What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?

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He could make a fortune just by changing the color of people's clothes, but if his outfit is anything to go by...
"It's useless, that's what it is! Ma-Ti is the weakest one of all! Haw haw haw!"
Wheeler answering himself asking the trope name in issue #3 of the Captain Planet Comic Book

This refers to a special ability of someone on a team such as a Five-Man Band who is so specialized as to seem useless in most situations.

Good writers can make this work for a character. They may have a power (such as it is), but it's not the real reason they're in the group. Some characters end up being The Heart (the social and moral compass), The Face (diplomat and spokesperson), The Smart Guy or the Badass Normal. Often said character is The Captain—superpowers would be just a tiny bonus to his real ability: leadership. The Captain tends to be specifically written to have no superpowers, in fact.

Not every character is this lucky. It is a fact of life that leadership tends to favor the Badass, even if their level difference has been no fault of the weaker character himself. Soon they will be ignored in favor of other, more interesting characters and eventually people will even question why they are still on the team at all. They may even turn into The Scrappy.

There are a number of ways to fix this. If the character still seems ridiculously underpowered, they can still be Rescued from the Scrappy Heap by giving them additional powers or responsibilities. A common method is to have the the character suddenly "evolve" to a higher power level. Weak but Skilled characters might take advantage of the Required Secondary Powers. Maybe there ARE more potential uses for this power, it's just that the writers have somehow ignored them this far. Sometimes the character will uncover a devastating new use and become the dreaded Lethal Joke Character. Maybe there's a trade off; for instance, powerful beings tend to look freaky, while those with more subtle powers look normal and are better able to deal with mundane society. The easiest device is to just crank out a good old Plot Tailored to the Party, so that the character can make his seemingly useless superpower seem useful. In fact, characters who do nothing but gripe about their uselessness in battle might be a sign of bad writing. Couldn't they just carry a gun?

Named for an Internet meme, itself referring to Ma-Ti's ring power in Captain Planet and the Planeteers. While the other team members could control the raw elements with visually impressive feats, he could just talk to animals with a Spider Sense. No doubt it was useful - his telepathy bailed them out a lot, as did the ability to get nearby animals to help, and it seemed to ward off the Idiot Ball - but it lacked the total elemental "badass" quality of the others. Then there was the fact that their current Big Bad was invulnerable to its powers because "You have no heart!", and he never bothered to use it on the other villains. Ironically, since his power involved a form of limited mind-control, he probably could have been the most devastatingly powerful of all the Planeteers if he weren't a pacifist. Plus it's hard (but not impossible) to have dramatic tension when the hero can just command the bad guys to shoot themselves in the head. Inspired this video.

Often the result of overdoing Cast Speciation. Easier to take in a Heroes Unlimited series, where not every character has to be in every episode. For Video Games, compare Spoony Bard and Power-Up Letdown; see also Crippling Overspecialization.

If they won the Superpower Lottery and still have one of these powers, it's Flight, Strength, Heart. If he's suddenly in a situation where the power is useful all by itself, it's This Looks Like a Job For Aquaman. If he's able to hold his own in a fight through good old training and determination, he Fights Like a Normal.

For the (sometimes classified as elemental) power of Heart (or Love) itself, see The Power of Love. Compare The Team Normal and Story-Breaker Team-Up. Contrast Heart Is an Awesome Power and Lethal Harmless Powers when these abilities are used more... creatively. See also the Inverse Law of Complexity to Power, which states that the broader a power is the more potent it is (and which often isn't used at the same time as this trope).

Examples of What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway? include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Almost all of the Aasu sisters in Puni Puni Poemi are victims of this trope, which wouldn't be so bad if they didn't make up the entire team. "Super breakfall" (the power to never be injured if you're knocked off your feet), anyone? Lampshaded during a fight scene when they realize they can't fight the bad guy since they only have defensive powers.
  • Played straight and subverted in Zettai Karen Children: Kaoru (the telekinetic) is by far the most powerful of the trio, so Shiho (the mind-reader) DOES carry around a gun to make up for the non-lethality of her ability, leaving Aoi (the teleporter) as the weakest member who constantly worries that her only use is transporting the others to the scene.
  • Sailor Moon
    • In the first season, Sailor Mercury was the only team member without an offensive power. Her first power was essentially a cloud of bubbles that drastically reduced visibility (apparently only for the enemy) and lowered the temperature by a few degrees. She received her first offensive power in the middle of the second season, but in the meantime she stayed in the background with her visor and computer, providing useful analysis and strategy. In the third season, Sailor Chibi-Moon assumed the "useless member" role; as a Senshi in training her "Pink Sugar Heart Attack" was shown to be so weak and pointless that it mostly only annoyed the villain (it also occasionally just didn't do anything period, and on at least one occasion backfired on her). She got upgraded in the fourth season, by tying Sailor Moon's powers to hers.
    • The writers at least made sure Mercury was involved in each fight, though. Nearly every fight begins with her firing off her bubble attack, which seems to genuinely confuse the monster...for about five seconds before she shakes it off. It seems almost obligatory after awhile, and the other Sailors rarely do anything to take advantage of the enemy's moment of weakness. Her data visor, on the other hand, can be a lifesaver.
    • In regards to Chibi-moon, it should be noted that this was only something in the anime. In the manga, her "Pink Sugar Heart Attack" was fairly powerful, along the lines of a standard soldier attack.
  • Yukino Kikukawa's CHILD in My-HiME, Diana, is basically a Magical Security Cam. In certain plots this is quite useful like the time she uses it to locate kidnapped or missing people and then tell the others where they are, like in the cases of Natsuki and Takumi, but given how everyone is expected to battle to the death, when it's time to fight this turns out to be useless.
  • Cyborg 009's female member, Francoise aka 003 had non-offensive, surveillance-oriented powers (though she could still use a laser gun).
  • Prétear has Shin, whose ability is to control plants. In the manga version he has an excuse for being useless unrelated to his powers: the Knights apparently use their elements at the expense of their own Life Energy, which is dangerous when the user is too small—Shin is the youngest of the Knights. The anime version removed the connection between Elemental Powers and Life Energy... and Shin still wasn't allowed to fight, neither alone nor with Himeno, instead being set to create Phantom Zones and being almost completely useless when these are not needed. Apparently, even water is more useful than plants, not to mention the abilities to burn or freeze things, or to shoot laser beams. One may wonder if he was like this even before being reincarnated as a kid.
  • Digimon Adventure has Gomamon, whose rookie "attack" is basically to control fish and is only seen actually battling twice over the entire series. Yet this becomes an inversion when you realise that it works in other situations while the Rookie attacks are only effective one time in the entire series (and Gomamon was helping out for that one too, tripping the monster)
    • Also, at the end, after the complete monster reduces the digi destined to ones and zeros...Yeah. The power of heart, or more accurately, the crests in their hearts.
  • In The Slayers, there were many, many magic spells... from the earth-shattering Giga Slave, to the Ferious Breed, the spell that summons pigeons. But Lina did find a use for the pigeon-summoning spell twice: first time, to break a hole in a pocked universe, second time, to knock off Pocota, who is not much larger than a pigeon.
  • Played with the Jusenkyo transformations in Ranma ½: when the Musk Dynasty warriors Lime, Mint, and Prince Herb run into a forest full of murderous monkeys, the latter sense the aura of the martial artists and perceive a mighty tiger, a swift wolf, and an all-powerful dragon. They know they can't beat these great beasts, and wisely keep away. But when Ranma, Ryouga, and Mousse pass by, the monkeys see a small girl, a tiny piglet, and a nearsighted duck. They can win! (The monkeys then proceed to gang-pile the trio, who escape entirely covered in scrapes and bruises.)
  • Da Capo: Junichi, grandson of a witch, has two powers: uncontrollably viewing others' dreams (which he emphasizes is incredibly boring in practice and only makes him lose sleep) and making Japanese sweets appear in his hands. On the plus side, though, the latter is useful with the little ladies, and he himself remarks that it is a good way to lose weight, since the required calories are drawn from his body. He can't read minds, shapeshift, talk to the dead, or warp reality, but whatever.
  • Shugo Chara: First, Amu and Rima were the only ones in the group of the Guardians who could do Chara Transformations and it was always depicted as something amazing and powerful. When the remaining members of the Guardians finally access their own Chara-Naris, everyone of them gets a cool weapon, like Kairi's Katanas or Tadase's holy scepter of doom... Yaya gets Ducks.
  • In Project ARMS, three of the four ARMS protagonists are fitted with incredible bionic limbs in either their arms or legs, letting them fight bad guys effortlessly. The fourth member is fitted with bionic eyes which lets her forsee events and analyze battles to figure out strategies, but is mostly useless in actual combat (a fact she laments). She is later revealed though to have the incredible power to kill all ARMS born of Alice (as well as Alice), including herself, though she is unable to go through with it).
  • Seikon no Qwaser: The title qwasars have the ability to control a single element. Joshua ended up with element number 111, roentgenium. To put it in perspective, roentgenium does not exist naturally on Earth, and even if it did, its very short half-life would quickly render it not roentgenium (and therefore useless).
  • From the Urusei Yatsura manga and anime, we have the alien girls Sugar, Ginger and Pepper. Sugar has the power to blend with the background like a chameleon; Ginger can feign death at will; Pepper can shed her whole skin (while still wearing a set of cloth underneath) to escape grapples. Said capabilities could sometimes be handy, but the trio has a much-inflated opinion of their usefulness. Especially compared to the powers of those they consider their "rivals": Lum (a Tsundere who can fly and shoot lightning bolts), Oyuki (an Ice Maiden) and Benten (a Super Strong Hot Amazon fond of BFGs). The fact that Sugar, Ginger and Pepper are morons doesn't help.
  • In Canaan, Yunyun revealed that her superpower was having two appendices. In fairness, she is more of a comic-relief character.
  • Gash Bell had the Majestic Twelve, an American team of superheroes who seemed to really have super powers, but were comically inept at using them. The only one who demonstrated any prowess in battle was Big Boing, whose powers are self-explanatory. Her greatest power was chopping her "boing" to distract the enemy.
  • The Bleach filler villain Koga's power is to control the Zanpakuto of other Shinigami. Now, this in itself is an incredibly powerful ability. The problem is that Koga is a Shinigami himself, and is part of a larger Shinigami military force. Therefore, his ability would only be useful against his allies, and when fighting Hollows, he would be forced to rely solely on Kido and his own basic swordsmanship skills. On the flip side, this power came in very handy when he took part in a Shinigami civil war and later decided to rebel against the Shinigami himself.
    • The fact that there was a civil war going on could mean that Koga's Zanpakuto got that ability because of the war, as the details of the war are incredibly vague, although this is obviously WMG. To a more canonical extent, Muramasa does seem to be able to do things beyond manipulating Zanpakuto, for instance, manipulating emotions (which some argue is how he controls the Zanpakuto in the first place) and a form of illusion-based Mind Rape that he uses later in the arc.
  • The comedy manga, Banana no Nana, takes place in a world where everyone has superpowers, which range from the typical but powerful, like water manipulation, to the situational but useful, like superhuman leg strength. The title character has the power to manipulate... bananas. If you look at Heart Is Awesome Power, you'll this her power is actually the most useful.
  • Subverted to hell and back in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. No matter how stupid or ridiculously limiting a Stand power seems, the user will find a way to make it an advantage.
  • Completely averted in The Fantastic Adventures of Unico, as the Power of Love enables Unico to turn into a full-grown unicorn and kill a 50-story tall demon by charging through its torso. A rare instance where it doubles as a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
    • Unico's power to stop all wars is nothing to laugh at either. This power forces the gods to get rid of him because it seriously messes with their plans.
  • In the world of Tiger and Bunny where the focus is on corporate sponsorship and crowd-pleasing masked heroics, Origami Cyclone's ability to copy other people's appearances—which would be great for undercover police work or espionage—is unfortunately not very marketable and therefore almost useless to him. And he's still got it better than some of the other students at the Hero Academy, whose powers include being able to stretch their skin or sweat a lot.
  • One Piece filler character Apis ate a Devil Fruit that gave her the ability to telepathically talk to animals. While this does have its uses, it's probably the only Devil Fruit in the entire series that has absolutely no combat ability and does not fit into Paramecia, Logia or Zoan types. Her power is made especially useless when Luffy spontaneously gains the ability to do the exact same thing in that arc. The next member to join the crew, Chopper, also has this ability because he happens to be an animal and his Human Human Fruit ability enables him to speak human languages.
  • Bossun's Concentrations Mode when he puts on his goggles in Sket Dance. While admittedly very useful in solving problems and aiding his aiming skills with the slingshot, its often called out for not being very cool for the main hero.


Card Games[edit | hide]

  • Yu-Gi-Oh!! has an assortment of cards like this too. A prime example is "Anti-Raigeki", a trap card designed to counter one particular magic card that ended up being Forbidden anyway.
  • Similarly a number of Magic: The Gathering cards are so situational as to be useless. One of the best examples of this is the Great Wall enchantment. Landwalk is an ability that renders a creature unblockable if it's attacking an opponent who has the correct type of land (swamps for swampwalk, forests for forestwalk and so on). It's usually not that useful itself, since much of the time your opponent won't be playing the right kind of land so the ability does nothing—unless it targets a whole subgroup of lands, like, say, Dryad Sophisticate and her nonbasic landwalk.[1] The rarest of the basic landwalks is plainswalk, mostly due to Fridge Logic over how you stealthily move through a wide open plain anyway. Not a single card with this ability has ever been considered a threat in any known Magic Metagame. The Great Wall enchantment's sole effect is that it allows creatures with plainswalk to be blocked.


Comics[edit | hide]

  • In the comics, Aqualad developed concerns similar to Aquaman's (see Western Animation below) about feeling useless as a member of the Teen Titans, which became so severe that he later developed a psychosomatic illness. Once the cause of his problem was realized, Aqualad decided to relegate himself as a Titans reservist, who participated with the team only when they had a mission in the sea.
    • He later got a costume change, a power upgrade and Took a Level in Badass, becoming "Tempest". Then he died.
    • The second Aqualad was given the ability to create hard-water weapons and generate electrical blasts because the creators of Young Justice wanted to have an Aqualad who had powers that, ya know, would be of use when NOT in the ocean.
  • Angel at Marvel Comics has similar problems to Hawkman and Aquaman. His power to fly is fairly useless in a superhero context. He was variously given razor-sharp metal wings, the ability to shoot poisoned metal pieces from his wings, and a healing factor to make him more powerful. The current version is physically powerful for a similar reason as Aquaman: to actually fly with his wings and survive hundreds of miles per hour winds, he must be very strong and resistant to damage. Angel was largely rescued by Marvel in an issue of Thunderbolts where he literally flies rings around them in their own comic in an awesome "Taking them back to school" moment. Angel also has a little-remembered ability of extraordinarily keen eyesight, comparable to a hawk's. That may not sound like much, but being able to spot movement from a rabbit when you're flying half a mile up is no mean feat.
    • Subverted with Cypher/Doug Ramsey, whose power is to understand ANY language, even body language, or code, making him now quite the Badass as he can even foresee his oponents movements (as long as he can "read" a pattern), or find the weak point of architectural structures.
  • The Invisible Woman from the Fantastic Four originally only had the power to... be invisible. It got so bad that one issue's main story was made shorter to allow room to try to justify Sue's existence after all the letters they'd gotten. The best The Man himself could do is "a pretty girl inspires the boys to fight harder." (They also pointed out that one time she invisibly tripped a lone, fleeing Skrull. They forgot to mention that her male teammates had each dispatched several fighting-mad Skrull.) After it became obvious that she was useless as an action hero in her current form, creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby gave her the additional powers of making other objects/people invisible and projecting telekinetic force fields (making sure to call them invisible force fields instead of merely force fields every time they're used to try and make it less obvious that it's got little to do with invisibility.) Wasn't until the John Byrne period that she found many different uses for the force fields, such as a powerful attack, and even as a mode of transportation. As such, Susan is now usually considered the most powerful member of the team, and her personality has changed accordingly, as she realized she didn't need to bow to anyone.
    • For that matter, Reed's stretching powers can seem a tad useless in a lot of situations (he's never displayed the kind of limitless shapeshifting abilities of, say, Plastic Man). But Reed's real super-power is being the most brilliant scientist on Earth.
  • Every Silver Age team had a token female that was as useless as they could possibly make her, it seemed, and The Wasp, of The Avengers fame, takes the cake. Her power was to become very small. She had wings in her small form, and stingers that, well, stung, but didn't really stop the enemy. She was about as useless fighting villains as her namesake insect, and spent most of the time begging for help, needing rescue more often than civilians. Her tendency to go small right away means she can't even qualify for Badass Normal. Worse still, she was always right alongside her boyfriend Hank, who also could become small, and more usefully, large, going from Ant-Man to Giant Man and swatting villains like bugs. His intelligence means bug-size was useful for him, as he knew how to sabotage villainous weaponry, and he had his bug-control helmet. Hitching a ride on bug-back means he can pretty much fly, too. This made Wasp's uselessness even more glaring. Wasp's being good at unarmed combat and deductive reasoning came later, and she's still more remembered for her many costumes than for actually doing anything. However, like many on this list, she was made non-useless decades later: She eventually became a great fighter in her own right and she even lead The Avengers for a time. She also gained the ability to grow.
    • This is completely averted in the Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes cartoon, where she is capable of taking down villains by herself.
    • And in The Ultimates reboot, where she her neurological knowledge means that she can attack people's brains. In addition, in Ultimate Canon, she is a mutant and can do the "Wasp Stings" innately at full size, where they are painful and cause nerves to go numb. Unfortunately, her power and her intellect intimidates her her husband Hank, who physically abuses her and attempts to kill her.
  • For a lesser example (which just goes to show how bad these situations could be), when we first met Jean Grey, her powers were only good for levitating as much as she could physically carry. She was considerably more useful than day-one Sue and Wasp, but compared to Beast, Cyclops, and Iceman, her powers weren't so great. Even Angel made more of a non-combat power (having flight alone should make you a bullet sponge, but with incredible agility, high flying speeds, and super-strong wings, he could kick some serious evil mutant posterior even pre-Archangel.) to the degree that Jean fell behind. However, she had incredible precision with her powers, and the 'school' theme means, like her teammates, she became stronger and more skilled with her powers as time went.
    • Kitty Pryde takes this role later. Having the ability to walk through walls is great and all, but she lacked any offensive capabilities. At one point, she joined the rest of the X-Men to save the Morlocks from the Marauders, and realised that while her powers meant that the Marauders couldn't hurt her physically, they still seemed to be able to hurt her by taking out her friends. Of course, she would Take a Level In Badass as well, adding swords, guns and a dragon to her arsenal.
      • Starting with Alan Davis' run on Excalibur, she developed the ability to phase through one opponent while striking another.
    • Ultimate later upped the ante, having Kitty specifically train herself (off panel) to control her phasing ability; her theory that, if she can make her atoms seperate enough to phase through things then she could condense them to gain invulnerability and super strength.
  • The Legion of Substitute Heroes is composed of rejected applicants to The Legion of Super-Heroes, who banded together in an effort to show their powers were not useless. Some members included Chlorophyll Kid, who has the power to make plants grow super fast (he also says he can communicate with plants; he can't, but that doesn't stop him from talking to them); Color Kid, who can change the color of objects; Infectious Lass, who spontaneously generates infectious diseases; and Stone Boy, who has power to turn into stone (at which point he becomes completely immobile.) Surprisingly, several members managed to prove their point and "graduate" into the LSH proper. Of course, considering some of the heroes the Legion did admit, like "Bouncing Boy" and "Matter-Eater Lad", you have to wonder just how bad your powers had to be for them to actually reject you.
    • Matter-Eater Lad is one of the ones who sounds useless in theory, but in practice... well, if there's anything you need to break into, or any dangerous item you need to dispose of, the guy who can eat his way through, and digest, anything... he's your man, er, lad.
      • Likewise, Bouncing Boy is extremely useful because of one of his Required Secondary Powers; dude's good enough at physics and trig to ricochet off walls and into bad guys, which is pretty damn hard to do quickly.
    • Some of the applicants were written so obviously planned-to-fail that it boggles the mind what made them think they'd be a contributing member in the first place. Double Header opened with the remark "Two heads are better than one!"... and immediately started bickering with himself. And Arms-Fall-Off-Lad could detach his arm and use as a club, apparently not considering that blunt instruments aren't that difficult to obtain.
    • One of the Substitute Heroes eventually ended up as leader of the Legion of Super Heroes. That would be Polar Boy, whose powers (control over ice and temperature) were always pretty useful; he just sucked at controlling them. After training for a few years and mastering his powers, he became a powerful and respected hero.
    • Stone Boy has also shown that he can fight reasonably well. It helps that all Legion members get a membership ring that allows them to fly—he can get right above a foe, turn to stone, and drop down on them.
    • Fridge Logic enters the equation with Color Kid. He poses a major threat to the Green Lantern Corps! They should have recruited him—if not to bear a ring, then as a supporting player who could nullify the color yellow whenever necessary.
      • Just the Green Lanterns? Properly used, his power could blind people by turning their eyes white.
      • In one story, Color Kid's power actually proved vitally useful. He saved Superboy's life by turning a chunk of deadly green Kryptonite into harmless blue Kryptonite ... which, by the way, was a completely nonsensical plot development. There is no logical reason why changing the color of a radioactive substance would alter the type of radiation it was emitting. Nevertheless, it happened.
  • Tyrone Jessup of the teen paranormal group Psi-Force had the ability to leave his body in intangible astral form. While this was useful in some situations, it still looked pretty weak next to abilities like powerful telekinesis, mind control, healing everything short of death, etc. A later writer made a point of powering him up a bit.
  • The Top Cow Productions comic book series Freshmen has an entire team full of this. Each character's ability is based on what they were thinking of when a Mad Scientist's machine blew up. While some powers are more traditionally useful (the ability to control other people's minds, the ability to cause earthquakes) some are hard to use particularly well (for instance, the Drama Twins: Renee can telekinetically pull stuff and Brady can telekinetically push stuff; to actually use telekinesis effectively requires them to be touching each other and coordinate), or have disastrous side effects (the Intoxicator can cause everyone around him to be as high or drunk as he is). Then there are things like the ability to understand and talk to plants (while being a vegan), the power to make someone fall in love with you, the powers of a squirrel (a weird haircut, a constant desire to hoard nuts, and a limited ability to glide), having an incredibly sticky body, having a 15-foot-long indestructible penis, and an incredible ability to build dams and having super-intelligence... while being a beaver. However, the team's "leader", an incredibly nerdy comic book fan named Norrin, has no abilities (except for a fairly useless utility belt): he was out getting a pizza when the machine exploded. Surprisingly, at least once in the first story arc everyone's power is put to use. Except the Gag Penis. And we can all be thankful for that.
  • Played straight in Normalman. Everyone on the planet Levram has superpowers, but not only do some of them never figure out just what their power are, some people can, for example, turn toast green.
  • In The Umbrella Academy Vanya has the power to... play the violin really well. She ends up being so upset over this (plus a good amount of ostracization and emotional abuse from her peers and father figure) that she eventually becomes the main villain and, using a deadly violin, becomes a Musical Assassin powerful enough to destroy the world.
  • X-Men's Toad. He originally had the power to jump high, period. He actually made good use of it (pretty much as a distraction to set you up to be nailed by the more powerful Brotherhood members) and like many of these characters, has since received a beef-up.
  • Turner D. Century. With the amazing power of hating young people, plus a flying bicycle and an umbrella that shot fire.
    • In keeping with his "let's be nostalgic for 1901!" gimmick, Turner rode a flying bicycle built for two. But he had no one to ride with, so the second seat was occupied by a life-size doll dressed like a woman. Is being pathetic a super power? It is when you are this pathetic.
  • The Ten-Eyed Man. With the amazing ability of having eyes in his fingertips.
  • Mr. Immortal, whose only power is to come back to life. Something Deadpool takes advantage of, to the extreme, whenever the two are together.
  • And while we're at it let's just add all of the Great Lakes Initiative.
    • Doorman: The power to become a portal, but only into the next room. (He's also a psychopomp with vaguely described powers.)
    • Flatman: with the power of being two-dimensional. (He can also stretch à la Reed Richards.)
    • Big Bertha: with the power to become really, really fat. (With accompanying strength and durability à la Blob.)
    • Tippy Toe: Squirrel Girl's sidekick squirrel, and a full member of the team.
  • In the Howard the Duck section from Civil War: Choosing Sides #0 we have the man that can grow a full beard in a minute!!
  • Angelo "Skin" Espinoza from the X-Men comic Generation X, whose power was... extra skin. He wasn't much of a Rubber Man because his bones and organs didn't stretch with it, and it couldn't change color either, so he couldn't really shapeshift. On top of that, having extra skin hanging off of him made him none-too-pretty, and if he stretched it too far or otherwise overtaxed it, he could be in agonizing pain for a considerable amount of time after. He made a few creative uses of his power in combat, but still got the short end of the Superpower Lottery compared to his teammates.
    • One of his teammates was Synch, whose 'synchronistic aura' let him borrow other people's powers. However, proximity was needed, so he basically has exactly the same power as the guy next to him. Sometimes it was more useful for finding certain mutants by using his aura as a sort of power detector. He once was put in critical condition by being beaten up by non-powered mundane thugs when not accompanied by superhumans. However, he could sometimes use the powers in ways the original users hadn't worked their way up to yet, and it was theorized that he'd eventually learn to retain powers, but that never happened before he died (as in dead-dead, not comicbook-dead.)
  • Played with by the villains in Mark Gruenwald's Squadron Supreme. Some, like Pinball (can inflate his jumpsuit into a ball and roll into people) and Remnant (generate flying fabric from thin air) were pretty useless. On the other hand, Inertia, whose only ability was to transfer momentum from one place to the next, facilitates the epic beatdown of the Captain Ersatz equivalents of Superman, Flash, and Wonder Woman at the same time.
  • The Zoom Academy for Superheroes graphic novel has this.
  • Parodied in one arc of Pearls Before Swine, where the crocodiles form a "Fantastic Four" out of three crocs (since they're bad at math), which consisted of Paper Jam Boy, Stapler Head, and Doorstoppo; their powers are Exactly What They Say On The Tin. Paper Jam Boy then proceeds to be "defeated" by a printer that was out of ink.
  • Teen Titans: Year One has this as a frequent point of contention between Aqualad and Kid Flash, both of whom think the other's powers aren't up to snuff. "Go talk to a fish!" "Oh, like running fast is really all that!"
  • This is also a bit of an issue in Invincible, where Shrinking Ray feels he is often neglected by his teammates in the Guardians of the Globe because of his powers seeming less than formidable. This isn't exactly helped by the fact that he barely ever gets any lines or character development beyond this frustration.
  • Averted in Archie Comics' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures series with the ally Man Ray and villain Armaggon, a mutant manta ray and shark, respectively. Despite being fish, they were fully capable fighters with super-strength on land in addition to being superior swimmers who can breathe underwater. In fact, Man Ray was the leader of the Mutanimals.
  • In the Doom Patrol Doom Force Special, a parody of X-Force, Shasta the Living Mountain agonizes over the fact that his power, turning into a mountain, has ridiculously limited application. This is probably also a parody of how in team books at least one member tends to have a complex about the perceived poorness of their powers. Since he's the Sacrificial Lamb, he dies, but since his teammates are Darker and Edgier, they not only don't mourn, they're actually happy he's dead because of his stupid powers.
  • Independent character Dishman has the power to telekinetically clean dishes. He has yet to find a practical use for this beyond impressing women with the fact that he actually does household chores, but still seems to think it's interesting enough to base his hero identity around it.
  • The old What's New with Phil and Dixie comic strip from Dragon (magazine) once had an episode about superheroes, which included a panel about the need to have powers that are actually useful: "Gazebo Boy finds his singular power of metamorphosis useless against the evil Termite!"
  • Knights of the Dinner Table features an in-universe example of this when the Knights play a variant of their usual superhero-based tabletop game that focuses on this trope. In the first session, Dave's Pot-Lid Boy (power: creative use of kitchen utensils; his lid armor was as strong as Kevlar) and Bob's The Screecher (power: cripplingly-strong nails-on-a-chalkboard power, plus an inability to be touched by human flesh) were soundly defeated by Shrink-Wrap Man, Edward Tire-Iron-Fingers, and the Human Sprinkler (Exactly What It Says on the Tin).
  • The entire team of the Red Shadows of the USSR in Suicide Squad is treated as a joke - for good reason. The most prominent and ridiculous member is called Bolshoi - a failed dancer who couldn't make it into the Bolshoi ballet and instead tried to become a Badass Normal in the Cold War superhuman scene. Since he got horribly maimed and nearly killed by Captain Boomerang of all people, you could say Bolshoi pretty much failed epically in his quest.
  • In Avengers: The Initiative, Dragon Lord's power of conjuring and controlling dragons by mixing potions in his cauldron is derided by the Taskmaster as "not a superpower, son, that's home economics", and the fact that his teammates have to provide cover for him while he prepares for summoning is cited as one of the reasons his squad of trainees is ineffective. After his death, the Irredeemable Ant-Man is amused that the cremated Dragon Lord is "mixed up in a little jar" because "he'd like that."
  • The original Eel in Marvel Comics' sole gimmick in his early career was being really slippery. Eventually this was deemed too low-key to make him a believable danger to guys like Captain America and Daredevil, so he was given electric powers as well.
    • Similarly, C-tier Spider Man villain Slyde wore a full-body suit that made him super-slippery and allowed him to run at up to 30 MPH. Unlike the Eel, he's never been augmented or redeemed in any way.
  • Pantheon High is about the sons and daughters of deities attending high school. The main character has the power of luck. But he is also a typical teenage male, so this translates into sexual situations (i.e. seeing boobs). In one instance, two of his female allies were pondering whether the luck powers would allow them to put the smackdown on the baddies or he would end up "somehow making out with both of us at once".
  • In Wildguard: Casting Call, some of the first round auditionees were... not very impressive. Adhesor sticks to things, for instance. Toughlon, while strong and durable, also has the useless ability of being non-stick like teflon (hence the name). The dolphin-like Dorsal Head complains about being pigeonholed as "only useful in a 'water' situation" despite this not being the case. Little Miss Sunshine can emit rays of light that aren't harmful to anything but vampires.
  • Members of the newest incarnation of Infinity, Inc. tended to fall into this, due a depowering at the hands of Lex Luthor not quite sticking. Gerome McKenna went from having nuclear powers to being able to create a single duplicate of himself, while Erik Storn ended up with the power to turn from a stuttering man to a confident, self-assured woman.
  • The Blimp of the Inferior Five has the ability to fly...very, very slowly.
  • In Sergio Aragones destroys the DC universe we are introduced to a lineup of would-be super heroes with useless powers, such as Deja Vu Lad, who has the power to make events repeat themselves. He gets to do his intro six times before they throw him out.
  • The Power Pack has occasionally gone through this
    • Jack is initially dismayed his power is the ability to turn into a cloud and spends most of the group's first issue being a glorified Obscuring Mist spell. He eventually learns his power also lets him condense his mass as well as expand it, letting him become a tiny, nigh invulnerable, unmovable man that really hurts if he falls onto you (A maneuver he dubs the "Jack Hammer") and can expand underfoot.
    • Alex uses this arc repeatedly. At first he thought his ability to manipulate gravity (of all powers) was this, then when he lost it and got energy conversion and firing powers he thought the same of it too, then the same thing with the ability to turn into gas. He eventually manages to come to grips with the secondary powers that make each useful though.
  • Obscure Golden Age Marvel hero the Witness, best known as one of The Twelve, has the ability to always remember every evil act he sees. This is his only power. True, it's useful when reaping revenge for those evil acts, but the guy's lucky he's a Badass Normal besides, because seriously.
  • Marvel's very own Fad Super Dazzler has the ability to absorb sound and convert it into light. This may not sound like much at first glace, but she can do things like blinding people with bright flashes(duh),create a strobe effect that upsets equilibrium, create holograms, and even Frickin' Laser Beams. She's also immune to sound based attacks, because they just make her stronger. This ability is shown to be obscenely powerful, as Galactus once recruited her to retrieve one of his Heralds and exposed her to unimaginable sounds, including the explosion of an entire galaxy(yeah yeah, no sound in space. He's Galactus, he has no care for your paltry human physics), to boost her to sufficient levels.
  • In Mad House Comics Digest #5, there's a story where intellect-challenged superhero Captain Sprocket decided to get some respect by forming his own team. Unfortunately, all he could get were grade-Z superheroes like Roller Surfboard Man, who could do any roller surfboard trick in existence, and Super Pizza Pie Man, who could hit his target with a pizza of any size at a 50-foot distance.


Fan Works[edit | hide]

Dumbledore: ... The spell we know as love.
Harry: Lame!

  • Marik from Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series can use his Millennium Rod to control minds. Unfortunately, it only works on people named Steve.
    • Although having people's names legally changed makes them susceptible as Joey and Tea finds out.
    • He also pointed out that, if he felt like it, he could have Stone Cold Steve Austin kick your ass.
  • Sailor Mercury from Sailor Moon Abridged is not only utterly useless, in one episode she even causes the people to die by using her powers, hence blocking their views and prevent them from fleeing the scenery.


Films -- Live Action[edit | hide]

  • The team in Mystery Men is all about this trope[2]
    • Mr. Furious, who gets angry without actually getting stronger.
      • Alternate Character Interpretation: He does get stronger when he gets mad, but he's a pretty mellow person, so while he gets annoyed frequently, he rarely gets truly angry.
    • The Blue Raja throws forks. He doesn't throw knives because it wouldn't be sporting.

Blue Raja: "I'm not 'Stab Man', I'm not 'Knifey Boy', I'm the Blue Raja!"

    • The Shoveler, who shovels. He does, however, shovel very well.
      • Though to be honest, a shovel does make a pretty handy weapon.
    • Invisible Boy, who can turn invisible only when nobody is watching him. And he has to be naked for it to have any real effect. As unlikely as it might seem, he and the team actually find themselves in a situation where this power is useful. Automated turrets, it transpires, do not count as somebody watching.
    • The Spleen... Three words: "Pull my finger". The Spleen is also an example of a particularly lame backstory—a Gypsy Cursed him to forever be he who "dealt it".
      • In the Gypsy's defense, he did rip one and blame it on her.
    • The Bowler is the only member of the team with a genuine useful power—a magic flying bowling ball.
      • Don't forget the Sphynx... he can cut guns in half with his mind.
    • Then there are the folks who were rejected by the Mystery Men for being even more useless:
      • The Waffler, who carries a bunch of waffle irons around with him and also boasts a personal Theme Tune.
      • Ballerinaman, who pirouettes in a tutu.
      • The PMS Avenger, whose powers only works for five days out of the month.

"You got a problem with that?!"

      • White Flight and the Black Menace, whose powers are unspecified ("They work together.")
      • And Pencilhead and Son Of Pencilhead, two generations of heroes who erase crime.
  • X3 takes this to new heights with Kid Omega, whose abilities are... retractable inch-long spines. Apparently inspired by comic character Quill. But while Quill can usually shoot these spines, these just... stay there. While this could be a devastating power if you were intent on killing everyone at a chronic cuddler retreat, in combat with people with guns, psionic powers, and various other super-abilities, it's kinda weak. Despite this, he acts as though he is an impressive mutant, using his quills for intimidation purposes on multiple occasions. (Not a bad idea, but useless in the circles he travels in.) It's made worse by the fact that his only on-screen kill is a defenseless, crying woman whom he comforts with a hug then impales on his spines. Some sources describe the spines as poisonous, but still not all that interesting.
    • The comic version is decidedly more interesting but just as useless: he has a "transparent mind" that makes all of his thoughts visible to passersby. When amped up by performance-enhancing drugs, however, he reveals himself to be an incredibly powerful psychic.
    • Two of the children in one of Xavier's classes appear to have the powers of Telekinetic Note-Taking (Inkakinesis?) and Human Channel-Flipper. They're background characters though, so it's possible this is just a case of more versatile powers being used for Mundane Utility.
      • Telekinetic note taking would probably be Psychography. Though it could just be Psychokinesis.
      • Either way it could be an incredibly useful ability depending on what its limits are, the least of which forging someone's signature to changing what is already written like foraging wills. Does it have to be paper that the ink is on? Could you write on flesh and make tattoos? Could you etch metal or concrete? If you held your fingers over an enemy's eyes, could you write on them and blind them?
  • The Specials features Night Bird. Even though she's applying for a middle-rung superhero team, she's bashful about her own power, which turns out to be laying eggs (and good hearing). She can't talk to birds, either, though they do "have an understanding." At the end of the film she discusses her role in the team's first battle - she hid in a dumpster. She commiserates with Minute Man (pronounced my-noot), who can make himself "minute" in size.
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers the Movie: When the Rangers get their new ninja Animal Motifs Tommy gets Falcon, Rocky gets Ape, Billy gets Wolf, Aisha gets Bear, and Kimberly gets Crane. But what does Adam get?

Adam: I'm a frog.
Dulcea: Yes, a frog! Like the one you kiss *kisses Adam* and get a handsome prince.

    • Something of a case of Lost in Translation. Frog/toad powers would have been considerably more Badass (even expected) to the Japanese audience of the original Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, where the guy getting them was named Jiraiya. (No, not that Jiraiya)
    • In the series, Adam certainly doesn't fall behind the others, though. In fact, the Frog Zord's ability to breathe fire and release dozens of mini-Frog Zords that surround and shock your opponent make it a lot more powerful than the ones that are reduced to biting, despite being based on cooler animals. All that and getting to kiss Dulcea? Adam got a hell of a deal.
  • Deconstructed in Sky High, where the Start Of Evil for the Big Bad was that she was a Technopath before that became a well respected superpower, so she was relegated to sidekick, unable to show how powerful she really was. The deciding factor for whether one is a Hero or sidekick? The coach, based on his first and only impression. More generally, the sidekicks' powers tend to fall under this, with plenty of "heroes" who contribute little.
  • In 2006 Israeli movie Giborim Ktanim (Little Heroes), one girl is blessed with the power of being able to hear people from a distance. Sweet.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Averted in the Circle of Magic series. What kind of lame power is "thread-magic?" While it's not quite as spectacular as, say, Tris' lightning magic, Sandry still uses it to tear several villains apart, escape a kidnapping, and make really durable clothes.
  • Harry Potter reveals that Harry's special power is his capacity to love. Dumbledore's explanations aside, Harry's immediate reaction -- "So what?"—seems a bit on-the-mark. Taking into account Dumbledore's explanations, though, it's the most Badass power of love ever. Just to drive this home, in Order of the Phoenix, the essence of love can melt metal on contact. Further, just being capable of love can banish Lord Voldemort from you if he possesses your body. As well, when Voldemort, in book 4, uses blood from Harry to resurrect himself, he becomes more powerful due to stealing Harry's mother's protection... but in book 7, we learn this protects Harry from Voldemort's killing curse, which gets the bit of Voldemort's soul in Harry's body instead. Harry's self-sacrifice in this instance also protected the inhabitants of Hogwarts from Voldemort.
  • Some of the magical talents in Piers Anthony's Xanth are so widely useful and powerful that their possessors are known as Magicians and eligible to rule the magical land. And on the other hand are those with the power to make a small colored spot appear on the wall, play a magic flute, or make people in the vicinity age slightly faster. Much is made in the series out of finding real uses for even the feeblest talents, and a lot of crappy powers turn out to be surprisingly powerful, at least when facing the right plots. The spot-on-the-wall talent, for instance, can be used multiple times in order to make pictures, often quite convincing ones.
  • Tim Burton's Oyster Boy and Other Stories features a whole array of kid heroes with this trope, one being Stain Boy whose only power is to make nasty stains.
  • Played with by Brandon Sanderson in Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians. Most of the main characters have magical "talents" that seem useless, even laughable at first, but turn out to be very useful. For example, one character's talent is arriving late to everything—which includes stepping into a certain spot just too late for a bullet to hit him.
  • The Fingerprints series features characters with a variety of Psychic Powers: some awesome, some... less so. Lampshaded when the main character Rae, who has the ability to read thoughts from fingerprints, tries to fight a villain with a much stronger psychic power, who laughs at the uselessness of Rae's ability.
  • In the Apprentice Adept series, the Tan Adept has the totem of the Evil Eye, granting him (later her) the power of mind control—much the same as Lelouch's Geass power, with similar limits (only targets one person at a time, only if they make eye contact, and only works once on the same person). Still sort of nifty, until you realize several of the other Adepts (Blue, Yellow, and Red in particular) could work spells to achieve much the same effect. Along with about a thousand other things which Tan can't do. It should be noted that in Tan's first appearance (Juxtaposition—the last book of the first trilogy), Tan had all the versatility of the other Adepts, limited only by line of sight. Piers Anthony apparently Did Not Do the Research on his own creations.
  • In A Nightmare on Elm Street: Suffer the Children Freddy gives several teenagers powers, with his plan being to manipulate them into being his servants in the real world. Final Girl Alex gets empathy. She even states near the end of the book that this "power" just sucks compared to the ones her friends got, which included the likes of pyrokinesis, telekinesis and mind control.
    • She tries to find a silver lining by thinking it could at least help her sense Freddy's presence. Reading her mind, his disembodied voice responds with "Don't count on it, bitch."
  • In Twilight, some vampires gain genuine supernatural powers, while others just have a natural trait magnified. The latter circumstance tends to suck. Carlisle got stuck with compassion, Esme with The Power of Love, and Rosalie with beauty. Which in some worlds would be at least unusual traits for vampires to possess at all, but here just makes them...nicer. Then there's Victoria, who had her self-preservation instinct enhanced. Yes, some vampires gain the ability to cause pain at will, read minds, create illusions, while she gets not wanting to die slightly more than people already don't want to die. It's not as though her power even stopped her from embarking on incredibly dangerous tasks, like the one that, say, got her killed.
    • Marcus, anyone? The guy has the power TO SEE RELATIONSHIPS. I know it is intended to be more like a "relation-meter", but still...NO.
  • In Lawrence Watt-Evans' With a Single Spell, the orphaned apprentice's eponymous lone firestarting spell is pretty much useless and laughable the entire book, until it plays a deadly role in the end. Also, when the protagonist is trapped in a dead mage's extraplanar castle and is going through all the spellbooks for a means of escape, he casts the Badass but extremely lame spell "Jalger's Jar Opener". This spell summons a 9-foot silvery spike-covered demonic entity. To open a jar for you. After which it disappears...
  • In Michael Grant's Gone (novel) series, a lot of kids who were left in the FAYZ develop superpowers. Some of these are powerful and useful, such as telekinesis, shooting powerful beams of light, Super Speed, or Healing Hands. Others... not so much. Astrid has a vaguely defined ability to sense the "potential" of people. In the second book, Duck has the ability to alter his mass and density. He can use this to sink into the ground, float in the air (just float, since he has no way to propel himself), and that's about it. This is lampshaded when immediately after discovering his power, he says, "I'm a moof with a really sucky power!" That said, at the end of the book Duck uses his power to defeat the Big Bad. By increasing his mass as he drops on said Big Bad, burying himself alive in the process. Yay?
  • This trope appears often in William Boniface's The Extraordinary Adventures Of Ordinary Boy kids' novels, set in a city where everyone has super-powers (except for the eponymous protagonist). Said powers range from the typical Flying Brick and Mind Control Stock Super Powers to the less-than-useful—Puddle Boy can create puddles beneath his feet, Melonhead has a melon-shaped head and spits (ordinary) watermelon seeds, and Whistlin' Dixie can whistle any song perfectly.
  • In the Mistborn series, mistings get one of eight abilities—the ability to push or pull metals, the ability to manipulate emotions, and so on. Smokers block allomantic pulses—that is, it makes it so people can't sense allomancers. Undeniably useful, to be sure, but still. It's even worse for seekers (the opposite of smokers), who are the ones with the ability to "hear" allomantic pulses. They wouldn't be that useful in the first place, and then you throw smokers into the mix...most people in the series see seekers as redundant at best.
    • Subverted when it turns out that the Steel Ministry is highly interested in recruiting Seekers, since Hemalurgy can make them strong enough to pierce copperclouds, something the rest of the world thinks is impossible.
    • In the Alloy of Law novel Smokers and Seekers get outsucked by Aluminium and Duraluminum Mistings, who have the ability to burn away their metal reserves and enhance then burn away their metal reserves respectively.
  • In Maximum Ride, while everyone is developing awesome super powers such as super speed, invisibility, and mind control, Iggy gets the ability to... feel color and see if everything is white. Whee.
    • Slightly averted in that Iggy was blind to begin with.
    • And also in that Iggy had night vision before the White Coats operated on him to "enhance" it.
  • Lampshaded by Thom Creed and his teammates in Perry Moore's Hero. Thom's powers of healing may be cool, but team medic doesn't appear to be the most glamorous role for an aspiring teenage superhero.
  • The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul has a brief appearance by a girl with supernatural knowledge of stock prices... by the time they've already appeared in the newspapers. Since she's reduced to perpetually mumbling stock prices and is confined to a mental institution, this could count as Blessed with Suck.
  • In J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, the Powers of the World have different spheres of influence. One has mastery over the sky, one over metals, one over the ocean, etc. Some of the female Vala are lame, though. Nessa is "The Dancer," Vairë weaves, and Vána is the ever young, whose power is the ability to make birds chirp and flowers bloom by her presence. Even one of the Aratar (the most powerful of the Valar) Nienna, is the Valar of Grief and Mourning.
  • Deuces in Wild Cards are all about this trope. There's Mr. Rainbow, who can change the color of his skin to any pastel shade; a woman who can levitate, but only when she's sleeping; and a man who can stick his hand into a tub of water and make it boil in just under 8 minutes.
  • Abby Carnelia's one and only magic power lives this trope. The premise is a bunch of kids have very lame, but still magical, powers. Abby can make a hardboiled egg spin if she tugs her ears. Another girl can float about a half inch off the ground. One boy can fog up glass for a second and another can turn white paper gray...and yet, somehow, these all end up saving the day. (Who knew, right?)
  • In The Pale King, Claude Sylvanshine has Random Fact Intuition, which is basically ESP with nothing but useless facts.
  • In The Hunger Games, Peeta jokes that the only thing he's really great at is icing cakes; Katniss, understandably, doesn't think that's likely to help him in the arena. In fact it makes him freaking boss at camouflage, which is great news for the NonActionGuy.
  • The Sidekicks series by Dan Danko and Tom Mason parodied this a lot, having such superheroes as Pumpkin Pete (his head is a pumpkin), Exact Change Kid, Spice Girl (she smells nice), Boom Boy (he can blow up...but only once), and Haiku Boy. In fact, when Speedy jokingly asks, "Where's Bar-of-Soap Boy when you really need him?" it turns out there was a Bar-of-Soap Boy on the team, but he moved away to a place "where it didn't rain so much".
  • In the web-novel Domina, some of the superpowers are Super Speed, force fields, the ability to manipulate rock and stone, pyrokinesis, and...lie detection. Not even particularly good lie detection, either; half-truths slip right by.
  • The first power Michael develops in the Knight and Rogue Series after getting magic are an ability to see magic in nature, while he could already sense it if he was close enough to the magical object, and he treats this like the end of the world. He's even less pleased to discover his ability to make water wetter (let that one sink in) because of what it can do. He only calms down when Fisk points out that, actually, having water that's extra wet isn't really that useful.
  • In Kristin Cashore's novels Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue, a "Graceling" (an individual gifted, or cursed, with an unusual/superhuman ability) doesn't automatically know what their Grace is, and has to discover it through experience. Some of these Graces, once identified, turn out to be pretty useless. Among the examples given are the Grace to eat rocks and not get sick, the Grace to open your mouth so wide your face gets turned inside out—good only for grossing people out (Beetlejuice-inspired, perhaps?) and various nice but limited Graces such as knowing exactly what food will satisfy someone at the moment (Here I see Vincent from Syfy's Eureka).

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Parodied in a recurring sketch in That Mitchell and Webb Look, which features the exploits of the crime-fighting duo BMX Bandit (who can ride a BMX bike really well) and The Angel Summoner (who can summon a horde of celestial superbeings to do his bidding); each adventure would begin with BMX Bandit suggesting an over-complicated primarily BMX-based strategy to deal with the threat they were facing (kidnappers, drug-runners, terrorists), only for Angel Summoner to reluctantly point out that it'd be a lot easier if he just summoned a horde of angels to do it instead. Needless to say, the latter usually proves a lot more useful... which gives Bandit a severe inferiority complex. Finally, BMX Bandit does get to use his skills, prompted by Angel Summoner who's eager to make him feel an equal part of the team, despite the utter unsuitability of the situation—and dies in the process.
    • Also parodied in a sketch about a man with telekenesis - but it only works on biscuits. Downplayed by the fact that his companion thinks it is an awesome power (after all, ordinary humans can't cause biscuits to fly around with their mind), and that the man's problem with the power isn't that it is lame, but that he tends to inadvertently kill people when using it.
  • Heroes:
    • The graphic novels had a Company agent whose passive ability was absorbing sound, rendering him deaf and mute as well as useless unless up against someone with a sonic power (who could still theoretically take him down through conventional means).
    • The web-show spin-off Zeroes was about characters from the Heroes universe with incredibly lame powers. This includes a man who paints the future as stick-figures, rendering them indecipherable, and a girl who could fit her whole fist into her mouth, which is pointed out to be "just slutty".
    • And then there's Alejandro, whose sole displayed power was the ability to absorb and stop his sister's killing power. Which she learns to do by herself anyway. And then loses her power permanently. Sylar kills him and doesn't even bother to try to learn how he does it.
    • A new character's power to 'see' sounds appears to be this trope, until she discovers she can be quite dangerous with these abilities, somehow.
    • The boy Claire met, whose power was to breathe underwater. So, Aquaman, but much less powerful. Nevertheless, it was apparently an issue of vital importance to national security that he be locked up. Thank you Nathan.
    • The "Going Postal" webisodes featured a henchman of the Company with the fearsome power of "constriction". Let's just say he's harmless unless you let him give you a hug.
    • Sylar seemed to love collecting these. He harvested the abilities of a guy who had the power to blow up (incredibly small) objects with his finger, a guy who could liquify small metal objects (and they had to be metal) and another guy who could blow up (tiny) things with his mind (with a good thirty seconds of effort).
    • Arguably, Ando's initial power. He can't do anything himself, but can supercharge others with abilities. Later on, he discovers he can fire energy beams out of his hands.
  • Parodied in Mystery Science Theater 3000 in which Crow creates a superhero identity for himself. While he concedes that his super power is completely useless, he jumps into the role of superhero wholeheartedly, even creating a super costume and announcing himself in a deep booming voice. His name? Turkey Volume Guessing Man. His power? To estimate how many turkeys could conceivably fill any given space. Of course, Mike then immediately takes the wind out of his sails by demonstrating that he has the same power.
  • This trope is the entire point of the Whose Line Is It Anyway? game "Superheroes". From just one playing: Suicide Boy, Yodeling-Pogo-Stick Man, Captain Bloodloss, and Cowboy Stunt-Rider. Other examples include Caught-In-A-Wind-Tunnel Boy, The Jitterbug Kid and Run-Away-From-Danger Man.
    • This list has so far failed to include fan-favorite Captain Obvious.
      • Nope. It just took a true crisis-- dry skin—for them to call out the big guns.

Drew: Hey, who ever thought that the world famous Captain Obvious was really mild mannered Colin Mochrie?

  • In No Heroics we get Fuseboss whose power is fusing two things together. To make the matters worse, he also has a nervous tic that forces him to create new words by fusing two existing, hence we get jems like "bews" (bad news), "prules" (pub rules) and "blob" (...take a wild guess).
  • Before achieving national fame as "the Science Guy", Bill Nye was a member of the Seattle-based comedy-sketch show Almost Live!. One of his reoccuring characters was a superhero named Speed Walker who fought crime "while maintaining strict adherence to the regulations of the International Speed-Walking Association!" (Heel toe! Heel toe!!)
  • The primary conceit of Kamen Rider Decade is that the title hero can use the powers, techniques, and weapons of every previous Kamen Rider. Because Den-O relies entirely on the combat skills of the Imagin who possess him, his powers look kind of useless, leading to a hilarious scene when Decade first uses Den-O's powers and discovers that the attack cards simply make him perform the Imagins' Catch Phrases. Later on it's shown that he also gets the traits of Den-O's forms, such as Ax Form/Kintaros' Super Strength, making it look a lot more useful.
  • Kamen Rider Super-1 subverts this and plays it straight at the same time: Gold Hand is a radar... yeah, not very useful until you get to the fact it can be used as a missile launcher.
  • Friends had an episode where it was revealed that Ross, as a child, used to write comics about his own superhero, Science Boy! Blessed with the powers of... a super human thirst for knowledge.
  • A Saturday Night Live sketch featured "The Interesting Four":
    • Weather Woman, who could change the air temperature of the room she was in by up to eight degrees in either direction;
    • Staple, whose thumb was a stapler;
    • Seiko, who, by pressing a button on his watch, would go back in time by one second <click> one second <click> one second <click> one second (this continued until someone else snapped him out of it); and
    • Mister Wonderful. He doesn't have any powers, he's just Mister Wonderful!
  • David Letterman made a top 10 list about this trope:

10. Super spelling
9. Lighning-fast mood swings
8. Really bendy thumb
7. Unusually natural smile when posing for photographs
6. Ability to calm jittery squirrels
5. Power to shake exactly two aspirins out of a bottle
4. Ability to get tickets to Goodwill games
3. Power to score with other superheroes' wives
2. Ability to communicate with corn. And the number one least exciting superpower...
1. Magnetic colon

    • Oh, come on. Number 3 sounds awesome unless you actually plan on fighting crime.
    • Depends. Do you also get the necessary powers to survive the revenge of the superpowered cuckold?
  • One of the players on Survivor: Samoa made a direct and detailed reference to the original Captain Planet and the Planeteers instance of this trope in describing his feelings of weakness and fatigue.
  • Out of This World: On her 16th birthday, Evie is told by her father Andross that she can gain a new power from ten different choices. One of the choices is the ability to change shoes quickly. Andross admits "We don't get a lot of requests for that one..."
  • The BBC character profiles for Robin Hood lists Kate's specialized weapon as "her imagination". In the eleven episodes in which she appeared, the most imaginative thing she ever did was to use a sword to drag a key toward her whilst she was locked in a cell. So not only is it a Lame Power, but it's an Informed Ability as well. In case you were wondering, she was indeed the The Scrappy.
  • Stringfellow Hawke from Airwolf has super-hearing (possibly equal to or greater than his dog), which only comes in useful in that no-one can sneak up on him.
  • Subverted in an episode of House; a patient who at first appears to have the amazingly useful power of perfect memory recall is later discovered to suffer from OCD and is actually incapable of forgetting bad memories and grudges.
  • Misfits likes this, although several of them prove to be much more useful once they get used to them. But Alisha's power is to uncontrollably make any guy who touches her try to have sex with her. Nikki's ability to teleport would be good if she could control when it happened or where she went, but as is, is nothing but a liability. The girl who can make people go bald. Still, all of them pale beside the guy whose "power" is to mentally become a dog. This brings no enhanced abilities at all, and is basically just an especially embarassing form of sleepwalking (ie naked and impersonating a dog whilst running around the streets of London).
  • Played with in Merlin with Morgana's precognitive dreams. For a long time she doesn't understand them, and it's up to Merlin and Gaius to heed their warnings, whilst everyone else treats her as The Cassandra. In later episodes she understands them, but can't do anything to prevent them from unfolding (as in her Flash Forward dream to Guinevere being crowned Queen). If she does take action, they usually turn into a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
  • Stan Lee's Superhumans, a program on the History Channel (US) is all about this trope, including your basic human calculators and the like, along with a Discovery Channel documentary entitled The Real Superhumans which featured, among others, a man whose heightened core metabolism has left him nearly impervious to cold, which he sought to prove by running a half-marathon nearly naked barefoot in the Arctic. He made it. It also featured a man born with skin so smooth and sleek that objects can be stuck to it as if his belly was a suction cup.
  • Mutant X, a (Canadian?) action show that obviously was based on X-Men, had a guy who could shoot lightning from his hands, a girl who was crazy cat-like, a dude who could either ghost himself or make himself as hard as a statue and a girl who... had weak telepath powers. The last was often kept back at base.
    • In later seasons they all got upgrades, and the telepath gained a weird "mental missile" attack that did manage to take out whoever it hit (but having no effect on the surrounding area); she still got left behind though.
    • Emma's powers eventually grew to the point where she could erase memories with a thought and could keep an entire army from discovering a weird-looking jet in a jungle clearing. Of course, as she explains to Jesse, to do this she has to remove all safeguards from her mind, meaning she won't be blocking anybody's thoughts. While she's saying that, she's wearing an outfit with lots of cleavage, which Jesse just happens to look at. Her reaction to his thoughts shows that she's not pleased. Apparently, the writers thought this made her too powerful, requiring a bridge to be dropped.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Comedian David O'Doherty has a song called "Very Mild Superpowers".

O'Doherty: Sometimes when I'm cycling with my headphones on, I know exactly where I'll be at the end of a song.

Mythology[edit | hide]

  • The Titans of Classical Mythology included such forces as Cronus, and if they weren't in control of something, they were a parent of a god who was. Then there's Crius. He can make constellations...and can't do anything with those constellations. He was so useless that he never even fought in the war between the Titans and the gods.

Radio[edit | hide]

  • BBC radio comedy show The Burkiss Way had a Legion of Super-Heroes sketch where the team were irritated by an applicant trying to claim the ability to stand up from a sitting position as a super-power. ("I can do it quite quickly...") When this fails to impress them, he claims to have the ability to move from place to place at will - by getting on the bus. They try and throw him out, so he reveals he has one last super-power: The ability to stop any comedy programme at will.

Team Leader: Really? Well I don't bel-

  • Eighties radio comedy Son of Cliche featured The League Of Stupid Heroes, principally Captain Invisible and his trusty sidekick the Seethru Kid. One episode began in the local barbers with a very careful hairdresser demonstrating one of the drawbacks of invisibility.. at the end, Captain Invisible and seethru are both wounded and immobile and trying desperately to get the local police and ambulance saervice to locate them...
    • That Mitchell and Webb Sound - Angel Summoner and the BMX Bandit. One can summon hordes of immensely powerful angels. One rides a BMX. Any guess as to whose power tends to get used?
  • The Firesign Theatre's Captain Equinox: his powers are unspecified, but true to his name, he is only Captain Equinox twice a year.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • In the tongue-in-cheek roleplaying game In Nomine Satanis Magna Veritas (American Tropers might better know its Darker and Edgier remake, In Nomine), character powers are assigned at random from a rather long list. If you're lucky, you can wind up with lightning bolts, holy dancing swords, mind control or even limited time travel. If you're not lucky, you're going to be the guy on the team who can control molluscs, or whose "power" is to have materialized on Earth in the body of a famous rock star (considering most scenarios involve discreet investigations among Muggles, this is all kinds of Blessed with Suck). There's also the unbalance of domain powers, granted by the Archangel/Demon Prince you serve (and by extension, the virtue/sin they embody). Again, some of those are powerful - petrification, turning people into pillars of salt, nightmare curses... but lust demons get Deadly Orgasm, which while somewhat awesome (YMMV) is not exactly useful in a fight. Meanwhile, sloth demons get a power which makes any physical exertion impossible to anyone in a 100m radius...demon included. Not to be outdone in the lameness department, some angels get the power to speed up crop growth.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, the School of Divination gets this treatment sometimes. After all, knowing about stuff doesn't seem to be as cool as throwing fireballs. More experienced players are all too happy to demonstrate how the ability to legitimately metagame beats the ability to set stuff on fire 9 times out of 10.
    • Forgotten Realms canon admitted that knowledge is power: diviners firmly stood on top of very competitive and unforgiving hierarchies—Gromph Baenre, the Archmage of Menzoberranzan and Zalathorm, king of Halruaa. Melegaunt Tanthul, prince of Shade, was bold and sneaky enough to go study Sealed Evil in a Can from inside its can and succeed.
      • Realms also has Gayrlana "Lady Bloodsword". A female human fighter with topped out Charisma (traditional Dump Stat) and Mindlink (ability to talk directly) as a psionic wild talent. The result: a great Lethal Joke Character, because she used these advantages, and what started as a simple dungeon crawl ended with her as the head of Mindulgulph Mercenary Company,[3] and continued along this line. Whatever the task is, they probably have creatures well-suited to it and humans or humanoids who can play intermediary.
  • In the post-modern horror game Unknown Armies, a Significant magical ritual (that is, an effect of Authentic Thaumaturgy usable only by Adepts, not by normal people unless they HAPPEN to know the incredibly rare and costly Harmonious Alignment minor-charging ritual) is called "Scurvy Livestock". This ultra-rare power, which can be cast ONLY on a full moon night and which requires yellow phlegm from a sick woman with a least one living child, mixed with wine and honey which must be boiled (while saying magic words) in your your opponent's field, causes livestock owned by the target to sicken: cows give sour milk, sheep get patchy, and piglets fail to thrive. Some, as the spell notes, will die. The book explains: "Sure, this doesn't seem particularly impressive today. But in the Middle Ages it was one of the all-time greats."
  • This can happen if you get the wrong randomly drawn Alpha Mutations in Gamma World. Giant Clown Feet anybody?


Toys[edit | hide]

  • Bionicle's Gali, a Toa of Water, complained to her trainer that she cannot think of a way to make good use of her Mask of Water Breathing as an offensive or defensive item, especially since the training took place in a desert. Later on, though, she moved to a watery area and also gathered five other masks, so it was all good. Actually, a lot of mask powers in the Bionicle Universe may seem kind of awesome at first, but when you remember that often these are the only masks their user has access to, they may find themselves in hairy situations.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Forgotten Beasts in Dwarf Fortress will sometimes have one of these. The random nature of their breath attacks means sometimes they breath fire or molten iron. Sometimes it is harmless snowflakes.
  • The first Metal Gear Solid game has an example with Decoy Octopus, who can imitate another person perfectly, even down to the blood. While it sounds good and is certainly useful, it just can't compare to the likes of the Fourth Wall-shattering Psychic, the hulking shaman wielding a BFG commonly found on fighter jets, the Cold Sniper skilled enough to hit you in a blizzard, and the clone of the greatest soldier ever who is Made Of Frickin' Titanium. He only one-ups the sharpshooting Badass Normal... but who acts mostly behind the scenes instead of in the battlefield.
  • The Eyeclops helmet in Kid Chameleon; in an irritatingly Nintendo Hard game, its primary application is to... fire harmless green beams that reveal invisible blocks, which is useless most of the time (as power up blocks are either clearly seen or easily found without the helmet). Its attack function is its crystal power up, which fires a brief white beam of kill energy that only takes off one hit from normal enemies, doesn't damage bosses at all, yet eats gems like candy per use. The only real advantage it gives you over your normal, unpowered self is an extra hit point (which any of the other helmets can get you, themselves).
    • There are actually several levels which make creative use of this helmet, as the blocks the beam reveals form a temporary platform.
  • The Sleep power up in the Kirby series; all you do with it activated is, well... sleep for a while, not healing or becoming invulnerable or anything, just... sleeping and being a sitting duck. Enemies or powerups that grant Sleep are actually used as obstacles later in the series for just that reason; likewise, it's a Zonk when two or more powers are absorbed at the same time ("Mix"). This was subverted in the latest game, where a treasure lets Kirby use Sleep to heal his health bar. In several games, Sleep does give you invulnerability; there was even a level in one game where you had to sleep through a conveyour belt filled with invulnerable spiky enemies to reach a secret door.
    • Although, to be honest, even with the scroll to give it healing abilities, Sleep is still pretty much useless. You'd probably be better off with literally any other healing item.
  • Captain Novolin's "superpower" is diabetes. No, he doesn't cure diabetes. No, he can't give people diabetes either. He has diabetes, and dies instantly when he touches junk food. Suddenly Ma-Ti and Aquaman don't seem all that bad.
  • The game Superhero League of Hoboken is built on the subversion of this trope. Set in postapocalyptic Hoboken and surroundings, the protagonists are superheroes with... really weird powers. And names. And backgrounds. Such as Captain Excitement, so boring that he can cause animals to fall asleep at will. Treader Man, half man, half boat, who is really good at treading water. Breadbuster, able to vanquish any baked goods. Madame Pepperoni, able to instinctively know the content of any pizza box without looking. (Only pizza boxes, though.) The list goes on. Yet, almost all of them make use of their powers one way or another, either to solve a quest (a hostel is swamped with unfolded road maps; fortunately, Princess Glovebox's power is specifically the ability to handle this), or to assist in combat (causing animals to fall asleep is REALLY useful when you're attacked by Albino Rhinos). In fact, the only hero whose power is NOT useful in some way is Crimson Tape, the main character... and the only one you can't remove from the party. Fortunately, you can give heroes secondary powers to round out the group.
  • In Okami, the various deities you get your powers from are the gods of things like fire, restoration, water, etc. The cat, Kabegami, however, is the God of Walls, and while being able to walk up vertical surfaces may seem pretty handy, in practice it's limited to a few very specific paths marked by Kabegami statues and pawprints. Oh well.
    • This might be the case for only Ammy, though, because she gets the distilled versions of the powers at first (for example, she cannot shoot lightnings like Raigami before the power gets upgraded) and we never see what the "upgraded" version of Kabegami's power is like.
  • In The Last Remnant, most (if not all) of the characters that can be recruited into your party have, in addition to their usual complement of standard "RPG Attributes", a single seemingly-useless attribute which can also increase through combat along with everything else. Some seem as if they may be useful, such as Management, Leadership, and the like. But others, such as Gluttony, or Trivia seem... not so useful. I've yet to have an enemy challenge me to a pie-eating contest or round of Star Trek trivia questions, but when they do, I'll be ready! (And what kind of lame attribute is "Crybaby", anyway?)
    • Subverted in Trinity Universe in which seemingly-useless attributes actually ARE useful. Consider Etna's passive skill; making fun of her chest size is actually responsible for improving the strength of her dark-elemental attacks.
  • Averted in Trauma Center, where Cardia (Greek for heart) covers your patient's heart with rapid-fire lacerations in between laying tumor bombs. Not that bad in the storyline missions, but X-Cardia will kill you dead.
  • The Interactive Fiction series The Frenetic Five features a group of superheroes in a world where not all powers are awesome. The player character, Improv, has the power of "thinking MacGyver was a rank amateur," (a power which doesn't actually have any effect on the game—the player himself is expected to provide that power in the form of solving puzzles through improvization). His teammates are:
    • "Pastiche", each of whose body parts has a different power (her hand, for example, can phase through solid matter, but her Kryptonite Factor is rope and anything wheat-based);
    • "Lexicon" knows every word in the English language;
    • "Newsboy" has a mystical ability to receive news headlines remotely;
    • "The Clapper" can make objects beep by clapping (in one episode, The Clapper is replaced by Medic Alert, a hero with the power to beep loudly until help arrives).
  • In City of Heroes, the two starting contacts for heroes of the Mutation origin are both also mutants, but their powers aren't exactly super-heroic. One can instantly solve any math problem, the other can see into the infrared and ultraviolet areas of the light spectrum.
  • Shaman in World of Warcraft use elemental totems to grant a wide variety of buffs to their allies. As a drawback, these totems are stationary, have limited range, limited duration, and only 5 hit points (meaning a level 1 character's attack can kill a max level shaman's totem in one hit). This was fine in the original game and even through the first expansion, but WoW's second expansion brought a round of buff handouts and homogenization that turned all but one totem from powerful unique buffs into unwieldy versions of other classes' buffs.
    • Yes, but the cool thing about Shamans is that you can have four of them up at a time. This is awesome for 5-person groups, or even solo. The fewer people in the group, the more useful the shaman is. A solo shaman can have 4 totems, a weapon buff (two if you're an enhancement shaman), and a Shield buff all at once. No other class gets that many buffs in that kind of variety. Anything from melee strength, to haste, to spell power, to increased HP or MP regeneration, to absorbing the enemy's next spell, the shaman has it. The only drawback is that most other classes have stronger versions of the same buffs, so once the Shaman gets into a 10+ player group, chances are, their buffs are now unnecessary.
      • Also it must be noted that Shaman PVE DPS has been consistently high since TBC for both Elemental and Enhancement specs (ranged caster and melee, respectively), bordering on the unreal in WOTLK when Enh shammies were easily topping the charts; and Restoration Shamans (healing spec) have likewise been consistently jaw-droppingly effective. Just because their buffs are no longer unique does not mean their actual prowess has ever been in question.
  • Shirou in Fate Stay Night is terrible at magic and has the super awesome ability to... use the least efficient style of magic better than anyone else naturally. Which he can do about six times before running out of prana. Oh, and he's really good at visualizing the internal structure of stuff and their history. This is completely subverted due to his Reality Marble, which turns him from some kid with huge Determinator qualities, high physical strength and poor planning abilities into Archer. And it's still only good on a battlefield because all he can make is weaponry, and -- if he struggles -- armor.
    • Actually this would be more of a case of Heart Is an Awesome Power because the style of magic related to that (projecting) allows him to copy and recreate any weapon he's already seen before. This includes all of the legendary weapons he sees during the Fifth Holy Grail War. Even without his Reality Marble by the end of the three routes he's still pretty dangerous in a game filled with ancient heroes and demigods.
  • In The Bizarre Adventures of Woodruff and the Schnibble, after you go back in time and save an injured bazouk, a Chinese-stereotype "guru" (whose existence you've caused) will periodically show up and give you such powers as... the ability to control your hair growth. Subverted when Woodruff asks what use these powers are and is told, "Individually, they are useless. But once you have mastered them all, you will gain the ability to leviatate!" And indeed, levitation is necessary to complete the game.
  • Street Fighter series. In exchange for all of Dan Hibiki's inferiorities, he gains an ability unique to him that allows him to... taunt without limit. Other characters can only taunt once per round. Lucky bastard!
    • It got even worse for him. In Capcom Vs SNK 2, taunting charged your opponent's power meter. One of Dan's hypercombos was a non damaging series of rolls while taunting repletedly. Yeah, he could completely drain his power meter and leave himself wide open to an opponent's attack for a very long time... in order to make his opponent more dangerous. Way to go, Dan.
  • In Comic Jumper, Paper Lad from "The Improbable Paper Pals" has the ability to turn himself into different types of paper. Naturally, Smiley and Star mock him for this, and even Paper Lad admits he's useless without his partner, Origami Kid.
  • Inverted in the first Kingdom Hearts game:

Sora: I know now I don't need the Keyblade. I have a better weapon: my heart!
Riku: Your heart? What good will that weak little thing do for you?

    • Turns out his heart is what won him back the Keyblade, which Riku stole.
  • Lampshaded in Dragon Quest VI: after a nun states that Lord Zenith's power comes from the hearts of people, Amos wonders if he wouldn't be happier with the power of fire or wind.
  • Touhou contains some of the most horrifically powerful individuals in existence, epic, ancient beings or monumental powerhouses that could obliterate continents or subdue planets. And then there are the... others, such as Rumia, with the power to form a sphere of darkness around herself that she can't even see out of, Lily White, with the power to announce the arrival of spring, Rinnosuke, with the power to identify the name and purpose of any object, Parsee, with the power to be jealous, Kogasa, with the power to surprise people (though that one has been rather useful), or Hatate, with the power of Google Image Search.
  • In the first Commandos game the Green Beret could perform silent kills, conceal himself, move bodies and use a radio box to distract enemies. The Marine could swim, fire silent harpoons and deploy an inflatable boat. The Spy could hide in plain sight and administer injections of poison, whilst the Sapper could set bombs, throw grenades, cut through barbed wire and plant bear traps. The Sniper could.. snipe. With a very limited number of bullets. That was it. The Driver was almost as bad since his special skill was, predictably, driving, something that was apparently beyond the other members of his unit, but at least he also had a moderately useful submachine gun as well. The problem was alleviated somewhat in the sequel where all squad members were a little more flexible in terms of who could do what.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Brilliantly subverted by this Buttersafe comic, in which love is the source of energy which powers eye lasers.
  • In The B Movie Comic, Mopey hasn't been a Magical Girl for more than one minute, and she already asks that very question.
  • Basilica in Man-Man has possibly the most ludicrous power ever invented. He turns into a basilica, then the resident priest tells you to knock off what you were doing. Worse, other people can trigger the transformation.
  • In the Metal Gear Solid parody webcomic The Last Days of Foxhound, we have The Chinaman of the Dead Cell unit. In a team consisting of a giant explosives expert, a superb strategist, and a vampire who can see in the dark, run up walls, walk on water and pin people to the ground by their shadows, The Chinaman is... a special effects expert and a navy swimming champion. Who can also hold his breath for a really long time. Did I mention that he's currently stationed in a desert? Because of all this, he ends up trying way too hard.

Chinaman: I know what you're thinking. "What could a navy swimming champion and special effects expert possibly be good for in an anti-terrorist squad? Especially in a desert where there's no water to swim in?"
Raven: You're a navy swimming champion?
Chinaman: And a special effects expert, don't forget that! But I've got news for you Jack -- I just spent four hours under the desert sun in a wetsuit! Pretty stupid huh? But I did it to prove I could, and now I'm gonna pass out!
(passes out)
Jackson: It's for the best. He was about thirty seconds from challenging you to a breath holding contest.

    • Dead Cell also has "Old Boy", whose "power" is...being a 100+ year old former Nazi General. Why are these two even in the comic you ask? Because they were originally going to appear in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty before being axed and incorporated into other characters (The Chinaman's water running powers were given to Vamp and Old Boy was reworked into The End).
  • Parodied in this installment of VG Cats.
  • A short arc in the Sluggy Freelance B-Side Comics "Bikini Suicide Frisbee Days" dealt with the main characters getting powers like these. Riff gained the power to make sound effects, Torg gained the "power" of having his life narrated, and Zoe gained the ability/curse to speak a different language each time she opens her mouth (but never English). Gwynn's the only one who got a useful superpower: the power to create an anti-climactic ending, causing all the other useless superpowers to fade away.
  • Lampshaded in this strip from Least I Could Do.
  • Subverted in this strip from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.
  • Apparently the entire point of Irregular Webcomic's "Supers" theme. For both heroes and villains.
  • This trope is the entire premise of the furry superhero comic Psychic Dyslexia Institute (PDI), where a "psychic dyslexia" is an exceptionally odd superpower; characters include, among many others: a girl who can create completely convincing illusions, but only of clothing; someone who has the power to tell whether or not a building contains cheese; a boy who subconsciously generates a field around him that makes anyone who enters it suddenly feel an irrational overriding hatred towards him, and an anthropomorphic chicken whose eggs glow in the dark. They actually find fairly creative ways to use these abilities, especially with the addition of a team member whose ability is to reverse the ability of any powered character he touches. Pathos, for example, generates a field that makes people become absolutely enraptured towards him while touching Reverso, generally used as an extremely effective distraction.
  • Super Temps has this apply to the entire 'non-super' civilian populace. Everyone's got a power, just most suck—although some 'non-supers' do have Lethal Harmless Powers.
  • Andrew "Smitty" Smith of Gunnerkrigg Court has the power to subconsciously create order where there was none, or as Parley puts it "his super power is to make everything boring!"
  • During the super hero story arc of Dragon Tails, Lemuel's alter ego gained the ability to manipulate emotions and make people happy. Not only did he gain these powers while playing a villain, he couldn't actually stop people from doing things, merely change how they feel about doing those things.
  • Noah of Path to Greater Good has, at the start of the series, the magical power to not see his own reflection.
  • In this Dinosaur Comics, T-Rex imagines bizarre superpowers for himself and his friends. "Your super power is shooting sunscreen out of your eyes." "What do yours do? Dribble out salty water, but only when you're sad?"
  • Average-Man is the world's most average superhero. He's okay at flying.
  • The premise of this Optipess strip.
  • Hamsterfall from Bob the Angry Flower. When he wills it, hamsters drop from the sky.
    • Also Plantae. He has the power to control plants. In comic books this is typically a reasonable power, but that's because it implicitly gives the plants the ability to move. The only plant that can move in this comic is Bob himself (and possibly Stumpy). Needless to say, the uses of commanding a flower with anger issues are limited.
  • Almost the entire cast of Superslackers. For example, Invisible Right Leg Lad's power is having an invisible right leg. One of the few characters with a useful power dies in a somewhat ironic manner exactly two panels after his first appearance.
  • Fletcher Apts. In here, Ma-Ti gets an upgrade to his Heart powers. A giant monkeywrench to smash people in the face with.
  • In the Homestuck Midnight Crew Intermission, The Felt are a gang of mobsters specializing in time-related magic. Most of the powers are pretty useful, but a few of them are rather pointless. Sawbuck's power is that whenever he gets hurt, he and everyone around him will jump to a random point in the timeline. Biscuits believes that his "magical" oven can teleport him into the future. He's technically correct, although it only moves at a rate of one second per second, so he's essentially hiding himself in a completely mundane box until the timer rings. Doze has the power to speed up time around him, giving himself super-slowness. It does have one use, in that it makes it practically impossible to interrogate him.
    • Let's not forget about the lolcat and fangirl parody Nepeta Leijon, who actually is the Hero of Heart among the troll kids. Which may or may not be a reference to this trope...
    • Later subverted when the power of the Hero of Heart is elaborated upon by uranianUmbra, the Guardian's troll guide. Apparently Heart is effectively the same as Soul, which, combined with the powers of the Hero's class, makes Nepeta the Stealer of Souls and Dirk Strider, the Prince of Heart, the Destroyer of Souls.
  • Bob's power in The Way of the Metagamer is to "fail at building demolition".
  • In A Path to Greater Good, Noah's power is the inability to see his own reflection. It later gets upgraded to travelling between two parallel worlds, but he often materialises dozens of feet in the air or surrounded by man-eating dinosaurs.
  • Many fans of Megatokyo initially felt this way when Junpei pointed out that Magical Girls gain their power from love, but... just head over to Heart Is an Awesome Power and you'll get the idea.
  • Luke Surl Comics has one more view on Ma-Ti.
  • Lampshaded in this Surviving the World strip on superpowers.
  • Metaleeto has total power over O-shaped metal. Rings, washers, certain foreign coins, and maybe possibly nuts are completely under his thrall!
  • "Heart doesn't win any awards, Reuben, it just tastes of iron... or in Jess' case, cholesterol."
  • In Wright As Rayne, Misty Smid's superpower is the ability to sense when people are looking at her and where they're standing. This can make her a decent spy, but it's totally useless in combat, especially when you consider her best friend is a witch.
  • Lampshaded in 'The Clone Wars' Online Web Comic 'The Valsedian Operation,' which features a scene where a washed-out ex-Jedi student (now part of the Agricultural Corps), with extremely limited Force abilities, is working with a competent Clone Captain to hunt an assassin through a city. When the Clone (who is used to working with full-fledged Jedi) asks her if she can sense anything, she replies all she can sense is that there are no plants around. The Clone confidently replies, "Well, think of it as a strength looking for a situation!"
  • Terror Island's Obvious Dentist. His power is that everybody knows he's a dentist.
    • He's not, but everyone knows he is all the same.
  • When Ellen and Elliot start developing magic in El Goonish Shive Ellen gets the variation of Transformation Ray turning the target into a very impressive human female, the first being a Transformation Ray turning her into the target's clone. Elliot starts off able to transform into a girl, and then develops the ability to turn into any girl and change outfits. The first "really useful" spell he eventually got was the one turning him into a stock superheroine. Granted, they both started off as students of "Anime Style Martial Arts", so can't really complain about wacky powers.
  • Parodied in Xkcd: Etymology-Man. It actually notes that, ironically, even Aquaman would be more useful in those circumstances.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Linkara deconstructed the Trope Namer himself in his review of the Captain Planet comic; said deconstruction can be found in the Western Animation section.
  • Dr. Horrible's roomie Moist from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog apparently has the power to make things... moist. Lampshaded when he laments that at his most badass he can make people feel like they want to take a shower.
  • Discussed at considerable length in the "Aquatic Justice" episode of Kevin Smith's podcast, which features much maligning of poor Aquaman.

"I mean, does anyone actually choose to be Aquaman? If you could be like, the Flash, would anybody opt for Aquaman?"

  • There's an archived thread from /tg/ about this. Although, some of the powers listed therein can also tend towards Heart Is an Awesome Power
  • The web game For The Win lampshades this. The "Pantheon" figure "Heartia" (based on the lesser-known Greek goddess Hestia), pretends to be a Magical Girl with the power of heart. It's revealed at the end of her description that it's all a lie, but she goes along with it because, I quote, "what kind of power is 'Heart', anyway?!"
  • In the online novel Dangerous Lunatics, Victor is a skunk boy who can control his flatulence to a musical degree, among his newfound friends with more traditional superpowers such as super strength, bendiness, speaking to the dead, and immortality. However, later on he finds out he can, in addition, actually blast a veritable tornado of force from his rear, and saves the rest of the team by doing so at a critical moment.
  • The Spoony Experiment references this trope while decrying the weak plots of the Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy I's plot, about the four elemental orbs: "The only way this plot could be gayer is if there was a fifth orb for Heart!" (Cue Stock Footage from Captain Planet.)
    • There's also Terl, who has the ability to intuitively know how high above sea level any location on earth is, and concludes that because of this, people should worship him as a god. When Spoony counters that you could just look it up on Wikipedia, Terl responds "Well, yes. But only a lowly man-animal would need to."
  • Selan Pike's Evil FTW has a girl who is psychic, but only when it comes to vending machines; hell, pretty much all but Selanio, Xeno, Professor Pain, Reza, Damon Lords, and Apogee are Blessed with Suck in some form in this series. One might try to argue that Selan is different—right up until she faints from hypoglycemia. She can't use her powers while tired.
  • In the League of Intergalactic Cosmic Champions Mr. Obvious had the power to see the obvious!
  • superuseless superpowers.
  • In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, the Crimestoppers campaign was made of this trope. The team consisted of: Doctor Destiny, a sometime-clairvoyant who gets visions of the future with the aid of his magic 8-ball; Mister Excitement, a hero who gains his super-strength through adrenalin rushes, but who has no control over when those rushes occur; Rex the Wonder Dog, a talking American Mastiff (that is his power, he's a dog that talks); Silly Putty, a shapechanger who has to be physically manipulated to change his shape, and cannot change his color; and The Tagger, who possesses the power to spray any color of paint he wishes from his fingertips.
    • Also the mysterious Mister Easter (not a member of the Crimestoppers), who had the power to change water into wine, multiply a single fish and a single load of bread into many fishes and loaves of bread, walk on water, completely cure leprosy, blindness, and a very small range of disabilities that prevented people from walking. Plus, if he was killed, he rose from the dead after three days.
    • The setting also featured the Flower Lady could project a spray of rose petals from her fingers. Mr. Rainbow could change the color of his own skin, but only to one of the seven prismatic colors (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, or Violet). The Great and Powerful Oz could shape-shift, but only into one of the characters from the 1939 musical version of "The Wizard of Oz", and Soundtrack had the power to cause any piece of music (be it a song or an orchestral piece) ever used in any film to play out of thin air around him.
  • A good chunk of the superpowers in Survival of the Fittest Evolution, which include black-mould growing saliva, choking up smoke, transparent skin, regrowing lost teeth, and glow in the dark eyes.
  • In the Brawl between The Nostalgia Critic and The Angry Video Game Nerd, resident Butt Monkey Ma-Ti gets his ass handed to him by everyone while shouting "Heart" as his battle cry, then subverted as it suddenly becomes more badass when he repeats while repeatedly firing a gun. "Look out, Ma-Ti is packing heat!"
    • And then turned up to eleven in their three year anniversary, where heart is the only thing that can beat the evil wizard.
  • Rambar in The Motley Two. As a Homestuck troll, he's got Psychic Powers, but rather than something useful, they just make him into a Fourth Wall Observer who can hear the mysterious voices that are the readers' suggestions and argue with them.
  • On Homestar Runner, in the Strong Bad Email "super powers", Strong Bad reveals his secret super-power: removing caps (bottle-caps, beanie caps, etc.) with the power of his mind.
  • The Animutation French Erotic Film by Andrew Kepple, where various animutation characters contribute elements and finally "spleen!"—with "What kind of lame-ass power is 'Heart' anyway?" written in the background.
  • The flash animation by Egoraptor Girlchan in Paradise has Maytag, a woman with a price gun. Nobody seems to see this power as physically dangerous, yet everyone keeps reiterating they have no idea how to beat such a power, and The Green Guy comes to the conclusion he has to use a suicide attack and blow himself up with her.
  • Generator (Jade Sinclair) of the Whateley Universe. In a superhero universe, at a Super-Hero School, Generator has the power to... animate a blanket or a toy for an hour or so. She eventually turns this into Heart Is an Awesome Power.
    • On the other hand, plenty of Whateley Academy kids stay lame. Lightweight has the ability to make an object weigh five pounds less. Glass has the ability to turn transparent. Not invisible, just transparent. Bluescreen has the ability to mess up some electronics. Hoarder has the powers of... the hamster!
    • Basically the entire school club The Underdogs is made of kids in this category. Kamuro can shoot sparks out of her hands. Not lightning blasts or anything dangerous. Just sparks. And don't ask about Miasma.
  • Most of the "powers" on The Daily Superpower are pretty lame, alright. ** 'Bigfoot footprints'
    • 'Ability to turn pennies into sushi'
    • 'Electric fan head'
  • Freddie Wong brings us Milk Man, whose superpower is vomiting milk. However...


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Note that this trope does not apply to the Trope Namer: Ma-Ti could summon animal allies, and use mind control on anyone but the Big Bads. This was such a Story-Breaker Power that he often forgot he could fly, sure. But when he used it, he was amazing. Surprisingly (and ironically, considering the quote at the top from the comic), the really useless power is Wheeler's Fire: in a show where the heroes never really hurt their enemies, fight outdoors, and don't want to burn down trees, Fire is about as useful as a decent knife: it cuts through soft things and that's about it.
    • Of course, this is only in the context of the show - being able to conjure fire of any size at any distance without need for fuel would not only allow him to create free limitless energy (which would have made him far more effective at stopping people cutting down trees, drilling for oil or mining for coal by simply making it completely pointless than anything Captain Planet could do), but if used appropriately, it would make him infinitely more powerful than any of the others, as he isn't limitted by material, making Wheeler more a case of Reed Richards Is Useless
      • Well, Mati could use his Mind Control to forcefully take over the Heroes including Wheeler and become an Egoconscious Tyrant of the World.
  • Parodied and subverted in The Tick (animation), with the character of Sewer Urchin. Basically a useless comic relief hero most of the time, often seeming less than bright with Rain-Man-like speech patterns and frequently the butt of jokes about the way he smelled, one episode suddenly takes place in the sewers. All of a sudden, we learn about a huge subterranean ecosystem in which Sewer Urchin is an intelligent Badass and his aboveground friends are reduced to bumbling Fish Out of Water. By the end of the episode, the Tick and Arthur have even picked up Sewer Urchin's "normal" speech patterns of stuttering shy bewilderment and Sewer Urchin has begun referring to them with the benign condescension he receives on the surface.
    • Most of the superheroes in the show (and the comics) were like this, with stars like Baby Boomerangutan (a man in a headless orangutan costume who threw exploding baby dolls), Captain Lemming (who liked to leap off of high things... without having Super Toughness) or Crime Cannibal (who had the power to eat human bodies really quickly).
  • The much-maligned Aquaman from Superfriends, who often needed episodes specifically written to utilize his powers without the audience wondering why another character couldn't handle the situation just fine. A mantra of sorts that people use to describe Aquaman's powers is "Swim fast, talk to fish". As lame as his powers were, Aquaman's arch-nemesis on Superfriends, The Black Manta, was even lamer. As Seanbaby's article on The Superfriends pointed out, his main power was that he owned a boat. When you put them on a team with Green Lantern and Superman, everyone looks pretty lame. Aquaman was just worse than the rest.
    • Lampshaded in a Cartoon Network promo in which Aquaman and Wonder Woman are tied up over a vat of acid.

Aquaman: My ability to talk to fish is of no use here, Wonder Woman!
Wonder Woman: (rolls eyes)

Aquaman: I call it "Aquaman's Rousing Song of Heroism!!!" ... You don't look roused.

    • Likewise, though not as widely bemoaned, the Superfriends version of Hawkman was almost as useless. He could fly... and that's it. Almost every other hero on the show had this ability and their namesake superpower. To add insult to injury, his wings weren't even real.
    • Even Batman and Robin weren't immune, thanks to the no-violence stance of the Superfriends. While the comic versions could handle themselves quite well with or without Bat-gadgets, you take away the utility belts of the SF versions and they're less useful than Marvin or Wendy, it seems.
    • The Superfriends also had the Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna. While Jayna could turn into any animal (including a few alien ones), Zan could only turn into some form of water (like a wave, or an ice sculpture). This was spoofed in a CartoonNetwork where Zan interrupted a mock-Public Service Announcement to complain about how lame his power was: "I could get beaten by a sponge! It wouldn't even have to be an evil sponge!" At the end of the promo, Zan is mopped up by a janitor, with an indignant "Hey!"
      • Also parodied in The Fairly OddParents, when Timmy's parents get the same powers as The Wonder Twins, his mother turns into a shark, while his father turns into a bucket of water. He looks at the screen and says, "Uh...feel my wrath?"
    • And on the villain side of the spectrum, we had Riddler and Scarecrow of the Legion of Doom. The former had "super riddles" (seriously) as his power. The latter was called the "sinister master of fear" but tended to only summon a couple crows to bother the Superfriends. Notably, Seanbaby actually gave the Riddler a "super rating" of -1, reasoning that while it is impossible to "statistically suck more than Aquaman" (who has a super rating of 1), Riddler's constant revealing of the Legion's plans to the Superfriends meant that he scored two points for them as well.
  • Superhero parodies may deliberately saddle their hero with a lame or useless power just for comedic effect. Meltman from Action League NOW! had the utterly useless ability to melt himself; even he bemoaned its uselessness. In fact, the only time he's ever observed melting is during the intro, when he's clearly under a magnifying glass, suggesting he can't even melt himself as much as he can be willingly melted by others. Or that his superpower is simply the fact that he's been melted.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Family Guy Viewer Mail #1", the Griffin family all get superpowers. As the Butt Monkey of the series, Meg is saddled with fingernail growth. ("Is that all you can do?")
  • What about the original Transformers? You'd think that the Big Bad would have the biggest, baddest vehicle mode, right? The Decepticons turn into jets for the most part, so the main villain should turn into the deadliest thing on wings, right? Wrong. The original Megatron's alternate mode was a gun that someone else had to fire. That someone was usually Starscream, who is the namesake of the trope about wanting to betray/kill/usurp your leader.
    • Strangely, though, Starscream never did take advantage of this situation, and he often wasn't a bad shot.
    • Luckily, the creators of Beast Wars decided to give their Megatron (a descendant of the original) a much better alternate mode - a freaking T-rex.
  • Rugrats had an episode where the babies watched a superhero show called Mega Hyper Heroes and acted out an episode of it- Tommy playing the shapeshifting Changeling, Phil and Lil playing Spitball Boy and Dotted Line Girl, and Chuckie playing the part of Stinky (who smells as strong as two babies).
    • Who turned this into Heart Is an Awesome Power by being able to beat the big bad just from his stench, when she had Villain Sue-d her way into taking out every other character's powers.
    • Probably played straight for Dotted Line Girl.

Lil: How did you see me? I'm just a dotted line!
Angelica: Any idiot can see a dotted line.

  • Referenced and spoofed in an episode of Garfield and Friends. Garfield and Odie end up in a superhero cartoon. The hero team includes Expys of Cyclops and Beast, a superstrong woman... and Curdman, who can manipulate cottage cheese ("all the good superpowers were already taken") and is "laughed every year at the superhero Christmas party." But he later earns self-confidence by discovering his powers work with yogurt.
  • Odd in Code Lyoko had a special power in the early part of the series in which he could see tiny snippets of future events. However, the power came at random, functioned as an absolute vision, and once resulted in him getting taken out by a Kankrelat immediately following a vision. While reprogramming the avatars of the Lyoko Warriors in the later season, Jérémie noticed the uselessness of this power and removed it, much to Odd's disappointment.
  • In an episode of Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter and his friends are playing a tabletop fantasy game of some kind, and Dexter is stuck with the least useful power: burrowing.
  • An episode of Darkwing Duck featured a number of mutants who gained their powers by being born and/or raised near an industrial site. Among the many varieties of mutant was an accountant born next to a banana plantation who could transform into a banana. That's pretty much it, he just turned into a banana. He wasn't proud of it either.
  • In World of Quest, the magician-in-training Anna specializes in bringing inanimate objects to life. In the beginning, no matter what spell she tries to do, she ends up bringing things to life by accident (lthough considering she brought AN ENTIRE MOUNTAIN to life and then it helped them in a fight, even though the fight was almost over, it might not be so lame). After a while, it seems she has started to be able to do other spells, but animating stuff is still about 80% of her powers. Although, being a parody of fantasy campaigns, most characters are pretty one-sided. Way just shows the way, Prince Nestor can only rarely shoot some energy balls but usually just sucks in a fight, Grair only flies... and most of the other characters only fight. But considering most of those can actually fight well, only Nestor would count as lame.
  • The rather obscure franchise Stone Protectors, about a group of very untalented musicians who gained super powers from a bunch of Mineral MacGuffins has some examples. They all gained stronger bodies, but each also gained an additional special ability. One guy became a skilled samurai, one a wrestling expert with super strength, and one became a skilled soldier who could turn anything into a weapon. THEN we have the guy who gained skill at using in-line skates and the guy who gained the ability to climb things. They also all gained actual musical talent, which, while helpful for a band of crappy musicians fighting music hating enemies is not the most awe inspiring power.
  • Brother Bear, actually. The older brothers are mocking main character for having "love" totem. It's hard to say if being changed into bear counts as superpower, but it's obviously not natural.
  • The Earthworm Jim cartoon had one episode with a new superhero auditioning for the Galatic League of Superheroes. Her power is to spotaneously combust whenever she sings. Sadly, she does not possess the ability to control or withstand her own flames. When one character asks what use that is, another simply replies, "Well, at least it's better than Lower Back Pain Man." The scene then cuts to Lower Back Pain Man himself, insisting that he'll be okay in a minute.
    • It's hardly unique to these two, either. Jim is the main hero in the universe because, honestly, most of the other superheroes available are pathetic. Jim may be a Cloudcuckoolander, but he is Made of Iron, has Super Strength, and carries a ray-pistol with enough of a punch to destroy spaceships. The only other superheroes we've seen who approach him in competence are the Cute Monster Girl Princess Whats-Her-Name (Super Strength, being an Action Girl and generally smarter and more levelheaded then Jim), the Mighty Hamsternator (who has Cheeks of Holding and maybe Super Strength), and Peter Puppy (whose power is not having a Super-Powered Evil Side that comes out whenever he's hurt, scared or angry, as it typically only wants to attack Jim, but being intelligent, rational and levelheaded). In contrast, the other heroes of the universe include the Space Crickets (actual insect-sized crickets that ride on space-bikes and carry laser pistols), Whooping Cough Boy (a permanently sickly teen whose coughs are gale-force blasts of wind), A Shadow (an elderly man with a preternatural knack for making shadow puppets), Mr. Forehead Being (a man with an oversized cranium and two ugly arms growing out of his head), Zantor (a normal-looking bald man who can make his toupee hover in the air by straining hard), and Johnny Dactyl (a nerdy man who dresses up like a humanoid pterodactyl and is such a momma's boy he still lives with her and does whatever she says).
  • Subverted in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius when all the main cast get superpowers. At first, Jimmy seems to have no power at all aside from becoming orange, but then he basically turns into The Hulk, but colored like The Thing.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, the Superhero Episode had Heloise become Trouble Bubble Girl. Jimmy and Beezy laugh...until Heloise shows her powers off.
  • In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, unicorn ponies can use magic (most notably telekinesis) and pegasus ponies can fly and control weather (and walk on clouds and such). We need Word of God to even know that the "regular" ("earth") ponies also have some kind of a special power, some kind of connection with the land, meaning plants and animals and such. In case of the main characters, for Applejack this seems to involve being good at picking apples, and for Pinkie Pie it doesn't have any apparent manifestation, though she has her own set of what could be called powers derived from being weird. Applejack is far from useless in a dangerous situation, but it isn't because of the apples (though she can use them as projectiles, it's just never used for anything), it's just because she's just that tough. Ironically, it's Fluttershy, a pegasus, who at least once makes good use of being a Friend to All Living Things (theoretically normally associated with Earth ponies) to calm a dangerous monster. This all said, it's obvious the situation came about when Pinkie Pie's and Fluttershy's original concepts were switched from Pinkie being the pegasus and Fluttershy the earth pony.

These "earth powers" finally appear more impressive in "Hearth's Warming Eve", where a story from the past when the different types of ponies lived apart and grudgingly exchanged services reveals that the earth ponies, though appearing poorer and dirtier than the unicorns and pegasi, were the only ones who could grow food.

Princess Cadence in spite of being a alicorn princes has amazingly specialized magic: Love magic (this is likely having to do with Lauren Faust having meant her to be a unicorn). Mostly used for mending broken hearts, she does however turn her talent into Heart Is an Awesome Power when she uses her love for Shining Armor to power up his bubble shield magic.

Shining Armor on the other hand most likely can only use his aforementioned bubble shield magic. Likewise most unicorns likely can only use magic based on their special talent. Exceptions being Twilight Sparkle and Trixie, whose special talents are Magic itself, and copying other ponies' special talents and normal skills respectively.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • David O'Doherty has Very Mild Superpowers.
  • This guy has super strength. He worked as a smith in England during 70's but he uses now to... crack nuts with his fingers!
  • A documentary aired on the Discovery channel that examined people with savant syndrome and super-human memory featured a man who, after being struck by a softball at a young age, gained the ability to remember the day of the week and the weather conditions of any date following the incident. His crime-fighting career has yet to take off.
  • And just to add insult to injury, mathematician John Conway also has that power, but still gets to be one of the world's greatest living mathematicians.
  • Jaqueline Priestman could change TV channels whitout touching a remote or the TV because her body had a larger than normal voltage.
  • Some people have more taste buds on their tongue than most people, making them "supertasters." Their power is disliking foods that are very sour or bitter.
  • The Vice President of the United States of America is supposed to be the second most powerful job in the US government, right? But usually the only thing he does that isn't ceremonial is cast tiebreaking votes in the Senate. Unless the top spot suddenly becomes vacant, VP is a pretty powerless position.
    • The office of VP was even used as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians, and quite often the VP was kept in the dark about important things, such as what was going on while the nation was at war. This has seriously backfired a few times, noteably when the unwanted politician (Theodore Roosevelt) inherited the top job, and (Harry S Truman) suddenly had to take over the reigns of the United States near the end of WWII, and wasn't entirely sure what was going on.
    • It's a case of Common Knowledge. The President was never intended to be the "most powerful job in the US government" nor the Vice President be the "second most powerful job." The executive branch was set up to be the weakest branch of the government. The purpose of the executive branch is to enforce the laws. However, Andrew Jackson realized the veto power given to the president when he believes a law is unenforceable was a valuable bargaining chip, which every president has since used to pass their own agendas. The only reason the Vice President's office exists is to create a clear line of succession to a person that has no major duties in the government.
      • That, and protect the space-time continuum. Read the Constitution.
    • The Vice President was, until the passage of the 12th amendment, awarded to the loser of the Presidential election. The lack of power was by design, in those days.
  • Two rare diseases, Naegeli syndrome and dermatopathia pigmentosa reticularis, cause people to have no fingerprints. This can cause lifelong problems with background checks and other identification-related tasks.
  • Some people who have had their corneas replaced with plastic corneas can see slightly farther into ultraviolet.
    • Some women have a genetic mutation that allows them to see a fourth color of light, probably yellow, as its sensitive to wavelengths between red and green.
      • It gets worse: the why of the mutation that means only women can get the 'power' means their male children runs a high risk of colour-blindess.
  1. which means as long as your opponent has a land that isn't one of the basics, she's unblockable
  2. It's based on a spinoff from the Flaming Carrot Comic Book
  3. it's also in available for download "Gold & Glory" Sourcebook