Created By: StarBright on August 14, 2012

Bait and Switch UnSorcerer

Everyone has magical powers but you. Oh, wait, you do after all.

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This character knows about the existence of magic or superpowers and is in a position where he or she expects to have them. Either Everyone Is a Super, or magical powers run in their family and the character is expected to inherit them. However, he or she is apparently powerless...

...the key word being apparently. Because it turns out that this character has powers after all. Not only that, but more often than not this character's magic will be better and stronger than everyone else's, or of a rare type that almost no one else has. In some cases, it will turn out that the character can't do the usual sort of magic because they actually have powerful Anti-Magic.

Since this trope most often applies to the protagonist of the story, the presence of a work on this list is probably a spoiler.

  • White Cat by Holly Black. Cassel, an apparent normal in a family of curse workers, turns out to be a transformation worker, which is the rarest type. He didn't know because his brother, a memory worker, worked him to forget about it.
  • A Young Man Without Magic by Lawrence Watt-Evans. The title is a lie. In this case, though, Anrel's magic isn't any stronger than anyone else's; in fact, it's weaker, because he repressed his talent all his life and never had the formal training most wizards get.
  • Bink of the Xanth series. His talent was purposely concealing its own existence.
  • The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson. Tilja is initially jealous that her sister inherits the family magic, but Tilja herself turns out to have highly useful Anti-Magic powers.
Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • August 14, 2012
    Tropes Are Flexible: Subversion of Un Sorcerer is not a separate trope...
  • August 14, 2012
    I dunno, I think I've seen this often enough that it's its own trope. A better title might help? I don't think of this as a subversion of Unsorcerer so much as a particular flavor of the very general trope of "The main character turns out to be special".
  • August 14, 2012
  • August 14, 2012
    The main basis of Sky High is around the main character being the son of superheroes, yet lacking any powers himself until the end, where it's revealed that he inherited both his mother's flight and his father's super strength.
  • August 14, 2012
    ^^ "special all along" tends to fall under ... hmm, I think it was The Call Put Me On Hold.
  • August 14, 2012
    Angela in Seiken Densetsu 3 is one of the only citizens of Altena who doesn't have a natural talent for magic, but when she begins travelling, she finds out she can learn spells by seeking out the elemental mana spirits and forming bonds with them. Her Evil Counterpart Koren had a similar problem, except he got his power from a Deal With The Devil with the Dragon Emperor.
  • August 14, 2012
    Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter is kind of an Hero Of Another Story example. The books mention that he was suspected to be a squib (someone without any magical powers even though of magical parentage) when he was a little kid. But not only does he have magic powers, he ends up playing a very important role regarding the defeat of Voldemort.
  • August 14, 2012
    • Tavi goes through most of the Codex Alera thinking he's the only person in the world without Furies. In the fourth book, coincidentally right after learning his true identity, which in turn suggests he should be very powerful, he starts to manifest those powers after all. He develops them over the last two books.
  • August 14, 2012
    • In Fortune Summoners, after the prolog the main character, Arche, gains an elemental stone (which is needed to cast magic), however it doesn't seem to do anything except give her an adorable wind elemental as a familiar. Just before the final dungeon the seal on it is unlocked and it's revealed to be a legendary artifact with a unique ability; she can use it to merge with said elemental as a Super Mode.
  • August 14, 2012
    I'm with Koveras on this. The Un Sorcerer even already lists late blooming a game breaker power is a likely outcome/silver lining.
  • August 15, 2012
    Which really deserves a link to The Call Put Me On Hold...