->''"[[Comicbook/IronMan Big man in a suit of armour]]. Take that away, and what are you?"''
-->-- '''ComicBook/CaptainAmerica''', ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}''

A stock phrase (prone to variations) uttered by the villain whenever the hero suffers a case of PhlebotinumBreakdown, WeHaveForgottenThePhlebotinum, BroughtDownToNormal or UselessSuperpowers, in which they take the time to enjoy some evil gloating about the heroes' reduced effectiveness.

A form of TemptingFate, as the hero will usually promptly prove that no, they are in fact not nothing without their phlebotinum, usually making use of their wits and improvisational skills to make up the difference.

Alternatively, it may take the form of I'm Nothing Without My Phlebotinum, when the hero himself is left feeling inadequate due to his depowering, triggering either a HeroicBlueScreenOfDeath or a TenMinuteRetirement.

This usually works out the same with the hero again proving it's not true, and getting over his inadequacy, minus any KickTheDog on the villain's part.

Sometimes spoken to a GadgeteerGenius or MadScientist even without a breakdown.

Please note that this is strictly a dialogue/characterisation trope--if a hero is merely deprived of his usual powers/gear/resources, but is not mocked for it by the villain, then it's not this trope--it's one of the above mentioned.

Also note that it can be reversed.

Contrast SuperWeaponAverageJoe, where someone really ''is'' just coasting on their equipment's strength. Compare AmuletOfDependency; Contrast MagicFeather, where the "phlebotinum" is just a psychological aid: the power was in the character all along.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In the event that a HumongousMecha pilot is caught without said mecha, this trope will likely come into play. Depending on [[SuperRobot the type]] [[RealRobot of series]], the results can differ.
** As a particular example, in ''Anime/TheBigO'', the HollywoodCyborg PsychoForHire Alan Gabriel tells TheHero Roger Smith that "You're just a mere human who doesn't have his [[HumongousMecha Megadeus]], what could you possibly do to me?". [[spoiler: As Roger is an {{expy}} of Franchise/{{Batman}} and consequently a BadassNormal, it turns out quite a lot.]]
* Manga/{{Naruto}} gets this from Kabuto, who claims that Naruto's only saving grace is the Nine-Tailed Fox sealed inside of him, a not unfair accusation, seeing as most of Naruto's victories up until that point were due to the power-boost from the Fox. Naruto would shortly after prove him wrong, sending Kabuto flying with naught but his wits and the new attack he just learned. Much later on, Kabuto would express admiration that Naruto was able to overcome the [[AllOfTheOtherReindeer stigma of being the Nine-Tails' container.]]
* Alessi in ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure'' Part III gloats when he manages to turn Jotaro into a kid with his Stand. He's confident he can beat Jotaro since Jotaro didn't have his Stand Star Platinum when he was a child. Seven year old Jotaro pummels Alessi anyway. Hilariously, this means that Jotaro's mother Holly was wrong about [[UsedToBeASweetKid Jotaro being a sweet kid who only recently turned bad]]. He was ''always'' a badass.
* In ''Anime/DragonBallZ'', King Cold takes Trunks' sword and says he is nothing without it, then attacks him with it. Trunks [[BareHandedBladeBlock catches the sword]] and kills him.
-->'''Trunks:''' You should know that a weapon doesn't make the man!
* In ''Manga/RaveMaster'', a demon prevents Haru from getting to his magical sword and says he can't possibly defeat him without it. Haru ''punches right through his metal armor'' and kills him instantly. Haru notes that carrying that heavy sword and fighting with it for so long was what made him strong enough to do that.
* In ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex'', enemies sometimes say that Touma is nothing without his AntiMagic right hand, Imagine Breaker.
** Aureolus Izzard says Imagine Breaker is the only reason why Touma can ward off his RealityWarper powers, and chops it off with a sword. Touma proceeds to [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome terrify him into submission]] with an EvilLaugh. Being able to warp reality is useless if you don't believe you can beat your opponent.
** Fiamma of the Right chops off Imagine Breaker, then declares Touma is now nothing more than a purposeless mass of flesh. Touma then reveals he has a dragon inside him, which is magnitudes more powerful than Fiamma and scares him half to death. However, before it can kill Fiamma, Touma reseals it, regenerates his arm, and punches Fiamma out.
** Othinus tears off Imagine Breaker and says it was the only thing she feared, while Touma himself is an insignificant nobody. However, she proceeds to completely curb-stomp the dragon that emerges from him, and would have killed him if he hadn't been rescued at the last second.
* Blackbeard of ''Franchise/OnePiece'' tends to do this with his opponents, since he specifically got ahold of a [[PowerupFood Devil Fruit]] gives him the power to negate the powers of anyone he has physical contact with. Of course, he then tried it on Whitebeard, quite forgetting that the guy was the WorldsStrongestMan, [[LargeAndInCharge frikken huge]], and carries a [[BladeOnAStick rather large bisento]]. Whitebeard turns the situation around quickly, [[CurbstompBattle very nearly kills Blackbeard when he has access to his powers again]], and only fails to do so because [[DirtyCoward Blackbeard]] [[CombatPragmatist called in his entire crew to back him up at the last second.]]

* The only reason the people of ComicBook/{{Asterix}}'s village are able to fend off the larger, better equipped Roman Legions is due to Getafix's magic potion. In ''Asterix At The Olympic Games'', when Asterix is forced to compete without the potion's help, he comes in last in every event. There have been several stories in which the Romans attempt to stop production of the potion by either neutralizing Getafix or one of the potion's ingredients. In the animated film ''Asterix Conquers America'', a Roman Centurion even states, "You are nothing without your magic potion!"
** Getafix himself is prompt to tell Asterix the opposite: "My potion gives you strength, but your intelligence and cunning are yours only."
* In ''Comicbook/{{Legion Of Super-Heroes}}'', Nemesis Kid negates Princess Projectra's powers and smugly says there is no way she can win. She proceeds to beat the crap out of him and snap his neck with her bare hands.
* In one story, the Beagle Boys steal Gyro Gearloose's thinking cap and threaten to destroy it if he doesn't make them special tools for their crimes. As the Beagles go on a Silver Age-style crime spree, Gyro laments that without his thinking cap, he can't come up with a brilliant idea to stop them. [[EurekaMoment Then Gyro realizes that the idea needn't be ''brilliant'']]. He then neutralizes the Beagle Boys with a fake diamond full of tear gas.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* More or less said by Brox in ''Fanfic/WithStringsAttached'' after [[spoiler: she, Grunnel, and ]] the Raleka wizards render both George and Ringo powerless and kidnap the other two. George rescues John and they get their magic back, and Brox ''still'' sneers at their relative powerlessness.
* In ''Fanfic/KyonBigDamnHero'', Wataru tends to taunt Kyon for being unable to do anything without "his dolls" ([[RealityWarper Haruhi]], [[ArtificialHuman Yuki]], etc). To be fair, Wataru has already met some AlternateUniverse incarnations of Kyon so Wataru is probably talking from experience here (and, much like [[LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya in his own canon]], Kyon at the beginning of the fic isn't a fighter; the fic hints the current combined skills of the SOS Brigade are an unique occurrence).
* In ''Fanfic/ShadowchasersTorment'', Ben suggests Yami Marik isn't that good a duelist without the Winged Dragon of Ra. Though Ben wins their duel, Marik proved he was a competent duelist without it.
* ''Fanfic/FatesCollide'': Tamamo no Mae disarms Glynda Goodwitch of her riding crop and calls her useless without her "magic wand". Glynda corrects her that the riding crop is not the source of her powers, it just helps her focus.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/MonstersVsAliens'', Gallaxhar taunts the depowered Susan with "if you wanted to stop me, you should have done it when you possessed the Quantonium. Now you're nothing!" He comes to regret his words later.
* In ''Disney/{{Aladdin}}'', Snake-Jafar tells Aladdin that he's nothing without the Genie. [[GuileHero Aladdin]] promptly proves how wrong he is by using the same response on Jafar in order to trick him into becoming a genie himself.
* ''Disney/{{Hercules}}'', when Hades takes Herc's powers away: "Now you know how it feels to be just like everyone else. Isn't it just peachy?" Hercules uses his wits to defeat the Cyclops.
* Maui in ''Disney/{{Moana}}'' self-identifies with his magic fishhook to a rather unhealthy degree, even using it as his signature when he autographs Moana's oar. When it gets damaged, he says this trope word-for-word and chooses to abandon Moana and her mission rather than risk breaking it. [[spoiler: [[ChangedMyMindKid He gets better.]]]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/{{BASEketball}}'' had one of these in the end when Coop was trying to hit a home run.
* ''Film/AustinPowers'': "I've lost my mojo!" The horrified words Austin's states when he realizes his mojo has been stolen, rendering him perpetually flaccid. Later in the movie, Austin's nemesis Dr. Evil mocks his rival's impotence by claiming, "You can't stop me now, Mr. Powers. I have your mojo!"
* During the climactic battle of ''Film/MortalKombatAnnihilation'', Motaro tears off one of Jax's bionic arm enhancements, leaving Jax with only his original arms since the other arm enhancement is now useless as well.
--> '''Motaro:''' Without your weapons, you are NO match for Motaro!
--> ''(beats Jax up)''
--> '''Jax:''' I still have... my fists! ''(tide of battle turns)''
* From ''Film/TheAvengers2012'': Iron Man and Captain America trade these:
** Steve Rogers sneers at Stark, "Big man in a [[PoweredArmor suit of armor]]. Take that away and what are you?" Stark immediately responds, "A genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist." Rogers then immediately shoots down Stark's smug reply by pointing out he knew plenty of better men who had none of that. However, the question of whether Stark has the heart of a hero is not concluded until the finale.
** Stark eventually returns the favor by telling Captain America, "Everything special about you came [[SuperSerum from a bottle]]," implying that Captain America hasn't really earned his spot among the team like the rest have.
* In ''Film/GreenLantern'', Hal Jordan has been deprived of his ring and Parallax grabs him with his telekinesis. Parallax admits that he's slightly impressed that Hal's willpower is strong enough to stop him from killing him instantly, but Hal's nonetheless nothing without the ring. The villain has a point, as there's nothing Hal can do to break free, and he would have been killed if Carol hadn't distracted Parallax and then thrown him his ring.
* In ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'', Batroc taunts Captain America with, "I thought you were more than just a shield." The Captain [[LetsFightLikeGentlemen puts his shield away]] and kicks his ass.

[[folder: Literature]]
* [[spoiler:Played with]] at the end of ''Literature/OnAPaleHorse'', Satan bluntly tells the incarnation of Death that Death is nothing without his magic. So, the person who assumed the role of Death takes off all of the magic items (cloak, gloves, boots, etc). [[spoiler:But, Death's powers are part of him and cannot be taken by Satan, or by taking the items -- Satan was lying.]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'':
** Answering whether or not she's anything without her powers is the premise of a test the Watcher's council tries to put Buffy through in the third season, by hypnotizing and doping her, they [[BroughtDownToNormal bring her down to the level of an ordinary girl]] in order to make her prove herself against a vampire without her powers.
** And in the Season 8 comics we get a truly awesome example of this when one vamp makes the mistake of taunting a depowered [[spoiler: Dracula]]. "The vampire's the least of your concerns. It's the old man you need to worry about."
** In "Becoming, Part 2," Angelus taunts Buffy that he's fought her to the position of having no weapons, no friends, and no hope. What's left? Buffy replies simply "Me," and proceeds to kick his ass. Perhaps an inversion, in that the phleobotinum, her super-strength, is what she hasn't lost.
* An odd subversion of the self-inflicted version happens in the ''Series/DoctorWho'' episode "The Eleventh Hour," where the newly regenerated Doctor muses that he has no TARDIS (it's busy rebuilding itself) and no sonic screwdriver (it's blown itself up). However, rather than feeling emasculated, he uses it as a sort of self DareToBeBadass.
* Used in ''Series/PowerRangersNinjaStorm''. BigBad Lothor mocks the titular rangers for having lost their ranger powers. They then kindly remind him that they are still trained ninjas with ElementalPowers, which they use to knock him into the Abyss of Evil five feet behind him.
* Awkwardly, this trope is done hero to hero in season six of ''Series/{{Supernatural}}''. When Castiel's powers are suppressed for an episode [[spoiler:courtesy of Eve]], Dean promptly calls him "a baby in a trench coat." Although Castiel ''is'' generally less effective without his powers (seeing as they include SuperStrength and teleportation), [[BroughtDownToBadass he's still intelligent and combat capable]] and has saved Sam and Dean's lives without them before. One can only wonder how much that little comment might have influenced the [[SanitySlippage season]] [[WeUsedToBeFriends ender...]]
* In ''Series/TrueBlood'', Sam angrily threatens Marcus with a gun after Marcus kidnapped Emma. Marcus calls him a coward and a weakling, saying if he didn't have a gun, he wouldn't stand a chance against him. Sam proves him wrong by putting the gun away and kicking his ass.
* In ''Series/LegendsOfTomorrow'', Vixen taunts Ray Palmer about this when she finds out all his abilities come from his PoweredArmor. He retorts that her abilities come from her amulet, but she explains that she's also a martial artist. Palmer steps up when his armor is stolen and later destroyed, proving he can be a hero without it.

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* As CharacterizationMarchesOn for Wrestling/TheUndertaker and Wrestling/PaulBearer, [[{{Heel}} heels]] would target Paul Bearer and steal his [[MacGuffin urn]] so the Undertaker can't draw power from the power of the urn.
** Wrestling/HarveyWhippleman and [[Wrestling/ElGigante Giant Gonzales]] hospitalized Paul and stole his urn to show Undertaker vulnerable until Bearer returned to attack Whippleman, and raises the urn to bring Undertaker "back to life" to defeat Giant Gonzales.
** This is shown when Wrestling/{{Yokozuna}} defeated the Undertaker in a [[GimmickMatches Casket Match]] when Undertaker was outnumbered by ten heels, and they stole the urn with Yokozuna removing the lid with a green smoke coming out of it, signaling the Undertaker's power leaving him to the point where he was lifeless, and Yokozuna simply just kicked him in the casket.
** When the [[Wrestling/TedDiBiase Million Dollar Corporation]] stole the urn and [[Wrestling/CharlesWright Kama]] melted it down into a gold chain necklace, the Undertaker [[ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve drew power from his fans (Creatures of the Night).]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsI'', Riku takes the Keyblade from Sora and mocks him by saying he was nothing but a delivery boy for him, then mockingly leaves him a wooden sword to ''try'' to defend himself with. Sora's courage, determination, and ThePowerOfFriendship eventually makes him worthier than Riku, causing the Keyblade to return to him.
* In ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts3DDreamDropDistance'', Xigbar mocks Sora by pointing out that since he gets his strength from ThePowerOfFriendship, he has no power on his own. Xigbar is [[VillainousBreakdown shocked]] when Sora reveals he doesn't mind, and is proud of being part of something bigger.
* This phrase is word-for-word in second VideoGame/XMenLegends installment by [[{{ComicBook/Apocalypse}} Apocalypse]], when he destroys Cerebro along with X-mansion, effectively rendering Xavier and company blind to his schemes.
* In ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyTrialsAndTribulations'', Pearl Fey angrily calls out ''[[TheBaroness Franziska]] [[WhipItGood von]] [[DaddysLittleVillain Karma]]'', saying that "[she's] nothing but a little girl without [her] whip!"

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Virtually epidemic in the Franchise/DCAnimatedUniverse.
** In Part 2 of the ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' episode "Demon Quest", Batman is captured by Ras Al Ghul and his henchmen, and is stripped of his utility belt (and, oddly enough, [[ShirtlessScene his shirt]]), two henchmen are assigned to lead him off to a cell, one commenting "not so tough without your precious belt". Both henchmen are rendered unconscious by Batman roughly 30 seconds later, as the hero escapes and goes on to thwart Ra's scheme perfectly competently, even sans utility belt ([[spoiler:But with [[SleightOfTongue help]] from Talia]]).
** In the ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' episode "The Savage Time", when traveling back to World War II to fix the timeline, Green Lantern's ring loses power in Nazi Germany. He soon finds himself among Easy Company, a group of American commandos. TheBigGuy Bulldozer questions what John can do without his ring. John promptly beats Bulldozer down with his bare hands. When asked where he learned that, he tells them [[SemperFi The US Marine Corp.]]
** In the ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' GrandFinale "Starcrossed", [[BigBad General Talak]] comments that Green Lantern is "nothing without his toy", referring to his power ring. When the two later fight, and Talak destroys said doodad, Green Lantern still defeats him by tricking him into slamming his axe into a piece of machinery, electrocuting him into unconsciousness.
** Part of a crisis of faith in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond''. Terry begins to wonder if he's worthy of wearing the suit or if it's the suit that makes him a hero. Due to an AI infiltrating and taking over the batsuit, Terry ends up having to fight it to prevent a major catastrophe. Partly averted in that Terry uses a bunch of Bruce's old gear to do it and has been shown to be training under Bruce's tutelage.
* This also happens to Batman in ''WesternAnimation/TheBatman'', when captured and once again stripped of his belt by Black Mask's thugs, one of those thugs mockingly dangles the belt tantalisingly in front of Batman (who is locked in a cage at this point)- Batman's response? "Utility belt, charge to stun" Cue one electrocuted mook, and one free Batman.
* Averted in WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold. He challenges Darkseid to hand-to-hand combat, telling him to lay off the Omega Beam and call off his army. Darkseid complies and beats Batman silly.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10}}'', Ben seems to feel this way about the Omnitrix. This comes to a head in the series finale...where Ben also proves he's an awesome fighter even without it. Gwen also mentions and inverts this when trying to comfort her cousin [[spoiler: after it is taken away]]: "You're still a hero, even if you can't ''go'' hero."
** Later series would [[AvertedTrope Avert]] this trope in a much straight forward example by having Ben take self-defense classes, allowing him to better handle himself whenever he's cut off from the Omnitrix or it runs out of power at an inconvenient moment.
* Also used in the ''WesternAnimation/KongTheAnimatedSeries'' cartoon, wherein the teenage hero confronts the mad scientist villain on an airplane without the titular ape to back him up- the villain snarls "Without your ape you are nothing!". He is promptly judo-tossed out the side of the plane.
* An example of the secondary type is from the ''WesternAnimation/MortalKombat'' cartoon, where Jax's bionics are disabled in a fight with Reptile. Initially, he angsts about his perceived uselessness, being "just a strong man". He's forced back into action and as per the trope description, defeats Reptile by outsmarting him.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheTick'', the Carpeted Man refuses to remove his static-electricity-generating carpetsuit despite it making him too hot, claiming "I'm the ''Carpeted Man!'' Without my suit, I'm NOTHING!"
* Said by a hero, about himself, rather than a villain in ''WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck''. After showing Darkwing up all over St. Canard for a whole episode, Gizmoduck is trapped by a magnet, making his suit useless. He bemoans the fact that he's useless without his suit[[note]]Gizmoduck's secret identity is an accountant whose greatest public claim to fame is being able to count really fast[[/note]] - but Darkwing, on the other hand, is not, and he's not shy about proving it, either.
-->'''Darkwing:''' "Superpowers do ''not'' a superhero make!"
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheGrimAdventuresOfBillyAndMandy'', Grim destroys Hoss Delgado's mechanical/weaponized hand and mocks him. Hos punches him out with his normal hand.
* {{Creator/Filmation}}'s 1960's ''GreenLantern'' series episode "Evil Is As Evil Does". After Evil Star uses his Star Band to grab Green Lantern's ring off his finger, he says "Without this you are powerless!"
* Used in ''WesternAnimation/SwatKats'', where resident BigBad Dark Kat manages to capture the titular feline vigilantes after they have disembarked from their CoolPlane the Turbo-Kat.
-->'''Dark Kat:''' "What did I tell you? Without the Turbo-Kat, they're nothing".
* WesternAnimation/{{Popeye}} is usually powerless when Bluto/Brutus finds away to part him from his spinach. But somehow Popeye finds a way to retrieve spinach from unlikely sources and right the wrongs.
* Another hero-invoked instance: WesternAnimation/DangerMouse to the Demon of the Fourth Dimension after DM traps the Demon in a corridor between his dimension and ours (episode "Demons Aren't Dull").
* ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueAction'': In "Under A Red Sun", Steppenwolf tricks Superman into following him to a planet with a red sun, which takes away his powers. Steppenwolf mocks him by saying his powers are nothing but an accident of his biology, so he didn't earn them. As he and his mooks attempt to [[HuntingTheMostDangerousGame hunt Superman like a wild animal]], Superman takes out his mooks with booby traps. Then, even after getting a broken leg, Superman defeats Steppenwolf by knocking him into water and then throwing one of Steppenwolf's own broken devices in to electrocute him into unconsciousness.