A character is born with or acquires some handicap that prevents him from functioning normally. However, due to phlebotinum exposure or training, he develops something that not only makes up for what's missing, but goes beyond it.
Blindness seems to be a popular one for this. Indeed, the entire trope seems to be based around the idea that blind people's other senses become more acute to compensate. This does happen in real life but to a far weaker degree than the trope, simply because blind people get more exercise with paying close attention to their other senses, and the brain is capable of re-purposing unused spaces in the sensory and motor cortices. Some studies have indicated that people born deaf have better peripheral vision, as well. In Greek mythology Tiresias is an old blind man, but also an oracle, so he can see different things.
A realistic twist is to have the power to have Logical Weaknesses. For example, Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender was born blind, but uses Earthbenderskills to feel vibrations through stone. This means she can't "see" things that aren't touching the ground and her "sight" is severely impaired if she's not touching solid earthen surfaces - she hates hates hates flying or boating, sand makes everything "blurry", etc, and in a world without Braille, she's illiterate. However, if she's on an earthen surface, she can see all around her, even behind things.
In less realistic examples, Disability Superpowers are so powerful that they negate the original disability entirely and/or so prevalent that no disabled people in the world are actually disabled. When Played for Drama, the character will still face Sense Loss Sadness over their disability despite any compensating.
Shishio was covered in oil and set on fire. He did not die, but the fire destroyed all the sweat glands in his skin, meaning his body heat is constantly above normal. This apparently acts as a fuel to give him more strength, but also leads to his own demise from spontaneous combustion.
Usui was blinded by Shishio and learned how to see with his ears and spiritual senses.
Shigurui The two protagonists. Irako Seigen, a blind Samurai, and Fujiki Gennosuke, a one-armed Samurai.
Tousen's blindness grants him immunity to the Big Bad's special power. As a result, Aizen made Tousen an ally so he wouldn't need to use his power to control him.
And then there's Wonderweiss, who is the only Arrancar that's been modified by the Hogyouku. In exchange for his mind and emotions, he became powerful enough to trash a Vizard and extinguish Head Captain Yamamoto's zanpakutou's flames.
Taking the crown though is Yhwach, who was born blind, deaf, mute and paralyzed. However, he had the ability to impart pieces of his soul to those who touched him, healing them. When they died, these fragments would return to him, along with the sum of the soul healed by it, letting him grow and develop by absorbing the souls of those who touch him. He later developed the ability to imprint particular abilities onto people's souls, setting them up to return to him even more powerful.
Mr. Fujisawa in El-Hazard: The Magnificent World has Superman levels of overall physical ability but his powers only work only when he's sober. Considering the character is a raging drunk, he considers this a grave disability, but he's willing to endure being sober as the situation demands.
It is eventually revealed in the second OVA of the 1st continuity that he becomes even more powerful when he doesn't smoke as well. His full power level is reached in a Crowning Moment Of Awesome when, finally fully free of the effects of either liquor and/or cigarettes for the first time since arriving in Rostaria, he singlehandedly defeats the entire Bugrom army, even after they have already combined into a Godzilla-size superbugrom.
Claymore, had Galatea blind herself, allowing her to conceal her silver eyes and go into hiding. This increases her already impressive ability to sense Yoki (demon) energy from great distances to near untold levels.
In Basilisk, after Chikuma Koshirou (Dragon to Yakushiji Tenzen) becomes blinded to protect his lady of liege Oboro, he soon learns to compensate his lack of sight by using his senses of hearing and touch as replacement. Too bad he gets killed when Femme Fatale Kagerou and Master of Disguise Saemon use that to their advantage and fool him, with Saemon imitating Akeginu's voice to distract him and Kagerou using that to kill Koushirou with her Kiss of Death.
Muroga Hyouma, Gennosuke's mentor and uncle, has been already doing that for years. Since his powers are permanently activated through his eyes, he must keep them perpetually closed, but his hearing is so acute after so long that it's impossible to try ganging up on him. On the other hand, it took a blind fighter like Koshirou to defeat him, since Hyouma's tricks didn't work on him.
Hyouma and Koshirou are nothing compared to Jimushi Juubei. He has no arms and legs, but can slither on his belly as fast as any other ninja can run. He wields a dagger with his long tongue, and this attack is so fast and deadly that no opponent has ever lived to tell the tale when Juubei unleashed it.
The Taijutsu specialist Rock Lee, who can't do any of the normal "jutsu" techniques (some unspecified flaw in his chakra network renders him physically incapable of performing any Ninjutsu or Genjutsu), but is so good at Taijutsu (martial arts), he's able to best the uber-talented Sasuke early in the series. His determination is practically a superpower in and of itself.
Qualified by dint of several long and painful rehab sessions after injuries, but as a baseline he has all regular human capabilities, which in a 'verse where most have superpowers makes you a Badass Normal.
Lee's biggest compensation for his lack of the usual ninja abilities is that he trained himself to be very, very fast. In his aforementioned defeat of Sasuke, Lee mocked him for relying on his Sharingan, saying that it didn't matter if his eyes could follow his movements, if his body was too slow to keep up.
Kakashi would also qualify for this — his left eye was replaced almost immediately after losing it, but now he's stuck with one eye, except for emergencies (since the Sharingan cannot be turned off).
Yin from Darker Than Black is blind, but through her observer apparitions she's able to see, as long as both she and what she's observing is close to water. There appears to be little, if any, limit to the range of these apparitions.
YuYu Hakusho: Yomi, after he was blinded by his old thieving partner Yoko Kurama, has grown two more sets of ears, which allow him to sense things a long distance away.
The character Sasaki Kojiro in Takehiko Inoue's Vagabond is born deaf. A character muses on the possibility that only being able to listen his "interior voice" is what gives Kojiro his remarkable ability in swordsmanship. Kojiro also develops a preternatural ability to sense people sneaking up behind him, much to the surprise of many a would-be attacker.
Vagabond's Sasaki Kojirou is very different from the basis for the manga (Eiji Yoshikawa's Musashi) in that he's deaf, with multiple character interactions and fights riding on this. Two separate characters even theorize that his swordsmanship has improved because of his deafness: one hypothesizing that his eyesight improved to compensate, while another thought that without sound to distract him he could better listen to his own body which already knew the techniques. Subverted by Kanemaki Jisai, who tried to dissuade him from a life of swordsmanship by repeatedly taking advantage of Kojirou's deafness to defeat him multiple times over the years.
Elfen Lied: Nana's new prosthetic limbs turn out to be even more useful than her original natural ones. After all, a diclonius becomes that much more dangerous when she can throw her own arms at you.
She also becomes mostly immune to Lucy's most devastating attacks. You can't rip off a detachable limb.
Berserk's main character Guts loses an arm in the Eclipse, but it is replaced by a metal hand with a cannon in it.
Erza from Fairy Tail loses an eye to torture as a child. We never get to see the damage thankfully, since it scares her closest friend who just proved that, in spite of this flashback being before he lost it, he was perfectly capable of murder. She gets a fake eye in its place which makes her completely immune to illusion magic and lessens the effects of another spell that requires eye contact.
Edward's automail arm saves his life a lot, and he transmutes it into various blades for fighting. While fans want Al to regain his body, many don't want Edward to regain his limbs.
Al. Being a giant, hollow suit of armor probably allowed him to survive some of the things he's been through, no matter how much he wants his body back. Losing their arm/leg/organs/entire body is the reason why Ed, Izumi and eventually Al are able to transmute without a circle.
Later on, another major character, Roy Mustang, is forced through the Gate (he doesn't commit human transmutation and can then transmute without a circle, and becomes blind and seemingly downgraded into The Load. But his alchemy apparently becomes bounds more powerful. He just needs someone else to help out with his aim now.
Roy doesn't actually become more powerful, per se, but loses the ability to limit his alchemy because he needs to be able to see what he's doing in order to limit the power of the blasts. Riza, who is helping him aim, tells him not to worry about it since the target is the Big Bad.
In the end, Ed got his arm back essentially by accident, and he kept his leg, so clearly he doesn't entirely disagree that having them isn't such a bad thing. Many have speculated that the reason Ed always talked about "getting our bodies back" was so Al would feel like he wasn't alone, rather than because he truly wanted his human limbs back.
This is even lampshaded by Winry who states that she doesn't want Ed to get his limbs back because she notices just how useful the automail is to Ed (and by extension her, since she's his mechanic).
There is a trio of these in Hunter × Hunter: One in a Super Wheelchair, one missing an arm but can create invisible limbs made of energy, and one who lost his legs but carries kinetically-charged tops and can spin like one too. The three of them are friends and bully fighters without superpowers.
Later on, there is Shoot, a man who lost his left arm. To compensate for this, he has the ability to conjure up a swarm of floating hands, usually used to rapidly punch opponents with, and can also cause other people to lose their limbs.
Helen of Helen ESP is blind, deaf, and mute, but possesses some amount of Psychic Powers, such as communicating telepathically with dogs, most notably her Canine Companion and best friend, Victor.
Vandread: A planet is encountered where the inhabitants use telepathy to exclusively communicate.This ability mysteriously developed after the villain faction of the series "harvested" the people's vocal cords. There is no explanation for why the muted folk didn't didn't develop something practical, like sign language. There is just the implication that it has to do with their strong spirituality that may have a connection to the other enigmas driving the story.
Interestingly, late in Miller's run, Daredevil's mentor tells him that EVERY human has the potential to experience sense the way he does, it's just an ability that's become dormant. The radiation didn't give him his powers, it just unlocked them. Sadly, Stick is killed soon afterward, and this plot point was never brought up again.
Even more interestingly, there are real-life blind people who have learned to use echolocation to find their way around, with nothing more than superbly trained hearing.
Matt gets in serious trouble when he encounters an assassin who had the same powerset as him sans blindness.
Daredevil's Femme Fatale ex-girlfriend (he's had quite a few of those) Echo is deaf but possesses perfect photographic memory (whether or not she's a mutant has never been made clear). She has gone on to be an effective entertainer and member of the Avengers. Her condition is played more realistically than DD, however. She relies entirely on visual cues and is at a disadvantage if she can't see her opponent. She also has trouble speaking to heroes like Iron Man or Spider-Man, whose costumes cover their mouths, making their lips unreadable.
The DC Comics villain Count Vertigo has Méničre's disease that constantly disorients him and confuses his senses, and that requires him to wear a device that sets his senses right, but is specifically made so that he can project that confusion onto others.
Similarly, Golden Ager Dr. Mid-Nite from The DCU was blinded by a grenade. However, when he took the bandages off in total darkness, he could see perfectly.
When introduced in Generation X, the mutant Chamber had actually lost his entire lower jaw and part of his chest as a result of his powers' explosive manifestation. However, the same powers seem to remove his need to eat or breathe, and he can "talk" telepathically.
Didn't go so well for him after Decimation occurred...
The original Iron Man armor was, in a sense, a glorified pacemaker, designed to counteract a potentially fatal heart injury. As long as you're going to be wearing a humanoid life support capsule, it might as well be superhumanly strong and armed to the teeth, right?
In the movie it was only the power source that kept him alive and the suit was something he made later. By The Avengers he considers it as much a part of himself as his heart.
The Iron Man of Ultimate Marvel, on the other hand, wears his suit for much the same reason Mr. Sensitive below does: his sense of touch is so powerful he lives in constant agony even with it on.
Well, there is Beast Boy, who got his animorphism powers from a disease that also made him immune to all other diseases; but that's a fairly recent development.
Cyborg of the Teen Titans had all his limbs and half his face burned off in a lab accident, and replaced with aesthetically unpleasing yet superhuman prosthetics.
Pied Piper, an enemy and later friend of The Flash. He was born deaf, but his rich family had a scientist (the same guy who made the Metal Men) implant a cybernetic hearing aid in his head. It worked a little too well, as his hearing became so sensitive that he was able to design sonic weapons that could control the minds and actions of others, but won't affect him.
In X-Men, Cyclops must always wear a special visor or pair of glasses to contain his optic blasts. When these devices are removed, he keeps his eyes shut, rendering him blind. Due to an important instance of this, he has since learned how to fight blind by using his hearing to pinpoint opponents and simply always scrutinizing his surroundings to know the lay of the land. One side story shows that he also counts his steps and memorizes which way he turns so that he can retrace his path and find his eyewear.
Even with the visor/glasses, he's still colorblind, only able to see in shades of red. It's possible he shouldn't be able to pilot an aircraft such as the Blackbird, but there are custom control panels that have indicators based on number of lights, rather than color. Presumably, the Blackbird has one of them.
Bonus points for the reason he can't control his optic blasts: at a young age he was in an accident and suffered severe head trauma, but fortunately there wasn't any damage to any "important" parts of the brain. This was before he developed the ability to obliterate everything in sight... Sadly, this actually plausible explanation (a rare sight in comic books) has been re-explained or outright removed several times, with many writers defaulting to "he just can't control it because that's how it is."
His abilities don't come from being unable to see, but it's worth mentioning Rot Lop Fan, a Green Lantern from a species that never evolved sight at all (and thus no conception of color or light... or lanterns, for that matter). His Green Lantern Oath goes:
In loudest din or hush profound
My ears catch evil's slightest sound
Let those who toll out evil's knell
Beware my power, the F-Sharp Bell!
The character Mr. Sensitive from the X-Force and X-Statix comics had an interesting variation on this: all of his senses were enhanced, to the degree that he had to wear a special suit to block out most of what he felt, or else he'd go nuts from the sensory overload; he can't even take a normal shower and has to use a specially made misting nozzle. He could hear people's heartbeats through walls, but even a light breeze on his exposed skin could cause him incredible pain. At one point, his powers were even used against him: a villain (who knew about his powers) tortured him simply by making a shallow cut on his skin with a Swiss army knife. The pain from this relatively minor wound almost caused him to black out.
He once had a fight with Iron Man wherein they both lost their armor. The battle then became a test to see whose disability was worse, Iron Man's weak heart or the Orphan's hypersensitivity. The Orphan won, but just barely.
During the series 52, Adam Strange lost his eyes in a freak teleportation accident. However, he quickly compensated by connecting his ship's sensor array to his visual cortex, allowing him sight as long as he was piloting.
Ever since an incident with a villain using sound-based mind control and one of his own ultrasonic arrowheads, Hawkeye from The Avengers needs a hearing aid. This doesn't come up often, but occasionally it protects him against the subtler sonic attacks as a plot point. (Perhaps less plausibly, once he's also shown unmasking an android as such by, apparently, turning his hearing aid all the way up and hearing the imposter's internal mechanisms.)
The reason it doesn't turn up any more is because his hearing was restored after Heroes Reborn.
Though in Old Man Logan, Hawkeye is blind... yet still manages to be the world's greatest archer simply by listening more.
Nävis, heroine of the French comic Sillage (a.k.a. Wake) is one of the few sentient beings in the universe with no telepathic abilities. The upside is that her mind can't be read or controlled, which makes her a valuable agent.
In the Transformers comics from Marvel, there was a perfect example of this in Circuit Breaker. All but one hand paralyzed, and she used the hand to build herself an outer skinsuit to transmit the neural signals. Oh, and also let her fly and barbecue Transformers as an act of revenge, on top of it. And looks very much like a quite revealingtinfoil bikini as well.
Megatron, in More than Meets the Eye, briefly had his body turned into a living space-bridge, an event that riddled his internal mechanisms with miniature portals. This physically weakens and pains him, and makes him difficult to repair, but it also makes him a difficult opponent in a fistfight; hit him in the wrong spot and you'll find your hand on another planet.
Cassandra Cain, was raised in a modified language deprivation experiment, the intent being for her brain to orient itself to interpreting body movement as a first language. As a result she's functionally illiterate and barely able to communicate verbally. However, as a trade-off, she's able to accurately predict the thought process of an opponent based on subtle body language and predict their strategies and individual moves before they make them.
Mindf**k from Empowered also is a Blind Seer. Mind████'s brother tried to invoke this intentionally, when he did things described simply as horrifying to his sibling.
A Superman comic story revolved around a skeptical blind girl who did not believe in Superman's abilities and dismissed all his demonstrations of them as tricks. At one point he showed off his super-hearing by reciting the conversation going on in the next room. This didn't impress her, because she herself was able to hear it; Superman noted that blind people often develop an acute sense of hearing, and surmised that the girl had done so without being aware of it.
Bruce Wayne/Batman in Kingdom Come. By the time of Kingdom Come Bruce has taken so many beatings his body has essentially said "so long" and given up, and he needs an exoskeleton to be able to stand up. Of course, it wasn't a huge step to cover the exoskeleton in armor and add enough gadgets to make Tony Stark look like a kid with a Meccano kit...
In Vampirella, Conrad van Helsing is blind but has a psychic vision that can warn him about evil and his hearing is good enough for him to aim a gun with.
In The Tainted Grimoire, there is Auggie, who was born blind, but through experimenting, is capable of seeing Mist, no matter how small the concentration. It doesn't fully substitute for proper sight though.
In the Harry Potter fic Towards the Light, after being blinded by his uncle, Harry discovered that he could sense the presence and nature of magic - which was no good for dealing with non-magic objects, animals or people.
In Sneakers, the blind character Whistler overhears his own name spoken in conversational tones — thirty feet away, on the other side of thick plate glass. Later he listens through a powerful microphone aimed at a distant building, and deduces what rooms are which behind sealed windows — even identifying one as an emergency exit ("I can hear the emergency floodlight batteries recharging"). He also deduces what road Robert Redford's character was driven on, while tied up in the trunk, based solely on what he heard The character is based on a Real Life hacker who could actually communicate with modems at low speeds sans device due to his ability to recognize and replicate the signals.
Also, Whistler is the one who figures out that a certain black box on a desk is important. The others (who could see it) quickly discarded it as just an answering machine. This case is not completely Disability Superpower (The important clue is in the audio) but partly "only seeing people can be fooled by the optical illusion".
In Once upon a Time in Mexico Agent Sands becomes a badass blind gunfighter after getting his eyes gouged out by the sick Dr. Guevara. He'd only been blinded for about half an hour, and had to have a kid assist him in taking on several of the cartel by telling him where to shoot. But his final shootout had him taking down two guys all by himself, using sound in order to pinpoint their location and kill them.
Near the end of The Matrix Revolutions Neo is blinded by Bane, a human who has been taken over by Neo's rival Agent Smith. However he still manages to overpower and kill him due to his powers as the One: he can see data and machinery as glowing yellow light. This appears to also include humans who have been possessed by programs. It also happens only in the real world; while in the Matrix, Neo's body still posses normal eyes and vision.
Zatoichi, the blind masseur from the eponymous Japanese film series, who possesses a skill with a sword equal to the greatest samurai.
In his first film, he tosses a candle into the air and slices it vertically, from a sitting position, in a single iaido draw.
In the more recent Beat Takeshi version, Zatoichi defeats a sword-bearing mook by slicing between his hands. The mook is left standing with two portions of a useless (and worthless) sword. His rival in plans to strike him down by exploiting the usual way Zatoichi draws his sword, but Zatoichi hears him change his stance and adjusts his grip accordingly.
Zato-Ino of Usagi Yojimbo, a blind pig who uses his nose to compensate.
Yet another Zatoichi Shout-Out comes from Zato-One (ichi = one) from Guilty Gear. He was blinded when he accepted a demon named Eddie. As a trade-off, he is now extremely powerful and can control shadows. It's never explained how exactly Zato sees, though ostensibly Eddie sees for him.
Yellowbeard: Harold "Blind" Pew, is keen-sensed sightless informant who also conceals a deadly surprise in his walking stick. (Harold is a parody of and a Shout-Out to Zatoichi.)
In Blind Fury, Rutger Hauer plays a blind Vietnam vet who is a Shout-Out to Zatoichi. After getting blinded by a grenade, he stumbles across a Vietnamese tribe that, for some reason, decides to teach him how to use his other senses to become a master with a katana. Years later, he returns to America with a sword hidden in his walking stick and uses his moves to protect a bratty kid from drug dealers.
A number of films have featured blind protagonists who turn the tables on murderous villains by dousing all the lights; they still aren't superpowered, but the blind folks gain an advantage because they're used to not being able to see their surroundings and, since it usually happens in their own homes, they know their surroundings vastly better.
In Wait Until Dark, the main character forgets to smash the light in the fridge. D'oh!
Also, this trope was inverted in A Maiden's Grave by Jeffry Deaver, in a scene where the villain gets the drop on a deaf character by turning out the lights.
The Lookout has the protagonist rendered psychologically scarred and has trouble remembering things. Not too much of a superpower, but he uses a technique that he learned from his blind friend of "Start from the end" which enables him to plan which eliminates the Big Bad and The Dragon. Though, this is more to the point that the aforementioned villains fail to recognize the protagonist as a true threat.
Parodied by the blind character Blinkin in Robin Hood: Men in Tights. In one scene he snatches an arrow right out of the air, remarking "'Eard it comin' a mile away" to the shocked Merry Men. Immediately afterwards, Robin compliments him, to which he responds "Who said that?"
An earlier scene has him standing in a lookout tower. Robin asks what he's doing up there, and he replies, "Guessing? I guess nobody's coming?"
The Prince's men are very lucky Blinkin is blind. After all, look what he did to that wood pillar; if he could see, he'd probably have liberated England by himself.
In House of Flying Daggers, the blind Mei is capable of insane and technically physically impossible combat feats despite her disability. Except... not really. It's all a ruse — she's impersonating the old revolutionary leader's blind daughter, who doesn't know martial arts — and she actually can see.
Not quite a superpower, but the title character of Rookie of the Year breaks his arm, and it heals in such a way as to make him a super-fast baseball pitcher.
Truth in television, for very rare cases. Mordecai Brown pretty much destroyed his hand through several accidents, and became a baseball pitcher afterwards. His new hand allowed him to throw a devastating curve ball.
Ray Charles in The Blues Brothers is apparently a crack shot with a pistol and uses this ability to scare off shoplifters who try and take advantage of his blindness.
Leonard, the amnesiac from the 2000 film Memento is described by another character as the perfect assassin - since he can't remember ever having killed anyone, he doesn't act like his targets expect an assassin to act and feels no guilt afterwards. His partner keeps setting him up to kill people and they never see him coming.
In Thunderpants, Patrick has the disability of excessive farting. It is later discovered however that this can be used to power a rocket into space because his twin stomachs resemble the rocket's engine.
RoboCop. Most of his damaged body is replaced by cybernetics, even parts that didn't need to be removed. This leaves him incredibly strong and Immune to Bullets, if slow.
In the Thai movie Chocolate, the main character suffers from severe autism with the attendant social difficulties and learning disabilities. Her autism however enables her to naturally absorb martial arts fromBruce Lee and Tony Jaa movies on television. She then progresses through the entire movie, beating up trained fighters and men twice her size. The only warrior who challenges her has Tourette syndrome, which allows him to make unusual moves, but she's able to adopt his style as well and defeat him.
The title character in The Boy Who Could Fly uses the Power of Autism to... well, the title says it all. Really.
Jimmy in The Wizard is stricken with grief over the death of his twin sister, but his mental state also grants him amazing abilities with video games.
Rain Man features Dustin Hoffman's autistic character having amazing calculation skills, being able to count a scattering of spilled toothpicks at a glance.
The autistic Simon Lynch in Mercury Rising is able to crack a government code that was secretly published in one of his puzzle books by the creators to see if anyone can crack it.
The Muppet version of Blind Pew in Muppet Treasure Island parodies this trope; Pew is a comically handicapped blind man for the majority of his scenes, but when Billy Bones cocks a pistol to shoot him, Pew flies across the room directly at him and knocks it out of his hands. (After the plot has been sufficiently advanced, he's back to tripping over chairs and walking into walls. Maybe it's an act? Or just the Rule of Funny.)
The titular superhero of Kick-Ass, due to getting, well, his ass kicked and hit by a car on his first attempt at heroics, leaving him with severely damaged nerve endings, giving him an increased tolerance to pain.
Indirectly invoked in Darkman: After Peyton Westlake is horribly burned all over his body, the doctors cut off his sense of touch to block the constant pain. The side-effect is that his body ends up overproducing adrenaline, and the adrenal overload makes him super-strong, hyper-agile, impervious to pain ... and prone to unstable mood swings.
In Blindness, by being an ordinary blind man prior to the outbreak of contagious blindness, The Accountant is fully capable of functioning normally, and so he quickly gains the upper hand over everyone else in the facility.
Inverted by Robert Downey, Jr. in Sherlock Holmes, where Holmes has amazing powers of observations, but in the restaurant scene we see that he can't turn them off. This has led to fan theories that he is a high-functioning autistic. This actually is a trait of Holmes in both the original and most of adaptations.
In The Book of Eli,Eli is revealed to be blind, though his amazing ability to kick ass is implied to be divine favor.
In Wreck-It Ralph, Vanellope is at first thought to be a glitch, but this gives her the ability to Flash Step across short distances when she gains control over it near the end of the movie.
The Quasi-Dead from The Chronicles of Riddick take this trope to its logical conclusion. As the name suggests, they are practically dead. This near-death state, however, gives them amazing psychic powers.
Astrid's little brother, Little Pete, in Gone is severely autistic. He's also the most powerful person in the FAYZ, other than maybe the Gaiaphage. He has the ability to make things appear out of thin air, teleport him and Astrid to anywhere he wants, and he caused the FAYZ.
Montolio in R.A. Salvatore's Sojourn is a blind ranger who is sufficiently badass at hand-to-hand combat to scare off a whole dungeon's worth of orcs. His familiarity with his surroundings helps, though.
He also uses his owl to target his enemies with his bow. The owl flies over an enemy's head and hoots, and he shoots just under where he heard it.
The Miraluka are a race of beings who evolved the ability to "see" through the Force, but at the same time lost use of their eyes, then lost their eyes entirely. Kreia from Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords displays a similar ability, which the main character of that game can learn.
A character in the Expanded Universe, a Wookiee named Ralrra, has a "speech impediment" — which removes enough of his "accent" for Leia to understand him perfectly. Therefore he has a job in the Kashyyyk embassy, as his speech impediment makes him easier for aliens to understand.
The Yuuzhan Vong were cut off from the Force when their sentient homeworld was destroyed by their constant warfare. This caused them so much pain that they came up with a Combat Sadomasochist culture to cope. Being cut off from the Force also meant that the Vong couldn't be directly affected by Force powers, giving them a huge advantage against Force-wielders.
In Generation Dead, arguably every single zombie in the entire book falls under this trope, since they're not only legally dead, but get seemingly superhuman strength, endurance, speed and toughness; all while not needing to eat, sleep or drink and being practically unkillable without being either set on fire or bashed in the head... but on the other hand? Most of their organs no longer function; they can't heal themselves if injured; and their brain is generally much slower-functioning, to the point where they're almost all slow-moving klutzes even if they were dancers or athletes before they died, and a previously brilliant teen gets stuffed into remedial classes. Then there's also the thing where they tend to have all or most senses (taste, touch, you name it) dulled, assuming they work at all. Not Quite Dead? You betcha! Better off? Er... good question.
At least witches are described to have developed some combination of blindness or deafness due to old age but use their magic to compensate - Miss Treason from Wintersmith' sees and hears through her animal companions, and Desiderata Hollow from Witches Abroad has trained her second sight to work in the present.
Zephyr the oracle from Silverwing is albino and, due to his old age, also blind, and so has developed a sense of hearing so acute he can hear the echos of anything, anywhere. He can also see into the future and past using his ears (or something).
Dan Abnett's Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor, main character of the eponymous series of Warhammer 40,000 novels. A Chaos-engineered disaster during an Imperial triumphal procession nearly killed him and left his body entirely broken, confining him permanently to a mobile life support chamber. On the other hand, it gave him considerable time to further develop his innate Psychic Powers. The life-support pod is fitted with armour comparable to that of a Leman Russ Main Battle Tank, contains powerful psychic amplifiers (partially accounting for Ravenor's power increase), and has mounted upon it two fully automatic, rocket-propelled grenade launchers loaded with daemon-killing Depleted Phlebotinum Shells.
Colonel 'Iron-hand' Straken, who has a much stronger replacement arm thanks to the original being bitten off by a Miral Land Shark
Commissar Yarrick, bionic eye with a laser built in, robot arm made from the very Ork Battle Klaw that removed the original.
Lord Militant Commander Drang, whose replacement bionic eye lets him spot an enemy warship up to half a light-year away
Astropaths get a power boost from hooking their soul to the God-Emperor, at the cost of serious damage to (if not the destruction of) their eyes and optic nerves
Dreadnoughts are Humongous Mecha piloted by crippled Astartes heroes, for whom they also act as life-support machines (much like Ravenor, in fact)
Peter Reidinger I of the Talents series (specifically the Pegasus sub-series), who becomes paralyzed from the neck down in adolescence due to a wall collapsing on top of him. However, it is soon discovered that he is the most powerful psychic Talent in the world: he proves so adept at telekinesis that he actually fakes normal movement by levitating his body (it's not perfect: he has a difficult time making complex movements with his fingers, and occasionally forgets to keep his feet on the ground).
The title character in A Wizard Alone, the sixth Young Wizards book, is an autistic kid who happens to be one of the "Pillars of Creation", through which a lot of positive energy is dumped into the universe. By the end, he's no longer autistic, but he's still a Pillar.
Rowan from Lords Of The Sky is physically blind, but can still see her surroundings due to her innate magic abilities. Not only is she an accomplished sorceress, but she's also a Dragon Master, meaning she has a very special affinity to Dragons.
Bran Stark gets crippled from a fall and lapses into a coma. When he awakens, he gains prophetic "green dreams" and the ability to consciously take control of living things. These abilities qualify him to become a powerful sorcerer called a greenseer.
In A Dance with Dragons Arya learns to see through the eyes of a cat to compensate for having been blinded by the priests of the Many Faced God. It's implied that this is a latent power in all the Stark children just waiting for some trigger to be expressed. Ironically, the purpose of the blindness was to force her to develop the disability superpower of heightened senses. Using the supernatural shortcut might have caused her to miss out on some of that training.
Ng in Snow Crash lost all of his limbs in Viet Nam and has the ultimate Cool Car of a wheelchair: a heavily-customized and heavily-armed airport firetruck. Given the heavily-commercialized nature of the world, he can get anything he needs via drive-thru. Not only is he permanently jacked into The Metaverse, where his Digital Avatar has limbs, but his body is suspended in a gel that gives him force feedback, making him the only known character in the story to be able to actually feel massages given to his Digital Avatar.
In Jose Saramago's Blindness, all of humanity becomes blind with the exception of one person. People who were previously blind are accustomed to their condition, and have enough of an advantage that at least one becomes a gang leader of sorts.
Dinah Bellman from Stephen King's novella The Langoliers is a young blind girl that displays a grab-bag of psychic powers and enhanced senses. In the tv movie, she is able to see Craig Toomey's paranoid delusion by looking at him, communicate telepathically, seems to have a degree of precognition, acts as a human lie detector and hears the approachingmonsters with her superhuman hearing. Furthermore, in the film's climax she begins to astral project to Craig Toomey and apparently alters his paranoid delusions to show him exactly what he wanted to see.
In Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick, Hoppy Harrington was born without limbs, but has powerful telekinetic abilities.
The whole idea behind the half-bloods having ADHD and dyslexia in Percy Jackson.
Invoked in Animorphs. When the team decides to increase their numbers they specifically choose disabled teens. Since no Yeerk would infest a disabled body when plenty of healthy ones are available it guarantees that disabled teens are safe to give the morphing ability to. A few get better thanks to morphing, but most stay disabled while human.
An old gardener who'd been blinded in the bombing of Nagasaki during World War II becomes a zombie-killing Zatoichi reference, using precise study and memorization of the landscape and his hearing to track the zombies by their moans, and his gardening spade to kill them.
Another interview has a man in an ordinary wheelchair man taking up zombie defence patrols— crawling zombies trying to attack him from behind get the chair instead of his legs.
Larry Niven's Known Space character Gilbert Gilgamesh Hamilton (Gil the Arm) develops a telekinetic replacement arm when his original is lost in an asteroid mining accident. It's very weak (barely able to lift a full shot glass in Earth gravity) and due to Gil's lack of imagination is restricted to the range of the original... however, he manages to keep it when the meat arm is finally replaced, it has its own sense of touch which can feel inside things (including people), and he can reach through a videophone screen in two ways — to touch the electronics inside, or to touch the person on the other end of the call...
Jayfeather from Warrior Cats is born blind, but learns he has the ability to read minds. As well, he can creep into dreams, in which he gains perfect vision.
An unusual example is seen in My Name Is Red. The artists often go blind due to overwork, but sometimes welcome this, as it allows them to draw from an idealized memory instead of a world they think is growing ever more corrupt.
The Harry Potter series has Mad-Eye Moody, who lost his eye and got a magical replacement that allows him to see in all directions and through solid objects. Peter "Wormtail" Pettigrew, who lost his hand and got a magical, super-strong silver prosthetic hand, may also count.
Professor Mmaa's Lecture is about termites, who are almost completely blind—not that they need sight inside their mound. They all have a very acute sense of smell which gives them an equivalent of sight. Their language even reflects this ("unforesmelled"), and their "disguises" and "masks" involve solely altering one's smell.
Thomas In The Bad Place by Dean Koontz has Down Syndrome but possesses mysterious telepathic powers.
Jack McClure from the series of the same name by Eric Van Lustbader is severely dyslexic, but has an excellent sense of space and a photographic memory, not to mention the ability to learn foreign languages extremely quickly. He uses these abilities to become a top agent in the ATF before eventually becoming a trusted adviser to the President. Despite this he still has all the difficulty reading associated with dyslexia and needs help deciphering a map.
Glen Cook's The Black Company series has I Know Your True Name in full effect. Any wizard can be instantly and permanently stripped of his powers by someone invoking his True Name. As a result, one of the requirements of a wizard rising to significant power is a willingness to ruthlessly destroy anyone who knows his True Name, including friends and family (lest they be tortured into revealing it to a rival). The only powerful wizard in the series who isn't an Evil Sorceror was born under unusual circumstances and was never given a real name, only a temporary nickname that stuck far longer than intended. He complains about his lack of a real name in the final book, apparently unaware of the unique status it gives him.
An inversion happens in Tough Magic, where the main character successfully becomes a skilled and powerful wizard, despite being unable to easily cast spells. The inversion part comes from the fact that it doesn't happen because overcoming his handicap makes him better than he'd otherwise be; but rather, he becomes a strong wizard despite being handicapped.
Live Action TV
Hawkeye in M*A*S*H temporarily received a boost to his other senses — including hearing that rivalled Radar's ability to detect incoming helicopters — when he was blinded by an exploding heater. It has been suggested that Radar's super-hearing is a compensation for his incredibly poor eyesight but it's a weak precognitive ability. He's also been known to comply with requests before they're made and answer questions before they're asked. (Some of which could be guessed by experience, some not). Hence his nickname.
Master Po (and to a lesser extent Serenity Johnson) from Kung Fu.
Isaac's clairvoyance-painting seems (at first) to only work when he's high on heroin. Later, though, he learns to do it without the drugs.
There's also Niki Sanders whose power appears to be "being insane". Oh, and superstrong. Technically, yes, but in nicer terms she would be a dissociative identity disorder sufferer with a superhuman alter-ego, not unlike The Hulk, Thorn or Typhoid Mary. She is, however, able to use the super-strength on the "Niki" side now that she's learning to control "Jessica". Unfortunately, there's more than just Niki and Jessica in there.
Played straight with fourth season character Emma, who is deaf and has the ability to see sound as bright waves of light. Her ability becomes an important part of the season's arc.
River Tam from Firefly (and its follow-up movie, Serenity) winds up with eerie Psychic Powers - mind-reading abilities that apparently extend from emotions to actual thoughts (both of which were shown surprisingly clearly in the episode "Objects in Space") - and some surprising Waif-Fu abilities, which combined with her "extraordinary grace" (ostensibly from years of studying dance), essentially turn her into a psychic ninja ballerina. At one point she picks up a gun as if it's a toy, closes her eyes, fires three shots, and kills three bad guys. All of which would be awful nice, if they didn't almost all seem to result from brutal experiments that cut out a chunk of her brain (leaving her unable to filter her own emotions), and left her psychotic.
Geordi LaForge of Star Trek: The Next Generation was born blind, but given synaptic implants that allow a device he wears to translate large portions of the EM spectrum into visual impressions, allowing him at various points to detect by sight things which normally require scanners or tricorders to detect. These impressions are often cited as not being sufficiently "real" when the writers want to play up the disability aspect, though they certainly don't seem to be lacking in detail. In one episode the audience and his crewmates even get to see a visual-frequency representation of what he sees, and it's a psychedelic jumble of colors and lights. No wonder he gets a headache. Geordi's vision has also been subject to the occasional Phlebotinum Breakdown or Dropped Glasses moment. The later movies acknowledged that Science Marches On by giving him bionic eyes.
Defied when Counselor Troi loses her empathic powers. She attempts to leave Starfleet on the grounds that she is now disabled. Picard tries to convince her otherwise, invoking this trope. Troi answers that there is no scientific evidence that losing one sense strengthens others and that the myth was likely created by non-disabled people in order to make themselves feel more comfortable around the disabled.
The show M.A.N.T.I.S. had the main character create an exoskeleton so that he could walk again. It just happened the prototype suit was entirely bulletproof. Which he didn't find out until after being shot in the first episode.
In an episode of Angel, "Blind Date", Angel comes up against one of the most skilled human assassins he has encountered, and she happens to be blind. She blinded herself, then learned to see outside the spectrum of normal human sight—effectively seeing the move you make before you make it. However, he can actually move faster than her; he overcomes her by moving in lightning-fast-spurts; if he doesn't move, she can't see him, because vampires don't breathe or have a heartbeat.
The character played by Michael J. Fox in Scrubs has such encyclopedic medical knowledge because his OCD lead him to reading the medical books over and over again.
Xena: Warrior Princess was blinded for one episode, but considering who we're talking about here, she picked up a staff and went right on with the ass-kicking. She even managed to catch her chakram based solely on hearing, millimeters from an ally's face.
Monk's title character has, among other mental problems, a serious case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - which allows him to perceive details of crime scenes and other clues, making him a champion sleuth.
In an episode when he was blinded, he also realized that it solved a lot of his OCD related phobias, since he couldn't see the chaos around himself, plus his tendency to put everything back at the same place and count his steps, gave him a great head start compared to other blind people.
Parodied in a sketch in A Bit of Fry and Laurie where Hugh Laurie reveals to Stephen Fry that his deafness has caused him to develop his eyesight, whilst his blindness has caused his hearing to improve to compensate. "So in other words, you can hear and see perfectly?". "Yes, that's right"
UFO ("The Man Who Came Back"). A blind man senses that there's something wrong with a SHADO operative who's had his personality removed and is being remote-operated by the aliens.
In "Whisper", an episode of Smallville, Clark is temporarily blinded by his own heat vision bouncing off Kryptonite. Luckily, his super-hearing develops at the same time to compensate.
Lex Luthor was left permently bald at nine, but gained an enhanced immune system, that saves him from death more than once.
In another episode, an artist whose hand was crippled develops telekinesis to compensate for the loss.
Comically subverted in the "Blind Kung-Fu Master" sketches from MADtv. The title character of the sketch is blind, but his years of martial arts training do absolutely nothing to compensate. Hilarity Ensues.
Parodied in an episode of Father Ted when Ted confronts a person who he thought had been throwing paper balls at his head, only to find that the man is blind.
Ted: (extremely embarrassed) Right, well, I suppose your other senses make up for it. I hear that with blind people there other senses become more alert, heh heh, so to speak, I suppose you can smell things from ten miles away and hear things before they happen, heh heheh.
Blind Priest: No.
Ted: No sixth sense of any kind? Or I suppose in your case it would be a fifth sense, seeing as you've only got the four. Unless you've got another one missing that I don't know about? How's your sense of touch? (begins slapping at the man's arms and shoulder and laughing)
Blind Priest: Could you go away now please?
An episode of CSI: Miami has Natalia, wearing a hearing aid as the result of an injury suffered earlier in the season, discovered a device being used by jewelry store robbers to screw up the security camera system when it caused painfully loud static in said hearing aid.
Guiding Light did something similar when deaf Abby decided to have a cochlear implant (coinciding with the actress' Real Life decision to do the same). Her heightened sense of hearing allowed her to hear the ticking of an explosive device that had been planted and she was able to warn everyone before it went off.
In an episode of Painkiller Jane, one of the team member's former partner was paralyzed from neck down after an accident. He then becomes a "neuro" with telekinesis. He then goes on a rampage, killing all his former team members who he blames for his condition. He is killed at the end of the episode, which is probably more merciful than "chipping" him and turning him back into a helpless quadriplegic.
NCIS, "See No Evil": Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) plays a blind child with brilliant pianism ability. She also has such a good ear for pitch that you could replace the sonar computer on a Los Angeles class submarine with her. She and her mother get kidnapped. The girl gets released. Guess how the mother is found...
An episode of Grimm has Nick blinded by a fly-like Wesen. He suddenly realizes that his hearing has been turned Up to Eleven. Not only can he hear the Monster of the Week's buzzing (which no one else can), but he can also clearly hear whispered conversations in another room and both sides of a phone call. After stumbling a bit, he confronts the Wesen and ends up handily beating him, despite still being blind. After his eyesight is restored, he resolves to practice fighting blindfolded with Monroe throwing various fruits and vegetables in the air, and Nick attempting to hit them with a stick. Nick doesn't miss once.
Rachel Pirzad of Alphas essentially has this as an ability: She can turn up one sense to superhuman levels by turning all of the others down so far as to be basically nonexistent.
At the age of 17, Tony Iommi lost two fingertips in an accident while working at a sheet-metal factory. Having been encouraged by his boss not to give up his side job as guitarist in a pub band, he had to tune down his guitar strings in order not to hurt his cut-off fingertips even more. Thus, the signature sound of Black Sabbath (and Heavy Metal) was born.
The Who's Pinball Wizard, Tommy, is a "deaf, dumb and blind kid...(who) sure plays a mean pinball." He can feel the table's features, and plays by sense of smell.
His pinball ability is also attributed to the fact that he "ain't got no distractions, can't hear no buzzers and bells." Also because he "can't see no lights a flashin'." His lack of sight and hearing actually helps him stay focused, apparently.
Justified because Tommy has psychogenic deafness and blindness, so he can actually see and hear but doesn't realize he can. People with these conditions have the same automatic reactions as a sighted or hearing person, so if they didn't think about what they were doing, they could play pinball. Still pretty impressive, though.
Def Leppard's drummer has only one arm. That's right, the man who plays the instrument requiring the most coordination and skill, does it and rocks the house with one arm. His most amazing drumming is done with his feet!
Django Reinhardt lost the use of two of his fingers in a caravan fire, and still went on to be one of the most fluid and dexterous guitarists of all time.
John Larkin, a.k.a., "Scatman John", channeled a debilitating stutter into scat music.
Andrea Bocelli. Despite losing his sight in a soccer accident as a young boy, he went on to become one of the greatest tenors of his time. He also has a law degree, and regularly engages in such pursuits as horseback-riding and sky-diving. Now that's impressive.
Obscure Country Music singer Billy Hoffman learned to play guitar at an early age to gain dexterity after he was born with underdeveloped hands. He also learned how to sing despite being 97% deaf.
In the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the "blind" keyword actually has nothing but benefits. Blind creatures are immune to gaze attacks, and every blind creature in the game has "blindsight," which works exactly like sight except that it's black and white, functions in total darkness, and has a somewhat more limited range.
Blinding a player character still confers drawbacks, but even a character who's been blinded and deafened can still pinpoint enemies with Perception checks if their skill is high enough. I guess they smell them.
Role Playing Games where players build characters on a point system that assigns negative point values for physical disadvantages (effectively freeing up extra points to buy additional abilities) invite the use (and abuse) of this trope.
GURPS, for instance. The "Blindness" disadvantage (just as an example), while giving characters a distinct penalty to combat skills, makes it less than that suffered by people who have been suddenly blinded (thus, a person with Blindness has an advantage over a sighted person when the lights go out). No specific bonus to other senses is given. It is, however, stressed that vision-based abilities are not available to someone with this disability (yes, some people do need to be told).
GURPS: Supers notes that you can give Blindness and Microscopic Vision to a hero who can only see tiny nearby things, playing this straighter.
Mutants & Masterminds notes the trend and devotes a paragraph to explaining that, for example, if a character takes Blindness as a flaw and Tremorsense as a super-ability, they shouldn't get any points for the Blindness flaw since it's covered, only possibly a Hero Point for a Complication should their Tremorsense get removed or nullified. Common sense, really...
A concept introduced in Champions: The Super Roleplaying Game (aka the Hero System) two decades before M & M came into existence. The rules for Disadvantages note that you can't get any points for a disadvantage that is directly negated by a special ability (gamemaster judgment calls may be required — for instance, sonar vision doesn't truly "negate" blindness because you can't read, see colors, etc).
M&M actually makes it a minor flaw, rather than no flaw. You still get a bonus for it, but it's only one character point - which affords, approximately, jack shit. This is because with blindness and tremorsense you can't legally drive, for example. Deafness and telepathy will let you have communications, but if you're attacked by a robot in a dark room you're hosed. That kind of thing.
Big Eyes, Small Mouth's Defect system is ripe for the abuse of this trope; all of the "impairment" defects are Major ones, and can give back enough points to buy up abilities that render the impairments moot in addition to game-breakingly powerful secondary attributes. That does assume that you're okay with playing a flying, psychic paraplegic.
The Oracle class in Pathfinder includes this in its game mechanics. All oracles are cursed in some mildly disabling way, but gain extra abilities related to the area of their curse - for instance, oracles with clouded vision lose the ability to see more than sixty feet away, but gain the ability to see in the dark and sense invisible creatures.
Not immune to magic as so much as they suppress around them. Though they are immune to demonic possession because they have no souls. They also have the disability of being attractive targets for conversion into a kind of elite necron fighter or an elite Imperial assassin.
The tau also have similar if less extreme characteristics. Which has lead to some interesting Epileptic Trees.
Orks also are highly resistant to demonic possession, partly because they have unbreakable will power, and partly because of how stupid they are. Most demons who try to possess them find themselves stuck in an idiot mind, resulting in Orks that talk to themselves a lot.
In Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, the equip spell Flint is an annoying equip spell that weakens the host monster and prevents it from attacking. However, the monster Flint Lock is designed to be immune completely to the negative effects of Flint, and even benefits from extra powers while equipped with Flint, such as being indestructible by battle. Cherry on top, it can even manipulate Flint to contaminate other monsters, or relieve a monster from it to use its protection. This double counts as Crippling the Competition and Disability Immunity.
Wu Zi Mu from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas embodies this to the point where he's a respected street racer, good enough to aim and fire a submachinegun and beat CJ at video games, all despite his complete blindness. There are limits to his abilities. His henchmen manipulate some of his pastimes (like golf) so that he wins. When they are not around, he is not always infallible, such as in this exchange during the 'You've Had Your Chips' mission: he's playing blackjack with CJ. Going for a five-card hand ...
CJ: What'cha got?
Wu Zi Mu: How would I know? You tell me.
CJ: Not good. You got ... uh, 47.
Wu Zi Mu: Damn it! You're bad luck! When I play with my men, I always win!
Mook: Boss! Take a look at these two chips.
Wu Zi Mu: One's a fake.
CJ: That's amazing, you didn't even touch them.
Wu Zi Mu: I took a guess. Why else would he come in with two chips and sound so worried? You take a look.
His henchman also notes that he's profoundly lucky, which may be why he's in the situation that he's in; whether that's referring to his ability to not die in the amazingly dangerous things he sets his mind to doing, or his ability to endear himself to practically everyone around him, is up for debate.
One troglodyte warlock, Geon, is blind but has the ability to 'see' magic and read the minds of enemy spellcasters. In game-mechanics terms, this gives him a bonus to his Eagle Eye skill, making it easier for him to learn new spells.
The MMORPGRagnarok Online plays rather brutally with this trope, by means of the Star Knight/Taekwon Master class. Their skill, 'Demon of the Sun, Moon, and Stars' (or 'Solar, Lunar, and Stellar Shadow'), grants its owner a + 30% bonus to Attack Speed - this bonus is insanely large. In exchange? The character's sight. This isn't like the 'Blind' status effect, where a character takes a hit to their accuracy - accuracy is just fine. However the player's screen becomes black the moment this skill is learned, with a lighted area surrounding their character. As the skill is levelled up, and the attack speed bonus moves closer to + 30%, the lighted area shrinks, until at level 10 and + 30% ASPD, the tiles immediately surrounding a character can just be made out. These effects are permanent and utterly irrevocable.
In First Encounter Assault Recon, Alma's incredible mental powers came at a rather nasty cost: extreme sensitivity to negative emotions, particularly those relating to her father, which often resulted her being rendered catatonic with empathic terror when he was angry. On top of that, she suffered hallucinations, debilitating nightmares, and the occasional bout of pyrokinesis, as well as inadvertently mindraping anyone who spent too much time around her.
In Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy Jov Leonov was blinded during childhood by an accident. However, in exchange for his sight he ended up with formidable Mind Control powers that he used in a successful career as a KGB agent, and then as the Movement's Master of Mind Control and the man behind the Meat Puppet project.
Though not actually a disability, Regal Bryant of Tales of Symphonia learned to fight with his feet extremely well after his oath to keep his hands bound.
In comparison to his normal combat skills, this is a massive disability. The only time he uses his hands he easily blasts through a wall using a Hand Blast. The difficulty of using his weapon of choice is also shown in his Difficult but Awesome gameplay. His attacks are difficult to pick up, but when mastered he is the second strongest character, being able to chain devastating (and stylish) combos, and is one of the few characters capable of healing.
Koishi Komeiji from the Touhou series ended up sealing away her ability to read minds due to the fear it inspired in other people. This left her with the ability to read and manipulate people's subconscious, a much more powerful ability that places her as the extra stage boss, compared to her stage 4 boss sister.
In Warcraft 3, Demon Hunters blind themselves to better see demons. They have their eyes burnt out, then the eyesockets are used to contain the essence of a demon, which gives them more power and abilities, such as the ability to better see magic in their surroundings, which includes demons. The demon's essence they seal in their eyesockets look like color tinted flames, so they often wear blindfolds over their eyes to keep from creeping out those around them.
In Guild Wars, the members of the ritualist profession blind themselves to better sense spirits. (Hence their hats) One character (Aeson) even was born blind, and became a ritualist for partially this reason. This is either making themselves blind, or wearing a hat that covers their eyes so they can be deprived of senses. Two ritualist NPCs (Togo and Yijo Tahn) actually don't wear hats covering their eyes.
In Spore it is entirely possible to create something with no eyes. Funnily enough, this only barely effects your ability to actually see (the top third of the screen is blacked out and the rest is monotone) and gives you a few extra evolution points to boot.
Visas Marr and the miraluka in the Star Wars universe. Kreia, ironically enough, does roughly the exact same thing, "seeing with the Force."
Despite that Haborym was blinded for his crimes (Which actually weren't his fault!), he's potentially one of the best swordmasters in the game, and he still has the highest dexterity of all characters.
Pokémon plays this fairly straight. Pokemon with the Guts, Tangled Feet, Steadfast, and other similar abilities all gain boosts to their stats when affected by a special condition or effect (Burn, Frozen, Poisoned, Paralyzed, Confused, Flinching). Likewise, the stat-cutting downside of Burn (attack) and Paralysis (speed) are ignored for the stat being raised. On top of THAT, it's not a direct "boost" like Swords Dance, meaning that their stats can still go up. Now THAT is a superpower!
The ability Hustle reduces Accuracy and increases Attack. In the case of Deino and Zweilous, it represents their blindness and mad ferocity. A Deino with Hustle-boosted Outrage can be unstoppable in the un-evolved tiers of the metagame.
Shedinja is an interesting example. It's the only Pokémon in the entire series with a fixed stat that doesn't change no matter what you do — an HP stat of 1. This means that literally any damage of any kind will instantly knock it out, even if it's level 100 against a level 1 Pidgey. However, to make up for this, its unique Wonder Guard ability makes it *completely immune* to any attack that doesn't have a type advantage against it. Competitive players sometimes lose to it because they have nothing that can pierce its Wonder Guard.
Check the "Comic Book" section's part on Daredevil, then apply the same to Kenshi from Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, as he was also blinded and improved his other senses as a result. Interestingly, the games Deadly Alliance, Deception, and Armageddon use this to defy Gameplay and Story Segregation, as Sonya and Kira's Kiss of Death moves won't affect him (sadly, he's just as vulnerable as anyone else in 9).
Emi in Katawa Shoujo runs track and hardly appears to miss her feet - in fact, her synthetic legs actually give her an advantage due to their shape and composition! Meanwhile, it is repeatedly stated and shown that the blind Lilly has an insanely good sense of hearing (she mentions listening on people whispering in the next room over, although the walls are thin) and the deaf Shizune is master strategist since she doesn't let outside influences distract her.
Hanako, on the other hand, averts this. She has severe emotional scarring to go along with the burn scars covering most of the right half of her body, being painfully, painfully shy towards anyone except Lilly.
In ef - a fairy tale of the two. has Chihiro, whose inability to keep her memories of the day, forced her to develop her ability to precisely convey her feelings through words, making her a great writer. Other characters even used the blind-hearing analogy for it.
She also has a tendency to lie to herself in her diary.
In Hatoful Boyfriend's "Bad Boys Love" route, Anghel Higure has powerful hallucinations. Virtually everything seems to be of gravest importance to him. He once becomes hysterical because he can't decide which New Years charm to buy and then is profoundly grateful when the protagonist takes the "Burden of Decision" from him (just picks out a traffic safety amulet and buys it for him). He screams and writhes around when his real name is used and has great difficulty using normal terms for a lot of things. But his insane hallucinations also cause him to notice (and exaggerate, in warped fantasy metaphors) threats and plot points sooner than anybirdy else. Once the others get him to use "the names of the ignorant many" for things, he's an excellent lookout and able to figure out how to beat The Dragon and find the Big Bad, when no one else had had an idea.
During the second game it's seen once again that he has trouble functioning in the real world. He can't tell when he's being exploited even though he's blacking out every time he meets with somebirdie. However, when a Death Ray is fired he's able to suck his willing friends along into a delusion that they are all Magical Girls, which lets them use those magic powers first in defense, then in attack.
Last Res0rt codifies this in canon with the Light Children, who are born with just a little more or less soul than normal, but weren't born to Celeste parents. Since they often go undetected and lack the training that Celeste children receive for their extrasensory powers, this usually leads to them being diagnosed with various mental illnesses instead as these same extrasensory powers are often mistaken for hallucinations and other bad behavior.
Inverted in Gunnerkrigg Court. Ysengrin was given magical, wooden Powered Armor by Coyote, which gave him powerful shapeshifting arms,control over plants, and let him walk bipedal. But due to a mistake by Coyote, the armor is not only arthritic, but Ysengrin's over-reliance on it has ravaged his body to the point where he can barely walk and eat without it. It's strongly implied that this is driving him insane.
In Bibliography, Pages of the Occular Codex give up regular eyesight in return for their magical eyesight. It could be disputed whether this really is a disability, though.
One pair of recurring antagonists in Keychain of Creation includes "Resonance Ben", who traded in his eyes for The Power of Rock and advanced echolocation. Their first defeat was turned into a total loss by this - due to a loud noise, Ben's ears were ringing, rendering him unable to either make out what his partner was saying or defend himself, forcing said partner to just grab him and run.
The author's accompanying comment: "There are a lot of heroes and villains with disabilities, and sometimes people seem to forget that they are still disabilities."
There's also the hilarious time when Ben captured a Solar and tied him to a chair in the dark, trying (and mostly succeeding) to invoke Nothing Is Scarier...except Misho is one of the Chosen of the Sun, and summoning light is only slightly more trouble for him than reflexively knowing the current position of the sun in the sky (IE: so easy he barely has to think it). This reveals Ben in his boxers, laughing maniacally since he didn't notice.
In Spinnerette, Mecha Maid is completely paralysed due to ALS. To get around this, she built and uses a robotic suit that amplifies her nerves and allows for her to move normally, but only for use as a superhero. It is revealed later that she uses parts of her suit while in civilian clothing because even breathing is becoming increasingly difficult for her.
Kili of The Dragon Doctors has a magical disability; her ability to see spirits is so strong that were it not for her tattoos she'd go insane, and did go insane as a child, complete with hair going white. Growing up, Kili was able to hone this ability to become a powerful shaman.
Homestuck: After Terezi Pyrope was blinded, her guardian dragon taught her to smell and taste colors. Her increased field of view and detection of minute details makes her a sharper investigator, and she's not bad with her canes, either. Terezi actually prefers her current condition over being able to see—because she's embraced her blindness, her dream self can't see either, in contrast with other disabled trolls (namely Tavros and Vriska), whose dream selves lack their physical disabilities.
The Whateley Universe is loaded with examples and subversions among the mutants at Whateley Academy:
She-Bot was born without limbs but developed an uncanny natural ability to interface with machinery that allowed her to use cybernetic limbs of her own devising.
Jericho, another deviser, went blind but developed 360-degree psychic vision instead. But since he doesn't actually perceive light he can only distinguish the shapes of objects, has no color vision and can't read print or video displays. It also doesn't penetrate solid objects so he can't see through windows.
Subverted by a bunch of other students whose "superpowers" are effectively disabilities either because they can't turn them off (like Screech, whose voice can burn steel or melt glass) or because of a lack of Required Secondary Powers, like Frostbite who generates cold but isn't immune to it.
From the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, Echo, a mutant superheroine who can control and generate sound, is also blind. It doesn't worry her much, because she uses the ambient sound around her as a type of sonar.
Erich Welchell, the Diabolical Mastermind known as Brainchild from the same setting, is paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair. He is also a powerful telekinetic who can fly... so screw the damned wheelchair.
Skitter in Worm briefly goes through this after a bomb leaves her blind. She can still sense her surroundings with her bugs but runs into the problem of not being able to see facial expressions or computer screens. A more permanent example is Genesis, who uses a wheelchair.
Razikale of ToRule was born without wings. In return, he had larger magic reserves.
Subverted in The Boondocks, in which Huey Genre Savvy assumes that the blind Stinkmeaner was able to beat down Granddad thanks to super-human senses. He then trains Granddad on how to combat such an opponent, with one exercise involving watching old Zatoichi movies. It isn't until the rematch is well under way that Huey comes to realize that while Stinkmeaner had heightened senses, they were far from superhuman and he had just gotten lucky the first time. Before Huey can relay this to Granddad, Stinkmeaner's already lying dead on the ground.
Thanks to Fry from Futurama having an *ahem* 'special' mind, he is immune to all psi attacks. Anybody can be an idiot, but not everybody is his own grandfather...
Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender , as mentioned in the trope description. She's a great Earthbender, both because of natural talent and because she's blind: She learned how to earthbend, and how to sense her surroundings by registering vibrations in earth, from the giant badgermoles she played with when she was young. She says that Earthbending is her way of "seeing" the world.
In an unusual take, this power isn't limited to her and it doesn't require blindness, as she eventually taught it to the fully sight-capable Aang. It proved a decisive factor in helping beat Ozai.
She's so skilled with it that she can even act as a Living Lie Detector by monitoring their pulse like a polygraph.
Her power frequently makes her friends forget she's blind.
Toph (on being shown a wanted poster with her face on it): It sounds like a sheet of paper but I guess you're referring to what's on the sheet of paper. Later, when Katara learns about the poster Katara: What's this? Toph:I don't know! I mean, seriously, what's with you people?! I'm blind!
Hilariously, it is revealed in "The Ember Island Players" that the Fire Nation attributes her sight to echolocationnote which is in fact how many real life blind people get a sense of their surroundings. The fact that Toph is also loud and rather mouthy probably helped to contribute such a notion. While everyone else is complaining or angsting about their representation, Toph loves hers.
Actor portraying Toph: HOAAAAAAAARGH!!!! (beat) There. I just got a pretty good look at you.
In one episode of Invader Zim, Zim invents a machine that lets him substitute anything he wants (in this case, a plush piggy) for any single object in the past. He uses this not to screw up the world history, but instead to mess up Dib's life. As the episode goes on, Dib gets gradually more and more disabled by the injuries sustained by piggies being inserted into important points in his life, until he's dead. Until his dad puts him in a life-sustaining, amazingly powerful robot suit, and he shows up on Zim's doorstep to tear his place apart.
Phantom Limb from The Venture Bros. was born with withered arms and legs. A laboratory accident replaced these with fully-developed but invisible ones, with which he can kill by touch.
Subverted however with the Impossible family, a parody of the Fantastic Four. Other than the Reed Richards expy, they got the sucky aspects of the Four's superpowers without any of the benefits. Sally has to concentrate or else her skin (and only her skin) will turn invisible, Cody bursts into flames whenever he is exposed to oxygen (and feels the same way any of us would if we were on fire), and Ned is a walking callous.
When Peter opens a fast food restaurant in an episode of Family Guy and institutes a No Legs No Service policy, Joe and an army of paraplegics join together and form a robot called Crippletron that destroys it.
In one episode of Darkwing Duck, DW was temporarily blinded by Megavolt. Despite briefly believing that his crimefighting career was over, he bounced back in perfect "Let's Get Dangerous" fashion when Megavolt threatened Gosalyn and Launchpad, beating his opponent handily by allowing his other senses to compensate for his lost sight.
In one episode of Jackie Chan Adventures, Daolong Wong rendered Jackie mute, Jade deaf and Tohru blind. Uncle suggested improving the other senses to make up for the lost ones and mentioned, as an example, that he started improving his hearing when his sight became less than perfect, only to be told his hearing wasn't all that either.
Gargoyles has Owen is one handed because the other is solid stone. He uses it to punch people. Xanatos even remarks that he's "making good use of his handicap."
Another time, after the entire city had been turned to stone by a spell broadcasted over television, the Manehatten clan met with a blind man who had been unaffected. Turns out you need to both see and hear Earth Magic for it to have an effect on you.
There are three general categories of real-life disability "superpowers". The first category consists of people who lack some ability, and as a result, hone some other ability either to make up for it, or simply because they have nothing better to do - these sorts of abilities are accessible to everyone who spends enough time working at it. The second category is a physical defect which in some ways can be an advantage, such as giantism giving the advantage of extreme height in some sports (despite the health problems it causes), or not "wasting" blood on things you don't need (like legs in pilots; without legs, blood has less space to rush into during high-g maneuvers; a similar principle is used in flight suit design to prevent blood from rushing out of the head). The third category is when something artificial actually provides some advantages over the natural version (for example, some runners get a small advantage from artificial legs that can be modified specifically for running, some wheelchair-bound people can go further distances given navigable territory than pedestrians on foot before tiring, and men without natural external sex organs who find that prostheses and toys actually provide more pleasure for lovers/flexibility and variation.)
Mental disorders are a frequently believed (though opinions vary) to provide some benefit to sufferers, whether increased creativity or awareness. There is quite a bit of debate over where disability ends and normal neurodiversity begins.
On a cellular level, nearly all the genes of so-called "super-bugs" that make them resistant to antibiotics are actually defects that tend to make them inefficient and less competitive outside an otherwise sterile hospital environment; for instance, loss of certain apertures that pump nutrients through the cell membrane also render a bacterium incapable of pumping the antibiotic that would kill it through those apertures, making it immune, yet also render it incapable of ingesting much nourishment. Research into various ways of "crowding out" these resistant strains of malevolent bacteria with other more benevolent bacteria is beginning to show some promise.