Some works can use Stat-O-Vision
to record or sense
the magnitude of a character's strength
, to an exact number. Units are rarely included
, though — it's senseless enough as it is. In any case, this is mildly useful for comparisons, until said levels start getting silly
and are dropped altogether, never to be mentioned again.
Sometimes, power levels are mentioned only in supplemental materials
since writers can't allow themselves to be bogged down by that sort of thing in the long run. A simpler system
of ranks can suffer similar problems
An advantage of Power Levels
is that rating characters or other setting elements in real-world units inevitably falls foul of scientific-minded fans with too much time on their hands. Another is it gives a Fixed Relative Strength
for the audience to compare characters. On the other hand, once they become popular for a certain show beyond said show's intent for its use, the reliance on Power Levels
in arguments about characters can develop into Fan Dumb
detrimental to its enjoyment.
See also Mana
, and Super Weight
power-levels. Not to Be Confused with
the Peninsula of Power Leveling
Over 9000 Examples:
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Anime & Manga
- X-Men comics use Greek letters to mark their power levels—Delta-Epsilon (latent), Gamma (almost nonexistent), Beta (weak powers, or powers that only affect the mutant in question), Alpha (powers of moderate to great strength that can affect others), and Omega (depending on the writer, powers that might be "theoretically unlimited" or "can affect the world as a whole"). There are only a dozen or so Omega mutants in the world, but unsurprisingly most of those are part of the primary cast.
- That's Depending on the Writer. Other times, it's a rating of how useful or convenient a power is. Alpha powers are useful and controllable. Beta powers are useful but with Power Incontinence. Gammas are weak, but controllable, and Epsilon-Delta are basically the Marauders.
- While the original Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe tried to give exact, unit-specific measurements of strength and powers ("able to generate temperatures of 28,000 degrees Fahrenheit", "Able bench press ten tons") the newer supplemental material uses a system of levels that are not often consistent with observation and are maddeningly vague— level 3 strength means lifting "somewhere between 800 pounds and 25 tons". The original also went down the fairly mystifying road of saying everyone without strength based powers was average (or below or above) for someone of their age and size, without mentioning that an average obese man without any legs (like Box) can barely lift a coffee can.
- Conversely, DC's Who's Who tends to take the deliberately vague, but understandable tack of putting everyone's strength levels (or at least the upper-tier powerhouses) as as strong, not as strong, or stronger than Superman.
- In The Authority, Apollo is described several times as a "Majestic-Class" superhuman, people in the Wildstorm Universe apparently classifying superhumans by notable figures of about the same power (Mr. Majestic, Wildstorm's Superman analogue, in this case).
- Powers, where ordinary detectives investigate superpowered crimes, has a rough and not very well defined set of power levels from 1-10 to identify how strong a Super Hero or villain is.
- The Superman Expy is ranked as a 10, but only because the entire world would be horrified to find out that they have no way of classifying the upper limit of his power. Especially when he has a mental breakdown.
- In the Buck Godot universe, civilizations as well as individuals are assigned 'Power Classes', as an easy way to keep track of who should step carefully around who. This 'Class seems to be determined mostly by technological level, but also by numbers and ability. Humanity, as a whole, is classified as Class 12. The only known Class 1 Power is Lord Thezmothete, who appears to be a sentient tree of some sort (He does, however, seem to have several similarly vegetative underlings). Other noteables is The Teleporter, an extra-dimensional alien who exists in a state of continuous transmission, whose capabilities includes transporting entire PLANETS instantaneously across the galaxy - he's a Class 8 Power, all on his lonesome.
- Top 10 has power levels for psychokinetics. The one the officers have to deal with in issue #6— an escaped mental patient who thinks he's Santa Claus— has Class Two abilities, which allow him to levitate his stolen sleigh and reindeer, take control of Robyn's gadgets, and toss around Smax while making it snow all over the state. When Robyn wonders what a Class One can do, Smax tells her they can snuff and ignite suns.
- In a suspected Jump the Shark moment, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace made Force talent measurable via "midichlorian count". (Can a sub-cellular organism be The Scrappy?) More generous and creative fans have suggested midichlorians may simply be an organelle or parasite which is attracted to high levels of the Force and thus is useful to measure, rather than actually producing it. In short: correlation does not mean causation.
- After measuring kid Anakin's Power Level, they are shocked by the fact how Over Nine Thousand it is (over twenty thousand, more than even Yoda).
- Unfortunately some dialog in Revenge Of The Sith blows a rather big hole in that theory. Palpatine claims that Darth Plageus could manipulate the midichlorians to create life, which would suggest they have more than a passive role.
- Even Qui-gon's explanation to Anakin states that the midichlorians "tell us the will of the Force".
- Most fans (and the EU) view midichlorians are more as the "middle man" that connects them to the force (which Qui Gon said)
- Since Yoda says that The Force "Binds us together", the theory that it attracts midichlorians rather than being produced by them probably isn't far off the mark. This does not make it any less controversial, though.
- Used in Rocky IV. Ivan Drago's punching power is measured in PSI, and reaches ridiculous levels (2100, which would slam through iron if his arm didn't shatter first).
- Which was how power was measured back then; spread across his whole fist, that would probably exceed 10,000 pounds of force hitting his opponent. That's about equivalent to getting tackled by an NFL player running 25 mph. Today, force gauges are used and measure in newtons.
- In X-Men: The Last Stand, Mutants were inexplicably given power levels that everyone was aware of from 1-5 with Professor X and Magneto as 4s and Jean Grey being the only known 5. Apparently, one "speedster" mutant near the beginning can specifically "sense" these power levels- again having no prior mention in the movies or anywhere else in the X-Men universe.
- That was supposed to be
Psylocke Calisto, with the mutant-identifying powers of fellow Morlock Caliban.
Live Action TV
- Babylon 5 had P-levels for its telepaths. Officially the rankings count range and power, with P0 or P1 being all but useless. P2-P5 become commercial telepaths, P6-10 work with the government, and P10-12 work in the corps with P12 being the rank of Psi-Cops. P13s, the maximum level on the official scale (for those not Lyta Alexander, anyway), are quite rare and tend to be the object of experiments.
- In Heroes, there's some online viral bonus material that lists the "power levels" of several of the show's characters, in the form of "case files" listing "control index" and "biological, cerebral, elemental, and temporal/spatial" levels . Most of the files are on characters from the on-line comics, but a few of the show's main characters are listed. I.E. Matt's stats are "25% control, 25/90/45/20", Ted's stats are "12% control, 45/55/95/5", and Sylar's stats are "76% control, 40/85/45/20".
- Kamen Rider typically provides data for the abilities of each Rider, such as how hard they can punch and kick (measured in tons!), how fast their 100-meter dash is, how high they can jump, and other similar statistics.
- The "tons" are "tonnes of TNT". Considering 1t does this, god only knows what the realistic damage of Kamen Rider Kiva's 10t Darkness Moon Break Rider Kick would do.
- Kamen Rider Ryuki plays it a bit straighter by assigning AP (Attack Point) values to all the Riders' attacks, from their basic punches and kicks to their Final Vents.
- Kamen Rider Blade takes it one step further - the Rider's weapons start with 5000 AP, and cards swiped through them have their AP values subtracted from this. Special cards that add AP appear late into the series.
- For both of these, 1000 AP is still 1t.
- The Whedonverse apparently has power levels for witches (and possibly mages in general)- in "Checkpoint", a Watcher asks Willow and Tara what their levels are, and if they'd registered under the names they provided. However, "level" in this context might be akin to a grade level, or belt level in martial arts.
- Human psykers in Warhammer 40,000 are ranked by Greek letters, in a system known as "The Assignment". Normal human psychic potential is Rho/Pi, a Lambda level psyker can give you a mild headache, an Epsilon is pretty terrifying, and an Alpha-class can snap a titan in half with a gesture. Further through the Greek alphabet is various degrees of Anti-Magic, up to Omega (generally known as Pariahs or untouchables), which is such strong anti-magic it can harm the souls of people nearby.
- Incidentally, the detachment from reality involved means that all psykers above Beta level are almost certainly insane by default. Obvious exceptions include The God-Emperor and the Primarchs.
- Notably, while the Imperium is very interested in collecting and sanctioning psykers for various reasons (they're the only FTL-communication apart from sending a ship somewhere; they can defend the Imperium against psychic and daemonic foes; and uncontrolled, they'll likely fall prey to daemons and allow them to materialize), they generally don't even attempt to train Alpha levels - the usual response is a bullet in the head.
- And there are some that don't actually fit in this - the scale is extended to Alpha-plus and Omega-Minus for those individuals for whom the 24 greek letters do not suffice. Older canon even covers higher plus/minus levels that double back through the alphabet, where you're really more talking about Eldritch Abominations than anything else. Or the Emperor.
- It should be noted however, that the scale only ranks human psykers. Eldar Farseers don't have an Assignment equivalent, and Cosmic Entities like the Chaos Gods far exceed the scale.
- It should also go without saying that being a tabletop game, models are also given a 'point' cost to field, with more powerful models costing more.
- Very common in Role-Playing Games such as Dungeons & Dragons, where monsters are rated on some sort of scale by how powerful they are or how much experience and treasure they impart. Very uncommon, however, is for this power level to be referenced at all in the game world (except in comedic, 4th wall breaking series), making it strictly a game mechanic.
- Except when it's not. At the very least, the in-game characters know how powerful a magic weapon is in + values (quote from the 3.5 Magic Item Compendium's Armor section: "My armor? +3 adamantine light fortification full plate. I wouldn't leave home without it."), at least when the DM feels like it.
- Power Levels for spells, however, do come up in-character from time to time. Well, it'd have to: either a spell is within your skills at a given point in your adventuring career, or it's not.
- Mutants & Masterminds uses actual Power Levels to constrain characters to a roughly even playing field. All offensive and defensive powers must be at or under their character's PL. The only exception is that it is allowable to trade off on opposing traits like accuracy versus damage, or defense versus toughness. Powers like non-offensive teleportation and telekinesis lack such bounds except in house rulings. Like D&D, it's rare for this to come up in-character, however.
- Your base Essence stat in Exalted kinda represents this in that a higher rank unlocks more powerful Charms... except that the actual charms a character has means a lot more in terms of comparing power levels within Exalt types, and that the Super Weight between the different types means more than if their Essence stat matches. Terrestrials, for example, tend to be significantly weaker than Solars or Abyssals, and Alchemicals veer up and down wildly depending on whether they've had time to optimise their Charm loadouts against you or not.
- The original Marvel Superheroes RPG ranked powers (and everything else in fact) in a scale from 1 to 100, broken into the following tiers: Feeble (1-2), Poor (3-4), Typical (5-6), Good (up to 10), Excellent (20), Remarkable (30), Incredible (40), Amazing (50), Monstrous (75) and Unearthly (100). Most Marvel characters had abilities between Excellent and Remarkable ranks, while the most powerful ones had some between Monstrous and Unearthly.
- A letter expansion also added Shift Zero (0) for abilities ever lower than a 1, and Shift X (150), Shift Y (200), and Shift Z (500) for ones beyond Unearthly. Class 1000, Class 3000 and Class 5000 were added for the truly Cosmic Beings. The absolutely highest level was Beyond-Rank, that had no number (it was infinite.) Only one character had abilities of this caliber: the Beyonder from Secret Wars.
- Supernaturals in the New World of Darkness generally have a "Power Stat" that represents raw supernatural power — Blood Potency for Vampires, Primal Urge for Werewolves, Gnosis for Mages, Azoth for Prometheans, Wyrd for Changelings, and Psyche for Sin-Eaters. Across the board, the power stat allows for increased Mana storage and expenditure, as well as an increased resistance against mind-affecting supernatural powers.
- Before that, Vampire: The Masquerade had Generation, which reflected how distantly descended a vampire was from Caine. The fourteenth and fifteen generation Kindred were viewed by a large chunk of vampire society as aberrations and harbingers of the end of the world, whereas third generation vampires were basically regarded as dread gods made flesh (the second generation was destroyed long ago, and the first generation was... well, Caine).
- Levels in RPGs are a meta example of this, of course.
- A Shout-Out is made in Fallout 3, with the Mysterious Stranger (a Shout-Out himself to Dirty Harry and cliched movie detectives) with his .44 Magnum Revolver, which has a damage level of Over Nine Thousand!
- Beings in Darkstalkers are ranked by letters. "D" being a non-sapient monster with capabilities less than those of human beings, "C" being a weak monster on par with a human (and humans themselves), "B" being an average monster that can devestate a smallish army, "B+" being a trained and magical monster capable of wiping their butts with "B-Class" demons, "A" is exceptionally strong and are the rulers of the demon world, and "S" being essentially a Physical God. Most of the playable characters are B+s', with a few exceptions (Demitri and Pyron are A and Jedah is an S. B.B. Hood is human and a C by default). Baby Bonnie Hood is the only known human with the slightest capability of damaging an S-Class demon thanks to her insanity, intense training, and impossibly large arsenal of hidden weapons.
- As part of their being Genre Savvy and the game's Thin 4th Wall characters in the Disgaea series can sense each others' levels and reference them in conversation, such as when Rozalin asks where Adell's confidence comes from and ask if he's really level 10,000. (He isn't yet.)
- Supplemental materials also discuss how at least one character class has power ranked at over 100 Polga. There are no clues as to what this might actually mean.
- In the various Disgaea games, you can actually level your characters up beyond level 9000, but more importantly with enough grinding you can have the stats needed to to billions of damage easily, one-shotting the strongest bosses the games have to offer.
- The first three games in the Mega Man X series had listings of the robot bosses at the end, just before the credits. In X3, the images were combined with ratings for strength and speed. Most of the bosses topped at about 10,000 for one or the other, Sigma made it up to 16,000 both, and Battle Body Sigma reached 25,600 for both (despite the fact that he was slower than dirt). These numerical ratings have no real bearing on game mechanics and aren't explicitly referred to at any other time. However, X had a rating of "?", referring to his limitless potential, which is mentioned several time though. It even forms the basis of his name.note Zero had a "?" too, but likely for a different reason.
- D-Ratios in Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter: a 1/8192 is doomed to a life of grunt work, a 1/64 is a shoo-in for leadership, a 1/4 is close to being a Physical God.
- The D-Ratios were a measurement of a person's chance - assumed to be genetic - of 'linking' with a dragon. 1/4: 25% of that person linking with, and effectively becoming an avatar of, a dragon. 1/8192: .012% of the link occurring. Looking this stuff up is definite Low-D work.
- Before boss fights in MadWorld, a screen with a "Death Watch" rating will compare the main character to whoever he's fighting.
- In Oracle of Tao Fenrir's hp is exactly 9000. Recent edits to the game have changed it to 9001, because of this trope. (Not that there aren't stronger enemies)
- Ar Tonelico 2, Replakia. Can be charged up to MILLIONS of percent. Here's an example.
- Escape Velocity Nova has T-rankings for psionic powers. T-6 is human standard, T-5 is telepathy, T-4 is mild telekinesis. T-3 and downwards are telekinetics strong enough to make spaceships and beam weaponry out of their powers. T-1 and T-0 are capable of uniting the minds of many lesser talents to do crazy stuff.
- Gear Score intends to measure this, but falls flat on so many levels that it has become prime Flame Bait. Most notably, it only counts the "Item Level" of equipment, not how useful that equipment is.
- The Gohma from Asura's Wrath power level's are measured by impurity levels. The higher the level, the stronger the gohma. The leader of the gohma, Gohma Vlitra, has an impurity level that is IMMEASURABLE.
- Justified in Fate/stay night; a status screen a la Tabletop RPG is how Shirou is able to rank the abilities of each Servant. For each stat, (STR, END, AGI, MAG, LUK, Noble Phantasm) a letter from E to A is assigned, and a + marker is assigned for those stats which can be boosted depending on the circumstance. It is also noted that E-rank is already far beyond what a normal human could ever achieve. This same ranking system is also used for the Noble Phantasms. In addition, the Noble Phantasms are assigned a type depending on how much damage they can deal, from Anti-Personnel to Anti-World (in one case), or even Anti-God (in Fate/Apocrypha). This ranking system carries over to the rest of the Fate/ series works.
- In True Remembrance, a Mnemonicide's power is ranked through Greek letters starting from Epsilon until Alpha. The rarest and most powerful ones are branded Omega, which indicates that they can completely erase a person's memory without any traces.
- Spoofed in Episode 4 of Umineko no Naku Koro ni, where in a fantasy scene, Krauss fights one of the goat butlers. It involves a whole lot of power levels and death flags in a ridiculously cliche fashion reminiscent of old-style shounen fighters. Suffice to say, it must be seen to be believed.
- In the Whateley Universe, most powers have defined levels, at least they're defined by the powers testing guys. And the authors even wrote a bunch of them up on the website. Still, they're all WAY below Marvel or DC levels.
- Note that this possibly is one of the few times that this trope might actually be fully justified: Power levels are more for the purposes of classification, and are known to be really deceptive, as they're very much descriptive, rather than proscriptive.
- In The Real Ghostbusters, ghosts have "levels" which are measured by PKE meters; for anything above level 9, the proton packs and traps are totally ineffective, while level 1 is impossibly low. Certain ghosts who were victims of Ghost Dracula were ones and twos, and couldn't even fly and go through walls, being completely drained of ectoplasm).
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Hurricane Fluttershy," the ability of a pegasus to displace air in flight is measured in Wing Power. Rainbow Dash, who is the only pony known to be able to break the sound barrier, comes in at an impressive 16.5 Wing Power, but Fluttershy, who is not a strong flyer, is individually measured no higher than 2.3. Despite the emphasis on training to raise one's individual power level, it takes a minimum of eight hundred cumulative Wing Power to create a tornado large enough to move water from the ground to the cloud factories in the sky, so doing work and breaking records is largely based on the number of pegasi involved.