Children of superparents get superpowers
"It happened sometimes, though rarely, that a True Being never developed a special gift."
— Children of Magic
... except when they don't
If you're a protagonist, this is no problem, you'll usually become a Badass Normal
or at least an Unfazed Everyman
. But if you're a Mauve Shirt
... you'll probably become this.
This trope is a character who's in on The Masquerade
, and was born into their world. Unfortunately for him, he's normal. No, not Badass Normal
, totally, completely and 100% normal
. He's just as ineffectual in adventuring as any other muggle
, maybe even more, which is why he usually has some grunt-work position in the world of the masquerade, such as a janitor, secretary, or The Igor
. He may be nice-if-pathetic
or mean-spirited, but whatever the case, his bitterness and regret
over not being a super
is a major character trait.
It may ultimately turn out that this person is actually a Power Nullifier
, though this might not be noticed immediately. If this is common in the setting, it may be that characters are completely Randomly Gifted
, so powers aren't always inherited and may spontaneously manifest to children of Muggle
This trope is somewhat Newer Than You Think
, since magic-users traditionally learned/sold their soul for their powers, meaning that a child born of a mage would normally be human.
Contrast Almighty Janitor
, Badass Normal
. Compare Un-Sorcerer
and Unfazed Everyman
. A subversion
of Lamarck Was Right
Anime and Manga
- Takamichi T. Takahata of Mahou Sensei Negima! was born unable to cast spells, but, as a member of Ala Rubra, is still one of the most powerful fighters of the magic world, in part because he can use the powerful kanka technique.
- Shinji Matou from Fate/stay night. Shinji doesn't have even magic cicuits. And he became a villain because his envy to his adopted sister, Sakura, abusing and raping her, just because she is a magus.
- Sairaorg Baal in High School D×D did not inherit any of his parents powers when he was born. So instead, he underwent Training from Hell, something high-class devils do not do, and became so strong he doesn't even need the power of destruction.
- Meiling of Cardcaptor Sakura. It's implied everyone in the Li family has magical powers but her.
- PS238's Tyler Marlocke, son of Ultima and Sovereign Powers who are two of the most powerful meta-humans on Earth. He's currently a Badass Normal in training due to being the closest thing the series has to a main character, and is perfectly happy with not having superpowers.
- "Perfectly happy" in that he's okay with not having them, except that he knows that puts him in a lot more danger, and since his parents are convinced that he's about to develop powers any day now, he's a little bit afraid- or he was- of a rejection of sorts, if/when they ever realize he's unlikely to.
- X-Men: Mutant supervillains Mystique and Victor Creed/Sabertooth had a child together, Graydon Creed, who turned out to be a normal human (for those two, must be karma), which is rare for two mutants. He went on to become an anti-mutant extremist out of jealousy and his parents' rejection.
- This can technically happen with any mutant couple, since the probability of passing mutant genes seems to be 50%
- There was Quicksilver and Crystal's child, Luna, who was an Inhuman rather than a mutant. Apparently the mutant gene and the Inhuman genetics canceled each other out and Luna was effectively a normal human until her crazy father exposed her to a rather high amount of Terrigen Mist to empower her — this was extremely risky since Terrigen Mist exposure can have unpleasant effects on anyone who isn't a pure Inhuman (and many who are still end up Blessed with Suck as a result).
- One of the consequences of M-day was that no new mutants would be born, meaning any child born to a mutant couple would be this.
- Joel Kent in the Generations series was exposed to Gold Kryptonite in the womb making him the muggle son of Superman. It doesn't help that his younger sister Kara got to keep her powers. Eventually, Lex Luthor uses his jealousy and an unstable repowering formula as part of a revenge plot against the Man of Steel.
- Wally West's son. He had powers till the Flash Rebirth storyline but was sharing an unstable link with his sister. When it stabilized, it all ended up in her.
- Ron Wilson, bus driver, the bus driver, of course, from Sky High is the nice-if-pathetic version of this trope. He also got Character Development and Took a Level in Badass at the very end. In the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, it mentioned he had a toxic waste accident and got his wish to be a super.
- The Parr's baby Jack-Jack in The Incredibles, in contrast to their previous children Dash and Violet. But subverted by the end, and in the associated short, where he turns out to have won the Superpower Lottery.
- Up, Up, and Away; a 2000 Disney Channel Original Movie; centered around normal teenager born from a family of superheroes and his struggles with the fact that he may never develop any powers of his own. He also doesn't have his family's weakness to aluminum foil. At the end, his best friend suggests that he become a superhero without powers.
- Riley Stuart in The Thompsons is a human born in a family of vampires. She's also unable to be turned. As such she functions as The Renfield for her family.
- Known as Squibs in Harry Potter.
- Argus Filch, the Hogwarts Crusty Caretaker (essentially a janitor), is the mean-spirited version of this trope.
- Also Mrs. Figg, who's much more friendly, if still batty and weird. Her job was to keep an eye on Harry.
- Hermione (along with various other characters) is an inversion: a mage born of muggles. Several characters state that this is much more common; once magic emerges in a bloodline, it tends to stick.
- Neville Longbottom isn't a Squib, but his magic took so long to manifest that his relatives feared he was one, so they put him in increasingly scary and dangerous situations hoping to make it manifest. This culminated in his Great-uncle Algie accidentally dropping him out of a second-story window. Fortunately, Neville bounced back to safety.
- Quinn Gaither from the Gone series is one of a large number of characters without super powers and shows subtle signs of both hatred and jealousy towards his empowered peers.
- Kyja of Farworld lives in a world where even the cows have magic. not only does she have none, magic doesn't even work on her. Later on it's revealed that she was born on Earth from ordinary parents and was switched at birth with a boy from Farworld who actually does have magic.
- In World Weavers, Thea is the seventh child of two seventh children...and she doesn't have any of the normal magics. (She gets a cool power later, but it's not magic.) At one point, it says that children around the country send her mail — when she's just days old — about how powerful she is... sucks to be her.
- Granta Omega from the Star Wars Expanded Universe is the normal son of Xanatos, a former Jedi. However, while he isn't Force-sensitive, he does have the ability to slip past any being's senses, even a Jedi's.
- Emperor Palpatine has a powerless, illegitimate son. While Palpatine was disappointed, he decided to let him live because his son has night terrors in which he screams out horrifying things. The descriptions are used as inspirations for The Empire's war machines and torture devices, meaning that Palpatine literally figured out how to weaponize Nightmare Fuel.
- The fundamental problem of Tavi in Codex Alera. He lives in a world where every human has access to elemental spirits known as "furies" that give them various powers. Tavi, however, is the only human who doesn't have these abilities, and they cause him extensive problems, forcing him to think and adapt rather than use magic. To give you some idea of how much of a handicap this is, Tavi effectively can't even turn on the lights on his own. Eventually, he learns the cause of his condition: his biological mother stunted his growth to hide his true age and thus his true lineage, and as a result he did not gain access to his furies at the same age as other humans. Once he does, however, things change.
- In Once a Witch, Tamsin was born to witches but has no powers. Subverted because it turns out her power is that she can take others powers and stop them from using it against them. Double subverted in the sequel Always a Witch because she loses her powers.
- Joram, protagonist of The Darksword Trilogy, was born "Dead," without Magic in a world where Magic is Life.
- This is the norm for the Others in the Watch books by Sergey Lukyanenko. It's extremely rare for a child of two Others to be an Other (about the same chances as an Other being born to Muggle parents), which is why many Other couples avoid having children, so as not to have to watch them grow old and die. The exceptions are the vampires and the werewolves, who usually turn their children at a young age. Kostya Saushkin is notable as being a vampire who resents his father for turning him. One of the novels has a story arc dealing with a plot by Geser and Olga to turn their Muggle son into an Other. Anton and Svetlana are exceptions in that they were foreseen to have a child who was an extremely-powerful Other (Svetlana is already a very powerful Light sorceress; Anton reaches Svetlana's level thanks to the Fuaran text).
- Bink, protagonist of A Spell for Chameleon, the first book in the Xanth series, is thought to be this when he shows no magic talent in a land where everyone must have a magic talent by law; he is set to be exiled. Subverted - it turns out that he did have a magic talent all along, and a Magician-caliber one at that: he cannot be harmed by magic. And in Xanth, most of everything is magic.
- Carrie Vaughn's book After The Golden Age features Celia West, the daughter of two famous superheros, who has no superpowers at all. This is also brought up at the end when Celia and Arthur Mentis, a telepath, have a baby and Celia is wondering if the baby will have powers or not and hopes it does not.
- This is something very common in the world of Skulduggery Pleasant. Most of the main character, Stephanie/Valkyrie's family are normal humans despite (unknowingly) being descendants of a powerful line of mages. This trope also comes to its ultimate conclusion in the third book, The Faceless Ones, where The Big Bad is revealed to be a farmer who was the only Muggle in a family of mages, and grew to resent all mages for looking down on him.
- Nathan Petrelli from Heroes is the only member of his immediate family who was born without powers. His parents injected him with Super Serum to make up for this "deficiency".
- Arguably Teen Wolf. It's mentioned that some of the members of Derek's family who died in the fire were human, despite the Hales primarily being a family of werewolves. Most fans have taken this to mean that not every child with werewolf parents inherit the werewolf gene, even though Derek and his sister did.
- In Werewolf: the Apocalypse, Kinfolk are humans or wolves with werewolf blood, immunity to the Delirium, at least loose connections to werewolf society, and nothing else. No shapeshifting and only low-level Gifts for you, sorry! Also, you're a huge disappointment to your werewolf relatives useful only as breeding stock and the driver of the getaway car.
- The New World of Darkness's Werewolf: The Forsaken has the functionally wolf-blooded who get at least a little more respect than their spiritual ancestors. One of the splatbooks gave them their own share of abilities.
- Forsaken-style werewolves are a mix of a spirit and a human from birth, with the spirit heritage reproducing in a spirit-fashion separate from the human genetics. Two werewolves cannot produce viable offspring because there's too much of the spirit side of the inheritance, and the children of a werewolf and a human don't have any greater chance of going wolf than a muggle. Wolf-blooded are actually the greatest treasure of the werewolves, because they're the only people in the setting with a measurably greater probability of producing viable werewolf offspring.
- Mage The Awakening has Proximi, who are dynastic hereditary Sleepwalkers: Sleepers who do not have the supernal power of mages, but can witness it without the threat of Paradox. A Proximus, unlike a normal Sleepwalker, is born into an established family of mages and other Proximi, and can use limited supernal magic. Mages also believe Proximi are more likely to Awaken than other Sleepers.
- In the Exalted setting, only the Terrestrial Exalted's powers are hereditary; the children of other Exalted are plain mortals unless their Exalted parent has a high Essence rating, then they can be Half Caste. During the Golden Age (when the Solars ruled) the offspring of Solars were called "Golden Children"; born into status, wealth and privilege, but with none of the powers their parents wielded.
- Florian Greenheart in Overlord II was the only Elf who couldn't use magic. The disaster that sparked Fantastic Racism against all magical beings was triggered by his first attempt to fix this, and the magic hating Glorious Empire he founded is his second attempt.
- In the Dragon Age series:
- The Dalish Warden in Dragon Age: Origins, has no magical talents, but their father was the Keeper of the Sabrae Clan before Marethari.
- Carver Hawke from Dragon Age II, one of the PC's two siblings who become mutually exclusive early on depending on player class. He only lives past the opening if Hawke is a mage, in which case both his elder sibling and his twin sister were born with magic. This meant the family had to move frequently to avoid the Templars and father had to spend more time with his siblings to teach them to control their powers. His resulting insecurities are a big part of his story arc. Depending on your choices, he may even end up joining Kirkwall's Templar Order out of a mix of resentment and a desire to be "more than just your brother."
- In Star Wars The Old Republic, Jedi Grandmaster Satele Shan's son Theron is not Force-sensitive. Virtually all Sith Purebloods are Force-sensitive because those who are not are traditionally slain as infants.
- This doesn't mean that Theron is in any way less of a Bad Ass than his mom... or his dad (Jace Malcolm, the Supreme Commander of the Republic forces).
- The main character in Black Sigil seems to fall under this initially.
- In Golden Sun: The Lost Age, being a non-Adept in a family full of Mars Adepts doesn't seem to bother Briggs a bit. He is a Badass Normal, but he's also not above just getting his Adept relatives to do things for him. In Dark Dawn, he's also shown to have a better awareness of Psynergy than most non-Adepts, and is one of the few who recognizes it in action, giving him a certain degree of Genre Savvy in dealing with Adepts.
- The main character in the Awakening series, Princess Sophia, was the only human born without magic. She eventually managed to defeat the villain because of this limitation rather than despite it.
- The Dark Knight in Harry Potter Comics is a squib and can't use wands or magic on his own. But he's highly practiced as a magical artificer, welding magic into everyday objects, including his own battle armor (kevlar-lined full plate) that makes him highly resistant to bullets, swords, AND magic attacks.
- Battlefield Babysitter features Kat, whose parents and brothers all have superpowers. She has... pink hair. She also has experience in ballet, gymnastics and karate from when her parents tried to prepare her for potential powers. She also has the experience of being around other heroes so that she is uniquely qualified to babysit for other heroes superpowered kids.
- Atomic Laundromat owner David is actually an aversion. He may be the son of an alien empress and Earth's greatest super hero and the only one of his siblings without powers, but he firmly believes that one doesn't need powers to make a difference in the world so he's not the least bit bitter about it. Nor is he pathetic. If anything, he's frustrated that most people seem to expect him to be bitter or pathetic.
- El Goonish Shive: Although he states he can't really complain considering what he does have access to, Tedd is one of these. Although in the setting, nearly everyone is born without magical ability and has to earn it or be empowered by an immortal, some people - like Tedd - are "magically impaired", and can never get their own spells.
- Zoophobia: Despite Sahara's unrelenting interest in magic, she hopelessly lacks her family's magical ability. Of course, this leads to many undesired mishaps.