Spirit Advisor

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Character which can only be perceived by one or a small number of other characters. This character's purpose is most often to provide advice, act as a moral compass (see also Closer to Earth, Noble Savage) or substitute for Mr. Exposition. This character may also sometimes act as a Trickster, however; if so and he has super-powers then he's usually The Great Gazoo. In many cases he also acts as Mission Control. If there are two with opposing viewpoints, then you're probably dealing with Good Angel, Bad Angel instead.

Ironically, the Spirit Advisor is almost never The Ghost (even if he is an actual ghost).

If someone who can't see the Spirit Advisor learns about her existence, they will inevitably try to talk to her, leading the character who can actually see her shaking his head and saying, "She's over there."

See also Waif Prophet, Warrior Poet, He Who Must Not Be Seen, Dead Person Conversation, Multitasked Conversation, I See Them, Too, Non-Human Sidekick and Not-So-Imaginary Friend, and Magical Guide

Examples of Spirit Advisor include:


Anime[edit | hide | hide all]


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The DCU hero Firestorm was created by atomically merging student Ronnie Raymond and scientist Martin Stein. In practice, this essentially resulted (at least initially) in a super-powered Ronnie with Stein acting as a Spirit Advisor.
  • John Wayne appears as Jesse's Spirit Advisor in Preacher (Comic Book), helping him survive his childhood ordeals and become a Knight in Shining Armor.
  • The protagonist of Paul Pope's graphic novel, Heavy Liquid, sees a "shadow self" whenever he uses a drug made from the titular material. It guides his escape from the spook that captures him at the end of the story, and soon after, S concludes that the shadow is a non-corporeal extraterrestrial's attempt to communicate. S refers to the alien as a "radiowave spaceman" and the Heavy Liquid as his "little metal car".
  • The Doctor, the shaman of the Planet Earth in The Authority, can journey to the Garden of Ancestral Memory, where the spirits of all past Doctors (save one evil one) dwell.
  • Shazam often counseled Billy Batson as a shade.
  • In Captain America (comics) #305, Merlin appeared to Captain Britain. Since Merlin had died in Captain Britain's own series, The Official Handbook stated that Merlin's appearance here represented an appearance by his shade.
  • The Ancient One, Doctor Strange's mentor, becomes this after his death.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Parodied with Sam Elliot's character in The Big Lebowski. Picture the cheesiest cowboy you can imagine, and make him speak entirely in smarmy cliches that have little or nothing to do with the rest of the plot.

"Sometimes you eat the ear, and sometimes, well... The bar eats you."

  • Captain Daniel Gregg in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.
  • In Heart Condition, detective Jack Moony receives a heart transplant from recently murdered lawyer Napoleon Stone. Stone's ghost then pressures Moony to solve his murder.
  • In The Phantom (1996), the titular character's father, the previous Phantom, acts as his Spirit Advisor.
  • Woody Allen gets love advice from an imaginary Humphrey Bogart in Play It Again, Sam.
  • Mufasa in The Lion King and The Lion King 2
  • In Ratatouille, a lonely Remy, desperate for someone to talk to, imagines that the spirit of his hero, Auguste Gusteau, is his spirit advisor. However, Remy is fully aware that he is a figment of his imagination and Gusteau eventually disappears for good when Remy finally accepts that he can rely on his own judgment.
    • Played for laughs, too; if Remy ever needs reminding that Gusteau is just a figment of his imagination, Gusteau does.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, the King, Elvis Aaron Presley appears to give Clarence advice in True Romance. Played by Val Kilmer, it's not quite clear if he's a ghost or a hallucination.
  • In the original Star Wars trilogy, Obi-Wan became this after he died. (See also The Obi-Wan.) It is hinted in the prequel that Obi-Wan also learned from Yoda how to communicate with his own deceased mentor Qui-Gon Jinn.
  • A major plot point in the second Balto film. Not only does Aleu meet her's, but Balto discovers his spirit guide is not only the seemingly legendary Aniu, but his own mother.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • John in the webnovel John Dies at the End serves this role when his best friend David starts becoming aware of the supernatural and questioning his own sanity. John can't appear for David directly, and thus communicates by broadcasting his words through a cell phone, a bratwurst, and a dog, in that order.
  • Lasciel in the later books of The Dresden Files series. Although Harry's bound the magical trinket Lasciel resides in, a psychic echo of her still appears in his mind and offers him power and advice. While Harry doesn't necessarily want the help of a fallen angel who's playing a long game on him so that he ends up in Hell's coffers, the things he encounters require him to make use of her Hellfire and other talents.
    • The Archangel Uriel also qualifies.
    • In Ghost Story, Harry himself acts as a Spirit Advisor to a young man named Fitz.
    • The air spirit Bob ironically doesn't qualify since while he is a literal spirit and acts as an advisor to Harry, he is visible to other characters (no matter how much Harry might wish otherwise).
  • In Barbara Hambly's Sisters Of The Raven books, Pontifer Pig is this to Pomegranate. Those who know her mostly assume that she is hallucinating about the ghost of her late pet. (In Circle of the Moon, however, some consideration is given to the theory that Pontifer might have been a djinn who is managing to use Pomegranate as a host.)
  • In Sharon Lee's and Steve Miller's Liaden Universe, the witches of Sintia have a formal Spirit Advisor system - each young witch has an old soul. It's not entirely clear how this works in practice, because none of the point-of-view characters has been a witch of Sintia except Priscilla, and she only becomes a point-of-view character after she leaves the order. (Officially, she was cast out for blasphemy; actually, it was because she - with her Spirit Advisor's encouragement - did the Right Thing when her superiors would have preferred her to do the Politically Convenient Thing.)
  • Hettie and later Marlan and Sun-dao in Karen Miller's Godspeaker Trilogy.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Reaper Man, One Man Bucket plays this role for Mrs. Cake.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Nation, the Grandfathers play this role for Mau, while the Grandmothers play it for Daphne.
  • The Mademoiselle loads a beta-level sim of herself into Ana Khouri's brain implants in Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space.
  • In The General series by S.M. Stirling and David Drake, General Raj Whitehall is advised by Center, a pre-collapse-of-civilization computer (originally a traffic-control computer, but its abilities go far beyond).
    • In later books of the series set centuries later, Whitehall's consciousness has joined with Center's, and now they both act as Spirit Advisors on other barbarian planets - Center as the logical fount-of-knowledge and Whitehall as the wise voice-of-experience. This puts their protege in the position of being the moderator of a Power Trio.
  • Between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, the very green Luke Skywalker was rather actively mentored by Obi-Wan's spirit. In Splinter of the Minds Eye, which was both written and takes place between those two movies, Luke mentions feeling an "agreeably crawly sensation" like someone was standing with him, which he associates with his teacher. At the end of the book Obi-Wan actually briefly possessed Luke in order to fight off Darth Vader, since Luke and Leia would both have been killed otherwise. In Allegiance Obi-Wan patiently helped convey to Luke what the Force needed him to do, telling him not to shoot someone who later became an ally, helping him recognize a "coiled-spring predator" sensation in certain thugs, generally trying to talk him through things. When Luke, Han, and Chewbacca are locked into separate rooms by the Hand of Judgment, Obi-Wan tells Luke that Leia is in danger, and then has to tell the boy that he's not as trapped as he thinks.
    • Luke tries to figure things out on his own, but he can't, and so Obi-Wan just has to keep reluctantly giving him the next hint. ...Focus on the keypad. ...The first number is seven. *sigh* The numbers are seven seven eight one three one two. ...Now run your finger under this display frame. Take one of the blasters out of the secret compartment. Luke, not the biggest one.

Luke: "You know, you could make this whole thing a whole lot easier."
Obi-Wan: Your uncle could have carried you around on his back until you were fifteen, too.
Luke: *grimace* "Sorry."
Obi-Wan: You've taken your first steps into a larger world, Luke. But there are many, many more steps to go. I cannot carry you along your own personal path. All I can do is guide you, and teach you, and help you to find that path for yourself.

    • Obi-Wan also appears several times to Ferus Olin to advise him in Rebel Force. Maybe because Olin's already a Jedi, he can manifest more easily to him than to rookie Luke.
    • Obi-Wan says goodbye and vanishes for good in the first few pages of The Thrawn Trilogy, five years after Return of the Jedi.
  • Syl in The Stormlight Archive fits this trope, she's usually only visible to Kaladin, unless she chooses to let somebody else see her, though Rock can also see her, for some reason. She helps Kaladin by providing encouragement. Later we find out she's a Bond Creature, an honorspren that provides Kaladin with Surgebinding abilities while gaining a capacity for thought and memory.
  • In The Lord of the Isles by David Drake, Garric is advised by his thousand-years-ago ancestor King Carus. A great deal of the advice actually amounts to, "Don't do what I did in a similar situation; it was a disaster because I didn't think it through."
  • In The Neon Court, Matthew is advised by the dying breath of his former master, Robert James Bakker. Their relation is complicated by the fact that they killed each other.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Heroes subverts this in its third season - Linderman appears to have come back as a spirit advisor to various characters, but he's actually a hallucination created by Maury Parkman.
    • In the first season, an Indian kid (East) named Sanjog has people visit him in their dreams. He fulfills his role as an unhelpful guide sputtering cryptic messages rather well. Then there's Usutu from season four. Subverted in season five with Sylar popping up in Parkman's head, insulting him and trying to take over his body and abilities until he regains his own.
  • Number Six in the new Battlestar Galactica series is usually invisible to anyone but Gaius Baltar. Her appearances are carefully crafted so that she can be seen as a figment of Gaius's imagination, although she seems to be able to physically manipulate Gaius's clothing and person, and gives Gaius information that could be interpreted as foreknowledge. In one episode, Gaius Baltar appears to a resurrected Number Six, and plays the part of her Spirit Advisor. Interestingly, neither the "real" Baltar or Number Six have any knowledge of their Spirit Advisor counterparts. At least until a recent episode, where Baltar's Spirit Advisor counterpart appears to Baltar.
    • Recently, Kara's father showed up to teach her two thousand year old Earth music.
  • Mr. Ed in Mister Ed.
  • Al in Quantum Leap.
  • Appropriately enough, God in Joan of Arcadia might be the ultimate Spirit Advisor.
  • Marty Hopkirk in Randall and Hopkirk Deceased was a Spirit Advisor whom only his partner-in-detection Jeff could see.
  • Ed Chigliak of Northern Exposure has a literal Spirit Advisor, an ancestral Indian spirit named One-Who-Waits.
  • Bob, formerly Hrothbert of Bainbridge, in The Dresden Files TV series, is a prime example of the trope. This character is a Spirit Advisor several times over. He not only gives Harry advice on what kind of magic to do in any given situation, he assists in many cases, thanks to his spectral abilities. He also started teaching Harry magic when Harry was eleven. He was also Spirit Advisor to a number of other wizards down through the centuries, including Harry's evil uncle, Justin Morningway.
  • Oliver in Slings and Arrows.
  • Seems to happen a lot on Lost.
    • Boone appeared to Locke in the sweat lodge.
    • Charlie and Anna-Lucia have appeared to Hurley and given him advice, much to his dismay. Mr. Eko has also played chess with him.
    • Christian Shephard, Jack's father, has appear before various people on the island.
    • Jacob, leader of the Others, of which only Ben and Locke have really interacted with.
    • After Jacob's death, he puts on this role to guide Hurley, taking advantage of Hurley's ability to converse with the dead. Hurley actually compared to his appearances to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Of course, he's got his own motives, good or bad, and he's more of a Manipulative Bastard than The Obi-Wan.
  • Cassie in The 4400. She is Kyle Baldwin's promicin-derived ability.
  • Snow White in The Tenth Kingdom. She calls herself a fairy godmother, but also freely admits she is actually dead (something which is never really stated about fairy godmothers). Only Virginia and Wendell (the latter either because he's gone doggy at the time or because he's her grandson) can see and speak with her—Tony cannot. She later appears in Virginia's dreams.
  • Merlyn of American Gothic. While Caleb is not the only person who can see and speak to her, she does appear for the most part only as a ghost who advises her brother on how to stay on the straight and narrow. The others who catch sight of her or even interact with her (apart from her brief stint as a mortal in "Rebirth") are Buck (who even aside from being the Big Bad has a lot more powers at his disposal than the average resident of Trinity) and Ben Healy. In the latter's case, this is only because Merlyn herself chooses to appear to him and haunt his dreams, since he knows the truth about how she died and she's trying to appeal to his conscience so he can break free of Buck's influence. No one else, like Gail (who is her cousin as well as Caleb's) or Mrs. Holt, ever sees her.
  • Essentially subverted in Farscape with Harvey, a neural clone of Scorpius jammed into John Crichton's head, who eventually does provide some advice... after several seasons of trying to completely screw with Crichton's head and causing several character deaths.
  • Due South: Benton Fraser actually got to know his father much better after the latter's death (in the series pilot) than he ever had in life, thanks to Bob Fraser's insistence on hanging around and offering (frequently irritating and unwelcome) personal and professional advice. Fraser Sr. even sets up extradimensional living quarters (so to speak) in his son's office closet.
    • We also very briefly see Ray Vecchio's deceased father doing this to Ray once or twice.
  • John Scott serves as SA for Olivia on Fringe resulting from their Psychic Link, despite some obvious trust issues between them.
  • In an episode of The Mighty Boosh, "The Chokes", Howard Moon is saved from stage fright by the apparition of his acting coach, Montgomery Flange.
  • In Dexter, Harry Morgan has become one of these. Initially he was a Flash Back character, but as the series progressed, he began appearing to Dexter as a kind of hallucination. Dexter also has his Dark Passenger, but this is not personified in the series.
  • Happens semi-frequently in Six Feet Under, usually from a character who has recently died, although the writers have explicitly stated that they are figments of the particular character's imagination.
  • Mercy plays with both this and Magical Negro by having Veronica hallucinate the ghost of Trey, the robber she had to shoot in the previous episode. He keeps trying to get her to run away, as well as get drunk. She finds out in the next episode that he was a serious scumbag.
  • The main characters in Charmed can summon their dead relatives if they need help. Well, everyone except Prue, of course.
  • Lily Kane appears as this in Veronica Mars. She first appears to tell her brother that her murder isn't solved. She later appears and distracts Veronica from getting on a bus with a bomb on it that ended up crashing and killing everyone on board.


Mythology And Religion[edit | hide]

  • Believers in ancestor worship, such as Chinese folk religions, Shintō and Native American religions often believe that this literally happens.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • In Richard Wagner's Götterdämmerung, Big Bad Alberich appears as Spirit Advisor to his son Hagen.
  • In the play (and miniseries) Angels in America, Ethel Rosenberg appears to Roy Cohn after he is diagnosed with AIDS, though it's mainly just to torture him while he's on his deathbed (It's stated that he illegally influenced the verdict in her trial to get her executed). She fits this trope more traditionally when she helps Louis recite the Kaddish (the Jewish prayer for the dead) after Roy dies. Prior's ancestors fit this trope too.
  • In Rodgers and Hammerstein's Allegro, Joe's grandmother and mother appear occasionally as Spirit Advisors to him after their deaths, though the Greek Chorus serves as his all-purpose Spirit Advisor throughout the show.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Videogame example: In Prey, the main character's grandfather, Enisi, is a wise Indian who keeps scolding the protagonist for his rebellious nature. Soon after the aliens attack, Enisi kicks the bucket as an alien machine eviscerates him. From there on he is the protagonist's Spirit Advisor.
  • The Shadow Hearts series both plays with the trope and uses it straight. In the first game, the Spirit "Advisors" are the Four Masks, fiendish entities who torment and mock those who can see them, plotting to steal their souls. Later, in Covenant, Jeanne plays the role straight for Yuri. A past Big Bad also appears in a dodgy Heel Face Turn.
    • In both Covenant and From the New World, the Ring Soul appears, a being with power over fate. This being Shadow Hearts, the main character quickly gets past their formality and makes friends with them.
  • Pharos from Persona 3 is a very, very creepy example.
    • Philemon from the first two Persona games is somewhat less disturbing, though his servant Igor, who ends up replacing his boss in the next two games, looks like a freaky old man version of Pinocchio.
  • In the video game Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords, one of the last subquests involves Sunspear the Minotaur going off to die in battle against an elder frost dragon. When you follow his instructions and return to your departure point, he rejoins your party as a spirit (with his Red Mana bonus now extending to battles with the undead as well as other minotaurs) It's never mentioned whether any of the other party members can see him.
  • Mia Fey, The Obi-Wan, performs this function in the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney games. Made easier by the fact that Phoenix's Sidekick is a Spirit Medium and Mia's little sister, whose job description is speaking on behalf of dead people. (Actually, this often happens involuntarily, as Maya's abilities for the first game and a half are a bit hit-or-miss, and Mia's a definitely forceful personality). Later on, usually when Maya is unavailable, their Medium-prodigy cousin Pearl does similar helpful channeling.
  • Both Baten Kaitos and its prequel have the player act as the Spirit Advisor to the game's main character, which allows the characters to break the fourth wall without acting out of character.
  • Prometheus in The Conduit after you have to destroy his body so Adams/Enlil can't make any more Drudge, and he transfers his mind into the ASE
  • Ray in Ghost Trick is a spirit advisor to another spirit. He helps Sissel figure out how to use ghost tricks.
  • Zelda appears to serve this function in The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks, when she's not possessing a suit of armor, Fullmetal Alchemist-style.
    • A better example would be the Hero's Shade, who teaches Link various skills throughout the game. It was believed by many, and eventually confirmed, that he is the spirit of Link from Ocarina of Time.
  • In Warcraft III, Kel'thuzad serves as a spirit advisor in his ghost form to the Undead Arthas after Arthas's soul has been consumed by Frostmourne. This continues until Kel'thuzad is resurrected in the Sun Well.
  • In BioShock (series) 2, it's possible for Subject Delta to become this for Eleanor at the end if she absorbs his essence. In the good ending, this means he becomes her conscience as they're finally reunited. In the bad ending, Eleanor decides that his instincts are not going to waste and that the world is about to change.
  • Anna and Kluya, for Edward and Cecil, respectively, in Final Fantasy IV.
  • Maria in Knights in The Nightmare, but only for Yggdra Mode, which is PSP-exclusive.
  • Francis York Morgan of Deadly Premonition seems to regard Zach as something around the lines of this, with the implication that he may just be asking the players themselves. The ending reveals that York is the real Spirit Advisor to Zach, who created York to protect himself from trauma inflicted by Big Bad Forrest Kaysen.
  • Mega Man X in Mega Man Zero


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Avatar Roku in Avatar: The Last Airbender, the previous incarnation of the Avatar and Aang's immediate past life. He serves in much the same capacity as a guardian to Aang, guiding him through the difficult process of becoming a fully realized Avatar. Though a deep relationship has not yet been established, each knows the other instinctively, and both are pleased to communicate with one another when the opportunity arises.
    • Also, although to a much lesser extent, Avatar Kyoshi, Avatar Kuruk, and Avatar Yangchen. And potentially every one of these, should Aang call upon them.
    • And in the new series, Aang will likely act as one for Korra.
  • Thoughtfully spoofed in The Simpsons episode "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer", where Homer hallucinates after eating "the Merciless Peppers of Quetzlzacatenango". His Spirit Advisor is a coyote, the trickster spirit of a number of Amerindian tribes. The distinctive voice of Homer's spirit guide is provided by legendary singer Johnny Cash. This sequence eventually leads to the infamous line "In your face, space coyote!"
    • In another episode, Homer's brain conjures up the spirit of labour organizer Cesar Chavez (whom Lisa had mentioned to him earlier in the episode), except he looks like Cesar Romero because, as Chavez put it, "you don't know what Cesar Chavez looks like."
    • "The Last Temptation of Homer" has Homer faced with being attracted to another woman. A guardian angel of sorts tries to advise and first takes the form of Sir Issac Newtown. As Homer has no idea who that is, his advisor then takes the form of Colonel Klink.
  • In Thundercats, the soul of team mentor Jaga comes Back from the Dead so he can continue giving sage advice to Lion-O.
  • In the cartoon, Bionic Six, the spirit of Karate 1's biological father would occasionally appear to him, to give him a quick pep talk or to Deus Ex Machina him free of the bad guy's trap. Usually both.
  • In The Venture Brothers, starting in season four, 24 becomes 21's Spirit Advisor, using his ghostly movement and omniscience to exponentially increase 21's competence.
  • Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic - Taken literally with Virgil, the classical Roman poet. Since he is a pure spirit, he cannot help Dante fight his enemies, but can only steer him on his path to save his wife's soul through the nine circles of hell.
  • In the one-hour The Penguins of Madagascar episode "The Return Of The Revenge Of Blowhole", Skipper gets Laser-Guided Amnesia and his mind tries to conjure up a spirit guide to help him get back. It settles on Alex the Lion.
  • In Family Guy Peter's spiritual guide is The Fonz


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Gary Gygax in The Way of the Metagamer is an actual ghost - he can control his visibility for individuals, as demonstrated here.
  • The Kernelsprites in Homestuck, when suitably prototyped. So far, every player has protoyped their Kernelsprite with the remains of the deceased, in essence reviving the departed in sprite mode, with all memories of their past life. Using something dead isn't strictly necessary, but Kernelsprites are preternaturally drawn to death and using something not dead is rare, with only 3 (out of 16) being shown in canon, and all of those were tier 2 prototyped with a dead person. All of these sprites are ultimately fated to die a second time.
    • Some of the Trolls die and continue to linger in pseudo-purgatory and provide advice for the remaining players.
      • Oddly the most literal definition of the trope applies to Vriska for WV, as she harasses him in his dreams.
  • Bob and George: Megaman, briefly.
  • In Fite!, Cub is one to Lucco though he's actually just another patient in Lucco's hospital who's Conversing With The Unconscious.
    • After Lucco wakes up, Guz becomes one.


Web Original[edit | hide]


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Former Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King was a great believer is spiritualism, and apparently sought advice from his dead parents and even his dogs through séances. To his credit, this seems to have been personal advice, rather than advice on how to run the country.