[[quoteright:342:[[Franchise/TheFlash http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Barry_Flash_Origin_Recap_1287.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:342:[[FamilyUnfriendlyAesop Remember kids: if you douse yourself in chemicals in a lightning storm enough times, you too may become a superhero!]]]]

->''"Bitten by radioactive beebles in a freak algebra accident, young Ricky Robertson discovered he'd gained the ability to harness the awesome power of fractions!"''
-->-- ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' Flavor Text for ''[[http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?printed=true&multiverseid=74301 Fraction Jackson]]''

An opportune, unplanned and unrepeatable (hence "Accident") event that gives a character their [[SuperHero superpowers]]. Similar to NoPlansNoPrototypeNoBackup, only for people instead of machines and technologies. Opinions on this are extremely subjective, and this origin isn't used as much nowadays.

Common subtypes include:
* [[PlayingWithSyringes Lab Accidents]], especially involving chemicals
* [[ILoveNuclearPower Being blasted by radiation, especially from weapon fallout]] (this is usually a UsefulNotes/ColdWar thing)
* [[ImportedAlienPhlebotinum Aliens leaving their Phlebotinum around]]
* {{Genetic Engineering|IsTheNewNuke}}
* [[ToxicWasteCanDoAnything Falling into a vat of toxic waste]]

Given the relatively tiny probability of [[LightningCanDoAnything being struck by lightning]], it also ties in with that.

[[GrandfatherClause More tolerated in superheroes created decades ago]]. Remakes tend to either avoid these random-chance [[SuperHeroOrigin origins]] or [[MetaOrigin eventually tie them into a grander mythos]] (or at least a StoryArc of some kind).

It is still used frequently, despite having very nearly become cliché, making it an UndeadHorseTrope. [[AcceptableBreaksFromReality This is probably due to the fact]] that superheroes don't exist in real life, and it is simply difficult to find other ways to make superheroes.

Can also be used to create a MonsterOfTheWeek, with the same caveats. This can be used to create a ScienceIsBad plot if wanted when things have GoneHorriblyWrong. See also DisposableSuperheroMaker, MiraculousMalfunction, TestingRangeMishap. Contrast MassSuperEmpoweringEvent.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* It is during one of her father's lab-experiments that Kurau in ''Anime/KurauPhantomMemory'' gets merged with an {{energy being|s}} called "Rynax".
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' ''might'' count, what with the contact experiments infusing the test pilot's soul into the Eva's core. This happened twice with different circumstances: first, Yui was completely swallowed by Unit 01 and gained [[EmpathicWeapon limited control]] in the form of [[UnstoppableRage going berserk]]; second, Kyoko's transition was incomplete and a clinically insane body was left behind that eventually killed herself, making Unit 02 the most stable one. [[ThePlan Subverted in that Yui '''knew''' what's going to happen but did it anyway]]; unfortunately, it just made things even worse as she hadn't bothered to tell anyone and when her peers tried to extract her, she resisted and made it look like the operation failed (when the same happened to her son, everyone believed the same because Yui was holding them back until Shinji left on his own). Considering the fans' habit of deifying Yui-sama, it's a definite subversion.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The classic SuperHeroOrigin of ComicBook/TheFlash involved {{lightning|CanDoAnything}} and a shelf full of chemicals in a police lab.
** But, as mentioned above, this was eventually tied into [[StoryArc the "Speed Force"]].
** The origin of UsefulNotes/{{the Golden Age|OfComicBooks}} Flash involved Jay Garrick being exposed to ''hard water vapors.'' Apparently, there was a rumor at the time the comic was written that the chemicals typically found in hard water could increase the metabolic speed of animals who ingested or inhaled them.
*** This too was retconned to being part of the Speed Force, though during the period of time when the Speed Force disappeared, he still retained a weakened version of his powers thanks to his metagene.
** In ''Comicbook/{{Flashpoint}}'', Barry recreates the accident in an attempt to regain his powers. [[spoiler:It didn't work and Barry instead suffered the RealLife consequences of being struck by a bolt of lightning while being doused with dangerous chemicals. He has to fry himself ''two more times'' before it works.]]
*** Before that, Wally West (the third Flash) tried recreating the accident after losing his powers. It ''almost'' worked right... [[spoiler:he got the SuperSpeed, but not the necessary reflexes to maneuver, blasting a trail of destruction across the country in the split-second before he could stop running.]]
** That origin was so good, DC recycled it exactly for Kid Flash.
** Slightly changed in the [[Series/TheFlash2014 2014 TV series]] to a lightning that is the result of a particle accelerator malfunction at S.T.A.R. Labs, which results in the release of exotic energies into the city. The same release also creates a number of other "metahumans".
** Professor Zoom, Barry's EvilCounterpart and ArchEnemy, had this retconned into his origin story, only in his case he deliberately recreated the accident that gave the Flash his powers (he was an obsessive Flash fan from the far future who even went as far as to surgically reconstruct his own face to resemble Barry). Prior to this retcon, his ''original'' backstory outlined that he only had his super-speed whenever he wore his costume, which was a Flash costume he'd found in a time-capsule and scientifically increased its residual speed-energy (from Barry's constant use of it) before then dyeing it in reverse-colors.
* ''Franchise/SpiderMan'':
** Spider-Man was given powers by a radioactive spider bite, the spider itself being a result of the lab accident. In the ''Film/SpiderMan1'' movie, this was {{retool}}ed into a [[GeneticEngineeringIsTheNewNuke genetically-engineered]] spider's bite to reflect the {{discredit|edTrope}}ing of ILoveNuclearPower. At one point, the comic attempted to retool this by saying that the spider which bit him transferred some form of mystical totemistic power on him, which in turn explained his many animal-themed enemies. Cue FanDiscontinuity.
** Marvel Comics in general (due to copious amounts of "Creator/StanLee Science") and Spider-Man in particular loves this trope. Many of Spidey's big foes (Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Lizard, Molten Man, etc) were created by some sort of lab accident or experiment gone wrong.
** Retooled again and made more plausible in the modern re-imagining, ''ComicBook/UltimateSpiderMan''. It was a genetically altered spider high on [[AppliedPhlebotinum OZ]] instead of radiation.
* The initial origin-story for Comicbook/SwampThing followed this trope. Subverted when Creator/AlanMoore got ahold of the character and revised him from a formula-altered scientist to a plant elemental who ''thought'' he was a formula-altered scientist.
* Comicbook/ManThing was also the result of a botched experiment, also {{retcon}}ned by the series' most notable author, Creator/SteveGerber.
* This works for villains as well. In UsefulNotes/TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks, it was shown that ComicBook/LexLuthor turned villainous after ComicBook/{{Superboy}}'s "interference" in a Freak Lab Accident resulted in his life being saved, his experiments being destroyed, and his hair loss. Furthermore, when Luthor tried to retaliate with grandiose tech projects to show up Superboy, they went wrong disastrously enough to force the superhero to intervene, embarrassing Luthor enough to hate him even more.
* This somewhat applies to ComicBook/TheJoker of ''Franchise/{{Batman}}'' fame, who gained not superpowers but his clownish appearance and SlasherSmile from falling into a vat of chemicals. Even the "no-superpowers-gained" thing is debatable, as some speculate [[HollywoodPsych that the Joker's insanity is actually a form of Fourth Wall breaking "super-sanity"]] gained at the same time.
** In a 1989 ''Franchise/{{Batman}}'' storyline, a mad Joker-wannabe hurls himself into a chemical vat in an attempt to replicate the transformation. However, as Batman unsuccessfully warns him, the industrial acids therein are much stronger than the ones that disfigured the Joker years ago, and the wannabe simply disintegrates.
** Mr. Freeze is a more conventional playing of his trope. In the current past of the character, the attempts of his heartless bosses to get rid of him and his work to save his cryogenically frozen wife caused his equipment to go haywire, drastically altering him. Of course, this isn't so much a superpower as it is a handicap, and his resulting powers come in the form of technology he invents himself.
* The post-''ComicBook/ZeroHour'' ''Comicbook/{{Legion of Super-Heroes}}'' hangs a lampshade on the trope when Spark, in an effort to regain her super-power, attempts to recreate the circumstances of her freak origin -- and gets herself killed as a result. (However, the rest of the Legion [[OnlyMostlyDead manages to revive her]], and afterwards she does indeed have her powers back.)
** Pre-''Zero-Hour'', there was Comet Queen (who is also known for speaking TotallyRadical [[RecycledINSPACE In Space]]). She had heard that Star Boy got his powers by flying through a comet, so she intentionally flew through one despite everyone telling her how stupid it was, especially since Star Boy did it ''in a spaceship''. It worked anyway.
* The monstrous villain Chemo was created this way. Originally it was a plastic vessel used by scientist Ramsey Norton to dispose of the chemical by-products from his failed experiments, built in the shape of a man to remind him of his failures. One day (ironically, the day he planned to empty it) he dumped the remnants of a failed growth formula in the vessel, accidentally causing it to double in size and coming to life. After killing Norton and destroying the lab, it lumbered forth with no purpose but to destroy, fighting numerous heroes, including the ComicBook/MetalMen and ComicBook/{{Superman}}.
* Although it actually took place on a testing range, the original origin of the ''Comicbook/IncredibleHulk'' is for all practical purposes a Freak Lab Accident. Later versions -- most notably the TV series and the two motion-picture adaptations -- make it a more literal lab accident.
** A number of the classic Hulk's foes had Freak Lab Accident origins involving nuclear power and nuclear radiation (originally, anyway). One of them was a janitor exposed to nuclear waste.
* In ''Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}'', the apparatus that created Dr. Manhattan by "removing his intrinsic field", i.e. disintegrating his body, is for some unspecified reason impossible to use to repeat the process. It's not so much the effect of the device that gave Dr. Manhattan his powers, but the force of his will and mind maintaining their integrity afterwards and subsequently learning how to reassemble himself. That's an individual, possibly unique, factor that renders the result possibly irreproducible. And who ''wants'' to try to create a new Manhattan. One alone messes up the geopolitical situation seriously. What if the new guy would be even less stable and more detached from the human condition? The risks are way too great, even for the USSR to try to replicate. They did try at first, but stopped when they realized that forcefully disintegrating people in the hopes of turning them into gods [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge might backfire]].
-->'''Ozymandias''': You get to be a superhero by believing in the hero within you and summoning him or her forth by an act of will. Believing in yourself and your own potential is the first step to realizing that potential. Alternately, you could do as Jon did: [[SarcasmMode fall into a nuclear reactor and hope for the best]].
* One of the versions of WesternAnimation/DonaldDuck's superhero identity Paperinik (though not the one in ''ComicBook/PaperinikNewAdventures'') faces a parody of Spider-Man villain Sandman called Sand''ham'' (as he's a pig, natch). Sandham was a janitor in an oatmeal porridge factory who gained his powers when he was accidentally exposed to a procedure to "remove those nasty lumps from oatmeal porridge". Donald ends up having to dissolve him with it, and finally tosses his head, the only thing left of him, into a vat of porridge.
* Inverted with ComicBook/{{Superboy}} (Kon-El). He was being grown and programmed in a lab to be a replacement for Superman, but a freak lab accident interrupted his maturity leaving him as Superboy.
* Parodied in the [[ComicBook/TheSimpsons Bongo Comics]] crossover, "When Bongos Collide!", when a nuclear plant meltdown (caused by Itchy and Scratchy) grants superpowers to nearly everyone in Springfield (and somehow automatically gives most of them costumes), whereupon everyone starts pummeling each other.
* ComicBook/SpiderGirl's foe Mr. Abnormal is both an {{expy}} of ComicBook/PlasticMan and a parody of this. His origin is that "he had an improbable accident with a chemical at a toy factory that had a unique effect with his body chemistry", as quoted from [[ComicBook/NewWarriors Speedball]].
* In ''Comicbook/SheHulk'', Daniel Jermain became "Danger Man" when a workplace accident at Roxxon Industries transformed him into an atomic superhuman. The interesting part is that he has no desire to be a superhero or villain. Daniel just wants Jennifer to help him sue Roxxon because of all of the hassle his new powers have brought into his life.
* The original ''Comicbook/{{Firestorm}}'' was created by sabotage (a bomb) in an experimental nuclear reactor, fusing the teenage Ronnie Raymond and the designer of the reactor, Professor Martin Stein into a single super-powered hero. Also affected by the explosion was Stein's evil assistant, who became the villain Multiplex. A later attempt by Multiplex to recreate the "accident" produced the heroine Firehawk.

[[folder:Fan Works]]

* A popular ''Literature/HarryPotter'' fanfic cliché is for a transformation plot to be launched by a potions accident in Snape's class. Usually, they [[FountainOfYouth make you younger]] or [[GenderBender change your gender]].
* Not a lab accident as such, but an unpredicted side effect of a new and highly experimental procedure. In the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' fiction ''[[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8774066/2/There-s-nothing-like-a-fresh-pair-of-eyes-is-there There's nothing like a fresh pair of eyes, is there?]]'', the Igors of Ankh-Morpork replace the shattered eyes of a wounded student Assassin. (One of ''those'' regrettable little accidents that happen at the Assassins' School). The donor, of corneal cells that Igor carefully nurtures into bio-artificed new eyeballs, is Quirmian Assassin Emmanuelle les Deux-Epées. Over the following few months, the pupil becomes ''very'' like Emmanuelle. In all ways.
* In ''Fanfic/MovieMagic'', [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic Twilight Sparkle]] makes the mistake of looking at a rogue rainbow-powered rocket through a {{magitek}} camera when the rocket explodes, searing her right eye with magical energy and giving it [[MagicalEye super-powers]].
* In ''Fanfic/{{Empathy}}'' there's a full on accident, in the sense that nobody involved really saw what would be coming due to a genetic issue. In this case, Riley puts on the Neurotransmitter, but since [[spoiler: Oh]] finished it according to [[spoiler: Boov]] brainwaves rather than human brainwaves, the transmitter bounced Riley's brainwaves back on themselves. This scientifically sent her into a kind of REM, but it also transported her consciousness into Headquarters. And when she came out, [[spoiler: she became TheEmpath]] as a side effect.

* ''Film/{{Darkman}}'' was hideously scarred and became unable to feel pain in such an accident (caused by TheMafia, no less). However, his ability to disguise himself came afterward, through more proper applications of the lab in question.
* Origin of all villains in the ''Film/SpiderManTrilogy'', save Venom.
* Less heroically, ''The Fly'', involving a teleportation mishap when a fly is merged with the scientist who used himself as a guinea pig. In [[Film/TheFly1958 the 1958 version]], the scientist changes heads and one hand with the fly. In [[Film/TheFly1986 the 1986 version]], he slowly mutates into a sickened man-fly hybrid.
* Quite a few BMovie monsters, most notably ''Film/{{Tarantula}}''. And that's not counting all the ones created by [[ILoveNuclearPower The Bomb]].
* ''Film/HowardTheDuck'' pulled this one twice: the first Freak Lab Accident dragged Howard to Earth; the second pulled down the alien demon that possessed Dr. Jenning.
* Happens in ''Film/{{Watchmen}}'', for details see under Comic Books.

* Done rather subtly in ''Literature/TheStrangeCaseOfDrJekyllAndMrHyde'', [[spoiler: Dr. Jekyll's elixir only worked because of an unidentified impurity, something he only discovered after running out of the contaminated batch. At which point Hyde had become his "default form" and he needed the elixir to be Jekyll.]]
* Played in ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}''. This was how the Ellimist became a godlike being. Having his consciousness spread across multiple advanced bodies, some remaining in space and some in Z-space while the rest was sucked into a black hole, allowed his consciousness to integrate with the fabric of the universe. However, his EvilCounterpart Crayak was unfortunately watching when this happened (being the guy who pushed the Ellimist into said black hole), and was thus able to replicate the feat and become god-like himself.
-->'''Ellimist''': The odds of it happening once were astronomical. The odds of it happening twice were inevitable.
* Parodied in Creator/DouglasAdams's ''Literature/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy'' series. At the beginning of ''Literature/LifeTheUniverseAndEverything'', we are introduced briefly to Wowbagger the Infinitely-Prolonged, an alien who was granted immortality in a freak ''office'' accident with "[[NoodleImplements an irrational particle accelerator, a liquid lunch, and a pair of rubber bands]]". All attempts to recreate it "have left people looking very silly, dead, or both". Wowbagger deals with [[WhoWantsToLiveForever the growing tedium of immortality]] by seeking to insult everyone in the Universe -- individually, personally, and in alphabetical order.
* A variation appears in the Creator/IsaacAsimov short story "Lenny". A small child (lost on a guided tour) plays around on an unlocked keyboard in a robot factory. This results in a robot which has no superpowers -- indeed, it has roughly the intelligence of a human infant -- but is a scientific gold-mine, functioning without the Three Laws and having the ability to learn rather than simply be programmed.
** Lenny still has the Three Laws, it just doesn't have the knowledge to apply them properly. It acts on a Third Law imperative to protect itself due to a blow aimed at it (Not understanding that the blow aimed at it couldn't actually hurt it), and injures a human by accident in the process (Not understanding how relatively fragile a human is).
* Austin Grossman's ''Literature/SoonIWillBeInvincible'': [=CoreFire=] and Dr. Impossible got their respective superpowers in separate lab accidents, though both accidents involved Dr. Impossible's research.
--> "I saw the misadjusted dials and the whirling gauges and the bubbling green fluid and the electricity arcing around, and a story laid out for me... I was going to declare war on the world, and I was going to lose."
** So did [[spoiler: Erica Lowenstein, the ComicBook/LoisLane to [=CoreFire's=] Franchise/{{Superman}} and Dr. Impossible's ComicBook/LexLuthor, who followed a lead]] on some villains and ended up falling into a vat of chemicals and becoming virtually indestructible and transparent.
* In ''Literature/DreamPark'' (by Creator/LarryNiven and Steven Barnes), a small girl who'd accidentally wandered into the theme park's R&D division managed to combine an anatomical model with pieces of model roller coaster, and the result so intrigued the staff that it spawned a "Mr. Digestion" themed attraction. The kid got a spanking and a college scholarship.
* Kilowatt of the ''Literature/SeekersOfTruth'' got her start this way. Her end would have closely followed her start if not for the intervention of the Wizard.
* Carl Castanaveras in ''Emerald Eyes'' by Creator/DanielKeysMoran, was the first in a series of telepaths created by Project Superman by gene manipulation. Played straight because at the time he was created, the scientists admitted that the technology to create him didn't work yet, and only the inexplicable (at least to the scientists working on him) radiation at the moment of his conception, made the fetus viable. Averted because the source of the radiation was the time traveller Named Storyteller deliberately showing up at that moment to perform the gene manipulation that the scientists were incapable of performing, in order to make sure that Carl (his distant ancestor) existed at all.
* Not a superhero, but Cheery Littlebottom's career change from alchemist to forensics officer with the Literature/{{Discworld}} Ankh-Morpork City Watch took place after she left her previous workplace through the roof. Explosions at the Alchemists' Guild are hardly freakish; blowing up the entire Guild council, however, causes comment.
* In Kathy Reichs' ''Literature/{{Virals}}'' series, a spinoff to the Temperance Brennan novels, Temperance's niece Tory is a teenage girl who, along with her friends, accidentally contracts a genetically engineered parvovirus (a virus that normally only affects dogs) and is turned into a sort of hairless [[OurWerewolvesAreDifferent werewolf.]]
* In ''Literature/TheAccidentalSuperheroine'', Orlov claims to have engineered their empowering event at the LHC, but he also seems completely ignorant of how it works.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]

* Peter Brady, (no, not [[Series/TheBradyBunch THAT]] one)''The Invisible Man'' from the 1958 TV series, fits this trope ''and'' subverts it: While ''he'' became {{invisib|ility}}le in a lab accident, he is perfectly able to reproduce it and make anyone invisible. At one point, he was even able to detect when a rabbit had been invisible for a short period of time.
* ''Series/TheBigBangTheory''
** Referenced jokingly to warn one character away from [[CycleOfRevenge escalating vengeance]] against a [[JerkAss misanthropic]] [[TVGenius genius]]:
--->'''Leonard:''' Penny, you don't want to get into it with Sheldon. The guy is one lab accident away from becoming a {{supervillain}}.
** In another episode, a rat injected with radioactive isotopes bit a lab tech. Raj became incredibly disappointed to find that the lab tech didn't get superpowers.
* Subverted, along with NoPlansNoPrototypeNoBackup in the 1970s version of ''Series/TheIncredibleHulk.'' In principle, anyone could recreate the experiment that changed Dr. Banner, it's just that nobody has any reason to. One of the two-part episodes revolves entirely around a much earlier experiment in another part of the country that had turned another man into a Hulk, and the discovery of a cure, [[FailureIsTheOnlyOption which Dr. Banner cannot use]] [[spoiler:because the former Hulk has re-exposed himself, become a murderous Hulk, and there's not enough of the needed compounds for two treatments.]]
* Subverted in ''Series/TheFlash2014'': Barry's SuperheroOrigin resembles the one from the comics, [[spoiler: except that the "accident" was nothing of the sort. He would have got his powers this way eventually, but a time-traveller deliberately engineered it to turn Barry into the Flash "ahead of schedule".]]
* Pretty much played straight in ''Series/TheSecretWorldOfAlexMack'', where the title character gets her powers after being doused by chemicals that fell off a truck in the first episode.
* Also appears in the French GenderBender series ''Series/ViceVersa''.

* ''Music/DaftPunk'' claims that their [[KayfabeMusic onstage robot personae]] were created in "an accident in our studio. We were working on our sampler, [[Anime/QueenMillennia and at exactly 9:09 a.m. on September 9, 1999, it exploded.]]"

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Every other [[HollywoodScience Science origin]] NPC or PlayerCharacter in ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes'' gains their powers this way (the rest are unwilling test subjects). This game [[{{Troperiffic}} loves its tropes and knows it]]. For Professor Backfire, gaining superpowers was an inevitability.
* Played with in VideoGame/TronTwoPointOh - emails in the game indicate Lora Baines-Bradley suffered one with her Shiva laser misfiring. [[spoiler: It apparently killed her, but there was enough of her [[BrainUploading mind left behind in]] {{Cyberspace}} to compile her into BenevolentAI [=Ma3a=] ]]
* In ''VideoGame/MegaMan2ThePowerFighters'', during Bass' ending, Dr. Wily yells to Bass that he regrets making him, and Bass retorts that if Wily created Bass, it must have been a mistake. Dr. Wily reveals that it is actually true, revealing that before the events of ''VideoGame/MegaMan7'', Wily was making a robot to be similar to Mega Man, accidentally developing Bassnium, which then led to the creation of Bass. Dr. Wily then reveals that he plans to make a robot stronger than Bass and Mega Man combined.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Subverted in ''Webcomic/M9Girls'': The Freak Lab Accident makes the eponymous M9 Girls terminally ill by radiation exposure. Their mentor then proceeds to cure them with LegoGenetics.
* Parodied by [[http://www.man-man.org/?comic=&date=20030710 Man-Man]] who was bitten by a radioactive man, and so gains the powers of ... a man. Apart from a mutant head on top of his own, these "powers" merely make him invisible to women.
* In ''Webcomic/SecondLeague'' a rat gains superpowers from being bitten by a mutant superhero.
* [[http://www.terrorisland.net/strips/319.html Parodied]] in ''Webcomic/TerrorIsland'', where Ned Sorcerer, DDS got his superpower (which is causing everyone around him to know he's a dentist) from a freak ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology epistemological]]'' lab accident.
* In ''Webcomic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob,'' Molly the Peanut Butter Monster is described as a fuzzy pink lab accident.
* Parodied in ''Webcomic/AntiheroForHire'', where one character got super-powers in a freak ''skateboard'' accident.
* It's implied that ''some'' sort of lab accident caused Othar, of ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'', to come to his "Great Truth" that all Sparks have to die (or to become suicidally insane, as anyone else who knows about this "Truth" would consider it). The exact details are left as a NoodleIncident for the readers, but it may have involved the Great Wall of Oslo. (It's also all but stated by WordOfGod in the first adventure on Othar's Twitter that [[spoiler: Othar was always just one freak accident away from becoming a suicidal maniac ''anyways'' -- every single version of himself had realized this "truth" through various accidents. One involved waffles.]] It's unknown right now, however, how canon the Twitter is.) The man is also surprisingly resilient, even for a Spark; this may be a side-effect of the accident.
** The world of ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' is populated by {{Mad Scientist}}s. If your lab work doesn't involve freak accidents of some kind (most likely deadly instead of empowering, but still), you're probably doing it wrong.
* Webcomic/HeroByNight has these as origin stories of Saul Simian and (sort of) Steel Phantom.
* Heather Brown in ''Webcomic/{{Spinnerette}}'' gains spider-powers in a freak genetic engineering accident in a more or less AffectionateParody of [[WesternAnimation/TheSpectacularSpiderMan Spider-Man]].
** The reader is even led to believe that she'd obtained her powers from a spider-bite, just like Spider-Man. However, she only developed her [[MultiArmedAndDangerous extra limbs]] after falling into a vat of chemicals.
* Webcomic/RubysWorld's heroine Ruby gains her enhanced size, strength, and power from a freak lab accident [[spoiler: that was actually engineered post-mortem by her late mother, as a means to give her the capabilities to fight the BigBad]]
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', this is what the Goo originally was before a CerebusRetcon turned it into an attempt by Lord Tedd to kill this universe's Tedd.
* Parodied in a FourthWallMailSlot on ''Webcomic/VGCats''. Dr. Hobo is asked how he became a hobo, and recounts his OriginStory:
-->'''Dr. Hobo:''' A bright young docshtor wash working in hish lab... ''when shuddenly!'' I did '''''crack!'''''
* A lab technician in ''Webcomic/BiterComics'' tries to recreate the accident that gave his coworker superpowers, with less that satisfactory [[http://www.bitercomics.com/comic/superpowers/ results]].
* In ''WebComic/TalesOfSchlock'', Roux's butt and Fukumi's boobs accidentally get hit with zafti-gamma rays and they start to grow dramatically when they get excited. Roux uses her powers to become the super heroine "Queen 'B'" while Fukumi gets brain damage and becomes the diabolical "Double D."

[[folder:Web Original]]
* This is a common origin for both heroes and villains in the ''Roleplay/GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse''. Anole was bitten by a venomous snake that had been subjected to genetic experimentation, turning him into a reptile-man. Embrace was accidentally exposed to a mutagenic gas in a lab explosion. Koorogi was almost electrocuted when a gene sequencer shorted out while he was working with it. Polaris got caught in an overpoweringly powerful magnetic field when his lab equipment activated accidentally during an experiment. Aurora gained her powers when the experimental fusion reactor she was working on exploded. There are many more.
* Most of the supers in the Literature/WhateleyUniverse are mutants, but Sam Everheart got his powers this way. It wouldn't have been a Freak Lab Accident if bad guys weren't trying to steal the nanotechnology that Sam was guarding. The resulting explosion ended up with Sam getting a body reconstructed by the nanites.
* Literature/LightningDust's Klaus Melfton becomes the eponymous character via a strange invention of his father. [[spoiler: After getting his powers stolen, he successfully repeats the accident to regain them]].
* Frances "Pythos" Graye of ''Roleplay/{{AJCO}}'' participated in a experiment involving the magical, regenerating blood of a Hydra and ended up with rather more than she bargained for. She didn't end up with the regenerating abilities of the original creature, but she DID get freakish teeth and a forked tongue that she likes to freak people out with.
* This was how LetsPlay/{{Yogscast}} [[LetsPlay/DuncanJones Duncan]] caused [[LetsPlay/KimRichards Kim]] to become "fluxed" in their VideoGame/{{Minecraft}} series, although she didn't get superpowers, she just turned kinda purple.

[[folder:Western Animation]]

* Parodied in ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents'' with the origin of The Crimson Chin (voiced by Jay Leno). Before he was a crime fighter, the Chin was a talk show host, much like the guy who voiced him. He got bit on the chin by a radioactive celebrity, and that is how he became The Crimson Chin!
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSpectacularSpiderMan'' is stuffed with these. There's Peter Parker's radioactive spider-bite, but {{supervillain}}s have them too:
** While doing repair work at a genetics lab, electrician Max Dillon is first electrocuted by machinery, then by bioelectric shock from [[GeneticEngineeringIsTheNewNuke genetically-modified]] eels swimming in extra-conductive AppliedPhlebotinum. He becomes Electro, a {{Power Incontinen|ce}}t human generator of [[PsychoElectro bioelectricity]], and subsequently [[FreakOut freaks out]] and goes [[WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity on a rampage]].
** Thief and low-level [[TheBrute thug]] Flint Marko is recruited as an [[SuperSoldier experimental subject]] for a procedure designed to give him subdermal silicon [[MadeOfIron armor]], but the machinery overloads and bombards him with silicon particles until he [[BodyHorror explodes]]. He then rematerializes as the Sandman, a being of [[BlobMonster living sand]], and is unusually happy with the results.
** When reluctant PunchClockVillain Doctor Otto Octavius is [[HeKnowsTooMuch deliberately trapped]] in the chamber where his experiment is running, he suffers from radiation that fuses his [[ArtificialLimbs harness]] to his spine, triggers a FreakOut and an accompanying extreme [[MadScientist personality change]], creating Doctor Octopus.
* ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom''
** Danny got his powers from an ectoplasmic form of [[ILoveNuclearPower the radiation blast]] which [[GeneticEngineeringIsTheNewNuke altered his DNA]].
** Likewise, [[BigBad Vlad Plasmius]] got his powers from a college accident involving an early version of the Ghost Portal, by being ''blasted in the face''.
* ''WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck'' tries to give himself super powers in one episode by deliberately standing in front of a TransformationRay, claiming that it works in [[LampshadeHanging the movies]] all the time. His {{sidekick}} Launchpad doubts the plan, specifically pointing out that you can only gain superpowers from a lab ''accident'', and not on purpose. Darkwing brushes off the advice, fires the ray, and is reduced to cartoon ashes.
** Incidentally, many members of Darkwing's RoguesGallery had their origins in a Freak Lab Accident; Megavolt, Bushroot, and the Liquidator are the most notable instances.
* ''WesternAnimation/DextersLaboratory''
** Dexter spends an episode trying to gain superpowers through experimentation, and runs into the same it-doesn't-work-if-you-do-it-on-purpose problem. In the end, he gives up in frustration. Then Dee Dee waltzes into the lab, spills chemicals on herself, and gains super powers.
** Subverted by Monkey; Dexter deliberately experimented on him, which gave Monkey his superpowers. The subversion comes from Dexter never figuring out that he succeeded.
* The whole premise of ''WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls'' revolves around a freak accident that occurred while the girls were being ''created'': Professor Utonium's pet chimp Jojo accidentally shoved the Professor, causing the spill that created the Powerpuff Girls (the blast from the spill also gave Jojo super-intelligence, and his jealousy of the girls eventually drove him to become their arch-enemy Mojo Jojo). Why the Professor had that Chemical X [[NoOSHACompliance located where he could break it]] and cause it to spill inside the pot is anyone's guess.
** Hilariously {{lampshade|Hanging}}d when, in an attempt to create a fourth Powerpuff Girl, the sisters recreate the circumstances of their origin by ''elaborately pretending'' that they're adding the Chemical X to the pot by sheer accident. [[spoiler:Takes a tragic turn since the new Powerpuff Girl has problems, physical and mental, because of the substitutes the girls used for "sugar, spice, and everything nice" in the concoction.]]
* Meltdown in ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated'' gets his powers by angrily knocking over the beakers of chemicals he was working on, after his funding gets cut.
* {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/AquaTeenHungerForce'' when Shake tries to gain superpowers using barrels of toxic waste. First he tries to get some worms to eat the waste before [[Franchise/SpiderMan biting him]]. This doesn't work, so he dumps a spoonful of the waste over his head, shouting, "Oh, no! A horrible accident!". [[HilarityEnsues This doesn't work either.]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/SpiderManTheAnimatedSeries'', Tombstone had the very Jokeresque origin of falling into a vat of chemicals during a bungled factory robbery. Spider-Man even lampshades it later.
-->'''Spider-Man:''' You better stay still, another swim in that chemical soup and your hair might turn green!
* Parodied on ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy''. After the entire Griffin family gain superpowers and start causing trouble, Mayor Creator/AdamWest tries to give himself superpowers by rolling around in toxic waste. The result? [[RealityEnsues He gives himself lymphoma]]. His doctor [[LampshadeHanging berates him for the stupidity of such an action.]] He just made the same mistake as WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck. It has to be an ''accident''. Trying to give yourself superpowers leads to you becoming a super-villain, at best. He does at least stop the Griffins' rampage, since they feel guilty about his cancer.
** HarsherInHindsight when Creator/AdamWest died of leukemia.
* The origin of Dr. Two Brains in ''WesternAnimation/WordGirl''. Obviously, you don't get a rat brain stuck to your head playing golf.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode "Three Men and a Comic Book" [[AffectionateParody affectionately parodies]] ''the Comicbook/IncredibleHulk'' with Radioactive Man's origin: he gains his powers when trapped at the site of a nuclear detonation.
--> '''Martin:''' I would've thought that being hit by an atomic bomb would've killed him.\\
'''Bart:''' Now you know better.
** In the Bongo comic series a pre-nuclear [[UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfComicBooks Golden Age]] version of Radioactive Man, 'Radio Man' is hinted at, who looks a bit like Golden Age [[Franchise/TheFlash Flash]]. God knows what his origin is.
* Stinkor, one of Skeletor's henchmen in ''WesternAnimation/HeManAndTheMastersOfTheUniverse2002'', gains the power of stench after ruining one of Triclops' experiments.
* Brain of ''WesternAnimation/PinkyAndTheBrain'' once had a plan than hinged on this concept. He posed as a human and got a job at a big corporation, which [[FrivolousLawSuit he planned to sue for the money to fund his latest world-domination scheme]] by staging a freak accident involving a microwave and non-dairy creamer, reasoning that no one understands either well enough to argue against the claim.
* On ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'', Jack Brolin was a former news reporter that gained the power of extraordinary hindsight through a freak accident involving a retroactive spider.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheMask'' animated series, a couple comic book fans try to replicate the accident that created their favorite superhero Insector the Bugman by breaking into a nuclear power plant and getting bitten by a bug after they become radioactive. Unfortunately they forget to bring a bug with them to the power plant and succumb to radiation poisoning. Then their ambulance crashes en route to the hospital. One guy crashes into a putty shop and is mutated into Clayface expy Putty Thing. The other guy crashes into an aquarium and becomes Fish Guy, who has the awesome power of being a fish. Who still can't swim.
* In ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'', Jack Ryder was a talk show host doing a set piece on the Joker's origin. ComicBook/TheJoker barges in and decides to have some fun by dosing Ryder with Joker Venom and throwing him into a vat of chemicals similar to the one that transformed the Joker. This backfires on the Joker when the combination of the Joker Venom and the chemicals gives Ryder a Superpowered CrazyAwesome Side that calls himself ComicBook/TheCreeper. The Creeper then proceeds to ''scare the crap out of the Joker''. By the end of the episode, the Joker is begging Batman to save him from the lunatic.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' lampshades this. When Phantom Limb is creating the Secret Society One of the people taking up the offer explains he got his powers from a freak lab accident, to which they immediately point out they understand as they themselves have had a freak lab accident that changed them into what they were.
* ''WesternAnimation/MarthaSpeaks'' is a milder example. It's pointed out several times throughout the show that the alphabet soup gave only Martha the ability to speak, and that she ate it by accident. This is most likely put into place to dissuade kids from giving their pets alphabet soup in the hopes of having a talking pet. (Of course, the show is also aware that it's a cartoon...)
* The ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond'' episode "Heroes" presents a dark {{Deconstruction}} of the concept. Three scientists are accidentally irradiated and become "The Terrific Trio" (with obvious parallels to the ComicBook/FantasticFour). It turns out that their transformations are [[spoiler:slowly killing them and driving them insane, and were caused by a colleague's scheme to MurderTheHypotenuse]].
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Freakazoid}}'', the chip is somehow able to suck a person into cyberspace, turning them into a Freakazoid, if the person hits a specific sequence of keys followed by Delete. Dexter gained his powers when his cat pawed across his keyboard chasing a butterfly and he tried to delete the resulting gibberish.
* Ogrest from ''WesternAnimation/{{Wakfu}}'' was created when a piece of candy accidentally fell into the alchemist Otomai's Ogrine mixture. Otomai instantly takes a liking to the baby and adopts him as his son.
* Tom of T.H.U.M.B. (a segment of the 1966 ''King Kong'' cartoon on ABC) was a janitor in a secret agent office lab who took a spill while cleaning. His friend, Smilin' Jack, helped him up, only to trigger a ray that reduced both to thumb size. Together, Tom and Smilin' Jack tackle assignments the regular agents couldn't take conspicuously.

* There are lab coats reading "Screw Lab Safety, I Want Superpowers!". [[JustForFun/TelevisionIsTryingToKillUs Please do not ignore lab safety rules.]]
* Parodied by the image on [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Muses071KatirnaFridgeSuperpowers.jpg this parade float]], where a superheroine gains powers from opening one of [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katrina_refrigerator the refrigerators left behind after hurricane Katrina]].