Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

So, your characters aren't just Pals with Jesus... they are Jesus (or a non-denomination reasonable facsimile thereof). Okay. How the heck do you write for this character? Short answer: not easily or not well. There are genres where such powerful characters are normal, but as is the character is at risk of becoming a Deus Ex Machina. To solve this conundrum some authors will De Power the character, stripping them of some or all their powers in order to reintroduce them to the plot.

This isn't just a case of Brought Down to Normal which inevitably ends, but a much longer lasting if not permanent reduction in strength. This is often done as a long term Drama-Preserving Handicap on the character in order to keep them in the cast without having to write them off or use really convoluted Green Rocks and Kryptonite Factor plots. (This may be accomplished by a Power Nullifier.)

It's unlikely the character will be pleased by this turn of events, and if they're power hungry or evil they'll fight tooth and nail to find a way to get it back. Heroes who just want to be normal will be happy, even if it means they can no longer use their finger-snapping problem solving powers.

This trope mostly applies to characters who are already gods, godlike, or mortals who through the story gain powers to rival the gods. The result is usually a God in Human Form. Expect them to learn that Power Loss Makes You Strong.

This isn't just a simple Failure Is the Only Option or Status Quo Is God, where a character who gains godlike powers has them gone in the same episode, but the writers trying jump out of the corner they've painted themselves in by depowering the character who by all indications should/could have kept all their powers throughout the show. Subtrope of Brought Down to Normal. See also How to Stop the Deus Ex Machina and Field Power Effect.

Examples of De-Power include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Japan Tengu Party Illustrated La Résistance discovers why the powerful tengu (supernatural crow and transformed human Youkai) hate and fear a certain professor: he's discovered a real tengu, a large, seemingly flightless bird (think Kevin) and if the supernatural tengu, who use their uniqueness to define their very existence see the bird they become permanently depowered into ordinary humans and crows. Strangely enough, the tengu had no clue about the bird (it's as elusive as bigfoot) and were only going on the fact that the professor was snooping on them and thus a serious threat.
  • Happened to Havoc in the backstory of Darker than Black. However, she really doesn't want her powers to come back, since that would also mean that she'd lose her feelings and morals again, and she was a Complete Monster who drank children's blood when she was a Contractor. In the second season, Hei loses his Shock and Awe powers, making him less of a One-Man Army, although he's still a formidable opponent.
  • Bleach: Ichigo "Power Incontinence defined" Kurosaki appears to have completely lost his shinigami powers after using them up to defeat Aizen - he can't even see Rukia anymore. No telling what this means for his powered-up friends.
    • I believe the phrase "a convenient new power that has never been hinted at and brings forth a new series of characters and powers that fully eclipse the last plot" is fully defined in the word "Fullbring."
      • That's not entirely true. Urahara states that Chad's powers were hollow-like way near the beginning of the Hueco Mundo arc. It makes sense that Ichigo would gain access to other hollow related powers when considering that he was hollowfied. Until you realize that his hollow powers and shinigami powers are the same being. His fullbring can use the Getsuga Tenshou, though...
        • Ichigo has lost his powers two separate times. The first time was during his confrontation with Renji and Byakuya when they came to collect Rukia and take her back to Seireitei. During Ichigo's and Renji's fight, Byakuya steps in and attacks Ichigo. Byakuya tells Ichigo that he would bleed out soon, and if he were to survive he would have no trace of shinigami powers. Ichigo was later able to awaken his own shinigami powers thanks to a process created by Urahara. The same process caused him to become a vizard. The second time Ichigo lost his powers happened when he utilized the Final Getsuga Tenshō to defeat Aizen. As of the chapter released on August 17 Ichigo regained his Shinigami powers thanks to a zanpakuto looking item fashioned by Urahara. Rukia stabbed him in the chest, just like in the first episode, which transferred the pooled reiatsu donated by Rukia, Renji, Byakuya, Kenpachi, Hitsugaya, and Ikkaku into Ichigo returning him his shinigami powers with noticeable aesthetic changes in both his Shihakushō and Zangetsu as well.
        • As of the latest issue it is revealed that Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto aka Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13 ordered that all the Gotei 13 Captains and lieutenants add their reiatsu into the sword Urahara created. It was also revealed that Hirako the leader of the Vizard, Hanatarō Yamada a member of the 4th Division, Yoruichi, Ichigo's father and Urahara himself all poured their reiatsu into the sword in order to return Ichigo his shinigami powers.
  • Saint Seiya: Next Dimension had this since the last saga had all six of the main characters in God Cloths.
  • FMA: Edward gave up his alchemy for Al's body in the end of the series.
  • In Tiger and Bunny, there's a very rare phenomenon where NEXT will slowly lose their powers over a period of time. This starts happening to Kotetsu in the second half of the series, and Kotetsu learns in the 16th episode that his own hero, Mr. Legend, had the same thing happen to him -- and really didn't take it well.
  • Alexiel in Angel Sanctuary. Her true powers were unsealed with the destruction of Eden.

Comic Books

  • Marvel's Secret Wars II has the Beyonder become a human to see what it's like.
  • The original Ghost Rider, John Blaze eventually had the demon exorcised from himself, making him a normal human, and he enjoyed it. He later became a sort of mentor to a new Ghost Rider.
    • Eventually, Johnny Blaze became the Ghost Rider again, and fought his way out of hell.
  • The Silver Age DCU had characters so powerful that they basically had to destroy the universe in order to De-Power all of them.
    • In the Pre Crisis era, Kryptonians could permanently lose their powers through exposure to Gold Kryptonite. Post-Crisis Superman once had to use this to defeat a group of Pre Crisis kryptonians (as they were far more powerful) fortunately, Krytonite only works on Kryptonians from the same universe.
      • This was also used in Generations a storyline based on Silver Age Superman and Batman. Superman's first child, Joel, was exposed to Gold Kryptonite in the womb, his sister wasn't, but she wore a red sun pendant in early childhood until she was ready for her powers. This eventually lead to a bitter adult Joel being manipulated by Lex Luthor into using temporary powers to kill his sister.
  • Wonder Woman was depowered for a while in the 70s. DC wanted to cash in on Action Girls and was aiming for Power Loss Makes You Strong, but feminists picked up on some Unfortunate Implications...
  • In All Fall Down, this happens to every superhero and villain in the world. Permanently.

Films -- Animated

  • The Disney version of |Hercules has him lose all of his godly powers except super strength as a baby, get them back full force towards the end, and chooses to be Brought Down to Normal (er, normal for him, so he's still super strong) so he can be with his beloved Meg.

Films -- Live-Action

  • In Superman II, Clark gave up his powers to be with Lois Lane... of course, this turned out to be a spectacularly bad idea. Or at least, spectacularly badly timed considering Zod and his cronies broke out of the Phantom Zone soon after.


  • In Wim Wender's movies Wings of Desire and Faraway, so Close, the protagonists are angels who renounce their status as spiritual creatures in order to experience mortal life as human beings. It's hinted that Peter Falk, of all people, is himself a former angel.
  • The Discworld novel Small Gods centers around Brutha, the reluctant chosen one of the Great God Om, who has incarnated in the form of a turtle. Not his fault, mind you; he had planned to incarnate as a giant raging bull, but the Omnian religion has become a Corrupt Church ruled by fear of the Exquisition rather than any genuine faith, and in a world where Gods Need Prayer Badly and belief can change the very nature of reality, this means bad news for any deity.
    • Although Terry Pratchett does happily use powerful gods and wizards as characters in other novels. They are generally portrayed as argumentative, small minded and generally unlikely or unwilling to use their power in any substantial way.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Gandalf, Saruman, and the other Wizards are angelical powers in the form of old men sent by the Valar to assist the people of Middle Earth. Morgoth and Sauron also were both eventually trapped in the material form that they have assumed, as a consequence of their corruption.

Live-Action TV

  • Anyanka from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a powerful vengeance demon who lost her powers to manipulate the past, thus changing the future.
    • Season Four of Angel.
      • Cordelia, after becoming a minor The Powers That Be: "Oh god, I'm so bored."
      • Season Five as well: hellgod Illyria is brought down several orders of magnitude when she takes over Fred's physical body.
      • Angel becomes human for a day in Season One.
  • Volume 4 of Heroes has done this with its two Game Breaker heroes, Peter Petrelli (mass-Power Copying) and Hiro Nakamura (teleportation, time freeze, and time travel), whose powers were stolen by Big Bad Arthur Petrelli in Volume 3. Both have since regained much weaker versions of their original abilities: Peter can only copy one power at a time (losing the previous power whenever he takes on a new one), and he now needs to copy powers by touch; while Hiro was limited to stopping time, but it turns out that this was actually his powers becoming a bit unpredicatable: they're killing him and he accelerates a brain tumor every time he uses his powers. He has his full range back, but his powers still misfire sometimes.
    • Similarly, Sylar lost all of his powers prior to Volume 2, got his two main ones (telekinesis and understanding how things work) back at the end, and has been expanding his collection ever since.
  • Stargate SG-1's Daniel Jackson spends a season as an ascended being and a frequent guest star before rejoining the mortal plane and the main cast in the following season.
  • Leo from Charmed. He ascends thrice, the last time being part of a cabal of reality-warping godlike beings, before finally becoming mortal again.
  • Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger kicked off the plot by having all the Super Sentai teams sacrificing their powers for a Combined Energy Attack that annihilates the Zangyack fleet invading Earth. At the end of the series, the Gokaigers, who have inherited that power, returned them to their rightful owners.

Tabletop Games


  • Amaterasu in Okami has been severely weakened after being Sealed Good in a Can for hundred years. This means even lowly imps can pose a challenge, and by the end of the game you're strong enough to challenge Yami, god of the Void and Darkness. Which is awesome, since you get back your full Sun God(dess) powers!
  • Jade Curtiss from Tales of the Abyss is a major Crutch Character. When you meet him, he's level 45 and awesome enough to wipe the floor with anything your party might encounter, but he soon gets almost all of his powers sealed away.
  • In The World Ends With You, Joshua, the Composer seals much of his powers away so he can play the "game" he has going fairly.
  • In Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories Etna is depowered by 999 levels to level 1.
  • Mantorok, an Eldritch Abomination from Eternal Darkness, is sealed within his own temple by Pious Augustus. This prevents him from being able to fuel any Summon Magic the player character tries to cast using his rune (meaning no Mantorok Trappers, Zombies or Horrors).

Web Originals

  • In The Gamers Alliance, Leon loses his half-god powers when he is resurrected as a mortal. All mortals lose their innate magical abilities after the Cataclysm which was caused by the Godslayer.
  • Fine Structure starts with the Big Good sealing himself and the Big Bad in our universe (where they both, at least temporarily, end up as a God in Human Form). Also, a side effect of one character's spectacular You Shall Not Pass moment is the depowering of every Flying Brick super hero in the setting.


  • In Eight Bit Theater the Light Warriors are all reduced to a fraction of their abilities by Sarda. Thief also has his class change stolen. By Thief.

Western Animation