Lightning Can Do Anything

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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    "Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work."


    In fiction, lightning is not just a massive electrical discharge which tends to destroy anything it touches. It is an amazing magical force which can do anything the screenwriter wants—it can turn a computer sentient, turn an already-sentient computer evil, send things through time or into an Alternate Universe, etc. It can miraculously reverse polarities and has been responsible for many a Phlebotinum Breakdown. It can even create life.

    Basically, fictional lightning is a Mad Scientist with the ability to fundamentally redesign any machine, especially a futuristic one. If you're in a teleporter when it's struck by lightning, two of you might turn up at the other end; if your stun ray is struck by lightning it may turn into a volatile disintegration gun; if your radio is struck by lightning it could start channeling the dead, and so on, and so forth.

    And God help you if you perform any kind of experiment during a thunderstorm - all you need is for the building to get struck by lightning and you'll have some kind of malevolent radioactive cloud on your hands—even if your experiment had nothing to do with radioactivity—or at the very least you'll gain freakish superhuman powers.

    Perhaps the most amazing thing is, not only will lightning never destroy any machine, frequently it will cause a machine to malfunction just once, then return to normal behavior as if nothing happened, a super-condensed form of No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup, as nobody is sure what it did and it can't be made to do it again.

    Naturally, these mystical properties extend to lightning in its "harnessed" form: electricity. Look in nineteenth-century Sears and Roebuck catalogs, and you're liable to find ads for actual electrified girdles, which tout the supposed health benefits of close proximity to a constant electrical flow. Symbolically, the notion of lightning as a magical force stems from the ancient belief associating it with the power of the gods; it's a convenient and spectacular visual shorthand for "and then a miracle happens".

    There is a grain of truth in all the mythic reverence, since electrical shock can help (relieving depression, regulating heart and muscle rhythm), hinder (causing brain damage, stopping the heart), and often really, really hurt, all by a matter of degree. Further, since electricity and magnetism are directly linked, a character who, for example, can shoot lightning should also be able to wreak havoc with magnetic fields...and since the interaction of most matter is the interplay of electromagnetic fields, someone who can do that can do anything, using Hollywood logic. On the cynical end of this trope, lightning strikes can actually cause personality changes due to nervous system damage.

    Electrical shocks to save a life come from a Magical Defibrillator. Not to be confused with the heroine of Final Fantasy XIII, who supposedly can do anything.

    See also Harmless Electrocution, Energy Ball, and Green Lantern Ring. For a trope covering the do-anything properties of another form of energy, see I Love Nuclear Power and Chemistry Can Do Anything.

    Examples of Lightning Can Do Anything include:

    Anime and Manga

    • Ginji from GetBackers can generate electricity, which he uses to aid him in fights. And that's about it. However, if he absorbs a sufficient amount (either from lightning or a large electrical source) he turns into the "Lighting Lord" whose powers consist of Super Strength, Super Speed, Nigh Invulnerability, electromagnetic powers, and a Healing Factor for good measure. He becomes a Flying Brick without the flight.
    • Great Mazinger has a weapon called Thunder Break, which serves as its Finishing Move. It is also able to be used to strike a sword for lightning rods, chanelled from a sword, Shot from finger, directed with two hands, and many more uses. It says something when its the single move with most variants in the whole Mazinger trilogy.
    • Averted by Darker than Black, since Hei actually follows electricity physics most of the time, and the stranger stuff all happens in an Eldritch Location.
      • And further averted by the end of the series, when we find out that his power isn't actually electrocution, but something a lot more powerful.
    • Arguably one of the best examples, A Certain Magical Index‍'‍s Misaka Mikoto really can do virtually anything with lightning. So far she has been shown to zap people, stick to walls by attaching herself to the steel bars inside the concrete, throw said concrete by using magnetic fields to manipulate said steel bars, use steel to create shields and cover, use the small amounts of electromagnetic waves she emits to sense anything that approaches, create a swords that functions like a mix between a chainsaw and a whip from iron sand, hack into electronic devices, and align the electric signals of her brain to read the memories of an enemy. To top this off, her nickname in the series is 'Railgun' given to her because of her special move that accelerates a simple coin to three times the speed of sound before firing, making her... well... a walking railgun.
    • Tokyo Pig has an episode about lightning weirdness that starts when a bolt hits and disappears a weather reporter.
    • One Piece character Eneru has lightning powers allowing him to manipulate gold (via heat) and restart his own heart when he dies.
    • In Pokémon, lightning is a magical projectile that certain Pokémon can fire from themselves. Never mind that lightning usually just shorts to ground if possible, since electricity is generated from sucking electrons away from ground potential and shooting them at stuff. In Pokémon, you only need a positive source of electricity and a target.
      • When thrown at the Team Rocket trio, lightning is a concussive force, a big shock, or both. Whatever the plot calls for.
      • They're using Thunder as armor!!
      • Aim for the horn!!
      • In the second movie, electricity is used as a form of communication as seen when Pikachu and Zapdos zap each other.
        • It's possible the voltage is interpreted in a specific way by the two Electric-types, similar to how a radio transceiver interprets radio waves by frequency.
        • The better question is how Meowth is able to understand the exchange when he's not even getting zapped.
    • Subverted in Shikabane Hime - one episode had a lad who thought he'd gained powers by being electrocuted, but he had actually died and become an insane Shikabane.
    • Fate of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is a powerful mage with a lightning spell set. Besides the usual ones for attacking, she also has a lightning spell for tying up enemies (Lightning Bind), blocking physical attacks (Thunder Arm), and dispelling wide-scale magical illusions (Sprite Zamber).
    • In Naruto, Lightning Release techniques have an insanely diverse number of abilities. Besides stunning or killing people, it can also make a palm thrust strong enough to blow clear through a human body, be shaped into weapons like an extending spear or throwing needles, make a sword vibrate to give it extra cutting power, and be run through an around a person's body to increase their reflexes by speeding up their nervous system, increase their speed and strength by boosting their muscle power, and block or reduce damage from enemy attacks like a force-field.
      • To be fair, a lot of those abilities are also available using other types of chakra, just in different ways. Additionally, projectile lightning is oddly rare, the only examples being Kakuzu's "False Darkness" (which appears to need to head towards the ground) and the aforementioned throwing needles.
    • In Heroman, a lightning strike during a brewing alien invasion turns a toy robot it into a shape-shifting action hero the size of a small building.
      • Well, it had nanomachines, other than that, still impressive.
    • In Air Gear the Thunder King has the power to make someone hallucinate by using electricity to mess the your brain waves.
    • In Voltes V, lightning powers up the titular robot's Sky Sword.

    Comic Books

    • The classic Silver Age origin of The Flash (reproduced in the live-action TV show and referenced in Justice League) -- has Barry Allen being struck by lightning attracted by a shelving unit full of chemicals, and Barry being struck by both lightning and the charged chemicals. Later on, he decided to illustrate his origin to his nephew Wally, complete with lightning storm outside. Whaddaya know, it does strike twice.
      • Some attempts to explain this over the years have claimed things like the lightning and chemicals being largely placebos, unlocking the latent abilities already there in the individuals. Much like when Marvel tried similar explanations for some of their more outdated hero origins, eye-rolling ensued.
      • In Crisis on Infinite Earths it was revealed that the Flash himself was the lightning bolt which struck the chemicals giving him his super speed. This was later retconned into the Speed Force, a cosmic force that grants super speed and just happens to look like lightning.
      • A secondary character (a police officer) gains the power of regeneration after being stabbed by a lightning dagger.
    • In an early Legion of Super-Heroes story, lightning can resurrect the dead, although only if it kills someone else first. Said dead person(Lightning Lad) had received his powers after being zapped by a "lightning beast". Referenced more recently in the pages of Justice League, although the current Hand Wave is that it's 30th-century technology that really does the trick.
    • In his comic book, first season Who Wants to Be a Superhero?? winner Feedback gets his superpowers when hit by lightning while holding the video game controller he was using to debug the super-vehicle he was working on.
    • The Malibu comic The Strangers featured a group of people who gained various superpowers when lightning struck the cable car they were riding. It was energy from a spaceship stuck in the Moon that was mutating humans, apparently trying to get someone to rescue it.
      • The lightning bolt, alien as it may be, threw a piece of perfectly normal metal into Night Man's brain. This granted him the 'powers' of hearing evil thoughts and not needed to sleep. Should have just went with 'Night Man's car conducted some of the energy of the magic alien lightning'.
    • Spider-Man villain Electro has, not surprisingly, a wide variety of electricity-based powers, including being able to shoot lightning bolts of varied levels of destructiveness, the ability to control electrical equipment, and the ability to skate along power lines. In one battle, his lightning bolts both manage to cut through Spidey's webbing and, with an errant shot, manage to turn on a huge newspaper printing press without damaging it at all.
      • Electro got his powers by essentially being electrocuted by a particularly nasty lightning bolt while repairing a power line. Just as Bruce Banner should have been vaporized when the gamma bomb exploded and Peter Parker should have gotten cancer from the spider-bite, Max Dillon should have been fried, but instead he gains superpowers. Hollywood Science strikes again!
        • Read the official data sheets. Electro is completely invulnerable to electricity (doh!), and has the power to subconsciously heal himself from diseases by "zapping" viruses and bacterias. Fridge Logic strikes hard when the "electrohealing" is able to cure cancer. But cancer is just an (abnormal) body cell, so should share the immunity...
      • In the Ultimate Marvel line Spider-Man attains a variant of the Venom costume that was intended to be used to cure cancer, when confronted with the Shocker and his sonic blasters Spidey just gets a comfortable massage, however when he is fighting the suit off his very skin and just "happens" to be struck by the electricity from a downed power line...
    • In Man In The Iron Mask, a short arc of Iron Man, lightning hits the armor. This, in conjunction with Y2K, causes it to become Tony's Abusive Boyfriend.
    • The Composite Superman, complete with extremely ugly costume, came into being when lightning entered through the window of the Superman Museum and struck a rack of miniature models of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Somehow, this gave their powers to the utterly unsinged Joe Meach, slacker, jackass, and bitter no-hoper.
    • "Because when you can't figure out how to end your story, just have a lightning bolt come out of nowhere and solve everybody's problems."
    • In a 1958 Batman story, the hero becomes a "human fish" due to a combination of lightning and the chemicals in his utility belt. As a result, he can't breathe air and can only survive by extracting oxygen from water.


    • The 1931 Frankenstein film has arguably the most famous cinematic application of this trope, with the titular scientist using lightning to bring life into his monster.
    • In Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, the famous titular psychopath killed in the 4th movie is struck by a lightning bolt attracted to a metal rod driven through the chest of his decaying corpse and resurrected as an unstoppable, undead killing machine. Prior to this point, he'd at least feel pain when attacked but from here on out he was indestructible.
    • Short Circuit and Stealth both have computerized war machines (a robot and a fighter plane, respectively) that become sentient after being struck by lightning. You'd think that, after the former played it utterly for comedy in 1986, the latter wouldn't try to do it straight in 2005, but you'd be wrong wrong wrong.
      • The latter movie's trailer even had the incredibly stupid line "That lightning strike rewired it somehow!". Thankfully, it was cut out in the movie itself.
        • I was under the impression that the lightning strike merely fried whatever it was that forced EDI to obey orders, similar to Doc Ock's inhibitor chip in the second Spider-Man movie. Guess I gave it too much credit.
    • In Powder the title character had a natural affinity and control over electricity in all its forms, after his mother was struck by lightning whilst pregnant with our bald protagonist.
      • It's hinted (but never proven either way) that his condition is actually genetic and that the reason his mother was hit by lightning in the first place was because of his affinity with electricity rather then the other way around.
    • In Back to The Future, Doc and Marty use a lightning bolt to power the time machine in the DeLorean. In the sequel, the lightning strikes the flying car, causing it to rotate at the necessary 88 miles per hour to induce a time jump.
      • To be fair, the lightning strike in the first movie wasn't an Ass Pull, since plutonium wasn't available in every drugstore in 1955 and the machine needed a lot of power (which lightning definitely can provide). The time travel was what the machine was designed to do, after all.
    • Another related effect: Mel Gibson's character in What Women Want is electrocuted in a bath while trying out various feminine products. Rather than dying, as one might expect, he becomes telepathic. Fully aware of the circumstances, the protagonist later attempts to reproduce the accident in an effort to remove the ability. This time, he adds the thrill of an true-blue lightning strike. Despite astronomical odds, he gets his strike, resulting in neither normality nor a corpse. Eventually, the character's powers are removed. Per convenience (or rapidly dissolving Plot Armor), he is not required to interact with the lightning, and is merely nearby when it, instead favors a power transformer.
    • Near the end of Hollow Man, Kevin Bacon's Invisible character gets electrocuted during a fight. Somehow this causes the invisibility process to falter slightly, making himself partially visible; his skin and hair is still translucent, but his muscle, bones and organs are visible. A Chekhov's Gun is offered earlier in the film, in which the cure for a test gorilla's invisibility only worked after the team used a defibrillator on its heart. They nearly used one on the villain while trying to cure him the first time (and before his Face Heel Turn), but changed their minds when his vital signs stabilized on their own.
      • The anti-invisibility serum had been injected in the gorilla's blood, and was being distributed through her blood vessels. When the gorilla's heart stopped, the blood stopped circulating, and the anti-invisibility serum stopped making new parts of her body visible (but the already visible parts remained visible). Restarting her heart restarted the blood's circulation, making her completely visible. They later state that they had had several more successful tests; presumably, if all of them required the use of a defibrillator, they would not have considered the tests "successful".
    • Not exactly lightning, but certainly electricity. Ernest Goes to Jail uses bizarre electrical effects as one of its running gags, turning the title character into a magnet repeatedly, giving him the power to shoot lightning bolts, and eventually turning off gravity. He got better.
    • In the movie Zotz (1962 or so), Tom Posten plays a college professor who gets a magic coin which in turns gets him trouble from the rascally Russkies. Towards the beginning of the movie he has to help out a young lady who had a most unfortunate occurrence: she was struck by lightning! Not to worry the only damage it did was disintegrate her clothing otherwise she suffered not so much as a red spot. Professor Tom commented on lightning leaving some sort of distinctive scar and offered to look for it but said offer was rejected.
    • In the Addams Family movie, lightning actually helps Fester recover his memory. Justified because he is a member of the Addams Family.
    • In The Prestige, the big plot twist is that Nikola Tesla's artificial lightning can make a perfect duplicate of any object, even a human being.
      • Though, to be fair, the lightning may be a byproduct of this arcane process, rather than the mechanism. After all, Tesla earlier designs for Borden (or--we're not told which--inspires Borden to build) a similar machine that just shoots lightning for no reason in order to dazzle the audience and distract them from the devilish simplicity of the illusion's prestige.
    • In most Godzilla movies, lightning (or electricity in some form) strikes him, either making him even more powerful, or making him as weak as a 300-ton newborn kitten, Depending on the Writer.
    • In The Court Jester Danny Kaye's armor is struck by lightning before a joust, magnetizing it.
      • Justified as Danny wasn't wearing it yet, and a case of they Did Do the Research as iron objects (like the armor) do become magnetic if you run a current though them.
    • In Neo-Human Casshern, what appears to be a giant stone lightning bolt strikes the baths containing artificially grown body parts, causing them to grow into full human bodies.
    • In 12:01, the main character is shocked by a lamp, making him immune to the day repeating over the course of the film..
    • In Be Kind Rewind, Jack Black's character gets zapped by a transformer at an electrical plant, and becomes a living electromagnet.
    • In 2005's Stealth, an advanced autonomous stealth fighter is struck by lightning, reprogramming the neural net of EDI, the AI that pilots it. EDI is said to be developing exponentially faster and to have developed an ego...and of course turns evil.
    • In The Incredible Mr. Limpet, Don Knotts' title character falls into a lake, gets hit by lightning, and turns into a fish. However, he did wish for it earlier, and it was accompanied by creepy singing angel voices...
    • According to the B-movie Squirm, when you expose earthworms to electricity, they grow teeth, learn to roar, and develop super-strength as well as a taste for flesh.
    • In How To Make A Monster, lightning strikes a video game developer's office, turning their video game into a sentient killing machine. Honestly, the film's representation of how video games are made is even further from reality.
    • In the 2002 Lil' Bow Wow monstrosity Like Mike, the main character finds an old pair of shoes that give him superhuman basketball-related skills after they (the shoes) are struck by lightning.
    • Subverted in The Brave Little Toaster, where Lampy gets struck by lightning to recharge the battery, but gets severely damaged in the process.
    • The ghost that haunts the Prison is electrically charged and it is shown possessing two computers, among other things.
    • The Jabberwock in Alice in Wonderland has a lightning breath attack. Alice deflects it with a metal shield.
    • One of Syfy's movies, I think its called Lightning Bolt, has a lightning bolt that is seen as some sort of spaceship for sufficiently advanced aliens and it can cut a car in two like a laser...FridgeLogic!
    • The 1998 film The Avengers. At the end a lightning bolt from Sir August's Weather Control Machine pulls him up high into the air.
    • In The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, when the main character was electrocuted while trying to fix one of those huge ol' 60s computers he developed a photographic memory. In addition, he also possessed all of the data on the computer at the time - some of which was related to illegal activities.


    • In the Discworld book Night Watch, a lightning strike send Vimes backwards in time. The fact that the lightning hit while he was directly above a magical library may have something to do with this.
      • The lightning strike is implied to be the same one from near the end of Thief of Time (the one that powered the clock that froze time), which causes odd things to happen all over the city. The most unfortunate being the guy who gets magnetic superpowers from the lightning, then immediately dies. (He was working in the armory when he suddenly became attractive to metal).
      • The sanest explanation is that Vimes and Carcer fell through the library roof and were inside L-Space at the moment the entire universe and all of history shattered. And got put back in the wrong place when it got glued back together.
      • Also, Igors use lightning to bring things back to life and see nothing weird about it.
      • In The Last Continent, a bolt of lightning cures the Librarian of his mysterious illness.
      • In Interesting Times, a lightning strike charges up and activates an army of golems. Justified because the original Great Wizard set things up to work that way, and as a Shout-Out to Frankenstein.
    • In God Game, written in the mid-1980s by Andrew M. Greeley (author of the "Bishop Blackie" mysteries), a lightning bolt striking the home of a priest who is at the time play testing a Simulation Game for a relative turns the game into reality—the nameless narrator (implied to be either Greeley himself or possibly Bishop Blackie Ryan) finds himself forced to act as God (via his PC) to the inhabitants of a small but very real swords and sorcery world.
    • Many early-20th-century Science Fiction stories had electricity do various weird stuff. Once that got too old and hokey, it was replaced by radiation. And now, Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke.
    • In John Christopher's Fireball two cousins are transported to ancient Rome (later revealed to be an alternate reality) by what they assume to be some form of ball lightning.
    • Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, featuring the original "monster", still living in the present. The lightning which animated him gave him understanding of quantum physics, to the point where he can apply it to the macro world. Little things like stepping across the planet.
    • In Tamora Pierce's Shatterglass, a glassblower who'd had a small amount of glass magic gets hit by lightning, which gives him glass-magic-plus-lots-more-lightning-magic. Until he learns to control it, the result is things like a small living glass dragon that eats glass-coloring agents and spits up cool-looking debris, and several glass balls that are full of electricity which, when it eventually fades, reveals the location of the most recent murder by a serial killer who's on the loose in the city. Handy.
      • It's stated that he probably had a small amount of lightening magic before the strike, and that was how he survived.
    • Though it's not the technological breakthrough that the story focuses upon, Who Goes There?, the basis for The Thing, has magnets and electricity up the wazoo. The research station is there studying the electromagnetism of the earth at the South Pole. They are armed with electricity-spewing guns that can fry the alien menace. The planes to escape are disabled by shattering the magnets inside their systems. Since this story was written before nuclear power, electricity was the Phlebotinum Du Jour for cutting-edge technology.
    • In Edgar Allan Poe's "Some Words With A Mummy", an electric shock brings an ancient Egyptian mummy back to life. To be fair, at the time the story was written, most people really did think that reanimating dead tissue with electricity was plausible and something scientists would figure out how to do soon.
    • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, there exists a living planet named Zonama Sekot. Its largest flora, the boras trees, rely on being struck by lightning in their infancy to advance to the next stage of their life cycle.
    • In Robert Arthur's "Obstinate Uncle Otis", after the titular character was struck by lightning, anything he expressed disbelief in faded out of existence. (Justified because the narrator was a tall-tale teller.)

    Live Action TV

    • Subverted on Heroes with Elle Bishop, whose power is used only to shock or start fire on clothing, and who therefore suffers whenever someone adds water to the mix.
    • Gwen Raiden's lightning powers on Angel have a remarkable array of uses, from hacking through computer systems to making Angel horny...
    • On Smallville, Clark's powers were transferred to someone and back by lightning strikes near some Kryptonite.
      • In a later episode it happens again with Clark merely copying his powers to Lana, which is convenient because if it had worked like before, Clark would have been powerless to stop Lana from taking her vengeance on Luthor.
      • In another episode lightning strike at a telephone pole sent Lana's phone call into the past, giving characters a handy warning that she is about to be killed. Once again, Kryptonite was involved.
    • Likewise, Lois and Clark had Superman's powers shared with others by lightning strikes at least twice.
    • In the 2003 series 1-800-Missing, 21-year-old Jess Mastriani had acquired Psychic Powers after being hit by lightning.
    • Lampshaded in ER. In one episode the doctors are watching a soap opera where one of the characters appears back in the series despite having been diagnosed with terminal brain tumor. One of the doctors explains that " a lightning strike cured him" and everyone else accepts it without batting an eyelash.
    • The miniseries Revelations featured a girl who speaks verses from the Book of Revelation after being rendered brain-dead by two lightning strikes.
    • Screech on Saved by the Bell acquired the ability to see the future from a lightning hit.
    • Getting hit turned Herman Munster of The Munsters into a normal human.
    • The X-Files had an episode ("D.P.O") about a guy (Darrin Peter Oswald) who, upon being struck, learned he could absorb and toss around lightning.
      • It never specifies how or when he got the power. Mulder finds his name on a list of people in the town who have been struck by lightning (a disproportunate number, naturally), but that could come from someone witnessing him absorbing lighting.
      • Another episode ("Trevor") had someone gaining the ability to phase through solid matter during a freak electrical storm.
    • Naturally, there are two examples from Gilligan's Island: in "Meet The Meteor" the castaways, upon learning that a severe tropical storm is coming to their island, decide to take advantage of the lightning from the storm to destroy a meteor whose rays have been found to accelerate the aging rate in all living things around (which means the castaways themselves are doomed to be aging fifty years by the end of the week and essentially dying), and fashion a lightning rod, under the Professor's direction. The storm hits, Gilligan javelins the rod into the meteor, a bolt of lightning streaks down and strikes the rod, and the meteor is destroyed, saving the castaways from the fate of dying of old age within the week. And in "Gilligan's Personal Magnetism" Gilligan is struck by lightning, which causes him to get a bowling ball stuck to his hand. The professor's efforts to remove the ball cause Gilligan to "become invisible".
    • Related effect: after being hit with several thousand volts from a stage amplifier, Johnny B. of Misfits of Science became essentially a human capacitor capable of launching lightning bolts from his hands.
    • Home Improvement kind of hangs a lampshade on this. Or maybe subverts it. Or just parodies it. Or maybe parodies it by hanging a subverted lampshade? Anyway, in one episode, Randy badly mangles his bike while going over a jump, and asks Brad what they should tell their parents. His response: "We'll tell them it got hit by lightning!" It doesn't work—possibly because their father has had quite a lot more experience with the destructive effects of electricity than even the average handyman.
    • In the New Series episode of Doctor Who, "Evolution of the Daleks", lightning can even affect genetic engineering equipment. The Doctor reveals that, because he hugged the top of the Empire State (during its construction) as lightning came through, Time Lord DNA was mixed with the Dalek-Humans and gave the (now) Timelord-Dalek-Humans freedom, unlike the Dalek-Humans they would've been.
    • The back story of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, an attraction at various Disney Theme Parks, blames a lightning strike for everything weird about the tower. Said weirdness includes the sudden disappearance of five people and half the building, ghosts, a hallway that turns into space, and an elevator that travels through dimensions, falls down and back up again, and (in Florida at least) moves forward. And a television that we can only assume is possessed by the late Rod Serling.
      • The movie based on the ride justified this by making it magic evil witchcraft lightning (and also drops most of the weirder effects).
    • In one episode of Sliders, the portal is struck by lightning just as Quinn goes through, spitting him out the other side phased between dimensions or some such -- essentially, a ghost.
    • In Power Rangers in Space, the Silver Ranger's morphed time was originally limited to two-and-a-half minutes, due to his morpher being constantly drained of power over 2 years while he was in suspended animation. It was eventually recharged by... you guessed it... being struck by lightning.
    • Mutant X: The character whose powers were lightning-based could do near anything he wanted with them. They disabled car alarms, started the car, unlocked purely mechanical locks, and anything else that needed to be done. All they needed to do was have him walk on water with the low-budget lightning effect going on around his feet, and he could have been Electrical Jesus.
      • Those are all things you could do with complete control over electromagnetism(see Magneto and Polaris), maybe the lightning was just his way of focusing his control.
    • Stargate SG-1's 10th season featured an episode where Vala lost her memory after being hooked up to a device meant to probe her mind which was then hit by a zat gun.
      • And in the 1st season, they had to use lightning to power the gate on a planet where the DHD was busted.
      • The power of lightning was used again in Stargate Atlantis to power the city's shields to protect them from the storm causing the lightning.
        • Both of the above are justified by the fact that lightning strikes do carry considerable power, enough to light a 100 watt bulb for six months.
      • The zat guns are used as 'futuristic lightning' in Stargate SG-1. Apart from being weapons, they've been used for opening and closing doors, turning machines on and off, and deprogramming brainwashed children.
        • In "The Crystal Skull", Teal'c shooting the skull with a zat gun is explained as the reason Daniel turned invisible, rather than meeting the giant aliens like his grandfather did.
    • In Ace Lightning (a mixed media show both live action filmed and CGI animated, so it also counts as Western Animation) the characters of Mark Hollander's video game were brought to life by a bolt of lightning. (It turns out in the end that Mark's particular game was specifically modified with advanced coding by the Master Programmer: all it needed was a boost of extreme power to start the process off, that power being the lightning bolt.)
    • In The Frantics' unfortunately short-lived sketch comedy series Four On The Floor, an insurance salesman struck by lightning while portaging his aluminum canoe was transformed into the mighty Canadian superhero Mr. Canoehead, who is what you'd expect from the name.

    Eat gunwale!

    • The point of Misfits. Lightning happens, thus superpowers. It even affects gorillas, weirdly.
    • Unsolved Mysteries did a story on a family who, over 4 generations, has had family members be struck or nearly struck 17 times. At least 2 members died, and in one case the lightning actually struck inside the house (through the window no less). They've made a running joke of it.
    • Averted in Byker Grove - teenage Jemma was helping a pensioner to clear up her flooded house, and touched a faulty electrical socket (she was stupidly trying to watch TV while the house was still flooded). A matter of mere seconds and one big bang later, and Jemma was dead.
    • Dougal of Father Ted was apparently once struck by lightning suffering no ill effects, except that balloons kept sticking to him.
    • When lightning strikes Jo Min Sung in the Korean Series Once Upon a Time In Saengchori it has an unexpected effect on his mathematical abilities. Later, it has an equally powerful and odd effect on his relationship with Yoo Eun Joo.
    • On Quantum Leap, when Sam leaped while receiving shock treatment, Al was the one who changed bodies and Sam became a hologram.

    Tabletop Games

    • Lightning and electricity are used to heal Prometheans. Justified in that lightning calls to the "Divine Fire" that powers Prometheans and helps to stoke it without causing it to rage out of control and hurt them (unlike, say, actual fire).

    Video Games

    • In Diablo II, the "Lightning" skill tree is the "everything that isn't fire and ice" skill tree. Teleport, telekinesis, force field, etc. all go here.
    • Ultima VII Part Two: The Serpent Isle has various colors of magical lightning that mess things up; a storm at the very beginning swaps all your cool loot from Part 1 with random junk.
    • Another World starts with a particle accelerator being struck by lightning, thereby transporting the protagonist to the titular location.
    • In Chrono Cross, all hell breaks loose when an electric storm strikes Chronopolis, ripping control of the Frozen Flame from FATE, sending Wazuki, Serge, and Miguel's boat into the Sea of Eden, and allowing Schala's consciousness to contact Serge and the newly-released Flame. One would think the Time Research Lab would install lightning rods to avoid this sort of thing.
      • Chrono Trigger has nothing quite on this scale, but Crono's use of lightning spells in dual-techs include striking Ayla with lightning... which energizes her and improves her "Cat Attack". Sadly, this does not happen when Ayla gets hit by lightning from other sources.
        • Although it's actually a subversion since Crono's attacks are actually based on "Holy" energy and that Lightning is just censorship due to Nintendo's No Religious References policy at the time the game was released.
    • In Comix Zone, the opening sequence gives the impression that lightning is what brought the comic book to life in the first place.
    • In Mother 3, the PSI moves PK Flash and PK Starstorm are both learned when you get struck by lightning.
    • At the start of the first Persona, the main characters perform the Persona ritual; after seeing an apparition of a girl appearing, the main character, Nate, Yuki and Mark are all struck by lightning - while indoors - and have a dream of a butterfly while they're unconscious. This ultimately allows their Personas to awaken when they're attacked by demons at the hospital.
    • Cole from In Famous can, in addition to zapping people, use lightning to (deep breath) glide through the air, blast people into the air, accumulate charge within himself in midair and explosively earth himself when he lands, accumulate charge in his fists and pummel people, create blades of electricity and pummel people, bring people back from the dead, drain the life out of people, restrain people with electric shackles, stop bullets, defuse bombs, hurl two different types of explosive balls of lightning, and more. Green Lantern Ring powers as applied to electricity.
      • A few of these can be Handwaved by some Fan Wank involving the use of an electric field to create a magnetic one.
        • That's nothing - a few years later, he'll be able to travel backwards in time using his powers. It's a one-way trip though, to before he got his powers so that he can strengthen his past self's powers and then fight himself to the death.
      • Psychic hobos, trash robots, hallucinogenic tar, enemies turning into purple energy beings. I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.
    • In contrast to the anime entry above, Electric-type moves in the Pokémon games invert the trope by being completely ineffective against Ground-type Pokémon.
      • On the other hand, certain Pokémon can use it to heal themselves (Volt Absorb), and boost their stats (Motor Drive, once unique to Electivire).
    • Lightning in Scribblenauts can jump start cars, raise the dead, and stun people, to name a few things.
    • The fourth boss in Axelay has a near-unavoidable lightning beam attack... fortunately, all it does is force you to switch weapons randomly.
    • Usually, Mega Man just uses the lightning attacks he copies to attack, but he has also used them to power machines and create a Super Metroid-style grappling beam.
    • In the Mario Kart series, the lightning power-up shrinks all competitors in front of the user.
      • Luigi's Thunderhand notably averts this, though. He can't aim it anywhere except straight down like real lighting, otherwise he has to touch something to shock it. He can hold things in place with static electricity, though, which makes some bit of sense, more than most things in the series, anyway.
    • Lulu of Final Fantasy X not only employs lightning as her default element of destruction; she also casts strangely persistent ball lightning into a clear blue sky as a not-so-epic-hail. Also, despite her Technology Is Taboo religion, she suggests and performs a lightning jump-start on a piece of heavy machinery.
    • Ky Kiske is able to use lightning do do everything from firing bolts of it, to using it to one-shot his enemies.
      • Though it is subverted in the sense that Lightning is the hardest element to control and without his Outrage Fuuraiken he is unable to form lightning into a projectile.
    • As of Beta 1.5, Lightning has two very interesting properties in Minecraft:
    • In the download-only Back to The Future video game, the Delorean mysteriously appears on Doc's property. Given that in the third movie, it was annihilated by a train, how can this be? Well, when you find Doc and ask him, he explains that when the Delorean was struck by lighting (at the end of the second film), it created an exact duplicate Delorean that...y'know what? Let's just say Lighting did it.
    • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, a sith sorcerer lives by this motto. Gameplay and Story Segregation does not apply. Someone rude? Shock him. Someone nice? Shock him. Some one in the way? Shock Him. Boss fight? Shock him. Ancient Force ritual? Shock everything. Healing? Try Shocking.



    "This has got be the most fucked up..."


    Thor: BOOYAH! Direct hit!
    Planetar: Lord Thor, I've been reading the description of Control Weather... and I'm not sure it can actually DO that.
    Thor: I'm sorry, I didn't hear you just there. What did you say, again?
    Planetar: *sigh* I said, "Nice shooting, sir."


    Web Originals

    • Played straight and later Justified in Fine Structures. Apparently any extradimensional interference manifests as a lightning strike.

    Western Animation

    • In Superman: The Animated Series, a bolt of lightning strikes Superman and passes to a nearby woman, turning her into the electric super villain Livewire.
    • And then there's Tutenstein, whose title character is the mummy of a 9-year-old Egyptian pharaoh, revived by lightning.
    • In the Legion of Super Heroes, Lightning Lad and his brother Mekt got their powers when Lightning Beasts electrocuted them and his twin sister, in the process turning Mekt's hair white, giving Lightning Lad a neato scar, and turning his sister into an electric space cloud. She got better
    • Static Shock. There's a reason his future self is one of the world's most powerful heroes:
      • Magnetism, including over non-magnetic substances like wood, rubber tires, or hot-air balloons, or through them, such as lifting out of the ground a sewer line.
      • Concussive or actually damaging electric blasts.The ability to supercharge anything, from Batman Beyond‍'‍s exosuit to anesthetic gas.
      • He even used his electricity to supercharge John Stewart's power ring when it had run out of juice. Perhaps the Guardians of the Universe should look into giving their Green Lanterns a battery backup? He's also temporarily recharged the Justice League Watchtower.
      • He made a working phone by making an electrical display of a keypad and holding on to a telephone pole's wire.
      • Richie, before becoming a Gadgeteer Genius, made tracers that emit a static frequency Static can follow.
      • He used lightning to swing from antennas, Spider-Man-style.
    • The Spectacular Spider-Man shows off the electrical variant in multiple Super Villain origins. A combination of standard electrical shocks from machinery, bioelectric shocks from genetically-modified eels, and a smattering of Applied Phlebotinum grants Electro superpowers. These electrical superpowers incidentally catalyze Doc Connors' gene-altering formula resulting in him becoming the Lizard, and the process is later copied (with electricity as a key component) to give powers to Kraven the Hunter. Massive electromagnetic shock fuses Doctor Octopus' harness to his spine, causing his Freak-Out and the accompanying extreme personality change. Later inverted (the empowering part, not the "do anything" part) when Spidey depowers Corporal Jupiter by electrocuting him, killing the spores that gave his powers.
    • Futurama:
      • Parodied in the pilot, where Bender couldn't exceed his programming until he was electrocuted by striking his antenna on a broken light bulb.

    Bender: You're full of crap, Fry!

    • GZZZT*

    Bender: You make a persuasive argument, Fry!

      • Played straight in later episodes where electricity is shown to be something of a drug to robots.
      • Subverted in "Jurassic Bark".

    Farnsworth: Behold, once more, the mighty Clone-O-Mat, requiring such vast amounts of electricity that we must harness the elemental power of nature itself! (Lightning strikes.) I speak, of course, of molten lava, deep within the earth's core. To the sub-basement!

    • In the 2006 series of Captain Scarlet, the titular character regains his humanity after falling through a conveniently placed electron beam (not quite lightning, but close). Doesn't really give off the impression of an overly-powerful alien host, to be honest, especially when the original took a whole multi-story car park collapsing on top of him to be defeated, but there we go.
    • In Batman: The Animated Series, Batman discovers that electricity shorts out Clayface's morphing abilities and stuns him. He later defeats the shape shifting villain by tricking him into electrocuting himself.
      • This was actually proven to be a ruse by Clayface, who is, above all things, an actor.
      • In any case, messing up someone's ability to control their body and stunning them fall more under "what electrical shocks normally do to people" than electricity doing something unusual. That's what tasers are for, here applied to a shapeshifter.
      • Also used in Batman Beyond against shape shifting villain Inque when freezing her stopped working. Later on even the electricity stopped working...
      • Speaking of Batman Beyond, in "The Call" part two, Batman is being attacked while under water. So he activates a handy-dandy tazer feature on his suit, stunning the attackers in his immediate vicinity, but not one several meters away...under water. And not him...under water...and wearing a suit that's almost all wires and circuitry.
    • In one episode of Sushi Pack, Unagi, an electric eel-type thing, gains a new power during a thunderstorm: anything he zaps with his lightning bolt powers turns into a sentient creature. This includes a jungle gym, bagels, donuts, and doors.
    • In one episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, lightning strikes an arcade machine Leonardo is playing, bringing the villain from the game into the real world. Somehow. Other dimensions may come into it somewhere.
    • In The Boondocks, a lightning cures Uncle Ruckus' tumor, convinces everyone that god is against his racist preaching, and cuts the power for long enough time to save Shabazz' life. The 2nd one is justified, as Ruckus, at that exact moment, had yelled to God to strike him down if his teachings were wrong; shorting out power is something lightning has been known to do. The first one... Status Quo Is God Status.
    • King of the Hill once featured the utterly insane Larsen Pork Products man. His confrontation with Luanne took place in a pig slaughterhouse. On the conveyor belt, he was accidentally electrocuted and cured of the voices in his head. His clarity was short-lived, as he was almost immediately...well, slaughtered.
    • Subverted when it turns out there's one thing lighting can't do: Hurt Wonder Woman when she blocks it with her metal bracelets. Immediately lampshaded by the Flash:

    Flash: "There are so many reasons why that shouldn't've worked."

      • And one very good reason why it should have worked: they're magical metal bracelets.
    • In one episode of Super Mario Bros Super Show, Mario got turned into Super Mario by getting zapped by a giant electrical plug.
    • One episode of Adventure Time has a robot built by Finn become partially functional (and sentient) after getting struck by lightning. It isn't fully functional until it is struck by lightning again - this time provided by the Ice King.
    • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, long distance electrical bolts from Heloise's Brainiac Booster make him intelligent. Geinus!Beezy is even characterized by a solid lightning bolt in his head.
    • In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Dr. Finklestein bring some skeletal reindeer to life with the help of electricity. The prequel game The Pumpkin King takes this trope further by having Jack heal by sitting in electric chairs, though this makes sense considering the former.
    • In one episode of The Simpsons, a lightning strike increases the range of a radio station, so more people can listen to Bleeding Gums Murphy's music.
    • In WITCH, Will and season 2 Big Bad Nerissa have what is called "Quintessence", which is shown as lightning bolts from the hands. Will can use it to make electronics come to life. Nerissa's so skilled at it, not only can she grant life to duplicates, she can raise the dead and create a new body for that dead person (in this case, her best friend which she accidentally killed, Cassidy)


    • In the DOS game Personal Nightmare, a man is struck by lightning and turned into the devil.
    • In Bionicle, the Toa Inika gained their powers when they were struck by lightning (granted, it was Phlebotinus lightning, but still). Since lightning isn't the usual Phlebotinum for Toa transformations, the electricity had a few side effects; some beneficial (like immunity to The Virus that the local bad guys were using and their abilities being infused with electrical force) and some benign (glowing faces).
    • In the radio show The Prairie Home Companion, a resident of Lake Wobegon was struck by lightning, giving him a variety of useless talents (such as the ability to flawlessly play one song on the guitar while singing a completely different song).
    • Some Urban Legends use a combination of this and Scare'Em Straight. One story has two teens having sex on top of a mountain during a thunderstorm and getting struck by lightning, killing the girl and fusing their bodies together, leaving the terrified boy trying to call 911 with his tongue fused to hers.

    Real Life

    • One theory for how life actually got started on Earth is that lightning hit a combination of the right chemicals. This theory was once popular among scientists, but has been discredited since Science Marches On. All that was proven is that such an event can result in the chemical reactions which make up that particular step in the process, not that that's how it actually did happen with the early biosphere.
      • It was shown in the 1950s that sparks through a water-CO2 gas do produce chemicals involved in life. Now scale that up to (a) lightning bolts (b) a hundred times a second around the world (c) for millions of years, and we get plenty of chemicals including some rare and complicated molecules. A ball (similar to a dust ball) may attract other molecules to its surface, thereby growing. Something causes it to fragment into two pieces, both attracting molecules and growing until they fragment. The first primitive proto-life form has formed.
    • There's a famous incident where a lightning storm caused a rocket carrying satellites to launch prematurely. Those satellites were for tracking thunderstorms.
    • Edwin Robinson was blind and deaf, until being struck by lightning. He regained his vision (minus periphery), could hear perfectly, and regrew his hair. Lightning can do anything.
    • Lightning can also grant musical ability.
    • Or you can cut out the middleman and have the music come from the electricity itself.
    • A page compiling true stories of bad tech support tells of a support technician who apparently thought lightning can do anything. A client's modem wasn't working, and he assumed it was incompatible with the OS. When she told him it used to be compatible, he guessed that it must have been struck by lighting, changing its compatibility.
    • One lightning struck home had its TV still operational after the strike. The bolt had come in through a closed window, struck a gold faucet, traveled through the plumbing, crossed to electrical wiring inside the wall, exploded the attached light fixture, and arced again from the broken bulb to a television. The TV somehow still worked even though it was partly melted and would only show one channel.
    • You can find YouTube videos for plasma speakers. Essentially, these use arcs of electricity to create sound much like a physical speaker (pushing air around).
    • NASA has discovered that Lightning storms shoot beams of anti-matter into space.
    • Direct lightning strikes - or often even surges down power lines caused by nearby lightning strikes - have been known to create extremely unusual quirks in security systems, satellite/cable boxes, phone systems, etc.
    • This woman was hit by lightning while pregnant, but she and her baby survived, and she and her husband joke that their baby should have superpowers.