Mundane Utility: Western Animation

  • The title characters of The Powerpuff Girls frequently use their powers for other things when they're not fighting crime or monsters, such as cleaning their room. However the most frequent use of their ability of flight is used to simply get around. There is hardly a time they aren't floating around rather than walking.
  • Superman: The Animated Series:
    • In one episode, Clark accidentally drops his pencil under his desk and, after making sure no one's looking, quickly lifts the entire desk over his head to retrieve it.
    • Another instance, he has heat vision that can melt any form of metal, which he uses to shave. Justified though, as his hair is probably stronger than any Earth metal (that's why he's always so well coiffed).
  • Megas XLR: Coop abused his mecha's abilities at every possible opportunity, usually just for rather mundane things. That's not counting all the times he's just showing off because he's bored. The show also used this trope from the other direction. Even though he's in a giant mech with enough firepower to destroy planets and can fly at interstellar speeds, he still has to deal with things like traffic and annoying drivers. In one episode, Megas got towed and Coop had to jump through all the hoops, including retaking the driver's exam, to get back a giant robot that could smite the world with the press of a button.
    • To a lesser extent, Megas's "control center" was made from a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, which is still fully functional. Jamie uses it to pick up chicks.
  • In Xiaolin Showdown, the Xiaolin Dragons occasionally use their Shen Gong Wu to do their chores. For example, Clay using the Third Arm Sash for sweeping. The monks also use their elemental powers at one point for the arduous and life-affirming task the dishes. And then there's the time they used their powers to throw a pool party.
    • Played with when they gain the Shard of Lightning, an item that stops time around the users, allowing them to accomplish many tasks in the blink of an eye. They do all their chores in about five seconds. When Master Fung sees them finished, he wipes the smiles off their faces by saying that they're so efficient, they can do even more chores today.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, almost every bender with a decent amount of screen time has done this. Keep in mind that elemental bending is something that a large portion of this world's population can do, and having it applied to mundane use is hardly surprising. On one occasion Iroh blew his cover by Firebending a cup of tea to warm it up. Other good examples:
    • Earthbending is used for a soccer like game called Earthball, and Toph uses it to make a tent. Omashu uses it to power a mail system and Ba Sing Se uses it to fashion together a train system.
    • Firebending makes a handy torch, and is useful for metalworking. Although the Fire Nation's Steam Punk tech is usually powered by coal-based fire, in a pinch, you can also Firebend it directly.
    • Waterbending makes sailing a breeze. Surfing, too. And makes submarines possible hundreds of years before their time. It also has potential industrial cutting applications, though we've only seen that once, when Aang and Katara used a very fast-moving stream of water to cut through what appeared to be an inch-thick steel I-beam.
    • Airbending finds use for everything from projectile cakes to providing every single Air Nomad with the ability to fly.
      • During the course of the original series, we see a special technique for each of the types of bending. Fire is lightning, Water is bloodbending, and Earth is metalbending. What's the special new air technique, you ask? It's the Air Scooter. That ball Aang uses just to get around all the time.
    • A combination of water and earthbending provides liquid filtration.
    • In the Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, lightningbending (something that only three characters in the original series were ever shown doing) has become so commonplace that it is now used to run power plants. The even-rarer metalbending is used ubiquitously by the police as a means of restraint and quick transportation via steel cables.
    • Firebending is mentioned to be used in the making of car engines.
    • Korra once used the Avatar state as a "booster rocket" in an airbending race. Granted, that was a gross misuse of power.
    • Outside of bending, the mecha-tanks leftover from the Equalist coup of Republic City were used to load cargo. To their credit, they were based off of Future Industries' Forklifts (which would be designed for that express purpose).
  • In the first season of Transformers Animated, Sari used her key for fixing/powering up anything she thought might be amusing. This tapered off during the second season, although she still used it to pirate cable.
    • The Autobots themselves frequently use their abilities to repair the city, and once took out a bunch of trash. This is a debatable example, as civilian usage was more or less what they were made for.
  • In the Futurama episode "I, Roommate", Fry uses the starship's engines to dry his hair.
    Leela: You're getting a massive dose of radiation!
    Fry: ...and great lift.
    • In the episode "Brannigan Begin Again", the Planet Express crew arrives at the new Democratic Order of Planets (D.O.O.P.) headquarters in orbit around the Neutral Planet, in order to deliver the oversized scissors for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Zapp Brannigan destroys the entire station by attempting to use his ship the Nimbus' laser to cut the ribbon, instead of using the scissors.
    • The professor builds a device that can see through anything. What does it get used for? Winning product contests.
    • And, of course, in the episode in which they gain actual superhero-like superpowers, Leela's reaction is to say that "I guess our lives will be full of even more humdrum activity now!"
    • The Hypnotoad is arguably the most powerful being on the planet, and could rule the world if he so chose. Instead he uses his powers to get himself a sitcom and win pet contests.
    Fry: "This show has gone downhill since the 3rd season..."
    • In another episode where Fry, Leela, and Bender stole a gem for a supervillian to rescue Leela's parents. After delivering it, the villian, the Zookeeper, has his hawk fetch the gem from Fry's hands and bring it to him...a distance of about five feet. Fry lampshades the trope.
    Fry: That seemed unnecessary.
  • Professor Membrane of Invader Zim, who invented scores of wonderful and useful devices, is often shown working on the most mundane and/or ridiculous of things. One episode had him welding a fork for some reason.
    • Professor Membrane, at his workbench: "Not now, son! I'm making...<electricity fills the air>...toast!"
      • In a nod to this, in a later episode he is referred to as "the inventor of supertoast".
    • Not to mention Zim himself, who put Dib into a complete virtual reality world and allowed him to virtually grow to old order to get Dib to admit to having thrown a muffin at him.
      • And then he uses a massive cannon with a barrel nearly as big as Dib's head... to shoot another muffin (albeit at enough force that it left him limping) as revenge.
      • and Zim's robotic legs, very useful in battle, have lasers and energy shields build in, are first used to...get up to the sofa
  • The Incredibles uses this a lot. Violet makes herself invisible to hide from her crush at school, Dash uses his super speed to pull pranks on his teacher (moving so fast he can't be seen), and Elastigirl stretches her neck so she can look Mr. Incredible in the eye should he try to turn his back on her while she yells at him. The current page picture shows a day at the Incredible household, with Mr. Incredible lifting up a couch so Mrs. Incredible can vacuum under it, both using their super powers.
    • Also inverted in one scene, when Elastigirl realizes (much to her chagrin) that despite all the cool stuff that she can do with her stretching powers, she can't change the size of her butt.
      Elastigirl: (sigh)
    • Bob and Dash also use their powers in father-son games of catch, with Bob throwing the ball a good couple of miles with his super-strength and Dash zipping after it to catch it.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Leonardo's swords, in addition to slicing up bad guys, are also used to slice up pizza. In the original movie, he does so in such a manner that each slice lands on one of the Turtles' plates — except for the last one, which lands on Splinter's head.
  • Everyone in Galactik Football uses their incredible superpowers to play soccer. This is rigidly enforced by a Jedi Council, who are worried Galactic war will break out otherwise.
  • Magic in Winx Club is used for the mundane all the time, such as levitating objects, cutting or cleaning a dress, cleaning trash and pollution, or painting a room.
  • Danny from Danny Phantom once used his ghost powers to clean up the messy basement (and his flight to vacuum the walls). We have to ignore the fact that Ghost Rays push the objects in their proper place instead of blowing it up. On occasion he also used them to get to school early and enter the girl’s locker room.
  • In the Justice League Christmas episode "Comfort and Joy", Green Lantern uses his Ring to snowboard and make snowmen. Then Hawkgirl gets in on the act, using her Energy Mace to snowball fight with GL.
    • Same episode: Superman uses his x-ray vision to...peek in the presents and see what he got for Christmas. Which is why his parents have used lead foil for gift-wrapping since he was a kid.
    Superman: You mean Santa did.
    • As mentioned above, Wally is very well known for using his super speed for comparatively mundane things. Such as painting houses. No wonder he's so loved in the Central/Keystone area.
  • In Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Lilo attempts to get all of Jumba's experiments to use their powers like this. For example, an experiment with freezing breath makes snow cones, an experiment that can melt solid objects is sent to a recycling plant, etc.
  • WordGirl villain Tobey, who makes robots the size of skyscrapers for the sole purpose of destruction, finds that his creations apparently also like to paint. And play hopscotch. And shield the elderly from the sun.
  • The eponymous character of Ben 10 uses his Voluntary Shapeshifting powers courtesy of Imported Alien Phlebotinum for this almost as much as he uses them for superheroism, mostly to pull pranks on his cousin Gwen. Of course, as a large part of the series consists of Ben failing to use his powers properly, this rarely works the way he wants. Other examples include using Grey Matter's Super Intelligence to win a game, Xlr8's Super Speed to put away stuff in his grandfather's rustbucket and repair said rustbucket, Fourarm's stature and Super Strength to run a catch tournament, and even once several alien forms to handle multiple tasks in a farm.
  • While not super-powers per se, Kim Possible often uses Wade's super-techno crime-fighting gadgets for mundane things like homework.
    • In particular, one that had to be pre-emptively defied was the super suit from so the drama, which had to be written out because it was a complete Story-Breaker Power, and Kim had every intention of using it from everything to foiling her normal rogue's gallery (which would be complete overkill) to cats up trees.
  • In Teen Titans, the Titans regularly use their powers for whatever reason.
    • Raven is so comfortable with her telekinesis that she's never seen physically opening a door, sometimes skipping the door altogether and just phasing through the wall. She also once used her epic magic powers, that could destroy the universe if used incorrectly, to give Beast Boy a wedgie.
    • Starfire flies everywhere, usually when excited she'll just forgo walking to dance in the air.
    • Cyborg used his superhuman strength to pick up a sofa so he could find the remote once.
    • Beast Boy has tried to use his powers to pick up chicks, with negative results. He's also turned into a dog just to nap on the sofa.
    • While Robin himself never does, the others take advantage of his absence during a training trip to raid his room so that they can check out all his cool gadgets. He comes home to find the Titans using his weapons to cut a pizza.
  • Every episode that is now created for South Park is done with incredibly advanced computer technology. Lampshaded by the creators of the show when they said: "It's like building a sandcastle with a bulldozer."
    • One aspect of Kenny's immortality means that he wakes up in his bed every time he is killed, with no-one having any memory of his death. At the end of the episode, he decides to use it for Fast Travelling.
    Kenny: Well, I'm tired. I think I'll go to bed. (pulls out a pistol and shoots himself in the head)
  • In an episode of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario and co. get in a fight with the Koopalings over a wizard's lost Green Lantern Ring wand. When the wizard retrieves it at the end, he reveals that he only uses it to roast weenies.
  • Family Guy (of course). Aquaman uses his "talking to fish" powers to get a soda. The fish wasn't pleased.
    • And God has lightning bolts and telekinesis. He uses these powers to get chicks. Or at least tries to.
    • Jesus used his powers to turn water into funk and improve his golf game.
  • In The Venture Bros., Dr. Orpheus has used his magical powers to cook frittatas.
    • Orpheus's master sometimes uses his powers of transformation for this. For example, he once made himself look like Orpheus's ex-wife so he could stare at her ample cleavage in the mirror (also to mess with Orpheus but mostly the first thing). He also prefers the form of a three-headed dog because it allows him to enjoy triple autofellatio.
  • The eponymous heroes of Loonatics Unleashed use their powers for convenience on a regular basis - like Ace using his laser vision to reheat pizza.
  • An episode of Martha Speaks involved a scientist who had invented a mind-control device. So he opened a dog obedience school.
  • ReBoot occasionally had characters use zipboards as chairs.
  • In the first Peabody and Sherman segment, Peabody reveals that he built the Wayback Machine because his apartment wasn't big enough for Sherman to run around in.
    • In the film, he built it to teach his son Sherman about history.
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, the Pig Talisman is found in Bavaria, where its Eye Beam power was used to melt chocolate.
    • Jade often used the Talismans for normal problems, such as using the Rabbit Talisman to get to school on time.
  • A crossover episode between Codename: Kids Next Door and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy featured a group of KND operatives using a laser to cut bratwurst. Mandy, who wanted the laser for her giant robot, was not amused.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, all unicorns can use their magic for simple telekinesis, which effectively gives them an extra pair of hands. This is especially useful since ponies don't have hands. This makes tasks like turning pages, writing letters, and eating sandwiches much easier for them than they are for other ponies. Twilight Sparkle in particular can learn any magical spell, and of course, being the universe this is, a lot of what she has learned is mundane utility spells. That doesn't stop her from being a one-pony magical arsenal of destruction as well, though.
    • Unicorn horns glow when they use their magic, which Rarity once used as an impromptu flashlight when caught in a darkened room.
    • Pegasi can also use their wings to hold light things underarm. Rainbow Dash once held a ball with her wing this way, and in "Putting Your Hoof Down," Fluttershy even demonstrated feather-based dexterity comparable to that of human fingers (justified a few episodes earlier, where an X-ray shows that pegasi have small bones in the largest of their feathers).
      • Scootaloo, a pegasus too young to fly properly, uses her wings to give herself extra speed when on her scooter, rather like a propeller. She also uses this to get some sweet air to pull off tricks.
    • Not to mention that as of "Lesson Zero," Rainbow Dash has apparently managed to master the Sonic Rainboom to the point of using it in demolition.
    • Spike's magic fire breath essentially makes him a living fax machine. Oh, and he can bake cupcakes too.
    • Fluttershy's Stare, which seems to break the will of any creature on the receiving end of it - up to and including full-grown dragons - has been used to round up disobedient chickens and get her pet bunny, Angel, to eat his vegetables.
    • Inspiration Manifestation: Unicorn magic is great for puppeteering.
  • Static uses his powers to grab his keys and charge his father's razor.
  • Robin in The Batman.
    Robin: He gave you a radiation detector? Why don't I get a radiation detector?
    Batgirl: Anyone using the Bat-computer for something other than downloading video game cheat codes? (raises her hand) Hm?
  • Jake the Dog in Adventure Time gets enormous use out of his stretchy powers, and there are few episodes where he doesn't find some new application. His hands morph into a bottle opener or a key, he shrinks so Finn can carry him, he enlarges to provide an impromptu rain shield or simply to make walking large distances easier, extending limbs mean nothing is out of his reach, and the pranks he can play are quite elaborate, to name just several examples.
    • Marceline the Vampire Queen uses her flight power almost solely to surpass the tedious issue of standing and walking, while her shapeshifting is only used for scaring people.
    • "In Five Short Graybles", Princess Bubblegum uses all of her scientific technology from growth formulas, teleportation device, and even magic to make a sandwich. Though in her defenses it was the "perfect sandwich".
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Sandman used his powers to build a magnificent sand castle for a little girl.
    • Peter himself uses his webs for relatively mundane tasks, like quickly cleaning his room (and, of course, the whole photography thing). For that matter, Harry uses his father's Psycho Serum just to improve his grades and football skills.
  • In an episode of the 90's X-Men cartoon, Wolverine uses his claws to slice cold cuts for his sandwich.
  • In Young Justice, we see members of the Flash family using their powers for tasks such as clearing the dishes (Barry) and cleaning out the ice cream when nobody's looking (Wally). Zatanna and Megan both can also use their powers (magic and shapeshifting, respectively) to change their outfits.
  • In the Dan Vs. episode "Parents", Elise uses her sword-fighting skills to chop lettuce.
  • Team Umizoomi could be considered living versions of this with things like delivering mail, making milk, or grocery shopping.
    • When he's not solving mighty math problems, Geo is making food or toys out of shapes.
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power: Hordak once turned his arm into a vacuum cleaner.
  • In Barbie: The Pearl Princess, Lumina uses her color-changing pearl powers to style hair and tails, and Madame Ruckus uses her tentacles to style hair.
  • Avengers Assemble got a lot of mileage out of this trope. The third episode of the series opens with Falcon using his high-tech combat flight suit to arrive at a mission briefing on time.
    • Thor and the Hulk made microwave popcorn with Mjolnir's lightning summoning, and in another episode went to the Moon to wrestle after breaking too many things in Avengers Tower during their weekly sparring matches.
    • Hawkeye uses his Improbable Aiming Skills to annoy his teammates by bouncing things off their heads, build sandwiches by tossing ingredients back over his shoulder without looking, and clean house at boardwalk carnival games.
  • Steven Universe
    • Steven uses Lion's Pocket Dimension to store things, including canned drinks.
    • In "Steven and the Stevens", Steven uses a time-travel device to recruit other Stevens from different time periods to form a band.
    • In the episode "Open Book", Steven and Connie use Rose's Room (which is like a holodeck, creating things out of clouds) to basically dress up and play.
    • Pearl likes to use holograms as a visual aide when she goes into Ms. Exposition mode, and uses her gemstone to store things like police tape and bandages.
    • Amethyst uses her shapeshifting powers for pranks.
    • Garnet can generate electricity, but has rarely used it on screen and, oddly, never in combat. Instead, she's used it once to power an arcade game and a second time to recharge the battery in Greg's van.
    • Steven used a magic wand in "Onion Trade" to make extra figurines to trade. It's also used, in Amethyst's case, to conjure a whole heap of garbage in Pearl's room.
  • In Mixels, thanks to their Fusion Dance abilities, Mixels have a tendency to Mix for fixing any problem they have, be it assembling sandwiches, changing a light bulb, or performing in a talent show.
    • Select other characters use their base abilities for mundane reasons as well. Zorch uses his Super Speed for his job as a mailman, and the Electroids use their electric-tipped body parts as flashlights in blackouts.
  • Ian Peek in Batman Beyond has a belt that makes him immaterial and partially invisible. He uses it to spy on celebrities for his gossipy TV show.
  • Ever After High:
    • Raven uses her fearsome sorceress powers to carry luggage.
    • The most prominent effect of Bunny's supernatural luck is that she is never late for anything, ever. Fate just conspires to make it that way. Naturally, she has gotten very zen about making appointments.
    • In Poppy's diary, she describes using a shrinking potion to fit everything she owns in one suitcase.