One of the Stock Superpowers; a person with Super Reflexes can react to situations faster than normal. This is typically used to allow him to dodge or cancel threats that would otherwise blindside a regular character.
Unlike Spider-Sense, there is normally no psychic component to this ability — rather, the character with Super Reflexes acquired the skill through training, Applied Phlebotinum, technological enhancement, or just dumb luck. An implied limitation is that a character with Super Reflexes must first notice the danger before he can (quickly) react to it, so some element of Super Senses is implied. Whether or not this is enforced depends on the quality of the work.
Super Reflexes is often a Required Secondary Power for Super Speed, but the two are not equivalent; just because a character can dodge a flurry of fists doesn't mean he can run halfway across a field in the blink of an eye. Expect this power to be revoked the moment it becomes inconvenient for the plot; witness The Flash being able to clean an entire house in a tenth of a second one page and slam into a villain's outstretched arm on the next.
In non-superhero settings, Super Reflexes may be called other names like "Combat Reflexes" or "Heightened Response".
Bullet Time is a visual effect often used to depict this trope.
Compare and contrast with Super Speed and Spider-Sense. May overlap with Dodge the Bullet.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
One of the benefits of being a ninja in Naruto is a general boost in one's physical abilities, and they can be specifically conditioned to be even better. One of the powers the Sharingan grants is super reflexes due to move prediction. It can read any movement the enemy makes, even those at high speeds and the user can avoid an attack-although this isn't an exact science. Rock Lee rightfully said that even if you can see an attack, if you can't move fast enough to counter, it won't matter. As Sasuke learned the hard way.
The 4th Raikage can use lightning to boost his reflexes so much that even the Sharingan has difficulty keeping up with him, while the 4th Hokage apparently had comparable reaction time naturally.
Tsunade and Sakura's style also revolves around having super reflexes and move prediction to make up for their lack of speed.
Kallen from Code Geass, being a combat mech pilot, has incredible reflexes, which tend to act up even when she is playing an Ill Girlin school, e.g. in one episode, when Rivalz accidentally sends a champagne bottle cork right into her face, she notices it even before he does and deflects it with her hand.
Suzaku Kururugi from the same show is shown to be able to dodge bullets from machine guns.
This is one of the effects of the Psycho Serum, Bloody Eye in Cowboy Bebop, with both the minor villain, Asimov Solensan and the Big Bad, Vicious being notable users.
A common power for various enhanced humans in Humongous Mecha shows, seeing as how something as complex as a giant humanoid fighting machine would probably be nearly impossible to control without them in Real Life. Notable examples include Newtypes, Co-ordinators and Headdliners.
One of the "Plus" Abnormals in Medaka Box has Super Reflexes as his Abnormality, which he calls "Automatic". He discovered that his reflexes were an Abnormality in a truly disturbing way. When he was a child he and his entire family were caught in a car wreck so horrific that his entire family was crushed to death. He, on the other hand, was (physically) completely unharmed thanks to his Super Reflexes. Being covered by bits and pieces of his dead family for hours while waiting for rescue did a number on his psyche though.
Taken to insane heights in Bleach, with one of Mayuri's inventions including a Super Serum that was made for this purpose but is far, far, far too strong: he mentions that if you dilute the sample he had (stored inside of Nemu, who is assumably immune) to one part per 250,000, one drop would be enough to be significantly increase your fighting ability. If you take the whole thing (which Szayel does by accident) it will make every second seem like a century, roughly 3 billion times normal speed, and thus make co-ordination of movement utterly impossible.
Kenpachi displayed impressive reflexes during his battle with Tousen. Deprived of every sense except touch, he was still able to dodge Tousen's attacks. He was able to do this by feeling the sword begin to cut his body and immediately dodging the blow, before following with an increasingly accurate counterattack. It's entirely possible he could have won the fight that way, but he found it too boring and decided to speed things up.
In Suzumiya Haruhi, Nagato can react fast enough to block lasers. It's implied she had to teleport a short distance to do so, and couldn't react fast enough to deflect all the damage to herself.
Spell Crests in Taboo Tattoo can grant super reflexes, among other abilities.
Invoked in Sword Art Online whenever Kirito used his Dual Sword Skill. However, due to incidents of the time he used the skill, it's unclear if it's another perk of the skill or a rare skill.
Backwards. Of all SAO players, the system found Kirito to have the fastest natural reflexes, which is why it gave him the Dual Swords skill. He retains his reaction speed even after leaving Aincrad, giving him huge advantages in ALO/GGO, it's basically his main power.
Everyone who matters in One Piece. The Strawhats have been dodging bullets since like the third major arc and it just keeps getting more and more ridiculous, evidenced by Admiral Kizaru, a light logia, who isn't even the fastest character in the series.
Pretty much all the powerful characters in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children must have these to have the kind of fight scenes they do — most obviously, Cloud has no problem parrying bullets aimed at him with a giant sword.
Same thing with Cassandra Cain as Batgirl, minus the "almost." In one issue, while being fired upon, she jumps between the bullets because it's more fun that way.
Captain America doesn't dodge bullets, he blocks them with his mighty shield. Yet somehow, even when surrounded on all sides by gun-wielding Mooks, the shield always seems to be in the right place. This even applies when he is mindcontrolled chemically, an early story set in World War II had him under the influence of such a chemical by the Red Skull, but when he is taken before Adolf Hitler and the Fuehrer takes a swing at him, Cap reflexively blocks it with his shield, a body function that the Red Skull can't suppress.
Elektra can react fast enough to block machine gun fire with her sai.
Spider-Man's Super Reflexes are linked to his Spider-Sense. So basically if he sense something he instinctively and immediately takes action to avoid danger and is the reason why he can make quips and jokes while dodging bullets, since he his Spidersense is doing everything for him. Unfortunately this is VERY Dependingonthe Writer as most have just write it off as some alarm system that can detect danger.
Spider-Man 2099, Miguel O'Hara, has enhanced perceptions that happen to tune in more quickly to what's pertinent, although "what's pertinent" could be anything from an immediate danger or a more general plot point. Unlike Spider-Sense, it's limited by what his attention is focused on, and he could still be caught flat-footed.
Thor has blocked plenty of bullets and energy attacks over the years, even those fired at point blank range. In Journey Into Mystery #100, Thor deflected two bullets fired simultaneously with one swing of Mjollnir.
Squirrel Girl has Squirrel Agility — the proportionate speed and reflexes of a squirrel.
Shatterstar is often shown to use his Super Reflexes to augment his swordfighting skills.
In the Transformers Generation 1 comic books, Headmasters are Transformers who have mentally fused with a human (or Nebulan) partner. The combined minds work in tandem, usually giving Headmasters faster reflexes and/or better tactical assessment skills. They are usually depicted as a single entity, though sometimes the two personalities will discuss and argue with each other as the story requires.
One issue of Marvel's G.I. Joe comic book featured the Star Viper, a Cobra pilot who could connect himself to a computer and gain augmented speed and reflexes.
John Doe of Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja , thanks to a lifetime of Ninja training. In the first issue of his comic, he dodges a bullet fired at him from point-blank range; later, he dodges a sniper's bullets while running uphill towards the gunman.
The Sub-Mariner has superhuman reflexes, though how that works while he's submerged is unclear.
Superman can do this, he just tends to prefer to take the attack because its the safest place for the attack to connect most of the time. But its sometimes shown that even when he lets the bullets bounce off his chest to intimidate the crooks, he's quickly catching the ricochets to prevent casualties and collateral damage.
Wesley Gibson from Wanted once swatted a bullet out of the air with a knife. He himself couldn't believe that actually worked.
Arguably, Indiana Jones uses this to dodge many of the deathtraps he ends up in.
Terminator Salvation shows that this is why the moto-terminators are so deadly; their cybernetic brains allow them to predict the movement of obstacles at high speeds note (both the computing and the obstacles, that is), effectively giving themselves Super Reflexes. At one point, one terminator slides under a bouncing tanker truck, rights itself and keeps firing at the retreating heroes.
Maruti from The Return of Hanuman is able to avoid bullets very quickly. This was shown when he had to face some gangsters.
D.A.R.Y.L. has this ability due to being a cyborg.
Remo Williams learns to dodge bullets.
The Jedi appear to have super reflexes, what with deflecting blaster shots with their lightsabers all the time. However, to hear Qui-Gon explain it, their reflexes aren't really any faster than normal. What is different is that Jedi can use the Force to sense a few seconds into the future, meaning they're beginning to react before the danger is even present, which allows them to react so quickly.
The answer to this is usually More Dakka. Many Jedi are killed on Geonosis when dozens of droids start firing on them. Ditto for Order 66.
General Grievous can also do this despite lack of any Force ability; as a full-body cyborg he had super reflexes programmed in as part of the cybernetic upgrades. Along with extra arms so that he can wield four lightsabers at once.
In the film of The Hunger Games, Katniss certainly appears to be this quick, to such a degree that she can practically use her bow at melee range, as against the wolf/warg ... thing near the end..
A form of Super Reflexes has been described in literature for years now — where a Main Character has gotten into a fix, and time seems to "slow down" for them. They don't actually get superhuman reflexes, they just get "extra time" to solve the situation. This may be Truth in Television, as there are studies showing this to be a real phenomenon.
In Discworld, the History Monks have a technique called "slicing time" that allows them to do this. The problems with Super Speed are also deconstructed, as the monks have a number of requirements to avoid the "solid air" problem. At deeper levels, you see red/blue shift and have to keep moving so the air in your personal time pocket won't all get used up.
More specifically, Lobsang Ludd, an apprentice in Thief of Time, is demonstrated to have a loose grip on time. One of the effect of this is that he has a negative reaction time: he can actually react to something slightly before it starts appearing.
Lord Vetinari is mentioned to move like a snake.
The protagonist Kiritsugu of the Fate/stay night prequel Fate/Zero has this as his primary magical capability. It works by "time manipulation", accelerating the processes of his body while leaving the world alone; basically, he moves really fast. Unfortunately, this causes conflicts when his body interacts with the rest of the world, and stuff like his blood moving faster than sound results in his body receiving internal damage each time he uses it.
In Fate/stay night itself, Archer can do the "freeze time to think about his options" method, though we only find out after Shirou (who has gained Archer's skills via arm transplant) does this during the fight between Saber Alter and Rider.
This is one of the key abilities of windcrafters in Codex Alera. However, it's possible for someone to start damaging their body if they push the Super Speed aspects too far, since muscles and bones aren't designed to move that fast.
Described in Shadows of the Empire when Luke fights a superfast droid assassin, opens himself to the Force, and time seems to slow way down.
Luke felt as if he were moving at normal speed, though there was a crackling feeling to his motion, a sound like strong wind whistling about his ears.
Possibly the first example ever of Super Reflexes appeared in the 1956 Science Fiction Classic (and proto-proto cyberpunk novel), The Stars My Destination (aka Tiger! Tiger!). In it, the anti-hero protagonist has his nervous system and musculature rewired to allow a state of accelerated movement. It is notable in that it had a relatively realistic look at the effects and problems of the state: The color spectrum shifts down to red, energy expenditure means that you will starve to death if the state is held too long, and engaging in hand to hand combat with another accelerated fighter is essentially suicidal for both of you as the collision is nearly instantly fatal.
In Mistborn, the metal atium effectively causes this when "burned" for power- technically it grants the wielder the ability to see a few seconds into the future, but in practice this results in almost literally unbeatable Super Reflexes- unless the other person has atium too, in which case the power is cancelled out.
The Percy Jackson and the Olympians books explain that the demigods enhanced "Battle Reflexes" are the reason so many of them end up diagnosed with ADHD. (This an a similar explanation of dyslexia being the result of having a brain hardwired for ancient Greek were written in for the benefit of the authors son, who has both ADHD and dyslexia.)
In Timothy Zahn's The Cobra Trilogy, the Cobras are an elite unit of Super Soldiers with unbreakable bones, servo-powered joints, concealed lasers, and computer-enhanced reflexes, among other changes. Unfortunately, the computerized reflexes include responding "lethally to anything that even looks like an attack." And when the Cobras tried to go back to civilian life, none of those enhancements could be removed. Including the lasers.
Also, Zahn's Blackcollar novels features the titular special forces troops who have gained this ability through the use of a drug called "Backlash". Unfortunately, with the defeat of the Terran Democratic Empire by the Ryqril, the secret of the drug was destroyed to prevent it from falling into Ryqril hands, so there is no way to make more full-fledged Blackcollars. The protagonist does his best to train himself to have near-superhuman reflexes, though.
Loup Garron in Santa Olivia, being the daughter of a genetically-modified soldier, is capable of moving significantly faster than the average person.
David Weber's Path of the Fury has a combat drug cocktail (stored in the cybernetic implants of the elite Drop Commandos) which effectively provides this: the "Tick" speeds up the speed of perception by about three times - while a commando on the Tick can't move faster, she can deliberate every move and anticipate her opponent's moves effortlessly. Its very existence is top secret.
In The Vampire Files, when Jack fights normal human thugs, he moves so much faster that he can easily disarm or evade them.
Dillon of Power Rangers RPM has enhanced reflexes as part of the entire half-machine package. First demonstrated when he instantly catches Colonel Truman's falling mug while being interrogated.
A lack of them is used in No Ordinary Family to keep a lid on Stephanie's Story Breaker Power of superspeed. While she's not at a risk of crashing into things if she goes too fast, when she's not using her power she has normal reflexes, allowing people to take her out before she can react.
People of the 22nd century in Time Trax can learn to control their own minds, including an ability to temporarily boost their brain's processing power, effectively granting them superhuman reflexes (this is called "time stalling"). This is often used by the protagonist (a cop from the future) to best his opponents. One episode involved a boxing match between the protagonist and a 22nd-century boxer, both of whom use this ability.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer has enhanced reflexes as part of the slayer package. Naturally, the vampires and some of the demons on it and Angel do as well.
In GURPS, the Advantage called Enhanced Time Sense is an "always on" version of Super Reflexes.
In Shadowrun, Street Samurai with cybernetic boosted reflexes see the world this way when the reflexes are turned on. Presumably anyone with magically boosted reflexes (whether from spells or physical adept abilities) gains the same perspective.
Naturally Cyberpunk 2020, being a cyberpunk-based RPG, has this and in two flavors: the Kerenzikov (always ON) and the Sandevistan (only when it's required).
In Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition, the monk has a class ability that more or less makes sure that they are never really surprised by an attack.
The Pathfinder RPG (based on D&D 3.5) goes one further with the Divination specialist Wizard. Even if they didn't notice an ambush, they can act in the Surprise Round along with the attackers. And with the bonuses they get to Initiative, there's a better-than-normal chance that they'll even be able to act before the ninjas hiding in the bushes. This plays out as a quick-duration Cassandra sometimes, because the game mechanics prevent your fellow party members from gaining any benefit. Shouting a warning won't do anything.
Some characters in Rifts have a special combat action called and auto dodge, which works like a regular dodge, except that it doesn't take up any actions. Some (like Juicers) can even auto dodge sneak attacks from behind, making the ability verge on Spider-Sense.
The Kanohi Calix, Mask of Fate in BIONICLE. It pushes the wearer's physical capabilities to their limits.
One of the Power Sets for Scrappers, Brutes, Tanks, and Stalkers in City of Heroes is explicitly called this.
Star Wars: Jedi Knight: In Jedi Outcast, and Jedi Academy, if you get shot by an enemy sniper, you'll automatically dodge it like Neo, especially if you have Force Speed activated.
This is because the snipers use disruptor rifles, which fire at the speed of light. It's probably faster to dodge then try to block the shot with a lightsaber.
Naturally, this is subject to The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard. You will auto-dodge some of the time depending on your force meter and how highly-leveled your abilities are. Enemy force-users are nigh impossible to hit with any sort of weapon, enforcing lightsaber combat. Especially the sniper rifle. Even the weakest Mook Reborn will have no problem dodging it, no matter how rapidly you fire it even though its shots seem to travel instantaneously.
In Mass Effect 2, Commander Shepard's combat-related classes each have a variation of this, which is represented in-game by Bullet Time. The Soldier can use this effect on-demand with Adrenaline Rush (with an additional damage bonus), while the Vanguard gets it after a sufficiently-evolved Charge attack, and the Infiltrator gets it for a few seconds when zooming with a sniper rifle.
Albert Wesker from Resident Evil 5 has this ability, being able to perceive incoming attacks much faster than normal and dodging accordingly.
The Pointman (player protagonist) in First Encounter Assault Recon has this ability coupled with Super Speed, depicted as Bullet Time. Later on Michael Beckett, Foxtrot-813, the unnamed FEAR Sergeant, and the Nightcrawler Elites have this ability, and in the third game Paxton Fettel is able to take advantage of the Point Man's powers whenever he activates them due to their psychic connection.
This is the primary superpower of the villain Whiteout (he's an albino assassin). His reflexes are fast enough to dodge bullets (and pretty much anything else) if he knows they're coming. He doesn't move with Super Speed, though.
In the Whateley Universe, Exemplars like Stormwolf get the superstrength and toughness, but they also get enhanced reflexes. And then there's Chaka, who uses her ki for this: she can use her ki to sense your ki and dodge any punch you throw at her.
Cricket, white supremacist supercriminal from Worm, has super reflexes in addition to her martial arts skills and other powers.
When the Fight or Flight reflex is initiated, like temporary super strength, people react to things much faster than normal.
Trained athletes and fighters can react faster than the average person to certain stimuli. The debatable issue is whether this represents a superhuman ability or an undiscovered range of natural ability.
More recent evidence have suggested that the sensation of time slowing down in times of duress occurs because the natural built in limitations designed to prevent us from killing ourselves are overridden in the interest of long term safety. This is similar to how people under duress can exhibit extra strength that they always have but can't access since using it all the time would tear the body apart. That said, the reason trained anybodies can take advantage of it isn't because of any conscious thought - it's actually the training itself that's taking over and their conscious mind is basically along for the ride.
As people age, the brain processes get slightly slower. This results in a corresponding change in the perception of time.
"As soon as the fly sees the swatter falling towards it, it doesn't just jump into the air. It actually rather coolly, over the next hundred-thousandths of a second, moves its legs and reorients its body in preparation for the jump. [...] Then, at the last possible second, it jumps in the opposite direction to the swatter."