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This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Looney Toons: This paragraph from the main page:

Good writers can make this work for a character. Typical devices are to "evolve" potentially lame powers into other fields — and there are decades of examples from comics to fish from — have a trade off (superpowered beings tend to look freaky and stand out, while those with subtle powers might look more normal)

makes no sense. Could someone who has an idea what it's supposed to say please fix it?

Ununnilium: Think I have. And may I just say I love the name?

Idle Dandy: Funny, I saw the name and thought it referred to Xander from Buffy, who is needed in the enjoining spell from "Primeval"... why, exactly?


Darmok: Doesn't the movie Mystery Men use this as its primary plot point?

Xanni: Yes, and also the comic book on which the movie was based.

Kizor: I just have to plug this, which not only gives an excellent example of whatever it is but turns several of the examples in the article on its ear.

Ununnilium: Yes. Hitherby is possibly the best thing the human race has created. >>v


Seth: Moved the animation catagory to the top since later sections reference it as above and Aquaman makes a great introduction to the examples.


What about situations where 'lame' characters become really powerful later? Only one I can think of is Patamon from the first Digimon show. Doesn't he go from blowing bubbles at enemies to the most powerful character?
Fast Eddie: pulled ...
This will be even more noticeable if the character himself isn't very notable, is a token, or The Chick. Other times, the power isn't so much obscure as seeming weak in comparison.
... 'cuz, well, 'cuz it reads better without it.


Scrounge: Is it just me, or is the "Seemingly useless power turns out to be utterly devastating" subversion common enough to be almost a trope in and of itself?

Pro-Mole: Good one, but we gotta take a better look before putting it out. I'd say there's a huge difference between "seemingly useless power is actually devastating" and "generally useless power is devastating in some occasions".


Blork: Removed this as it has nothing to do with the trope. I think it's a skit on some advert or other:

  • Subversion: in the "Flaming Moe" episode of The Simpsons, beverage rivals try to analyze the Flaming Moe, only to find that the secret ingredient is "love" — at which point the lead analyzer demands "Who's been screwing with this thing?!"

That Other 1 Dude: where did the meme where we got this name start?

Were Josh Peck Prince: I believe it comes from Captain Planet and The Planeteers. I've got a question. Is having a guy with the power of heart or some other lame superpower in your team optional? If so, can you opt not to have one?

PEteman: I removed the Dinobot/Rattrap bit because it wasn't part of Beast Machines, and at that point he could alternate between legs and wheels.


Prfnoff: This doesn't really make sense as an example of this trope:
  • If Ender Wiggin in Ender's Game has a superpower, this is it. His sidekick/rival Bean attempts to recreate Ender's perfect wargame record in Battle School but fails miserably, despite being smarter than Ender is in every measurable way. In his own spinoff quartet, Bean figures out Ender's secret - his flawless ability to understand the motivations and thought processes of others, which then allows him to fully exploit his allies' strengths and his enemies' weaknesses. Bean may be the greater intellectual genius, but his inability to connect with others cripples him for a very long while.

((Jordan}}: Is it on point to mention as aversions characters with water-powers who aren't pushovers- waterbenders from Avatar are fairly powerful and I'm sure there are other cases- doesn't Sloth in the Fullmetal Alchemist anime have a similar ability


Anonymous: Does anybody else find it ironic that the "power of heart" could possibly be the single scariest power there is, with some imagination and unusual application? I mean, theoretically, you could use it to pretty much force so much "heart" into an opponent that they can never move (or even breathe) again for fear of potentially harming something.

Arutema: Cut the bit about Octopus and FOXDIE because Anderson wasn't a FOXDIE target, Octopus was. That's what Raven meant when he said Octopus "could not fool the angel of death."

Ununnilium:
  • During the first superhero-roleplaying episode of The Backyardigans (there was a second, Spider-Man-esque one at the third season), Austin was "Captain Hammer". His power? Build anything. Semi-subverted, because during that episode it kinda came in handy.
    • Build anything? That's a fantastic ability! All the stuff you could make!
    • Hell, Forge in Marvel Comics has cashed on that ability for some twenty years!

Yeah, not an example.

  • Uri Geller's "psychic ability" is bending spoons. With his hands. As Penn & Teller put it, "How about the ubermenchen and uberfrauen turn their super-brains toward curing cancer and creating world peace while us ordinary mortals take care of all the necessary cutlery distortion?"
    • No wonder he filed a lawsuit over Kadabra. He's just plain jealous (and also because of the original naming situation). Ash mocked this in the Pokemon anime by bending a spoon with sheer force when confronted by one of Sabrina's underlings.
    • It has been said that Geller's magic repertoire is so pitiful (he hasn't substantially expanded it in well over three decades) that the only way he can get any recognition at all is by pretending to be psychic.
  • Nostradamus prophetic powers. A few of those were correct, but considering how unclear he wrote and how vaguely he phrased most of them, they were probably due to Contrived Coincidence.
    • Not to mention the fact that he wrote so many of them — if you make a million predictions, then statistically speaking at least a few of them are likely to come true in some fashion, especially if you write them in as vague a fashion as possible.

These aren't examples, just "lol fraud".

  • Jai from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. While the other 4 team members were experts in Grooming, Fashion, Food, and Interior Design, Jai's "Culture" expertise was often something like teaching the guy to buy music, or scoring tickets to a show.
    • This troper's mother thought he was very useful to the team. As she put it, he provides all of those "little touches" that women love. It's all about the details.

This is just weird. How is music less useful than food?

  • In US sports, it is taken as an article of faith that terms like "intangibles", "hustle player", and "motor that won't quit" are all euphemisms for "modestly talented white guy in a minority-dominated sport". Some fans find this a wee bit racist, especially as it only seems to come up in football and basketball.
    • Though this is often subverted by the fact that said "hustle players" tend to be guys who stick around their chosen sports for a decade or more. Meanwhile, "athletically gifted" and "exciting" tends to be code for "We hope it doesn't take too long to teach him to actually play properly" and tend to be out of the sport by the time their rookie contracts expire - if not sooner.

I don't see what this has to do with the trope, other than "person who's not as good as the people around them". Which isn't the same thing as "overspecialized useless powers".

Also, moving stuff to Troper Tales.


Great Pikmin Fan: Uh... looking at a fourm topic, we should really rename this trope. Really.
  • I concur. The Trope Namer itself was not an example of a useless power that happened to get a lot of focus, but just a big Idiot Ball mistake.


Count Dorku: Please tell me that the example for Italian Spiderman is real, because it has to be one of the funniest things I've ever read.


Cassius335: Not an example...

  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! cardgame features one card that lest you sacrifice 1000 life points so that you can draw...two cards. Wow, gee, thanks...
    • Please, continue admitting that you don't know how to play the game. If such a card existed (and as far as I can tell, it doesn't), it would be in every deck until banned. Card advantage is EVERYTHING.
    • Hey! You don't know how useful that could be when your deck has the right cards! That 1000 points could buy you the last pieces of Exodia!

...and posts like this just make me wish Pot of Greed wasn't banned.
Freezer: Cut this regarding The Joker...

  • You're kidding, right? He's as equally dangerous as an unarmed combatant as Batman is. Batman has the greater skill and strength, but the Joker will kill you any way he can if he feels like it. And he can also use magic - just watch him make a pencil disappear.

Every time - and I do mean every time - The modern-era Joker has been portrayed as going hand-to-hand against anyone over "rent-a-mook" level, he gets his ass handed to him, if he can't get the drop on him. He's dangerous, just not as a fighter. Or at least, he's as dangerous as any armed lunatic with no sense of self-preservation can be.

Eponymous Kid: Admittedly, in his very first appearance he held his own in a direct fistfight with Batman. But never since then has he been such a physical threat to his archenemy, so the point still stands.


sims796: Ok, I gotta ask, why are there no examples on Captain Planet and the Planeteers on this page other than the intro? They are basically the trope namer! Are their any pictures on CP that we can use instead of the one currently up? If not, though, it's good aas it is. But Captain Planet needs more than just one mention.