Pent Up Power Peril
It's awesome to have superpowers or natural magical abilities, because you can do all sorts of cool things no Muggle
can do. You've got the power inside you. The trouble is that it's always trying to get out. If you don't use your magic
, it builds up inside you, until it has no place to go but out. Being too full of magic may cause it to slip out
. Or, the usual power outlet is blocked and the powers cause internal pressure and back up creating all sorts of problems such as Superpower Meltdown
, Explosive Overclocking
, or just plain old Wacky Antics
If the character uses Emotional Powers
they might "vent" their bottled up powers with an Angst Nuke
Compare Phlebotinum Overdose
, when the magic is forced in from the outside instead of self-generating from the inside. If you're thinking of non-magical digestive-related buildup, see Gasshole
, Balloon Belly
, Potty Emergency
and Potty Failure
Compare and contrast:
- Conditional Powers: You have to do (or to not do) something (usually regularly) to access your powers. Here, you have to use your powers regularly or something bad may happen.
- Heroic RROD and Overheating: When your particular power/weapon has a limit on how much they're used and, when you reach the limit, you need to cool down first. Working beyond that limit often results in a disadvantageous situation. Here, it is encouraged to use your powers regularly, and not using it for a period of time causes peril.
- Overclocking Attack: Forcing your foe to overwork themselves, weakening/incapacitating them in the process.
Subtrope of Phlebotinum Overload
Anime and Manga
- In Street Fighter II V, this is how Ryu first performed the Hadouken. He had such a buildup of ki that he had to get rid of it, so he did it by focusing it into a blast and firing it off.
- Musshuru from One Piece 9th movie has the power of Shroom-Shroom Fruit, making him able to shoot poisonous spores. Said spores build up in his body if he doesn't release it, and he has to release it in large amounts every 10 years.
- In an early episode of Bleach, Ichigo goes up against a Menos Grande. He realizes that if he keeps his constantly overflowing spiritual pressure contained for a few moments, he'll be able to release a burst of energy all at once. He does force the Menos Grande to retreat using this method, but the energy released was too much for him, and Uryu had to absorb some of his power and fire his spirit energy bow until the excess energy dissipated.
- In Cloak & Dagger, this is Dagger's problem: if she doesn't let the ever-increasing light energy inside her out regularly, it'll overclock her body and exhaust her to death. Fortunately Cloak is also always hungry for energy, so she can throw out all that energy to him.
- In Lucifer, the Basanos, a malevolent living tarot deck, provokes the title character into smiting them. What Lucifer doesn't know is that their co-conspirator, the Shinto underworld queen Izanami, has woven feathers into his wings designed to trap his power within his body when he prepares to use it. As a result, within seconds of powering up, he bursts into flames.
- The X-Men villain Omega Red's body produces "Death Spores" that are toxic and will kill him if he doesn't regularly release them. Too bad he's a psycho would doesn't care about killing the people around him.
- In Finder, Jaeger has a Healing Factor that is so powerful that he develops dangerous auto-immune conditions if he doesn't periodically Self-Harm, or provoke other people into hurting him.
- Man of Tai Chi: Tai Chi student Tiger has a great deal of chi, and when venting it (via powerful or dangerous attacks) he feels better.
- When Darth Bane had his orbalisk armor, the orbalisks composing it fed on rage and dark side energy and would sometimes induce destructive temper tantrums if they weren't getting enough. Even for a Sith Lord, this is a major problem, since some of his projects required days at a time of delicate concentration that he has to be calm for.
- Ciaphas Cain once encountered a hydroelectric dam that, owing the the ork invasion, had been running for days with no one drawing the power it produced, and now had dangerously overloaded capacitor banks on the verge of explosive failure. This comes in handy later when the pursuing ork army catches up to him.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows reveals that Dumbledore's younger sister Ariana suffered from this. She was bullied by Muggles as a child for having magic, and held it in as much as she could in an attempt to be normal. Holding it in meant that she often exploded with magic.
- The Heir Chronicles, book 2 protagonist Seph starts out as an extremely powerful wizard with no training whatsoever, causing him to suffer from this trope.
- In Majestrum, the backstory includes a millennia-old magical superweapon originally built by the Big Bad. When it was first activated, the resulting blast not only destroyed the Moon, but also killed the mages who'd originally been involved in building it. For untold centuries afterwards, the weapon remained, continually charging up. From time to time, someone would have to discharge it — at the cost of their life.
- In Pact, Rose Thorburn gains power by siphoning it from the Incarnation of Conquest, who she and her allies bested in battle and bound. She has to spend it quickly, or it becomes The Corruption, twisting her mentality towards Conquest's.
- Subverted in Matilda, where Matilda's telekinesis was the result of her brain having nothing to work on. When she's placed at a higher grade level, her powers disappear (she keeps them in The Movie).
- In Sabrina the Teenage Witch, this is what happens if a witch doesn't use her magic. It starts slipping out at random until when it gets to be too much, which is when a witch totally loses their magic.
- In Bewitched episode "Okay, Who's the Wise Witch?" Darrin's preventing Sam from using her powers backfired when it turned that her not using them caused the house to seal itself up from suppressed magic. At the end of the episode she decided that she need to do magic periodically in order to release the pressure.
- BIONICLE: The Kardas Dragon constantly generates a concussive force inside of himself and then releases it. If he does not release the energy, it would be forced out as an explosion that would kill the Dragon.
- This is a major problem for ork wyrdboyz in Warhammer 40K: their magic is wild and semi-controllable, and gets stronger the more orks are around, frequently resulting in the weirdboy's head exploding (hence their other name, 'eadbangerz). They are given copper sticks which alleviate the effects somewhat, but for the most part relieve the buildup via psychic manifestations of their gods' Giant Foot of Stomping, psychic vomit, and other orky spells.
- In Metroid Prime 3, Samus is infected by The Corruption and her body self-generates Phazon energy. Once the Galactic Federation finds out, they redesign her suit to capture it as an energy source. Normally it is stable, but when activated for too long it will self-generate to the point of overload and she has to vent all of it out, or her suit will time out and vent it for her. If the Phazon builds up too much Samus is "corrupted" and becomes a copy of Dark Samus.
- One of the heroines in SHUFFLE! resents her inhuman nature to the point she refuses to use the magic that comes with it and the magic buildup takes heavy toll on her health. Out of desperation for his lover, protagonist literally cuts his wrists in front of her, thus forcing her to spend her magic on healing him.
- Oglaf: Used for sex and for laughs twice.
- In "Habeas Corpus" the unnamed protagonist that is Cursed with Awesome is informed that unless he comes within the hour, his balls will explode.
- In "Inffirmary" the unnamed apprentice is diagnosed with "sssexual inexperiencce", and the doctors say that it might kill him.
- In the El Goonish Shive arc "Sister II", a major plot point is the fact that Elliot and Ellen "awaken", a process after which their magical powers will be more powerful and developed. One side effect of this is that during the process, magic must be routinely utilized, otherwise it will build up and be used involuntarily.
- The Fairly Oddparents:
- If a fairy is unable to use their powers to grant wishes for children, the magic builds up inside them until they burst and become confetti.
- Another episode showed the April Fool has a specific condition where if the audience laughs before he finishes a joke and lets the funny out, he gets comedy backup. However, instead of suffering a confetti-based fate, it only banishes him back to Fairy World.
- Danny Phantom discovers he has a similar problem when he develops his freeze ray. If he doesn't use it, he freezes over and so does everything he comes in contact with.
- Red Star of Teen Titans builds up large amounts of radiation as a side-effect of his empowering and has to live isolated in a compound while releasing and containing the buildup in barrels. Problems arise when he realizes that his radiation containers have leaked.
- South Park: One of Kenny's many deaths was by Spontaneous Human Combustion. It is discovered that the reason for him combusting was he had a new girlfriend so he was holding in his farts. The methane gas built up inside him and he exploded.
- Max Steel 2013: Max's body generates TURBO energy constantly. If Steel isn't around to absorb it, it leaks out of him and becomes a serious and potentially fatal hazard.