There's oodles of different kinds of powers, some lethal and some harmless. Having obviously lethal powers has remarkably many downsides. Bad Powers, Bad People
means the owners can't use them at all for fear of becoming killers
, they tend to miss a lot when aimed at heroes
, and they tend to corrupt
or slowly kill them
anyway. This can make the "wimps" with the power of Heart
become surprisingly useful
by using their "harmless" powers in surprisingly
One of which is using said harmless power in a horrifyingly lethal way.
Turns out the kid with a Green Thumb
can make the local flora emit toxic pollen
, the Barrier Warrior
just needs to tilt her barrier to use it as a knife
, or the White Mage
with Healing Hands
can reverse her ability to rapidly
drain Life Energy
, or worse, heal too much and give the victim horrible cancer
. Other times, the power itself always had the lethal applications, such as Psychic Surgery
being used not to take bullets out of a person, but to put them in... by hand.
However, the character had a self imposed Drama-Preserving Handicap
in the form of Mind Over Manners
or Non-Lethal Warfare
to avoid becoming a villain.
But eventually, these heroes will face a situation that crosses the Godzilla Threshold
. Maybe their life or the life of a loved one is at stake, or a villain just pushed their buttons in the worst
possible way and forces them to use lethal force. And then the gloves come off
It goes without saying that this is Darker and Edgier
stuff, and in generally light series a hero forced to use the lethal applications of their abilities will probably enter a Heroic BSOD
even if they don't
kill an enemy. Some heroes who do a lot of thinking on their powers will usually realize they can do this and get very, very
scared of the potential horror should the Instant Allegiance Artifact
, Mirror Morality Machine
, (or plain old life) make them do a Face-Heel Turn
. This doesn't mean they won't ever use this potential application
; they can use it to threaten enemies as the above quote shows.
This causes a related phenomena — villains very rarely get the powers that can be abused in this way — specifically for this reason. When they do, they become Good Powers, Bad People
Compare Dangerous Forbidden Technique
and Required Secondary Powers
. May cause viewers to decide that Heart Is an Awesome Power
. Contrast the Inverse Law of Complexity to Power
. Similar to Lethal Joke Item
, in that neither are taken seriously until their lethality is revealed.
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Anime & Manga
- Maka of Soul Eater has the power to not be insane. When combined with her weapon's ability to imagine playing the piano and actually create music, the two can combat insane villains by playing music fused with Anti-Magic. They use this many times throughout the series.
- In Please Save My Earth Mokuren's Green Thumb powers seem pretty limited to making plants grow or die quicker than normal by her singing. Yeah, it's not instantly lethal to anyone. But killing all the plants on a planet (or even ecosystem) is deadly in the long run. Not to mention that plants growing out of control overnight is pretty scary too. And if you live in a space station with nothin' but vacuum outside...
- One Piece is made of this. Just one example: Bartholomew Kuma has the power to push. He uses it for pushing people around half the planet, pushing air together to make a bomb or pushing pain away (into other people). In fact, the powers of the devil fruit don't get stronger at all, their users just get more creative with them.
- In general, power sets in One Piece have a specific theme, but the sky's the limit with how one can use those powers, given enough experience with them. The protagonist, Monkey D. Luffy, can stretch like rubber, which also includes vulcanizing himself to give him colossal strength and endurance. Kaku can turn into a giraffe, who makes use of his longer limbs to greatly increase his kicking power. Blueno can make portals and doors on any surface, including his combatants' faces. Emporio Ivankov can control and inject hormones, which can rapidly overwhelm and overload victims. Buffalo can rapidly rotate any part of his body he wants, allowing him to fly using his dreadlocks as propellers and granting him devastating wind-up punches. One of the things this series is known for is its incredibly pragmatic use of weird and otherwise useless powers.
- Darker than Black had a teleporter who liked exchanging the positions of random rocks and other people's hearts. The show just generally likes this trope; they even managed to make "make it rain" directly lethal in the second season, when someone with Super Speed got a rather fatal physics lesson.
- Well, April's power was less "make it rain" and more "condense water vapour". She mostly used it to... make it rain... but that was because she was providing water for November 11 to do his thing with. She also uses "condense water vapour" to create spheres of water around peoples heads so they drown.
- Raquell from Scrapped Princess has plenty of offensive spells, but during one fight in a cave she couldn't use them because she had to use a shield to keep her allies safe. Just as her enemy started mocking her about it she expanded the shield to cover nearly the entire cave. The enemy surrendered just seconds before his head was crushed between the shield and the wall.
- In Yureka, high-level player Roto knows a low-level shield spell which is too weak to block any of the magic he normally faces. Except that he can still use it to cast offensive spells on himself and deflect them at enemies, and a spell that's already been reflected can't be stopped by any kind of shield...
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is frequently made of this trope from part 3 on. Seemingly harmless Stand powers, like healing or being able to turn into string, become incredibly lethal in the hands of a Joestar or one of their allies or enemies.
- Case in point: The Lovers, one of the early tarot-themed Stands. It is microscopic and can only exert force proportional to that. But it can enter people's brains and attack essential neural pathways, causing excruciating pain and disabling damage. And since direct power and range are inversely proportional as a standard rule, its user can stay safely away in the other end of town while this happens.
- Much like JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Hunter × Hunter also makes constant use of this trope. The most famous example of this is Hisoka, who usually overkills his opponents using the power of chewing gum. That's not using chewing gum as a weapon, his ability is literally making his energy stretchy and sticky. He also has the ability to affect the texture of flat objects. Even his Gene Ryodan allies thinks this is only useful for show... until he used it to falsify a document that can prove his guiltyness, making him look innocent. And on the job, he can falsify his Gene Ryodan tattoo (which is a proof of membership) so he can move undetecteed while not doing his job.
- The medical ninjutsu in Naruto can be put to astonishingly lethal uses, like creating a chakra scalpel that cuts right through subcostals and important blood vessels while leaving the skin intact. Even the basic healing touch ability can, if used unskillfully or deliberately wrong, mess up a person's body in unspecified nasty ways, no doubt involving your cytoplasm turning into lethal poison.
- This is kind of how Gaara's power feels when you try to describe it outside the context of the show. "He has telekinetic control over sand." "Well, that's...kind of useful, I guess, what does he do, make roads in the desert—HOLY SHIT."
- Similarly to the One Piece example above, Pain's Deva Path's primary ability is to push and pull his targets away or towards him. Its targets include non-concrete objects such as Amaterasu. And at high enough power, it was able to demolish a significant part of Konoha in one blow.
- The Animal Path Pain, besides summoning enormous monsters that can easily knock down buildings, is rather strategic with where it summons them. In a fight against one of the ANBU ninja, it places a summoning seal on the ninja's stomach, impaling him on the beak of the giant bird that is subsequently summoned.
- Ronove from Umineko no Naku Koro ni has this kind of power. One of the 72 Great Demons and the butler of the Witch, Beatrice, he has no offensive magic unlike the Witches, Siesta Sisters or Purgatory Stakes. Ronove only has the ability to create impenetrable shields around himself. In Episode 4, he uses this to try to crush his opponent against a wall.
- Even more impressively, Shannon used this and Loophole Abuse to kill MARIA, the Witch of Origins who could not be targeted by offensive abilities due to her Diplomatic Immunity. She did this by slowly expanding her shield until it crushed her, and her familiar Sakutaro against a barrier MARIA had made.
- Gaap, another of the 72 Great Demons has the Power to instantly move anything, anywhere using bottomless holes which can appear absolutely anywhere, but only when humans who do not believe in magic are not looking. Normally used to travel, move corpses and cause general mischief, she used this power in episode 4 of the visual novel to redirect George's deadly Kick Fatality against Gaap and Jessica's unstoppable fist attack against Ronove towards each other. Thus causing the cousins George and Jessica to accidentally kill each other. This was despite the fact that George and Jessica were in completely different areas of the Ushiromiya Mansion at that time.
- One of the deadlier members of the Noah family in D Grayman, Tyki Mikk, has powers similar to Shadowcat mentioned below. Being a villain, he uses them to rip out organs.
- Bleach: Orihime's shielding powers, given one can split a target in half. In Chapter 449, she revealed she's learned how to use her defensive shield to turn her attacker's power into something that not only turns back onto its originator, but which also detonates on that attacker like a bomb.
- The only powers bestowed on pre-"Groundhog Day" Loop Homura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica were a sort of Hammer Space and temporary Time Stop — pretty amazing stuff, but not very useful for giving Dojikko New Meat like her enough direct offensive punch to be useful in combat compared with the other Magical Girls. So, she cobbles together homemade pipe bombs from recipes on the web, to use as improvised grenades stowed in her Hyperspace Arsenal… Then she starts teaching herself how to shoot with guns she stole using her timestop powers… By the finale, she's trained so heavily and stowed away so much firepower, she could shame a LARGE army.
- If you think about it, Mami is kinda like this, too. By Word of God, her only ability is... to make ribbons. No guns, no bullets, just ribbons. HOWEVER, also by Word of God, she was in Magical Girl business since as young as 13 years old. How? Well, Ain't No Rule that she couldn't shape ribbons in a way that can shoot magical bullets, also made of specially made ribbons. One engineering lesson later.... Also, Ain't No Rule She can't make anything, anything, from ribbons, including functional copy of herself. She's basically John Stewart if he was a Magical Girl.
- In Gokukoku No Brynhildr, one character openly asks how someone with the ability to change places with anything could kill someone. The other responds by stating how she could jump off a cliff and switch places with her target so they plummet to the ground.
- In Zatch Bell!, Kanchome's powers at the start include Poruk, which transforms him into various objects(but he retains his personal strength no matter how he changes shape), Koporuk, which makes him a few inches tall, and Dikaporuk, which makes a two story illusion of him. He's so weak that he offers absolutely no offensive power in the Belugim EO fight, resulting in Kid getting sent back to the Demon World. Come the end of the manga however, he is one of the first to learn a Shin-level Spell, Shin Poruk... Which allows him to RESHAPE REALITY IN AN AREA AROUND HIMSELF - that single spell with a few days worth of training was SO POWERFUL he was able to beat Zatch in a hard sparring match without taking ANY damage, easily nullifying Bao Zakeruga and breaking down into happy tears at how strong he's become... illusions aren't just for show, you know.
- The Black King in Drifters can magically heal and regenerate cellular growth in an aversion of No Cure for Evil. He can also overclock cell regeneration to cause Body Horror cancerous tumors to burst from one's body. (He does this to humble the Bronze Dragon.)
- Yuuno Scrya can ram those shields into your face. Those chains can cut you. His teleportation does not require consent. And because of his sensors, you can't hide from him. The only reason we don't see Yuuno fight more is because he doesn't like killing, and all of his combat options are incredibly lethal.
- In X-Men, Nightcrawler has mentioned many times that he could use his teleport power to Portal Cut people but he has never done it... at least not in the main continuity.
- Well, Nightcrawler did do it to a Sentinel once. Of course a Sentinel 1) is a robot, not a person, and 2) has a learning capability so he couldn't do it again.
- In one alternate continuity story, he ended up taking someone's fingers with him when he jumped.
- In the Age Of Apocalypse storyline, that universe's Nightcrawler teleported Wade's, aka AoA timeline Deadpool head off.
- There was also one in continuity story where he removed a hi-tech glove off the Red Skull by holding onto it and teleporting...and took all the flesh off the Skull's hand with it leaving nothing but bone.
- A much simpler, but effective strategy allowed Nightcrawler to defeat Omega Red, who was giving both Wolverine and Colossus a hard time. He simply teleported Omega Red really high up and let him fall to the ground. Take note that Omega Red is functionally Made of Iron; if Nightcrawler did it to someone any less durable...
- Also since 'porting is usually uncomfortable and nauseating to those not used to it he'll also grab someone and quickly and repeatedly port them until they pass out.
- It gets taken to a whole new extreme in Uncanny X-Force, where Age Of Apocalypse Nightcrawler kills Blob by teleporting a live shark into his stomach.
- It's also been suggested that he could just leave them in the dimension he travels through when he teleports if he bothered to learn how. This dimension by the way is Hell, literally.
- Once, when Marrow's bone-growing powers were going out of control, Shadowcat used her ability to pass through matter to pull her out of the gnarled mass of bone. Marrow wondered aloud how she could've done it, since the bones were still part of her body, and Shadowcat mentioned that, were she so inclined, she could pluck vital organs out of people's chests.
- In a 2010 What If? One-Shot comic, Kitty does exactly that, stopping a possessed Emma Frost by pulling out her heart while the latter is halfway through transforming into her invincible diamond form.
- In another What If? issue, Kitty sorrowfully Mercy Killed a Brainwashed and Crazy Wolverine by leaving her severed hand lodged in his brain.
- Noting also that Shadowcat, were she so inclined, can also leave a person behind as she's going with them through something solid. She's made the threat various times.She actually does this to the Hulk once,though Hulk being Hulk, it only stops him temporarily.
- In the Magik miniseries, the alternate version of Shadowcat defeats the alternate version of Nightcrawler in a sword fight...by leaving her sword in his leg.
- Shinobi Shaw is a rare example of villian with such powers - squeezing people's hearts is his signature move.
- In the Age of Apocalypse Marvel Continuity, fellow teleporter Blink demonstrates what happens if she closes one of her portals while somebody is halfway through. A fairly powerful (and ugly) villain gets literally turned to dust.
- Minor Spider-Man villain Mr. Brownstone has the ability to teleport matter...but only a few grams at a time. Since he works as a drug dealer, a few grams of heroin teleported straight to the heart is all he needs to incapacitate or kill someone.
- In New Mutants the character Elixir has the ability to control the biological structures of organic matter. Normally this power manifests as Healing Hands, but he is also capable of using them to deliberately infect people with diseases. He's used this power to outright kill one villain, and gave another an interoperable brain tumor - in the shape of an X.
- Also in the X-Universe, we have (or, thanks to M-Day, had) Jubilee, who could make pretty little fireworks in the air. She often used it to blind flying enemies, causing them to crash. However, there was a lot of foreshadowing indicating that she was actually an inversion - she functionally had The Power of the Sun (indicated as a potential omega class) but a mental block kept her abilities at a relatively harmless level.
- Similarly, Dazzler originally had the power to convert sound into light. Then it turned out she could focus the lights into lasers. Then it was hinted that, given time, she could reach the point where she could convert any of the fundamental forms of energy into any other, effectively becoming a god.
- In her old solo series, she once channeled the ocean's roar into a beam strong enough to stun Galactus.
- The Klaw used sound as his technopower and could turn into soundwaves when he meant Dazzler. She saw the inside of a courtroom for that.
- There's also the fact that the word "light" can be interpreted fairly loosely, and technically refers to any form of electromagnetic radiation... including gamma rays and micro waves.
- Iceman usually slides around on ice slides, turns into ice, and throws ice spikes at people. When Emma Frost took over his mind, she was able to get him to turn his entire body into water, enter a river, and come out downstream perfectly fine. She also used moisture to make weapons more effectively, and turned Iceman into a gas as well as a liquid. The entire X-Men Gold team wasn't able to stop him. If he gets hurt as ice and turns back to normal, it heals. Bobby has been confirmed as an "Omega-level" mutant, which, while never defined, seems to basically amount to "demigod". If only he wasn't so lazy.
- In the story in which he's a teacher at Wolverine's school, Logan asked him to start being serious. He soon delivers - in the form of multiple ice clones.
- X-men ally Sage's power revolved around helping other mutants control their and strengthen their powers. X-men enemy Fabian Cortez had the same ability, but would push a mutant's power out of control, killing them.
- One-time X-Man Dr. Cecilia Reyes initially had a personal forcefield that would protect her from harm (mostly). With a little practice, she discovered she could make the forcefield spikey...
- In the Troy universe, Cixi learns to use her ability - water temperature control - to cause all blood in a body to boil instantly, described in-universe as lethal even to teleporters. Although prequel issues have shown her to manipulate other body fluids shortly after her powers manifested.
- Quoted above, Invisible Woman (aka Sue Storm) of the Fantastic Four has the ability to turn invisible and create force-fields. Humble as these abilities appear, Sue is regarded as the most powerful member of the Fantastic Four. She has developed some brilliant applications of her force fields ranging from creating steps to walk on air to massive battering rams. She can, as she stated in the movie, create a force field inside a body and expand it with lethal - and messy - results.
- In the Marvel Zombies comics, She demonstrated that you kill a zombie by destroying its brain by going Mama Bear on a zombie She-Hulk.
- Her invisibility extends to those around her as well. And while not lethal, she was able to blind a pack of zombies by making their optic nerves invisible. She also once threatened a classroom full of teenagers that she could make their clothes invisible.
- Also she could make the skin, flesh and skull of a person's head become invisible, allowing ordinary sunlight to directly reach a person's vulnerable brain, rapidly causing heat stroke and slowly lobotimizing them.
- Invisibility could also, in theory, make a section of the Earth's Ozone Layer become invisible (as in it does not distort or deflect solar radiation), allowing the full might of the Sun to burn whatever she wanted.
- In Four, at one point she creates a forcefield surrounding herself and her family, protecting them from the villain. Then she creats another forcefield encompassing her and the villain. Then she starts extending the first forcefield, crushing said villain into the second one until he surrendered.
- The various lethal uses of her powers can be frequently be seen being used by the Super-Skrull (he has all the powers of the F4). He of course doesn't have Sue's good nature, so he doesn't hold back as much as she does. Also, in the Exiles comic (A book about a reality hopping super hero team), they once visited a reality where Sue was the leader of Hydra and showed how horrifying her powers can be.
- Sue (while evil) also once threatened to kill a man by creating a tiny force field in his carotid artery, which would cause a massive and probably fatal stroke.
- Sue Richards' force fields are hyperspace-sourced. Hyperspace is, in the Marvel Universe, the source of all energy. This allowed her to destroy a Celestial's physical form. The Celestials are a race of Physical God Eldritch Abomination Precursors. Their antibodies are strong enough to hurt Thor. Sue obliterated one of them effortlessly.
- In the Rising Stars comic, a girl whose power is to psychically manipulate small objects is later shown to have grown to be a traceless government assassin: she simply pinches the victim's carotid artery from a short distance away.
- In Watchmen, The Comedian at one point uses non-lethal rounds lethally - tasers to the face, shooting someone in the chest with a tear-gas grenade from a few feet away...
- Ya know Aquaman's power to control fish? Well, it's a stretch, but he can apparently shut down the part of your brain that's the same as a fish's, causing you to become braindead.
- Batman's love interest Shondra Kinsolving had a low-level healing ability. She once used it to kill her abusive father by healing him to death; her brother, while manipulating her to do something similar to an entire village, explains that she makes people so fit that their hearts explode. He plans to turn Shondra into a WMD, that can kill people from anywhere in the world, and nearly suceeds.
- Redlance from ElfQuest has the benign power to shape wood and make plants grow. A peaceful sort, he's badly traumatized after he's forced to make thorns sprout from his spear's shaft to pierce the clutching hands of a troll in the heat of battle.
- ElfQuest also has the "inverted healing powers" trick. Leetah is basically sickened by the idea and uses her power in that way only very, very rarely as a last resort, but Winnowill takes it and turns it up to eleven, especially post-timeskip when she's shown using her magic to casually turn normal animals into monsters and on at least one occasion kills several humans on the spot by turning her flesh-warping powers on them. By the time the "Kings of the Broken Wheel" storyline rolls around it's kind of hard to remember that she even started out as "merely" the Gliders' Smug Snake designated healer.
- Invoked in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Batman launches a series of strikes to free superheroes who have been imprisoned by Lex Luthor's rogue government. During one of the missions, Batman's narration reads "he could kill us all; for him, it would be easy." The panels then reveal who he's talking about... and it's PlasticMan◊.
- That's just the start. In one JLA story, Plastic Man got stuck 10,000 years in the past, got practically atomized... and SURVIVED. He was rescued and re-assembled by Batman and Firestorm in present day, with the former warning the later how dangerous PM could be. Hilarity ensues.
- Squirrel Girl's powers are simply defined as possessing various squirrel-like abilities, including the ability to communicate with other squirrels. Yet she manages to canonically be the most powerful being in the Marvel universe.
- In PS238, the First School for Metaprodigies (super-kids), kids with powers 'unsuited for crime-fighting' go to the special 'Rainmaker' class, where they learn to use their powers in friendly, non-hostile ways that'll make them highly valuable to the private sector. The class includes a mortal incarnation of Hestia, the Goddess of the Hearth (who can promote fertility and forge harmony within a troubled family). Another kid can turn anything edible, delicious, and nutritious. Other powers includes Green Thumb, superfast tunneling, and creating music. All harmless but no doubt profitable in the right places. Until the Lower Deck Episode, 'The Rainmaker Cometh'... turns out Hestia becomes nigh-omnipotent if she's protecting a home from an interloper, that suddenly-growing trees are an effective way to swat flying foes from the skies, while properly amplified music can disorient and stun. And of course, the digger can take people with him underground... and leave them there.
- The terrifying potential of the food-creator goes unmentioned - this isn't a horror-comic, after all. It's clear, though, that his powers change the consistency of the object, since he's seen eating rocks despite having non-superpowered teeth. So imagine if he just went and transformed your body into something with the consistency of whipped cream...
- Incidentally, the titular Rainmaker that the class and the episode is named for, was one of these too. The first superpowered individual to appear with a 'harmless' power - to make it rain, or STOP raining. Useful for helping out farmers, but otherwise no biggie. So the Government Conspiracy spirits him away to a secret lab to use him as a guinea-pig in order to perform basic research on the hows and whys of superpowers, just 'cuz he can't fight back effectively. One Mad Scientist experiment later, and he creates a flood that effectively destroys the entire facility.
- In the Temps story "Leaks" by David Langford, the protagonist has the almost-entirely-useless superpower of being able to teleport beer out of other people's glasses into his own. He falls into the hands of a mad scientist who plans to experiment on him to find out if it's possible to extend his power to other beverages in other types of container, and things go very badly for the madguy once it occurs to the protagonist to wonder whether it will also work on bodies and blood.
- In Tanya Huff's The Quartered Sea, a bard (Benedikt) kills someone by telling the kigh to remove all of the water from her body.
- Opal Cowan's glassblowing powers can be turned to much more lethal ends in Ixia and Sitia.
- In the Wild Cards universe, the ace Water Lily can kill by instantly removing all water from a person's body as the lethal form of her water-gathering and minor water control. The ace Bagabond controls small city animals, but can kill via causing traffic accidents or ordering cats and dogs into massive kamikaze attacks.
- In Elvenblood, male Elves are taught combat magic, but females are taught mostly aesthetic things, such as sculpting flowers into fantastic shapes. One of the females, Sheyrena an Treves, defects to the side of the half-blood Wizards—it later turns out that she can use variants of the 'useless' female magics to make food from leaves in the wilderness, and even stop a heart.
- In The Black Magician Trilogy, both factions possess some magical techniques which the others do not. The enemy wizards know Black Magic which boosts their power to insane levels. The good guys know... Healing. Turns out that since they didn't realise such magic was possible, the enemy wizards don't know to block it. This allows a protagonist to speed up an enemy wizard's heart until he has a heart attack.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry's Signature Move Expelliarmus betrayed him because, as Harry pointed out later, using a stunning spell on somebody who's on a broomstick hundreds of feet up in the air would be just as lethal as the "unforgivable" killing curse.
- Parodied in the Giblets of Fiber storyline in Sluggy Freelance, where it is pointed out that it would be stupid to make the killing curse forbidden when what you really need to do is make all murder illegal, since it can be easily achieved with simple spells and a little creativity.
- Harry Potter mostly averts this, though. There are a great many spells that are routinely used to destroy, shrink, or splice objects. Would these work on people? We don't know, because no one ever tries. J.K. Rowling wrote it this way because the Killing Curse would be much less impressive if there were dozens of alternatives, but it does leave some Fridge Logic that is never addressed.
- This could be because nothing is as clean and effective as the killing curse. It's also apparently very easy to do, and it's certainly not a secret technique.
- Also in a fight against another wizard, one needs to have a curse that's not easily blocked (for example the killing curse is not blockable by regular means).
- There's also the fact that the Ministry of Magic seems to have an easier time tracking which spells are cast by whose wand than determining what the spell was used for (unless there are witnesses to the event). So if they see that someone set off an explosion, they won't know whether they were demolishing a wall or blowing up someone's head, but since the killing curse has no non-violent use, they'll come down pretty hard on anyone who uses it.
- That being said, James Potter demonstrates how the simple cleaning spell Scourgify can be very unpleasant, by casting it on a young Severus Snape, waterboarding him with soap suds.
- Larry Niven's Known Space 'verse has what's called the Kzinti Lesson: "The more efficient a reaction drive, the more effective a weapon it makes". It's called that because the supposedly-weaponless, pacifist humans used their light-sail drives (powered by giant lasers) and mass-driver mining tools (fires hyper-velocity ores around the asteroid belt, both burning off the impurities and getting the ore to market) to utterly trounce the hyper-militarized Kzinti empire. This theme is repeated in most of the Known Space stories; various harmless tools always seem to have a setting that makes things die horribly. Flashlights with adjustable focuses, starting diffuse as "light a room" and dialing all the way down to "laser beam". Communication lasers that have a setting for communicating with things in orbit, which just so happens to burn holes in anything not in orbit. Disintegrator mining tools, which work just as well on flesh as they do on rocks. Humans never seem to have dedicated weapons, just loads of useful tools that ALSO can kill things.
- The Geometers in Sergey Lukyanenko's The Stars Are Cold Toys have no weapons and no word in their language for "enemy." But if you happen to be a "non-friend," then you're in for a world of hurt. Their "harmless" laser probes can suddenly slice through your starship armor like butter, and plenty of other tools can be used offensively. A single Geometer scoutship destroyed dozens of heavily-armed ships, some of which are capable of Earth Shattering Kabooms. They are, however, pretty adept at designing race-specific plagues, all in the name of Friendship.
- The Loonies demonstrate that rocks are as good as nukes if you drop them from sufficient altitude in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.
- In Neverwhere Door and the rest of her family have the power to open, well, doors or portals between places. While useful, it's not immediately obvious as having offensive capabilities. However, the second time she uses her power, it's to open a "door" in a man's chest. At the end she also opens a door to the furthest place she can imagine, which sucks in Islington, Croup and Vandemar.
- The Wheel of Time:
- Portals that let you step through space can cut you in half if you accidentally walk into their edges. In earlier novels this is just an unfortunate side effect, but later on characters develop roving gateways that can be swept across battlefields for ludicrous gibs. This is of particular use against Darkspawn, who can't travel through gateways at all so that the whole portal (not just the edge) is deadly. This then leads to piles of inhuman corpses at the other end of the portal.
- Healing powers can also be used to stop a beating heart and for torture.
- Green Men are biological constructs with the ability to encourage plants to grow. In the Age of Legends, they were used to manage croplands. In the present day, one kills Balthamel, one of the Forsaken, by ''tearing him apart from within'' with fungi.
- In The Redemption of Althalus the protagonists have access to a nice house that happens to belong to their Team Mom goddess. Being the home of a major divinity, it can have as many rooms as you need with no concern for spatial physics, and the doors conveniently open anywhere you like. When the war starts, they use it to house their entire army, and use the doors to deploy entire companies behind enemy defense lines. The villains have almost the exact same thing, but their god isn't nearly as cooperative or imaginative.
- The Dresden Files:
- Harry Dresden has a great deal of impressive magical powers, but his skills at quick-and-dirty earth evocation are less than stellar. He can't do much more on the fly than some telekinetic control of metal, like, say, a small ring of keys. Of course, a small ring of keys is a lethal weapon when thrown with proper force, as Lord Raith learns the hard way when his eyes get gouged out.
- Earlier in the series, Harry also turns an otherwise useless spell, designed to take control of brooms for easy cleaning, and uses them to drive off a horde of poison scorpion golems.
- Molly Carpenter is incredibly skilled at illusions, which, while extremely useful, aren't really a great combat-oriented power (at least, compared to Harry's massive amounts of fire). That is, until she uses her "One Woman Rave" to disorient and blind enemies and gets them to attack thin air/each other by making it look like she's in a different place than she actually is, or to make a Dirty Cop think the man bribing him is reaching for a gun.
- Jim Butcher's other series, Codex Alera, has powers whose use can be best described as playing with Lego. Even the most combat-oriented elements have non-combat application (inverse) such as using metalcraft to gild, using firecraft to make iceboxes ("coldstones"), earthcraft to mine, and so forth. The "softer" elements, water and wood, are often overlooked, but Tavi figures out that you could use clever applications of water and wood to make cracks in stone and fill them with plants to expand the cracks, and so on, effectively weaponize wear and tear. When it happens it allows a single person to take down walls viewed previously as basically unassailable.
- In Piers Anthony:
- In Cluster novel Viscous Circle, the Bands stage a mock fight for training in which they inadvertently kill (or possibly drive to suicide) those on the other side of the mock fight by using the light that transmits their emotions between individuals to transmit powerful HATE messages to the Bands on the other side. Afterward, they go through a Heroic BSOD and suicide themselves. It's pretty sad, really.
- His Xanth series has a few examples, but the most overt is Hugo, who has the power to conjure fruit out of thin air. Sounds unimpressive, but the odd magical biology of Xanth means that one application of this is to conjure pineapples (slang for hand grenades in the real world, but more literal in Xanth) out of thin air.
- In the Star Wars novel Red Harvest, a member of the Agricultural Corps (basically where Jedi not good enough to become Knights usually end up) has the ability to communicate with plants. This allows her to kill zombies created by a virus derived from one of her plants by communicating with the plant and convincing it to grow inside the zombies' bodies.
- In the Nightside series, John Taylor has the power to... find things. He regularly uses this take the bullets out of people's guns. This is useful on its own, but he's also done the same trick with the fillings and crowns from his opponents teeth, the breath in an enemy's lungs, and has claimed to be able to do it with organs as well.
- Relg in The Belgariad has the ability to move through solid rock, which is extremely useful for pathfinding or rescue missions, but seems like a non-combat ability - until it turns out that he can also use it to push other people into the rock and leave them there.
- In Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series, many of the ambient mages' powers are like this. The most obvious would be the abilities of "stitch witches" like Lark and Sandry. They have control over thread. Awww, what a quaint little power. Now, just remember that your clothes are made of thread, and imagine what happens if you get them to squeeze.
- Sandry's foster brother Briar can also control plants. This works in his favor if someone has an allergy to plants. In one scene, he ties up a girl in roses, which she's allergic to. In another, he attacks someone with thorns. He also once tore apart an entire palace by growing plants from the inside out.
- Allomancers in the Mistborn books can have a variety of powers, and while some of them are very flashy (Super Strength, telekinetic metal control), others are relatively nonlethal at first glance (the ability to calm emotions, Super Senses). This does not stop the protagonist from using the former as a downright devastating Emotion Bomb or someone whose only ability is the latter from abusing it until he can predict others' actions from the feel of the air currents as they start to move.
- The Warhammer 40,000 novel Path of the Renegade features and Exodite Eldar worldsinger, who has psychic abilities that allow her to commune with the World Spirit and effectively make her a Friend to All Living Things, allowing her to do things like read emotions, make plants grow and calm down raging beasts. As far as psychic powers in 40k go, that doesn't seem all that impressive. That is, until the end of the novel when she kills a whole bunch of Dark Eldar by using her powers on a deadly virus.
- In The Adversary Cycle book The Touch, the Dat-tay-vao, which is a healing power, can work in reverse if anyone gets in the way of the person who has it.
- Kushiel's Legacy has a group of rather inept and foolhardy sorcerers who summon a demon which can teach the language of animals. The demon, being a demon, agrees to teach them the language...of ants. This seems to be worse than useless...until one of them uses it to command an army of vicious carnivorous tropical ants and attempts to make himself a God Emperor with it.
Live Action TV
- In Smallville, Chloe's Empathic Healing apparently drains Brainiac severely when he attacks her, to the point he staggers and pants and says What the Hell Are You? She later uses her Super Intelligence to overload a mind-reading guy's head, shutting his brain down.
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation, it took a holodeck-generated character to hit on the obvious use of the holodeck as a tool that can be used to fool someone into thinking they were someplace they weren't and interacting with people who weren't there. But once it was hit on, it was used in several Trek episodes.
- Also in TNG, Wesley Crusher (of course) devised using the Enterprise main deflector array as a weapon against the Borg. Up til then, it was just the glowing dish on the belly side of the ship. Subsequently, several Trek ships used the deflector in a similar manner. The deflector dish became a go-to solve-everything tool, in fact - pretty much anything can be done by rerouting some Technobabble through the main deflector. (Mind you, using it as a Wave Motion Gun never does any good...)
- There's a reason "Bounce a graviton particle beam off the main deflector dish/That's the way we do things lad; we're making shit up as we wish" is part of the chorus for Voltaire's song dedicated to technobabble
- Babylon 5:
- Lyta uses telekinesis to lightly slap a PSI cop (or made him think he was slapped). When the villains start wondering whether she could stop all of them, she blusters and says that she might make a mistake and "accidentally" cause a brain hemorrhage instead.
- In the first season, Jason Ironheart states that Psi Corps experiments in boosting telekinetic power and refining control is intended to be used to assassinate people by pinching arteries shut, contrary to the more benign and defense-oriented uses he thought were the goal when joining the project.
- In Misfits the villain of the week gained the power to control dairy based products (or "lactokinesis" as he calls it). You'd be surprised at how many people he can kill or seriously injure with yogurt and cheese, and quite creatively to boot!
- He even managed to take down Nathan of all people, by realising that while Nathan's power of immortality prevents him from being permanently killed, his ability to heal only kicks in when he dies. Thus, the solution was to simply manipulate the dairy to pool in Nathan's brain, turning him into a vegetable, but keeping him still alive.
- In a nutshell, this was Emma's story arc in Volume 5 of Heroes.
- D.L.'s power of selective intangibility allows him to stick a hand in someone and mess around with their organs. He almost kills Niki this way and kills Linderman by sticking his hand through his head.
- Alphas has Dr. Kerns, who has the Disability Superpower of echolocation. He can also modulate the frequency of it to such a degree to cause extreme and subtle structural damage to a building, and if given time he can enhance it into Make Me Wanna Shout.
- The 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons featured quite a few spells that summoned or conjured something somewhere within the spell's range. Sadistic players could easily confound their DM by choosing "Inside that orc". The next edition would amend most conjuring rituals to say the caster needs to be able to see the location they were targeting, which mostly solved this (since if you can already see inside the highwayman's lungs, any sadistic spellcasting is purely recreational).
- A particularly famous version involved the lowest-level druid spell Create Water. The spell's evident purpose was to provide clean water for the adventuring party or maybe quench a small fire. Even at the lowest caster-level the spell created a gallon of water: more then enough to give even large enemies a lethal case of hydro-encephalitis.
- The rules also state you cannot summon a creature outside of its habitat. This was primarily to stop people from dropping whales on bandits. From 100 feet up.
- The classic Asteroids clone Maelstrom gives you 3 seconds of free shields at the beginning of every wave. Crafty players can use this time to swing their ships into asteroids for a quicker win.
- Pretty much all shield-type weapons in Mega Man work this way, wherein contact with the shield damages enemies just as if you shot them, but it's usually an inefficient way to go about it. However, the Water Shield can deliver up to 8 hits this way.
- Shannon did basically the same thing in EP6 of Umineko no Naku Koro ni against an enemy who was immune to anything considered "offensive". Shields are defensive.
- Reimu Hakurei of Touhou possesses the ability to fly, which is incredibly lame when considering nearly everyone else in the series can fly on top of whatever power they already possess. Except that Reimu can also, at a whim, fly away from reality, making herself completely invulnerable, and if she didn't place a time limit on it (fighting in Gensoukyou being largely a game) she would never lose.
- Kogasa Tatara has the power to surprise people, which is unbelievably lame. Except that she managed to surprise the player by reappearing as the Extra Stage midboss, complete with the required massive power boost. While she hasn't done anything else with it yet, fans have logically deduced that, as long as it is surprising enough, she could do almost anything she wants.
- It can be safely said that few people expected her to appear again in stage 3 of Ten Desires.
- Subverted by Yuuka Kazami, who has the power to manipulate flowers, which is as weak as it sounds. She can't make flowers bloom in an opponent's throat to stop their breathing or make them grow to giant size and attack people like Poison Ivy, or anything like that, she can just make them grow faster and healthier (as far as we know). She's still an outrageously powerful character despite this. She's simply got strong magic unrelated to her flower-manipulation, and is generally assumed to be physically powerful as well. It's the prime reason fans don't doubt her claims of being one of the strongest Youkai in existence.
- Several characters in Guardian Heroes have a shield that causes mild harm if touched. The Sky God, however, being enormous, has a huge shield that can kill loads of characters at once by smashing them against the arena boundary, which bounces them back into the shield, etc.
- The mass effect in, well, Mass Effect can be used to increase or decrease the mass of an object relative to things around it. This can be used to make a spaceship effectively weigh nothing, allowing it to hover in place or travel faster than light. The other common application is to produce high-velocity mass driver weapons or to make torpedoes so massive that kinetic barriers can't stop them from striking their target.
- Vanguards get the Biotic Charge in the second game. This works by encasing themselves in a shell of biotic energy, lowering their mass, allowing them to propel themselves across the battlefield at the sub-light speeds, before rapidly increasing their mass as they strike their target. Vanguards effectively turn themselves in a human-mass-driver-powered-wrecking-ball.
- As alluded to by Kaidan in the first game and demonstrated by Samara in second and Biotic!Shepard in the Citadel DLC for the third, a biotic punch or kick can be ramped up to hit its target with the force of a sledgehammer, making it often fatal to the person on the receiving end. Kaidan mentions having accidentally broken the neck of an obnoxious Turian instructor during his time at BaAT, while Samara and Biotic!Shepard are shown killing Morinth and a CAT6 mercenary with a single punch.
- In Team Fortress 2, the Medic's signature weapon, the Medigun, seems harmless enough; it heals teammates and, after a while, it builds up an "Ubercharge" that turns the healing target invulnerable for eight seconds. It's not so harmless when the Medic pops the charge on, say, a Heavy, who can and most likely will mow down more enemies than he could without said invulnerability.
- According to the Meet the Medic video, the heavy's heart had to be replaced with a "mega baboon" heart after his own heart exploded from the force of an ubercharge. If nobody had such enhancements, it is very likely that the medigun could be abused to induce heart attacks, or worse, in the people the medic is "healing".
Now, most hearts couldn't withstand such voltage, but I'm fairly certain your heart-*SPLORTCH*
Heavy: (lying awake on a hospital bed, his heart removed from his body and freshly exploded) What was noise?
Medic: (pulling off the remnants of the Heavy's heart off of the ubercharge gadget) The sound of progress, my friend.
- In Disgaea 2, one of the Dark World maps has a bunch of mages standing on panels with a "reverse damage" effect - any damage-dealing effects they take heals them instead. But the inverse is also true - healing hurts them, and it isn't stopped by the Resistance stat, so even weak heal spells can kill them outright. Since healers are usually held back by their restrictions (they only get a pittance exp from healing, and no mana), this becomes a very potent grinding spot for them.
- One Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic features a girl who can make puppies appear anywhere. (Hint: "anywhere" includes inside someone's body.) See the page image.
- Generator (Jade Sinclair) of the Whateley Universe starts out with the power to cast a copy of her mind into an object and animate it for a little while. This is considered extremely lame by the standards of Superhero School Whateley Academy with its powerful mages and Flying Bricks. Then she nails a werewolf to a tree. With railroad spikes.
- She's actually got one of the most terrifying powers, period. She could animate some wire- hey presto, instant flying strangling cords. By herself, she'd be a brilliant information broker... or assassin... or just about anything. Early on one of her teammates imagines what would happen if Jade projected herself into a pile of sand or a pool of water, before quickly resolving to never mention this to Jade and hope she didn't think of it herself. A later story includes her projecting herself into her own body to hold things in place and keep things functioning after being stabbed through the heart, doing the same to animate a handful of mook corpses, and then slaughtering her way through a secure facility as a "vampire princess" with a zombie army.
- Phase is an Intangible Man. If he goes back to solid when within an object, he disintegrates its mass. He can vary his levels of mass, causing devastating effects. The only other known character with the same variation of density warping is Tinsnip, a virtually unstoppable professional assassin.
- Cale from Darwin's Soldiers can use his electrical powers to fuse dust particles in the air into glass. This does not sound impressive when compared to his other power (electrokinesis). However, this means that he is never unarmed. And he once shredded some terrorists with a swarm of glass daggers .
- Coatl in Trinton Chronicles has a rather lethal and yet seemingly harmless set of powers; she can boost powers (and thus cause them to go haywire for Super Power Meltdown for villains) or her Healing Hands can be pushed to the extent of causing cancer!
- In Anachronauts, the human witch Emily enters a magical duel with the Fey Archmage Lilith, in which Lilith's condition, according to the rules, is that each participant can only use one spell. Emily doesn't know any combat spells, and specializes in spells with useful effects such as making a perfect cup of tea. Emily's condition is Heart's Guardian; anyone who cherishes the duelists can stand by them in the fight, which means her friends can join in. Emily dodges the blast of fire Lilith throws at her and uses her friends to gain an advantage, then materializes warm, steaming tea directly into Lilith's lungs. Emily then humiliates her opponent further by saving her life using CPR to get the fluid out of her lungs, putting Lilith in debt to Emily.
- Emily's real power is that she literally doesn't think like other witches; since magic destroys whatever its written on when cast, and most human mages memorize spells, they just end up going nuts. Also, they're usually taught the standard brute force spells, since the Fairie Summer Court thinks of them as disposablenote . Emily is/was Cursed with Awesome to be unable to memorize spells, and has to copy them and read them to cast them, retaining her sanity, and prefers utility spells, which means she has to think tactically in a way that tends to elude the other human witches (sanity loss) as well as the elves who trained them (not very creative). Lilith, an elf, was one of the most powerful mages in the world, and her spell was basically just Maximized Fireball.
- Worm loves this trope. A lot. Anyone with a seemingly odd or over specialised power can be relied upon to do something clever with it. A villain in one of the later arcs is capable of controlling silicon with ultrasound, silicon like in electronics or sand or glass, did we mention she can give it sudden explosive movement? Or that her range is enough to encompass a city? Just think of how much glass you have near you right now.
- The best example is probably Tattletale, a supervillain with a supernatural ability to fill in the blanks in incomplete information. In one early chapternote , she uses this ability to deduce the floorplan of a bank from a satellite image of its footprint. In a later chapternote , she figures out a way to tear a hole in The Multiverse that can be used to connect their universe to any other.
- While not lethal, the sheer versatility and potential terror of Panacea's power makes one glad she usually sticks to healing, especially keeping how she accidentally and irreversibly turned Glory Girl into a mass of various body parts in mind.
- In the Magic: The Gathering webcomics, one scene depicts 3 of the planeswalkers in battle with a horde of nim (aka zombies). Elspeth's ability to fight is fairly obvious, as she is a highly-trained knight and quite adept with a blade. Koth, a geomancer, is also quite nasty in a fight, due to both being built like a rock (literally) and being able to conjure/hurl boulders at his foes at a whim. ...Then we have Venser, effectively the geek of the trio. No weapons, no real fighting skill, and his only ability seems to be teleporting, which may not seem useful against zombies...then he takes hold of two of them, teleports with them a few hundred feet in the air, then immediately 'ports back down without them. Gravity ensues.
- In the Insane Cafe 3, Nani exploits pepper spray's flammability to set fire to a group of mages.
- In Homestuck, your powers are determined by your Title, which follows the format "Class of Aspect" (as in Gent of Piss). While the Aspect can be any monosyllabic concept like Mind, Hope, or Heart (most of which sound non-lethal), the actual Class can modify a non-lethal Aspect into a dangerous force. For example, a Prince of Mind would, based on game mechanics, be able to destroy the brains of his enemies and a Knight of Heart would be able to weaponize souls. Inversely, a potentially deadly Aspect, such as Rage or Void, could be turned passive by its class. For example, a Heir of Void would just be able to make things near-impossible to find. Of course, "things" could include part of enemies, or entire hostile armies.
- And then there are the troll blood traits. Some are awesome: immense telekinetic powers, Mind Control, and the like. Then there's Tavros, who can talk to the animals. The lethal part is that it affects enemy Mooks generated by Sburb/Sgrub, like imps and ogres, enabling Tavros to make them his minions and breeze through the game without ever touching his class powers. Then he casually mentions to Jade that he can command First Guardians this way. Yes, talking to the animals is a Story Breaker Power in Homestuck.
- Red vs. Blue, being based off of the Halo setting, includes Bubble Shields. It's well known that it reflects bullets from either side of the shield. What isn't usually thought of is that if you huck the generator like a football, you can trap and swiss cheese a sniper nest.
- Dominic Deegan, people constantly underestimate illusions. For some reason, Mind Control magic is also scoffed at.
- To be fair, they usually fail to see through _Luna's_ illusions, which are usually mimicking evocation magic... which she has a long history of actually being able to pull off, being the archmage successor to Miranda Deegan. It's not likely that people that weren't actually known for casting epic spells of destruction would be as convincing in their illusions.
- Another example of water powers that weren't harmless but could have been infinitely worse - Darkwing Duck had a character called The Liquidator, who had apparently complete control of water. He could generate it, boil it, and turn it into "hard water" - a yellow glue-like substance. Luckily for everyone involved, Darkwing Duck was a children's series, so we never got to see what might have happened if Liquidator had decided to turn the water of a living being's body into hard water...
- Not quite lethal, but far more harmful than it appeared - Ma-Ti from Captain Planet used the power of heart to communicate with animals telepathically. A pretty lame power... until you realise that had he wanted to, he could have easily brainwashed the entire population of Earth.
- Or simply sent out a pack of tigers to maul the bad guys.
- In one episode he used it to save the Earth from a Grey Goo scenario by summoning a massive flock of birds to destroy a swarm of genetically modified locust before it could reach the mainland, something the rest of the group couldn't do with their elemental powers.
- He's dangerous enough already, but in Justice League the Martian Manhunter uses his intangibility offensively at least once - during his rampage through the Suicide Squad, he reaches inside Deadshot's chest and does something to his heart that severely messes him up.
- He uses this to kill several White Martians in the series premiere. That did make him the last of his kind, though.
- And he takes out a mechanical baddie by similarly reaching into it's head and pulling out what's inside.
- Given that The Flash has superspeed his secondary ability goes mostly unnoticed: he can vibrate at a superhuman speed. Said vibrations create an unstable resonance which can cause things to explode.
- To say nothing of running several times around the planet in a few seconds to gain enough momentum to punch Braniac out of Lex Luthor.
- An episode also featured expies of the Wonder Twins from Superfriends with their same powers. Whereas the Wonder Twins were near useless and rather incompetent, this episode showed how their powers (turning into various forms of water and turning into animals) could be used to easily infiltrate an office building and hold its leader hostage.
- Teen Titans: Jinx only ever uses her probability manipulation to make inconvenient things happen around her foes. Fridge Logic sets in realizing that probability manipulation is one step below reality warping on the scale of superpowers: quantum mechanics, and therefore, fundamental forces of nature, is inherently probabilistic, and if something can happen, a probability manipulator can make it happen. That means Jinx could be capable of taking the uranium that exists in any given rock and use it to make a miniature nuke, and because spontaneous fission occurs naturally in small quantities, there are no restrictions on how much uranium she would need to do that. The only limit is how finely she can tune probabilities.
- In Wolverine and the X-Men, Nightcrawler, whose only mutant power is teleportation, puts it to devastating use against Spiral, by using it to Portal Cut her robotic arms.
- Levitating objects with magic is the stock ability of every unicorn from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, and thus is a mundane part of every day life. Of course this includes other ponies, since Rarity levitates her little sister around and Twilight Sparkle levitates her friends on a few occasions. Then Magic Duel airs and Trixie displays just how terrifying this ability can be if misused, since there really doesn't seem to be anything a pony can do about it if levitated against their will.