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Imagination-Based Superpower
I won’t insult you by trying to stop you with a single finger. No, I won’t even raise any fingers against you. I’ll take your life... using my mind alone
Gremmy Thoumeaux, Bleach

A power based around the user's imagination. This power allows the user to create anything if they think of it. It can be anything mundane from table flatware to weapons like rocket launchers and machine guns.

Because of the nature of this trope, there will often be some kind of limitation to the power to prevent it from becoming a Story Breaker Power. For example, the power has a limited power supply, or the power has the inability to affect certain objects. For example, the rings wielded by the Green Lantern Corps have a limit to how many constructs their rings can make (usually 24 hours at average use), and they used to have the infamous inability to affect yellow-colored objects (or, in even earlier versions, anything made of wood).

A Super Trope to Spontaneous Weapon Creation. Reality Warping tends to be this.

See also Swiss Army Superpower, Semantic Superpower.

Examples

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    Anime and Manga 

  • It's oddly popular in the Super Robot Genre for the mecha to run on a green, glowing, extremely powerful energy source that is limited only by the pilot's willpower and imagination, much like the Green Lantern. The first example being Getter Rays, then the G-Stone, the Bronze Bell's Power and Spiral Energy.
    • Full Metal Panic!'s Lambda Driver is another example of specialized mecha equipment that explicitly runs on the pilot's willpower and imagination. Unfortunately the only person on the good guys' side able to pilot their only Lambda Driver-equipped mech is Sousuke, a Stoic Consummate Professional with approximately the imaginative capacity of a cinder block. This situation causes considerable difficulty and frustration for everyone involved until he finally gets some of his issues sorted out at the end of The Second Raid. (The bad guys, meanwhile, hand out Lambda Drivers like candy to Ax-Crazy Psychos For Hire who have absolutely no difficulty making them run.)
  • Bleach: Gremmy Thoumeaux's fantasies can create fully-functional people, change landscapes, render bones too brittle to function, and heal injuries or kill just by imagining wounds never occurred or people are already dead. He can even create fully functional clones of himself whose presence increases the power of his imagination. If he loses focus on imagining something the effect will end, though indirect injuries will remain. The ability has two drawbacks: If he doubts himself, his power can make the doubts real; and if he uses his power to do something he can't imagine, it can result in a Superpower Meltdown.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Spiral Energy is essentially this. It's the force of willpower manifested into various forms. By the end of the series, Simon is able to harness it to do practically anything. Mostly the making of bigger drills. It's even green too (with the exception of Lord Genome's powers, which are an evil red color).
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Haruna owns a magical sketchbook which allows her to summon anything she draws as a magical beast. Thus far she's used it to fight, to decoy enemies by summoning clones of her friends, to tie enemies up by summoning tentacle-ermines (don't ask), stopping a Gatling gun barrage by summoning a swarm of small creatures (more ermines) to get in the way of the bullets, making a flying manta ray to avoid enemies on, and creating several modified golems of other characters.
    • Shadow using magic also qualifies; Takane D. Goodman creates shadow golems for attack and defense (as well as clothing), the other shadow magic user creates blades and such. Haruna has the better imagination, and she can reuse a drawing.
    • Also from Negima is Jack Rakan, whose artifact allows him to create literally any weapon. Normally he'll just go with a BFS, since that suits his style best, but the fact remains that if it's a weapon of any sort, he can make it. The kicker? He doesn't even need his artifact to beat most opponents, he's just that ungodly strong.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Teitoku Kakine has the power to create and manipulate constructs out of dark matter, which is rather similar to a Green Lantern's power.
    • An immensely complex and powerful spell called "Ars Magna" can also do this: when it's in effect, anything the caster thinks of becomes reality. Izzard is defeated through exploiting the obvious weakness in this: if the caster thinks of things that can defeat him, then they shall appear as well.
  • In the Pokémon series Ditto's Transform move not only lets it turn into Pokemon, but face masks, arms, keys, umbrellas, full sized working cannons etc. Pretty much whatever it needs.
  • Demons' robes in The World God Only Knows can do anything from creating lifelike replicas to looking into the past, limited mainly by the skill of the user and the mass of the robe.
  • The titular character from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has godlike powers, meaning she can twist reality and create any thing/situation she wants. The only catch is she doesn't realize she has this ability.
  • Fairy Tail's Rusty Rose has this with his magic: Arc of Embodiment.
    • There's actually a fair number of these in Fairy Tail. At the most basic level, you have Molding magic, which allows you to create objects or weapons out of an element (Ice, Wood... even Memory). Then you have Solid Script, an attack which takes the form of the word you write (iron, fire, etc.).
  • In MÄR, Ginta can use magic stones to imagine pretty much any ability for Babbo. There only seems to be a vague limit of what he can do based on his own magical power, but if he has the energy, it can be done. Snow is understandably underwhelmed when the first things he comes up with are a plain hammer and dagger.

    Comics 
  • The Power Rings from Green Lantern. In addition to the primary ability of creating anything the user could think of, it also had a knowledge database that allowed it to translate any language, flight, and gave its user the ability to survive in any environment. Oddly, he was once able to create a Turkish-English Dictionary with his ring in the Janissary arc. Which really shouldn't have been necessary, considering the aforementioned translation function.
    • Kyle Rayner (a comic book artist) is notable as one of the most powerful and dangerous Green Lanterns because of his overactive imagination. He's been known to spawn entire armies of constructs (many of them Shout Outs to various other comic books, manga, and anime).
    • There's also the other Lantern Corps, all of whom are capable of the same matter-creation as Green ones, though different Lantern Corps apply their Green Lantern Ring powers differently. The Raging Red Lanterns typically vomit their energies from their mouth as a sort of acid, which can also corrode other Corps' constructs. Orange Lanterns are the physical recreations of Larfleeze's victims (as he is the only true member of the corps of Greed) in addition to being standard constructs. Yellow is like Green but with Fear as its power source, Blue Lanterns usually just let their Ring make a copy of whatever the target will feel Hope about, unless a Green Lantern is around to supercharge it. Violet has the basic powers and imprison with Love. The Indigo Tribe has the basic power set, weaponized Compassion, and the ability to tap into any of the other colors' powers.
  • With Marvel, there's the Quantum Bands, belonging to Quasar. They do pretty much the same as the Green Lantern rings, only they're not technology, or run by willpower, and they come with the slight design flaw that kills anyone incapable of wielding them. And yet an Omnicidal Maniac like Annihilus was able to hang on to them for several months in-universe.
  • Invisible Woman of the Fantastic Four has this ability, given to her after her original ability turned out to be so useless that writers had to give her a reason to even EXIST. If you're a spy, a thief or an assassin, or just a phenomenally skill martial artist, being able to turn invisible at will would be quite useful by itself. But Sue is none of those things, and an otherwise ordinary human who can turn invisible isn't much help against enemies with superhuman strength. They pulled that off pretty well, considering that she is now the strongest member of the team. Basically, she's become an Invisible Lantern over the years, being able to shape her invisible forcefields into any sort of constructs she wants but with the added advantage that her enemies can't see them.
  • Deliciously subverted in Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol with the villain called the Quiz, who has "every superpower you hadn't thought of". Combating the Quiz consisted of listing as many super powers one could summon up before she could come up with her Green Lantern's Ring effect.
    • The Answer, a villain from the Spider-Man series, has pretty much the same "power", allowing him to do whatever is required to "answer" a situation. For some reason this doesn't make him omnipotent, and he does get trounced by Spidey fairly often. Though in hindsight, it makes sense. An answer isn't always correct. Or there could be more than one correct answers.
  • The Staff of One from Runaways lets Niko cause any effect she can name — once. Any attempt to do the same thing twice causes random effects, ranging from silly (summoning pelicans) to massively inconvenient (teleporting her miles away). They are a bit inconsistent about this, but at least early on it seems it is not limited to the effect but to the actual command word; there are examples of Nico trying to come up with synonyms for words she has already used.
  • Very much unsubverted in at least one Elseworld story, where Batman gets a power ring. Because giving the goddamned Batman a weapon based on intelligence, creativity, and willpower seemed like such a good idea at the time...
  • Plastic Man's elasticity gave him the power to turn into virtually anything he wanted, with ill-defined limits, including machines with moving parts such as spinning wheels, gears or propellers, a giant aerosol can full of bug spray, and in some sillier stories a working magnet (and in at least one case, "anything he wanted" included Wonder Woman). The catch to all that is that he can't change his colors and is pretty much stuck to his skin color, red and black. Now his son on the other hand...
  • Marvel's very own Galactus (and to a lesser extent his heralds) possesses the Power Cosmic, which was at some point described as being able to control the four Fundamental Interactions of the universe. Whatever this would entail in Real Life, what it allows Galactus to do in the comics boils down to "Anything he wants". There are limits to what he can do, but these limits are so high that it's only ever an issue if he encounters one of the two or three people that are stronger than he is.
  • Any comic book wizard, sorcerer, or magician can pretty much pull a spell out of their ass to do it. Unless the plot says they can't use a particular power, even if they've done exactly that before.
  • The Star Brand from The New Universe easily fits this trope. It can do just about anything the user wants, from flying to immortality. However, it has a tons of downsides to it, including being unable to be fully rid of the power (passing it leaves you with 10% of the power and you can drain it completely, but there's the possibility that you'll get it back or accidentally pass it on) and it can only be held by living beings (the two times it was placed on inanimate objects? Gave people superpowers and turned Pittsburgh into a crater, respectively). When the New U's Earth was brought to the Marvel U, it was placed in quarantine because the Star Brand upset the balance of the universe.
  • Spawn has the power to do almost anything, but the bigger the feat is, the more it uses up his limited energy pool. Once it's all gone, he gets a one-way trip to Hell.
  • Beast Boy, Vixen and Animal Man's powers all revolve around either turning into or gaining the abilities of whatever animal they can think of. The thing is, what does and does not qualify as an animal is incredibly vague, meaning they have a good deal of variety, and can transform into/copy even other sentient species (how's a Kryptonian strike your fancy? How about an Apokalypsian?). To make matters even more confusing, on at least one occasion when Vixen's powers were limited to "the Human animal" her abilities allowed her to copy the powers of other superpowered Humans, even those whose powers weren't natural...and Superman...and an actual Green Lantern (it was lampshaded that this didn't make sense, though, and it eventually turned out to be the work of a Reality Warper).
    • Other DC characters with similarly open-ended abilities include Metamorpho the Element Man and Mr. 104, who can transform into any chemical they can think of, along with other Voluntary Shapeshifting tricks.
    • Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man. (Yes, he was a Doom Patrol villain, how'd you guess?)
  • Bunker, a member of the Teen Titans introduced in the New 52, is capable of creating and manipulating "psionic brick" structures. By his own admission, he needs practice, and his ability to make things much more complicated than a simple wall or "gloves" for his fists is pretty limited, but he's confident that eventually he'll be virtually indistinguishable from an actual Green Lantern.
  • Ibis the Invincible, a character from the Shazam books, has the Ibistick, a staff that can do anything. Anything. The only limitation is that he has to ask the Ibistick aloud to do it. As a result, Ibis is so bored with life that he spends most of his time in suspended animation.
  • The New 52's version of Phantom Lady has black light gloves that can manifest darkness into black fog, Hard Light objects (like razors and shields) and living shadows.
  • The Force especially in the EU is shown to be able to do just about anything the plot wants it to. From the more common things like shooting lightning from the hands, choking people, seeing the future, etc. to more exotic things like moving objects to size of Star Destroyers, mutating life into insanely dangerous creatures, and so on. If the plot needs it The Force can do it, the only thing that keeps it from being a Story Breaker Power is how fickle The Force tends to be as to what it'll allow people to do.
  • In Death Vigil, Clara's veilripper is a pen that allows her to draw things into existence.

    Fan Works 

     Film - Animated 
  • Elsa's Snow Queen powers in Disney's Frozen is depicted like this. Besides the usual freezing blasts, blizzards, ice spikes, ice walls, and ice shields, she could also create clothes woven from ice, create ice structures of all kinds including an entire Ice Palace, and even create sentient life made of snow.

    Literature 
  • Dhyarra crystals in the German horror/fantasy/SF series Professor Zamorra are this, essentially drawing upon "cosmic energies" to turn what their user imagines into reality. Downsides include the need for fairly intense concentration (temporary effects are repeatedly shown to be easily dispelled simply by distracting the user) and very precise visualization for complex tasks at least, as well as the fact that a crystal too powerful for a given user to control will burn out their mind and leave them dead or a drooling vegetable in short order. And you can't gauge an unknown crystal's power level just by looking at it...
  • This is the power of imagers in L.E. Modsitt's Imager Portfolio. Unusually for this trope, it carries the associated risk of rewriting the universe through your daydreams or nightmares. For example, the hero discovers his powers when he starts daydreaming about his master's (he's a journeyman artist at that point) Jerk Ass son blowing himself up by mixing some oils wrongly. Next thing he knows: BOOM!!! Similarly, it's mentioned that no imager is allowed to sleep in the same room as any other human, including his wife, because of the risk of imaging in his sleep.
  • This is basically how sorcery works in The Belgariad. Belgarath describes it as 'The Will and the Word' - imagine what you want to happen, then say a word to release your Will and make it happen. Practically, you're limited by how much energy you can safely use but more importantly you have to be able to envisage what you want to achieve. This encourages sorcerors to spend lots of time in study, as knowledge vastly expands their available repertoire. As an absolute limit, it's impossible to 'unmake' anything. The universe doesn't like it, and unmakes you instead.

    Live Action TV 
  • In one episode of The New Adventures Of Robin Hood, Rob acquires a unicorn horn to fight the Big Bad. He can command it to turn into anything from a weapon, to a ladder, to a length of rope. Towards the end he's flailing a bit, and just yells, "Give me what I need!"
  • This is acknowledged in-universe in Ressha Sentai Tokkyuger. The Rangers train-themed powers and Humongous Mecha are literally fueled by their IMAGINAAAATION, and a lot of what they do comes off almost as a children's game of pretend, such as switching their colors around because it sounds like a fun idea, their Finishing Move being what they see as a fitting punishment for the Monster of the Week, or their mecha's controls working as they imagine they would.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Genius The Transgression PCs are Green Lantern Rings. Sure, they may only have a raygun and a door-opening device on them when you trap them in your warehouse, but depending on their abilities, they could build just about anything in there.
  • In Mutants & Masterminds, to most traditionally simulate the actual Green Lantern ring, most players take the Create Object power, which basically allows them to make anything they want out of thin air.
  • Dynamic Sorcery from Big Eyes, Small Mouth acts as one of these, with the higher levels enabling the user to create more powerful effects.

    Video Games 
  • In Scribblenauts, the key to progressing through the game's various puzzles is not about unlocking new items, all of which are available from square one, but discovering new usable items and new ways of using them to create the desired effect. If you can make a garage door opener with an Eldritch Abomination tied to a pirate or bribe an army of kappa into fighting the zombie hordes for you by feeding them cucumbers, more power to you.
    • That said, one of the complaints lodged against the game was how often creativity was left off the menu. Sure, you could try to do something inventive, but you were at the mercy of whether or not the programmers had programmed the items you were trying to use so that they could interact the way you were trying to use them. Many of the things you could summon which theoretically should have been incredibly helpful weren't actually programmed to do anything at all.
    • On the other hand, this is somewhat justified as the game (and it's sequel) have essentially the contents of a dictionary plus adjectives. Trying to figure out a way to get all of that to work would be... tricky.
  • The Drawn games center on Iris, a young princess in hiding, whose drawings, paintings, and paper cut-outs all come to life. The player must explore, make use of, repair, or complete Iris's artwork to succeed.
  • In inFAMOUS: Second Son , Eugene Sims has the ability to create projections from virtual characters. In his case, he uses his powers to create angels and demons from his favorite video game, which Delsin gains to a limited extent after he absorbs his power.

    Visual Novels 
  • Arcueid Brunestud from Tsukihime has what is known as the Marble Phantasm. Marble Phantasm is the ability to reproduce any situation found in nature. Uses shown include turning a hallway into a vacuum in a manner that vaporizes the contents of the hallway, summoning the moon from the future (somehow), dropping the moon on people, summoning mystical castles and potentially turning herself a magical girl, if Carnival Phantasm is to be believed. Is it any wonder she doesn't get a chance to show off much in Tsukihime? All she's limited by are her natural strengthnote  and the fact that it can't do tricks that break the laws of nature.

    Webcomics 
  • The outsiders have this in Modding as explained here.
  • Blinker Stones in Gunnerkrigg Court work much like this, acting as a "lens" for psychic abilities, which means they can do pretty much anything. It's specifically mentioned that eventually the user becomes powerful enough that they can't use it, and have to rely on their own powers.

    Web Original 
  • Guardsman, a member of the Global Guardians superhero team, wears a special costume (given to him by aliens) that allows him to manipulate "solid energy". But then, he's an obvious Captain Ersatz of Green Lantern.
  • Derek the Bard, host of Warning! Readers Advisory! wears and uses an actual Green Lantern ring.
  • The Lamplighter of the Whateley Universe has a lamp that lets him do Green Lantern-esque things with light. He hasn't been used as a hero yet. Riptide has aquakinesis, and is a side character, but when she had to stop The Lamplighter from killing Chaka, she found out she could do pretty much whatever she wanted if she had enough water.
  • Half Full posits a future where everyone has imagination based superpowers with no restrictions whatsoever. Unsurprisingly, there is war.

    Western Animation 
  • In an ironic subversion, Justice League's Former Marine John Stewart was once criticized by his former Green Lantern Corps mentor about the militaristic, uncreative use of his ring, mainly as a blaster weapon and forcefield. This itself was actually an echo of the early disputes among the fandom in regards to both his character and limited abilities. Following this episode, Stewart began to increasingly be more creative with his ring, culminating in "Kid Stuff" where he was reverted to a child and his ring's power increased exponentially due to his active (if not overactive) imagination.
    Kid Green Lantern: I'll make a laser cannon! No, a missile launcher! Oh — oh, I know!
    Kid Batman: Just pick something!
    • And by the end of that episode? He uses the ring to make himself a Humongous Mecha bristling with every weapon you could ever think of. And uses it to launch a Macross Missile Massacre, the No One Could Survive That type. Genre Blind much?
    • The early lack of creativity was somewhat galling in the face of his comics origin, where he was, yes, a Marine, but also a fully-trained architect. More likely it was due to budget and scheduling as much as anything.
      • This seems to no longer be the case in comics either. In Green Lantern: Rebirth, Hal Jordan narrates about how John's architectural background influences his constructs; everything is meticulously detailed, even including individual screws and moving parts. Hal has specifically stated that "None of John's constructs are hollow." In fact, a recent scene had John Stewart attempting to recreate an entire planet with his ring, only for it to inform him that the willpower limit was exceeded. Just think about that for a second...
    • During Christmas Episode, in which John gets into a snowball fight, he does things like creating multiple hands to toss snowballs. The implication being that he uses his ring in a purely utilitarian manner only when he's fighting. Which given the nature of the show is the vast majority of what he's seen using it for.
  • Ecto-Manipulation in Danny Phantom. It's not just for shooting beams out of your hands — a skilled ghost can essentially create anything through the use of their own Ectos. Vlad alone managed to create tangible forms with his (such as a rope or a giant batter). They can also telepathically lift objects and in the rare instance shown, trail their Ectos to do whatever they want them to do. The possibilities are limitless.
  • Splatter Phoenix from Darkwing Duck can basically create anything with her brush. That's probably the reason she is killed off in her second episode.
  • A kid in one episode of Static Shock had the ability to create things he thought of, which his brother took advantage of.
  • Played straight in Green Lantern: The Animated Series, for obvious reasons, but also subverted when the Interceptor needs repairs. Hal asks if a ring construct would suffice until they could get back to Oa for proper repairs. Aya replies that the construct would have to be an exact duplicate of the coil and its 56 moving parts to within a 0.8162 micron tolerance, which none of the Lanterns have the skill to replicate.
  • Transformers Prime introduces an ancient device used by one of the first Cybertronians called the Forge of Solus Prime, with its explicit power being that it can take raw material and hammer it into any device desired by those who wields it and created other legendary weapons like The Star Saber. They do suggest that it has its limitations in that the creator has to have a basic understanding of how the device is supposed to work and not literally forming anything you can think of.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has the Green Lantern Expy Radiance from the comic book Power Ponies, who can create purple energy constructs using the gems covering her costume.
    • Rarity gets this for real in Inspiration Manifestation. Unfortunately, in an obvious allegory of drug addition, it also comes with a side of Brainwashed and Crazy: she stops eating and sleeping, and grows increasingly manic until she gets free of it.
  • The Orb Of Quite Remarkable Power in Earthworm Jim basically functions as a spherical Green Lantern Ring. Parodied when Psycrowe used it to fight Jim, and at one point accidentally tried to drop a giant hamburger on him because he was thinking about lunch.


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