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Claire, Sylar, and Peter appear on Lydia's back.
|Originally held by:||Lydia (deceased)|
|Ability to:||Feel the emotions, thoughts, hopes, desires, and dreams of others|
|Examples of empathy|
Empathy is the ability to feel the emotions, thoughts, hopes, desires, and dreams of others. Lydia expresses this in the tattoos she possesses.
- Lydia is known to have had this ability. (Orientation)
- Sylar has empathically absorbed this ability from Lydia. (Let It Bleed)
According to a list created by Edgar, Lydia "sees what people need". Lydia appears to know the names of people painted on her back (Orientation). She was able to give out Danko and Hiro Nakamura's names after Samuel put ink onto her. It is unknown if it's the only way for her to tell names.
Fourteen years ago at the Sullivan Bros. Carnival, Lydia was said to use her ability (Stolen Fate). She saw a baby on fire in a crystal Edgar stole from a fortune teller, while Edgar saw elder versions of himself and Lydia kissing. The fortune teller claimed the crystal is "just a hunk of quartz" and "another prop"—however, she added that Lydia's power polluted it.
Lydia later reads Hiro, but tells him he needs to touch her for it to work. After reading his emotions, she has him take her back in time and he indicates that she actually caused him to do that somehow. Later, when Hiro has trouble returning them to the present, Lydia uses her ability to help him manage to teleport them back just in time. (Thanksgiving)
When Lydia decides that the Carnival needs a new leader, and that Peter would be perfect, she reaches out with her empathic powers and manages to make the compass tattoo that Samuel gave him reappear. The tattoo remains on him for at least awhile and thanks to it, he learns Samuel's true identity. It's unclear how she managed to do this as she seems to work through touch (Close to You).
At the end of her life, Lydia ended up reading someone through a kiss like Sylar did to Claire: Samuel kissed her as she was mortally wounded and dying after rejecting her reading him, allowing Lydia to tell that Samuel was behind the attack on the carnies by Eli, framing Noah Bennet for the act. (The Art of Deception)
Sylar manifests this ability after an intimate encounter with Lydia. Like her, he seems to be able to gather basic information about a person's wants and desires through touch (Let It Bleed). He later uses this to understand Claire without having to cut her head open. Sylar proceeds to kiss Claire, noting that he found Lydia's use of the ability on him hyper-erotic (Pass/Fail). He also is able to create tattoos on his skin, although he had some trouble at first.
Sylar uses this ability immediately after absorbing it by seeing through Lydia's façade and realizing that she simply wants to manipulate him. Later, after demanding Samuel to inject him with ink, he forms a tattoo of Claire Bennet on his arm, indicating that he did not truly want to be at the carnival. He seems to have some trouble creating a tattoo at first however, and was only able to make it lie still after Samuel told him not to try to control it.
On Lydia's back, images of Charlie...
Hiro touches Lydia, allowing her to feel what he feels.
Claire touches Lydia, whose back reveals Claire's greatest desire.
Sylar has trouble forming a tattoo.
- Samuel and Lydia often use their abilities together. Samuel creates the ink and places it on Lydia's back, and Lydia's ability forms a tattoo. Lydia then uses her ability to give information about the tattoo.
- According to NBC.com, Lydia "can sense the fears and desires of others".
- Dawn Olivieri said, "Lydia is an empath. Her power is kind of broad because unlike some of the other characters, she can do a multitude of things. She has pretty much full body tattoos on and the tattoos, when prompted by whatever it is inside of her, can pull up pictures of the future or things that are going to happen. The way that it's played out in the show is that they are things that need to be seen. Not always what you want to see, but things that need to be seen. I look at her like an oracle, like the girl with the magic ball that can kind of see whatever comes to her."
- This is the first ability that Sylar has empathically absorbed, and then not killed the person he absorbed it from, although Lydia is later killed by Eli.
- For the ability to locate others, see clairvoyance.
- For the ability to mimic the powers of others through empathy, see empathic mimicry.
- For the ability to manipulate the emotions of others, see empathic manipulation.
- For the ability to sense others' thoughts and emotions, see telepathy.
- For more on Lydia's body art, see Lydia's tattoos.