Created By: Bisected8 on February 24, 2013 Last Edited By: Bisected8 on March 12, 2013
Nuked

Power Personality Flaw

The personality associated with a given power or skill is detrimental to using it.

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Needs More Examples

As noted on Personality Powers, giving a character a personality which fits with their abilities (or one opposite) is good shorthand. However this trope covers cases where having a personality which matches the power (or developing one) is risky and avoided. This risk might be because;

Compare The Dark Side (when using the powers actively corrupts you and shifts your personality), The Corruption (for powers that come from being corrupted) and Bad Powers, Good People. Contrast Bad Powers, Bad People. The need for restraint this trope implies might make the power or skill in question a case of Blessed with Suck or Cursed with Awesome.

Examples:

  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Firebenders are (mostly) calm and collected to avoid losing control. Jeong Jeong (who explains this) in particular considers firebending a form of Blessed with Suck. Aang demonstrates this when he tries firebending and ends up losing control of the flames he creates. Benders of other elements avert this by working most efficiently when they have the expected Personality Power.
  • Mace Windu in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith has a very aggressive homebrewed lightsaber dueling technique called Vapaad which skirts very close to The Dark Side. He needs to have a great deal of discipline and concentration to avoid succumbing to it (as opposed to the aggression you would expect a user of such a style to have).
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer it's implied that Slayers tend to develop boodthirsty personalities from all the fighting they're expected to do. Faith serves as an example of why this can be a bad thing.
  • Some continuities of The Incredible Hulk imply that despite his Super Strength powers (which are powered by his rage), the Hulk also makes use of Banner's intelligence on some level to use his strength more efficiently (indeed, many early comics, where the Hulk was a sociopath rather than stupid, had characters comment on how quickly and quietly he was able to move despite his size). As opposed to being The Berserker as you'd expect.
Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • February 24, 2013
    Earnest
    This might be a Sub Trope of Heroic Willpower.

    When the Enemy Within is linked to a Super Mode or Superpowered Evil Side this is invariably the case. In fact, there's usually a "Dark" or One Winged Angel version of the Super Mode or powers in general that can only be gained by giving up and allowing the Enemy Within complete control.

    On the flipside, achieving Enlightenment Superpowers, a Split Personality Merge or Ascended Demonhood can net the character an even better ultimate Super Mode.

    • In Saint Seiya Omega it turns out that Koga has a natural Cosmo affinity for Darkness, and his Light Cosmo is actually the result of the proximity, love and protection of Athena and Aria eclipsing it and allowing him to choose Light instead. On more than one occasion he's been pushed past the Despair Event Horizon and activated his Darkness Cosmo and gone into an Unstoppable Rage only to get a Cooldown Hug back to normal. Naturally, he's far stronger using Darkness. Ultimately it's averted in the last phases of the assault on Mars' sanctuary, since awakening his Seventh Sense makes it possible for him to use Darkness (albeit with difficulty) without falling into an Unstoppable Rage.
    • Young Justice has Blue Beetle's struggle with the Scarab's AI. While it's loyal to him it's kind of The Sociopath regarding the welfare of everyone else, and it has a better control of the suit's abilities than Jaime. At one point he gives the Scarab complete control and it fares much better against Black Beetle. Of course, this may be just a question of Jaime lacking experience and self confidence since halfway through that battle he retook control and managed to stalemate Black Beetle all on his own.
  • February 24, 2013
    Bisected8
    The second one sounds more like a case of Super Powered Evil Side. The first one might be an example, but it sounds more like the character's rejecting the powers themselves, rather than a personality type associated with them.
  • February 24, 2013
    Earnest
    It's a Shonen anime, and there's a certain degree of Bad Powers Bad People in effect. To use Darkness Cosmo you're basically channeling The Dark Side and bringing out the worst parts of yourself. You let anger control you, become aggressive and stop caring about the people you're ostensibly fighting for. Sure, you can do it for a good cause or to take down an enemy, but it makes you aggressive and amoral and has almost no chance of recovering from. So there is a personality type to be fought here, it's just that it usually amounts to resisting Axe Crazy Blood Knight in favor of The Determinator.

    Even the most empathetic of Darkness users are either at best Well Intentioned Extremists or deeply tormented. A bit off topic, but I actually expected the Dark Chick to do a Heel Face Turn and prove Dark Is Not Evil, but she actually self destructs in what amounted to a guilty ego implosion.

    • Speaking of, the classic Star Wars brings us The Dark Side. You have to resist selfishness and anger or fall to it, and it's a slippery slope.
  • February 24, 2013
    Bisected8
    I'm still not sure if it's an example, since being corrupted is a consequence of using it, rather than acting in the opposite manner of a given personality type (which, from what I understand, isn't associated with the power) being a requirement while using it....
  • February 26, 2013
    Earnest
    What about "plain old" Star Wars? It seems clear cut, even if you don't mean to use The Dark Side, allowing yourself to give in to anger, fear, greed can lead you down that path. Heck, even just feeling intensely is a risk.

    If you need a specific example, Mace Windu in Star Wars Episode III has a very aggressive homebrewed lightsaber dueling technique called Vapaad which skirts very close to the dark side and redirect hostility back to its source. So it's perfect for fighting Sith (hence why Palpatine/Sidious was losing) but it's emphasis on aggression also demands much mental concentration and balance to avoid you yourself falling to the dark side.
  • February 26, 2013
    Bisected8
    That sounds a bit closer to what I meant. I think I emphasised the idea of a personality drifting a bit too much in the description (I've reworded it to make it clearer; this is less "Using power X gives you personality X, and you must fight it" and more "Personality X and power X are not a good combination. X users need to be as un-X as possible".
  • February 26, 2013
    Earnest
    Hm. Maybe Faith from Buffy The Vampire Slayer qualifies as an example of a successful but still negative type of personality for a Slayer to have?

    Not long after she's introduced she shows how being a Smug Super who parties hard, takes liberties with the lives and property of others is a bad idea for a Slayer, leading to her inadvertent murder of a human.
  • February 26, 2013
    Bisected8
    That doesn't really sound like a Personality Power that's being avoided (unless Slayers have some sort of inherent personality that's associated of them, since it's more a collection of various powers).
  • February 28, 2013
    Guyven
    It's implied over time that Slayers tend to be assaulted with dark dreams and revel naturally in killing. Which aligns with this trope as an enabling personality trait for their cosmic purpose. The function of the Watchers had traditionally been to guide that aggression exclusively toward demons to keep them on-path. It is a between-the-lines thing since the show never explicitly covered it (that I recall), except in a foiled theme of the fifth season: misinterpreted "Death is your gift" as a kind of this, when it was actually meant literally as the Slayer's own death being the greatest gift she had to offer.

    I think Faith serves as a cautionary example of a Slayer gone bad (she had more problems than just this), but this theme can be applied to Slayers in general.
  • March 1, 2013
    Bisected8
    OK, I'll add it to the examples.
  • March 5, 2013
    DracMonster
    Can we name this Row Row Fight The Personality Powa? Please?! (Yes I'm joking.)

    To be honest, every example listed so far appears to be Passion Is Evil, and I kinda think thats what this concept works out to in the end. Is there an example that's not Passion Is Evil?
  • March 5, 2013
    Bisected8
    You scared me for a second there (I'm going to add a Needs A Better Name tag, I like the pun but I think "Fight"'s giving people the wrong idea). O_o

    To be honest, my main worry was that this might be Too Rare To Trope...pretty much any personality type could count (for example, a Cold Sniper being bad at their job because they're too cold/lack passion) and it doesn't have to be evil, just make them less good at using their power/skill (as with the examples in the OP of a kleptomaniac thief being likely to get themselves caught or an overly energetic person with Super Speed having accidents).

    I'm having trouble coming up with examples (this is probably the sort of trope that appears in passing, or by Word Of God so it's hard to look up examples).

    I did think of one, but I'm not quite sure about it;

    • Some continuities of The Incredible Hulk imply that despite his Super Strength powers (which are powered by his rage), the Hulk also makes use of Banner's intelligence on some level to use his strength more efficiently (indeed, many early comics, where the Hulk was a sociopath rather than stupid, had characters comment on how quickly and quietly he was able to move despite his size). As opposed to being The Berserker as you'd expect.
  • March 5, 2013
    Guyven
    It's different in that here the power (or reason the character has a power) has a corrupting effect on the user that creates a feedback loop of unwanted consequences if not actively checked or avoided.

    Passion Is Evil is specifically 'Passion' or extreme emotion being the thing to avoid (this can be anything). It also reads on the larger disagreement between factions of that story (this has no such requirement).

    Reading over the examples over there, I think a few of them should be here instead (if others agree that this is different). Ryu from Street Fighter and Jean Grey from X-men for instance. Those characters don't fit the universality requirement of that trope, in my opinion.

    Let me go ahead an put that forth while I'm here, heh:

    Video Games
    • Ryu in Street Fighter (Street Fighter 4, and Street Fighter x Tekken most recently) lives for self-perfection through battle, but deliberately does not allow himself to pursue power directly because of the corrupting Dark-Haddou energy that he naturally channels (but refuses to use). If power were his goal he knows he would become evil.
      • Evil-Ryu, a lately introduced character in Street Fighter 4, is Ryu who has gone off the deep end. Completely validating his earlier concerns.
      • Played with in the story of Street Fighter x Tekken because the artifact that caused the two franchizes to cross over has a corrupting influence on Ryu.
    Comics and Manga
    • Jean Grey is one of many characters in the Marvel universe who has channeled the Phoenix Force which is kind of a personification of the universe's destructive passion. Any strong emotion feeds its power and control over her. If it gets loose (as it invariably does during big events) the Dark Phoenix is one of the more unstoppable (and evil) characters in Marvel.
  • March 5, 2013
    Bisected8
    Actually, the power doesn't have to shift the user towards the personality (that's only one of the possible reasons for avoiding the personality). The personality just has to be detrimental to using the power.
  • March 6, 2013
    Guyven
    I agree, but want to clarify: it is detrimental to the user of the power. The power itself may be increased because of the personality, but there are other reasons to avoid the change. "The personality associated with a given power or skill is detrimental to using it" doesn't jive precisely with the examples given. A thief picking a judge's pocked is bad for the thief and his career, but it didn't make his 'thieving' any worse. If anything it was embellished by having no limitation.
  • March 6, 2013
    Bisected8
    I think you're reading too much into that. If a thief's getting greedy and getting caught, they're not a good thief and therefore it's getting in the way of their stealing (naturally I'm not qualified to comment on such matters, but presumably knowing what's worth stealing and what isn't is as much a part of thieving as the actual act of taking something). Anything which would be detrimental to the power/skill would be detrimental to anyone trying benefit from it (i.e. the user) anyway so the distinction's a moot point....

    And again; there is no "change". A personality being changed by a power or skill is another trope entirely (sorry to keep pointing this out, but I want to avoid letting Trope Decay slip in). Why the user has the personality in question isn't part of this trope.
  • March 6, 2013
    Guyven
    I like reading into things too much, kind of why I'm here. Help me get it, though:

    • the personality is related to the power (no causal relationship necessary, however)
    • the personality specifically hinders the effectiveness of the power (does not fit if it doesn't hinder the power somehow)
    • the personality is only applied in theory, in practice it is avoided (if it gets applied the character has stopped invoking this trope)
  • March 6, 2013
    Bisected8
    The first two points are correct. The personality can apply to someone with the powers or it doesn't have to (so a character with the personality type who finds it gets in the way or a character without the personality type who notes it would get in the way are both examples).

    Basically, the important part is the first two points, any other details are beyond the scope of this trope.
  • March 6, 2013
    Guyven
    OK, I withdraw Ryu and Jean Grey then... their powers are actively corrupting, but if allowed they'd automatically take 10 extra levels in badass.
  • March 6, 2013
    Guyven
    What about someone like Kenshin? He maintains a forced personality of cheerfulness and actively cripples his potential by using a sword with the edge on the wrong side. He refuses to become the unstoppable 'manslayer' he once was to atone for killing an innocent. He gets pushed to revert time and again, but embraces the crippling personality and ideology intentionally out of fear and a degree of self-loathing.

    In this case, the crippling personality is embraced on purpose, but it doesn't seem to be the real man, only a facade.

    The thing that trips me up about this is that he doesn't fight the personality, he maintains it on purpose.
  • March 6, 2013
    Bisected8
    That's not really an example either, since the personality you might expect a swordsman to have (being Ax Crazy) is the most helpful one.
  • March 6, 2013
    Guyven
    I was looking at it in the other direction, the fake persona is his cheerful self that impedes his power. In this case, there's a moral inversion, embracing the good despite it making you weak, but the 'good' is still an alien personality quirk the way I read it. Of course, that might beg a lot of other examples that you don't want here.
  • March 6, 2013
    Bisected8
    The problem there is that his persona has nothing to do with Personality Powers...
  • March 6, 2013
    Guyven
    I won't disagree with that point, but I will admit that now I don't know what merits mention here. Examples of characters whose implementation of straight (not inverted or averted) Personality Powers that hurt rather than amplify the use of their powers... seems like a pretty laser-focused trope where examples are going to be really hard to find.
  • March 12, 2013
    Bisected8
    As I said, that's what I was afraid of. If I can't get more examples, I'll just discard this...

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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