Superpowerful Genetics

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Having a Superhero parent is like being Blessed with Suck. There's the bi-weekly kidnappings, frequent Parental Abandonment, being constantly lied to if your parent has a Secret Identity, being forced to lie to maintain your secret, and constant worry that your parent(s) or you will be killed by a vengeful supervillain. But look! You can fly!

Normally, heredity is a messy affair; it's often described as a game of chance. Thanks to Darwin and Mendel and Watson and Crick it can be explained a good deal better, but much like A.I. Is a Crapshoot, what traits a child will inherit from each parent are mostly random. Not so with superpowers. Children of "supers" can have a limited number of things happen:

  1. Develop identical powers to their parent(s).
  2. Develop radically different (and usually insanely powerful) powers from the parent(s).
  3. Inherit their parent's skills; see Lamarck Was Right.
  4. Inherit no powers or skills at all, then eventually inherit them.
  5. Inherit no powers or skills at all, for keeps this time; see Muggle Born of Mages

Super-power inheritance tends to happen more often than could be ascribed to chance; a non-powered child of even a hero and a normal person is an exception. Super-powers seem to be "more dominant than dominant".

If a parent's powers are caused by gene splicing, or from being born a mutant or part or full alien, then it gets interesting. Specific powers actually have a higher chance of not being inherited. In such cases, the child usually gets a completely different power, or at best one that's only tangentially related. This becomes much likelier if both parents have different powers. Only occasionally will they just have a combination of their parents' powers; this tends to happen if the parents' powers are very simple, or if the series was designed around the child, and the parents were brought in as part of the Backstory as a Secret Legacy. If this happens often enough, it may be revealed that all the powers of that family are just different expressions of the same gene as a Meta Origin.

If only one parent has powers, however, the child's powers are much more likely to be a straight copy of those, though often at a higher level. This may encourage the writers to give that power its own Meta Origin.

See also Lamarck Was Right, Genetic Memory, Magic Genetics, Bio Augmentation. Compare Muggle Born of Mages. Settings that avert or minimize this trope may use Randomly-Gifted instead.

Examples of Superpowerful Genetics include:

Anime[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Dragonball Z repeatedly shows that hybrids of humans and superpowerful aliens produce insanely powerful offspring. Lampshaded by Vegeta, when he notes that he trained intensely to unlock his Super form, while his hybrid kid can do it for fun. If a child is conceived after the father has unlocked said Super form, that child will be able to do so with essentially no effort, in a case of Lamarck Was Right. If the child was born beforehand, it's quite a bit more difficult. They're crazy powerful regardless, though. The only real exception to this out of ALL the half-saiyan children is Vegeta's daughter Bra, who he apparently chooses to dote on rather than train.
    • Very likely this is the result of the author just not caring anymore.
      • In the future, descendants of Vegeta and Goku don't even realize the significance of their Super forms other than noting their hair turns yellow.
  • In Hunter X Hunter, insane Nen-potential seems inherited just like insane physical potential.
  • Tenchi Masaki of Tenchi Muyo! is slightly over one quarter Juraian (his father happens to be a descendant of his maternal grandfather). Juraian's are an alien race with a tendency to develop Jedi-like powers with training (the royal family being stronger as well). He's also the most powerful "Juraian" in existence; capable of manifesting three "lighthawk wings", one of the most powerful defensive/offensive attacks known. A typical Juraian space ship is capable of manifesting only one.
  • In Ranma ½, the Musk Dynasty bore offspring through wild, powerful animals that had been thrown into the Spring of Drowned Girl, thus turning them into women. Their children would then inherit traits exhibited by, or closely related to, their mothers' natural form. Hence, Mint's superhuman scent, hearing, and speed (born from a wolf); Lime's grotesquely overpowered physical strength (born from a tiger); and Herb's ability to fly and discharge his ki in devastating streams (born from a dragon). One episode of the anime hinted that children of a cursed parent will inherit that parent's curse- but that episode was all one of Ranma's nightmares, so it's not canon.
  • Type 1 was intentionally done by the Kings of Ancient Belka in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. The modifications on their bodies were not only meant to turn them into Persons Of Mass Destruction, but to force the powers they gained unto their future descendants as well.
  • A number of ninja clans in Naruto have special genetic powers, referred to as "kekkei genkai", or "bloodline limit". These range from eyes that can copy others' abilities, growing mirrors out of ice that you can use to Teleport Spam, and being able to manipulate and regrown your own bones, and several which let you combine Elemental Powers (which can't normally be done). Granted, there are also abilities that seem like this, but are actually just well-kept clan secrets, and the tendency of the village leaders to be related to each other is simply because they often receive training from said leaders (usually before they actually became leaders).
    • Though just because a power is genetic doesn't mean it's always passed down. The First Hokage's wood release was entirely unique to his DNA, not of his descendants or ancestors (this may also be the case with Nagato's Rinnegan). While we eventually find out magnetism release is not unique to one person (or even one country) it's definitely not always inherited as evident by the 4th Kazekage having it while none of his children do. The Third Tsuchikage has a special three-element combination power, while his granddaughter 'merely' has a normal two-element combination kekkei genkai (thus making her still a winner in the genetic lottery, just not the army smasher her grandpa is).
  • In Bobobo-boBo-bobo, Maitel is a 3rd cousin of Medusa. Naturally, this means he can turn people to stone too.
  • Joseph Jostar from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure could use his grandfather's sun channeling abilities from a very young age. Subverted somewhat in that he had to train them for them to be effective against Pillar Men.
  • In Bleach Ichigo and Karin can see ghosts, and Ichigo is able to become a Shinigami with an extremely high amount of spirit energy. Why? Their father Isshin is a retired Shinigami, and has all the same powers Ichigo does, at what looks like a Captain's class.
  • Weapons in Soul Eater come about in this way, thanks to the 'bloodline' of the original experiments. For some reason, the Nakatsukasas had come to expect that the eldest child would inherit the Morph Weapon abilities. When this did not happen, things did not end well. Kid falls definitely into the 'will eventually inherit' category, as BREW so helpfully showed off.
  • While Tiger and Bunny's Word of God says that NEXT abilities aren't genetic, it's certainly telling that the two superheroes who were fathers (Wild Tiger and Mr. Legend) ended up having superpowered children (Kaede and Yuri Petrov).
  • Subverted in +Anima. People with Anima power are believed to have Kim-un-Kur blood in their veins. In reality, children gain ability to turn into animal they see during their near dead experience.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The children of Fantastic Four members Reed and Susan Richards show two variations. Their daughter, Valeria, has been shown in a future timeline to have a more advanced version of Susan's Invisibility powers (other alternate Valerias have been shown with a variety of powers), whereas their son Franklin is sort of... intermittently omnipotent.
    • Valeria is currently a super-genius; three years old already Reed-class. Franklin is currently depowered after the last time he pushed his omnipotence into overdrive. At his maximum, he is potentially one of the most powerful beings in the universe, to the point that characters who can make Galactus sit up and beg were afraid of him for a while. When he has powers, there's usually a Restraining Bolt (imposed by him or others depending on the timeline) on them that limits him to helpful but not god-tier psychic abilities.
  • Gina Diggers is a definite type 5. Despite being the only daughter of Earth's most powerful aura mage and Jade's greatest warrior she has absolutly no talent for magic or fighting whatsoever.
  • Descendants of the Flashes pretty much universally inherit Super Speed; The DCU's "meta-gene" was called in to explain this. Many other DC characters avoid this trope by having their successors or apprentices come with their own origins.
  • The main characters of Runaways tend to have superpowers corresponding to those of their parents. Of course, many of these "powers" are magical or technological gifts.
    • In Runaways, Molly Hayes initially appears to have not gotten the mutant gene despite her parents both having it. Early on in the story however, she is discovered to have super strength (while both parents had mind controlling powers). Karolina has exactly the same alien powers as her parents which her mother points out means that none of them can hurt each other. Chase is the son of two brilliant Mad Scientist Gadgeteer Genius types, but his abilities run more to minor cleverness, street smarts and punching things.
  • PS238 both uses and subverts this trope. The premise of the comic is an elementary school for children with superpowers, many of which have heroes as parents. And there are traceable genetic signatures...
    • In the introduction we meet Bernard Brenner, who's father is Hulk's expy, so he looks like a chubby blue-skinned troglodyte... but he's stuck in "Bernard smash!" mode - his parents only hope that "more cognitive side" will eventually emerge.
    • One of long-term protagonists, however, is introduced in "Issue 03: The Amazing Adventures of the Uncannily Incredible Perfectly Ordinary Boy". His parents are two of the most powerful heroes in the world, but he has no powers whatsoever (his parents, of course, are simply convinced that their son's powers have not yet manifested, as he will of course be as powerful as they are). As the story has developed, it is becoming increasingly clear that the character is the school's Badass Normal in training.
      • To confuse matter more, he does have a very strange "destiny", for which he apparently needs to have no powers. And when his clone was created, there was noticeable genetic damage which apparently kicked out some stopper, since this body ended up as a ridiculously powerful metahuman.
    • Suzi "Fusion" Finster is a kid of superheroes calling themselves "Nuclear Family". Parents of Julie Finster are normal (and proud of it, with a whiff of Sour Grapes in her father's case... but also proud that their daughter will get to be a superhero). It turns out the last name is no coincidence - Suzi is her cousin.
    • On Argos (planet of Atlas - expy of Superman) "Royal Blood" is synonymous with "Flying Brick", to the point where local nobles see a Flying Brick kid from Earth as a more or less their peer (not that it's always a good thing).
  • The X-Men had mixed up examples of 1 and 2; while Jean Grey (psionics) and Cyclops (Eye Beams) gave birth to two of the most powerful psychics in existence, Magneto (with powers of magnetism) fathered a speedster, a probability manipulator and (via Retcon) a magnetism user like him.
    • At least one version of Wanda's origin had it that her "natural" mutant ability was some form of energy manipulation, like her father, but she "attuned" to the magical energies around Wundagore Mountain, resulting in her "Chaos Magic". (This was before Dr Strange said there was no such thing as Chaos Magic).
    • Wolverine's recent Retcon backstory posits that he is descended from two powered families, one with bone claws and one with a Healing Factor. Nightcrawler is likewise (supposedly) the child of an ages-old mutant clan with interdimensional powers, and Angel is implied to be from an angel-like mutant bloodline as well.
    • Clan Akkaba are descendants of Apocalypse, and each member has inherited variations on his powers. The greater families, including the Slades, have a weaker version of Apocalypse's shape-shifting and longevity, and a minority also possess his grey skin. The 'Lesser' members have different and unique powers, such as Jack Starsmore, who can instead breathe fire. Rarely shapeshifting members randomly gain additional mutations, such as Frederick Slade, who has pink hair, solid green eyes and teleportation, shared with his descendant Blink. Chamber's powers as a psychic furnace are very different to his ancestors Jack Starsmore and Apocalypse.
    • In Young Avengers, on the other hand, the "brothers" Tommy and Billy apparently got the same powers as their "mother" Wanda ( it's complicated) and uncle Quicksilver - Tommy has superhuman speed and Billy can manipulate reality by expressing a desire for it. Any powers from their "father" the Vision seem to be nonexistent, possibly because Wanda "gave birth" to them herself, though given the incestuous overtones there've been between her and Pietro this leads to some Unfortunate Implications. Cassie Lang shares the same growth powers as her father Scott, however this was from her stealing Pym particles and not inheritance (her father's superpowers weren't genetic). While Patriot has no powers from birth, he does get superhuman strength from his grandfather (formerly one of the Captain Americas) via blood transfusion. FF foe the Wizard is a Mad Scientist with no powers, but being around gravity-manipulating technology most of his life lets him have a daughter who controls gravity innately.
  • In Rising Stars, it's explicitly stated that the children of the Specials inherit no powers.
  • The Wild CATS are all descendants of the Kherubim and/or the Daemonites, super-powered alien races, and inherit their powers—since both races have a vast array of potential powers, the humans usually only get a random fraction of them.
  • Gen 13 and their Evil Counterpart team DV8 inherit powers from the genetic Super Soldier project that produced Team 7 and other gen-actives. Generally, these powers have nothing to do with their parents' powers (except the time Burnout inherited his father's Mind Control powers for about a week).
  • Zenith is a slight subversion; he does get his parents' powers, just not all of them, and they don't work all the time.
  • Marvel's Eternals avert this; they can breed with mortals, but the kids are just normal humans. This plays a part in Ikaris' tragic Backstory (here's a hint; he took the name Ikaris in honor of his late son).
    • Eternals breeding with Eternals rarely produces offspring, but they are full Eternals—except for the Titanians, who originally only had half the power of the Earth Eternals, and whose current population are descended from both sides of the "family", resulting in wildly varying power levels and longevity. Then there's the Ritter twins, children of an Eternal and a Deviant (another offshoot of humanity with constant mutations); they appear as normal humans but can Fusion Dance into either one or two Eternal-powered beings, Depending on the Writer. I'd say It Makes Sense in Context, but that would be a shameless lie.
  • Lampshaded in Invincible. Invincible's super-powered alien dad explicitly has genes that beat up and take over the genes of whatever he mates with, creating offspring that are almost identical to himself, powers included. Case in point, he also mates with a humanoid praying mantis girl and produces a child who looks perfectly human except for his purple skin.
  • Superman has no canonical descendants, though the issue has been explored in many "imaginary" stories. Classically his children with a human wife have all his powers at half power level. The Generations storyline affirms this with halving occurring with each successive generation. One Elseworlds had one of Kal-El's Ancestors land on Earth and take over, with each successive generation being less powerful to the point that Kal-El himself had no powers and his father was barely superhuman.
    • More recent[when?] examples of his offspring include a child of Superman and Wonder Woman who ended up being an alternate version of the Phantom Stranger. In DC One Million, his offspring apparently retain their powers through successive generations and gain new ones by intermarrying with various species including a 5th dimensional being, forming a Superman Dynasty. Superman himself returns in this timeline after hundreds of thousands of years transformed by exotic energies and gaining the ability to bestow additional powers on his offspring. The Superman of the 853rd century, a direct descendant of Superman, is like our Superman on steroids.
    • The aforementioned Generations storyline has an odd instance of a type 5 in Superman's son Joel Kent who would have had his powers had he not been exposed to Gold Kryptonite in the womb. Much to Joel's bitterness and dismay, his younger sister was not exposed and ended up a type 1.
  • The Hulk's kids are an interesting case. His son, Skaar, inherited both his parents' power sets - giving him the power to control the earth in addition to the Hulk's powers. His twin brother Hiro-Kala only got the tectonic powers. His daughter Lyra, created via genetic engineering, got only a measure of the Hulk's superstrength; instead, she developed the ability to attune herself to gamma radiation - in combat, she can almost always position herself exactly where she needs to be. Unfortunately, thanks to deliberate tampering in her creation, the angrier Lyra gets, the weaker she gets.
  • In the case of The Savage Dragon, the main character's son Malcolm directly inherited full-power versions of both parents' powers, which isn't so surprising if you know that Dragon's powers run in his family's dynasty. His mother's electrical powers were given to her later in life, so they must have caused genetic changes, thanks to Golden Age villain Doctor Nirvana's experiment.
    • This series has a ton of examples of this trope, as it's been running in real-time for nearly twenty years, leading to many second-generation characters appearing constantly.
  • Planetary: It is explained Century Babies all have extended lifespans in addition to their abilities. Their children will also inherit the extended lifespans, along with abilities of their own, as evidenced by Jakita Wagner and Anna Hark, but not William Leather(whose mother cheated on his father, a Century Baby).

Fan Works[edit | hide]

  • A common theme in "Next Generation" Fanfics.
  • In Undocumented Features, children of immortals created with the Omega-2 retrovirus are themselves immortal. Children born to a god and a mortal (as in the case of the Morisato brood) get to choose which they'll be once they're old enough to understand the choice.

Film[edit | hide]

  • A particularly bad example occurs in X 2 X Men United; the mutant gene is said to be located on the Y chromosome. The implications for the mutants who look female are not explored. Though given the tenor of the scene, it seems likely that Pyro was simply exploiting Mr. Drake's ignorance to make him squirm.
  • Sky High goes with the fourth option twice. After spending a long while thinking he would never develop powers, the main character inherits his father's Super Strength and his mother's Flight powers separately (both were Die or Fly situations, the second a Suicidal Gotcha using flight). The bus driver, and only other person on record to have super parents and not get powers, just exposed himself to toxic waste and grows 50 feet tall on demand. Nurse Spex also states that sometimes powers just aren't passed on at all.
  • Necessary Evil seems to be reaching for both 4 and 5, with the brothers.
  • Ang Lee's Hulk gets the same aftermarket add-ons as his father, which Banner Sr. spliced into himself in a failed attempt to make a Super Soldier. It takes both Gamma rays and Nanomachines to finish the job.
  • The Disney movie Up, Up and Away involves a boy named Scott whose parents are Bronze Eagle and Warrior Woman. Bronze Eagle can fly, and Warrior Woman has super-strength as well as a super-fast motorcycle. His big brother, Silver Charge, has super-speed and electrical manipulation. His little sister has x-ray vision and Eye Beams. Even his grandparents on his father's side have super-strength/flight (grandfather, Steel Condor) and Voluntary Shapeshifting (grandmother, Informed Ability). Scott's problem is that he's quickly approaching his 14th Birthday, and he has yet to develop any ability. 14 is the cut-off for a super. If he doesn't get an ability by that time, than he's just a Muggle. To that end, he decides to fake having super-strength (by rigging a door to fly off its hinges) and flight (by throwing a ball at a tree and hiding). In the end, though, it's his normalcy that ends up saving the day.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • In Stephen King's Firestarter, the young female protagonist inherits powers from both of her parents, squared - despite the fact that their superpowers were caused by an experimental drug, not genetic tinkering. (Presumably it was mutagenic, as some drugs actually are.)
  • Avoided in Charles Stross' Merchant Princes series - the single superpower is caused by a recessive gene, and the inheritance is consistent.
  • Inverted in the Wild Cards anthology series. Superpowers are caused by the Wild Card virus, whose changes are genetic and can be passed on by either parent, and they are always passed on if both parents have it. However, only 1% of infected people become super powered "aces," regardless of how they were infected. This means the child of two aces is 9% likely to become a deformed mutant, and 90% likely to die a horrible death. One ace character must break off his engagement to his childhood sweetheart when he finds out she has the virus too—and he can't even tell her why.
    • There is one case of an ace having a daughter with identical powers, but this is explained by saying he psychically manipulated her genetic structure in the womb. If we had a trope for Suspiciously Specific Superpowers, that guy would be the Trope Maker.
  • In Harry Potter, some wizards have two wizard parents, some have only one wizard parent, and some are Muggle-born. In this case, magical ability might be explained as a dominant mutation that often occurs spontaneously...if anyone ever bothered making Harry Potter sound logical.
    • This was explained in The Tales of Beedle the Bard: so-called "Muggle-borns" will actually have one or more wizarding ancestors somewhere in the family tree.
      • This makes it look more like a recessive trait, given the fact that Muggle-borns are common, and Squibs (nonmagical children of magical parents) are extremely rare (of the Loads and Loads of Characters in the books, only 2 are squibs). That doesn't explain why almost all kids of a witch/wizard and a Muggle are magical, however.
  • A version occurs in one of the Serendipity books when a pegasus mare mates with a mortal stallion. When she turns out pregnant, a wise old mare explains that the child could be born with either legacy. Turns out he's born with tiny, tiny wings, obviously unable to let him fly - but still the mother thinks perhaps they'll grow. However, by the time she must leave (for if she stays, she too will lose the ability to fly), the wings are as small as ever. She wings away into the clouds, trying to ignore the cries of her terrified child. But of course, the series being full of magic and generally using happy endings (even with bittersweet overtones), the foal comes up after her, in those few minutes having sprouted (through willpower alone) wings large enough to carry him.
  • Anne McCaffrey's Talent Series follows a large clan of Talents with Psychic Powers over numerous generations.
  • In the Young Wizards series, wizardry is known to run in families, though it probably has more to do with inherited traits The Powers think make a good wizard more than any "wizardry gene" since the power has to be offered by them and accepted through the Wizard's Oath. In Nita's family there's Dairine, her aunt and off-screen, her great-grandmother, all on her father's side.
  • Both the ability to manifest Deryni powers and the Haldane potential (apparently a variant) are transmitted genetically; the trait is dominant, so only one parent needs to have the trait for an offspring to inherit it. Thus, so-called "half-breeds" are just as powerful as full-blooded Deryni. Deryni generally need to be taught to use their powers; carriers of the Haldane potential need no training, but must have the potential triggered by a outside action. This is usually done in a ritual, the specifics of which vary slightly from one generation to the next; certain heirloom objects are used, and new ones may be added.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Force Sensitivity is clearly heritable. It's kind of annoying how each new child of the Skywalker line is touted as having the Strongest Potential Ever. In I, Jedi Corran learns that the creation of illusions and permutations of the Jedi Mind Trick, ability to absorb and convert or channel energy, and the inability to use telekinesis unless currently channeling energy are all Halcyon family traits, and his grandfather was a Halcyon. Over time he manifests each trait. Jedi who are not Skywalker-descended can have non-Jedi siblings and relatives whose weak Force-Sensitivity manifests as things such as a bit of "luck" and accurate hunches.
    • And it seems like that if a Force-Sensitive is cloned, the clones will themselves be Force-Sensitive, as shown with Jorus C'baoth and Joruus C'baoth. Though the clone's origins are mysterious enough that for all we know, Palpatine created and discarded dozens of C'baoth clones before getting one with the original's power. The clone also makes a clone of Luke, but the Luke clone might not have been a Force user.
      • When Vader clones Starkiller, the clone retains the original's extremely strong abilities (the original could pull a Star Destroyer from the sky, while the clone can literally disintegrate anyone around him with a Force wave and super-charge a ship turret to blow up a Star Destroyer). Additionally, Vader's attempts resulted in dozens of failed clones who still exhibit powerful abilities.
      • One of the drawbacks of cloning Force Users though (therefore why neither the Jedi nor the Sith do so to shore up their numbers) is that cloned Force Users tend to be mentally unstable.
  • Several of the creators of the Old Kingdom invested their power in specific bloodlines. As such, the Abhorsens, royals, and Clayr all tend to manifest the appropriate powers as needed.
  • In The Dresden Files, magic runs in families, usually matrilinearly. This is part of a villain's plot in White Night, when some of the White Court start killing off female magical practitioners too weak for the White Council to notice, on the logic that this will interfere with future generations of wizards and they can afford to wait.
  • Well-known and a bit of a plot point in the Codex Alera, where powerful furycrafting abilities tend to run in families. Centuries worth of selective marriage among the nobility have led to the High Lords all being insanely dangerous, and the First Lord even more so.
  • In The Elvenbane, powerful elvish spellcasters produce children who're powerful, weak casters produce weak children, and intermarriage between strong and weak produces a child of intermediate power. At least in the first book, it's never explained where powerful spellcasters came from in the first place, but their attempts to stay powerful through the generations have led to severe inbreeding. Human spellcasting is also inherited, but in defiance of the trope it's an indirect and imprecise pattern.[1]
    • Lashana, the titular Elvenbane, plays this relatively straight. She was sired by one of the magically powerful elvenlords upon a human concubine whose Slave Collar was revealed to be containing tremendous Psychic Powers. Due to the synergistic effects elven and human magics have when wielded by the same individual, Shana's raw ability is... formidable.
  • In Twilight, Edward can read minds and Bella can create sort of psychic shields. Renesme got the exact opposite powers. She can project her thoughts into other people's minds and ignore psychic shields.
  • In John Twelve Hawks' (a pseudonym used by the real author) book The Traveler, the eponymous characters pass down their abilities genetically.
  • All of Harry Keogh's sons in the Necroscope series gain his talents in speaking with the dead, and have the capacity to learn how to use math-based teleport skills. It's implied Harry himself inherited at least his "Deadspeak" from his own mother. The Distant Finale of the series implies that all Espers eventually pass their abilities on to their descendants.
  • In the Chronicles of the Kencyrath series by Pat Hodgell, the Highborn of the Kencyr can at times be so psionic that their powers blur the boundaries of reality. It's strongly hinted that their abilities are due to genes implanted from the even more powerful Arren-Ken, which occasionally manifest as felinoid body parts such as claws.
  • Important matter throughout the Kroniki Drugiego Kręgu series. No one knows why only boys are born with magic, or why some mages are insanely powerful, but others seem to have no talent at all. The ruling magical class (whose ancestors are said to have conquered their land with a sword and magic) is desperate to find out, because they are slowly dying out and their Super Breeding Program doesn’t give any results. There are hints it may be connected with a recessive, sex linkage gene (that’s why magic seems to be passed on from the mother’s side and why there are so few female mages). Later the heroes discover that citizens of a neighbor country (descendants of the original inhabitants) also have a magic potential, which goes against already established beliefs. In the end it turns out that the native inhabitants of the continent always carried magical genes and the invaders’ blood was only a catalyst that let this potential truly manifest. That’a why most of the Half Breeds are so powerful.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Heroes goes with the second of the four options; the children of heroes are almost certain to have powers of their own, but the child's powers are rarely related in any way to the parents'.
    • This one seems to go both ways. While Matt seems to have the same powers as his father; Nikki, with super strength, and DL, with phasing powers, somehow manage to have a kid who can talk to machines. The latter example is ridiculous, as the entire premise of Heroes revolves around human evolution. Someone should tell them that this isn't how natural selection works. (As if they'd care.)
    • Let's just face it: This series is either They Just Didn't Care or You Fail Biology Forever turned Up to Eleven - superpowers manifest at solar eclipses, children have powers completely different from their parents, identical twins having different powers, a brother and a sister (no twins) having powers that work together, injecting yourself with a serum from one super gives you completely different powers etc.
  • Disney Channel's original movie, Up, Up, and Away features the fifth example, in which a teenage boy and his superhero family come to terms with the fact that he will never develop superpowers. Just for the record, yes, the movie does actually end with them doing just that and him not gaining superpowers. Quite possibly the sole example, at least in regards to main characters who we're actually supposed to care about.
  • Medium has variant 1, as all three of Allison Dubois' daughters inherited psychic powers. Her half brother also has them, which raises as yet unanswered questions about whether any of their parents were psychic too.
  • In Stargate SG-1, some humans inherit Ancient genes, though the only "super power" they provide is the ability to be recognized as a valid user by Ancient technology.
    • Not really. In Stargate Atlantis it is said that many tech that requires the ATA gene can be controlled mentally by those who have the gene. Sheppard himself says about the puddlejumper that "a lot of fighter pilots would kill to fly this thing; it's like it reads your mind..." Cue the jumper displaying a sensor readout on the windshield and dispensing a life sign detector when he wonders about how they should find their target.
    • Also note that the ATA gene is completely artificial; it was created by the Ancients for the express purpose of having a genetic marker they knew would be unique to their species.
  • That's So Raven has Psychic Powers that skip a generation, making them most likely recessive.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Warhammer 40,000's Space Marines are the genetic children of the superhuman Primarchs, inheriting their comprehensively superhuman biology... and a few other things.
    • They are not "children" of the primarchs in a true sense. They are born normal but then become Space Marines only through a regime of gene-therapy, hypnotic suggestion, artificial biological implants (extra heart, venom glands etc.) and mental, physical and spiritual conditioning. It is not genetics alone that grants them super powers. Because of the hypnotic and mental conditioning, it is also possible that they do not have "genetic memory" but have certain memories implanted (such as Sanguinius' death for the Blood Angels).
      • The gene-seed, containing "mental, physical, spiritual, martial, and fraternal characteristics" and being collected from any casualty and passed down, counts either way.
  • Exalted's Dragon-Blooded work this way. For any given child of a dragon-blood, case 4 or 5 will be in effect. There's about a 60% chance of a child of two dragon-blooded parents Exalting, and that decreases if one of the parents is mortal.
    • Similarly, the children of the celestial exalted also inherit diminished forms of the powers of their parents and can (in rare cases) pass those on to their own children.
  • Pretty much the whole point of the Slivers from Magic the Gathering, with an additional step. They eat things, then assimilate the genes, then have kids, and their kids have the prey animal's advantages. Oh, and those advantages can be shared with any other Sliver in the area.
  • In both Werewolf : the Apocalypse and Werewolf : the Forsaken games, being a werewolf is a hereditary thing, but that doesn't necessarily mean all children of werewolves will Change. The coupling between a Changed werewolf and the unchanged child of a werewolf (known as either Kinfolk or Wolf-Blooded, depending on the game line) has a greater chance of producing a werewolf; relations between two werewolves typically leads to bad things. First-generation children of werewolves typically have the greater chance of undergoing the First Change, but those further down the family tree may suddenly undergo the Change themselves.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Girl Genius uses genetics to pass down the "Spark" - a superhuman talent for and obsession with a particular branch of science or technology. Although as yet there's not that much data to go on, the Spark appears to have greater strength in successive generations, especially when combined across multiple ancestral lines.
    • Of course, the greater your spark, the crazier you are. Maybe the inbreeding helps a little with the craziness, too.
  • In Evil Inc., Captain Heroic and Miss Match's son, Oscar, appears to be an example of Option 5 (Though he's only five, that so that could change). He uses a suit of Powered Armor provided by his grandfather, Commander Heroic, to keep up with his peer group.
  • In Everyday Heroes, the original Mr. Mighty was the grandfather of the current Mr. Mighty. His wife is a normal human; one child is a mix of Options 1 and 2 (her Dad's powers, plus shoots force beams from her eyes), the other is Option 5 (no powers).
    • Also, Dot Dash's son appears to be Option 5 as well.
  • In Juathuur, affinity to shift, shadow and shard magic is inheritable. People of other bloodlines can learn a few tricks, and that's it.
  • The three sons of Luk River from Irregular Elis have powers like his father.
  • Averted with the Kids and Trolls in Homestuck. Despite having god like powers, there's no indication their parents ever had anything abnormal about them, beyond being really badass. They aren't genetically related to humanity (or trollanity) anyways, so it's possible that either their parents carried recessive genes for their powers or Sburb itself empowered them in some way.
  • Seems to be a recurring theme in some of Tiffany Ross's GNIPs
    • In The Cyantian Chronicles "Elites" had ancestors who were genetically modified by a conquering alien race as pit fighters, as such they have a Healing Factor, Super Strength, extended life-spans, and other powers depending on their species. The traits sometimes skip a generation though, it appears to be recessive.
      • More recently are some of Exotica Genoworks' militia products, most notably the Siracs.
    • Lexx of Alien Dice is supposedly part of a bloodline of "enhanced" Rishan, as such the Alien Dice Corporation is desperate to keep ahold of him and any relatives they can find. On one occasion they offer him freedom in exchange for sperm samples.
    • The currently on hiatus comic PURE portrays a socially Darwinistic city-state where people without superpowers of some kind are euthanized at the age of 18 to keep them from contaminating the gene pool. Members of the de facto royal family tend to share powerful telekinetic, telepathic, and teleportation abilities.
  • In A Mad Tea Party, Connie and Matilda, the two main characters, have inherited some but not all of their parents' genetically enhanced abilities.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The Global Guardians PBEM Universe is an "unlimited source" setting, where superpowers can be gained through pretty much any possible way that can be imagined. Nevertheless, and regardless of what real-world genetic science says, its pretty much guaranteed that the child of two superhumans will have either the same powers as one of their parents, or a mix between the two. (Children with only one superhuman parent tend to have a 50/50 chance of getting either the same powers as their parents, or else no powers at all.) Of course, people who get their powers from technology don't count.
  • In the Whateley Universe, pretty much all of the above (well, really all but #3). Mutants are people who have manifested (usually around age 14) powers based on a 'meta-gene complex' in their DNA. For unknown reasons (since no one understands why some people with this complex become mutants and others do not), children of mutants are much more likely to also become mutants. At the Whateley Academy (a high school for mutant kids set in scenic Dunwich New Hampshire), there are currently kids who have powers utterly unrelated to their parents' powers. But there is one girl who looks just like her mother used to, and has an exact copy of her mother's powers, right down to the ability to manifest something that looks like a big ol' flaming sword. There are also two students who are the kids of one of the world's most notorious supervillains, and they have his trademark forelock horns (along with his unattractive facial features), but different powers.
  • This is lampshaded, like everything else, in Girlchan in Paradise. Ken-Star is referred to repeatedly as having "thaaaaaaaaaat bloodline", but we never see what it does.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Incredibles: Mr. Incredible, with his Super Strength, and Elasti-Girl, with her elasticity, get married and have Dash, a superspeeder and Violet, who has Invisibility and force fields and Jack-Jack, who seems to have a full combo platter.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, every descendant of the Fire Nation royal family is an extremely powerful bender or will be one. Other than them, the distribution of bending ability seems to be random with the exception of the Air Nomads, who were all airbenders due to their level of spirituality.
    • To add to the confusion, there was also a throwaway line where an otherwise identical set of twin only one was an earthbender, the other was just a Muggle.
  • In American Dragon: Jake Long, the gene that gives you dragon powers is apparently recessive as it skips a generation. This means Jake, his sister, and his grandpa all have dragon powers while his mother doesn't.
    • That wouldn't make sense unless his father was a recessive carrier as well. Possibly it has a low degree of expression... Or it's X-linked recessive and his sister is a Gender Bender... Or quite possibly that whole 'mystical dragon transformation' thing isn't a genetic trait.
      • Thank you! this is the only place on this page where someone postulates that mystic abilities might be heritable by factors other than nucleic acid.
      • That's because most of the examples on this page are where the powers are supposed to be genetic.
    • The most probable explanation is that males imprint the gene (turn it off before passing it along in a gamete). Jake and Haley were both lucky enough (25% chance of both inheriting it) to inherit the gene and since it came from their mother the gene was turned back on before being passed along.
  • Kim Possible plays this to a lesser extreme: the eponymous character's father was a rocket scientist, her mother was a brain surgeon, her grandmother was a kung-fuing underwater-demolitioning aviatrix, her brothers are practically miniature mad scientists, so of course Kim Possible would be a world-saving She Fu cheerleader.

Kim: I guess my genetics rock.

  • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, Word of God that ponies of different types (earth ponies, unicorns, and pegasi) can interbreed. The season 2 episode "Baby Cakes" confirmed when earth ponies Mr. and Mrs. Cake have twins who are a pegasus and a unicorn, which Mr. Cake explains by saying that he has unicorn ancestry, and Mrs. Cake has pegasus ancestry. "That makes sense, right?"

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Pokémon has types 1 and 3. Baby Pokemon can inherit any move both their parents know, that they could get by Level Grinding. They can also inherit TM or HM moves, or certain moves that can only come from breeding, from their fathers. Thus, it's possible to have a level 1 baby slinging Frickin' Laser Beams around.
    • Further, you can increase the chances that an offspring inherits its mother's Nature by giving her an Everstone.
    • They can also inherit up to 3 IVs (Individual Values, the genes' equivalent in Pokémon) from their parents, the other IVs being set by Random Number Generator. In 4th Gen, equipping a parent with a Power item allow the child to inherit the IV linked to the Power item (example: equipping a Power Bracer on a parent will make the child inherit the Attack IV of this parent).
  • Touhou Project's Reimu Hakurei benefits from this so much it's not even funny. As a Hakurei, she gets superpowers related to boundaries and barriers that was given to her bloodline to maintain the Great Hakurei Barrier. It's thanks to this that Hard Work Hardly Works, while The Rival Marisa has to go a relative Charles Atlas Superpower route to catch up.
    • There's also her rival Miko, (well, other rival, at least,) Sanae Kochiya, who is actually blood-related to the Goddess that she serves, and as such has innate divine magic.
  • Though not superheroes Apollo and Trucy from the Ace Attorney benefit from this. They both inherited this ability from their grandfather and mother. Interestingly Apollo seems to be the only one who uses the power for anything more than poker.
    • The ability to channel spirits runs in the Fey bloodline...sometimes. Despite being born first Morgan Fey had no powers and was reduced to being part of the branch family, in service to the main family of her younger sister Misty. This understandably caused her a bit of stress.
      • It must be recessive or something, as her daughter Pearl does have channeling powers.
  • The Dragon Age games imply that magical ability is transmitted genetically; Leandra Amell of Dragon Age II remarks that magic has always run in her family, and considering that her husband was a mage it's unsurprising she has at least one mage child.
  1. (Elves and humans aren't even from the same world, so the implication is that human magical power is determined through standard genetics, with multiple genes influencing power levels, and elvish magical power is determined through something else entirely. Then again, elves and humans can interbreed, which shouldn't be possible for two species with very different genes. Then again again, it's a fantasy story--what do you expect?)