Created By: bulmabriefs144 on December 16, 2012 Last Edited By: bulmabriefs144 on May 18, 2013
Troped

Open and Shut

Opening and Closing as a Stock Superpower

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Trope
Essentially, the ability to open and close doors. Ooooh, scary. But picture this. The user in question seals you inside a door to another dimension for centuries, or perhaps opens a door to the infernal planes and fishes out a few monsters. Still think so?

Open And Shut is one of the Stock Superpower which is lesser known, and is a type of Yin Yang Magic.

The favored weapon of this user is usually a giant vaguely (or not so vaguely) key-shaped staff. It is favored by exorcists since it is a quick way to deal with fearsome creatures without converting to the religion. All you need is to find a handy door to lock all your worst nightmares away behind. Just better hope they don't decide to team up to rush the door.

In its most basic form, this is basically a combination of Barrier Warrior and Thinking Up Portals. That is, you can open/close doors to anywhere (and open any doors), or send incoming attacks into another place. But this is very much a Semantic Superpower (in fact, the ability to open doors is currently the quote for the page), so other applications of this power can be made.

This controls the bonds of existence, and is basically the power that joins other powers together. At the atomic level, where things are joined together or broken apart, these bonds do stuff like hold matter in cell walls or form chemical links. Fridge Horror sets in, however, when you realize this means of course that along with opening/closing natural locks and opening/closing dimensional doors, the person could literally look at you and cause you to break apart into atoms.

Because you can open any door, there might be some overlap with the various Elemental Powers. Most obviously is Space/Time in the form of dimensional travel, but you could conceivably use fire magic by opening a tiny hole into a volcano or something, or water by opening a hole into the middle of an ocean. If the definition of this power is vague enough, you can possibly get New Powers as the Plot Demands.

See also Thinking Up Portals, for a practical usage. Contrast Master of Unlocking which is about people with mundane, lock-picking abilities, rather than a superpower.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Cardcaptor Sakura, the title character uses a key as a tool to lock away or unlock spirits. The first episode she unseals them all by accident.
  • Natsume's Book of Friends has a kid who ancestor sealed a bunch of monsters away in a book. He decides to release them.

Literature
  • Abhorsen in the Old Kingdom series can open gates to nine dimensions (basically layers of death), and can also bind away spirits or undead using bells. In fact, their magical alphabet itself is constructed as a result of a major seal.
  • In Labyrinths of Echo, Numminorikh Kuta learned the art of finding and opening any kind of doors from his mother, who was the Master of Doorways for an ancient Magical Society. Also, Max can use doors of any kind to access the Corridor Between Worlds, and suffers major Power Incontinence in the final tome.
  • "The Lost Gate" of the Mither Mage series by Orson Scott Card has the main character seemingly having no power. He later turns out to be a Gatekeeper.
  • In Monday Begins on Saturday, a pair of Maxwell's demons work in the Extranormal Institute as the doorkeepers.
  • In Neverwhere, Door is a member of the family Portico, who all have this ability, and are highly regarded because of it. They live in a series of rooms that aren't physically accessible by ordinary means. The ability makes her a MacGuffin Girl for the plot.

Table Top RPG

  • Dungeons & Dragons has the gate spell. Sure, you can head to other dimensions. Or you can summon creatures from them (including elementals, enabling fire effects). Or you can suck/push creatures into other dimensions. Or you can block incoming spells. Or you can create two portals in close proximity, and mimic spell-turning (later versions likely patched this detail).

Video Games
  • Obviously, the stock power of the Keyblades in Kingdom Hearts series. He uses both to great effect over the course of the series.
  • Yukari Yakumo's ill-defined but tremendously game-breaking power is over boundaries, which she can open and close at will. Usually this manifests as elongated Portal-style openings in reality (called gaps), but she can also manipulate conceptual boundaries, like the border of Gensokyo or the boundary between life and death.

Comic Books

Tabletop Games
  • The Lore of Portals of the House of Neberu in Demon: The Fallen is a set of magical/divine abilities revolving around opening and closing doors of any kind.

Real Life
  • Maxwell's demon (in thermodynamics) is a hypothetical entity whose only powers is to open and close doors.
  • Fission and Fusion operate off the process of joining or splitting bonds, so yes, this can be very powerful.
Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • December 16, 2012
    Generality
    I don't know if oppenness can be considered an element, but it could well be a semi-common superpower. Some examples:

    • In Neverwhere, Door is a member of the family Portico, who all have this ability, and are highly regarded because of it. They live in a series of rooms that aren't physically accessible by ordinary means. The ability makes her a Mac Guffin Girl for the plot.
    • The Rogue in Diablo can detect and disarm trapped chests, and the Assassin in Diablo II can open locked ones without a key.
  • December 16, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    Yeah, it's kinda silly. But it was common enough that I just said Sure Why Not.
  • December 17, 2012
    Koveras
    Real Life (kinda)
    • Maxwell's demon is a hypothetical entity whose only powers is to open and close doors.

    Literature

    Tabletop Games
    • The Lore of Portals of the House of Neberu in Demon The Fallen is a set of magical/divine abilities revolving around opening and closing doors of any kind.
  • December 17, 2012
    Larkmarn
    Some of the examples just seem like Master Of Unlocking, and the others seem to be... well, dependent on the definition being exceedingly loose. The FFX entry, for example. Also, some of the examples seem to just be Thinking Up Portals.

    It just seems like most of these examples aren't about opening and shutting doors, and more about teleport-y powers.
  • December 17, 2012
    CobraPrime
    Ageed with ^ The examples and the description don't seem to mesh up that well.

    The Skeleton Key of Nocturnal in The Elder Scrolls. It can unlock any door, and in Skyrim, you find that its unlocking powers are much wider than this It can unlock doors with non-conventional locks, but also unlocks the portal to Nocturnal's plane of Oblivion, the Evergloam. It can also unlock one's potential.
  • December 17, 2012
    Cider
    Calling water, wind, fire and electricity elements is painful enough but at least those are tangible. The use of "element" here does not have such a cushion.
  • December 17, 2012
    Chabal2
    Yukari Yakumo's ill-defined but tremendously game-breaking power is over boundaries, which she can open and close at will. Usually this manifests as elongated Portal-style openings in reality (called gaps), but she can also manipulate conceptual boundaries, like the border of Gensokyo or the boundary between life and death.
  • December 17, 2012
    acrobox
    I'd make this a Stock Super Power but not under the Elemental Powers umbrella.

  • December 17, 2012
    Generality
    Master Of Unlocking seems to be about people with mundane, if excellent, lock-picking abilities, rather than a superpower. As such I'd say it's related.
  • December 18, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    Thinking Up Portals is closer to what I want than mundane lock-picking.

    Since the examples apparently don't match, I'm gonna look over them, and either remove examples or alter the description. Or both.
  • December 18, 2012
    Larkmarn
    And it still most definitely shouldn't be an Elemental Power.
  • December 18, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    But it should. Stock Super Power is basically a single-purpose effect (I can make multiple copies of my body). This pretty much disqualifies this, because it is single purpose only in the hands of a stupid user.

    Any wide-range use effect that has its own properties (you can fly, snuff candles, clean your house, and keep someone at arm's length, all because of what wind can do) is an element, because it has its own traits. A stock superpower does not (you can fly with flying power).

    Open And Shut is an elemental power, because it has its own properties:
    • You can open/close doors.
    • Supertrope of Space Master, since it basically defines dimensional travel as bridging connections via "doors."
    • You can summon/unsummon creatures inside doors to other dimensions.
    • You could lock a critter inside an object, or unseal a Sealed Evil In A Can.
    • You can use summon any object or any readily available energy type (again, opening doors) or to dispel any type by cutting away its origin.
    • You can hack computer passwords by zapping them with the open ray (don't ask how it works).
    • Nuclear power, by breaking bonds.

    Except the dimensional travel, btw, most of these have been used by Sora of KH. You could call him some kind of super-mage, but all of these basically are his key's abilities.
  • December 28, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    Bump.
  • December 28, 2012
    staritecollecter
    Dimentio in Super Paper Mario can create doors to travel through dimensions. He can also created an other dimension called "Dimension D" and trapped others in it.

    Does that count?
  • February 9, 2013
    acrobox
    @ bulmabriefs

    Sorry but I gotta disagree with your Super Power vs Elemental Power argument. Air as an elemental power only has one use. Controlling air currents.

    • Elemental Powers - Linked to what is usually an external force of nature (The Four Elements), or abstract concept (Love, Religion).
    • Stock Super Powers - Linked to what is usually an internal/personal change (speed/strength/invulnerability, shapeshifting, cloning) or a specific situation (talking to animals, sensing where objects are, opening and shutting objects that can be thought of as being open or shut. )

    I agree its a trope. It's just not an elemental power.
  • February 9, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Same here. The idea of this being an elemental power is ridiculous to begin with.

    Anime and Manga
  • February 10, 2013
    Arivne
    I agree that this is a Stock Superpower but not an Elemental Power.
  • February 10, 2013
    whogivesacrap
    in avatar the last airbender, aang disables the fire lord from firebending during their fight.
  • February 11, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Seems to be a related to Semantic Superpower.

    The Heart Is An Awesome Power examples are all examples of Semantic Superpower, but the the straight examples aren't.
  • February 18, 2013
    bulmabriefs144
    • Elemental Powers - Linked to what is usually an external force of nature (The Four Elements), or abstract concept (Love, Religion).

    I made a case that Bonds is a force in nature (at least an abstract one, although, see the Real Life example)...

    Fine, it's a Stock Superpower. We need more examples though. And we need to fine-tune the ones we have, because I have no idea what does/doesn't qualify.
  • February 18, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Doorman of the Great Lakes Avengers can teleport anyone anywhere, provided that "anywhere" is the next room. His own body is the door used to teleport through.
  • February 19, 2013
    Koveras
    I think it's got enough examples for launch. What it needs is more hats. I gave you mine but someone seems to have taken it away. :(
  • March 20, 2013
    bulmabriefs144
    Just Launch It Already? Enough examples, the title though not great is at least tolerable, and the description has been fixed so it isn't one of the Elemental Powers anymore.
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