Created By: elemt on December 31, 2011

Power Loss Angst

A character is laments their inability to do something they once could.

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(Do We Have This One?? I really can't find any trope that fits this, which surprises me. I'm sure there are a bunch more examples. In sports movies, for one. Needs a Better Title)

A character is frustrated by the fact that they can't accomplish something important they could once have done. Maybe they've been injured or depowered. Maybe it's just too late, and age has weakened them, or they know the job will take longer than they have left to live. How they react varies. Maybe they'll try anyway. Maybe they'll look for someone else to Mentor for the job. Maybe they'll decide no one else can do it, and give up (expect them to end up mentoring someone anyway if they do this). Many Old Superheroes have an aspect of this.

Comic Books

  • In Astro City the retired superhero Supersonic, is pulled out of retirement to deal with a giant robot. He destroys it, causing massive destruction in the process. Afterward he breaks down and explains that he never wanted to come back, because while in his younger days he would have found some clever way to beat it safely, his mind has deteriorated and he couldn't think of anything better than smashing it a lot until he could reach important wires.

  • In A Song of Ice and Fire Maester Aemon laments that his age has left him too weak to survive the journey to Danaerys. As he predicts he dies partway through the journey, leaving Samwell to find someone else to advise her.

Live-Action Television
  • The last sketch in That Mitchell and Webb Look has a senile Sherlock Holmes with Watson pretending that he's lost none of his brilliance, and Sherlock seemingly unaware. Until the end.
    Sherlock: ...I know, John...I do know. I can't get the fog to clear...
  • Angel encounters this when he's accidentally transformed into a human, and eventually goes to the Powers That Be to turn him back into a vampire because as a human he can't defend people from demons.
    • Illyria suffers this after losing her kingdom, army, and much of her power. She looks to Wesley for guidance on what to do next, while lecturing Angel on how he should be behaving as the local "ruler".
  • In Red Dwarf the old Cat priest mourns that he was too old to travel with the other Cats when they left the ship for The Promised Land. He's probably better off - their religion is complete nonsense and the land they're looking for doesn't exist (and half of them fly directly into a black hole), while the priest gets to meet his "god" Lister before he dies happy.

Western Animation
  • Batman Beyond has Bruce Wayne retiring from being Batman due to his failing health, leaving Gotham without pointy-eared protection until Terry Mc Ginnis steals the suit. Eventually he accepts that Gotham still needs a Batman and that Terry is right for the job, though he still resents not being able to do it himself.
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • December 31, 2011
    • Superman II. After Superman gives up his powers so he can marry Lois Lane, he is easily beaten up by a bully.
    Clark: Maybe you ought to hire a bodyguard.
    Lois: I don't want one. I want the man I fell in love with.
    Clark: I know that, Lois. I wish he were here.

    Live Action TV
    • Star Trek The Next Generation episode "The Loss". Counselor Deanna Troi loses her empathic (emotion-reading) abilities due to an encounter with aliens. She becomes extremely frustrated, including an angry outburst after Doctor Crusher can't tell her if the loss will be permanent or not. She decides she can no longer be a Ship's Counselor without her abilities and resigns. Her abilities return at the end of the episode as the aliens leave.

    Edited to change "Superman" to "Clark".
  • December 31, 2011
    Anime And Manga
    • In [[Bleach]], after losing his powers at the end of the Deicide arc, Ichigo angsts for some time, especially in situations where he can no longer protect his friends.
  • December 31, 2011
    Lyra, when she loses her ability to read the alethiometer at the end of the His Dark Materials trilogy.
  • December 31, 2011
    Comic Books
    • A recurring situation in all the books related to Marvel Comics' X-Men.
      • Storm has lost her powers more than once, and since in her case they are part of a connection to the planet itself, she takes it extremely hard.
      • It's usually played with with Cyclops. He turn his off so it's almost always a relief when he loses his powers. But his sense of duty to The Dream is what causes him to angst about lacking powers.
      • Rictor of X-Factor Investigations took the loss of his terrakinesis very hard after the Decimation.
      • Wolfsbane, formerly of the New Mutants, due to her religious upbringing, believed her powers were a punishment from God. As a result she angsts when she has them, but also angsts without them because she secretly reveled in the powers, and overtly felt guilty about not being able to help her friends.
      • With Beast, it depends on the power loss. If he loses the blue fur and goes back to looking human, no problem. But if losing his mutant abilities also takes his brilliant intellect away -- immediate angst.
  • December 31, 2011
    • In Dreamfall, it is obvious that April is distressed by the loss of her Shifting abilities, even though she tries to brush it off nonchalantly.
  • December 31, 2011
  • December 31, 2011
    Related, but that's about the plot in which a character who loses their powers ends up getting them back, while this is about the emotional reaction to their inability to accomplish something. They don't necessarily regain the ability to do it.
  • December 31, 2011
  • December 31, 2011
    During Joss Whedon's run of X-men, one of the students, gifted with flight, actually killed himself over getting depowered.
  • December 31, 2011
    Also, the Superman example -- it's Clark saying it, not Superman. Especially since Superman no longer exists, technically.
  • June 22, 2012
  • June 22, 2012
    More X Men: implied at the end of X Men The Last Stand with Magneto's somber chess game. Kindof a spoiler trope, by the way.
  • June 22, 2012
    • Dominic Deegan's brother Gregory lost his white magic to a necromancer and spent some time angsting about it, before discovering the healing power of Heavy Metal.
  • June 22, 2012
    Charlie during his downward decline in Flowers For Algernon.
  • June 22, 2012
    Anime and Manga
    • Kotetsu from Tiger And Bunny suffers from this for a while after realizing his Super Strength powers are rapidly decreasing in duration each time he activates them. By the ending, however, he seems to have accepted the fact that he can no longer activate his NEXT powers as a traditional superhero, so he later chooses to fight crime as a Badass Normal instead.
  • June 22, 2012
  • June 22, 2012
    The Incredible Hulk: One of the first times Banner was cured of the Hulk, he sees Betty starting to fall for Doc Samson, who had used the Gamma radiation drawn out of Banner's body to turn himself into a superhero (with his brain still intact). Banner gets jealous and re-Hulkizes himself.
  • June 30, 2012
  • June 30, 2012
    Towards the end of the His Dark Materials trilogy, Lyra loses her ability to read the alethieometer. She gets pretty upset.