Back when SuperHero comics started in UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfComicBooks, there were no "universes" at first. Each character's adventures took place in their own little bubble. This came to an end with the first team-ups, such as the ComicBook/JusticeSocietyOfAmerica, or the "war" between the original Human Torch and ComicBook/SubMariner. Slowly, individual characters became part of a greater whole.

This, however, led to a few questions. While it might make sense that a FreakLabAccident could increase someone's natural strength and speed to superhuman levels, the fact that {{million to one chance}}s had independently gifted fifty or sixty different people (all on the same planet, no less) with different powers started to stretch WillingSuspensionOfDisbelief. And as the comics started appealing to an older target demographic, they started noticing such things more and more.

Thus, certain {{retcon}}s were set up, changing it so that there was a ''reason'' why so many people were suddenly receiving super-powers. Essentially, this was the origin of the origins; thus, the Meta Origin.

ILoveNuclearPower, LightningCanDoAnything and similar tropes tend to be [[JustifiedTrope explained away]] by showing that the dangerous experience ''really'' just activated something latent, or brought one to the attention of an extradimensional force.

On a much smaller scale, this can also refer to the effect of a RetCon or reinterpretation that directly links individual character origins in ways not present in the original formulation.

This tends to be built into the world when new SuperHero worlds are created from the ground up.

A related concept is the MagneticPlotDevice, which could be considered the meta origin of all the weird stuff that happens to you. In many cases, the Meta Origin will become the Magnetic Plot Device for that particular story, although the two concepts aren't always the same.

Contrast with FantasyKitchenSink, AllMythsAreTrue. See MassSuperEmpoweringEvent for non-{{Retcon}}ned starting events providing everyone's superpowers and thus linking everyone together. See RandomlyGifted for a similar setting-wide explanation for the random appearance of powers. Can lead to DoingInTheWizard. Frequently used as part of {{Adaptation Distillation}}s, as it can also simplify adaptations by tying the origins of several characters together.


[[folder:Anime And Manga]]
* In ''{{Naruto}}'' everything remotely powerful can be traced back to the Sage of the Six Paths. Ninjutsu? Created by the Sage. The powerful Uchiha and Senju clans? [[spoiler: Descendants of the Sage]]. The Tailed Beasts? [[spoiler: Was originally the Ten Tails but split by the Sage]]. Rinnegan? [[spoiler: Eyes of the Sage]]. The Uzumaki clan? Related to Senju.
* In the Stars storyline for the ''Manga/SailorMoon'' manga, the Galaxy Cauldron essentially functions as this.
* In ''Manga/{{Claymore}}'', all of the various superpowers in the series can be traced back to [[spoiler:the dragons allied with the Organization's nation's enemies. The youma were created through experiments performed on a pair of captive dragons' flesh, and the Claymores are merely humans with youma flesh implanted in their bodies.]]
* In ''Manga/{{Hellsing}}'', almost every supernatural being seen in the series is related to Alucard. [[spoiler:All of Millenium's vampires are simply knockoffs created with the remains of Mina Harker, one of Alucard's past victims who still retained a bit of his vampiric power.]] The Captain [[spoiler:a werewolf]] is one of the few exceptions.
* In ''Anime/KillLaKill'', every superpower is caused directly by Life Fibers, [[spoiler: which are StarfishAliens that feed off their hosts and want to destroy Earth so that they can spread to other planets]].
* The [[WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls Powerpuff Girls]] anime adaptation ''Anime/DemashitaPowerpuffGirlsZ'', among other liberal changes to the source material, made it so that the Powerpuff Girls, their RoguesGallery, and several [[MonsterOfTheWeek one-shot antagonists]] were created when Professor Utonium's son Ken fired a ray of Chemical Z at an iceberg in an attempt to fix the city's weather problem, which resulted in rays of white light striking the girls and several people, animals, and inanimate objects being exposed to black light, changing them all and giving them their powers.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The MarvelUniverse has SufficientlyAdvancedAlien AncientAstronauts called the "Celestials", who did experiments millions of years ago on proto-humanity, creating the offshoot races known as the Eternals and Deviants, as well as putting in the "X-gene", which causes the wide variety of super-powered mutants in the MU.
** In ''Comicbook/EarthX'', '''everything''' is a direct-or-indirect result of Celestial manipulation. The superhumans, ComicBook/TheInhumans, the Kree, the Skrulls, and even the Asgardians.
** In ''Marvel Knights Comicbook/SpiderMan'' #9, it was explained that, after World War II, big businessmen had feared superheroes would start interfering with politics and business, so they created most of the early supervillains, to keep them busy and make sure that ReedRichardsIsUseless. This hasn't been mentioned again since, and may have fallen into DorkAge status. Although it should be noted that the fourth issue of Daniel Way's Bullseye miniseries threw out the same concept at the same time (they were published the same month) [[StrangeMindsThinkAlike with no apparent contact between the two writers.]]
** In ComicBook/UltimateMarvel, everyone who isn't a mutant, an alien or a god has their powers derived from the SuperSoldier project or one of its offshoots. The mini-series ''Ultimate Origins'' elaborates on the Meta Origin and how it connects everything else; [[spoiler: it seems that the {{mutants}}, too, owe their origin to the project]].
*** It also reveals that the Super Soldier project was responsible for [[spoiler: Nick Fury's entire career. He was part of the same program that spawned Captain America, but chose to conceal evidence of his peak-human abilities and [[ReallySevenHundredYearsOld increased lifespan]] so that he could have some shot at a normal life.]]
** The forgotten miniseries ''Conspiracy'' implied this was largely true of the 616-verse as well but everyone's forgotten about that.
** In the Golden Age flashback miniseries ''TheMarvelsProject'', it's implied that the super-soldier serum was derived from Atlantean DNA.
** ComicBook/TheNewUniverse had the "White Event", a sudden flash of energy over the entire surface of the Earth that gave one out of every 500,000 people powers. Later revealed to be [[spoiler:the first Star Brand wearer trying to rid himself of his power]]. A similar event [[spoiler:destroys Pittsburgh when the next Star Brand also becomes unsatisfied with his power]].
*** In the [[UltimateUniverse reimagined]] ''[[ComicBook/TheNewUniverse newuniversal]]'' [sic] series, the Earth enters a region of space controlled by a vast, ancient computer system that empowers several humans as heralds to help humanity adapt to the new physical laws. It's shown that this has happened before, but was interfered with by other humans each time.
** Creator/NeilGaiman's ''ComicBook/{{Marvel 1602}}'' empowers Elizabethan-era [[CaptainErsatz Captains Ersatz]] of mainstream Marvel characters by sending [[spoiler:ComicBook/CaptainAmerica back in time during a failed execution attempt, which "signals" to the universe that it's time for superheroes to start showing up.]]
** Creator/GrantMorrison's ''ComicBook/NewXMen'' run revealed that ComicBook/{{Wolverine}} was the product of a larger project dubbed Weapon Plus, which was also responsible for the creations of ComicBook/CaptainAmerica and the Comicbook/{{Daredevil}} foe Nuke, among others.
** It's also since been implied in ''Comicbook/SecretAvengers'' that both Captain America and ComicBook/{{Luke Cage|HeroForHire}} owe their origins to John Steele, a Golden Age superhero who was captured and experimented upon by German scientists (one of whom was Professor Erskine, the man who would later create the [[SuperSerum Super Soldier Serum]]).
** The MarvelUniverse takes this to its limit with the little known AnthropomorphicPersonification called [[ Origin]], the origin of ''every'' empowered individual.
** ''Comicbook/{{Infinity}}'' and the followup, ''Comicbook/{{Inhumanity}}'', reveal that numerous humans across the globe possess dormant [[ComicBook/TheInhumans Inhuman]] genes, which can activate when they are exposed to the Terrigen Mists.
** Creator/MattFraction's final arc on ''ComicBook/TheDefenders'' revealed that ''all'' superhumans are the result of manipulation from a race of beings called The Omega, who needed a fighting force of extraordinary creatures to battle a god-like entity called the Death Celestial. The Omega used a machine that helped miracles occur in order to create said superhumans, thus explaining why so many people have gained powers from {{Freak Lab Accident}}s and {{Million To One Chance}}s, rather than simply ending up dead as they would in real ife.
** Previously unconnected PowerCrystal using superhumans were connected by establishing the Lifestone Tree as a collaboration of eight [[ImportedAlienPhlebotinum alien races]] to empower a group to protect them all deemed the Comicbook/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy.
* Franchise/TheDCU copied the Marvel concept when they introduced the "metagene" in the 1988 CrisisCrossover ''ComicBook/{{Invasion}}!''. When someone with this gene underwent a moment of extraordinary physical stress, the gene would activate, giving them some ability that would allow them to handle it. Any character who doesn't have powers from some other, explicit source is assumed to be a "metahuman".
** Interestingly, the reason for the extreme variance and unusual circumstances of activation is because millions of years back during humanity's infancy, the White Martian race studied humanity and performed experiments on them, changing their genetics, specially the nature of what would be the metagene. The group of renegades who did this (the Hyperclan) was imprisoned in the Still Zone as punishment. Had the White Martians not interfered with primitive humans, humanity would've evolved into a more uniformly powered race, much like Kryptonians and Daxamites did.
** The titular hero of ''ComicBook/{{Hitman}}'' once recapped his origin from the 1992 CrisisCrossover "Bloodlines", and said "Even ''I'' think it's embarrassing." Said origin involved said metahumans having a specialized reaction that allowed them to survive when aliens with a taste for spinal fluid fed on them.
** It also has the "Speed Force", which links most [[SuperSpeed super-speed]] heroes (like ComicBook/TheFlash) by positing that they draw the energy needed to break physics like they do from an extradimensional power source; it's implied that the Speed Force has a will of its own and needs to "notice" you to give you its powers, and it's also implied to be a sort of Heaven/Valhalla for dead speedsters.
** As well, there's the "Godwave" from the CrisisCrossover "Genesis", which was explained as creating both [[PhysicalGod Physical Gods]] and super-powered humans, but that seems to have been [[DorkAge quietly ignored]] since.
** In Creator/MilestoneComics (now part of the DCU), many supers are "Big Bang Babies" who got their powers when a massive gang fight was broken up by cops deploying tear gas that had (without the cops' knowledge) been laced with "quantum juice".
** Creator/AlanMoore's run on ''ComicBook/SwampThing'' established that all characters with plant powers ([[Franchise/{{Batman}} Poison Ivy]], [[ComicBook/TheAtom Floronic Man]], etc.) were connected to "the Green". Creator/NeilGaiman later added ComicBook/BlackOrchid, and revealed most of them were at university together. ''ComicBook/AnimalMan'' parallels it by establishing that Animal Man and all animal-based characters ([[Comicbook/TeenTitans Beast Boy]], [[Comicbook/DemonKnights Horsewoman]], ComicBook/{{Vixen}} etc.) are connected to "the Red". The Comicbook/{{New 52}} keeps this.
** In the ComicBook/{{New 52}} version of ''[[ComicBook/GrantMorrisonsActionComics Action Comics]]'', John Henry Irons (ComicBook/{{Steel}}) and John Corben (Metallo) both got their PoweredArmor from the US Military's "Steel Soldier" project, which was designed by ComicBook/LexLuthor and headed by ComicBook/LoisLane's father, General Sam Lane. Further on, it's also revealed that their suits were reverse-engineered from ComicBook/{{Brainiac}}'s technology, and that Brainiac's psychic influence was the initial cause of Metallo's insanity.
* The Creator/ValiantComics universe was a fairly ordinary universe with no supernatural aspects until a scientist named Phil Seleski accidentally created a "wish machine" that gave him [[RealityWarper god-like powers]]. Due to events too long to summarize, he wound up collapsing the entire universe into a black hole. He tried to restore it, but, because he was a superhero fan, he subconsciously recreated the universe as a more fantastic version of the original, complete with invading aliens, evil robots, sentient PoweredArmor and mutant-like "Harbingers".
* In the ''Creator/{{Wildstorm}}'' universe (now also part of the DCU), the main sources of powers were either [[HalfHumanHybrid alien ancestry]] (like the ComicBook/WildCATs, who were all part or full Kherubim) or the [[ComicBook/{{Gen 13}} Gen-Factor]], a SuperSerum whose results were [[SuperPowerfulGenetics inheritable]]. The Century Babies also often had mysterious abilities, but their origin is unclear.
** In ''ComicBook/{{Planetary}}'', it was revealed that all Century Babies are [[spoiler: part of the universe's immunity system, created to stop attacks from [[AlternateUniverse Alternate Earths]].]]
** The mysterious comet that passed Earth in the 1970's, which was the cause of the powers of the Seedlings, not to mention the all-powerful yet crazed [=WarGuard=].
* In ''ComicBook/{{PS238}}'', metahuman powers, which come from a [[FantasyKitchenSink *huge* variety of sources]], are inborn or obtained in an equally large amount of ways; it is eventually revealed that [[spoiler:an unknown cosmic determinant appears to be responsible for whether or not humanity will have access to metahuman powers. The process is circular; ever so often, humans will start to develop/be exposed to superpowers, and then, following a short 'trial period', this determinant will select a 'chooser' from humanity to decide if this state of affairs will continue. If the chooser says no, those with powers will retain them but no new metapowered individuals will emerge and humanity will have a century or two without them. If yes, metahumans will continue to exist and increase in numbers. Tyler Marloch AKA Moonshadow was the first chooser to ever say yes.]]
* In Defiant Comics' shared universe, the powers could all be somehow traced back to "dreamtime" - humanity's collective ID that existed on another plane of reality. All super-powered humans either learned to tap into dreamtime and wished superpowers for themselves or got powers from dreamtime's native lifeforms.
* ''ComicBook/SupremePower'' links all of the powered heroes' origins to Hyperion's arrival on earth.
* ''Spider-Man: Chapter One'' retconned and fused Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus' origins.
* In [[ComicBook/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtlesMirage the original]] ''Franchise/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles'' series from Mirage Studios, a chance leakage of radioactive mutagen led Splinter and the Turtles to be mutated from a random sewer rat and four turtles that had been abandoned in the sewers of New York. In the more recent [[ComicBook/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtlesIDW IDW series]], the Turtles' origin story is reworked to involve nearly every significant character in the ''TMNT'' mythos. Splinter and the Turtles start out as test subjects in a lab owned by Baxter Stockman, the mutagen is an alien substance developed by Krang, April O'Neil is an intern in the lab, and the Turtles escape into the sewers with Splinter after Shredder's Foot Clan attempts to steal them from the lab. Even Casey Jones plays an important role: after Raphael fails to escape with the others and ends up separated from his brothers on the streets of New York, Casey is the one who helps him find his way to the sewers.
* Some comics in both Marvel and DC (and possibly other publishers) have toyed with the idea that all superpowered characters really have the same power: [[RealityWarper reality warping]]. The apparent differences between them are the result of limits in how they can express that reality alteration, and why winners of the SuperpowerLottery can have different powers that would seem logically unrelated to each other.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* The TranscendenceAU has the Transcendence as a world-altering cataclysm that cause all the events of the AU, and blame a previous attempt by Bill for ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'' previous state as an EldritchLocation


* In the Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse, both Banner / [[Comicbook/IncredibleHulk the Hulk]] and Emil Blonsky / the Abomination gained their powers through attempts to replicate Film/{{Captain America|The First Avenger}}'s SuperSerum. Banner thought he was researching ways to resist radiation and had no idea what his superiors were really after. Emil Blonsky's version of the serum seemed to work just fine, but when the Hulk still curb-stomped him he got greedy and demanded they inject him with even more dangerous serum.
** Several characters are revealed to have gotten their powers from the [[ComicBook/TheInfinityGauntlet Infinity Stones]], and several powerful objects from the comics are revealed to ''be'' Infinity Stones.
*** In ''Film/IronMan2'' and ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger'', it's implied the the Arc Reactor created by Howard Stark was created by studying the Tesseract (a seemingly Asgardian artifact discovered by the Red Skull), and in turn was adapted and miniaturized by Tony Stark for his ComicBook/IronMan armor, linking Iron Man to Asgard and other supernatural elements by way of the SuperSoldier project.
*** ''Film/ThorTheDarkWorld'' reveals that the Tesseract ([[AdaptationNameChange the "Cosmic Cube" in the comics]]) and the Aether are the Space Stone and the Reality Stone, respectively, and it's heavily implied that the Asgardians can build space portals because they had the Space Stone in their possession for centuries.
*** In ''Film/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy'', Ronan the Accuser gets his enhanced strength from having the Power Stone embedded in his hammer.
*** In ''Film/AvengersAgeOfUltron'', ComicBook/ScarletWitch, ComicBook/{{Quicksilver}}, ComicBook/TheVision and ComicBook/{{Ultron}} himself are all created in some form or another by the Mind Stone; Ultron achieved sentience after being connected to it, the twins gained their powers from experimentation with it, and the Vision achieved both his sentience and his energy-blasts from the Stone being embedded in his forehead.
*** The Eye of Agamotto from ''Film/{{Doctor Strange|2016}}'' contains the Time Stone which gives it its powers.
** In the [[AllThereInTheManual supplementary material]] for ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'', it's revealed that ComicBook/TheFalcon's military exoskeleton was designed by [[Film/IronMan Stark Industries]], presumably utilizing technology similar to what is found in by Tony's Iron Man suits.
*** The weapons used by the soldiers in ''Incredible Hulk'' were ''also'' designed by Stark Industries. In fact, the sonic weapon seems to be the big brother of [[spoiler:the sonic paralyser Stane uses on Tony]] at the start of the final act of ''Iron Man''.
** ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'' [[spoiler: establishes that HYDRA was originally an ancient cult worshiping a powerful Inhuman who had been exiled from Earth.]] HYDRA was the proximate cause of much of the preceding: their actions led to the creation of the Strategic Scientific Reserve (later SHIELD) in response, which led to the creation of the Super Soldier Project, HYDRA were the ones who uncovered the Tesseract and began using it, uncovering the Tesseract led to Loki's invasion that created the Avengers, and HYDRA was also responsible for the creation of the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (which accidentally led to Tony Stark creating Ultron). All of this can therefore be directly connected [[spoiler: to the Kree having attempted to create supersoldiers out of humans (creating the first Inhumans) in the ancient past]].
* The Film/TransformersFilmSeries established the [=AllSpark=] as a mystical artifact responsible for the creation of Cybertron and Cybertronians, including other artifacts like the Matrix of Leadership. The [=AllSpark=] itself is a composite of various items like the Matrix of Leadership and the supercomputer Vector Sigma, and helps explain multiple transforming robot species in the galaxy that were apparently unrelated to Cybertron, such as the Junkions and Unicron (whose original origin was rather bizarre, created by a monkey scientist). The films and later incarnations of the franchise, such as the Franchise/TransformersAlignedUniverse, have followed suit by establishing that everything is connected to the [=AllSpark=], or at the least the [=AllSpark=] itself is tied closely with the power of Primus, [[PhysicalGod a mechanical deity]].
* [[MegaCorp Oscorp]], with its mysterious "Special Projects" division, is the common thread tying together all costumed characters in ''Film/TheAmazingSpiderMan'' and [[Film/TheAmazingSpiderMan2 its sequel]]. The company produces the genetically-enhanced hybrid spiders that give Peter Parker his abilities, and Peter eventually uses synthetic threads from the same spiders to build his web-shooters, while [[spoiler: Harry Osborn]] gets his superhuman abilities from a concentrated dose of the spiders' venom. Meanwhile, Curt Connors (Lizard) and Max Dillon (Electro) are both Oscorp scientists who gain superpowers from projects gone awry, while Aleksei Sytsevich (Rhino) uses a robotic exoskeleton given to him by Oscorp. A scene near the end of the second movie even shows a pair of robotic wings and a harness of four robotic tentacles in the Special Projects vault, hinting at the eventual emergence of the Vulture and Doctor Octopus.
* In ''Film/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2014'', Eric Sacks' experiments lead to the geneses of both Shredder ''and'' the Turtles, as he apparently designed Shredder's armor in addition to synthesizing the mutagenic chemicals that mutated the Turtles.
* ''Film/BatmanVSupermanDawnOfJustice'' has an unusual example that overlaps with CompositeCharacter. In the comics, Doomsday (from ''ComicBook/TheDeathOfSuperman'') was a genetically engineered alien LivingWeapon born on Krypton in the distant past, and he confronted ComicBook/{{Superman}} after he was shot into space by the people of the planet Calaton and ultimately crashed on Earth. The "Kryptonian LivingWeapon" premise is more or less intact in the film, but ComicBook/LexLuthor is the one who performs the experiments that create him, and he creates him by mutating and reanimating General Zod's corpse. Thus, Doomsday and Zod are technically the same being, and Luthor is effectively Doomsday's "father".

* In ''Literature/HeroDotCom'' and ''Literature/VillainDotNet'' by Andy Briggs, the six Core Powers qualify, all other superpowers in existence being only twisted and weakened descendants of the Core Powers. One is a TimeMaster ability, one is a GravityMaster power, and the third known gives power over life and death.
** On a lesser level, the titular websites for Downloaders, since they don't have powers permanently like Primes, and have to absorb them through the internet.
* In Salman Rushdie's MagicRealism novel ''Midnight's Children'', 1001 babies born at midnight on the day that India achieves its independence gain low-level superpowers. One can reverse gender, another can [[PortalPool teleport through bodies of water]], and the main character can [[SpiderSense smell disaster]] and other things no one can smell. They're also all able to maintain telepathic contact with one another, and try to form a sort of national congress (it fails miserably).
* In the classic pulp horror novel ''Darker Than You Think'' by Creator/JackWilliamson, all the monstrous creatures of worldwide myth and legend (and most of the evil in the world) spring from Homo lycanthropus, a werewolf-vampire species of "witch men" who have lived secretly alongside "real men" since prehistoric times and can interbreed with Homo sapiens.
* Creator/PhilipJoseFarmer's Wold Newton Family concept posited the Wold Newton meteorite as a source of mutation, which, while generally not producing metahumans, produced an extended family including Tarzan, Doc Savage et al.
* Christopher Stasheff's ''Literature/WarlockOfGramarye'' series reveals that the existence of so many mythological creatures on the world of Gramarye is due to the presence of "witch-moss," which can be psychically shaped.
* In the ''Literature/WildCards'' book series, all human supers get their powers via infection with the Wild Card virus. This also explains why so damn many of them live in New York City; that's where the virus was originally released.
* In ''Literature/WearingTheCape'', all superhumans are "breakthroughs"--individuals who's powers manifested in response to great physical stress or emotional trauma. Superhumans themselves began appearing in the aftermath of the Event (a worldwide phenomena where every living person experienced complete sensory deprivation for 3.2 seconds), but neither the Event nor the source of superhuman powers is every explained.
* In ''Literature/DarkLife'', living at the high pressures of the undersea homesteads gives people "Dark Gifts".
* In ''Literature/TheGrimnoirChronicles'' books by Larry Correia, all powers come from a vast cosmic entity known as ... well, The Power.
* In ''Literature/PerryRhodan'', while humanity has branched into environmentally adapted strains (usually making people stronger, hardier or even smaller), there also exist people with psionic powers called mutants, as they literally are just that. In the early years, most known mutants were born in 1946 with the implication that they were a result of the nuclear bombs used in 1945. Later, after they finally died off, an evil overlord tried breeding super-soldiers, but was thwarted and removed from power. Several ''generations'' later, the descendants of the test subjects showed a high chance of being totally color-blind (unable to discern colors at all), while exhibiting mutant powers as well. Unfortunately, after just one arc, most of these were killed off again by a power trying to take a shortcut to becoming a super-intelligence.
* In ''Literature/TheCosmere'', everything ultimately boils down to the planet Yolen and its god, Adonalsium, which got shattered by sixteen Yolenians. Those eventually took up pieces - Shards - of Adonalsium, becoming divine themselves, and evacuated humanity (or started it anew) to other planets. Shards' magic then mixed with local supernatural "climate", creating Cosmere's various magic systems - not to mention that Shards themselves are initiators of most of Cosmere's plots.
* In ''Literature/{{Sanctioned}}'', there are genetic markers that indicate a person might develop super-powers. Not everyone who has those markers develops powers, but no one can develop powers without them. In Scotland, potential sixteen year olds are taken to a state run school for the government to try and unlock the powers and then teach the youths to control them. So far, there seems to be two theories about the origin of the powers, the Harrington theory (God did it) and the Benoit theory (we don't know the science, yet, but we know it wasn't God).

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Where Franchise/TheDCU has the Speed Force, ''Franchise/PowerRangers'' has the Morphing Grid. In ''Series/MightyMorphinPowerRangers,'' the series' first incarnation, it was a term frequently tossed out in {{technobabble}} but never defined. Dusted off over a decade later, it seems that ''all'' Rangers, whether their apparent power source is magic, technology, GreenRocks, or some combination thereof, are actually powered by a connection to the Grid. The Grid is potentially explained in ''Series/PowerRangersRPM'' (that's season ''seventeen'') to be an energy field produced by the bioelectricity of living beings, but ''RPM'' never acknowledges it by name (it was described as a "grid" so we're assuming it's ''the'' Grid) and takes place in a separate universe from the rest. In any case, it's still not explained how the various apparent power sources and the Grid interact with each other.
** {{Fanon}} suggests that the morphing powers tap into the grid to access the uniform and weapons, it is sort of a canon HyperspaceArsenal. The Grid doesn't necessarily supply the power to the morphers but it instead channels that power into what they need. That's why the different teams with wildly different power sources can all use the morphing grid, you just need to figure out how to channel the grid abilities. This also explains why in teamups, the power-ups and weapons are easily compatible with other teams. There are other characters within the franchise that can "Morph" without being called Rangers, such as Series/MaskedRider and (debatably) the [[Series/PowerRangersLostGalaxy Magna Defender]].
* All the superpowers on ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' supposedly come from certain people evolving a sort of "superpower gene," like in Comicbook/XMen. However, a few scenes, as well as some WordOfGod comments, suggest there might be a quasi-religious aspect determining which people are granted which powers.
** A two-parter in season 3 attempted to retcon an explanation that an eclipse was what caused the characters' latent powers to emerge, with another eclipse taking those powers away. Completely neglected is the fact that ''many'' characters had been using their powers ''before'' the first eclipse.
*** WordOfGod has suggested that an eclipse just marks some sort of significant event for people with powers and that this happens with every eclipse.
* Similar to the Morphing Grid concept, the CrisisCrossover GrandFinale of ''Series/KamenRiderWizard'' introduces the Cross of Fire, which is stated to be the literal embodiment of the powers granted to each of the Franchise/{{Kamen Rider}}s throughout the franchise's history.
** This is in fact a MythologyGag, as in early production the original Series/KamenRider was going to be called Cross Fire, and was a superpowered wrestler.
* The superhumans in the TV version of ''Series/PainkillerJane'' were all either "[[DifferentlyPoweredIndividual Neuros]]" who shared a neurological abberation, or were empowered by a Neuro.
** Also, all Neuros are, apparently, [[spoiler:rejected test subjects of the corporation investigated in the pilot, and their powers are unintended consequences of messing with the brain]]. Jane, with her HealingFactor, is an advanced Neuro who can't be [[PowerNullifier chipped]].
* In ''Series/TheFortyFourHundred'', everyone's powers are due to everyone getting a fifth neural transmitter, promicin, when they were kidnapped by the future.
* In ''Series/{{Arrow}}'', Solomon Grundy, [[spoiler: Roy Harper, and [[Comicbook/{{Deathstroke}} Slade Wilson]]]] all got their powers from a Japanese SuperSerum dubbed "[[ComicBook/HourMan Mirakuru]]".
* In ''Series/TheFlash2014'', the hero and most of his villains got their powers from [[MagicalParticleAccelerator a particle accelerator explosion that occurred at S.T.A.R. Labs]].
** With the Speed Force still serving as an unifying factor for speedsters' powers.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The entirety of ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'' is one big Meta Origin, with the various types of Exalted having been literally Chosen By The Gods to receive their powers.
* The ''TabletopGame/MutantsAndMasterminds'' setting ''Paragons'' has everyone's powers emerge in the past few years due to one source; however, that unified source is left deliberately vague, though the book heavily hints that the world of myth is leaking back into reality.
** The setting ''Shards: Unsung Destiny'', featured in the sourcebook ''Mecha & Manga'', has all powers come from special crystals deposited on Earth by a comet.
* In the TabletopGame/TrinityUniverse, Novas and Psions both have the same latent genetic potential that is later activated by some outside stimulus, particularly the presence of existing Novas or Psions. In ''Aberrant'', a large number of Novas were activated by the explosion of the ''Galatea'', and in ''Trinity'', most Psions are activated by dunking in one of the psi-orders' Prometheus Chambers.
* ''International Super Teams'', the official super hero roleplaying setting for ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}'', traces powers back to the Seeders, [[{{Precursors}} Precursor-like]] aliens who uplift dead-end species by adding the potential for sapience and a racial super power (to be determined by its evolution and environmental stresses) to the species' genetic code. In the case of Earth, humanity's engineered ancestors suffered a solar radiation event which ''suppressed'' most of the Seeder genes; only intelligence evolved until another radiation event in the late 1920s reactivated the "power genes", which then began to express themselves more or less randomly from individual to individual.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' ultimately traces everything back to the War In Heaven between the C'tan and the Old Ones, two races with powers bordering on RealityWarping. C'tan uplifted Necrontyr into robotic Necrons to fight for them, while the Old Ones created the Eldar and Orks to counter that. Furthermore, the war led to disturbance in the Sea of Souls that would lead to Chaos forming, which in turn led to Earth shamans deciding to band together for protection, thus creating the Emperor. Add to that the implications that the Eldar have uplifted the Tau, and the War In Heaven is behind all of [=40K=]'s factions.

* In ''Theatre/SpiderManTurnOffTheDark'', the members of the Sinister Six have their comic origins completely ignored. Instead, they're all researchers who end up BoundAndGagged and mutated by their former employer, ComicBook/NormanOsborn.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The backstory of ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes'' involves the original SuperHero and his RivalTurnedEvil opening PandorasBox, unleashing the last four millennia of humanity's stored creativity. This was in the early 1930s, again paralleling UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfComicBooks. In the novel ''Web of Arachnos'', it's claimed that the last time the box was opened, it led to the gods of Greek myth. But it's also said specifically that not ''all'' beings of legend were born of its power...
** There's also "the Nuclear 90", "90 children from around the world all born in one year with an unusual mutation that gives them natural magnetic nuclear fusion reactors for hearts, and the ability to channel energy from their internal reactor for a variety of super powers." The only one of these who's currently a character in the game is the {{NPC}} Fusionette.
** A story arc included in Issue 12 notes that the first mutants appeared after 1938, corresponding to the earliest human-controlled nuclear fission.
** There's also the MetaOrigin of the Origins themselves, and the apparent web that connects and entangles all super-powered beings -- meaning that there is, apparently, a reason that going through TrainingFromHell doesn't give everyone superpowers, or that scientific accidents don't always cause powers...
*** Many players prefer to ignore that explanation, especially with it being [[RetCon shoehorned in]] after several years of having no explanation for how origins really work. Plus many didn't like the implication that all origins, even TrainingFromHell, were really all due to some form of magic.
* ''Lionheart'' had King Richard the Lionheart's aggressive hoarding of [[ReligionIsMagic holy relics]] during the Third Crusade result in an [[PhlebotinumOverload explosion of magical energy]], the "Disjunction", that caused human beings to begin manifesting magical powers, significantly altered the geography of western Europe, and turned ordinary animals into mythological beasts.
* Most of the characters in ''VideoGame/FreedomForce'' got their powers from a mysterious form of energy imaginatively called "Energy X". This energy is explained as the "secret weapon" of the multiverse-spanning empire known as the Domain. Their leader, Lord Dominion, thinking that Earth, the only place he hasn't conquered, won't prove to be a challenge, orders his underlings to give Energy X to the most evil people on Earth in the hopes that they will destroy Humanity and each other. However, a rebel named Mentor steals all the Energy X canisters and tries to bring them to Earth, so he can give them to the most ''heroic'' people on Earth... only to be shot down by the pursuing fleet, causing the canisters to rain down on Earth, and giving powers to those who happened to be in their vicinity.
** This is taken even further by the sequel, ''Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich''. At the end, [[spoiler:it is revealed that Energy X is actually a sentient being]]. This was probably planned to be further explained in another sequel, but at this point that seems pretty unlikely.
** A few of the origins are questionable. Eve may or may not get her power from Pan, for instance. Another ''may'' be getting it from a Wiccan goddess, the origin video is actually ambiguous on that point but she thinks so. And it's never explained exactly who Blitzkrieg is and where he got his powers.
*** Pan himself is an example of a character who appears to have had powers long before the Energy X spill happened.
** Amusingly enough, the company that created ''Freedom Force'' would later go on to create Bioshock...
* With the ''[[VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsAlpha Alpha]]'' series, ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars'' began handling this trope surprisingly well, especially when there are so many series in each {{Continuity}} which requires balancing to prevent StoryBreakerPower. Most involve HumanAliens, AncientAstronauts and so on, but a few games will mix the different varieties of AppliedPhlebotinum as manifestations of some greater, overarching power in the universe. For example, ''Alpha'' establishes that [[Manga/GetterRobo Getter Rays]], [[Anime/GaoGaiGar The Power]], [[Anime/GoShogun Beamler]], [[PsychicPower Psychodrivers]], the [[Anime/{{Gunbuster}} STMC]], [[Anime/{{Macross 7}} Anima Spiritia]] and the [[Anime/SpaceRunawayIdeon Ide]] are all aspects of the AkashicRecords, better known as fate.
** In fact, the final ''Alpha'' game reveals [[spoiler:the Greater Scope Villain was behind every original villain in the previous installments]]; additionally, all the {{Big Bad}}s from the licensed series that appeared were directed into the path that led them against the heroes of ''Alpha''.
* ''Videogame/BatmanArkhamCity'' retcons Solomon Grundy's origin and ability to die and resurrect to [[spoiler:a Lazarus Pit in the swamp near Gotham City where his body was dumped, these Lazarus Pits are part of a big scheme by Ra's Al-Ghul]].

* Many characters from ''Webcomic/{{Mindmistress}}'' have connected origins. [[spoiler: Mindmistress and Forethought gained their intellect from the same source. Moodswing and members of Venegance Inc. mutated because of the same thing. Moodswing's belt and tsunami-causing rod of sea people were both created by Miraclemaker. And there's bunch of character created by mindmistress actions]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In the Literature/WhateleyUniverse, people with the "meta-gene complex" may just manifest as a mutant (typically around age fourteen) for no known reason. However, at least a sixth of everyone on earth has this genetic structure, and yet there are only thousands of mutants. The roughly 600 mutants at Whateley Academy represent by far most of the high-school age mutants on the planet.
** The story, [[ "Razzle Dazzle,"]] has villain Mephisto explain that the "meta-gene complex" almost never showed up until after governments started giving vast numbers of people "allergy shots" that were actually supposed to create super-soldiers and suggests that the "meta-gene complex" were the results of people who didn't react to the serum initially, but passed it on to their children. Then again, he also implies at the end of his story that he made much of it up for his audience of one...
* ''WebOriginal/AcademyOfSuperheroes'' has the Magene, which gives one the ability to, essentially, break the laws of physics. The original holders in prehistory were powerful wizards, and the most powerful [[AncientAstronauts became the gods of mythology]]. In the modern day, the gene is far more diluted, resulting in superhumans. There are highly-detailed classifications detailing what kind and how powerful a particular individual's physics-violating abilities are.
* The ''Roleplay/GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse'' copied the Marvel solution by having SufficientlyAdvancedAlien AncientAstronauts, the P!k Gardeners, experiment on early protohumans millions of years ago, adding the metagene to human DNA, thus allowing the possibility of superpowers. The [[TheTunguskaEvent 1908 Tunguska explosion]] caused extraterrestrial biomolecules to spread around the world and bond to human DNA, causing superhuman children to be born.
* In the comicbook-styled Omega universe, all superpowers (be they [[RitualMagic magic]], [[PsychicPowers psychic]] or even [[KiAttacks chi]]), come from the same source i.e. all humans are at least latent psychics. [[DifferentlyPoweredIndividual Omegas]] generally activate with a single power while mages use rituals to temporarily access their dormant psychic talents. The gods in the setting didn't create humanity, it was the other way around.
* In ''Literature/{{Worm}}'', [[DifferentlyPoweredIndividual parahumans]] gain their powers through a process called a "trigger event," where the individual goes through a highly traumatic experience and gains superpowers from it. The reasons for this, and for disruptions in the pattern (such as Case 53s, or inhuman parahumans, and extremely powerful parahumans such as Scion and the Endbringers) are major plot points later in the story.
** [[spoiler: All superpowers (include the SuperSerum variants created by Cauldron) come from pieces of vast extra-dimensional beings often called "passengers" or 'agents'. One of these beings is [[PhysicalGod Scion]], the first "parahuman" to come into existence; the other one giving powers to humans is known as [[FanNickname Eden]], and has been harvested by Cauldron for the power-giving shards to turn into their [[SuperSerum Super Serums]].]]
* Some of the proposals for the [[ SCP-001]] article of the Wiki/SCPFoundation are about what's caused the Foundation universe to have so many paranormal entities and phenomenon. Two of them also provide origins for several of the groups involved in the paranormal, including the Foundation itself.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The 1990s ''WesternAnimation/SpiderManTheAnimatedSeries'' has the science of "Neogenics", which is basically the science of applying LegoGenetics to an existing life-form (why take years to grow your super-mutant to adulthood when you can zap someone who is already an adult?) in a process that involves a kind of radiation. The spider that bit Peter hadn't been zapped by generic [[ILoveNuclearPower radiation]], but with a "neogenic recombinator". Neogenics goes on to be responsible for the transformation Lizard, Scorpion, Vulture, and Morbius, mostly preserving their comic-book origins but pulling them together in a way that makes it a bit more plausible than a bunch of MillionToOneChance accidents.
** Also, in the Six Forgotten Warriors arc, ComicBook/CaptainAmerica brand SuperSerum is responsible for six [[UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfComicBooks Golden Age]] heroes as well as Black Cat, and even Omega Red from the ''Westernanimation/XMen'' cartoon.
* Similarly, ''WesternAnimation/TheSpectacularSpiderMan'': Many of the previously unconnected villains now related back to Oscorp (just like in the Ultimate Universe): Dr. Octopus worked as a brilliant scientist and inventor who works at Oscorp, Toomes became the Vulture because Oscorp stole his technology, Sandman and Rhino get their powers from Oscorp experiments, Shocker gets his suit as the result of Norman Osborn's machinations, and so on. Interestingly, one of the few major villains in the series whose origin ''was'' related to Oscorp in the comics universe, Tombstone, has a criminal-working relationship with the company, and nothing more.
** ''Spectacular'' also makes use of the ESU genetics lab: For one thing, it's where Spider-Man himself got his powers. Then there was a electrical freak accident that created Electro, which in turn affected Doc Connors' Lizard serum. Miles Warren later used the Lizard serum research in order to give Kraven powers. And to top things off, the symbiote later known as Venom was to be studied in the lab (just like in the Ultimate Universe), too.
* In ''WesternAnimation/UltimateSpiderMan'', both Comicbook/{{Venom}} and Carnage are genetically-engineered from samples of Spider-Man's blood, while the Rhino, the Lizard and the Vulture are all products of Comicbook/DoctorOctopus. Additionally, the Awesome Android is a ComicBook/{{SHIELD}} project created by Curt Connors, and {{Deadpool}} is a former S.H.I.E.L.D. trainee and protege of ComicBook/NickFury.
* In ''WesternAnimation/AvengersAssemble'', ComicBook/TheFalcon's wings and costume are actually a suit of PoweredArmor he made with help from his teammate [[Comicbook/IronMan Tony Stark]].
* ''WesternAnimation/WolverineAndTheXMen'':
** Nitro is a mutant rather than the product of Kree experimentation like he was in the original ''ComicBook/CaptainMarVell'' comics.
** The Wendigo is also introduced as ComicBook/{{SHIELD}}'s attempt at recreating the SuperSerum that turned Steve Rogers into ComicBook/CaptainAmerica. In the comics, the Wendigo was the product of an ancient Indigenous curse.
* ''WesternAnimation/IronManArmoredAdventures'':
** Likewise, this show makes the Extremis formula into an another attempt at recreating the SuperSerum, even though they're entirely unrelated in the comics.
** It also establishes Doctor Doom's PoweredArmor as something engineered from [[ImportedAlienPhlebotinum Makluan technology]], much like the Mandarin's [[RingOfPower rings]]. Likewise, the Grey Gargoyle is reimagined as one of the Makluan's guardians, rather than a human scientist who gave himself superpowers.
* Bang Babies from ''WesternAnimation/StaticShock'' all got their powers from a single event.
* Franchise/DCAnimatedUniverse:
** While much less overarchingly-celestial in origin, ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'' tended to interlink the origins of various characters that were previously not related in-comics, making for stronger continuity: For instance, rather than being made by an unaffiliated scientists, Metallo and Bizarro are now the direct creation of Lexcorp (though the latter was true in the comics canon as of John Byrne's ComicBook/PostCrisis ''Man Of Steel'' reboot). Brainiac is portrayed as a Kryptonian computer system with a direct link to the end of that world, rather than being an unrelated alien that [[EarthIsTheCenterOfTheUniverse just happens to stumble across Earth]]. Toyman's origin is now the result of the actions of Intergang, which itself became a pawn to Darkseid's schemes, and so on.
** ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' did the same thing with a few characters, such as having ComicBook/TheCreeper gain his powers after being dumped into a vat of chemicals by TheJoker.
** ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' explicitly ties the origins of ComicBook/WonderWoman and the ComicBook/MartianManhunter to the same alien invasion that leads to the formation of the Justice League, since both characters made their debut in that show without prior introduction. Diana chooses to leave Themyscira to aid the people of "Man's World" against the invaders, refusing to remain safe in the Amazons' island refuge while innocent people die; J'onn J'onzz is a veteran of the invaders' earlier war with the peaceful Martian race, who escapes to Earth to warn humanity about their return, and he's the LastOfHisKind because the invaders slaughtered his people. Note that ComicBook/GreenLantern and [[ComicBook/{{Hawkman}} Hawkgirl]] don't get this treatment, instead being examples of RememberTheNewGuy. [[note]] ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'' introduces Kyle Rayner and the Green Lantern Corps, but it's never explained how John Stewart became the Green Lantern, or how Superman and Batman met him before the invasion. No DCAU shows ever tell us how the other superheroes first met the Thanagarian warrior Hawkgirl, though the series finale of ''Justice League'' did finally explain that [[spoiler: she first came to Earth as an advance agent for a Thanagarian invasion.]][[/note]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10}}'' verse, each sapient species has evolved a series of traits that they consider mundane, and others consider superpowers. The [[MacGuffin Omnitrix]] was designed to allow a single individual to use all those myriad powers.
** Oh, and Humanity's "superpower" is the [[WhatKindOfLamePowerisHeartAnyway ability]] to produce [[HalfHumanHybrid viable offspring with ANY other sentient life-form]]. [[HeartIsAnAwesomePower Which retain the strengths of both species.]] Theoretically, Humanity's mongrelized descendants could have [[AllYourPowersCombined every power in the universe]]. [[spoiler:In one alternate timeline, a future version of Ben used the Ultimatrix on his human body. "Ultimate Ben" is basically Ben if he was the result of generations of breeding with every other race in the universe, and is able to unlock any of the other races' powers at will.]]
*** Such beings include bipedal humanoids made of diamond-like rock, or '''fire'''. [[{{Squick}} It kinda makes you wish]] [[NoBiochemicalBarriers it WAS impossible.]]
* Season 2 of ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'' introduced the concept of the metagene into animation, with the explanation that a small percentage of the human race possessed the genetic potential to develop superpowers in times of duress. Comicbook/{{Static}}, Neutron, and [[CaptainErsatz Captain Ersatzes]] of the four CanonForeigner {{WesternAnimation/Superfriends}} all got their powers from metagenes, as opposed to the comics, where they all had separate and wildly different origins.
** Another, minor example was Bumblebee. In the show, she was the sidekick of ComicBook/TheAtom and got her {{Sizeshifter}} powers from the same white dwarf star matter that her mentor used.
** Beast Boy manifests his abilities after [[SuperhumanTransfusion getting a blood transfusion from Miss Martian]].
** Matt Hagen was transformed into Clayface after being trapped in Comicbook/RasAlGhul's Lazarus Pit for too long.
** The show's [[AllThereInTheManual tie-in comic]] provides a coherent Meta Origin for the various KillerGorilla characters DC has (Monsieur Mallah, Gorilla Grodd, Ultra-Humanite, and Congorilla) by establishing that they were all part of a troop of gorillas that had been captured and experimented upon.
* The ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDooMysteryIncorporated'' episode "Heart of Evil" reveals that [[WesternAnimation/DynomuttDogWonder Blue Falcon and Dynomutt]] were originally a security guard and a guard dog (respectively) at the facilities of [[WesternAnimation/JonnyQuest Quest Labs]], and that Dynomutt got his robotic enhancements as a life-saving measure from Dr. Benton Quest after he nearly died defending the lab from Dr. Napoleon Zin. Though never outright stated, it's heavily implied that Blue Falcon's gadgets were also originally Quest Labs hardware.

* This is the basic premise of the WMG/FriendsAndTheHighCouncil [[WildMassGuessing WMG]].