Supernatural Aid

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Our Hero(es) receive gifts from a powerful being, either a reverential figure or a supernatural one. So named by our good friend Joseph Campbell, Supernatural Aid occurs between the beginning and midpoint of Hero's Journey, usually about the time things start getting serious. The gift-giver will usually be either a godlike being trying to help the heroes without intervening directly, or just a Mentor. In the latter case, he may give the gift directly or fall victim to the Mentor Occupational Hazard and bequeath it upon his death.

Either way, the item in question will be special, powerful, magical (or the setting equivalent), and inevitably vital. As to its form, it may be a weapon, amulet, or any other useful item that may help him on his quest. If this is the case, the hero is generally told "You Will Know What to Do" (or, sometimes, "Figure It Out Yourself").

Often, the hero will need to pass a Secret Test of Character to win the item (traditional favourites include showing hospitality to a beggar, and helping an old woman cross a river).

Sub-Trope of It Was a Gift. See also Enigmatic Empowering Entity.

Examples of Supernatural Aid include:

Anime and Manga


  • This is how Captain Britain of Marvel Comics got his start, with a little help from Merlin. And then subsequently more help, since he's one of those heroes who can't seem to stop dying.
  • Most of Doctor Strange's mystic artifacts are treasures given by various entities, particularly the Eye of Agamotto. Interestingly, they belong to the office of Sorcerer Supreme, not to him personally, and are passed from holder to holder.

Fan Works

  • Very played with in With Strings Attached. The four are told that they received their considerable magic from the Fans and the C'hovite gods so that they'll be equipped to go on the Vasyn quest. However, this is not the true situation at all. John is first transformed because the Fans have to save his life, and Shag intends to change him back as soon as she can figure out how. Then Ringo independently crops up psychic, and the Fans realize they'd better make sure George and Paul get magic too, or things will be quite awkward amongst the four. It's only after the four are fully empowered that the C'hovite gods notice them and hire them (via the Fans) to go on the Vasyn quest.
    • And that's a lie too. What really happened is that over Winter Solstice Vacation, Jeft got ambitious and decided to set the four on the Vasyn quest because it was something interesting for them to do.

Film -- Animated

  • In Mulan, when Mulan's ancestors send her a guardian spirit to help her.
  • The Blue Fairy from Pinocchio (Note, in the original story, the puppet came to life of his own accord).
  • In Sleeping Beauty, the fairies give Prince Phillip a Sword of Truth and a Shield of Virtue to fight Maleficent. They even add an extra incantation before the final blow.

Film -- Live Action

  • Crossing over with Take Up My Sword, Luke gets his lightsaber from Obi Wan in Star Wars: A New Hope, a move straight out of Hero's Journey.
  • In The Three Godfathers, just when John Wayne is on the ropes trying to save the newborn, he pleads to God for help, and a donkey appears. (Complete with biblical verse lampshading it).
  • In "Bottom", when Richie and Eddie are stranded at the top of a Big Wheel ( which will be demolished in the morning), they are rescued by the hand of god. At least, until they admit they don't actually believe in god, and plummet to their deaths. They got better, though.


  • In The Inheritance Cycle, dragons grant magical powers right off, though it takes some instruction to use them properly. Over time, they also increase all the physical attributes of their rider. Ostensibly, anyway. The only people shown to be bonded with dragons are either very old, and thus have already gone through quite a bit of this, or get a Plot Relevant Upgrade fairly early on. Also, provided both partners aren't killed they'll live more-or-less forever. Technically Age Without Youth, but with enough power, one can look as old or young as they wish.
  • Galadriel gives the Fellowship parting gifts as they leave Lothlorien in The Fellowship Of The Ring, most notably the lembas bread and the light of Earendil.
  • Father Christmas visits the four Pevensie children in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, bearing a sword and shield for Peter, a bow for Susan, and a vial of healing potion for Lucy. (Edmund didn't get anything, because he wasn't there at the time ... though this was his own fault.)
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz gives us a case of this, when the Good Witch of the North talks Dorothy into the Wicked Witch's shoes, which Glinda later reveals to be the only way for her to get home.
  • The Lady of the Lake presenting King Arthur with his sword (Depending on the adaptation).
  • Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone: Harry begins his journey into the wizarding world by receiving a vault full of gold, a messenger owl, a Magic Wand, and a flying broomstick.
  • Elric of Melnibone summons Arioch several times for help and information. In return... well, his typical battle cry is "Arioch! Arioch! Blood and souls for my lord Arioch!"

Web Comics

  • Evil Diva when Diva is presented with her wand.
  • Immortals in El Goonish Shive work almost exclusively by empowering or advising humans. Story-wise, when Nanase and Susan ran into a trouble in France, the same evening two Immortals dropped in and gave girls as much magic as they were able to hold, to kill that monster in their next encounter.

Western Animation

  • Subverted in ReBoot. One episode had the User send Mainframe a new file upgrade that is supposed to help the heroes. When Bob takes the upgrade inside the Principal Office to install it, Megabyte pops out of it and seizes control of the core control chamber.