Some authors hold that their character's powers shouldn't run exclusively on the Rule of Cool
, and decide to inject some (relative) realism
into the situation, resulting in a hero whose weakness is a bit different from the rest of the Super crowd.
These guys aren't allergic to arbitrarily chosen household items
, nor strange items related to their origin story
weaknesses are, in fact, a direct result of their particular superpowers. For example, a character who can summon fireballs
may find themselves powerless during a rainstorm (or a Shock and Awe
hero might find themselves at risk of electrocuting themselves
in the rain). Sometimes this can stem from a lack of Required Secondary Powers
, like a hero with Super Speed
but not Super Reflexes
finding themselves going Too Fast to Stop
The superpower may be something completely fantastic, but a writer may add a new twist to it by following the fantasy as if it was true and exploring the logical ramifications of it. For example, a Living Lie Detector
that notices when people lies because of their heart beats. Perhaps no writer before you had ever thought that a guy with a pacemaker would fool this trick. Go ahead and use it, it will become a standard for future writers.
Whatever the case, this type of superpower-induced weakness can function as a Drama-Preserving Handicap
, or it can be Played for Laughs
. It may also create Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors
between different heroes.
Not related to the Puff of Logic
. May be an aversion of Required Secondary Powers
. Contrast Outside-the-Box Tactic
, when the solution to defeat an enemy is logical but not immediately obvious.
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Anime and Manga
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, the fact that Roy Mustang is useless when it's raining is something of a Running Gag. This is because, well, he uses fire, and rain is going to put a bit of a damper on his ability to get a flame going. However, this is only when he himself (specifically his hands) are wet, because if something else is covered in water he can just decompose it into hydrogen and oxygen then ignite that. This is because his gloves are made from a special material that cause a spark when he snaps, when combined with transmutation circles on the back let him do his alchemy. Give him another source of flame and he can overcome them being wet.
- Pride's Living Shadow powers don't work in total darkness since he needs a light source to cast a shadow. It's also weak to the flashbang that Alphonse used since the light is too bright to cast a shadow (not to mention he uses the shadow to see).
- In Et Cetera, the Eto Gun and the Zodiac use various essences to fire bullets, which based of the Chinese Zodiac and the constellations, respectively. For example, you would need something from a cow to fire an Ox bullet, a fish to fire a Pisces bullet, etc. If there's no essence available, the guns are little better than the toys they resemble, being unable to fire.
- Speaking of the Pisces bullet, it's created with essence from a fish, so it only works in the water. Unless the essence came from a flying fish
- Naruto's Rasen-Shuriken attack is essentially a flechette bomb that attacks organisms' individual cells. It has a tendency to do this to the person who is holding it as well as the target.
- Kinkaku and Ginkaku subvert this with one of their ninja tools, which causes people to be sucked in if they say the word they say most in life. Ordinarily, not saying anything would be an easy way to avoid falling victim to the tool's effect, but anyone who remains silent for too long also gets pulled in.
- Their tools have a logical weakness as well: They constantly drain large amounts of chakra from anyone holding them. Only somebody with chakra comparable to a jinchuuriki can safely handle them for any length of time. Tenten tried using one of them and ended up near death after the battle.
- Similar to the Fullmetal Alchemist example, Shikamaru's shadow powers, which often require his shadow to touch the enemy's, are often influenced by the amount of light available. For example, one Filler Villain manages to escape his jutsu with a smoke bomb.
- Water jutsus often require existing sources of water to be effective. As such, one Filler Villain (who uses his Twin Tonfas as dowel sticks) is defeated by being lured to an area with virtually no groundwater.
- Tobi's abilities to make himself intangible. Of course, he can't attack while phased, since it would just go through his foe. The best time to attack, then, is when he attacks. He does try to get around this when fighting Minato by using chains that trail behind him, in order to catch foes who he phases through.
- One Piece Devil Fruits can frequently fall into this. Examples include Luffy's rubber body, which makes him more or less immune to blunt force but renders him no less vulnerable to blades than he ever was. Sir Crocodile's ability to turn into sand can be hampered by becoming wet. God Eneru's lightning-based powers had no effect on rubber, thus allowing Luffy to harm him.
- For Luffy heat apparently makes him extra squishy.
- Magma beats fire, which would probably beat ice. And for an odd example, the more or less completely useless by this point Mr. 3's wax power in fact blocks almost every single poison Magellan has, although it is almost completely useless in the intensely hot fourth level of the prison.
- Several Alabastan soldiers drink a potion that makes them extremely powerful, but kills them in minutes. Crocodile realizes this and decides to simply wait out the duration, out of reach of their attacks, letting them die.
- Logia in general fall into this category, as they are literally elemental beings (though not always stuff we'd consider "elements"), and as such are vulnerable to the weaknesses of that element. Lightning losing to rubber, sand losing to liquids making it stick together, candy (no, seriously) losing to cooking flour that negates its stickiness so that attacking enemies won't become trapped, etc. Considering how powerful a Logia is, and how invulnerable they are, exploiting a logical elemental weakness is one of the few things on the entire planet that can even potentially harm them.
- Franky became a cyborg after suffering severe injury, giving him numerous gadgets and a super-durable steel body. However, since this was achieved by operating on himself, his back is unprotected—he can't modify something if he can't see or reach it.
- In Angelic Layer, Hikaru is created to be super fast and agile. The problem is that because she is so light, she doesn't have very much strength. She's also unable to fight well on places like an ice field.
- Darker Than Black loves this. The guy with electricity powers needs something that conducts electricity if he wants to attack at a distance, the guy who can freeze stuff needs water (or your arm) within reach to be able to do anything, and in the first episode of the second season, someone with Super Speed who tries to run in a rainstorm winds up riddled with holes due to elementary physics.
- Medaka Box loves this trope. The best example is probably the array of weaknesses that Yukuhashi Mizou's abnormality, mind-scanning, has, thanks to it working really, really good. Catching even the smallest thoughts, he can't decipher input from a person who does not think clearly and jumps from one thought to another fast enough for it to be of use; he cannot function in the crowds by himself, due to being overwhelmed by the stream of thoughts; he feels pain that the people within his reception range feel; and, finally, he cannot fight a good person who honestly had legitimate reasons to oppose him, without seeing how they think and starting to empathize with them.
- Many of the Clow Cards from Cardcaptor Sakura have logical weaknesses. One example: Sakura managed to capture the Watery card by trapping it in an industrial-sized freezer.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima! Negi gets superspeed by turning into lightning. This is countered by Rakan pointing out that lightning gives off positive streamers at the destination meaning he knows where it's going to strike. And because his perception isn't speeded up as well he can't properly control himself.
- Keima, the main character of The World God Only Knows is a legendarily skilled player of Dating Sims in which one pursues girls. However, the opposite of this (girls pursuing him) frequently leaves him at a loss.
- In Mirai Nikki, police detective Keigo Kurusu's future diary feeds him data from whatever investigation he's currently conducting. The solution? Expose his Dirty Cop ways and get him kicked off the force, meaning he's not on any investigation, totally bricking his diary.
- Accelerator from A Certain Magical Index is practically invincible due to his power—changing any vector he wants. He can easily deflect bullets, kill someone by reversing their bloodflow, turn air into plasma bombs, et cetera. However, much like Firestorm in the Comics section below, he has to actually mentally perform all the relevant calculations to do any of this. Brain damage all but cripples his abilities.
- Accelerator has also learned not to stand in the middle of gigantic explosions, as the fire tends to consume all the oxygen around him. Complete invincibility to external attacks doesn't mean much if you can't breathe.
- As of New Testament, he cannot deflect Hollywood Voodoo because there are no vectors to redirect.
- In Bleach, Aizen's zanpakuto can completely control the perceptions of anyone who sees him release it even once. It thus stands to reason that Tousen, a blind captain, who cannot see it, must be recruited to his side, and Ichigo is at an advantage over him, never having seen him release his zanpakuto. Also, Yamamoto's flame shikai and bankai can not be tricked by illusions, so that's why Aizen won't confront him head on.
- In fact, Yamamoto's plan to counter Aizen was quite literally Kill It with Fire by basically NUKING the entire area - it doesn't matter if he can't see Aizen, he knows Aizen is SOMEWHERE close, and hence within the blast zone. Without Wonderweiss it might very well have worked.
- In YuYu Hakusho, similar to the Naruto example above, Kaito's ability to steal the soul of anyone who says the forbidden word is useless if no one speaks at all. Kurama, who has figured this out, proposes an alternative in which the condition gets stricter over time, and convinces Kaito to accept by adding the condition that if neither of them has violated the condition when the time has expired, Kurama will lose his soul, putting Kaito at an advantage.
- In Holyland, Tsuchiya having to go low to tackle exposes his back of neck and puts his head in easy reach of kicks.
- In Fairy Tail, Wendy Marvel, the Sky Dragon Slayer, can eat air (this is not the same as breathing) to increase her strength and heal herself. While she is potentially invincible, since unlike other Dragon Slayers, her element is EVERYWHERE, she would get sick if she tried this when the air is polluted.
- In Anpanman, the bread-headed superheroes have water and mold as their weakness, seeing as they both make bread soggy and inedible. Baikinman and his Kabirunrun, being an alien bacterium and mold spores respectively, have soap and cleanliness as their weaknesses, with Mushibakinman, a cavity germ of the same species as Baikinman having a weakness to toothpaste. Also, the donburi-headed characters, being bowls of rice with a topping, lose all their powers if their bowls are emptied. Finally, Kurayamiman and the Ice Queen, being darkness and ice incarnate, both are weak against the sunlight.
- Shows up at several times in Daily Life with Monster Girl. The literally cold-blooded Miia is susceptible to cold temperatures, Papi can't fly when she's wet, Suu can get diluted when exposed to too much water and Meroune gets poisoned by swimming in chlorinated water the same way a human would by breathing bleach fumes.
- The manga of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories has Larxene defeated in such a way. Sora and Donald combined their Fire and Ice spells to soak Larxene. This resulted in her electrocuting herself when she tried to use her lightning spells on them.
- This comes up sometimes in Jojos Bizarre Adventure. Most notably, Vanilla Ice in Part 3 has a brutally powerful Stand, Cream, whose power is to disintegrate anything it touches. He climbs inside of it when it's used. Polnareff, however, realizes that when Ice is inside Cream, he can't see - to protect himself from Cream's power, he has to close its mouth, leaving him literally attacking blind. He's also worked out that Vanilla Ice is a vampire, something Ice himself hasn't realized, and so he tricks him into blowing several holes in the wall. The sun's still up.
- In Runaways Victor is a cyborg and can't pass through metal detectors without setting them off.
- Plastic Man, because of his rubber based powers, has been known for having a vulnerability with extreme temperature changes and (in some incarnations) being in contact with acetone.
- Wolverine of X-Men can't pass through metal detectors because of his skeleton. He is also vulnerable to magnets. (This doesn't stop him from attacking Magneto as if he doesn't remember what happened the last zillion times.)
- Of course, this doesn't stop him in any story that requires him to travel by plane. At least once this has been played for laughs, with Wolverine and another character walking out of an airport while she comments on how she's always wondered how he got through metal detectors and now she knows. The reader, of course, is not privy to this information.
- Once, he walked into the Pentagon, and showed a medical certificate stating he has metallic prosthetics due to war injuries. Not far from the truth.
- In the Ultimate Universe, he once got in by sticking a (fake) grenade into some guy's bag so airport security would freak out and he could sneak past the detectors in all the confusion... Ultimate Wolverine is a bit more of a Jerkass than regular Wolverine.
- Humorous example verging on a Weaksauce Weakness: the Sandman was first defeated when Spider-Man vacuumed him up.
- He also once teamed up with Hydro-Man, until they realized that if they touched, they combined into a sort of sludge. They got stuck that way for a while.
- Similarly, intense heat or electric attacks can turn him to glass. Sometimes when fighting the Sinister Six, Spidey and other heroes use Deadly Dodging to get Electro to do this.
- Shadowcat of the X-Men can only stay phased inside an object as long as she can hold her breath. When the character debuted, it was pretty clear that she couldn't breathe at all while phased, which made sense because air, while not solid, would still be out-of-phase relative to Kitty.
- This was either a source of Fridge Brilliance because there's no air inside solid objects, and the air wouldn't move with her. It would just dissipate.
- This limitation was invoked for story reasons, to make the character sometimes vulnerable when in costume. It changed to its current interpretation around the time of the Mutant Massacre, when she got injured and her default state became "phased". If she couldn't breathe while phased, this would have killed her quickly.
- Also averted in that she is never shown dropping through the center of the Earth whenever she phases, so it is assumed she can apparently create phase boundries on the soles of her feet allowing her to walk on solid ground even though she is out of phase with it. She examined the Fridge Logic of this and learned that 'down' was what she made of it. She can walk on nothing, a power that she's used to great effect on several occasions.
- Used as a weakness in one instance, when a Brainwashed and Crazy Wolverine attacks her by stabbing her not-phased foot. Ouch.
- Colossus of the X-Men can turn himself into organic steel completely, including all the internal workings of his body. Apparently he does not have blood in this form (and neither does it require it). One downside to this is that if something does manage to injure him through the Nigh Invulnerable status, turning back into the more frail and bleeding human form would be a Very Bad Idea. Fortunately he can still heal with time. In his metal form, the equivalent of setting broken bones requires heavy machinery.
- Firestorm's main power is transmuting matter. He can change practically anything into practically anything else, such as lead into gold, or air into gold, or bullets into water, or water into plutonium. Not even considering his additional powers, this would make him nigh-godlike, except for a Logical Weakness: he has a normal human mind and no Super Senses, so he needs to mentally keep track of the chemical composition of everything he transmutes. This means that he can transmute things freely into elements and very simple compounds (like water (H2O) or salt (NaCl), and maybe even TNT (C6H2(NO2)3CH3) at most), but making things more complicated than that requires great concentration, if he can do it at all.
- Having witnessed the fiery deaths of his family, along with the rest of his species, the Martian Manhunter now suffers from pyrophobia. (The pyrophobia of the other Martians is handwaved as being a psychic block implanted by the Guardians of the Universe to stop them becoming too evil or something, but with J'onn it makes sense.)
- While not his most prominent weakness, Superman is at least hurt by high powered sonics. His super senses and invulnerability seem to roughly cancel each other out in this instance.
- His weakness to red sunlight fits as his powers depend specifically on yellow sunlight. The New52 and most recent movie incarnation depend on multiple factors of Earth's atmosphere for their powers, thus exposure to a Krypton like atmosphere can shut his powers down.
- Quite a few heroes with regeneration powers have logical weaknesses as a result. Savage Dragon's bones will knit wrong if not set quickly (forcing him to re-break them), Claire from Heroes avoids this by having her healing not kick in until foreign objects are removed and bones set but this obviously has its own drawbacks as Claire can be stuck unconscious until someone happens along to help her. Batman once faced a dilemma trying to remove a kryptonite bullet from Superman as the wound was closing around the bullet too quickly and he was still tough enough to resist surgical instruments. Deadpool's regeneration does not mix well with his cancer.
- Deadpool's regeneration is actually tailored to work with his cancer. It replaces cells killed off by the cancer at around the same rate that the cells are killed off, with room to spare for other wounds and injuries. A group of Skrulls, during the Secret Invasion storyline, tried to make a group of Skrulls with his healing factor... but without the cancer to hold the healing in check, they overhealed and exploded.
- Fridge Logic hits hard though when you remember that cancer itself is uncontrolled cell growth.
- Which his healing factor cuts down to normal-ish levels. His entire body is pretty much one big human-shaped mass of cancer cells, constantly dying and regenerating again. Is it any wonder why he's completely, utterly insane?
- Spider-Man has been shown to be susceptible to pesticides that affect spiders. He can't stick to surfaces that are sufficiently slick. His spider sense can also be rendered useless or even a drawback if faced with overwhelming danger from multiple sources.
- Iron Man also proved that if Peter can build a tracer that emits a signal detectable by his spider sense then others can build devices to trigger false positives in his spider sense rendering one of his greatest advantages useless.
- Most Marvel magical heroes, like Wiccan, the Scarlet Witch, and DoctorStrange, use spoken spells and Magical Gestures to use their power. They can be incapacitated by anyone who can get them Bound and Gagged — if not taken out first by a rush of tranquilizer darts they never see coming — which has led most of them to learn the basics of self defense so they can protect themselves physically.
- DC's Zatanna, who activates her magic by speaking backwards, has the same problem.
- The Big Bad of Sleeper has a great intellect and uses it to talk to his enemies and convince them not to fight him, or even to Mind Rape them. Up until one of them rips his tongue out of his mouth.
- When Mr. X joined the Thunderbolts, he bragged at length about being able to predict every move his opponents made based on a combination of low-level telepathy and reading body language. This served him well until he came up against Quicksilver. Suddenly, being able to predict his opponent's moves didn't help at all since he still wasn't fast enough to counter them.
- Sebastian Shaw can absorb kinetic energy to make himself stronger, making attacking him directly useless. He still needs to breathe, and Storm once made him run away by making the area so cold that he couldn't stand it.
- Emma Frost eventually developed a "secondary" mutation with a new power (no, not that one, she ALWAYS had that): being able to become living diamond, much like Colossus' organic steel above. Also much like him, she became Nigh Invulnerable, almost totally impervious to physical attacks, temperatures, etc. The downsides were that she lost her psychic powers (though she was also now fairly invulnerable to others'), and while she's yet to be actually "beaten down" the occasional writer remembers that diamonds are hard but they're brittle. When struck properly her form cracks, and she was once completely shattered, needing the walking Deus ex Machina known as the Phoenix Force to be put back together.
- The level of available oxygen affects the Human Torch's powers. Thing has proven that super strong lungs can blow out Johnny's flame.
- Namor's dependency on water is this, given that his species is adapted to live underwater. Same can be said of Aquaman though his dependency on water depends on the writer.
- For a Green Lantern, anything that affects their concentration or undermines their resolve can weaken their effectiveness given that their power is directly dependent on their willpower.
- Batman finally figured out a weakness for Wonder Woman who has no Weaksauce Weakness. Her upbringing was high competitive and she won the right to represent her culture in man's world by winning a competition. Batman guessed correctly that her body would give out before she ever willingly gave up and came up with a way to force her into Fighting a Shadow.
- In ''Marie D Suesse And The Mystery New Pirate Age, Admiral Lance D. Imba, who can copy anyone else's Devil Fruit Power and has taken several fruits already with his Copy Copy Fruit, takes in Mar's Logic Logic Fruit power and dies because the new fruit forces his powers to obey the laws of logic, including the rule that a Devil Fruit user who eats another one will be killed. This also references a sometimes-mentioned fear that people have when eating Devil Fruits; that they will lose the Super Power Lottery and trade their ability to swim for a useless power; in this case, the power Imba stole worked against him.
- In Perfection Is Overrated, the SUEs, being representations of Mary Sue archetypes, fall into this from time to time.
- Mariko Suou's powers cause everyone she meets to consider her their most important person. As this includes the Himes, who fight with their most precious person's life on the line, Akane's defeat results in Mariko's death.
- Shizune's power enables her to completely nullify one person's ability and reduce the effectiveness of all others around her; if enough people are around her, all of their powers are virtually useless. This does not, however, work on mundane means of attack, and Natsuki kills her with a handgun.
- Violet in The Incredibles can be seen while invisible if you throw something other than her suit on her. It has to be her custom-made supersuit too. Her regular clothes stay visible when she vanishes.
- Frozone, also from The Incredibles, relies on the water in the air to use his ice powers. When he's in a place with no water, like an apartment fire, he's useless. He also sometimes needs to keep hydrated himself, needing to request a drink of water while held at gun point for his chance to escape.
- In Shrek 2, Mongo (an 80 foot tall Gingerbread Man) is vulnerable to becoming soggy.
- In Unbreakable David Dunn progressively learns that he is awesomely strong and essentially impervious to things like bullets or illness. He also find that he has the power to sense a crime a person has committed or is about to commit when he touches them. However, he has the realistic weakness of water. This makes sense, as water wouldn't be affected by hyper-immunity or strength. It would affect the lungs when drowning the same and any normal person's. Plus, since his strength and durability are the result of bones that are denser than a normal humans, he would also sink a lot easier. Also a bit of Fridge Brilliance when you remember that he nearly drowned as a child. This takes it from being a physical weakness, to being a mental weakness as well in the form of a phobia. There's a lot you can do to get around being able to drown. It's a lot harder to get around a crippling fear of the water.
- Bullseye manages to exploit Daredevil's Super Hearing by creating sufficiently loud noises during their battle.
- In the director's cut of the film, Daredevil's Living Lie Detector powers are fooled by a witness with a pacemaker.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past: So, the Sentinels are made of a "space-age polymer" and contain no metal, and Wolverine has no adamantium in his body anymore? No problem, Magneto just bends some metal into their bodies so he can still restrain and/or control them with his powers.
- In the Wild Cards books, Philip "Fadeout" Cunningham can turn invisible, but he can't see unless his eyes are visible (as, like anyone, his vision depends on light contacting pigment molecules in his retinas). Fortunately (for him) he can turn parts of himself invisible while leaving others opaque, so he counts on the fact that a pair of floating eyes are hard to spot at a distance, especially in dimly lit areas (plus, he can always make his eyes vanish if hiding is more important than seeing his surroundings).
- In Codex Alera furycrafters that work with one element can be disabled through relatively simple means. Aircrafters are covered in dirt, earthcrafters are suspended off the ground, watercrafters are dehydrated, firecrafters are placed in small spaces (so any fire cooks them alive), and wood/metal crafters are stripped of their respective elements. Disabling someone with multiple elements is trickier, but doable.
- The Vord Queen specializes in these, to the point where at any point where her enemies seem to be winning, she improvises (or already planned) a solution that nullifies her foes' advantage. At one point, when Araris goes full-on Chrome Champion on her, she figures out a rather simple weakness, and coats him in ice, making the metal that makes up his skin extremely brittle and excruciatingly painful.
- One of the main limitations on magic in The Dresden Files (or, rather, the mortal magic, as werewolves and faeries seem to sidestep the issue) is that you really have to know what you're doing for something to work. You can't transform someone into a frog without knowing an awful lot about the anatomy of frogs... and if you don't want to destroy someone's mind in the process you have to really know neurosciences. So, essentially, it's impossible. Also banned because it's so dangerous.
- Not sidestep so much as displace; weres get help (through bargain, artifact or rituals of communion) from something which does know all of that, and some nonhumans such as certain faeries fall into that category. Their minds and senses simply give them complete and accurate knowledge of all of the details of the relevant natural processes; for them extrapolating from a strand of DNA to a creature's adult form, natural environment and group dynamics may be as simple as pluralizing a word... and requires no greater intelligence than the latter feat would for a human. This actually carries its own Logical Weakness in that a being that aware of cause and effect is at base restricted by that awareness.
- As far as the shapechanging goes, this is demonstrated with Billy and the Alphas, who are one of a few varieties of werewolf in the series. The beasts they turn into are creatures that look like wolves to the casual observer, but wouldn't fool, say, a zoologist.
- The Mistborn series follows a very strong Magic A Is Magic A system, so many powers can potentially be a double-edged sword. Someone burning tin (which gives Super Senses) can be incapacitated with loud noises or flashes of light, for example, and to be any good as a Coinshot (telekinetic control of metals), you'd better have a really good understanding of elementary physics- try and Push something bigger than you are and you'll be the one flying across the room instead.
- The fact that the Church of God Awaiting doesn't know how the Charisian protagonists of Safehold stay one step ahead of them so consistently does not stop them from developing countermeasures against it. The Empire of Charis has access to technology far beyond the planet's Medieval Stasis, letting them spy on just about anyplace they want. While simply assuming Charis just has damnably good spies, the Church works out their Temple is a blind spot and cut their troops fake orders sending them one place before changing at the very last second to throw off Charisian response. Zhaspahr Clyntahn also organizes a network of agents who no direct contact with one another to prevent spies from learning anything from an overheard conversation.
- The Church is also unknowingly aided by a Self Imposed Weakness of the Charisian leaders: they can't reveal their technology, so even if they do get wind of something before it happens, in many cases they can't respond to it much faster than they could if they were really dependent on a spy network and mundane communication and transportation technology, nor reveal that they know things that would be utterly impossible for normal spies to ever discover.
- Deflector Shields are prominent throughout the Dune series, including personal ones. The catch is that a shield that keeps anything from touching you also keeps oxygen out of your lungs, meaning you have to calibrate it to let slow-moving objects in. This obviously includes knives.
- Larry Niven's "The Theory and Practice of Teleportation" is full of these; one of the obvious-in-hindsight yet rarely-used is that teleporting into "thin air" would fill your body with lethal embolisms. Answer: Switch places with whatever's sitting wherever you're teleporting to. Of course, that "whatever" could be someone you're pursuing...
- The students in Idlewild are genetically engineered to have superhuman immune systems to protect them from disease. Those same immune systems go berserk when they encounter any unusual material. Considering how long the students spent in suspended animation, pretty much everything merits that allergic reaction.
Live Action TV
- In Sanctuary, Will and Watson found Clara when she was invisible by turning on the sprinklers to get an outline.
- The Sarah Connor Chronicles reveals that Terminators can't swim - they're just too heavy (however they're still waterproof). It also reveals that they can be temporarily disabled by powerful electrical shocks, although they reboot themselves in a couple minutes. Also, they set off metal detectors.
- From Heroes:
- Elle Bishop generates electrical blasts. However, her electrical powers are usually focused outwards, and she's not insulated from her own blasts. So if she's coated in water and attempts to use her powers, she just ends up shocking herself.
- Claude, an invisible man, still has a heat signature and is thus able to be seen with infrared goggles.
- Matt Parkman, due to his telepathy, is somewhat more vulnerable to bright lights and loud sounds while using it. This makes sense, as he's not just hearing the sounds/seeing the flashing lights with his own senses, but also the senses of the people whose minds he is reading and thus his brain can't handle it all at once.
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data, the android, has the standard weakness to electricity and electromagnetic radiation. He's also too dense to float or swim, although he can survive underwater. He's said to be able to serve as a flotation device, though it's possible that he's got some sort of damageable inflatable airbag.
- The X-Files:
- In one episode, a Literal Genie grants someone the power to become invisible. He has to strip naked to make any use of it, which he considers a small tradeoff, although it makes going outside uncomfortable. Even more uncomfortable: he promptly gets hit by a car because the driver didn't see him. A previous "beneficiary" of the genie's wishes ended up with an inhumanly large, ahem, manhood. He then keeled over from lack of blood to the brain when he got excited. And the paramedics had trouble getting him through the door while he was lying on his back.
- In "Trevor," the titular con gains the ability to become intangible after being struck by lightning. While he has the ability to pass through conductive objects, destroying them in the process, he's powerless against non-conductive materials. He's eventually killed when struck by a car - he can phase through the hood, but not the windshield.
- An antagonist in Angel had the ability of Detachment Combat. He couldn't stay separated for too long or his parts would suffer necrosis from the lack of nutrients.
- In Alphas it's pretty well established that with every alpha ability comes a weakness of some sort. In early episodes, the most notable was Rachel, who has hyper, Sentinel-esque senses. She was initially shown to be able to enhance one sense at a time, but while she did so, she couldn't use her other senses. (While her vision or smell was enhanced, she could not hear the other characters when they spoke to her.) This is a great weakness, which makes all kinds of sense. However, the writers seem to be forgetting about this weakness, as in recent episodes, she's been using her abilities without shutting the rest down; her weakness these days seems to be the fact that everything is always cranked Up to Eleven for her, which is actually less fun for your dating life than you would think. She even had them permanently enhanced recently, though she seems to be handling it better now than at first.
- In The Lost Room many of the Objects have amazing abilities but also have serious weaknesses.
- The Key can let you enter and leave the Room through any door anywhere in the world (and thus lets you travel almost everywhere) but it cannot be a sliding door and in order to open the door it needs a tumbler lock. If you're not careful, you can trap yourself.
- If you touch the Ticket you will be teleported just outside Gallop, New Mexico no matter where in the world you are. It's very handy for quick getaways and to dispose of attacker or people who simply annoy you. However, its owner kept teleporting himself to New Mexico whenever he handled it. He finally was able to cover enough of it in duct tape that he could handle it safely.
- The Comb allows you to stop time for ten seconds but when the effect ends you need to be perfectly still or you will suffer terrible motion sickness. The short duration of the effect means that you might have to use it repeatedly and your body will suffer the consequences.
- The Stargate Verse uses Dune shields and Niven teleporters.
- On The Listener, Toby's telepathy requires the subject to be actively thinking about what he wants to find out, often requiring him (or his partner) to deliberately prompt the target with a leading question or statement. He's also limited in that he can only read what the subject thinks is true, he can't read people with some kinds of organic brain problem such as those suffering from epilepsy, and he's encountered one genius-level criminal who can simply think too fast for Toby to understand what he's thinking.
- In Kamen Rider Double, the Utopia Dopant draws upon peoples' positive emotions, granting him incredible power and making him able to suck the life out of an opponent effortlessly. Inanimate objects, however, have no emotions to drain, meaning that the series' Big Bad gets manhandled by the same cute and Toyetic Robot Buddies that have been hanging around since Episode 1. In fact, one of the show's copious Crowning Moments of Awesome is protagonist Shotaro blocking Utopia's powers with nothing more than his dead mentor's Cool Hat.
- In Babylon 5, when using telepathy to determinate what someone knows, it only reveals the subjective truth. When Lord Refa uses a telepath to mind probe Vir to find out about Londo's scheme, he didn't take into account the possibility of Londo lying to Vir. In the end, he walks into a trap and gets torn apart by angry narn, who are understandably pissed considering he was the one who ordered the use of mass drivers on their homeworld, a war crime so severe, it even gets condemnation from the normally distant Vorlons.
- Some of the Disadvantages of characters in the "Champions" superhero RPG were of this type. For example, the insect-like alien Insectoid took damage from exposure to the insecticide malathion.
- In both Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem, characters can buy a power that allows them to heighten and refine their senses. Of course, if there's a sudden change in sensory input (e.g., opening a storage locker to find a rotting corpse when you've got heightened smell up), you're probably going to be reeling.
- Often occurs in Mass Effect, due the hardness of the universe.
- Spaceships use kinetic barriers that allow deflection of debris and mass accelerator rounds, but only up to a certain point. As their name also implies, they're kinetic barriers, and thus only effective upon physical mass; laser-based weaponry can bypass them completely but has yet to be developed beyond defensive weaponry.
- Personal kinetic barriers are calibrated specifically to deflect small and high-velocity objects, but allow slower moving objects to go through ("so the subject can sit down without knocking away their chair"-gametext). This has led to special bullets that have different shapes and speeds than normal in order to be more effective against armor.
- Biotics have powerful Gravity Master/Mind over Matter abilities, but with the exception of the Asari (due to their reproductive systems and some Prothean genetic engineering), who have precise control over their nervous systems, any biotic who wishes to use their powers effectively have to have special implants. Also, since they use their own bio-electricity to fuel their powers, biotics who use their powers on a regular basis require greater caloric intake than normal.
- Thanks to the Square/Cube Law, even with mass effect fields, the largest ships are unable to land on a planet. The Sufficiently Advanced Alien Reapers can get around this, but are skill quite awkward on the ground. In addition, this makes their kinetic barriers far weaker.
- Cole McGrath from inFAMOUS is officially the first protagonist of a sandbox game that can justify his inability to swim. (In fact, he IS able to swim for a very short while, and he's perfectly fine if he steps in a small puddle, although if someone else steps in the puddle shortly afterwards they won't be so fine.)
- Chain-link fences provide perfect cover from Cole's lightning for the same reason - electricity, by its very nature, follows the path of least resistance and gets grounded by those fences. Though one has to wonder why he can't simply climb the fence, especially since he's very skilled at Le Parkour. Does the fence suck the electricity out of him?
- His inability to climb fences seemed to be a limitation of the game engine, since he got over it in the second game. His inability to shoot through metal fences, however, was shown to be completely diegetic, as he was rendered a sitting duck when he was trapped behind metal bars.
- In inFAMOUS: Second Son , Delsin Rowe has Power Copying abilities that allow him to absorb the powers of other Conduits. Unfortunately, this means that he suffers from How Do I Shoot Web every time he absorbs a new powerset.
- Alex Mercer of Prototype, due to the way his offensive and defensive abilties are set up, and the fact that he absorbs people and thus incorporates their mass into his own, is literally too dense to swim. This is apparently true of everything that gets infected with either Redlight or Blacklight and is mutated, given that none of them survive being pushed into the drink. Though he can jump off the bottom of the East River because he sinks nearly as fast as he falls, but then again this applies to everything in the game, infected or not. Anything not capable of jumping like that dies instantly on contact with water.
- However, despite his immense mass he can still glide along a decent distance. No-one is quite sure how it works.
- In-game description states that he ejects biomass, propelling him in a slight upward trajectory. It also leads to some rather nasty Fridge Horror about the infection.
- The Mega Man (Classic) games often use this: Electric guys experience shorts when you stick a blade in them; fast guys are vulnerable to time stopping, and so forth. The Weapon Archive in 10 is a Puzzle Boss/Final Exam Boss that requires you to know your Mega Man history and ask "Which of my weapons is most like what beat this guy the first time?"
- Mega Man 8 has these for six out of eight Robot Masters. Clown Man gets tangled in his ridiculously-long arms if hit with Tornado Hold; Thunder Claw is the only safe way to bounce Grenade Man's bombs at him; Sword Man (who's fire-based) is left smoldering if hit with Aqua Balloon; Search Man lights on fire if you hit his bush hiding spot with Flame Sword; Astro Man, a neurotic (listen to his greeting), freaks out and can't move if you lock on with Search Missiles; and Tengu Man, a flying boss, is grounded by the Ice Wave (like how airplanes are grounded if their wings ice up). The exceptions are Aqua Man (weak to the Astro Crush) and Frost Man (blinded by the Flash Bomb, which doesn't have an obvious logicistic given he's An Ice Person).
- In some cases, though, it requires some advance knowledge of the boss to be able to figure out what to use. In the tenth game, why would Strike Man's weapon be the best to use against Sheep Man? Because the former uses the Strike Rebounder (which bounces around due to being a rubber ball) and the latter uses the Thunder Wool. There's also Nitro Man's weakness to the Chill Spike, similar to motorbike wheels getting punctured by spike strips. In fact, while every boss in Mega Man 10 has weaknesses that fall into this trope, most require knowing just what the boss does.
- In the games, if a Robot Master's main strategy involves abusing Collision Damage, they will probably be weak to shield weapons.
- Likewise, Mega Man X also uses this. Ice bosses like Chill Penguin, Frost Walrus, and Blizzard Wolfang can't stand fire (fire melts ice), while Fire bosses like Flame Mammoth, Magma Dragoon, and Burn Dinorex are weak to wind (wind blows out fire). The Boomerang Cutter can sever Launch Octopus' limbs, making him unable to use some of his most powerful attacks, such as twirling around to suck X in and using his tentacles to leech X's life.
- Similar to the above examples, John Marston from Red Dead Redemption can't swim. It makes sense since the character has spent most of his life in the Wild West, where there isn't a whole lot of water. The above ground water sources we do see are mostly fast moving rivers or dirty and swampy.
- Much of Pokémon's Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors falls into this. For instance, electrical attacks are stronger against Water- and Flying-types because they conduct electricity. Meanwhile, Ground-type Pokémon, being always grounded, are immune.
- Even if they're part Flying-type...
- This also applies to some other effects, such as how heavy rain will halve the power of fire.
- Why are Pokémon with the Water/Ground type combination doubly weak to Grass? Because water and earth combine to create mud.
- Dragon's weakness to Ice makes sense because dragons are typically reptilians, which aren't usually capable of controlling their body temperature. Grass-types can't tolerate cold temperatures very well, either- after all, frost can kill a lot of plants.
- Poison's weakness to Ground. Ever been in a chemistry lab where kitty litter-like substances are used to absorb chemical spills?
- Fighting does half-damage to Flying-types, because, well, it's kind of hard to punch a bird. It does no damage to Ghost-types, because ghosts are incorporeal.
- Psychic is weak to Bug, Ghost, and Dark types, all common phobias. It's hard to concentrate when you're frightened.
- Fairy's weakness to Steel makes sense, considering that historically, fairies and other supernatural creatures are vulnerable to cold iron.
- Ground does no damage to Flying, because you're trying to manipulate the ground to hit something that's in the air.
- In Magicka, while your characters are all Squishy Wizards already, you can shock yourself if you use electricity while soaked.
- A stone based monster in Final Fantasy IX can be killed instantly by using a Soft on it, which is normally used on petrified allies. The game states that the monster "became too soft to live".
- In MOTHER 1, main character Ninten is an asthmatic, so anything can can trigger an asthma attack (like living cars belching toxic fumes at the party) will render him helpless.
- In Super Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS, Little Mac is an absolute beast when fighting on the ground, fitting for his Boxing Battler status; but the fact that he's a boxer means that his air combat is subpar at best, being barely able to land a punch or jump back to the battlefield.
- In Digital Devil Saga, Earth attacks are "shielded" against by flying enemies; see the Pokémon Ground-versus-Flying example above. This is one of the few logical immunities in the series.
- Grrl Power, lampshaded and played straight: Being riddled with bullets. Oh, and Mittens.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja mainly runs of Rule of Cool and Rule of Funny, but it does occasionally use logic. For example, a well-established danger of the organic jetpack is that its user can be driven insane by oxygen deprivation if they fly too high, too long. When Frans Rayner comes back from the dead as a cyborg, his augmentations draw energy from his organic body (because he lacks an external power source), so firing his laser eye once leaves him too exhausted to do anything. And, according to one April Fools' Day comic, the McNinja family's one weakness is "Bullets. From a gun."
- ''My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Unicorns are stated to have a small suite of spells related to their special talent that they can use well (outside of telekinesis). This means that if faced with a situation where those spells aren't any use, they aren't much help.
- Discord, as the spirit of chaos and disharmony, is able to be Taken for Granite by the Elements of Harmony.
- Megavolt on Darkwing Duck is an electricity based villain shorted out by water.
- The Liquidator on Darkwing is intimidated by "a common cleaning sponge" and (in a Shout-Out to John Kendrick Bangs' "The Water Ghost of Harrowby Hall") by being locked in a freezer, as well as by cement and pudding mix(!).
- Bushroot's plantlike body gives him a lot of advantages including extending arms and high resilience, but since it's plant tissue it's easy to cut. He is also vulnerable to weed-killer.
- Similarly, on a Cartoon Network bumper, Jan of the Wonder Twins says "I could get beaten by a sponge! It wouldn't even have to be an Evil Sponge!"
- H2Olga, a nemesis of the Crimson Chin from The Fairly OddParents is defeated by an ultra-absorbent diaper.
- In SpongeBob SquarePants, the Dirty Bubble, archnemesis of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy, has them trapped by his "awesome surface tension." Spongebob inadvertently defeats him by accidentally popping him with a pencil while asking for an autograph.
- Static Shock's protagonist had electromagnetic powers that went on the fritz along with every other gadget in the world when there was a lot of sun spot activity.
- Static also defeated a water-based villain using an electric current, thus breaking the water down into its components (he even calls the process, electrolysis, by name).
- However being splashed by water can short out his ability if he's currently charged up.
- Being essentially a human capacitor, he was also unable to generate his own current and was sometimes on the verge of defeat until he could locate a power source. This aspect was not depicted as consistently as others, however, and became moot once Richie managed to cook up some super-batteries he could carry around.
- In Disney's Hercules series, a monster steals the powers from heroes and demigods. Hercules then realizes that some of the powers carry crippling weaknesses, such as bright lights interfering with super vision, and uses that to trip up the monster.
- Stitch of Lilo & Stitch is super dense and while that gives him super strength and endurance, he can't swim.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender : Because benders channel their powers through martial arts, binding or paralyzing their limbs is an effective means of defeating or imprisoning them, though sufficiently skilled benders are able to get beyond this For example, when King Bumi was locked into a coffin with only his face poking out, he was able to Earthbend fairly effectively using only his chin. Then again, he is 110 years old (really, not the Human Popsicle 110-year-old that Aang technically is), so he's had a lot of time to master Earthbending with any part of his body.
- Both Earth- and Waterbenders have a wide variety of moves to choose from, but require quantities of the element to bend, giving them a disadvantage in ocean and desert environments respectively.
- Fire- and Airbenders always have their element at hand, but also have their own weaknesses. Fire requires stable breath control to use (making it easier to lose control or tire from using the element), is less effective in cold or at night, and lacks many defensive moves. Likewise, Air Bending has fewer offensive moves, and the culture surrounding it is quite pacifistic, making it especially difficult to finish a fight.
- Toph Beifong was born blind, but uses Earthbender skills as a Disability Superpower to feel vibrations in stone, compacted soil and metal. This means she can't "see" things that aren't touching the ground and her "sight" is severely impaired if she's not in contact with her element - She is extremely apprehensive riding on Appa, gets a view comparable to static when on sand, and is seen having to hold onto her companions when traveling on a wood-built village. Traveling on a metal boat is bearable, but she throws up within minutes of boarding a submarine. And in a world without Braille, she's illiterate. But if she's on an earthen surface, she can see all around her, even behind things. And none of this stops her from intercepting catapult weapons fired from another ship on water, though that may just be her inherent skill.
- With Metalbending having become a full-fledged bending discipline by the time of The Legend of Korra, the sequel series also shows the bending style's weaknesses: they are very susceptible to electric attacks due to using reels of metallic cord to attack with as well as the metal covered suits they wear. Their metal suits also make them vulnerable to powerful magnets built into special mecha-tanks used against them.
- In Exo Squad, Neosapiens are stated to have heightened senses. Early on in the show they flashbang one to great effect.
- The clones created by the copy machine in the Gravity Falls episode "Double Dipper" are made of paper, so naturally they dissolve when doused with liquid.
- The Mask often employed this, combined with Rule of Funny - Putty Thing was first defeated when he melted after being mixed with Canola Oil, and three villains who escaped a comic book were defeated by destroying the comic.