With great power comes great authority, but absolute power rocks absolutely.In fiction it's very common that a character's life drastically changes after they get superpowers. The first thing most people do (after dealing with the person bullying them throughout act 1), is strap on their shiniest cape or nicest dog-kicking boots and become the local hero or villain. Not this character. When this character gets superpowers, the first thing they do is... not much. They use their powers to marginally improve their lives, and simply do what they feel like. They don't (openly) care about the typical Good vs. Evil struggle (unless their mother gets kidnapped by the Evil League of Evil, or is staked by the local Knight Templar). Their behavior is probably how most ordinary people would act if they got superpowers. They aren't particularly mean, nor especially kind. They are just ordinary people given extraordinary powers. Often this is how characters in shows on the center of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism act before the plot shows up. If there are other characters that have chosen to become heroes or villains, they (more often than not) will tell this character that they are either selfish or wasting their potential. While plot-wise most characters are given superpowers for the purpose of beating up other guys with superpowers, this kind of character (who might use Heart Is an Awesome Power in that case) can be used in Slice of Life situations and make a plot interesting without an antagonist that must be beaten. Differs from Mundane Utility in that Mundane Utility is where a superpower can be / is used to enhance a character's every day life, whereas with this trope that's all their powers are used for. Opposite trope of Comes Great Responsibility and With Great Power Comes Great Insanity. Related to Cut Lex Luthor a Check and Chaotic Neutral (they tend to do whatever they want).
— Sarda, 8-Bit Theater
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Anime & Manga
- Dragon Ball Z:
- Present Android 18 uses her powers only for personal gain and fun. She more often than not only cares about monetary gain, and hardly ever gets involved in the Good vs. Evil struggle. Future Android 18 is very much evil, taking this trope to a sociopathic extreme. After all, if you can blow up a city with a wave of your hand, you don't need to pay at the clothing store.
- While only in the anime, Yamcha also uses his super human combat training to earn boatloads of cash playing professional baseball, between each crisis. Given his lackluster combat performance aside from early in Dragon Ball, it's pretty much the only effective use of his training he displays. Still pretty stupid though, considering how much more money Mr. Satan makes as the reigning World Martial Arts Champion. Even Yamcha could take him in a fight if he wanted. Ostensibly none of the protagonists do this because they don't want to deal with living in the public eye, but if you are going to be a famous athlete anyways....
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, this is Kyoko's attitude after becoming a Magical Girl. Though initially an idealist like Madoka and Sayaka, after her minister father goes Pater Familicide on her family after learning about her powers, she decided to only use her powers for her own benefit.
- Nao from Mai-HiME uses her powers as part of her schemes to trap and rob perverts.
- When Makoto in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time discovers that she has the ability to, well, leap backward in time, she uses it almost entirely for things like singing karaoke for ten straight hours and having a dinner she likes instead of one she doesn't. On the other hand, the more significant the change she makes to the timeline, the more it tends to backfire on her dramatically. Both of the two other characters in the film who have experience with time travel separately say that it's a good thing that she used the ability almost exclusively for small things.
- Flying Witch focuses largely on how the characters use magic to have fun rather than doing anything serious with it.
- Peter Parker, at first, only used his power to get back on his bullies and make money through professional wrestling. It was only after a thief he could have stopped killed his uncle that he named the opposite trope and became Spider-Man.
- Something akin to this was invoked, however, in a short story about Spider-Man as if Stan Lee had never existed. The moral becomes "With great power comes hot chicks and money from wrestling.".
- This is actually a point in the storyline "Alpha": a listless, ordinary teenager is granted superpowers by accident and, instead of being an actual hero, he becomes something of a media darling and a real Jerkass to boot.
- In a What If? storyline, Spider-Man becomes a celebrity and superstar when he decides that catching the robber (who would otherwise kill uncle Ben) is a good PR move, and ends up as a successful manager for supercelebrities wanting to jump the same bandwagon. Although this initially ends up benefitting several superpeople (the X-Men are no longer feared or hated), they suffer when serious threats show up, since the "heroes" don't have the training to stand up to them. Spider-Man in this timeline does ultimately become a hero after Daredevil sacrifices his own life to save him.
- A similar event happened in House of M: Spider-Man was a wealthy and well-loved celebrity until it was revealed on national TV that he wasn't actually a mutant.
- The entirety of ClanDestine. The family lives a very wealthy, comfortable lifestyle and stays relatively quiet about their abilities. It's only when the youngest twins decide they want to become heroes that the family is exposed.
- The Flash: There's a story where a man asks Flash if he ever realized the majority of superpowered individuals became villains instead of heroes, then corrects himself, instead saying they use their powers for own benefits while living their lives out of the spotlight. Flash realizes that this actually makes a lot of sense.
- The third Ant-Man, Eric O'Grady. A man of very few morals and willingness to lie, cheat, steal and manipulate in order to get ahead in life, O'Grady immediately steals the Ant Man armor for his own selfish plans, which include using his status as a "super-hero" to stalk women and facilitate his thievery.
- Flatman of the Great Lakes Avengers, before he decided that he wanted more from life and became a super-hero, made his living as party entertainer / Mr. Fantastic cosplayer. Apparently there is an surprising demand for people who can cosplay as heroes up to and including their powerset in the Marvel universe by rich people, and super-villains (which brings the occupational hazard of being heckled, or occasionally outright attacked if the crowd is too unhinged).
- The Beatles practically define this trope in With Strings Attached. After they get empowered, all they want to do is play with their magic, and they could have happily spent the rest of the book doing so (with a side trip to rescue Lyndess), except that the C'hovite gods decided to put them to use.
- The Keys Stand Alone is about their struggle not to be heroes in a situation that tries to force this role on them, and they complain that all this adventuring nonsense doesn't give them a chance to do what they really want to do, which is have more fun and explore their powers further. George in particular has done a lot of reading and wants to become everything he can before his ring stops working permanently.
Films — Live-Action
- Bruce Almighty: This pretty much sums up Bruce's first week as God, which involves getting himself his dream job, turning his run-down car into a Saleen S7, and giving his girlfriend a series of uncontrollable spontaneous orgasms. "Great Perks" indeed.
- In Jumper, the main character spends the time between finding out he has powers and the plot jumping around, seeing the world, and occasionally leaving IOUs in emptied bank vaults (but with the serious intention of one day paying them back).
- In What Women Want, the main character got the power to read minds thanks to getting electrocuted while drunkenly crossdressing. He uses these powers to improve himself on dates (and give at least one lady some mind-blowing sex), to bond with his daughter, and manipulate women. He also uses it to be better at his job, by stealing ideas from his boss and female coworkers.
- In Mystery Men, it's heavily implied that Captain Amazing became a millionaire after becoming a hero thanks to, basically, being a walking advertising board (imagine a NASCAR racer fighting crime). His problems at the beginning of the movie stem from waning interest in his heroic persona, meaning the companies are about to cut funding, ending his rich lifestyle. It is also mentioned he is a successful lawyer, so if anything may have merely wanted the attention.
- Chronicle features this in spades; after three high-school guys are given telekinetic powers by a mysterious artifact hidden at the bottom of a crater, they mainly use their newfound abilities to waste time in increasingly spectacular ways, from playing pranks on customers at a department store, to playing football several thousand feet off the ground. Unfortunately, a very nasty combination of Abusive Parents and bullying at school eventually turns one of them into a super villain.
- Hancock is this from the start and for most of the movie until Ray finally convince him to use his powers for good as a superhero.
- In X-Men: Days of Future Past Quicksilver uses his super-speed for shits, giggles, and petty larceny.
- In The Covenant, the four boys descended from the Salem witches don't really do much with their powers, except freak out some cops with a flying car, manifest a gust of air to get a panty shot from a girl at the bar, and other pointless things. Slightly justified in that, after their 18th birthday, magic becomes Cast from Lifespan. They've known all their lives that magic is incredibly addictive, which has already lead to the protagonist's father looking 90 and hooked up to life support despite being in his 40s. Using magic to solve other people's problems would probably result in a very short life.
- In Doctor Strange (2016), Strange isn't much interested in putting his powers to any serious use until he literally has no other choice; until then, he masters the art of opening teleportation portals by stealing books from the library and uses his astral projection to read said books while his physical body sleeps. Granted, he's still a student at the time, but the prospect of fighting interdimensional threats definitely doesn't appeal to him when it's brought up.
- The Faust legend, and how it's depicted in Doctor Faustus is all about this, and would qualify as a darker take on this. After making his Deal with the Devil, Faust behaves in a quite similar manner to Bruce Almighty and uses his power to pull pranks and satisfy his whims of the moment. While this kind of thing makes the audience laugh, it amounts to him wasting the true potential of the deal and he ends up eternally damned without a lot to show for it. And also there are his apprentices, who use his magic books for even wackier shenanigans.
- In Wearing the Cape even the superheroes are working for big paychecks, and the more successful ones are idolized, with their own merchandise lines, fan-clubs, even TV shows fictionalizing their adventures. This doesn't mean they're all in it for the perks—just that a superhero career can be financially remunerative. The trope name is also used as an epigram for a chapter, along with the original.
- In The Scent Of Magic by Cliff McNish, when one girl gets magic all she does is read a book by the light of her spells shining from her eyes.
- In Murderess, Lu enjoys the newfound powers she gains after crossing into Greywall’d.
- In April Daniels's Nemesis Series, this is a frequent occurrence. Broadly speaking, only people who engage in "caping" (outright super-heroics) refer to their gifts as superpowers. The rest lead normal lives and enjoy the perks their "special abilities" grant them.
- At the start of No Ordinary Family only the father wants to be a superhero. The mother uses her Super Speed to get her chores done and is more interested in the scientific implications. The son uses his super learning to get good grades in school and the daughter uses her telepathy to find out if a guy is a jerk.
- Using magic for personal gain or other petty reasons was usually looked down upon or outright forbidden on Charmed and Sabrina the Teenage Witch
- This is the essential concept of Misfits. Of course, a lot of characters have powers that aren't especially useful in making their lives better, but the ones that do only really use them for this.
- Both the titular character and Luke Cage in Netflix's Jessica Jones (2015) are variations on this at the start of the series; Luke only uses his indestructible body to break up fights in his bar, and Jessica, who has quit trying to be a hero mainly puts her super-strength to use by breaking locks and holding cars back while working as a PI/summons server.
- Kilgrave is a more sinister version; his power would make him a world-class threat if he could be bothered to use it, but he has no interests beyond his own hedonism (though he uses and discards people with no thought whatsoever in the pursuit of his whims), and becoming Jessica's nemesis is more about him being a Stalker with a Crush than the usual good vs evil battle.
- In his own series, Luke Cage starts out uninterested in being a hero, and uses his immense strength mainly to move furniture.
- In Aberrant, this is essentially what every nova does with their newfound powers. Granted, there are a few who use their powers in the classical superhero way, but even then they only do it for the fame or the money.
- Likewise, in the Paragons setting for Mutants & Masterminds, you'll get just as many heroes who use their powers for personal fun times as do for altruistic aims. One sample NPC is Gourmand, who has the ability to teleport anywhere on Earth... and uses it to visit her favorite out-of-the-way restaurants across the globe (the fact that she has Immunities to gastric distress and weight gain help).
- Pretty much the whole point of minus. The title character is basically a Physical God, but only uses her Reality Warper powers to have fun. Justified in that she is an immature child, and doesn't have any ambitions or long-term plans.
- In Spinnerette, Sahira uses her powers to take care of minor chores, such as doing the cleaning with six hands at once. Spinnerette herself does this as well, but that's in addition to fighting crime.
- The Five Best Possible Uses for Telekinesis
- In Agents of the Realm, the first thing Norah does after the transformation is appreciating the dress that comes with it.
- Cecilia Rogers of the Whateley Universe can control fabric. She could become another Yomiko Readman or Magneto with her amazing powers. She chooses to be a really good tailor.
- SCP Foundation describes all manner of supernatural anomalies (called SCPs), alive or otherwise, and the ways in which they are contained and hidden from the rest of humanity. A great many do not fit into this trope at all, but have been treated as if they do by certain very eccentric people in positions of authority. (See The Things Dr Bright Is Not Allowed To Do At The Foundation) The foundation also, in a more straight version of this trope, have kept a few supernatural entities as company pets and tools. The SCPs that have free range of the facility (but NOT Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All) are:
- SCP-151 - The "Eye Pods", a pair of wheeled, one-eyed, one-foot tall creatures each roughly as intelligent as a housecat. They like to follow people around.
- SCP-261 - Pan-Dimensional Vending, a vending machine that is used mundanely, but needs permission from at least a level 2 personnel and only ten times a day. For varying prices of Yen, you can have a serving of a random snack food that is not usually produced in the confines of reality, but it's never guaranteed to be edible. A extended list of SCP-261’s products can be viewed here.
- SCP-294 - The Coffee Machine is placed in staff breakroom, but only level 2 personnel are allowed to operate it and it's monitered by two guards at all times. SCP-294 is a coffee dispenser capable of producing 12 ounces of any liquid at a time. Repeat: Any liquid. For free. This includes gold, alcoholic beverages, the blood of an extinct species of bird, "a cup of music", "my life story", "the best drink I've ever had", "something Cassy (SCP-085, a benevolent two-dimensional entity that only exists on paper) would like" and "the perfect drink".
- SCP-368 - Paper Crane, a living oragami crane.
- SCP-387 - Living Lego is a tub of supernatural LEGO. Anything built with them is fully functional and (depending on what the creation represents, such as a humanoid or an animal) alive. Staff are free to play with SCP-387 in their recreational time, provided that they disassemble their creations afterward. This has greatly improved morale, with Dr. Arch declaring in their notes that "people are really kids at heart here." However, children under 10 are NOT allowed to play with SCP-387. Turns out that if you let your 7-year-old play god, things get violent.
- SCP-458 - The Never-Ending Pizza Box can be accessed by anyone in Site 17. However, abuse of the SCP is discouraged.
Dr. del Morrino: I would just like to remind all staff that just because we have a pizza box that can constantly create pizzas for you does not mean that you can just sit around and eat pizza all afternoon. If continued abuse of the box continues, coupled with reports of personnel gaining unhealthy amounts of weight, I may be forced to implement a mandatory physical training regimen following lunch hours.
- SCP-492 - Animated Cloth Dummy, a sapient humanoid animatronic that possesses level 1 security clearance. It was recovered from a pirate attraction from an abandoned amusement park. Staff calls him "Captain Jack". He’s old, but friendly.
- SCP-529 - Josie the Half-Cat. Not a Mix-and-Match Critter, but literally the front half of a cat.
- SCP-530 - Carl the Variable Dog. What is variable about him... well, varies. From day to day, Carl changes his dog breed and body mass. What also changes is his number of noses, mouths, limbs, eyes, ears, etc. None of this seems painful or voluntary on Carl's behalf.
- SCP-999 - The Tickle Monster, who is encouraged to stay in its play pen, but is otherwise free to roam around the facility. SCP-999 is a 120-lb orange Blob Monster with sapience. Touching SCP-999 makes its "victims" uncontrollably happy and laugh hysterically. SCP-999 loves to do this to people, also being a Friend to All Living Things.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!:
- Zig-zagged with Hank Pym who is able to control ants, become a giant and shrink down to ant-size... and uses them For Science! until his girlfriend (see the Wasp, below) convinces him to become more proactive.
- Subverted by Wasp. She starts out following this pattern, then got bored and decided to convince Hank Pym that they should become superheroes.
- In The Simpsons, there is a Treehouse of Horror episode where both Lisa and Bart get superpowers. After getting his powers Bart declared "I must only use this powers to annoy!" He becomes a superhero to annoy bad guys.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, as shown in the page image. Admittedly, it must be hard to sew when you don't have hands. It overlaps with Mundane Utility as ponies with cutie marks fully utilize their special talents or powers in their everyday tasks and telekinesis seems to be the one universal capability possessed by all Equestrian unicorns. The show is also consistent in depicting unicorn telekinesis as being fairly "weak", good only for small- or medium-sized objects at close range, and nowhere close to Dark Phoenix power levels... Except for Twilight Sparkle, who's explicitly a considerable outlier in-universe and has also spent most of her life honing her magical abilities to the exclusion of much else. Rarity (pictured) has been seen to shift around a few hundred pounds in various objects simultaneously, but that was in a musical number and may not be "canon" as such. Besides, she's also had years of practice.