Swiss-Army Superpower

EB: all i can do is make a lot of wind blow around!

EB: how is that going to help?
AG: Use your imagin8tion!

AG: That windy thing of yours is more vers8tile than you think.

Sometimes a power seems limited. While talking to fish, super speed, and superhuman parkour skills are most definitely special abilities that could prove formidable in certain, very specific situations, much of the time they appear to be near-useless novelties.

Or so it would seem to those who lack imagination. See, characters with Swiss Army Super Powers are able to apply their narrowly-defined abilities in an amazing array of situations. Solely because their insight is so great, the Swiss Army Super Powered are always expanding the potential utility of their powers.

What sets the Swiss Army Power apart from similar power tropes is that the defined base ability never changes. The user simply becomes aware of aspects to their power they didn't think of before. The base rules do not change.

This blend of flexibility and limitation is convenient for the writers, because it allows them to get their heroes in and out of a host of sticky situations while avoiding complaints from fans that they've pulled a new power out of a character's ass. It still has a semblance of consistency. However, this also depends on how creative a writer can be about it.

Often confused with Combo Platter Powers where a character is simply given multiple unrelated powers rather than using variations on a theme (like Superman's Flight AND Laser Eyes, or Emma Frost's telepathy AND diamond form.)

Reality Warper, by definition, is a Swiss Army Superpower. Another power often given this treatment is electric powers and Biomanipulation.

Named after Swiss Army Knives, which are pocket sized sets of 8 - 10 undersized tools that can do everything.

Expect Forgot About His Powers to occur on multiple occasions.

Compare Green Rocks (which do this stuff at the whim of the writers, rather than serving a specific character), New Powers as the Plot Demands (for cases where new powers are the result of Ass Pull), Repower (for situations when a character has their powerset either expanded upon in a "nonlinear" way, or reimagined entirely from the ground up), Adaptive Ability, Swiss Army Weapon and Adaptive Armor. When a weak-sounding power has this, then it's Heart Is an Awesome Power. Semantic Superpower and Imagination-Based Superpower are also related.


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    Anime and Manga 

  • Eve's shapeshifting powers in Black Cat are a particularly interesting example. Our heroine starts the series as an emotionless tykebomb with nothing in the way of imagination, so her powers are limited to turning her hands into blades, but her character development throughout the series eventually leads to her coming up with dozens of other uses as she matures mentally. By the end of the series she's turning her body into steel, becoming a mermaid, turning her hair into monomolecular blades, sprouting wings, and shapeshifting air into handheld weapons among other things.
  • Eve's Expy, Golden Darkness in To Love-Ru, has nearly identical powers. Her favorite methods seem to be turning her hands into blades, or turning her hair into fists, usually for the purpose of delivering a Megaton Punch to an Ecchi person. She also turned her hair into Razor Floss at least once, as well as using her power to increase her bust size.
  • In A Certain Scientific Railgun, we see Misaka use her power, control over electricity, to perform all types of feats from attaching herself to a concrete wall, using surrounding pieces of steel as cover, and using iron sand to create a chainsaw whip sword, as well as various other uses.
    • Most Espers in fact have shown some degree of this as long as they are a bit creative with it. For example, Teitoku Kakine, the Number 2 Level 5, has an ability called Dark Matter that creates matter that doesn't exist in our universe and defies the laws of physics of anything it come into contact with. Among other things we have seen him merging it with mundane matter (like air, for example) to create physics-defying barriers (meaning its vector equation is ridiculously complicated), use said barrier to reflect and refract light to create over 2500 forms of radiations, and merging Dark Matter with objects to detonate them into oblivion. Much later, he can even create human flesh and organs to regenerate his body from damage, allowing him to come back from nothing but molecules. He also used this to create entire armies made of Dark Matter to fight against Accelerator and fellow Level 5 Esper Mugino.
  • In Death Note, Light does so well in figuring out imaginative new ways to use the Note — whilst adhering to its rules — that even an experienced user like Ryuk is surprised by what it can do. But then, it is mentioned in the series that not even a given Joe Random Shinigami knows what all the Death Note is capable of.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure,
    • In the first 2 parts of the series "channel Life Force through organic materials" sees a staggering number of uses and personal variations.
    • And after Stands are introduced in the 3rd part, users will find a lot of different ways of using their powers.
      • Giorno Giovanna's Gold Experience in particular is noted for an especially versatile Stand. It revolves around giving life to things, and beyond the obvious healing applications, can also transform inorganic objects into plants and animals, speed up the life cycle of certain living things, and hit people to speed up their thought processes and disorient them.
      • Jotaro manages to invoke this despite not even really having a power that he knows about beyond his Stand existing at all. Star Platinum, Jotaro's stand, has a range of two meters, Super Senses, Super Speed, Super Strength, high precision, and the famous Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs; also, like most stands, it's an intangible manifestation of the user's soul. Jotaro abuses this latter fact to steal exercise equipment, beer, and magazines while locked in a jail cell, talk to people underwater (through Star Platinum's mouth), poke people with the force of a gunshot by thinking all his Stand Power into Star Platinum's index finger and extending it to the edge of his range, get drinks, reach things more than an arm's length away, increase his durability by having Star Platinum block attacks from inside his body, stop and restart hearts, draw incredibly detailed pictures in the span of about a minute, see microscopic and far-off objects, and do brain surgery.
      • Weather Report's stand (as his name suggests), can control weather. This power is pretty versatile as it is, but Weather still manages to take it further, by streching definition of what could be considered "weather". For example, he can summon rare and freaky weather occurances, like animal rains - a rare phenomenon, when animals fall from the sky. Because of that, he can conjure rain of frogs and freely choose which species of frogs it will be - including highly poisonous south american frogs. And there's also rainbows with subliminal messaging in them...
    • Similarly to Hamon in the first two parts, Steel Ball Run has the huge variety of Rotation techniques. Essentially, a certain technique lets one imbue objects with incredible rotational momentum; the Zeppeli family uses Rotation-imbued steel balls pressed to the skin to stimulate nerves and muscles for anesthesia and cures similar to acupressure. Gyro uses the same steel balls to power up his horse's hind legs in order to make a dangerous jump, spin around the wrists of people pointing guns at him (causing them to shoot themselves), kick up dust, and deliver disproportionately damaging blows to enemies. Johnny, who is paralyzed from the waist down, first uses the Rotation to mount his horse: he convinces it to lick him in such a way that he is imbued with Rotation, letting him flip himself up onto its back.
  • The Barrier Warrior abilities of the titular Kekkaishi are incredibly adaptive for someone who's intelligent enough with them. While the standard uses are defense or attack via collapsing the barrier in on an enemy, they can also be used for everything from a spear-like attack to making platforms to allow the user to stand on thin air.
  • In Magical Girl Raising Project, most of the girls' power are described with Exact Words, which leads to many creative uses of their powers.
    • Snow White's powers is more versatile than most people are led to believe. Her power is "to hear the thoughts of people in distress", which lets Snow White hear her opponents thoughts if they are stressed enough, which unsurprisingly happens a lot in combat. In Restart, she is capable of using her powers to interrogate people for information by scaring them.
    • Pechika in Restart does this for her Crowning Moment of Awesome. Her power is to make delicious food after she touches something for five minutes, later when she's pinned down by Melville, Pechika turned the entire ground ten meters in diameter around her into soup to escape.
  • Naruto
    • Naruto is able to get this use out of shadow clones, which he can use for everything from a multi-hit combo, to learning new techniques in hours, to extending the length of his Super Mode.
    • Once Naruto finally get the hang of his Fox Mode his Rasengan variations became limited only by his imagination.
    • Same goes with Sasuke's Chidori and Amaterasu/Susanoo combo. Although for sheer power, Sasuke's Chidori is still weaker than his teacher Kakashi's version, Raikiri (despite Sasuke being stronger than Kakashi by this point), Sasuke does all kinds of things with Chidori that Kakashi never dreamed of.
  • One Piece
    • This is considered to be necessary for any skilled Devil Fruit user. By Word of Oda, Devil Fruit powers don't grow any stronger over time but their users can learn to use them in all sorts of new ways.
    • Main character Luffy has the ability to stretch, which he's used to increase his blood flow to greatly increase his speed, blow into his bones to give himself the strength of a giant in a limb, and combine the two. It's hard to say which is more surprising, in retrospect, about Luffy: that there are so many plausible uses for being made out of rubber, or that someone as stupid as Luffy can think of them.
    • Then there's Kuma's ability to push, which he's used to push away attacks, push the air to create air bullets, push away pain (and push the pain into somebody else), push himself to essentially teleport, and push opponents away from himself to wherever he wants.
    • The Amazon Lily arc brought prominence to the previously-hinted-at ability called "Haki" (basically weaponized force of spirit) by showing us just how many different powers can be created by using it. Over the course of one battle, we saw Haki users: enhance attacks to the point that hair can shatter stone, bypass Luffy's rubber defenses with impact blows, read attacks ahead of time, harden one's body to block any attack, and create a wave of awesome capable of knocking out dozens at a time. And the fact that these are all powers that other, unrelated enemies had over the course of several unrelated arcs makes one wonder how many other applications there are for Haki.
    • Viola from the Dressrosa arc can form "goggles" with her fingers. This gives her x-ray vision (perfectly logical), clairvoyance (still logical), telepathy (a reasonable extension of eye powers) and the ability to make her tears into giant whale figures to crush her enemies with (...).
    • Donquixote Doflamingo is great at showing how utterly versatile strings can be. Offense? Cutting, Whips, Bullets, Puppetry... Defense? Web Shields, Decoys... Mobility? String roads attached to the clouds... Healing? Internal wound stitching...
    • All of the above examples are Paramecia fruits, meaning that the powers they grant don't have any fixed pattern; it's not surprising that some of them would be extremely flexible. However, there are also example of Logia (Elemental Powers) and Zoan (Animorphism) being used in very creative ways:
      • Enel (sometimes spelled "Eneru") is a Logia-type who like all Logia-types has the ability to create, become, and manipulate an element; in his case, lightning. While he does use it to attack, and like most Logia-types reflexively becomes intangible against physical harm, his most dangerous attribute is his ability to 'hear' electromagnetic waves; this combined with his observation Haki (ability to read attacks ahead of time, mentioned above) means that he knows of everything that happens within an absurd radius, making it essentially impossible to plot against him, since he can also use his lightning form to essentially teleport. He also uses lightning bolts to arc-weld.
      • Tony-Tony Chopper is a reindeer that gained the ability to transform into a human, which as a side effect gave him human intelligence. The fruit, strictly speaking, only lets him access a full-human form and a hybrid form (in addition to his original, full-deer form) but his human intelligence, combined with medical training, let him develop drugs to create additional forms that are distorted in useful ways (such as having extra-strong arms, extra-fit legs for jumping, massive horns, and huge amounts of thick fur to block attacks).
      • Marco ate a Mythic Zoan that lets him become a phoenix, a bird made of blue flame. Not only does this give him Flight and the enhance physique that all Zoans gain, but most physical attacks simply pass through his phoenix form (similar to a Logia), and any injury he sustains can be healed rapidly when he is in flame form. He can also transform his body parts selectively, even summoning blue flames only over wounds to heal while otherwise fully human.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Mami Tomoe has the power to create and manipulate ribbons. Aside from the obvious uses of binding and bludgeoning her enemies, she also somehow figured out how to shape them into "ribbon constructs", including functional musket rifles and bullets. In The Rebellion Story, she can make her ribbons phantasmal (so she can negate Homura's Time Stands Still powers by being in physical contact with Homura when she activates them) and can even shape them into a perfect duplicate of herself that explodes when damaged.
  • Drills for the titular robot in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann can do absolutely anything. You'll find drills used as bullets, shields, lances, whips, means of propulsion, machine assimilation adapters, and shockingly enough, even actual digging tools.
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • Kurama has the ability to control plants. He just happens to have the seeds for different demonic plants on him that allow him to do pretty much anything, from flying to trapping enemies in Lotus Eater Machines.
    • Kuwabara can make a sword out of Pure Energy. The majority of the fights that he wins are done so by manipulating said energy in slightly different ways, letting him do things such as: trap four monsters by impaling them and connecting the ends around a tower, pole vault over wide gaps, extend his sword to hit an opponent who moved too quickly, and, when faced with a villain who can move his vital organs around to prevent any hit from being fatal, expand his sword into a giant tennis racket shape to completely pulverize the guy.
      Kuwabara: SPIRIT FLYSWATTER!
  • In Zatch Bell! Gash's Zagurezemu spell acts as this at times. Despite its stated purpose of making things explode on contact with Zakeru or Zakeruga, it has been used to supercharge Baou Zakeruga, act as a homing beacon, and split Baou Zakeruga in four. The last time even Kiyomaro wasn't sure what it would do.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men:
    • Lifeguard of the had the superpower of spontaneously developing whatever additional superpower was required at any given moment, although only if somebody's life was in danger. Somebody other than herself, and the power to save a particular life and the power to kick the enemy's butt aren't always the same.
    • Darwin has the power to develop any power he would need to survive. Submerge him in water, he grows gills; blast him with lava, he's immune to heat and pressure. This power is entirely involuntary, as a child he attempted suicide by leaping of a building only to discover he had become elastic and simply bounced when hit the ground. Though it should be noted that Darwin's power only did what would let him survive a fight, not necessarily win. Such as when he ended up in the path of the Hulk, and he spontaneously gained the power to teleport to the next state over.
  • The "Shazam" Captain Marvel, in the Post-Crisis stories, has learned that the lightning bolt he uses to change can have other uses. For instance, it can break spells imposed on the Marvels in their human form, and can power up equipment if it's hardy enough to absorb so much energy suddenly. It's a powerful attack if they say their magic word close to an enemy and dodge the resulting bolt, causing it to hit their opponent instead (as seen in Kingdom Come and homaged in both Justice League Unlimited where Marvel lost because he failed to dodge it and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe as a heroic brutality and a grab move). It can even be used as a Magical Defibrillator, providing there are two Marvels, one to call down the lightning, and one to absorb it safely; otherwise this works the same as the attack. That, or have a physiology that can stand up to the power of the lightning (which is how Black Adam saved Atom Smasher, whose body regrows itself when he changes height and so could deal with the power).
  • Spider-Man's webbing and spider-sense are sometimes treated this way; for example, using the webs to make anything from shields to swim fins to hang gliders, or using the spider-sense to sense which wire to cut on a bomb.
    • Once in the old animated series he made a motorboat entirely out of web. No, not a sailboat. A motorboat. The series was notoriously bad for this. He once made a parachute, which is relatively plausible, but another time he made a sword.
    • Not to mention that the webbing, at various times in the comic, has served as an electrical conductor and an electrical insulator. It's been shown that Spidey has different chemical compositions for his webbing, and if he knows he's going to be facing someone like Electro, he uses the insulating kind.
      Luke Cage (glowering at Electro): How'd you beat this guy in the old days, anyway?
      Spider-Man: Made mittens out of webbing and punched him til he cried.
      Luke Cage (holding up his fists): Web me up.
      Electro: Hey, now, hold on...
    • In one case, he mixes up a batch that takes advantage of the whole "spider silk is stronger than steel" thing and slaps it on his uniform to use as armor. Unfortunately, he then had to fight a villain who not only fire and ice powers, but a modicrum of common sense; a few near-miss fireballs melted the armor, and a blast of ice locked Spidey in a suit-shaped coffin. He smashed out of it easily enough but that was the last time that idea showed up.
  • The Invisible Woman of The Fantastic Four learned the cause of her invisibility: force fields, the shape and placing of which she could manipulate, in a variety of useful ways such as in an offensive attack (think invisible, bullet-shaped forcefields— ''mind bullets'', that's Telekinesis, Kyle!), carrying herself in the air as a mode of transportation, or putting air bubbles in the bloodstream of someone's brain...
  • Trauma from Avengers: The Initiative comics can become anybody's worst fear. Literally, he doesn't just take on the appearance of their greatest fear, but the abilities as well. If their fear happens to be The Mighty Thor or the Incredible Hulk well... that person should run. Also, he became a therapist. Turning into your patients' greatest terrors and making them face it is an intriguing method.
  • Ultimate Marvel's Iron Man has Nanomachines in his blood— in the present-day comics, they're limited to letting him control his armor, but they apparently used to be a lot more general-purpose, including forming swarms of shape-shifting insectoids that can pick locks, disable nuclear bombs, hack into any computer, and transform into an iPod.
    • And in the classic universe, while he has different armor for different situations, what pushed him beyond swiss army knife into this trope a few years ago was the "Extremis" which made him a cyberpath able to hack into anything remotely with his mind and summon as many suits of his armor as he needed.
    • His armor also counts as this trope... in the Civil War timeline, it's revealed that his armor records the fighting styles of anyone nearby, and (presumably only if the database is large enough) counter their every attack. He demonstrates this while fighting Captain America.
  • In the earlier Wonder Woman comics the titular heroine's emblematic lasso served as more than a vaguely fetishistic lie-detector. Over the course of a DC Showcase anthology she used it as an impromptu propeller, an emergency roller coaster track extension, an electrical conduit, another propeller, a drill, and some sort of sonic dinosaur repellent. She also used it occasionally to actually snag things. Specifically, a nuclear missile, all of Paradise Island, and a lightning bolt.
  • Magneto, variously an enemy and an ally of the X-Men, has powers to control magnetism. Although it's become far more stabilized as of late (usually) over the years his powers have been used for a whole host of things that are dubiously related to actual magnetism. Creating a force-field to block fire/optic blasts/ROCKS comes first and foremost to mind, but he's also shown the ability to: control non-magnetic metals (though may be a misunderstanding about what is and isn't magnetic); levitate someone by controlling the trace molecules of iron in their blood (only slightly more realistic was the time he ripped the iron OUT of someone's blood); block telepathy by controlling the electrical impulses in his brain, or read someone ELSE'S mind by "sensing" their own; hack into computers; at least once, when "supercharged", was able to project a hologram, since "light is just another aspect of the electro-magnetic spectrum."
    • He can move things without a trace of anything ferrous by "negating the gravimetric lines of force," as he put it the first time we saw him fly. Ever since Polaris sent Krakoa blasting off agaaaaaain that way, the powers of Magneto and Polaris have gone from "move stuff that's metal" (useful, but underutilizing a power with more possibilities) to, as one message board comment put it, "do anything as long as he mentions magnetism while doing it." On an island where his powers were a bit stronger than usual, he once created a portal to go save his daughter. How does magnetism let you Stargate a couple continents away?
    • Essentially writers decided that "Magnetism" was too limited for a major villain so they expanded it to "Electromagnetism". Unfortunately they found out later that electromagnetism almost infinitely broader than magnetism since it's one of the fundamental forms of interactions the universe.
  • The Flash is a famous application of this trope. His one power of "running very quickly" worked for a while, but eventually the writers found out there's only so much you can do with one power. To this day the Flash still gets new powers to keep his stories from becoming dull. Likely the most infamous is the "vibrate through matter" power, which can make any physicist cry. There's also the famous Infinite Mass Punch, in which the Flash exploited the fact that while the Speed Force means the theory of relativity doesn't apply to him, it does apply to the guy he's punching.
    • In the Golden Age Flash's first appearance, he was able to use his powers to catch bullets, and be effectively invisible, both of which are non-obvious uses of the power. Since then, various Flashes have gained the ability to speed up healing beyond natural bounds (their own and other people's), accelerate chemical reactions, vibrate through objects and make them explode, accelerate objects by running past them (for example, turning a pile of lumber into a flock of superspeed missiles flying in formation with the hero), and causing objects to ignite by carrying them really fast, then retracting the hero's friction-protection aura...
    • Some of the more outrageous abilities that the Flash has claimed as being based on speed include melting his own body then reforming it as a mirror and creating highly articulated casts that allowed him to run with broken legs out of Speedforce energy.
  • During Grant Morrison's run on the JLA, a villain asked Aquaman what good being able to talk to fish could do him now. Answer: tap into the elements of the villain's brain that he inherited from his marine ancestors, and give him an aneurysm.

     Fan Works 
  • John in With Strings Attached has complete control over water, to the point where he can actually change the physical properties of water, which lets him do pretty much whatever he (or the Kansael) can come up with.
  • Bella in Luminosity has a mental shield that negates any vampire power used on her, if that power is mental in nature. So Edward can't read her mind, for example. Jasper's power of emotional manipulation is apparently a manipulation of the body, not the mind, so it works on Bella, until she convinces herself that it shouldn't work, and then it doesn't. Later, she has been torn to bits and set on fire. By thinking something along the lines of "My power protects my mind, but my mind is useless without my body!" she manages to repair her own body and put out the fire with her mind.

  • Bink, from the Xanth series, has the magic talent of protection from anything magical. Since the land where he lives is almost entirely infused by magic, this basically means his talent can do anything, including bringing a person with the power to locally reverse time over just before he inhales poison gas, getting a Sufficiently Advanced Alien to voluntarily re-seal itself, and dipping him and his friends and family in a youth spring when they get old, all without revealing the talent's existence. The only thing that keeps Bink from becoming an omnipotent god-being is that the talent is completely outside his conscious control. That and both the fact that a sufficiently powerful Magician or demon could force his talent to reveal itself by acting overtly (as Trent did in A Spell For Chameleon) and the fact that his power is useless against non-magical attacks. (A normal punch in the face or a thrown rock). However, if the being causing the attack is itself magical, the talent will still kick in: a human could theoretically kill Bink by dropping a large rock on him, but a demon couldn't even if the rock itself is entirely non-magical. His talent can occasionally be very weird about defining harm. Being put into a trance in the middle of a war? Not magical harm! (Apparently, his talent either knew he'd be removed from the trance before anything more permanent happened to him, or would've intervened at the very last second to prevent such harm.) His power is even implied to be able to affect its own source and the SOURCE OF ALL MAGIC!
  • The Chronicles of Amber's Merle gets hold of a magic ring that taps into so many mystical sources, it can do just about anything, thus letting him thumb his nose at the agendas of both the Pattern and the Logrus, as well as his interfering relatives.
  • The Poets from The Long Price Quartet have access to this power. Any abstract concept they can describe with absolutely no ambiguity becomes theirs to control in the form of the Andat, bound avatars of the concept. So, the poet who controls Stone-Made-Soft can at will alter the hardness of any and all stone everywhere. The poet who controls Clarity-Of-Vision has complete control over all beings' clarity of vision. However there are limits. The andat are constantly seeking to escape by playing on their captors' mental weaknesses. If an andat escapes it must be described in a completely new way to be bound again.
  • Magic Ex Libris has libriomancy, the power of pulling items from books. Meaning a given libriomancer has access to everything from a phaser, to a healing potion, to Excalibur, to a lightsaber. There are few hard rules, no true Necromancy, no time travel, no unlimited wishing, libriomancy damages books so they need to be rested after some uses, can't be used on comic books or videogame guides, and libriomancers can lock books that are too dangerous, to keep people from making The One Ring or such. Still, a libriomancer is ultimately limited only by their imagination and knowledge of literature.
  • In the Young Wizards series, if it exists, you can call it here. And a lot of things exist in this galaxy.
  • The book ends too soon to fully explore it, but this seems to be the gist of Fat Charlie Nancy's power in Anansi Boys. Having inherited from his father (The Trickster God, Anansi) the nebulous power of 'stories', he's able to essentially warp reality any which way as long as he can sing it into a plausible story. Of course, stuff like 'miraculous recovery from mortal wounds' or 'evil god is permanently sealed in a can' make for excellent stories...
    • To a lesser degree, but much more explored, is his brother Spider's power, which basically amounts to 'convincing'. A key skill for a Trickster, obviously, and he's not shy about using it in the straightforward way. But he can also enable someone to walk on water just by convincing them that they can, make a house inaccessible by convincing the street that it doesn't exist, convince a door in a boring row-house in London to lead to a grand condo in Brazil, or access secure files by convincing the computer that he's got the password. It doesn't work on ornery mothers-in-law, however.
  • This is explored in Super Powereds. Some Supers are fairly limited in their abilities. A good number have the standard Super Toughness combo, which is pretty much limited to Good Old Fisticuffs. This tends to be just fine for them, who focus on combat training. However, as pointed out by Coach Persephone, in the real world, bad guys are rarely so obliging as to engage in hand-to-hand combat with a Hero. This is why alternative training is for those students, whose abilities are not directly focused on combat. One of the first assignments Persephone gives them is to try a new application of their power. Some are more successful than others (e.g. Alice tries to levitate just her foot instead of her entire body, but it doesn't work). Vince has Energy Absorption, which, initially limits him to fire and electricity, and he's at a disadvantage when faced with An Ice Person (since cold is the lack of energy, he has nothing to absorb). As he learns, however, he grows more proficient with absorbing other kinds of energy, and there doesn't appear to be a limit on how much and how many different energies he can absorb. Professor Fletcher, notably, seems to be the opposite of The Flash in that his primary power is lightning, allowing him to turn into, absorb, and control electricity. He has also learned to use this to give him Super Speed. Also, Alice later learns that her real power isn't flying, it's being a Gravity Master, with flying being the most basic manifestation. Then there's Globe, who is a Reality Warper, which means that he's effectively a god in a spherical area about 20 feet in radius, being able to do pretty much anything he wants to the molecules in that area.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Intersect 2.0 in Chuck. It has all the original powers of the 1.0 in addition to granting combat skills, spoken languages, surgical skills, weapon skills, dance skills, extreme sports knowledge... and that's just in the first four episodes! Strange how just knowing how to do something automatically makes you a pro at doing it, completely ignoring physique and muscle memory, which are necessary for many of these feats.
    • This gets even better with the showdown between Chuck and Shaw, when the latter gets the Ring version of the Intersect. The latter even uses it to get martial arts skills, even though he's an experienced spy and already has considerable skills in hand-to-hand combat.
  • The Author's powers in Once Upon a Time may be extensive, but not very useful in a fight, and extremely reliant upon his enchanted quill and magical ink (which can only be extracted from the blood of Emma once she turned dark). Thus, Isaac is constantly bossed around by more actively magical people. However, he does manage to use the Author powers creatively such as writing himself out of a room, effectively teleporting. Flash-forward to seasons five and six, and we discover that Henry, the new Author, can use this to gather knowledge on things happening in other places and even casually open portals between dimensions, something that's slightly difficult to do for most magic users. He can't, however, use most of these abilities due the rules involved, which prevent him from using the Author's powers to affect anyone in his book.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mutants & Masterminds, as a superhero system with a great deal of freedom in customization, has several powers that have immediately apparent game breaking possibilities, such as Transform, which at its highest level is simply described as "Transform anything into anything else."; Nemesis, which allows you to simply choose an opponent and temporarily gain powers that will help you defeat them; and Adaptation, which can immediately grant you powers in reaction to a hostile environment, including effects attacking you. One of the most ridiculous is simply Boost, which, by applying its effect to itself recursively, could, in theory, temporarily grant you any power at maximum rank. Of course, that's if your GM lets you get away with that one. Pretty much any game with customizable superpowers needs a GM willing to veto Game Breakers.
  • In the Dragonlance SAGA system that came out in the late nineties, all magic was divided into Schools of Sorcery or Sphere of Mysticism. The spellcasting system was freeform, so a creative player could use what schools of sphere they knew to create nearly any effect they could think of. So a person with the Spiritualism sphere(which deals with controlling incorporeal undead) could have spirits lift them up so they could fly.
  • Magic: The Gathering players often complain about this in white's role in the color pie. Other colors kill creatures or return them to their owner's hand; white removes them from the game. White can destroy enchantments, something red and black cannot, and blue has to "bounce and counter". Even vampirism is sometimes a white ability, as the lifelink (when this creature deals damage, you gain that much life) ability shows. However, it is the one colour that has no card drawing (with a few enchantment-oriented exceptions), which balances it very well.
  • Nobles in Nobilis have control over one aspect of reality. Total control.
    • To give just one example: in this campaign, the Power of Halloween uses her abilities to, among other things: conjure Gothic horror castles, produce a pair of white gloves (and the rest of the Mickey Mouse costume), summon a baroquely Halloweenish crown, have a chat with some spiders, unleash a swarm of skeletons, intensify the power of a werewolf, ride Dracula's carriage to the North Pole, blot out the Sun, seal doors by dropping Frankenstein-monsters in front of them, and deflect a cruise missile with a shield of concentrated darkness.
  • Most supernatural characters in the New World of Darkness have set lists of powers they can learn. For Mages, these are more like examples and guidelines. "Rote" spells are easier to cast (larger dice pool for casting, lower Paradox risk), but if you can convince the GM that you ought to be able to do something with Arcana X at level Y, you can.
  • A since abolished power framework in the Hero System was the so-called "Elemental Control" — basically simply a means for getting a point cost break on multiple powers if the character's creator could come up with a clever theme to tie them together and get the Game Master to accept it as legit. Thus, the "making a lot of wind" example at the top of the page could be plausibly used to buy some attacks, defenses, flight, telekinesis...and the combo package would be cheaper than just buying the powers separately solely on grounds of "hey, Elemental Control: Wind Powers!". (It's probably not hard to see why that framework was dropped.)

  • Destroy the Godmodder: The ability to control fish and fish-based products with your mind should be pretty useless... most of the time. A limitless supply of fish oil definitely helps matters though.

    Video Games 
  • The Power of the Keyblade in the Kingdom Hearts series is defined as being capable of open any lock. This extends from things as small as treasure chests, to things as grand as the keyhole that leads to the heart of the world itself. It can also be used to lock or unlock a person's heart, leading to a variety of dangerous effects. In Kingdom Hearts II, Hades exploits this by tricking Sora into using the Keyblade on a barrier placed by Zeus himself. It falls easily, allowing Hades access to the Underdrome. By the Final Mix+ rendition of the second game, though, it starts getting weird, where the Bonus Boss "Lingering Sentiment" demonstrating the Keyblade's ability to transform into a whip, a buckler, a humongous bow, a humongous cannon, what seems to be a humongous drill bit, an airspeeder, and a floating pickaxe. And then later games give the Keyblade the abilities of a hoverboard, a bow, wings, gauntlets, pleats, floating shields, chains, shrapnel, claws, fantastic firearms, and a heart manipulator/extractor. At this point it would be easier to list the things the Keyblade can't do.
  • Scattered throughout Conker's Bad Fur Day (and its remake) are large platforms emblazoned with a giant capital "B." Pressing the aforementioned button while standing atop them does something appropriate to his situation - ranging from consuming copious amounts of alcohol, morphing into an anvil, merely jogging his memory, or pulling out a projectile (itself ranging from knives and guns to slingshots and toilet paper).
  • Konoko from Oni has a "hyper-evolved" form of cancer that actually replaces tissue up to and including entire organs as they are stressed or damaged, with the attributes needed to survive the stress or damage. That is, if the damage in question doesn't immediately kill her: she regenerates fast enough to survive in acid and be immune to invasive surgery but being stuck in a grinding machine is still fatal. Justified in that said symbiote was designed specifically to make the host capable of survival in a catastrophically polluted Earth. On the other hand, the symbiote is not entirely sane and may try to hijack the body, with the Daodan Imago form Muro transforms into implied to be the result.
  • Cole from inFAMOUS has electricity powers, but they're of the Static Shock type below: he can use electricity to create shackles that hold people to the ground, electric hand grenades, a physical shield that converts projectiles to energy, hover jets, mini electric rockets, small shockwaves, drop with a large electric shockwave, blades of electricity, heal others, summong a lightning storm and, particularly egre... oddly, eventually time travel.
    • In the second game, he can develop ice or fire powers via a transfer from another conduit. He can create giant icicles to launch himself into the air or launch himself at enemies as a fiery phoenix.
  • In Tales of Maj'Eyal, the Stone Wall spell at a high enough level produces a temporary 3 by 3 cube of walls at the target location, doing significant damage to enemies caught in the effect. This can be used to temporarily block off a passage, block projectiles, take a few turns out of the fight to rest and heal, or trap a single isolated enemy.
  • In Tsukihime, Shiki's Mystic Eyes of Death Perception are a lot more multi-purpose than you might think at first. This is because not only can he kill anything that's alive... he can kill inanimate things too. In the original Visual Novel, he killed a hallwaynote , the groundnote , poisonnote , a vampiric infectionnote , and various locking mechanismsnote .
  • In Fate/stay night Shirou is able to apply his limited repertoire of spells in a variety of unique ways, from recreating a sword he saw in a dream to imitating the fighting skills of an opponent by synchronizing with copies of their weapon. The second route ultimately reveals that all of his already versatile abilities are actually just aspects of his only real magecraft, his Reality Marble Unlimited Blade Works.

  • Homestuck:
    • John Egbert gets access to the ability to control the movement of not just air and wind, but the abstract concept of breath and soul. He uses this to save his life by turning his own body into wind as a villain goes to impale him, just in time to reappear behind the villain completely unharmed for a surprise attack.
    • Roxy is the Rogue of Void. Title of Rogue has the power to steal her aspect, but Void represents nothingness, which means that she has "ability to steal nothing". She naturally assumed, that her powers are useless, but later found out that she can make imaginary objects real, by stealing essence of nothingness from them, which means that she can conjure any object from nothing as long as she can properly visualize it.

    Web Original 
  • Chaka of the Whateley Universe has one power. She is the Mistress of Ki. In about a year in-universe, she has gone from someone who could use her ki to make herself a black belt in her style of martial arts, to someone who is a threat even among the other students at Superhero School Whateley Academy. She can now learn a new ki technique just from watching someone else use the technique. Once. Even if the person is using it on her at the time.
  • Skitter in Worm spends the entire series coming up with new ways to use her power (control over insects) to deal with the various challenges she faces. Generally, she discovers that while an individual insect is weak, she's never using individuals, but an entire swarm. She can locate every individual within her powers range and track them perfectly, string lines of spidersilk stronger than steel in the way of opponents, and use her swarm to disguise her location when she fights.
  • Half of the point of Playing for Keeps, really. Characters using their supposedly useless superpowers to do amazing things is what the entire last third of the audiobook is about.

    Western Animation 
  • All characters capable of bending on Avatar: The Last Airbender have displayed a wide range of uses for their powers not just in combat, but for industrial and domestic uses, such as transportation, metallurgy, sailing and cooking. Water, being an element based on change, is the most versatile.
    • Earthbender Toph can bend metal, waterbender Katara can bend her sweat and firebender Azula once improvised a rocket-like propulsion device, all of which depended on how imaginative their powers were. As the series progresses you see additional uses for the different bending arts that, while new, still makes sense with the laws the universe has set up.
    • Special mention has to go to King Bumi, who has, not an inventive way of reapplying his power, but a creative way of using it period - he's so good at Bending he can do it using nothing but his face.
    • In the Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, this pattern follows suits, especially with waterbending whose flexibility grows to an extreme unprecedented in the original series, with the main antagonists of Book 1 being able to use bloodbending without the restrictions imposed in the original series and the main antagonist of Book 2 being able to channel light and dark energy through water.
  • Gwen of Ben 10: Alien Force is yet another prime example of the magic-users-can-do-anything variety. Originally her powers were traditional magic, only limited to pronouncing a spell correctly. Manifesting right from the get-go of the Time Skip series where her magical abilities have received a drastic increase. Twice in the first episode she states, "Hey, let me try something," and proceeds to defy logic. On the other hand, her powers most of the time were "1001 uses for pink glass"; until Ben 10: Ultimate Alien where she uses regular spells more frequently(for whatever power couldn't be explained through pink glass). All expressions of her power are labeled under magic, which the show defines very complexly.
    • Ben, in Alien X form, which can literally do anything, though he never ever uses it for other reasons. Namely, it paralyzes him afterward while he and the other two personalities debate what to do.
  • While not technically powers, Zim and GIR of Invader Zim have access to (and in the latter's case actually consists of) a vast array of insanely-advanced technology that functioned fairly exclusively as a catalyst or a Hand Wave to the plot of a particular episode. Of note however is how the series never had to resort to Plot-Induced Stupidity, as both characters were firmly established as Too Dumb to Live and a Cloudcuckoolander. (Which one is which? Whichever one would be funnier in that episode.)
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Twilight Sparkle has her magic. Not unusual for unicorns... however, she seems to specialize in all kinds of magic. An early episode has Spike comment that they've discovered twenty-five types of spells she can cast, ranging from teleportation and telekinesis to giving somebody a mustache, and she's still learning new ones as the series progresses. This is in contrast to other unicorns, who have only a little magic to match their special talents. Twilight's special talent is magic.
    • It's heavily implied she isn't unique in this sense. Many Unicorns have specialized in magical wizardry over time, such as Star-Swirled The Bearded. Trixie was introduced moments after Twilight explained her special talent, suggesting she is similar (though less practiced).
      • Most unicorns posses magic, they just don't specialize in it. Rarity has telekinesis but dedicates her life to clothes, and only seems to bother with Telekinesis and Gem finding. Similarly, flight is extremely useful, but a lot of Pegasi (Fluttershy, Bulk Biceps, Scootaloo) simply specialize in other things.
  • Static Shock's electricity in the animated series did things lightning bolts simply should not do. Like carry people and sensitive equipment with bolts of lightning without damaging them, as well as creating forcefields. He regularly pulled out some new, increasingly infeasible trick about every other episode.
    • This was an intentional change from the pilot, where his abilities were more realistically shown to be limited to exerting magnetic fields on metal objects to make them fly forwards or backwards or to give people an electric shock by touching them. Indeed, he's shown as being the underdog in his battle against Hotstreak because unlike Hotstreak he can't "shoot" his electricity as energy-blast lightning bolts — he had to make creative use of his environment while Hotstreak just kept flinging fire at him. The writers apparently reneged on this because while more interesting than generic "lightning blast" powers it did make him kind of unimpressive for the audience of a kids' superhero show.
    • The show also had Shiv, who could form solid energy constructs from his hands similar to a Green Lantern, but from both hands and without the ring.
  • Jinx of Teen Titans has the power of bad luck, which proves to be incredibly versatile.

Alternative Title(s): Swiss Army Superpowers, Swiss Army Power