I Believe I Can Fly

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"If you're a Super Friend, being able to fly is like being able to break a graham cracker along the line."


This trope describes when there are multiple characters with a wide variety of different abilities, but the ability to fly is surprisingly common. Even if the ability to fly comes from different sources for different people (e.g. gravity-manipulation versus "I'm from Krypton"), they all seem to be able to fly in more or less the same manner.

It also works on the meta level, rather than simply within a single continuity; besides the number of Flying Bricks, there's also a rather large number of characters in general who can fly as such, one way or another. An example of this is characters who don't have flight as an expressed power, yet use their abilities in some way to allow Not Quite Flight, such as psychics using psychokinesis on themselves, elementals using elemental guff to fly, shapeshifters becoming birds, and a Gadgeteer Genius creating a jet pack. And some have this as their only power (Angel, Hawkman) and, as the page quote implies, this makes it hard to stand out as special.

Up, Up, and Away is the standard hero flying pose.

A type of Stock Superpower. Has almost nothing to do with the R. Kelly song.

Examples of I Believe I Can Fly include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Dragon Ball, flight is initially presented as a technique of the Crane Hermit, but by Z pretty much everyone who fights (except Yajirobe) can fly. One episode shows that even ordinary humans can learn the ability, as Gohan teaches it to Videl.
  • This was true in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha for two seasons. Then, in the third season, we're introduced to the grand majority of magic users who are not powerful enough to fly. (We actually did get to see some of these Red Shirts in the first two seasons, but it was never made clear that they were ground-bound as well as Mooks.)
  • The Tokyo Mew Mew anime sometimes gives everyone the power to levitate for no apparent reason. In episodes centered around Mew Mint, the birdgirl, however, only she can fly. The manga is more consistent on the matter.
  • In The Slayers, "Levitation" and "Ray Wing" are simple and common spells that ensure almost every magic-user can fly.

Comic Books

  • Although Superman was likely the ur-example of the flying hero, he could not fly in his earliest appearances. He could leap several city blocks in one jump, however. (This is where the phrase "leap tall buildings in a single bound" originally came from.) It was the Fleischer Superman cartoons that gave him the power of flight, after the first few cartoons in the series depicted him leaping and the production team decided it looked silly.
  • Among the big names of the DCU, you pretty much only have Batman, Aquaman, and The Flash (usually) incapable of flight. Which makes Hawkman and Hawkgirl pretty lame, considering it's their featured ability.
  • All of the Legion of Super-Heroes; all members are issued a "flight ring" (assuming they can't already fly, and those might still carry one for emergencies).
    • This is eventually retconned into a plot point. As a kid Clark was one of very few people on Earth that could fly, since all of the Legionnaires could fly it made him feel like less of an outcast.* When Angel was introduced as a member of the X-Men, it was alongside the very flightless Cyclops and Beast, while Iceman's ice slides didn't offer the same level of maneuverability and Jean Grey couldn't levitate herself very far. But as the roster has expanded with characters who have flight as a side effect of their powers - Storm, Magneto, Rogue (after absorbing the right abilities), Mystique, Cannonball, Apocalypse, and so on - being stuck with huge feathered wings as a mutation must be annoying.
    • In fairness, Angel has gained (and lost) a lot of powers over the years, such as vision on par with a hawk's, being physically capable of flight i.e. being both lighter and stronger than normal humans, and recently universal donor blood with mild regenerative properties. And even when his power of flight was more exclusive, he always made it look like a lot of fun, like every childhood daydream you've had but better.
  • To balance the ubiquity of flight among superheroes, some writers remember that while characters like Angel, the Vulture or The Falcon are mainly flyers, that means they're very good at it. One issue of Thunderbolts had Angel flying rings around the entire team with ease.
  • In the W.I.T.C.H. comic book, only Hay Lin, the air guardian, could fly. However, all of them could in the cartoon. This was compensated for in the second season when Hay Lin was the only to gain invisibility (which all of guardians could do in the comics).
  • In Elf Quest Rayek learns the power of levitation, which is also shared by all of the Glider elves except, to her eternal chagrin, Winnowill.



Live-Action TV

  • Look Around You has a joke where flight power is presented as perfectly normal.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • There was also a folk tale among African-Americans about slaves who escaped their bondage by discovering how to fly home.

Video Games

  • Characters from the Touhou series have abilities ranging from Super Strength to controlling insects to "manipulating boundaries," but without fail every single one of them can also fly. A footnote in an article from Perfect Memento in Strict Sense could imply that everyone in Gensokyo can fly, even the "normal" humans.
  • This is approximately of the MMORPG FlyFF, in which everyone gains the ability to fly.
  • In City of Heroes, the most commonly taken travel power is flight. Sure it's slow and uses a lot of Endurance, and sure Super Jump and Teleport and Super Speed do a similar job, but it's simple to use, unaffected by topography, and highly thematic. Plus non-melee characters can float twenty feet in the air and rain death on their opponents with impunity.
  • Comes and goes in Super Robot Wars. On the one hand, many Super Robots can fly just for cool and Real Robots, especially Gundams, are inherently aerospace weaponry. On the other, there are just as many "lower-tech" adventure stories where the robot is grounded, as well as the tendency to have Transforming Mecha with a plane mode and ground mode. (Variation: Mazinger Z and descendants can always fly provided they have a Scrander, but their performance is often better when standing than in the air.)
    • There is actually a part known as the Minovsky Drive (Tesla Drive in OG) : stick it on a mech and it now flies. Any mech From lightweights to uber-heavy tanks like The Big O.
  • Champions Online provides no less than twelve means of flight: Rocket boots, Hover disk, Jet pack, Fire flight, Earth flight, Magic Carpet Flight, Phoenix flight, Rainbow Flight, Rainbow Flight: Cloud, and Tornado Flight, not to mention generic Flight, and the crafted travel power Aethyric Flight. Oh, and both Ice Slide and Teleport behave pretty much like variants on flight, themselves. This means that from 50% - 58% (if you count Ice Slide and Teleport) of the existing travel powers are flight or flight-related.

Web Comics

  • In Schlock Mercenary the body armor contains gravitics in the belt that allows flight. The belts can be used independently if cut away.
  • In El Goonish Shive, when Elliot got his superheroine spell the first power it was shown to have was flight. Also Nanase's first spell was flight and Grace's Omega form grants flight among other things. Non-main characters with flight include Damien, Vlad, Magus, The Demonic Duck, Dex, Terra, The Writer's Block and all Immortals.
    • Just to be clear, the Demonic Duck is a duck (a superficially demonic one that can talk, but still a duck), not an oddly named humanoid/generally-humanoid-shaped character.

Web Original

  • Flight is one of the most common of powers in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe. Players would go to almost obscene lengths to justify tacking it onto their characters.

Western Animation

  • In the original Transformers cartoon, all Decepticons could fly in robot mode, whether they turn into jets, cement mixers, tanks or cassette players. Compared to the Autobots, where flight in robot mode is mainly seen only from the Dinobots and Aerialbots (though this was inconsistent early on), this looks really weird.
    • Transformers Animated seems to follow the rule that if their alt-mode can fly, their robot mode can fly, except for Soundwave and Shockwave, who fly even though their alt-modes are a car and a tank (Shockwave has a jet booster, while Soundwave seems to just levitate like the 'Cons of old). Also notable in that most Decepticons can fly, while no Autobots can't. That is until the Autobots reverse-engineered technology from Starscream to create Jetstorm and Jetfire. Oh, and Optimus Prime's wings and jetpack. Word of God is that the lack of flying Autobots has more to do with them regarding flight as a Decepticon trait rather than technological difficulties.
  • In Perfect World, every character eventually gains the ability to fly. Humans use giant magical swords, Elves use their wings (and they can replace them somehow), Untamed use flying beasts, Tideborn use wings made of Pure Energy, and the new Earthguard use kites.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: besides the obvious airbenders who can fly with gliders, earthbenders can levitate rocks and travel on them, and we've seen at least one firebender use her fire for a Rocket Jump. When Sozin's Comet is around, higher end firebenders like Ozai and Jeong-Jeong can straight up fly.
  • Three of the five core Teen Titans can fly, either by superpowers or transforming into something with wings. To compensate for Robin and Cyborg's little "handicap" is the T-ship and the "glider-thing". Cyborg was once outfitted with rockets, but was unfortunately unable to control his flight.

"Maybe we should call me Flyborg!"

  • In ReBoot Hexadecimal and Glitchbob could fly. Despite having this power, Bob preferred to use his Flying Car or a zipboard whenever he could. The reason for this was that using any of his Glitch-based powers, including flight, would eventually cause a Heroic Red Ring of Death.