Your Magic's No Good Here

Sometimes characters in a fantasy or superhero setting travel to a different world or a different dimension. Once there, the character finds that his/her magic or super powers don't work the same way as in his/her home world.

Contrast with Magic A Is Magic A.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Superman loses access to his powers in red sunlight.
  • In JLA/Avengers, the Speed Force doesn't exist on the Marvel Universe's Earth, so The Flash's Super Speed doesn't work.
  • Green Lantern:
    • When Green Lantern and Zatanna travel to the pocket dimension of Ys, they're initially handicapped by the fact that neither GL's power ring nor Zatanna's magic operates correctly under that dimension's rules. GL solves the problem by moving his ring from his right hand to his left; Zatanna, by speaking each word of her spells normally, but reversing the natural order of the sentences.
    • Green Lantern Rot Lop Fan comes from an area of the galaxy without light, so there is no concept of "green" or "lantern." He becomes F-Sharp Bell instead.
  • In the Smax miniseries, Robyn is dismayed to discover that her high-tech toys don't work in Jeff's home dimension.

    Films — Animation 

  • In a Spin-Off novel of Labyrinths of Echo, Nests of Chimerae, Max is Trapped in Another World and apparently De Powered by its magic functioning differently from the magic in Echo. By the end of the book, however, he picks up a few nifty tricks and returns home.
  • The Magician's Nephew:
    • A British mob is narrowly saved from Jadis' wrath by the fact that her magic doesn't work in London. It's quite an annoyance to her to find that she's gone from being able to wipe out all life on her planet to being just a very tall human. In Narnia, she manages to find a workaround: using a wand.
    • Likewise, Diggory brings a silver apple from Narnia to Earth. In Narnia, it can give immortality, on Earth it can merely heal.
  • Earthsea Trilogy novel A Wizard of Earthsea:
    • When Sparrowhawk (Ged) travels to the island of Osskil in the far north, his magic fails because he isn't familiar with the differences in magic there.
    • The mage Vetch tells of the differences in magic between locations.
      Sparrowhawk: They say, Rules change in the Reaches.
      Vetch: Aye, a true saying, I can tell you. There are good spells I learned on Roke that have no power here, or go all awry; and also there are spells worked here I never learned on Roke. Every land has its own powers, and the farther one goes from the Inner Lands, the less one can guess about those powers and their governance.
  • Xanth: "Isle of View" introduces Jenny Elf from the World of Two Moons. When she arrives on Xanth, her telepathy no longer seems to work. But she develops another ability never shown in her home environment; singing daydreams and trapping the unaware within them.
  • Ready Player One: Built into OASIS. Some worlds have magic, other worlds do not. If you try to fly to a world using magical means, and that world doesn't support it, you'll be stranded in space until you can hitch a ride on a someone else's technology-powered spacecraft.
  • The Dresden Files: There is a variation of this idea for the spirit world Nevernever. It isn't magic which is affected but the laws of physics that are not necessarily consistent. Firing a gun could net one a plethora of results with it one time working fine, but in other shots the gun explode, not fire at all, or fire but the bullets move slowly. Gravity could be twice Earth's in one spot and zero gravity ten feet away. Further hampering the laws of physics are powerful Physical Gods in Nevernever which can manipulate and change things according to their will. Especially in their home turfs. Hades, Lord of the Underworld, once slowed time enough for he and Harry to have a several minute long chat before returning Harry to practically the moment he left.
  • Hell's Gate: The universe of Sharona uses Psychic abilities, whilst their enemy Arcana makes use of Magic. Travellers (or in Arcana's case, invaders) from one universe to the other find their abilities slowly diminishing as they travel to universes closer to the opposing home one.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Angel, when the gang goes to Pylea, Angel is surprised to find out he can be under the sun without bursting into flames. Less good is that putting on his vampiric "game-face" is replaced by a uncontrollable berserker monster, thus his combat potential is actually a bit lower than on Earth (unless he risks hurting innocents).
  • The Sliders went to more than one universe where magic was possible, most of which used different rules, so previous experiences didn't help much.
  • On Charmed, going to Limbo greatly increases one's magical ability. Phoebe's ability to levitate a few feet off the ground on Earth practically became full-on flight while in this plane between life and death.
  • This is one of the major premises of Once Upon a Time. The fairy tale characters have been brought to our world, the "land without magic", and turned into average people. After the curse is broken and magic is returned to Storybrook, Mr. Gold finds that while traveling beyond the town's limit, he cannot use magic.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Three Doctors," the Doctor states that the Sonic Screwdriver doesn't work in Omega's world. "Not in this universe," he says.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Advanced D&D and 3.X edition: When creatures from the Prime Material Plane travel to other planes of existence they find that magic (spellcasting and items) don't work the same way they do on the Prime. Some spells/items have different effects, some don't work at all and some backfire. On rare occasions it's possible to use magic that can't be used on the Prime.
    • BD&D Immortals set. Some planes (such as triplanes — no, not the airplane) lack the extra dimensions that are necessary for magic, thus preventing anyone — including visitors from other dimensions — from using magic while in them.
    • Module I12 Egg of the Phoenix. In one of the mini-adventures the PCs go back in time several hundred million years to the time of the dinosaurs. Magic was much more potent then, so spells have double normal effect.
    • Sometimes it doesn't even take leaving one's own home plane. Magic works differently in Mystara's Hollow World setting than it does on the outside of the very same planet, courtesy of the Immortals using the inside as a "nature preserve" of sorts for cultures that would have gone extinct in the outside world and using their own magic to prevent certain mortal tricks that could upset their pet project from working.
    • In the Ravenloft setting, several spells flat out don't function (you are not allowed to use magic to Detect Evil or leave Ravenloft). However, Black Magic is greatly empowered, but quickly attracts the attention of the Dark Powers (which you do not want). Furthermore, several spells that are neutral or even benevolent in other worlds are considered black magic there, which can make for some nasty surprises for a spellcaster that just entered the plane. Particularly notable, spells that raise the dead not only have a chance of attracting attention from the Dark Powers, they also have a risk of failing to work correctly.

    Video Games 
  • The opening for the Kanna class in MapleStory has her in Japan on our world at level 200 with all her abilities. At the end of the tutorial she's transported to Zipangu in Maple World and she has to relearn all her magic.
  • In Ultima VIII, Avatar is trapped in the world of Pagan, where magic is ruled by the Elemental Titans, servants of the Guardian. He then has to learn their magic from scratch and Beat Them at Their Own Game.

    Web Original 
  • Among the major activities of Star Destroyer Dot Net is what they call a versus debate: theorizing what would result if two sides from different continuities fought it out. One of the rules is that each side's Applied Phlebotinum and super powers work just as well in the other side's setting as it does in their own. So, for example, a Jedi can still access the Force in the Stargate Verse, and a psyker is not rendered powerless by landing in the Forgotten Realms (although he might prefer the alternative). This also extends to theorizing that (from one thread) the Yuuzhan Vong would be just as resistant to the Warp as they are to the Force.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983), He-Man travels to Orko's home world of Trolla. He-Man is surprised when he's immediately turned back into Adam and all of Orko's magic works perfectly. Adam realizes that magic on Trolla works the reverse as Eternia so he says his By the Power of Grayskull! backward in order to transform. This is the default state for Orko on Eternia as a result.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender when Aang travels to the Spirit World, he can't use bending there. However, in the sequel series The Legend of Korra, Korra, Aang's reincarnation, learns if one goes body and soul to the spirit world, one can use bending. Further it is postulated as the Avatar, Korra could potentially tap unlimited power there as she is connected to all the spiritual energy.