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Jesse Custer has a power that "rivals the power of God" (as the angels Fiore and DeBlank said). The power could be summarised as "do EXACTLY what I've said", which from the meta point of view is neither godlike powerful nor original - in other comic books there are lots of characters who can do similar things (e.g. Kilgrave from Jessica Jones, Silverfox from X-Men O:W who could do that via touch, or to a certain degree any telepath like Charles Xavier or Martian Manhunter from DC) - but can be seen as "godlike" in a world without magic or superheroes.

But then Jesse in anger accidentally sends a kid to Hell, by shouting those exact words. Fiore also seems to find tranquility after death when Jesse tells him to "find peace".

So what exactly are the limits of this "godlike" power? Is it just Kilgrave-like "overwriting" of free will or is Jesse a reality warper* able to alter physical world, that could for example tell someone to "grow wings", "be immortal", cure Cassidy from vampirism or (since his power seems to work on at least certain animals) tell a dog to "evolve into humanoid"?

In example: Jesse told Cassidy to fly - Cass jumped and hit the wall after which Jesse ordered him to stop. Does it mean that

a. Cassidy just tried to follow the order but couldn't

b. Cassidy COULD fly for that brief moment** until the wall stopped him and Jesse told him to stop?

If there are differences between his power level between the TV show and the comic I'd ideally like to see an answer relating to both.

* TV Tropes warning!!!
** We can safely assume that vampires can't fly - when Cassidy jumped from the plane he crashed pretty badly on the ground

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  • I think it was mistake for them use this "sending to hell". It wasn't like this in the comic, so you wanna movie answer? – Mithoron Aug 31 '17 at 23:09
  • If there are differences between his power level between movie and the comic, If possible I'd like to see both. – Yasskier Aug 31 '17 at 23:14
  • It's not a matter of "power level", just a dumb inconsistency introduced in series, for whatever reason. – Mithoron Feb 20 '20 at 17:19
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Answering for the show is a little tricky

The basic limits as of right now seems to be someone must be able to hear The Word and someone must have a soul for The Word to work on them

As to the limits of what The Word can do well we already have a problem with that

Eugene went to hell because Preacher used The Word and told him to, now nothing wrong with going to hell but Eugene should not have had the ability to just up and go to hell even the angels had to take a bus.

When Preacher told Cassidy to fly he tried to but he could not actually fly.

Now if we assume that Eugene had the ability to go to to hell for some reason the limit of The Word becomes, what you tell someone to do has to be possible for them to do at least on a sub conscious level.

In the comics thats basically what it is you tell someone to do something they do it but they do not necessarily do it how you wanted them to. The show makes a reference to this in the "Serve God" command he served god but he served his god not Preachers god.

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  • arguably, going "to hell" is a metaphysical thing, except his body disappeared too. But Jesse doesn't seem to have the power to alter physical reality, but can do pretty much anything beyond that? – KutuluMike Sep 2 '17 at 14:12
  • Just for a sake of the discussion - is it possible that Cassidy COULD fly before he hit the wall but then stopped trying when Jesse told him to stop? – Yasskier Sep 2 '17 at 21:07
  • Depends if flight is a power of vampires in the shows universe I suppose, but thats getting into a whole new issue. – Revenant Sep 3 '17 at 5:41
  • Judging by the fact that Cassidy basically smashed himself into grisly bits after jumping from the plane, we can safely assume that vampires can't fly. But then Cassidy "flew" a meter or so until he hit the wall. If there was no wall, would he kept flying (even if he weren't vampire), until Jesse told him to stop? That's what I'm trying to find: can Jesse alter physical world, could he tell someone to do something physically impossible (i.e. fly, grow wings) and change reality that would make it possible, or will simply the victim attempt to follow his words to the limits of possibility? – Yasskier Sep 3 '17 at 21:52
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At one point in the comic Jesse tells some one to burn and conjures flames with just the word, wouldn't that be physical manipulation basically pyrokinesis

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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. You could improve your answer if you can point to the issue where this happens. It would also help if you can establish that the person Jesse told to "burn" was not capable of lighting themselves on fire, which is to say it was purely Jesse's power that did it. – DavidW May 15 '20 at 1:21

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