I Believe I Can Fly
"If you're a Superfriend, being able to fly is like being able to break a graham cracker along the line."This trope describes when there are multiple characters with a wide variety of different abilities, but the ability to fly is surprisingly common. Even if the ability to fly comes from different sources for different people (e.g. gravity-manipulation versus "I'm from Krypton"), they all seem to be able to fly in more or less the same manner. It also works on the meta level, rather than simply within a single continuity; besides the number of Flying Bricks, there's also a rather large number of characters in general who can fly as such, one way or another. An example of this is characters who don't have flight as an expressed power, yet use their abilities in some way to allow Not Quite Flight, such as psychics using psychokinesis on themselves, elementals using elemental guff to fly, shapeshifters becoming birds, and a Gadgeteer Genius creating a jet pack. And some have this as their only power (Angel, Hawkman) and, as the page quote implies, this makes it hard to stand out as special. Up, Up and Away! is the standard hero flying pose. A type of Stock Superpower.
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Anime and Manga
- In Dragon Ball, flight is initially presented as a technique of the Crane Hermit, but by the last Tournament Arc before Dragon Ball Z pretty much everyone who fights (except Yajirobe) can fly. (Apparently it's possible for someone who knows how to teach just about anyone to do it, as Gohan taught Videl.) There's a brief gag in the Android Saga when Bulma expects him to take off after the other heroes and he has to remind her that he can't.
- A World Martial Arts Tournament official hilariously hangs a lampshade on this in the Buu Saga: when Mr. Satan freaks out upon seeing his daughter Videl fly, the official responds "So she can fly. What's the big deal?"
- This was true in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha for two seasons. Then, in the third season, we're introduced to the grand majority of magic users who are not powerful enough to fly. (We actually did get to see some of these Red Shirts in the first two seasons, but it was never made clear that they were ground-bound as well as Mooks.)
- The Tokyo Mew Mew anime sometimes gives everyone the power to levitate for no apparent reason. In episodes centered around Mew Mint, the birdgirl, however, only she can fly. The manga is more consistent on the matter.
- In The Slayers, "Levitation" and "Ray Wing" are simple and common spells that ensure almost every magic-user can fly.
- Bleach has Not Quite Flight by means of creating platforms of spirit particles underfoot as a basic skill for most of the major factions. I quickly becomes far easier to list the characters with notable spirit power who can't do this.
- Il Sole penetra le Illusioni: If you're a Magical Girl, you can fly. Which is good, considering the size of the average daemonia.
- Amongst the big names of the DCU, you pretty much only have Batman, Aquaman, and the Flash (usually) incapable of flight. Which makes Hawkman and Hawkgirl pretty lame, considering it's their featured ability.
- Although Superman was likely the ur-example of this Trope, oddly enough, he could not fly in his earliest appearances. He could leap several city blocks in one jump, however. (Possibly where the phrase "leap tall buildings in a single bound" originally came from.) After several issues of Character Development, this was changed and he was able to use actual flight.
- When Angel was introduced as a member of the X-Men, it was alongside the very flightless Cyclops and Beast, while Iceman's ice slides didn't offer the same level of maneuverability and Jean Grey couldn't levitate herself very far. But as the roster has expanded with characters who have flight as a side effect of their powers - Storm, Magneto, Rogue (after absorbing the right abilities), Mystique, Cannonball, Apocalypse, and so on - being stuck with huge feathered wings as a mutation must be annoying.
- In fairness, Angel has gained (and lost) a lot of powers over the years, such as vision on par with a hawk's, being physically capable of flight i.e. being both lighter and stronger than normal humans, and recently universal donor blood with regenerative properties that, for some, can heal otherwise-doomed characters from fatal damage. And even when his power of flight was more exclusive, he always made it look like a lot of fun, like every childhood daydream you've had but better.
- To balance the ubiquity of flight among superheroes, some writers remember that while characters like Angel, the Vulture, or The Falcon are primarily flyers, that means they're very good at it. One issue of Thunderbolts had Angel flying rings around the entire team with ease.
- In the W.I.T.C.H. comic book, only Hay Lin, the air guardian, could fly. However, all of them could in the cartoon. This was compensated for in the second season when Hay Lin was the only to gain invisibility (which all of guardians could do in the comics).
- Subverted with Spider-Man. During the Acts of Vengeance storyline, when he became Captain Universe, he was able to fly, and didn't like it at all. He almost got airsick when he did it, and wondered how folks like Iron Man managed it. (Of course, had the powers lasted, he may very well have mastered them and gotten used to it.)
- He seemed to adapt better during the Identity Crisis storyline. When he was a fugitive for assaulting Norman Osborn, he briefly abandoned his Spider-Man identity, and took on four others, including the Hornet, where he flew using a jetpack. He was much better at it, but neither it nor the other three identities lasted long. (He felt they simply weren't him, and no-one could argue.)
- All of the Legion of Super-Heroes; all members are issued a "flight ring", even the ones that can already fly. Justified, as the flight rings serve multiple purposes. At a bare minimum they are the Legionnaires' badges, identifying them as deputized Science Police officers. They were also emergency signal devices in the Silver Age, and eventually become full-on communicators. And in the Threeboot, flight rings also served to generate force shields to protect them in space and underwater.
- This is eventually retconned into a plot point. As a kid Clark was one of very few people on Earth that could fly, since all of the Legionnaires could fly it made him feel like less of an outcast.
- In ElfQuest Rayek learns the power of levitation, which is also shared by all of the Glider elves except, to her eternal chagrin, Winnowill.
- According to the DVD commentary, originally all of The Incredibles could fly except Mr. Incredible. This was going to be a sore spot for him. Of course as they worked out the script, eventually it got so that none of them could fly (except possibly Jack-Jack).
- Played with in Sky High. Only Will's mom Josie (and a few unnamed background students) are known to fly, and for those who do it's generally their only power. Will being revealed as a Flying Brick is treated as unheard of and spectacular.
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the type of movie where flying (among other supernatural abilities) is a standard martial arts technique.
- There was also a folk tale among African-Americans about slaves who escaped their bondage by discovering how to fly home.
- Those Who Walk in Darkness deserves special mention for applying this despite stating that mutants can only have one power. The only character who explicitly has flight and another power is a freak of nature even by in-universe standards, but several older heroes are referenced as flying despite being incredibly powerful in a setting where many abilities have far more applications than flight.
- A notable aversion is the Temps universe: the DPR postergirl Carrie Smith is the only paranorm who can fly properly, although several can levitate and sort-of steer. Even the local Flying Brick, Zeus, apparently "moves through the sky like a bulldozer on ice" and was in tears when he saw video footage of Carrie.
- In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy universe anyone can fly. All you have to do is throw yourself at the ground and miss. And, once you accomplish that, and find yourself flying, it stops working if you ever start to think that what you're doing shouldn't be possible.
Live Action TV
- Characters from the Touhou series have abilities ranging from Super Strength to controlling insects to "manipulating boundaries," but without fail every single one of them can also fly. A footnote in an article from Perfect Memento in Strict Sense could imply that everyone in Gensokyo can fly, even the "normal" humans.
- Special mention must be made of main protagonist Reimu Hakurei. In the PC-98 games she was incapable of flight and rode into battle on the back of her flying, bearded turtle Genji, but since the Windows games she's evidently learned to fly on her own while Genji is "probably living in the lake at the back of the shrine." Not only that, but Reimu is also able to exploit her power of flight to literally fly out of reach of your attacks in a spatial sense with her "Fantasy Heaven" spellcard, making her effectively invincible for its duration. The only reason she's beatable is that she's sporting enough to impose a time limit on her own ability.
- This is a main feature of the MMORPG Fly FF, in which everyone gains the ability to fly. Via hoverboards or flying brooms, that is.
- In City of Heroes, the most commonly taken travel power is flight. Sure it's slow and uses a lot of Endurance, and sure Super Jump and Teleport and Super Speed do a similar job, but it's simple to use, unaffected by topography, and highly thematic. Plus non-melee characters can float twenty feet in the air and rain death on their opponents with impunity.
- In Perfect World, every character eventually gains the ability to fly. Humans use giant magical swords, Elves use their wings (and they can replace them somehow), Untamed use flying beasts, Tideborn use wings made of Pure Energy, and the new Earthguard use kites.
- Comes and goes in Super Robot Wars. On the one hand, many Super Robots can fly just for cool and Real Robots, especially Gundams, are inherently aerospace weaponry. On the other, there are just as many "lower-tech" adventure stories where the robot is grounded, as well as the tendency to have Transforming Mecha with a plane mode and ground mode. (Variation: Mazinger Z and descendants can always fly provided they have a Scrander, but their performance is often better when standing than in the air.)
- Champions Online provides no less than twelve means of flight: Rocket boots, Hover disk, Jet pack, Fire flight, Earth flight, Magic Carpet Flight, Phoenix flight, Rainbow Flight, Rainbow Flight: Cloud, and Tornado Flight, not to mention generic Flight, and the crafted travel power Aethyric Flight. Oh, and both Ice Slide and Teleport behave pretty much like variants on flight, themselves. This means that from 50% - 58% (if you count Ice Slide and Teleport) of the existing travel powers are flight related.
- In LEGO Marvel Superheroes, itself based on a comic book franchise and so prone to this, after shooting lasers easily the most common character ability is flight. Some characters also have 'hover' as an ability, which only hovers about a foot of the ground but allows for things like faster movement and travel over surface hazards and water.
- A good number of heroes in Freedom Force can fly or, at least, levitate (which is somewhere in-between running and flying, speed-wise; only Mentor has this ability). This helps some heroes who are normally too slow to get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time (e.g. Man-Bot). However, the fastest hero, Bullet, is a speedster who can run faster than any other character can fly (and that's without using his special abilities to Flash Step). The original game includes El Diablo, Man O' War, Sea Urchin, Alchemiss, Man-Bot, and Blackbird. The sequel adds Sky King, Quetzalcoatl, and Green Genie. A number of enemies can fly as well, including Lord Dominion, Red Oktober, Fortissimo, and Entropy (Alchemiss after her Face-Heel Turn).
- In Schlock Mercenary the body armor contains gravitics that allows flight. The generation equipment can also be used with the rest of the uniform cut away, as Chelle does for her "fairy" act in the "Barsoom Command" story arc.
- It's occasionally noted that gravitics aren't an instant-win feature- one term for (untrained) flying soldiers is "skeet".
- In El Goonish Shive, when Elliot got his superheroine spell the first power it was shown to have was flight. Also Nanase's first spell was flight and Grace's Omega form grants flight among other things. Non-main characters with flight include Damien, Vlad, Magus, The Demonic Duck (an actual duck given sapience by Demonic Possession, not an oddly named humanoid), Dex, Terra, The Writer's Block and all Immortals.
- Tower of God: Laure has learnt Shinsoo techniques that allow him to fly.
- Flight is one of the most common of powers in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe. Players would go to almost obscene lengths to justify tacking it onto their characters.
- Christopher Walken can fly, although he doesn't like to in public — apparently many people find Flying Christopher Walken even more disturbing than regular Christopher Walken. However, this skill did come in handy when he made the music video for Fatboy Slim's "Weapon Of Choice."
- Team Kimba of the Whateley Universe has everyone except Chaka able to fly in one way or another, and Chaka can do Wire Fu to run through treetops and such. The only problem is they don't all fly at anywhere near the same speed.
- In Phaeton:
- Trayen uses elemental propulsion
- Teliha magically levitates
- Tom floats in an antigravity bubble
- And so on.
- In Homestuck, "dreamselves", "god tier" characters, psionics, and wand users can all fly. Other characters are capable of acrobatics and strong jumps that drastically overstep the bounds of plausibility. This got a long overdue Lampshade Hanging in Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 2:
KARKAT: HOW MUCH BULLSHIT IS IT THAT WE'RE PRETTY MUCH THE ONLY TWO ASSHOLES LEFT WHO CAN'T FLY?!KANAYA: It Really Is Such Bullshit
- In the original Transformers cartoon, all Decepticons could fly in robot mode, whether they turn into jets, cement mixers, tanks or cassette players. Compared to the Autobots, where flight in robot mode is mainly seen only from the few with flying altmodes (though this was inconsistent early on), this looks really weird.
- Transformers Animated seems to follow the rule that if their alt-mode can fly, their robot mode can fly, except for Soundwave and Shockwave, who fly even though their alt-modes are a car and a tank (Shockwave has a jet booster, while Soundwave seems to just levitate like the 'Cons of old). Also notable in that most Decepticons can fly, while Autobots can't. That is until the Autobots reverse-engineered technology from Starscream to create Jetstorm and Jetfire. Oh, and Optimus Prime's wings and jetpack. Word of God is that the lack of flying Autobots has more to do with them regarding flight as a Decepticon trait rather than technological difficulties.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: besides the obvious airbenders who can fly with gliders, earthbenders can levitate rocks and travel on them, and we've seen at least one firebender use her fire for a Rocket Jump. When Sozin's Comet is around, higher end firebenders like Ozai and Jeong-Jeong can straight up fly.
- The Legend of Korra: The legendary airbender Guru Laghima was said to have perfected true flight, without the aid of a glider or propulsion from air currents. In the Book 3 finale, Zaheer also develops the ability to fly unassisted. This levitation style of flight is the only one that is considered to be highly abnormal in-universe.
- Three of the five core Teen Titans can fly, either by superpowers or transforming into something with wings. To compensate for Robin and Cyborg's little "handicap" is the T-ship and the "glider-thing". Cyborg was once outfitted with rockets ("Maybe we should call me flyborg!"), but was unfortunately unable to control his flight.
- In ReBoot Hexadecimal and Glitchbob could fly. Despite having this power, Bob preferred to use his Flying Car or a zipboard whenever he could. The reason for this was that using any of his Glitch-based powers, including flight, would eventually cause a Heroic Red Ring Of Death.
- Wile E. Coyote thinks he can fly with a mail-order superhero outfit (Chuck Jones described him as animator Ken Harris in a Batman outfit). Guess how that turned out.