Waif Prophet

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A character often, but not exclusively, female who is physically or mentally ill or weak, or at least small in stature (e.g. a child), who possesses knowledge or insight she should not have. Her insight is often ascribed directly to a "debilitation". She tries to keep her differences to herself, as a consequence of (or in fear of) Cassandra Truth, but they can not help but manifest at the worst possible time, until the climax, at which time they are exactly what are needed.

See also: Mysterious Waif, Whoopi Epiphany Speech, Oracular Urchin, Mad Oracle. This is a variant of Creepy Child, and sometimes overlaps with the Squishy Wizard.

Contrast Blind Seer, whose archetypal disability seems not to be a hindrance. Compare Cursed with Awesome.

Examples of Waif Prophet include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Tomoe Hotaru in the Sailor Moon manga.
  • Alvis in Last Exile.
  • Subverted by Zefie, in .hack//Legend of the Twilight Bracelet. Her "mother" is the Creepy Child/Waif Prophet Aura, who was the MacGuffin for .hack//Sign. Zefie seems similar at first, but it quickly becomes apparent that she's really sarcastic, mischievous, and outspoken.
    • And occasionally unhesitatingly violent.
  • Mashiro Kazahana from My-HiME, who spends almost the whole series confined to a wheelchair, and appears to be no older than Mai's kid brother Takumi. In addition to being the current headmaster of Fuuka Academy, she was the previous HiME Festival's champion and master of Mai's CHILD Kagutsuchi, three hundred years ago.
  • Quon from RahXephon.
  • The Young/Old people from Akira, specifically the bedridden Kyouko.
  • A few of the characters in The Five Star Stories possessing "Para-Diver" powers. Also many of the Fatima Fates, especially Clotho have elements of this, despite the fact that they are at least twice as strong as a normal person.
  • In Saint Seiya, Seiya's lost sister Seika grew up into one of these after getting Laser-Guided Amnesia years ago.
  • Ilya takes this role in the Heaven's Feel route of Fate/stay night. Although she's mostly on Shirou's side, she only hints at the many important things she knows (like the true identities of Archer and the shadow-monster), saying he'll figure them out eventually. She's also small... and doomed.
  • Male example: Subaru Sumeragi, during his Tokyo Babylon days.
    • Despite his slight build, Subaru is physically extremely strong, but he gives the impression of weakness sometimes when he over-exerts his spiritual powers.
  • Hinoto in X 1999.
  • Played with in the Fatal Fury movie. Sulia Gaudeamus is a waifish healer without any fighting abilities and who's got an Psychic Link to the Big Bad ( read, she's the twin sister of the guy who's got said Big Bad inside of him), but she's more of The Smart Guy of the group due to her encyclopedic knowledge of the myths behind the whole deal. Therefore, her insight in the plot is not necessarily related to epiphanies.
  • Mary Magdalene in Chrono Crusade, an orphan girl whose prophetic powers were so strong and overwhelming, she forgot her own childhood and name—Mary is the name given to her by the religious order who took her in.
  • Rika from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni appears to be this. In fact, she doesn't have any kind of future-reading powers. She's just already been through the future - and died horribly in it - hundreds and hundreds of times. Can you blame her for trying to tell someone?
  • In Nightschool, it's noted that "seers who are still sane are rare." Marina, a pixieish young seer who can't be much older than 13 or so, has to regularly take special medication in order to stay lucid, but her visions get compromised as a side effect. Unfortunately, her employers at the start of the series care more about receiving accurate predictions about the stock market than her mental health. When Marina's teacher finds this out, the employers are rightly curbstomped
  • A subtle instance in Tekkon Kinkreet: White is exceedingly immature for his age, and only as physically strong as a small ten-year-old can be expected to be. But at the same time, he occasionally shows a nearly supernatural insight and seems very in-tune to Black and the city around them.
  • Tiffa Adil (no, not that one) is shown numerous times predicting the future and uses this ability to drive the plot at one point. However just as often her (often VERY bleak) predictions are proven wrong by her boyfriend Garrod.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • X-Factor: "I'm Layla Miller. I know stuff."


Film[edit | hide]

  • A never named, diseased girl in Apocalypto yells what turns out to be a prophecy after the main characters.
  • The daughter in Dark Floors does this during her mad ramblings because she's lived all this before--in fact, living in that time loop is what's driven her mad to begin with.
  • Minority Report: The government uses three "precogs" to predict future murders. All three sort of fit the trope, being physically weak from lifelong inactivity, but especially the girl, Agatha, who is also female, somewhat cute, and a more powerful and versatile psychic than the other two.
  • Don't Say A Word: The girl suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, whom Michael Douglas must get through to in order to save his kidnapped daughter, has very strong echoes of this trope.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Billy in Remnants. He has a sort of hyper-aware brain as a result of being awake for all of the five-century, hibernated trip to Mother, a giant, superpowerful spaceship that it is found out he can interface with and control.
    • Point of order: Even before the trip he was odd and (as the book described it) when he slept, his brain didn't shut down. That was the justification for him staying awake while he was a Human Popsicle, actually; it wasn't just a hibernation mishap.
  • A similar type of character exists in most of the output of Stephen King, the classic example being the blind girl in The Langoliers.
    • King is particularly fond of mentally challenged or child psychics. In Dreamcatcher, for instance, we meet Douglas, a young mentally challenged boy and avid Scooby Doo fan.
  • Fiver, the runt of the litter "seer rabbit", whose visions of Man's encroachment drive the plot in the various adaptations of Watership Down, is a nonhuman variant of this character. This is especially played up in the animated TV series, where he spent an episode terrified that his visions actually caused the dangers he predicted.

Fiver: (to a still very much alive enemy rabbit): Believe me, I am very sorry for your death.

  • Jenny Wren in Charles Dickens' novel Our Mutual Friend - a tiny, crippled teenager, who has otherworldly visions, and is also an unusually perceptive and insightful observer of the characters around her. These two abilities are interconnected, and both suggested to be either a compensation for or result of her disability. Her insights and her visions help resolve one of the novel's main plots. However, it should be also pointed out that although her abilities and plot function fit the trope perfectly, Jenny's personality is much closer to the Deadpan Snarker.
  • The mute child Estrella in Ea Cycle.
  • Hai from Amelia Atwater-Rhodes' Wyvernhail. Her unstable magic allows her to view many possible future outcomes of decisions, but does not always render her the most lucid.
  • Luet from Orson Scott Card's Homecoming series.
  • Bran Stark in A Song of Ice and Fire, who gains magical abilities and insight after being crippled and emerging from a coma.
  • Irnai from Lady Knight, the last book in the Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce. Incidentally, she foretells the coming of the titular Chosen One.
  • Alia Atreides, AKA St. Alia of the Knife, from Frank Herbert's "Dune" universe.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • River from Firefly is a mind reader, and is quite Ophelia-like in her madness.
    • As is Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who had been severely damaged by a mob attack that left her physically weak. She regained her strength part-way through the second season and remained somewhat prophetic; but was still completely crazy. Joss Whedon seems to like this trope in general.
  • Trance Gemini in Andromeda
  • Gabe in The Collector.
  • Maia in The 4400
  • Kes in Star Trek: Voyager has a highly developed brain, as a result she can communicate telepathically, see the future or possible alternate futures and even prophesy events that occur after her physical death.
  • Tim in Doctor Who "Human Nature"/"Family of Blood".
  • The girl with the tarot cards in Torchwood.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • Leonard Bernstein's Candide had the Infant Casmira, a Creepy Child kept in a cage by an Arab conjurer to foretell the Lisbon earthquake. (This character disappeared from the show permanently when Lillian Hellman's book was replaced.)


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Aerith in Final Fantasy VII. Sure, she seems to Hear Voices and talks to people who aren't there. Except, she's the Last of the Ancients and has the power to talk to (and listen to, though it doesn't always make sense to her) the Planet itself.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, you encounter a small child in a village called Ember who prophesies that the entire village will be slaughtered soon. Though everyone else is doomed, the child also tells you he himself will survive if one of your party members offers up his hunting knife. Later, when you've been framed for the destruction of the village, the kid comes in handy at your trial, using both his testimony and his mysterious power of prophecy to make the prosecuting attorney decidedly uncomfortable.
    • A random prophet in Storm of Zehir sees the coming of 4th edition rules. Seriously, the transition was canonically the cause of huge disasters in the Forgotten Realms setting as the magic system shifted.
  • The siblings Ninian and Nils from Fire Emblem 7 fit this trope a bit, being able to sense danger among other things (which don't include fighting, though, which makes some players think they're useless * as a whole* in battle).
  • Fon Master Ion from Tales of the Abyss is a Rare Male Example of this trope (although you wouldn't know this by looking at him.)
  • Pharos in Persona 3 is a creepy, sickly-looking young boy who visits the Silent Protagonist on various nights with information relating to the near future.
  • The Pope of Arunafeltz in Ragnarok Online fits this trope quite closely.
  • Luleva of Summoner, a young orphan seer.
  • Eresh from Suikoden V is a textbook example, complete with superior magical ability yet painfully low defense, face cloaked in shadow, and a staff quite reminiscent of Yuna's. A few of the more enigmatic characters, such as Jeane and Zerase, seem to have past connections with her, hinting that there may be more to this young witch than meets the eye...
  • Klara from Pathologic.
  • The Forecaster of Fallout: New Vegas, a psychic orphan who wears a psychic inhibitor and can be paid to give his prophecies on certain things pertaining to either the upcoming Battle of Hoover Dam, the Mojave itself and even The Courier.
  • The "I'm different" Turret you can rescue in Portal 2 foreshadows just about everything that happens later on, from Cave Johnson's Lemon speech to the old testing areas to GLaDOS being pecked by birds.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Jonas of The Phoenix Requiem is a Rare Male Example.
  • Homestuck has them pretty much everywhere, being that the main cast are all thirteen years old or the equivalent and that half of them are girls. Everyone with a dreamself on Prospit can use the clouds of Skaia to see glimpses of the future, as first shown with Jade Harley; virtually everyone has lost this ability with the deaths of their dreamselves, Jade being the first to lose it. The Seer Character Class, whose two seen members are both female, has a more comprehensive prophet ability, being able to see the outcome of any possible course and thus discern the correct future path. Terezi Pyrope, the Seer of Mind, is well-versed in this ability; Rose Lalonde, the Seer of Light, never gave herself the opportunity to learn to use or develop it. Finally, two of the trolls - Aradia Megido and Sollux Captor (a male example) - have the ability to hear the voices of the dead, who foreshadow the future for them; Sollux loses it upon being blinded.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • This trope is grounded in the ascetic lifestyle of many spiritual people. Starving oneself for years as a form of religious discipline can result in waif-ness, and possibly in visions/hallucinations.
  • Several mystics and saints of the Catholic Church, like Saint Julian of Norwich, Blessed Anna Catherine Emmerich, Saint Gemma Galgani, Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa, Saint Margaret Marie Alacoque, Saint Theresa of Avila, the three Fatima children (specially little Jacinta), Saint Bernadette Sobirous (of Lourdes fame), etc.
    • Perhaps the Trope-Namer for this is in Acts 16:16, where Paul, Timothy, and Luke come across "a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination... which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying."
  • The original Oracle(s) of Delphi. Many historians believe her "prophetic trances" were caused by spending all day huffing ethylene-rich gas from a volcanic fissure. Others that she was merely your average crazy person. Either way...