Imagination-Based Superpower

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A power based around the user's imagination. This power allows the user to create anything if they think of it. It can be anything mundane from table flatware to weapons like rocket launchers and machine guns.

Because of the nature of this trope, there will often be some kind of limitation to the power to prevent it from becoming a Story-Breaker Power. Perhaps it has a limited power supply, or the power has the inability to affect certain objects. For example, the rings wielded by the Green Lantern Corps have a limit to how long they can be used, usually 24 hours on average, and they have the infamous inability to affect yellow-colored objects.

A Super-Trope to Spontaneous Weapon Creation.

See also Swiss Army Superpower and Semantic Superpower.

Examples of Imagination-Based Superpower include:

Anime and Manga

  • It's oddly popular in Super Robot shows for the mecha to run on a green, glowing, extremely powerful energy source that is limited only by the pilot's willpower and imagination, much like the Green Lantern. The first example being Getter Rays, then the G-Stone, the Bronze Bell's Power and Spiral Energy.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Spiral Energy is essentially this. It's the force of willpower manifested into various forms. By the end of the series, Simon is able to harness it to do practically anything. Mostly the making of bigger drills. It's even green too (with the exception of Lord Genome's powers, which are an evil red color).
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, Haruna owns a magical sketchbook which allows her to summon anything she draws as a magical beast. Thus far she's used it to fight, to decoy enemies by summoning clones of her friends, to tie enemies up by summoning tentacle-ermines (don't ask), stopping a Gatling gun barrage by summoning a swarm of small creatures (more ermines) to get in the way of the bullets, making a flying manta ray to avoid enemies on, and creating several modified golems of other characters.
    • Shadow using magic also qualifies; Takane D. Goodman creates shadow golems for attack and defense (as well as clothing), the other shadow magic user creates blades and such. Haruna has the better imagination, and she can reuse a drawing.
    • Also from Negima is Jack Rakan, whose artifact allows him to create literally any weapon. Normally he'll just go with a BFS, since that suits his style best, but the fact remains that if it's a weapon of any sort, he can make it. The kicker? He doesn't even need his artifact to beat most opponents, he's just that ungodly strong.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Teitoku Kakine has the power to create and manipulate constructs out of dark matter, which is rather similar to a Green Lantern's power.
  • In the Pokémon series Ditto's Transform move not only lets it turn into Pokemon, but face masks, arms, keys, umbrellas, full sized working cannons etc. Pretty much whatever it needs.
  • Demons' robes in The World God Only Knows can do anything from creating lifelike replicas to looking into the past, limited mainly by the skill of the user and the mass of the robe.
  • The titular character from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has godlike powers, meaning she can twist reality and create any thing/situation she wants. The only catch is she doesn't realize she has this ability.
  • Fairy Tail's Rusty Rose has this with his magic: Arc of Embodiment.
  • The title character of Magical Idol Pastel Yumi can make anything she draws real.
  • In Happiness Charge Pretty Cure, the cures create most of their attacks this way. Cure Lovely in particular seems fond of Green Lantern style constructs e.g. Lovely Punching Punch.

Comic Books

  • The original Green Lantern Ring from Green Lantern, of course. In addition to the primary ability of creating anything the user could think of, it also had a knowledge database that allowed it to translate any language, flight, and gave its user the ability to survive in any environment. Oddly, he was once able to create a Turkish-English Dictionary with his ring in the Janissary arc. Which really shouldn't have been necessary, considering the aforementioned translation function.
    • Also worth noting are the other lantern corps, all of whom are capable of the same matter-creation as Green ones, though different Lantern Corps apply their Green Lantern Ring powers differently. Red Lanterns typically vomit their energies from their mouth as a sort of acid. Orange Lanterns are the physical recreations of Larfleeze's victims. Blue Lanterns usually just let their Ring make a copy of whatever the target will feel Hope about.
  • Invisible Woman of the Fantastic Four has this ability, given to her after her original ability turned out to be so useless that writers had to give her a reason to even exist. They pulled that off pretty well, considering that she is now the strongest member of the team.
  • Deliciously subverted in Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol with the villain called the Quiz, who has "every superpower you hadn't thought of". Combating the Quiz consisted of listing as many super powers one could summon up before she could come up with her Green Lantern's Ring effect.
    • The Answer, a villain from the Spider-Man series, has pretty much the same "power", allowing him to do whatever is required to "answer" a situation. For some reason this doesn't make him omnipotent, and he does get trounced by Spidey fairly often. Though in hindsight, it makes sense. An answer isn't always correct. Or there could be more than one correct answers.
  • The Staff of One from Runaways lets Niko cause any effect she can name -- once. Any attempt to do the same thing twice causes random effects, ranging from silly (summoning pelicans) to massively inconvenient (teleporting her miles away). They are a bit inconsistent about this, but at least early on it seems it is not limited to the effect but to the actual command word there are examples of Nico trying to come up with synonyms for words she has already used.
  • Very much unsubverted in at least one Elseworld story, where Batman gets a power ring. Because giving the goddamned Batman a weapon based on intelligence, creativity, and willpower seemed like such a good idea at the time...

Batman: You go through that every time?
Green Lantern: Yes.

  • Plastic Man's elasticity gave him the power to turn into virtually anything he wanted, with ill-defined limits, including machines with moving parts such as spinning wheels, gears or propellers, a giant aerosol can full of bug spray, and in some sillier stories a working magnet (and in at least one case, "anything he wanted" included Wonder Woman). The catch to all that is that he can't change his colors, he's pretty much stuck to his skin color, red and black. Now his son on the other hand...
  • Marvel's very own Galactus (and to a lesser extent his heralds) possesses the Power Cosmic, which was at some point described as being able to control the four Fundamental Interactions of the universe. Whatever this would entail in Real Life, what it allows Galactus to do in the comics boils down to "Anything he wants". There are limits to what he can do, but these limits are so high that it's only ever an issue if he encounters one of the two or three people that are stronger than he is.
  • Any comic book wizard, sorcerer, or magician can pretty much pull a spell out of their ass to do it. Unless the plot says they can't use a particular power, even if they've done exactly that before.
  • The Star Brand from The New Universe easily fits this trope. It can do just about anything the user wants, from flying to immortality. However, it has a tons of downsides to it, including being unable to be fully rid of the power (passing it leaves you with 10% of the power and you can drain it completely, but there's the possibility that you'll get it back or accidentally pass it on) and it can only be held by living beings (the two times it was placed on inanimate objects? Gave people superpowers and turned Pittsburgh into a crater, respectively). When the New U's Earth was brought to the Marvel U, it was placed in quarantine because the Star Brand upset the balance of the universe.
  • Spawn has the power to do almost anything, but the bigger the feat is, the more it uses up his limited energy pool. Once it's all gone, he gets a one-way trip to Hell.
  • Beast Boy, Vixen and Animal Man's powers all revolve around either turning into or gaining the abilities of whatever animal they can think of. The thing is, what does and does not qualify as an animal is incredibly vague, meaning they have a good deal of variety, and can transform into/copy even other sentient species (how's a Kryptonian strike your fancy? How about an Apokalypsian?). To make matters even more confusing, on at least one occasion when Vixen's powers were limited to "the Human animal" her abilities allowed her to copy the powers of other superpowered Humans, even those whose powers weren't natural...and Superman...and an actual Green Lantern (it was Lampshaded that this didn't make sense, though, and it eventually turned out to be the work of a Reality Warper).
    • Other DC characters with similarly open-ended abilities include Metamorpho the Element Man and Mr. 104, who can transform into any chemical they can think of, along with other Voluntary Shapeshifting tricks.
    • Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man. (Yes, he was a Doom Patrol villain, how'd you guess?)
  • Bunker, a member of the Teen Titans introduced shortly after the 2011 DC reboot, is capable of creating and manipulating "psionic brick" structures. By his own admission, he needs practice, and his ability to make things much more complicated than a simple wall or "gloves" for his fists is pretty limited, but he's confident that eventually he'll be virtually indistinguishable from an actual Green Lantern.

Live Action TV

  • In one episode of The New Adventures of Robin Hood, Rob acquires a unicorn horn to fight the Big Bad. He can command it to turn into anything from a weapon, to a ladder, to a length of rope. Towards the end he's flailing a bit, and just yells, "Give me what I need!"

Tabletop Games

  • Genius: The Transgression PCs are Green Lantern Rings. Sure, they may only have a raygun and a door-opening device on them when you trap them in your warehouse, but depending on their abilities, they could build just about anything in there.
  • GURPS: The "Snatcher" power allows you to create objects. By itself, there are limits (including that you can only have one summoned object at a time). With various enhancements added, you can remove these limits. You can also add additional limits.
  • In Mutants and Masterminds, to most traditionally simulate the actual Green Lantern ring, most players take the Create Object power, which basically allows them to make anything they want out of thin air.
  • Villains and Vigilantes has the "Solid-Energy Illusion" power, which covers not only willpower-driven constructs like those from a Green Lantern ring, but also creations made from fire (like Pyro from Marvel) or any other (loosely-defined) "energy" -- if you can imagine it, and have the energy handy to make it with, you can do it.

Video Games

  • In Scribblenauts, the key to progressing through the game's various puzzles is not about unlocking new items, all of which are available from square one, but discovering new usable items and new ways of using them to create the desired effect. If you can make a garage door opener with an Eldritch Abomination tied to a pirate or bribe an army of kappa into fighting the zombie hordes for you by feeding them cucumbers, more power to you.
    • That said, one of the complaints lodged against the game was how often creativity was left off the menu. Sure, you could try to do something inventive, but you were at the mercy of whether or not the programmers had programmed the items you were trying to use so that they could interact the way you were trying to use them. Many of the things you could summon which theoretically should have been incredibly helpful weren't actually programmed to do anything at all.
    • On the other hand, this is somewhat justified as the game (and it's sequel) have essentially the contents of a dictionary plus adjectives. Trying to figure out a way to get all of that to work would be... tricky.

Visual Novels

  • Arcueid Brunestud from Tsukihime has what is known as the Marble Phantasm. Marble Phantasm is the ability to reproduce any situation found in nature. Uses shown include turning a hallway into a vacuum in a manner that vaporizes the contents of the hallway, summoning the moon from the future (somehow), dropping the moon on people, summoning mystical castles and potentially turning herself a magical girl, if Carnival Phantasm is to be believed. Is it any wonder she doesn't get a chance to show off much in Tsukihime? All she's limited by are her natural strength[1] and the fact that it can't do tricks that break the laws of nature.

Web Comics

  • The outsiders have this in Modding as explained here.
  • Blinker Stones in Gunnerkrigg Court work much like this, acting as a "lens" for psychic abilities, which means they can do pretty much anything. It's specifically mentioned that eventually the user becomes powerful enough that they can't use it, and have to rely on their own powers.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • In an ironic subversion, Justice League's Former Marine John Stewart was once criticized by his Green Lantern Corps mentor about the militaristic, uncreative use of his ring, mainly as a blaster weapon and forcefield. This itself was actually an echo of the early disputes among the fandom in regards to both his character and limited abilities. Following this episode, Stewart began to increasingly be more creative with his ring, culminating in a Justice League Unlimited episode where he was reverted to a child and his ring's power increased exponentially due to his active (if not overactive) imagination.

Kid Green Lantern: I'll make a laser cannon! No, a missile launcher! Oh -- oh, I know!
Kid Batman: Just pick something!

    • And by the end of that episode? He uses the ring to make himself a Humongous Mecha bristling with every weapon you could ever think of. And uses it to launch a Macross Missile Massacre, the No One Could Survive That type. Genre Blind much?
    • The early lack of creativity was somewhat galling in the face of his comics origin, where he was, yes, a Marine, but also a fully-trained architect. More likely it was due to budget and scheduling as much as anything.
      • This seems to no longer be the case in comics either. In Green Lantern: Rebirth, Hal Jordan narrates about how John's architectural background influences his constructs; everything is meticulously detailed, even including individual screws and moving parts. Hal has specifically stated that "None of John's constructs are hollow." In fact, a recent scene had John Stewart attempting to recreate an entire planet with his ring, only for it to inform him that the willpower limit was exceeded. Just think about that for a second...
  • Ecto-Manipulation in Danny Phantom. It's not just for shooting beams out of your hands—a skilled ghost can essentially create anything through the use of their own Ectos. Vlad alone managed to create tangible forms with his (such as a rope or a giant batter). They can also telepathically lift objects and in the rare instance shown, trail their Ectos to do whatever they want them to do. The possibilities are limitless.
  • Splatter Phoenix from Darkwing Duck can basically create anything with her brush. That's probably the reason she is killed off in her second episode.
  • A kid in one episode of Static Shock had the ability to create things he thought of, which his brother took advantage of.
  • Played straight in Green Lantern: The Animated Series, for obvious reasons, but also subverted when the Interceptor needs repairs. Hal asks if a ring construct would suffice until they could get back to Oa for proper repairs. Aya replies that the construct would have to be an exact duplicate of the coil and its 56 moving parts to within a 0.8162 micron tolerance, which none of the Lanterns have the skill to replicate.
  1. Note: She's by far the strongest member of the cast and probably the strongest regularly appearing Nasuverse character