Foundation

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The "Foundation Trilogy" is a classic collection of science fiction stories by the author Isaac Asimov: Foundation, Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation. Famous mathematician Hari Seldon creates the science of "psychohistory", which can be used to predict the broad sweep of humanity's future. Said future is not looking good: the Galactic Empire in which Seldon lives is in terminal decline, with nothing to follow but barbarism for the next thirty thousand years. In order to accelerate a return to civilization, Seldon and his followers establish two Foundations to preserve human knowledge, at "opposite ends" of the galaxy. In order to keep its actions predictable, the first of these colonies originally has no idea of Seldon's real plan, but is banished from the imperial capital Trantor to the planet Terminus on the remote edge of the galaxy, there officially assigned to compose an encyclopedia of all human knowledge. The Second Foundation remains nearly forgotten, cloaked in secrecy.

As the decades pass and their power grows, the leaders of "the" Foundation time and again find themselves facing a major crisis, usually having to do with their relationships with the semi-barbarous star systems which surround them, the political rubble left behind by the Empire's ongoing collapse. Seldon's "Plan" dictates that each crisis will force events down one inevitable path, which will invariably cause a drastic change in both the Foundation itself and its relationship with the nations surrounding it. During these Crises, the long-dead Seldon always steps in with a recorded message telling the current generation of Foundationers what they need to hear (or a summary of the recent past), as he has predicted it decades previously. All goes well, at least as far the Foundation is concerned, until a very singular individual nicknamed "The Mule" suddenly appears on the galactic scene...

Asimov also wrote three "Empire novels": Pebble in the Sky, The Stars, Like Dust and The Currents of Space, each set at various points during the long stretch of history when humanity reaches out from Earth, and a Galactic Empire rises to power. These were originally written as a separate trilogy but later acknowledged to be about the same Empire that appears in the Foundation series.

Then there's Asimov's "Robot" series, featuring the famous "Three Laws of Robotics". Mostly composed of short stories exploring the various relationships between robots and their human creators, which, despite the robots essentially being benevolent and altruistic, develop into a human-robot conflict as certain exceptional robots learn to transcend the laws that keep them in servitude, inventing a "0th Law" which puts them under the jurisdiction of humanity rather than individual humans.

The Foundation series was continued almost 30 years later with two books, Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth both set in the same era and following the adventures of Foundationer Golan Trevize, who is joined by historian Janov Pelorat in a search for humanity's origin planet, Earth (actually a secret search for the Second Foundation). The issue with the Second Foundation and a mysterious third power called Gaia is resolved at the end of the fourth book, and the pair gains a new companion (and love interest for Pelorat) in the telepathic Gaian, Bliss. The fifth book details the search for Earth and concludes with a Twist Ending, where it is confirmed that the heroes are in the same universe as the Empire and Robot books. This was further elaborated on in the final Robot book, Robots and Empire.

Unable to come up with a continuation, Asimov instead turned to prequels. Prelude to Foundation chronicles the youth of Hari Seldon and contains further explicit ties to the Robot series. The final book, Forward the Foundation is about Seldon's final days as he attempts to perfect his theory and deal with his unwilling entry into politics, even he is slowly losing everyone important to him. As Asimov wrote the book shortly before his death it is noticeably different from the rest of the series, with Seldon becoming Asimov's literary alter ego.

After Asimov's death, three of his fellow sci-fi writers, Gregory Benford, Greg Bear, and David Brin, each wrote a book in a trilogy detailing more of the younger Seldon's adventures: Foundation's Fear, Foundation and Chaos and Foundation's Triumph. In addition, several Foundation short stories can be found in the tribute anthology Foundation's Friends.

The exact point at which this all drifts into Fanon Discontinuity, if ever, is up to the individual reader.

According to the Word of God (from George Lucas), the Empire in the Star Wars films was based on the Foundation Empire (and in fact, Asimov advised Lucas in the creation phase), which is clearly seen when you look at the two imperial capitals, Trantor and Coruscant.

Apparently, Roland Emmerich, of all people, is planning on making a film trilogy out of the first three books. Back in the 70's, the BBC did a Radio Drama adaptation which can be found on the Internet Archive.


Tropes used in Foundation include:
  • Absent Aliens: Humanity is the only sentient species in the galaxy. Unless you count robots, Gaians, or Solarians.
    • The first of which was created by humans, while the other two are descended from humans.
    • Explained by one of the (written by other authors after Asimov's death) books. the Zeroth law only applies to Humans. The robots killed off every other species in the galaxy remotely able to ever threaten humans. Of course, that never happened.
      • It's also hinted at in Foundation and Earth.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Janov Pelorat. (One of the few realistically presented examples.)
  • Agony Beam: The Neuronic Whip, which directly stimulates nerve receptors.
  • All According to Plan: Seldon does this from beyond the grave.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Seldon Plan and/or the Second Foundation.
  • Ancient Tradition: Ditto.
  • Artifact Title: In-universe example with "The Foundation". Originally called the Encyclopedia Foundation, it was an NGO focusing on publishing the total sum of the Empire's knowledge. While it did eventually do that (sort of), The Foundation began to focus on it's true purpose, and became a empire of its own.
  • Assimilation Plot: Galaxia in the late sequels.
  • Atom Punk: Everything progressive in the universe runs on Nucleics, from home appliances to starships.
  • Badass Bookworm: Hari Seldon, whose home planet of Helicon is noted for its martial arts.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: At one point, the Foundation creates its own techno-religion to manipulate the populace of its neighbors. It's noted that the Foundation didn't mean to make a religion, that just turned out to be the best way to get their extremely backwards, unscientific neighbors to accept modern technology again. You can almost see the anonymous Foundationer creating the religion off-screen when he finally slaps his forehead and cries A Wizard Did It.
  • Black and Gray Morality: The good guys, the Second Foundation are essentially Knight Templar Totalitarian Utilitarians who will do anything to make the prophecies of Hari Seldon come true. And yet, in this setting they really are better than most of their opponents.
  • Bleed'Em and Weep: A woman shoots a friend in order to stop him from talking (It Makes Sense in Context). Then she cries for the first time since her childhood
  • Brainwashed: Victims of both The Mule and the Second Foundation.
  • The Butler Did It: In the last Foundation novel, Forward the Foundation (posthumously published) Emperor Cleon I, who was later considered the last emperor under whom the Empire prospered, was assassinated at age 50 by none other than his gardener Gruber who was distressed about his appointment to be the Head Gardener, as that was a desk job and he would be taken away from the outdoors.
  • The Chessmaster: Seldon, and then the Second Foundation, and finally R. Daneel Olivaw
  • Common Tongue: Galactic Standard serves this purpose, though dialects have arisen.
  • Conflict Killer: Right in the middle of the Empire's final collapse, when the Second Foundation isn't expecting it, The Mule arises out of nowhere.
  • Continuity Nod: The Encyclopedia Galactica, used mostly as an Encyclopedia Exposita, also had a minor appearance as the official purpose of the First Foundation. Also some of the Unusual Euphemisms. If you read carefully, there is even a nod to The End of Eternity.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: The death of Prince Lepold's father in a hunting accident in Foundation, arranged by Wienis.
  • Crew of One: Many of the smaller ships in the series, and Trevize's in particular.
  • Dashed Plotline: Each book is spread out over several years, sometimes even multiple centuries
  • Deadly Upgrade: A scientist character whose ability to make intuitive logical leaps was overclocked in this way by an emotion-controlling telepath, which brought him to the brink of death.
  • Deconstruction: Of pulp era space operas. Instead of dashing heroics and swashbuckling, Asimov created a space opera where the heroes use their wits and intelligence to get out of problems. Indeed, the author goes so far that the individuals themselves don't save the day, but historical forces are what do (sometimes beyond the protagonists' control).
    • At least this is true early on. The telepathic heroes of the later books sort of undermine that point.
  • Defictionalization: Psycho-History, the statistical science developed to maturity by Hari Seldon to predict the development of human society over time, became a genuine field of scientific study based on the principles laid down by Asimov. There is no expectation that it will ever become as accurate or finite as within Foundation, but the principles and guidelines are the same. See The Other Wiki.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: An interesting case. The Mule has conquered the First Foundation, and the Seldon Plan seems to be lying in ruins. All he needs to do is learn the location of the Second Foundation, destroy it, and then no force in all the galaxy will be able to oppose him. And he's seconds away from gaining the last piece of the puzzle, because he's duped Ebling Mis into decoding Seldon's nearly-incomprehensible coded notes. Then Bayta Darrell kills Mis when he's seconds away from revealing what he knows to the Mule. What makes this so dramatic is that no one except Bayta knows that the Mule is the Mule. Everyone else thinks he's just plain old Magnifico. He's kept his identity secret by using his psychic powers to keep them from putting two and two together. But he couldn't bring himself to do so in Bayta's case because she's the only person who's ever genuinely LIKED him.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: It turns out that Magnifico was The Mule!.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Mayor Branno of Terminus. She alone was able to uncover the conspiracy of the Second Foundation, and fought to destroy it and return control of the non-telepathic humans to their own government. She managed to fight them to a draw ... and then they both got steamrolled by Gaia.
  • Downer Ending: Lathan Devers' story turns out to be this. His efforts to bring down Bel Riose turns out to be unnecessary and without impact, and while he is honored for them nonetheless, The Mule reveals that he made a failed attempt at rebellion against the Merchant Princes and ended his days slaving in mines.
  • Earth-That-Was: By the time of the original story, the Earth is unknown, and the "origin question" of humanity's homeworld is little more than a conversation starter at parties.
    • Notably, the character who mentions this has doubts that Sol may be where Humanity originated [1]
  • The Empath: The Mule became a Big Bad because he's able to brainwash his enemies into completely loyal servants.
  • The Empire: Collapsing and corrupt, but still not as overtly evil as some examples of this trope. The Roman Empire supplied Asimov with his major inspiration.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: The Encyclopedia Galactica, which may well be the Trope Codifier.
  • Everybody Smokes: Due to the time they were written in. Still, it is remarkable to see Indbur III, well-meaning but ineffectual dictator of the most powerful state in the galaxy, mocked because he is a non-smoker who does not allow smoking in his private office. If you are the ruler of an empire spanning a quarter of the galaxy or so, it seems reasonable that you are the one who decides whether smoking is allowed in your office.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Both the Second Foundation and Gaia believe firmly in this.
  • Exposition of Immortality: As part of twist ending to Foundation and Earth, R. Daneel Olivaw calmly announces that yes, he is in fact twenty thousand years old. He goes on to discuss some of the events of earlier installments, making mention of Elijah Baley and other long-deceased parties.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel
  • Fictional Document: The Encyclopedia Galactica. By Foundation's Edge, Golan Trevise mentions it is now a continually updated computer archive; this was long before The Other Wiki
  • Feudal Future
  • Gambit Roulette: The Seldon Plan, which runs for a millennia and will completely fall apart if one of the numerous crises do not go as planned. Seldon was very much aware of the dangers, and so created the Second Foundation to modify the plan as needed, and to intervene directly if required, to make sure that it stayed on track.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: From Second Foundation:

"A. Darrell" would be just the sort of thing that she would have to put on all her themes for her class (...) All the other kids had to do it, too, except for Olynthus Dam, because the class laughed so when he did it the first time.

  • Gray and Grey Morality: The sequels don't take a single judgement on whether the First Foundation, Second Foundation or Gaia is the "right" way for humanity to evolve.
  • God Guise: Members of the Foundation's "religion of science", who only learn to handle technology as a sacrament. Done deliberately by the Foundation to keep them dependent on the Foundation.
    • Also, the "tech-men" of Siwenna, a hereditary sect of engineers and technicians who learned by rote and cannot actually repair anything important.
  • Global Currency: the Imperial credit, at least until the Galactic Empire falls. (Except for the one time that Asimov slipped and referred to "dollars" instead.)
  • Hegemonic Empire: Following the fall of the Galactic Empire, the Foundation wanted to create one of these by using their preserved knowledge of advanced technology as leverage against the neighboring systems.
  • Hidden Villain: The Mule.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The Second Foundation, also the Mule, AKA Magnifico
  • Hive Mind: Gaia
  • I Thought Everyone Could Do That: The Mule mentions that it took him a while to figure out that other people couldn't manipulate emotions, perhaps because, according to Foundation's Edge, he was from a planet where everyone really could do that, though he was unique in his willingness to do so without considering the well-being of the people being manipulated.
  • It Is Beyond Saving: By the time Hari Seldon created the science of psychohistory it was too late to save the Galactic Empire - at that point it was so decadent that its fall was inevitable. All he could do was to try to arrange conditions so a new Empire could rise in 1,000 years instead of 30,000.
  • Info Dump: Since each of the chapters of the original trilogy was published individually, Asimov had to find excuses to fit one into each of them. By the last story, "Search By the Foundation"/"...And Now You Don't", he Lampshaded the exposition as an actual essay written as homework by Arkady Darrell (which doubled as an Establishing Character Moment).
  • Insignificant Little Blue Planet: At the start of the series, Earth has long been forgotten. The stories set earlier in the chronology make it clear that humanity could only expand into the galaxy at large by the gradual death of its mother planet. What caused Earth's uninhabitability is a major plot point, as is itself the act of forgetting Earth.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Emperor Agis XIV, who later befriends Hari Seldon in Forward the Foundation.
  • Just the First Citizen:
    • The ruler of the First Foundation is simply the Mayor of Terminus.
    • Commdor ("First Citizen") Asper Argo [2] of the planet Korell in "The Merchant Princes". Asimov spends a paragraph to comment on the phenomenon:

Korell is that frequent phenomenon in history: the republic whose ruler has every attribute of the absolute monarch but the name. It therefore enjoyed the usual despotism unrestrained even by those two moderating influences in the legitimate monarchies: regal "honor" and court etiquette.

    • The Mule rules nearly half the Galaxy under the title "First Citizen of the Union of Worlds", while the title of the Second Foundation's leader is the First Speaker[3].
  • King Trope the Nth: The Galactic Emperors.
  • Little Stowaway: Arkady Darell
  • Last of His Kind: A significant character in Foundation and Earth.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: At least metaphorically; when The Mule dies, his empire rapidly falls apart.
  • Lost Technology: As the Empire decays, it begins to lose fundamental understanding of its own advanced technology, and instead of re-discovering the information they restrict the usage of what remains. As a result, there are few (if any) who knows how to build or maintain the tech, except for the members of the Foundation.
  • Manipulative Bastard: The Mule.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • It's implied that Cleon II specifically chose his name in memory of Cleon I, who was the last emperor under whom the Empire reached its zenith.
    • Bel Riose is loosely based on the 6th century Byzantine general, Belisarius.
    • The Mule - he is sterile.
    • Preem Palver - leader of the Second Foundation, Prime Palaver means "First Talk(er)" and his title is, in fact, First Speaker
  • Memory Gambit: Second Foundation features a very elaborate example.
  • The Milky Way Is the Only Way: This actually becomes a plot point in the later books.
  • Morton's Fork: How the Empire is defeated. A weak general of the Empire could never conquer the Foundation. If a general was strong, but the Emperor was weak, then the general wouldn't be targeting the Foundation, he'd be going after the hot seat at home. So only a strong general under a strong Emperor could be a threat to the Foundation. But as is made clear, a strong Emperor is only strong because he makes sure that he has no strong subjects. The Empire is doomed.
  • Mr. Smith: Well, Jan Smite, to be precise.
  • Multicultural Alien Planet: Trantor is barely mentioned beyond being a City Planet (and then eventually a Farm Planet after the Empire collapses and it gets sacked), but in the prequel novels it's described as a very diverse planet -- so diverse that Hari Seldon uses it as a sufficiently simplified model of the galaxy for Psychohistory.
  • Musical Assassin: An instrument/hologram generator called a Visi-Sonor can be very deadly in the proper hands.
  • NGO: The Board of Trustees wanted the Encyclopedia Foundation to remain this, believing it shouldn't be involved with any politics and focus on finishing the Encyclopedia Galactica. Too bad it was just a ruse by Seldon to force them along his plan.
    • Likewise the Foundation's religion of science was overtly this But really a tool of the Mayor.
  • NGO Superpower: The Foundation during the "Four Kingdoms" period. Wenis found out the hard way how effective their religion really was.
  • Nobody Poops: Lampshaded when Arkady Darrell sneaks aboard a ship like normally done in books... and then realizes she can't hide for long.
  • Not So Harmless: The Mule
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: In the second part of Second Foundation, Lord Stettin's mistress acts as if she's almost too dumb to breathe, but she is in fact a highly intelligent Second Foundationer planted in that situation in order to help get the Plan back on track.
    • Lord Dorwin in Foundation. Salvor Hardin commented: "I'll admit I had thought his lordship a most consummate donkey when I first met him--but it turned out that he was actually an accomplished diplomat and a most clever man." It turned out that in five days of discussion, Lord Dorwin had managed to avoid saying anything meaningful, and did it so smoothly and talkatively that no one noticed until later. (Hardin actually provided mathematical proof of this; he recorded everything Dorwin said and tried to have it analyzed, but everything cancelled out.)
  • Oh Crap: During the crisis with The Mule, the Foundation leadership awaits a recorded message from Hari Seldon to tell them how to defeat him. However, when the day arrives the message is actually about a civil war within the Foundation which didn't occur because of the threat of The Mule. Seldon is cut off mid-message as the Mule's attack on Terminus begins.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Second Foundation leadership. They're so vague that their "conversations" are rendered in the books as speech only as a favor to the reader; in actuality their communication is so advanced and subtle, involving body language and even outright telepathy, that very few words are actually spoken.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The foppish Imperial diplomat Lord Dorwin normally has a severe case of Elmuh Fudd Syndwome. When he views a book-film on archaeology during his tour of the Foundation, Salvor Hardin is amused to notice that Dorwin is so honestly excited that he "pronounced his r's".
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Double Subverted. Salvor Hardin turns science into a religion in order to make it palatable to the conquered Four Kingdoms. It's later used (increasingly unsuccessfully) to try and convert new systems to the Foundation's rule, and more or less abandoned once Hober Mallow realizes that it's served its purpose.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Hari Seldon being the most prominent example, though he recognizes his limitations (which is part of why he created the Second Foundation; he knew he wasn't perfect).
    • The Second Foundation itself; its goal is to maneuver humanity along the proper lines until humanity is "ready to accept the leadership of those trained in Mental Science." Eventually called out by Gaia, though the books don't actually have an answer to whether the First Foundation, Second Foundation or Gaia is "in the right."
  • Outside Context Villain: The Mule, who very seriously acts as a Spanner in the Works to the Seldon Plan.
  • Patchwork Story: The original trilogy are all patched together out of short stories and novellas.
  • Path of Inspiration: The "religion of science" the Foundation creates to take indirect control of the Four Kingdoms.
  • Pieces of God
  • The Plan:
    • The Seldon Plan is a very very very long-term one. There are a few smaller ones, such as Hardin's plan to eliminate Wienis, involving handing a Lost Technology battleship to the enemy and using conveniently timed sabotage to "show" the legitimacy of the "Religion of Science".
    • Prelude to Foundation: In disguise, R. Daneel Olivaw convinces Hari Seldon to run away from the Evil Chancellor...who happens to be another alias of R. Daneel Olivaw. All so he help Seldon develop psychohistory.
  • Posthumous Character: Hari Seldon, for the most part
  • The Professor (natch)
  • Pronoun Trouble: I/You/He/She/We/Gaia.
  • Psychic Static: A Foundation technical development.
  • Really Seven Hundred Years Old: R. Daneel Olivaw, though it is closer to seventeen thousand at the time the series begins.
  • Recycled in Space: The whole story is based on the decline and fall of the Roman Empire In Space, but parts are taken from other influences. Namely, the Empire in Foundation and Empire is based on the Byzantine Empire (Cleon II is Justinian I and Bel Riose is Bellisarius), the Mule is Charlemagne mixed with Tamurlane, and it could be argued that the Foundation is the United States in Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth. "The Merchants" in the original Foundation novel is based on the manifest destiny philosophy.
  • The Remnant
  • Retcon: Aside from those mentioned earlier, an in-universe example exists with the Second Foundation. Hari Seldon knew that the Seldon Plan wasn't perfect, so he charged the Second Foundation with the task of constantly revising and updating it to make sure it stayed on track. To become a full-fledged member of the Second Foundation, the initiate is required to make an original contribution to the Plan.
  • The Reveal:
    • The Second Foundation.
    • In terms of its location, Trantor, which serves as a major plot point for the second and third books, and its leader, Preem Palver.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Several examples, but probably the most blatant is the city-planet Trantor. Supposedly all ground area on it is overbuilt with a continuous city, like Coruscant in Star Wars ... but the total population is 40 billion (short scale). At a conservative estimate, the cityscape has a population density somewhat less than that of present-day Germany, so much of it must look like RoboCop's Detroit.
    • The prequels suggested that certain areas of the planet are covered by automated or nearly automated industries, which alleviates but does not solve the issue.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Demerzel deconstructs this trope in Prelude to Foundation stating that one of these would either be too vague and remote for people to care about, or so specific that it could easily prove false.
  • Series Continuity Error: After the prequels were written, incidents in the original trilogy contradict them. Specific examples:
    • Hari Seldon is able to calculate probabilities of certain instances for single people, clearly established in Forward the Foundation as impossible. This is established at the very beginning of Foundation as much, much harder than calculating for massive groups, and even then not as reliable, but not technically impossible.
    • Seldon has no bodyguard in "The Encyclopedists," nor is he a "laughingstock," as is established in Forward the Foundation.
    • There are no rebellions at the start of "The Encyclopedists," nor is there any mention of chaos and the idea of the Empire being in decay is still absurd, whereas the Empire's decay is clearly visible in Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation.
    • The Empire novels suggest that Terminus was settled before the events of Foundation, while it is established in Foundation that it was previously unsettled.
    • The Mule's origin. We get two wildly different tales in "The Mule" and in "Foundation's Edge". And both are from reliable sources.
    • In Prelude to Foundation, Eto Demerzel is Cleon's Chief of Staff, a troubleshooter who advises the emperor, but whom few people know about or have ever seen. In Forward the Foundation, he is the First Minister of the Empire, and everyone knows about him.
  • Silly Reason for War
  • Single Biome Planet: The Imperial capital Trantor, which is one vast city. (And was one of the first depictions of this idea.)
  • The Smurfette Principle: There are very few females involved in these books. In Foundation there are only two women with lines at all (and one just gasps "Oh!").
    • Arkady is only Asimov's second female protagonist, ever.
  • Society Marches On / Zeerust: The scope of the plot is epic, but the characters and technology often come across as painfully "mid-20th century American".
  • Space Amish: The Hamish of post-Fall Trantor.
  • Space Opera
  • Spanner in the Works: The Mule, although he's far more self-aware about it than some. Also see under The Butler Did It.
  • Standard Sci Fi History: The Trope Codifier, if not the Trope Maker.
  • Standard Time Units: In the Empire and Foundation novels, time is still measured in seconds, minutes, hours, and days, and the Standard Galactic calendar is a slightly modified version of the Gregorian calendar. This becomes a major plot point in one of the later Foundation novels; the length of the standard day and year are used to deduce the identity of humanity's original planet.
  • Starfish Aliens: It can be questioned whether the inhabitants of the Alpha Centauri and Solaria systems in Foundation and Earth are.
  • Thousand Year Reign
  • Title Drop: The chapters of the original trilogy were originally published as individual stories with different titles. One of the most obvious title drops takes place in Chapter 3 of Foundation, "The Mayors" -- also known as "Bridle and Saddle".
  • To Win Without Fighting: The series runs on it. The protagonists use historical forces to defeat opponents, not force.
    • Except when they use Mind Rape to accomplish the same, of course.
  • Trilogy Creep: As noted above, Asimov belatedly added to the original three collections, and retconned the books' plot to connect to dozens of others of his works.
  • Tyke Bomb: Arkady Darrell
  • Unusual Euphemism: Most of the books' profanity, primarily "Space!" or "Great Galaxy!". Some is also a Continuity Nod to the Religion of Science established in "The Mayors".
  • Unwitting Pawn: Loads of them (due to the nature of the Seldon plan everyone that was human ended up being one of them), but a few bear specific mentioning. Bel Riose actually thought he would win and came close and nearly derailed the Seldon Plan when he was called back to Trantor and executed on grounds of believed disloyalty. Wienis especially fell right into the Seldon Plan's tracks.
  • Vanity Is Feminine: Women kinda get the short end of the stick in the first novel. The only two women that appear on screen both do nothing but be dazzled by the pretty jewelery the traders from the Foundation can offer to their man.
  • Vestigial Empire: What the first Empire is eventually reduced to.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Wienis in the first book has a spectacular one when he's Out-Gambitted by Salvor Hardin, going berserk and ultimately committing suicide.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: Often and boldly subverted by the books' various Foundation protagonists.

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. - Salvor Hardin's motto

    • And then played straight later. Bayta realizes who the Mule really was, and the only way to stop him was to kill Ebling Mis before he revealed what he knew.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The Aesop of "The General"/"Dead Hand" from Foundation and Empire -- the protagonists' efforts to halt Bel Riose either fail or outright backfire, but he's stopped at the last moment by impersonal, inevitable Imperial politics.
  • You Keep Using That Word: In Foundation and Earth, Bliss, commenting on Trevize's womanizing, calls him an erotomaniac. In fact, an erotomaniac is someone who is under the delusion of being in a romantic relationship with another. The term Bliss is looking for (meaning a man who compulsively sleeps around) is "satyromaniac".
  1. It is, by the way. Sol is the name of our Sun
  2. "The Well-Beloved"
  3. it later turns out that last example plays with it: the First Speaker actually is fairly close to being exactly what it says on the tin: the person that gets to speak first at meetings. Meetings of the leaders of the secret manipulators of the Galaxy, that is.