1 Days Left to Support a Troper-Created Project : Personal Space (discuss)

Mundane Utility / Live-Action TV

  • In Smallville, Clark has been seen using heat vision to make toast, pop corn and heat drinks, using Super Speed to clean up and run to school whenever he misses the bus and Super Strength for his many farm chores. He also uses Super Strength and heat vision to make a diamond ring for Lana, likely a Shout-Out to the Superman III scene. In one scene, he and his father prepared to go fishing and Clark remarked he could use his X-Ray Vision to locate the fish. His parents, being aware of his powers, aren't fooled when he tries to use them to get out of trouble.
  • Lois and Clark frequently used Mundane Utility for comic effect. Clark sometimes used his heat vision for mundane tasks such as shaving (by bouncing the beam off a mirror) and reheating coffee.
    • At low power, he can also use it to warm Lois's feet in bed after they hook up.
    • Clark's father Johnathon once complained that Clark didn't have any potholders, to which Clark replied that he never needed one.
    • The shaving example can be justified, since a regular razor blade would break before cutting his facial hair. This is demonstrated in one episode, when a scientist tries to cut Superman's hair and breaks the scissors (funny how that never happens when normal people try to cut hard things).
    • In one pre-intro sequence, he flew to win a game of pickup basketball.
  • The world of Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda includes such wonders as Nanomachines and they're available to pretty much everyone. How does maverick captain Beka Valentine use hers? Instant hair dye.
    • And blackmail.
  • In one episode of The Invisible Man, Fawkes is scolded for using his invisibility to get into movies for free.
    • When asked by a kid if he ever used his ability to sneak into women's locker rooms, Darien refuses to answer. In the pilot, he was caught spying on a soldier and a nurse getting it on and gets a black eye for that.
    • Then there was the time a meter maid caught him parking in a handicapped spot, so he turned his legs invisible.
  • All the time in Stargate SG-1:
    • In the episode "Allegiance", the "kawoosh" of an opening Stargate is used in a burial ceremony to disintegrate the bodies. Only to be expected, considering the cultural status the gate network has acquired in the galaxy.
    • And in "Window of Opportunity" the Stargate itself is used by O'Neill and Teal'c as part of an interstellar game of golf (which they get away with because they're trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop at the time).
      Hammond: Colonel O'Neill, what the hell are you doing?
      Jack: In the middle of my backswing????
    • When they gain temporary enhanced abilities due to ancient alien wristbands, the team is taken out of action for fear of possible side effects. So they use their super-speed and strength to do things like catch up on their reading and writing, perform experiments, rearrange furniture, and sneak off the base for a big tasty steak dinner.
  • Stargate Atlantis
    • Teyla has some kind of Ancient laser device that she uses to light candles. This was quite possibly its original purpose; the Ancients over-engineered everything.
    • A Wraith in some Alternate Universe episode uses his telepathic abilities to cheat at Poker.
      • Although this is a partial subversion; He's using the money he gets to obtain material and tech to build himself a device to broadcast the position of Earth to the rest of his kind.
  • Stargate Universe: The Kino. A small, ball-shaped floating planetary exploration probe with a wide range of sensors to determine viability for human life and a camera for visual recon. Also good for spying on the women's shower. Eli also tried to hogtie a few dozen of them to make a flying platform. Coordination issues didn't allow it to maneuver, but its load-bearing capacity would turn out vital on several occasions.
  • The Big Bang Theory
    • Leslie has used an infrared laser to heat up her cup noodles, and liquid nitrogen to freeze and shatter a banana for her cereal because she couldn't find a knife to cut it.
      Leslie: I'm trying to see how long it takes a 500-kilowatt oxygen iodine laser to heat up my Cup o' Noodles.
      Leonard: I've done it. About two seconds, 2.6 for minestrone.
    • In one episode, the gang rigged Leonard and Sheldon's apartment so that all of the electronics are remote-controlled via the internet. When asked why, they all reply at the same time "Because we can."
    • In another episode, after a particularly bad fight with Penny, Leonard takes out his frustration on his action figures...by putting them in the path of a high powered laser beam and melting them!
    • In yet another episode, though it may not have ever ended up happening, the guys make great use of their intelligence while helping Penny make penny blossoms...by planning to install bluetooth to help appeal to more men.
    • Howard brings a prototype robotic arm he designed to show off to the guys by using it to pass out their Chinese take-out (although it took 28 minutes because he has to type the instructions). Later he has it giving him a massage, which gives him the idea to have it give him...another type of massage. It doesn't end well.
    • When the university gets a new hydraulic thermoforming press, the gang uses it to make paninis.
    • One episode has a whole subplot about Howard buying a 3D printer with his wife's money and using it to make action figurines.
  • Used in Power Rangers Jungle Fury, where one of the Kung Fu trained Rangers uses his martial arts skills for dramatic effect when making pizzas for an appreciative audience.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze is the king of this trope.
    • Out of all 40 of his switches, most of them are completely useless in most battles (ex. Water, Aero, Hand, etc.) so most of the time Fourze is shown using them for more creative purposesnote  but some, like Freeze become quite useful once Cosmic is introduced.
    • Meteor Storm used his Staff as a golf club in his golf match with Taurus.
  • Kamen Rider Wizard
    • Wizard's connect spell has been used more than once to retrieve donuts for Haruto.
    • Dress Up gives Haruto a Tuxedo. No wonder it was used in one episode.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The title Doctor has in his possession the most powerful ship in the universe, able to appear anywhere in time and space in a matter of minutes. It's also capable of towing entire planets and bestowing God-like powers on anyone who looks into its heart. He uses it for sightseeing.
    • The Eighth Doctor Adventures novels take this to a whole new level of uselessness and silliness. The ship described previously, you see, is Bigger on the Inside. There are a lot of uses for that kind of technology, but one wants to know when it started to seem to recurring antagonist Sabbath that fashioning a Paper-Thin Disguise by way of making himself appear somewhat slimmer seemed like a good use of the alien technology of extinct Physical Gods. Way to go, man, you just created Time Lord foundation garments, and I'm sure tons of zaftig Time Ladies would be really grateful if the Doctor hadn't killed them all. Bizarrely, the Doctor is actually almost fooled by a disguise whose effects could be replicated by exercise and healthy eating.
    • The Doctor complains about Clara using the dimension-shattering power of the TARDIS to deal with things like forgetting someone's birthday and not knowing how to use iPlayer.
    • Also, the Doctor is able to pull all sorts of things out of his pockets as needed because they're bigger on the inside.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • In an episode, it turns out that Giles has been using a MacGuffin needed as the focus to restore Angel's soul as a paperweight (a Continuity Nod; when Jenny bought one the shopkeeper said he'd sold a couple as "new age paperweights").
    • Buffy herself uses her superhuman strength to open a crate that her mom was unable to. Later, she used her superhuman strength as a construction worker for about a fourth of an episode, which pissed off her coworkers - they were being paid by the hour, so having someone speeding up the process was not welcome.
    • Willow's overuse of magic in mundane life through the first half of season six. After she used it to smooth over a fight with Tara by making her forget it happened, it was declared an addiction. And then one sentence uttered by Giles in the first episode of the seventh season tried to make the bad storyline go away.
  • Angel
    • Harmony is seen using her vampire super-strength to lift a cabinet in order to retrieve her shoe from underneath.
    • In Season One, Wesley shows Angel a Kek dagger, which is the only weapon capable of killing a Kek demon. Angel informs him that Kek demons are in fact extinct. Then Cordelia grabs the dagger to cut brownies.
    • Subverted once in the first season. Cordelia accidentally orders coffee beans for the office instead of ground coffee and suggests that Angel grinds them by squeezing the packet with his vampire strength. He tries it and manages only to burst the bag, sending coffee beans all over the office which Wesley promptly slips in when he arrives.
    • Angel is looking for information on Wolfram and Hart's senior partner from the owner of a Mystic Book and Item shop. He is told that killing the demon requires a glove, which he just so happens to have and has been using as an oven mitt. Whedon seems to love this trope.
  • Once the characters on Heroes figure their powers out, they frequently make use of them.
    • Claire was the first to do this. In the pilot, she recovers her class ring from the garbage disposal...while it is still on. In Season 2, when something falls into a pot of boiling water by accident, she nonchalantly sticks her hand in to retrieve it (after which her mother notes that just because she has powers doesn't mean she needs to use them all the time).
    • Micah uses his technopathy to get his cousin free pay-per-view. Earlier, he helps out his family by taking cash from an ATM.
    • Matt Parkman reads his wife's mind to help him set up the perfect night with her - such as putting on a song that's been in her head all day - and to cheat at his detective exam (to be fair, though, he is partly using it to overcome his dyslexia). In Season Two, he tests his mind-control by influencing Molly to finish her cereal.
    • Meredith Gordon only appears in a few episodes, but she makes frequent use of her pyrokinesis to light stoves and cigarettes (and not a whole lot else).
    • Ted Sprague uses radiation to warm up a frozen car quickly.
    • Monica Dawson has rarely used her mimicry powers for anything else, the first time she ever uses them is to creates a tomato rose, a Shout-Out to the Marvel supervillain and Iron Chef fan Taskmaster with the same power.
    • Gabriel Grey/Sylar was using his power to fix watches before he discovered what else he could do with it, and later uses telekinesis to fetch small objects on a regular basis.
    • In Season Four, a woman is seen at the Carnival cooking with her powers.
    • Samuel uses his terrakinesis (earth-control) to bury a grave.
    • In Season One, Hiro used his time stop to cheat at gambling.
  • The Bionic Woman
    • In the original, Jaime's cyborg-enhanced superspeed was used to get dressed in a hurry, and while posing as a duplicate, she used it to hurry up a cigarette's burning (yes, the purpose is mission-based, but it's a rather mundane use). She also uses it to write on the blackboard fast.
    • An episode of the Bionic Woman remake opens with Jamie racing at Super Speed down a dark alley at night, leaping over a fence In a Single Bound and yanking open a car door... to reveal her underage sister necking with an older boy. As she broke a bionic toe jumping the fence, Berkut makes a point of telling her just how much it costs to replace.
  • Phasers in Star Trek have occasionally been used to heat rocks for warmth. Also, coffee.
    • Phasers are standard issue cooking equipment, in addition to being a deadly weapon, and are available in galleys. Phasers in Enterprise's kitchen are an important plot device in Star Trek 6.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • The Enterprise: The federation's finest flagship is used for the odd reception often. Seeing as the Enterprise is the flagship, using it to host receptions is not altogether silly. Nothing beats showing off your big guns to foreign ambassadors, as a way to say: ally with us and this'll protect you, attack us and this'll kick your ass. In fact capital ships have been used repeatedly for such reasons, from the Great White Fleet tour of the Pacific to the Japanese signing the surrender on the deck of the battleship Missouri. There is a reason for the term "Gunboat Diplomacy".

      Also justified in that TNG-era Starfleet really only has two kinds of ships — smaller science-oriented ships and larger "floating city"-type ships. The former are the kind to have bunk beds and communal showers, making the latter the only option for diplomatic missions of any magnitude. Sci Fi Debris even lampshaded it:
      "Tomorrow: Symposium on Tegas III's History.
      This weekend: Closed for Battle to death with Borg Cube.
      April 18th: Shriner's Convention.
    • Next Generation-era Star Trek does this so much you forget about it. Instant matter creation is used to make everything from gift wrapping to coffee, teleportation devices are used to have dinner at home when you're at college, and rooms that can simulate ANY of the senses, touch, sight, smell, of ANY thing you can possibly imagine is used to play pool and glorified LARPing.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Kor uses the legendary Sword of Kahless, more or less the Klingon equivalent of Excalibur and the Holy Grail combined, as a fork. According to legend, Kahless himself used the sword to plow a field, skin a legendary monster, and carve a statue of his beloved. Worf considers what Kor is doing with it sacrilege, but Kor insists that it is meant to be used.
  • In Farscape, Sikozu's radiation projection has been used not only to kill Scarrans but also to weld control panels and light candles.
    • Jool's sonic scream is powerful enough to melt metal; naturally, she's used for welding when power goes out all over Moya.
    • Moya's complex amnexus system is often used to clean the crew's dirty laundry.
    • D'Argo once used his Qualta blade for blast fishing.
    • Occasionally, D'Argo uses his extendable tongue for things besides stunning people: snatching up small objects in a hurry, or hanging from precipices- though this takes "a lot of plactith," according to D'Argo.
    • Chiana and Jothee once got in trouble for apparently using "too much lootra oil" while cooking dinner: for those of you who haven't seen "Family Ties," lootra oil is a weapons-grade explosive. However, at the time, Chiana and Jothee weren't all that interested in cooking.
    • When it's not being used to produce hallucinogens and poisons, Noranti's impressive knowledge of botany and chemistry (along with the associated hebarium) is being put to use in cooking.
    • Once upon a time, Moya's DRDs were only used for repairing Moya, healing pilot and assaulting intruders: it all changed when Crichton taught one of them (that they inherited from a different Leviathan) to sing the 1812 overture...
    • In the episode "Taking the Stone," the hedonistic tribe has a habit of using looted alien tech for recreation, entertainment and even ritual. One prominent example is the sonic net- essentially a voice-activated safety net used for aerial training exercises- recycled by the tribe for Taking The Stone.
    • Scorpius' neural clone (Harvey, originally created to collect and catalogue the wormhole information in Crichton's brain, is now used to bring some Crichton's funnier fantasies into the light. Harvey doesn't seem to mind all that much...
      • Suggested by Harvey but tragically never used:
      Crichton: (About Scorpius) If he masters wormhole technology, what will he use it for?
      Harvey: Faster delivery of pizzas.
  • Ned in Pushing Daisies has the ability to bring dead things to life by touch, which he uses both to solve murders, and as a baker - he gets rotten fruit cheap and brings it back to life, ensuring that it will always be as fresh as possible.
  • The title character of Merlin often uses his magic to do household chores, to the great distress of his mentor figure (magic is illegal in Camelot, and anyone caught using or even knowing magic is put to death).
  • Samantha in Bewitched was sometimes seen using her magic to do housework. Even though Darrin didn't approve. Which some people see as unreasonable. After all, while many people enjoy cooking, decorating and gardening as hobbies, nobody really enjoys dusting, vacuuming or doing windows.
  • The aliens from Roswell frequently used their powers to do all sorts of mundane things: listen to CD's, reheat food, restyle Maria's hair, etc.
    • Notable: A episode parodies shows like Bewitched and shows one the aliens using her powers for cooking, something she can't do because her husband doesn't know about her origins.
  • In Warehouse 13, Pete uses Lewis Carroll's mirror to play ping pong. With himself.
    • It seems to be common practice to use various objects for mundane tasks, or to repurpose them. The automated vacuum sweeper and Claudia's use of a snow globe that freezes things to chill a bottle of cola are evidence of this.
  • The Harry Enfield and Chums sketch, The Palace of Righteous Justice; in which a team of He-man style superheroes debate how to deal with the dirty dishes on their kitchen table. The table is frozen solid, then cut in half with what can only be described as a lightsaber. They then burn down the house for some reason.
  • Despite the fact that the Charmed witches are explicitly not supposed to use their powers "for personal gain", they frequently seem to find loopholes in this stricture large enough to do things like turning off boiling-over pots, stopping their favorite employees from being fired, and so on.
  • Jonathan Smith in Highway To Heaven uses his powers as an angel of God to do things to help him with his duties. Although his powers sometimes help him do incredible things like catch bullets, these are most often of the mundane variety, such as keeping doors from opening so someone will have to stay and listen to his lecture, pushing little girls into swimming pools, making beer disappear out of glasses and pitchers (despite the fact that he served the beer in the first place), or appearing/disappearing without using the door. (Ta da!)
  • Not quite a "superhero power", but in an episode of Green Wing the doctors used an X-ray machine to check inside bags of crisps (chips) and pick out the ones that had money inside them. (For non-Brits, there was a promotion run by Walkers, a huge crisp company, where instead of having to collect tokens or anything, there would just be £20 notes inside some crisp packets instead. It was actually finished some years before the episode aired, but it was a very popular promotion.)
    • Apparently it ended prematurely when Walkers realised most of the £20 notes were being pilfered inside their own factory by the staff who packed the crisps...
  • In an episode of Time Trax, a scientist from the future "invents" devices 200 years ahead of their time. How does he use a device that instantly cools down any object? To chill a can of beer.
    • It's implied that it was also used for this purpose in the 22nd century.
  • In one episode of Home Improvement, Tim Taylor got NASA to send him a tank of rocket fuel, which he uses to light a barbecue. He ends up accidentally launching the whole barbecue grill into low orbit.
  • One episode of House had House using a highly advanced and very expensive surgical robot to... cut a button on Cameron's blouse, make a very shallow incision on her face and blow air on her. It is a demo of the machine's precision, after all. Not that she isn't a little aroused...
  • Breaking Bad season 3 has chemist-turned-methamphetamine-maker Walt going to work for a drug cartel. On his first day, he finds his new assistant, also an expert chemist, using his sophisticated knowledge and equipment to make really, REALLY good coffee. Walt's reaction upon tasting: "This stuff is amazing — why are we making meth?"
  • The Lost Room features a number of Objects with seemingly-random supernatural powers. The one thing they all have in common is that they're indestructible. This makes The Coat useful as a bulletproof vest, despite it's actual ability being unknown.
    • However, though The Comb can stop time, it cannot be effectively used to comb hair.
    • In the pilot, the protagonist uses the Key to sneak into a football game.
  • Largely averted in Misfits given that most of the team can't control their powers. For example, much to Nathan's annoyance, Curtis can't use his time-travel powers to "nip back" to earlier that day and find out who stole his drug stash. However, Simon manages to get his invisibility under control fairly early on, and often uses it as a way of recording environmental footage for his collection without anyone noticing him- plus the occasional bit of Peeping Tom Power Perversion Potential.
    • Inverted in the case of Brian, the Lactokinesis Man: everyone assumes that his power to control milk and other dairy products has nothing but mundane utility...only for several people to choke to death on cheese and yoghurt when Brian snaps and becomes a villain.
    • Nathan manages this when he buys the power to warp reality: apart from cheating Las Vegas casinos, he also uses it to impress Marnie by conjuring a rose out of thin air.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cameron uses her superhuman strength to fight hostile robots, pound down concrete walls, and....pick up heavy loads to put in the truck on shopping trips. Her ability to rapidly analyze data is also used to do such things as plot stellar patterns, plan out a pool game, or to take a stress reading from a person by touching their neck.
    • Sarah also decides in one scene that the best use for the futuristic superstrong deathmachine at the moment is.... to do the laundry. John calls her out on this, and Sarah hands him the laundry... which he then hands back to Cameron.
  • In Airwolf, on occasion, String and Dom take the copter out for non-sanctioned tasks, such as checking out the story of a drunk friend that there's something weird going on near his house.
  • Ax Men: Shelby Stanga carries a long-barreled revolver, ostensibly to defend himself from the local wildlife. One day, while felling a large tree, made recalcitrant by Shelby's...questionable felling technique, he helps the tree tip over using the revolver.
  • In the show No Heroics, the opening credits show each character using their powers for mundane problems in their daily lives. Alex uses his heat powers to cook his TV dinner. Sarah uses her electronics powers to steal some cash from an ATM. Don uses his foresight ability to find out that his train is delayed. Jenny uses her super strength to move a car out of the way in a parking lot.
  • Agents Of Shield: after getting their hands on some glasses with backscatter X-Ray Vision, Skye and Fitz attempt to use them to cheat Ward in a game of cards. When Skye points out that with the glasses activated she'll be able to see Fitz naked, he immediately aborts the scheme...and then Skye uses them to peek through Ward's clothes.
  • Scrubs: JD has used his medical knowledge for a hangover cure and feeding himself via an IV.
  • In The Worst Year of My Life, Again, Alex, instead of using his knowledge of the future to buy lottery tickets or predict world events… tries to impress the girl he has a crush on. Lampshaded by Simon, but justified in script - Alex specifically says that he doesn't perfectly remember the first time he lived through the year, and if he had known he was going to have to relive it, he would have tried harder to remember things.
  • In Once Upon a Time, The Snow Queen uses her cold-based magic to run an ice cream shop without freezers.
  • In Haven, Vickie used her Art Initiates Life ability to calm a crying baby down by entertaining him with dancing leaves.
  • As can be expected, Barry in The Flash (2014) learns to use his Super Speed for pretty much anything. This annoys Wells a bit, since Barry is not using the ability to stop other meta-humans or train his speed. While Joe is normally okay with Barry using his speed to get things done faster (although, technically, from Barry's perspective, they take exactly as much time as they normally would), except when they are decorating a Christmas tree. When Barry does this in about a second, Joe makes him undo it all and do it properly. When preparing for a date, Barry uses his speed to quickly try on dozens of different outfits. He can also avoid standing in line at a coffee shop by making everyone's drinks, including his own, in half a second. When wanting to take a picture with Wells, Cisco, and Caitlin, he presses the button on the camera, quickly runs around the desk to the others, then runs back to keep the camera from falling. The shutter speed is apparently fast enough to avoid a blur on the picture.
  • On The Middleman, Cecil Rogers is cursed with immortality, after having used up a spot on the Titanic lifeboats for his tuba. He spends a number of years working as a stuntman.