They didn't want these powers, this magic, this curse, or whatever it is that was foisted upon them. The responsibility to save the world? Forget it! All those exciting adventures and the ability to potentially do anything? Take it away. They want nothing to do with it.
Needing to be normal often comes in waves. Often, it hits critical levels, and the character threatens to quit, or even does so temporarily.
While this is all well and good, most writers conveniently forget that after such an exciting and exceptional existence, everything else will seem dull and meaningless to most people. Not only are special abilities usually given up, but sometimes also cherished friends. Some people psychologically will be unable to adjust, and most will acquire deep-seated mental issues about the whole process.
This can also include situations where overt powers or the like are not involved, wherein the characters are involved in an exceptional situation. It can also occur when characters, for no particular reason other than that the show is ending or that they're leaving it, have a sudden and usually implausible epiphany that they really want to live a "normal" life. Somehow this almost invariably includes them cutting ties with the entirety of the rest of the characters and locations.
When done well, this can be an interesting metaphorical exploration of how even the most blessed can feel isolated and abnormal. When done poorly, it comes off as cheap angst that will get tiresome, especially if the premise of the show relies in some part on that "Special-ness".
One common subversion is Can't Stay Normal where the character finally becomes normal, but is not able to adjust to it, and longs for their old life back. Or just as they achieve their normality, something happens where they NEED their abilities back, particularly to save the Love Interest. Either may be a 10-Minute Retirement, the former may be a Sequel Hook. If someone is constantly being forced by the plot to do heroic things, when really they want to be left alone, they're Heroic Neutral.
See also Cursed with Awesome, Internalized Categorism, It Sucks to Be the Chosen One, Who Wants to Live Forever?, and Refusal of the Call. Contrast Jumped at the Call, where wanting to be normal never even occurs to the hero. Naturally, the opposite of this trope is I Just Want to Be Special. See also Blessed with Suck, when the hero has every reason to want to be normal.
Related to I Just Want to Have Friends when the character wishes to be normal to develop relationships. Also related to Give Him a Normal Life, when they leap at the chance to arrange this for their offspring.
Not to be confused with Plot Detour where the writer prevents the character from progressing (possibly to string out the length of the story). Compare and contrast Nominal Hero, where a character ends up fighting for good even though they lack morally positive motivations.
Yoshikage stated that he has an uncontrollable desire to kill. Even if he wanted to stop, he really couldn't.
A few Magical Girls, especially Usagi of Sailor Moon, who spent all of the first arc of Sailor Moon R saying this and got two separate chances at it via reincarnation-induced amnesia - once before the show started, once at the end of the first series.
Usagi: "I wake up in the morning. The white lace curtains sway in the breeze. The cuckoo clock in my room tells me it's seven o'clock. "If you sleep longer, you'll be late!" Mama cries out. I nod off thinking, "Just let me sleep three more minutes." I'm late, just like every other day. Teacher makes me stand in the hall. I fail another test. On the way home from school I eat crepes with my friends. A party dress decorating a show window catches my eye. Such little things delight my heart.. It's that.. that ordinary life I want back.. I want it back.
Eventually she resents her Sailor life so much that her powers give out entirely. It's after encouragement and realizing that being Sailor Moon also brought the benefits of True Companions and romance that she finally accepts her Destiny as Sailor Moon and Princess Serenity. At this point although she occasionally gripes about how fighting the baddies is irritating and inconvenient she mostly accepts what she is and no longer seeks to be normal.
In the manga Usagi specifically comes to the conclusion that while being Sailor Moon is painful because of the endless battles and the loss she suffers, she's glad it happened because she got to meet everybody she now loves and has the ability to protect them. Of course, she had a lot less of the "I want to be normal" bits in the manga in general.
They don't annoy her: She was just afraid of the changes they were going to bring. Until she finally realizes, of course, that they were born out of her desire to change, at which point she starts to treat them as very special friends and parts of her own self, since they came from her, even if, and even because of, the fact that they are slightly irritating and argumentative.
Usagi is pretty justified too, what with the whole "having powers will kill you and your friends" angle. She even cried when she does get her powers back in Sailor Moon R because getting them back also means she remembers watching her friends and her lover all die in battle right in front of her.
Parodied with Pretty Sammy, whose whole motivation for not wanting to keep her powers is because her outfit is lame and being a skimpily clad superhero is really embarrassing.
She eventually just gives up entirely after traveling to the Magic World with Ala Alba.
Another of the less blatantly eccentric ones, Asuna, turns out to only be normal because she succeeded at this, with the help of some Laser-Guided Amnesia. When the aformentioned Adorably Precocious Child appears, she goes back to paranormal of her own will not as a deliberate choice, but because she doesn't remember choosing to become normal in the first place, much less being abnormal. Remember, always analyze what you would do if you didn't know what you know if you plan on getting rid of that knowledge.
It's brought up again subtly with Evangeline; she admits that the reason she hates Asuna is because Asuna was actually successful at becoming normal, but gave it up anyway. Eva is pissed because the person who got what she most desired threw it away, while Eva never got a chance to be normal to begin with. The fact that she lives in a brightly decorated room filled with adorable dolls and teddy bears in private hints that her Vampy and sexy Evil Overlord act is just a defense mechanism, and that she really wants be to an innocent and happy little girl again.
Kahlua from Galaxy Angel Rune and Galaxy Angel II, as a child, had tried to save a friend with her magic, but said friend was less than grateful, instead scared away by her strength. The result was a fear of not being normal, and she mentally sealed away a large percentage of her own power by choice. This created her Superpowered Evil Side, Tequila.
At the beginning of the series, Ichigo wishes he could be a normal human who cannot see ghosts and spiritual beings. When he finally gets that wish, So What Do We Do Now? and Can't Stay Normal kick in as he realizes he's lost his ability to protect his friends and family.
Ryuuken Ishida tells his son Uryuu that he is incapable of getting rid of his (hated but considerable) Quincy powers so all he can do is refuse to use them. When he was a teenager, Ryuuken was extremely invested in protecting the future of the Quincy clan, until events shook his faith in his ability to do so. Unknown later events tipped him over the edge from shaken to resentful. It appears to be linked to the Quincy King's purge of all "impure" Quincies, which killed his wife but mysteriously failed to kill Uryuu.
Coyote Starrk wanted so desperately to be be able to exist among other hollows without killing them with his presence alone that he created Lilynette out of part of himself simply to have someone to talk to. Aizen recruited him with the promise that the other Espada would be strong enough to withstand his presence.
Ichigo ends up believing that the loneliness that came from not being normal was the driving force behind Aizen's actions: if he couldn't be normal, he'd settle for creating a Worthy Opponent instead.
The Fullbringers are motived by the desire to be normal humans. In the end, it's revealed only Jackie genuinely wanted this and the others had been lying about it. Like Ichigo, Jackie gets her wish to be normal and regrets the loss of her powers.
A variant of this occurs in Hayate the Combat Butler. After finding out Hayate wants a normal girl and normal life, Nagi finds Ayumu Nishizawa, essentially the most normal person in the cast. (The narrator pointed this out.) and follows her all day, learning how to be "normal". In the end, she realizes that normal is "an extremely scaled down version of what I normally do."
We're still not sure what the hell's going on in Haruhi Suzumiya, especially in relation to Kyon. He continually mentions how he wishes Haruhi would just settle down and be a normal, well-adjusted schoolgirl (Hell, it's even in his Image Song), but the fact that he's an Unreliable Narrator (in regards to his feelings, anyway) and that he was once stuck in a universe where everything was normal and he still attempted to revert it to its very Haruhi, abnormal state may prove otherwise...
Yuki Nagato, starting in Disappearance, which essentially makes her The Woobie.
Another remarkable fact is that if you look closely, you have to wonder if it's actually Haruhi and not Kyon who is really the I Just Want to Be Normal character. As Koizumi keeps pointing out, Haruhi actually enjoys very much doing all those ordinary activities that she does with the SOS Brigade members. The SOS Brigade actually reduces Haruhi's interest in the supernatural, and focuses it more on the ordinary, and she's very happy that way.
From the most recent novels we have Sasaki, who is essentially an villainousantagonistic version of this trope.
In Guyver, Sho doesn't want to have the powers. When he technically has the opportunity to get rid of them (when the Guyver Remover is found), he still keeps them because he needs to protect his friends. The new anime adds a nice twist to this, with Tetsuro picking up the G-Unit first and then passing it to Sho only when it started sprouting tentacles.
In Ranma 1/2, most of the characters just want to be rid of their curses. Granted, most would be pretty damn weird even without their curses.
The characters of Ranma 1/2 fit this trope only tentatively. They have absolutely no complaints with their abnormal lives or their superhuman abilities, and most would probably hate being forced into normality in that fashion; the sole element of their lives they want gone are their Jusenkyo curses, which all but one character finds at the least annoying and at worst actively harmful to their lives. The one exception grew up with his curse... and also happens to go from cruel, egotistic Bishōnen to a giant monster that the best martial artists of his generation have serious trouble defeating.
Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion really, REALLY doesn't want to pilot a giant mech and save the world. Subverted when he runs away and realizes that without the Eva, he has (and is) nothing.
In Naruto, unlike virtually everyone else in a cast of thousands who are either trying to become heads of state, living legends, outright immortals, gain the acceptance of their persecutors, avenge horrific wrongs, or various combinations thereof — Shikamaru Nara's driving goal in life has ever been to achieve a basic level of competence as a ninja, meet a decent girl, get married, have two kids, and stay alive until retirement. Poor bastard never had a chance. Given his Character Development in Shippuden, it would appear that his goals have become somewhat more lofty.
Nagisa spends almost all of the two IczelionOVAs whining and crying about being chosen to bond with the Iczel.
Simon of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is both an example and an aversion. It was a constant of the first few episodes that he would plead with Kamina to return home once the Ganmen Of The Week started pulverising them, but Kamina's Manly Spirit (TM) forced him to repeatedly change his tune, eventually reaching the point where his obligatory Heroic BSOD is completely shattered and the trope abandoned in favour of Simon delivering a never-ending stream of awesome wins.
In the first page of the spin off manga, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann - Guren Gakuenhen, Simon prays to his dead parents "Please, Please! Let me have an extremely normal life". In the second page, Kamina kicks down his window in an attempt to be Moe Moe.
In One Piece, at the end of his fight with Zoro, Kaku expressed regret that he never got to lead a normal life, having been raised to be an assassin. In the manga, him and the rest of CP9 take a stab at this with the World Government hot on their tails.
Earlier there's Captain Kuro, who was genuinely sick of being a pirate and wanted to live a nice, safe civilian life. Unfortunately, he wanted to be normal and rich, and was willing to kill to get that life. He ultimately fails and is forced back to the sea.
In Strawberry Panic!, Amane doesn't want to be Etoile and didn't ask for her legions of fangirls — she just wants to ride her horse in peace. Her rival, Kaname, finally makes the point to her that only she can win the Etoile election for Spica; the whole school has placed its hopes with Amane, and like it or not, that gives her a responsibility. It's strange how this particular Aesop feels more Broken with a normal human being than with a superhero, Slayer, or whatever.
Arguably, Osaka as well; her Image Song "Shikkari! Try La Lai" has some shades of this in places.
Zelgadis in The Slayers is a prime example. Cursed with Awesome in the form of being merged with a stone golem and a demon, in the anime his quest can actually make him seem motivated by vanity, because his warped body isn't unattractive in an exotic sort of way (almost a Cute Monster Guy), he doesn't really care about people anyway (which makes their being afraid of him when they see him have less impact), and most importantly his body gives him super powers. It boosts his energy reserves, allowing him to cast more spells than either of his companions, allows him to go for ages without food or water, gives him superhuman strength, speed, hearing and stamina, and makes him Nigh Invulnerable to all practical purposes (only incredibly powerful attacks can hurt him — Demon Lords, the Sword of Light, etcetera).
In the Light Novel series, it's a different matter entirely; he isn't completely motivated by vain in regards to his appearance, but rather, it's revealed here that after his great-grandfather Rezocursed him, he was forced to serve as his bodyguard and fulfill gruesome and morally questionable tasks (it's implied that one of those tasks involved getting together with a woman and murdering her) for Rezo's sake. So rather than vanity, Zelgadis wants to be normal so that he can eradicate his past as "the Evil Swordsman" (his given moniker) and live life the way he wishes to.
Night Wizard's Renji is one of the most powerful Wizards around and can easily save the world with very little work. Except he wants to stop going on missions and actually get a chance to finish school, which is all but impossible with the number of times Anzelotte keeps calling him away.
Oboro from Basilisk would just love to marry her fiancé Gennosuke and live Happily Ever After. However, they're both the heirs and leaders of warring Ninja clans...
There's also Genki Boy Yashamaru, who views the clan truce as his chance to get married to his beloved fiancée and fellow Iga Ninja Hotarubi. They both get bloodily killed off. Sniff.
The title character of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is usually pretty happy with the changes in his life due to meeting Miu (i.e., Miu herself), Training from Hell aside. However, he's less than happy with the fights that he's forced into as a result. It's best illustrated here as he sneaks into the cruise ship of a worldwide criminal organization led by some of the most dangerous martial artists in the world, whose disciples want to kill Kenichi to prove their Badassitude.
Kenichi:Where did I go wrong in life?
The main character of Nurarihyon No Mago starts this way, wanting to just live a normal life as a human despite being the heir to a huge clan of youkai and a quarter-youkai himself. But it's averted early on in the first real story arc, when he begins to fully understand his youkai nature and learns of the impact his attitude is having on others firsthand. He decides that while he does want to live a peaceful life, protecting the people close to him and leading his clan is far more important.
In a rare non-supernatural example, Mio. She chose bass instead of guitar because she doesn't like to be the center of attention. Subverted in the anime; Mio's forced to take lead singer Yui's place in the first live show the girls perform.
There's also Mugi, who comes from an incredibly wealthy family, but gets much enjoyment from doing ordinary everyday things that most people would take for granted.
Judai in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX becomes notably less cheerful when suddenly the only thing stopping all his friends from dying and the world ending is the card game he loved so much. And up until this point he was the only one who really did seem to treat it as a card game. Eventually the stress becomes so bad that he surrenders to his super powered evil side and starts taking over the duel monsters world, requiring two heroic sacrifices to get him back to efficiency. He doesn't start enjoying dueling again until a decent bit into the next season... at which point the next big bad starts trying to implement instrumentality.Sucks, huh?
Averted with Onpu the grade-school idol in Ojamajo Doremi. Even though some of the negative aspects of it are there (her mom's too busy to be with her on Christmas) she loves the attention she gets and the work itself.
The entire plot of Cardcaptor Sakura was this from ClowReed, even the very existence of the titular heroine. He was so damn powerful he couldn't control his own powers, mostly seeing the future, which took away all the pleasures of life. So he created a more powerful witch (Sakura) who could divide his power between his two reincarnation-like versions, one of them being Sakura's father Fujitaka.
Only in the manga, though. In the anime, Clow just died so everything else happens equally, except the Sakura's dad being half of Clow and the dividing power thing.
Sequel series xxxHOLiC and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle go into more detail about why he wanted to divide his power so badly — just by wishing someone (his girlfriend Yuuko) wasn't dying, he turned her into an immortal zombie, eternal unliving as everyone around her ages and dies. He took this even harder than she did, somehow.
InuYasha: Kikyou, one of the most powerful miko who had ever lived, just wanted to be a normal girl and live a normal married life with Inuyasha. She and Inuyasha wanted this so much that Inuyasha also agreed to his give up his Youkai heritage and become a normal human boy to make that dream come true. Their plan was ruined by another which became the entire reason for the plot of the story.
In Fullmetal Alchemist, Alphonse wants his normal body back, and wants Ed to get his limbs back.
This is also the whole motivation of the homunculii in the first anime, especially in the case of Lust.
Rocket Girls: After becoming an astronaut and going into space once, and getting international attention for it, Yukari Morita admits she just wants to be a normal high school student. (Like that's going to happen.)
Lucia from Rave Master comes off as an odd example. As the Big Bad with no real superpower who opted to take over the main criminal orginization he doesn't seem like the type to express that sort of desire. However he's the descendent of the sole survivor of The End of the World as We Know It (who created a 'false' parallel world where humanity didn't die off) and is therefor cursed to suffer every misery the universe can throw at him.
Parodied in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei through Nami Hitou, the "ordinary girl" in a class where everyone else has some sort of character trait taken to the extreme.
Nami: "Don't call me normal!" (Futsuu tte iu na!)
Fairy Tail: Fresh from a Defeat Means Friendship, Gajeel is smart enough to realize that it'll take a lot of time for most of Fairy Tail to forgive him. In addition to protecting his new friends, Gajeel goes to huge lengths to be accepted. This is usually played for laughs, since Gajeel doesn't have much of an idea as to how that works. For example, he once tied up the guild's singer and hijacked her concert so he could sing a ballad.
The very wish of Eureka to be a normal human in Eureka 7. She broke down in tears in episode 45 upon knowing her body is undergoing bizarre changes.
Yuu from Holyland really doesn't want to have to keep fighting just so he can stay out at night, though he doesn't run away from the challenges either.
In The Secret Agreement, it turns out that Yuuichi was the only member of a life-force stealing clan who functioned like a normal human being. When his supernatural side suddenly starts awakening, his (fake) uncle explains the situation and congratulates him. Considering this means that he will kill the love of his life and that they don't genuinely love each other (it's only a delusion to help the murder) Yuuichi understandably wishes he stayed normal.
In The Twelve Kingdoms, Keiki chose a young woman named Joukaku as the Fisher King of the Kei Kingdom. Joukaku, however, is a very insecure young woman who never wanted to be the Queen and felt that she wasn't up to the task, suffering more than one Heroic BSOD. Add her Unrequited Love for Keiki and her Yandere tendencies, and... well...
Maya Matsumoto from WORKING!!. Ironic in that, in her attempts to be normal in a restaurant full of strange characters, she comes off just as weird to the other employees.
This is a major part of the plot to Tenchi in Tokyo. In this universe, Tenchi Masaki isn't an alien prince, he's the latest of a long line of protectors of the Earth. However, he doesn't want any of that. He separates a set of gems that turn into a sword and gives them to the six girls who stay with him, then decides to move to Tokyo for priest training, where he ends up falling in love with a girl there. This forms a wedge between the seven so that, by halfway through the series, Big Bad Yuugi's manipulations have driven Ryoko, Mihoshi and Kiyone off-planet, Washu has disappeared into her lab, and only Ayeka and Sasami are trying to pick up the pieces.
This is also attempted in Tenchi Muyo! and Tenchi Universe. In Muyo!, while the girls don't leave, Tenchi's thankful that the craziness with Kagato is over with and he doesn't have to put up with that anymore. But, being with the girls proves that going back to normal won't cut it anymore. In Universe, after Kagato's dealt with, everyone goes their separate ways, but when Ryoko suddenly returns to Earth, she points out that the others are following right behind - they liked how things were and want to return.
Zeheart Galette from Mobile Suit Gundam AGE. Just before he dies, he confesses to Asemu that his greatest desire was to marry the person he loved and raise a family.
A Certain Magical Index: Accelerator, of all people, really seems like he would have lived a much happier life if he didn't have his incredible powers. He expresses several times a desire that people would just stop attacking him all the time, but due to his power, they never will. Indeed, when he's left to his own devices, he's pretty passive and doesn't have any desire for violence or destruction. It's only when he or his loved ones are threatened that he goes psychotic Blood Knight.
''They, "society," hate you because they don't want your help. You remind them of how weak-willed and sheep-like and unspecial they are. How gleeful they are, deep down, to be ordinary. They don't want heroes. They don't want special people around them. Because if there are special people and they aren't one of them— well, who wants that? Who wants a constant reminder that they aren't even trying to be special? See, the difference between you and I is that you really are just a child. You benefit from the wide-eyed optimism of youth. I do envy that, somewhat. But... like many of your decisions in life... it's just naive. And I don't envy that harsh cold slap of reality that will come your way soon enough. But I guess it's inevitable. People don't want to be special. I do think that.It is my philosophy. They— people want to be told what to do and how to live and they want men like me to tell them. They want to go to work and do as little as they can possibly get away with, and they want a big cookie at the end of the day for doing it. And they want men like me to give it to them."
It is important to note that Ultimate Peter Parker is not a reluctant superhero. Although due to comic book time, he only wore the alias for only a year and a half.
This is also happening to current Ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales after the new Venom killed his mom.
This is also common for mutants in the Marvel Universe, who tend to become social pariahs if their status becomes public.
The Teen Titans comic inverted this, with Beast Boy losing his powers in a particular Story Arc. Everyone assumes that he'll be happy about being normal again, until he states that he never wanted to be normal.
The Titans comic also played it as straight as can be with Beast Boy's best friend Cyborg. Half-human half-machine Vic Stone has struggled with I Just Want to Be Normal for decades.
Titans supporting character Frances Kane has tried very hard to be normal over the years; unfortunately, a combination of Superpowered Evil Side and the writers' desire for a Chew Toy tends to get in the way.
And before the Titans, there was Doom Patrol. Robotman, in particular, was unhappy about his Blessed with Suck condition (more extreme than Vic Stone's). However, the comic's premise was that, by the time you get to the Patrol, you're too far gone to even come near normal again. After a few disasterous attempts, he's more or less resigned to his condition.
Used in a rather awesome way in the third Blue Beetle comic series, when the villainous Eclipso grants the Blue Beetle all his deepest, most secret desires. Turns out he wants to be a dentist.
The awesome thing is, she expected that a mild-mannered teenager would dream of power. She planned to turn him into some kind of monster and use him to get the MacGuffin back. Unfortunately for her, the only kind of power he dreams of is a high-paying, reliable job... which isn't very useful to get MacGuffins.
Runaways character Karolina Dean would rather be a normal, Hollywood teenager, rather than the lesbian child of two alien criminals.
Only when things go awkward, as when she tried to kiss Nico and turned out she wasn't interested. At the end of the first series she was the first one who ran out of her foster house and contacted everyone, as she wanted to "fly again".
Most of the main characters in Runaways experience this to some degree or another. Molly has a really heart wrenching dream in which her parents are still alive and she believes that she imagined all of the previous events. Chase tries to destroy Nico's Staff of One so she can have a normal life. Victor yells at Gert to go back in time with her parents' time machine to save his mother. Of course, given that the group are fugitives from both Social Services and the law and that several members have been killed or lost over the course of the series, it makes sense that they'd want to go back to their old lives at some points.
Ben Grimm, The Thing, is the poster boy for this trope. Despite his complaints about being an orange rock monster, every time he's be "cured", he finds a reason to become The Thing, again. He actually enjoys being the FF's strong man and "The Idol of Millions", but just wishes he could walk down the street without being stared at.
Which by this point is probably more because of the whole "Idol of Millions" thing than because of his appearance, so he's got nothing to complain about.
Apart from having non-reinforced floors give way under him.
Sue Storm once◊ got fed up with the superhero life and yearned for a more domestic one.
In The Bulleteer, both Alix and her "archnemesis" Sally Sonic wish they were normal people; It was this intense desire to live a normal life that led Sally to provoke Alix's husband to killing himself, because she so wanted to be in her place and be genuinely loved by a normal man.
Alix also can't stop meeting up with people who are the opposite, especially the uber-pathetic Mind Grabber Man.
Subverted with Man-Thing. A scientist who was transformed into a walking, empathic compost heap should be all over this trope, but most of the time he doesn't simply because his transformation cost him his mind—he's little more than, well, a big plant, and any human memories are gone.
In more recent works, Superman does cherish his Kryptonian heritage but thinks of himself as Clark Kent first. At one point, Mr. Mxyzptlk threatened to turn him into a powerless human who would have to live a normal life, but...
Mxy: But wait. Deep down, that's what you really want, isn't it?
In the second issue of Dan Slott's run on She-Hulk, Jennifer Walters represents Dan Jermain, alias Danger Man, a mild-mannered industrial worker and family man turned into a superhuman paragon of might in an on-the-job accident. He's suing his employers in the Roxxon Corporation because looking like Mr. Olympia and being stronger than a stampeding elephant herd has caused him nothing but pain. He tears his clothes with the slightest sudden movement. He rolls over in bed and nearly crushes his wife, who worries that he'll leave her to become a superhero. People stare at him on the subway, but the people who pretend to not look are worse. The climax of the issue sees Danger Man using his atomic powers to have a literal meltdown, because then at least his family will get to collect on his life insurance, before being talked down by She-Hulk. They won the lawsuit; Danger Man received a healthy sum to go to family counseling and, hopefully, some sort of cure. If he ever was cured, the reader was never clued in, though.
As it happens, this is a fairly interesting aversion to Comes Great Responsibility; at no point does anyone try to tell Danger Man it's his duty to put on long johns and beat up bad guys now.
At least She-Hulk only suffers this briefly since she has the luxury of turning back to mousy Jennifer at will. Bruce Banner never catches a break; even when he had an integrated personality and leadership of an international crime-fighting army, there's always someone who just has to poke him with a stick.
Banner's case is even worse since his real problem isn't actually his gamma mutate powers it's the psychological disorder born from his horrific childhood thanks to his murderous abusive father. Bruce wasn't "normal" even before he was exposed to gamma radiation.
Jet:It's an entire universe in there, one we created, but it's beyond us now. Really. It's outgrown us. You know, every time you shut off your computer...do you know what you're doing? Have you ever reformatted a hard drive...destroyed an entire universe? It's too much. It's too much power. I never wanted this. I never wanted the responsibility. I just wanted to make games.
Mild subversion in W.I.T.C.H.: Cornelia has admitted twice she'd love to return being a normal girl, but only after passing her powers to the next generation of Guardians (those times she had been Brought Down to Normal by a power-stealing villain she did anything she could to take back her powers to prevent abuse), and when she was finally given the occasion to pass her powers to the next generation the others convinced her to face the tasks to keep them.
In Bazooka Jules a micro-robotic weapon fuses with Jules giving her superpowers. It's illegal for super-powered individuals to not register as superheroes with the government, So Jules is pretty much forced into the superhero life. She does state if she had the option to safely remove the weapon she'd take it.
Played for Laughs inthe nineties comic The Trouble With Girls which is about Lester Girls, a man "cursed", so he feels, with a James Bond lifestyle who yearns for a Ward Cleaver one.
In Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Search, Zuko is actually relieved when he finds the letter written by his mother that seemingly confirms that he isn't really Ozai's son since it means he can escape being the Firelord. In the end, Zuko discovers that the letter was a lie and he really is Ozai's son and he accepts his responsibilities.
Having been Blessed with Suck, both Paul and John in With Strings Attached are terrified of going home as is, with all the life-ruining complications their new bodies and magic would entail. When told they have to be returned to normal to go back to Earth, they're delighted. The other two are... not as delighted.
Kairi Niko in the Knights of the Old Republic fic Destiny's Pawn is an amnesiac bookworm with skills she can't explain and really didn't want to know where she learned them. She flat-out asked the Masters if they could "shut off" her Force sensitivity, and only agreed to her conscription into the Jedi because there wasn't another option. Given her druthers, she's just quit and become a translator, but seeing as she's the ex-Dark Lord...
My Little Avengers: Big Macintosh spends a good portion of the story regretting ever finding Mjolnir and becoming Thor, but eventually comes to turns with it. This contributes to his Heroic BSOD when Loki steals Thor's powers from him, and after he gets them back, it's shown that he's fully embraced his role.
In White Devil Of The Moon, between not having a princess or real leader to rally around and fighting a losing war against the Dark Kingdom, then finding their princess only to find she's Nanoha, queen of the workaholics, the Inner Senshi want this so damn bad. They get it in the end when Nanoha absolves them of their duty to her, though Ami does choose to go study magic in Mid-Childa, her role would be more passive, and the other senshi resume civilian lives in Japan. Also, while Artemis did not specifically want this trope, he was certainly more willing to become a normal housecat than Luna was.
In the Transformers fanfic A Child Shall Lead Them, Swoop is like this after gaining the Matrix and becoming leader of the Autobots — he feels rejected by both the Autobots and the Dinobots due to his new position, and at one point even throws the Matrix at Grimlock in an effort to reject his position. He ends up coming to terms with his new role as he undergoes Character Development.
Film - Animated
Violet from The Incredibles personifies this trope, at least in the beginning of the movie.
"We ACT normal, Mom! I wanna BE normal! The only one who's normal is Jack-Jack, and he's not even toilet-trained!"
Susan in Monsters vs. Aliens, who spends the first half of the movie fantasizing about shrinking back to normal and having a normal life with her husband-to-be. She eventually comes to terms with her new body and ability, culminating in taking the name Ginormica as her own.
At first it's just hinted at, with the titular blue alien trying to fit in at shool. Then it's averted for awhile... before being hinted at even more strongly when he pretends to be human for Roxanne.
Later played straight with Metro Man.
Used and subverted in Disney's Hercules. Because Hercules' strength often causes accidents, Hercules is shunned by the community, even though he just wants to fit in. This desire fades after he becomes a hero and puts his strength to good use. Late in the movie, Hades forces him to give up his powers to save the life of his love interest. After being drained, Hades pins Herc to the ground by throwing a barbell at him and stands over him taunting,
"Now you know how it feels to be like everyone else. Isn't it just...peachy?"
The three princesses from Mulan II would love nothing more than marry someone who loves them for who they are and live out a normal life.
Bethany in Dogma. Jesus is said to have also been like this for some years—the ones not recounted in the Bible.
In Gladiator, Maximus, a powerful Roman general, is offered the Emperor's throne by aging Emperor Marcus Aurelius but would rather return home, live as a family man, and tend a farm.
Godzilla vs. Destoroyah includes a scene of two psychic women at the UNGCC base, discussing the fact that their Psychic Powers are slowly disappearing. One of them says that she wants to live a normal life, with a husband and kids, earning her a look of purest bewilderment and contempt from the other.
Jack: I just want to be a good cop! Instead I keep getting caught up in these crazy adventures!
Which brings us to the film The Last Temptation of Christ. The entire scenario of the film is that Jesus was tempted with, not power and glory, but a completely normal life. According to the film, if Jesus could have a wish just for himself, it would be his own carpentry shop, a loving wife and some kids. (Yes, and doing all the stuff with his wife that gets all those kids.)
On the other hand, he would be perfectly willing to keep the invisibility provided he was able to use it at will. After all, it's an invaluable tool to someone who steals for a living.
The young Clark's reaction after finding out he's a super-powered alien in Man of Steel.
Clark: Can't I just keep pretending I'm your son?
Extreme example: in The Matrix, Cypher wants to return to life in the Matrix so much that he makes a deal with the machines to help them capture Morpheus, on the condition that they plug him back in and erase his memories of life outside. Admittedly, he does request that he be turned into someone important, like a famous actor.
On the direct flipside, Damien Thorne in The Omen series of films has a very brief moment of this when he comes to a full realisation of what he is and why. "Why? Why me?" he screams to empty air, but his Wangst doesn't last long. If only it had...
The protagonist Dave from the 2010 film The Sorcerer's Apprentice said so at least once in the film when he was forced to take up the role of being a Prime Merlinian. Balthazar later revealed that his lover Veronica wished for the same thing as well.
A large part of the plot in X-Men: The Last Stand revolves around a cure for mutants. As a result, some of the characters must contend with whether or not they actually want to be normal and take the cure. Eventually, Rogue decides it's what she wants and takes the cure; however, one alternate ending shows her not taking it, and holding hands with Bobby wearing gloves.
This is also Hank and (initially) Raven/Mystique's attitude towards their mutant forms in X-Men: First Class, leading to Hank's disastrous attempt with a "cure" that turns him into his Beast form in the first place.
Wolverine does not like being immortal in The Wolverine, but he later reconsiders it.
In her first appearance in the Discworld novels, Susan Sto Helit refused to believe she was Death's granddaughter. In later appearances she still attempts to maintain a "normal" life, and insists on being sensible and using logic, often denying her own abilities. Ironically, because she lives on the Discworld, what she thinks of as the "normal world" is actually just as illogical and fantastic as the underlying world of her grandfather.
By Thief of Time, she seems to have accepted her powers, even if she's still irritated at being occasionally tapped by her grandfather for help. As a teacher she uses them to make her students' lessons more...interesting, such as taking them to view ancient battles firsthand. She also, at the end of Thief of Time, takes them to see Nanny Ogg, which, as she says to herself, is the equivalent of two lessons.
There's also Rincewind, an unremarkable wizard whose main ambition in life is to be bored. He's constantly being dragged into dangerous quests to save the world, and he hates every second of it. He's even quite aware of it, but still insists that he wants to go home. When people try to say that he must enjoy it, he retorts that he rather likes being bored, as it generally means no one's trying to harm him. In one book (Sourcery, perhaps) he meets a man who complains about how there's no excitement in his life, and Rincewind greatly envies that man.
In the short story Flowers for Algernon, the low-IQ protagonist Charlie Gordon undergoes an operation to boost his intelligence, because he wants to be normal (i.e. as smart as those around him). Although the operation is a success, he sadly finds out being a genius isolates him even more from people he thought were his friends.
Charlie: Even a feeble-minded man wants to be like other men.
In The Hobbit, Bilbo gets swept up into an adventure that hobbits usually despise in favor of a quiet life; at the end, he returns to that quiet life and enjoys it, but later on in LOTR Bilbo expresses interest in going on an adventure again. Frodo has a talk with Gandalf expressing this trope, and greatly wishes to go back to a normal hobbit life after reaching Rivendell (which is only the beginning of his journey).
The end of The Return of the King explores this more, possibly somewhat due to Tolkien's own war experiences. The Hobbits return to the Shire, but in the end, Frodo cannot stay due to his lingering injuries and his exposure to the One Ring. Samwise lives an unusually long and successful life as husband, father and Mayor, until eventually, when he is aged and widowed, he follows Frodo and into the West with the Elves. Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took, on the other hand, never having been Ringbearers, contentedly live out most of their days in the Shire and die in Middle-earth.
Subverted in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, where the protagonist spends most of the book (or series) trying to get back to his normal life, and when he finally succeeds, realizes he doesn't want that any more, and returns to London Below.
Harry Dresden of The Dresden Files repeatedly mentions he'd have liked to live a normal life and especially not know about all the supernatural nasties out to get/eat humans. He makes a similar note about The Archive, a little girl who has all of humanity's accumulated knowledge and thus never really had a childhood. She also all has all the memories of her maternal ancestors, including her mother who committed suicide to avoid bearing the burden of being The Archive while being jealous that her daughter would otherwise avoid it all her life. Thus the girl carries the memories of her mother's hatred towards her.
In the Andalite Chronicles, a spin-off set of books from the Animorphs series, Elfangor, the Andalite prince who gave the Animorphs their powers in the first place, gives up his life as a war leader to live on Earth with a human woman, until the Ellimist shows up and makes him give it all up. It's later revealed that he had a son on Earth, who 'became' one of the Animorphs.
One of the Megamorphs books has Jake wish that the Animorphs had never formed and due to a deal made between the Ellimist and another being, the wish is granted, with relatively predictable results.
At the end of Good Omens, Adam Young has decided not to use his reality-warping powers in any form for good or evil and to continue his life as a normal human. Which is fortunate for the world and all we know of it, as he was originally created to bring about the Apocalypse with his powers.
Although, from the ending, it seems he lied. "Human incarnate", as Crowley puts it.
In Lisa Shearin's Magic Lost, Trouble Found and sequel Armed and Magical, main character Raine Benares is an average magic user who specializes in finding lost items. Then she forms a psychic link with the Saghred, an ancient stone with apocalyptic power that eats souls for breakfast. The books focus on her trying to break the link with the Saghred while being pursued by villains who want to harness the Saghred's power.
The titular character in the Alex Rider series has an I Just Want To Be Normal moment at least once in every book he's been in...and he's been in seven.
Not only does he want to be normal again, he never wanted to do it in the first place! They bribed him. Not hard to do since MI6 is his legal guardian, but still...
Hugo Danner, the world's first superhero, suffered from this. Philip Wylie wrote the novel Gladiator in 1930, featuring Hugo who was super-strong, fast, and with skin too tough to be pierced by a machine gun. Naturally he mopes about it for 332 pages before being struck by lightning and reduced to ash. On the bright side, two Jewish kids from Cleveland read the novel and came up with a more cheerful version.
Nudge in Maximum Ride. In fact, in Max, she so desperately wants to go to a "normal" school, that she's willing to cut her own wings off. She doesn't, though, because Max lets her go. After a while, she comes back, wings and all.
Max herself is pretty desperate, hence why she is so attached to Dr. Martinez and Ella (the only two people besides Jeb and the Flock to act like a actual family to her. She also is desperate enough to move closer to "normal" at one point that she tries to hack a chip in her arm out with a jagged piece of sea shell and nearly bled to death.
Garion in The Belgariad. The phrase "Why me?" becomes a running joke over the series.
Arthur Penhaligon in The Keys to the Kingdom spends five whole books of a seven-book series wishing for a normal life, ultimately making things much harder on himself to avoid becoming immortal. At one point he even re-breaks his own leg to stay normal. By the sixth book, he realizes that if he hadn't become the Rightful Heir, he'd be dead, so best suck it up and get on with things. Of course, by this point he was already irreversibly immortal, so perhaps this was merely his way of dealing with it.
In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 novel Deus Encarmine, Arkio says he wishes he were — well, not normal normal, but Space Marine normal. Sachiel persuades him that that is impossible. Alas. At the end of Deus Sanguinius, Rafen disclaims being anything special, saying the Spear of Telesto used him as its instrument, and declining a Field Promotion to captain that he didn't think he was ready for or had earned.
Eilonwy, in the Prydain Chronicles, spends the entire series being more or less comfortable with the idea that she's "half an enchantress" and has latent magical powers, even though she can't always access them the way she'd like. At the end, however, when she learns that these same powers are the reason she has to leave the man she loves forever, she emphatically wishes that she could be rid of them. Fortunately, she's been carrying around a little Chekhov's Gun that can make her wish come true.
Played out strangely in The Last Unicorn. After Humanity Ensues, the titular unicorn slowly becomes lost under her new self as a human woman, until at the end the "Lady Amalthea" protests that she Just Wants To Stay Normal, marry the prince, and live happily ever after. Just to twist the knife a bit, it is the prince who tells her the story can't end that way.
Raamo from the Green-Sky Trilogy is like this. The high priestess believes he's The Chosen One foretold in a prophetic dream she had, others look to him with hope in their eyes, and the more he hears things like that the more he backs away and says "I am only a Kindar." The high priestess says that in itself is the example she thinks he will set. He doesn't have to do anything. Later on in the series his sister and her Erdling friend get tagged as Holy Children and are worshipped by everyone to the point that they become virtual prisoners in the palace; at the very end of the book we find that they have put this trope into simple, direct action, causing worldwide panic.
The Marat all have a telepathic bond to a specific creature, and organize themselves into clans based on their chala's species. Except one, who wound up bonded to a human by accident. She is, initially, not happy about this at all. Even after she comes to terms with it, she regularly reminds him that she wanted a horse.
Michael develops this shortly after being unwillingly experimented on to gain magic in the Knight and Rogue Series. At first his new strangeness actually makes him physically ill it disturbs him so much, and even after having two years to get used to the idea it still makes him nauseous.
A variant with Lirael in the Old Kingdom series. She wants to be normal — but for a Clayr, normal is having precognitive powers. She gets over it after she realizes she's Abhorsen-in-Waiting.
Sefalet is a freak of nature, even to Pentexore in Dirge for Prester John. She has no face, her eyes and mouths (yes, mouths) are in her hands, and one of her mouths is apparently possessed. She'd settle for just having control over her left-hand mouth again.
Harry Potter: While not exactly "normal" in the usual sense, all the titular character has only ever wanted to be a normal wizard. However a prophecy about him that caused the death of his parents and the Big Bad's utter refusal to leave him alone, along with his Chronic Hero Syndrome and massive Guilt Complex prevented this from happening for all of his seven years at Hogwarts. When it's all over and Harry has the chance to wield the most powerful wand in history, perhaps even becoming the most powerful wizard in history?
"That wand's more trouble than it's worth. And quite honestly, I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."
Captain John Geary in The Lost Fleet series hates that his Last Stand became the stuff of legends in the 100 years he's been a Human Popsicle, turning him into "Black Jack" Geary, the greatest hero of The Alliance. Half the captains he deals with think he's the legendary hero who returned to save the Alliance in its hour of need. The others think he's been damaged by the long sleep and is no longer the same hero. Either way, being thrust into the seat of the fleet commander deep behind enemy lines means he must, reluctantly, take charge and lead the fleet home. It doesn't help that a good number of the captains consider him to be a genius of fleet tactics when, in fact, what he's doing was normal for his time. By this point, "tactics" have degraded to Attack! Attack! Attack! with each ship acting individually, partly thanks to the myth of "Black Jack" Geary. He's stated several times that he only stays in command for as long as it takes the fleet to reach the Alliance space. After that, he'll likely resign his commission and find a nice planet to settle down on, although many of his supporters wish "Black Jack" Geary to become a dictator and win the war.
Buffy: I just want to be alone and quiet in a room with a chair and a fireplace and a tea cozy. I don't even know what a tea cozy is, but I want one.
In a season 3 episode Buffy is unknowingly weakened to prepare her for an upcoming test. As she lives her life without her powers, she realizes that she can't be her old LA cheerleader days self anymore, both because she can't ignore the monsters who are out there and because she can't stop standing up for herself and other students.
In Season 7, Buffy and Faith had a discussion about how being Slayers have screwed up their lives, but concluded that being hot chicks with super powers helped take the sting off.
Technically subverted in the series finale when Buffy becomes "normal" by making thousands of other girls Slayers as well, thus ending her uniqueness but preserving her powers.
That is an understatement. It is the plot for every other episode.
Phoebe seems to like being a witch, though. In spite of having the lamest power of all of them.
She did like being a witch until she married Cole. After losing all of her powers, she was happy with it since she hated being an Empath.
This trope is practically Piper's mantra.
Played straight and then totally averted with Paige. At first she's wants nothing to do with the magical powers that be, and then becomes almost obsessively proactive in being both a Witchand a Whitelighter.
In Series/Wolfblood, both Maddy and Rhydian had moments of wanting to fit in and be normal. Largely this was because they felt isolated and kept having to lie to their friends. Of course, when they lost their powers for an episode, Rhydian spent most of the time complaining that being human sucked.
In Teen Wolf, Scott isn't chuffed about getting bitten since it involves near-death experiences, Derek trying to recruit him, getting hunted by the Argents, getting hunted by the Alpha, painful full moons and complications with Allison. In the first season he bargains with Derek for a cure.
Although The A-Team didn't have any special powers, they sort of fit into this: they became fugitives due to a string of events completely out of their control. All of them have, at some point, expressed a desire to live normal lives, but Face seems the most affected by it. Despite his apparent love for conning people out of anything and everything he can manage, above all else, he really just seems to want a normal life where he doesn't have to scam people and run from the military police on a daily basis.
Claire Bennet from Heroes. Conversely, Hiro Nakamura and Peter Petrelli both desperately want to have powers, even and especially when there's very little evidence to suggest that they do. (As does Sylar. Heh, heh.)
In season two, Claire becomes the classic inversion — now that she's in hiding and being forced to act as normal and unexceptional as possible, she's discontented and wants to do great things. She follows through on this new desire in Season Three, sacrificing the chance for a normal life (including not being hunted by the government) to help other fugitives.
The thing with Claire is that she constantly has a "grass is always greener on the other side" mentality. Whenever her powers are put at the forefront of her life she wants to be normal, and when placed in a situation where she's basically allowed to live a normal live she complains about hiding "who she really is." She is eventually called out for it in the most recent season, but not long after just says screw it and reveals her powers in front of several news reporters.Surely, nothing bad will come of that.
In Volume Four, former villain Doyle decides that he wants to go back to his old life as a puppeteer. With the government rounding up people with abilities, he is forced to turn to Claire for assistance. This is doubly ironic - not only did Claire use to want a normal life, but the last time they met, Doyle held Claire and both her mothers captive for hours.
And now, in Volume Five, Matt has been trying to give up his powers out of the feeling that they're controlling his life, and Sylar is trying to suppress his powers in an attempt to be more human.
In the classic series of Doctor Who, several companions left to resume "normal" lives, after having adventured through time and space. Big examples are companions like Ian and Barbara, although Susan, the Doctor's granddaughter, proves to be a curious and conspicuous addition, especially given that she was not human. (In Big Finish, Susan is now 20 years older, and still firmly of the opinion that being normal is just fine for her.)
Exceptions: In The Sarah Jane Adventures and several Expanded Universe works, several ex-companions are revealed to have had trouble adjusting to normalcy after leaving. In the new series, Rose explicitly references this.
In the novel the episode was adapted from, he did it specifically to find out what being a normal human was like.
The new series in particular has often made the point about how the Doctor, while capable of so much, is incapable of living the simple, normal life taken for granted by mere humans. He's occasionally expressed envy about this, but he's never really shown a desire to actually be normal (outside the abovementioned Human Nature example).
Similarly, in Star Trek: Voyager, some of the crew expressed uncertainty as to how they would adjust to life on Earth if they ever reached it.
The entire premise of Forever Knight revolves around the main character wanting to be normal.
Ditto Angel, who took some comfort in a prophecy that said he would one day become human... though not till after the apocalypse.
In an early first season episode, Angel actually becomes human. However, once he realizes that this would mean he couldn't fight the baddies, as his superhuman strength would be gone, he goes to the extreme of undoing the change. He still likes the idea of becoming human, just not while there are bad guys to fight.
In the series finale, Angel is confronted with a choice — he can either abandon all hope of ever fulfilling the prophecy, or abandon his campaign to stop the Big Bad. He chooses the former without hesitation (as he had to, or his cover would be broken), but we see him upset about it later.
In the canon comic follow up, Angel is currently a human. However, the powers responsible for it have less than benevolent reasons for changing him.
Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie are undoubtedly amongst the oddest examples of this trope. Not so much Samantha or Jeannie - that is a fairly clear case of Love Makes You Dumb. Darrin Stephens and Tony Nelson, on the other hand, are men so heroically attuned to dullness and normalcy that their response to the beautiful, supernaturally powered women who are in love with them is to ignore and reject the supernatural bits. Major Nelson is particularly bizarre in this regard since he doesn't have to deal with a mother-in-law like Endora who might sour him on magic and he has an exciting job (astronaut)!
An episode of Bewitched actually played with what would happen if this trope was ever subverted and Darren was happy and even encouraging Samantha to use her powers for their own benefit. In the end, Samantha herself was unhappy because she really just wanted to be a normal housewife and use her powers relatively sensibly instead of rewriting reality to bend to her will and she and Darren agreed to hit the Reset Button and revert things to normal.
Really, Samantha could be seen as an inversion, since bending reality on a whim is normal for her and her people. Major Nelson, on the other hand, plays this trope straight, almost to the point of Insane Troll Logic.
River Tam of Firefly actually has a rather heartbreaking speech in the episode "Objects in Space" where she says that she just wants to be accepted by the crew and be a normal person. The heartbreaking part is this is a farewell speech she says as she surrenders to a bounty hunter so her friends can be safe and not hunted by the government anymore.
Though it turns out this is was a Batman Gambit to get him outside the ship and lead him into an ambush.
According to the commentary on Serenity, this is why River wants to hear Mal tell her his wisdom with his own voice at the end of the movie - she just wants to hear it the way normal people speak.
Simon also mentions several times that he wished he was still at home, advancing his medical career, rather than being on Serenity. Of course, he tries to hide this from River (who is the reason he had to drop his old life), but she usually figures it out anyway. On the other hand, the end of the series implies that he's at least gotten used to being on the ship, even if he did still miss his old life. His crush on Kaylee probably helped.
The main character in the 2000 The Invisible Man series spends a great deal of time trying to get rid of the implanted gland that gives him his invisibility powers, though more because of the side effects than because he objects to the invisibility itself.
Interestingly, the final episode before the cancellation has Claire repair the defect in the gland that causes the side effects (thanks to Arnaud, who put the defect in there in the first place). Darien immediately quits the Agency and tries to resume his old life as a thief. He quickly realizes that he doesn't want to steal anymore (he returns the suitcase full of cash he easily steals) and goes back to the Agency on his own terms.
Sam from Quantum Leap wanted to return to his life in the future, but when the opportunity arose, he had to leap back in to save Al from being killed, thus returning to the cycle and forgetting much about his past/future.
Sam from Reaper. In early episodes, he was even trying to run away from/hide the vessels he was to use to capture the escaped souls. They followed him. However, in later episodes, he's wised up, even telling the Devil to "just cut to the chase," so to speak.
In Smallville, Clark has said numerous times that his goal is to live like and be an ordinary human. Somehow, many viewers doubt this will be the case. Of all incarnations of Superman, he's by far the most reluctant and where, Superman in the comics inspires a new generation of heroes, many of those same heroes go public first in this incarnation and inspire him. That said, he's typically more unwavering in his dedication than the others once he finally makes up his mind about it.
In one episode, he lost his powers, but still managed to beat the snot out of three superpowered bad guys, and believed he didn't need his powers anymore. Unfortunately, in the next episode, a nuclear missile gets launched at the town, leaving him with no choice but to regain his powers to save the day.
At the beginning of the Grand Finale, Chloe Sullivan is shown reading a Smallville comic to her son. The very first panel involves Clark thinking exactly "I Just Want to Be Normal".
Both Supernatural boys have gone through this phase at some point.
Sam leaves the family business, running away to college to pursue a normal life. And then his girlfriend gets torched by the same demon that killed his mother and infected him with demon blood. He still spends a great deal of Season one talking about going back to a normal life, but after finding out he had demonic powers and getting a taste of The Dark Side, he now considers himself too much of a freak for that to be a possibility. Nonetheless, at the start of Season 8, we find out that while Dean was in purgatory, Sam went back to a 'normal life' with a dog and a girlfriend.
Dean has been tired of this life pretty much since the beginning of season two, when he found out he might have to kill his brother. Season four, with Sam choosing the demon blood-born power he thought would prevent the Apocalypse over Dean, really broke him. By season five, he was ready to settle down or die, and didn't seem much to care which. At the end of Season Five, Dean gets a normal life with a family for a year, but loses Sam.
Runs in the family. Their hunter mother desperately wanted to get out, raise a family and live a normal life. Well, at least she managed for ten years, right? Until her payment came due.
Sam: I'm telling you, kid. I wish I had your life.
Gary: You do? ...Thanks.
Sam: Get on out of here. <Gary leaves>
Dean: That was a nice thing to say.
Sam: Totally lied. Kid's life sucked ass. All that apple-pie family crap, it's stressful, believe me. We didn't miss a damn thing.
In Young Dracula, Vlad wants nothing more than to be a normal boy with a normal family. Jonathan definitely does not want to grow up to be a vampire hunter like his father.
Ace Lightning's Mark Hollander regularly just wanted to be normal, rather than the elected sidekick of a hero from a videogame.
In a more mundane example, House has had moments of just wanting to be normal. The most notable example would be a Season Three episode where he wants to harvest the patient's (a girl who can't feel pain) spinal nerves and replace his damaged thigh muscle. He doesn't go through with it, thanks to an attack of conscience/Wilson, but it's still rather pathetic.
One of his recent patients was a genius who had been taking cough syrup and vodka to lower his IQ because his wife was 91 points lower than him: "She's closer to a gibbon than to me. Sex with her would be an act of bestiality."
Jen on The IT Crowd who at one point screams that the geeks she works with have turned her into one of them.
Ned in Pushing Daisies is actually pretty good about avoiding this, despite being very much Blessed with Suck. He's had a few moments of it in the show proper, and almost certainly felt this way all the time as a kid. Chuck, on the other hand, while not actually having powers, seems to want a normal life, or at least a more normal one.
Played with a lot in Misfits, where the superpowered characters aren't remotely bothered about saving the world and are just trying to get on with their lives. Although the show is mercifully free of Wangst, you get the constant impression that the protagonists don't like their powers much. Alisha in particular really hates her ability (a form of pheromone manipulation which causes anyone who touches her to be overcome with such violent lust that they try to rape her) but then she is well and truly Blessed with Suck. And Kelly mentions a couple of times that she would block her Telepathy if she knew how, as she hates hearing what people think about her.
The only protagonist who does whine about the situation is Nathan, who seemingly doesn't have a power.
In the series two Christmas Special, they're given an opportunity to get rid of their powers, and they take it immediately. Simon is hesitant, since he knows this is a bad idea because it didn't work out in Superman II.
This is pretty much the entire concept behind Being Human. Annie wishes she were still alive and married to Owen, Mitchell hates being a vampire, and George desperately wants to be rid of his lycanthropy. All three do manage to find comfort in their various states (as well as with each other) by the end of the first season.
This was the main motivation of Chuck Bartowski in Chuck for the first two seasons. His normal life was pretty crappy (or at least, boring and Wangsty), but constantly being shot at was not the kind of excitement he wanted. Around the end of the second season, though, characterization marched on and he realized he liked the excitement, the co-workers and making a difference.
Lisbon: Okay, I am not jealous and resentful. That is nonsense.
Jane: Yet you recall my exact words. There's no shame in it. I feel that way too sometimes. Why does everyone else get to have a normal life?
Jaye Tyler from Wonderfalls doesn't take too kindly to becoming a divine instrument (okay, it's not made entirely clear that that's what she is, but it's strongly implied). As the series goes on, she does seem to become significantly less bitter about it, especially after an encounter with a man who just wants to be special:
Jaye: I'm not so sure my burden is actually...a burden. I mean, other people seem to want it, and that should always give you pause before you give something away.
Dexter sometimes expresses the desire to be able to feel like a normal person, free of his drive to kill, at times when he is able to distinguish whether or not he feels anything at all.
Lance & Cally of Dark Oracle would deeply like the comic (that lets them see the future) to just go away. It was bad enough when it was just predicting horrible events; by the second season Blaze & Violet were actively trying to escape the comic and pull Lance & Cally in, leading to numerous attempts on their part to just get rid of it and go back to normal.
In True Blood, Sookie says she is a freak for being able to read minds, and wishes she was normal like everyone else. She later finds out that she is a fairy, and does not quite like that, either.
In The Secret Circle, the main character learns she is a witch, and freaks out, does not want anything to do with magic, just wants to be "normal"
In the pilot episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, this is Sabrina's initial response to her father when he tells her that she is a witch.
The protagonist of the later part of Stephen Spielberg's Taken miniseries says this quite frequently.
Occasionally played in Merlin, not by our resident warlock, but by Prince Arthur. He disguises himself once so that he can compete in a tournament without having his title get in the way, and once admits to Guinevere that he sometimes dreams of becoming a farmer far away where he has no more royal expectations. Merlin, despite having played with this in his earlier years, has ultimately rejected it, embraced his powers as a gift and accepted his destiny to save the kingdom in secret until magic becomes legal.
Person of Interest: Reese occasionally reveals his wish to live a normal life but feels that it is beyond his reach at this point.
Joy Mercer on House of Anubis wanted a normal life during season 1, when she was being held up like a prisoner in her own house and forced to never contact her friends because she was the 'Chosen One'. She even said, "I want to be normal."
Later on she DOES get her normal life, as it is discovered she is not the Chosen One at all.
In the Tales from the Darkside episode "Deliver Us From Goodness", a common housewife gains incredible powers from God for being a saint. While she takes advantage of them a few times, she tries to get rid of them because they freak out her husband and daughter and she wants to get back to her daily routine. In the end, the power transfers to her mother. The housewife admits that she was just starting to like the power and will miss it, but her mother promises she will put them to better use.
The Radiohead song "Creep" is about a secret admirer/stalker of a girl, who longs to be "special" like her.
The narrator of the song A Tongue That Cannot Lie by Karine Polwart. Specifically: "Afflicted, addicted / I pray for a potion / to take all these visions away"
This trope is Older Than Feudalism, appearing in The Bible with the first two chapters of the Book of Jonah. After being selected by God to go to the city of Nineveh to prophesy against it "for their great wickedness is come up before me", Jonah did not want this responsibility, and tried to flee by going to the city of Jaffa and then sailing to Tarshish (which was in the opposite direction from Nineveh). When a storm threatened to sink the ship, the sailors suspect that Jonah is the cause, and he admits it. They toss him overboard, which causes the sea to calm, but Jonah's life is saved when he is swallowed by a "big fish" who carries him to land after three days. During that time, Johan prays to God, and decides to accept the task given to him.
In a non-superpower example, Solid Snake of the Metal Gear series made one attempt to live a normal life in the isolation of Alaska, attempting to escape the cycle of violence and death that had killed so many people around him. Without fail, he was back fighting the titular Humongous Mecha within a few years at most.
Chun Li in the Street Fighter franchise. Within the games themselves, she is often mentioned as wanting to go back to living a normal life after she avenges her father. However, since she just Can't Stay Normal, her attempts at living said normal life tend to go astray mainly because she actually does like street fighting.
Parodied in Jun the Swan's ending in the Wii version of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. If you choose the option to try being a normal woman, you see her and the other heroines in the game (including Chun Li)... and none of them have the slightest idea of how to be normal.
In The Sims 2, this is generally how sims without the knowledge aspiration react to being turned into a monster. They will constantly have the want to be normal come up in their slot, or the want for one of their friends or family to be normal. You can just ignore this with no negative consequences though, or you can cash in on the points and buy the curing potion. Note that sims who do have the knowledge aspiration have this a fear instead.
Terra Branford in Final Fantasy VI. She actually gets her wish when she spends a year taking care of orphans, and her powers regress to the point she actually can't fight even when she tries. Once she rediscovers her fighting spirit, she jumps back into the fray when she realizes the world has gone to hell, and she doesn't want the kids to be stuck growing up in a world like that.
Roxas spends most of Kingdom Hearts II like this. He's perfectly happy in his nice normal town, doing nice normal chores with his nice normal friends. When the villains and the Keyblade come to call, telling him of some grand former life he used to have, he really doesn't care. He just wishes they'd all stop bothering him.
In the first Kingdom Hearts, Sora fits this trope. He journeys not to save the Universe (which he ends up doing), but to find his friends. Once he has done that, he still needs to restore his homeworld.
In Wild AR Ms 2, Anastasia Valeria AKA the Sword Magess states that she used to be a normal girl before destiny intervened. She suffers a total breakdown when it looks like Ashley is going to leave her alone, pretty much invoking the trope by name.
In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, this is the whole plot of the game. The main hero, Marche, despite being in a world of fantasy that apparently has no negative consequences if he just accepts it, just wants to escape the world of Ivalice and live in reality with his friends and brother.
Several mages in the Dragon Age franchise feel this way about their magic. One mage in the Origins prays to the Maker apologizing for her very existence and thinks she is a monster. Ander's friend Karl in the sequel says that he would gladly give up his magic if it didn't also mean being turned Tranquil. In the DLC "Legacy" Hawke's father Malcolm's lingering memories reveal that Malcolm hated his magic and hoped none of his children would share his burden.
Hawke's sister Bethany vocalizes her desire to be normal several times in party banter.
Shinjiro Aragaki in Persona 3 would like nothing better than to be rid of his Persona - with good reason, since he once lost control of it during a mission, causing the death of an innocent woman and orphaning her eight-year-old-son. He stubbornly rejects Akihiko's efforts to bring him back into the fight, and goes so far as to poison himself with Persona-suppressing drugs. In the female protagonist's route in the PSP version of the game, he all but says the trope name word for word during his Social Link.
Mitsuru in the same game also struggles a little with wanting to be normal; in her case it has less to do with her Persona and more to do with the fact that she's the heir to a large corporation and thus a lot of her life has been shaped by the expectations on her to live up to her role. All things being equal, she'd like to be able to wear the same kinds of clothes and frequent the same hangouts that other students her age do, but instead her clothes are chosen for her by her family's stylist and she's engaged to a man twice her age who she feels she must marry in order to secure the future stability of her family's company.
Argilla from Digital Devil Saga. Originally just another emotionless combat drone, the release of the Demon Virus charged her with emotions, which neither she nor anyone in her Crapsack World had ever experienced. As her personality started forming, she developed a wish to know more about what had happened to her. Then she was informed she had shifted into a powerful demon form and slaughtered an enemy battalion. It was comprehensible she uttered the trope verbatim, as an emotionless existence was very much preferable to what she was becoming.
Jarod Shadowsong, a night elf from Warcraft. In the novel The War of the Ancients, he is a simple guard from the city of Suramar who gets wrapped up with major lore characters in the fight against the Burning Legion. When the general of the night elven army dies, Jarod is given the job of commanding the army comprising of night elves, tauren, furbolgs, Earthen, and demigods. He knows the job has to be filled, but wants nothing more than to go back to just being a faceless guard. After the war, Jarod vanished instead of taking up the offer of being co-leader of his people. He would reappear in World of Warcraft Cataclysm when Mount Hyjal was threatened by Ragnaros, this time much more willing to take command after his Ten-Thousand Year Retirement.
The novel Wolfheart reveals that he left because he fell in love with another night elf (not Shandris), and they decided to run away to have a normal life together. He only returned because she got sick (a side effect of the loss of immortality).
In MDK, janitor Kurt Hectic reluctantly dons the Coil Suit to save the day against alien invaders. In MDK 2, the aliens manage to capture him and take the suit. Kurt tells Dr. Hawkins this, relieved that he doesn't have to fight anymore now that it's hopeless and he can go back to being a regular janitor again. Hawkins then reveals that he has a bunch of backup Coil Suits ready for Kurt to wear. Kurt once again resigns himself to being the savior of humanity.
Inverted with Tails in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Tails is a young fox with two tails instead of one, which got him bullied by other people for it. Rather than wishing he was a normal fox, Tails shrugs it off and accepts who he is and he actually uses his tails to fly and to propel him really fast when he runs.
Recently-turned vampire John Turner in Immortal Souls really wants to go back to be human, or at least try to just live as normal a life as possible as a taxi driver. Unfortunately for him, everyone keeps either trying to pressure him into doing heroics for them, or trying to kill him for what he is. There was also an incident when he was human where he tried to give up being an ace street racer after the races started getting too deadly and dangerous for his tastes, but the people he raced for tried threatening him into continuing anyway.
Aya Brea in Parasite Eve 2 occasionally angsts over how the mitochondria in her body gives her a youthful appearance and special powers no matter how old she gets and wishes to live just one normal life.
In Fate/stay night this was Saber's entire motivation to win the Holy Grail, though with the intent of remaining normal so the country she led would have a better ruler.
Additionally, Shirou, for a good bit of the initial stages of the war, wanted to — and tried to — withdraw from the war. Didn't get far on that one. (You get the option in the game, but if you do quit, Ilya and Berserker eat you.)
Shirou did not wanted to be normal. He'd be a lot cheerier about the whole thing if Kotomine didn't poke a giant hole in his fun by pointing out that superheroes need tragedies to happen in order to fix them.
Shirou put himself at great personal risk with his magic training; this doesn't indicate a desire for normalcy. However Sakura, whose own magical training was mercilessly inflicted on her, desperately saw in him the chance for her to have a role in a normal life.
In Star Trek Online Lieutenant Miral Paris just wants to be a good Starfleet officer like her parents. This is made rather complicated by a Klingon sect that considers her to be the Kuvah'Magh. In her words to the Federation Player Character:
"For every Klingon who wants to worship me, there is another who wants to kill me. It makes it hard to have anything resembling a normal life."
In Arthur, King of Time and Space, Arthur doesn't want to be High King of Britain (or High King of British Space, or C.E.O. of Excallicorp), but his sense of responsibility is too strong to give it up.
Zoe is like this a bit in Sluggy Freelance. She just wants to graduate from college and get a good job, while all her friends are more interested in summoning demons, exploring other dimensions, building giant robots, fighting vampires, or conocting various Zany Schemes. It doesn't help that, while the other characters can cast spells, build Mad Scientist style inventions, or kill demons with a swing of their sword, Zoe's "power" is turning into a camel whenever someone says "shupid" (which her friends do whenever they're feeling a bit vengeful).
In the Stormbinger arc, she appears to muster up her will in an attempt to avert this trope. Except that amongst her circle of friends, taking a shotgun into a time-travelling go-kart is normal.
A Magical Roommate provides quite a few interesting spins. Aylia wants to be a wizard, which is normal in her world, but is sent to college instead. Nicole wants to have a happy average life, but winds up getting quote "Three Wierdo Roommates!" unquote. Alexis just wants to live as a human instead of having wings. Everybody else is apparently fine with being abnormal.
Bittersweet Candy Bowl has Sandy, whose mother wants her to be a model, but Sandy would like to actually have the chance to spend some time with her long-distance boyfriend Mike, rather than constantly being ripped away from normal life to go to shows.
In El Goonish Shive, Vlad is abnormal even among shapeshifting chimera in that he was made using the DNA from so many different animals that he can't transform without risking death. This leads him to be jealous of his "brothers" ability to transform into human forms and blend in with society. He gets his desire partially fulfilled when he is transformed into a human woman by Ellen's beam becoming Vladia.
The print-only bonus issue of Spinnerette reveals that Heather's roommate, Sahira, is a Differently Powered Individual who can copy the powers of anyone she touches. Heather, being an Ascended Fangirl herself, doesn't help by being over-enthusiastic about Sahira being her sidekick. A talk with the more experienced heroes ends with them both coming to the conclusion that just because Sahira has a superpower, it doesn't mean she can't live a normal life as a civilian.
Same New Woman Marita, an ordinary librarian who wakes up one morning with a hyper-muscular body and extraordinary strength. She wants her normal body back while trying to go on with her old life but finds her world increasingly out of control.
In When She Was Bad, Amber Price is declared to be The Chosen One by an order of mysterious caped figures and given superpowers, but initally wants no part of it. This stands in sharp contrast to her counterpart, Villain Protagonist Gail Swanson, who upon accidentally receiving some of Amber's power jumps into her new life as a supervillain with gusto.
The Fabulous Frog-Man, a mutant hero from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, is super-agile, can leap the length of a city block, can heal quickly from most injuries, and has a six foot long, prehensile tongue. He's also green, warty, and has big googly eyes. He'd give up his powers and his life as a superhero to look normal again.
None of the protagonists in the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes want their super powers. Of course, that doesn't stop some of them *coughRobcough* from enjoying them.
Emma uses the exact phrase in the lonelygirl15 episode "Decision Time". The series also contains a non-superpower-related example, which Daniel expresses in "The Ascension". Jonas does too, to a lesser extent.
The title character of The Saga of Tuck has a fairly active and mad life, but his discovery of his intersex medical condition leaves him longing for the past.
Many of the characters in the Whateley Universe enjoy their abilities, but some, especially those whose mutations have turned them into hideous freaks, or made it impossible to live without life support, certain wish they were normal. Of the main characters, the intersexed Ayla Goodkind is actively researching ways to change back to a normal-looking male, and Chou Lee is still angsting about her transformation, and the tasks the Tao requires her to perform.
Siberys from Darwin's Soldiers is an experiment created with strong telekinetic powers. He agrees to be the test subject for a bioweapon that permanently disables the powers of psi-experiments because he doesn't want his powers any more.
"All I wanted to do was study the settlement's remarkably well-preserved kiln," said the 58-year-old Whitson, carefully recoiling the rope he had just used to clamber out of a pit filled with giant rats. "I didn't want to be chased by yet another accursed manifestation of an ancient god-king's wrath."
Lana from The Gungan Council has an affinity to psychometry, yet believes it's simply a curse to her life as an outlaw.
In The Platoon Of Power Squadron, Virginia is so opposed to the idea of having powers, she tries to get a friend to come up with a cure not only for herself, but for her to slip into the drinks of her other super-powered friends. Jonas isn't very eager to use his powers either, saying that Donald's whole “Fate gave us these powers for a reason so we have to experiment with them and save everyone and be heroes!!!” mentality rubbed off on him to the point where he lost control over them enough to use them in his sleep.
Donald: I'm sorry, I thought this was a comic store. I didn't realize this was where the We Don't Use Our Powers convention was being held.
In Worm members of the Travelers like Noelle and Sundancer wish they had a nice, normal life without their powers. Presumably holds true for others who would have gained powers from trigger events.
After he starts transforming into a crazy cartoon character, Roy spends much of The Cartoon Man saga just wanting to be normal again. The transformation is reversed midway through the second movie, but he soon finds that he Can't Stay Normal.
In the Legion of Super Heroes cartoon episode "Legacy," Alexis dismisses her trillionaire heiress Lonely Rich Kid/Rich Bitch lifestyle with "I Just Want to Be Normal." As her first real friend apparently ever, she tries to hold on to her relationship with Superman, and thus normality, by scheming and manipulating and eventually going completely off the deep end into supervillainy, Luthor-style, giving up on normality in favor of Revenge.
Aang in Avatar: The Last Airbender, in regards to being the Chosen One. Even after being forced to accept the call, he still holds some desire to be a normal kid. In the third season, he goes as far as to take the huge risk of enrolling in a Fire Nation school just to experience what it's like being a normal kid, despite his friends' protests.
Inverted in The Legend of Korra. Korra defines herself so much around being the Avatar that she can't bear the thought of being Brought Down to Normal — even "merely" an airbender, the rarest kind of bender in the world. Or even living a normal life with mom and dad, while still having all her powers.
A main plot point of the 80's Dungeons & Dragons cartoon was the kids wanting to leave their new sword-and-sorcery life behind and return to the normal world.
In Transformers Animated, Blackarachnia is obsessed with removing her organic side and becoming fully robotic again despite being both Cursed with Awesome and tremendously physically attractive to about half the cast.
In the season two finale of The Venture Bros., Dean ends up admitting this during a fit of delusion. It's become his defining motivation. By season 5 Dean finally admits to his dad he doesn't want to be a scientist or boy adventurer. What he doesn't tell him is that it's because he knows that his brother and himself are both clones after they've died over 14 times in the past.
Deep down, this is all Rusty Venture really wants as well.
In South Park, Craig is shown to be The Chosen One who will defeat the giant Guinea Creatures as foretold by an Incan prophecy, though he states throughout the episodes that he doesn't want to get involved in any weird adventures and just wants to stay away from the main characters (whose every schemes always ends up in Hilarity Ensuing). Subverted in that his attempts at refusing the call ends up leading him to fulfill his destiny and defeat the Guinea Pirate, with him noting that life is unexpected in the end (though he still learns to never trust the gang with anything).
Mysterion, a.k.a. Kenny, is tired of being immortal because no one remembers his deaths.
In Danny Phantom, Danny tries to split his ghost and human halves to have some plain fun...with mixed results. Similarly, in the finale, Danny permanently gets rid of his ghost half so he can be normal, even if he does eventually get his powers back.
Not to mention in the pilot episode, he expresses the desire to be fully human again early on ("If my dad can invent something that accidentally made me half-ghost, why can't he invent something that turns me back to normal?!")
In The Movie, his future self has Vlad separate his human and ghost halves to help him deal with the death of his family and friends. It doesn't end well. At all.
That's more of an inversion; Danny explicitly wanted to remove his human side. Well... he succeeded.
In Jackie Chan Adventures Jackie would love nothing more than to go back to his life as a quiet and unassuming archaelogist rather than his current life as a secret agent who routinely defends the world from demons and what not.
In one of the My Little Pony animated specials, Lily Lightly is the only unicorn whose horn glows when she's excited or really happy, so she tries to hide it from everyone else. She even has an "I Want" Song about it.
Nightcrawler of X-Men: Evolution was like this, but you couldn't really blame him given that he looked like a furry blue demon. Unlike the other mutants, who were actually fairly good about being exposed as mutants, Nightcrawler was really reluctant to let go of the illusion that he wasn't a mutant, but eventually did, and never let go of the human appearance given to him by his image inducer (can't really blame him, again).
Generator Rex, though Rex enjoys fighting, and helping people, he's not a fan of the life he has to lead when he's not on missions, which seems to consist of training and waiting around. He sneaks out often. Leading the higher ups to hire a kid to be his friend.
Colonel James Rhodes explains that he rarely dons the War Machine armor because he's not interested in becoming a superhero.
Rodimus Prime never really felt worthy of succeeding Optimus Prime as the leader of the Autobots and bearer of the Matrix of Leadership. When Optimus apparently came back from the dead, Rodimus immediately handed over the Matrix and felt overjoyed when he reverted to Hot Rod as a result. He had to take it back when Optimus turned out to be an Ax-Crazyzombie.
For a couple of episodes, April tries to get on with her life and pretend that mutant reptiles and aliens don't exist. She succeeds and meets the first normal human boy, but she's sucked back into the crazy mess she was trying to avoid.