We've all heard of the standard superhero power deal
, of people with phenomenal cosmic powersnote
, and of people whose powers make people point and laugh, since What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?
. Sometimes, though, people like to mix things up and give someone with reasonable, or even cool, powers an additional lame or useless one.
Mostly just because it's funny
to list someone's powers as "energy manipulation, one of the greatest healers in the world, super strength and... can talk to slugs"
, instead of just "energy manipulation, healing and strength."
Of course Heart Is an Awesome Power
can also apply, which means this power can allow nasty surprise or emergency exit if no one ever takes it into account or it's just too wildly out of line to suspect. Which means the character is "multiclassed" as a Spoony Bard
or Lethal Joke Character
and standalone versions of these are avoided.
of Combo Platter Powers
, The Last of These Is Not Like the Others
. May overlap with Required Secondary Powers
and New Powers as the Plot Demands
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Anime & Manga
- Mew Ichigo of Tokyo Mew Mew has typical Magical Girl leader powers that make her a particularly useful fighter, as well as the ability to jump high, always land on her feet, and... transform into a cute helpless kitten. Unexpectedly. This was played up in Tokyo Mew Mew - a la mode to the point where she literally had to turn into a cat after three minutes of fighting in order to let Berii take her spotlight and place as leader.
- Inverted a bit in Pokémon: Misty's Psyduck has Scratch and Tail Whip as its primary attacks (in fact, this is the only time we ever see Tail Whip in the anime). But then the uber-powerful Disable, Confusion, and sometimes even Psychic when its headache is big enough. Bear in mind that Psyduck's time in the spotlight was almost entirely during the first generation of Pokemon, when Psychic was the Gun in the game's Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors.
- Mokona from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle can take people through different dimensions and works as a Universal Translator. Another of her "secret techniques" is imitating voices.
- That is not a useless technique. You never know when you are going to need doing a Bavarian Fire Drill.
- Mokona's sort of a subversion of this. Every aspect shown of her however many secret techniques has come in incredibly useful for the heroes or Yuuko.
- The eponymous character in Naruto doesn't always get the summon he wants and is stuck with Gamakichi and/or Gamatatsu instead. "Can spontaneously create a thousand clones of himself, generate and weaponize a ball of pure energy, and summon... a couple of small, hungry talking frogs..."
- This changes quite a bit in Shippuden, as Gamakichi and Gamatatsu have grown quite a bit bigger (as in, larger than any human, though they're still tiny compared to their father Gamabunta), and even the snack-obsessed moron Gamatatsu can do a powerful combination jutsu with Naruto.
- Played straight/for comedy with Killer Bee, the host of the Eight-Tailed Beast. Being a jinchuriki gives you incredible amounts of chakra (even when not using the beast's power), the ability to transform part or all of the way into the beast's form, and a special power depending on which one. Of what we know of, the One-Tailed lets you control sand, the Two-Tailed can make a weird spectral fire, the Four-Tailed can control/create lava, the Nine-Tailed gives you a Healing Factor, and the Eight-Tails... lets your body produce ink from your mouth. Despite this, the current 8-Tailed host more than makes up for it with his control over the basic forms.
- Jugo is the originator of the Cursed Seal, giving him great durability and lets him make his entire body a Shapeshifter Weapon. For an entirely different reason he can also communicate with animals, and have them do various tasks like scouting or scattered torn pieces of clothing to throw someone off their trail. Jugo's kinship with nature is actually tied to his transformation powers, since both are due to him being a natural Sage, a person with strong ties to the chakra of nature.
- Parodied in Azumanga Daioh, when Tomo plans to take Chiyo's intelligence and Sakaki's athletic ability, and Osaka offers her forgetfulness. The theoretical super-Tomo shows up late and without her textbook, but does a triple flip into her seat and gives a perfect translation.
- Tsugumi Ohba of Death Note said that Shinigami, among intangibility, Flight, the ability to see names above people's heads can also... taste. It should be noted that they don't need to eat.
- The skill set of Negi in Mahou Sensei Negima!! includes various wind and lightning spells, Status Buffs, Flash Stepping, Energy Absorption, etc., etc. Oh, and he also knows a spell for breast inflation.
- Luca of Saint Beast gets flight, strength, and the ability to read minds via his fingertips. In a different story one might be able to find meaningful uses for this, but in the actual series the only thing he can use it for is to read his boyfriend's mind — the reason he actually wished for it in the first place. In comparison Judas' healing kiss/breath is a lot less lame.
- Endemic during the Silver Age thanks to common use of New Powers as the Plot Demands.
- Gambit from X-Men used to have a power which had no practical applications but meant he could touch Rogue. Though this was useful as the two were lovers. (He lost it, of course.)
- He also had a "charm" power, which everyone except Chris Claremont completely ignored.
- Rogue herself, when still possessing Ms. Marvel's powers, had a latent seventh sense that allowed her to detect danger. She used it perhaps twice in the comic books. Ms. Marvel herself rarely used the power, either.
- Superman used to have the power of Super-Ventriloquism, which he used surprisingly frequently. * Also whenever Superman used to use his powers to do something more efficiently writers would call it Super-<Insert Thing Here>, so "weaving at Superspeed" became "Super-Weaving".
- His "Super-Breath" is used only sporadically (volcano eruption, "Fire Wall of Doom"). Supergirl once complained (to herself) how "lame" this power was.
- Don't forget the infamous "Rebuild The Great Wall Of China Vision" from the movies.
- This was originally supposed to be another example of applied Super Speed, but they didn't have the budget for it
- Of course, Superdickery features plenty of completely ridiculous (and fortunately, temporary) powers.
- A very bizarre version of this in Legion of Super-Heroes- Bouncing Boy has the power to bounce and is incredibly good at angles and geometry. While at first this seems an inversion of this trope. Speedy geometry pretty much ends up as Required Secondary Powers.
- Spider-Man got one of these in "The Other" powerup mini-arc before Civil War. He gained such powers as seeing in the dark, tracing vibrations through his weblines, poison stingers in his arms... and the ability to identify the species of any spider on sight. At least he didn't end up shooting webs out of his behind.
- Even before that arc, he had adhesive abilities allowing him to climb up walls. That can sometimes come in handy but super-sticky powers still sound puny when compared to super strength and agility. In fact, he once held a small child to his back with no hands, like a spider's egg sac. That's right. Spidey had the power to give spider-piggyback rides! The proportionate piggy-back rides of a spider!
- Super-sticky sounds lame until Spidey uses it to rip Sasha Kravinoff's face off.
- Wall crawling is by far his most commonly used power, and the primary reason he's associated with spiders. It also keeps his mask on and clothes together even if they're ripped to shreds.
- Namor the Sub-Mariner had super strength, could fly, could breathe both air and water, could charge his body with electricity, had telepathic control over undersea life... and could puff himself up like a puffer fish. The latter powers (thankfully) haven't been seen since his reintroduction into Marvel in the 1960s.
- On a related note, this is arguably why Aquaman is often seen more as a punchline than a legitimate superhero, since people tend to overlook his more useful abilities like super strength and breathing underwater, and just remember him as "the guy who talks to fish" (and of course, even that ability can be surprisingly useful in large bodies of water... Ever seen Jaws? Yeah, he can make that happen to you whenever he damn well pleases.)
- The Hulk has super-strength and durability... and the ability to see astral forms. Which is more useful than you might think, but not that much more useful.
- To be even more obscure, he can also always sense his location relative to the place he was "born" in the gamma bomb.
- It's more a Required Secondary Power, but Scott Summers, aka. Cyclops, has a natural grasp of spatial geometry: usually he uses it to bounce his eyebeams off stuff, but he has used it for other things (like throwing rocks and baseball) at least occasionally. Wolverine once noted that this means it's a very bad idea to play against Cyke in a game of pool. Captain America also has this as well for the same reason (except with his shield); one can only imagine what would happen if the two of them played pool together.
- In Cyclop's case, it's an inherent power which he's constantly practiced. Captain American developed it as a skill.
- Empowered's hypermembrane, when intact, grants her an impressive, if unreliable, array of superpowers, such as Super Strength, energy blasts, Wall Crawling, and invulnerability. It can also turn invisible. Not turn her invisible, just turn itself invisible. You can guess how Emp and her body-image issues feel about that little trick.
- It has its uses. Namely, because it's so well known that she loses her powers when her suit is torn, and because she can make part of it invisible at any given time, she uses it to make her teammate-turned-evil dWarf! lower his guard by faking a torn suit.
- It also makes phone calls.
- "Seth", a psycho living weapon developed to take down The Authority, had one thousand, two hundred and four unique powers - literally every single ability the world's seven richest governments together could churn out of their supersoldier programs (with all the resources of a World of Weirdness at their disposal). Some of them were typical Superpower Lottery things like telekinesis and super-super-speed. Some of them were quirkier, but made sense in terms of exploiting the Authority's Achilles Heels- "Larynx-Freezing Vision," for instance, stopped the team's Doctor Strange expy from getting a spell out. But then came "X-Ray Strength" and "Nuclear Poop Vision..."
- Wonder Woman has flight, superstrength second only to Superman, reflexes fast enough to block bullets with her bracelets (and indestructible bracelets), an indestructible magic lasso that can break enchantments and force anyone bound with it to answer any question truthfully and a razor-sharp tiara she can throw like a boomerang. Did you know she can also talk to animals? Neither did most of the people who write her comic, judging by how often she does it.
- She can also talk with trees.
- Nightcrawler of the X-Men can teleport (taking other people along - or just pieces of them - if he wants), climb walls and ceilings, turn invisible in shadows, and has superhuman agility and a prehensile tail he can use to fence with three swords at once. He also has the ability to know whether or not he's in his home dimension. He can count the number of times he's used this power for anything other than instinctively ending up in the right dimension when he teleports on the fingers of one hand. And Nightcrawler only has three fingers per hand.
- The Martian Manhunter has - brace yourself - superstrength, flight, invulnerability, x-ray vision, heat vision, superspeed, nine senses, telepathy, invisibility, intangibility and shapeshifting. He can also - brace yourself - create ice cream with his mind. Needless to say, he hasn't used that last one recently.
- In addition to being a Flying Brick, one-time Avenger Starfox (no relation) has the power to overwhelm people with "waves of pleasure." He mostly uses this to get laid, giving the character a very "date-rapey" sort of vibe.
- His "pleasure power" would fall more under the realm of Useless Useful Spell. Though the ability to take an enemy out via orgasm is a potentially useful one, it's failed nearly every time he's tried to use it in a fight.
- Eventually the "pleasure power" became a lot more potent in the pages of She-Hulk, so naturally he lost it in a lawsuit.
- Mr Hyde from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen had monstrous strength and toughness, and could see heat. With an invisible sociopath on their team, this did become useful.
- Daredevil's sonar super-hearing is used relatively often. His super-touch is mentioned relatively frequently, as well. Every once in a while, his super-smell will be referenced and useful. But rarely does his super-taste, which apparently allows him to analyze even trace ingredients of food, work its way into a story.
- Savage Dragon has superhuman strength, invulnerability, a healing factor, superhuman aim, superhuman agility, and... the ability to speak any Earth-based language. He didn't even realize he had this power until he met someone who spoke Mandarin.
- Even Squirrel Girl, whose primary abilities push Heart Is an Awesome Power to new levels, gets in on this act. Her useful abilities include Talks To Squirrels and Squirrel Agility, but she also has lips that taste like hazelnuts.
- Star Fox's own Fox McCloud "could fly circles around a flea, endure days of gravity training, recite the Cornerian Constitution backwards and belch on command." note
- The Tick, in the original comics. He has Super Strength, Drama Power and is Nigh Invulnerable... And the ability to pull 2 dollar bills out of Hammerspace inside his pockets at will. The Tick uses this incredible power to pay for groceries.
- Zany To The Max
- When the Warners become superheroes, they all have super strength, flight abilities, etc. They also have their own special power. Yakko's is cutting things up with invisible, giant, or invisible giant scissors, Wakko's is hitting things with rocks, and Dot's is...wrapping things up with paper.
- It turned out to be useful in the Powerpuff Girls parody, where she wraps Pinky and The Brain up in enough paper to keep them from moving.
- The Warner Cousins (except Sikko, who has super powers in normal form and doesn't have a Warnerpuff Toon form) have special powers when they are superheroes as well. Zak and Ko can separate, exploding in the process. They become conjoined again if they touch each other. Pakko can use his hands as keys. Makko can shapeshift and make music without an instrument. Jot can make a computer screen appear above her.
- The Zarner Siblings have special abities in superhero form as well.
- Angel from Maximum Ride has Super Strength, Flight, Telepathy, borderline Mind Control, and... can talk to fish.
- Don't forget Nudge, who can sense stuff about people through what they've touched (important — she can guess any computer password), and she's magnetic (not so important — they play with it on a plane for awhile, then it's promptly forgotten). Yeah.
- It was probably pointed out that being magnetic and having to touch computers (to get passwords) don't mix.
- The Sleeper from Wild Cards gained a new form and powers every time he woke up. However, one power stayed with him: He could generate sad piano background music by saying 'Play it again, Sam'.
Live Action TV
- Marty Hopkirk in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) has a bunch of useful Ghostly powers and... voice mimicry. Usually this would be a possibly useful power, but Marty is the type of ghost that very few people can see or hear so it's only useful in Plot Tailored to the Party situations.
- An even better example would be at the start of the second season (in the remake, anyway), where he gains the ability to... shrink shoes.
- Illyria from Angel initially has the powers of an Old God - including outstanding physical strength, invulnerability, shapeshifting, time-manipulation... and the ability to talk to plants.
- She actually seemed quite upset about losing that last one.
- It may be a clever in-joke, as Fred (whose body Illyria is using) talked to plants for a while after returning from a hell dimension. (They didn't talk back.)
- The Secret World of Alex Mack is a show about a girl who, after being dosed by chemicals, gains telekinesis, the power to send out electric shocks, turn into a puddle (which is a lot more useful than it sounds, as she could actually move around while in water mode), change colour when upset (which isn't) and, after a power creep, burp bubbles and wield super strength after eating curry.
- In Heroes, Sylar's acquires superpowers whether they're useful or not. One of his first powers is "melting things," which he's never seen to use again. His telekinesis, lightning blasts, an incredible Healing Factor are all used often.
- In Misfits, 'Jesus' had the powers of telekinesis and teleportation, but also walking on water and the ability to drive people mad with lust by touching them. Justified by the fact that he brought these separate powers from Seth.
- Jenny Mc Carthy had a show structured like SNL for a while, and one of her recurring characters was a superheroine who had the usual powers, plus the ability to blast people with quarts of snot that made them chill out.
- All That: Whenever Superdude appears, he states some of his superpowers before mentioning his sensitive side.
- The comics had Wonder Woman as an The Champion of the amazon warriors with Super Strength and an invisible plane. The Wonder Woman TV series introduced the world to the way Diana Prince could spin to change her clothes, and even Wonder Woman could change back into Diana Prince (in the episode "The Feminum Mystique Part 1)", and also gave Wonder Woman the power to talk to pigeons, calm guard dogs, and perfectly impersonate a german spy's voice
- In the Dinosaurs episode where Earl becomes a super-hero, he has the abilities of Flight, Heat Vision, Super-Strength... and can guess anyone's weight to the nearest pound. A news anchor even refers to him as the "Weight-Guessing Wonder".
- Dark Sun sourcebook "The Will and the Way" has a kit "Tribal Psionicist" whose main feature was the combination of usual class development and random wild talents (acquired without learning all the prerequisites and synergetic with normal learning). That may happen to be overpowering or almost useless, at whims of the Random Number God.
- Best one? Trying to figure out a way to use "You can tell what direction is what." (Well, it could come in handy if you're lost...)
- Solars in Exalted are blessed by the Unconquered Sun. What sort of powers does this give them? They can become awesome at just about anything, fight well enough to kill gods, dodge attacks that are undodgeable, make a person do almost anything with their powers of persuasion, learn the most powerful sorcery in existence, and even shape primordial chaos into concrete reality. But there are two abilities they all have in common: the power to make their foreheads glow, and to know the time of day at will. Hey torches and watches are fiddly and expensive!
- In Keychain of Creation, Marena used the light-from-the-forehead thing, and Misho was implied to be using it as well. So far, though, nobody has had occasion to use the time-of-day thing.
- Radiating sunlight is also very helpful when dealing with vampires, if you learn the right charm. Sadly, trying to find vampires is quite difficult, since they don't appear in the setting, but hungry ghosts and darkbrood have reason to fear.
- Infernals tend to end up in this, due to their Charm trees being somewhat indirect and organised by theme rather than mechanical focus. You can end up accepting better oceanic survival despite the majority of the chronicle taking place in a city located deep in the desert because it lets you anoint your stuff with poison, bleed acid, and turn other people's morning coffee into lashing tentacles. Malfeas's Feel No Pain Charms are separated by one that lets you go without sleep indefinitely, but when you do sleep (usually to recover willpower), you experience a horrible nightmare. Adorjani Infernals, meanwhile, can easily end up supplementing their run-really-fast powers, of which they have a lot, with "hate loud noises", "survive indefinitely on murder" and "undergo mitosis". And, of course, you can access the oddities of multiple Yozis, and indeed have to in order to function at full power, leading to an odd situation where an Infernal is running around simultaneously able to see reality-that-is and a horrible nightmarish dreamscape because he counts running as sleep and has nightmares when he sleeps.
- Not uncommon in Mutants & Masterminds, if the player is quirky enough. Some of these simple powers and feats can actually break the plot if the DM doesn't plan ahead. (Like the ability to make nigh-instant gather information checks, or a Bag of Holding that can swallow enemies whole.)
- Some D&D Spells and powers can create this effect, especially the optional rules and level 0 spells. Wizards can blow up dragons and turn coins into rings. Clerics can raise the dead and produce water from nowhere. An optional Hexblade ability allows you to create spooky omens for no reason other than to freak people out.
- Touhou protagonist Reimu Hakurei can fly (granted, nearly everyone in Gensoukyou can do that), call upon the powers of the Hakurei Shrine gods, make herself completely indestructible at a whim, and eat sweets without getting fat.
- Fanon states that this results in her having the smallest hit-box in the game. Probably not canon, though, coming from an ending of the largely-ignored second game. Other endings give the Hakurei orb the ability to turn into a cat and emit pleasant smells (in addition to it's primary purpose of beating up youkai).
- Yuuka Kazami is a youkai with incredibly high levels of strength, endurance and magical energy, and (possibly) the original creator of Marisa's Master Spark. Her actual power is manipulation of flowers, which is referred to as "more of an extra". (Fanon occasionally finds ways to weaponize that too, though. Since powers in Touhou are not too well defined, you can go from relatively mundane things like poison-dust flowers, to insane applications like making flowers grow on and in someone's body...)
- In Sam & Max: Freelance Police: The Devil's Playhouse, Max has the power to see the future, teleport, astrally project himself and others into films or slides, shapeshift, force words into other people's mouths, compress into a tiny space, read minds, destroy elder gods, eat nightmares, warp reality, and produce an Nutritional Information list of any food item he looks at. This last power isn't even necessary to beat the game.
- In Spyro the Dragon: Enter the Dragonfly, Spyro can breathe fire, ice, and bubbles. The Bubble Breath is entirely useless except for trapping the MacGuffin dragonflies. Later game "A Hero's Tail" featured Water Breath, which couldn't kill any enemies and was only useful for solving a few puzzles.
- In Kingdom Hearts, the Keyblade can appear at will, assume nearly any form, act as a conduit for magic, annihilate The Heartless, and lock or unlock doors. Which turn out to be the most powerful of its abilities by far, because hearts lie behind doors.
- In Slightly Damned, Kieri the water angel can fly, shoot icebolts, and has a curse that let her turn into a cute bunny.
- Being said cute bunny restricts Kieri's ability to fight and it weakens her magic. However, it crosses into Cursed with Awesome when Kieri becomes unhittable due to small size and increased rabbity agility. After all, Toski did refer to it as a gift!
- In Something Positive, Super Stupor: While not a weak power by any means, the very... intimate contact necessary for one superhero's truth power to work makes him very reluctant to even admit that it exists..
- Dave's kernelsprite, from Homestuck, was prototyped with an impaled crow. This gives him wings & flight, an always available sword, energy beams, insight into the secrets of the game, and apparently the ability to deface posters from a distance while someone is writing on them.
- In Roommates (and its Spin-Off s Girls Next Door and Down the Street) Jareth's main power is over time and space (even people's personal time and space perception), he also has some very limited general magic (enough to heal small injuries) ... and the power to instant change people's clothing. (Could be highly specialized teleportation, but then where on earth does he get the clothes from?)
- In The Non-Adventures of Wonderella the title character has super strength and invulnerability and can jump really high, which are pretty much all she uses. Occasionally she demonstrates other, more bizarre abilities. Notably, she gets extra powers when she's tied up, which includes the ability to vomit up a live octopus. She also gets heat vision as an allergic reaction to shellfish.
- Aquerna, at Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe. Strength, quickness, leaping ability, and.. she can talk to squirrels (although some of the time this one is her best power).
- Makes sense once one considers that she gets her powers from a (possibly the) squirrel spirit. She gets overshadowed by many of the flashier super-teens at the school, but it's actually a pretty neat and consistent package.
- SCP Foundation: SCP-076-2 a.k.a. Able: super strong, Made of Iron, can materialize blades from nowhere... and has a great affinity for tending to livestock.
- He's the Abel (as in, the one from The Bible). The tending to livestock bit is the one that makes sense out of a grab bag of powers that have no apparent explanation either scientifically or from his origins.
- All three The Powerpuff Girls are superstrong and can fly, can shoot Eye Beams, and have several other cool powers. Blossom also has freezing powers, Bubbles can speak any language (including animal languages), and Buttercup can... roll her tongue like a taco.
- Fanon states that her actual power is that she can fight even better then the other girls.
- During the second season of W.I.T.C.H., the girls gained some interesting secondary powers. Among the quirkier of their new powers, Irma gained the power of persuasion and the ability to turn people's clothes pink.
- This is used to great effect to annoy the muscular Knight of Vengeance Frost who apparently doesn't believe that Real Men Wear Pink. Considering Irma is the comic relief of the team this could almost count as Personality Powers.
- In the comics, somee of the first signs of Irma's potential as a Guardian were her "wishing" (implied to be her persuasion powers being used unconsciously)for Mr. Collins to ask her about the only subject she had studied the night before and her wishing for a blue dress and proceeding to turn her entire wardrobe blue. Compared to the second person's example of power-potential-demonstration (Taranee redirecting a firework about to hit Irma in the face and then warding flames away from Will), it does make it seem like Irma got hit with What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?.
- Lampshaded in Jackie Chan Adventures, where the villains split the 12 talismans between the four of them, letting them rob banks with super strength, laser eyes, and the ability to turn cops into chickens, among other things. Finn, however, gets the powers of astral projection, motion-to-the-motionless and balance (spiritual, sadly). Luckily, he complains enough so that comparatively-Badass Normal Hak Fu trades with him... and then he makes a second trade with Ratso when this gives him flight and two healing powers (which later turns out to not actually be redundant).
- The Fairly OddParents: Noticing that his parents have to work all day and are too tired for him when they get home, Timmy wishes to his fairy godparents that his parents were superheroes and "toss in whatever superpowers they can think off". Standard powers: superstrength, flight, morphing powers, heat vision and superspeed. Stranger but no less practical powers: spider snot. And then there's meat vision.
- They also turn out to have immunity to magic, which becomes a problem when he wants to hit the Reset Button.
- South Park featured Captain Hindsight. Not only can he fly, but he also has... extraordinary hindsight. This is treated as Cursed with Awesome. Interestingly, as denoted by his superhero moniker, the extraordinary hindsight is considered his main power.
- Lilo & Stitch: Stitch has super strength, a super-retentive brain (can learn any language, alien, human, or otherwise, in a very brief time period), agility, quick thinking — he's created to be a being of mass destruction. He can also act as a gramophone (stick a claw on a vinyl disc, open Stitch's mouth, and swing to the Elvis). And perfectly regurgitate a cake he just ate.
- Superman: The Animated Series: Superman has precise muscle control.
- Actually more useful than you might think. If he didn't have precise muscle control, he wouldn't be able to be Clark Kent convincingly.
- In The Super Hero Squad Show this applies to just about everyone. Doctor Strange, for example, is good at energy projection, transformation of matter, Bulgarian cow-tipping, and sudoku.
- On Teen Titans, Starfire is a Flying Brick with Super Strength, the ability to project energy blasts from her hands and eyes, resistance to the vacuum of space and other harsh environmental conditions, and the ability to... learn languages by kissing a native speaker.
- She doesn't have to kiss them. Star just finds kissing to be the most fun.