Time to Unlock More True Potential
In the endless rounds of My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours
, there will eventually come a time when one's self-directed training (or lack thereof)
will no longer prove sufficient to the task. The character must then find a mentor
who will help him tap into his inner strength and develop new and more powerful attacks. This invariably requires multiple rounds of Training from Hell
, or a difficult quest
(which is the same thing disguised as a trip
This is the usual manner in which a character will learn how to perform Ki Attacks
Sometimes done in a flashback to surprise the viewer.
Compare So Last Season
and Super Empowering
. See also Full Potential Upgrade
when a character's weapons or tools have to be powered-up along with the character. For their first fight afterwards see Look What I Can Do Now
For information on why this trope so often appears in Japanese media, please read our Analysis page
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Anime & Manga
Films — Live-Action
- Star Wars: Luke Skywalker never had more than two straight weeks of Jedi training; rather, he seems to have obtained all of his power from this trope.
- There are hints that he self-taught during the gap between Episode 5 and 6, coming back with much more powerful force techniques, and declaring himself a Jedi Knight. (And Yoda admits that he's effectively a Master already, and only needs to undergo one more True Test Of Character to finalize it)
- This happens entirely offscreen in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey.
- Pretty much the entire plot of The Last Dragon.
- Glaring example at the end of Kung Fu Hustle. Possibly the most absurd number of badass levels gained ever committed to film. Actually justified in that he should have been that powerful to start, but his chi paths were all messed up until the Beast broke his... Well, broke every single bit of him and the semi-mystical process of his healing not only fixed his bones and flesh but also his ability to be an insanely powerful martial artist. His potential was LITERALLY unlocked.
- Lone Wolf of the eponymous gamebook series. Whenever he reaches what is believed to the maximum Kai rank of any given series (Kai, Magnakai, and Kai Grand Master), he sets about mastering the new level's skills, as well as enhancing his repetoire with unrelated combat skills (Magi-Magic and Kai-alchemy, for instance). In normal play, this keeps the reader from merely skating through the books using all of the accrued skills from previous series.
- Juken Sentai Gekiranger has this in spades, with the three core Rangers finding three additional masters (one each) to unlock their new weapons and mecha, then three more masters to access their Super Mode. Even the villains get in on the act, with the Big Bad seeking out three of his own masters to train him in the ways of evil. Finally, when the ultimate mecha — SaiDaiOh — is found, it sprinkles everyone with Applied Phlebotinum to — and this is stated — "unlock their true potential".
- Its American counterpart, Power Rangers Jungle Fury, kept much of this (the Rhino Steelzord didn't come with any True Potential Fairy Dust™, however, which is just as well - the Rangers didn't seem stronger in later episodes. However, after trying and failing to awaken it, Dai Shi, the bad guy, realized he could now perfectly wield the technique he'd been trying to learn for the past several episodes.)
Myths & Religion
- Older Than Print: The mythical Celtic hero Cúchulainn's training under the immortal warrior woman Scathach conforms pretty closely to this trope.
- Ubiquitous in Chinese legends and folklores, to the point that some mythical figures have this as their entire story. The trainer were almost always humans who have transcended human limitations, or outright supernatural beings. Even the Monkey King (of whom Son Goku was loosely based on) had met his matches — and he used to lead an army that could match the legions of Heavens.
- The Kings Of Wrestling, Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Hero, were the most dominant tag team in the United States Of America bar none but when they went to Pro Wrestling NOAH in 2009, they mostly go their asses kicked, leading Hero to train in their dojo to improve. However much Hero improved wasn't enough though as he and Castagnoli continued to lose. Then when he came back with Colt Cabana, they lost some more. However, he was given an award for having the most outstanding technique in 2013. And if nothing, else, Hero wasn't been content and continued to try and win, or at least advance out of the first block of the Global Tag League in following years.
- Davey Richards, having become the butt monkey of Ring of Honor in 2010 after becoming part of the "No Remorse Corps", who forced him to watch their bags, turned his fortunes around by training with the former NWA Wold Heavyweight Champion Dan "The Beast" Severn, eventually defeating tag team partner Eddie Edwards, who had earlier seemingly left him behind, for ROH World title at Best In The World 2011.
- Amber Rodriguez took on one of La Rosa Negra's old managers, Rico Casanova, in Ring Warriors, who naturally knew most of La Rosa's tricks, besides the new ones she had been learning with Kevin Sullivan.
- Claus from Tales of Phantasia never gets any ability aside from making pacts with summons. By the halfway point of the game, you need to gather 4 elementals for him to progress in the game. Other summons in the future aside from Origin are totally optional.
- Link from Zelda II The Adventure Of Link learns new magic and sword skills from wise men living in the hidden parts of towns. The Minish Cap also have Link meets multiple mentors that teaches him new sword techniques. And Twilight Princess has Link learn special attacks from the Hero's Shade.
- Inverted in Inazuma Eleven, where some of the team members rely on finding new techniques from manuals early on too much that the rest has to remind them that they can also win if they try hard on their own.
- This is what the player will spend a lot of time doing in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, from slaughtering dragons to eat their souls, and then finding Words of Power to apply the knowledge from aforementioned dragon souls into devastating Shouts. Unrelenting Force is given to the player for free, but everything else requires you to unlock it.
- Buttlord GT makes fun of Dragon Ball Z, and contains this gem of a line: "My true power is more true and more powerful than yours!"
- In Homestuck, Aranea's powers as a Sylph of Light allow her to heal others by healing their mind. Vriska and Rose are also able to do this as Light players, but not as well as Aranea.
- In Teen Titans, Robin heads to a monastery to get some more martial arts training from "the True Master". But first, he undergoes a Secret Test of Character to see if he is worth training with the True Master. After fighting three or four Guardians and the Student Who Didn't Get It, he only then begins the actual training just as the episode fades to black. The test, which involved chasing after a MacGuffin, was just a lure to get him up the mountain.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Magic Duel", a minor antagonist called Trixie runs the protagonist Twilight Sparkle out of town by beating her with the help of an Amplifier Artifact of Doom, which enables her to perform magic normally available only to the highest level unicorns; Twilight is known to have immense magical potential, but it's shown here that she hasn't yet gotten the skill to perform the most advanced spells. Twilight seeks training with Zecora, who teaches her more about magic. Subverted: Whatever Twilight may have learnt, she doesn't use any new skills in the rematch, rather relying on trickery and help from her friends to give the appearance of doing impossible things with magic, ultimately part of a Batman Gambit to get Trixie to relinquish the artifact.