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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    What are some fictional stories where there is a prophecy integral to the plot, but the prophecy is just plain false. That is, the prophecy's importance to the plot is only due to how characters react to knowledge of the prophecy, and the prophecy is proven flat out wrong by the events in the story.

    For this to be true, the prophecy could have several details which are shown to be wrong in "random" ways as the story progresses. Or the prophecy could have a detail or two which are wrong, and be very specific about the order in which a few important events happen, which turn out to happen in a different order. Etc., etc.

    What I am talking about does not include misinterpreted, ironic, or backwards prophecies like "the one who will bring balance to the Force" in the Star Wars prequels.

    I'd like to see examples from all kinds of fictional media, including video games.
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Like there shall only be one from Highlander and yet there was all those sequels... and tv series...

    So how about expanding this to include anything run in games whether actual scenarios' or people remembering sandbox games since i recall something like this to do with the Mere of Dead Men where Myrkul could rise again unless the PCs destroyed all of the rings bearing his symbol on it.

    How would you view the prophecy from the Belgariad?

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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Hm... I do have a problem with coming up with a straight example, I'll admit. There are many subversions or varying takes on prophecies, obviously, but a real prophecy, or something treated as such being just rubbish... I can't think of a straight example. I guess it comes a bit down to what a prophecy is, opposed to e.g. a prediction, and what "focus of the plot" means but even administering these very loosely I'd be hard pressed for an answer.

    (Even tv tropes fail me. I think I better prepare for the apocalypse)
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    At the moment, there's only one thing I can think of that even remotely qualifies as this. There is a device in the game Star Control 2 that predicts the date of its own destruction, the device predicts it will be destroyed on a certain date.

    There's a clear event this destruction corresponds to, and if you stop that event from happening it means that the device's prediction was wrong.

    The aliens in possession of the device plan to do the same thing, by simply leaving that area of space when the date gets too close. So the whole point of the device is to provide a 'prophecy' that is intended to be proven wrong. One knows that the prophecy from before is wrong when, based on the change in action taken based on the prediction it offers, the item 'resets' to its normal condition.

    I'm not sure this is quite what you wanted, as this is more like a predictive tool for planning than a prophecy. Prophecies usually seem to be more elaborative than this one is.

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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Quote Originally Posted by gomipile View Post
    What are some fictional stories where there is a prophecy integral to the plot, but the prophecy is just plain false.
    I know it's totally different from what you're asking, but... the profecy behind Emmerich's 2012, was plainly false.
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    IIRC, Season 3 of Angel was entirely about a prophecy that turned out to be a deliberate lie on the part of the season's bad guy to try and kill someone who would grow up to kill him.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    The Japanese version of the second pokemon movie's prophecy was complete bunk technically as the "world turns to Ash" loophole did not apply.

    and weren't there a whole bunch of things in Heroes that were supposed to happen but didn't?

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Quote Originally Posted by ryuplaneswalker View Post
    The Japanese version of the second pokemon movie's prophecy was complete bunk technically as the "world turns to Ash" loophole did not apply.

    and weren't there a whole bunch of things in Heroes that were supposed to happen but didn't?
    Heroes had multiple characters capable of seeing the future or time travelling, so it was more a case of a constantly shifting timestream, I think.

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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    The Mistborn series features a prophecy that was right at some point, but apparently the people who wrote it didn't know that the main bad guy had the ability to rewrite anything he wanted that wasn't carved into steel.

    As such, they end up relying on prophecy that has been deliberately falsified in several key places.
    You need to read more science fiction. Nobody who reads science fiction comes out with this crap about the end of history.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    The "Wings of Fire" series by Tui T. Sutherland (reading age 8-12) I think probably falls into that category.

    The prophecy for the series is basically a dragon from several different flights born on a particular day will grow to end a giant three way war.

    I haven't finished the series yet, but it's pretty strongly implied almost from the start that the prophecy is a sham, and more of a way to manipulate things later on.

    I think the only part that is "wrong" is that one of the dragons is not the proper species. And they refuse to be controlled by the speaker of the prophecy as well, so they aren't going to fulfill it on his terms as originally intended. Their desire to find their true homes/families will most likely end in them fulfilling said prophecy however even if it isn't on the terms of the dragon who spoke it.

    Lots of greek stories have "wrong" prophecies, like the story with Oedipus, and how the Greek Pantheon came into power.

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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Quote Originally Posted by cobaltstarfire View Post
    Lots of greek stories have "wrong" prophecies, like the story with Oedipus, and how the Greek Pantheon came into power.
    Those aren't wrong, those are prophecies that were fulfilled in spite of the people involved working to prevent them.
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    You're not going to get a lot of answers because a prophecy that turns out to be misinterpreted or fulfilled from a certain point of view is more interesting than one that turns out to be plain wrong.
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Quote Originally Posted by Finn Solomon View Post
    You're not going to get a lot of answers because a prophecy that turns out to be misinterpreted or fulfilled from a certain point of view is more interesting than one that turns out to be plain wrong.
    I don't think this is necessarily the case, but a prophecy turning out to be wrong means you have to get into the mechanics of how a prophecy can be wrong.

    Most of the time, the answer tends to be because it was a lie, or the original prophecy was modified by someone who told an incomplete version. Neither of these really strike me as being that the prophecy was wrong, just that the common knowledge of a prophecy was wrong. I'd consider that to be on the level of a misinterpretation, since those don't make the original prophecy wrong.

    If not those, the author would have to explain how a prophecy could be wrong, and that would delve into detailing the mechanics of how the actual thing works and what caused it to go wrong. Unless the mechanics of it were excellent, and the explanation was clear, that would be extremely problematic from a plot perspective.

    Actually, come to think of it, Minority Report had such a prophecy in it.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morph Bark View Post
    Those aren't wrong, those are prophecies that were fulfilled in spite of the people involved working to prevent them.
    If they had never received the prophecies and taken action to prevent them the prophecies would have never been fulfilled in the way they were. They are prophecies that were fulfilled because of knowledge of them and little else.

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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    The Mistborn trilogy is probably the best example, in that the prophecy the heroes get given isn't misinterpreted or backwards, but deliberately wrong.
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Does the Minority Report movie count?

    Also, Saph: good point!
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Would Bradbury's "The Toynbee Convector" count?

    Where someone claims to have invented a time machine and seen the glorious utopian near future, giving society hope and a drive to better itself to actually create the utopia?
    He lied.

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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Huge spoiler for a very good video game:

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    Acarnum: Of Steamwork and Magicka.

    The whole game kicks off talking about how YOU are the reincarnation of some sort of superwise elven prophet, who is prophecized to bring balance to the Force (or something like that).

    The Elven Prophet in question has never actually died. The whole thing is just a red herring, but it doesn't stop the waves of assassins who want to stop the Second Coming of Elven Jesus

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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    In A Song of Ice and Fire, there's the Dothraki prophecy about the "stallion who mounts the world", which is pretty clearly wrong.
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Quote Originally Posted by IthilanorStPete View Post
    In A Song of Ice and Fire, there's the Dothraki prophecy about the "stallion who mounts the world", which is pretty clearly wrong.
    Oh... I clearly disagree, my good mate.

    I clearly disagree. Just wait and see...

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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cikomyr View Post
    Oh... I clearly disagree, my good mate.

    I clearly disagree. Just wait and see...
    Well, its application to Rhaego, at least.
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Quote Originally Posted by IthilanorStPete View Post
    Well, its application to Rhaego, at least.
    Doesn't meant the prophecy was wrong. Just that it was applied to the wrong person.

    Remember what the Stallion was supposed to do. and once you reach the end of the latest book...

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    You see Daenerys will probably take command of a whole Khalasar, and will probably rally a bunch of others, just because of the might her dragons bring her.

    Then she will most likely go on a rampage and destroy all slavering Free Cities, since they supported the war against her. Thus fulfilling the Dothraki prophecy.

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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    The problem with prophecies (at least, in works where they're taken seriously; I assume the OP doesn't care about quirky horoscope readers in mundane comedies) is that the readers treat them as foreshadowing. A scene where a seer declares that a star-born child shall lead us to hell is like a scene where the chancellor smiles wickedly while pocketing a bottle of poison. They can mislead the reader, but if they don't lead anywhere at all, it feels pointless. It's possible to subvert the trope, but bear in mind that tropes exist for a reason.

    As far as decently-done fake prophecies go, I think The Matrix did it pretty well. The Oracle explicitly says that Neo is not The One. Since Neo is The One, the Oracle obviously got that wrong. Of course, Morpheus claims that "The Oracle told you what you needed to hear," so it's quite possible that the "prophecy" was right but the "prophet" deliberately obscured the message to bring it about.
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    Then again, the sequels reveal that the entire prophecy is just just a lie created by the machines to manipulate the free humans. Indeed, Neo does not end up freeing all humanity from the Matrix, though does establish peace between humans and machines so that anyone who realizes the nature of their prison can simply leave. Note that the past Ones presumably had exactly the same prophecy and only increased the machines' hold on humanity.


    There's also Minority Report, obviously, since the entire plot revolves around a prophecy that the main character refuses to accept.
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    Anderton in prophesied to kill Crow in cold blood. Crow's actual death is very similar to the prophecy, but with a key difference: Anderton no longer intends to kill him. His death is an accident (Anderton's gun discharges when Crow tries to take it from him after Anderton refuses to do the job himself).

    Likewise, the final confrontation between Anderton and Burgess is very close to its own prophecy, but Burgess ultimately turns the gun on himself instead of killing Anderton.
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Quote Originally Posted by cobaltstarfire View Post
    If they had never received the prophecies and taken action to prevent them the prophecies would have never been fulfilled in the way they were. They are prophecies that were fulfilled because of knowledge of them and little else.
    They are self-fulfilling, yes, but they are not wrong.
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Not technically a prophecy, but The Winslow.

    Other than being apparently indestructible, it has no apparent power, utility or meaning. That doesn't stop 75% of the galaxy engaging in planet-destroying wars in order to obtain it, because it's 'the most important thing in the universe'.

    (Of course, all the reasons for this are a bit circular).

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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Quote Originally Posted by FLHerne View Post
    Not technically a prophecy, but The Winslow.

    Other than being apparently indestructible, it has no apparent power, utility or meaning. That doesn't stop 75% of the galaxy engaging in planet-destroying wars in order to obtain it, because it's 'the most important thing in the universe'.

    (Of course, all the reasons for this are a bit circular).
    This is a D&D forum, where any item will be researched thoroughly in order to find ways to abuse or weaponize it; you'd think the posters might imagine reasons why one might fight to obtain an indestructible object.
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    I think I remembered a somewhat example... but I can't recall the title. It was a German audio book with a prophecy about how the hero would merge with a great "good" dragon (to form something like a dragon messiah) to fight an evil overlord dragon. I.. forgot why exactly he didn't want to and why they won anyway but the hero refused and the evil dragon was destroyed anyway. I wish I could recall the title or something but it's been forever...
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Quote Originally Posted by Axiomatic View Post
    The Mistborn series features a prophecy that was right at some point, but apparently the people who wrote it didn't know that the main bad guy had the ability to rewrite anything he wanted that wasn't carved into steel.

    As such, they end up relying on prophecy that has been deliberately falsified in several key places.
    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    The Mistborn trilogy is probably the best example, in that the prophecy the heroes get given isn't misinterpreted or backwards, but deliberately wrong.
    To make sure I understand the example correctly (and I'm going to make up a hypothetical here):

    A prophecy was given that said "The BBEG shall be killed by someone wearing a blue shirt".

    Since BBEG can change anything that is not written in steel, he changes it to "The BBEG shall be killed by someone wearing red pants".

    Therefore everyone goes around basing their actions on the assumption that the BBEG will be killed by someone wearing red pants. Everyone is therefore surprised when he's killed by someone wearing a blue shirt, no red pants in sight.

    Do I have this correct?

    If so, I'd argue that the prophecy isn't wrong. It's just that no one knows what the correct prophecy is anymore. This is no different than the Angel example above. The actual prophecy has been replaced with a fake (which isn't actually a prophecy).

    Quote Originally Posted by Mewtarthio View Post
    As far as decently-done fake prophecies go, I think The Matrix did it pretty well. The Oracle explicitly says that Neo is not The One. Since Neo is The One, the Oracle obviously got that wrong. Of course, Morpheus claims that "The Oracle told you what you needed to hear," so it's quite possible that the "prophecy" was right but the "prophet" deliberately obscured the message to bring it about.
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    Then again, the sequels reveal that the entire prophecy is just just a lie created by the machines to manipulate the free humans. Indeed, Neo does not end up freeing all humanity from the Matrix, though does establish peace between humans and machines so that anyone who realizes the nature of their prison can simply leave. Note that the past Ones presumably had exactly the same prophecy and only increased the machines' hold on humanity.
    The matrix is actually an interesting argument, as for every person who argues that the prophecy was averted, one can argue that it was fulfilled in it's entirety.
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    I think I remember reading something with a senile oracle at some point...
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    Default Re: Stories with wrong (but not backwards) prophecies integral to the plot?

    Quote Originally Posted by tomandtish View Post
    If so, I'd argue that the prophecy isn't wrong. It's just that no one knows what the correct prophecy is anymore. This is no different than the Angel example above. The actual prophecy has been replaced with a fake (which isn't actually a prophecy).
    Technically yes, but the prophecy that the heroes are given is wrong, which in practice isn't very different from the original prophecy just being wrong in the first place.
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