Disability Superpower

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"Daredevil's 'power' is that he's not quite blind."

A character is born with or acquires some handicap that prevents him from functioning normally. However, due to phlebotinum exposure or training, he develops something that not only makes up for what's missing, but goes beyond it.

Blindness seems to be a popular one for this. Indeed, the entire trope seems to be based around the idea that blind people's other senses become more acute to compensate. This does happen in real life, to a far weaker degree than the trope, simply because blind people get more exercise with paying close attention to their other senses. Some studies have indicated that people born deaf have better peripheral vision.

A realistic twist is to have the power not quite make up for the disability. For example, Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender was born blind, but uses Earthbender skills to feel vibrations through stone. This means she can't "see" things that aren't touching the ground and her "sight" is severely impaired if she's not touching solid earthen surfaces - she hates hates hates flying or boating, sand makes everything "blurry", etc. And in a world without Braille, she's illiterate. But if she's on an earthen surface, she can see all around her, even behind things.

In less realistic examples, Disability Superpowers are so powerful that they negate the original disability entirely and/or so prevalent that no disabled people in the world are actually disabled. When Played for Drama, the character will still face Sense Loss Sadness over their disability despite any compensating.

This is, of course, somewhat Truth in Television, as the brain tends to rewire itself to refocus on what's being used. However, "super" levels of rewiring only occur if the disability happens before the person is about four years old. A kid born blind might be able to echo-locate, but don't expect to be Neo if your drunk college antics go overboard.


Can be a specific form of Cursed with Awesome. Compare with the more mundane Inspirationally Disadvantaged. Those with Blindfolded Vision Invoked Trope this trope.

Examples of Disability Superpower include:


  • Barq's root beer had a series of "Barq's has bite" commercials. One of them had a blind person parody the trope by faking a panicked "super taste" reaction to the root beer.

Anime and Manga

  • Rurouni Kenshin
    • Shishio was covered in oil and set on fire. He did not die, but the fire destroyed all the sweat glands in his skin, meaning his body heat is constantly above normal. This apparently acts as a fuel to give him more strength, but also leads to his own demise from spontaneous combustion.
    • Usui was blinded by Shishio and learned how to see with his ears and spiritual senses.
  • Shigurui The two protagonists. Irako Seigen, a blind Samurai, and Fujiki Gennosuke, a one-armed Samurai.
  • In Bleach, the blind character Kaname Tosen, has excellent senses, especially his ability to sense people's spiritual pressure (which effectively acts as a stand-in for sight). Possibly explained later on in the manga when Ginjou takes away Ichigo's sight during a training session to force Ichigo to learn how to "see" reiatsu to compensate. It's possible this is what Tousen was doing and, if so, what he wouldn't actually have been considered strange as it's something sighted shinigami can learn how to do.
    • And then there's Wonderweiss, who is the only Arrancar that's been modified by the Hogyouku. In exchange for his mind and emotions, he became powerful enough to trash a Vizard and extinguish Head Captain Yamamoto's zanpakutou's flames.
  • Mr. Fujisawa in El-Hazard: The Magnificent World has Superman levels of overall physical ability but his powers only work only when he's sober. Considering the character is a raging drunk, he considers this a grave disability, but he's willing to endure being sober as the situation demands.
    • It is eventually revealed in the second OVA of the 1st continuity that he becomes even more powerful when he doesn't smoke as well. His full power level is reached in a Crowning Moment of Awesome when, finally fully free of the effects of either liquor and/or cigarettes for the first time since arriving in Rostaria, he singlehandedly defeats the entire Bugrom army, even after they have already combined into a Godzilla-size superbugrom.
  • Claymore, had Galatea blind herself, allowing her to conceal her silver eyes and go into hiding. This increases her already impressive ability to sense Yoki (demon) energy from great distances to near untold levels.
  • In Basilisk, after Chikuma Koshirou (Dragon to Yakushiji Tenzen) becomes blinded to protect his lady of liege Oboro, he soon learns to compensate his lack of sight by using his senses of hearing and touch as replacement. Too bad he gets killed when Femme Fatale Kagerou and Master of Disguise Saemon use that to their advantage and fool him, with Saemon imitating Akeginu's voice to distract him and Kagerou using that to kill Koushirou with her Kiss of Death.
    • Muroga Hyouma, Gennosuke's mentor and uncle, has been already doing that for years. Since his powers are permanently activated through his eyes, he must keep them perpetually closed, but his hearing is so acute after so long that it's impossible to try ganging up on him. On the other hand, it took a blind fighter like Koshirou to defeat him, since Hyouma's tricks didn't work on him.
    • Bah. Hyouma and Koshirou are nothing compared to Jimushi Juubei. He has no arms and legs, but can slither on his belly as fast as any other ninja can run. He wields a dagger with his long tongue, and this attack is so fast and deadly that no opponent has ever lived to tell the tale when Juubei unleashed it.
  • Naruto has the Taijutsu specialist Rock Lee, who can't do any of the normal "jutsu" techniques (some unspecified flaw in his chakra network renders him physically incapable of performing any Ninjutsu or Genjutsu), but is so good at Taijutsu (martial arts), he's able to best the uber-talented Sasuke early in the series.
    • Qualified by dint of several long and painful rehab sessions after injuries, but as a baseline he has all regular human capabilities, which in a 'verse where most have superpowers makes you a Badass Normal.
    • His determination is practically a superpower in and of itself.
    • Lee's biggest compensation for his lack of the usual ninja abilities is that he trained himself to be very, very fast. In his aforementioned defeat of Sasuke, Lee mocked him for relying on his Sharingan, saying that it didn't matter if his eyes could follow his movements, if his body was too slow to keep up.
    • Kakashi would also qualify for this -- his left eye was replaced almost immediately after losing it, but now he's stuck with one eye, except for emergencies (since the Sharingan cannot be turned off).
  • Yin from Darker than Black is blind, but through her observer apparitions she's able to see, as long as both she and what she's observing is close to water. There appears to be little, if any, limit to the range of these apparitions.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho: Yomi, after he was blinded by his old thieving partner Yoko Kurama, has grown two more sets of ears, which allow him to sense things a long distance away.
  • The character Sasaki Kojiro in Takehiko Inoue's Vagabond is born deaf. A character muses on the possibility that only being able to listen his "interior voice" is what gives Kojiro his remarkable ability in swordsmanship. Kojiro also develops a preternatural ability to sense people sneaking up behind him, much to the surprise of many a would-be attacker.
    • Vagabond's Sasaki Kojirou is very different from the basis for the manga (Eiji Yoshikawa's Musashi) in that he's deaf, with multiple character interactions and fights riding on this. Two separate characters even theorize that his swordsmanship has improved because of his deafness: one hypothesizing that his eyesight improved to compensate, while another thought that without sound to distract him he could better listen to his own body which already knew the techniques. Subverted by Kanemaki Jisai, who tried to dissuade him from a life of swordsmanship by repeatedly taking advantage of Kojirou's deafness to defeat him multiple times over the years.
  • Elfen Lied: Nana's new prosthetic limbs turn out to be even more useful than her original natural ones. After all, a diclonius becomes that much more dangerous when she can throw her own arms at you.
    • She also becomes mostly immune to Lucy's most devastating attacks. You can't rip off a detachable limb.
  • Berserk's main character Guts loses an arm in the Eclipse, but it is replaced by a metal hand with a cannon in it.
  • Erza (from Fairy Tail) loses an eye to torture as a child. We never get to see the damage thankfully, since it scares her closest friend who just proved that, in spite of this flashback being before he lost it, he was perfectly capable of murder. She gets a fake eye in its place which makes her completely immune to illusion magic and lessens the effects of another spell that requires eye contact.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Edward's automail arm saves his life a lot, and he transmutes it into various blades for fighting. While fans want Al to regain his body, many don't want Edward to regain his limbs.
    • Al. Being a giant, hollow suit of armor probably allowed him to survive some of the things he's been through, no matter how much he wants his body back. Losing their arm/leg/organs/entire body is the reason why Ed, Izumi and eventually Al are able to transmute without a circle.
      • Later on, another major character, Roy Mustang, is forced through the Gate (he doesn't commit human transmutation and can then transmute without a circle, and becomes blind and seemingly downgraded into The Load. But his alchemy apparently becomes bounds more powerful. He just needs someone else to help out with his aim now.
    • In the end, Ed got his arm back essentially by accident, and he kept his leg, so clearly he doesn't entirely disagree that having them isn't such a bad thing. Many have speculated that the reason Ed always talked about "getting our bodies back" was so Al would feel like he wasn't alone, rather than because he truly wanted his human limbs back.
      • This is even lampshaded by Winry who states that she doesn't want Ed to get his limbs back because she notices just how useful the automail is to Ed (and by extention her, since she's his mechanic).
  • There is a trio of these in Hunter X Hunter: One in a Super Wheelchair, one missing an arm but can create invisible limbs made of energy, and one who lost his legs but carries kinetically-charged tops and can spin like one too. The three of them are friends and bully fighters without superpowers.
    • Later on, there is Shoot, a man who lost his left arm. To compensate for this, he has the ability to conjure up a swarm of floating hands, usually used to rapidly punch opponents with, and can also cause other people to lose their limbs.
  • Helen of Helen ESP is blind, deaf, and mute but posses some amount of Psychic Powers, such as communicating telepathically with dogs.

Comic Books

  • Daredevil, from the Marvel Universe, was hit in the face by a radioactive canister and went blind. His other senses became super-powerful, and he acquired a "radar sense" that let him "see" objects, much like echolocation. (Frank Miller's influential run took him closer to this trope, partially explaining the radar sense as a Charles Atlas Superpower resulting from training with his enhanced senses.) He can also read normal books by feeling the ink, because his touch is so sensitive.
    • Interestingly, late in Miller's run, Daredevil's mentor tells him that EVERY human has the potential to experience sense the way he does, it's just an ability that's become dormant. The radiation didn't give him his powers, it just unlocked them. Sadly, Stick is killed soon afterward, and this plot point was never brought up again.
  • Daredevil's Femme Fatale ex-girlfriend (he's had quite a few of those) Echo is deaf but possesses perfect photographic memory (whether or not she's a mutant has never been made clear). She has gone on to be an effective entertainer and member of the Avengers. Her condition is played more realistically than DD, however. She relies entirely on visual cues and is at a disadvantage if she can't see her opponent. She also has trouble speaking to heroes like Iron Man or Spider-Man, whose costumes cover their mouths, making their lips unreadable.
  • The DC Comics villain Count Vertigo has Ménière's disease that constantly disorients him and confuses his senses, and that requires him to wear a device that sets his senses right, but is specifically made so that he can project that confusion onto others.
  • Similarly, Golden Ager Dr. Mid-Nite from The DCU was blinded by a grenade. However, when he took the bandages off in total darkness, he could see perfectly.
  • When introduced in Generation X, the mutant Chamber had actually lost his entire lower jaw and part of his chest as a result of his powers' explosive manifestation. However, the same powers seem to remove his need to eat or breathe, and he can "talk" telepathically.
    • Didn't go so well for him after Decimation occurred...
  • The original Iron Man armor was, in a sense, a glorified pacemaker, designed to counteract a potentially fatal heart injury. As long as you're going to be practically wearing a humanoid life support capsule, it might as well be superhumanly strong and armed to the teeth, right?
    • In the movie it was only the power source that kept him alive. The rest of it, however, was quite useful for escaping from terrorists.
      • Similarly, in the original comic, he only needed the magnetic chestplate to keep the shrapnel from worming into his heart, but the suit helped him escape the terrorists that caused him to have shrapnel there.
        • (At least) One time in the comic, he was hospitalized and barely able to move without the suit.
  • Cliff Steele, in the Doom Patrol comics, gains his powers from the fact that he's just a brain installed in a robot body. Later versions of Doom Patrol played up this "super disability" concept and included Crazy Jane, whose 64 multiple personalities each have a unique superpower, and Dorothy, whose overactive imagination conjures up creatures from her subconscious. Averted by the Doom Patrol's Chief, who is paralyzed from the waist down. And that's it. The entire Doom Patrol is made up of people whose powers don't make up for their disabilities at all.
    • Well, there is Beast Boy, who got his Animorphism powers from a disease that also made him immune to all other diseases; but that's a fairly recent development.
  • Cyborg of the Teen Titans had all his limbs and half his face burned off in a lab accident, and replaced with aesthetically unpleasing yet superhuman prosthetics.
    • He's just following in the prosthetic-footsteps of The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. Who in turn were preceded by Robotman (there was even a Golden Age Robotman predating the Doom Patrol's Cliff Steele). The idea of a brain in a robot body was a Pulp Sci-Fi staple, making this Older Than Television.
    • You can call out Nick Chopper, the Tin Woodman in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. He got his current body because a witch cursed his ax to keep chopping off limbs. Each time he lost a limb, he replaced it with one made out of tin until there was nothing remaining of his original body.
  • Pied Piper, an enemy and later friend of The Flash. He was born deaf, but his rich family had a scientist (the same guy who made the Metal Men) implant a cybernetic hearing aid in his head. It worked a little too well, as his hearing became so sensitive that he was able to design sonic weapons that could control the minds and actions of others, but won't affect him.
  • In X-Men, Cyclops must always wear a special visor or pair of glasses to contain his optic blasts. When these devices are removed, he keeps his eyes shut, rendering him blind. Due to an important instance of this, he has since learned how to fight blind by using his hearing to pinpoint opponents and simply always scrutinizing his surroundings to know the lay of the land. One side story shows that he also counts his steps and memorizes which way he turns so that he can retrace his path and find his eyewear.
    • Even with the visor/glasses, he's still colorblind, only able to see in shades of red. He technically shouldn't be able to pilot an aircraft such as the Blackbird, but this is probably handwaved these days.
      • In real life, they make custom control panels that have indicators based on number of lights, rather than color. Presumably, the Blackbird has one of them.
    • Bonus points for the reason he can't control his optic blasts: at a young age he was in an accident and suffered severe head trauma, but fortunately there wasn't any damage to any "important" parts of the brain. This was before he developed the ability to obliterate everything in sight... Sadly, this actually plausible explanation (a rare sight in comic books) has been re-explained or outright removed several times, with many writers defaulting to "he just can't control it because that's how it is."
  • His abilities don't come from being unable to see, but it's worth mentioning Rot Lop Fan, a Green Lantern from a species that never evolved sight at all (and thus no conception of color or light... or lanterns, for that matter). His Green Lantern Oath goes:

In loudest din or hush profound
My ears catch evil's slightest sound
Let those who toll out evil's knell
Beware my power, the F-Sharp Bell!

  • The character Mr. Sensitive from the X-Force and X-Statix comics had an interesting variation on this: all of his senses were enhanced, to the degree that he had to wear a special suit to block out most of what he felt, or else he'd go nuts from the sensory overload; he can't even take a normal shower and has to use a specially made misting nozzle. He could hear people's heartbeats through walls, but even a light breeze on his exposed skin could cause him incredible pain. At one point, his powers were even used against him: a villain (who knew about his powers) tortured him simply by making a shallow cut on his skin with a Swiss army knife. The pain from this relatively minor wound almost caused him to black out.
    • He once had a fight with Iron Man wherein they both lost their armor. The battle then became a test to see whose disability was worse, Iron Man's weak heart or the Orphan's hypersensitivity. The Orphan won, but just barely.
  • During the series 52, Adam Strange lost his eyes in a freak teleportation accident. However, he quickly compensated by connecting his ship's sensor array to his visual cortex, allowing him sight as long as he was piloting.
  • Ever since an incident with a villain using sound-based mind control and one of his own ultrasonic arrowheads, Hawkeye from The Avengers needs a hearing aid. This doesn't come up often, but occasionally it protects him against the subtler sonic attacks as a plot point. (Perhaps less plausibly, once he's also shown unmasking an android as such by, apparently, turning his hearing aid all the way up and hearing the imposter's internal mechanisms.)
    • The reason it doesn't turn up any more is because his hearing was restored after Heroes Reborn.
    • Though in Old Man Logan, Hawkeye is blind... yet still manages to be the world's greatest archer simply by listening more.
  • Many wheelchair-bound people have Psychic Powers or their wheelchair is a Cool Car/Powered Armor hybrid. The uber-example is Charles Xavier aka Professor X, a man contained in a wheelchair who is also one of the most powerful telepaths in the whole Marvel Universe.
  • Nävis, heroine of the French comic Sillage (aka Wake) is one of the few sentient beings in the universe with no telepathic abilities. The upside is that her mind can't be read or controlled, which makes her a valuable agent.
  • In the Transformers comics from Marvel Comics, there was a perfect example of this in Circuit Breaker. All but one hand paralyzed, and she used the hand to build herself an outer skinsuit to transmit the neural signals. Oh, and also let her fly and barbecue Transformers as an act of revenge, on top of it. And looks very much like a quite revealing tinfoil bikini as well.
  • Cassandra Cain, was raised in a modified language deprivation experiment, the intent being for her brain to orient itself to interpreting body movement as a first language. As a result she's functionally illiterate and barely able to communicate verbally. However, as a trade-off, she's able to accurately predict the thought process of an opponent based on subtle body language and predict their strategies and individual moves before they make them.
  • Barbara Gordon had some skill with criminology and computers when she was Batgirl, but when the Joker put her in a wheelchair she focused on her detective and computer skills and became the world's foremost hacker/information gatherer. Somewhat justified in that, not being Batgirl anymore, she had more time to focus and plenty of motivation.
  • Shroud. Blind, but with mystic vision.
  • Mindf**k from Empowered also is a Blind Seer. Mind████'s brother tried to invoke this intentionally, when he did things described under Nightmare Fuel to his sibling.

Fan Works

  • In The Tainted Grimoire, there is Auggie, who was born blind, but through experimenting, is capable of seeing Mist, no matter how small the concentration. It doesn't fully substitute for proper sight though.


  • In Sneakers, the blind character Whistler overhears his own name spoken in conversational tones — thirty feet away, on the other side of thick plate glass. Later he listens through a powerful microphone aimed at a distant building, and deduces what rooms are which behind sealed windows — even identifying one as an emergency exit ("I can hear the emergency floodlight batteries recharging"). He also deduces what road Robert Redford's character was driven on, while tied up in the trunk, based solely on what he heard. The character is based on a Real Life hacker who could actually communicate with modems at low speeds sans device due to his ability to recognize and replicate the signals.
  • In Once Upon a Time In Mexico Agent Sands becomes a badass blind gunfighter after getting his eyes gouged out by the sick Dr. Guevara. He'd only been blinded for about half an hour, and had to have a kid assist him in taking on several of the cartel by telling him where to shoot. But his final shootout had him taking down two guys all by himself, using sound in order to pinpoint their location and kill them.
  • Near the end of The Matrix Revolutions Neo is blinded by Bane, a human who has been taken over by Neo's rival Agent Smith. However he still manages to overpower and kill him due to his powers as the One: he can see data and machinery as glowing yellow light. This appears to also include humans who have been possessed by programs.
  • Zatoichi, the blind masseur from the eponymous Japanese film series, who possesses a skill with a sword equal to the greatest samurai.
    • In his first film, he tosses a candle into the air and slices it vertically, from a sitting position, in a single iaido draw.
    • In the more recent Beat Takeshi version, Zatoichi defeats a sword-bearing Mook by slicing between his hands. The mook is left standing with two portions of a useless (and worthless) sword. His rival in plans to strike him down by exploiting the usual way Zatoichi draws his sword, but Zatoichi hears him change his stance and adjusts his grip accordingly.
    • Zato-Ino of Usagi Yojimbo, a blind pig who uses his nose to compensate.
    • Yet another Zatoichi Shout-Out comes from Zato-One (ichi = one) from Guilty Gear. He was blinded when he accepted a demon named Eddie. As a trade-off, he is now extremely powerful and can control shadows. It's never explained how exactly Zato sees, though ostensibly Eddie sees for him.
  • Yellowbeard: Harold "Blind" Pew, is keen-sensed sightless informant who also conceals a deadly surprise in his walking stick. (Harold is a parody of and a Shout-Out to Zatoichi.)
  • In Blind Fury, Rutger Hauer plays a blind Vietnam vet who is a Shout-Out to Zatoichi. After getting blinded by a grenade, he stumbles across a Vietnamese tribe that, for some reason, decides to teach him how to use his other senses to become a master with a Katanas Are Just Better. Years later, he returns to America with a sword hidden in his walking stick and uses his moves to protect a bratty kid from drug dealers.
  • A number of films have featured blind protagonists who turn the tables on murderous villains by dousing all the lights; they still aren't superpowered, but the blind folks gain an advantage because they're used to not being able to see their surroundings and, since it usually happens in their own homes, they know their surroundings vastly better. Wait Until Dark is the classic, but hardly only, example.
    • In Wait Until Dark, the main character forgets to smash the light in the fridge. D'oh!
    • Also, this trope was inverted in A Maiden's Grave by Jeffry Deaver, in a scene where the villain gets the drop on a deaf character by turning out the lights.
  • The Lookout has the protagonist rendered psychologically scarred and has trouble remembering things. Not too much of a superpower, but he uses a technique that he learned from his blind friend of "Start from the end" which enables him to plan which eliminates the Big Bad and The Dragon. Though, this is more to the point that the aforementioned villains fail to recognize the protagonist as a true threat.
  • Parodied by the blind character Blinkin in Robin Hood: Men in Tights. In one scene he snatches an arrow right out of the air, remarking "'Eard it comin' a mile away" to the shocked Merry Men. Immediately afterwards, Robin compliments him, to which he responds "Who said that?"
    • An earlier scene has him standing in a lookout tower. Robin asks what he's doing up there, and he replies, "Guessing? I guess nobody's coming?"
    • The Prince's men are very lucky Blinkin is blind. After all, look what he did to that wood pillar; if he could see, he'd probably have liberated England by himself.
  • In House of Flying Daggers , the blind Mei is capable of insane and technically physically impossible combat feats despite her disability. Except... not really. It's all a ruse -- she's impersonating the old revolutionary leader's blind daughter, who doesn't know martial arts -- and she actually can see.
    • On the other hand, she's clearly not visually focusing on what's happening around her, meaning all her feats are done strictly using peripheral vision, which in itself is a minor miracle -- ignoring how difficult it is to keep one's eyes open and not automatically focus on fast-moving things around you.
  • Not quite a super-power, but the title character of Rookie of the Year breaks his arm, and it heals in such a way as to make him a super-fast baseball pitcher.
    • Very much Truth in Television. The pitcher Mordecai Brown, also known as "three finger", could throw exeptional curve balls because of his mangled hand.
  • Ray Charles in The Blues Brothers is apparently a crack shot with a pistol and uses this ability to scare off shoplifters who try and take advantage of his blindness.
  • Leonard, the amnesiac from the 2000 film Memento is described by another character as the perfect assassin - since he can't remember ever having killed anyone, he doesn't act like his targets expect an assassin to act - his partner keeps setting him up to kill people and they never see him coming.
  • In Thunderpants, Patrick has the disability of excessive farting. It is later discovered however that this can be used to power a rocket into space because his twin stomachs resemble the rocket's engine.
  • RoboCop. Most of his damaged body is replaced by cybernetics, even parts that didn't need to be removed.
  • In the Thai movie Chocolate, the main character suffers from severe autism with the attendant social difficulties and learning disabilities. Her autism however enables her to naturally absorb martial arts from Bruce Lee and Tony Jaa movies on television. She then progresses through the entire movie, beating up trained fighters and men twice her size. The only warrior who challenges her has Tourette syndrome, which allows him to make unusual moves, but she's able to adopt his style as well and defeat him.
  • The title character in The Boy who Could Fly uses the Power of Autism to... well, the title says it all. Really.
  • Jimmy in The Wizard (film) is stricken with grief over the death of his twin sister, but his mental state also grants him amazing abilities with video games. Not like Lucas, but hey, nobody can match his godlike skills.
  • Movies tend to portray severely autistic characters as savants. For example, Raymond Babbit of Rain Man is able to count a scattering of spilled toothpicks at a glance or memorizing things like the "Who's on First?" routine; young Simon Lynch in Mercury Rising is able to crack a government code that was secretly published in one of his puzzle books by the creators to see if anyone can crack it.
    • There do exist high-functioning autistics who can perform seeming super powered abilities. They're rare, but one is the British kid who learned rudimentary conversational Icelandic in a week. Omniglot indeed.
  • The Muppet version of Blind Pew in Muppet Treasure Island parodies this trope; Pew is a comically handicapped blind man for the majority of his scenes, but when Billy Bones cocks a pistol to shoot him, Pew flies across the room directly at him and knocks it out of his hands. (After the plot has been sufficiently advanced, he's back to tripping over chairs and walking into walls. Maybe it's an act? Or just the Rule of Funny.)
  • The titular superhero of Kick-Ass, due to getting, well, his ass kicked and hit by a car on his first attempt at heroics, leaving him with severely damaged nerve endings, giving him an increased tolerance to pain.
    • The comic book version gained a plate in his skull. It absorbs some of the impacts of blows, allowing his captors to torture him even longer.
  • Indirectly invoked in Darkman: After Peyton Westlake is horribly burned all over his body, the doctors cut off his sense of touch to block the constant pain. The side-effect is that his body ends up overproducing adrenalin, and the adrenal overload makes him super-strong, hyper-agile, impervious to pain ... and prone to unstable mood swings.
  • In Blindness, by being an ordinary blind man prior to the outbreak of contagious blindness, The Accountant is fully capable of functioning normally, and so he quickly gains the upper hand over everyone else in the facility.
  • Inverted by Robert Downey, Jr. in Sherlock Holmes, where Holmes has amazing powers of observations, but in the restaurant scene we see that he can't turn them off. This has led to fan theories that he is a high-functioning autistic.
    • This actually is a trait of Holmes in both the original and most of adaptations.
  • In The Book of Eli", there has been much fan debate about whether or not Eli is actually blind. If he is, then his badassery definitely applies to this trope.


  • Montolio in R.A. Salvatore's Sojourn is a blind ranger who is sufficiently badass at hand-to-hand combat to scare off a whole dungeon's worth of orcs. His familiarity with his surroundings helps, though.
    • He also uses his owl to target his enemies with his bow. The owl flies over an enemy's head and hoots, and he shoots just under where he heard it.
  • The Miraluka of the Star Wars Expanded Universe are a race of beings who evolved the ability to "see" through the Force, but at the same time lost use of their eyes, then lost their eyes entirely. Kreia from Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords displays a similar ability, which the main character of that game can learn.
    • A character in the Expanded Universe, a Wookiee named Ralrra, has a "speech impediment"—which removes enough of his "accent" for Leia to understand him perfectly.
  • In Generation Dead, arguably every single zombie in the entire book falls under this trope, since they're not only legally dead, but get seemingly superhuman strength, endurance, speed and toughness; all while not needing to eat, sleep or drink and being practically unkillable without being either set on fire or bashed in the head... but on the other hand? Most of their organs no longer function; they can't heal themselves if injured; and their brain is generally much slower-functioning, to the point where they're almost all slow-moving klutzes even if they were dancers or athletes before they died, and a previously brilliant teen gets stuffed into remedial classes. Then there's also the thing where they tend to have all or most senses (taste, touch, you name it) dulled, assuming they work at all. Not Quite Dead? You betcha! Better off? Er... good question.
  • Discworld:
    • A couple of side characters in the novels (both witches) are described to have developed some combination of blindness or deafness due to old age but use their magic to compensate - one sees and hears through her animal companions, and another has trained her second sight to work in the present.
    • In Small Gods, the blind philosopher Didactylos says that the whole "blind people's other senses are superhuman" thing was made up by sighted people so they can feel better. While deducing that Brutha is upset from the noise his clothes make...
  • Zephyr the oracle from Silverwing is albino and, due to his old age, also blind, and so has developed a sense of hearing so acute he can hear the echos of anything, anywhere. He can also see into the future and past using his ears (or something).
  • Dan Abnett's Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor, main character of the eponymous series of Warhammer 40,000 novels. A Chaos-engineered disaster during an Imperial triumphal procession nearly killed him and left his body entirely broken, confining him permanently to a mobile life support chamber. On the other hand, it gave him considerable time to further develop his innate Psychic Powers.
    • Said life-support pod is fitted with armour comparable to that of a Leman Russ Main Battle Tank, contains powerful psychic amplifiers (partially accounting for Ravenor's power increase), and has mounted upon it two fully automatic, rocket-propelled grenade launchers loaded with daemon-killing Depleted Phlebotinum Shells.
    • 40k is filled with examples of this trope, most of them less extreme than Ravenor: Colonel 'Iron-hand' Straken, who has a much stronger replacement arm thanks to the original being bitten off by a Miral Land Shark; Commissar Yarrick, bionic eye with a laser built in, robot arm made from the Battle Klaw of an enemy; Lord Militant Commander Drang, whose replacement bionic eye lets him spot an enemy warship up to half a light-year away; astropaths get a power boost from hooking their soul to the God-Emperor, at the cost of serious damage to (if not the destruction of) their eyes and optic nerves; Dreadnoughts are Humongous Mecha piloted by crippled Astartes heroes, for whom they also act as life-support machines (much like Ravenor, in fact)
  • Peter Reidinger I of the Talents series (specifically the Pegasus sub-series), who becomes paralyzed from the neck down in adolescence due to a wall collapsing on top of him. However, it is soon discovered that he is the most powerful psychic Talent in the world: he proves so adept at telekinesis that he actually fakes normal movement by levitating his body (it's not perfect: he has a difficult time making complex movements with his fingers, and occasionally forgets to keep his feet on the ground).
  • The title character in A Wizard Alone, the sixth Young Wizards book, is an autistic kid who happens to be one of the "Pillars of Creation", through which a lot of positive energy is dumped into the universe. By the end, he's no longer autistic, but he's still a Pillar.
  • Rowan from Lords of the Sky is physically blind, but can still see her surroundings due to her innate magic abilities. Not only is she an accomplished sorceress, but she's also a Dragon Master, meaning she has a very special affinity to Dragons.
  • Gideon Ravenor, after being confined to a wheelchair-like contraption and stuck completely dependent on life-support, gets enough bulky psychic amplifiers built into the chair that he's just as effective an Inquisitor crippled as he was whole.
  • Bran Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire gets crippled from a fall and lapses into a coma. When he awakens, he gains prophetic "green dreams" and the ability to consciously control animals in his dreams. These powers match those attributed to the greenseers of the children of the forest.
    • In A Dance with Dragons Arya learns to see through the eyes of a cat to compensate for having been blinded by the priests of the Many Faced God. Since the purpose of the (temporary) blinding was to heighten her other senses, she may have bypassed part of her training.
  • Ng in Snow Crash lost all of his limbs in Viet Nam and has the ultimate Cool Car of a wheelchair: a heavily-customized and heavily-armed airport firetruck. Given the heavily-commercialized nature of the world, he can get anything he needs via drive-thru. Not only is he permanently jacked into The Metaverse, where his Digital Avatar has limbs, but his body is suspended in a gel that gives him force feedback, making him the only known character in the story to be able to actually feel massages given to his Digital Avatar.
  • In Jose Saramago's Blindness, all of humanity becomes blind with the exception of one person. People who were previously blind are accustomed to their condition, and have enough of an advantage that at least one becomes a gang leader of sorts.
  • Dinah Bellman from Stephen King's novella The Langoliers is a young blind girl that displays a grab-bag of psychic powers and enhanced senses. In the tv movie, she is able to see Craig Toomey's paranoid delusion by looking at him, communicate telepathically, seems to have a degree of precognition, acts as a human lie detector and hears the approaching monsters with her superhuman hearing. Furthermore, in the film's climax she begins to astral project to Craig Toomey and apparently alters his paranoid delusions to show him exactly what he wanted to see.
  • In Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick, Hoppy Harrington was born without limbs, but has powerful telekinetic abilities.
  • The whole idea behind the half-bloods having ADHD and dyslexia in Percy Jackson and The Olympians.
  • Invoked in Animorphs. When the team decides to increase their numbers they specifically choose disabled teens. Since no Yeerk would infest a disabled body when plenty of healthy ones are available it guarantees that disabled teens are safe to give the morphing ability to. A few get better thanks to morphing, but most stay disabled while human.
  • An old gardener who'd been blinded in the bombing of Nagasaki during World War II becomes a zombie-killing Zatoichi reference in World War Z, using precise study and memorization of the landscape and his hearing to track the zombies (which in his defense are known to moan when attacking), and his gardening spade to kill them.
    • Another interview has a wheelchair-bound man taking up zombie defense patrols—crawling zombies trying to attack him from behind get his (perfectly mundane) wheelchair instead of his legs.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space character Gilbert Gilgamesh Hamilton (Gil the Arm) develops a telekinetic replacement arm when his original is lost in an asteroid mining accident. It's very weak (barely able to lift a full shot glass in Earth gravity) and due to Gil's lack of imagination is restricted to the range of the original... however, he manages to keep it when the meat arm is finally replaced, it has its own sense of touch which can feel inside things (including people), and he can reach through a videophone screen in two ways—to touch the electronics inside, or to touch the person on the other end of the call...
  • Jayfeather from Warrior cats is no doubt this! Born blind but learns he has the ability to read minds and has the ability to creep in peoples dreams.
  • An unusual example is seen in My Name Is Red. The artists often go blind due to overwork, but sometimes welcome this, as it allows them to draw from an idealized memory instead of a world they think is growing ever more corrupt.
  • One of the telepaths mentioned in Randall Garrett's "The Foreign Hand-Tie" was born completely deaf, so his natural Twin Telepathy was enhanced to compensate.

Live-Action TV

  • Hawkeye in M*A*S*H temporarily received a boost to his other senses — including hearing that rivalled Radar's ability to detect incoming helicopters — when he was blinded by an exploding heater. It has been suggested that Radar's super-hearing is a compensation for his incredibly poor eyesight, but it's a weak precognitive ability. He's also been known to comply with requests before they're made and answer questions before they're asked. (Some of which could be guessed by experience, some not). Hence his nickname.
  • Master Po (and to a lesser extent Serenity Johnson) from Kung Fu.
  • Heroes:
    • Isaac's clairvoyance-painting seems (at first) to only work when he's high on heroin. Later, though, he learns to do it without the drugs.
    • There's also Niki Sanders whose power appears to be "being insane". Oh, and superstrong. Technically, yes, but in nicer terms she would be a dissociative identity disorder sufferer with a superhuman alter-ego, not unlike The Hulk, Thorn or Typhoid Mary. She is, however, able to use the super-strength on the "Niki" side now that she's learning to control "Jessica". Unfortunately, there's more than just Niki and Jessica in there.
    • Played straight with fourth season character Emma, who is deaf and has the ability to see sound as bright waves of light. Her ability becomes an important part of the season's arc.
  • River Tam from Firefly (and its follow-up movie, Serenity) winds up with eerie Psychic Powers - mind-reading abilities that apparently extend from emotions to actual thoughts (both of which were shown surprisingly clearly in the episode "Objects in Space") - and some surprising Waif Fu abilities, which combined with her "extraordinary grace" (ostensibly from years of studying dance), essentially turn her into a psychic ninja ballerina. At one point she picks up a gun as if it's a toy, closes her eyes, fires three shots, and kills three bad guys. All of which would be awful nice, if they didn't almost all seem to result from brutal experiments that cut out a chunk of her brain (leaving her unable to filter her own emotions), and left her psychotic.
  • Geordi LaForge of Star Trek: The Next Generation was born blind, but given synaptic implants that allow a device he wears to translate large portions of the EM spectrum into visual impressions, allowing him at various points to detect by sight things which normally require scanners or tricorders to detect. These impressions are often cited as not being sufficiently "real" when the writers want to play up the disability aspect, though they certainly don't seem to be lacking in detail. In one episode the audience and his crewmates even get to see a visual-frequency representation of what he sees, and it's a psychedelic jumble of colors and lights. No wonder he gets a headache. Geordi's vision has also been subject to the occasional Phlebotinum Breakdown or Dropped Glasses moment. The later movies acknowledged that Science Marches On by giving him bionic eyes.
    • Defied when Counselor Troi loses her empathic powers. She attempts to leave Starfleet on the grounds that she is now disabled. Picard tries to convince her otherwise, invoking this trope. Troi answers that there is no scientific evidence that losing one sense strengthens others and that the myth was likely created by non-disabled people in order to make themselves feel more comfortable around the disabled.
  • The show MANTIS had the main character create an exoskeleton so that he could walk again. It just happened the prototype suit was entirely bulletproof. Which he didn't find out until after being shot in the first episode.
  • In an episode of Angel, "Blind Date", Angel comes up against one of the most skilled human assassins he has encountered, and she happens to be blind. She blinded herself, then learned to see outside the spectrum of normal human sight—effectively seeing the move you make before you make it. However, he can actually move faster than her; he overcomes her by moving in lightning-fast-spurts; if he doesn't move, she can't see him, because vampires don't breathe or have a heartbeat.
  • The character played by Michael J. Fox in Scrubs has such encyclopedic medical knowledge because his OCD lead him to reading the medical books over and over again.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess was blinded for one episode, but considering who we're talking about here, she picked up a staff and went right on with the ass-kicking. She even managed to catch her chakram based solely on hearing, millimeters from an ally's face.
  • Monk's title character has, among other mental problems, a serious case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - which allows him to perceive details of crime scenes and other clues, making him a champion sleuth.
    • In an episode when he was blinded, he also realized that it solved a lot of his OCD related phobias, since he couldn't see the chaos around himself, plus his tendency to put everything back at the same place and count his steps, gave him a great head start compared to other blind people.
  • Parodied in a sketch in A Bit of Fry and Laurie where Hugh Laurie reveals to Stephen Fry that his deafness has caused him to develop his eyesight, whilst his blindness has caused his hearing to improve to compensate. "So in other words, you can hear and see perfectly?". "Yes, that's right"
  • UFO ("The Man Who Came Back"). A blind man senses that there's something wrong with a SHADO operative who's had his personality removed and is being remote-operated by the aliens.
  • In "Whisper", an episode of Smallville, Clark is temporarily blinded by his own heat vision bouncing off Kryptonite. Luckily, his super-hearing develops at the same time to compensate.
    • Lex Luthor was left permently bald at nine, but gained an enhanced immune system, that saves him from death more than once.
  • Comically subverted in the "Blind Kung-Fu Master" sketches from Mad TV. The title character of the sketch is blind, but his years of martial arts training do absolutely nothing to compensate. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Parodied in an episode of Father Ted when Ted confronts a person who he thought had been throwing paper balls at his head, only to find that the man is blind.

Ted: (extremely embarrassed) Right, well, I suppose your other senses make up for it. I hear that with blind people there other senses become more alert, heh heh, so to speak, I suppose you can smell things from ten miles away and hear things before they happen, heh heheh.
Blind Priest: No.
Ted: No sixth sense of any kind? Or I suppose in your case it would be a fifth sense, seeing as you've only got the four. Unless you've got another one missing that I don't know about? How's your sense of touch? (begins slapping at the man's arms and shoulder and laughing)
Blind Priest: Could you go away now please?

  • An episode of CSI: Miami has Natalia, wearing a hearing aid as the result of an injury suffered earlier in the season, discovered a device being used by jewelry store robbers to screw up the security camera system when it caused painfully loud static in said hearing aid.
    • Guiding Light did something similar when deaf Abby decided to have a cochlear implant (coinciding with the actress' Real Life decision to do the same). Her heightened sense of hearing allowed her to hear the ticking of an explosive device that had been planted and she was able to warn everyone before it went off.
  • In an episode of Painkiller Jane, one of the team member's former partner was paralyzed from neck down after an accident. He then becomes a "neuro" with telekinesis. He then goes on a rampage, killing all his former team members who he blames for his condition. He is killed at the end of the episode, which is probably more merciful than "chipping" him and turning him back into a helpless quadriplegic.
  • NCIS, "See No Evil": Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) plays a blind child with brilliant pianism ability. She also has such a good ear for pitch that you could replace the sonar computer on a Los Angeles class submarine with her. She and her mother get kidnapped. The girl gets released. Guess how the mother is found...


  • At the age of 17, Tony Iommi lost two fingertips in an accident while working at a sheet-metal factory. Having been encouraged by his boss not to give up his side job as guitarist in a pub band, he had to tune down his guitar strings in order not to hurt his cut-off fingertips even more. Thus, the signature sound of Black Sabbath (and Heavy Metal) was born.
  • The Who's Pinball Wizard, Tommy, is a "deaf, dumb and blind kid...(who) sure plays a mean pinball." He can feel the table's features, and plays by sense of smell.
    • His pinball ability is also attributed to the fact that he "ain't got no distractions, can't hear no buzzers and bells." Also because he "can't see no lights a flashin'." His lack of sight and hearing actually helps him stay focused, apparently.
    • Justified because Tommy has psychogenic deafness and blindness, so he can actually see and hear but doesn't realize he can. People with these conditions have the same automatic reactions as a sighted or hearing person, so if they didn't think about what they were doing, they could play pinball. Still pretty impressive, though.
  • Def Leppard's drummer has only one arm. That's right, the man who plays the instrument requiring the most coordination and skill, does it and rocks the house with one arm.
    • Are you kidding? His most amazing drumming is done with his feet!
  • Django Reinhardt lost the use of two of his fingers in a caravan fire, and still went on to be one of the most fluid and dexterous guitarists of all time.
  • John Larkin, a.k.a., "Scatman John", channeled a debilitating stutter into scat music.
  • Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, anyone?
  • Andrea Bocelli. Despite losing his sight in a soccer accident as a young boy, he went on to become one of the greatest tenors of his time. He also has a law degree, and regularly engages in such pursuits as horseback-riding and sky-diving. Now that's impressive.
  • Ludwig Van Beethoven composed many of his best works after going deaf.

Tabletop Games

  • Role-Playing Games where players build characters on a point system that assigns negative point values for physical disadvantages (effectively freeing up extra points to buy additional abilities) invite the use (and abuse) of this trope.
    • There was a minor meme -- "Now you're [just] min-maxing", using Fauxtivational Posters with variety of such characters from movies or book covers (though also poking fun at characters with Charisma as Dump Stat/No Social Skills).
    • GURPS, for instance. The "Blindness" disadvantage (just as an example), while giving characters a distinct penalty to combat skills, makes it less than that suffered by people who have been suddenly blinded (thus, a person with Blindness has an advantage over a sighted person when the lights go out). No specific bonus to other senses is given. It is, however, stressed that vision-based abilities are not available to someone with this disability (yes, some people do need to be told).
      • GURPS: Supers notes that you can give Blindness and Microscopic Vision to a hero who can only see tiny nearby things, playing this straighter.
    • Mutants and Masterminds notes the trend and devotes a paragraph to explaining that, for example, if a character takes Blindness as a flaw and Tremorsense as a super-ability, they shouldn't get any points for the Blindness flaw since it's covered, only possibly a Hero Point for a Complication should their Tremorsense get removed or nullified. Common sense, really...
      • A concept introduced in Champions: The Super Roleplaying Game (aka the Hero System) two decades before M & M came into existence. The rules for Disadvantages note that you can't get any points for a disadvantage that is directly negated by a special ability (gamemaster judgment calls may be required — for instance, sonar vision doesn't truly "negate" blindness because you can't read, see colors, etc).
      • M&M actually makes it a minor flaw, rather than no flaw. You still get a bonus for it, but it's only one character point - which affords, approximately, jack shit. This is because with blindness and tremorsense you can't legally drive, for example. Deafness and telepathy will let you have communications, but if you're attacked by a robot in a dark room you're hosed. That kind of thing.
    • Big Eyes, Small Mouth's Defect system is ripe for the abuse of this trope; all of the "impairment" defects are Major ones, and can give back enough points to buy up abilities that render the impairments moot in addition to game-breakingly powerful secondary attributes. That does assume that you're okay with playing a flying, psychic paraplegic.
  • In the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the "blind" keyword actually has nothing but benefits. Blind creatures are immune to gaze attacks, and every blind creature in the game has "blindsight," which works exactly like sight except that it's black and white, functions in total darkness, and has a somewhat more limited range.
    • Blinding a player character still confers drawbacks, but even a character who's been blinded and deafened can still pinpoint enemies with Perception checks if their skill is high enough. I guess they smell them.
  • The Oracle class in Pathfinder includes this in its game mechanics. All oracles are cursed in some mildly disabling way, but gain extra abilities related to the area of their curse - for instance, oracles with clouded vision lose the ability to see more than sixty feet away, but gain the ability to see in the dark and sense invisible creatures.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, Pariahs are emotionless and soulless, which means they never find love or happiness (and generally tend to unsettle people just by being around), but they suppress Warp effects (psychic/sorcery /faith based stuff) around them. They are immune to demonic possession because they have no souls. They also have the disability of being attractive targets for conversion into a kind of elite necron fighter (though if Necrons are around, it's likely to be "kiss your behind goodbye" time for everyone anyway).
    • The tau also have similar if less extreme characteristics. Which has lead to some interesting Epileptic Trees.

Video Games

  • Wu Zi Mu from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas embodies this to the point where he's a respected street racer, good enough to aim and fire a submachinegun and beat CJ at video games, all despite his complete blindness. There are limits to his abilities. His henchmen manipulate some of his pastimes (like golf) so that he wins. When they are not around, he is not always infallible, such as in this exchange during the 'You've Had Your Chips' mission: he's playing blackjack with CJ. Going for a five-card hand ...

CJ: What'cha got?
Wu Zi Mu: How would I know? You tell me.
CJ: Not good. You got ... uh, 47.
Wu Zi Mu: Damn it! You're bad luck! When I play with my men, I always win!

    • Later on...

Mook: Boss! Take a look at these two chips.
Wu Zi Mu: One's a fake.
CJ: That's amazing, you didn't even touch them.
Wu Zi Mu: I took a guess. Why else would he come in with two chips and sound so worried? You take a look.

    • His henchman also notes that he's profoundly lucky, which may be why he's in the situation that he's in; whether that's referring to his inability to not die in the amazingly dangerous things he sets his mind to doing, or his ability to endear himself to practically everyone around him, is up for debate.
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic III and IV, troglodytes are eyeless—and therefore are immune to any form of blinding.
    • One troglodyte warlock, Geon, is blind but has the ability to 'see' magic and read the minds of enemy spellcasters. In game-mechanics terms, this gives him a bonus to his Eagle Eye skill, making it easier for him to learn new spells.
  • The MMORPG Ragnarok Online plays rather brutally with this trope, by means of the Star Knight/Taekwon Master class. Their skill, 'Demon of the Sun, Moon, and Stars' (or 'Solar, Lunar, and Stellar Shadow'), grants its owner a + 30% bonus to Attack Speed - this bonus is insanely large. In exchange? The character's sight. This isn't like the 'Blind' status effect, where a character takes a hit to their accuracy - accuracy is just fine. However the player's screen becomes black the moment this skill is learned, with a lighted area surrounding their character. As the skill is levelled up, and the attack speed bonus moves closer to + 30%, the lighted area shrinks, until at level 10 and + 30% ASPD, the tiles immediately surrounding a character can just be made out. These effects are permanent and utterly irrevocable.
  • Alma's incredible mental powers came at a rather nasty cost: extreme sensitivity to negative emotions, particularly those relating to her father, which often resulted her being rendered catatonic with empathic terror when he was angry. On top of that, she suffered hallucinations, debilitating nightmares, and the occasional bout of pyrokinesis, as well as inadvertently mindraping anyone who spent too much time around her.
  • In Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy Jov Leonov was blinded during childhood by an accident. However, in exchange for his sight he ended up with formidable Mind Control powers that he used in a successful career as a KGB agent, and then as the Movement's Master of Mind Control and the man behind the Meat Puppet project.
  • Sly Cooper 3 has Bentley in a wheelchair (due to the results of a prequel). Being a genius, he tricks out the wheelchair quite well. He still has moments of envy, but apparently has settled with the fact he's in the chair. A rocket-assisted, explosive-armed, tranquiliser-dart-firing wheelchair.
  • Killer7
    • Harman Smith, leader of Smith Syndicate, is an old man in a wheelchair who wields a high-powered rifle and may be some kind of god...
    • Con, a blind teenage boy who can still fire Guns Akimbo and has great perception.
  • Though not actually a disability, Regal Bryant of Tales of Symphonia learned to fight with his feet extremely well after his oath to keep his hands bound.
    • In comparison to his normal combat skills, this is a massive disability. The only time he uses his hands he easily blasts through a wall using a Hand Blast. The difficulty of using his weapon of choice is also shown in his Difficult but Awesome gameplay. His attacks are difficult to pick up, but when mastered he is the second strongest character, being able to chain devastating (and stylish) combos, and is one of the few characters capable of healing.
  • Koishi Komeiji from the Touhou series ended up sealing away her ability to read minds due to the fear it inspired in other people. This left her with the ability to read and manipulate people's subconscious, a much more powerful ability that places her as the extra stage boss, compared to her stage 4 boss sister.
  • In Warcraft 3, Demon Hunters blind themselves to better see demons. They have their eyes burnt out, then the eyesockets are used to contain the essence of a demon, which gives them more power and abilities, such as the ability to better see magic in their surroundings, which includes demons. The demon's essence they seal in their eyesockets look like color tinted flames, so they often wear blindfolds over their eyes to keep from creeping out those around them.
  • Law in Freedom Force.
  • In Guild Wars, the members of the ritualist profession blind themselves to better sense spirits. (Hence their hats) One character (Aeson) even was born blind, and became a ritualist for partially this reason. This is either making themselves blind, or wearing a hat that covers their eyes so they can be deprived of senses. Two ritualist NPCs (Togo and Yijo Tahn) actually don't wear hats covering their eyes.
  • In Spore it is entirely possible to create something with no eyes. Funnily enough, this only barely effects your ability to actually see (the top third of the screen is blacked out and the rest is monotone) and gives you a few extra evolution points to boot.
  • Visas Marr and the miraluka in the Star Wars universe. Kreia, ironically enough, does roughly the exact same thing, "seeing with the Force."
  • Despite that Haborym was blinded for his crimes (Which actually weren't his fault!), he's potentially one of the best swordmasters in the game, and he still has the highest dexterity of all characters.
  • Pokémon plays this fairly straight. Pokemon with the Guts, Tangled Feet, Steadfast, and other similar abilities all gain boosts to their stats when affected by a special condition or effect (Burn, Frozen, Poisoned, Paralyzed, Confused, Flinched). Likewise, the stat-cutting downside of Burn (attack) and Paralasis (speed) are ignored for the stat being raised. On top of THAT, it's not a direct "boost" like Swords Dance, meaning that their stats can still go up. Now THAT is a superpower!

Visual Novels

  • Emi in Katawa Shoujo runs track and hardly appears to miss her feet.
    • Hanako, on the other hand, averts this. She has severe emotional scarring to go along with the burn scars covering most of the right half of her body, being painfully, painfully shy towards anyone except Lilly, who happens to be Blind and the Beast.
  • In Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two. has Chihiro, whose inability to keep her memories of the day, forced her to develop her ability to precisely convey her feelings through words, making her a great writer. Other characters even used the blind-hearing analogy for it.
    • She also has a tendency to lie to herself in her diary.
  • In Hatoful Boyfriend's "Bad Boys Love" route, Anghel Higure's insane hallucinations cause him to notice threats and plot points sooner than anybirdy else. Subverted, since he's a Talkative Loon who speaks in warped fantasy cliche metaphors, so it takes a while for everybirdy else to figure out what he's talking about, but once they do Anghel becomes a valuable asset.

Web Comics

  • Last Res0rt codifies this in canon with the Light Children, who are born with just a little more or less soul than normal, but weren't born to Celeste parents. Since they often go undetected and lack the training that Celeste children receive for their extrasensory powers, this usually leads to them being diagnosed with various mental illnesses instead as these same extrasensory powers are often mistaken for hallucinations and other bad behavior.
  • Inverted in Gunnerkrigg Court. Ysengrin was given magical, wooden Powered Armor by Coyote, which gave him powerful shapeshifting arms, control over plants, and let him walk bipedal. But due to a mistake by Coyote, the armor is not only arthritic, but Ysengrin's over-reliance on it has ravaged his body to the point where he can barely walk and eat without it. It's strongly implied that this is driving him insane.
  • In Bibliography, Pages of the Occular Codex give up regular eyesight in return for their magical eyesight. It could be disputed whether this really is a disability, though.
  • One pair of recurring antagonists in Keychain of Creation includes "Resonance Ben", who traded in his eyes for The Power of Rock and advanced echolocation. Their first defeat was turned into a total loss by this - due to a loud noise, Ben's ears were ringing, rendering him unable to either make out what his partner was saying or defend himself, forcing said partner to just grab him and run.
    • The author's accompanying comment: "There are a lot of heroes and villains with disabilities, and sometimes people seem to forget that they are still disabilities."
    • There's also the hilarious time when Ben captured a Solar and tied him to a chair in the dark, trying (and mostly succeeding) to invoke Nothing Is Scarier...except Misho is one of the Chosen of the Sun, and summoning light is only slightly more trouble for him than reflexively knowing the current position of the sun in the sky (IE: so easy he barely has to think it). This reveals Ben in his boxers, laughing maniacally since he didn't notice.
  • Hannelore has such severe OCD that she was virtually incapable of human contact and held major hygiene issues that stifled her social life, up until a short while ago in the comic (she's still dealing with the hygiene a little bit). She also loves to count and became a skilled drummer hours after she first began playing because drumming to her is "counting with your whole body." She's made a career out of being able and willing to count anything.
  • Schlock Mercenary comes from a species which is, without the aid of eyes that grow on trees, blind. His own senses are VERY acute, once identifying a man's dietary habits just by smelling him.
  • This Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal pokes fun at this trope.
  • Mecha maid from Spinnerette is completely paralysed but fights with a robotic suit.
  • Kili of The Dragon Doctors has a magical disability; her ability to see spirits is so strong that were it not for her tattoos she'd go insane, and did go insane as a child, complete with hair going white. Growing up, Kili was able to hone this ability to become a powerful shaman.
  • Homestuck: After Terezi Pyrope was blinded, her guardian dragon taught her to smell and taste colors. Her increased field of view and detection of minute details makes her a sharper investigator, and she's not bad with her canes, either. Terezi actually prefers her current condition over being able to see—because she's embraced her blindness, her dream self can't see either, in contrast with other disabled trolls (namely Tavros and Vriska), whose dream selves lack their physical disabilities.
  • Mobster Kingpin in Problem Sleuth draws his special abilities from diabetes. He can only be harmed when his blood sugar is high, and he can summon the ghost of Wilford Brimley.

Web Original

  • Cracked.com has done a couple articles about this:
  • She-Bot in the Whateley Universe. Born without limbs, it turned out she has an unnatural ability to interface with machinery, so she now has cybernetic limbs. That she built herself.
    • Or Jericho, who is a blind deviser. He has 360-degree psychic vision instead. But no color vision, and it doesn't penetrate solid objects so he can't see through windows.
  • From the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, Echo, a mutant superheroine who can control and generate sound, is also blind. It doesn't worry her much, because she uses the ambient sound around her as a type of sonar.
    • Erich Welchell, the Diabolical Mastermind known as Brainchild from the same setting, is paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair. He is also a powerful telekinetic who can fly... so screw the damned wheelchair.

Western Animation

  • Subverted in The Boondocks, in which Huey Genre Savvy assumes that the blind Stinkmeaner was able to beat down Granddad thanks to super-human senses. He then trains Granddad on how to combat such an opponent, with one exercise involving watching old Zatoichi movies. It isn't until the rematch is well under way that Huey comes to realize that while Stinkmeaner had heightened senses, they were far from superhuman and he had just gotten lucky the first time. Before Huey can relay this to Granddad, Stinkmeaner's already lying dead on the ground.
    • Unfortunately, this doesn't stick...though it appears to have little if anything to do with being blind, and more that he is practically hate-incarnate.
  • Thanks to Fry from Futurama having an *ahem* 'special' mind, he is immune to all psi attacks. Anybody can be an idiot, but not everybody is his own grandfather...
  • Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender. She's a great Earthbender, because she's blind: She learned how to earthbend and how to sense surroundings by vibration, from the giant badgermoles she played with when she was young. She says that Earthbending is her way of "seeing" the world.
    • This power isn't limited to her, as she learned it from badgermoles and eventually taught it to Aang. It proved a decisive factor in helping beat Ozai.
    • Her power frequently makes her friends forget she's blind.

Toph (on being shown a wanted poster with her face on it): It sounds like a sheet of paper but I guess you're referring to what's on the sheet of paper.
Later, when Katara learns about the poster
Katara: What's this?
Toph: I don't know! I mean, seriously, what's with you people?! I'm blind!

    • Hilariously, it is revealed in "The Ember Island Players" that the Fire Nation attributes her sight to echolocation.

Actor portraying Toph: HOAAAAAAAARGH!!!! (Beat) There. I just got a pretty good look at you.

      • It makes some logical sense for them to think that since, you know, there are blind people who are able to get around using echolocation.
      • The fact that Toph is also loud and rather mouthy probably helped to contribute such a notion.
      • And while everyone else is complaining or angsting about their representation, Toph loves hers.
  • Felix from Kim Possible, who thanks to his Cool Chair added with a collection of All Up to You, Compressed Vice, An Aesop (and Chickification) became the most competent hero of two episodes.
  • In one episode of Invader Zim, Zim invents a machine that lets him substitute anything he wants (in this case, a plush piggy) for any single object in the past. He uses this not to screw up the world history, but instead to mess up Dib's life. As the episode goes on, Dib gets gradually more and more disabled by the injuries sustained by piggies being inserted into important points in his life, until he's dead. Until his dad puts him in a life-sustaining, amazingly powerful robot suit, and he shows up on Zim's doorstep to tear his place apart.
  • Phantom Limb from The Venture Brothers was born with withered arms and legs. A laboratory accident replaced these with fully-developed but invisible ones, with which he can kill by touch.
    • Subverted however with the Impossible family, a parody of the Fantastic Four. Other than the Reed Richards Expy, they got the sucky aspects of the Four's superpowers without any of the benefits. Sally has to concentrate or else her skin (and only her skin) will turn invisible, Cody bursts into flames whenever he is exposed to oxygen (and feels the same way any of us would if we were on fire), and Ned is a walking callous.
  • When Peter opens a fast food restaurant in an episode of Family Guy and institutes a No Legs No Service policy, Joe and an army of paraplegics join together and form a robot called Crippletron that destroys it.
  • Resident Cloudcuckoolander Mort in The Penguins of Madagascar is proven in the episode "Sting Operation" to be too stupid to feel pain.
  • In one episode of Darkwing Duck, DW was temporarily blinded by Megavolt. Despite briefly believing that his crimefighting career was over, he bounced back in perfect "Let's Get Dangerous" fashion when Megavolt threatened Gosalyn and Launchpad, beating his opponent handily by allowing his other senses to compensate for his lost sight.
  • In one episode of Jackie Chan Adventures, Daolong Wong rendered Jackie mute, Jade deaf and Tohru blind. Uncle suggested improving the other senses to make up for the lost ones and mentioned, as an example, that he started improving his hearing when his sight became less than perfect, only to be told his hearing wasn't all that either.
  • Gargoyles has Owen is one handed because the other is solid stone. He uses it to punch people. Xanatos even remarks that he's "making good use of his handicap."
  • In ThunderCats (2011), One-Scene Wonder the blind Catfolk soldier Lynx-O displays these, when he detects the scent of an invading Lizard Folk army that's out of sight of his fellow sentries.

Real Life

  • There are claims that the color-blind can outright see through some forms of camouflage.
    • Someone who is partly or completely red/green color-blind will be proportionately more sensitive to shading and detail. Various armed forces have occasionally sought out such people for their ability to "see through" camouflage patterns designed for normal vision.
    • Also useful in hunting. The color blind person will largely ignore the green foliage, instead seeing the deer, rabbit, etc.
    • People with some kinds of color-vision loss report improved night vision.
    • Those with red-green ambiguity are said to retain their usual color perception at lower light levels than people with normal vision - so their vision is better than average at dusk but normal at night.
  • The astonishing story of Ben Underwood from Sacramento, who was rendered blind at age three due to retinal cancer, but learned to see by echolocation by making clicking sounds with his tongue. He was able to judge distances, ride a skateboard, play football, and could even tell the difference between metal, wood and glass just by the quality of the echo. He was even able to play Pokémon because the Mons all have distinct voice effects that let him differentiate between them.
    • Though they probably don't have the sheer range of ability Ben had, there are others with the same ability of echolocation.
  • Similarly, persons with bipolar disorder (formerly manic-depressive disorder) have extended periods of supernormal energy and drive, followed by bouts of crashing depression. Most sufferers say that they would not want to be cured of the disorder if it meant losing their "up" periods.
    • On the other hand, many people who live with people having bipolar disorder say that dealing with them is much less stressful during their depressive phases. At least you don't have to watch out for them as much and stop them from doing crazy and dangerous things.
    • Bipolar Disorder has also shown a powerful correlation with artistry, creativity and lateral thinking. Many high-achieving individuals from history have shown distinct signs of manic depression, especially in art and science. For example, "Messiah", Gregor Handel's most popular and well-known composition, considered one of the greatest pieces of choral music ever, was written during one of Handel's manic periods. A hypothesis is that a brain susceptible to mania is more prone to spontaneously detect symbolic relationships and similarities between concepts as it functions in a more rapid rate and with much less inhibition. The divergent thinking caused by this often forces bipolar patients to have revelations and think in metaphors. As painful bipolar disorder is, many successful patients state that, if given the choice, they would retain this incurable condition. On the other hand... Bipolar disorder has the highest suicide rate among mental disorders. "No one is achieving when he is dead."
  • Sensory Processing Disorder. Often, but not always, linked with autism. Ironically enough, the unusually high sensitivity to stimuli is the disability as well as the super power. (If you don't think sensitive hearing is a disability, try listening to music at a volume so loud that you feel like your eardrums are going to bleed. Then imagine getting the same effect from a high pitched cell phone ring tone, or a pair of headphones). Unfortunately, it also can produce exceptionally low sensitivity in other senses, and/or after the person becomes overloaded. On the other hand, you can get some "superpowers" from the lack of sensitivity side—for example, a high resistance to pain or cold.
    • Or a heightened sensitivity to cold and heat. Oh well, at least people can't sneak up on me!
  • We can build enhanced prosthetic legs nowadays, specialising them for running, aesthetic appeal, and height. The social impact of this is slowly shifting parts of the technology world to the Disability Superpower point of view. Once cybernetic replacements become commonplace, this trope will be rendered absolute fact.
  • Being born without arms, Jessica Cox can do almost anything with just her feet. She's got a black belt in Taekwondo, plays the piano and gives motivational speeches. Oh, and she's also the first and only licensed plane pilot who has no arms.
  • This guy might qualify for this section.
  • The Monk example might be truth in television - OCD researcher Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz has noted that the condition enables some people to function at a very high level because years of practicing these rituals can give sufferers great powers of recall and observation.
  • There's the doctors who like to claim that depression can cause creativity or, at the very least, make people more "successful" because the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex gets stimulated by the low mood, and causes you to think more and more about the problem, thus helping you to create solutions all of life's little problems. Which is a whole load of hogwash, since most depressed people will report that while they have periods of creativity, the depression and low mood tends to STIFLE their creativity, not fuel it.
    • It's actually the complete opposite of that study. Other studies have said that people that are more creative are just more likely to be depressed, because they overthink every little thing.
    • Other studies have posited that depression is actually a societal evolution. Observation of primate behavior showed that those primates that exhibited symptoms of depression kept a distance from the social group without entirely disengaging from it. This put them in a prime position to discover useful resources or oncoming dangers before the rest of the group. They would then carry the information home with them to fill the others in. This same research cites the fact that on average, roughly the same amount of primates would be depressed at any given time even though it was rarely chronic in the same individual animals.
  • It's been claimed for a long time that blind people's hearing becomes more acute to compensate for their lack of sight. There's now scientific evidence to back that theory, and it can frequently venture into what many people would consider super-hearing.
  • Douglas Bader, a Royal Air Force ace who shot down over twenty aircraft during World War II, lost both his legs in a pre-war aerobatics accident. Despite originally being discharged on medical grounds, his disability may have actually helped him as a fighter pilot by making him more resistant to "black-outs", which occur whenever high g-forces cause blood to drain from the brain and into the legs. Since he didn't have any legs, it allowed him to pull off manoeuvres that would have otherwise left him temporarily unconscious.
  • What some people with autistic spectrum disorders lack in social prowess, they make up for in intelligence and insight. Some of the greatest minds that revolutionized the world have been retrospectively diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism.
  • James Thurber was accidentally shot in the eye by one of his brothers as a child and became almost completely blind as a result. This led to him developing a distinctive wobbly-lined drawing style, making him as famous as a cartoonist as he was as a writer.
    • It's also been speculated that losing his eyesight contributed to Thurber's creativity, as the parts of his brain that would normally be used for vision now had to find something else to do. It also obviously gave him a rather dark sense of humor.
  • King George VI of Britain had a severe speech impediment (as depicted in the movie The King's Speech), so when giving speeches he had to speak very slowly and deliberately. Many thought this gave his speeches a very fitting regal dignity.
  • People will allergies are less likely to develop brain cancer, presumably because of their over-active immune system reacting early to mutated cells as well as possible mutagens.
    • Speaking of allergies, there is some evidence that they're the result of the equivalent of Disability Superpower Kryptonite. Our ancestors had to deal with all manner of parasites and grody hangers-on in their day-to-day lives that have long since been eliminated by hygiene and the like, but we still have immune systems that are primed and ready to keep them in check. So our immune systems get "bored", to oversimplify, and react to otherwise harmless things like pollen or peanuts. At least one proponent of this theory claims to have cured his own allergies by giving himself a controlled hookworm infection.
  • Seth Cook has vision problems and is legally blind, but he still manages to make plenty of beautiful artwork with creative characters.
  • Tom Dempsey holds the NFL record for longest field goal (63 yards), despite being born with only half a right foot. ESPN science has shown multiple times that his kicking shoe, specially modified to fit him, did not give him an unfair advantage (and may have even been a disadvantage, due to the smaller kicking surface potentially increasing inaccuracy). Oh, and did I mention that he set this record in 1970, and it still stands? (though it's been equalled twice.)
  • Brazilian former soccer player Garrincha's right leg bent inwards, and his left leg was six centimeters shorter and bent outwards. That usually would not bode well for a soccer player, but it enabled Garrincha to dribble like no one's business. He was part of the Brazilian national football team from 1955 to 1966.