"The winner!!The Born Winner is a badass. Of course they are; they were born that way. Born Winners are badasses because of what they are rather than what they do. They're Aliens among Puny Earthlings, demons among mortals, robots among meatbags, or a magic-user among Muggles. The Hero is usually the Born Winner; if there's a group of people besides "normal" humans, the main character will be one, or at least partially. If others in the setting have superpowers, expect the Born Winner to have won the Superpower Lottery by comparison. If The Hero is a Born Winner, The Rival usually will be too. Usually, a mundane human will be part of the main character's True Companions and generally be able to hold their own at first, but as the Sorting Algorithm of Evil kicks in, expect them to be Overshadowed by Awesome or even Killed Off for Real in order to fuel the main character's Unstoppable Rage. The heart of this trope is that a Born Winner is absurdly powerful because they were born that way, not because of anything they ever did. They have some innate trait that makes them awesome; no one lacking that trait can ever acquire it, and anyone without it is doomed to mediocrity. Done badly, it comes off as a cheap ploy to make the Born Winner seem more awesome by dropping the effectiveness of his companions to somewhere just above that of the Red Shirt Army (and often has a This Loser Is You side effect, seeing as viewers would presumably identify more easily with the now-useless Badass Normal than the alien/demon/vampire/whatever Born Winner). When it's done well, it can be a compelling reason for why the main character is the Only One without relying on a blatant Because Destiny Says So. Heroic Born Winners tend to eventually accept that with their powers or abilities Comes Great Responsibility. Villainous Born Winners will almost always succumb to Drunk with Power. Sub-Trope of Superior Successor. Compare Puny Earthlings, where the earthlings are so puny that not even Training from Hell or a Charles Atlas Superpower lets them overcome it; they simply Can't Catch Up. Born Winners are a leading reason why Hard Work Hardly Works. They may or may not have been Born Lucky. Beware those who are Weak, but Skilled, though...
The winner is born a winner!
He never will have to worry about his dinner!
He never will have to think about getting thinner!
'Cause he's a winner,
A Nature Boy,
A hero in a story,
A story with a wonderful sequel:
Men are created unequal!!"
The winner is born a winner!
He never will have to worry about his dinner!
He never will have to think about getting thinner!
'Cause he's a winner,
A Nature Boy,
A hero in a story,
A story with a wonderful sequel:
Men are created unequal!!"
—Sam, Trouble in Tahiti
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Burst Angel - Artificial Humans. Meg doesn't counts for being a Faux Action Girl.
- Bleach: The setting gives us Shinigami, Quincy, Hollow and Fullbring powers, with the rule that characters possess one type unless For Science! has inflicted a second type on them, giving them unnatural strength but also nasty side-effects. Ichigo's friends and allies are all exceptionally gifted for their type, but Ichigo eclipses everyone because he breaks all the story's power rules. He inherited Quincy, Hollow and Fullbring powers off a Hollowfied Quincy mother and Shinigami powers off a Humanised Shinigami father. In short, he was born with all of the setting's strengths, none of the weaknesses, and it only takes him days or weeks to learn powers that it takes others years to master.
- Blood+ - Chiropterans
- Blue Gender - Yuji and the other Sleepers' with their "B-cells"
- Cardcaptor Sakura - Only those born with magic power are really any use. Lampshaded in one episode where Mei-ling complains about not being able to contribute due to her lack of magic power; results in a Plot Tailored to the Party where she uses her martial arts skills to help defeat the Twin card.
- Clow Reed was a born-winner back in his day by being born between two parents from two different magic cultures that give him a huge knowledge from both side. He also had reality altering power that allowing him to do pretty much everything he wanted just by simply thought about it. He did have problem in controlling his power, though.
- Sakura herself is the biggest born-winner in the story (and maybe even in Clamp's multiverses), she was born with power, but by meeting Kero and become a cardcaptor, her power grew stronger. Then we get to know that her father Fujitaka is a half of Clow's reincarnated soul, making Sakura the closet thing of a daughter to Clow and the magician himself had already prepared all kinds of plans to teach, support and protect the girl even before she was born to ensure her succession. By the end of the series, Sakura was stated to be even stronger than Clow with a full control of her power, and we all know how much influence Clow had on across different dimensions. Syaoran didn't stand a chance from the beginning.
- Dragon Ball - Saiyans and their descendants eventually overpower everything (including Physical Gods) by a wide margin.
- Eyeshield 21 - Kongou Agon is a once in a century player who is infinitely more skilled than his completely average twin brother. He neglects practice and is still ridiculously good.
- Likewise Mr. Don of the American youth team, so skilled and powerful that it took two players at their pinnacles to bring him down...once. And that was only because he fought the battle on their terms.
- The Gundam franchise has two prime examples... sort of:
- In the original Universal Century timeline, there are the Newtypes, an evolutionary offshoot of humanity endowed with various extra-sensory abilities which gives them a distinct edge on the battlefield. However, they're often shown relying just as much on the superior technology of their usually unique Mobile Suits, and are regularly trounced when up against more experienced opponents, Old- and Newtype alike. So, certainly a favorable hand, but not necessarily a winning one.
- Their expies from the more recent Cosmic Era timeline (Gundam SEED & Destiny), the Coordinators, seem like Natural candidates for this trope, being genetically engineered superhumans. Kira points out it's a downplayed example, since they have to put in hard work like everyone else to actually live up to their potential.
- Averted with Garrod Ran, protagonist of After War Gundam X, Puny Earthling and self-made badass. He despises Born Winners and happily demonstrates his ability to kick them to the curb whenever the opportunity arises.
- Gundam AGE has a similar character in Asemu Asuno, who can curbstomp enemy psychic pilots with nothing but pure skill on his side (and a Gundam). Worth noting that he's probably the single best pilot in the series, and the protagonist with the super-powerful psychic abilities is... well, really not all that great a pilot.
- Most later Gundam series tend to play around with this in that much of a protagonist's power comes from the fact that they have a Gundam that's much more powerful than most of the other stuff they have to fight. However it's also mentioned that it takes a certain amount of skill to use them. Not just any idiot could hop into the Strike Freedom and start kicking ass.
- Examined in High School D×D. The born winner is Vali Lucifer - as a direct descendant of his namesake, he's already an incredibly power Devil, plus he was born with Divine Dividing, which make it even easier for him to grossly overpower his enemies. All this is seen through the eyes of series protagonist Issei, a bog-standard human (read: mediocre Devil) who, despite possessing Boosted Gear, has to work his ass off to even keep up with any of his enemies.
- InuYasha - If you're not at least part demon or the reincarnation of a priestess, resign yourself to uselessness.
- The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer has Shinonome Hangetsu, who has a monologue about the nature of "genius" and being a born winner, particularly as applies to martial arts. Subverted and hard because he's delivering it after he has already died due to being brought forward in time in a dream, and is defeated by Yuuhi shortly after delivery.
Hangetsu: "GENIUS! It's a limitless number of approvals! It's instinct telling you 'It's been decided! I will throw 1000 lucky punches! I am awesome!' 'That's just plain unbelievable,' or 'That can't happen,' for there to be someone who gets approved 1000 times! For someone, through instinct, to pull off 1000 miracles, 1000 lucky punches, that makes me awesome! That's what a genius is! Techniques are nothing more than extras! Those moments where I'm awesome! It's awesome, this existence of mine! Approval upon approval upon approval covered in approvals! Don't think! Let instinct guide you! Let the approvals roll in! Let the decisions come to you!"
- Medaka Box is essentially about this trope. The born winners, called "Abnormal" or sometimes "Plus" are people who are inexplicably born with incredible talent, luck, and superpowers, making it difficult for them to fail no matter what they do. Later, the series also examines their opposite, "Minus", those who are doomed to fail despite their efforts.
- My Hero Academia: Katsuki Bakugou isn't one, but has a deep ingrained belief he is. At the age of 4, he developed a powerful quirk, combat-oriented and got a sort of group of followers at that age from nursery school, so he genuinely started believing himself to be naturally better than everybody else, this adoration from his classmates and teachers following him into middle school. It's not until he joins UA that he is forced to see reality that he is a Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond, being beaten by his favorite bullying victim, Midoriya, receiving a long lecture on why he lost from Yaoyorozu and being showed off when The Ace clears an assignment he failed in mere seconds.
- Naruto spent some time early on trying to avert this by emphasizing that just because you're a Born Winner doesn't mean you're all that special and anyone can reach your level with a bit of gumption and elbow grease. This was quickly thrown to the wayside as the main character and nearly every other character of any significance became stronger and stronger by virtue of the legacies that were passed down to them (in Naruto's case, no less than four ultra-powerful legacies, on top of the all-powerful demon sealed inside of him) leaving everyone who isn't a Person Shaped Can o' Evil or named Uchiha (and most of those besides) far behind in the dust.
- However, there's a bit of a deconstruction in that the Uchiha Clan's broken, inherent powers come at the crippling cost of their sanity.
- One Piece
- Being the son of the Pirate King, Gold Roger, Ace was incredibly strong, even awakening Conqueror's Haki as a child. It was this potential that lead to his execution.
- Luffy was very much the same, being the son of the "Revolutionary" Monkey D. Dragon, the most wanted criminal in the world, and the grandson of "Hero" Monkey D. Garp, the marine who cornered the Pirate King several times during their era. His potential just took longer to show (though emotionally, Luffy was far more stable than Ace), and when it did show, it upped the priority of his death above Ace's own execution.
- Pokémon Ash Ketchum is involved with many prophetic legends. The fourth season song is called "Born To Be a Winner", which is much of a remix of the season 1 theme.
- Scryed - "Alters"
- A Certain Magical Index:
- Gemstone Espers are espers who were born with their powers, as opposed to having to have to develop one. An example would be Academy City's #7 Level 5 esper, Sogiita Gunha. On the magic side, Saints are similar, allowing them to access a part of God's power.
- Touma was born with Imagine Breaker, but it's hard to call him a born "winner" when one of the side effects of Imagine Breaker is uncontrollably destroying his good luck, leading to a life filled with "such misfortune".
- Valkyries are people born with bodies and abilities similar to the Norse Mythology beings. Brunhild Eiktobel is both a Valkyrie and a Saint.
- Fiamma of the Right was born with The Holy Right.
- Trigun - Vash's and Knives' badassness is due to the fact that they're both biological power plants. Yeah.
- Trinity Blood - Vampires. And Crusniks even more so.
- YuYu Hakusho - Demons are the only ones who can accomplish anything after the Tournament Arc. Even Yusuke is revealed to have demonic heritage. In the last three arcs, Kuwabara was killed to send Yusuke into an Unstoppable Rage, taken hostage, and Put on a Bus, respectively.
- Vampire Hunter D - Vampires (and dhampyrs) again.
- Zettai Karen Children - Although psychics in general qualify, Level 7 psychics are vastly more powerful than lower level ones, and they alone seem to have enough control over their powers to find new and creative uses for them after sufficient practice. For example, a low level telekinetic might be able to cheat at a crane game in an arcade, but the most skilled Level 7 we've seen is basically a Reality Warper.
- The Gorans from Buzzer Beater by Takehiko Inoue. Humans aren't really destined for greatness in intergalactic basketball. The main character is a Goran but doesn't know it until later.
- Many of the characters from Lyrical Nanoha have some reason why their magical powers are miles beyond average, whether genetic engineering, cybernetics, or the power of an Artifact of Doom, but there are some exceptions. The main character herself is a freak of nature, extremely powerful with only a handwave about how people from Earth tend to be very strong on the very small chance that they have magic. The Big Bad of the first season, Precia, also won the Superpower Lottery in a big way entirely through natural talent. She's one of only two SS rank mages in the entire series, and the other one had to have her head plugged into a sentient magical tome to gain that kind of power. Caro Ru Lushe was also born with immense dragon-summoning power, apparently naturally with no enhancements to her person.
- The Single Numbers in Sekirei, who are inherently more powerful than their younger siblings. It is suggested that one of the reasons for their increased powers is because they were found as infants, and so couldn't be controlled as much as the others that were discovered as fertilized eggs. This makes them Names to Run Away from Really Fast, since their greater experience and powers make them extremely dangerous opponents.
- In Tokyo Ghoul, Eto turns out to be even rarer and luckier than initially believed. The vast majority of Half-Human Hybrids are essentially humans with enhanced physical abilities and a significantly shortened lifespan. Ones that inherit their ghoul parent's abilities like her are the rarest of the rare.
- Daywalker Blade: Born right after his mother was bitten by a vampire, he got superhuman strength and senses but isn't affected by sunlight beyond light sensitivity harming his eyes(so sunglasses). He counters his thirst for human blood with a serum, but whenever needed, there's some willing victim or pool of anonymous blood to regain his full potential.
- Superman, particularly the Silver Age one.
- Basically any of Marvel's mutants (although many of them have drawbacks). That said, most of them manifest as puberty superpowers.
- Subverted in normalman who was the only person on the planet Levram without superpowers... but it might also be a double subversion in that he was ultimately destined to rule Levram as President and stuff...
- Batman was born into wealth and his extreme intelligence is definitely an inherited trait, he also demonstrates the downside to being a Born Winner. For example, people have stolen plans from him to allow them to take down the Justice League, and his perfect memory that helps make him the world's greatest detective also forces him to remember his parents' death with perfect clarity, which keeps the pain from fading at all.
- Lightning And Wind: Descendants, who inherited a High Spirit or god’s power through legacy. Contrast Saints, instead of having a body similar to the Son of God, they have received a very small fraction of power from a powerful ancestor.
- The Designer Babies in Gattaca were genetically engineered to be superior in every way, but this is subverted in that the main character was conceived naturally and manages to secure a high-level job by sheer willpower.
- In Frozen, the King comments that Elsa was born with her ice powers. She had perfect control over them as a child, and only develops her deadly Power Incontinence from fear that they would hurt her sister and others. The Power of Love gives her back her perfect control at the end.
- Subverted in Monsters University. While Sullivan may have been born into a long line of successful scarers, he was too lazy to work to live up to the name until he teamed up with Mike.
- This is how Force sensitivity works in the Star Wars universe. Granted, some individuals are stronger than others in the Force. The Skywalkers in particular stand out due to being a family of Chosen Ones. In the Legends continuity, thanks to an Executive Veto preventing any of the big three (Luke, Han, and Leia) from dying, Luke Skywalker became continuously more powerful until he was basically a Force God. The Skywalker clan drama became more prominent and more central to the universe, because you can't seem to have a story with galaxy-wide repercussions without a Skywalker being involved.
- This is the backstory of Megamind. He and Metro Man were both baby orphans, but Metro Man was a Born Winner and Megamind was a Born Loser. Subverted, however, in that they both had the potential to be Born Winners - what made the difference was how they were treated by their peers and authority figures.
- The Wheel of Time, I'm looking at you. Rand al'Thor is the umpteen millionth reincarnation of the hero who has saved the world (or destroyed it) since the beginning of time.
- There are those who are basically explicitly Born Winners, the ta'veren, who are special in that they specifically do exert an influence on people and events around them.
- Hell, Channelers period. Walking nukes in a medieval world.
- In the Merchant Princes series by Charles Stross, the ability to travel between worlds is a recessive genetic trait.
- The Sleepless in Nancy Kress's Bio Punk story Beggars in Spain. Sleepless are genetically engineered to, well, not sleep, but this genemod ends up unlocking all sorts of other useful traits, such as increased mental stability, higher intellect, and (eventually) some sort of mad Healing Factor that essentially halts aging. Nobody knows what the upper limit of a Sleepless lifespan is (none of them ever undergo a natural death).
- The Howard Foundation, from Robert A. Heinlein's Future History mythology, is a centuries-old breeding program, extending the human lifespan through genetics. There's no secret to it: you're born, and then you live for five hundred years or so. Of course, just try telling that to all those angry, envious short-timers...
- Replica: the Designer Babies are ultimately meant to breed so they become a master race and take over the world.
- Cassie from Animorphs. While the rest of the team all offer contributions they have to learn and grow into - Jake's leadership, Rachel's fierceness in battle, and Marco's keen mind for strategy - Cassie's qualities are all qualities with which she was born. She's an estreen, a character naturally talented at morphing, and the fourth Megamorphs book reveals she's a temporal anomaly, quite literally a Game-Breaker so potent her very presence undoes the efforts of reality warpers and collapses an alternate timeline. The Drode accuses the Ellimist of "stacking the deck" in his favor when he chose Cassie as one of his pawns.
- Wizards in the Sword of Truth mostly get along on their wiles, but when push comes to shove, magical napalm. Richard Cypher, (actually Rahl,) is not only the rightful Seeker of Truth, but a War Wizard, Emperor of Dhara, and the prophesied Bringer of Death. Any one of those would be a legendary hero on their own, but wrapped up in the same person it's fair to say that the world revolves around him.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer got 'lucky' and was born a Potential Slayer. Once her predecessor died, she got 'lucky' again and became The Slayer. which grants her amazing strength and reflexes. Of course, she didn't get her powers until she was 15. So really it's a Puberty Superpower.
- In the RPG Exalted, the most powerful of the titular god-kings earn their magic powers through displays of badassery so incredible that the rulers of the heavens choose them as champions. However, the most numerous of the Exalted, the Dragon-Blooded, receive incredible magical powers for no reason other than that they were born with the blood for it.
- And even the Celestial Exaltations favor those who already have an "important destiny", to cite the rulebook...to say nothing of the basic requirement to be lucky enough to attract the attention of a major deity at the right moment in the first place. The epic-level badassery that's basically expected of player characters just isn't something that mere mortals could possibly achieve on their own.
- This is what 'trueborn' Clan warriors in the BattleTech universe are supposed to be bred to be. (They also get Training from Hell, but as that's pretty much universal for the warrior caste attention is usually paid more to individual bloodlines and genetic combinations thereof.) In practice, while many of them do have a physical edge over their Inner Sphere counterparts — notably the giant battle armor infantry troopers known as Elementals, whether they're actually wearing said armor or not —, they're still far from invincible, as quite a number of both Clan and Inner Sphere "freebirths" have demonstrated.
- The eponymous hero in Siegfried by Richard Wagner.
- Too many games to list have you take the role of some sort of super soldier or half-human hybrid that is much more powerful than an ordinary citizen by genetics alone. You might even say that being a player controlled character can make most protagonists born winners - because they're controlled by you, even the Badass Normal variety of hero ends up being unimaginably more successful than other theoretically equal humans.
- Several of the Servants of Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero derive as much, if not more, of their power from popularity and the circumstances of their birth than having an impressive legend. Gilgamesh is perhaps the greatest example; he is two-thirds god and owner of all the Noble Phantasms in the world because of his status as the first hero, although his legend does contain several heroics.
- The Gifted in Final Fantasy Tactics A2. It can actually end up as being Blessed with Suck, as some don't manage to master their power before it destroys them, and even the ones that survive usually end up outliving their non-Gifted friends.
- Capt from Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! seems to succeed in everything he tries with little effort and has won over the affections of pretty much the entire town long before the game begins. In situations where he's far outclassed and has no hope of winning, he still manages to somehow pull through via guts, bravado and dumb luck. Several characters refer to him as a man loved by God or some kind of hero who will one day unite humanity. The twist is that Capt isn't the main character, and since the games are dating sims he's never anything more than a major supporting character who serves as the Always Someone Better Bromantic Foil to actual protagonist Yamato.
- Galen Marek/Starkiller from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed seems to have been born with his incredible power. As a toddler, Darth Vader was able to sense him and commented that he was far more powerful than Kento Marek, his own father, and Galen was able to steal Vader's lightsaber with telekinesis. In comparison, the ten-year-old Anakin Skywalker merely had enhanced reflexes.
- The Touhou series has a lot of this. The stand-out example is Reimu Hakurei, who is one of the most powerful characters in the setting despite putting in as little effort as possible by virtue of being born into the Hakurei line. Though Reimu is only notable for this in that she's actively opposed to hard work; the vast majority of the cast simply uses their natural youkai abilities.
- Torn to shreds in Mass Effect 2 with Miranda and Grunt, both products of genetic engineering, and neither taking it well. Miranda angsts over having all her personal victories cheapened by her father's manipulation while her failures are all her own, and Grunt angsts over being born and bred to fight with the best of them, but never being given something to fight for.
- Red vs. Blue:
- Inverted with Alpha Texas. She is an incredibly dangerous soldier, but has been conditioned to fail when it really matters.
- Carolina knows she's the best, so when a new agent comes along and starts handing her ass to her she doesn't take it well. In fact, she'd do ANYTHING to regain her position at the top.
- The title character of Avatar: The Last Airbender is born the only person in the world who can bend all four elements. They also have access to combined knowledge of dozens, if not hundreds, of bending predecessors. The Deuteragonist, Zuko, is notably not an example of this, and embraces it fully: his father describes his sister, the fire-bending prodigy, as "born lucky" while Zuko was "lucky to be born."
- In Ben 10: Alien Force, the reason Gwen's Evil Counterpart Charmcaster gives for hating her is that she had to work hard to become such a powerful witch whereas Gwen was born partially made of magic and was able to grow strong easily. Gwen actually comes to really feel bad about this when she learns just WHY Charmcaster works to be a powerful witch...
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Twilight Sparkle of was born with magical potential unparalleled by anypony not named Princess Celestia or Luna. Granted, it takes the Sonic Rainboom to unlock it, but the ball rolls from there, with her becoming Princess Celestia's personal apprentice, the bearer of the Element of Magic, leader of the bearers of the Elements of Harmony, savior of Equestria on several occasions, and eventually an alicorn princess of Equestria.
- On a lesser scale, Fluttershy, despite being a Pegasus, has innate skill when it comes to interacting with animals, a power that is usually reserved to Earth ponies. Even though her flight skills are shown to be lacking in comparison to other Pegasi, she still gets two racial powers when most ponies only get one.