A superhero or supervillain has a weakness, has Power Incontinence
, is a Badass Normal
, but still just a normal person. But wait! Here's this Kryptonite-Proof Suit
etc. that can fix that!
Not going to happen. Status Quo Is God
This trope deals with the Fridge Logic
that inevitably arises as superpowered beings and thus the various means to create those beings become more and more commonplace in a particular fictional universe, it also means that ways to remove Kryptonite Factors
, turn Badass Normals
into Empowered Badass Normals
, or just ways to make a hero or villain more effective and unstoppable in general pile up, yet despite this those beings will stay with the same powers and abilities they've had pretty much since their creation.
For instance, if a hero has water based powers and a weakness to electricity, expect them to rarely if ever wear rubber when fighting an opponent that uses it, or if the hero is a Handicapped Badass
in a universe where plenty of examples of healing magic that can fix anything, has good or better than the original prosthetics, Powered Armor
, etc. that are common or even easily accessible, don't expect them to ever use them.
This trope doesn't necessarily have to involve weaknesses or disabilities either. If a Super is already powerful and could use various means to become even more powerful, and doesn't, that also fits this trope.
Part of the issue seems to be that western comics (DC, Marvel) in particular are especially beholden to Status Quo Is God
: the company owns the characters, the characters are part of a larger shared setting, and as writers come and go, characterization can only change gradually. By contrast, in Manga and more independent works, there is typically an overall narrative that a single writer is trying to convey. That's why it's called Next Tier Power-Up
: it's not that Spider-Man
never gets new powers, it's that he has to lose them within the year, or new readers might be confused
If the power-up involves Power at a Price
, the Godzilla Threshold
, or any other sort of negative consequences, are rare and difficult to pull off, or unique, it is justified and thus Not This Trope
. This trope only applies if there is no logical reason in universe for why either the heroes or the villains to only have the same powers and use the same gimmicks they always have despite not only the ability to make themselves better, but the fact that such abilities are common. This also includes when the Super refuses the improvement when offered.
Compare Holding Back the Phlebotinum
, Theme Deck
, and Never Be a Hero
Other causes may be Forgotten Phlebotinum
, Forgot About His Powers
, or possibly even Depending on the Writer
. Related to Kryptonite-Proof Suit
. Disposable Superhero Maker
and Superman Stays out of Gotham
are also related to this trope.
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Anime and Manga
- Justified in Busou Renkin. Using a different kakugane from your normal one just produces the same busou renkin with different styling. Likewise homunculi can't gain new powers; all they can do is train to use the ones they already have more effectively. Subverted with Kazuki, whose kakugane is eventually revealed to be a special black kakugane that produces a new busou renkin with different abilities.
- One Piece has a good example, too: Similar to the Busou Renkin example above, Devil's Fruit abilities are stated to never get stronger per se, but you can discover new and better ways to use them. It is also a rule that you can only use one, that you'll die if you try to gain a second, but Blackbeard seems to have found a way around that.
- Played straight by most of the eponymous warriors in Claymore, who develop their special yoki techniques early in their careers and rely mainly on them for the rest of their lives. Completely averted, however, by the main heroine, Clare, who keeps picking up various techniques as the story progresses and thus gets to play in the highest supernatural league despite having relatively weak yoki potential.
- Batman is the head of Wayne Enterprises, has fought against and alongside many superpowered beings that possess advanced technology, use magic, and have reliable and effective mutagens. Despite this, he has been, and most likely always will be, only a mere Badass Normal Crazy-Prepared genius detective.
- Superman has a weakness to Kryptonite. He also has a Kryptonite-Proof Suit. You'd expect him to wear it pretty much all the time or at least line his costume with lead to reduce the effects. However, he brings it out only when he's fighting a villain that specifically uses Kryptonite as a weapon and expects it in advance.
- Its because the suit is fragile relative to the power levels of Superman and many of his foes.
- What he has done on more than one occasion is try to get rid of the Kryptonite since its supposed to be rare but more just keeps showing up.
- Barbara Gordon becomes crippled by The Joker in The Killing Joke, and remains crippled from then on until the New 52 reboot. This is despite the fact that people with superpowers that can heal any injury, Powered Armor, Magic, and others exist all over the DC Universe that can fix or replace her legs with but a phone call. In fact, Batman himself had his spine broken in Knightfall, but quickly recovered. This is given the somewhat hamfisted justification that Barbara deliberately refuses to embrace the metanatural options she has for undoing her spinal damage because she doesn't want to be "special" compared to all the other crippled humans in the setting. Even after she is forced to be cured, she is shown wangsting over it.
- Similar to the above, Professor Xavier is in much the same boat. However, unlike Barbara and most examples of this trope, he has tried many times to restore the use of his legs, but when he does succeed, he becomes crippled again before long.
- Most times that a superhero or supervillain is held prisoner, there is a Power Nullifier in action. Most of the prisoners find a way to get rid of them, but they seem to work well in their original purpose. So, what about the heroes who want to be normal? There is an easy way for Cyclops to get rid of the sunglasses, for the freaky-looking mutant to seem like a regular joe, or for Rogue to have a lot of sex: just try the new mutant trend, the power-nullifier collar, and do as you want! And if you need your powers for something, just take off the collar and that's it. Usually justified as paranoia about how an individual could hack or steal the nullifier and use it against the super when they need it.
- Following The Other arc, Spider-Man acquired enhanced strength, the ability to communicate with spiders, organic webbing, and retractile stingers in his wrists, among other powers. Post-Brand New Day he's gone back to his original powers, and the augmented ones have gone to his clone Kaine. This was justified by the vastly negative reaction Spidey's fans had to his new powerset, which ranged from "nonsensical" (spider-talking, retractile stingers) to "obvious cash-ins on the movies" (organic webbing).
- Strongly averted in Villains Inc. (sequel to Wearing the Cape). Astra finds herself outclassed and consequently follows Ajax' example, leveling up by adding armor to her costume and even using Ajax' maul to increase her ability to Hit Things.
Live Action TV
- One early episode of Angel had the title character acquire a ring that grants vampires immunity to sunlight and makes them all but invulnerable. Wow, Angel, you'd be able to do a lot of good with that ring, wouldn't you? He destroys it by the end of the episode, deeming it "too powerful". Somewhat justified in that Angel had just experienced that: (a) he could have the ring forcibly taken from him by vampires who were perfectly happy to use it for evil, and (b) so long as the ring continued to exist, the bad guys would keep coming for it until one finally succeeded. There's also the threat of him losing his soul and becoming Angelus again, in which case the ring really would be too powerful.
- At least two superhero games, Champions and Villains And Vigilantes, have specifically advised players not to significantly change their PC hero's powers. Champions has also advised players to not get rid of their PC's weaknesses, because they help to define the character.
- Averted with Infamous 2. While in the first game Cole is stuck with his lightning powers and nothing else, Infamous 2 allows Cole as part of the storyline to use a machine to copy either fire or ice powers from two other superpowered people, depending on his alignment.