Story-Breaker Power

"It feels like kind of a cheat; you can't have your characters be too powerful."
Martin Lloyd, Stargate SG-1, "200"

A question writers should ask themselves when deciding which (if any) Super Powers to give the protagonists is "Which and how strong a set of powers does a character need in order for this story to be entertaining?". This is because many times characters begin or end up having powers that in the hands of a competent and reasonably intelligent protagonist would allow them to handily solve a plot. Plot complications, the Sorting Algorithm of Evil and the Sliding Scale of Villain Threat would be incapable of dealing with this character... at least not without drastically changing the setting or the story's tone.

This is a common problem for sequels of works that end with the protagonist unlocking their full power. Once they get too much power they win the Superpower Lottery and become godlike, or worse, Suelike. On the other hand, a simple or limited power can lead to viewers asking "Why don't they just use his power of X to do Y and stop the bad guy/get the MacGuffin?". In order to challenge the protagonist the writers will have to ramp up the villain's power, find a way to otherwise remove or sideline them, Depower them or at least reduce it to more reasonable levels, take away their weapons, or give them a Drama-Preserving Handicap of some sort (see also Kryptonite Is Everywhere ). Otherwise, the character will be Too Powerful to Live. The easiest way to tell if this trope is in effect is when the writer resorts to handing the protagonist the Idiot Ball and Forgot About His Powers to keep the character from using their powers in a straightforward way.

On a bit of a tangent, there's a reason why this trope applies mostly to protagonists; we expect the Big Bad to have a nigh unbeatable edge and get beaten nonetheless, giving us a typical underdog story. Though this isn't to say it's good for a villain to have a Story Breaker Power, because they run the risk of becoming a Villain Sue. This is why most stories with such villains focus on stopping them from actually getting these powers.

The abilities most likely to be Story Breaker Powers without careful use are:

It's worth clarifying that yes, characters with these powers can and often do have engaging stories, great struggles, and otherwise captivate the audience. When that's the case, it generally is because the writer finds a way to properly integrate the power into the story rather than just shoehorning it into a stock plot probably originally intended for non-powered characters; ways to do this can for example involve complications that the hero legitimately can't easily solve by just throwing their power at them, and giving the downsides of having said power some spotlight time as well. In short, whether or not a given power is a "story breaker" depends on the story in question just as much as it does on the power itself.

Compare Deus Exit Machina and Story-Breaker Team-Up, where this trope appears not because of a power itself but because of disparities between them. Just Eat Gilligan can become a result if this power can resolve all conflicts in the story. Game-Breaker is a similar but otherwise unrelated trope, when a player manages to inflict this on a game. When instead of personal powers it's a certain kind of Applied Phlebotinum that has this story-breaking ability, see Holding Back the Phlebotinum for ways writers deal with this kind of material. From a Doylist perspective, this is the main reason as to why Superman Stays out of Gotham.


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    Comic Strips 
  • One of the things that contributed to Dick Tracy 1960s Dork Age was the introduction of the "Space Coupe" and all its accompanying crime tracking and weaponry. Once you give the heroes a device that can go anywhere and track any kind of crime, the villains don't really have a chance. This led to the plot "Villains Try To Steal The Space Coupe" repeated ad nauseum for a while. When the new creative team started to reintroduce past elements to the current story, one of the first things they did was have Diet Smith tell Tracy that he mothballed the Space Coupe basically because of the "Villains Try To Steal The Space Coupe" factor.

    Fan Works 
  • Hogyoku ex Machina has Ichigo. He spends most of the fic with most of his power sealed off yet still has 3 times the reiatsu of any captain. At full power however...
  • Imperfect Metamorphosis has Rin Satsuki, who can negate, absorb, and to a limited extent redirect all but the most powerful magical attacks. Then she was involuntarily transformed into a Blob Monster who gains the powers of anyone she absorbs. Then she absorbs EX-Rumia, who was already a powerful and indestructible Flying Brick and a horrifically deadly Walking Wasteland. When most of Touhou's Superpower Lottery winners (see below) attacked her at the same time they did little more than annoy her, and that was before she absorbed Kaguya and Mokou and gained Complete Immortality. Fortunately she doesn't want to hurt anyone, and has spent most of her time defending herself, running away, or hiding.
  • Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami:
    • The Royal Death Note lets the user bypass the rule that they must know their target's face and full name. The whole plot of Death Note - Light's hunt for L's name - becomes quite pointless, since Dark can simply write "L" and kill him. Except...
    • There is also a Life Note, which allows anyone, no matter how they died, to be brought back instantly. The Death Notes are essentially worthless. Except...
    • There is an Anti Life Note which is immune to the Life Note's powers. (Un)fortunately, the author forgets about this before it has a chance to pay off.
    • The granddaddy of all of these is the Everything Note, which can do everything. It can be used for resurrection, time travel, superpowers, teleportation and sex. As soon as it is introduced, any pretense at being a Gambit Pile Up story is cmpletely gone.
    • On a meta level, the Reset Note grants a metafictional Reset Button to Dark, which lets him Retcon Khaos's rise to power and making his defeat one of the greatest anticlimaxes ever. If he was smarter about using it, the Reset Note would be even stronger than the Everything Note.
  • In Death Note II The Hidden Note, the main character KJ was born with Shinigami eyes. Which means that if he gets a Death Note, he can easily kill anyone he doesn't like with one just by looking at them without the cost of half his lifespan. The good news is that KJ is a lot less trigger happy than his father when it comes to killing people.
  • New Dawn:
    • Matthew, if he'd use his powers a little more ruthlessly. He can create just about any legendary-class weapon except ones he cannot comprehend. He can do just about anything with swords in his Mage Killer mode. His Aura Rave Spell gets stronger with every use, and can even be used at half cost and half power...with the boost tacked on!
    • Shira, the first real villain, can freeze anything in his vicinity. The only reason he lost was because...he kinda wanted to.
    • Nebiros can read your mind based on certain vibrations in the air, and thus use his Barrier Warrior powers to dismantle your attack, dismantle you, and still have time to evilly gloat.
    • Dolph Gradich, one of the later villains, is basically Matthew 2.0, making swords out of Majitek Nanites, and having an arsenal of spells at his disposal, as well as Matthew's Aura Rave spell.
  • In RE-TAKE, Shinji for the first two chapters displays the power to kill Areal by swatting it out of the sky with his AT-field. Later when Asuka gets pregnant, the power he had is passed onto his child, but Ghost-Asuka apparently had the same power and when she managed to forgive him she allows him to easily defeat the MP-Evas.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: In Act III and onwards, Luna and Falla's chrono magic easily makes them among the most powerful of Tsukune's gang, if not the most powerful, to the extent that they were instrumental in the gang's defeat of Alucard in Act IV. Naturally, the author keeps coming up with ways to keep them from going all out to prevent them from rendering everyone else useless, such as the Almighty's law forbidding them from actual Time Travel, the risk of chrono dementia, the risk of getting preyed upon by chrono wraiths, and Babylon keeping track of their chrono magic in order to capture them.
  • In With Strings Attached, Ringo is able to mentally see anything he's ever seen before, and can work his way into unfamiliar places from a familiar starting point, including people and unique objects. And he can do it effortlessly and indefinitely. And he can see perfectly in the dark. And he can see things as small as atoms. And he never holds the Idiot Ball. The concept of “information is power” really applies with him. He's also telekinetic, with an enormous range. Thus, unless you magically hide yourself from him, he will fuck you up—and the plot along with you. As Jeft discovered to his sorrow.
  • Yet Again:
    • The Oogakari, a family of OC God Mode Sues that jump into canon and mess with the plot and help the main characters sort of behind the scenes, but they are far more interested in seeing how messed up things will be once the new plot unfurls than actually bringing peace to the world. The supposed leader of the family, Ghost, is a walking Class Z apocalypse via his time space burning fire, which gives him the power of "denial of phenomena". In layman's terms, he can negate anyone, anything, any EVENT, any CAUSALITY, any MEMORY, any WORLD, any GOD, or any DIMENSION he wishes by burning the time space that makes them up. This includes the events that possess anytime he dies or gets hurt as well. He is confirmed to be the absolute end of his multiverse and can enact it anytime he wants, but doesn't because "he isn't that big of an asshole".
    • His Sister, Shadow, is right up there as she contains the supposed Goddess (Demon Dragon Goddess... Thing) Zuzushi, that created their multiverse. As a result she has obtained the ability to "create all from nothing". It's been stated but not shown that she is easily capable of manifesting universes on a whim, and even contemplated destroying and recreating the Narutoverse the current story was in after Ghost trapped her in it while a major event occurred in another universe.
  • The author of Child of the Storm is obviously very well aware of this trope, and since the Avengers are, with the addition of Loki and several years to gel as a team, nearly unstoppable, he makes sure that the bad guys spend their time striking from the shadows, arguing that you'd have to be a moron or legitimately insane to think you could take them in a straight fight. As a result, while Thor, Loki, or Wanda could crush Voldemort or almost any of those bad guys who aren't an Eldritch Abomination in a fight, the bad guys are very much aware of this and as such go out of their way to avoid head-on fights, attacking from their hidden base and keeping them away from Harry and his friends. When they finally get their chance to go all-out against the bad guys in the finale, it takes an army of Mooks to even slow them down. When the Red Room try the same trick in the sequel, they're found within hours, in normal time, and only escape because the Avengers were occupied with other matters.
    • Stephen Strange is The Archmage and both a seer and a time traveller, and as such could easily have told the Avengers and SHIELD where to strike, or done so himself. However, when called on this, he explains that had he done so, the protagonists would have been weaker for their lack of experiences, and the bad guys would have survived in hiding to cause more trouble down the line, rather than being drawn out and crushed.
  • The entire premise of Puella Magi Adfligo Systema, whose title literally translates to "system-breaking magical girl." The main character, Sabrina, possesses the ability to control Grief, the corruptive substance produced when magical girls use their magic. Because of this, she has functionally limitless power, and provides that same limitlessness to anyone else - in fact, using her abilities will only give her more material to work with. Since Grief is also the material Witches and their barriers are made from, it can be shaped into virtually any form or function, giving her what amounts to an Imagination-Based Superpower, and making her a Man of Kryptonite to the setting's primary threat. On top of that, she's also essentially a Fourth-Wall Observer, and possesses the knowledge of anyone regularly reading and posting in the thread - including the entire plot of the original story. Because of this, the focus of the story ends up shifting heavily, from a struggle for survival to attempting to untangle the Dysfunction Junction that is the show's primary cast and the Crapsack World that is the entire setting.
  • Showa & Vampire ran into this just with sheer size of its cast, almost all of whom have superpowers of one form or another, the most prominent among them being akin to gods after a couple arcs (To list off just one of them, he has the power to change into the form of any Kamen Rider from an entire era of the show's history a la Kamen Rider Decade complete with all of the original's combat experience and a Super Mode combining all of their strength and abilities, but what's more any form he can assume he can change any of his friends to as well with any powers they get stacking with any they already have, an X-Men-style mutant power to control the flow of time and in the godly Omega tier on top that, gains an unremovable jewel that instills him with the power and essence of a divine dragon creature, has five of the seven types of Dying Will Flames from Katekyō Hitman Reborn!, and Train Heartnet's gun). This requires a lot of Forgot About His Powers to make Kamen Rider-style Monsters of the Week a credible threat to them. The most dramatic example is probably the character who's a Technopath who can mentally hack computers, make battle robots form themselves out of junk, and instantly repurpose everyday machines into deadly weapons with his powers. And when all the villains's just as well he never thought of what he should've been able to do. The kicker is the villains are in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation: the reason they keep attacking the heroes is to capture them to exploit their powers. But even if you believe a Showa-type evil organization can make monsters capable of defeating such powerful heroes, wouldn't the fact that they can create monsters powerful enough to do the job mean they don't need to capture the heroes to exploit their powers?

    Films — Animation 
  • Aladdin has the Genie, who with phenomenal cosmic powers can do anything aside from killing someone, forcing someone to fall in love, or bringing people Back from the Dead (though Genie implies that he can perform resurrections, but simply doesn't like doing so). After he's freed in the first movie his powers are demoted to "semi-phenomenal, nearly cosmic" for the sequels and Aladdin: The Series, and gets to hold the Idiot Ball frequently.
  • Bolt, which is about a dog who thinks he's a superhero when in fact he's simply an actor. One of his powers in his show is a superpowerful bark that can destroy... like 100 mooks, helicopters and cars all at once. Though it's only useful in large open spaces without innocent bystanders.
  • Zelda from the second sequel to The Swan Princess has the power to create Seekers - homing fireballs that can find any target anywhere and never stop seeking them. The only way to stop one is to break the caster's wand. Of course, Zelda's plan is to gain the Forbidden Arts and the power to destroy - she remembers at the eleventh hour about her Seekers and sends one after Odette. It works.
  • Moana: The ocean itself, which is apparently sentient and intervenes numerous times to help the protagonist as well as carrying the Heart of Te Fiti to her at the beginning of the film. In fact, other than the need to teach Moana and Maui their respective lessons, there is no known reason as to why the ocean could not have simply returned Te Fiti's heart to her on its own.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the DVD Commentary for The Lord of the Rings extended version, Peter Jackson points out and jokes about it that Gandalf could not use the magic he used to turn away the forces of Mordor a second time because he used up all the power in his staff "And all the shops in Minas Trith were sold out of batteries".
  • The Matrix sequels have this problem with Neo, as at the end of the first film he is essentially a god of The Matrix, with the power to do anything he damn well pleases while inside it, the only limits being his own imagination and the ultimate parameters of the simulation. Because of this the writers had to considerably tone down his powers from Reloaded onwards (going from a Reality Warper to a Flying Brick), and up the villain threat. Of course at the end of the first film, the writers didn't know if the movie would be popular enough for a sequel, so this is Hand Waved in the sequel as the Agents got an upgrade.
  • In Return to Oz, the Ruby Slippers become a literal story breaker once the Nome King is defeated and Dorothy recovers them. Everything is repaired, and the story pretty much ends.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • Professor Charles Xavier's Telepathy is such that most of the movies would be over very, very quickly if he did not frequently get incapacitated or rendered powerless in some way.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Quicksilver gets Put on a Bus after the Pentagon raid because, as that raid shows, he is downright unstoppable. While moving at Super Speed, simply tapping a person is the equivalent of getting hit by a heavyweight boxer, and he can take out an entire room of armed guards so quickly that their bullets weren't even able to reach the people they had shot at when he started.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: Nightcrawler's energy level drains rapidly if he teleports too many people at the same time, and he's inert for part of the Final Battle. John Ottman divulges in the "Unlimited Powers: VFX, Stunts and Set Pieces" featurette on the Blu-Ray the reason for the limitation on the character's endurance.
      Ottman: This is why we knocked Nightcrawler out. Because for the whole third act, if he's around, he can just bamf people endlessly.
  • Bruce Almighty: With the ability to do literally anything (except affect free will or tell people about his powers), Bruce's powers definitely count. The only reason there's a story at all after Bruce gets his powers is because he's too stupid to remember that he can, in his own words, clean everything up in 5 minutes if he wants to.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Quicksilver's Super Speed is great enough that he can travel across countries in a few days at most, and everyone around him appears to be standing still while he's running in a fight. He would have been problematic to write around for future films, such as the below-mentioned Civil War, so it's a silent blessing for the writers that he dies in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
    • According to Word of God, this is a major reason both the Incredible Hulk and Thor were excluded from Captain America: Civil War. They're so much more powerful than most of the other heroes that they'd tilt the balance of power ridiculously in favor of whichever team they ended up on. The Vision is also used very sparingly during the airport fight scene, not doing much until the end of the battle.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: With his special arrow and a prototype controller, Yondu was able to single-handedly put down about 100 members of his mutinous crew with no danger to himself, Kraglin, Rocket, or Groot. With him in the gang, a lot of potential enemies and threats would become far less threatening, so his Heroic Sacrifice for Peter, while saddening, did not come as a huge shock to savvy viewers.
    • Thor: Ragnarok has Hela, the Goddess Of Death. Hela has super strength enough to crush Thor's Hammer, and can take down most of Asgard all by herself with ease. The only reason why she lost was because of Sutur at full power, even Hulk and Thor couldn't do anything to her!
  • Galvatron (a.k.a. Megatron) from Transformers: Age of Extinction, owing to his origins as a KSI creation, transforms not by shifting his parts around like other Transformers, but by becoming a cloud of Transformium. This, combined with his lack of a Spark, effectively renders him nigh-invincible. Come Transformers: The Last Knight, and this ability of his is conspicuously and inexplicably absent.

  • Apprentice Adept:
  • In The Dark Tower, one of the side characters in the last book has the power to materialize anything, including inter-dimensional portals, out of thin air when he draws them on a paper. Guess what happens when he draws something/someone already there, and then erases it.
  • The Archive from The Dresden Files is a magical construct that places all recorded human knowledge into a single person. Originally, it was created to mitigate tragedies like the burning of ancient libraries. In the modern age, it means a little girl nicknamed Ivy automatically knows and understands everything people write (bank records, nuclear physics, psychology, emails, tomes of necromancy...) without even trying. She's not the only nigh-omniscient character in the stories, but unlike some others, her understanding comes automatically. She understands science well enough to build her own nukes, she knows enough blackmail material to keep most world leaders in her pocket, her expertise with magic makes her a one girl army even compared with the protagonist, and she would become fully aware of any plan against her the moment someone made the mistake of communicating it in written form. What keeps her from making all the heroes irrelevant? While Ivy, the child has free will, the Archive doesn't — the Archive is bound to neutrality, and it takes a considerable effort of will for her to even give out small pieces of knowledge. Even if she could, any steps she took to actually use her power for her own goals would turn every other supernatural nation against her at once, and even her power isn't enough to hold off the wizards, two courts of the fae, the fallen angels, and three nations of vampires all at once. Plus, she's more interested in kitties and otters.
    • Interestingly, that's the public version, as far as the other supernatural communities are concerned regarding the Archive, but the line about "mitigating tragedies like the burning of ancient libraries" is simply deceptive cover. According to Word of God, the Archive is engaged in a long-term conflict in which her power set is actually necessary: the Oblivion War. The Archive exists specifically to have a guiding intelligence that can plot, plan, and react to enemy maneuvers on a time scale of generations. In the Dresdenverse, power can come from mortal belief, and many hostile Lovecraftian gods get not only power, but a toehold in reality via people simply knowing about them. So the Archive exists to be able track who writes down knowledge of those dread gods and send minions after them, leaving the Archive with the sole holder of that knowledge, and then, when, say, a thousand years have passed with no mention of a given opponent having shown up in anyone's writings, the Archive... simply deletes them from her memory. With the last mortal with knowledge of them having forgotten them... bye-bye toehold in the mortal realm. So reacting and displaying her power like Harry Dresden does would be both foolish and dangerous in the long-run, as it would quickly (on the timescales of concern to the Archive) result in endangering the Archive.
  • From Circle of Magic, Trisana Chandler's weather magic is treated as one in-universe, hence why Ladyhammer magically breaks nearly every bone in her body. Whether or not it actually is a story breaker is up for debate: it is extremely powerful and can end any physical threat in seconds, but this is a universe where binding even a powerful mage is very possible with the right preparation.
  • The Elenium:
    • The Tamuli has mind reading. When a member of the race known as the Shining Ones joins the party (who have this power, among many others), she's able to easily see who The Mole is in the party, and find out that he's basically the Big Bad of both the Tamuli series and secretly the Big Bad behind everything that happened in the Elenium series as well. Though by this time, the villain's plans have progressed so far that it STILL takes a book and a half to set things right.
    • When Sparhawk gets control over the Bhelliom, it offers its own suite of ridiculous powers - worldwide teleportation, the ability to pull information from people's minds from a lot further away than Xanetia can, and at one point it intercedes with the spirit of the world to massively accelerate tectonic activity in one area for a few minutes, causing earthquakes across half the continent. It has other powers that are not used in the narrative proper, such as the ability to instantly kill on contact. Unlike Xanetia, however, this has limitations; its mind-reading in most cases is limited to a general consensus rather than Xanetia's individual and specific scan, preventing it from locating the bad guys instantly, and the villains can detect Bhelliom in action and are holding hostages that they will hurt or kill if Sparhawk takes the Blue Rose out of its box and starts turning people into frogs or something.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Voldemort believes the Elder Wand to be this, as it's one of the three Deathly Hallows, making it the Wizarding equivalent of the Holy Grail or The Spear of Destiny (though he's ignorant of this history, having been raised a Muggle). In practice, however, the Elder Wand is merely a very powerful wand, and its infamy makes it a Doom Magnet: those who wield the Elder Wand tend to end up murdered for it, and in the end, it dooms Voldemort himself when he fails to realize that Harry is its true master. When it finally passes into Harry's hands, he chooses to break its curse by never wielding it, and in the movie he seals the decision by snapping it in two. On top of that Dumbledore actually claimed the wand himself by legitimately defeating its previous owner — a difficult feat to be sure, but nevertheless proof that the wand is only half the equation.
    • Time-Turners allow you to travel to the past and create a Stable Time Loop, establishing the way it had always been, basically retconning your own story as you see fit. This means that you can never be ambushed or caught off-guard for you will be/have been warned in advance by your future self. Any important event can be witnessed retroactively, so truth can always be established, even when there were no reliable witnesses "the first time". Naturally, these awesome devices were used once to resolve a minor conflict and then forgotten about only to be casually destroyed later, when ignoring them was no longer plausible.
    • The Marauder's Map is a real-time map of Hogwarts that can not only track any human within Hogwarts, but accurately identify them despite any attempts to disguise their identity (Animorphism, shapeshifting, etc.). Rowling had to have it confiscated for most of the fourth book for exactly this reason, and admits that she sometimes wishes she'd had Crouch keep it.
  • Galbatorix from the Inheritance Cycle is constantly referred to as impossible to defeat. Not only does he have over a hundred years of experience over Eragon, as well as hundreds of Eldunari and another Rider at his disposal; his voice is said to be his greatest weapon. Up until he discovers the name of the Ancient Language, that is.
  • Jack Blank's power is his ability to control and talk to machines. The series primary antagonists, the Rüstov, are living machines. One of them is living inside Jack. Normally this means instant death, but Jack's powers keep The Corruption resulting from the infection in remission involuntarily. In the third installment, End Of Infinity, the Rüstov are smart enough to saddle Jack with a Drama-Preserving Handicap to prevent him from using his technopath powers against them directly, as well as to speed along the development of his corruption. Once Jack manages to overcome it, he single-handedly destroys the entire Rüstov race with a wave of his hand by forcibly ripping each one out of their hosts without harming the host bodies, then crushing them with a thought.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle has the true language. A Nested Story depicts a hero known as Taborlin the Great, who knew the true name of everything and could command it accordingly; after being trapped in a tower, he told the stone to break, allowing him to command the wind to carry him to the ground. A couple only intermittently-properly-pronounced names stuttered out without fluency (the name of the wind) almost qualify in themselves, and when a character accidentally pulls off a full phrase the words instantly turn a fairy queen, one of the most powerful beings in the world and a literal sexual predator whose entire nature revolves around trapping and never releasing men, into a simpering soft-hearted love-slave that lets him free when he 'bluffs' her with a painfully transparent 'trick'.
  • Known Space:
    • Larry Niven once wrote of this problem, which he encountered when he introduced the General Products Hull. The hull couldn't be damaged by anything except gravity or antimatter. Introducing this into the universe could potentially ruin a lot of stories and he ended up setting most of the stories before the hull was invented.
    • Teela Brown's "luck gene" prevented anything bad from happening to her unless it led to an even better outcome. Niven wrote one last story set after all humans were supremely lucky, "Safe At Any Speed", then mostly gave up on setting any stories later.
  • In the Liavek books, if you ask Elmutt a question, the answer he subconsciously prefers will come true. This doesn't seem impressive, until you get to questions like "What will become of me?" or "What could possibly go wrong?" He doesn't seem to be able to change the past, but he can radically alter people's physical conditions, kill people, more or less brainwash them, and on one occasion doomed a man to be killed by a particular person. Once the first story is over — when Elmutt knows how his powers work and has sorted out his issues — it's more or less impossible for a story involving him to have dramatic tension, unless the question is asked by someone who has no idea what they're really doing. He's only had two total appearances in the series — his origin, and an unnamed but plot-relevant cameo two books later.
  • Gandalf of The Lord of the Rings goes offstage for hundreds of pages after the Balrog to allow other characters to struggle. He did this earlier in The Hobbit as well, as he would often leave Bilbo and the Dwarves to go on other business, leaving them to fall prey to spiders and elves.
  • Necroscope's Harry Koegh his virtually unlimited teleportation power, and makes the climaxes of his stories anticlimactic, especially combined with the near omniscience his ability to talk to the dead grants. Basically he knows all about you if you've killed people, and can drop a bomb on your head no matter how heavy your defenses.
  • Lila Black in Quantum Gravity eventually becomes consumed entirely by her mechanical half and becomes a story breaker as a result. Book four reveals her to be capable of forming just about anything metal, as well as having limited control over metal and machines, and nigh invulnerability; her body reconstructs itself after being smashed to pieces, and doesn't even need to breath. And that's aside from the Armour, a fey, which can transform any way it likes and tends to trick attacks into backfiring, or the shape-shifting weapon of intent that warps reality in response to what she wants. On her return to Demonia she battles through an unspecified number of opponents without the slightest scratch, or even needing to devote much thought to it. The loss of the weapon tones her down in book five, and by the end of the series she is looking less overpowering by deed of simply encountering an even more dangerous opponent.
  • In an obscure children's book called Samantha Stone and the Mermaid's Quest, Samantha spends much of the book trying to learn how to teleport — both herself and objects. She gradually becomes realistically better at it, able to teleport herself and others, but often not exactly where she intends. But by the end, Samantha is teleporting behind enemies to knock them out, teleporting out of ropes when tied up, and teleporting captured prisoners out of a cell. The villain only undoes this power by binding and gagging her, thus preventing her from casting the spell. However, the story ends shortly after that, on a cliffhanger.
  • The Dragons in A Song of Ice and Fire. In the series history, the Targaryen have utilized their dragons as fantasy WMDs which ensured their dominance over the seven kingdoms. By the present day most of the dragons are extinct, and Daenerys's three new dragons soon become powerful and dreadful creatures that can easily decimate almost anything, and everyone wants them. The main problem is that they are unruly and vicious creatures that even Daenerys can't properly control.
    • Victarion Greyjoy's dragon horn can (supposedly) bind the dragons to his command, if this actually works it will probably become one.
    • Thoros of Myr is a Red Priest with the unique ability to bring dead people back to life. It can be done to the same corpse multiple times, although it is less effective each time he does it to the same body, and could be extremely useful if Thoros was aligned with a major faction. However Thoros has remained mostly neutral as of book five and has only used it on two people, Beric Dondarrion and Catelyn Stark.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe has had a lot of writers in it over the years. Many of them gave Jedi in general and Luke Skywalker in particular New Powers as the Plot Demands. Sometimes it's used well, sometimes it's not. The Black Fleet Crisis out of nowhere gave him an unexplained control over rock - he effortlessly collects the ruins of a shattered castle and assembles it in the air, then makes those heavy dark stones change to a different kind of stone and flow and make a new castle, which forms and closes openings that can be used as doors and windows whenever he wants. No other books have given him anything like this power, and it's never been used again, although the ability to basically waterbend stone could certainly have come in handy.
    • Timothy Zahn, who wrote the first modern EU books and had heroes and villains who relied more on guile than force (or Force), complained about the tendency of writers to make Jedi incredibly powerful, as he considers that boring. On a hilarious side-note, Zahn's main villain (Grand Admiral Thrawn) somehow managed to turn Art Appreciation into a storybreaker power, because he was just that much of a Magnificent Bastard.
    • Star Wars and Force Users in general has this trope in hand whenever a Non-Force User is the opponent. The telekinesis they all have alone should make any battles between a Force User and Non-Force User a Curbstomp Battle in the former's favor every time, not to mention their other powers. So with any stories that involve one a Drama-Preserving Handicap is made or the writers simply have a Force User not use much if any of their abilities just to give the Non-Force Users a reason to exist.
  • As a War Wizard, Richard in the Sword of Truth series is explicitly capable of almost doing anything with his magic. Goodkind gets around this trope, though, in that Richard doesn't have the slightest idea how to use it when he wants to. It only really works properly when it's time to end the book.
  • Noah Watanabe's every-growing power does break Brian Herbert's Timeweb trilogy, since he has no Kryptonite Factor and no qualms about interfering for the greater good. However, Herbert deserves a certain amount of credit for keeping him under control for two books without using the Idiot Ball.
  • Fairy magic from Artemis Fowl series could qualify as this, seeing as it allows users access to functional invisibility, healing, and limited mind control. And those are just the abilities open to all fairies; serious magic users can do a whole lot more. The books manage to balance this out by explaining that each fairy has only a limited supply of magic, and that this magic must be regularly replenished via a ritual which can only be performed during the full moon; thus, in any situation where magic would instantly solve the problem, the characters will inevitably be either completely drained of magic or not have enough left for the job. However, Book 5 introduces the demon warlock No.1, whose magic pretty much shatters all those rules. Aside from not needing to perform the Ritual and pretty much being a bottomless well of magic, No.1 is also capable of feats which were previously thought to be impossible (including time travel, flawless mind-wiping, and repealing a centuries-old hex that had stumped generations of fairies in a matter of minutes). He's so powerful that the books constantly have to find explanations for why he doesn't just immediately solve the problem (from not knowing how to use his powers in Book 5, to having his powers suppressed by animal fat in the final act of Book 6, to not knowing about the crisis in Book 7, to going off to work at a hitherto-unmentioned moon base in Book 8).
  • Skulduggery Pleasant has Teleporters. Able to teleport anywhere in the world so long as they've been there once, can carry hundreds of people with them, and their only weakness is that they risk over-exertion if they Teleport Spam too quickly. Fletcher, a young and barely-trained Teleporter, has solved (or caused) the climatic conflicts in two books and greatly assisted/hindered in a further four (which includes feats like turning the tide of an international war by teleporting an entire army across the country). To counter this, every Teleporter except Fletcher was literally backstabbed prior to their introduction, and Fletcher himself is often victim of physical or emotional trauma to keep him on the bench and away from the problem at hand.
  • R.A. Salvatore creates these frequently in his epic The Legend of Drizzt series, and strangely enough, not to the main heroes. As the series progresses, Salvatore seems to believe that he must one-up each of his previous adventures (rather than just writing a string of fun adventures for the Companions which some readers might get bored of). This means that each successive villain must prove themselves more of a threat to the supremely awesome Drizzt, which can only be done by breaking the universe's continuity, and unfortunately, often the immersion of the story, to do it.
    • One of the first main examples is Obould in the "Thousand Orcs" trilogy (and "The Orc King" follower). Although Obould is an orc in the D&D universe of Forgotten Realms, which means he should be a low-wisdom, dull-witted brute, especially as he is the leader of a large tribe (and hence he must have gained power through force of combat and murder), he instead is more akin to a Proud Warrior Race Guy, using intelligence and cunning to defeat his foes. This in and of itself isn't a main issue, however, Obould grows increasingly invincible through the series, enough to cleave a highly-trained Elf (known in D&D as the Mary Sues of the universe) during single combat. He also receives artifacts from out of nowhere (seriously, the shaman must have pulled them out of his posterior) which are even more powerful than anything which can be found in the D&D manuals. An impenetrable helm, an insanely powerful greatsword, invincible armor, etc. It breaks the immersion of the story to see impossible raiment of the Gods given to an Orc, while the master craftsmen Dwarves and the ancient relic-possessing elves are sitting pale by comparison. Throw in the supreme frustration of watching every human in the story, except for the Dwarf Bruenor's adopted kids, be essentially an extreme moron with the brains of an addled, horny goat, and you have yourself a quite unbelievable story, with pretty much EVERY element (including the complete disappearance of all intelligence, wisdom and commons sense from all human leaders in the story) being an absolute necessity to even give Obould the chance to do his dark work. If any one of these (per se) illogical and immersion-breaking plot elements didn't fire at the exact coincidental time they occurred, we wouldn't have a story.
    • We also see it with various villains (but only important ones) being able to take direct shots from Wolfgar's Aegis Fang and Cattie Brie's Tamauril with barely a flinch, whereas earlier in the series, they were skewering or blasting a dozen opponents (even dark elves) a time. But against the drow later in epic, Tamauril was just barely making the main villains pause, even with a direct hit.
    • The Drow after the Companions reboot were suddenly far more powerful, invincible, and boring-to-read as even before (they were pretty much Mary Sue villains anyway). But with the latest book, reading the ten-page-long Tiago Baenre's encounters with anyone other than Drizzt (even Kings who would, in their own right, be way more powerful than even a Drow commander), was so frustrating, because the reader knows it's all just swordplay pornography (which R.A. Salvatore has delighted in from the days of his first works) against a random mook when it's obvious the drow would win any face-to-face combat unless they faced Drizzt or the companions personally.
  • The White Queen of The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign isn't just the most powerful being in the setting, but among the most powerful characters in all works of fiction. She has most of the abilities in the trope list, at ludicrous levels of power, and is extremely skilled at using all of them. To avoid breaking the story in half, she has three different Drama Preserving Handicaps:
    • When summoned normally, her power is significantly decreased (but she's still able to defeat any opponent instantly). The main method of summoning in the series has a number of restrictions, including a time limit (usually ten minutes). On top of that, she's so difficult to summon that she's rarely used in actual combat.
    • She is completely head-over-heels for the main character Kyousuke, and will do anything he asks. This would make him completely invincible, except that he wants absolutely nothing to do with her, as she's a Yandere Eldritch Abomination who, in the past, killed countless people to get at him.
    • As the main villain of the series, she could end things instantly if she used any one of the myriad methods at her disposal to trap Kyousuke. She doesn't do this because she also finds losing to him fun, so deliberately restrains herself to make it possible for him to win.
  • In Honorverse there's the infamous Grav Lance — a very short-ranged, but ridiculously overpowered One-Hit Kill weapon that easily shrugs off any possible Deflector Shields and oneshots even the heaviest Mighty Glaciers of a ship, which with a careful application might as well become a "Press X to win" thing. Unfortunately, all this was completely unintended, as all the implication were understood by the author only after his carefully planned Lensman Arms Race with its several Game Changer innovations laid the groundwork for a Grav Lance to shine. So, after Ret Gonning it to the hell and back, Weber simply hopes that the fans would let it go.
  • The H. G. Wells short story "The Man Who Could Work Miracles" (and later film adaptation) has the titular character suddenly discovering that he could do anything simply by declaring it to be so. Some of his miracles have unintended consequences and he ends up breaking, not the story, but the planet. Only hitting the Reset Button saves everyone.

    Tabletop Games 
  • What makes a given power a "story breaker" or not in a tabletop RPG context is often the involved group's (especially the GM's) ability and willingness to cope with it in their personal game...or lack thereof, of course. Player character power issues can also be aggravated by the not uncommon tacit assumption that the "PC halo" comes with a fair degree of Hero Insurance, cushioning the characters against what might otherwise be logical consequences of using their powers. For example, the effectiveness of the "scry-and-die" tactic below relies a lot on any prospective targets of potential teleporting assassins imitating Orcus and rarely if ever actually getting proactive about patching that hole in their security.
    • The joy of being a DM is that you have your own story-breaker power in the form of being able to change things before they resolve; it's fairly easy to roleplay a boss that's far better at Gambit Roulette than the actual DM playing him. A boss monster that thinks ahead when the DM also thought ahead puts up scrying protections to prevent the teleport trick — a boss that thinks ahead when the DM did not think ahead just had a permanent illusion of a throne room put in over a pit of poisoned spikes after the last group of adventurers tried the same thing. And a DM that didn't think ahead and feels that the players were CHEATING on them (perhaps because the players somehow obtained spells they weren't supposed to be able to afford at their level) will point out that since the players didn't see through the illusion (which they cannot do through a scrying spell), the fall surprises them, meaning they cannot roll a save to avoid hitting the spikes. Though it really needs to be handled carefully, since pulling this off too often just makes it look like the GM is punishing the players for thinking outside the box.
  • One Miraculous Arc in Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine is dedicated to having these and festooning them with limitations so that the story can survive. It's known as Reality Syndrome. Generally, they are limited by a) time constraints on how often you can use them, and b) a diagram giving the HG progressively more elaborate opportunities to mess things up as the wish strays further from the character's core truths.
  • Player characters in Continuum start out with these by default, as a spanner's most basic ability is the power to travel through time and space at will. Later on they can develop a number of psychic abilities like telekinesis, pyrokinesis, hypnosis, telepathy, and more. The GM chapter of the book even starts the section on game balance by warning the GM that "The characters in Continuum are the most powerful ever designed for an RPG. They can teleport and travel time at will. And they will show off every chance they get."
  • Aberrant characters are able to break any possible story once they get powers in the level four or five range. At will, they can make massive hive-minds, destroy the entire ecosystem of Earth, or will humanity into extinction.
  • The rulebooks for The Dresden Files make suggestions on this front in two ways. In the section on building opposition, most of the guidelines are along the lines of taking your villain and giving them powers equal in cost to the Player Party's. It suggests you create a group of antagonists instead, since as the party gets more powerful, the villain's powers would make them damn near impossible to fight effectively if the model was followednote . It also suggests that Harry Dresden himself might be one, and gives suggestions for taking him out of the picture. Needless to say, Harry's margin comments are less than enthused about it.
    Harry: Billy, this whole section DISTURBS me. I'm making this face at you. Like, the one in the picture right here.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Spellcasters in earlier editions had spells to duplicate every power in the trope description, and spellcasters can learn large numbers of spells.
    • With high-level characters, one of the simplest and most dangerous strategies is commonly called "Scry and Die" — instead of traversing a dungeon or an elaborate plot to track down the Big Bad for an epic confrontation, the players scry out his location with magic, then buff up (and occasionally stop time) before teleporting in and killing the unfortunate enemy very, very quickly (or fetching whatever their goal is to fetch, and so forth.)
    • Repeatedly casting the "Love's Pain" spell (someone the target loves takes damage, cannot be stopped) on a Mook who you have given Fake Memories of loving your enemy...
    • The Wish spell, which is pretty much as it sounds. The player wishes for anything to happen and reality will reshape itself to make it come true. There are some limitations, and some downsides. The spell is difficult to obtain and cast, and drains the life force of the caster (read: XP loss) to empower the events. If the wish is something too insane, the caster may die without yielding enough power to make it happen. Second, and usually even more importantly, you should be very careful what you wish for. Just wishing for a lot of gold, for example, may result in all the gold in every king's treasury teleported to you. However, how you will explain that to their armies that are sure to follow is not in the scope of the spell. In fact, the GM is specifically instructed on what wishes to give them a chance, in Second Edition, and if the players ask for more, to make SURE they regret it.
    • Miracle, the divine flavor of Wish, is even more enhanced: The spell-replicating function of Miracle carries no XP burn and can duplicate the effects of ANY 7th level spell or lower and ANY 8th level Domain spell or lower. Only the massively broken reality-warping function of the spell incurs a possible XP burn. Also, Miracle is not a spell cast so much as a supplication made of a deity, removing the possibility of the spellcaster receiving any magical backlash — of course, if the deity in question (which is to say, the DM) doesn't feel like granting the request, Miracle may simply fail, or end up worse.
      • Miracle is particularly potent when used by an Ur-Priest, a 3.5 prestige class whose schtick is stealing magic from gods and priests. The god's choices are no longer relevant; since the fluff is that the character is stealing the power from the deity in the first place, the deity no longer needs to approve or disapprove; the caster simply uses the stolen power in whatever manner she chooses. And this would entail no greater or lesser retribution than stealing any other 9th level spell, so if an Ur-Priest is casting 9ths, they've been dealing with that for a while.
    • Craft Contingent Spell (cast a spell in advance, it triggers when a condition is met) and Celerity (take an extra action, even in the middle of another character's turnnote ) can be extremely powerful even when used separately, but Contingent Celerity makes the user impossible to catch by surprise. Throw Time Stop into the mix and well...
    • The infamous Glibness spell from 3.5 : a Bard-exclusive spell available at level 7 that gives a +30 bonus to Bluff checks for the purpose of telling lies, a bonus big enough to give you a chance to decieve a character 30 levels higher than you are and make this task almost impossible to fail against characters of your own level. At a time when rules were poorly worded and succeeding to lie with a Bluff check would force the second party to take your word as absolute truth, this spell had the potential to wreck a scenario entirely. Later, after changes in wording switching from "the NPC believes you" to "the NPC doesn't notice you are lying", a very far-fetched or implausible lie would result in the NPC to question your sanity instead of blindly believing you, depending on what your GM thinks is the most logical outcome.
    • This trope is the main reasoning behind the Character Tiers in most editions: not pure power, but the ability to just completely invalidate entire storylines planned by the DM without even trying. A barbarian might be able to kill the Big Bad in one hit, but he still has to get there. Meanwhile, journey across dangerous land? Teleport. Murder mystery? Raise Dead. Find the traitor? Detect Thoughts. Stop a plague? Remove Disease. Low on funds? Fabricate. Foil an assassination? Magnificent Mansion. Learn the Big Bad's weakness? Legend Lore. Interrogate someone? Charm Person. Hold off an invading army? More spells than can be named. These can be planned around by the DM - for instance, declaring that the place the party needs to go to has some kind of magic that makes teleporting unreliable - but that's still a deliberate effort being made just so the plot can work, and the DM has to take all the spells the character has learned and might learn into account. The definition of Tier 1 is a character who has the potential to learn or at least duplicate pretty much every spell and switch them out regularly, meaning the DM has to pay specific attention to the character's daily loadout just to make sure they don't accidentally skip a third of the adventure.
  • Warp is extremely powerful in GURPS, so much so that it is explicitly banned for players in the Dungeon Fantasy books. The authors did eventually cave and add it in with the requirement that the player take a small Unusual Background named "Ha-ha! I Can Teleport!" and isn't able to improve it.
  • The Hero System traditionally marks those powers that its designers consider to be this trope with warning icons. GM discretion is still required since the system also allows its "stock" building block powers to be modified N ways from Sunday and so the power level of the final result may end up being radically different (in either direction) from the assumed base, but the issue itself is explicitly acknowledged.
  • In Iron Kingdoms Lord Toruk the Dragon Father is a Physical God who created his own empire with himself as the God-Emperor. The only reason he doesn't just go and burn down the mainland himself is ironically the same reason he needs an army in the first place; he's always worried about the other dragons ganging up on him if he makes any moves, so he's trying to build an army to hunt them down individually, or at least soften them up.
  • A lot of the drama in Nobilis comes from how everyone and their dog has these and is not shy about throwing them around. That said, due to a particular quirk of reality caused by it being written in a language of flowers, anyone, noble or otherwise, can add some changes of their own, and because this kind of reality tampering is, so to say, rewriting the rules rather than playing along with them, nobles could well see their own powers and domain yanked right from them without any say in the matter. Thus, the DM is outright told none of the players should be granted any related power. Third edition adds a wrinkle where you can do anything, but pushing your power too far - say, using power over snakes to create an Aaron's Serpent, who are snake-shaped gods - causes Actuals to come out of the substrate of reality and start absorbing things, and a few days later you end up with a ship eating Chicago or something similarly difficult to repair.
  • One of the theories for why the Ancients in Traveller went extinct is that they had reached such a high technology level, that their powers were near limitless, and they quickly got bored of everything, and decided to end their race.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade: Caine. Want to fight him? You lose. That's all his card says.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Primarchs and the God-Emperor are obscenely powerful even for the setting (the first action of Leman Russ after birth was to climb out of a volcano, and later in life all of them casually crushed Greater Daemons), and if they were still around it would devastate the Status Quo Is God so beloved by the writers. Hence they have all, in one way or another, been out of action for ten thousand years, with the Emperor immobilised (possibly dead) and directing the Astronomicon, and the Primarchs either dead, incapacitated, lost, or in the case of the surviving Traitor Primarchs simply content to sit in the Eye of Terror. There is a very good reasons for this, as the one time a Primarch (Angron) decided to do something, he conquered approximately seventy sectors before the Imperium could direct a large enough force against him.
    • The C'tan had as much power in the material realm as Greater Daemons do in the warp (i.e. Reality Warper levels), fed on stars, and commanded vast armies of Necrons which they created in the first place. They caused so many problems with their mere presence that 5th Edition retconned them into having been shattered into pieces by the Necrons millions of years ago, and the C'tan that had been encountered were nothing but fairly mindless, much weaker fragments of the originals.
    • The Tyranids can strip a whole planet of biomass, oceans and atmosphere included, in a matter of months, are effectively limitless (the number of creatures in a swarm is reliant on how much biomass they've consumed, and they've already eaten several galaxies), their Hive Mind projects a shadow in the warp that disrupts psykers and daemons within dozens of light years of it, and most critically they have no Enemy Civil War, unlike every other major threat in the setting. Like the Borg mentioned above there has been no good reason given as to why they haven't already eaten everything in the galaxy and been on their merry way.

    • The Makuta species has 42 base powers, a strengthened version of the elemental power of shadow, highly dangerous mask powers, and Teridax even possessed secret knowledge about the workings of the universe, allowing him to manipulate matter at will. Plus, they're Energy Beings with no biological needs who can possess machines or soulless living bodies, their personal bodies can shapeshift, and they each have access to a personal Pocket Dimension to store excess mass. And they can absorb other beings to gain mass or simply kill them. How did the writer keep them from demolishing the heroes under a second? Teridax's master plan required them to be alive, some Makuta were given drama preserving handicaps, many had a constant grip on the Villain Ball which clouded their judgment, some were treacherous and turned on their brethren in the middle of fighting the heroes, and the gaseous substance they're made out of could easily be burnt away. Notably, the one time one of them decided to hell with Teridax's plan and just kill the heroes to get his own started? Would have killed them all had his fellow Makuta not stopped him.
    • The Skakdi race has access to elemental powers (but only when working as a team, which they hate), each has a unique but highly powerful special ability (like Adaptive Ability, bringing objects to life, conjuring tailor made prisons, Power Copying, etc), and eye-based or mental powers. And one of them called Zaktan is a Worm That Walks who can fly, shapeshift to a limited extent, and become an insect swarm. Fans cried foul when six of them easily beat the Toa Nuva (the most powerful heroes of their universe), so at the end of the story, they got devolved into weaker sea serpents by Mutagenic Goo...but then they came back as the Golden-Skinned Being and...well, see below.
    • Time Travel is one power that the writer deliberately avoided, citing this trope as a reason. However, he practically abused dimension-hopping. Thus, to tone it down, Brutaka's Mask of Dimensional Gates was destroyed though he got something arguably just as broken with all the Makuta powers and the only other MODG in existence fused to Vezon, an incompetent lunatic who could barely control it.
    • The Golden-Skinned Being has almost unlimited control over matter and is able to make almost anything disappear into thin air. It has powerful telepathy, can easily brainwash others, and through sheer will, create entire new worlds reflecting the desires of others, where these others can be locked away for eternity, out of this universe. The story got Left Hanging after he appeared, so it's unknown how the writer would have handled him.
    • The Energized Protodermis Entity, an Eldritch Abomination who basically unwittingly set the entire BIONICLE story into motion, can destroy or transform anything with a slight touch. It's also a liquid, so pretty hard to avoid if you're in a room with it. However, it doesn't have control over whether the things it touches cease existing or get transformed. The being itself very rarely appears, its substance acting mostly as Phlebotinum. It's only known weakness is gravity — it flows down big holes. It's also an All-Powerful Bystander; it has no interest in anyone else's affairs.
  • Transformers: The first iteration of the brand featured no less than four giant Transformers that could transform into entire cities and battle stations. Given how even one of them should reasonably completely destroy all but a few of the Autobots/Decepticons, it's probably no coincidence that they have relatively scant appearances in both G1 and later franchises, and when they do appear, they're often weakened in some way (Scorponok is often downscaled to a regular size, for example).

    Video Games 
  • BioShock Infinite ended with Elizabeth becoming omnipotent and unlocking the full scope of her Reality Warping powers. While this worked for the main storyline, it caused major problems for the Burial At Sea DLC, the second episode of which has Elizabeth as the main character, as it meant the writers had to find a way to write a compelling story about a protagonist who is effectively unbeatable and who's opponents are, at best, Badass Normals. The DLC begins with Elizabeth being awkwardly Brought Down to Normal and eventually it's revealed that the whole thing was one long Thanatos Gambit planned out by the omnipotent Elizabeth before she lost her powers. Fans still argue over whether she had to be given the Idiot Ball to get the plot to work.
  • BlazBlue: The legendary hero Hakumen is hands down the strongest character in the setting, with the possible exception of Azrael. However, he doesn't truly exist as we understand; he's stuck in another dimension called the Boundary, and the threads binding him to the physical world are tenuous at best, and getting weaker. Hence, he can only access a fraction of his true power. In one of the drama CDs, he absolutely thrashes the two Big Bads of the story with only 15% of his power, but he was transported away before he could finish them off. It's suggested that currently he can only use 40% of his power. If he could use all of it, there probably wouldn't be much of a plot.

    Central Fiction explains why; Hakumen's body is known to all as the Susanō'o Unit. The truth is it IS Susanō'o, as in the Japanese God of Storms. Hakumen is not the body's original user. Yūki Terumi is. And he gets it back, killing Hakumen in doing so. He knows everything that the thing can do and is at full power, and his first act on regaining his true form is one shotting five of the most powerful characters in the franchise, including the below mentioned Jubei, without breaking a metaphorical sweat. It only occur for the finale.
    • Jubei too - he's described as the strongest living creature on the planet, and as such has to be injured early on so that he can't just go and solve all the story's problems by himself.
    • Nine of the Six Heroes, who would eventually marry Jubei, also counts; she is probably the most powerful magic user in the series, even The Goddess Of Death and one of the Co-Dragons think so. She can manipulate the elements, though fire is her favourite, control gravity, fly, enhance her physical abilities, control the mind of someone as powerful as Terumi, and after becoming Phantom look into alternate timelines, which Terumi abuses like a cheat sheet to successfully play Xanatos Speed Chess with the entire cast. Mitigated by her nuclear temper and arrogance leading to poor decision making, the fact that she is on some level refusing to follow orders from the bad guys, her love for her sister holding her back, and that once your get past all the power, she has the endurance of wet tissue paper; as soon as he gets an opening, Ragna takes her out in one hit.
  • Similarly to the above, Sol Badguy of Guilty Gear is a Gear Super Prototype who can easily curbstomp most of the cast while holding back massively. Fortunately, he practically never goes even halfway to going all out, partly because he's aware that doing so would probably destroy everything for miles around him, and partly because he's a lazy bastard. Also, for all his brilliance, he's still being played a sucker by the game's enigmatic Big Bad.
  • In one of the many, many, many Walking Spoilers for Kid Icarus: Uprising, Dyntos has the power to copy anything and forge anything. This includes entire armies, and equip them all with ultimate weapons. And he can do it far faster than any of the other factions. The only thing that keeps him from actually breaking the story is his True Neutral tendencies; he doesn't actually want to take over the universe.
  • Mega Man:
    • The original Blue Bomber himself has the potential to be one. Even though his physical limits are fairly fixed, his retention of Special Weapons is not. The only reason he doesn't retain the ones from every game is because he freely chooses to discard them once they're no longer needed, being a peace-loving hero. With over a hundred weapons thus far, if he'd decided to hold onto them all, even X Era characters would pale in comparison.
    • Duo, from the classic series, is perhaps the most powerful character in the entire main continuity. He alone is powered by "Justice Energy", the only counterpoint to Evil Energy which has been all but stated as the base of the Maverick/Zero Virus and when the two clash, it causes destruction on an intergalactic scale. If he wasn't an officer for the universe at large and remained on Earth, or Rock had perhaps copied this off of him, there wouldn't be much of a franchise.
    • The title character of Mega Man Battle Network. Due to his nature, it is implied that if he were to have access to his full potential, he'd be the most powerful entity on the planet. Demonstrated very clearly in the fifth game where he briefly ascends to this level and destroys the final boss (the manifestation of humanity's evil) with a wave of his hand. However, the data size of a human soul and all of its potential is so massive that Lan's PET, despise being custom-made and constantly upgraded to deal with such a strain, can barely execute it for more than a few seconds, supposedly to avoid Explosive Overclocking and taking Mega Man with it.
    • X has unlimited potential. The attempted reboot of his series, Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X, has Dr. Light state that X can evolve as he fights, explaining how he retains certain powers and upgrades between games. The only reason he has problems in battle is his kindness causing him to hold back, and his awful experiences with the robotic battlefield makes him supress his full power even harder by the minute.
  • Chaos Control from Sonic the Hedgehog allows them to stop time entirely and/or teleport to across various distances. What prevents it from being too convenient is that it requires a Chaos Emerald to use, and there are only 7 in existence, and only three recurring characters (including Sonic himself) are capable of the ability.
    • Taken to a whole new level with Mephiles, the Big Bad of Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), as he can use Chaos Control to willingly travel to any point in time and manipulate events accordingly and even forcibly throw his enemies through time. Eventually, Shadow, Sonic, and Silver learn to do the same by using Chaos Control against each other.
    • In Sonic Forces, Infinite gets outfitted with the Phantom Ruby from Sonic Mania, giving him the ability to warp reality. It's later revealed that he can create illusions that warp his victims' perception of reality, but the effects are the same. He repeatedly routs the Resistance armies, and the limits by which he's able to warp reality are ill-defined. Consequently, he never seems to use the Phantom Ruby to its fullest potential in his actual boss fights, preferring to create harmful obstacles and do charging attacks.
  • In Super Robot Wars W, the Game-Breaker Valzacard is a mecha built with technology far beyond the whole universe, a Reality Warper, has survived the end of the world, and can play with space-time easily. Conventionally, it can erase its opponent from existence and its weakest attack has enough power to obliterate several of the Database Battleships (built with similar technology), making it the most powerful Original Generation in the franchise. The only canonical reason it doesn't beat everything without even trying is because some components are broken and there's no time for repairs, causing its output to be far lower than what it should be.
  • Tabuu's Off Wave in Super Smash Bros. Brawl has the power to revert all the characters back into trophies, which allowed it to completely curb stomp nearly the entire cast in seconds, with only a Chekhov's Gun allowing one to get free and revive the others. After that, they were only saved from another Off Wave by a Deus ex Machina Big Damn Heroes moment from Sonic, which depowered the Off Wave enough to only be a One-Hit Kill that covers the entire screen and can only be avoided through rolling and air dodging.
  • Tartessos the City in Tears to Tiara 2 has stored in its temples a warship that is effectively a Galleass in an age of Quinqueremes, capable of taking on Krakens without trouble. It can also teleport dragons in for its own defense. That it is a city and effectively neutral for most of the work prevent the powers from being abused.
  • Touhou fans love to joke that the cast is the most dominant in fiction, with a long list of characters with unique abilities that have staggering applications, or just phenomenal levels of raw power. In canon the Spell Card rules were invented precisely because there were so many of these beings floating around, implemented to prevent the powerful denizens from going all out in combat and allowing weaker beings to stand a chance of winning.
    • Reimu Hakurei possesses literal Plot Armor, her status as Gensokyo's Barrier Maiden ensuring that she can never be killed as it would cause Gensokyo to experience Critical Existence Failure, and can channel Shinto gods to use any of their powers. Furthermore, her Fantasy Heaven ability temporarily causes her to "fly away from reality" and become completely invincible; Word of God is that this ability is only allowed in Spell Card duels because she added a time limit - without it she would be unstoppable.
    • Sakuya Izayoi is one big Shout-Out to Dio Brando above, with a Time Stands Still ability that's just as effective, and because of Required Secondary Powers can also manipulate space, doing things like making the Scarlet Devil Mansion Bigger on the Inside and making a Hammerspace pocket filled with infinite knives. In canon she doesn't kill people (anymore), but the third Fantasy Kaleidoscope episode gives a terrifying glimpse of what she's capable of.
    • Remilia Scarlet's ability to manipulate fate is only ever loosely defined and its use is implied to be unconscious, but the fate of people changes just from being around her (for better or worse) and she can apparently see into the future. No-one can be certain whether or not she's using her ability in any particular situation however, making judging its strength that much more difficult.
    • Flandre Scarlet is a vampire with the power to destroy anything by visualising its "eye" and crushing it in her hand, no matter the object (or person) or the distance between her and the target. Her sister Remilia was so concerned about the damage Flandre's powers could cause that she confined her to the mansion's basement for all of her (500 years long) life. Which backfired to an extent, as now she doesn't know her own strength.
    • Yuyuko Saigyouji has the power to kill with a thought (aside from the two unkillable characters Mokou and Kaguya mentioned below), can control dead spirits, and is smart enough to see through even Yukari's schemes at a glance. She's immune to exorcism as long as she's bound to the Saigyou Ayakashi, and unsealing her would release one of the only evil creatures in the setting. However, she spends most of her time running her portion of the Netherworld, and rarely takes things seriously when she does get involved in the plot.
    • Yukari Yakumo is a powerful Youkai, a master of Onmyodo, The Chessmaster with Super Intelligence and a legion of spies, and a nine-tailed kitsune as her shikigami, but much of her Shrouded in Myth status comes from her power to manipulate boundaries. While in-story this ability has mostly manifested as creating portals, and once as manipulating the border of night and day so that it could be both night and day at the same time, Akyuu writes that it is far more powerful... at least, according to Yukari:
    The ability to manipulate boundaries is a terrifying ability capable of fundamentally undermining reality. As far as we know, everything is built upon the existence of boundaries. If there was no water surface, there could be no lake. If there was no sky line, neither mountain nor sky could exist. Were it not for the Great Barrier, even Gensokyo itself wouldn't exist. If there were no boundaries, everything would probably exist as a single enormous object. Thus, the ability to manipulate boundaries is by logic an ability of creation and destruction. It essentially creates a new being, or rejects the existence of a being. [...] It's said that this ability is not limited to physical space, but also applies to pictures, others' dreams, and even stories.
  • Cassius Bright, the father of Estelle, in The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky can be considered as one. In fact, the reason why he was sent to a different country was because the villains, Ouroboros, believed that if he was there, he'd easily thwart their plans.

    Visual Novels 
  • Dangan Ronpa: Between a variety of talents, characters and a Magnificent Bastard of a Big Bad, no power seems to be able to outdo Luck in the Dangan Ronpa universe. This is even lampshaded in the third case of the game, when the killer says that one of the reasons for their murder was that they wanted to test their talent against Makoto's luck, and naturally, they lose. In the second game, Nagito, who is even luckier than Makoto ends up orchestrating his own death, through an insanely complicated method, so the person he wanted would be blamed for it and allowed to escape.
  • Demonbane... or at least later on in the visual novels when shit starts to hit the fan. The War God Demonbane is often considered the largest mecha in all of fiction, as it is so big that the universe collapses when it and its opponent start super-sizing themselves. It can also manipulate time. Elder God Demonbane, on the other hand, is much smaller but possesses even greater abilities, such as time travel, multiverse-hopping, and summoning versions of itself from all the infinite universes; an infinite army of backup. What keeps Demonbane from being an Invincible Hero is the fact that its opponents are the Outer Gods of Lovecraft's works... anything less than an infinite amount of power would never compete with them. Nyarlathotep, for instance, removes the aforementioned War God Demonbane from existence with a thought, and even Elder God Demonbane has never been able to put it down for good, even after literally billions of battles across the multiverse.
  • Momoyo from Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! is one of the strongest people in the entire world to the point where she can defeat genetically engineered super soldiers designed to be One Man Armies in seconds. Due to the usually comedic Slice of Life tone, this allows the main group to enjoy themselves with little fear of being in danger due to the absolutely massive gap between her and almost everybody else. When things get serious, the plot always finds a way of suppressing her power to create actual drama.
  • The Nasuverse:
  • The Number 9 Bracelet in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. The Nonary Game is based on using digital roots to unlock doors using a certain combination of numbers on the other bracelets to do so, but the number 9 is able to open every door with every combination since it can't alter the digital root. So what happens to the man with the number 9 bracelet? He falls for another character's trap and is killed by the bomb in his stomach, leaving his bracelet for said character to claim in secret.
  • The witches in Umineko: When They Cry. Bernkastel can make any event happen so long as the probability of it happening isn't zero. Lambdadelta can also make any event happen provided that whoever or whatever is trying to cause that event doesn't give up. Featherine Augustus Aurora beats them all by being able to Rewrite Reality.
  • The spiritually-charged Magatama from the Phoenix Wright series has the ability to "sense secrets" in the form of binding chains called Psyche-Locks; in essence, it makes the holder a Living Lie Detector that allows them to perceive when people are hiding a game where, as a lawyer, the player's job is to find out if they're hiding something. However, there are limits to the Magatama's ability: it doesn't reveal specifically what the secret is, requiring Phoenix to present numerous pieces of evidences to "break" each lock. Furthermore, it can't be used in court itself, when it would be the most useful. There are also ways around it, as Matt Engarde proves in the second game: he is able to truthfully state "I didn't kill anyone" after arranging for an assassin to murder somebody.
    • There's also the famed Kurain Spirit Channeling Technique, which allows certain individuals to contact the souls of the dead and let them possess their bodies to communicate with the living world again. This might sound like the perfect way to expose murderers—after all, why not just ask the victim who killed them? To prevent the Technique from making murder an easily solved crime, it's made clear that only a select few individuals (mostly the Fey family) can perform it, and only after rigorous training (or by simply having immense psychic power inherently). An in-story justification also exists in the form of the DL-6 Incident, a murder case where the police, completely out of leads, asked Misty Fey to try to summon the victim; while the channeling worked, it didn't solve the crime (although that complication wasn't the medium's fault), which turned the public against psychic ability and thus made the Fey clan reluctant to advertise their abilities.

    Web Comics 
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse:
    • Universe 16 Vegito Briefs is exactly as powerful as he was in Dragonball's canon, and can even become a Super Saiyan 3. His power is so great as a Super Saiyan 3 that everyone in the tournament arena begins floating off the ground just from Vegito powering up. Finally, there are less than a handful of people that can take Vegito on and make him work for a win. He's beaten in his second match by ring-out, both to preserve the surprise of the unnamed opponent that beat him and to give the remaining contestants a real chance to win.
    • Universe 20 Broly is one hell of an Adaptational Badass. His Legendary Super Saiyan form was reworked to constantly increase his power the longer a fight went on, meaning he'd eventually become stronger than whomever he fought if he survives that long. It took Vegito becoming a Super Saiyan 3 in their match for Broly to lose.
    • Universe 4 Majin Buu (named Zen Buu here) absorbed Goku, Vegeta, Trunks, Gohan, Goten, Piccolo, and Bulma in his universe, then went across his galaxy absorbing more people for their knowledge and power. The result makes him one of the most powerful beings participating in this tournament, and one of the few that's strong enough to fight Vegito.
    • Universe 2's Neko Majin and Arale are treated as Parody Sue versions of this trope. Their Rule of Funny powers are used in a serious context during the tournament, making them both extremely powerful Reality Warpers that equal even Zen Buu's magic in potency. Arale hands Universe Android 18 her ass the entire fight, only losing because of a Deus ex Machina. Neko Majin is able to copy everything Universe 18 Gotenks can do, including using the Fusion Dance with only himself to fuse with, the Super Saiyan form, and the Ghost Kamikaze Attack. He isn't harmed by anything Gotenks can do, so Gotenks had to bribe him into giving up the fight.
  • Han Jee-Han, the main character of The Gamer, on virtue of the limited yet exploitable Reality Warper nature of his powers which allow him to gain new abilities and grow stronger like a RPG character would. As of the end of the first season, his powers include:
    • Boring, but Practical utility skills, such as his Hammerspace, Enemy Scan and long-range audio chat.
    • Being Immune to Bullets as well as most forms of non-magical physical assault, as he regenerates faster than he can get harmed.
    • The ability to create and improve on his own spells, his signature one being a magical Flechette Storm.
    • A Healing Hands technique whish works on pretty much anything from wounds to chronic diseases.
    • Summoning several copies (or one very strong version) of his Gnome elemental, who has several devastating abilities of her own.
    • Creating money and precious items from nothing, as all he has to do is create an Instance Dungeon with tough enemies and blast away at them, which helpfully also feeds his...
    • Level Grinding, which means that although most of his allies and enemies surpass him in raw power, he only needs to train up for long enough to catch up.
    • The kicker? One of the first thing he does when experimenting with his powers is to get such a large Mana pool that he can spam most of his attacks indefinitely.
  • One character in Casey and Andy is Satan. And she has Reality Warper powers. The author has remarked that it's hard to come up with reasons why she isn't using them to help her boyfriend out of whatever jam he finds himself in.
  • Grace's shapeshifting powers in El Goonish Shive, with her Omega form being the strongest to the point that she was able to effortlessly defeat Damien, the Big Bad of the Painted Black arc and the most powerful character in the comic at the time. Fortunately, she's usually a pacifist who prefers not to fight unless she has to, and many fights either find a way to take her out of it or put her in a situation where she can't fight at full power.
  • Homestuck:
    • The timing of Tavros's death comes suspiciously soon after the revelation that his animal affinity extends to First Guardians, and immediately after he asks about using it to get god-dog Becquerel to help directly.
    • The trolls themselves- being parodies of Mary Sues- nearly all have wondrous, impressive powers that are rare even for their species. Unfortunately, their personalities are so dysfunctional and the Gambit Pileup they get stuck in is so massively huge (spanning dozens of characters, at least two apocalypses, and time travel in both directions) that any attempt they make to fix the situation either fails completely or only ends up making things worse. A recurring theme throughout Hivebent is that if the trolls could actually get past their various issues and work together as a team, they could be heroes.
    • Jade Harley gets several of these in a row. First, she imprints her dead dream-self into her sprite, creating a version of Jade with godlike power... who is too depressed to use it. Then, she fuses with Jadesprite as part of going god-tier, giving her godlike power and the will to use it... but then the plot proceeds in such a way that she spends three years with her boundless teleport mojo not working for her. Finally, upon arriving in the alpha session, she is hit with mind control by a major villain, caught in a difficult confrontation with a fully-powered Page, knocked unconscious by a surprise hit and finally crushed under a building.
    • John and his retcon powers not only allow him to move through different universes (something not even Jade can do), but it also gives him the ability to make changes to the alpha timeline. Meaning that when things go wrong or get too hot to handle, he can just go back and change it, with absolutely no one able to stop him. It was through this ability that John managed to revive most of the dead main characters, as well as transport the entirety of the Land of Wind and Shade to his newly created alpha timeline.
  • Richard from Looking for Group is a nigh-invulnerable dark mage with vast, vast powers: half the time he is sidelined in one way or another to let the other characters achieve something, the other half he is jarringly abrupt in his resolving of fights/problems. An entertaining character, but problematic.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Vaarsuvius becomes ridiculously powerful through a Deal with the Devil. The resulting arrogance results in a serious backfire/subversion later on when Xykon turns out to be much too well prepared for a simple brute force attack to work. The above-described Scry and Die tactic is explicitly mentioned.
    • According to Rich Burlew, even with Vaarsuvius having the two most useful spell schools on their banned list, it is very hard to write scenarios that they can't trivialize with the other six spell schools.
    • He's also stated that he considers true resurrection (the most powerful resurrection spell) a story-breaker, and it will never show up in the comic. He also mentioned that the few monsters capable of casting it naturally would demand at least one life in exchange, which in most cases is too high a price for the characters to reasonably pay.
    • He's also not a fan of teleportation magic, since his story, like many, is about journeys. "Characters who blip right to their end destination do not for an engaging journey make."
    • Durkon, being a cleric, is just as powerful as V, if not more so. His displayed spells include healing to the point of resurrection, paralyzing at range, turning into a giant, tossing around lightning, changing the weather, flying, sending messages across long ranges, and making people immune to Mind Control or Level Drain, and that's on top of being a decent warrior in his own right. As such, it's practically a Running Gag that he doesn't use his skills to their full potential. Even then, he usually ends up either sitting fights out (the bandit forest, both Miko fights), being far away from people who need him (most of the battle of Azure City, most of Don't Split The Party), or, being turned into a vampire.
  • This is why Petey only rarely gets screen time on Schlock Mercenary. His personal power level is at least an order of magnitude above any of the civilizations in the story, and he is fighting a war against the Andromeda galaxy.
  • Phantaminum from Tower of God. As an Exis, he is a being that cannot be interfered with. That's all he needs, but he is also unGodly powerful in conventional ways. Fortunately, he is a background character.
  • In White Dark Life, the story breaking power is NOT Mimicry, but rather Altair's combined soul stealing and erasure powers. The more he kills, the stronger he gets and with no one even capable of remembering his victims. Well, photos excluded.

    Web Original 
  • Played for Laughs in one Liar Town USA post, describing a fictional TV show called Futuresight: "A wildly successful clairvoyant gambler is persuaded to solve crimes by the FBI. Since he's psychic, he solves hundreds each day. It's no big deal. Then a crime syndicate decides to target him. But they end up in jail, because he can see the future. After that, it's back to gambling."
  • In Red vs. Blue Wyoming's Time Distortion Unit powers are nebulously defined anyway, but we know at the very least it can be used to loop small segments of time (used specifically by Wyoming to "replay" a situation in which he loses) and slow/stop time around the user. Yet in the prequel bits, Wyoming never once makes use of it, even after we know he has an AI. This is because time manipulation should make it impossible for Wyoming to ever lose— and he very specifically has to at a few points.
    • Later seasons add a limit to the Time Distortion Unit, namely, a charge limit. The Meta is already overpowered enough as it is, but it's first attempt at using Wyoming's upgrade renders its suit unable to power any of its equipment, forcing it to retreat.
  • Conveniently for RWBY's plot, Pyrrha (who can control anything metal she touches at will) is rarely around to fight the many villains armed with metal weapons. She also never uses it to its full potential, just using it to subtly redirect her opponents' attacks rather than advertise her power. The one time she made overt use of it was in a silly, "just for fun" match against people who already knew she could do it. It's so overpowering that she manages to go toe-to-toe with Cinder who had stolen the full might of the Fall Maiden for a surprisingly long time, taking heavy advantage of the numerous metal sources nearby to keep Cinder off her game.
  • Thrilling Adventure Hour: Averted with the Force Galactic, which grants its wielder more or less omnipotence. The Barkeep has it much of the series, but since his wife forbids him from using it in his place, Sparks Nevada or the others usually fix the situation without his help. That said, he does sometimes bend the rules a bit, such as by using the powers outside his place and on other, far away planets.
  • Tennyo of the Whateley Universe is so powerful that in her battle at Christmas she ripped a hole in space and time and destroyed an unkillable thirty-foot regenerating monster. Plus, she may be the strongest regenerator on the planet. Her problem is that her powers are potentially too destructive — her "death blow" is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, she can end up irradiating the area she's fighting in without meaning to or noticing, and sometimes when she loses her temper badly enough something seems to get loose that drives normal humans insane with fright before she's even really done anything to them. In "Ayla and the Great Shoulder Angel Conspiracy", the authors figured out how to use her backstory to give her a Heroic B.S.O.D. and totally take her out of the game.
  • Worm:
    • Contessa has the ability to see and carry out a guaranteed path to victory. And unlike other forms of prescience in the setting, her power cannot be countered by other precogs. Or as she puts it, "I win."
    • Scion, as the entity that gave parahumans their powers, he has access to almost all of them dialed Up to 11. Including Contessa's power. His main power, unique to him, is "stilling"; the ability to cancel out wavelengths of any and every kind. This includes essentially all matter and energy, giving him obscenely powerful offense and defense. He is far and away the most powerful character in the setting. The only way he's defeated is by completely shattering his will to fight.