"You don't have your powers anymore, Peter...because I have them now."Meet the unholy spawn of Power Copying and Power Nullifier - Power Stealing. Contrary to popular belief, certain villains don't have the same sort of powers, stamina or durability that the heroes do. Maybe they were hit with The Worf Effect in the backstory, maybe they lost their abilities sometime earlier, maybe they recognize that they genuinely cannot fight without an upgrade, or maybe they're literally power-hungry. Whatever the case, these villains are smart enough to know that, if they can't beat 'em, be them. In direct defiance of the Superpower Lottery, and through manipulating the Sorting Algorithm of Evil, these villains outright steal someone else's abilities as their own, giving them a better chance at fighting their enemies. Said new abilities may or may not have an affect on the overall health or mental condition to the villain in question. In terms of Playing with a Trope, when your whole ability is to steal other abilities think of it as a Power Sponge, especially if it ends up like a black hole, but such examples are rare. Sometimes, gaining these new powers will have the disadvantage of gaining new weaknesses, giving the heroes a way to defeat the villains. Why do we start with "villains"? Because actually stealing powers is often a villainous power. Stealing by itself is bad, stealing powers would logically be worse - and dramatic. It's rare for a hero to have this; they usually have Power Copying instead. Contrast Power Copying, where you learn an ability by seeing it done, and compare Cannibalism Superpower, where eating someone allows access to their abilities. If the Power Parasite can do this to more than one person at a time, it's All Your Powers Combined, which might give way to a reverse-Final-Exam Boss scenario. Whether or not they actually succeed in defeating anyone (or maintaining their sanity) is up to the author. Subtrope of Liquid Assets and Powers as Programs. This is the opposite trope of Super Empowering. More often than not, such an ability is a secret twist in the story, so these are Unmarked Spoilers.
— Arthur Petrelli, Heroes
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Anime and Manga
- Aaroniero Arruruerie can absorb anyone into him, like Metastacia. Since Metastacia possessed Kaien Shiba at the time, Aaroniero also absorbed Kaien. He used Kaiens' face and his Zanpakuto to fight against Rukia.
- Kugo Ginjo personally trained The Hero to achieve a power (Fullbring) suitable for absorption to use as an upgrade. Upon accomplishing this, Ginjo gained a skeletal set of armor, along with the ability to grant upgrades to his fellow Fullbringers by slashing them with his sword.
- The Vandenreich have a few parasitic powers. They possess special medallions as tools to do the job of stealing Bankai. However, they apparently cannot use the stolen Bankai as well as the original owner. Having a Bankai also prevents them from activating their own Super Mode, Vollständing. They actually thank the Soul Reapers when they manage to get their Bankai back.
- In Claymore, Roxanne of Love and Hate became the number one of her generation by copying the powers of every higher-number warrior she's been paired with, then letting them die in an accidental fashion.
- Takeover Magic in Fairy Tail allows its caster to absorb certain creatures or beings and assume their powers and forms. It's not exclusively a villainous technique, though, as its most notable practitioners are the heroic Strauss siblings: Mirajane's "Satan Soul" works on demons and devils; Elfman's "Beast Soul" for monsters; and Lisanna's "Animal Soul" for ordinary animals. The villainous Dimaria takes the cake, though, with her "God Soul" ability allowing her to absorb gods, though there are hints with the only god she's shown using, Chronos, that there's some mutual allowance on the part of the deity.
- In Hunter × Hunter:
- Chrollo Lucilfer is a Power Sponge - his only ability is to steal the complete set of powers from another person; the victim is effectively Brought Down to Normal for the rest of his or her life (and cannot even sense other people with powers, a trait even some non-supers can do in this series). Chrollo has a tougher time than most to obtain these powers, as he needs to meet the person whose powers he's going to steal, Chrollo needs to hear the name of the power from said person and see it performed, needs to summon his book which stores the powers to hold it in, and needs to perform the above within 24 hours or that person becomes immune to his powers. In addition, he needs to hold the book out in order to use these powers. And to top it all off, the power only works for him so long as the person he stole it from is still alive, so he can't just kill the person after stealing their power. However, since Nen can last even beyond death and it can get stronger through death, it is possible for Chrollo to keep the ability if he's lucky enough. Chrollo is smart enough to have collected a number of powers from fighters stronger than him.
- Leol has a less extreme power with a simpler set of rules: In order to steal someone's power, he has to perform a favor for the victim and then tell them that they owe him (and the victim has to hear and understand that statement). Over the next 24 hours, the power is then transferred to his iPod-like device, upon which he can then select the power from a playlist and use it until the 24 hours are up, after which the power returns to its original owner.
- Kurapika has developed a new ability in which he can summon a syringe, which steals the power of whomever it penetrates, after which Kurapika can either use the power or give it to someone else (even non-supers). If he does the latter, then Kurapika is free to steal another ability. The downsides to this are that Kurapika must be in Emperor Time mode, which is Cast from Lifespan at 1 hour for each second of Emperor Time; and the power can only be used once and then returned.
- In Naruto, Tobi, so very much. He has acquired masses of Sharingans, Senju Hashirama's and Uchiha DNA, giving access to Izanagi, Nagato's Rinnegan and altered his body somehow to increase his resilience. Through the Rinnegan, he replaced the Six Paths of Pain with the six deceased Junchuriki, mastered Edo Tensei and controls the Demonic Statue of the Outer Pain, currently along with 7 of the current Bijuu.
- Kabuto Yakushi may be an even worse offender. The "Edo Tensei" summoning involves acquiring the DNA of a corpse that you intend to revive, so virtually anyone can use it, as did Tobirama and Orochimaru. Kabuto perfected it, by reviving every single deceased high-profile shinobi in the series, from the top dogs like Jinchuriki, Kages and Akatsuki members, to the Seven Swordsman of the Mist, well-known Jonin like Dan (Tsunade's dead boyfriend), criminals like Ginkaku and Kinkaku, side villains like Hanzo and Kimimaro, and finally, Madara Uchiha himself. In essence, Kabuto's "stolen" their corpses (and their corresponding abilities), and forced them to act as Tobi's reinforcements, without even having to steal anything personally.
- A lesser-level example is Danzo Shimura, who embedded several Sharingans from the victims of the Uchiha massacre on his arm and used pieces of Hashirama's DNA to get Izanagi.
- One Piece: Marshall D. Teach is one of the stand-out cases, since he absorbed Whitebeard's Devil Fruit by using his own darkness/gravity powers. Especially notable since he's the first to ever achieve such a feat in the entire series, and it's treated very seriously. Worse still, two years later he's still at it, which means he (and probably his crew) more than likely has even more powers now.
- A Certain Magical Index: Fiamma of the Right severed Touma's hand and absorbed it to gain the power of Imagine Breaker, purifying his Holy Right and unlocking its full potential. Unfortunately for him, Touma's willpower was enough to get his hand back.
- In The Familiar of Zero, King Joseph of Gallia used a magic mirror to drain Louise's magic into himself.
- In Date A Live, most Spirits have dangerous, out of control powers, so Shido can seal the powers within himself by kissing them (though the Spirit has to be truly in love with him for it to work). Afterwards, the Spirit becomes a normal girl, though she can access a weakened form of her powers if she is in a state of emotional distress. At the beginning of the series, the only sealed power Shido can access himself is a Healing Factor, but he's eventually able to use the others.
- In Kuroko no Basuke, Haizaki can use any basketball technique after being shown it once, but he slightly alters the timing and rhythm when he uses it. When the original user sees a version of his technique that is almost but not quite like his own, his own movements get out of sync, causing his techniques to fail.
- In The Seven Deadly Sins, Ban can steal anything, including other people's strength, speed, and stamina.
- X-Men member Rogue has this as her superpower; depending on how long she touches a victim, it lasts from minutes to forever. In her first appearance, she got her Flying Brick ability by permanently absorbing it from Ms. Marvel. Since Rogue's power also absorbs memories and personality traits, it took Ms. M years to recover.
- Doctor Doom does this a lot. Most famously, he briefly stole the Silver Surfer's power back in the 1960s, but on later occasions he's also stolen energy from the Beyonder (in Secret Wars), and from Aron the Rogue Watcher and the Marquis of Doom (in Fantastic Four).
- The Spider-Man villain The Vulture can do this in addition to draining his victims' youth Depending on the Writer.
- Depending on the Writer, minor Iron Man villain the Controller can sometimes steal powers with his Mind Control technology; even then, it only works on psychic powers.
- Parasite has this as his shtick. It comes with a time limit, so he has to continuously drain a person's power to have it. In keeping with the "doesn't necessarily make them winners" aspect of this trope, he's not that dangerous (being defeatable by simply staying away from him does that) unless paired with other villains to back him up, and he'll betray them if they suggest killing Superman.
- In a two-part Superman/Supergirl crossover story (told in Action Comics issue #555 and Supergirl 1982 issue #20), the original Parasite and a clone attack both cousins simultaneously; the clone draining Kara's powers first and transmitting them to the true Parasite who was fighting Kal.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The latest threat that Buffy faces in the Season 9 comics is a Humanoid Abomination called "The Siphon" who can absorb the power of any supernatural being — including the Slayers.
- Black Alice can temporarily steal the powers of any one magical being at a time, even beings as powerful as The Spectre. It even works if her target is on the other side of the world or in deep space. She's not unstoppable because she can't keep the power forever and she doesn't automatically know how to use said powers.
- In Wanted, this is Sucker's primary superpower (he's an Expy of the above Parasite), but it's limited to a 24 hour timeframe. After he defects to Mr. Rictus camp and betrays the protagonists he absorbs the Bizarro expy's Flying Brick abilities, and boasts of his new powers. He's defeated when he forgets the time limit, and falls to his death just as the clock runs out.
- Ultimate X-Men: Apocalypse had the power to take any other Mutant's abilities, though the only person he was seen using this power on was Wolverine.
- Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: In this Superman crossover Asuka and Rei fought the Parasite, a mutated human stole their powers and memories when he touched them, leaving them weakened and powerless. He intended to kidnap them and keep them locked forever, serving him as an endless power supply, but they managed to find a way to fight him without touching him.
- In the Pony POV Series Dark World Arc, it turns out that Rarity's Element of Desire permits her to absorb the Elements of Chaos and their special abilities. Given most the Bearers are her friends, she only outright steals Fluttercruel's, but snags the Element of Magic Angry Pie stole from Twilight (since Twilight found a replacement) after Angry Pie is redeemed and throws it away. She also takes Pinkamena's Element of Rage after her death. Rainbow Dash and Applejack merely give her copies of the Element of Free Will and the Element of Deceit to absorb, resulting in her having all six for the Final Battle.
- In Child of the Storm, it eventually turns out that Voldemort has been using his Psychic Link with Harry to siphon some of the latter's newfound powers for himself, ultimately letting him regaining a body a full year ahead of canon.
- The nerdlucks from Space Jam transform into the Monstars via this tactic; specifically, by stealing the talent from professional NBA players.
- X-Men Film Series
- Rogue's power involves sapping life energy and powers from those she comes into contact with. Whether she wants to or not.
- X-Men: Apocalypse: The villain Apocalypse is a body-changer who permanently acquires the superpowers of every new host he uses. Because he's been alive for thousands of years, he won the Superpower Lottery through sheer persistence.
- In A Practical Guide To Evil, the Take aspect can be used to steal magical or Fate-related power. While the exact limits are unknown, it can apparently be used to steal healing power from Good and steal Aspects from other Named.
- In Birthright (2017), practitioners of magic are able to link their individual magic powers. The villain, a dragon, uses this, and her superior magic strength, to steal the protagonists ability to use 'human' magic—effectively a one-sided game of magical tug-of-war.
- In the Mistborn series this is what Hemalurgy does. By killing a person with a metal spike and implanting that spike in your own body, you can steal one Allomantic or Feruchemic power from them, or even their personal attributes. Some Hemalurgists, like the Steel Inquisitors, might have up to twenty spikes. But that's only the beginning. Anybody can use hemalurgy, provided they know what to do. Not to mention, using hemalurgy literally tears your soul apart. One spike at a time.
- Mostly heroic example. Harry Keogh in the last of the original Necroscope books, "Deadspawn". Spends the entire book taking other people's powers (to be fair most of them weren't needing them since they were dead at the time) for the final confrontation with the Big Bad in the alternate universe. It Makes Sense in Context.
- In an example of this type of parasitism similar to the example below, the Yeerks from Animorphs will use other creatures as hosts for their specific abilities.
Live Action TV
- The Blue Globbor in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, as well as his counterpart in Ninja Sentai Kakuranger
- Gabriel Gray/Sylar is the archetypical Heroes example of this process, as most of the people he stole from wound up dead, as a result (since he has to examine their brains to do it, and is a psychopath without any neurosurgical skills). Arthur Petrelli could do this by touch without killing the person, although he was still evil.
- The Goa'uld from Stargate SG-1 could be considered a strange example of this, as while they can't steal powers directly, they can possess people who do have those powers. One villain, Ba'al, tried to do this with season ten villain Adria, who had god-like powers. Unfortunately, those same god-like powers prevented her from being taken as a host. This is also the reason why Goa'uld sometimes take hosts that aren't human- when they take Unas as hosts, they do so because the Unas are far tougher than humans, but their bodies are more difficult to control and repair. A number of Goa'uld, including Nirrti and Anubis, have attempted to create human hosts with powers, either via genetic manipulation of a living human or by creating one from scratch. This type of human is called "hok'tar" ("hok" - advanced, "tar" - derogatory shortening of "Tau'ri" - human from Earth). Notably, Anubis's hok'tar Khalek considered Anubis his father.
- In Haven, Ian Haskell can steal a person's Trouble by making skin contact with their blood (the blood absorbs into his skin). He can only keep one Trouble at a time (when he stole Nathan Wuornos' Feel No Pain ability, Jackie Clark's I Know What You Fear ability returned to her).
- Played with on Misfits, Seth can steal people's powers, but he can't use them, he can only give them to other people.
- In Powers Wolfe can absorb the abilities of other Powers. He later gains the ability to drain them at a distance when Johnny Royale uses his brain matter to make Sway and distributes it to a huge number of Powers.
- In The Flash, DeVoe can do it with his Cool Chair. The chair's Combat Tentacles grasp the other meta's head and drain them of their power (killing them in the process). DeVoe also retains these abilities after Body Surfing.
- In Champions, characters can obtain this ability by purchasing Power Transfer.
- Mayfair Games' DC Heroes used Power Drain for this ability.
- In Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem, this is called diablerie and considered the most serious and heinous crime a vampire can commit. Notably, it's also a form of Cannibalism Superpower which requires you to completely drain another vampire of blood and then devour their soul. After doing so, you get to permanently claim one level of any skill or power that your victim was more proficient in than you were at the time of feeding, and diablerie can be used to unlock vampiric powersets that are otherwise exclusive to certain clans and bloodlines.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- In Birthright some of the raw bloodline strength, sometimes along with abilities, can be stolen by killing its carrier in specific ways, though the killer should have at least some of the divine touch to begin with. Blood Abominations tend to be very, very powerful because by the time people know of them, they usually already have slaughtered lots of "blooded" folk and chose bloodtheft as the road to power.
- Al Qadim has a special sort of wizards — Jackals, who don't memorize spells on their own, but instead steal from other magic-users.
- Spellthieves steal the spells of other spellcasters. Ur-Priests steal magic from the gods themselves.
- Anyone in Final Fantasy that can cast the spell Osmose can be this. It leeches some MP from an enemy and gives it to the caster:
- Final Fantasy VIII introduced the Draw system which lets players draw spells from enemies and add them to their own spellpool.
- In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, this turns out to be The Exile's power. After being cut off from the Force at Malachor V, he/she became a 'wound' in the Force that unconsciously drains the life, will and abilities from others through Force bonds. In gameplay terms, this explains why killing things makes you stronger and why your party members obey you blindly. And also why almost your entire party are Force Sensitives.
- Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance: This is a significant plot point. The game's Big Bad, Void Dark, has this trope as his Overload Skill, Brigante Eclipse. Both before and throughout the story, Void has been using his Overload to steal other people's Overload skills, ranging from Killia's initial Alma Ice Sculpture to Devouring Kris and even Broken Faith Magia. In fact, during the battle against him (and later his disembodied malice taking his form), he will outright use these Overloads against you, in something of an All Your Powers Combined Final Exam Boss Battle.
- Gods, demi-gods, and godly monsters in Astoria: Fate's Kiss get their powers from their Auras, with each Aura linked to its own unique artifact that the owner keeps on their person. Someone who overpowers the Aura can steal it for themselves by taking the artifact; this sort of theft is taboo in supernatural circles. At the beginning of Hydra's route, Hydra has been arrested under accusation of stealing an Aura from Hercules. In actuality, Hercules is the one who's been stealing Auras from various godly monsters, including the Crow Aura that Hydra is accused of stealing and a failed attempt at stealing Hydra's own Aura that nearly killed Hydra. He's collected five of them by the time Hydra and the protagonist confront and manage to defeat him.
- Yuuki from Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki is able to steal power from Otsana and Shebi
- In Widdershins Dominik is possessed by the spirit of Envy, and gains the ability to steal people's skills by looking them in the eye. He uses this to become rich and immensely talented, so he can go meet the person who made him so envious in the first place and show him how it feels. A plan which fails immediately because Wolfe is genuinely pleased to see him and happy to learn he's doing so well.
- Academic Sigils (or Seals) in Blindsprings. The sigils absorb too much magic to keep themselves fuctioning, and the lack of well maintained Blindsprings to keep the magic flowing means a decline of magical source. The worse is that Academic sigils aren't bound to any especific magic, meaning that once Aberwelle's magic runs out, the sigils will start absorbing magic from nearby foreign countries.
- In Red vs. Blue, the Meta steals the AIs and armor modifications of his fellow Freelancers, which provide the corresponding abilities to their Freelancers.
- Victor, white supremacist supervillain from Worm has a variant on this that lets him steal skills as opposed to powers. His victims correspondingly lose the ability in question while he gets to be a Renaissance Man the easy way.
- Grue's second trigger allows him to duplicate the powers of any parahuman inside the range of his main ability. He can't use as much of the power as the original parahuman while the original will have their power reduced until outside of his range.
- In a manner similar to Apocalypse, the supervillain Butcher possesses whoever killed him/her, with said person gaining all the powers of the previous Butchers. Unfortunately for them, they also get the Butchers' minds as well, resulting in a slightly less than sane A-class threat.
- Catherine Foundling in A Practical Guide to Evil is shown to Take an aspect from another Named.
- Van Kleiss from Generator Rex after being DePowered by Rex, steals his Nanites, temporarily turning Rex into a normal boy. He gets a power opposite to Rex's - creating EVO.
- Despite being the former Trope Namer for Power Copying (back when it was called "Mega Manning"), the Ruby-Spears adaptation of Mega Man showed the Blue Bomber stealing the weapons of Robot Masters by touch, usually leaving them unable to use the same.
- Evil Counterpart Kevin 11 from Ben 10 had this as his special ability, but never really took full advantage of it (except in an alternate future where he used it to become a combination of Sylar and Naraku) and even stopped using it entirely after his Heel–Face Turn. Kevin's own evil counterpart, Aggregor, has the same ability and no qualms about using it.
- Vilgax from Ben 10: Alien Force and onwards gave up his cybernetics in favor of using the weapons and powers of champions he defeated when he took advantage of Combat by Champion laws to quickly establish an empire of multiple worlds. In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien he becomes obsessed with claiming the power of Diagon when he becomes aware of its existence. He succeeds, only to lose it all to Ben thanks to his ego.
- Leech from Static Shock, who drained the powers of both Static and several members of the Rogues Gallery.
- Starburst used a device he planted on Static to siphon some of Static's power into himself. Once Static found the device and crushed it, Starburst soon lost his stolen power.
- An episode of Aladdin: The Series had the Crystal of Ix, which allowed Evil Sorcerer Mozenrath to steal the Genie's powers.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Tirek can drain the magic of others to power himself. He can only drain beings he's already stronger than, but with each victim, the more powerful he becomes and the more people he can drain.
- Absorbo Lad from Atomic Puppet is able to steal superpowers with a single touch, being able to use several at once and gaining the victims' physical traits as well. Interestingly, he can also absorb other types of "power", which he uses to absorb electricity from wires to gain Shock and Awe powers at one point.