->''"You just had to be a hero, didn't you?"''

There's a strange DoubleStandard regarding superheroics. Most superheroes [[HowToGiveACharacterSuperpowers get their powers by accident]] and choose to use them for good with little to no training beforehand. This is what makes them {{Heroes}}.

However, if a {{Muggle}}, SideKick, or some other [[WhatMeasureIsANonSuper "mundane"]] gains superpowers and tries to be a HeroForADay it will [[GoneHorriblyWrong end badly.]] Only the starring hero is allowed to beat up crooks and save the day. Why? Because he says so.

But Superheroes don't exist in this world, so why is it wrong to try to be one in a fantasy world? The justification (if any is given) for this FantasticAesop can be any or all of the following:
# {{Muggle}}s are all useless, and if they were meant to be a hero, why, then, destiny would have [[TheChosenOne chosen them]].
# Only the hero has the moral fiber to resist succumbing to TheDarkSide. Anyone else will quickly get drunk with power and become a [[MonsterOfTheWeek Villain Of The Week.]]
# Powers are dangerous, and only the hero has enough practice using them to rescue people without making an accident into a natural disaster. Rather than coaching the new superhero on how to use their powers effectively and safely, the hero will [[HeroHarassesHelpers try to get them to quit or give the powers up.]]
# Attempts to [[WhatMeasureIsANonSuper gain super powers]] are seen as [[AmbitionIsEvil rank ambition]], and dangerous in and of themselves. This carries the UnfortunateImplications that we shouldn't try to rise above our stations. Superheroes are special, and we should just be content to be {{Red Shirt}}s and CannonFodder.
# Another aspect of this comes from two other superhero universal constants: CouldHaveBeenMessy and ThouShaltNotKill. The untrained can't pull off the infallible dodging, and since they don't have ImprobableAimingSkills their attacks will actually kill criminals. [[AndThatsTerrible Which is wrong.]]

The worst uses of this trope won't even come with a reason why it's wrong. If someone suddenly gains super powers ''and'' does ''the same good'' the hero does, it's still considered wrong if this trope is applied. By story's end the ContagiousPowers will be gone, the SidekickGlassCeiling will be bumped against, and StatusQuoIsGod shall be reaffirmed.

The real reason for the existence of this trope is that if lots of people gain powers and become superheroes, then it steals some of the main characters thunder. They become less special, unique, and one-of-a-kind. Never mind that even if [[TopTen everyone in the setting]] [[Comicbook/{{Legion Of Super-Heroes}} had powers or gadgets]] it can be a compelling read, some authors must have felt insecure enough about this that they kept reusing this trope. Averting this often leads to an expanding cast that might turn into a HeroesUnlimited or TheChosenMany, or even grounds for a spinoff.

It should be noted that when the subject of this aesop doesn't have any powers and seeks to emulate a BadassNormal, NonPoweredCostumedHero or a hero with {{Charles Atlas Superpower}}s, this overlaps with DontTryThisAtHome and does make sense. When the subject gains the powers and skills of the hero, then it turns into a FantasticAesop, since people don't spontaneously become firefighters and paramedics in RealLife.

So basically, this aesop is logical when both the hero and muggle are low on the SuperWeight scale... but gets really iffy when someone who by all rights ought to have been treated as a young hero in need of guidance, isn't.

Compare TheTeamWannabe, PretenderDiss.

Contrast TheParagon.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In ''Manga/ACertainScientificRailgun'', Kuroko Shirai constantly scolds Mikoto Misaka and the others whenever they save the day, saying civilians should stay back and leave the heroics to members of Judgment or Anti-Skill. Mikoto and the others just ignore her, since Judgment and Anti-Skill [[TheCavalryArrivesLate are almost always late to crimes and disasters]]. Also, Mikoto is more powerful and mature than Kuroko and her help is often essential.
* In ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex'', a plane gets hijacked by terrorists. Touma Kamijou defeats one of them and prepares to go after the others, but the pilot tells him to cut it out, saying interference from amateurs will only make the situation worse. Of course, Touma is the hero and far from an amateur. He defeats the others while the pilot does nothing useful and even hinders him at points. Touma gets fed up with him and clocks him with a metal rod to get him to shut up.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Completely averted by John Henry Irons, AKA {{Steel}}. When {{Superman}} saved his life he asked how he could repay him and got the answer "live a life worth saving". So he builds PoweredArmor and uses it to become a Superhero. He remains a respected member of the superhero community to this day. Although when John Henry's niece gained powers through the Everyman Project and became leader of InfinityInc, he complained she hadn't "earned" them. This was less about "you shouldn't be a hero" and more about the fact that Infinity Inc. was sponsored by Lex '[[CivilianVillain reformed this time, honest]]' Luthor. There ''was'' a little bit of "you're not mature or responsible enough to be a hero yet", before she went to Luthor, in Steel's actions, but in his defense Natasha herself demonstrated that he wasn't ''entirely'' wrong about this. On the other hand, when he was at one point thought dead, Natasha picked up his hammer and triggered a fantastic recorded message saying "I don't want you to be a superhero like me, it's too dangerous, but since you'll probably ignore me, I rigged all my gear to answer to you. You'll be great." But then, [[LegacyCharacter taking up the]] [[TakingUpTheMantle mantle]] is a slightly different situation in [[DCComics the DCU]].
* SilverAge LoisLane used to get powers all the time, and every time there was an Aesop that she couldn't use them properly, with a huge unspoken "Because she's a ''[[StayInTheKitchen girl]]''". In fact, check out SuperDickery or the picture in ContagiousPowers for an idea of what Lois (and Lana) would typically do when they got powers.
** The website [[http://www.superdickery.com/ Superdickery's]] truly lethal DrinkingGame based around taking a shot every time JimmyOlsen [[SuperPowerSillyPutty gets superpowers.]]
* Similarly, Johnny Quick once gained a DistaffCounterpart called Joanie Swift whom he seriously resented, but who couldn't be dissuaded from trying to help, until she had to deal with ''[[EekAMouse mice]]'', after which she agreed to let him take away her powers.
** In what was perhaps a deliberate bit of irony by writers, Johnny Quick's daughter Jesse would inherit his powers as well as that of his wife Liberty Belle, super-strength. So the speedster who saw no problems in taking the powers of another person for essentially being a girl is now represented in the comics by a girl who can also bend steel.
* No one but Franchise/{{Batman}} or the Bat-Family are ever supposed to be working in Gotham City. Anyone else will invariably get things wrong, such as by being very slightly more brutal than Batman on interrogation, or risking getting people killed somehow, or accidentally interfering in the one crime per year that the Gotham PD is actually doing something about. How contrived this feels varies from case-to-case.
** Stephanie Brown especially: for years, she was being told time and again not just by Batman, but (eventually) by nearly everyone associated with him that she should stop crimefighting, but she never backed down. It even went so far that she ''got herself killed''' trying to prove that she was worthy. Eventually, she got better ([[TookALevelInBadass in more ways than one]]); now, she's an accepted member of Batman's inner circle. And most ironically, there's a new guy in her own title who ''she'' is telling to Never Be A Hero.
** A major part of it is that Batman is a major control freak who considers Gotham to be "his" city, and doesn't even allow established heroes from outside his band of sidekicks to work the city without getting permission beforehand. Any new heroes deliberately defying Batman in that regard are probably going to be reckless in other ways.
** There are also occasional exceptions to this rule, such as the Huntress (who moves in and out of Batman's orbit, and isn't happy about being defined in such terms). Perhaps the most notable was the Cavalier, who Batman gave the "this is my city" talk to before actually accepting that the guy was skilled enough and honest enough to make it work. Then [[FromBadToWorse It Got Worse]].
*** And then it got better, since after Battle for the Cowl the Cavalier has been going by his real name, Mortimer Drake (no relation to Tim Drake), and is acting as the bodyguard for Dr. Leslie Thompkins after she provided him with emergency medical assistance. He still uses the sword, though.
** An argument can be made that Gotham is ''not'' a city that most heroes can operate in, however. This is not a city with people like Lex Luthor, who causes collateral damage, or Gorilla Grodd with his temporary and easily-fixed MindControl. Gotham has villains like the Joker, who kidnaps dozens of babies ''just because he enjoys screwing with Batman,'' or Killer Croc, a cannibal with monstrous strength. Batman's villains may not be high on the totem pole of supervillain ''power,'' but they're the reigning champions as far as terrifying and squick-inducing go. There's the added bonus that it typically requires intelligence to stop their plans in time. Sure, Superman ''could'' catch Joker--but if the Joker knew he would be facing off against Superman ahead of time, could the Big Blue Boyscout do it quickly enough to stop his plan or save the hostages?

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* Syndrome from ''WesternAnimation/TheIncredibles''. Tries to be a superhero using technology, turns into the BigBad. Really, this trope is what "Incrediboy" ''thinks'' Mr. Incredible is invoking on him when all that's actually happened is that he's caught his idol at the worst possible time to introduce himself as his new sidekick without asking and messed up said introduction to boot. And then he in turn decides to take that rejection in the worst possible way. He still had his technological genius and all, he ''could'' simply have tried again under better circumstances...but no, he simply decided to {{rage quit}} right then and there.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/TheDarkKnight''. Were those vigilantes wrong for trying to be heroes? No. Although Batman just made a snarky comment about hockey pads, it was clear what they were doing wrong was using his persona for outright violence ([[TechnicalPacifist and guns]]), which was not at all what he stood for.
* In ''Film/TheLionTheWitchAndTheWardrobe'' by Disney, Peter is met with this line... "Just because some guy in a red suit gives you a sword, it doesn't make you a hero!", hoping he's not dumb enough to try and fight the wolves and die trying. He does, since the alternatives are even dumber. (Fight the wolves, that is. He lives.)
* The premise of ''Film/SkyHigh'' is this trope being applied to high school cliques-- the popular kids with the cool powers get to be heroes, the [[WhatKindOfLamePowerIsHeartAnyway freaks and geeks]] get swept under the [[SidekickGlassCeiling Hero Support Glass Ceiling]].
* One of Columbus' biggest rules in ''Film/{{Zombieland}}'' is ''Don't be a hero''. [[spoiler:But he breaks his own rule in the end.]]

* Averted in Literature/TheBible, book of Mark 9:38-41. When told by John that the apostles had stopped a man driving out demons in his name, Jesus tells them not to.
** And then played straight with Simon Magus in Acts 8:9-24, because he wanted to ''buy'' that kind of power.
* Sam Vimes of the Night Watch in Creator/TerryPratchett's Series/{{Discworld}} doesn't care for it when other people try to do the things he does. Because they're not him.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Here's a subverted/averted example. In the ''Series/StargateSG1'' episode "The Other Guys", Dr. Felger is a real fanboy of [=SG1=]. When he sees [=SG1=] is getting captured by Jaffa, he insists on rescuing them. He quotes their motto "Never leave a man behind", so he takes another scientist with him and they beam themselves on the Ha'tak to rescue them. Turns out [=SG1=] was deliberately letting themselves be captured and [[UnwantedRescue they now screwed them up]]. O'Neill is very angry at them for doing this. In the end though, the two are indeed responsible for rescuing [=SG1=] (as the undercover operative they were supposed to meet up with had been found out and executed) and they both get a medal (although that particular part about getting a free kiss was AllJustADream of Dr. Felger).
* Another aversion in ''Series/LoisAndClark'': When Superman's powers are transferred to Lois Lane, he (and his parents) spend most of the episode coaching her with her newfound abilities and turning her into a proper superhero. She acquits herself pretty well, though she becomes normal again at the end of the episode. This would be StatusQuoIsGod, but she also accepts Clark's marriage proposal, perhaps due to the experience she had as a hero. On the other hand, in another episode a dumpy old guy gains superpowers and decides to adopt the moniker of "Resplendent Man" and save people... for money. Usually haggling over the price with the victim while they were still in danger, and seeing nothing wrong with this because, hey, your own life's gotta be worth a lot, right? When Superman shows up and rescues the victim, Resplendent Man berates him for "horning in on his territory". In the end he loses his powers and [[StatusQuoIsGod status quo is reasserted]] with an actually palatable aesop: it takes more than superpowers to make a hero.
* In the third season of ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', a SuperSerum is introduced, as is a BigBad whose goal is to make it generally available to the populace. TimeTravel and precognitive visions reveal that this eventually causes the end of the world.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''. Buffy's little sister Dawn asks to help out with the slaying.
-->'''Buffy:''' Dawn, I work very hard to keep you away from that stuff. I don't want you around dangerous things that can kill you.\\
'''Dawn:''' Which would be a perfectly reasonable argument, if my sister was chosen to protect the world from tax audits? But, see, my sister is you, and ... dangerous things that want to kill me [[DamselInDistress seem to find me]].
** Buffy does start training Dawn the following year, and in one episode Dawn even thinks she might be a potential Slayer herself. When Dawn finds out she's not however, Xander points out that they both have an important [[OvershadowedByAwesome if unheralded]] role in helping Buffy do her job.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'' has the recurring character [[HeroWorshipper Conrad Verner]], who really wants to help his idol Shepard save the galaxy. Thing is, Conrad is a civilian without Shepard's military training, and is an idiot high on hero worship and doesn't realize his limitations. After a brief stint at trying to be a {{Badass}} BountyHunter or Alliance officer, the trope is subverted when it's revealed Conrad's doing genuine good without being a badass. [[spoiler: Shepard inspired him to set up a charity which is really helping all the orphans and people hurt in the wake of the first game's FinalBattle.]]
* ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChronicles'' has this trope going hand-in-hand with AmbitionIsEvil, which means being born with power makes you evil and you can only redeem yourself by [[TallPoppySyndrome giving it up completely and never bringing it up again]] or [[DeathEqualsRedemption dying to make up for it]]. And if you should happen to find a way to give yourself that power, you ''will'' be destroyed. Everyone else gets the power of teamwork, which is superior, ([[BrokenAesop but they'll still need to depend on a Valkyria once in a while anyway]]).
* ''VideoGame/{{Disgaea 3|AbsenceOfJustice}}'' goes to town with this trope. Almaz wants to be a hero, so he makes a fake "Hero" title in his name. Mao, a demon, wants to be a hero solely because he thinks that heroes have the power to defeat any enemy, so he steals Almaz's title and is disappointed when it doesn't actually make him any more powerful.


[[folder:Web Comic]]
* The City of Nexus in CaptainSNES actually has laws against hero work not done via the police, mostly because the citizens of Nexus come from such a staggering variety of games that they all have very, ''very'' different ideas about what they are and aren't allowed to do during such tasks. It is also pointed out that heroes tend to draw villains and show up at world-endangering times, to the extent that a world-weary VideoGame/MegaMan comments that a genuine hero is the absolute '''worst''' thing to ever encounter.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* This was, for the most, completely avoided in the ''GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse''. It was even remarked upon by in-universe scientists studying the hows and whys of superpowers that only about a half of the people who ended up empowered possessed powers that were... well... ''powerful'' enough to become superheroes or villains, and out of that half, only about a third ever did. The rest either did nothing with the powers, or found some other purpose for them (like the super-strong "forklift operator" who didn't need a forklift, or the faith-healing televangelist who could actually heal) than superheroics.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheNewAdventuresOfHeMan'', where a kid was given PoweredArmor. The kid used the power to ''save someone's life''. Know what the adults told him? He was abusing the suit, and he should tone it down.
* There was an example of this in the ''WesternAnimation/SheRaPrincessOfPower'' cartoon, where one episode centered around a "lesser" rebellion member thinking she could be a real hero and stepping above her station, with disastrous results and explicit end of the show Aesop. The scariest thing was, the character had actually formed the rebellion when She-Ra's alter ego was still working for the BigBad, but now she's apologizing for "getting a big head" and thinking she could actually contribute.
* ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'' had a case of this. As {{Supergirl}} has all the powers of Superman, and a love for the big city, yet Superman still forces her to live her life on the Smallville farm under a secret identity (even though such an identity is even MORE useless for her).
** On the other hand, the series' version of Steel's origins (see Comics section above) had Superman being quite receptive to the idea of having someone around to help, even ''after'' the PowerArmor prototype in the episode that introduced John Henry Irons gave its user [[AGodAmI a serious God Complex]], and encouraged him to keep trying.
*** There was perhaps some [[JustifiedTrope justification]] for Superman getting her to sit things out for a while- she wasn't nearly as powerful as him, and came uncomfortably close to getting herself killed on multiple occasions. After she had gotten a bit more acclimated to her powers and Earth in general, she ''did'' get into the game in ''JusticeLeagueUnlimited'', and with her cousin's full support.
* There was an episode of the Sunbow ''GIJoe'' cartoon where Quick Kick's girlfriend ''successfully sneaked into the heart of Joe Headquarters'' to try and join the Joe team. Duke tells her to go to her local army recruiter. This from the team that recruited Shipwreck in the middle of desert and Quick Kick himself from the middle of the Arctic.
* ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom''. [[ProudToBeAGeek Poor]], [[TokenMinority poor]] [[BlackBestFriend Tucker]]. He's been given superpowers at least twice, each time ending badly. The first instance occured when Desiree granted his wish to have ghost powers like Danny, which gave him rapidly evolving abilities that quickly surpassed Danny's own in everything except control. By the end of the episode he was BroughtDownToNormal again. The second time happened when he was recognized by a mummy as an ancient pharaoh, and given a magic scepter that gave him total control over the Sphinx and several ghostly minions. His evil abilities were once again demonstrated by [[WorfEffect beating up on]] [[TheHero Danny]].
* Played for laughs in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'', when the Planet Express crew is being held hostage by the crazed robot criminal Roberto. Fry, who has previously been psychologically broken into believing himself to be an invulnerable robot, steps in to save the day, but Hermes shouts:
--> "Don't be a hero, Fry! It's not covered by the health plan!"
** Turns out that actually did end up saving the day.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Quite possibly used so that impressionable children [[DontTryThisAtHome don't try to imitate the heroes in real life]], going back to the George Reeves Superman series, where there were reports of kids donning red towels and jumping out of their window in an attempt to fly. Live action shows geared to kids in the 90s used this trope, often showing that the stunts were done by actors who knew what they were doing and giving kids ideas to be real heroes in their community by getting involved in picking up litter or something.
* In real-life disaster situations, the first rule for bystanders is, "Avoid increasing the number of people needing to be rescued". In real life, none of us have super powers.
** It's the rule even for people with first aid training - the first step is always to look for environmental hazards that could endanger your own safety before giving assistance. Becoming a victim is not useful for either you or the person you're trying to help.
*** One of the most important rules is if you see someone unconscious in a [[Main/EnclosedSpace confined space]] '''DO NOT ENTER THE SPACE''', even to pull them out. Invisible gases that can build up in such spaces like Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen Sulphide can render a person unconscious in seconds. There have been several instances where 10 or more people have wound up dead inside a confined space because the next guy kept trying to pull people out.
** Similarly, in situations where civilians have involved themselves in stopping a crime in progress, it's common to hear a police spokesperson cautiously congratulate the person's bravery whilst still stressing that ordinary civilians should leave the crime-fighting to the police, as the police have undergone extensive training to deal with such situations in a way as to make sure that as few people as possible are killed or injured in doing so, and most civilians haven't. The police can't stop every crime in progress, but that is ''not'' a license to take rash actions.
** Although, when taken too far, this leads to BystanderSyndrome.
* This reasoning also applies, with some controversy, to business policies that dictate civilian employees always comply with a robber's demands and don't try to catch them. Employees who fought back and stopped the crime have simultaneously been praised by the media and fired from their jobs, the logic being that while that particular situation might have ended well, rewarding those workers for being heroes (and so implicitly encouraging other employees to do the same) could get somebody seriously hurt, or even killed.