last thoughts they had before death.
  • Corporal "Radar" O'Reilly from M*A*S*H gets his nickname from either some form of clairvoyance ("able to tell things before they happen") or telepathy (the ability to read other characters' minds), although the original movie-character simply had super-acute hearing.
  • Medium: precognition, postcognition, psychometry, communicating with ghosts, empathy/telepathy, and the ability to be possessed by ghosts. The show is inspired by the real-life Allison Dubois, who claims to be a medium.
  • A running joke on The Mentalist is someone asking Patrick Jane if he has these, only for him to state that psychics don't exist. He "reads" people by observing details about their wardrobe, surroundings, and/or nonverbal tics. This doesn't stop anyone on either side of the fourth wall from asking questions.
    • Shawn Spencer does the same thing on Psych, except he doesn't mind grabbing the Phony Psychic trope with both hands and giving it a big, warm, wet kiss in every episode. Even if doing so freaks everyone else out. Which only makes it even more hilarious.
  • On My Favorite Martian, Martin the Martian had a telekinetic "levitating" ability, mind-reading and the ability to become invisible. This last ability depended on his antennae being raised but neither of the other two common powers did.
  • Poltergeist: The Legacy has main characters Derek and Alex possess "The Sight", a mix of clairvoyance and precognition.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Bridge from Power Rangers S.P.D. had many of these abilities (enough to constantly be a Deus ex Machina) in a highly technological society during the year 2025. The reason he and his five teammates have "genetic powers" in the first place is explained as a laboratory accident all their parents were involved in, making the kids technical Mutants. One of his teammates, Sam, gets both teleportation and apportation as a power as well. The other four get abilities far less supernatural in design.
    • Trip from Power Rangers Time Force (and, like Bridge, a Green Ranger, but from much further in the future) is from a race of aliens called Xybrians. All Xybrians are empathetic and telepathic to the point where lying is completely impossible on their planet, and thus completely alien to Trip. He's also shown some precognitive abilities.
  • Seeing Things is the cases of an Intrepid Reporter who has an uncontrolled power of postcognition, that only occurs around incidents of murder.
  • Sliders had an episode where they landed on an Earth where 10 percent of the population have some kind of psychic ability. People are tested at a young age and then guided towards professions where their talents would do the most good (doctors, law enforcement, etc). Psychics first gained public prominence after one foresaw the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and warned him about it. In gratitude, the President established the office of the Prime Oracle. When the protagonists go to a hospital with a hurt leg, a doctor passes her hands over the leg and determines that there are fractures. Naturally being skeptical, they ask if an x-ray is required, causing the doctor to look at them in confusion and ask what an x-ray is. It looks like certain techs were simply never developed due to psychics being able to substitute for them.
  • Space: Above and Beyond: Subverted. Damphousse is seemingly able to predict the presence of an ambush, and is investigated by Navy intelligence. However, the investigation exposes the Wild Cards to a lot of unnecessary risks, and ends up being inconclusive but with the bulk of the gathered data indicating that Damphousse's "prediction" was more about good situational awareness and justifiable caution rather than any psychic ability.
  • In the Stargate-verse, anyone approaching Ascention develops abilities, which may be different from person to person. Ancients also had Healing Hands. Daniel and Rodney temporarily get Mind over Matter at different points. Rodney also gets telepathy and the above-mentioned healing. Adria has more advanced powers. The Wraith have limited telepathy and a Hive Mind of sorts. Anyone with Wraith DNA is also able to tap into the Hive Mind, although possession is a possibility. Earlier examples are collectively known as Hok'tar (slang for "advanced human") and include Cassandra (electric sense and magnetic manipulation) and Khalek (telepathy and telekinesis). There was also a whole village of psychic mutants created by Nirrti. She also temporarily gives Jonas precognition (another character had the same ability in Atlantis).
  • Star Trek: The Betazoid race is entirely telepathic; Counselor Troi, a half-Betazoid, is an empath, implying that "empathy" is a "lesser" telepathy. She can use mind-speech when she wants to though.
    • The Vulcans also have telepathy, including the mind meld and the pon farr wedding bond. All Vulcans have a slight telepathic connection to one another, such that when 400 of them die in "The Immunity Syndrome", Spock is immediately aware of it. They have hints of true telepathy; in "The Omega Glory," Spock uses telepathic suggestion on one of the Yang women, to cause her to send a distress signal and save the crew.
    • Kes's species, the Ocampa, on Star Trek: Voyager also had some telepathy, as did Species 8472. Kes later developed powerful telekinesis.
    • At least one Vorta on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was telekinetic. The other Vorta never demonstrated any such ability.
    • On Star Trek: The Next Generation, a genetically-altered species of children were also telekinetic— even at the molecular level, to the point that their immune-systems would eradicate harmful germs at a distance.
    • In ''Plato's Stepchildren", the crew not only encounters super-powerfully telekinetic race of enemy aliens, but Kirk learns how to become even more powerful than they are, and so defeats them using telekinesis. He also states that the Federation can acquire such powers any time "in a matter of hours."
    • In "The Cage/The Menagerie", a race called "Talosians" were able to read minds and project illusions that were indistinguishable from if they were real.
    • A couple episodes of the original series showed that a small fraction of humans have psychic powers. This idea was quietly dropped in The Next Generation and later series.
  • Supernatural
    • As far as humans go, the show has generic clairvoyant psychics Pamela Barnes and Missouri Mosely as well as the Special Children, a gaggle of young adults with psychic abilities of varying usefulness.
    • Demons generally have telekinesis and can read the memories of their host when they possess them.
    • Angels have telekinesis as well, and are implied to be able to pick up surface thoughts or read parts of people's pasts by being in their presence, such as when Castiel is able to tell a woman why her father left when she was a girl, or when Balthazar is able to tell that Dean saw The Godfather twice just by looking at him. Angels also communicate with each other telepathically through "Angel Radio", and can hear prayers addressed to them and sense where the praying person is without being told their location.
    • Shapeshifters for some reason seem to have a telepathic connection of some sort with whomever they copy, as one that copies Dean is able to give Sam accurate information about a hunt that occurred years ago, despite said information never being mentioned in the shifter's presence.
  • Taken:
    • The aliens possess extensive psychic powers. Their most frequently seen power is their ability to create images of people, places and things from the memories of the humans that they come into contact with.
    • Jacob Clarke inherits some of the aliens' psychic abilities from his father John. He can see into the future to a certain extent and can show a person all of their memories and all of their fears. In both "Jacob and Jesse" and "Maintenance", it is apparent that he is aware of the existence of another person who is as important to the aliens as he is, namely Jesse, but he is unable to properly identify him. As such, he and Jesse never meet and, beyond this vague feeling on Jacob's part, never learn of each other's existence. In "Maintenance", Jacob displays the ability to create images from a person's memories in the same way as the aliens when he creates one of John in order to ease his mother Sally's suffering as she dies.
    • In "Charlie and Lisa", it is revealed that Jacob's daughter Lisa has only very limited psychic abilities. She gets a bad feeling about Eric as soon as she meets him and knows that it is connected to the alien abductions that her uncle Tom writes about without being told.
    • Lisa's own daughter Allie has even more extensive abilities than the aliens. As well as being able to tell the future and create images from people's memories, she can control animals, manipulate time, manifest thought by shaping reality to her will, make people fight each other and deactivate the implants of everyone who has been abducted by the aliens. However, as with her grandfather Jacob, using her powers too much has a negative impact on her health. In the final episode "Taken", John tells Lisa that Allie must join the aliens or she will die the next time that she uses them in a significant way.
  • That's So Raven is about a precognitive teen who can't quite master the interpretation of her visions, so Hilarity Ensues (though not a lot of it). An episode from the first season reveals that the powers are apparently a hereditary thing on her mother's side of the family, as her maternal grandmother is revealed to have the same abilities as Raven (but the powers ended up skipping Raven's mom). In one episode she also meets a group of teens with other psychic powers, though they look down on "normies" (kids without the same powers as them). And in "Leave it to Diva," Raven briefly becomes a telepath as well, when she goes through a strange illness dubbed as a "psychic cold."
    • In the spin-off/sequel series, Raven's Home, Raven's son, Booker, is revealed to have inherited her psychic abilities while her daughter, Nia (Booker's fraternal twin sister), doesn't—however, when the show was still in the planning process, Nia was originally supposed to be the one to have inherited Raven's psychic abilities instead of Booker.
  • The Tomorrow People (1973) had these courtesy of being the next stage of evolution.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): Discussed in "Death Ship". Captain Paul Ross believes that the duplicate of the E-89 containing his dead body and those of Lieutenants Ted Mason and Mike Carter is an illusion created by aliens who don't want humans to colonize their planet.
  • The Twilight Zone (2019): In "Among the Untrodden" Irene, a new student at the school, is fascinated by them and administering tests for the abilities. She and Madison are thrilled after learning that Madison's got some. Madison demonstrates telepathy and also conjurations (materializing objects). Virtually every psychic power ever claimed to exist is named by Irene early on when discussing Madison's abilities. Madison also later thinks Irena has powers. She does, in a way, as Irene's actually just Madison's imaginary friend.
  • In the 1970's sci-fi series UFO (set in the year 1980) Extra-Sensory Perception is a mental condition being treated by mainstream psychiatrists. While most sufferers adjust to its effects, the subject of the episode "E.S.P" cannot cope with knowing everything that's going to happen before it occurs. He decides to murder two of the leaders of SHADO (blaming them for the death of his wife in a UFO incident) knowing they will be helpless as he can predict their every defensive move before they can make it. He is only stopped when he realizes the aliens have been manipulating him, and so deliberately allows a third SHADO operative to shoot him.
  • Virtually all abilities you can think of have been featured on The X-Files, from astral projection to seeing the dead.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: