->'''NJ:''' Who are you, where did you come from, and how powerful are you?
->'''Aerynn:''' I don't know!
->'''NJ:''' Don't know WHAT?
->'''Aerynn:''' How powerful I am! I don't know!
->'''NJ:''' How can you NOT KNOW SOMETHING LIKE THAT??
->'''Aerynn:''' Because there are a lot of things I'm afraid to try!
-->-- ''Webcomic/ElectricWonderland'', [[http://www.platypuscomix.net/electricwonderland/index.php?issue=12&page=19&seriesID=11 Day of the Fools]]

A PowerLimiter in which a character is intentionally suppressing their true strength, be it by magic, technology, willpower, or just by not powering up. Can be for all sorts of reasons. Maybe they want to [[IAmNotLeftHanded give their opponent a fair shot at winning.]] Maybe they [[DoesNotKnowHisOwnStrength don't know their own strength]], or letting loose would simply uncork their PowerIncontinence. Maybe they [[IJustWantToBeNormal just want to be normal]]. Maybe they are afraid of the [[HeroInsurance collateral damage]]. Maybe they want to try this WeakButSkilled thing so they learn to fight tactically rather than steamroll others with brute force. Or maybe it's just to [[DramaPreservingHandicap keep their power from overtaking the plot]].

Whatever the case, they have decided to be WillfullyWeak. To be clear, this is NOT [[CoverBlowingSuperpower faking it]], or merely going easy on their opponents. The character actually ''is'' as weak as they appear... [[AfraidOfTheirOwnStrength but only because they choose to be]]. They could stop suppressing their powers at any moment and suddenly be an unstoppable powerhouse. Of course, given the [[EarthShatteringKaboom possible consequences]] of them using what they normally keep under wraps, it's not always a "choice" made lightly.

Obviously, what is considered weak varies greatly from story to story. In some stories, they'll be almost the {{Muggle}}. In others, they'll actually be quite powerful, but [[CantCatchUp far behind the other supers]]. In still others, they'll actually not be weak or normal at all, and be one of the more competent fighters, but nowhere near what they'd be capable of without this self-imposed limitation.

This trope, for obvious reasons, often applies to [[GodInHumanForm gods in human form]].

May be caused by InternalizedCategorism. May lead to a WorldOfCardboardSpeech or to the discovery that IAmNotLeftHanded when the crossing of the GodzillaThreshold means it's time to [[LetsGetDangerous get dangerous]] and show their true power. Rarely (if ever) leads to AlwaysNeedWhatYouGaveUp, because when they choose to limit their powers for mundane reasons, they can just make an exception, and in cases where their reasons are more dire, well, losing the fight is better than blowing up Main Street. Despite similarities, not likely to overlap with JustToyingWithThem, as characters doing that don't care too much about playing fair and maintaining their self-imposed limitations. In video games, compare CherryTapping.

This can overlap with FightsLikeANormal for a character that usually suppresses all fantastic powers and fights as a BadassNormal.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Akari from AriaTheScarletAmmo AA appears to have graduated with top marks from the ImperialStormTrooperMarksmanshipAcademy. She can't hit anything no matter how close it is. Then it's revealed [[spoiler:she's descended from a line of noble assassins and is able to hit all the most lethal points on an enemy without even really aiming. Since this skill is so instinctual at this point she has to fight to avoid targeting those points, an effort that results in her not only missing those points but missing the target entirely.]]
* Sebastian the demonic butler from ''Manga/BlackButler'' does this; although he's extremely skilled, fast and strong anyway, it's only when Ciel gives him a direct order to do something that he starts showing all of his inhuman capability. If Ciel's orders aren't worded carefully, however, Sebastian can get very creative in carrying them out or living up to the broad contents of their contract.
* Kumagawa from ''Manga/MedakaBox'' as he allowed himself to be beaten up by Medaka's Successors then proceeded to pin them down in one move. Also happens against Kugurugi Mogura. He could have finished her in one move, which he did, but wanted to give time for Emukae to confess to Zenkichi.
* Washu from ''Anime/TenchiMuyo.'' She's [[spoiler:actually one of the Choushin (a goddess, basically) in human form.]]
** And as she demonstrates in the second OAV, "weak" is a ''very relative term''. Even with her powers restricted, she's ''much'' stronger than Ryoko, who, prior to Washu's appearance, was arguably the single most powerful cast member other than [[GodModeSue Tenchi himself.]]
** Then again, Ryoko only had one out of three jewels; Tenchi didn't let her have the others, even when giving them to her would have been a good idea, making her a partial example.
** Later on [[Anime/TenchiMuyoGXP GXP]] shows that Tenchi starts doing this himself since he, like his grandfather, prefers living simply without the responsibility of running the galaxy.
* ''Anime/DragonBallZ'':
** During the fight against Nappa and Vegeta, Goku limits his use of the Kaio-ken technique because the strain of using it at high levels can [[CastFromHitPoints damage his body]]. He could have used the Kaio-ken x4[[KamehameHadoken Kamehameha]] that finally defeats Vegeta right from the start, but it wasn't worth the risk until it proved absolutely necessary.
** Freeza limits his power because his body can't take it. Unfortunately, when he does go all-out against Goku, it's too late, since his stamina didn't last throughout their fight.
** When Goku fights Vegeta the second time, in order to [[spoiler: avoid burning out his remaining time]], he decides not to use [[spoiler:[[SuperMode Super Saiyan 3]], instead restricting himself to [[SuperMode Super Saiyan 2]].]] Vegeta finds out about Goku's self-imposed limit later on. Needless to say, he is less than happy about it.
** Gohan is depicted as having the potential to become, quite literally, the most powerful warrior in the entire ''universe'' if he wished (and he actually does so a couple of times), but is a pacifist by nature, only fighting when someone needs his protection. Typically, his true strength only reveals itself through UnstoppableRage.
** In ''Manga/DragonBall'', Goku's fighting in a tournament and reveals suddenly that he's wearing extremely heavy clothes, as part of his training. And is suddenly a ''lot'' faster once he gets rid of the extra weight. The same thing happens again several times, all the way up to Goku's fight with Freeza, at which point everybody is so strong that weighted clothes are no longer enough of a PowerLimiter to bother mentioning.
*** Weighted clothes show up in one of the games, ([[SugarWiki/NoProblemWithLicensedGames Buu's Fury]]), taken to hilarious levels. By the end, you can wear one kiloton armbands and boots!
*** Lampshaded in [[WebVideo/DragonBallZAbridged The Abridged Series]], during the battle between Piccolo and Freeza:
---> '''Piccolo''': Don't think you have the upperhand yet. [[IAmNotLeftHanded I'm still wearing weighted armor!]]
---> '''Freeza''': Weighted armor? How quaint. And how much does it weigh?
---> '''Piccolo''': Same as it always does: one hundred kilo-
---> ''Freeza grins''
---> '''Piccolo''': ...Oh.
---> '''Freeza''': That's just cute!
---> '''Piccolo''': [[SoLastSeason That concept just sort of lost meaning after a while, didn't it?]]
** In the 22nd Tournament, Goku purposely held back so he wouldn't kill the people he was fighting, it ''was'' a tournament after all. Since he figured that Tien wouldn't die if he went all out, he cut loose, proving to be stronger than Tien although only by small amount. This was hinted at earlier when he was fighting Krillin, warning him that he was going to hit a little hard, so don't die.
** In the U7 vs U6 Tournament in ''Anime/DragonBallSuper'', it's revealed that Hit, U6's [[TheAce Ace]], is holding back his best techniques. This is because Hit is an assassin by trade, so his best moves are killing techniques, but killing your opponent in a tournament is forbidden. Goku goes out of his way after the tournament to arrange to fight Hit with no restrictions, accepting the possibility that he could die in doing so.
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'':
** The title character could kill himself - and many others - if he ever [[BerserkMode uses his full power]].
** Rock Lee wears weights on his legs to reduce his speed. He takes them off during the fight with Gaara. Unlike Naruto, Lee is not [[SealedEvilInACan host to an apocalyptic demon]], but he has learned techniques that, if abused, could kill him. His sensei forbids him from using even the most basic of these techniques (which they share) except in a dire emergency. When Lee takes off the weights for the first time, several characters scoff at the idea that it'll make a difference against Gaara. Until the weights hit the ground and produce substantial craters, implying that Lee must have been wearing a few ''tons'' of weights. [[FridgeLogic Which really ought to have resulted in massively powerful kicks while he was wearing them]]. To be fair, the problem wasn't that he wasn't kicking hard enough. He simply wasn't fast enough to get around Gaara's sand barrier with the weights on.
* The title character of ''Manga/FlameOfRecca'' as well as his [[AxeCrazy older brother Kurei]] and any other Flame Master must wear seals on their arms to protect their already fire resistant selves from the power of their flames going out of control and burning them to death.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}''
** [[BaldOfAwesome Ikkaku]] is hiding [[SuperMode bankai]], so he tries not to use it when he fights even when his opponents require bankai to be defeated. He actually throws a fight and is defeated by [[TheBrute Poww]] precisely because he refused to activate bankai. Poww could tell Ikkaku was hiding power even though Ikkaku refused to admit it. In the end, Ikkaku had to be rescued by Captain Komamura and received a stern lecture from Iba about his behaviour.
** [[AlmightyJanitor Yumichika]] goes one step further than Ikkaku: he's hiding his entire power. He ''fakes'' his shikai release to hide the fact he possesses a [[MagicKnight kidou-type]] zanpakutou from his [[BloodKnight kidou-hating]] division. As a result, he fights physically, on [[{{Determinator}} willpower]] alone, even when his opponents have [[OneWingedAngel released their full power]] and are thrashing him due to the imbalance of power. When he does [[IAmNotLeftHanded decide]] to [[LetsGetDangerous release]] his abilities and actually use them, he's so [[CoverblowingSuperpower powerful]] that he [[CurbStompBattle one-shots]] his opponents.
** Ichigo gets a moment of this fighting a Privaron. He's reluctant to release his now-controllable SuperpoweredEvilSide as he knows that it will leave him weaker for later fights, and also knows that he's going to hit problems if he's releasing it this early on. He's eventually forced to release it, turning a near-defeat into a CurbStompBattle. Normally though, Ichigo fights at full strength.
** Hitsugaya's zanpakutou's most powerful and most basic ability can be used in either shikai or bankai. However, he traditionally avoids using it in bankai even when he needs to because his inexpert control over it and wide area of effect would drag in too many bystanders/allies. [[spoiler:Against Harribel, he only decides to use it when his bankai is half-gone, allowing him better control than he would have had when his bankai was at full power.]]
** [[BloodKnight Kenpachi's]] childhood left him so afraid of boring fights that he subconsciously limits himself to ensure victory is a struggle. As a child, he was so powerful that fighting was meaningless until he almost defeated Yachiru. The fear of almost losing his first WorthyOpponent caused him to limit himself. [[spoiler: [[MeaningfulName Yachiru]] is eventually revealed to be [[MasterSwordsman Captain Unohana]] when she subjects him to TrainingFromHell to break him out of this willfully weak attitude she [[TheAtoner takes responsibility]] for causing.]]
* Rider, from ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'', has an ability called Monstrous Strength, which would allow her to increase her STR parameter by a whole rank for a period of time -- which is no small advantage. She never uses it, however, because [[spoiler:using it long enough would revert Medusa into the monstrous Gorgon.]]
** Likewise, she always had herself blindfolded, which prevents her ability [[MagicalEye Mystic Eyes]] to run amok (if not blindfold, [[{{Meganekko}} a pair of glasses]]). What does it do? [[spoiler:[[TakenForGranite Petrify anything that comes contact to her eyes]], since she is Medusa.]]
** She has another case of holding back and make herself look like a weak Servant: she just dislikes using full power when her master is [[SmugSnake Shinji]]. On the other hand, when her Master is the real one ([[spoiler:Sakura]]), it's a different story: Still no Monstrous Strength, but removing blindfold becomes a viable option.
* Aki Izayoi/Akiza Izinski in ''Anime/YuGiOh5Ds'' wears a hair curler which supposedly keeps her psychic powers in check, although whether or not this is a MagicFeather has yet to be seen.
** Easy enough to not notice, but in the original ''Anime/YuGiOh'' Yugi's duel with Rebecca Hawkins was one of the few duels where he didn't transform into Yami Yugi. The idea was that Rebecca wasn't a villain trying some sort of underhanded tactic, but merely an opponent who accused Yugi's grandpa of stealing from her Grandpa.
** This was also part of the backstory behind the monster card Gearfried the Iron Knight, as told by Joey. He was once a mighty swordsman whose power was so great that he could level entire cities simply by swinging his sword. In order to protect those around him, he donned a suit of iron armor that would limit his power.
** The ancient Egyptian priest Mahad locks away a portion of his strength, for fear of the damage it could cause. When he seals himself and the tomb robber Bakura in a pyramid away from innocent bystanders, he taps back into this hidden strength to strengthen his Illusion Magician.
** In a season two episode of ''Anime/YuGiOhGX'', Shou Marufuji/Syrus Truesdale removes Power Bond (a spell card that doubles a Machine-type Fusion monster's attack power, then [[PowerAtAPrice cuts the user's life points by that monster's original attack]]), a card given to him by his [[AlwaysSomeoneBetter brother]]) from his deck to prove he can still win without it. [[spoiler: He does.]]
** In one episode of ''[[Anime/YuGiOhARCV Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V]]'', Yuri elects not to use his regular deck against Asuka, instead choosing to use a deck he's never used before, just to show what a genius he is. Played with near the end of the duel, where it reveals that he not only ''does'' now the deck well, but he changed the deck up and improved it. He was just pretending to be weak to [[TheGadfly troll]] Asuka, and calls her an idiot for believing him.
* Belldandy and her sisters in ''Manga/AhMyGoddess''.
** Lind fights almost solely using a massive axe. Without the axe she is significantly stronger, even without removing her PowerLimiters.
** All goddesses and demons have to limit their powers when acting on Earth, to avoid causing collateral damage (demons care about this too, because they don't want to kill off their potential clients). Hild, the [[{{Satan}} leader of the demons]], is so powerful that she has to wear at least ''twenty'' PowerLimiters to safely travel to Earth.
* Negi in ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'' at one point decided that he would seal his magic and fulfill his duties as a teacher without relying on magic. He chose a bad time for it.
* ''Franchise/SailorMoon'';
** Sailor Saturn. If she uses her most powerful, canonically nameless attack, she will die. And [[EarthShatteringKaboom destroy the world]].
** In the anime, the Inner Senshi tend to hold back to avoid collateral damage, and only cut loose twice: at the end of the first season, where there's nothing to damage and even after being mortally wounded make short work of Beryl's five strongest youma, and in the battle on the asteroid during the first movie, at which point they waste an ''army'' of enemies.
* Hagi from ''Anime/BloodPlus'' does this and refuses to utilize his true Chiropteran form because [[spoiler:he didn't want to freak out Saya.]]
* The lethal fighting styles of the Saotome school in ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf'', ''Yamasenken'' and ''Umisenken'', were sealed on their practitioners' honor at the end of their story arc. They could let Ranma become completely undetectable (by sight or BattleAura), toss RazorWind to demolish enormous bronze statues, rip out opponents' hearts, strangle them, or pierce their backs -- but he won't use even the basic "invisibility" skill, not even against powerful foes when ''nobody'' would have blamed him.
* ''Manga/SaintSeiya'':
** Gold Saint Virgo Shaka deliberately keeps his eyes closed when he battles his foes -- his constant meditation means that he devotes only a fraction of his attention to the outside world. People who know him, even fellow Gold Saints, are ''very'' afraid of him opening his eyes, because that means [[LetsGetDangerous he has stopped meditating]] and is now ''fully focused'' on the enemy... And has the power to [[CurbStompBattle easily take on any three Gold Saints]].
** Another ''Saint Seiya'' example would be Bronze Saint Andromeda Shun; he literally refuses to wound others or take a life, even when the circumstances call for it, and gets called out on it several times by his foes. There is a theory that he actually mastered the seventh sense (though the fact is never openly stated, it is still highly believable) way before anyone else but always refused to use this tremendous power because of the havoc it could wreak. The first to actually see this is his master to whom Shun said he wanted to show his true power, and his Silver Cloth (remember, Shun is supposed to be a mere Bronze Saint) gets blown to ashes by an imperfect blow ; the second one to see it is Pisces Aphrodite once he destroyed Shun's Cloth and chains, forcing him to unleashing the Nebula Stream and Storm. Cue the OhCrap look on his face when he realizes he sort of just removed Shun's wards. His advanced mastery of Cosmo is further supported by the fact that (especially in the manga), at the drop of a hat, he could muster the willpower to land a hit on the Gemini Gold Saint even dimensions, once it was established breaking Gemini's spell would help save Hyoga who was sent in Another Dimension. He then repeats the feat when giving Hyoga, currently a HumanPopsicle freshly released from an ice coffin, IntimateHealing, with a Cosmo burning probably strong enough to rival with Aquarius Camus in the first place to revert the freezing. WillfullyWeak most of the time, and mostly when it comes to fighting, all right.
*** A smaller example happened during the Black Saints mini-arc, where he held back even his chains due the BigBad being his brother ''and'' being caught by his counterpart while he was trying to save a poisoned Seiya from falling down a cliff. Then Seiya throws himself down and Black Andromeda mocks both of them... [[BewareTheNiceOnes Before dying in a very messy way]].
** Most of the Gold Saints when faced at the Twelve Temples are an example for reasons different for all Saints: Aries Mu either didn't fight them (manga) or gave them a couple slaps merely to prove they needed to have their cloths repaired; Taurus Aldebaran had doubts on the Pope, and never pressed his advantage when fighting Seiya before conceding the battle; Gemini Saga limited himself to illusions and dimensional tricks [[spoiler: to hide the fact he was actually the Pope]] before being forced to stand down by [[spoiler: his other personality]]; Cancer Death Mask didn't take Shiryuu seriously for a single moment until the latter actually accessed to the strength granted by his Seventh Sense, thus failing to block or dodge the decisive blow; Leo Aiolia had got brainwashed, and decided to torture Seiya to death instead of killing him fast; Virgo Shaka, as explained above, ALWAYS meditates, and it takes Ikki's continuously surviving his attacks to get him to open his eyes and get serious; Scorpio Milo didn't want to kill the Bronze Saints, and held back to try and force them to surrender; Capricorn Shura actually did NOT hold back, failing to stop Seiya, Hyouga and Shun only because Shiryuu thwarted his strategy to line them where he needed them to kill all four with a single strike, and then curbstomped Shiryuu, who had to resort to HeroicSacrifice to kill him; Aquarius Camus was interested only in testing Hyouga's power, and, after letting Seiya and Shun pass, never pressed his initial advantage (and was quite happy to find that Hyouga had managed to become even more powerful than himself); Pisces Aphrodite, in the end, was just too confident in his roses, resulting in him letting Seiya go in a path filled with poisonous roses (to be fair, only Marin's arrival saved Seiya from death), and trying to simply disarm Shun so he'd stop attacking and die due being poisoned at the start of the battle instead of killing him outright, with the results illustrated above.
* ''LightNovel/{{Katanagatari}}'' has a two examples:
** The first is a particularly crazy example (warning: spoils an awesome twist). [[spoiler: Despite being physically weak and ill, Nanami starts the series able to easily defeat her brother, who defeated the official Greatest Swordsman in Japan. Turns out, she can also [[PowerCopying copy any skill]] she sees, including super-strength, spontaneous claw growth, and walking on water. Then it turns out that she has inhuman resilience and can't die no matter how sick or poisoned she becomes. ''Then'' it turns out she's acquired one of the Deviant Blades, which cures her weakness and low energy. ''And then'' it turns out she uses others' skills so she can be ''weaker'', as her instinctive combat skills are utterly perfect!]]
** The other is Shichika himself. He's given orders by Togame to protect the swords, Togame, himself, and himself[[note]]ItMakesSenseInContext[[/note]], which proves to make some of the fights more difficult. In the last episode, [[spoiler:he is under no such restrictions, and shows exactly how powerful he is by destroying all twelve swords. How much the restriction to protect himself mattered is evident during his duel with Emonzaemon]].
* Fai [[spoiler: the main character, not the real one]] from ''Manga/TsubasaReservoirChronicle'' had a tattoo on his back that limited his magical power, [[spoiler: well he thought that's what it did]]. Once Yuuko took this away as his price, Fai resolved to never use his magic again because he was too powerful without the limiter.
* In ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'':
** The last episode focusing on Kurama in the series has him deal with this consideration while balancing his three personas. Ultimately, he [[spoiler:refuses to transform into Yoko Kurama, a form which would have allowed him to easily win against his opponent and be successful in the tournament, because he would rather be happy than powerful.]]
** Raizen is dying when he's introduced, simply because he hasn't eaten any human flesh in hundreds, if not thousands of years [[spoiler:because of the promise he made to his lover.]] Until his death, he's still the strongest character in the series in that state.
** Bui wears extremely heavy armor throughout the Dark Tournament to seal his powerful battle aura. He's still strong enough to literally pulverize his opponent the first time he is seen fighting. He only takes off the armor when fighting Hiei, and proves to be strong enough that Hiei has to unseal his own trump card, the Dragon of the Darkness Flame, in response.
** Sensui's original personality is so strong that he can't use his full power in the human world without destroying it, the world's "physics cannot hold him". He avoids doing so despite wanting to cause TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt because he only wants to wipe out humanity, not destroy the world. [[spoiler:Or so he claims.]]
* It's heavily implied in ''Anime/StarDriver'' that Takuto employs the bare minimum of his abilities to win fights against the Glittering Crux. His fight against Benio in episode 13 demonstrates exactly why he does it: once your opponent knows your best moves, they're going to make damn sure they have a counter for it by the next fight.
* Manga/RurouniKenshin is this throughout the series. Several opponents try to get him to revert to being the Battousai and unleash his full power, but he is very resistant to this. The closest we see to his pull power is in the fight with Shishio.
** Seijuro Hiko's cloak is heavily weighted to restrict his movements, and brightly colored to alert others to his approach, so that his opponents will have something resembling a fighting chance, since even with it on [[spoiler:he is capable of defeating a 30' giant, who had also removed his own heavy armor]].
* Alucard from ''Manga/{{Hellsing}}''. His powers are limited by magic to his current need. When he faces an enemy that is too powerful for his current level, he unlocks additional levels and increases his power. Given that he's a BloodKnight, he's particularly gleeful when he finds powerful foes who allow him to unlock his full, terrifying potential.
* In ''LightNovel/TrinityBlood'', Abel Nightroad rarely uses his Crusnik power at more than 40%, which is usually sufficient. 80% power is reserved for people who ''really'' need their ass kicked. As for 100%... well, [[WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity there's a reason]] why ''he's'' the brother called [[CainAndAbel Abel]].
* In ''LightNovel/{{Baccano}}'', the omniscient, reality-warping EldritchAbomination known as [[spoiler:Ronnie]] prefers to not tap too much into his godlike powers if he can help it, and even ignores his own omniscience. This is largely (if not entirely) to keep himself from going entirely insane with boredom.
* In ''Manga/KatekyoHitmanReborn'', it's revealed that [[spoiler:Chrome chooses to rely on [[LivingEmotionalCrutch Mukuro]] rather than use the whole extent of her powers, which is the main cause of her FauxActionGirl status. It's when she realizes she'd rather be his equal and protect him that she stops being this.]]
* Priscilla from ''Manga/{{Claymore}}'' is the strongest thing in the series seen so far. She deliberately lowers herself to her opponents' level to [[BloodKnight make fights as fun as possible]]. When she grows tired of that, she'll immediately dispatch her "playmates" by using a bit more of her real strength.
* Seen in flashback in ''LightNovel/{{Log Horizon}}'' when two of the characters are remembering their first adventures in the game. The player who helped them get started set his level low (taking all his stats down in the progress) in order to maintain game balance while tutoring them.
* ''Anime/MobileFighterGGundam'' has an AllThereInTheManual example with, of all people, Master Asia. As powerful and unstoppable as he is during the series, he's holding back by using the Master Gundam: he has another Gundam, the King of Hearts, which far surpasses both Master Gundam and God Gundam. He never uses it, even though with it he'd probably truly be invincible. This fits with one of his philosophies: he believes that relying on a powerful weapon will weaken a fighter's abilities, so by using the weaker Master Gundam he keeps his skills sharp.
* ''Anime/PhantomQuestCorp'': As a vampire, [[FriendlyNeighborhoodVampire Bosco]] ''should be'' inherently stronger than any human. But because he's chosen to limit himself to feeding only 4 times a year, at only 200cc's per quarter, [[IllBoy he's become anemic]] and severely weakened. In his brief tussle with Ayaka, he only held out for a few seconds, before exerting himself and fainting. Even so, he's content since it allows him to be [[NatureAdoresAVirgin with Makiko]], who's a 19-year-old college freshman [[LoveRedeems that he fell in love with.]]
* Saitama from ''Manga/OnePunchMan''. Being a combination of BloodKnight and ComicallyInvincibleHero, he holds back as much as possible... and still [[OneHitKill one hit kills]] absolutely everyone and everything.
* Manga/MagiLabyrinthOfMagic: Aladin, being a Magi has the ability to use the Rukh from his surroundings powering his magic, for comparison, normal people can only use their own, meaning that Aladin's attacks are way more powerful, if even only by the merit that he can use way more energy for them than every normal mage. In the Academy arc he needs to pass as a normal student, he accomplishes this by using a PowerLimiter in form of a crystal that keeps him from using the energy of his surroundings, effectively meaning he's just as strong as everyone else, at first this clearly shows as before that his magic was nearly solely dependent on the abnormal levels of power he could put into it, meaning the first few times he doesn't have this... tends to produce ''very'' weak spells. In the end though he's, in spite of the crystals, one of the most powerful students in the academy.
* ''Manga/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaVivid'': [[WorldsBestWarrior Sieglinde Jeremiah]]'s fighting style is meant to force opponents into submitting so she doesn't have to use her full power. How strong is she actually? During their match, Micaiah suffered ''actual'' injuries after getting directly hit by Sieg's Geistqual, implying it was strong enough to go through the DSAA injury simulation system.[[note]] A system that lets fighters experience the effects of attacks on their bodies without actually harming them (e.g an attack that can possibly cause a broken arm limits arm movement and causes pain). This to protect participants from potentially life threatening or career threatening injuries[[/note]]
* Deku from ''Anime/MyHeroAcademia'' holds back not for the sake of his opponents or his surroundings, but because ''[[HeroicRROD his own body]]'' can't handle the full power of One For All. His first major ShonenUpgrade was to go from unleashing bone-shattering [[MegatonPunch Megaton Punches]] as his default attack, to using a small fraction of One For All spread across his entire body to give himself enhanced speed and power without destroying himself, and part of his training is to be able to withstand more and more of its power.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Franchise/{{Superman}} is always doing this because he's so powerful, the rest of the world may as well be [[WorldOfCardboardSpeech made of cardboard]], and the slightest lapse in control on his part could kill someone. When ''Comicbook/{{Supergirl}}'' arrived on Earth -in the post-Crisis universe-, it was thought she was actually more powerful than Superman because had been holding back so long it seemed that even he forgets what he can do when he lets go (it seems she does still have the edge in flight speed, whereas he has an edge in strength and toughness)
* ''Comicbook/{{Supergirl}}'': Supergirl holds back the whole time for the same reasons her cousin does: she's too powerful and she'll kill someone if her control slips.
** When the modern Kara Zor-El (Supergirl) arrived on Earth, she caused a lot of property damage in the early issues until she learned how to control her enormous strength.
** Even when she briefly went out of her mind in ''Comicbook/RedDaughterOfKrypton'' due to the influence of the Red Ring, Supergirl instinctively held back because she didn't want to hurt anybody.
* [[RealityWarper Mr. Mxyzptlk]] has way more power than he can safely use--modifying the universe too much would [[ApocalypseHow damage its structural underpinnings]]. Very, very bad things happened in a storyline where he accidentally gave 99% of his power to [[OmnicidalManiac the Joker]].
* Franchise/SpiderMan usually pulls his punches to avoid seriously injuring the people he fights. It's subverted in ''Spider-Man vs. Wolverine'' when he accidentally kills an assassin... who happens to be Wolverine's ex-girlfriend.
* Same with ComicBook/CaptainBritain, who learned about all this while teaming with Spider-Man. Half-canine criminals don't deserve a max-power punch in the snout (Doggy-girl survived, her bills paid by the Cap).
* ''ComicBook/TheSentry'' is an example of this as well. The more power he uses, the more insane he gets. When he is finally allowed to cut loose on the Hulk in World War Hulk, he loses control and becomes a bigger threat to the world than 'the worldbreaker'.
* [[ComicBook/TheMightyThor Thor]], the Norse god of thunder, has to intentionally hold himself back when fighting due to him not wanting to kill his enemies, make his friends feel weak in comparison or harm a lot of innocent bystanders and cause huge collateral damage. When he cuts loose, the collateral damage can include ''planets.''
* ComicBook/TheIncredibleHulk had been specifically shown to be held back subconsciously by Bruce Banner, presumably to reduce collateral damage and prevent Hulk from killing his opponents. When Jeanie Grey suppressed Banner at his request in the fight against Onslaught, Hulk became the only hero who does ''any'' damage to the PhysicalGod, and outright destroys his physical forms. To put it in perspective Onslaught was first introduced as having issued a complete CurbStompBattle to ''The Juggernaut'' off screen.
* Jaime Reyes, aka ComicBook/BlueBeetle, regularly has to [[KidWithTheLeash talk his suit down from using its more lethal abilities]]. It's implied that the suit's abilities go as far as ''deicide''.
* The ComicBook/SilverSurfer could end a fight with even some of the strongest supers Marvel has to offer in seconds. But he is usually not in the mood for fighting, considering it to be the habit of madmen. [[BewareTheNiceOnes But heaven help you]] [[BullyingADragon when you do piss him off!]]
* In ''ComicBook/MyLittlePonyMicroSeries'' Issue #2 Rainbow Dash spends much of the comic holding herself back after her initial encounter with the Gremlins for fear of hurting her wings again.
* ComicBook/{{Cyclops}}, DependingOnTheWriter, does this with his energy beams. Normally, they are strong enough to punch through metal, but through disciplined training and special glasses, he can set them to a sort of stun effect. Given that he hasn't yet learned how to stop constantly projecting them through his eyes, this helps people to feel safer around him.
** His brother Havok works in a similar fashion, using his powers to simulate concussive force by controlling the power of his beams and the distance they travel ''very carefully.'' When he gets serious, he can break the Hulk's bones with direct blasts, absorb enough power from stars to survive in space, and beat the tar out of Vulcan, who normally has complete control over all forms of energy. Overlaps partly with PowerLimiter, as Havok absorbs far more energy out in space than he does on Earth, but he still holds back the vast majority of his power, even on Earth.
* Similarly, Black Bolt of ''ComicBook/TheInhumans'' has a voice that can shatter cities. As a result he's trained himself to be completely silent at all times and never speaks... except in the regular cases in which the writers take his powers away.
* On the lower end of the scale, Cassandra Cain / [[ComicBook/Batgirl2000 Batgirl]] has CharlesAtlasSuperpower even by Batman's standards, but (almost) never uses more force than strictly necessary. In one issue, Batman leaves her guarding an unconscious superhuman, and tells her to hit him hard enough to crush a normal skull if he moves. When he starts to get up, she drives his head through the floorboards.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Fanfic/TheChildOfLove'': Teri has PsychicPowers and can deploy an energy barrier. But she always tries to hide them and pretend she is normal.
* ''Fanfic/ChildOfTheStorm'' has Thor and Loki hold back their strength as a matter of course.
** Harry, once he develops his [[TheCallPutMeOnHold (potentially immense, practically still working on it)]] PsychicPowers, particularly after a spectacular episode of PowerIncontinence shows him how dangerous they actually are. Consequently, despite being coaxed out of some of this attitude by his teacher, Betsy Braddock, he tends to hold them back and FightsLikeANormal, opting for FullContactMagic instead. The problems with this are aptly demonstrated in chapter 70 when [[spoiler: Daken uses his HealingFactor to shrug off Harry's best attacks, get in close and temporarily kill]]. After he is finally pushed too far in chapter 74, he snaps, gives a short WorldOfCardboardSpeech and [[LetsGetDangerous stops holding back with his powers.]] The result is a ''lot'' of [[CurbstompBattle curbstomping]], including of [[spoiler: Daken]] in their rematch, and a worrying resemblance to [[WellIntentionedExtremist Magneto.]]
*** The Red Son later demonstrates what someone with powers like his is really capable of by singlehandledly reshaping the global balance of power and geopolitics in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (approximately, as Frigga puts it, half a continent), despite the attempts of the likes of Charles Xavier to undo what he's been doing, in the space of less than two weeks. This, along with the repeated emphasis that he holds back each and every moment of each and every day, just in case, suggests some scary, scary things.
** Chapter 75 has Doctor Strange inform Jean Grey that she's actually far more powerful than she ever realised - in terms of raw power, she's actually the strongest psychic in history by quite some margin. After that, she [[spoiler: [[TookALevelInBadass promptly used Cerebro to astrally project herself into Asgard and break Gravemoss' sleeping beauty style enchantment on Thor before immediately getting involved in the big fight and telekinetically crushing tens of thousands of demons like juice cartons.]]]]
*** And after that, she ''still'' usually holds back... and later proves capable of [[spoiler: ripping a hole through space and time to wear Harry is]] on pure ''instinct'' - which Carol remarks is another mark on the list of 'things that make you [Jean] a terrifying super badass' - and then [[spoiler: containing Harry and her equally powerful twin sister, Maddie.]]
* ''Fanfic/LastChildOfKrypton'':
** Shinji pretends he is way, way weaker than he is in order to hide his secret identity and lead a normal life.
** In the rewrite he –someone capable to lift ''mountains''- pretended he was struggling under the weight of Asuka’s luggage.
* ''Manga/ReTake'': For the most part of the first chapter Shinji intentionally keeps his sync ratio below [[LoveInterest Asuka's]] because he knows that [[HeroicBSOD nothing]] [[BreakTheHaughty good]] [[DrivenToSuicide will come]] from beating [[InferioritySuperiorityComplex Asuka]].
* ''FanFic/TheSecondTry'': [[PeggySue After traveling back to the past]] Shinji and Asuka are more emotionally stable, more experienced, more determined and are aware of their [[HumongousMecha robots']] true nature. Since piloting Evas depends heavily on their emotional state, their sync ratios are incredibly high. Still they suppress them during tests in order to keep up appearances. Though this causes odd fluctuations in their ratios that do not go unnoticed.
* ''Fanfic/ThousandShinji'': For the middle point of the story, [[AntiHero Shinji]] is able to blast lightning bolts, [[FieryRedhead Asuka]] is a SuperSoldier capable to punch through a concrete block and summon axes out of thin air, [[TheQuietOne Rei]] is a living biological and bio-chemical weapon, and THE THREE OF THEM have psychic powers. However they are extra careful to conceal their true powers so that: they can led a relatively normal life; and Gendo never sees it coming when they decide to move against him.
* ''Fanfic/ASalarymanInNobunasCourt'': Bujin Faiz is able to access Blaster Form but doing so would drain his master's spiritual energy quickly and send her into a HeroicRROD so he fights primarily with his normal form and Axel form.
* ''Fanfic/ATaleOfTransmigration'': Khepri intentionally limits her power when acting as an Endbringer to foster cooperation. When someone breaks her rules, she cuts loose to deal with them and can lead to the equivalent of a TotalPartyKill if not handled appropriately.
* Paul in ''Fanfic/TheKeysStandAlone: The Soft World'', though his “weak” means he's only the eighth strongest person on the planet, rather than the strongest. He refrains from going to high strength because of its insanely increased level of PowerIncontinence, and he's utterly terrified of harming someone simply by breathing on them.
* ''Fanfic/PokemonNovaAndAntica'': The Tenla Gym Leaders will ask challengers of their skill level and the number of Tenla badges they have obtained. Depending on the answer, they will hold back and use relatively weaker Pokémon to at least make an earned victory possible. The threshold seems to vary. For example, Marina and Heather will use their stronger Pokemon against any trainer like Paul or Winter who brought along their own powerhouses, while Metacia flat-out refuses anyone who doesn't have at least 5 badges of Tenla.
* [[http://fanlore.org/wiki/Sondra_Marshak Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath]] did this to Spock in their TOS fan fiction novels, ''The Price of the Phoenix'', ''The Fate of the Phoenix'' and ''The Prometheus Design''. According to them, canon Spock on the show was ''way'' suppressing his actual abilities so as to live among the PunyEarthlings; under normal conditions, Vulcans are so physically and mentally powerful as to be almost godlike. (It's repeatedly mentioned that Captain Kirk would have difficulty even ''pushing buttons'' on a Vulcan ship.) They use this to explain the ''Intrepid'' having an all-Vulcan crew in "The Immunity Syndrome". In ''Prometheus Design'' the legendary Vulcan Admiral Savaj gives Spock a WorldOfCardboardSpeech advising him to unleash his inner badass. Spock does so, takes command, and tells the crew he will have [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything "instant, unqualified, unargued obedience"]] as it would be on a Vulcan ship; at one point he literally leaps a tall wall in a single bound. [[AsskickingEqualsAuthority Physical strength]] is Marshak's AuthorAppeal.
* ''Fanfic/LadybugInAHalfShell'': When April clarifies that the American foes are mutants and not akumatized villains (thus are not innocent people BrainwashedAndCrazy), Chat Noir revealed that he was holding back and utterly [[CurbStompBattle curb-stomps]] Rahzar, Xever and Rocksteady shortly after.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* Queen Elsa of ''Disney/{{Frozen}}'' spends a good part of the film desperately doing everything she can to keep her powers in check after she accidentally struck someone with them during the prologue. Unfortunately, [[EmotionalPowers as her powers are partly driven by emotions such as fear]], this only makes them [[PowerIncontinence even harder to control]], which eventually leads to her accidentally causing an EndlessWinter when her powers are outed...

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/TheAdventuresOfBaronMunchausen''. Berholdt chains himself with iron cannonballs to prevent himself from moving too fast.
* ''Film/MichaelJacksonsThisIsIt'' has a non-combat example. Music/MichaelJackson is shown deliberately not performing at full strength during rehearsals, trying to save his voice and stamina for his London concerts.[[note]][[http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Calendar/Film?Film=oid%3A896617 As one reviewer observed]], MJ was only performing at sixty percent at most.[[/note]] The one time he's shown singing at full strength, during the "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" segment, he catches himself, and playfully chastises the crew and backup dancers (who were cheering him on) for making him sing at full strength.
* In ''Film/BatmanVSupermanDawnOfJustice'', [[Comicbook/{{Superman}} Clark]] is clearly using kid gloves in his fight with [[Comicbook/{{Batman}} Bruce]], since he doesn't ''want'' to fight [[spoiler: as he's trying to explain to Bruce that Comicbook/LexLuthor is holding Martha hostage]]. Unfortunately for him, Bruce isn't [[TheUnfettered holding back. At all.]]
--> '''Superman''': Stay down! If I wanted it, you'd be dead already!

* Though far from weak, Albus Dumbledore from ''Literature/HarryPotter'' outright admits to limiting the power he could reach, ''in the first chapter of the first book'':[[note]]It turns out [[spoiler: this is not limited to magical power, but political power as well (he turns down being Minister for Magic five times in his life), and [[TheAtoner why he does it]] is revealed in [[Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows the final book]]]].[[/note]]
-->'''Dumbledore:''' "You flatter me. Voldemort had powers that I will never have."
-->'''[[SupportingLeader McGonagall]]:''' "Only because you're too... well... ''noble'' to use them."
* At the end of Creator/MichaelCrichton's ''Literature/{{Sphere}}'' [[spoiler:the surviving characters (some of them, anyway) will themselves into simply ''forgetting'' their PhysicalGod status, thus losing it, on the off chance they go mad with power.]]
* At the start of ''Literature/TheHollows'' Rachel is doing this, by doing only [[WhiteMagic white]] earth magic spells. White spells are less powerful than [[BlackMagic black spells]], and the line is clearer with earth magic than ley line magic. However, circumstances keep forcing her to use black magic [[spoiler:and demon curses]]. Subverted later in ''Black Magic Sanction'' where it is shown white magic can be as strong as black magic, but requires greater skill to do so. [[BookDumb Rachel isn't much for studying though]] and thus chooses to use [[BlackMagic black]] [[spoiler:and demon]] magic as a short cut when she needs power. This is beginning to have some [[HeroicRROD rather]] [[EquivalentExchange negative]] [[PowerDegeneration long term implications]].
* In ''Literature/{{Warbreaker}}'' [[spoiler: Vasher suppresses his Returned Breath so that he can pass as normal.]] He can, of course, unleash it whenever he wants. He's pretty badass even without it, though.
* Because he hates so much that he has it, the only time in the ''Literature/KnightAndRogueSeries'' that Michael uses [[spoiler:magic]] is when he's in a life or death situation and activates it without thinking.
* In Max Frei's ''Literature/LabyrinthsOfEcho'' Sir Kofa Yokh is introduced as Master Listener, whose job is to mingle in all sorts of public places to gather and process information. Being a [[BigFun jovial]] [[BigEater somewhat rotund]] MasterOfDisguise by means of {{Humanshifting}} obviously helps with that. But before Kofa Yokh became the Master Listener, he was the general of the city police during the [[GreatOffscreenWar War of the Orders]] and is likely the most powerful Plain Magic user in Echo.
* In the [[Literature/TheDresdenFiles Dresdenverse]] anyone who bears the [[TheFairFolk Winter]] Knight's [[ClingyMacguffin mantle]] must restrain themselves this way or risk falling victim to TheCorruption. (We've seen at least one Knight who gave into temptation to use it at full power, and the results were ''not'' pretty.) It takes a lot of HeroicWillpower to even resist the mantle's conscious urges, and even then, the Knight gradually grows accustomed to the strength and speed it gives him, forgetting the limitations of normal people and becoming increasingly cruel. [[spoiler:The protagonist]] is clearly established as a {{Determinator}}, and even he acknowledges that he won't be able to stave its urges off eventually. In ''Cold Days'' he submits to the mantle's energy to win an especially difficult fight, and his ensuing actions are both unnervingly [[NightmareFuel sadistic]] and [[OneManArmy very powerful.]]
* In ''Literature/TheZombieKnight'', [[spoiler:Harper holds back on using a powerful transformation until it is the only way to win. Justified because the state makes him unable to control himself beyond "try not to kill my friends unless I can't find anyone else", and there was a decent chance that it could have killed his reaper.]]
* In {{Literature/The Wandering Inn}}, people become more powerful by gaining Levels and earning Skills. Ryoka rebels against the system by intentionally not gaining any Classes, Levels or Skills...despite their obvious advantages. Doing this is so counter-intuitive that most characters are shocked when they find out.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'': Doyle hardly ever used his demon form because of his discomfort with it.
* In season 3 of ''Series/TheFlash'', Caitlin wears a necklace that suppresses her powers because her evil alter ego, Killer Frost, takes over whenever they're activated.
* In the episode [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hide_and_Q "Hide and Q"]] of ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', Riker [[AGodAmI is given Q-powers]] by Q. Picard, [[DealWithTheDevil distrustful of Q's motives]], makes Riker promise [[ComesGreatResponsibility not to use his new powers]], no matter how much he might be tempted to. Riker even allows disaster victims to die rather than use his new powers, even though it [[SamaritanSyndrome upsets him deeply]].
** In the Franchise/StarTrek universe, ships like the Enterprise, even the one from the original series, have devastating weapons including photon torpedoes that have warhead yields in the high megaton range. They also carry enough of them to [[{{ApocalypseHow/Class6}} glass an entire planet]] if their captains ever gave the order. However, Starfleet captains, exemplified by Picard, are trained not to resort to using such weapons unless [[TalkingYourWayOut diplomacy has failed]], there is absolutely [[ViolenceIsTheOnlyOption no other choice]], and their ship and crew are in [[GodzillaThreshold real mortal danger]].
** In "True Q", a young woman is discovered to be the daughter of two renegade Q, who were killed by a tornado (and Q pretty much admits they were assassinated by their fellow Q) before they could reveal the truth to her. At first, she ends up abusing her newfound powers, as well as using them to help others, but then Q give her an ultimatum: she can either stay with the humans but is forbidden from using her powers or leave with him to join the Q Continuum. She quickly realizes that she can't let others come to harm as long as she has the power to help them and leaves with Q.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog''. In many games he seems to just move fast enough to get through a situation and show off, but we can judge by other games and various cutscenes that he is much faster than he lets on. Also, Fleetway's SonicTheComic Sonic would rather not have to go Super because Super Sonic is ChaoticEvil and likes killing people and destroying entire planets just to stave off boredom. By extension, Super Sonic after he is separated from Sonic. He knows that if he uses his immense powers, he will go crazy and destroy the world.
* ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou'':
** Joshua is not a very good fighter at first, but then you find out that all along, he's been able to shoot ''beams of angels'' out of his phone... he just chose not to. Because he doesn't like working up a sweat. [[spoiler:He's actually the Composer, the most powerful person below the divine plane, and apart from just being TheLoad instead of pulling his own weight, he's limiting his power by a lot more for plot-related reasons.]]
** The player (as in, the one holding the DS) can also do this, intentionally lower one's level in exchange for a higher [[RandomlyDrops drop rate]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' uses this on a series-wide level with the spellcard rules. A formal system of dueling and battling that everyone in Gensoukyou must abide by, it deliberately levels the playing field, giving the weaker fighters a better chance of success and preventing the more powerful ones from simply pressing the "I win" button, as well as ensuring all fights end in a NonLethalKO.
** According to WordOfGod, Alice Margatroid always holds back in her fights because she doesn't know what she would do if she ever lost while at full power. A big clue to this is that she's always carrying a [[TomeOfEldritchLore grimoire]], which is always bound up; she fights with her dolls instead. (In other words, she puts on a complex puppet show combined with carefully finessed magic to make it seem [[PowersDoTheFighting the dolls are casting all her spells]].) The last time she opened the thing, she was an [[BonusBoss Ex-Boss]] (assuming PC-98 Alice is indeed the same character as Alice Margatroid). Since then, it's always been seen closed, and she's a 3rd-to-4th-stage boss instead.
** [[MadDoctor Eirin Yagokoro]] is said to be far stronger than [[{{Ojou}} Kaguya Houraisan]], but holds back her power out of respect, not wanting to shame Kaguya by having a subordinate more powerful than her. This became much more significant after ZUN stated in ''[[UniverseCompendium Symposium of Post-Mysticism]]'' that Eirin is one of the stupendously powerful gods of the moon.
** Hong Meiling's win quote against Sakuya in ''Hisoutensoku'' has her bluntly stating that she was always going easy all the time, and that she will only fight seriously if it is an official duel she is involved in.
** Both Suika Ibuki and Yuugi Hoshiguma intentionally only use a small amount of their immense strength when battling. This is both because they're {{Boisterous Bruiser}}s that are far more interested in fighting a WorthyOpponent than in actually winning, and also because they are powerful enough to tear apart mountains with their bare hands.
** [[RealityWarper Yukari Yakumo]] is a heavy candidate for the most powerful denizen of Gensoukyou, being stated to have enough power to ''easily'' destroy the setting, yet manages to put up challenging yet doable fights in the games. The fact that she usually prefers to [[ChessMaster manipulate people into doing what she wants]] and that she's also [[TheSlacker really lazy]] probably influences how much power she uses during fights, too.
** Tenshi Hinanawi, a celestial, was defeated by almost every character in ''Scarlet Weather Rhapsody'' in their respective scenarios, but in those scenarios, she was holding back her real power in her battles on purpose, because due to being a celestial, she wasn't supposed to fight with people from the lower world, like the people and Youkai in Gensokyo, and even then, she was just bored, so she let them win. Cue Tenshi's scenario, where she wasn't holding back her real power, and she proved it by defeating each opponent she faced, [[spoiler:including Reimu]].
** In ''Ten Desires'', [[spoiler:Yuyuko Saigyouji, the final boss in ''Perfect Cherry Blossom'']] is the first boss in this game, and she isn't trying to fight seriously. This time her purpose was helping the heroines, even if she gives a little spellcard practice before giving hints to follow the clues behind the incident.
** Before the spellcard system in the Windows games, Rikako Asakura from PC-98 exclusive ''Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream'' was this. According to the victory quotes of other characters, she's magically talented and could probably wipe the floor with whoever she wanted... but she'd rather do science than magic, and shuns magic entirely. This gets her [[ScienceVersusMagic branded a heretic]], and confuses the hell out of the scientists who came to Gensokyo to study magic.
* Regal from ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'' keeps his hands bound throughout almost the entire game, choosing to fight instead with his feet. It is revealed in a flashback that [[spoiler:without his shackles he's an extremely powerful martial artist, but handicaps himself, because he used [[KamehameHadoken his skill]] to euthanize his lover.]]
* ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaAriaOfSorrow.'' The one reason why you, [[spoiler:the reincarnation of the BigBad who always gets his ass kicked by the Belmonts,]] are able to bring Julius Belmont to his knees is because he sensed Soma's soul[[spoiler: as well as Dracula's]]. Imagine how fast you'd die if a badass like Julius ''WASN'T'' holding back, considering he's ''already'' [[ThatOneBoss the most difficult boss in the game]].
* [[OurVampiresAreDifferent Valvatorez]] from ''VideoGame/Disgaea4APromiseUnforgotten'' was once an infamous tyrant, but decided to abstain from drinking blood (He uses sardines as a replacement) as part of a promise he intends to fulfill, even though it would weaken him. As a result, he ended up falling from his position of power, and got stuck with a low class job as a Prinny instructor, but it doesn't seem to bother him one bit.
%%** Then we meet DLC Tyrant Valvatorez. The difference is... noticeable.
* ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'':
** Machoke wears a belt to weaken its power. Depending on which Pokedex entry you believe, either it needs the belt so that it can control its movements, or it would be unstoppable without it.
** Gym Leaders in general are this as well. As their purpose is to test the skills of trainers, they purposely tailor their teams to be just a little more powerful than the teams of starting trainers. In some games, you can challenge them to rematches upon reaching the endgame, and they will have Championship-level teams, implying that those are their true fighters.
* ''VideoGame/GuiltyGear XX'':
** [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Slayer]] is an ancient, possibly thousands of years old vampire and the former head of a major guild of assassins. His Instant Kill move involves him landing a [[MegatonPunch single punch]] at his full strength, which has sufficient force to knock his opponent into a neighboring ''galaxy.'' Despite this, he has no particular desire to kill anyone, and intentionally avoids using his full power because doing so would take all the fun out of fighting. If beaten, he simply lies on the ground, smoking his pipe and looking vaguely amused.
** Potemkin is considered a OneManArmy by many, but in-game he wears a PowerLimiter around his neck to prevent casualties ([[GeniusBruiser he's investigating, you see.]]) His Instant Kill involves him removing the restraint and landing a single punch.
** Sol and Dizzy also count. They do it because [[PersonOfMassDestruction if they fought at full power they'd probably unintentionally kill everyone and everything within a mile radius]]. Although in [[BrilliantButLazy Sol's case, it may just be because he's a lazy ass who doesn't put much effort into anything anyway]].
* From Guilty Gear's SpiritualSuccessor, ''VideoGame/{{BlazBlue}}'':
** There is Rachel Alucard, a bored vampire who treats every match as a SelfImposedChallenge. Only her throw move involves actually touching her opponent; a weak-looking but damaging backhand slap. All her attacks, special movement and even guarding are handled by her familiars Nago and Gii, a cat and a bat.
** As [[spoiler:Unlimited Rachel]], [[SNKBoss the gloves come off]], although even then she does nothing that would risk making her sweat.
** Ragna does this as well, and it is only once he uses the Azure Grimoire that the time loop is broken.
** Terumi is an example in his Hazama guise, since he is simply using the Ouroboros Nox Nyctores and some butterfly knives rather than his true abilities.
** Azrael is so powerful that most of the cast shits their pants when he comes a'calling for a fight. Uniquely, he's also the only one with a Ars Magus that ''limits'' his strength, called Enchant: Dragunov, which is actually the [[PowerTattoo tattoos ]]on his body. The reason most anyone survives a fight with him is because he ''choses'' to keep the limiter on to extend the 'fun' of a fight.
** Noel Vermillion also counts, at least after she unlocks the ability to use her Murakumo form [[SuperPoweredEvilSide Mu-12]] in combat. This makes her easily one of the strongest fighters in the universe, yet she only relies on it when she has no choice but to use it.
* ''VideoGame/StreetFighterIII'':
** Oro is stronger than the rest of the cast, possibly combined. He keeps one of his arms in a sling in order to even the odds. Series ArrogantKungFuGuy Akuma/Gouki challenged him once with neither holding back their power, and they were equally strong.
** Akuma, both in and out of gameplay. Out of game, he never uses the full extent of his power because he seeks a challenger worthy of his skill so he wants to match mettle with the best without destroying them at the full depth of the Satsui no Hadou. In-game, his vitality and stun are typically lower than any of his opponents for reasons of balance (to see when he is NOT balanced like this, his original playable appearance in ''Super VideoGame/StreetFighterII Turbo'' is such).
** [[VideoGame/StreetFighterIV Seth]], much like the Rugal example below, plays nice in the first round but will turn up the heat once he's been smacked around. TeleportSpam and priority abuse coupled with nasty damage makes him an SNKBoss through and through.
** In ''Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition'', [[TrueFinalBoss Oni]] (Akuma fully taken over by the Satsui no Hadou, reaching a new level of power in the process) insinuates in a win quote that Cody would be a match for him if only he took off the handcuffs (the same ones that Cody wears by choice and is shown to be able to easily slip out of in his taunt) and fought seriously. Conversely, Cody's win quote against Oni has him remarking that he knew Oni was no big deal.
* In ''VideoGame/TheKingOfFighters '94'':
** Rugal doesn't use any special moves in your first fight with him. Win that fight, and he shows amusement before dusting himself off and fighting you again... with all special moves on. In the process, he sets the precedent for the SNKBoss lineage after him.
** Krizalid in ''[='99=]'' is a similar case, to the point that he could be considered his saga's answer to Rugal. The worst he can throw at you in the first round is a 2-hit fireball and a divekick. After that, however, [[TheCoatsAreOff he removes his]] [[BadassLongcoat overcoat]], [[AwesomeMusic/{{SNK}} "Dear Falling Angel" starts revving up]], and Krizalid unleashes the full extent of his power with zeal. WordOfGod actually ''apologized'' for how unforgiving the battle could be, stating they went a little overboard.
* ProudWarriorRaceGuy Arthur from ''VisualNovel/TearsToTiara'' [[spoiler:provokes GenkiGirl Morgan into dislocating his arm by groping her in order to even the odds in an upcoming duel with an opponent [[YouCanBarelyStand who can barely stand]]]].
* ''Franchise/FireEmblem'':
** Ike's father in ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance]]'', [[spoiler:General Gawain]] cut the tendons in his right arm, and refuses to fight with a sword [[spoiler:because he went berserk and killed his wife]] when he touched Lahrain's Medallion.
** In ''Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn,'' the sequel to ''Path of Radiance,'' [[NobleWolf laguz Volug]] has a special skill called [[{{Animorphism}} "halfshifting"]]. It allows him to stay in his wolf form indefinitely, rather than being limited by the usual laguz transformation gauge that, upon depletion, forces a laguz unit back to their essentially powerless humanoid form until the gauge fills again. But there's a cost: Volug takes penalties to all of his stats (except for HP) when halfshifted. After Part I of the game, the skill can be removed and Volug's stats will return to normal, but he'll have to contend with the gauge like other laguz units.
* Franchise/MegaMan, in all of his incarnations. All of them are said to be the pinnacle of artificial life and combat designs for their respective universes. Through use of their [[PowerCopying signature ability]] could easily become nigh unstoppable. Fortunately, they all share a MartialPacifist philosophy, and deliberately drop all but the most minor upgrades they gain after defeating a major threat to ensure that they are never corrupted by power.
* Interestingly enough, [[Franchise/SuperMarioBros Luigi]]. It's been [[WordOfGod confirmed]] that he's more powerful than Mario, but lacks the confidence and control to realize his full potential. It is also seen in-series with his jumping ability, which is usually shown as just higher than Mario's, but he can jump MUCH higher if the situation calls for it.
* Unlike most other games in the series, in ''VideoGame/MetroidOtherM'', Samus doesn't lose her arsenal at the beginning of the game. Instead, she just deactivates nearly all of her weapons and abilities at the request of her former commander, and (for the most part) reactivates them only when he "authorizes" her to do so. This despite the fact that she's now an independent agent and no longer under his command.
* Surprisingly, [[BonusBoss Elizabeth]] in ''VideoGame/Persona4Arena'' is this though to be fair, she's trying to find ways to [[spoiler: save the protagonist of ''VideoGame/{{Persona 3}}'' by participating in the tournament.]]
* Rico in ''VideoGame/DuelSaviorDestiny'' only fights at her full strength the first time she fights someone so she can gauge how strong they are. After that, she doesn't try at all so that she can conserve her strength. So far, she has beaten everyone the first time she fought them and then lost all the subsequent fights, leading others to think she's much weaker than she is. When Taiga actually does beat her, she's quite stunned.
* ''VideoGame/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaAsPortable: The Gears of Destiny'' has Yuri Eberwein, [[spoiler:a.k.a., the [[FinalBoss Unbreakable]] [[HumanoidAbomination Darkness]]]], who is training to control her infinite powers as, even with a PowerLimiter on, she could still accidentally alter the landscape, as at least one crater she unintentionally made in Eltria shows.
* Many ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars'', especially those that are part of a continuing storyline, use this. It's not impossible to see [[Anime/MobileSuitGundam]] Amuro Ray downgrade from the Nu/Hi-Nu Gundam to a Re-GZ or even the original Gundam or [[Anime/MazingerZ Kouji Kabuto]] get knocked down from Mazinkaiser to the original Mazinger-Z. Two [[EarlyInstallmentWeirdness early examples]] has the aforementioned Mazinger-Z go from having Jet Scrander at the end of one game, to going without it in the next and the Manga/GetterRobo Team downgrading from Getter Robo G to the ''Prototype Getter Robo'', which isn't even a SuperPrototype - just a normal prototype unit!
* In the first ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsOriginalGeneration'' game, the final boss [[BossBanter remarks]] that Gilliam appears to be hiding his power.
* In ''[[Videogame/CityOfHeroes City of Heroes]]'', for game balance purposes, players could intentionally lower their effective level to that of the rest of the party, either by joining a mission with a lower level range, or simply by joining a party in general. While they could still use powers up to five levels above their temporary strength, many of their augumentations (gear) would potentially be disabled, putting them on a more or less equal footing with the rest of the team.
* In a somewhat meta sense, ''VideoGame/{{STALKER}}'', as in the game itself. In ''Shadow of Chernobyl'', the combat AI is pretty damn good; enemies can (and will) use cover effectively, retreat to a more tactically advantageous position and ambush you, navigate wide open areas, and dodge and duck around building interiors to get the jump on you. However, if the developers and the press who got to try the pre-release builds [[WhatCouldHaveBeen are to be believed]], this AI is severely dialled back - in earlier builds, enemies could also score headshots against the player, heal themselves and their allies with medkits, throw grenades with unerring accuracy, loot weapons off dead bodies, and intelligently avoid anomalies and other environmental hazards. Oh, and your [=NPC=] allies would also ''complete quests and fulfill objectives without player intervention''. The developers removed these abilities for the final release because they were worried the ArtificialBrilliance was ''too'' brilliant to the point where it would consistently outsmart and frustrate the player. Certain realism and survival mods unlock these behaviours in the game's files, [[NintendoHard and they're a masochist's dream]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Undertale}}''
** Both the first and final boss are listed as having 80 ATK and DEF, values surpassed only by the [[spoiler:[[KillEmAll No Mercy route]] superbosses]]. But the former doesn't actually ''want'' to hurt you [[spoiler:-- and nor does the latter, for that matter --]] and a monster's strength is directly proportional to its KillingIntent.
** The TrueFinalBoss, [[spoiler:Asriel]], is listed as having ''infinite'' attack power, which should logically mean that he could instantly end the fight. Once again, though, he's implied to be subconsciously holding back [[spoiler:because, deep down, he doesn't really ''want'' to hurt the player.]]
** It is implied that [[NiceGuy Papyrus]] is actually much stronger than his fight with you would imply, but is holding back because he is simply too nice to hurt you (When he defeats you it ends in a capture rather than an actual GameOver), and Undyne later remarks that the only reason she won't make him a Royal Guard is she couldn't bare to see such a nice guy subjected to combat. If you spare him during what was otherwise a No Mercy run, his dialogue also hints that he can use the same [[WaveMotionGun Gaster Blasters]] used by the ''most difficult boss in the game''. One has to wonder, considering that [[spoiler:said most difficult boss is Sans, his brother]]; a character who is noted to actually have pretty weak stats, but is a formidable foe exactly because he does not hold back at all against the player in his boss fight and [[spoiler:even cheats by [[SNKBoss subverting several turn-based RPG conventions]] during the fight]], one has got to wonder what Papyrus, who has much better stats, would look like if sufficiently angered...
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIV'' implies this about your player character, the Warrior of Light, come ''Heavensward''. After defeating the Primal [[BloodKnight Ravana]], [[spoiler:Iceheart]] notes that [[spoiler:she]] hasn't seen your character fight that strongly since [[spoiler:she summoned/became Shiva]]. This implies that the Warrior of Light holds back unless fighting a significant threat like the Primals or Ascians.
* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind'''s ''Bloodmoon'' expansion, the [[OurGodsAreDifferent Daedric Prince]] of the Hunt, Hircine, serves as the BigBad and final boss of the expansion's main quest. After surviving his hunting dogs (read: [[OurWerewolvesAreDifferent werewolves]]) and your [[HuntingTheMostDangerousGame fellow competitors]] in the hunt, you'll face Hircine himself. Because a Daedric Prince at full power would easily crush any mortal, he gives you the choice of one of his three weaker "aspects" to fight to give you a sporting chance. (Hircine believes that it's not a true hunt unless the [[TheHunterBecomesTheHunted Hunted has the chance to become the Hunter]].)
* ''VideoGame/MordheimCityOfTheDamned'': Every faction. It's set in the TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}} world, in the titular city that was wiped out by a meteor made of valuable but dangerous wyrdstone; the various factions ([[BadassNormal Empire Mercenaries]], [[AmazonBrigade Sisters of Sigmar]], [[TheWitchHunter Witch Hunters]], [[RatMen Skaven]], [[ReligionOfEvil Chaos Cultists]] and [[NightOfTheLivingMooks Undead]]) are all deploying very small warbands using cloak and dagger tactics to collect the stuff without damaging the city or drawing too much attention from the outside world. Your average TabletopGame/BloodBowl team has access to heavier firepower than a ''Mordheim'' warband, but that's the point. This means that a regular old Chaos Bloodletter, Ogre or Vampire which would merely be an elite (but still very much killable) troop choice in ''Warhammer'' is effectively a mini boss fight here.
* In the 2010 ''Franchise/AlienVsPredator'' game, you get bonus points on Predator missions for using nothing but your wrist blades. In the 1999 game, when the final mission (where you fight the Alien Queen) starts, all weapons except your wrist blades and spear gun are disabled, to ensure proper honor. Given the that using wrist blades against the Queen is suicidal, this means you really only have the spear gun.
* Hanzo of ''VideoGame/{{Overwatch}}'' is no slouch with his bow. But the willful weakness comes when you remember he's a master ''swordsman'' as well. Even more skilled than his brother, Genji. But he refuses to ever wield a sword again, as the last time he did was when he was ordered to kill Genji.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* Arcueid from ''VisualNovel/{{Tsukihime}}'' is quite possibly the most powerful being in the world. She has insane strength, speed, and power. She can cause anything possible [[FunctionalMagic within the rules of the world]] to happen with a mere ''thought''. However, she has to devote most of her power to suppressing her [[OurVampiresAreDifferent Vampire]] [[UnstoppableRage bloodlust]]. If she was to ever to release herself and use her powers to the fullest, she'd become an insanely powerful monster that kills everything in sight.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', [[spoiler: Mr. Raven]] is half immortal and very powerful -- but not allowed to interfere with mortal events. Mostly. [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2009-06-18 Unless you're stupid enough to press his]] BerserkButton.
** ''Grace!'' She's an atrociously powerful alien hybrid, and a kindhearted pacifist. She has to [[BoxingLessonsForSuperman study martial arts]] with Sensei Greg so she can fight non-lethally. (Although there's another side to this: the chief difficulty in persuading her to study this wasn't convincing her she might never choose to fight, but that she might fight without the goal of efficiently killing her opponent... which she's already equipped for.)
* Aerynn from ''Webcomic/ElectricWonderland'' practices a brand of magic that no one else in {{Cyberspace}} can do, and often feels too scared to use it to its full potential. Considering how much she ''doesn't'' mind doing (transforming her teammates, teleporting enemies, using {{Hammerspace}} to sneak her boss past security, the list goes on and on), one can only imagine what powers she doesn't want to use.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Tennyo, in the Literature/WhateleyUniverse, is doing this now. Over Christmas, when she went all out to save her family, she ripped a hole in space-time which ''kept getting bigger'', and she shredded an auditorium with her RealityWarper abilities, and she made a huge area radioactive too. Oops. So she's deliberately toning it down now.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueUnlimited'':
** There's ComicBook/TheFlash's secondary ability, which you almost never see: he can vibrate at an incredibly fast rate, creating an unstable resonance. When he ends up [[FreakyFridayFlip swapping bodies with Luthor]], Luthor uses this ability without restraint in order to [[StuffBlowingUp blow up huge areas of the Tower]].
** The Flash can also accelerate up to [[LudicrousSpeed light speed]] if the situation is [[GodzillaThreshold dire enough]] and he literally transforms into the thunderbolt that is his superhero symbol. Unfortunately going this fast will pull him into the speed force, so he vows that he can never do it again after the first time.
** In the [[TropeNamer Trope Naming]] WorldOfCardboardSpeech, Superman explains that he has to be this nearly all the time, because he is ''so immensely powerful'' that he has to take extra care not to break the world around him. But since Darkseid can ''take'' his strength, he doesn't need to screw around anymore.
* Princess Celestia in ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' is always portrayed as being extremely powerful; one of her royal duties is raising the sun, which according to ''The Journal of the Two Sisters'' used to take whole teams of unicorn wizards working together, and would often have disastrous side effects. Even so, the episode [[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS7E10ARoyalProblem "A Royal Problem"]] implies that Celestia holds back considerably because she's actually ''afraid'' of just how dangerous she could be if she let herself go.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'' episode "Ill Met By Moonlight," Oberon applies this trope to himself while hunting the Avalon Clan. As Goliath points out, he is still as powerful as any of the Third Race, and that's still extremely powerful.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* UsefulNotes/{{Germany}} is this considering its population could support a much larger army, and it could have [[AtomicHate nukes]] in a week if it wanted to. This is because the United States included Germany in its security umbrella and gave the German economy access to the massive U.S. market in order to remove any reason it could have for attempting to change the European status quo again.
* UsefulNotes/{{Japan}} has become this due to the aftermath of UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, a combination of limitations on their military enforced by other nations and the aversion their populace has to a more martial lean after the devastation the war wrought on them.
* Myke Tyson, of all people, could have been this as a child. The book "Momentos Trágicos del deporte" (tragic moments in sports) describes him letting people push him around and going home crying for being bullied. That kept going on until the day somebody thought it was a good idea to mess with his pigeons and made him burst into a fighting machine.
* Some hunters prefer to use bows because it's the "old-fashioned way", varying from super-modern bows with crazy sights and razor arrows, to old fashion wood and string with feather-fletched arrows.
* Chinese renminbi. The government enforces that the exchange rate of renminbi is lower than its real value. The purpose is to make Chinese goods very cheap when exported. So far it has been super effective. It's also so they can make sure the money in the hands of their populace (from what little wage they make) is practically worthless and has no buying power.
* Some martial arts, like Tai Chi, has this. Tai Chi practitioners generally limit themselves to slow, graceful movements that look more like dance than art. This has the advantage of helping to improve form, enhance mastery and even help condition the body as very slow movements are harder to to do than fast or regular movements (for reference, try taking 2 minutes to sit down and stand up instead of 2 seconds). When it's time to get serious, though, Tai Chi masters are a wonder to behold.
* UsefulNotes/MiyamotoMusashi routinely fought duels with a wooden sword against opponents with live steel.
* When a team in the ''UsefulNotes/NationalFootballLeague'' wins enough games to clinch the top playoff seed in their conference before their last game of the season, it is a common tactic to bench their starters and play the remainder of their regular season games with second or third string players. This is done to avoid unnecessary injury to their starting lineup in games that are technically irrelevant.