Created By: zacheus on October 20, 2011 Last Edited By: zacheus on October 21, 2011

Ancestral Superpower

Rare superpowers limited to specific bloodlines

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In settings where superpowers, magic, or otherwise preternatural abilities are already abundant, there remain those who stand out by having rare and specific superpowers not found beyond their family tree.

Generally only applies in a setting where it's theoretically possible to learn superpowers, as otherwise this just becomes a case of Superpowerful Genetics.


  • Naruto: The various kekkai genkai, usually translated as 'bloodline ability'.
  • Harry Potter: Metamorphmagi. I seem to recall another family-linked ability, but someone will have to help me out with that.
  • Real life: We can all learn gymnastics, but only some people are double-jointed, as this runs in the family.
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • October 20, 2011
    I find that this is still Superpowerful Genetics.
  • October 20, 2011
    Hmm. In a number of works, lycanthropy is a curse limited to a single bloodline or so. Could we expand a trope from that?
  • October 20, 2011
    Don't Witch Species and Superpowerful Genetics together cover this?
  • October 21, 2011
    ^ Witch Species is when generic magic ability is only passed from parent to child. Superpowerful Genetics is when children always have the same superpowers as their parents. This seems to be when a particular supernatural ability is strongly associated with a certain Clan. I'd say it's Superpowerful Genetics raised to the status of family tradition.

    Doesn't Major Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist have a bunch of these?
  • October 21, 2011
  • October 21, 2011
    Doors family in Neverwhere and their ability to open anything seems to be this
  • October 21, 2011
    I think the other Harry Potter example you're talking about is the ability to speak Parseltongue.
  • October 21, 2011
    Koveras has the right of it, though in the purest form of the trope it's genetic rather than by family tradition.

    Randomsurfer: Parseltongue is actually *another* one. I remembered later that I was thinking of Seers.

    Lycanthropy would count in settings where, say, transformation magic was common, but werewolves were only produced by a lycanthropy 'gene' only found in certain clans. Harry Potter has two facets of it: anyone can, in theory, become an animagus, but only metamorphmagi can do it naturally and with ease, while lycanthropy is a condition unto itself.

    I guess you could boil it down two ways:

    Pure form: The magic is 'in the blood' (think double-jointedness)

    Tradition form: The magic is passed down by long tradition (think families who produce, say, carpenters going back generations)
  • October 21, 2011
    The force in Star Wars
  • October 21, 2011
    • In Yu Yu Hakusho, Yusuke is revealed to have had a superpowered ancestor, and as such inherits their abilities.
  • October 21, 2011
    Hm, I think I'm still struggling to get across what I mean, here. The Force wouldn't count because it *is* the superpower of the setting. Now, if there were Force abilities that emerged only in particular bloodlines, then it would be this trope. I'm wracking my brains now, but none come readily to mind.
  • October 21, 2011
    The Hieda reincarnations (?) of Touhou. Land where pretty much everyone has superpowers, and that clan is the only one with perfect memory, shared between generations if I remember correctly, passed down from female to female, meant to archive the world in their memories... ...this, or I made a character in a play by post game that works exactly as described above, just inspired by Touhou. Either way counts, I suppose - if fanfics are legal trope examples...