Emotional Powers

Did you ever notice how many supernatural abilities, superpowers, or forms of Magic by Any Other Name are controlled by emotion? Kind of a part of Magic Versus Technology where Magic is emotional, and Technology is rational.

A more general version of Defence Mechanism Superpower and Traumatic Superpower Awakening without the required danger, Emotional Powers manifest themselves through emotion in the characters. What the emotions are will vary.

A character trying to work out How Do I Shot Web? may learn that the answer is Don't Think. Feel.

Compare Wild Magic. Supertrope to Angst Nuke and You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry. Compare and contrast with Psychoactive Powers and Personality Powers. Not to be confused with Emotion Bomb.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Ah! My Goddess, although Goddesses have full control over their powers, emotion sometimes trigger unconscious outbursts of magic. For example, Belldandy loses control on herself when she gets jealous of other women flirting with Keiichi.
  • A short manga story titled "Shouko of the Twilight" had the title girl making a contract with a vampire for magic. After futile attempts at Mundane Utility, Shouko loses her temper at the vampire...and it's discovered the magic is directly tied to her anger.
  • Natsu of Fairy Tail is an example of this, as the flame of emotion that is the source of power for his Dragon Slayer magic causes him to actually become stronger the angrier he gets.
  • In Ranma ˝, Ki Attacks are focused via the emotional state of the user (regardless of the type of emotion), and the deeper the emotion felt, the more powerful the attack. Also, the Counter Attack "Hiryu Shoten Ha" requires that the user be calm while the opponent is excited/enraged.
  • This is often implied in Nurse Angel Ririka SOS. No one talks about it in-universe, but the heroine's attacks are more dramatic when she's angry or has tapped into a new well of Heroic Resolve. Her Childhood Friend/sidekick often exhibits Defence Mechanism Superpowers.
  • The power of Hokuto Shinken from Fist of the North Star is directly proportional to how angry its user is. At normal levels of anger, Kenshiro can break concrete with his fists. At full power, he can explode a goddamned TANK by punching the driver.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica has the characters' emotional stability double as their Mana meter. Accumulating too many negative feelings and/or overexerting from too much magic use causes the user to transform into an Eldritch Abomination that has to be killed by its former comrades.
  • Dragon Ball Anyone with Saiyan blood has the potential to reach new levels of strength if sufficiently enraged.
  • Bleach: Orihime's power to reject fate is directly tied to her emotions. Unfortunately, being an Actual Pacifist limits her combat abilities since her one offensive skill runs on killing intent.
  • Kagerou Project: All of the protagonists' powers were created when Azami, the original Medusa, felt strong emotions; for example, her offensively powered snakes were all born from the pain, confusion and anger when humans tortured her. Even when one of the leads has their powers under control, strong emotions can make them use it by accident.


  • In the orginal novel of Matilda, her telekinesis first appears when she grows uncontrollably angry over being (loudly and violently) accused of something she did not do.
  • The Harry Potter series often has bouts of involuntary magic happen to younger wizards in moments of strong emotion.
    • Also, the Patronus Charm can only be cast by focusing on a very powerful happy memory.
  • In The Dresden Files, emotions can be a serious source of fuel for magical ability. In White Night in particular, Harry saves himself and another character by having the other character kiss him and supercharge his spells with lust. In Blood Rites, Murphy asks Harry why he just doesn't do the "pocket full of sunshine" trick on the Red Court vamps. Harry states that it turns out you have to be genuinely happy to make the spell work.
  • Warbreaker used hair changing colours with emotions for the royal family.
  • In The Underland Chronicles, Gregor has rager outbursts when he is angry.

    Films - Animated 
  • Some minor examples from the Disney Animated Canon:
    • Hades incinerates a forest in a flash fire after learning that Hercules is still alive.
    • Elsa's powers of ice and snow in Frozen go haywire when she feels fear and anxiety. This is the reason Arendelle is covered in snow in the middle of summer.

    Films - Live-Action 
  • In the Star Wars movies, Jedi focus their Force training on calming the mind and keeping emotions under control. The Sith focus their Force training on exploiting emotions.
  • In Ghost, Sam seeks out the subway ghost and refuses to leave until the other ghost teaches him how to actually touch and move solid objects. The secret involves gathering up as much intense emotion as he can - good and bad - in order to move things around:
    Subway Ghost: You've gotta take all your emotion, all your love, all your pain and push it way down deep into the pit of your stomach and let it explode like a reactor. Pow!
  • In the film version of Matilda, Matilda's telekinesis first displays itself when her father rips up her library books and tries to force her to watch TV with the rest of the family.
  • X-Men: First Class:
    • Erik Lehnsherr is originally only able to use his powers when extremely angry. The first two times, it involves maternal separation. However, he can't properly focus it until Charles Xavier coaches him to concentrate on happier emotions.
    • Raven Darkholme's mental state influences the effectiveness of her mutant ability.
      Raven: You know I can't control it sometimes if I'm stressed or I'm tired."

    Live Action Television 
  • In Bewitched : Tabitha's powers are shown to develop in tandem with her wishes and feelings.
  • Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a partial example. Though her magic isn't explicitly stated as being emotional, an arc in season 6 has her going out of control after her lover Tara is killed. Willow is also offered a job as a Vengeance Demon in season 4 because her despair impresses D'Hoffryn.
    • And after he leaves for a while, Oz reappears and he can't stay in control/human when he's emotionally unstable.
  • In Once Upon a Time, magic works from emotion, and characters channel their emotions in order to use their abilities. Most evil characters use their abilities by thinking about something bad that happened in their life and bringing that anger forward.
  • Charmed: The Charmed Ones all have powers that are linked to their emotions. Prue accidentally pushes everything off the shelves in a supermarket when she gets angry with Phoebe in the pilot. Piper first freezes something when she panics because she has run out of time while being tested in an interview to be a chef.
    • It is later elaborated that all powers are emotion-based, hence why Prue can enter Super Mode when she is cursed with Empathy, or why Phoebe can turn a demon's energy attack back on him when she receives Empathy as an active power.
  • Crash McLarson from The Aquabats! Super Show! can sometimes grow huge when his emotions are riled up.
  • Common in Misfits. Curtis can only turn back time when he feels regret, and Simon at first can only turn invisible when he feels ignored.
  • A large percentage of the Troubles on Haven are activated by strong emotional situations, and usually the only ways to end the Trouble is to resolve the Troubled person's emotional problem, or kill them.

    Video Games 

  • In UC, Kelsi’s doesn’t seem to have any conscious control over her shorting out electronics power. Instead it activates every time she is surprised or embarrassed. Like when her fellow cast member thinks she’s dating her friend Nicodemus.

    Web Original 
  • A rarely used power of Trayen from Phaeton is to convert his emotion into energy and release it. Which is bad news for anyone when he gets mad, and it seems that it's taking less anger to make bigger blasts.
  • In Worm, most parahumans' powers are more potent when they are in a similar emotional state to when they had their trigger event.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender also had a thing about Benders' emotions affecting their bending, and specific states of mind were required for each element. For instance, Zuko firebends by tapping into his anger. Later he discovers that his firebending is stronger when inspired by positive emotions, like a given love and passion for it. Conversly Iroh states that a fire bender cna only bend lightning if they are sufficently in control of their emotions and able to separate them. .
    • A large concern in the earlier seasons is Aang's temper as his avatar state is awakened by moments of extreme emotional distress or when his life is in danger turning him into a Person of Mass Destruction and a large focus of his character development is him learning to accept and later control the Avatar state
  • An episode of Teen Titans had Raven and Starfire switch bodies, and each had to learn to use the other's powers. This was very difficult for them both, because Starfire's power depended on releasing her emotions and Raven's power depended on her keeping her emotions firmly under control.
  • When villains throughout Winx Club do something that pushes Bloom to far, she becomes so angry that her whole body literally becomes enveloped within a mass of flames, letting them know that they're completely and totally screwed because she's about to unleash the full force of the Dragon Flame power on them.
  • The villain named Father from Codename: Kids Next Door can coat himself with and manipulate fire, but he flares up accordingly as he gets angrier.
  • An episode of Samurai Jack involves a big, clumsy, simple-minded, oafish creature following Jack around and causing Jack all kinds of trouble by accident / ignorance. Eventually Jack becomes fed up and yells at the creature to go away. Obviously heart-broken, the creature leaves and starts crying by itself. Then Jack is ambushed by some of the deadliest robotic villains he's ever faced. Normally, robots = acceptable targets for slicing and dicing, but Jack is actually defeated! The oafish creature witnesses this and suddenly transforms into a terrifying berserk monster who shows no mercy and easily destroys the robots with little effort, even though one tries to flee. Once the robots are destroyed, the creature calms down from it's berserk state and turns back into it's prior innocent self. Jack wakes up and figures out what happened, even though the creature doesn't seem to remember. Jack lets the creature know he forgives it, and while the creature doesn't seem to understand why it's happy that Jack is it's friend again.