Dragon Ball Z: In the anime, when Frieza and King Cold are landing on Earth, the Z-Fighters state that Cold's Power Level is even higher than Frieza. Of course, since Trunks kills Cold with even less effort than when he killed Frieza, who is explicitly mentioned to even stronger as Mecha-Frieza than he was when he fought Goku on Namek, this is a little difficult to believe.
My Bride Is a Mermaid: Maguro, Agitaro, and Furiyo are stated to Gozaburo's Elite Mooks, but they're just as scared of cats as any other merperson, and in episode 16, they're completely pounded by Akeno not once, but twice.
Fubuki is said to be one of the top duelists of the school and is even lauded as the best duelist they have left after Kaiser graduates. The one duel he has as his true self ends in a loss chalked up to a decidedly amateur mistake. (His duels as Nightshroud involved either Judai or Hell Kaiser Ryo.)
Another example is Manjyome Jun's two brothers, Shoji and Chosaku. Their plan was to Take Over the World using business, politics, and Duel Monsters, Shoji mastering the first and Chosaku the second (with Jun himself mastering the third, until he became disgusted with them and quit the plan). The thing is, while each of them claims to be tops in their field, no details are ever given of the company that Shoji owns or the political office that Chosaku holds, or any accomplishments that either has made in either field. (Not to mention that, from what we've seen of them, their skills in leadership and strategy are terrible, and whatever influence the two actually have, Seto Kaiba is clearly not impressed at all by it.)
Tyranno Kenzan is referred to as the highest-scoring student in Ra Yellow. Over the course of the series, he Duels nine times and wins only twice, against a random unnamed Ra Yellow member and a Monster of the Week playing a spice-themed deck. Furthermore, most of his strategies seem to consist of brute force rather than anything tactical.
Harald is supposed to be the most skilled of Team Ragnarok, the worthy wielder of Odin, and his team's answer to Yusei. During his only actual Duel, he makes several rookie mistakes, he seems to suffer from Complexity Addiction, and his Deck-building skills seem poor at best, with a number of fans pointing out that he put Birthright and Soul Resurrection in his Deck despite having no compatible cards. More than a few have jokingly suggested that Odin only took him as a wielder out of pity.
Ruka is often named a Child Prodigy, held back only by her spiritual connection making long games difficult. Of the four Duels she has over the series, she wins two, loses one, and forces a draw in the last. This isn't a bad record, but in the Duels she wins, she had a lot of help: Aporia was a three-on-one fight, while Demak was mostly fought by Rua, with her only taking over in the last turn. Her loss against Lucciano was also a two-on-one fight. Consequently, Ruka never wins a single onscreen game without help, and loses even with it. Given how hamstrung her spiritual connection makes her, determining her ability if she actually practiced or played a Deck of more than just her favorites is tricky at best.
Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V has Isao Kachidoki, who placed second in the last Maiami Championship tournament and is treated as an incredibly skilled and expertly-trained Duelist. However, he doesn't know how Ranks work in a world where Xyz Summoning is quite common, which makes this hard to believe.
It's well-established that everyone fears getting Retsu Unohana upset with them, from 11th division bullies to heavy-weights such as Kyouraku and Ukitake. Although she's the military's top healer, her dominant skill is actually sword fighting. Since she's never allowed to fight, her reputation with the sword informed only, and the reason for her scary reputation unexplored. The final arc resolves this, revealing her to be the 11th division founder and first Kenpachi. She trains Zaraki in a Duel to the DeathTraining from Hell scenario, proving that Beneath the Mask she's even more of an Ax-CrazyBlood Knight than Zaraki himself is; she actually reduces Zaraki to tears of despair at one point.
9th Espada, Aaroniero Arruruerie claims to have copied the abilities of over 36000 Hollows. Before he's killed, we see him use at most three of them.
Taken to an extreme with Chojiro Sasakibe. His funeral reveals he possessed Bankai but had always refused to use it. Justified, however, in that the manga has long introduced us to the concept of Shinigami who hide their Zanpakutou abilities for personal reasons; Aizen, Gin, Ikkaku and Yumichika are the most well-known examples. Choujirou therefore just slotted into an existing story concept. His case isn't helped by the fact that the one time we see him enter a fight, at the end of the Soul Society arc, Ichigo knocks him out with one punch.
Mashiro can hold her mask for 15 hours. But the only time she fights with her mask on it breaks after a few minutes.
It's supposed to be impossible to overcome the effects of Shinji Hirako's shikai (so we're told over and over). It's been used twice, and neither of those opponents were more than mildly inconvenienced by it.
Shinra from They Are My Noble Masters is supposed to be a world-famous, talented conductor. Yet all we see her do is waving her staff around in a very unprofessional manner and answering stupid questions from her musicians. The music that results from her conducting is also not really noteworthy.
In Fairy Tail, there are several moves which represent this, although it would be classed more as Informed Power then ability. The Iron Dragon's Sword is stated by Gajeel to "be able to tear through anything it touches" yet has not hit a single target, presumably due to fights ending rather quickly should it actually hit. Whilst there are other moves that fit this bill, such as Laxus' Raging Bolt, but the Abyss Break is a noticeable case. It's supposedly a devastating spell that is capable of wiping away an entire town. The first time it's attempted to be cast, it's power source is removed, the second time, the user faints before being able to finish casting it. Abyss Break is the only spell to have never been officially cast despite being mentioned practically once every other arc.
In fact, any such spell that's potentially able to end a target's life can be predicted as likely to miss or prove nowhere near as effective as claimed.
Yukito from Air supposedly managed to support himself for years by performing tricks with his magic doll, but in the TV series and manga he hardly makes a single yen with his act. He fares a bit better in The Movie, though.
Gates, the villain of Full Metal Panic!! The Second Raid, is supposedly an extremely skilled and dangerous Humongous Mecha pilot who leads a team of specially trained hunter-killers for Amalgam, all of whom are equipped with extremely powerful BlackBox mecha (for a comparison, one such mecha in the hands of a lower-standing member of the organization fought Sousuke to a standstill three times, killed several redshirts and mortally wounded a Mauve Shirt during the first season). Alas, five minutes after actually entering combat and proving his 'fearsomeness' by killing an overstrained and mentally unstable girl who was using an inferior machine, he and his entire team are bowled over by Sousuke in one go like so many mooks.
Tohdoh is described as a great general (having beat Knightmare Frames during the invasion without any of his own), only to have disaster strike whenever he is put in a leadership position, the most obvious instance being the season finale where he manages to get nearly his entire army either killed or captured. He is a pretty good pilot but otherwise not too remarkable.
The Knights Of Round. Two of them are killed by Suzaku with ease. At least Luciano Bradley and 4 of his subordinates, together, manage to defeat a sniper in melee, but even the ones who live don't show impressive ability. Anya's greatest skill is using her Knightmare's giant cannon to blow stuff up, and with a cannon that big, I'd be shocked if she missed. Gino is the only one who shows actual skill, and he's left in the dust by Knight of Seven, Suzaku Kururugi - so much that he's not even a challenge. At least he can go toe to toe with every other pilot in the series... Except, you know, the Black Knights' own ace, Kallen. But that's not unexpected, so that's... a 2 out of 7?
Dorothea Ernst and Monica Kruszewski get the worst of it though, being left mostly out of the spotlight. Monica had a little bit of extra screen time, but both only received enough battle time to get one-shotted by Suzaku in a better robot. Fan favorite Nonette Enneagram was spared from a potentially similar indignity by being kept entirely in the background. Speaking of Nonette, she's been said to make even Cornelia nervous.
Punie from Dai Mahou Touge is supposed to have nigh-infallible submission techniques to bring down her opponents, but everybody who knows a bit about martial arts should see that it's a bit silly. Most opponents don't even defend against her approaches—and when they fall down they don't even try to get up anymore, making it all too easy for Punie to perform a lock on them.
Stealth and black ops for ninja in general. Ninja teachers will take any chance they get to lecture their students on the subtle arts of subterfuge, sabotage, assassination and spying. In practice they are as stealthy as a barrage of fireworks, and their chief concern is fighting other (equally flashy) ninja. Essentially, everyone's Drunk with Power and waving it around like they're big shots.
The Chunin examinees are said to be the best Genin in the world, but all nine of the rookies fresh out of the Konoha academy, as well as Team Guy, whose members have been ninjas for a little over a year, all make it to the finals while many more experienced ninja fail although in Kabuto's case, he did it on purpose to gather intelligence on the competitors. More so, Orochimaru, along with some Sound Village minions, Kabuto included, were deliberately thinning the herd behind the competitors' backs to scout out someone from his homeland, which he knew contained exceptional ninja, as a viable candidate for his body possession tecnhique and also to spite his old master, Hiruzen Sarutobi, the current Hogake and head of the village. Sasuke Uchiha became the unfortunate target.
Kakashi Hatake is said to have "over a thousand" different abilities he has copied from people over the years. Unfortunately we only see about ten of them over the course of hundreds of episodes and a handful of movies.
Kakashi is better off than Sarutobi Asuma or especially Yuuhi Kurenai. Asuma is supposedly one of the most powerful guys in Naruto, and besides defeating cannon fodder Sound nins, he next opponents were the Kisame and the immortal Hidan. Kurenai, on the other hand, had faced undefeated Itachi. (Doesn't help that the only thing she really does in the plot afterwards is get knocked up by Asuma shortly before he died.)
The ANBU sent on all the most dangerous missions, any Bad Ass main character has spent time in the ANBU, and overall, supposed to be the SEALs of the ninja world. When they actually get into a fight, they're degraded to mook status, those formerly Bad Ass masks now cementing their status as Cannon Fodder. The fact that they're anonymous but allegedly elite makes them custom-made for The Worf Effect.
The audience is told Hanzou, leader of the Village Hidden in the Rain has almost unstoppable power and skills but we never actually see him in combat. This is then mixed with The Worf Effect when Hanzou's assassination is used to hype up Pain's own power, emphasized even more by the fact that Jiraiya, Tsunade, and Orochimaru all lost to Hanzou during the war. Both of these tropes are eventually averted for Pain when he proceeds to kill Jiraiya and blow up Konoha proving that the rumors of his abilities are no exaggeration.
Naruto himself throughout the first half of Shippuden as practically every mention of him was accompanied by a comment over how strong he is and how much he has improved, yet the only improvement he ever really showed was a bigger rasengan, and the constant need to get bailed out of any dangerous situation by his teammates. Thankfully, he got better as the series went on.
Another one is how while goofing off in class, he secretly trains extremely hard when no one is around because he both wants the attention of being a goofball but be skilled enough to one day be Hokage. Virtually any time he's shown actually trying he's just as unskilled as when he goofs off (such as failing the graduation tests and being unable to complete missions equivalent to yard work). Likewise, most of his successes are accomplished either from tricking his opponent in some way or just overwhelming them with his natural high amount of chakra. Added on to this, we only see that hard training in flashbacks as with the exception of training arcs, almost all of his downtime seems to be eating ramen and just doing normal civilian stuff.
Another victim of this trope is the 2nd Hokage. Despite doing all of nothing in the one fight he has on-panel in the series, much, much later chapters have revealed several capabilities of his that have never been seen, including creating the Edo Tensei technique, which allows the user to use golems of dead people to fight their opponent, and being a master of Space/Time techniques, the same techniques used by Madara and Minato Namikaze, the Fourth Hokage, which make them Nigh Invulnerable.
Sasuke has actually flirted with this trope from time to time. While he's without a doubt very skilled, when you actually take a closer look at his Win/Lose ratio Sasuke doesn't put up the best performances. A good majority of Sasuke's victories have been a result of Worf Had the Flu; Naruto specifically held back at the end during their battle at the Valley of the End, he ambushed Orochimaru when he was on a sick bed, Itachi was nearly blind, half dead and holding back and still stomped Sasuke, who only technically won because Itachi then dropped dead on the spot due to an unrelated disease.
Hayate Gekko, the Chunin Examiner was heavily implied to be pretty tough judging by the fact that he's got the job he does. However, he gets offed while listening in on two villains, one of which, the Sand Ninja Jonin, was his killer.
Kaguya is supposed to be an unstoppable Physical God who conquered the world and even the Sage himself would have no chance against her. Yet Naruto and Sasuke smack her around all while Black Zetsu orders her around.
Shikamaru Nara is said to have an I.Q. of 200, which, if true, would make him one of the smartest people to have ever existed. While he can be noted to be quite bright, he has by no means demonstrated that he is 200 I.Q. smart. Though this could be chalked up to being Brilliant, but Lazy.
It's often claimed that the Byakugan is held in equal regard to the Sharingan. At the start of the series, you could probably debate which was better (the Byakugan's all-around vision and seeing chakra points versus the Sharingan's Power Copying), but as the series went on, the Sharingan gets a good dozen or so additional powers or upgrades revealed for it (including the Mangekyo Sharingan and the Rinnegan, which are pretty much New Powers as the Plot Demands), while the Byakugan is still more or less limited to those two abilities.
Yagura, the Jinchuuriki of the Three Tailed Turtle is stated to be one of the four people who has a complete control over his Bijuu, yet when we see him fight after being resurrected by Kabuto, he fights no better than the other Jinchuurikis sent to fight Naruto. Adding insult to the injury, he easily falls under Tobi's Genjutsu despite the fact that he normally should be immune to this by virtue of his own Bijuu breaking it.
In Hitohira, Nono is supposed to be able to beat up all of the karate club on her own, even though later she is shown to have her hands full fighting only one person, namely her female fellow club member Risaki—which even results in a tie.
The Canis Niger group of bounty hunters, who were made out to be an incredibly strong group of mages. We see them capture Nodoka (a total noncombatant) and her group of treasure hunters (who we've never seen fight), before Negi shows up and wipes them all out single handedly. The only real thing of note that they pull off successfully is luring Setsuna and Kaede into a trap.
In the penultimate chapter one of them defeats Yue, who has become a decent Magical Detective combatant, but then she is defeated by Negi just as easily as before.
In an in-universe example, Nagi Springfield the Thousand Master's legend says he knows 1000 spells. In truth, he knows 6. To his credit, though, most of the otherrumors tend to be true. It turns out that those 6 spells are all he needs. The lesser known rumor that he got his title from bedding a thousand women is unconfirmed, though given what his son's like it's plausible.
Any given monster or non-humanoid creature generally fits, most notably the Sealed Evil in a Can Ryoman Sukuna no Kami, who was overwhelmed by an even more evil being Evangeline the Dark Evangel (among her many titles). Also odd was a massive black dragon which Ninja Kaede defeated while blind-folded.
One Piece: The Sea Kings are supposedly very powerful, and serve as a means of dissuading sailors from entering the Calm Belt, but they only demonstrate how deadly they are when the Lord of the Coast- which was extremely vicious compared to most Sea Kings- eats Higuma the Bear in Luffy's past, and then eats Shanks' arm. They mostly serve to show how powerful certain characters are by falling in battle against them. Some even get cut in two.
There is, however, immense variance in size and power among Sea Kings. The latest arc has appearances by Sea Kings like Stripey who are bigger than good-sized islands; Lord of the Coast is probably about the size of one of their teeth. These uber-Sea Kings also, unlike previous smaller ones, demonstrate human-level intelligence.
Additionally, their primary threat is what they can do to ships rather than characters. Alot of the high end characters are Devil Fruit users. Destroy the ship and there's nothing keeping them out of the water. TKO. This is why Marine ships have Seastone hulls, because that material keeps Sea Kings from noticing their presence (Though it doesn't make the ships invisible to them). Other modes of transport, like the Sea Train, have a whistle that scares them off.
Usopp deliberately invokes this trope through Blatant Lies so he can intimidate and frighten off people, claiming he has a force of 8,000 loyal men at his command from his very first appearance. A hundred or so flags pop out among bushes and start waving. Nami quickly sees through the trick and rats out the real size of his force- three little children playing pirate.
Blackbeard somehow has the ability to absorb at least one more Devil Fruit ability in addition to his own because of a unique body structure, but there is no solid explanation for how it doesn't tear his body apart as of yet, or how he absorbs the new power.
Franky, in his original cyborg body form, had a feature known as Tracking Cannonball, where he would expose two shoulder cannons, though dislocating both shoulders to do so. Chopper thought he would fire projectiles which targeted the enemy. Instead Franky chases down the target while firing his cannons wildly- which stands out as a case of Misinformed Ability.
Ain from the twelfth movie can turn her Fountain of Youth powers into a Touch of Death, by repeatedly rejuvenating the enemy until they disappear. However, she never gets a chance to perform it onscreen.
Asuka of Neon Genesis Evangelion offers an intellectual example. Reportedly, she is a prodigy who graduated from a German University by the age of 13, and though this emphasizes the competitiveness of her character, she never displays the education level she should have (the most she ever does is show off how easily she can do Shinji's homework, which is a straightfoward physics problem). Further, accelerated admission to higher learning in Germany is as much dependent on emotional maturity of the student, but her temperament doesn't suggest someone who'd be considered for Gymnasium early, much less Universitat, or even someone who'd been immersed in mature peer group, academic or otherwise. In the manga she at least shows an ability to act more mature than she actually is. But there's a root cause preventing her from acting as intelligent as she was made out to be. It's her Inferiority Superiority Complex slowly eating away at her sanity and causing Asuka to become increasingly confrontational and irrational toward everyone she sees as a threat to her welfare, such as model pilot Rei, or don't care enough about her when she reaches out to them, such as Kaji and Shinji. She also believes if she doesn't operate her Eva at peak efficiency, she'll be cast aside by NERV, which is why she butted heads with Rei. She almost was, leading to a awful mental breakdown. She got better... then worse... and rode a rollercoaster of ups and downs until she was out of control by End of Evangelion.
Lampshaded in The Prince of Tennis 40.5 databook. Aragaki, a character whose sole contribution was to lose a doubles match the author didn't even bother showing, is given a bio something like: "In order to hold his own on such a formidable team, he must have awesome tennis powers ... well, he should..."
Saint Seiya spends hours of footage telling us that Bronze Saints can reach the speed of sound, Gold Saints can reach the speed of light, and so forth. But when any of them need to get anywhere in a certain limit in time (read: once per arc), they run more-or-less as fast as a normal person (even slower).
Several examples from Rave Master. The first is Mega Unit, described as The Alcatraz... while the person talking about it is looking at it in ruins after the Big Badbroke out. The next is Miltz, who's supposed to be one of the most powerful sorcerers in the world. It takes, at most, one spell to knock him down, and he never cast a single effective spell in battle either. The final one is Beryl, supposedly the strongest of the Oracion Six generals, all other six (as there were really seven) were quite a feat to beat, if beaten at all, and one later took down a demon lord. Beryl took only one hit.
The Mobile Suits in Mobile Suit Gundam 00 have a knack for using weapons once or twice (e.g. Exia only uses its wrist vulcans twice in 25 episodes. But blink and you'll miss it!) But supplementary materials make things worse. For example, did you know the GN-007 Arios Gundam in season 2 had a beam shield? According to the official file it does, but it has never been animated. The Special Editions do add footage of some weapons in use, but these are only glimpses in action packed sequences.
Mobile Suit Gundam AGE does this to Kio Asuno, the third-generation protagonist. Initially, he's an inexperienced pilot who relies on the power of the Gundam, his X-Rounder abilities, and his wingmates to get through battle. As the series progresses, everyone starts talking about what a great pilot he is, except he's still easily defeated as soon as he's deprived of one of his crutches.
The Royal Knights from Digimon Data Squad. Not a one of them is remotely tough, always getting taken down within an episode. Even worse, it's continually talked about how powerful they are. In fact, when they join the good guys, they don't even really help, they just kind of take a back seat.
Touka in Saki is supposedly a great Mahjong player. However, every match she's in, she manages to lose horribly. Offscreen she does fine though, in some cases because of her "Cold Touka" state, which she enters without knowing of it, and has a drastically different playstyle, enabling her to defeat the main character, Koromo and professional Mahjong player Fujita in a practice game.
Toyone Anetai of the Miyamori team supposedly has six different abilities. However, she only shows two of them in her match with Saki, before losing and resulting in Miyamori being eliminated from the tournament.
Similar to Toyone, Komaki Jindai of Eisui is sometimes possessed with different "god" spirits that cause her to have different playstyles, but is only possessed by one in her match, which is fairly weak. Like Toyone, her team doesn't make it to the next round, but she expects to do better in the individuals.
Konata from Lucky Star is said to be a good martial artist, but aside from that Street Fighter parody, we have yet to see her fight for real.
Lorelei Wang from Love Is in the Bag never passes the opportunity to tell everyone that she is a genius, but even the rest of the cast is in doubt of that status.
Infinite Stratos manages to give society an Informed Attribute. Since only women can pilot the titlerobots, women are the dominant gender in the series. Except we never see anything of this (Save for maybe the IS' creator being a woman). It's so bad, this fact isn't mentioned on the Lecture as Exposition like everything else and is instead awkwardly shoved into just-barely-related dialogue once in the first episode, then never brought up again.
In the Excel Saga manga, Elgala and Hyatt claim to be a master swordsman and marksman respectively. Elgala is seen holding a sword on a cover, once brandishes a stick like an Iaijutsu Practitioner, and claims to have gone on a real-life adventure for treasure. Hyatt died trying to throw a rock the only time she's attempted "combat".
Yoshii from Holyland is said to know how to use a knife properly, but apart from slashing some random guy once, he gets promptly demolished by Masaki when he tries to do so.
Rando from YuYu Hakusho is said to have 99 Techniques, but in his one appearance he uses only seven. He does refer to the last spell he uses as something he usually doesn't need to draw on.
In Tokyo Mew Mew, Aoyama and Zakuro are both said to be excellent at speaking English, but they and the supposedly native speaker Mary McGuire do not speak it much better than Gratuitous English; there are relatively few grammar issues, but the delivery is very stilted.
Meg from Burst Angel is suppose to be a bad ass mercenary that can handle herself in any fight against humans, cyborgs, or mechs. However, during the Anime series, we see her getting kidnapped over and over again with her partner Jo having to rescue her.
In the Soul Eater manga, Mosquito was about to assume his youngest form, when he was at his most powerful, but thanks to intervention, he was killed before he could finish the transformation.
Kirika Yumura of Noir is supposed to be fluent in a large but unspecified number of languages. The number of times she (Or anyone else, for that matter) is seen speaking any language other than Japanese (Or whatever language the DVD is subbed into) is zero.
In the manga series Real Clothes, characters are sometimes praised for their ability to color-coordinate an outfit. Since Real Clothes is published in black and white, it's not really possible for the readers to see how good the coordination actually is.
In Eden of the East, Saki is at one point stated to be a brilliant programmer, and all her peers at Eden express a wish that she would take over their fledgling company. She is never actually shown doing any programming in the series or its two follow-up movies, instead spending most of the time following Akira around.
Kai Suwabara of Yakitate!! Japan is said from the first volume to be a once-in-a-lifetime talent and is positioned to be the one to beat for any tournament that he enters. Throughout the entire series, he only wins outright once, in the preliminary round of an international tournament. In comparison, Butt Monkey Kawachi is constantly mocked for substandard baking skills, yet the only times he outright loses are when he's against the Boring Invincible Hero and once when a Smug Snake sabotaged him.
Since the character's skill all revolve around edible things that the reader cannot taste, everybody in the series qualify as an Informed Ability wielder
We're told Kaori from Your Lie in April is in love with Kousei's best friend Watari. However aside from her saying so, it isn't remotely obvious. She barely hangs around Watari and when they do, it doesn't seem particularly romantic. In comparison, she has a very intimate and personal friendship with Kousei and spends a lot of time with him. At the end of the last episode, we learn that the title really refers to Kaori lying about loving Watari. She used him as an excuse to get close to her real crush, Kousei.
One might be excused for forgetting that Sena Kashiwazaki from Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai is meant to be an academic genius and an athletic prodigy, as the Law Of Funny means she regularly falls for painfully obvious tricks and the Law Of Sexy means her general method of movement is clumsy enough to invoke plenty of swinging shots of her Gag Boobs. She's also laughably clueless, although in that regard she may be justified due to her absurd wealth making her unfamiliar with the way the "real world" works.