Characters who are Randomly Gifted have developed Magic and Powers pretty much out of the blue. Specifically, even the children of Muggles have a chance of randomly developing powers without the need for any kind of Superpowerful Genetics or other power granting trope having to come into play. Usually this is a setting-wide feature, allowing anyone anywhere to spontaneously develop abilities, and as such it can be used as a form of time delayed Mass Super-Empowering Event. These characters may develop their powers immediately at birth, in their adolescence, or later in life, and there may or may not be means of detecting these powers before/after birth. The children of Randomly Gifted characters face an interesting situation; in some settings the randomness is such that these children are no more likely to develop abilities and may become a Muggle Born of Mages, while in others they have a much higher odds of getting powers. Society at large may be completely fine with this, see it as an honor to have a family member with special gifts, or consider it blasphemous and dangerous. Though these characters are not necessarily a new race or Witch Species they will usually be called some form of Differently Powered Individual; sadly it can devolve into Fantastic Racism or Muggle Power and lead to calling these powered characters witches, Mutants, or demons. Finally, the reason for children being Randomly Gifted can vary, it could be a spiritual agent, very complex genetics, or a never explained source.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In Tiger & Bunny, most of the NEXTs seem to have gotten their powers despite having Muggle parents. That said, there seems to be some heredity involved: we know of two NEXTs who had kids, and in each case, the child eventually developed powers too (albeit ones completely different than their parents'). We also see three sisters who are all NEXTs with similar, though not identical, powers.
- The title character of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha comes from a normal family, but she possesses immense magical power.
- Just who becomes a Doll or Contractor in Darker Than Black appears to be random. Just what powers and Remuneration they receive, however, are less so, as Hell's Gate seems to have a sense of irony or thematic appropriateness in it's selection of Remuneration (Hate smoking? Guess what you have to do every time you use your powers!) or power type (Sonic Scream, naturally, goes to the former opera singer).
- The X-Men and mutants are born randomly among the population, though active mutants are almost always guaranteed to have mutant children regardless of if their partner is a human.
- In a notable exception, Graydon Creed is the son of Sabretooth and Mystique, who are both mutants.... and he's completely human and poster-boy for hating mutants.
- Luna, the daughter of the mutant Quicksilver and the Inhuman Crystal, was another exception. Until her father exposed her to incredibly high amounts of Terrigen Mist (a very dangerous thing to do since the Mists tend to do bad things to anyone who isn't a pure Inhuman) to activate her latent powers.
- A look in the Marvel verse's backstory reveals that all humans have the potential to develop superpowers thanks to the Celestials' experiments on their ancestors. The only reason most never do in their lifetimes is because they never encounter the specific circumstances needed to activate their powers.
- In Invincible it's not known for sure whether Mark, the Half-Human Hybrid son of Omni-Man, will ever develop powers...until he does.
- After Infinity, this became true of The Inhumans.
- This is true in Star Wars: Force-sensitive children can be born to Muggle parents.
- In Jumper, random people can be born with the ability to teleport, which is why the Paladins can't just track down bloodlines and have to instead look for unusual reports - though they usually kill all of a Jumper's family as well, both to draw the Jumper out and just to be sure. The protagonist's mother is revealed in the end to be a Paladin, who was horrified to find out that her own son was a teleporter, so she left him at the age of 5, knowing that he'll be killed otherwise. Slightly different in the novels, where the ability can be obtained by simply being teleported enough times.
- Elsa from Frozen was born with ice and snow powers because she was born 1000 years after "a certain alignment of Saturn". No word on why she of all the children in the world was the one to get the magic, though nobody else in the movie has any powers to speak of.
- In the Harry Potter universe magic-wielding seems to be somewhat hereditary, but it's possible for a wizard/witch to come from two Muggle parents, or, more rarely, for a non-magical "Squib" to come from a Wizard family. Word of God is that Muggle-borns have a witch or wizard somewhere further back in their family tree, to provide a source for the trait.
- This is how Talents are handed out in Necroscope you are just randomly born with powers (admittedly people whose parent's had a Talent are more likely to get one, but like the X-men Talents mostly come from random members of the population born with one).
- Due to Background Magic Field of Echo, everybody in the eponymous city in Labyrinths of Echo can use magic. But the exceptionally talented are born seemingly at random, although living in Echo increases the chance to inherit magical skill.
- Belonging to the Others is random in Sergey Lukyanenko's Watch universe. Children of Others are almost always regular humans. Ensuring the birth of a Light Other from a carefully chosen couple of Light Others is a generations-long plot run by the Night Watch. The only exceptions are vampires and werewolves, who can turn regular humans into vampires and werewolves, respectively. However, vampires and werewolves are the considered to be the lowest of Others (the Light ones despise them for hunting on humans, while the Dark ones treat them as Cannon Fodder).
- Iar Elterrus:
- The Gifts, including magic, are mostly random among all species in the Aarn universe.
- Magic is a random trait in the Nine Swords multiverse. This is little-known and a mage looking for gifted individuals has to be told to scan his city's slaves.
- Magic runs at random for humans in Valentin Ivashchenko's settings, although the benevolent kingdom / empire tends to accumulate mages in the nobility. In Warrior and Mage, the crown prince being a mage is noted as exceptional.
- Magic runs at random in Igor' Dravin's Alien / Xenos (Чужак) series, which can take a turn for the worse should an unsuspecting child in an overly religious area suddenly demonstrates necromantic abilities.
- Vadim Panov's Secret City: this trope distinguishes humans from other species. Humans can be born as regular mages or Healers, and the amount of mages is increasing because of the millenia-long exposure to the Secret City's magic.
- Vitaliy Zykov:
- Way Home: this trope is in effect for the human factions in the setting, including the protagonists kidnapped from earth - Oleg becomes an Earth mage, while Yaroslav combines multiple theoretically mutually exclusive magic systems.
- Conclave of Immortals: the Transition event randomly affected humans. The common powers are shapeshifting and dreamwalking. The rarer taming power seems to combine aspects of both. Other human factions within the survivors gain cleric-like powers, but this may be a case of magical Lost Technology or resurfacing religions, as some weird cults gain power after the Transition.
- This trope is in effect for humans in most contemporary Russian fantasy books, sometimes used in contrast to whatever Witch Species the author mentions as well.
- In Akata Witch, Sunny is known as a "free agent" because neither of her parents can do magic or know anything about magic. It is revealed that Sunny's grandmother was magical.
- Anyone born (or conceived) in Xanth will either have a magic talent or be a magical creature (or in some cases, both); no ifs ands or buts. However, the nature of that magical talent is entirely unique, random and unpredictable. With the exception of one family line that (without their knowledge) the Demon X(A/N)th decided would all have top-tier talents, because their ancestor was the first mortal to ever impress him.
- In Wearing the Cape and its sequels,the vast majority of superhumans are randomly gifted through the unpredictable survival mechanism of the Breakthrough. There are no publicly known exceptions. Children of breakthroughs are slightly more likely than the average person to also experience a breakthrough.
- In Elantris, the Shaod strikes literally at random, potentially affecting anyone within a certain range of the city. By the time of the book, though, this gift has become a curse.
- The fundamental unpredictability of magic being an important theme of the series, this holds true for Shannara. People can, seemingly get the gift out of nowhere for an inborn magical power of some kind (for instance, fortune-telling). Some magic is hereditary like the Wishsong, but even that will skip generations sometimes before emerging a hundred years down the bloodline.
- The Planeswalker Spark in Magic: The Gathering. No one knows why the Spark manifests in certain people across the Multiverse. It's not hereditary either.
- Bloody Roar: This is the reason Tylon and other organizations conduct experiments on zoanthropes, behind the scenes, as there are those who are born with the ability to transform into fighting beasts. While no one knows the reason for it, it was determined that it doesn't stem from genetics. Long, for example, was born with the ability while his sister was not.
- Psionics in XCOM. Soldiers have a random psi-strength going from 1 to 100, that cannot be improved by any way. A soldier with 100 Psi Strength can Mind Control anything after being tested in the PSI labs and given a psi amp.
- Ellone from Final Fantasy VIII was born with the power to connect, sending an individuals consciousness into the past into another persons host body. This power is coveted by the Big Bad who wants to use it to send herself to the beginning of time and where she will use her magic as a Sorceress to absorb everything that is and ever will be with a spell called Time Compression and thus become a living God.
- Girl Genius has The Spark of Genius. It can be inherited, but it is implied to be inconsistent: children of dynastic Sparks are carefully vetted by their parents to ensure that they inherit abilities equal to or greater than their own(with the implication that they'll be disowned or dissected should they fail to impress), but it's not unknown for Sparks to be born to normal parents. These unlucky bastards have to overcome numerous obstacles to reproduce(insufficient education to make use of their talents, insufficient talent to make use of, insufficient luck to not be killed by their first inventions, insufficient solitude to not be killed by angry mobs), so simple selection pressure tends to enforce rarity.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender people are born with the ability to bend pretty much at random, although bending ability does sometimes follow family lines. One notable instance of the curious nature of Bending is an episode with otherwise identical twins: one of whom can bend and the other cannot.
- Spirituality has something to do with it as well: as the most spiritual nation, the Air Nomads were 100% Airbenders, according to Word of God.
- There also seems to be some benders who randomly possess bending abilities considerably different from anyone else. However, there are also cases where they just discovered abilities potentially any bender could do but hadn't before. As far as we can tell, Combustion Man's exploding fire bolts that he shot out of his forehead were the former although the existence of P'li in Legend of Korra, who has the same powers and the same tattoo, may indicate it's teachable, Bloodbending and Metalbending are the latter, and it's uncertain which applies to Yakone bloodbending without a full moon in The Legend of Korra. His children can also do this, but it's unknown if that's because it's genetic or because of his training. Or it could be that the inventor of Bloodbending was simply Weak, but Skilled, and more powerful Waterbenders (Yakone and his sons being demonstrably very powerful) don't need the full moon's assistance for it.
- As of season 3 of The Legend of Korra, the nature of bending and who develops these abilities is thrown for a loop when a side effect of Harmonic Convergence is that random people, who beforehand were non-benders, spontaneously gain the ability to air-bend. Who gained the ability seemingly has nothing to do with genetics (only one of the "new airbenders" could trace his ancestry to an "old airbender") or with spirituality (only another different character appeared to really care about the spiritual nature of airbending, and he's the Big Bad of the season).
- Somehow, though, in both series, location means a lot: you'll get the power of your nation, rather than Waterbenders randomly popping up in the Earth Kingdom or something. (Well, presumably it's the other way around; you're the Fire Nation if Playing with Fire is the superpower your members are randomly gifted with.) This seems to be due to the origins of bending as seen in Korra, as each lion turtle who governed the early civilizations granted a different elemental power to those journeying into the wilderness. Apparently, some kept that power and it can be handed down genetically. The geographical arrangement may also be tied to the hundred-year war keeping each nation isolated; Republic City in Korra, which has residents from everywhere, seems to be able to give rise to benders of any kind - Mako and Bolin, of mixed Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom ancestry, are a firebender and earthbender respectively, and all three of Tenzin's kids (not counting the one who was born during season 1) were raised mainly on Air Temple Island, out in the bay, and are talented airbenders.