FANDOM


WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

In many science fiction stories, human beings, although only a minority thereof, are shown as having Magic Psychic Powers in the future. There is frequently no explanation of where these abilities could have come from between the audience's time and the setting of the show, nor, if these abilities were supposed to always have been present, why they only became accepted common knowledge, as opposed to dismissed as pseudo-science, in the future.

This is sometimes justified in story through resort to the idea of Evolutionary Levels. Compare Telepathic Spacemen, which is primarily concerned with aliens with psychic powers; the two tropes, of course, can and do appear in the same stories.

This trope may have first arisen from science fiction writers keen on initial research into claims of psychic powers in the 1960s and 1970s.

Examples of Humans Are Psychic in the Future include:

Anime & Manga

  • Toward the Terra is pretty much all about this. It's eventually revealed to be the result of genetic engineering.
  • Akira, both the manga and the anime, revolves around the ESPers, including especially the title character.
  • Psyren explains this as some kind of particle in the air that causes the human body to develop psy powers or die.
  • The Universal Century timeline of Gundam is all about this, with some people developing into what are called Newtypes and an ideological debate over whether or not they're the next stage of human evolution. The alternate universe spinoff Gundam X takes a different look at the same concept.
  • The Topless of Diebuster. Humanity is starting to evolve the abilities of its enemies. While the most talented can bend physics around them, it is still a flawed power that can be both hard to control and lost with adulthood.
  • E's Otherwise has a 'species' of human suddenly flare up with incredible psychic power, but normal humans ostracize them.


Comic Books

  • Nexus has a certain percentage of the human population as telepaths in the future. Several important characters, notably Stanislaus Korivitsky, Michana Loomis, and possibly Horatio Hellpop. Also, just about anyone who survives decapitation develops psychic abilities.
  • Judge Dredd has the Psi-Division Judges, most notably Psi-Judge Anderson.
  • In Elf Quest's future Jink and Rebels storylines, some of humans are "tweaked" for telepathy because the now-hidden elves allegedly possessed it. It's later revealed in the 'present day' storyline that the human Shuna can send to other humans after decades in proximity to the elves and their Palace.
  • X-Men and similar x-titles portray their mutants as the next stage in human evolution. One of the most common abilities in mutants is telepathy since that will be the most likely outcome of humanity.

Film

  • Star Wars is only sort of an example, since, while certainly being a futuristic setting, it is technically set "a long time ago".
  • Starship Troopers, especially the film version. To quote an ad that's shown on the TV: "If you think you're psychic ... maybe you are!"
  • The Last Mimzy
  • In The Black Hole, Dr. Kate McCrae is revealed early on in the film to have ESP.
  • Beneath The Planet of the Apes, although technically they're *mutant* humans.

Literature

  • Known Space has a plethora of telepathic species, which include humans and dolphins by 2105.
  • Anne McCaffrey's Pegasus books feature psychics who have been proven psychic by means of a "Goosegg" test that measures the relevant brainwaves.
  • Used Dune as one of the many effects of the spice Melange.
  • Alfred Bester:
    • The Demolished Man, with its espers, may be the trope-maker.
    • Also, his The Stars My Destination also has just about everyone able to learn to teleport, or "jaunte" from point to point, with various personal limitations. As well as a very few who can transmit and/or receive thoughts.
  • Despite being a "hard" science fiction writer, Robert A. Heinlein has many of his stories with some kind of psychic powers.
  • Pretty much the entire point of Julian May's Galactic Milieu novels, where having every member of a species being psychic is the main criteria for entry into Galactic civilization (and the fact that humans were let in before this point causes all sorts of trouble.)
  • In James White's Sector General series, humanity has telepathic potential... in its evolutionary history. Human development took some steps toward it, but never got all the way and the capacity is now atrophied and useless. When some characters get contacted through it, the feeling is compared to having a wire brush taken to one's brain.
  • Isaac Asimov went down this route with the Mule, the Second Foundation, Gaia, and, in a much different way (less mind reading/control more telekinesis) the Solarians.
    • The Mule was justified as a mutation when he appeared but later retconned into an outcast of Gaia.
    • The Second Foundation was justified in that the entire purpose of the Second Foundation was a deep understanding of human psychology on both the personal and civilization levels, so they developed the ability (and technology) to screw with minds and keep Seldon's plan in motion.
    • Forget how Gaia was justified, Except for the part where robots did it.
    • And the Solarians' developed genetic modification and personal separation to such an extent that their modified brains can harness the thermal energy of the massive amounts of land each individual has in order to convert it into other forms of energy.
  • The Horseclans novels by Robert Adams have this for humans...also horses, cats, and whales.
  • The novel Riadan has most humans evolving the ability to communicate telepathically. In fact, the youngest generation shown develops other abilities, such as levitation and teleportation. Kinda makes it difficult for parents to ground them, doesn't it?
  • Andre Norton's Moonsinger series used this: in the first book, narrator Krip wonders suspiciously if the fellow he's talking to is esper -- but doesn't seem to think it's at all odd to probe with his own esper powers. In the second book, someone takes a reading and comments that Krip's psychic ability level is seven; the people who knew him are startled, because he was "only" a level five a fairly short time ago. The phrasing, by the way, makes clear that five is considered pretty high.
    • The main character of Star Rangers comes from a planet where, apparently, the average level of psychic power was "six point six." This is implied to be almost scarily high. It may have contributed to politicians/bureaucrats from a less-gifted world deciding to blast the hero's homeworld.
  • In Enchantress From the Stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl, human societies go through three stages that boil down to childhood(which would basically be before modern science), adolecence, and adulthood. During the "adulthood" of a society, they learn how to communicate through telepathy.
  • Arthur C. Clarke's novel Childhoods End has all of the world's children slowly becoming psychic and forming a hive mind capable of making rivers flow upstream and changing the moon's rotation speed.
  • In Lisanne Norman's Sholan Alliance, human telepaths weren't recognised until the Terrans met the Sholans, a certain percentage of which have psi abilites.
  • Ursula Le Guin made telepathy a part of Ekumen society in The Left Hand of Darkness, but dropped the idea in the Hainish Cycle books written later because she decided it was too implausible.

Live Action TV

  • Babylon 5 had the PsiCorps, the Orwellian organization that regulated and policed human telepaths, and the much rarer telekinetics. Justified in this case because the psychic members of humanity and other species had been Touched by Vorlons about a hundred years before. Occasionally a subject of comment, "As You Know, people suddenly gained telepathic powers about a hundred years ago.
  • Stargate SG-1 had a storyline wherein humans were evolving (slowly) towards a telepathic, telekinetic 'superhuman' state, and in a number of episodes, a few characters get pushed forwards into this state - temporarily, since the awesome mind-powers tend to come with drawbacks attached.
    • This evolutionary step actually happened to the Ancients first, so, as they are a past evolution of humans, it's sort of "Humans Were Psychic In The Past".
  • In Firefly, and, by extension, in the film Serenity, River Tam turns out to have been given psychic powers. There are some implications in the R. Tam Sessions that River had psychic abilities before she went to the Academy, but that the Academy's work greatly enhanced them.
  • In the Star Trek pilot (the second one, "Where No Man Has Gone Before") it's apparently a routine thing for people in the future to be tested for ESP, and their ESP quotient is on file along with more mundane statistics such as height, weight and age. This was never seen again, though.

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40000 has psykers, who serve many vital roles throughout the Imperium. Additionally, psychic power largely plays the role that magic does in Warhammer Fantasy Battles.
    • Also characteristically made Grimdark. Psykers, when left untrained, are prone to things such as insanity up to possession; it is mentioned in the fluff that psykers, allowed to experiment with their powers on more liberal worlds, opened the way to demonic invasions that contributed to the end the first human empire.
    • Also notable that the training process for most psykers often lead them to become: Astropaths, who often lose their eyes and are responsible for the setting's faster-than-light communication; members of the Holy Ordos of the Inquisition; or Sanctioned Psykers of the Imperial Guard. Not to mention the other races' psykers and the Chaos psykers.
  • White Wolf RPGs Aberrant and Trinity, set in basically the same continuity, have this in two flavors. Humans can become one of two "species", Novas or Psions. The former are really powerful and have a variety of superhuman abilities, but are prone to all the negative power tropes, including The Corruption and Power Degeneration, collectively known as "Taint". Psions are less powerful and have narrower sets of abilities, but are also far more stable. Though both existed at the same time, novas had a big surge of unexplained "eruptions" in the early 21st century and then sharply tapered off their "birth rate" (even as the bulk of their number were kicked off Earth), effectively being replaced by latent psions.
  • In Traveller psionics is forbidden in the Imperium but embraced among Zhodani.
  • GURPS Psionics comes with a table full of possible explanations for the GM. Ranging from Broken Masquerades to frisky aliens. It advises to leave them unexplained unless they're plot-related.
  • Many citizens of Alpha Complex in Paranoia have psychic powers of some kind, or some other mutant weirdness going on. Rather than simply fail to explain where these powers come from, the game offers quite a lot of different explanations from radiation to design.

Video Games

  • In Mass Effect, humans can become "biotics" (telekinetics) through in-utero exposure to a certain chemical and a brain implant. Other species have naturally-occurring biotics (but still need the implants).
    • The Asari are the oldest spacefaring species that's still around, and they're all biotic. Tali idly wonders whether the other species will be the same way in a few thousand years.
  • Psionic abilities are a researchable technology in the Master of Orion games. May be this and Telepathic Spacemen, though, as it's available to all races, not just humans.
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog series, Silver the Hedgehog is from 200 years in the future, and has psychic powers for no adequately-explained reason.
  • In Starcraft the frequency and potency of human psychics is supposed to be greater in the future (than the current 0) and an impending commonality of psychic abilities in humans is why the Zerg want to assimilate them before taking on the Protoss, or to somehow free themselves from the Dark Voice.
  • Similar to Mobile Suit Gundam below, Super Robot Wars has Psychodrivers.
  • Used with dolphins in Ecco the Dolphin.
  • In Star Control, there is mention of esper ratings on human members of the crew.
  • One of the three playable factions in Sins of a Solar Empire are the Advent, an offshoot of humanity that possesses psychic powers.
  • Researching human capability for psionic (psychic) capabilities is one of the focuses of UFO: Enemy Unknown. Aliens that attack have psionic powers that can ruin entire squads with just one psionic attack, and developing countermeasures is a major focus of the game. It can get to the point that you can outright obliterate an entire UFO full of aliens with just one man sitting in the cargo hold of your transport, simply by psionically taking over enemy aliens, and having them kill each other off, all while you remain unharmed.
  • Subverted in OtherSpace, where the human-derived Laters are often immune to psionics, and a few can actually negate nearby psionic activity.

Western Animation

  • Batman Beyond: There is an entire organization of people with naturally-occurring psychic powers, not to mention that Willie Watt's telekinesis was treated in an oddly normal manner, although he wasn't born with it.

Real Life

  • This may become Truth in Television with the aid of brain implants and radio signals, although this possibility has more in common with the Magic From Technology trope. Basically, you put radios into two peoples' heads and hook them up to their nervous systems. If you do it right, the two people can trade thoughts and ideas through the radio without the need to talk. Recent advances in brain scanning have given this idea new hope. It can only work between people who have the implants though, not to a person who doesn't.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.