Mundane Utility

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
Super Strength and Super Stretching: Great for fighting crime. Even better for housecleaning.

Cyclops: Here, Jean, allow me to cut you a piece of cake in my own way. (uses eye beams to cut a slice of cake)

Jean: Why, thank you, Cyclops, but that's a bit like using an elephant gun to kill a house fly.
X-Men # 4.

Awesomeness put to mundane use. Just let loose your roar of power and...cook. Or play video games. Or something.

If you think about it, this is actually rather sensible. Even super heroes and heroines aren't going to be fighting for their lives every single minute of every day, and in most cases the powers won't shut off. If it's more convenient, then why not make your life a little simpler? Call it "practice" if you have to justify it (or just ask them "What do you mean, it's not awesome?").

Failure to see possible uses other than this one is a form of Misapplied Phlebotinum. Overpowered characters with a job description like this become Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids. Characters who are outright omnipotent who fall to this trope are All Powerful Bystanders. Martial Arts and Crafts is a subset of this trope, for when martial arts abilities are used for reasons other than fighting. Also an opposite of sorts to Cut Lex Luthor a Check, Inverse Law of Utility and Lethality, Reed Richards Is Useless and Useless Superpowers. If this is applied to killing someone (such as, say, a gigantic nuke against a feeble human), it may become There Is No Kill Like Overkill.

Couldn't Find a Lighter and Reinventing the Telephone is one of common variations. For an adult variation, see Power Perversion Potential. For a sister trope which takes this Up to Eleven, see Boxing Lessons for Superman. When done with wishes and boons, this might be a Mundane Wish. Diametric opposite to Just Think of the Potential.

Also compare Utility Magic, for when the primary purpose of something which is awesome (magic, in this case) is something mundane.

Examples of Mundane Utility include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Stocking in Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt can turn her stockings into katanas. She uses it in one episode to help her make a sandwich.
  • Digimon Xros Wars involves using Digimon attacks... for cooking!
  • Mai Tokiha of Mai-Otome uses her ability to create flaming rings to... cook. Meanwhile, the robot warrior Miyu doubles as a spiffy eggbeater.
    • Which was a Shout-Out to Mai-HiME's Cooking Duel episode, where Miyu whipped up eggs in less than two seconds, much to Mai and Shiho's surprise.
    • Not to mention the ending scene of Mai-HiME has Akira using her awesome Ninja skills to slice an apple.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, Tasuke's asked to burn some hairs with his fire powers, so he goes into his usual warm-up pose before tossing a tiny flame. Later, despite his protests that his fire-spewing steel fan is a weapon and not merely a handy device to ward off the cold, he can be seen in the background, lightly fanning Nuriko after the latter complains about the cold.
  • The Absurdly Powerful Student Council in Code Geass pulls out an old Humongous Mecha to... make the World's Largest Pizza.
    • In R2 episode 12, Anya (a Knight of Rounds, no less) uses her mech to aid in what is essentially a massive, schoolwide game of tag-your-crush. She nearly calls in the army to help, too.
    • Lelouch and Rolo both made ample use of their magical eye powers in the same game Anya busted out her mecha for. Apparently, tag-your-crush is important enough to justify the use of a power that gets harder to control every time it's used...
    • In one of the side novels, Lelouch recalls that his mother once used a mech to fend off nobles who were picking on her children. Lucky for those nobles, Knightmare Frames weren't as advanced back then.
    • Lelouch uses one of the world's most advanced Knightmare Frames, capable of destroying hundreds of lesser machines in seconds... as his personal vehicle. Admittedly, he was traveling secretly between countries on business (said Knightmare Frame can fly and travel underwater), but still.
  • One of the hallmarks of Naruto filler is the characters turning their fantastic ninja powers to boring everyday tasks—Naruto using his absurdly powerful Rasengan jutsu to mix noodles or power a boat, for example.
    • In canon, there's the Byakugan's potential to cheat at card games.
    • Also see D-rank missions, which consist almost entirely of this trope.
    • In the Forest of Death, Naruto jumps into the river with Shadow Clone Jutsu, and forces several fish to the surface. Sasuke tosses kunai at them, and starts a fire with Fire Ball Jutsu.
    • In Shippuden they introduced a mundane but very effective method of using Naruto's clones. Rather than performing jutsus or attacking, they can... train, study, or spy. Everything they learn is instantly learned by their creator, so Naruto can increase his ability to learn a thousand-fold.
    • Deidara frequently uses his explosive clay creatures as transport.
    • Naruto's Super Mode which calls on the uncorrupted Ninetails chakra is used as a flashlight, which is then properly lampshaded.
  • In Codename: Sailor V, the prequel to Sailor Moon, Minako's pen and mirror show the truth. Minako uses said pen on all her tests to churn out expert essays on things she knows absolutely nothing about. Needless to say, her Guardian Cat Artemis is livid.
    • This pops up in Sister Series, Sailor Moon. Usagi tends to use the disguise pen for mundane things, such as turning into an adult to sneak into a bar or a camera woman to sneak onto a boat, much to Luna's horror. Strangely, each time she uses it for something mundane it ends up being someplace she needs to get into to stop the baddies, though it's possible she's used it off screen without this happening.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, the protagonist at one point finds himself attending a fancy dinner party. Rather than use his nigh-unbeatable swordplay in battle, he picks up a knife and performs the: Hiten Mitsurugui Rui - Steak style- to cut up a steak.
    • This trope is also subverted when he goes looking for the heir of a famous swordmaker: he uses one of the man's kitchen knives to slice up a daikon in the most Mundane Made Awesome way possible, and then reveals that he was testing the blade.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed and Al may use alchemy for saving Adventure Towns and fighting homunculi, but they can also use it to repair broken household items. Of course, this is probably why most people become alchemists. This how alchemy is introduced in the Pilot, with Al fixing a radio he broke by accident.
  • At the start of Fate/stay night, Shirou uses his powers to see patterns to sense where broken appliances need fixing. But then, at that point he doesn't know how to do anything else.
    • Rin's first order to Archer after he's summoned? "Clean up this mess". The next morning, the first thing Archer does is make tea. Damn good tea according to Rin, but still...
    • Its prequel, Fate/Zero, reveals that Gilgamesh not only uses his Gate of Babylon as a storage for all the Noble Phantasm prototypes, he also keeps a first-rate wine cellar.
    • Meanwhile, Fate/hollow ataraxia has Lancer using Gae Bolg in his job as a florist.
  • In both Trigun and Cowboy Bebop, flamethrowers are repurposed as the world's most dangerous (and wasteful) cigarette lighters. The latter also has it used to broil (well, burn) meat.
    • Also in Trigun, a machine gun was once used to light a cigarette.
    • Cowboy Bebop also proves that Kill Sats can be repurposed to draw doodles.
  • Similarly, in Super Dimension Fortress Macross a soldier once lit a Zentraedi's giant cigarette with a Valkyrie's gunpod.
    • The penultimate episode had the Macross being used as the world's biggest Christmas tree. Read that again: a spaceship Humongous Mecha decorated with Christmas lights.
  • Suggested by Vita in one of the Sound Stages of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's when Shamal forgot to heat the water of their bath. Alas, Signum was quite vehemently against the idea of using her Laevantein as an impromptu water heater. Hayate suggests doing the same with the Book of Darkness' magic, but they agree that if they can't control it, they'll start a fire. (Given the type of spells Hayate uses later in the story, it's fairly obvious that this wouldn't have worked.)
  • In an omake for Bleach 6th Squad Captain Byakuya Kuchiki jokes that he uses his Senbon Zakura, an attack known to reduce opponents to a status where their bodies can't be identified as human, in order to give himself a haircut.
    • Another character, Ishida Uryuu, appears to use hyper-speed for sewing and handicrafts.
    • Post-timeskip, Ichigo uses his advanced combat skills, speed, strength, and reflexes developed due to war to beat up common thugs and dominate sports.
    • In a filler episode, Hitsugaya uses his shikai ability, a humongous ice dragon known to freeze anything within its vicinity, to make ice on their visit to the beach (at the request of Ichigo for Ill Boy Ukitake who'd almost passed out from heat stroke).
    • In another omake Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto used his sword Ryūjin Jakka - the most powerful Zanpakutō in all of Soul Society - to heat up ovens, stay warm and bake sweet potatoes. Shunsui Kyōraku speculated that Ryūjin Jakka resented being used for such purposes, allowing Muramasa to take control of it.
  • Essentially the point of Patlabor.
  • Season 3 of Ojamajo Doremi (Mo~tto) had the girls baking goods on the side.
  • Sena in Eyeshield 21 once used his special move, the Devil Bat Ghost, to steal a letter a girl had sent to him from a teasing friend. It was even remarked as "the world's number one useless way to use a technique."
    • Another time this happened was when Kurita wanted to give his teammates a bone-crushing hug after several days of training alone, and Hiruma put a big roll of bubble-wrap in his path. He hugged the bubble wrap instead, and popped every single bubble. Suzuna's response: "Completely useless, that kind of training."
    • Hiruma himself uses his throwing accuracy to set off explosives and generally harass people.
    • And then there was the All-Star Uselessly Badass... pillow fight.
  • One Inuyasha episode involved our heroes using all their awesome power to clean house, do the laundry, and go on a booze run. Miroku's Wind Tunnel does not actually get applied to vacuum-cleaner duty, but Kagome was considering it. A bit heartless if you consider that it will consume him if he overuses it.
  • Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z also has a similar house cleaning episode in which the girls (at least one or two of them) use their magical transformations to get the job done in a hurry.
  • In the first Slayers movie, Lina uses fire magic to light a campfire. Also, in the first series she heats a pool of water with a fireball so she can have a bath. This backfires, though, when her traveling companions hear the blast, think she's under attack, and come running to her rescue only to find her completely naked. Lina, being Lina, reacts as expected and they get a fireball in the face for their trouble.
    • Lina uses magic like this a lot – a special spell to catch more fish, for instance (which she warns the reader not to use because it's so effective that if too many people do it too often all of the world's fish will go the way of the dinosaur).
  • Mahou Sensei Negima has several examples of this, the most notable being Kaede's introduction. She reveals that she's a Ninja by summoning a bunch of clones to make the search for food go faster and using her throwing knives to catch fish.
    • Later on, she does the classic "Ninja-Quick-Change" bit to switch to her school uniform and get a student discount at the theater. Unfortunately the fact that she is six foot tall and rather well endowed for a 15 year old caused the ticket seller to dismiss her efforts as 'cosplay'.
    • Haruna uses her artifact to create multiple copies of herself so she can finish her Doujinshi before the deadline.
    • Heck, Negi uses this almost continuously early on, he constantly infuses himself with magic so he can keep up with the girls as they sprint to school. It's more obvious after he temporarily seals his powers which makes him totally unathletic. He also tried to help Asuna do her paper route faster by giving her a lift on his flying staff, but it didn't quite work out, as her latent Anti-Magic ability screwed it up.
    • The whole Library Island arc took place because the Baka Rangers wanted to find a magic book that increases the intelligence of whoever is holding it...so they could pass their finals without having to study.
    • Then there was the time that Chisame used her Artifact to make herself the #1 Internet Idol.
  • An episode of Ryuusei no Rockman entitled "Rockman Delivery Service" is pretty much that. Subaru mistakenly receives a giant pile of packages in the mail and uses his Rockman powers to set it all right.
    • Also, in the second video game to the series Geo/Subaru uses his powers to open a locked door from the other side.
  • Canti in FLCL: He (it?) is the sole character capable of defeating all of the Humongous Mecha that come out of Naota's head. What does Canti do when not fighting giant robots? Laundry. Moving boxes. Cooking. Buying groceries (and porno mags for Shigekuni...). Or, if there's no housework to be done, why not just fly with the birds?
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, Yuki is able to manipulate the fabric of reality. What do they use it for? Cheating at baseball. Admittedly, they are doing this to try and save the world. Through baseball. Yes, really. Another time she used her ability was during the track meet, where she annihilated the competition in the 4x400m relay. Haruhi doesn't question how Yuki can move in a blink of an eye.
  • The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, when you discover you can travel through time what do you use this awesome power for? Making sure your sister doesn't eat your pudding. The actual owner of the time-jumping device says that he was relieved that she found it and not someone else, because he knew she would use it on frivolous things and not to severely muck up the timeline.
  • Basquash rides the line between this and Serious Business with the sport of Bigfoot Basketball, which is what happens when you decide to play basketball with giant mecha.
  • Loran does this a fair bit in Turn a Gundam, he's used the Turn A to do clothes washing, and to help out on a farm. For reference the Turn A can fully regenerate itself and its pilot, while its' most powerful attack spans a distance of 600 million miles, destroying any advanced technology on the way.
    • This is referenced in Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden when he and Milia use their mecha to wash everyone's laundry. Then Kouji comes and tries to use the Mazinger's Breast Fire to dry them, which ends up burning some of them.
  • The Mazinkaiser Beach Episode, where Kouji and Sayaka bring their 'bots to the beach. Sayaka even takes hers swimming, and doubles up on an Armor-Piercing Slap by face-planting the most powerful robot on the planet halfway into the ocean floor. With its legs sticking out.
  • In Darker than Black, many Contractors do it, depending on what exactly is the price of using one's ability (it's quite random).
    • Hei's first onscreen use of his electric powers are for the sake of fixing his landlady's TV under the guise of Percussive Maintenance.
    • Another guy used telekinetic Razor Floss to open his boss's beer bottle from across the room, and there's a child Contractor in the Interquel manga series who used her teleportation ability to collect junk and build a secret hideout.
    • Also, Yin is actually blind; she sees using her ability to project a Soul Fragment into water. And because it's visible exclusively to Dolls and Contractors, Dolls sometimes use it for communication.
  • In Shina Dark, a mage uses an ice-based attack spell to conjure a giant pointy ice shard... so it can be chipped apart to make sno-cones. He even complains afterward, "It's not like I studied magic for something like this, you know..."
  • In Ranma ½, Saffron, The Phoenix King, is given unbelievable fire- and light-emitting powers because he's supposed to function as his subjects' "power plant," providing them with heat and light so they can carry on with their everyday lives (while he perches quietly on his throne.) Unfortunately, the latest incarnation is quite the Spoiled Brat, and interrupting his maturation process resulted in a psychotic personality with zero control over his powers and is all too happy to use them destructively.
    • Possibly lampshaded, in that Ranma points out, after hearing about this, that the Phoenix People could just get ordinary heating and lighting installed, what with their considerable wealth and bevy of magical eggs that reduce people to mindlessly obedient slaves. Then again, he could have simply been venting, due to believing that his chance at a cure was being threatened with destruction over something so mundane.
  • In One Piece, Zoro vigorously complains about using his swords to drop a heated rock into a soup pot. Robin uses her extra limbs to read more easily and carry pieces of Island Cloud out while digging a hole in Skypiea, Luffy's rubber powers allow him to eat more by stretching his stomach, Ace lights Sanji's cigarette, Magellan's favorite food is poison, and Wapol's cover story shows he made a living by using his powers to turn trash into toys and selling them, becoming a millionaire in the process.
  • In Zone of the Enders: Dolores, i, Dolores and James spend time Locked in a Base in a Snowstorm with an enemy pilot they shot down. Honest to a fault, they decide to pay for the power and resources used during their time there with a necklace worn by the pilot. Dolores decides she should get a job to pay the pilot back for the pendant. Incidentally, Dolores is a Humongous Mecha. She's a sweetie.
  • The fourth part of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure includes a couple of Stands that are primarily utility: Pearl Jam (allows the body to undo its maladies with ingested food much more rapidly than normal; not a birth or Arrow Stand, but just awakened by Tonio's culinary zeal), and Cinderella (alters someone's features in a sort of psychic cosmetic surgery, and amplifies that someone's luck in the process).
    • In the third part, Jotaro confines himself to a prison cell out of fear of what his Stand can do (he doesn't understand it yet). While in it, he uses his Stand to pick things up for him to make it more comfortable, like beer and a radio. Ever-increasingly terrifying the other prisoners.
  • In Dragon Ball Master Roshi seems to possess several fantastical items, many of which he doesn't even realize. One was the Bashousen, a magical fan that could summon wind and rain, which Chi Chi wanted to put out the flames of Frypan Mountain. It turned out he unwittingly used the magical artifact as a coaster only to throw it out when it became dirty.
    • And later, Yamcha used his super powers to become a major league baseball player. Not that they were really useful for anything else by that point of the series anyway.
    • Another example, the Dragon Balls themselves, at least early on. Except for Emperor Pilaf, who wants to Take Over the World, the others wanted the balls and their powers for completely silly things; Oolong wanted some panties (which he got), Bulma wanted a "super-cute boyfriend", (originally it was a lifetime supply of strawberries) and Yamcha wanted them to get rid of his fear of girls. (Bulma & Yamcha later helped each other with their respective wishes, at least, until a certain Saiyan prince came along).
  • Celty from Durarara!! has the ability to manipulate shadow and give it physical form. Her most common display of her powers? Using them to type faster.
    • To be fair, typing is the only way she can communicate with anyone else without resorting to playing charades. She has other great uses for it, though, like keeping her boyfriend from beating her at video games.
    • She also uses the said powers for practical, but still fairly mundane purposes, such as creating a shadow-helmet for her passengers, in the rare times she takes any. Considerate and safe.
    • Shinra stopped her from using her shadow powers to prepare food, though.
    • In one of the novels, Shinra is restrained for several hours after accidentally getting caught in one of Celty's shadow webs. He managed to pass the time by thinking of ways that they could use said webs for S&M.
  • V1046-R MAHORO and other characters from Mahoromatic stop being combat robots yet they still use their powers to cook, clean and search for ecchi (to trash it) because "Ecchi na no wa ikenai to omoimasu" (roughly "I think that dirty thoughts are bad").
  • Pokémon has Meowth's Running Gag of Imagine Spots of trying to impress Team Rocket's boss, Giovanni. In these fantasies, the best "use" Meowth can come up with with their prey-for-the-week would be, well...as one of many examples (or else it will take all day to list them all), Meowth once imagined a Bagon, known for its hard head, to be used for breaking coconuts open.
    • Brock's Croagunk is an impressive fighter, all right; not that it was involved in many battles. Its Signature Move Poison Jab saw more use as a way for Croagunk to stop Brock from hitting on girls.
    • Tracey, on the other hand, had Pokémon that are better suited for his hobby as a watcher (Venonat and Marill, who are sensitive to sight and sound, respectively).
    • In Get Along, Little Pokémon we have a guy who use his pack of Magnemite as a power supply for nearby cities and his Jolteon as their watchdog.
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, it's established that America has super strength. However, the only times we see this are when he's a kid and he swings a full grown buffalo over his head, and later when he drags a full sized SUV with ease in order to ask if he could borrow it.
  • One of the omake Yonkoma in the Inazuma Eleven Special manga has Endou using his God Hand technique to smack a fly, and again in a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors to throw a really big "Paper".
  • Eve from Black Cat turns her fingers into eating utensils when she needs to eat. She also made handpuppets when she got bored.
  • Most of the cards in Cardcaptor Sakura are either very versatile or designed specifically for combat. However there is also The Flower which Sakura uses to make bouquets, The Bubble which is used for washing, and The Sweet which makes things taste sweet.
    • This actually gets lampshaded in-story, as The Bubble was created by Clow Reed for that specific use. More exactly, to give Kerberos (a huge winged feline in his unsealed form) his daily bath without working out too much.
  • Gundam SEED DELTA Astray introduces the Gundam Astray Out Frame, whose pilot Jess Rabble uses it for photojournalism. What really pushes it into this territory is that it was built off of the abandoned frame of the ZAFT prototype X12A, making it the sibling to the Freedom, Justice, and Providence from Gundam SEED proper.
  • Magical Girl Ureshiko from Okusama wa Mahou Shoujo likes to use her powers for various tasks. Among other things, she uses them to start a troublesome vacuum cleaner. It doesn't go quite so well. Later she stops an ice cream from falling to the ground.
  • In a supplemental 4-panel strip of 'Zettai Karen Children Mio, who has an ability to create a Portal Door wherever she wants, shows how she often uses her ability to teleport her arms and face behind her head so that she can fix the back side of her hairdo.
  • Shizuku from Omamori Himari is a water-demon, capable of extensive control over water. In her first appearances, she uses her abilities to perform nigh-undetectable espionage (since she can 'blend in' to any amount of water), create a torrential downpour from previously-clear skies, summon powerful whirlpools, and create spikes of ice for combat. Her enormous strength, and the titular Catgirl's fear of water, meant that she was able to overpower the protagonists easily. If Yuuto's charisma hadn't made her think twice, she could've ended the entire series in the second episode. In her next appearance, she's using her water-control to cook, clean, and do the laundry with inhuman speed and skill to impress Yuuto.
    • Amusingly, it seems fairly likely that this Mundane Utility causes Himari more pain and consternation than any of her whirlpools or jagged ice-spike attacks.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Kyouko uses her magic to enhance a pair of binoculars so she can spy on Sayaka. Either that, or she just wanted to change their appearance to this, it's a bit unclear.
  • In Black Butler, Sebastian's super speed is really useful for getting household chores done, but he can also do things like restore a burned-down manor to its former glory and make iris bulbs quickly grow into iris flowers to prettify the garden. The full extent of his powers is unknown.
    • Baldroy also tries to apply his special abilities to his mundane work, but when "good with heavy weaponry" is the ability he tries to use and the task is cooking, the results aren't pretty.
  • In Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, it was a bit chilly in that part of the Human World when Grand Princess Fire Dragon showed up to strike a business deal with Young Merchant. Seeing her shiver -- apparently being a fire dragon doesn't provide enough internal heat to deal with external cold -- he went to light a fire in his fireplace. She lit it for him, blowing a thin stream of flame onto the logs. Judging by his expression, he hadn't fully taken in until then (despite her clearly visible smoldering lizard-tail) that the lovely princess is a fire dragon.
  • The title character of My Lovely Ghost Kana has discovered she can produce Ghostly Chill to cool cans of beer by tucking them into her cleavage for a minute or so. Her living boyfriend notices that area isn't especially cold at other times.

Card Games[edit | hide]

  • The Ninja Burger series has the deliverymen use their elite ninja skills to... deliver food. However, they need every bit of it.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In several adaptations, Superman is seen using his heat-vision to shave. In Smallville, he uses it to make toast. Then again a single one of his hairs can hold a ton of weight comfortably, so it's not like he could just use a razor.
    • He tried using his short-lived electrical powers to shave, with... unexpected results.
    • Lois and Clark played this trope up more than any other. Superspeed was commonly used to clean up or paint the house, heat vision was used to heat coffee and ice breath was used to chill champagne. At one point he even played ping-pong with himself.
      • One rather creative and dizzying instance came in the pilot, when Clark, while talking on the phone and deciding how to arrange the furniture in his new apartment, uses his gravity-defying abilities to casually pace along the walls and ceiling.
      • On another occasion he tried on multiple sets of clothing by spinning in place at super-speed like The Mask (he even said "Smokin'!" afterward).
    • In the epilogue to the graphic novel Kingdom Come, there's a nice bit with Superman using his heat vision to "fix" Bruce Wayne's underdone steak.
    • Just after Lois and Clark got married in the comics they were moving into their new apartment and Lois was taking advantage of hubby's ability to pick up the sofa with one hand. "How about against that wall, no that wall, maybe there?"
    • In this article, an economist argues that if he were real, Superman should also spend his time making billions of dollars doing mundane things like lifting satellites into orbit or manufacturing diamonds. The author notes that if Superman objects to the crass materialism of the situation, he could simply donate all his money to charity and likely solve world hunger.
    • The Silver Age of Comic Books basically turned him into a full-bore doormat with this; flying dinosaur skeletons into the Metropolis Museum (with a specially-designed removable roof, no less!), smoothing out a ship's transport for Lois Lane by lifting it over his head...
    • Super-Landscaping.
    • Does Clark Kent "interviewing" Superman to get his job at the Daily Planet count?
      • It does if one accepts the "super hypnosis" explanation for Clark Kenting.
    • In Batman No Mans Land Superman lands in Gotham as Clark Kent and uses his powers in a mundane way to help people. He uses his X-Ray vision to look inside seeds and see how they're progressing (he uses his pocket knife to split the seed open and give the sprout some help) and moves clouds over Gotham to get some water on the plants.
  • The X-Men are known for their members using their powers for mundane reasons.
    • The movie X 2 X Men United has Iceman using his freezing powers to chill a bottle of soda that's been left out of the fridge for Wolverine.
      • He also created an ice rose to impress Rogue in the first one. Awwwww.
      • He does this in the comics as well, when in college.
      • Similarly, he creates a dancing ballerina figure to flirt with Jubilee in Evolution.
      • And in X Men the Last Stand he freezes the fountain in front of the school to make a mini ice-skating rink.
        • He also makes himself a makeshift pair of ice skates in that same scene by freezing a layer of ice over the soles of his normal tennis shoes.
    • This set of panels is the epitome of this trope (also Talking Is a Free Action): why bother walk around a hole or, you know, stop walking when you can use your telekinesis?
    • Wolverine himself (depending on media and writer) tend to do this as well, using his sensitive nose to spout out hidden food (in the 90's toon, he was quite aggravated about smelling salami but not finding it), or using his claws to slice open a beer bottle.
      • This is parodied in a Mini Marvels strip where Wolverine cuts bread with his claws... and nobody wants to eat it because of where those claws had been.
      • In an old Marvel Comics cartoon (Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends) the X-Men made a guest appearance. Wolverine's intro moment: crooking a finger, he extends one of his those bonded-to-his-skeleton claws and spears several items from a fruit tray, asking casually, "Wanna piece of fruit?"
      • One cover has Wolverine barbecuing a sausage on his claws. Some very thick, juicy sausage.
    • In X-Men Evolution, Rogue used her ability-absorbing touch to copy Kitty's dancing ability for a school play.
      • And mutant baseball anyone?
    • Cyclops picked the lock of the team van when Storm locked the keys inside...with Eye Beams.
      • He's done the same things in the comics. It's something Professor X oddly enough trained him to do.
    • Do not ever, ever try to beat Cyclops at shooting pool. You will be bitterly disappointed. His powers include an instinctive knowledge of geometry.
      • At least once, he used a single optic blast to scatter, bank, and sink every ball on the table. He wasn't using the purpose-built visor to control the beam's focus and intensity, either; just his eyelids. He considered it a test of whether he'd let his skills get sloppy. He hadn't.
    • Professor X himself gets in on the act. He reads the minds of authors because he can't read books fast enough. He's also calmed people down during arguments so they could think rationally.
    • In the comics based on Evolution Nightcrawler used his teleporting powers to take shortcuts to school so he can sleep in later. He's also done it to sneak out of school and to the local burger joint for a quick snack. The show itself showed him using his prehensile feet to steer the Blackbird and hold popcorn bowls, use his 'porting abilities to do awesome cannonballs in the pool (as well as sneaking in and out both school and the Institute), bypass stairs by leaping over them or crawling on walls, and abusing the settings on his image inducer to make himself look buff and hunky.
      • In an interview with Toyfare, the writers of Evolution said that Scott occasionally forgets himself and uses his eye beams on, say, an uncooperative soda machine to get it to work.
        • Lance aka Avalanche was introduced by doing the same thing. He touched a soda machine, used a bit of his seismic powers on it, and got a free can.
    • The movies did a good job showing Magneto using his powers casually, to pull up chairs for people or keep some steel balls bouncing back-and-forth in midair without strings suspending them.
    • Storm has used her powers to alter the climate to water her plants. Also to shower inside living rooms.
    • In the first movie, Wolverine gives Cyclops "the finger" with his claws.
    • He does the same to Sabretooth in X-Men Legends II.
    • The issue of the comic in which Scott proposed to Jean featured an argument over whether "no powers" was assumed or not for a game of football after Archangel (as he was then known) picked up the ball and simply flew towards the endzone.
  • An issue of The Flash comics had Wally West musing on a particular superspeed move that his uncle Barry Allen would do... spinning his hand at high speed to create a little wind tunnel. Wally noted that this was weak enough that Barry primarily used it to catch falling curtain rods from across the room. Wally himself was once shown using this maneuver to catch a bee that was flying near his girlfriend.
    • Both Wally and Superman also like to pull the "Honey, I brought home Chinese takeout! From China!" thing.
    • After getting married and moving to a new house he got impatient and unpacked everything in an instant. His wife Linda was not pleased with the results: "Books do not go under the sink!"
    • There was also that one comic where he was using it to do his Christmas shopping.
    • When Jay Garrick, the first Flash, got his powers, nearly the first thing he used them for was to save his girlfriend a trip to the library.
    • The Chunk, one of the Flash's supporting cast in the '90s, was a large man whose internal organs had been replaced by a portal to another dimension. He needed to send things through the portal to "feed" himself, but he could also use it as a storage facility; when the Flash moved into a large house he'd inherited, Chunk helped him move by sucking up all his furniture and spitting it back out at the new place.
    • Bart Allen uses his powers to get away with just about anything possible (eg. multitasking video gaming, eating and/or chores); part of the reason he was sent to live with Max Mercury is so that he could be trained not to do this as a reflexive reaction.
  • Wonder Woman's lasso of truth. Gift from the gods. Unbreakable weapon beyond mortal understanding. Really good for making your friends embarrass themselves by blurting out the truth at inopportune moments.
  • Fantastic Four: Mr. Fantastic, useless though he may be, almost uses his powers more for this than superheroing. Any given appearance of him in a comic, including his own, will have him in his lab, stretching his arms and neck so that he can be doing things at three different workstations at once; he's also been shown using his powers to make the world's greatest shadow animals for his son during bedtime stories (and it comes in handy in other places, Bow Chicka Wow Wow). All of the Fantastic Four do stuff like this to some level or another, considering the "domestic" flavor of the comic.
    • This (improved) Civil War panel shows what happens when it's raining, and Sue and Johnny don't have umbrellas.
      • Also, if you take a closer look, it appears that she is levitating the bags.
    • For a brief period Ben used his super-strength and durability to work construction... and was promptly fired for being too efficient (his work crew were paid by the hour rather than by the job).
  • Spider-Man's webbing. Used for his civilian career AND a bit of kink with the wife!
    • He's also used his super strength to move furniture while helping MJ redecorate.
    • Don't forget him using his powers to deliver pizzas.
    • One issue of Spider-Girl has him climbing on the ceiling to fix a banner that MJ had put up for their daughter's party.
    • His use of his wall-crawling and webbing in taking photos for the Daily Bugle is occasionally lampshaded by comments that his photos look like they were "taken while hanging upside down" or that it looks like he "just put the camera down and walked away."
  • One of the (many) things that pissed Green Lantern Hal Jordan off about Guy Gardner was Guy's habit of using his ring (a weapon limited only by the will and creativity of the user) to do utterly mundane things like open beers and change the TV channel.
    • A story arc with Kyle Rayner showed that when he first became Ion, he not only used his power to help stop civil wars on separate planets and cure world hunger, but also unlock creative portions of his brain so he could work faster on his comic strip (Kyle otherwise never uses his ring to help his art).
      • Kyle did however outright abused the power of his ring several times, like using it take out the trash while he was busy working on something else, or making a spare key when he forgot his.
    • Soranik Natu only accepted the Green Lantern Ring—thanks to Sinestro's tenure as planetary dictator, the rings were considered evil weapons of terror on Korugar at the time—because she was desperately trying to save someone's life, and she lacked the medical equipment needed for treatment. She used the ring to construct the sophisticated equipment needed to save her patient's life.
  • Sara Pezzini has used her Witchblade, a cosmic artifact of nigh limitless power to move furniture while moving and make toys for her daughter.
  • Watchmen's Doctor Manhattan constantly uses his god-like powers in the laboratory, and he creates duplicates so he can *ahem* lavish attention on Laurie while working on an experiment. She actually gets pissed about that, both because he didn't ask (it's implied they've done this before) and because he was multitasking.
  • |Jamie Madrox is greatly upset when he discovers that his duplicates are living beings and develop independent identities the longer they stay separate from him. Once he comes to grips with the metaphysical ramifications, he decides to use his power as a super-learning tool, sending his duplicates off to study different walks of life and learn a variety of skills to rival Batman. Another story shows him using his power as a super-babysitter.
  • Marvel Comics villain Taskmaster has photographic reflexes and can mimic any motion he sees. He uses this to copy his opponents' fighting styles, learn martial arts by watching movies, and also improve his golf swing and learn to ski from the winter Olympics. In high school, he became a star quarterback after watching one pro football game. And thanks to being an Iron Chef fan, he's also an excellent cook.
  • In The Darkness, Jackie once sent the Darklings, (foul-mouthed lesser demons that he creates and controls, typically used to kill at will) to pick up his dry cleaning.
  • Empowered: One advantage of shacking up with a girl with a super-strength granting alien battlesuit? Darned easy to rotate the tires on your SUV.
  • Hellboy's Liz Sherman uses her pyrokineses to light her cigarettes on occasion.
  • In the same vein, Mad Jim Jaspers once lit his ever-present cigarette with a fireball.
    • An earlier issue, he used his reality-warping powers to liven up a particularly dull party by changing the wine from white to red.
  • Bamse's super-ursine strength is probably more often used to help people with mundane tasks (the ur-example comes from the very first comic, where a kid lost some money under a truck, and Bamse casually moved it). At least for a while his day-to-day job was lumberjack, where superstrength comes in handy.
  • The Plutonian in Irredeemable is seen using heat vision to warm up a cup of coffee.
  • Billy Batson turned into Shazam's Captain Marvel (with casual clothing) and posed as his own father to get an apartment. Captain Marvel can also use his lightning bolt to power up machinery, act as a defibrillator, etc.
  • Groo the Wanderer once used his sword to cut a pear from a tree. Not much of a mundane utility in itself, but it was worth it to see how his dog Rufferto chased after him, expecting a vicious battle, only to be disappointed by the outcome.
  • Zatanna and her cousin Zatarra of The DCU often use their awesome magical powers for utterly mundane tasks, such as giving their magic shows that extra bit of dazzle. Zatarra also uses his powers to summon free pizza. In one scene he used his magic to levitate a slice of pizza to his hand even though the box was all of five feet away.
    • If your audience knows that your stage magic is powered by real magic, does that count as revealing the secret of how it's done?
      • In one episode of Justice League, she says the act was all regular stage magic, except for the last trick, which she threw in to give them their money's worth.
  • Well Spoken Sonic Lightning Flash of the Super Young Team has been known to use his super speed to tear up the dance floor.
  • The title character of The Pro uses her Super Speed to give 1,000 blowjobs in a single night.
  • In Mega Man, the second issue's Short Circiuts had Cut Man being used as a ribbon cutter, hedge trimmer, and to give Dr. Wily's hair a trim. Needless to say, he's unhappy.
  • Power Girl uses her combination of Eye Beams and Super Toughness to shave her legs.
  • In his new post-Flashpoint series, Animal Man often uses his power to channel animal abilities for mundane things. In the first issue, he comes home late, so he takes on the weight of a bumblebee so his footsteps won't wake his kids up, then the napping ability of a cat to get to sleep quickly.
  • Occasionally happens in PS238. Even aside of Gadgeteer Geniuses and magic users... Ambriel uses her invisibility to electronics to sneak out and find some entertainment when she's bored. Julie once pretended to be a "superhero baloon" in an Alternate Universe without metahumans. Poly Mer may not really have a costume, or bubble gum, even if it looks like she does. Tom Davidson evidently will have used time travel to entertain his sweetheart (speaking of which... yes) with photo from far past. The Flea uses his control over insects mostly for practical jokes.


Fanfiction[edit | hide]

You're giving me a time machine to treat my sleep disorder.
You're giving me a TIME MACHINE to treat my SLEEP DISORDER.
YOU'RE GIVING ME A TIME MACHINE IN ORDER TO TREAT MY SLEEP DISORDER.

    • Later in the same conversation, Professor McGonagall assures Harry that time-turners do not possess the ability to alter the time line, and that she would never give an item with such a capability to students—they might use it to cheat on their tests, after all.
  • In Inviolate, Lex Luthor has this to say about his sonic weapon:

"I've never actually hit anyone with it at level ten, but I tried it on a steak once. Vibrated the thing so hard the meat not only cooked to medium rare, but I ended up with quite possibly the most tender cut of beef you could imagine as the connective tissues and bones were practically liquefied." A gruesomely amused grin crossed the man's face. "I could cut it with a plastic fork. Can you imagine what it would do to a human body?"

    • He also has an energy-efficient teleportation device that can also be used as a microscope, telescope, MRI, scrying device, and video phone.
  • In Dragon Age the Crown of Thorns, resident Badass Longcoat elven blood mage Alim Surana came up with magical runes and glyphs capable of keeping the party camp warm during winter. He also uses his frost magic on a pair of chests where they store meat, making them something like portable freezers.
    • Then, there's the enchantment used by the dwarves, which includes self-filling basins of self-purifying water (these things actually show up in the official book 'Dragon Age: The Calling' too) and metal, runed disks that act as portable campfires/grills -they are made of several, rotating, concentric disks that can be moved to make several rune patterns, enabling red hot iron and several intensities of actual flames.
  • In Team 8, Naruto's Shadow Clones are useful for getting the D-ranked missions done more quickly. He uses them to cheat on his Chunin Exam test, but not realizing that he receives information from clones that are dispelled, he uses them to see the answers and send him signals.
    • Naruto also sends his shadow clones shopping on several occasions.
  • In this Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic, Zuko uses his firebending to shave. Sokka feels inferior.
  • In The Return one of the awesome powers of the Succubae is the ability to magic up your own clothing. So if the protagonists see a dress they like in a shop they just need to try it on in the changing room to see how it looks, then once they are out of the shop they magically summon an exact copy out of thin air. Summoned clothes will also dissolve once they are taken off, so it must save a small fortune on dry cleaning too.
  • In With Strings Attached, the four are Actual Pacifists who get infused with a huge amount of magic, so of course they dick around with it a lot. Two examples are John, who, when bored, starts making the people around him thirsty or sweaty or “desirous of urinating”; and George, who shaves by turning into himself clean-shaven.
  • Touhou fans love to depict various powers used for mundane or silly reasons. Even beyond all those mentioned below, Suika using her manipulation of density to collect small things - and growing to giant size to easily collect lumber by plucking whole trees as though they were carrots - Aya using her Super Speed to aid in her role as the local Intrepid Reporter, Cirno being used as air conditioning, Yukari using her gaps for pranks, and many, many other variations exist.
  • The mundane utility of most things from Lyrical Nanoha is explored in In the Service, from using flight magic letting someone avoid pressure-based traps to telepathy being used for privacy or in loud environments. Some of the more worrisome aspects are also examined, like being able to cauterize the wounds your Flaming Sword causes while it is causing them being handy for cutting off people's bits as a torture technique.


Film[edit | hide]

  • In X 2 X Men United, Iceman cools down Wolverine's Dr. Pepper.
  • Edward Scissorhands does hedges, makes ice sculptures, cuts hair and grooms dogs.
  • The second Men in Black movie has Jeeves saying he used the exhaust from the Deneuralizer to make hot air popcorn.
  • In the movie Dragonheart, as the former knight, Bowen, struggles with two sticks to start a fire to cook his meal, his newly befriended dragon, Draco, uses his fire breath on the pile of logs.
  • James Bond is always using Q's fantastic gadgets for mundane (or just 'other') purposes. For example, at the beginning of Live and Let Die M and Moneypenny give Bond a watch containing a powerful electromagnet. Almost immediately after M and Moneypenny leave, Bond uses it to open the zippered dress of his latest 'conquest'.
  • Fantastic Four
    • Johnny casually uses his flame powers to pop some popcorn in one of those expanding foil bags usually used for barbeque or camp cooking.
    • Ben uses his Super Strength to make some freshly-squeezed orange juice without even removing the oranges from their mesh bag.
    • It also has Mr. Fantastic stretching the skin on his face to make shaving easier, and using his stretchy arms to either reload the toilet paper without having to leave the loo, or slide his hand under Ben's locked door to open it and check on him.
    • The second movie keeps up this trend with Sue using her power to make Reed's Blackberry invisible when he's ignoring her and Reed using his stretching ability to dance up a storm at his bachelor party. As mentioned in the comic section above, the Fantastic Four use their powers in this manner all the time, since the comic has a very domestic atmosphere.
  • In Real Genius, Val Kilmer's character uses a sophisticated cutting tool to carve coin-sized slices of frozen nitrogen, which he uses to cheat the vending machine out of free soda.
  • Star Wars
    • Anakin uses the Force (which is supposedly so mighty that the ability to annihilate a planet pales in comparison) to...make a Shuura fly to his girlfriend's fork. He notes that Obi-Wan would be quite upset if he saw him.
    • Obi-Wan casually uses the Force to retrieve a data module from a projector as he and Yoda are leaving the room.
    • Even Yoda is not immune. At the conclusion of his duel with Count Dooku, he uses the force to retrieve his walking stick which was near enough that he could have simply bent down and picked it up. Prior to this, Yoda takes his lightsaber from his belt with the Force.
  • Shaolin Soccer stars a martial artist who wants to teach people kung fu techniques that can help them with their everyday lives - for instance, parallel parking by pushing your car into place, or trimming a tree using Wire Fu jumping techniques. To gain publicity, he uses his skills to compete in soccer.
  • The title character of Jumper apparently uses his power of teleportation mainly to retrieve the remote without having to physically walk to it.
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie, Tom Servo mentions that he uses his Interocitor, a device from the movie they're watching that can do everything from fire disintegrator rays to pilot spaceships, to make hot chocolate.
  • Flubber: This quasi-sentient green goo can release enormous amounts of energy. What does he use it for? Cheating at basketball.
  • The Sword in the Stone - Merlin's borderline Reality Warper powers are used to help "Wart" do his chores so Merlin can sneak Wart off for lessons. Though this inevitably backfires when Wart's guardians stumble upon this and ground Wart for quite some time.
  • In Clockstoppers, the protagonist has vast time-stopping powers at his fingertips. He uses them to impress his date and pull pranks.
  • In The Tuxedo a full espionage squad assists Jackie Chan in asking a girl out.
  • Matilda uses her telekinesis to get books off the shelf.
  • In Superman, Perry White reassures Lois Lane that newly-hired Clark Kent won't be dead weight as a reporter, in part because he's the fastest typist Perry's ever seen.
  • In The Movie of The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy, a mini (knife sized) light saber is used to simultaneously slice and toast bread.
  • In Horse Feathers, Professor Wagstaff (Groucho) uses the telephone to crack nuts.
  • One of the early hints in Mr. and Mrs. Smith that Jane Smith has hidden skills (as an assassin) comes when she fixes the way a curtain is hanging by balancing perfectly on a chair that is standing on only two of its legs.
    • She's standing on only one of the legs.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In The Legend of Luke, Martin uses his sword (yes, the legendary artifact regarded as magic in later books) to cut a cake.
    • Then there's the famous line, "See this magical sword? Did you know it has the power to make pretty hare maidens happy?"...
  • Horse drawn antigravity wagons for farmers. Dune, for all your anachronistic Schizo-Tech needs.
    • In Dune: House Harkonnen, Duke Leto uses a jeweled dagger that was given to him by the Emperor... to cut a paradan melon.
  • In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, this is the training philosophy of the Asha'man; all chores have to be done with their powers. If you can't channel fire, you eat cold food. This contrasts with their nun-like female counterparts, the Aes Sedai, who do not permit such flippant uses by their trainees, since Menial Labour Builds Character. Of course, the main reason the Aes Sedai don't allow trainees to use the Power for tasks where it isn't necessary is because channeling is addictive. But the life expectancy of an aes sedai is more than 10 times that of an asha'man (when the asha'man are created, anyway), so the addiction is considered worth the risk for them.
  • Peter Reidinger of Anne McCaffrey's Tower and The Hive Pegasus]] books discovers he has powers after becoming a quadriplegic at age thirteen; as a result he uses his "Talent" for everything, including hiding the fact that he's doing it by puppeting his own inert body, which leads to some Uncanny Valley moments (as well as him literally levitating with enthusiasm early on when he forgets where his feet are in relation to the ground...)
    • In the Dragonriders of Pern series, all dragons can teleport. Green dragons (the lowest-ranking) are sometimes used to deliver messages or carry passengers. Since dragon riders are an elite class, they only do this when it's important (or when they want to impress a girlfriend, etc).
  • In the second book of the second trilogy of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Thomas uses his white gold ring, an artifact of indomitable magic that destroys peace, to shave.
    • Shaving is excellent training for controlling the wild magic. Considering he couldn't use it in the first series at all, and when it did activate, it had a tendency to blow up everything around him, that sounds perfectly reasonable.
    • It's also his own (morbid) personal self-mastery ritual. Being a leper he doesn't have the feeling of presure in his fingertips to have perfect control. Also as a leper he is very prone to infection. Tom being the [[[Sarcasm Mode]] cheerful] character that he is uses a cutthroat razor, in his left hand, that's missing two fingers, and he still slips up with.
  • The mighty weapon of Thief of Time's Chaos is a sword as rule-breaking as he. It is made of blue flame, which burns with absolute coldness. When he's not fighting, it creates a handy freezer that keeps his dairy products cold and fresh. Combining this with teleportation powers akin to Death's he becomes Ronnie Soak, the Discworld's greatest milkman, able to deliver said dairy products anywhere, anytime, always fresh. Most importantly, everyone's milk arrives at 7:00 AM sharp. Everyone's.
    • On a similar note, Susan, Death's granddaughter, has inherited The Grim Reaper's many talents, among them the ability to exist outside of time. She uses this talent to grade papers (largely due to her suffering a heavy case of I Just Want to Be Normal).
      • However, Susan's classes do take quite interesting, Disc-travelling unscheduled field trips during her lessons.
    • There's some mundane uses of magic-derived technology on the Discworld, such as using tiny summoned imps to paint pictures (essentially a photo camera), or as (dis)organizers. However, magic on the Disc is likened to nuclear power - it's good to know it's out there, but you wouldn't want a pile of it in your living room.
    • On a related note, many nobles in Discworld send their children to the Assassin's Guild of Ankh Morpork. There are two main reasons for this: 1: Knowing how to assassinate people teaches their children how to guard against assassination, and 2: it actually is one of the best formal education schools in the world.
    • Unseen University's omniscopes are powerful scrying devices that can see anywhere and anywhen. Because of this it's extremely hard to get them to show anywhere and anywhen in particular, so they usually show the blackness of empty space (that being what most of the universe consists of). The wizards mostly use them as shaving mirrors.
    • In a world in which technology to make clockwork is rare, how does one keep track time? Trap tiny demons in watches of course! They aren't dangerous, but the clocks aren't very reliable, which makes mechanic ones far better.
    • Swamp dragons, dog-sized and nonsentient fire breathers, are frequently used by their human owners as firelighters, forges, paint strippers, and the like. Lady Sybil, the expert on the species, firmly objects to such practices, and dislikes when her husband lights his cigars with dragon hatchlings, although she unhesitatingly instructs him on how to use Raja as a weapon in defense of their child.
    • On the other side of the fence, Discworld witches are trained to avert this trope (which doesn't necessarily mean they do it 100%, just that they're trained not to rely on magic as much as possible). Most of them seem to take it as a point of pride how far they can go using only hard work and completely nonmagical things like herbalism and headology.
      • Lampshaded in Witches Abroad, with a conversation between Nanny Ogg (a witch) and Mrs Googol (a voodo priestess) about when it's appropriate for a witch to use pins, or a mambo to raise zombies:

Nanny: But only when there ain't no alternative.
Mrs Googol: Sure. When there ain't no alternative.
Nanny: When ... you know ... people ain't showing respect, like.
Mrs Googol: When the house needs paintin'.

    • Meanwhile, Wizards will occasionally use magic for mundane purposes - in Sourcery, for example, Spelter turns water into sherry.
    • In Equal Rites, Esk disguises her wizard staff as a broom, occasionally using it to sweep up. When Mustrum Ridcully was summoned to UU to become its Archchancellor, he had to retrieve his own staff from the garden, where it was serving as the support-pole of a scarecrow.
  • The Animorphs frequently use their powers for mundane things, despite the risk that it would blow their cover and lead to the enslavement of the entire planet. For example, doing a science project and watching concerts for free (twice!). They technically have a rule against this, which Team Dad Jake is miserable at enforcing—especially since he wanted to go to both concerts. Lampshaded in the final book, when Marco morphs a lobster to get his car keys off the pool floor, and Jake makes fun of him because, you know, people who can't morph are just screwed then. Marco then asks Jake if he's thirsty, and Jake snarks back, "Why? Going to morph cow and squeeze me out a glass of two percent?"
  • Keith Laumer has written a series of stories about "Bolo" tanks, super sized military tanks. In one of the stories, it is mentioned that after a war an attempt was made to use them for peaceful purposes, including attaching a blade for demolition work to one and calling it a "tractor". The half-megaton/second firepower still available on it tended to belay the "peaceful" status.
    • A later scheme was to use an obsolete Bolo's massively powerful AI and large hull space to create an automated tractor/bulldozer/genetics lab for adapting crops to survive on newly settled colonies. While those responsible were smart enough to remove the Frickin' Laser Beams this time, they made a really shoddy job of adapting the AI's programming: the result being that when the colony was invaded by hostile aliens it kicked into combat mode and exterminated them all with customised bioweapons, all while thinking they were just a particularly large type of crop pest.
  • Miles Vorkosigan in Komarr is given the position of a Barrayaran Imperial Auditor, which means he is above the law and can issue orders to anyone about anything with the Emperor's personal authority, subject to review only by the Emperor himself. At one point he uses this power to bypass paternal consent on a routine medical treatment for his love interest's son. Lampshaded by his comment "Just like swatting flies with a laser cannon. The aim's a bit tricky, but it sure takes care of the flies."
    • Ekaterin's own point of view regarding this scene:

Yes, she realized enviously, he could just wave all ordinary problems out of his path. Leaving only the extraordinary ones... her envy ebbed.

      • Miles also gets one in Memory. He and Simon Illyan aren't having much luck fishing, so Miles messes with his Sonic Stunner's cartridge so that when he discards it into the water, it creates an explosion of fish.
  • In Harry Potter magic is used for nearly everything imaginable. From making animated Chocolate Frogs, to the various practical joke items, transport, Quidditch, enchanted items that do household chores for you, self stirring cauldrons, semi-sentient owls, radio (no muggle radio for them, which works out fine since wizards apparently get better radios), the list goes on. It's stated that high levels of magic such as at Hogwarts cause Muggle technology more advanced than a wristwatch to fail to work.
    • Justified Trope in that, if Arthur Weasley is any example, the magical population of the world hasn't a clue how Muggle technology works. If the wizarding world ever gets hit with an Anti-Magic Field or something, they'd die of starvation surrounded by filth.
    • The House-elves. A race of powerful magical beings with near absolute loyalty as their Hat, whose magic isn't bound by the same rules as human wizardry, and what do most wizards and witches use them for? Chores. Justified by the condescending attitude most wizards and witches have concerning House Elves. A few wizards do make clever use of their House elves though: Crouch Sr. entrusted Winky with the very important task of keeping his son hidden (and fired her for nearly letting him escape), Regulus Black told Kreacher to destroy Voldemort's locket Horcrux, though even Kreacher's powers weren't enough to break it, and Harry put Kreacher's talents to good use for espionage in Half-blood Prince and for capturing a thief in Deathly Hallows.
    • The Time Turner. For nearly the whole year Hermione uses it to go back an hour or so to do more classes, extending her days to about 28 hours each with 13 classes a week on almost no sleep. Put to better use at the end, when Harry and Hermione go back in time to save the lives of Harry's godfather and an innocent Hippogriff. Still, the glaringly obvious application for retroactive CSI is completely ignored.
  • Bloodsucking Fiends: Upon concluding that Vampire saliva acts as a healing agent (primarily to keep those tell-tale neck wounds from being noticed), Tommy tries to convince his Friendly Neighborhood Vampire girlfriend Jody to fix his cuticles and get rid of a blister on his toe. Jody is not amused.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series novel "How Much For Just The Planet" our heroes encounter a baking dish made out of dilithium (a valuable type of crystal that is one target for both sides of the Federation/Klingon Cold War currently in effect). To make it even better, the slab of dilithium is engraved with writing from the local Precursors, combining two kinds of Mundane Utility. The locals argue that if dilithium can regulate a matter-antimatter reaction a few hours in the oven isn't going to hurt it.
  • Many of Nina Kiriki Hoffman's magic-using characters have creative methods of using their abilities in everyday life. The character of Terry Dane from the Matt Black series is probably the best example. She can cast spells to summon money (in the short story Airborn she mentions that she paid for a new car by casting spells to make multiple minor wins in the lottery), to make oneself more attractive, and to help someone study better by improving memory and concentration, and is constantly looking for new ways to use magic. She even invented a way to create portable spells in tablet form that can be used by nonmagical people. She runs an Internet-based business where she sells weak versions of these spells to ordinary people (her biggest customer base is college students), and although her mother disapproves of the way she uses her powers, she doesn't complain too much since Terry makes more money than she does and pays at least half the rent. However, Terry is careful about how she uses these spells to avoid attracting too much attention or giving too much of an unfair advantage to her customers.
  • Sorcery in The Belgariad has nearly limitless application, which all of the sorcerers take advantage of to some extent. The extent is simply a matter of a sorcerer's personal preference; the high end would probably be Belgarath (who prefers to take shortcuts in things like physical labor), and the low would probably be Durnik, who prefers working by hand if time isn't an issue.
    • At one point Belgarion asks polgara why she's mending something no one is ever going to wear. She closes the rip with sorcery to make the point that she never actually needs to fix things by hand, and responds to his bewilderment with "because I like to sew, dear." She then rips the shirt again and proceeds with the mending.
  • In Stephen King's novel, The Tommyknockers, an alien spacecraft is discovered, and it makes the people near it technical geniuses. The main character uses her new abilities to power up her water heater by creating a small sun in it, making a tractor that can fly, and a typewriter that can read thoughts.
  • H. Beam Piper's Uller Uprising features a project to use A-bombs for volcano mining. Justified, because by the point in the future Piper's novels are set in, people have access to weapons like the Bethe-cycle bomb, which creates a miniature sun 2000 miles across at its point of detonation (which has no mundane utility, because it's kind of hard to find a mundane use for a 2000-mile-across fusion fireball lasting several hours).
    • How about a really, really, REALLY hot tub?
    • Also justified in that the planet they're testing the A-bomb mining on is utterly uninhabitable by humans, with a flourine atmosphere and an x-ray emitting sun.
  • Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander, Wizard of the First Order, AKA the Wind of Death, has been known to use his exceptional and frightening mastery over magic to cook dinner just a little faster.
    • A necessary function, as he is a Big Eater.
    • Another case has Zedd restoring a wilted flower to full vitality before he goes to speak with his girlfriend.
    • Also of note, Nicci, Death's Mistress and former lieutenant of the Keeper of the Underworld, applies Subtractive Magic to tasks such as healing and changing the color of clothes. Zedd Lampshades this, but considering his own example, he doesn't have much room to talk.
  • Harry Dresden uses his magic to light candles and his fireplace, and occasionally to create energy drinks in magic potion form, among other things. Also, Thomas uses his White Vampire abilities to give the most pleasurable haircuts possible, thus earning his rent and "eating" all at once.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Yoda: Dark Rendezvous has a conversation about such uses of the force (But of course using the force for such things leads to the darkside)
    • Vibroblades are awesome weapons that can cut and slice through most armors. Sure enough, they are used for day-to-day cutting of non-warfare-related items all the time, and scaled-down versions exist that aren't even supposed to be used for fighting at all. And yeah, lightsabers get used for similar purposes too every now and then, as well as torches.
  • One of the perennial complaints of Marvin the Paranoid Android from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is that he has a brain the size of a planet, yet is assigned only simple household tasks that wouldn't challenge a lobotomized goldfish's intellect.
  • Good Omens: The divine / infernal powers are nice for miracling up vintage wines into existence and keeping your car dent-free.
    • To the surprise of both the Wine, and the Car, apparently.
    • "Oh Lord, heal this bicycle."
  • Mendanbar, king of the Enchanted Forest, wields a magic sword responsible for choosing the succession and powerful enough to make him a match for "any three wizards" within his own territory. The first thing he does with it in his introductory book is place an improvised and stealthy spell to keep a wizard's staff from absorbing magic from his kingdom. The second? To unclog a sink. He offers to let it do the dishes as well, but is told that would be ridiculous.
  • In Wilson Tucker's 1954 novel Wild Talent, the psychic protagonist uses his ability while growing up to find out who is willing to hire kids his age for various jobs (extremely useful since the character grows up during The Great Depression), and is also able to learn things more quickly during school, job training as a movie projectionist, and military training as he possesses a combination of telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition.
  • In A Lee Martinez' Monster, the villain of the story, Lotus, possesses an indestructible stone that is responsible for the birth of the entire universe and it's continued existence. And though Lotus mainly uses it as a handy source of power she can leech off, she also uses it as a cutting board, a nutcracker, and a paperweight.
  • Since absolutely everyone (except Tavi) in the Codex Alera series has at least some degree of Elemental Powers, they're generally used for Magitek purposes to make everyday life easier. earthcrafters use their furies for construction and mining and Super Strength, and can also use them to either calm people, or excite them. Windcrafters can fly, manipulate sound, calm down storms, and bend air into magnifying glasses or telescopes. Watercrafters can use their powers to heal, swim, channel waterflow, create aqueducts, and hide the presence of ships from massive sea beasts. Firecrafters use can create lamps and cook food, or use their abilities to incite courage or fear; the best orators in Alera are firecrafters who unconsciously incite emotions in their audiences. Woodcrafters are excellent farmers, able to grow vast amounts of food in days. Even metalcrafters, the most martial of the crafting disciplines, are master smiths and metalworkers.
  • By the fourth book of the Safehold series, A Mighty Fortress, several of the main cast besides Merlin been granted access to his supercomputer Owl and his SNARCs, which provide near omnipotent levels of spying ability on a planet otherwise locked in Medieval Stasis. Some of the uses Emperor Cayleb puts it to: Checking up on his adopted son and following baseball scores back home.
  • From the Inheritance Cycle: When the (financial) going gets tough, the Varden have their mages use their powers to make valuable lace to sell for funds. They consider this beneath their dignity and are horrified when Nasuada orders them to do it.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
    • The setting's currency consists of gemstones set in glass spheres. Said gems can be infused with Stormlight, which makes them glow. Since they don't flicker or smoke, and don't need refueling/replacing nearly as often as lamps or candles, scholarly types frequently use infused spheres as light sources. It's something of a status symbol how much money you can "waste" on light.
    • Shardplate, a Lost Technology that is effectively magical Powered Armor, has always been used exclusively for combat. One character wonders why no one ever thought to use it for anything else—and then proves his point by digging through solid rock to make a latrine for his army.
  • In Diane Duane's Young Wizards series, the protagonists are given access to the source code of the universe and are often seen using it for such frivolous things as teleporting around to save money on the train fare, summoning a sentient white hole in order to find a lost pen, and (my personal favourite) co-locating the inside of a fridge with someone else's when they want a snack.
  • Played with in Mercedes Lackey's novels. Using power for frivolous or mundane purposes (things that could be done just as easily by hand) is the mark of a corrupt or evil mage—good mages save their magic for things only magic can do.
    • More a result of the fact that doing something with magic is always harder than doing it mundanely. Anyone who does something magically when an easier way exists is probably addicted to magic.
    • Sometimes, the person using magic for mundane purposes is just being dumb. There's a reference in The Fairy Godmother to one of Elena's predecessors, who used so much magic on things like housecleaning that she didn't have any magic on tap to deal with an Evil Sorcerer.
  • Mentioned and then subverted with Numair Salmalin, one of the most powerful mages in the Tortall Universe. While most mages can just use magic to extinguish a candle, his power is so great that it would cause an explosion.
  • According to The Bible, Jesus' very first miracle? Turning water into wine during a wedding party as a private favor for his host, and upon a request from his mom Mary. (Sacred Hospitality is Serious Business.)
    • In other Gospels not considered canonical, a young Jesus also experimented with his powers by animating a clay bird and raising a kid from the dead when he accidentally smited the guy for being a moron.
  • The One Ring, the object that holds the soul of the dark lord Sauron, binding him to Middle Earth as long as it exists, the One Ring to rule all the other rings of power, and what is it used for in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings? Use it's powers of invisibility to play a prank where Bilbo disappears at a party.
    • Fridge Brilliance when you consider that the Rings of Power grant your deepest desire. So for the Elves, they preserve the beauty of their realms, for the Dwarves they bring wealth, for Men they prolong life. And what do Hobbits most desire? Not to be noticed by the Big Folk.
  • The boys in Krabat may and do use magic for their daily work and even just for pranks.
  • In The Bartimaeus Trilogy magicians often summon demons for mundane tasks such as redecorating their homes or working as manservants. Despite the lack of risk they often resent this as much or more than their more dangerous jobs. There's glory to be found in battle, less so in wallpapering.
  • Attempted by the apprentice in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Unfortunately, the spell quickly went out of his control.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The world of Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda includes such wonders as Nanomachines and they're available to pretty much everyone. How does maverick captain Beka Valentine use hers? Instant hair dye.
    • And blackmail.
  • In one episode of The Invisible Man, Fawkes is scolded for using his invisibility to get into movies for free.
    • When asked by a kid if he ever used his ability to sneak into women's locker rooms, Darien refuses to answer. In the pilot, he was caught spying on a soldier and a nurse getting it on and gets a black eye for that.
  • All the time in Stargate SG-1:
    • In the episode "Allegiance", the "kawoosh" of an opening Stargate is used in a burial ceremony to disintegrate the bodies. This is a Justified Trope, though. A Sarcophagus can revive the dead (to an extent), so making sure there isn't a body to revive is a prudent measure to take.
    • And the Stargate itself is used by O'Neill and Teal'c as part of an interstellar game of golf.
    • When they gain temporary enhanced abilities due to ancient alien wristbands, the team is taken out of action for fear of possible side effects. So they use their super-speed and strength to do things like catch up on their reading and writing, perform experiments, rearrange furniture, and sneak off the base for a big tasty steak dinner.
    • The Asgard have taken this to an art form. With the invention of transporter technology, they use it for everything. They literally beam themselves around still sitting in their chairs rather than walking.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, Teyla has some kind of Ancient laser device that she uses to light candles. This was quite possibly its original purpose. The Ancients over-engineered everything.
  • Stargate Universe. The Kino. A small, ball-shaped floating planetary exploration probe with a wide range of sensors to determine viability for human life and a camera for visual recon. Also good for spying on the women's shower. Eli also tried to hogtie a few dozen of them to make a flying platform. Couldn't fly very well, but turned out to be a nice hovering cart.
  • Leslie from The Big Bang Theory has used an infrared laser to heat up her cup noodles, and liquid nitrogen to freeze and shatter a banana for her cereal because she couldn't find a knife to cut it.
    • Also from Big Bang, in one episode the gang rigged Leonard and Sheldon's apartment so that all of the electronics are remote-controlled via the internet. When asked why, they all reply at the same time "Because we can."
    • In another episode, after a particularly bad fight with Penny, Leonard takes out his frustration on his action figures...by putting them in the path of a high powered laser beam and melting them!
    • In yet another episode, though it may not have ever ended up happening, the guys make great use of their intelligence while helping Penny make penny blossoms... by planning to install bluetooth to help appeal to more men.
    • Howard brings a prototype robotic arm he designed to show off to the guys by using it to pass out their Chinese take-out (although it took 28 minutes because he has to type the instructions). Later he has it giving him a massage, which gives him the idea to have it give him... another type of massage. It doesn't end well.
    • When the university gets a new hydraulic thermoforming press, the gang uses it to make paninis.
  • Used in Power Rangers Jungle Fury, where one of the Kung Fu trained Rangers uses his martial arts skills for dramatic effect when making pizzas for an appreciative audience.
  • The Doctor has in his possession the most powerful ship in the universe, able to appear anywhere in time and space in a matter of minutes. It's also capable of towing entire planets and bestowing God-like powers on anyone who looks into its heart. He uses it for sightseeing.
    • Metron of the New Gods does the same thing.
    • The Eighth Doctor Adventures novels take this to a whole new level of uselessness and silliness. The ship described previously, you see, is Bigger on the Inside. There are a lot of uses for that kind of technology, but one wants to know when it started to seem to recurring antagonist Sabbath that fashioning a Paper-Thin Disguise by way of making himself appear somewhat slimmer seemed like a good use of the alien technology of extinct Physical Gods. Way to go, man, you just created Time Lord foundation garments, and I'm sure tons of zaftig Time Ladies would be really grateful if the Doctor hadn't killed them all. Bizarrely, the Doctor is actually almost fooled by a disguise whose effects could be replicated by exercise and healthy eating.
  • In an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it turns out that Giles has been using a MacGuffin needed as the focus to restore Angel's soul as a paperweight (a Continuity Nod; when Jenny bought one the shopkeeper said he'd sold a couple as "new age paperweights").
    • Buffy herself uses her superhuman strength to open a crate that her mom was unable to. Later, she used her superhuman strength as a construction worker for about a fourth of an episode, which pissed off her coworkers - they were being paid by the hour, so having someone speeding up the process was not welcome.
    • Subverted in Season Six where Willow's usage of magic in mundane life was declared an addiction. And then one sentence uttered by Giles in the first episode of the seventh season tried to make the bad storyline go away.
  • On Angel, Harmony is seen using her vampire super-strength to lift a cabinet in order to retrieve her shoe from underneath.
    • In Season One, Wesley shows Angel a Kek dagger, which is the only weapon capable of killing a Kek demon. Angel informs him that Kek demons are in fact extinct. Then Cordelia grabs the dagger to cut brownies.
    • Subverted once in the first season. Cordelia accidentally orders coffee beans for the office instead of ground coffee and suggests that Angel grinds them by squeezing the packet with his vampire strength. He tries it and manages only to burst the bag, sending coffee beans all over the office which Wesley promptly slips in when he arrives.
  • Once the characters on Heroes figure their powers out, they frequently make use of them.
    • Claire was the first to do this. In the pilot, she recovers her class ring from the garbage disposal... while it is still on. In Season 2, when something falls into a pot of boiling water by accident, she nonchalantly sticks her hand in to retrieve it (after which her mother notes that just because she has powers doesn't mean she needs to use them all the time).
    • Micah uses his technopathy to get his cousin free pay-per-view. Earlier, he helps out his family by taking cash from an ATM.
    • Matt Parkman reads his wife's mind to help him set up the perfect night with her - such as putting on a song that's been in her head all day - and to cheat at his detective exam. In Season Two, he tests his mind-control by influencing Molly to finish her cereal.
    • Meredith Gordon only appears in a few episodes, but she makes frequent use of her pyrokinesis to light stoves and cigarettes (and not a whole lot else).
    • Ted Sprague uses radiation to warm up a frozen car quickly.
    • Monica Dawson has rarely used her mimicry powers for anything else, the first time she ever uses them is to creates a tomato rose, a Shout-Out to the Marvel supervillain and Iron Chef fan Taskmaster with the same power.
    • Gabriel Grey/Sylar was using his power to fix watches before he discovered what else he could do with it, and later uses telekinesis to fetch small objects on a regular basis.
    • In Season Four, a woman is seen at the Carnival cooking with her powers.
    • Samuel uses his terrakinesis (earth-control) to bury a grave.
    • In Season One, Hiro used his time stop to cheat at gambling.
  • In the original Bionic Woman, her cyborg-enhanced superspeed was used to get dressed in a hurry, and while posing as a duplicate, she used it to hurry up a cigarette's burning (yes, the purpose is mission-base, but it's a rather mundane use). She also uses it to write on the blackboard fast.
    • An episode of the remake opens with Jamie racing at Super Speed down a dark alley at night, leaping over a fence In a Single Bound and yanking open a car door...to reveal her underage sister necking with an older boy. As she broke a bionic toe jumping the fence, Berkut makes a point of telling her just how much it costs to replace.
  • Phasers in Star Trek have occasionally been used to heat rocks for warmth.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Enterprise: The federation's finest flagship is used for the odd reception often.

"Tomorrow: Symposium on Tegas III's History.
This weekend: Closed for Battle to death with Borg Cube.
April 18th: Shriner's Convention.

    • Seeing as the Enterprise * is* the flagship, using it to host receptions is not altogether silly. Nothing beats showing off your big guns to foreign ambassadors, as a way to say: ally with us and this'll protect you, attack us and this'll kick your ass. In fact capital ships have been used repeatedly for such reasons, from the Great White Fleet tour of the Pacific to the Japanese signing the surrender on the deck of the battleship Missouri. There is a reason for the term "Gunboat Diplomacy".
      • Also justified in that TNG-era Starfleet really only has two kinds of ships - smaller science-oriented ships and larger "floating city"-type ships. The former are the kind to have bunk beds and communal showers, making the latter the only option for diplomatic missions of any magnitude.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Kor uses the legendary Sword of Kahless, more or less the Klingon equivalent of Excalibur and the Holy Grail combined, as a fork. According to legend, Kahless himself used the sword to plow a field, skin a legendary monster, and carve a statue of his beloved.
  • In Farscape, Sikozu's radiation projection has been used not only to kill Scarrans but also to weld control panels and light candles.
    • Jool's sonic scream is powerful enough to melt metal; naturally, she's used for welding when power goes out all over Moya.
    • Moya's complex amnexus system is often used to clean the crew's dirty laundry.
    • D'Argo once used his Qualta blade for blast fishing.
    • Occasionally, D'Argo uses his extendable tongue for things besides stunning people: snatching up small objects in a hurry, or hanging from precipices- though this takes "a lot of plactith," according to D'Argo.
    • Chiana and Jothee once got in trouble for apparently using "too much lootra oil" while cooking dinner: for those of you who haven't seen "Family Ties," lootra oil is a weapons-grade explosive. However, at the time, Chiana and Jothee weren't all that interested in cooking.
    • When it's not being used to produce hallucinogens and poisons, Noranti's impressive knowledge of botany and chemistry (along with the associated hebarium) is being put to use in cooking.
    • Once upon a time, Moya's DRDs were only used for repairing Moya, healing pilot and assaulting intruders: it all changed when Crichton taught one of them (that they inherited from a different Leviathan) to sing the 1812 overture...
    • In the episode "Taking the Stone," the hedonistic tribe has a habit of using looted alien tech for recreation, entertainment and even ritual. One prominent example is the sonic net- essentially a voice-activated safety net used for aerial training exercises- recycled by the tribe for Taking The Stone.
    • Scorpius' neural clone (Harvey, originally created to collect and catalogue the wormhole information in Crichton's brain, is now used to bring some Crichton's funnier fantasies into the light. Harvey doesn't seem to mind all that much...
      • Suggested by Harvey but tragically never used:

Crichton: (About Scorpius) If he masters wormhole technology, what will he use it for?
Harvey: Faster delivery of pizzas.

  • Ned in Pushing Daisies has the ability to bring dead things to life by touch, which he uses both to solve murders, and as a baker - he gets rotten fruit cheap and brings it back to life, ensuring that it will always be as fresh as possible.
  • The title character of Merlin often uses his magic to do household chores, to the great distress of his mentor figure (magic is illegal in Camelot, and anyone caught using or even knowing magic is put to death).
  • Samantha in Bewitched was sometimes seen using her magic to do housework. Even though Darrin didn't approve.
  • The aliens from Roswell frequently used their powers to do all sorts of mundane things: listen to CD's, reheat food, restyle Maria's hair, etc.
    • Notable: A episode parodies shows like Bewitched and shows one the aliens using her powers for cooking, something she can't do because her husband doesn't know about her origins.
  • In Warehouse 13, Pete uses Lewis Carroll's mirror to play ping pong. With himself. To be fair, he didn't know at the time that it houses the murderous spirit of Alice Liddel, so it's not like there was any other use for it.
    • It seems to be common practice to use various objects for mundane tasks, or to repurpose them. The automated vacuum sweeper and Claudia's use of a snow globe that freezes things to chill a bottle of cola are evidence of this.
  • The Harry Enfield and Chums sketch, The Palace of Righteous Justice; in which a team of He-man style superheroes debate how to deal with the dirty dishes on their kitchen table. The table is frozen solid, then cut in half with what can only be described as a lightsaber. They then burn down the house for some reason.
  • Despite the fact that the Charmed witches are explicitly not supposed to use their powers "for personal gain", they frequently seem to find loopholes in this stricture large enough to do things like turning off boiling-over pots, stopping their favorite employees from being fired, and so on.
  • Jonathan Smith in Highway to Heaven uses his powers as an angel of God to do things to help him with his duties. Although his powers sometimes help him do incredible things like catch bullets, these are most often of the mundane variety, such as keeping doors from opening so someone will have to stay and listen to his lecture, pushing little girls into swimming pools, making beer disappear out of glasses and pitchers (despite the fact that he served the beer in the first place), making it rain inside a car to keep a man from lighting a cigarette, or appearing/disappearing without using the door. (Ta da!)
  • Not quite a "superhero power", but in an episode of Green Wing the doctors used an X-ray machine to check inside bags of crisps (chips) and pick out the ones that had money inside them. (For non-Brits, there was a promotion run by Walkers, a huge crisp company, where instead of having to collect tokens or anything, there would just be £20 notes inside some crisp packets instead. It was actually finished some years before the episode aired, but it was a very popular promotion.)
  • In an episode of Time Trax, a scientist from the future "invents" devices 200 years ahead of their time. How does he use a device that instantly cools down any object? To chill a can of beer.
  • In one episode of Home Improvement, Tim Taylor got NASA to send him a tank of rocket fuel, which he uses to light a barbecue. He ends up accidentally launching the whole barbecue grill into low orbit.
  • One episode of House had House using a highly advanced and very expensive surgical robot to...cut a button on Cuddy's blouse, make a very shallow incision on her face and blow air on her. It is a demo of the machine's precision, after all. Not that she isn't a little aroused...
  • "Breaking Bad" season 3 has chemist-turned-methamphetamine-maker Walt going to work for a drug cartel. On his first day, he finds his new assistant, also an expert chemist, using his sophisticated knowledge and equipment to make really, REALLY good coffee. Walt's reaction upon tasting: "This stuff is amazing -- why are we making meth?"
  • The Lost Room features a number of Objects with seemingly-random supernatural powers. The one thing they all have in common is that they're indestructible. This makes The Coat useful as a bulletproof vest, despite it's actual ability being unknown.
    • However, though The Comb can stop time, it cannot be effectively used to comb hair.
  • Largely averted in Misfits given that most of the team can't control their powers. For example, much to Nathan's annoyance, Curtis can't use his time-travel powers to "nip back" to earlier that day and find out who stole his drug stash. However, Simon manages to get his invisibility under control fairly early on, and often uses it as a way of recording environmental footage for his collection without anyone noticing him- plus the occasional bit of Peeping Tom Power Perversion Potential.
    • Inverted in the case of Brian, the Lactokinesis Man: everyone assumes that his power to control milk and other dairy products has nothing but mundane utility... only for several people to choke to death on cheese and yoghurt when Brian snaps and becomes a villain.
    • Nathan manages this when he buys the power to warp reality: apart from cheating Las Vegas casinos, he also uses it to impress Marnie by conjuring a rose out of thin air.
  • In The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cameron uses her superhuman strength to fight hostile robots, pound down concrete walls, and....pick up heavy loads to put in the truck on shopping trips. Her ability to rapidly analyze data is also used to do such things as plot stellar patterns, plan out a pool game, or to take a stress reading from a person by touching their neck.
  • In Airwolf, on occasion, String and Dom take the copter out for non-sanctioned tasks, such as checking out the story of a drunk friend that there's something weird going on near his house.
  • Ax Men: Shelby Stanga carries a long-barreled revolver, ostensibly to defend himself from the local wildlife. One day, while felling a large tree, made recalcitrant by Shelby's... questionable felling technique, he helps the tree tip over using said revolver.
  • Clark Kent makes a great farmboy with his superstrength and invulnerability.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • The Far Side cartoon "Moses parting his hair" illustrates this.
  • A Lio comic has Lio making his giant robot clean the gutters.
  • Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes invents (or imagines) all kinds of amazing devices, such as a cloning box. He makes a clone of himself and tells it to do his homework. Unfortunately, since it's a clone of Calvin, this doesn't go over well ...


Radio[edit | hide]

  • That Mitchell and Webb Sound has a skit in which two people consider inviting Sally Vader and her husband to their party. Apparently he plays football and is an incredible goalkeeper, to the point that it seems like he only has to stretch out his hand and the ball goes veering away from the goal. He also has "the most incredible electric carving knife I've ever seen".


Stand Up Comedy[edit | hide]

  • Ross Noble once joked about using laser eye-beams to heat soup.


Tabletop RPG[edit | hide]

  • The BattleMechs of BattleTech. Mechs equipped with hands can be used in combat engineering and light construction duties, a high-power 6 ton military laser can be toned down for welding, and long ranged missiles can be used for clearing areas for civilian use.
    • Since Industrial Mechs exist in the universe, with civilian standard equipment, using the military grade stuff in this way is probably a bit overkill (and likely to attract the wrong kind of attention). That being said, a recent rule book has stats for turning a short range missile launcher into a harpoon launcher. For Space Whaling.
  • The New World of Darkness game Mage: The Awakening subverts this - while it's possible to use magic for everyday chores, doing so is considered an (extremely minor) act of hubris and dings the Karma Meter. Okay, you have to be a practical saint to actually lose Wisdom over it (to the point where another action that will ding your Karma Meter is selfish thoughts), but magic is also inherently risky due to Paradox, so using it for mundane purposes is likely to sting you in the backside.
    • The previous game, Mage: The Ascension played this straight, though. Doubly so with Sancta, small personal areas where a mage could perform any of their own magic without risk of paradox.
    • In Awakening, Demesnes allow the same paradox-free effect as Sancta (though if a Sleeper sees it, all bets are off).
    • Over in Geist: The Sin Eaters, there's a group of Sin-Eaters known as Bonepickers that use their powers to make money. The good ones simply charge for their "drive ghosts out of your life" services; the bad ones will bind a ghost to a Ferrari and then offer to take away the "haunted car".
    • Several Contracts (groups of magical powers) in Changeling: The Lost would work for this, especially using the Contract of Artifice to fix minor broken things and using the lesser clauses of the Contract of Elements to make the weather suit you, but nearly every Contract has one or two clauses with mundane utility.
      • One particular goblin contract basically guarantees that any guess you make will be right. And you can use it without cost if you're using it to win at gambling.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • There are "classic" magic items, like Mattock of the Titans and animated rope.
    • Glassteel, glass enchanted to be as durable as steel, while it remains lighter by half, transparent, non-conductive and completely immune to common corrosives.
    • Most of Cantrips and in particular "Prestidigitation" (in 3e) are basically this, allowing you to perform minor tricks that can accomplish things like cleaning and mending your clothes, warming and flavoring food, and sweeping the floor with tiny dust devils.
    • The long gone Imaskari civilization in the Forgotten Realms were rather fond of dimensional magic, to the point that one-way portals to the Elemental Planes of Water and Air for the sake of easy access to fresh water and air were common. In other words, they punched holes into the realms of elementals just for tap-water and ventilation. So did the Netherese after them. Between various offshots of these two and elven traditions, development of utility spells and creative application of magic designed for other purpose is fairly widespread. Granted, it helps that lines between defence, security, safety and utility usefulness are blurry, and there are truly universal areas, like material strengthening or protection from corrosion.
    • Eberron is based on this: there's the Magewright, a special NPC spellcasting class designed to handle stuff ranging from city light poles to the Lightning Rail.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 spinoff Dark Heresy, the Psyker's abilities allow them to do mundane things such as excel at basic tasks, cheat in card games, and plenty of other things you'd associate with telepathy, divination, pyrokinetics, telekinetics, and so on. Of course, this being 40k, it's risky enough that they usually don't bother...
  • In the Warhammer Fantasy Battle Fantasy Roleplay game, there are a number of arcane and divine spells designed for mundane usage, from spotless cleaning, animal taming and locking/unlocking doors through to perfect cooking, infallible contraception and fertility treatments and gardening. And those are the spells specifically designed for such usage- the Lore of Fire spell 'Diadem of Flame' which creates a flaming crown above the wizard's head is described (in the spell's entry in the rulebook, no less) as being occasionally used for lighting cooking fires, although that requires the wizard to go through "extremely undignified contortions".
    • This despite the fact that the setting and rules enforce the idea that magic is really dangerous, with all but the weakest spells having at least 1/10 chance of Bad Things happening. This gets particularly nasty and amusing when the optional (and fan made) house rules for high-end Chaos Manifestations are used. It is possible to destroy the entire world with an unlucky minor spell to (for example) lock your door when you can't find your keys...
    • The High Elves are said to be much more capable of harvesting the Winds of Magic without the risk of things-go-boom, and as such, they teach their students by starting with spells to be used in domestic environments. Their book states that farmers who live around the schools of magic never have to plow their own fields, because every year's group of students wants something to test their skills on.
  • In GURPS: Magic, knowing really powerful magic almost always requires the knowledge of a bunch of simpler spells with more mundane uses (eg, to learn Volcano, you need to know things like Create Fire and Shape Earth).
  • In Blue Rose, this is explicitly stated to be the norm, at least in Aldis. Telepathy, in particular, sees a lot of use for things like ensuring honest testimony in trials, sending messages across the kingdom, and aiding in the rehabilitation of criminals.
  • Though the hideous Biopunk Mons of Mortasheen are usually used for battling, there are actually quite a few made mainly for mundane uses, such as a lawnmower monster, a toilet monster, a narcotics-dispensing monster and a sewer-cleaning monster amongst many, many others. Of course almost all of these monsters have a use in fights
  • Vampire: The Masquerade provides quite a few mundane uses for the vampiric disciplines: for example, members of the Nosferatu clan can use Potence for construction, tunnelling through solid rock with their bare hands to create new warrens Beneath the Earth. The artistically-inclined among them, meanwhile, have been known to use it in sculpture.
When you're safe in your own haven, surrounded by furniture you've built yourself — that's Metamorphosis. Right now, I'm into working with lots of different materials. Children's bones are very malleable, but they don't bear much weight, so you have to use a lot of them. I'm very happy with this fainting couch I just finished; it cries when you sit on it, but I'll show it to you if you like.
—Ahriman Berney-Scott, feng shui enthusiast
  • Mostly averted in Star Wars (it takes itself more seriously than the movies).


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Golden Sun, a lot of Psynergy falls into Utility Magic, but some simply have Mundane Utility. Whirlwind can be used to clear away vines obstructing goals (or set dangling chains/vines/ropes in motion for some swinging); Frost can be used to bridge gaps by turning a puddle of water into a giant ice pillar; Growth can be used to turn random sprouts into climbable vines.
    • In The Lost Age, a baby girl in a house in Contigo can be seen using Whirlwind to cool off in the hot weather.
    • Dark Dawn turned several Utility Magic powers into more fantastic powers with Mundane Utility. Catch (used to grab out-of-reach objects) was replaced by Grip (used for Le Parkour... and for grabbing out-of-reach objects), Parch (drying out flooded places) was replaced by Arid Heat (used for combat... and drying out flooded places), and Blaze (light torches) and Burst (clear out debris via Stuff Blowing Up) were merged with Fireball (guess).
    • Can't get much more into the spirit of this trope than Dark Dawn's take on the Sol Blade, which explodes into fire, calls meteors from the heavens... and opens doors.
  • Seen in SNK's Gals Fighters Spin-Off game. The prize for winning the fighting tournament is a talisman that will grant a single wish. Most of the endings result in the winner wishing for something relatively mundane (Athena wishes for her long hair back, Leona wishes away a toothache, etc.). The most egregious example has to be Shermie, who wishes for a larger hamster cage for her pregnant pet rather than summoning Orochi. Yashiro even points this out to her.
  • Okami features an NPC named Mrs. Orange, who uses Shun Goku Satsu (A.K.A. Instant Hell Murder A.K.A. Raging Demon A.K.A Akuma's signature move from Street Fighter) to make cakes. And they're delicious.
    • Ammy herself gains a wide range of elemental-based, borderline Reality Warper abilities. One of the very first things she does with the power to make the sun come closer to the Earth? Helping the aforementioned Mrs. Orange dry her laundry. Most likely, were she not the Goddess of the Sun, the world would've been engulfed in flames.
      • She also uses the Whirlwind skill to help a sushi chef carve up a fish, and Fireburst to light the fire for another chef's oven. And Cherry Bomb levels 2 and 3 just to cheer up the pyrotechnician.
  • Marisa Kirisame from Touhou has a Mini-Hakkero. It can be used for cooking, and for firing gigantic laser beams. And before you start guessing, she is not a Lethal Chef.
    • Marisa was also noted in the story material for Perfect Cherry Blossom to have relocated a hot spring with her magic... for indoor heating in the winter.
    • Reimu uses her Hakurei Yin-Yang Orbs as an air freshener.
    • Sakuya Izayoi regularly uses timehax to speed up housework, as well as making the Scarlet Mansion Bigger on the Inside.
    • Alice Margatroid micromanages her doll army, which can wield weapons and launch danmaku, to do chores all over the house, even when she isn't in the same room as them. However, this is explicitly noted as more a matter of pride than practicality, as because she needs to control each doll individually it doesn't make the work any easier.
    • Utsuho gains the power of nuclear fusion and plans to Take Over the World with it. After the heroines beat her, she provides free electricity for Gensokyo, and heating for hot springs.
    • In Eientei, Kaguya uses her power to manipulate eternity to make the mansion timeless, so the house would not degrade over time, and food would not go bad. Shortly before the events of Silent Sinner in Blue, however, she stops doing it, and begins to appreciate the passage of time in her home once more.
    • As a manipulator of density, Suika can create black holes, grow to giant size and split into hundreds of copies. What does she use this power for? To gather people together for an endless kegger.
    • Even lame powers have their uses; on especially hot summer days, other youkai and fairies who dislike the sun will use Rumia's personal bubble of darkness to avoid the heat.
    • Similarly, in the official manga Strange and Bright Nature Deity, Youmu unsuccessfully tries to convince Marisa and Reimu to stop collecting ghosts in jars and using them as air conditioners.
    • Eirin is an absurdly old super-genius that invented a potion for immortality, as well as who knows what else. After the events of Imperishable Night she used her abilities to open a clinic, providing medicine for youkai and humans.
    • Yukari Yakumo, youkai of boundaries, uses her Reality Warper powers for transportation. And stealing food, apparently from right off Reimu's plate ("...right out from under my nose," Reimu said).
      • In Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red, an official illustration for Aya's article on a party at Hakurei Shrine (the "Night Parade of One Hundred Oni Every Four Days") shows Yukari using one of her portals as a chair.
    • Touhou Soccer, where the girls unleash their unbelievably powerful magic/world-crushing energy beams/RealityWarper powers/whatever... to play soccer. Yes. Whatever they're using for a soccer ball, it must be goddamn invincible.
  • The Igniter bloodline in Bloodline Champions burns enemies in the game. However, their real purpose is to teleport around their people's underground city, keeping the torches lit.
  • In |Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, Silver, who possesses sufficient psychic powers to lift a large group of cars (during gameplay!) turns his might to... collecting apples.
  • Crypto, the alien protagonist of Destroy All Humans!, is a powerful psychic that can manipulate human minds to his own diabolical ends. What does he use this mind control for when he has no mission objective on hand? Making civilians do the chicken dance for his own amusement.
    • Destroy All Humans 2 features a minigame in Bay City, in which Crypto uses his telekinesis to play a game of tennis with a clone of himself. The "balls" used are actually live humans.
  • Kyle Katarn's Idle Animation in Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight features him using his lightsaber to cut his beard. This requires balls of durasteel, because... well... it's a plasma sword capable of cutting through starship hull.

Obi-wan: Some Jedi are known to shave with their laser swords.
Tion Medon: Yet you have a beard.
Obi-wan: Yes. And a head still attached to my neck.

  • Inverted in Dead Space, where the only actual weapon you receive, the Pulse Rifle, is almost useless against the Necromorphs. The weapons that are effective are basically tools for maintenance and repairs: the plasma cutter and line gun are usually used for cutting through starship walls and hulls to repair the machinery inside. The ripper, a buzzsaw held by electromagnetism, is used for cutting live power cables without the holder being electrocuted. The Shock Cannon is used for clearing hallways filled with debris in an emergency. Etc. Etc.
    • There's also Isaac's armor, another subversion: in it's ultimate incarnation, it's only a little less effective than full-on combat armor (which you get for beating the game), and for a good reason: it's designed for engineers going into extremely hazardous and hostile environments (such as extremely high temperatures, toxic atmospheres, areas where debris and shrapnel are flying at high velocities due to malfunctions in the gravity plating, etc, etc.), so it has to be very sturdy. And lucky Isaac, he has a suit of this on at the beginning, since he was being sent to do repair work on a ship that had suddenly gone silent, meaning he had to be ready for ANY situation that might pop up, since there's any number of things that can go wrong in deep space (although he wasn't expecting space zombies).
    • The Pulse Rifle is actually fairly effective against mooks if you use it right as the Necromorphs are Made of Plasticine; it can still dismember them fairly easily. Just shoot out the knees and then take out the blade arms. The real issue with the Pulse Rifle is that whoever designed it obviously did not design it to be used by personnel with actual military/firearms/rifle training. It has an incredibly bizarre design in that it has no stock, forcing you to shoot from the hip or - even if you raise it - without bracing against your shoulder, massively reducing accuracy. If you do try to brace it, this weird piston thing will slam into your shoulder every time you pull the trigger. It's no wonder the Ishimura's security teams didn't stand a chance, regardless of their lack of knowledge regarding the dismemberment thing.
  • Inversion in the DOS game Pickle Wars: Salad Shooters are mundane. They also just happen to be the most effective weapon against the pickle invaders.
    • Played straight when the Doomsday Device is said to make good milkshakes.
  • In Kartia, the cards which are used for devastating magical attacks and creating weapons and armor can be used for pretty much everything else, from transforming into cleaning implements, to transforming one into a tea cup, and the second into the tea itself. Think I'll stay with the leaves myself.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: What's the best part of being able to enter and travel through dreams? If you ask Gannayev, it's the extra opportunities for getting laid.
    • In the original Neverwinter Nights: how do you open a locked chest if you're a mage? Do you hire the annoying little halfling rogue? No. You hurl a fireball at it.
    • That, or have your Pixie familiar take care of it. You did choose the Pixie, right?
    • And if you are a mighty barbarian, you just chop the chest into kindling.
    • Or you can make an Infinity+1 Sword and give it the power of "knock", so that it'll unlock every door and locked chest in the building when you bash one locked door.
    • Chain Lightning and Epic Spell: Hellball are most commonly used to destroy every locked chest and door in the room.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: "We don't need to pay the landing fees."
    • Also, if you have Bastilla and Mission on your team for long enough, Mission will start annoying Bastilla to the point where she uses the Force that binds the galaxy together to make Mission trip over her own feet.
      • Made even funnier by the fact that the reason Mission is bugging her is to try and get Bastilla to admit to using the Force for mundane reasons occasionally. Like tripping people up people who annoy her.

"I would never use the Force for such petty and trivial revenge! The mere thought of it's preposterous."

  • It's entirely possible in Jak II and Jak III to use a gun to open boxes. If you've activated infinite ammo, you can use the tank-killing lightning-bomb gun to crack open crates.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Maya uses her abilities to channel her deceased older sister Mia...in order to have significant enough cleavage to convince a witness to cooperate with them (And an upset Mia says she can't believe Maya would do that). She also does it to pass messages to Phoenix in desperate situations by writing a note, channeling her sister who then reads said note, and having Mia go to be channeled by Pearl and pass the message along.
  • In a skit in Tales of Symphonia, Sheena asks Genis how he cooks so well. "I always cast Fireball!" While he was joking, Sheena considers the possibility of getting the fire Summon Spirit Efreet to aid in the process.
  • The planet Democratus, from Anachronox, is equipped with a tractor beam that can affect objects almost as large as the planet itself. After they shrink the planet and team up with the protagonists, the tractor beam is used to... reach things on high shelves. Or pick up a very hot rock. They can also construct a fully functional (if small-scaled) nuclear weapons program, which they use against opponents.
  • Shiki in Tsukihime tends to use his Mystic Eyes of Death Perception to quietly open locked doors more than kill vampires, poison, brick walls, evil hair or weird things like that. In fact, it's why Satsuki has a crush on him: He used his eyes to cut the lock on the door of a shed she was trapped in. Also vaporized the arm of a national monument statue after accidentally breaking it.
  • In Second Sight, John Vattic uses his telekinesis to restart a generator with a missing starter motor.
  • During the Wits Path of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Indy finds a mysterious artifact capable of generating a sizeable burst of electricity: almost immediately afterwards, he uses it as a substitute for a car battery.
  • In World of Warcraft, the Blood Elves, despite being driven to consuming demons to get magic fix, still waste a lot of that magic on things like self-pushing brooms, floating lamp posts, and parties. Also, the Magical City of Dalaran, now rebuilt and flying over Northend, has mages to turn on the lamps at night.
  • The Legend of Zelda: One may argue that using the Master Sword to mow lawns is a bit overkill.
    • VG Cats plays with this.
    • In Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks, Link can use the powerful Spirit Train to carry passengers and cargo as well as travel across the landscape fighting evil. He also has a monopoly on the rail trade because he's the only train out there that isn't possessed by demons.
    • In the Japan exclusive Spin-off game "Navi Trackers", Tetra uses the awesome, ancient magic of the kingdom of Hyrule to...split Link into four and play a game of tag with them. A really complicated game of tag, but still, a game of tag.
    • And in Skyward Sword, you can use the Gust Bellows for house-cleaning.
  • Dizzy's attacks in Guilty Gear are named after the various nonviolent uses she came up with for them. "This Was Used For Fishing", "This Was Used To Get Fruit From Trees" and the like. She doesn't want to fight, but her wings have no such compunctions.
  • In Half-Life 2, Alyx says that the Gravity Gun was originally designed for handling hazardous materials, but they mostly use it for heavy lifting. Gordon later repurposes it as a weapon. It also makes a pretty mean mine sweeper.
    • Of course the very first thing Gordon uses it for is playing fetch with Dog.
  • Valve seems to love these. In Portal the Portal Gun was originally supposed to somehow be used for shower curtains. GLaDOS was designed as a sentient Anti-Freeze dispenser. One can only wonder what the Companion Cube was meant for.
    • In Portal 2 we have the Propulsion Pudding originally marketed as a dietary aid, speeds food through your stomach before it can be digested. Removed from the market when it was discovered that digestion plays an important role in the eating process, namely breaking down food into easily absorbed pieces BEFORE it is violently expelled from the body. Repulsion Pudding was removed from the market for similar reasons. Both of those could probably be used for real advances, if Apeture Science wasn't utterly incompetent at making anything useful.
    • Portal 2 features a meta-example in one of the game engine's new features, "world portals", which can link any two areas just like standard portals but are meant to be placed in mid-air, integrate seamlessly integrate with the environment, and can have standard portals shot through them. The result: crazy non-Euclidean geometry similar to what late '90s engines were capable of. What did Valve use it for? Building maps in chunks during early development instead of having to make everything line up. Those maps were all eventually rejiggered back into a coherent Euclidean whole except one, which involves a room that's slightly Bigger on the Inside, but just barely.
  • During one of the training segments in Psi Ops the Mindgate Conspiracy, Edgar Barrett suggests that they use Nick Scryer's pyrokinesis for a barbecue.
  • Dwarf Fortress lets you use catapults, capable of squishing half an army if they're tightly packed...to transport stone across the map. Handy for dealing with gulags and hauling of rock, though.
    • It's well established within the community that magma can solve anything, and is especially good for disposing of pesky trash, prisoners, spare rock, nobles, and elven trade caravans. With careful planning, large numbers of cave-in traps, sufficient manpower, and a lot of audacity, it's possible to use HELL ITSELF for much the same thing.
    • Also, Forgotten Beasts are delicious and nutritious if you can manage to kill one without utterly destroying the body. Those that shoot web rather than spreading deadly contaminants can be used in a "silk farm" - it's harder to set up than for Giant Cave Spiders and FB materials are less valuable, but their silk may have exotic properties making it extremely useful (flame-proof, or even magma-proof).
    • Drawbridges are capable of smashing almost anything out of existence. They are frequently used to dispose of truly useless objects in order to save framerate. The same applies to channels filled with magma.
  • In God of War 3, Kratos rips off the head of Helios, the god of the sun...and uses it as a makeshift flashlight.
  • The Japanese version of Mega Man 7 (Rockman 7) has Roll suggesting to her brother that he use the weapons he obtained from the Bosses as tools for housework, as seen here. Highlights include using the Burning Wheel for a barbecue, the Slash Claw for trimming the garden, and the Thunder Strike to save up on their electric bill...
    • Also, Mega Man's Variable Weapons System is actually an inversion. Since he was originally a housekeeper robot, said system is actually used for replicating normal household tools. Only in his conversion into a fighting robot was the system adapted for combat purposes.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, rods of fire, when not being used by the PC to break into the basement, are used for a number of mundane purposes around the Circle Tower: these include lighting fireplaces, burning peepholes in walls, playing pranks on annoying Templars, and general magical research.
    • According to the in-game Codex, before the creation of the Circle of Magi, the Chantry employed mages exclusively so they could light candles and lamps with their powers.
    • Meanwhile, the Tranquil mages occasionally turn their skills in enchanting and alchemy towards the brewing of ale for the more privileged mages.
    • In the sequel, some team members take it in turns to cheer up Fenris by suggesting non-combat uses for his powers.
  • In Final Fantasy IX, Vivi's fire magic is put to use heating the stove during Eiko's cooking minigame. Earlier in the game, it's used to melt ice blocking the path.
    • In Final Fantasy XIII, you'll come across many fal'Cie, essentially Physical Gods who are responsible for keeping the societies of Cocoon and Gran Pulse up and running, and who occasionally get Chosen Ones to go on quests and grant them powers to do them with. Then, you get to Edenhall and see that some of these mighty fal'Cie have the grave task of... opening doors. As in, the fal'Cie are the doors. A door (bulkhead) fal'Cie is also seen in Gapra Whitewood. It seems that some of them can be very mundane.
  • In Kingdom Hearts one treasure chest can only be reached by using the Graviga spell to pull it down from a height.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the cargo-carrying hovercrafts that Wario and King Dedede use are equipped with articulated arms powered, so the trophy says, by magic. While magic is a more common resource in Nintendo world than in ours, one has to wonder if a simple hydraulic rig wouldn't be more practical.
  • In Mass Effect, according to the Cerberus Daily Newscast, the krogan's natural strength and speed makes them extremely good North American football players. North-American-Union-Rules apparently allows nonhuman players to compete. Or at least have an alien league based on their rules.
  • In Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden, Heero decides to use his Gundam's Zero System (a brain-interfaced tactical computer and enemy movement prediction system) to predict where Masaki could have wandered off to, since there was no other way to humanly predict that.
  • Pokémon use their powers primarily for battling, but it's been shown plenty of times that they also use their abilities for everyday living. An example would be in the beginning of the Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Versions, where your character is moved into their new house by a team of Machoke.
    • The HM Moves are used to perform tasks in the field like cutting down trees, moving boulders, or surfing across streams.
      • Some people have Pokèmon used only for HM-moves, known as HM-slaves. As it turns out one of the most effective Pokèmon for this is Mew, a legendary once rumored to be the strongest Pokèmon in the world, due to its ability to learn any TM or HM in the game.
    • Most Olympus Mons are banned from tournaments, thus you usually use them for unofficial in-game battling and competitive Contests.
  • A cutscene in StarCraft shows a demolition squad in action. The carry a nuke in large cooling box filled with ice to prevent it from overheating. The box also has beercans. They decide to open up the cans and have a drink. While in a zerg infested installation.
    • The sequel contains another cutscene where Zeratul examines some old Xel'Naga ruins, by using his large glowing green psychic energy sword as a torch.
  • In the backstory of Total Distortion, a mysterious artifact's appearance from nowhere led to the discovery of alternate universes and teleportation. The primary use for this? Instant shipping - you teleport an object to another universe on one end and pick it up on the other (sending living things through the process sends them into a six-week coma, so any other uses took a while to make feasible).
  • In the Undead Nightmare DLC for Red Dead Redemption, the torch is a highly effective zombie-killing melee weapon. Also, it lights up dark rooms.
  • In Team Fortress 2, all throwable liquids can be used to put out fires. Meet The Medic also shows that Mediguns will repair damaged clothes.
  • Sasha Nein of Psychonauts, an extremely powerful psychic, uses his tele- and pyrokinesis to aid him in his chain-smoking.
  • The Disgaea art books do make a mention of how certain spells, with their power turned down, can be turned toward ordinary tasks. Fire spells were used for making campfires, ice spells for air conditioning during the warmer months, but wind spells take the cake—skirt lifting.
  • All over the place in Nethack. In just one of many examples, a good use of the spell Stone to Flesh would be to transmute a boulder into a huge chunk of meat.
  • In DungeonCrawl, a Wand of Disintegration is very useful for killing enemies but can also be used for tunneling. It's not as good at that as a Wand of Digging, though.
  • BioShock (series) delivers this by the truckload in the form of the DNA-Altering Applied Phlebotinum ADAM. In fact, its first uses in Rapture were purely mundane, given that it was developed in peacetime; meanwhile, the game itself is crowded with advertisments suggesting mundane uses for ADAM-based superpowers- stirring a cup of coffee with Telekinesis, for example, or lighting a cigarette with Incinerate. However, the whole thing turns out to be something of Deconstruction of the trope: frivolous use of ADAM results in addiction, physical disfiguration, and insanity; the first of Rapture's citizens succumb to the effects and become Splicers were those who overused it for cosmetic purposes, and the rest ended up splicing themselves up in an attempt to defend themselves from them, overdoing it as well. Of course, the player characters are immune to the usual side-effects... because they were produced or modified to be as such.
    • Throughout both games, Electro-bolt can be used to jumpstart doors and malfunctioning equipment.
    • Incinerate might sound like a purely combat-based Plasmid, but it can be used to melt the ice on frozen doors.
    • Prior to Rapture's societal failure, Dr Steinmann used ADAM for plastic surgery, sculpting his patients- and himself- to the highest standards of beauty. Then, of course, Steinmann went nuts and decided to see how well the human face would handle being rebuilt to follow the cubist style of art.
    • One of Sander Cohen's equally crazy apprentices has taken to freezing people alive with Winter Blast... for the purposes of sculpture. And you become one of them for a time.
    • The teaser-trailer for the second game shows Eleanor Lamb using telekinesis to make sandcastles.
    • At the beginning of the second game, you can find an audio diary of a woman who complains that her husband keeps wasting his money on Gene Tonics to make himself look buff, and considers buying some tonics to sharpen his mind.
    • In the second game, when you finally get around to buying Incinerate, a prerecorded announcement suggests that you use it to light a fireplace for a couple of animatronic dummies; unfortunately, someone's spilled oil all over the floor, resulting in a merry blaze that consumes both dummies. Another announcement in the next part of the room suggests that you use the power again, this time to light a cigarette from a distance; however, it looks like somebody's already tried and failed, because the dummies have been charred beyond recognition.
    • In a rare example of Mundane Utility that doesn't rely on plasmids, the Big Daddies- normally bodyguards for the little sisters- occasionally can be seen performing repairs using the tools they normally use as weaponry.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Ezio Auditore is shown to use his Hidden Blade for many things, including assassinations, stealth kills... picking locks... and cutting flowers from their stems for the nice girl he just met who's translating some books for him.
  • Done by many players in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion—due to the finicky nature of the physics engine, trying to do some interior decorating can prove difficult with the basic controls. The solution? Buy a telekinesis spell. You can now pick up nearly anything and move it at will. So now you can finally stack these books on this shelf.
  • In Skyrim, the immense power of the Thu'um shouts allows the player to smash enemies with a variety of useful and devastating effects. At the same time....
    • Unrelenting Force lets you fling enemies way from you. It also lets you clear annoying companions and heavy objects out of your path, set off traps, and swat bugs to collect their body parts.
    • Ice Form, normally used to freeze enemies in heir tracks, lets you freeze animals in place to make hunting easier.
    • Aura Whisper, while allowing you to locate and avoid guards or discern if the next room has an ambush awaiting you, can help you find people in large buildings or locate your companions.
    • Whirlwind Sprint can, theoretically, be used to rush close to an opponent, run away from an opponent, or bypass traps. More practically, it gets a lot of mileage by getting lazy, overencumbered players to shops faster.
    • Elemental Fury allows you to swing weapons much faster than you normally could, allowing you to take down tough enemies and also mine ore in seconds.
    • Slow Time helps you strike with tremendous speed, dodge incoming blows, and extend the duration of crafting potions to make more overpowered gear.
    • Ethereal Form prevents you from taking any damage; when you need to get the bottom of a tall cliff, accept no substitutes.
    • Fire Breath, Frost Breath, and Unrelenting Force are the best friends of the lazy fisherman.
    • The Skeleton key is a Daedric Artifact of Nocturnal, and she's pretty pissed about it being stolen. Mercer even uses it to unlock his own potentials. However when you get it, all it does is act as a glorified, unbreakable lockpick.
  • Arguably, Steve? [sic], the Minecraft guy, can dig to a depth of around 80 meters using only his hands, can place physics-defying chunks of land for use as decoration, and can swim up a waterfall to get to the top of his house.
  • Woo-whee, the stuff you can get in Wild ARMs! Throwing knives, flaming playing cards,watches that reverse time, BOMBZ! These would be awesome to use in battle. But... they're used for solving puzzles (or, in the case of the watch, resetting them).
  • At several points in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed games, Starkiller uses the Force to do things like move around and operate machinery. He is usually in life-threatening situations where he has to work fast. In the second game, he uses Force Lightning to charge up a cannon so it can blow up an attacking star destroyer.
  • The descriptions of several items in Spiral Knights suggest they can be used for non-combat purposes, such as a helmet and suit that provide protection against fire being usable as a makeshift coffee pot and stove, respectively. Why they would use them for such purposes becomes clear once you realize the conditions the Knights go through typically mean they have to resort to doing whatever they need to survive.
  • Much of the gameplay of Mega Man ZX revolves around Biometals, Transformation Trinkets that anchor the souls of legendary heroes and allow those attuned to them to transform into those heroes and unleash their power. They can also be used as CD players.
  • Using the forward aerial attack in The Fancy Pants Adventure: World 3 is normally used as an Awesome Yet Practical form of dispatching enemies, but since it extends your horizontal momentum, it can be used as an improvised Double Jump to reach areas with ease that would normally take longer or more difficult maneuvering.
  • In Shadow of the Colossus the path to the eleventh colossus features a trek through the desert to a ravine, followed by a walk a couple of minutes to the east, a climb down a staircase in the cliff wall, a swim across a lake and a long climb up a steep hill... or jumping down the ravine, surviving due to Wander becoming more durable with each defeated colossus, sitting still for maybe 30 seconds while his Healing Factor does its thing, and then facing the colossus, all in the name of laziness/impatience.
  • In one of the trailers of The Secret World, the Illuminati henchman, Alex McCall, uses magic to make the end of his cigarette spontaneously ignite and to telekinetically play around with spare change.
  • The teleporter in Startopia can be used to move any non-organic objects, or store them indefinitely in the pattern buffer. 90% of the time, it'll be used for picking up trash.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • The Perry Bible Fellowship proves here that useless superpowers with this can win by sheer rarity value.
  • The title character of Magical Mina, part of the Tsunami Channel ...uh, franchise?... does this sometimes, with this being a particularly good example. She's also adapted her Sword magic for a scalpel. Of course, she was written to be an exceedingly clever and intelligent Magical Girl. Also, here.
  • This strip of Adventurers! makes you wish you had an orbital laser for just this purpose.
    • There's also Ardam using a lightning spell to recharge the batteries in Drecker's Walkman.
  • Dave in CRFH has used his laser vision to make popcorn.
  • While trying to figure out how to reach the castle Agatha in Girl Genius took the time to build an immensely complex and advanced...coffee machine. Apparently it creates absolutely perfect coffee.
  • Happens all the time in Sluggy Freelance. In one arc Torg and Riff summon a world destroying demon to get them a case of beer.
    • Then there's the Unholy Evil Death Bringer sword, which actually complains about being used for mundane tasks like prying things open.
  • Kimiko Ross goes to school. WITH SCIENCE.
    • She also has a device that can rewrite DNA, which she uses to rewrite her own DNA; not for self-mutation purposes, but because her flash drive doesn't work and she needs storage space. As if that wasn't crazy enough, someone else wrote a message into the DNA of all life on Earth, containing a spam letter advertising a pyramid scheme.

Ron: Do you keep a tally of all your affronts to nature?

Xykon: Thanks! The conjuring of his immortal soul saved me the inconvenience of digging out the spare set I keep in my desk.

...the entire theme of today's strip: getting ready for bed. Susan has changed into her pajamas. Sarah has changed into her pajamas. Grace has changed into a squirrel.

Optimus Prime: If this is about using the mystical energies kept stored in the sacred Autobot Matrix of Leadership to open tough jar lids, I can explain--

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Some of the Whateley Universe characters have used their powers to dry off after a shower (Phase and Chaka both), dry her hair (Fey), shave her legs (Verdant), unpack suitcases (Bugs), keep her clothes clean (Pristine), have Snowball Fights (a lot of Poe cottage), mop floors and fold laundry (Chaka), paint a room (Plastic Girl), move furniture, shop, and on and on.
    • Jade's main trick is to split off independent telekinetic extra 'copies' of herself by 'charging' them into objects; when the charge runs out, the copy re-merges with her and both sets of memories integrate. So what does she quite naturally do? Attend two sets of classes at once and use the same trick to study/do homework/clean her room that much faster. Also, be able to go to the smelly parts of the sewers without danger (Copies can't smell!), work a neat costume, be able to keep an eye out for bullies, not need to use anesthetic...Jade is the MISTRESS of Mundane Utility! (Which often leads to ACTUAL utility!)
  • In Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog, what does the Anti-Villain Mad Scientist title character want to use a freeze ray that stops time for? To help him get over his nervousness about talking to a cute girl.
  • Ed, the man who subconsciously received his brain from the future, built a fleet of Humongous Mechas to save the world from invading aliens, and accidentally erased the Andromeda Galaxy by hacking the universe... puts a time machine to very unorthodox purposes.
  • Happens occasionally with some of the SCPs of the SCP Foundation. Some examples include SCP-500, pills that can cure anything, being stolen to "cure a hangover"; a young woman who can see and manipulate locations depicted in pictures asked to "punch or stab people over the internet"; and a young man who receives visions about various objects (usually other SCPs) asked to locate lost wallets and keys. When such abuses are found out, the personnel involved are at least reprimanded, if not terminated.
    • Plus there are the SCPs who only have mundane utility (a pizza box that makes your favorite pizza) and the ones that just look like have mundane utility but can have interesting applications, including a coffee machine that can give you cups of any liquid, including someone's blood.
    • The Foundation does discourage its personnel from using SCPs in this fashion. Mundane uses of the objects is highly regulated—even the pizza box.
    • SCP-294 actually isn't as regulated as you'd think. All the Foundation really needs for it are two armed guards stationed at it to make sure no one orders anything dangerous. Otherwise, they keep it in the break room, and allow people to use it to get beverages in order to save money on drinks. Hey, they've gotta cut some costs too.
    • SCP-739 flips the molecular chirality of anything locked in it. One researcher pointed out that using this on sugar results in a pretty good low-calorie sweetener.
  • This article from The Onion about the head of NASA borrowing the space shuttle to get home faster.
  • 5-Second Films gives us the "Death Ray From Space"; a Kill Sat used to puzzle a kitten.
  • This sketch from Carpe Clunes depicts a Public Service Announcement warning the viewer of psychics' tendency to ruin games of pictionary.
  • If it's large enough and got a thin, but strong waterproof case, you know someone will turn it into a boat. See the second picture.
  • In Red vs. Blue, members of the Blue Team have used the scopes of their sniper rifles as binoculars to spy upon the Reds from a distance. Also, in the later seasons, Tucker's sword also counts. It is debatable as to whether or not it was primarily created to be a sword or a key. Quoth Caboose: "Or maybe it's a key all the time, and it when you stick it in people, it unlocks their death."
  • Abounds in Tales of MU.

Mackenzie:Who even came up with the idea of using a living death potion for birth control?
Roger:Alchemists, I guess. They had to find a bigger market for it than adventurers, vampire slayers, and zombie hunters...

  • Mad Scientist Dr. Insano once fixed a broken Atari Jaguar system (although, being the Jaguar, it didn't last).
  • Shiny Objects Videos: In "Psychic Powers", Curly gains immense psychic powers unmatched by anyone on earth. He uses them to correct Nathan's grammar.
  • On Orkinet, a Sister of Battle mentioned using an inferno pistol - a very rare weapon capable of melting TANKS - to flash-cook a fish.
  • Corridor Digital's Sync series involves a secret agent who can jump into a realistic android body. He uses it for covert ops, and to help him propose to his girlfriend ina a humorous manner.
    • Episode 3 features a young Chinese woman from Hong Kong who is a spectacular hacker and programmer. She uses her talent to try and write an iPhone app. And then hijack the local air control in order to fly planes over the houses of the girls who teased her and tried to break her computer so they would look like crap on school photo day. To do so, she got up to mischief with every computer and iPhone with a certain game in a 25 mile radius. Including that of the aforementioned protagonist's agency. The episode ends with her being caught and dragged into a car by that agency.
  • A few times in Cracked.com
  • Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do In An RPG list has a few of these:

7. Not allowed to use psychic powers to do the dishes.
51. No longer allowed to use the time machine for booty calls.
183. There are no rules for cooking corn dogs in any d20 supplement.
544. I will not cast Gate to bind an infernal creature of power to my bidding and make him mow the lawn.
566. When confronted with a haunted house with bleeding walls, no converting it into a self supporting blood bank.
691. No matter what the kids say, animated balloon animals is a poor use of the Create Golem feat.
1019. Even if we have more ammo than fuel, I still have to cut down the tree with the chainsaw, not the HMG.
1030. No matter how much he pisses me off, I will not raise the barbarian’s dead mother-in-law.
1041. Doesn't matter if I'm just using [it] to spot weld, force lightning still gets me a dark side point.
1083. My IRSAn will not use his powers to help fill out wikipedia articles.
1416. The guy with the meltagun doesn't automatically have to carry the popcorn.
1568. Werewolves normally do not have access to the 'Sonnet' Specialization.
1621. No using the Reduce spell to only to buy a child's ticket at the movies.
1658. The words "Rock Opera" will not appear in any of my wishes.
1773. Can't use a wish spell to make the last Star Wars trilogy not suck.
1774. Battle Mauls can't double as coup sticks.
1914. Can't abuse the boggan's weakness to get free babysitting.
1948. Having an electrotech in the party doesn't mean I get to leave my phone charger at home.
2023. Using my runic powers to provide a light show for my skald's musical performances is abusing Grumfather's gift.
2158. Using my animal influence ability to send countless animals on a suicide attack is fine, but not to form a chorus line.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The title characters of The Powerpuff Girls frequently use their powers for other things when they're not fighting crime or monsters, such as cleaning their room.
  • In one episode of Superman: The Animated Series, Clark accidentally drops his pencil under his desk and, after making sure no one's looking, retrieves it by lifting the entire desk in the air.
    • Another instance, he has heat vision that can melt any form of metal, which he uses to shave.
      • Justified though, as his hair is probably stronger than any earth metal (that's why he's always so well coiffed).
  • Coop from Megas XLR abused his mecha's abilities at every possible opportunity, usually just for rather mundane things. And that's not counting all the times he's just showing off because he's bored.
    • It's also continually subverted. Even though he's in a giant mech with enough firepower to destroy planets and can fly at interstellar speeds, he still has to deal with things like traffic and annoying drivers. In one episode, Megas got towed. Coop had to jump through all the hoops, including retaking the driver's exam, to get back a giant robot that could smite the world with the press of a button.
  • In Xiaolin Showdown, the Xiaolin Dragons occasionally use their Shen Gong Wu to do their chores. For example, Clay using the Third Arm Sash for sweeping. The monks also use their elemental powers at one point for the arduous and life-affirming task of...cleaning the dishes. And then there's the time they used their powers to throw a pool party.
    • Played with when they gain the Shard of Lightning, an item that stops time around the users, allowing them to accomplish many tasks in the blink of an eye. They do all their chores in about five seconds. When Master Fung sees them finished, he wipes the smiles off their faces by saying that they're so efficient, they can do even more chores today.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, almost every bender with a decent amount of screen time has done this. Keep in mind that elemental bending is something that a large portion of this world's population can do, and having it applied to mundane use is hardly surprising. On one occasion Iroh blew his cover by Firebending a cup of tea to warm it up. Other good examples:
    • Earthbending is used for a soccer like game called Earthball, and Toph uses it to make a tent. Omashu uses it to power a mail system and Ba Sing Se uses it to fashion together a train system.
    • Firebending makes a handy torch, and is useful for metalworking. Although the Fire Nation's Steampunk tech is usually powered by coal-based fire, in a pinch, you can also Firebend it directly.
    • Waterbending makes sailing a breeze. Surfing, too. And makes submarines possible hundreds of years before their time.
    • Airbending finds use for everything from projectile cakes to providing every single Air Nomad with the ability to fly.
    • A combination of water and earthbending provides liquid filtration.
    • In the Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, Lightningbending (something that only three characters in the original series were ever shown doing) has become so commonplace that it is now used to run power plants.
  • In the first season of Transformers Animated, Sari used her key for fixing/powering up anything she thought might be amusing. This tapered off during the second season, although she still used it to pirate cable.
    • The Autobots themselves frequently use their abilities to repair the city, and once took out a bunch of trash. This is a debatable example, as civilian usage was more or less what they were made for.
  • In the Futurama episode "I, Roommate", Fry uses the starship's engines to dry his hair.

Leela: You're getting a massive dose of radiation!
Fry: ...and great lift.

    • In the episode "Brannigan Begin Again", the Planet Express crew arrives at the new Democratic Order of Planets (D.O.O.P.) headquarters in orbit around the Neutral Planet, in order to deliver the oversized scissors for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Zapp Brannigan destroys the entire station by attempting to use his ship the Nimbus' laser to cut the ribbon, instead of using the scissors.
    • The professor builds a device that can see through anything. What does it get used for? Winning product contests.
    • And, of course, in the episode in which they gain actual superhero-like superpowers, Leela's reaction is to say that "I guess our lives will be full of even more humdrum activity now!"
    • The Hypnotoad is arguably the most powerful being on the planet, and could rule the world if he so chose. Instead he uses his powers to get himself a sitcom and win pet contests.

Fry: "This show has gone downhill since the 3rd season..."

    • In another episode where Fry, Leela, and Bender stole a gem for a supervillian to rescue Leela's parents. After delivering it, the villian, the Zookeeper, has his hawk fetch the gem from Fry's hands and bring it to him...a distance of about five feet. Fry lampshades the trope.

Fry: That seemed unnecessary.

  • Professor Membrane of Invader Zim, who invented scores of wonderful and useful devices, is often shown working on the most mundane and/or ridiculous of things. One episode had him welding a fork for some reason.
    • Professor Membrane, at his workbench: "Not now, son! I'm making... <electricity fills the air>... toast!"
      • In a nod to this, in a later episode he is referred to as "the inventor of supertoast".
    • Not to mention Zim himself, who put Dib into a complete virtual reality world and allowed him to virtually grow to old age... in order to get Dib to admit to having thrown a muffin at him.
      • and Zim's robotic legs, very useful in battle, have lasers and energy shields build in, are first used to...get up to the sofa
  • The Incredibles uses this a lot. Violet makes herself invisible to hide from her crush at school, Dash uses his super speed to pull pranks on his teacher (moving so fast he can't be seen), and Elastigirl stretches her neck so she can look Mr. Incredible in the eye should he try to turn his back on her while she yells at him. The current page picture shows a day at the Incredible household, with Mr. Incredible lifting up a couch so Mrs. Incredible can vacuum under it, both using their super powers.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Leonardo's swords, in addition to slicing up bad guys, are also used to slice up pizza. In the original movie, he does so in such a manner that each slice lands on one of the Turtles' plates—except for the last one, which lands on Splinter's head.
  • Everyone in Galactik Football uses their incredible superpowers to play soccer. This is rigidly enforced by a Jedi Council, who are worried Galactic war will break out otherwise.
  • The third episode of Winx Club had a scene where Bloom tries using her fire powers to cut her dress. The 4K version edited it out.
  • Danny from Danny Phantom once used his ghost powers to clean up the messy basement (and his flight to vacuum the walls). We have to ignore the fact that Ghost Rays push the objects in their proper place instead of blowing it up. On occasion he also used them to get to school early and enter the girl’s locker room.
  • In the Justice League Christmas episode "Comfort and Joy", Green Lantern uses his Ring to snowboard and make snowmen. Then Hawkgirl gets in on the act, using her Energy Mace to snowball fight with GL.
    • Same episode: Superman uses his x-ray vision to... peek in the presents and see what he got for Christmas. Which is why his parents have used lead foil for gift-wrapping since he was a kid.
    • As mentioned above, Wally is very well known for using his super speed for comparatively mundane things. Such as painting houses. No wonder he's so loved in the Central/Keystone area.
  • In Lilo and Stitch: The Series, Lilo attempts to get all of Jumba's experiments to use their powers like this. For example, an experiment with freezing breath makes snow cones, an experiment that can melt solid objects is sent to a recycling plant, etc.
  • Word Girl villain Tobey, who makes robots the size of skyscrapers for the sole purpose of destruction, finds that his creations apparently also like to paint. And play hopscotch. And shield the elderly from the sun.
  • The eponymous character of Ben 10 uses his Voluntary Shapeshifting powers courtesy of Imported Alien Phlebotinum for this almost as much as he uses them for superheroism, mostly to pull pranks on his cousin Gwen. Of course, as a large part of the series consists of Ben failing to use his powers properly, this rarely works the way he wants.
  • While not super-powers per se, Kim Possible often uses Wade's super-techno crime-fighting gadgets for mundane things like homework.
  • In Teen Titans, Raven is so comfortable with her telekinesis that she's never seen physically opening a door, sometimes skipping the door altogether and just phasing through the wall. She also once used her epic magic powers, that could destroy the universe if used incorrectly, to give Beast Boy a wedgie.
    • When they are, admittedly, conducting a group defusing of a time bomb in 'Apprentice 1,' Raven's contribution is to unscrew four screws with her telekinesis.
    • The other Titans are guilty of this too. Starfire flies everywhere. Cyborg used his superhuman strength to pick up a sofa so he could find the remote once. Beast Boy has tried to use his powers to pick up chicks, with negative results (yeah, because what girl would want to date a superhero?).
      • He's used his powers to take a nap (transforming into a dog and curling up on the sofa). That may just be the ultimate use of this trope.
  • Every episode that is now created by South Park is done with incredibly advanced computer technology. Lampshaded by the creators of the show when they said: "It's like building a sandcastle with a bulldozer.
    • Inside the show itself, we get this:

Kenny: Well, I'm tired. I think I'll go to bed. (pulls out a pistol and shoots himself in the head)

  • In an episode of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros 3, Mario and co. get in a fight with the Koopalings over a wizard's lost Green Lantern Ring wand. When the wizard retrieves it at the end, he reveals that he only uses it to roast weenies.
  • Family Guy (of course). Aquaman uses his "talking to fish" powers to get a soda. The fish wasn't pleased.
    • And God has lightning bolts and telekinesis. He uses these powers to get chicks. Or at least tries to.
    • Jesus Was Way Cool used his powers to turn water into funk and improve his golf game.
  • In The Venture Brothers, Dr. Orpheus has used his magical powers to cook frittatas.
    • Orpheus's master sometimes uses his powers of transformation for this. For example, he once made himself look like Orpheus's ex-wife so he could stare at her ample cleavage in the mirror (also to mess with Orpheus but mostly the first thing).
  • The eponymous heroes of Loonatics Unleashed use their powers for convenience on a regular basis - like Ace using his laser vision to reheat pizza.
  • An episode of Martha Speaks involved a scientist who had invented a mind-control device. So he opened a dog obedience school.
  • Re Boot occasionally had characters use zipboards as chairs.
  • In the first Peabody and Sherman segment, Peabody reveals that he built the Wayback Machine because his apartment wasn't big enough for Sherman to run around in.
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, the Pig Talisman is found in Bavaria, where its Eye Beam power was used to melt chocolate.
    • Jade often used the Talismans for normal problems, such as using the Rabbit Talisman to get to school on time.
  • A crossover episode between Codename: Kids Next Door and The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy featured a group of KND operatives using a laser to cut bratwurst. Mandy, who wanted the laser for her giant robot, was not amused.
  • In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, all unicorns can use their magic for simple telekinesis which effectively gives them an extra pair of hands. This is especially useful since ponies don't have hands. This makes tasks like turning pages, writing letters, and eating sandwiches much easier for them than they are for other ponies. Twilight Sparkle in particular can learn any magical spell, and of course being the universe this is, a lot of what she has learned is mundane utility spells. That doesn't stop her from being a one-pony magical arsenal of destruction as well, though.
    • Pegasi can also use their wings to be able to hold light things underarm. Rainbow Dash once held a ball with her wing this way.
    • Spike's magic breath essentially makes him a living fax machine. Oh, and he can bake cupcakes too.
    • Not to mention that as of "Lesson Zero", Rainbow Dash has apparently managed to master the Sonic Rainboom to the point of using it in demolition.
    • Scootaloo, a pegasus too young to fly properly, uses her wings to give herself extra speed when on her scooter, rather like a propeller. She also uses it to get some sweet air to pull off tricks.
  • Static Shock uses his powers to grab his keys and charge his father's razor.
  • Robin in The Batman.

Robin: He gave you a radiation detector? Why don't I get a radiation detector?
Batgirl: Anyone using the Bat-computer for something other than downloading video game cheat codes? (raises her hand) Hm?

  • Jake the Dog in Adventure Time gets enormous use out of his stretchy powers, and there are few episodes where he doesn't find some new application. His hands morph into a bottle opener or a key, he shrinks so Finn can carry him, he enlarges to provide an impromptu rain shield or simply to make walking large distances easier, extending limbs mean nothing is out of his reach, and the pranks he can play are quite elaborate, to name just several examples.
    • Marceline the Vampire Queen uses her flight power almost solely to surpass the tedious issue of standing and walking, while her shapeshifting is only used for scaring people.
    • "In Five Short Graybles", Princess Bubblegum uses all of her scientific technology from growth formulas, teleportation device, and even magic to make a sandwich. Though in her defenses it was the "perfect sandwich".
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Sandman used his powers to build a magnificent sand castle for a little girl.
    • Peter himself uses his webs for relatively mundane tasks, like quickly cleaning his room (and, of course, the whole photography thing). For that matter, Harry uses his father's Psycho Serum just to improve his grades and football skills.
  • In an episode of the 90's X-Men cartoon, Wolverine uses his claws to slice cold cuts for his sandwich.
  • In Young Justice, we see members of the Flash family using their powers for tasks such as clearing the dishes (Barry) and cleaning out the ice cream when nobody's looking (Wally). Zatanna and Megan both can also use their powers (magic and shapeshifting, respectively) to change their outfits.
  • In "Dan Vs Parents" Elise uses her sword-fighting skills to chop lettuce.
  • Jem's earrings are holographic projectors, they also function as flashlights in a pinch.


Other[edit | hide]

  • The narrator of "Weird Al" Yankovic's Everything You Know Is Wrong. After sucking out all his innards, aliens offer to send him to any point in history. He picks the previous Thursday night, in order to pay the phone bill on time.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Take any group of trained professionals and you'll find this done eventually.
  • Ted Taylor, a nuclear physicist, used the reflected thermal pulse of a nuclear blast to light a cigarette at one of the atomic bomb tests.
    • Some of the early physicists used to stick their heads into the beam path to see if there were bright flashes of light on their retina indicating that the particle accelerator was turned on. Needless to say, they had horrible medical histories later in life
  • On-duty firefighters often use the fire engine to perform routine inspections or even just buy lunch (there are a variety of legitimate reasons to do this, most obvious being the fact that the truck is with them if they need to drop what they are doing and put out a fire, but it's still impressive). And they're also usually wearing at least part of their turnout gear: watching the reaction of people in a supermarket at the sight of a bunch of firefighters coming in the door is priceless, especially when they see them start shopping.
    • The same thing happens with off duty bus drivers, to buy lunch.
  • Firefighters, police and ambulance drivers (especially the latter for obvious reasons) will often unabashedly clear gridlocks with their sirens. People are not half as amused.
  • Another (and more amusing) real-life example: reportedly, a few Russian soldiers recently used a tank to make a Vodka run. Perhaps just to punctuate exactly how drunk they were, they also proceeded to run over and crush a few cars and the very store they bought the Vodka from in the process.
  • In World War I, water cooled machine guns were occasionally fired just so that the resulting hot water in their cooling jackets could be used to make cups of tea.
    • A more recent example is soldiers doing their washing over a long offroad trip by putting dirty fatigues, water and soap flakes in a sealed container and stashing the whole thing in the back of their jeep. It was even used to advertise the vehicle at one point.
    • An anecdote about the first Gulf War was that American Tankers used to put their Meals-Ready-to-Eat packs on the exhausts of their Abram tanks and run the huge engine just to heat their food. British Tankers didn't have that problem though as their tanks have built in kettles ("More tea Guv?").
      • A similar example; during the Second World War, British tank crews in north Africa fried eggs on their tanks.
    • Fishing with grenades, enough said.
      • Fishing with a rocket launcher. If it wasn't enough of a Crowning Moment of Awesome by itself, the music makes it so.
        • Soviet aviators used one of the first mass produced rockets with time fuses to this end. Vasiliy Stalin (yes, Uncle Joe's son) was demoted after an incident when he and deputy commander were wounded and their weapons engineer killed while rocket-fishing (not all timers are equally precise).
      • The Swedish navy occasionally used depth charges for this purpose.
    • During World War II, pilots would put kegs of beer in the payload when they were flying planes for noncombat purposes. The frigid jetstream air made great refrigeration.
      • Also, British bomber crews would chain a cask of icecream mix to the tail of their plane… Turbulant, chilly air meant it was frozen perfectly at the end of a mission.
      • Bored airplane mechanics would sometimes MacGyver up a wind-powered mixer, latched it with a tank of ice cream mix underneath a fighter plane, and have it fly around for a few minutes. Sometimes, though, if the mechanics were too lazy to install the mixer, the pilot compensated by performing several aerial maneuvers.
    • The Soviets used to tie cans with home brew to APC wheels. The rotation and heat really accelerated the fermentation.
    • A less funny example is the Red Army having to put NKVD guards on Katyusha detachments at night because the alcohol-starved frontoviki were stealing the rockets and breaking them open for the fuel.
      • Especially funny since rockets had solid boosters. Katyushas were indeed tightly guarded (and each launcher carried a crate of explosives for self-destruction in case of capture), and the reason was the solid booster.
  • Precision Laser Cutter. Possible use? most high-tech pizza cutter.
    • Using a laser to play music or point at things is pretty overkill from a perspective of not too long ago. As formerly complicated things become ridiculously easy, Rube Goldberg rules. (Which is, after all, the point of this trope)
      • Just be sure you don't infringe US Patent 5,443,036.
      • Even when people got used to using lasers to point at things, using them to entertain bored cats probably still seems like this trope.
  • Need to soften/bring something up to room temperature? The top of a video card works very well. Of course everything has to be sealed and fairly light, but reactions can be quite amusing.
    • One Russian computer journal in 80486 era reported an overclocking attempt being successful only after the reporter set at the radiator a cup of coffee he wanted to keep warm.
    • On a related note to the above example, early mainframe/supercomputers produced so much heat that often times their cooling systems doubled as a heating plant for the rest of the building.
  • During the Battle of the Bulge GIs used grenades as "pine cones" on their Christmas trees.
  • Rinkworks gives a few examples:

My personal favourite, a guy who brought food to class every day and warmed his lunch by opening his computer's case and putting his tinfoil parcel onto the CPU's heatsink. Amazingly it didn't cause damage until the stew he brought on the next to last day leaked out and shorted not just his machine but the entire floor of the building. What frightened me most is that he was genuinely shocked that we were shouting at him about it.
A friend worked for a company that made IC's. Every few months, their yields would go down to about zero. Analysis of the failures showed all sorts of organic material was introduced in the process, but they couldn't figure out where. One evening, someone was working late and came into the lab. There he found the maintenance crew cooking pizza in the chip curing ovens!

    • This is why most fabs run 24/7 and have only trained personal access the machines. There was an incident before they were up to 24/7 where a facilities tech used a diffusion oven (basically a box containing large heating elements) to cook hotdogs.
  • From QDB chat records.

<evilAdmin> Got back from meeting with a friend, who wanted to show me some $35K Server systems in a datacenter basically underground downtown that he is a part of.
<evilAdmin> During the tour, I'm like "Dude- is that a pizzabox inbetween those 4U servers?", and he's like "Yup. Want some lunch?". Pulls the box out, grabs a slice. I already ate, so I passed.
<evilAdmin> He says that the $20K 8x Opteron boxes generate lots of heat, and thus keep the Pizza warm.
<evilAdmin> I'm like "Don't Oppies have PowerNow or some AMD cooler shit?", and he's like "Yeah, but we run SETI/Prime95 to keep the pizza hot".

    • It doesn't always work: here, the heated pies are dripping fat into the server.
  • In 1907, the Stanley Cup was stolen from a house where it was to be photographed. When the thief wasn't able to pawn the trophy, he eventually just left it at the same house. The photographer's wife used it as a flower pot (it was much smaller then) until the team thought to check back there.
    • The Stanley Cup, being one of the oldest trophies in sports, has some history of this. When Kris Draper of the Detroit Red Wings put his daughter in the top bowl, she went on to...avert Nobody Poops. Notable because tons of players used to pour drinks in the same bowl.
  • Similarly, Ken Jennings used his trophy from Grand Slam to eat cereal and as a dog food bowl.
  • Operation Plowshare, research into the use of atom bombs for landscaping.
  • American soldiers in World War II and Vietnam sometimes heated their meals over campfires fueled by plastic explosive.
    • In case you're wondering, you can burn plastic explosive just fine without fear of explosions - that requires far greater heat than an ordinary campfire can provide. Expensive, but if you need heat to sterilize tools or drinking water in a Hungry Jungle where the best kindling available is slightly wetter than your tongue, it's a life saver. Just remember to pour water on it when you decide to put it out - stomp on it(even with army boots) and it will burn through your foot. Sole to ankle. Instantly.
      • Somewhat related, people who handload ammunition will use smokeless powder they don't need anymore, or that came from disassembled cartridges whose cases they will reuse, as fertilizer. Makes some sense if you know that synthetic fertilizer and many high explosives are both products of nearly the same production process.
    • It's also quite tricky: although it won't explode, burning PE-4 flames are hot enough to melt aluminum mess tins with any kind of prolonged contact, and have a tendency to throw off sparks in all directions.
    • Not that bad for either reason - one merely ignites a pea-sized blob to start stubborn fuel such as soaking wet wood. But when it's time to leave, you have to drown it to put it out - stomping on it will cost you a foot.
  • Cooling beer with blasts from a fire extinguisher: a costly but effective frat-house short cut, confirmed by MythBusters.
  • Many people are surprised to find out that in a nuclear power plant, the radioactive material which can level cities and cause cancer in minutes is being used to boil water.
    • More a case of Lethal Harmless Powers, as nuclear pile is an invention older than nuclear weapons.
    • Specifically this is how it produces power. The radioactive material boils the water into steam which runs steam turbines that produce electricity.
    • It's also interesting to note that Natural gas and coal fired plants operate much in the same way, by burning the fuel to produce the steam.
    • Water has a very high specific heat. Sometimes the laws of physics dictate the best solution to a problem.
      • So, in a way, steampunk is real?
    • The US government had been considering an unorthodox method for making electricity in the 60's and 70's. It involved setting off a large number of nuclear explosives in an underground cave and using the latent heat from the explosions to produce power.
    • Not to mention converting nuclear weapons into fuel rods to make electricity is a much more rational idea than the aforementioned Project Plowshare. In case you were wondering, 10% of American electricity is made from old nuclear weapons.
      • Forty-five percent of the nuclear material used in the 104 nuclear power plants in the US comes from old Russian Nuclear weapons. The electricity produced from repurposed Russian nuclear missiles accounts for about five percent of the electricity generated in the US.
    • Same goes for Geothermic power. When people hear this word, they tend to think of harnessing the powers of a volcano! When you really get down to it, it's more or less sticking a giant cooking pot low enough into the earth so that it produces steam. For all it's uses, Electricity is pretty mundane.
  • Recently, a million dollar bomb-defusing robot went missing from a military base. The culprits? A bunch of off-duty soldiers had taken it fishing with them.
    • The soldiers had been taught to think of the robot as a team-member, given that it worked to save their lives (and their superior officers wanted them to take care of it), so when they took a day off, they felt the robot needed to come too.
  • What do you get when you take a captured Iraqi tank and stick a pair of jet engines on it? The world's most awesome fire extinguisher.
    • The "Big Wind" fire extinguisher literally blew out a lit oil well. The design? Two jet engines from a Mi G-21 fighter jet sitting atop the body of a T-34 tank. And a few streams of water for good measure. Kill it with water!
    • Similarly, the Russians got the idea of bolting surplus jet engines onto trucks to clear snow off airport runways. This practice has started catching on in several areas outside of Russia as well.
  • A few years back in Albuquerque, NM, a few police officers once used a Police Helicopter to make a run down to the just-opened Krispy Kreme. They were seriously reprimanded, but soon after, it made for overwhelmingly good publicity for both the donut shop and the APD.
  • Considering many of the recent advances of the last few decades have been made with computers, and just how much technology has come about through computers, not to mention just how much of society is automated and made easier by computers, why are you using yours just to read All The Tropes?
    • Or YouTube. The entirety of YouTube. In fact, 90% of what 90% of internet users use their internet for could probably be filed under either "entertainment" or "convenience".
    • This xkcd says it all.
    • And the only way it could be "improved" is...
    • It's also worth noting that Flash itself went full circle. Originally a means of producing animated content using vector graphics an other functions, thus saving bandwidth, it now serves up video streams of those same animations. Also interactive flash ads.
  • The Israeli Defence Force had a problem with soldiers using the magazine lip of their weapons as a bottle opener, which damaged them. In response to this, the Galil ARM light machine gun incorporated a bottle opener in its design.
    • Same for armies using AKM-derivatives. Old AKM magazines for 7.62 mm ammo have solid steel lips that are perfect for bottle opening and resistant to damage. Modern composite mags for 5.45 an 5.56 mm... not so much.
  • How to undress a woman with an excavator. The name says it all.
  • Ever hear the history of the Microwave? The key part is the magnetron which is used in Radar. Percy Spencer discovered radar could melt the chocolate bars in his pocket and then started to use it for all his cooking needs.
  • We have the technology to interpret brain waves. What does some enterprising company use it for? Living out Star Wars fantasies: Star Wars Force Trainer
  • One of the most popular iPhone applications, among things like GPS navigation systems and full-3D online FPS games, is one that makes the screen bright white so it can be used as a makeshift flashlight.
    • Pretty much everyone has done this with every gadget that makes a bright light - cell phones, mp3 players, handheld games...
  • Many of the technological marvels and modern conveniences we make use of today stem from military research, the space program, or years of painstaking, backbreaking, scientific research. The best example may very well be food products like Tang, and cheese (and other food products) in a tube, made to be used as food... IN SPACE!!! so that astronauts would be able to eat and digest without the zero G environment making them ill, are now available in the local supermarket.
  • Drew, creator of webcomic Toothpaste For Dinner, owns a lab scale thermal depolymerization machine, which he uses to turn leftover food into hot dogs.
  • There is more than one cryo researcher who was using liquid nitrogen from the lab to make ice cream. Or in this case (with liquid oxygen), to light a grill.
  • Helium was originally discovered during the light-wavelength experiments that enabled physicists and astronomers of the time to figure out what the chemical composition of the Sun was. They later discovered how to manufacture their own helium through the breakdown of radioactive materials. What do most people think of in the context of helium? Balloons.
  • During the 1950s, the US Postal Service actually considered using cruise missiles as a mail delivery system. There was one live fire test where they used a rocket to deliver 3,000 letters and they considered it a success.
  • There have been recorded instances of riot police using their specially crafted, bulletproof riot shields as snow sleds.
  • American sailors used to make booze out of torpedo fuel. Russians did the same with truck fuel-so much so that the Genre Savvy Russian command insists on using a fuel with lots of alcohol so that their soldiers will get drunk instead of poisoned.
  • Compiled in the Cracked.com article The 6 Most Ingenious Misuses of Military Hardware. The second and third bullet points up from this one are mentioned in it.
  • The da Vinci surgical system is a $2 million remotely-operated surgical robot. Johns Hopkins comp-sci student Carol Reiley used it to play Operation.
  • In the Philippines' army, standard issue American KA-BAR fighting knives are demoted from utility knife to a mere eating utensil/extra knife. The reason? KA-BAR knives are too small for jungle use and Filipinos throughout centuries have been used to the idea that a knife ought to be the length of one's forearm and can cut (with a single blow) through bamboo, tree branches, spinal columns...
  • The main reason that Mythbusters exists. JATO rocket powered cars, cooking with high explosives, using explosives to tenderize meat, using explosives to de-scale cement from a cement truck, using a minigun to cut down a tree, using the sawdust cannon to make kettle corn, using a power lathe to shake up a bottle of soda, and so on.
  • Pilots of the SR-71 Blackbird used to use the fact that the windows were extremely hot to heat the tubes of food paste they were issued.
  • Whenever an aircraft carrier is transferring to another port, the crew will use the flight deck as a glorified parking lot to carry their cars to their new port. This is justified, since this method of vehicle transportation is far cheaper than looking for smaller ships to do the job.
  • Now commercially available! A device that reacts according to your brainwaves used for cosplay catgirl ears!