[[quoteright:201:[[ComicBook/RisingStars http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/RisingStars_2019.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:201:[[RocksFallEveryoneDies Rock falls]], [[{{Pun}} everyone flies]].]]

In SuperHero stories, there are [[HowToGiveACharacterSuperPowers many, many ways to give the lead super powers]]. However, sometimes it becomes cost efficient in terms of descriptive effort or setting construction to give every character the same super hero/villain origin story in a Mass SuperEmpowering Event.

The Mass Empowering Event serves to kick start the series (The Event usually happens in act 1 or 2 of the pilot) and provide a handy reason for the entire cast to get [[StockSuperPowers super powers]]. The Event[[note]](For some reason, it's usually called "The Event" or some capitalized version thereof and the superheroes [[DifferentlyPoweredIndividual will never be called superheroes]])[[/note]] can be technological, mystical, [[FreakLabAccident accidental]], [[SuperSoldier deliberate]] or [[RiddleForTheAges unexplained]], but it always serves as [[YouAllShareMyStory a tangible link]] between the heroes and villains. Often, it also kills a great number of people in the process, both to [[DisposableSuperheroMaker discourage repeated usage]] and/or give the resulting superheroes an aura of pathos - "[[SurvivorGuilt I got all these cool powers while all those others died]]".

So why do authors use this trope? After all, one valid criticism of this trope is that it takes the "inventiveness" and diversity out of a SuperHeroOrigin story by repeating it across several characters. Well, it turns out that having fifty ways a FreakLabAccident can give you super powers got old, fast, forcing quite a few {{Meta Origin}}s to be applied to tidy up the place. Another is that it frees the author from having to give exposition on the source of the powers to focus on the characters themselves and the way that they use their new powers, effectively giving more CharacterDevelopment and characterization by showing how they react to getting great power -- be it [[TranshumanTreachery betrayal]], [[SmugSuper smugness]] or [[WithGreatPowerComesGreatResponsibility responsibility]]. Lastly, the cause for The Event can be a major plot hook for the hero(es) to unravel throughout the season.

A subtrope of MetaOrigin. Compare BizarreBabyBoom. Contrast RandomlyGifted.

And of course, due to the nature of the trope, '''be wary of unmarked spoilers'''.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Anime/DarkerThanBlack'' fits this rather neatly, having a mysterious event which opened two mystical singularities known as "Heaven's Gate" and "Hell's Gate" -- in South America and [[TokyoIsTheCenterOfTheUniverse Tokyo]], respectively -- resulting in people from around the world being transformed into either Contractors (those with special powers who are stripped of their emotions/morality [[spoiler: [[TinMan although, that turns out to be much more complicated]]]]) or Dolls (people left almost completely non-sapient who are used as living tracking devices), and the atmosphere around the earth being replaced by an AlienSky that cut off Earth from the rest of the universe.
* ''Manga/{{NEEDLESS}}'' has a WorldWarIII level event causing a 'black spot'. Many of the people within this area have superhuman powers. [[spoiler: Late in the anime, it's revealed that originally a CrystalDragonJesus Figure existed within the area and his death caused the powers to spread throughout the black spot.]]
* Calumon from ''Anime/DigimonTamers'' is something of a sentient version of this. [[spoiler: It's hinted throughout the series that he's the power of digivolution incarnate, with reactions and shows of power from him whenever the Tamers' digimon needed to evolve. Calumon is then captured by one of the Digimon Sovereign, and after being rescued and his captor beat around by one of his peers (as well as the Tamers), he fully 'awakens' and summons an army of Digimon to warp them all to Mega-level in order to fight the D-Reaper.]]
* ''Lightnovel/FullMetalPanic'' has [[FreakLabAccident 1150 GMT, 24 December 1981]], in which babies born at that time become a Whispered.
* In the ''TigerAndBunny'' universe, people started developing or being born with many and varied superpowers about forty-five years before the time the show's set in. No one is quite sure ''why'' this happened -- they just roll with it.
* At the end of Part One of ''Manga/TokyoESP'' [[spoiler:TheBadGuyWins and over 20% of Kanto gains PsychicPowers.]]
* In ''LightNovel/MyriadColorsPhantomWorld'', a Japanese company named Alayashiki was attacked by terrorists, releasing a brain-altering virus. This caused people to start seeing mythical creatures, like {{Youkai}}. A small percentage of children also developed special abilities.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/TheUnderburbs'', [[OurVampiresAreDifferent the young vampire]] Countess Winifred Pale pulls a BecomingTheCostume on the whole town of Pendleton. Many of them develop powers, including the main character Angie, her mother and her brother.
* During the DC Comics crossover "ComicBook/{{Invasion}}", the Dominators set off a "gene bomb" which activates a lot of people's dormant metagenes. Since the Dominators' aim was to get rid of Earth's super heroes, this was a textbook case of NiceJobFixingItVillain.
* The White Event from ''ComicBook/TheNewUniverse.''
** Similarly, the White Event from the short-lived reboot ''Newuniversal'', which explores the idea more. Here, rather than being random happenstance, it's a deliberate act by SufficientlyAdvancedAliens, designed to help mankind through a "paradigm shift" as the planet enters a "strangematter web". Problem is, the choosing is at random. So the man given the Starbrand is drunk off his ass, and the man give the Justice glyph is a brain-dead cop (who subsequently thinks he's in Hell). The setting also mentions a previous failed event, The Fireworks, which occurred back in the 60s, and only produced three superbeings, who were all killed within a decade. And there was ''another'' event several thousand years before, which did work... only one of the people empowered was an utter bastard who started killing and mind-raping the others for his own gain (and by the modern day, that event is completely lost to history).
* The ''Comicbook/{{X-Men}}'' have the detonation of the Atom Bomb as the cause for the explosion in their birth rates, having been a very tiny percentage of the human population beforehand. They ain't called "The Children Of The Atom" for nothing.
* In the UltimateMarvel universe, [[spoiler:mutants]] appeared in the world [[spoiler: thanks to SuperSoldier experiments performed on Wolverine, the first true mutant.]]
* The setting of ''ComicBook/EarthX'' comes from this, but the reason is not revealed until later in the story. [[spoiler:It turns out that it was Black Bolt, who used a weapon to cast Terrigen Mists down to Earth so that the Inhumans would not be seen as outcasts when they left Attilan. What he apparently didn't predict is for Earth to turn into such a CrapsackWorld.]]
* The Terrigen Bomb from Marvel's ''ComicBook/{{Infinity}}'' event awakened the powers of every human carrying Inhuman genes. This became the setup for some new titles for example the new ''{{Comicbook/Ms Marvel|2014}}''.
* In Malibu Comics' ''ComicBook/TheUltraverse'', the only sources of superhuman powers were magic, technology ("wetware") or "the Jump Start" -- an alien artifact located on the moon that every so often sent out bursts of energy that granted humans superpowers, at first theorized to be intended to advance humanity to the point where we could reach the moon and free it, but later revealed as attempts to gather its scattered components including the {{Nanomachines}} that had long ago infected all life on Earth including humans.
* Creator/JMichaelStraczynski's comic ''ComicBook/RisingStars'' has a version of this, where all the supers on Earth were in utero in a small midwestern town on the day of a bright flash of light. The first powers manifested when they were in elementary school. [[InhumanableAlienRights The government put them in a camp under military control]] [[AvertedTrope until the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.]] They did have a normal-as-possible high school experience after that, but all the heroes and villains have [[EveryoneWentToSchoolTogether already known each other]] since childhood.
** In another of his comics, ''ComicBook/SupremePower'', all superpowers (except Hyperion and Zarda's) were caused by a nanovirus that came to Earth along with Hyperion.
* The ''ComicBook/{{Elementals}}'' comic by Bill Willingham had the Shadowspear, a mass of supernatural energy collected by BigBad Saker to help him conquer the world; when Saker is defeated by the Elementals, the Shadowspear spell runs wild and becomes attracted to pain and death, causing various people and animals all over the world who have died in especially weird ways to be resurrected as supernatural beings, most of whom fought the Elementals.
** What's more, an extremist religious group learns how the Shadowspear works and sacrifices hundreds of its followers in gruesome ways, trying to create their own superhumans. And it worked. The vast majority of these "martyrs" died, but enough were empowered to create the Rapture super-team.
* The [[GreenRocks gems of knowledge]] in ''ComicBook/{{The 99}}.''
* In ''ComicBook/TheEndLeague'', most superpowers are a result of the Green Event, wherein [[strike:Superman]]Astonishman was tricked by [[strike:Lex Luthor]]Dead Lexington into blowing up a crashed alien spaceship, releasing exotic radiation from the ship's power core. The radiation killed around 3 billion people but empowered several hundred thousand.
* ComicBook/{{Wildstorm}} Universe had several - the Comet Effect, Gen Factor, being a partially human from one of the alien races that masquaraded their way through Earth's history, whatever it was that created Century Babies, exposure to the Snowflake... that should about cover it.
* In ''ComicBook/ProjectSuperpowers'' [[PandorasBox Pandora's Urn]] didn't so much mass-empower the heroes as it twisted their existing powers and/or skills in bizarre ways.
* Inverted in ''ComicBook/JLAActOfGod'', which involved a mass depowering event.
* ''[[ComicBook/TransformersWingsOfHonor Transformers: Generation 2: Redux]]'' (otherwise known as the comic book that was distributed at [=BotCon=] 2010) revolved around the Decepticons experimenting with [[AppliedPhlebotinum forestonite]]. Eventually, an attempt to destroy it to keep it out of the Autobots' hands results instead in forestonite gas granting superpowers to all the Transformers present (along with the occasional [[TheNthDoctor new look]]).
* The miniseries ''ComicBook/{{North 40}}'' has this happen to a small Midwestern town after someone reads from the library's resident TomeOfEldritchLore. LovecraftianSuperpower [[SuperpowerLottery Lottery]] ensues.
* In a [[ComicBook/TheSimpsons Bartman]] comic, every human in Springfield except Bart(man) got hit with a nuclear blast. Not only did they gain diverse powers, but they started fighting each other for no particular reason. Bart(man) observed, "[[WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity With great power comes even greater irresponsibility!]]"
* Minor but awesome example: when the young [[Comicbook/{{Daredevil}} Matt Murdock]] saved an old man of being run over by a truck, a tube of mysterious chemical ooze from said truck hit his eyes, granting him SuperSenses. That same tube of ooze fell then into the gutters, covering [[Franchise/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles four turtles and a rat]]. This means that the same FreakLabAccident created '''six''' superheroes.
** Seven including [[{{Comicbook/Alias}} Jessica Jones, aka Jewel]]. Her family was riding in a car which collided with the truck carrying the chemical. The rest of her family was killed, she got powers.
** Well, as far as Splinter and the turtles are concerned, sort of. TMNT was originally a parody of Daredevil and their origin involves the ooze being in a canister that hit a boy "near his eyes" but Marvel and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are in different universes.
* Most of the initial heroes and villains in the [[MilestoneComics Dakota Universe]] got their powers from "the Big Bang," when police tried to douse the participants of a massive multi-gang rumble with an experimental radioactive tracker. [[NiceJobBreakingItHero Good job, men!]]
* ComicBook/{{Captain Carrot|AndHisAmazingZooCrew}} and each original member of his amazing Zoo Crew gain their powers because of exposure to fragments from the same strange meteor.
* Downplayed in ''ComicBook/StrontiumDog'': Most characters in the series who have some form of superpowers got them due to Strontium-90 fallout from the Great War, but vanishingly few of those exposed to Strontium-90 came out physically or mentally superior to baseline humans.
* ''Ordinary'' has this happen by way of an airborne virus. [[EveryoneIsASuper Everybody in the entire world]] gains a power ([[WhatKindOfLamePowerIsHeartAnyway some more useful than others]]) except for the protagonist.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Roleplay/DCNation, in their version of ComicBook/BlackestNight, had hundreds of rings in every color of the emotional spectrum descend on Earth for the final fight. This included black ones.
* ''FanFic/TheNucleusIncident'', a very popular ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' fanfic, involves the RED team being exposed to a blinding light the glowing machine in the center of the Nucleus map gives off one day. Each team member wakes up some time later to find out they've acquired strange superpowers [[spoiler: and the BLU team have superpowers of their own]].
* In ''PokeWars'', Ho-oh uses the orb of creation to substantially boost the power of Pokémon attacks and make them lethal. In addition, Lugia uses his own orb of creation to [[spoiler:remove the dampeners of humans, granting them the ability to perform superhuman physical feats.]]
* ''FanFic/MyLittleAvengers'' has three: the first happened in the distant past, when Asgard was destroyed, and the magic released by it created Celestia and Luna, as well as the first Unicorns and Pegasi. The second occurs when Celestia is forced to release most of her own magic when Loki attacks her; this causes random mutations across Equestria. The third occurs at the end of the story, when [[spoiler: Loki dies, and his magic is released in the same way. According to him, this will insure that everypony (and every other species) will all be mutants within a few generations]].
* Downplayed in ''FanFic/APosseAdEsse'', a VideoGame/DieAnstalt fanfic in which the six playable toys get specialized superpowers. The energy wave coming out from Dr Wood only affects the toys inside the asylum at the time; in fact, not even that far, since Dub [[TheTeamNormal is found without any]], being "furthest away from the blast".
* The entire plot of the Manga/DetectiveConan fanfic [[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/7331488/1/Midnight-White Midnight White]] starts with a mysterious stranger breaking into a science museum during a Kaito KID heist and setting off a device that produces a strange blue/white smoke when caught. The rest of the plot revolves around the main characters and a few OCs discovering and dealing with their powers and relationships, while trying to figure out what the mysterious stranger wanted.
* ''FanFic/RedLightning'' has the Storm, which gave a significant minority in Peach Creek super powers.
* The dramatic climax of ''[[FanFic/IcedFairysANewWorld A New World]]'' includes a downpour of dragon blood, which dramatically increases the power of youkai touched by it, and transformed humans soaked in it into youkai.

* In ''[[Film/XMen1 X-Men]]'', Magneto's plan is to turn all the world leaders into mutants.

* The ''Literature/WildCards'' book series has an alien virus that grants superpowers to about 1% of victims, while the other 99% either die horribly or become grotesque mutants. In 1946 it is released in the atmosphere over Manhattan, killing thousands and creating a few dozen supers. It's later revealed that a percentage of the seemingly uninfected are carriers when the virus manifests in their offspring.
* In Creator/PhilipJoseFarmer's "biographies" of {{Tarzan}} and Franchise/DocSavage (and the MassivelyMultiplayerCrossover "Wold Newton Universe" based on Phillip's stories), the Event is the titular Wold Newton meteorite. The radiation of the meteorite affected the passengers of a passing coach (and several animals in the area); their descendants were endowed with unusual strength, intelligence, and ambition, becoming [[LiteraryAgentHypothesis the inspiration for]] many of the heroes and villains of fiction. (See [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wold_Newton_family the other wiki]] for more details.
* ''Literature/MidnightsChildren'' by Salman Rushdie has 1001 children born at midnight on the day India gained its independence acquiring low-level superpowers and a telepathic network as a result.
* The creation of The Maze in Creator/GaryGibson's ''Literature/AgainstGravity'' novel marked the beginning of a rather long and drawn out empowering event; as an ElaborateUndergroundBase dedicated to researching how to make SuperSoldiers via the use of {{Nanomachines}}, it processed hundreds or perhaps thousands of people. Many eventually escaped and spread across the world, with [[SuperSpeed enhanced speed]], [[SuperStrength increased strength]], [[HealingFactor regeneration]], [[SuperReflexes superior reflexes]], [[TechnoPath sensing and control of electronics]], [[SuperSenses enhanced vision and hearing]]... you get the idea.
* In ''Literature/ScorpionShards'', the protagonists' superpowers are triggered by the supernova of a distant star. The shards of the star's soul enter the bodies of all six of the infants born at the exact moment of its destruction.
** At the end of the series, [[spoiler:billions of stars go supernova simultaneously, transforming the entire next generation of humanity into Star Shards in recognition of the Shards showing mercy on their enemies in the final battle]].
* In ''Literature/TheGrimnoirChronicles'' books, at some point before the American Civil War, people all over the world suddenly started gaining superpowers.
* In ''Literature/WearingTheCape'', the Event changes the world as we know it. For 3.2 seconds everyone in the world experiences complete sensory deprivation, along with a worldwide power outage. Since the Event, a small percentage of people who experience great trauma or stress become "breakthroughs," manifesting superhuman powers. The cause of the Event and source of these powers is never explained.
* Literature/PerryRhodan explains the sudden turn up of mutants with radioactivity because of the A-Bomb.
* In the ''Literature/{{Mistborn}}'' books, the only way for a potential Allomancer of any kind to unlock their abilities is to face a near-death experience, resulting in an event called "Snapping." Late in second book and all through the third one, the [[spoiler: mist sickness]] is a deliberate attempt by [[spoiler: [[BigGood Preservation]]]] to forcibly unlock the Allomancy inherent in the entire human population by deliberately push anyone who has inherent Allomantic powers to near-death.
* Possible example in ''Literature/PleaseDontTellMyParentsImASupervillain''. Evolution, one of the first heroes, spent the first week after he got his powers as a tree, trying to learn how to control everything. The massive amounts of pollen he released during that time spread across the globe, to the point that everyone on the planet has traces of his DNA in their system. It's theorized (in-universe) that this is the cause of the later surge in superhumans.
* Lavie Tidhar's novel ''The Violent Century'' is a deconstruction of World War II AlternateHistory stories involving the existence of superpowered people (the superpowered people are too few in number and historical forces too gargantuan for history to be changed much if at all) in which all the great powers have superpeople by 1939 due to the effects of a quantum physics experiment in the mid-1930s by a MadScientist named Dr. Vomacht.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* The eclipse in ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' at least looked like one of these at first, but it's not completely clear. The eclipse didn't grant everyone's powers, certainly not all at once, but it did remove everybody's powers once.
* The cast of ''Series/{{Misfits}}'' and most of the [[MonsterOfTheWeek Monsters Of The Week]] are empowered by a mysterious storm that included misshapen black clouds and hailstones the size of dogs. [[LightningCanDoAnything Everyone struck by lightning got superpowers]].
* The [[GreenRocks Kryptonite]] meteor shower of ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' in which Clark first arrived to Earth and at the same time giving many of the locals odd powers and/or [[PsychoSerum altering their personality sometimes]] and causing them to become the MonsterOfTheWeek. There are a few humans empowered by Kryptonian technology, and it's vaguely implied that there's some Kryptonian ancestry among humanity.
* The powers manifested by ''Series/TheFortyFourHundred'' are eventually revealed to stem from a "[[NinetyPercentOfYourBrain fifth neurotransmitter]]" called "Promicin". It can be [[SuperSerum injected into normal humans]] to give them powers. Or kill them, it's about even odds.
** The series has arguably had three [[MassSuperEmpoweringEvent mass super empowering events]], the first being the infusion of the initial 4400 returnees with promicin. Many non-returnees later get powers when [[WellIntentionedExtremist well intentioned extremists]] make promicin shots available to the public. The series ends with thousands of people in Seattle, [[spoiler: including almost all of the remaining protagonists]], getting powers as a result of the PowerIncontinence of a character with the ability to release promicin into the atmosphere.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' '''ends''' with a mass super empowering event, with Willow using the power of the Slayer Scythe to make all the Potential Slayers around the world into full Slayers.
* ''Series/TheFlash2014''. The same [[MagicalParticleAccelerator particle accelerator]] accident that gave the main character his powers is also responsible for multiple [[VillainOfTheWeek villains of the week]], and the team's stated goal is to deal with any other 'metahumans' similarly created by the accident. Season 2 involves metahumans from an AlternateUniverse, which had its own particle accelerator accident.
** Of course, this doesn't include powers granted through magic, and an episode of ''Arrow'' season 3 also revealed that metahumans exist who were nowhere near Central City at the time of the accelerator explosion.
* The Season 2 finale of ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'' ends with a crate full of Terrigen crystals that fell into the ocean earlier in the episode dissolving in the water. A bunch of fish are seen swimming through the cloud of dissolved crystal, which are then caught and made into fish oil capsules sold in stores all over the world, waiting to give superpowers to anyone with Inhuman ancestry. The Season 3 premiere later gives an estimate that the Terrigen will spread throughout the entire ocean in a year and a half.
* This is the OriginStory of the title entities of the ''Franchise/UltraSeries''. They originated as beings similar to humans, but their sun began to die. So they built the Plasma Spark to act as their artificial sun to survive. This had the side effect of mutating the entire species into gigantic EnergyBeings of immense power.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The Hellstorms in ''TabletopGame/GURPSTechnomancer'', which generated a wave of magical radiation which imbued magical abilities in hundreds of thousands of people in the fallout zone.
* In WhiteWolf's supers RPG ''TabletopGame/{{Aberrant}}'', super-powered "novas" come about after a massive release of [[PureEnergy quantum energy]] into the atmosphere begins to trigger the "eruption" of [[NinetyPercentOfYourBrain heretofore unknown nodes of the human brain]] that allow the novas to manipulate the very building blocks of the universe in certain ways.
** In the Pulp Action game ''TabletopGame/{{Adventure}}!,'' which is a prequel to Aberrant, the Hammersmith Incident released waves of "telluric energy" across the globe, allowing for the appearance of low powered individuals to appear (and laying the seeds for the later explosion of Novas).
* ''TabletopGame/{{Godlike}}'', a supers TabletopRPG set in WorldWarTwo, posits the appearance of superpowered "Talents" starting in 1936. Talents may ''believe'' they got their powers from magical artifacts or radioactive spiders or alien rays, but all are [[PsychicPowers psychics]] with [[RealityWarper the power to warp reality to their will]]. Because they all share the same origin, all Talents can detect other Talent powers in use, and can attempt to interfere with other Talents in a contest of wills.
* In the fourth edition of ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' psionics is a result of an incursion on reality by [[EldritchLocation The Far Realm]].
** The 3.5 Expanded Psionics Handbook suggested a number of possible ways to {{Retcon}} in psionics; this was one of them, although not necessarily the Far Realm specifically.
** In the ''TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms'' campaign setting a battle between two deities resulted in the genesis of magic in that world.
** 2nd Edition had the ''Ravenloft'' module ''Requiem'', where the central event [[spoiler:renders everyone in a small city — including the player characters — undead]].
* ''TabletopGame/{{Champions}} The New Millenium'' had the Wildstrike, in which millions of people around the world developed superpowers at once. In a subversion, these powers often came with horrific drawbacks or were very weak.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'' has a variation: the titular Exalted have always been a part of the setting, but after the breaking of the [[SealedBadassInACan Jade Prison]], Solars began reappearing in numbers unheard of since the Usurpation, and the brand-new Abyssal and Infernal Exalted showed up as well.
** Also expressed in the origins of the Exalted, as the Exaltations were created by the gods to imbue their chosen mortal champions with the power to defeat the Primordials. They might have different flavors, but all have the same original reason for existing.
*** At least until 3e: the Liminals didn't show up until the Shogunate, and the Exigents are created on a case-by-case basis - some may well be results of the Primordial War, but others are created afterwards (e.g., the example Chosen of Harvests is a present-day creation).
* The ''MutantsAndMasterminds'' setting Paragons deals with superpowered individuals appearing in a world LikeRealityUnlessNoted. The point when the paragons first started appearing is called "The Breakout." [[DependingOnTheWriter Depending on the Game Master]], the Breakout can be overt or subtle and a backstory event or the focus of the first session.
** In the [[FreedomCity World of Freedom]], Emerald City has recently been hit with what's being called the Silver Storm with survivors gaining powers.
** The setting ''Shards: Unsung Destiny'', featured in the sourcebook ''Mecha & Manga'', has all powers come from special crystals deposited on Earth by a comet.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/InFAMOUS'' starts this way, turning the hero and anyone with a specific gene into a DifferentlyPoweredIndividual.
* The main characters of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'', minus two (who get their powers before the story starts), are branded l'Cie at the same time, after [[HowtoGatherCharacters meeting up as strangers in the wrong place at the wrong time]].
* In the ''VideoGame/FreedomForce'' games, when Mentor's ship is destroyed in Earth's orbit by Lord Dominion's forces, his supply of Energy X (the most powerful substance in the universe!), rains down all over Earth, empowering many heroes and villains.
** This was actually Lord Dominion's plan for Earth all along, except he only planned to give Energy X to criminals, then sit back and watch humans destroy each other.
* In ''VideoGame/VagrantStory'', simply being within the city of Lea Monde begins to gift you with magical powers and extra senses. The same goes for your enemies, and even the DamselInDistress, who gains the ability to see the hidden thoughts of the guys capturing her. The extra-sensory perception comes in handy for Ashley Riot to see cutscenes involving the villains when the villains are nowhere near him.
* ''VideoGame/LionheartLegacyOfTheCrusader'' had a cataclysmic magical explosion known as the Disjunction during the crusades. Many people were possessed by spirits this time which granted them magical powers, though such possessed people are shunned and distrusted by normals.
* ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes'' has a grand total of three Events (with the tie-in books, technically five, as the first spawned beings who became the Titans, and another generation who became the Greek gods), two playing it straight and one inverting. The first is [[BigGood Marcus Cole]] and [[BigBad Stefan Richter]] drinking from the Well Of Furies, which supposedly opened the PandorasBox on superpowers of all origins. Similar to the ComicBook/{{X-Men}} example above, mutants began appearing with more frequency after the first atom bomb was detonated. Finally, the Event was inverted at the beginning of the comics series when Lord Recluse (alias Stefan Richter) depowered all of Paragon City's ''extremely'' numerous heroes. Tying into this is the Event that ''re''-powered all the heroes, the unleashing of Prometheus's Flame.
* In ''Franchise/MassEffect'', an explosion at a Singapore spaceport in 2150 caused [[AppliedPhlebotinum Element Zero]] to be spread across a wide area, affecting many unborn humans exposed to it. If you were lucky, nothing happened. If you were extremely unlucky, you died from radiation poisoning. And if you were ''extremely'' lucky, you got [[GravityScrew biotic powers]].
** Kaidan, a biotic caused by the Singapore incident, also mentions that several other such incidents occured over the next few years. While there's never been any proof they weren't genuine industrial accidents, it's ''[[ContrivedCoincidence very]]'' interesting how they never seemed to happen in ''[[TestedOnHumans unpopulated]]'' areas...
* ''VideoGame/DCUniverseOnline'' has something like this. Lex Luthor comes from the future where he killed the Justice League, only for Brainiac to show up and ruin his party. So he goes back in time to give large numbers of people superpowers to stop his past-self's plans AND Brainiac. The Exobites contain data on all of earths heroes and villains, they are released into the atmosphere infecting random people who can be either good or evil depending on their personality before being infected.
* In the [[MultipleEndings "good"(ish) ending]] of ''VideoGame/DeusExInvisibleWar'', all of humanity is [[BioAugmentation Augmented]] with {{Nanomachines}} that provide [[WeWillHavePerfectHealthInTheFuture Perfect Health]], [[ViewersAreGeniuses Universal Education]], and a link to a central AI as part of program of "perfect democracy" - not just universal suffrage, but universal ''intelligence'', ensuring that everyone's vote is based on educated opinions. This results in TheSingularity - world peace, [[MatterReplicator universal prosperity]], rapidly advancing technology, [[IWantMyJetpack easy space development]] and nanotech superpowers... for ''everyone.''
** In comparison, the [[BlackAndGrayMorality alternatives]] are dictatorships by {{Mega Corp}}s, {{Church Militant}}s, or {{Social Darwinist}}s.

* The Weirding in ''Webcomic/{{Yosh}}'' (happened before the story starts).
* The Change in ''Chisuji'' (happened before the story starts).
* ''Webcomic/{{Wondermark}}'' - [[http://wondermark.com/024/ Spoofed]]
--> "'''You there'''! Have you seen my '''son''' go by? He's infected with a terrible virus that will '''kill''' one third of the earth's population, making five eights of those remaining '''lactose intolerant''' and while granting amazing '''superpowers''' to a quarter of the remainder!" \\
... \\
"Well, come on then, either you've seen him or you haven't." \\
"Wait, no, start over. I was always bad at math."
** For those interested, approx. 6.85 billion people in the world (as of July 2010 estimates), that would be roughly 430,265,625 individuals with amazing superpowers or about 1-in-11 people (granted that's after 1-in-3 people have died).
* A much smaller-scale version than usual happened in ''Knowledge Is Power''; a NegativeSpaceWedgie opened up in a [[BuffySpeak cafeteria-type-area]] on a college campus and granted superpowers to the eight humans currently in it, with the nature of the powers being based on what they were thinking about--their homework.
* [[spoiler:Matt and Joel]] do this near the end of ''Webcomic/{{Concession}}'', which means [[spoiler:[[NoFourthWall everyone is now aware that they’re in a webcomic]]]], as evidenced on occasion on ''Webcomic/BallerinaMafia''.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* The web novel ''Literature/{{Anathema}}'' has The Pulse. After a worldwide blackout on February 2010, people around the world began developing supernatural abilities.
* In ''Literature/{{Brennus}}'', Point Zero (00:00 1st January 1923) was this. Subsequent generations developed powers through a mix of PubertySuperpower and TraumaticSuperpowerAwakening.
* In the ''Roleplay/GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse'', TheTunguskaEvent of 1908 released a wave of radiation that encompassed the globe and activated the metagene in humans and apes, allowing for the presence of superpowers.
* In ''Literature/{{Phaeton}}'' whenever a nuclear bomb goes off or a public experiment is carried out either this will happen or eveyone will die.
* Literature/{{Worm}}'s Endbringers usually cause such events whenever they attack major cities. Justified because extreme trauma is the most common cause of superpowers in the Wormverse.
** Scion, the world's first superhero, first appeared floating over the Atlantic in May 1982. After this, people began developing powers, but did not reveal their existence to the public until 1987.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The Big Bang from ''WesternAnimation/StaticShock'' (and from the original MilestoneComics line that inspired it) would fall under this: the experimental "radioactive tracer gas" that police used during an apocalyptically large gang war left many of those exposed to it (participants and bystanders) with superpowers. Of course, some of these powers were not beneficial, and some characters likely died as a result. It is notable that the number of empowered characters is much lower than the number of people implied to be at the Big Bang.
* The Nanite Event from ''WesternAnimation/GeneratorRex''. Five years ago, there was an explosion in a research facility, and {{nanomachines}} infected every living thing on Earth. Every so often, the nanomachines turn something into a mutant, usually mindless and aggressive. And it's not just humans--animals and plants can be mutated, too.
* The meteor strike that gives the {{WesternAnimation/Loonatics|Unleashed}} (and several members of their RoguesGallery) their powers.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfJimmyNeutronBoyGenius'', Jimmy and his friends are all given super powers after flying into a magnetic space storm, as a reference to a similar anomaly which granted the Franchise/FantasticFour their powers. (Of course, [[StatusQuoIsGod they turned out to be only temporary]].)
* After Harmonic Convergence at the end of season 2 of ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', many non-benders, including Commander Bumi and ArcVillain Zaheer, gained the ability to Airbend at the beginning of season 3.