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"Where did I come from? Where will I go? Not for me to know."

The Fatalist is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a character who believes everything that happens is destined to happen and there is no way to escape it. They probably spend a lot of time telling the Determinator that You Can't Fight Fate and to Know When to Fold 'Em - in vain.

Sometimes they keep this attitude to the end, but sometimes they change once somebody proves to them that they can Screw Destiny.

And yes, the root here is referring to "fate" not "fatal" but don't think about it too hard.

When using these kinds of people as villains, expect some overlap with Nietzsche Wannabe (they in particular tend to combine this with Finagle's Law and Cosmic Horror Story). There are however heroic versions of this, especially if they are accepting that fate may be demanding a Heroic Sacrifice from them.

Examples of The Fatalist include:


Anime and Manga

  • Neji, before Naruto beats the fatalism out of him.
  • Saiou/Sartorius in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX.
    • Ishizu Ishtar in the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, too. Her tune changed when Kaiba effectively gave her foresight the finger and stil won the duel.
    • And in 5D's, The Dark Signers love ranting about fate during their duels.
  • Rika from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni.
  • Urawa/Greg from his one two appearances in Sailor Moon, and so much more so in the Shivaverse
  • Kakyo in X 1999.
    • Kakyo is an interesting case, since he can see the future and knows it'll be bad. The entire X1999 saga is about the great lengths a small group of people go to in an effort to change the foreseen future.
  • Blackbeard from One Piece is a rare example of a fatalist who believes he himself is bound for a great fate.
    • There's also Basil Hawkins, who is actually quite Badass. Fortunately, he doesn't waste time trying to convince other people of his point of view. He usually just does whatever his cards tell him has the highest probability of success, no matter how outrageous it may seem. And he hasn't been wrong yet.
      • Just to make an example. Marine Admiral Kizaru (the world's fastest man, who is also nigh invulnerable, and a person of mass destruction) turned up looking to arrest him. He calculated that he would survive, and then that the best option was to attack. And he got away almost entirely unharmed
  • Yuuko Ichihara from XxxHolic believes in everything being subject to "hitsuzen", a Japanese term usually translated as "inevitability."
  • Justy Ueki Tylor, title character of Irresponsible Captain Tylor believes this, going so far as to point out "when it's time to lose you lose no matter what you do." However, unlike many here he turns this towards a positive end: If it doesn't matter what you do, then you may as well do what you want and things will work themselves out.
  • Shouma from Mawaru Penguindrum. Especially in Episode 12.

Comic Books

  • Batman: This is Two-Face's philosophy, represented by his habit of flipping a coin to decide what he does. This is in direct opposition to the philosophy he had as Harvey Dent.
  • In Watchmen, Doctor Manhattan embraces this viewpoint. It's justified, though -- he takes this view because he can see the future himself. And the past. And every point in time simultaneously.
    • It's amazing he's as calm as he is.
      • That's because he knew he'd be calm, having seen himself being calm in the future.
    • Which actually creates a bit of a paradox in that Dr. Manhattan is repeatedly shown as reacting emotionally to events he already knew would happen... because he knew he would react that way upon hearing the news for the "first" time since he thinks in all times simultaneously.
      • By the time he was getting emotional, he was already being affected by the tachyons, impairing his vision of his future.
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin once proclaims himself to be a fatalist, so he could blame the bad things he does on fate. Hobbes promptly trips him over, saying: "Too bad you were fated to do that."

Film

  • Achilles in Troy (along with Hector and most of the other characters from the Iliad).

 I'll tell you a secret. Something they don't teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we're mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we're doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.

  • The Huntsman in The Tenth Kingdom is a villainous example, but with a reason: if he didn't believe in fate, he'd have to accept that his own actions led directly to the death of his son.
  • War Games

 "Now, children, come on over here. I'm going to tell you a bedtime story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. Once upon a time, there lived a magnificent race of animals that dominated the world through age after age. They ran, they swam, and they fought and they flew, until suddenly, quite recently, they disappeared. Nature just gave up and started again. We weren't even apes then. We were just these smart little rodents hiding in the rocks. And when we go, nature will start again. With the bees, probably. Nature knows when to give up, David."

  • Smith in The Matrix films, especially after absorbing The Oracle and gaining her foresight, which reveals that he will defeat Neo. In the end, Neo resigns himself to the fact that Smith must defeat him in order for peace to be established between Zion and the machines. Smith was right that he would defeat Neo in battle, but he didn't realize until it was too late how that would lead to his own demise.

Literature

  • Rand al'Thor, The Dragon Reborn in The Wheel of Time, increasingly becomes this. His mounting insanity does not help raise his mood or help his not seeing things this way, as one might expect. More and more he sees his death, and even his withdrawing from the things that made him human, as inevitable consequences of who he is, and himself as just a slave to the Pattern. Once his prolonged psychotic break enters its worse phase, he briefly overlaps with Nietzsche Wannabe as he contemplates just ending the cycle of suffering and apparent meaningless, by destroying the world. He manages to get a little better. Whether it sticks, we will just have to wait and see.
    • Actually, pretty recurrent in the series:

  The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills.

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany plays this trope oddly for two reasons. First, it's the title character and Messianic Archetype who fulfills this role. Second, he's right.
  • The Dragon in Grendel is one of these, due to being omniscient. It makes him grouchy, sarcastic, and cynical rather than the standard Zen approach, though.
  • Sue in The Chronoliths becomes one of these at the very end.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "The Phoenix on the Sword", Conan the Barbarian describes his own people like, from living in Grim Up North.
    • In "Xuthal In The Dusk", the inhabitants of Xuthal put up with being picked off by Thog because of this.
  • In an Exactly What It Says on the Tin example, the eponymous Jacques the Fatalist of Denis Diderot's philosophical novel. Jacques is an unusual example of this, somewhat like a positive take on Pangloss' "best of all possible worlds" philosophy in Candide. Jacques believes that everything that happens in one's life is already written on high, and thus he enjoys positive things and reacts with stoicism toward negative ones, because he believes that everything that happens is unavoidable.

Live Action TV

  • In Heroes, Isaac Mendez eventually develops this viewpoint.
  • Lost: Several characters, but most noteably John Locke. "This is my destiny, dammit!"
  • Supernatural: Castiel and just about all of the angels and demons (but mostly the angels).
  • Delenn in Babylon 5 is a heroic version.

Music

  • Protoman, from The Protomen's eponymous Act I album. The twist here being that he wants with every fibre of his being to be proven wrong.

Mythology

Tabletop Games

  • The Fated in the Dungeons and Dragons setting Planescape are a bit of a subversion. They claim to believe in the ultimate fate that no one can alter, but what they actually seem to believe in is not helping others (and, conversely, not expecting help themselves). They still strive to achieve things, though: if they succeed, then they were fated to do so and, if not, they've no business complaining about it.
  • Mechanists from Genius: The Transgression take this trope to its logical conclusion, and will commit hideous atrocities without remorse because they're not responsible, destiny is.
  • In Magicthegathering this is Gwafa Hazid's justification.

Theatre

  • The protagonist of Kismet. "Kismet" means fate.

Truth in Television

  • 'Stonewall' Jackson was legendary for being as steady as a 'stone wall' in battle, even under cannon fire. He is quoted as saying "May mine and I, by God's grace, stand like a stone wall before the onslaught of the enemy, trusting that we are as safe on the battlefield as we are in our beds." believing that he would die whenever God willed it.
    • And of course any devout follower of a religion who believes similarly.
  • German philosopher Oswald Spengler (author of the non-fiction book The Decline of the West) was one and wrote a lot about it.
    • Spengler was fatalistic only in the largest sense. He believed that the general path of each civilization was pretty much set, with a given cycle going through recognizable stages, much like the recognizable stages in the growth, life, and death of an individual. He believed that the fine details were quite flexible, however. For ex, as Spengler saw it, the coming of a figure who would be to Western Civilization what Augustus Caesar was to Greco-Roman society might be inevitable, but who that figure was, what kind of person he would be, and the details of the coming empire, were quite open to determination.

Video Games

  • Kratos from Tales of Symphonia. Amusingly, his fatalist views are aligned towards helping the greatest Determinator in the game.
  • Wilhelm from Xenosaga. On the other hand, he's made the Eternal Recurrance take place countless times before...
  • In the Legacy of Kain series, Kain at first seems this way to Raziel, who actually uses the term to describe him. Of course, it turns out he seems this way because he's watched the whole timeline and has it memorized, so he knows exactly what's going to happen and is waiting for the exact moment to Screw Destiny.
  • Xan, the chronically depressed elven mage from Baldur's Gate, leaves no doubt about how doomed he thinks he, the other party members, their quests and their goals are. Many players find him darkly funny, to the point that when he was Demoted to Extra in the sequel, fans made a Game Mod that made him a playable character again.
  • Uhai the Soaring Hawk from Fire Emblem joins the Black Fang because he's sure that The End of the World as We Know It is coming and he can't do anything to avoid it.
  • Garland is given this characterisation in Dissidia Final Fantasy. He is one of the few characters in the game who's aware of the Groundhog Day Loop they're all stuck in, and has been completely broken by the endless repetition of divine war. He's resigned to become a Blood Knight, because enjoying the conflict is all he has left to his life, and the mere suggestion that the cycle can be broken drives him furious, because he refuses to believe in false hope.
  • The Fateweavers in Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning are able to see the threads of fate, but have no power to actually change them, so it's understandable that they would adopt a You Can't Fight Fate mindset. That all changes when The Fateless One appears.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation

  • The townsfolk in "The Fortuneteller" in Avatar: The Last Airbender, who all believe Aunt Wu's foretellings with such certainty that they calmly walk into the maw of great danger.
    • Interestingly the townsfolk suffered from an upbeat form of fatalism. Because Aunt Wu’s  fortunes always predicted a happy ending (except for Sokka’s) the townsfolk felt they never actually had to do anything to ensure those outcomes, not even after Aang motivated them into action to save the village from a volcano.
    • To an extent, Zuko in the first two seasons, continuously obsessed about his "destiny", and despite hardly knowing what that means, choosing it over his happiness, sanity, and family.
  • In the fourth season of Teen Titans, Raven believes that nothing she does can stop her father Trigon from entering the world. She forgets that the only way he can even get to Earth is with her cooperation.

  Raven: It has already begun. And there is no stopping what is meant to be.

    • Raven knows full well Trigon needs her cooperation- but she also believes that, ultimately, she'll be forced to give it, because it's fated she'll do so.
  • Korso in Titan A.E. is like this. Fortunately, the character does a Heel Face Turn after being proven wrong. Unfortunately, Redemption Equals Death.
  • Beast Wars deconstructs this with Dinobot, specifically during Season 2. When he discovers that they've been fighting on Earth All Along and steals the Golden Disc, he begins to ponder whether the future it shows is the only path available to him. He then ponders whether he should destroy them, but deduces this as cowardly and chooses to unlock the truth before anything else happens. Later, after witnessing Megatron using the disc to "test" whether the future can be changed - by destroying a mountain recorded, which prompty is erased from the Disc's records - he has his answer that the future isn't set in stone. He prompty chooses to accept his fate anyway, because while he could choose to defy his fate, his strong sense of pride and honour dictates that he can't do so, having given Megatron back the disk in the first place. So, knowing that he will almost certainly die, he faces down all the Predacons in a Dying Moment of Awesome Heroic Sacrifice, saving the (proto-humans (the ancestors of the human race) in the process.
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