Alleged Power Limits

A Super is in the middle of a fight, get caught in a deathtrap, etc. their powers are unable to do what's needed to get them out of his/her current jam and the character states as much... but then the Super does what he/she just said he/she can't do anyway.

This trope is Ass Pull and The Plot Demanded This Index at its most blatant. A Super states and sometimes even shows that their powers can't do something, but then they go do that very thing/s regardless. The Super doesn't go through Training from Hell, they don't get their Power Limiter removed, and they didn't lie about their powers, or anything else that might justify it, just out of the blue they are able to do that which it's been said and even proven that they can't do, without explanation. Particularly egregious examples will have this occur within minutes of saying and/or showing that they can't. This could result in the alleged "limitation" becoming an Informed Flaw.

If the Super goes through Training from Hell, they put a stop to a Power Limiter, or otherwise do something to allow their powers to do more, then it is Not This Trope. If the power is held back for whatever reason, such as Power at a Price or the Godzilla Threshold, it is also Not This Trope. This trope only applies if a Super is explicitly stated or shown not to be able to do something is shown to do that anyway without any explanation given as to why.

Compare New Powers as the Plot Demands, I Thought It Was Forbidden, Strong as They Need to Be and Power Creep, Power Seep. For the opposite, when a Super is able to do something with their powers but for no apparent reason doesn't, see Forgot About His Powers.


Examples:

Anime/Manga
  • In one episode of Medabots, Ikki and Metabee are racing to win one last battle in time and qualify for the Robattle Tournament, but the Rubberrobo Gang interrupts and makes them fight through a gauntlet to save Ikki's mom. It sounds like a good setup for a moral that doing the right thing is more important than getting what you want, right? That's not what actually happened and in reality, it's not that kind of obvious moral at all. About three times, Metabee "uses up his energy" and the the event treats it like he is near death, yet he just persists until eventually, they win absolutely every fight and succeed in going to the tourney, with no undesirable consequences whatsoever.
  • Fairy Tail has a tendency to play up villains and claim that the heroes have some sort of static power level (at least once they hit their full potential) despite the villains being progressively stronger and stronger, yet end up getting their rears handed to them by the Fairy Tail guild and a few others.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, its stated a few times that if someone isn't focusing on guarding an attack, that attack will be able to hurt them even if it is much weaker. This was proven to be false several times, most egregiously when Super Perfect Cell is hit with an ambush ki blast from Vegeta, but even though he doesn't directly guard against it, it didn't physically harm him in any way beyond momentarily distracting him.

Comic Books
  • Wolverine from X-Men has his bones and trademark claws laced with adamantium, which, while hardening him, also causes poisoning within his body that affects his Healing Factor. One story had the adamantium removed entirely from his body, leaving him weaker offensively than before but the Healing Factor no longer being restrained, allowing him to survive mortal injuries more than before. Then much later, he got his adamantium back... and the writers never bothered to tone down the Healing Factor accordingly (and in some cases increased it).
  • Superman and Kryptonite. Kryptonite's effects on Superman have always been very inconsistently portrayed, running the gauntlet from completely disabling him whenever he's anywhere near it, to being something he can fight through with some slight effort, even in the same story.
  • This happens to Doctor Strange a lot. Because Strange should theoretically be able to do just about anything, there are often arbitrary and wildly inconsistent limitations put on his powers to keep him from negating all the conflict in a story. When confronted with a financial crisis in early strips, for example, he started looking for a paying job. Just a short while later when facing the same problem he simply conjured a giant stack of cash and said the issue was beneath him.

Live-Action TV
  • On Seven Days it is stated explicitly (even in the title!) that they can only go back in time seven days. This doesn't stop them from going back in time more than seven days on several occasions.
  • In Doctor Who the Doctor says that some things are a "fixed moment in time" and can't be changed. When he runs into one in "The Waters of Mars" he decides to change it anyway. This doesn't end well, but he arguably would have gotten away with it if he hadn't explained it to the people involved.
  • Quantum Leap had an express directive that they explained in almost every show about how the main character could not travel beyond his own time. Then for no reason than they wanted to go to other places he ended up going beyond it to farther in the past than he was born. They commented on it being "impossible", but they do not ever explain why it was possible. And then they did it in other episodes without care since they already broke down the barrier (from a writing perspective).

Western Animation
  • In Batman: The Brave and the Bold B'wana Beast is able to merge 2 creatures together to create another creature with the capabilities of both. It's stated by Vixen and B'wana that the power does not work on humans nor on more than 2 animal at a time. However, in Gorillas In Our Midst B'wana merges 4, Batman, a snake, a lion, and a hawk all at once not 10 minutes after Vixen stated that his powers don't work on people. Of course, this dovetails well with a later episode that suggested that B'wana Beast isn't using his powers to their full potential.
  • In Teen Titans Cyborg has a strength meter, and we are told that his strength can never exceed a given value. Of course, he proceeds to break both this value and the meter itself to prove that he's still more man than machine.
    • Since Cyborg's parts were visibly damaged by going over the limit, it's possible the meter was in terms of the maximum value of safe, non-destructive force output instead of the hard maximum output that the robotic arms were physical capable of producing. This doesn't explain why the meter itself broke. Another possibility is that his mechanical parts have strict power limits but his human side possesses latent magical abilities: it would definitely explain his lampshaded means of defeating Brother Blood:
    Beast Boy: So does this mean you're magical now?
    Cyborg: I'm pretty sure that was a one-time thing.
  • An rather egregious case was seen in Sonic SatAM. Robotnik and Snively trap Sonic and his friends inside a forcefield and are hovering above them in an aircraft, ready to drop a cage and imprison them. Snively asks for confirmation to do it, but Robotnik tells him to wait, ordering "Let them sweat a while. There is no way for them to get through that force field. Even the hedgehog is trapped". The scene makes a big deal out of how hopeless the situation is... and then Sonic simply Spindashes through the supposedly impenetrable forcefield, making a hole big enough for everyone to escape.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AllegedPowerLimits