Psychic Powers on television generally come in three flavors. You can shoot mindbullets and toss cars by thinking hard at them. You can see poorly shot and edited clips from the past or future. Or you can read minds. If you're fortunate (and the writer feels confident about being able to handle this), you get to actually read and transmit thoughts. Unfortunately, and especially if you're female, you more often end up with The Empath instead. Being able to tell how people are secretly feeling is okay too, right? Right?... While this does sometimes make for an impressive combat power (see below), it does make the empath an excellent Confidant for her teammates... one who knows all of their secrets, and can use them against them.
Although it's become common to undermine supernatural abilities nowadays, writers mostly treat The Empath completely straight. Empaths' dialog sounds stilted and unnatural compared to anyone else, especially since there are apparently no synonyms for "I sense". They will be useful by relaying their findings to the rest of the cast in the most vague manner possible.
The oldest version of this trope (the Soothsayer) tends to make this characteristic work, as they're openly presented as slightly creepy, imposing ancients. Sadly, The Empath is mostly used to insert quick expositions or reveal to the other characters things not allowed by the time constraints of the program. Any other uses will be avoided by having characters who can 'shield' themselves from mind reading. Occasionally, The Empath gets such a strong reading that he can't describe it except as a headache; apparently the guy threatening to blow up the building is angry. The Empath may also be downgraded to Captain Obvious, as most people have the ability to sense emotions by reading facial expressions. Thus, the Empath will turn her powers on a person who is crying hysterically and proudly explain to her comrades that "I sense this person is sad". However, empaths with a knack for manipulation and flexible ethics can combine both talents to move people like chess pieces.
If The Chick (from the Five-Man Band) gets a superpower, it's often this. In fact, this ability is most associated with women, usually with a gender-biased notion that they're "more in tune with emotions". Plus, it allows the woman in the cast to do all the fainting and emoting associated with powerful visions. Men with telepathic powers get cooler stuff, like mind control, though The Chick might get these two as well.
The Empath tends to suffer frequently from The Worf Effect. Whenever a telepathic Big Bad or Sealed Evil in a Can gets loose, The Empath usually gets reduced to a blubbering temple-clutching wreck in the first encounter, just to put the emphasis on exactly how bad the villain's mojo is (alternatively, they could get drunk on its evil). On the positive side, they're usually the first to create a Glamour Failure for supernatural opponents.
In Darker and Edgier works The Empath is sometimes allowed to attain Badass status if she, or more commonly he, is evil (most likely due to being driven nigh-insane from automatically empathizing with everything around them - good and bad). Through the power of emotional manipulation an evil empath becomes the ultimate Chessmaster. Expect to see at least one very cruel Batman Gambit. If the evil influence is due to chronic Power Incontinence rather than malicious intent, The Empath may become the Fisher King.
Anime and Manga
- Hisoka in Yami no Matsuei. Actually pretty darn competent (not that any characterization in the series is consistent) but has a softer reputation because he fills in for The Chick in his team and has this power. His empathy, however, is most useful in the episode where he uses it to fake clairvoyance.
- Naoya in Night Head Genesis, his case is probably one of the most extreme ever seen in any medium.
- Rare for a non-fantastic setting, but Yakumo Tsukamoto (Tenma's younger sister) from School Rumble is able to detect how boys are secretly feeling about her. Teen Genius Haruki Hanai, the one guy vocally interested in her, often escapes her notice.
- Shiho of Zettai Karen Children is of the touch-required type. Sakaki is also one, as well as Hyoubu Kyousuke.
- Blue Comet SPT Layzner has Anna Stephanie.
- Kazahaya in Legal Drug
- Susukihotaru from Otome Youkai Zakuro.
- This tends to be a trait among newtypes of both genders. It's not so much as they sense life as much as they sense death, though. Some of the better known examples are Amuro, Char and Lalah from the original series, Kamille from Zeta Gundam, Judeau and Haman from Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, Quess from Gundam Chars Counterattack; Usso, Queen Maria and Shakti from Victory Gundam; Tiffa, Jamil, Karis and Lucille from Gundam X, etc.
- Mao from Code Geass is this. Due to his inability to turn off his Mind Reading Geass. He uses his power to convince Shirley to kill Lelouch after her father's death because of Zero and again against Suzaku when he reveals his past leading to a temporary mental breakdown.
- In One Piece a Color of Observation (called also Mantra) can work this way. Both Aisa and Otohime are able to sense negative emotions of people around them. Some users, like Otohime, act upon these sensations and try to help. This power can also turn out to be pretty nasty one, if a user isn’t able to control it. Coby learnt it hard way.
- Mito Uzumaki form Naruto was able to sense negative emotions of people around her, thanks to nine-tailed beast inside her. According to Tobi, Naruto is starting to develop the same power.
- Raven in the original New Teen Titans comic book started out with this power, in addition to healing, teleportation, and some spellcasting. She was actually kind of useless in combat and was always the first to be knocked out. It wasn't until the success of the cartoon that she was given flight and telekinesis.
- Empath (Manuel de la Rocha) from New Mutants was somewhat of a subversion, in that he was both male and also manipulative and malicious. And of course, he could control emotions and not just passively sense them.
- Recent appearances have him showing as a post Heel Face Turn, and now on the side of the good guys.
- Meggan, of the Marvel team Excalibur, was The Empath, The Chick and a Yamato Nadeshiko. And since her (mostly) Voluntary Shapeshifting powers were tied to her emotions, she often changed to reflect people's expectations of her. Eventually, she managed to get to the point where other people's expectations no longer affected her.
- Cordelia Frost (sister of X-Men's Emma Frost) possesses the power of empathy. Described as the "Professor X of empaths" Cordelia can not only sense the emotions of others but actually implant emotional states into them, shoot mind bullets and even use her powers for makeshift mind control by implanting an entirely new personality into someone. Somehow....
- Cross Gen's The First had Pyrem, a diplomat whose powers were described (but not often shown) as empathic. Crux had empathy as the fifth Atlantean discipline named empathy, but it manifested as Voluntary Shapeshifting.
- The Authority's shaman "the Doctor", had this power, as well as incredible amounts of magic, as a result of an acquired connection to all life. Particularly interesting for the origins of the various Doctors shown in the comic- an utopian anarchist, a dotcom billionaire drug addict, and an islamic suicide bomber. It's explained that the powers go to the one person in the world who wants them the least. The suicide bomber was about to set himself off when he acquired his powers: Bang! instant Heel Face Turn. Not only of himself, but he immediately used his powers to create peace in the Middle East
- There was also a renegade former Doctor who was defeated by being given all the powers of the Doctor. From unstoppable rampage and serious inroad into the world's supplies of Dom Perignon to gibbering horror at the suffering he had caused in one fell swoop.
- In the same universe, Charis, sometimes called Nemesis, is this. For a female with empathic powers, she is quite the opposite of useless. Her empathy allows her to briefly delve into the thoughts of a target, and allows her to anticipate and react against her universe's version of Superman. Yes, she was able to dodge and cut Mr. Majestic.
- This is sort of Man-Thing's deal. He's a superstrong being made of plant matter, and if his body's destroyed, he can reconstitute himself in his home swamp. But he also senses emotions; in general, he doesn't like negative ones. Specifically, fear causes him to immolate tings; hence the tagline "Whatever knows fear burns at the Man-Thing's touch". Though despite the fact that he's a mindless swamp creature with an appearance that borders between Nightmare Fuel and Ugly Cute, typically only bad guys get incinerated, bystanders don't.
- Madman has been able to do this, which helped him determine of an alien was aggressive or not.
- In the WITCH comics, Will had this power with animals; that is they react to her mood and at least one parrot who could speak in English/Italian (the latter being the original language) could literally read her mind. This power is missing in the show though.
- In addition to their more obvious powers, the Emotion Entities introduced in the Green Lantern series have empathic powers. Parallax can sense and manipulate fear, the Butcher feeds on and instigates rage, Proselyte induces compassion into others, etc. They can do all of this because in a way they are those emotions.
Eastern European Animation
- In Firing Range, the tank being tested can sense hate and fear, and extends that sensing into reading minds in order to avoid attacks and how to kill the enemy.
- In the Final Fantasy VII fanfic Thorns there is an OC that is later revealed to be an Empath. Originally, it isn't very obviously and weak. Then he gets shot up with Mako. He generally uses it as Combat Clairvoyance, but in certain cases it's a weakness. He ends up using another person as an "anchor" to help him survive the power boost he got during the storyline.
Films -- Animated
- Parodied in Team America: World Police where the resident empath would sense feelings that were bleeding obvious. Stuff like saying "I sense you're confused" to a person that has just been transported to a base inside Mount Rushmore by means of a flying limo. She was far more useful, however, when it came to just shooting people.
Films -- Live-Action
- Most (if not all) Jedi are empaths, but to what extent depends on how Force-sensitive one is, as well as their personality. This one has the downside of causing a psychic backlash if the user is overwhelmed by it.
- May also be exploited by enemies. The most poignant example would be in Revenge of the Sith where the Jedi didn't see the Clone Army's betrayal coming because the clones had no emotional motive like exhilaration, hatred, or fear when eliminating the Jedi—it was all coldly business to them.
- Atton Rand is pretty blunt about how he is able to use walls of basic emotions—anger, lust, etc. to shield himself from most Jedi mind tricks, as well as how effective it was in his previous life as a Sith hunter/torturer.
- Indeed HK-47 in Knights of the Old Republic II notes people capable of projecting strong emotions are best able to hide their intent and surprise attack jedi. Revan appreciates the irony that those who experienced emotion were best able to take on the jedi who suppressed it.
- The Expanded Universe has the Zeltrons, a race full of empaths. They're a slight subversion as it doesn't cripple their ability to fight, and it doesn't really cause them pain. Their society places a high value on joy and pleasure (especially sexual pleasure), and is widely considered a "party planet." Most invaders to Zeltros quickly found themselves partying with the natives instead of conquering the place.
- May also be exploited by enemies. The most poignant example would be in Revenge of the Sith where the Jedi didn't see the Clone Army's betrayal coming because the clones had no emotional motive like exhilaration, hatred, or fear when eliminating the Jedi—it was all coldly business to them.
- Dan Smithson, the character played by Forrest Whittaker in the sci-fi cheesefest Species, is an empath, although he's played up as more of a Captain Obvious. His power also has a tendency to only work as the plot demands it, such as when he's able to sense someone outside a door and the emotions of the alien hottie while watching a recording of her, but they mysteriously vanish on numerous occasions, such as when a wino manages to catch him by surprise by hiding behind a dumpster.
- In Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, the Mule became a Big Bad because he's able to Brainwash his enemies into completely loyal servants. Unlike most mind-controlling telepaths, he's unable to read minds for specific information, but he can overwrite the emotions most Brainwashed servants would use to break free at a crucial moment.
- Talia in Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series has both the receptive and manipulative form of this power; initially she spends a lot of time struggling with it.
- Other empaths in the series include Amberdrake of the Mage Wars trilogy, most Healers, and Herald Shandi Alder.
- Vanyel Ashkevron also develops this in the first book in his series, where he is able to so powerfully transmit his own emotions that most of the campus is suicidal. This is with no training and is just raw potential.
- In contrast with the general nature of this trope, Empaths in the Valdemar books have the potential to be extremely powerful, as their abilities generally penetrate more "advanced" forms of mental shielding and can weaken or completely incapacitate opponents. The potential ethical consequences of this are not lost on the Heralds.
- Elaborating on that, empathy can do such useful things as influencing others emotions (angering someone until they want to commit murder, demonstrated by Talia), and the aforementioned Mind rape (which was setting one persons memories of being raped on replay in the rapist's mind).
- In James White's Sector General series, Doctor Prilicla is a member of an empathic insectoid race; he sometimes finds it distressing to be in the presence of strong emotion, and acts as a peacemaker in self-defense.
- Also a case of Heart Is an Awesome Power. Prilicla uses his empathy to pinpoint the locations of patients who need rescuing, and can use his power to help keep them alive by bolstering their spirits. While it wouldn't be very useful for a superhero, it made Prilicla one of the most valuable members of Sector General. Of course he is only able to use his empathy in that way because he has the personal courage to willingly expose himself to others' pain and desperation, not to mention physical danger.
- Valashu Elahad of the Ea Cycle possesses the power of empathy which can be not so useful when he's feeling the pain of someone he kills in battle. Potentially his gift could be a powerful weapon to break the wills of other people, but that would going to The Dark Side and being Not So Different to the Big Bad.
- Harry Potter gets the creepy version of sharing Voldemort's emotions when they are particularly strong.
- The "sensitives" in Ian Irvine's Three Worlds Cycle. As one character puts it: "Whatever you feel, I feel more."
- Flinx, the star character of Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth series, is an Empath with apparently near-infinite potential, thanks to a group of rogue geneticists. Too bad he has almost no control over the power and is constantly hunted by people seeking to "fix", manipulate, or kill him for it. The series has gradually taken him from idealism to cynicism to near-pathological despair over time, and shows no signs of letting up, especially as his power is apparently the key to saving the entire known universe.
- Greg Mandel from Peter F. Hamilton's Mindstar series is a private detective with empathic powers. He is also an ex-military hardcase and can do some other things with his mind, but he finds his empathic ability very useful when interrogating suspects. He uses word assosciation interrogation and sees when their feeling of guilt spikes.
- Interesting version in Robert Silverberg's The Man in the Maze. The titular man gains, as a result of a contact with alien race, an inverted version of empathy—he doesn't receive emotions, he constantly projects his own. All of them, down to and including subconscious ones. As it turns out, these deep human emotions are mostly quite unpleasant... As a result, nobody can stay close to him for any length of time (the strength of the psychic barrage is decreasing with distance), and he has to hide in the nigh-inaccessible maze.
- In Jane Yolen's Pit Dragon Chronicles, sheltering in a mother dragon's womb can give one superhuman abilities, including becoming an empath. There is a whole mountain tribe that has killed thousands of female dragons after they lay their eggs, just for the children to have the abilities. If they combine their minds, they can send out a force field strong enough to knock out a grown man.
- Sean Stewart has an interesting take on empaths in Passion Play. In the world of the book, there are tens of thousands of empaths all over the world, called shapers. Both the protagonist and the villain are shapers, and the protagonist uses this ability in her job as a bounty hunter, so she can understand the people she is tracking and anticipate what they might do next. Shapers not only feel the emotions of others as if they were their own, they can also perceive people's personalities as a sort of mental image, which varies depending on the individual shaper's perceptions. For example, a shaper who encounters a young and naive person may get a mental image of a young spring leaf, whereas meeting a cold, brilliant perfectionist may evoke the image of a gleaming diamond in that shaper's mind, and meeting an extremely religious person may evoke the image of a candle lighting up the surrounding darkness. Shapers can also experience a form of mental burnout or numbness from being overloaded by emotions, and some of the more psychopathic shapers may try to cause pain in others or commit violence just so that they can feel something again after they experience burnout for too long.
- Imriel de la Courcel of the Kushiel's Legacy series. His particular version allowed him to detect "fault lines" in a personality, which he could then exploit to manipulate them. A particularly interesting and well-written example, because it was a potentially tremendously powerful ability which he could have used to take over the kingdom, but never did- principally because he was (thanks to being raised by his benevolent foster-parents) such a nice guy. In fact, he almost never used it at all. His biological mother, on the other hand, was a thoroughly evil murderess who used the same ability to repeatedly try to take over the kingdom.
- A male example, in Hidden Talents and its sequel, the protagonist's power is the abillity to sense emotions of others. he doesn't realize this power until the very end, and doesn't start using it until the sequel, True Talents, came out.
- Samella Connel, from the Col Sec Trilogy.
- This is one of the secondary abilities of watercrafters in the Codex Alera series. This can often fall under Blessed with Suck unless they have an equivalent talent for metalcrafting: While they can sense emotions and nearly always tell when someone's lying to them, they can also be disabled by being overwhelmed with emotion, and don't tend to deal with crowds well. And then there's Odiana, who was raped just after her abilities manifested, and, well... the results are about what you'd expect.
- The Icemen use a variant form of watercrafting that has allowed them to develop their empathic abilities to the point of being effectively telepathy. Unfortunately, this also lead to their conflict with the Alerans- their sensing human fear and hostility towards themselves, and sending it back magnified, wound up creating centuries of continuous, tactically pointless warfare.
- Jasper Hale. Vampire from Twilight. Can infuse emotions of other sentient beings and can also feel them. One of the reasons he became a Vegetarian Vampire was because he could feel the pain of his many, many victims.
- Elva, from The Inheritance Cycle. Perhaps a deconstruction, as she is heavily burdened with the negative side effects of empathy, and starts as a Blessed with Suck Jerkass Woobie and eventually moves towards Cursed with Awesome Antiheroine.
- Played with in Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower and its sequel. People afflicted with hyperempathy syndrome only hallucinate that they are able to feel the pain of others. The effect is real to them, but they feel only what they imagine others are feeling, so it's more of a psychological condition.
- Planet of the Damned's main character had empathy that he used in fights to read the subtle change in his opposition's emotions, effectively predicting their attacks before they happened.
- In the Firebird Trilogy, the Ehretans (the ancestors of the Sentinels and the Shuhr) created telepathy specifically to gain this power (and the ability to communicate from mind to mind); the Telekinesis and other abilities were just fringe benefits. The idea was that if everyone understood how everyone else was feeling and what they were thinking, there would be perfect understanding and no more war. It... didn't work out that way.
- Time Scout's Ianira and Margo have an instant connection thanks to their shared abilities and background, hence Ianira, prophetess and priestess of Artemis immediately wants to train Margo.
- Later in the same book, Wagers of Sin, Ianira instantly a man's tears upon waking aren't due to his injuries and weeks of privation, but due to the sorrows of his traumatic childhood and lonely adulthood.
- In The Wheel of Time, one of the attributes of the Aes Sedai/Warder bond (and it's variations) gives those involved the ability to sense each other's emotions.
- Also, when channelers enter into a circle together they can feel the others involved to a certain degree.
- Counselor Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation is the archetype in most SF fans' minds, although at least one Empath appeared in Star Trek: The Original Series.
- Troi was completely useless as well. An alien demands that Picard stand down, beam over to his ship, and surrender the Enterprise. "I'm sensing a lot of anger."
- At least the TOS-version in the episode, "The Empath", could heal using her empathy powers, treating health as Liquid Assets.
- There is also a rare example of a male Empath in the TNG episode "Tin Man" with Tam Elbrun (Harry Groener, the Mayor in Buffy) as an unstable Empath that boards an alien life-form to get away from everybody else.
- Vulcan telepathy can also double as empathy, but both are limited to physical contact. (With the exception of bonded couples.)
- This is River's power in Firefly. (Well, that and Waif Fu that lets her take down an entire room of thugs unarmed, or a combination of the two to gun down men without even looking.) It's unusually effective as she uses it to see things she can't possibly know, but her unstable psyche means they come out as what sounds like stereotypical crazy, symbolic phrases. And of course she can also sense thoughts directly, which leads to the plot of Serenity.
- In later seasons, Phoebe in Charmed developed the abilities of an empath in addition to being able to see disjointed images of the future. This is one of the few times that a person with such abilities is actually referred to as an empath. Of course her powers were slightly cooler than normal empaths as all magic in Charmed is linked to emotions; control of emotions allows you to control other people's powers.
- There was a more dangerous version featured in an earlier episode. Thinking they were saving an innocent, they transferred empathy from a demon to Prue, only to find out she was feeling all the emotions, and the demon was being punished with it.
- There was also one rather Squick moment where Phoebe realized that a guy they were talking to was having erotic thoughts about her sister and, due to her powers, she was too. Cue Phoebe running out of the room.
- Peter Petrelli of Heroes is described by another character as an "empath," but this appears to refer to his ability to reproduce other characters' powers (nominally by recalling his emotional reaction/connection to those characters, though this has not yet been explored in depth), rather than directly psionically sensing their emotions or mental state.
- Matt Parkman is a much straighter version of this trope, as his power allows him to read the surface thoughts of nearby people, dig deeper into their minds to read the secrets they're actively trying to hide, and ultimately, to create realistic dreamscapes and trap people in them. As one character has said, "Anything the mind controls, you control".
- Lydia's empathy manifests as tattoos linked to what the person is feeling.
- Teyla, The Chick from Stargate Atlantis, has a cross between empathy and telepathy. The twist is that she can only sense the Wraith (the Big Bads) with this power. This is slightly subverted in that it does not lead to fainting spells, but rather to awesome asskicking when her power allows her to get possessed by the Wraith. A notable season 1 episode features her going berserk and flooring the whole team with an IV stand in the infirmary.
- That's because she was a Hot Amazon before she was an Empath.
- Babylon 5 had a much better version of the traditional empath; instead of emotion sense a la downgraded telepathy, he had emotion manipulation a la downgraded mind control. Of course, it didn't work out very well for him, but running willy-nilly with the power on Garibaldi's watch was probably a bad idea.
- Raw, the "Cowardly Lion" analogue in Tin Man is a pretty powerful one of these, with clairvoyance as a "side." Also an Empathic Healer.
- Both Stark and Zhaan from Farscape had this to varying degrees and applications. Stark used his abilities to ease the passage of a person's life from this world to the next and since he was part of a slave race he had to do this quite a lot. Left him a bit weepy, cringing, and fatalistic. Zhaan had this and other abilities from her training as a Pa'au priestess and while it would sometimes cause her some pain she had an underlying core of tranquility to keep her strong.
- Lorne on Angel, whose empathic abilities came out when people sang.
- Also the demon Barney in "Parting Gifts".
- In Doctor Who, the Doctor seems to have some form of this power along with his telepathy, although pure receptive empathy is only explicitly used by the Ninth Doctor. It's implied that it's a normal sense for Timelords to have (apparently the Master is disabled in this regard). Given the Doctor's often oblivious behaviour, one assumes that he normally blocks his empathic perception, perhaps out of respect for his companions' privacy.
The Doctor: Can't you sense it?
Jack: Sense what?
The Doctor: Coming out of the walls, can't you feel it?!
Rose and Jack: ...
The Doctor: Funny little human brains. How do you get around in those things?
The Doctor: It's afraid. Terribly afraid. And powerful. It doesn't know it yet - but it will do.
- The hobbit-like kithkin in the Magic the Gathering world of Lorwyn are a race of friendly country-dwellers with an empathic bond to each other called thoughtweft.
- Shadowrun gives this ability to Adepts, called Empathic Sense. However, because of the system, it's near-universal for an Adept to possess other, more useful abilities as well.
- Borderline universal for psykers in Warhammer 40,000. Almost all of them have far more powerful abilities as well.
- The Elohim, an angelic choir from In Nomine, can not only sense a person emotions, but can determine why they feel the way they feel and determine how they'll react to any given situation.
- In the Ravenloft setting, fallen paladin Elena Faith-hold was Blessed with Suck by the Dark Powers, who took her former Detect Evil class ability and made it detect strong emotions directed at her instead. The self-deluded darklord now registers others' hatred, fear, or love for her as "Evil", and smacks them accordingly.
- The race of Muses in the Talislanta setting are strongly empathic, so much so that they prefer to let little fairy-type critters called "whisps" translate their desires into speech rather than talk out loud. Muses can also become Emotion Bombs or even project hallucinations into others' minds in a pinch, though they keep quiet about these powers because they're peaceful and hate using them.
- A minor advantage in GURPS that works only on people. Other versions work on Spirits, Animals and Plants. The most important effect is that even creatures who are normally immune to manipulation can be convinced of things by a person with the appropriate Empathy power.
- Gamma World had an interesting twist on the idea: "Badders" (a race of humanoid badgers) were all empaths...and complete jerkasses on account of having to put up with the bad vibes of other badders all the time.
- Dungeons & Dragons has the Argent class - Psyonic characters that can manipulate the emotions of both their enemies and their allies. Most of their attacks either boost their allie's stats or degrade their enemies. This class, in the role-playing sections, are either played as larger than life, feeling their emotions more powerfully than normal and being influenced by/influencing their environment...or, as a twist, to be the Stoic who always tries to keep their emotions in. The rule book makes a point to mention that while playing them as loud, emotional types is okay, you have to be careful not to turn them into a caricature.
- In Fate/hollow ataraxia, the character Caren Ortensia was born with the ability to "feel" demons, which in Nasuverse are phenomena that actually (try to) take away pain from humans. Whenever anyone does something bad or hurtful near her, she feels the pain equally. In the most extreme case, giant spikes erupt from her body if Avenger even approaches her (which is why she's always covered in bandages).
- Averted (or something) in City of Heroes, where Empathy just means Healing.
- Using health as Liquid Assets shows up in their Absorb Pain ability, which is the strongest heal in the game but damages the caster. It's the only true empath-style power, though.
- Neku from The World Ends With You...the very last person one would expect to wield such a power, given that he really doesn't like people.
- The Liir and the Zuul from Sword of the Stars. The former are a species of pacifistic dolphin telepaths to whom the concept of violence is abominable, because they feel the pain of everyone hurt around them. The latter are a species of Complete Monster telepaths who like feeling other people's pain, and delight in causing as much of it as possible. It goes without saying that the two really don't get along (even when we don't take into account their history).
- Deconstructed with F.E.A.R.'s Alma, who was highly sensitive to the emotions of those around her - and the strongest emotions were negative ones, which rapidly proceeded to drive her completely insane.
- In Pokémon both Ralts (the Feeling Pokemon) and its evolution, Kirlia (the Emotion Pokemon) are empaths. They can sense people's emotions with their horns and usually take on the emotion their trainer is feeling. If Ralts sense hostility in the area, it will hide immediately. If Kirlia have positive trainers, their attacks grow stronger and they even become more beautiful than normal Kirlia.
- Their abilities reflect this within the actual game mechanics as well. Trace copies their opponent's ability, and Synchronize will inflict their opponent with a status effect that they're affected by.
- Galaxy Angel: Mint Blancmanche and the entire Blancmanche family. Her father has used it to become incredibly wealthy, so much so that the enemy doesn't attack Blancmanche ships probably in fear of destroying the economy.
- DLC character Javik in Mass Effect 3. He can read the emotions left over in an area inhabited by an individual, and by touching someone, he can determine their personality, merits and flaws within seconds.
- Shandala is not only The Empath in Broken Saints, she's also The Chick and The Messiah and (sometimes) The Damsel in Distress (and to a lesser extent a Pollyanna—though even she's capable of a Heroic BSOD). However, despite all of this, she never comes off as the stereotypical token girl, and her abilities as an empath have a perfectly non-gender-oriented explanation.
- Of course, empathy isn't her only "supernatural" power...
- In Metanoia it was recently revealed that main character Star is an empath, which makes the fact that he worked as a (very efficient) assassin even worse, or as one character put it upon realizing this: "He dies with them. Every murder is a suicide."
- Faen from the Sullisin'rune clan in Drowtales are Empaths, and known for going mad as a result. Besides healing and sensing/projecting emotions Faen turned a teacher into a vegetable mentally and seriously wounded another student when she had a freakout that lead to her running away to the surface. She also turned a an already dangerous, battle-trained direwolf into a berserker thanks to an emotional feedback loop of fear (from her) and anger (from the wolf), apparently instinctively, in a fit of Power Incontinence.
- Her mother Ash'waren is the same, only with control over her powers and about 1000 years of experience. Due to prejudices against dark elves, she does a masquerade and use her Empathy to disguise herself as a drowolath, an illusion she have no problem to uphold in front of a council of great and small clans of the city they live in, a crowded market and her own clan. Exactly how powerful she is is not known, and if Faen's freakout is any indication, nobody wants to find out. It was mentioned by the creators in a podcast that if she doesn't shield her emotions, her mood might affect everyone living inside the Sullissin'rune clan's town sized dome. Did we mention that she has the Drowtales version of Temujin/Ghenghis Khan more or less wrapped around her little finger?
- Parodied in Starslip. Raquel turns out to have this ability due to being a telepathic Quel, but when she started doing Troi's "I'm sensing emotions" schtick, she had to clarify that it wasn't the emotions of the people they were talking to, and in fact she cannot sense emotions behind the room she's in.
- Uryuom (and greater chimera) from El Goonish Shive have empathic abilities they use instead of pheromones, as well as low-grade telepathy. Both are related to antennae.
- Kili of The Dragon Doctors is a shaman who doubles as a therapist (not far off from Deanna Troi of TNG) and does possess certain empathic abilities. As a full-fledged shaman, though, she possesses a lot more tricks than merely stating the obvious emotional state of someone.
- At Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe, there are a number of people with empathic or telepathic abilities. Most have other powers, so this is in general a subversion. Main character Fey is one of the most powerful mages around, has merged with an ancient Sidhe queen, but also has the ability to read emotions around her. Since she's also the most beautiful girl on earth and has a Faerie glamour that makes her even more all that, this has a downside, since every guy who sees her has pretty much the emotions you could guess. Side character Punch is a brick who can knock over a car, but she also has an empathic ability.
- Plus the mutant whose codename is Frank. He's a boy whose only powers are receptive and projective empathy. But he's really, really powerful and he can't turn it off.
- Phobos and Deimos also have a VERY sucky version of this, as they scare the crap out of people with their fear aura, and have to feel that fear, which makes them go a bit overboard with power...
- From the Global Guardians PBEM Universe: Sweet Sorrow is an empathic emotion manipulator who concentrates on the darker emotions. She can sense the full range of human emotions quite accurately, and is very good at sparking the darker range in others.
- Psyche in Thalia's Musings. Revealing her observations to Aphrodite may not have been her brightest move.
Psyche: It sounds like you might have some unresolved issues. Have you considered the idea that your promiscuity is your way of establishing autonomy, something you’ve never truly had?
Aphrodite: Have you considered that I could snap my fingers and make sure you die a lonely, bitter, virgin crone, you presumptuous little bitch? 
- In Captain Planet, Ma-Ti's ring allowed him to determine the feelings of the animals and other members of the environment (which is why we all shouted "What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway? ?").
- Galaxy from My Little Pony had empathic ability.
- Ty Lee, from Avatar: The Last Airbender, says she can see a person's aura (although this may be just her teasing).
- The ensuing civil war between the Altereds and the non-Altereds very nearly killed everyone on the planet, and left Ehret uninhabitable. And the upper classes of the Shuhr, one of the surviving branches of the Altered, are not a pleasant group of people.