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Token Super

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Inverse of The Team Normal. The only member of a Super Team or Badass Crew who has powers.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Snowy66 on Aug 13th 2017 at 1:46:15 AM
Last Edited By:
Snowy66 on Oct 8th 2017 at 1:21:03 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

On any given Super Team, there will typically be several members with an assortment of powers, along with that one person with no powers. But what if it's the inverse? What if there is a team made up of Badass Normals with that one member being the only one who has powers? This is the Token Super.

Perhaps having powers is rare and the Token Super is one of a kind, or maybe a group of powerless individuals banded together with one super individual tagging along.

The Token Super may likely serve as The Champion for the team, as having powers gives them an unfair advantage over everyone else and is likely of being the most useful member. May also overlap with Hero Protagonist, since even The Hero needs something to explain why he's special.

Subtrope of Token Minority.


Anime and manga

Comic Books

Literature

  • In the original Dracula, Mina is the only member of Van Helsing's Vampire Hunter crew who has supernatural powers, due to an, uh, close encounter with the title villain half-way through the book. These allow her to "tune in" into Dracula's head, letting Van Helsing track his movement.
  • Downplayed in The Lord of the Rings, where Gandalf is an angelic spirit in human form, traveling with the otherwise non-magical Fellowship. His exalted origins are largely unknown to the party and his displays of power are minimal, since his Valar masters require that the victory over Sauron be won by the people of Middle-Earth.

Films — Live-Action

  • Alice from Resident Evil became this for her La Résistance team after contracting the T-virus but with it instead granting her powers rather than the zombie degeneration.
  • Captain America was this to the Howling Commandos in Captain America: The First Avenger, being the only Super Soldier in a team of normal military soldiers. Subverted later on when Cap joins the Avengers which was a Super Team full of fellow superheroes.
  • Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen. True to the source material, he is the only hero with actual powers, once again being depicted as a Physical God in an otherwise un-super world.
  • Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy. After Obi-Wan was killed, Luke was the only force user left on the Millennium Falcon crew and the Rebel Alliance in general.
  • Subverted in All Superheroes Must Die, the team are all Brought Down to Normal at the beginning of the film, except for Charge who retains his Super Strength for some reason. It turns out that the reason the depowering serum didn't work on Charge is because he never had powers in the first place, his strength is from working out.
  • The Wolverine had a noticeable lack of mutants for an X-Men film, with Wolverine instead dealing with samurai mooks. Though on the bad guys' side, they still have Viper.

Live Action TV

Video Games

  • In Life is Strange, thanks to her Time Master powers, the Player Character Max is the only person investigating the disappearance of Rachel Amber with powers. Technically only Chloe is officially on their "team", but they get a lot of help from other characters who they keep Locked Out of the Loop like Warren and Kate, and eventually other characters connected to Rachel start cooperating with them. More specifically; Frank can join their investigation (should you avoid killing him when asking him for info), and David catches up (having found Max and Chloe's notes) and pulls a Big Damn Heroes in the final episode.
  • In Starship Promise, none of the crew members of The Promise have powers, except for Nova, a Super Soldier.

Web Animation

Webcomics

Western Animation

Feedback: 35 replies

Aug 13th 2017 at 4:05:35 PM

  • Subverted in All Superheroes Must Die, the team are all Brought Down To Normal at the beginning of the film, except for Charge who retains his Super Strength for some reason. It turns out that the reason the depowering serum didn't work on Charge is because he never had powers in the first place, his strength is from working out.

Aug 15th 2017 at 12:40:31 AM

In Frozen, Elsa is the only one in her family with ice powers.

Aug 15th 2017 at 5:38:37 AM

In Danny Phantom, Danny is the only one in his family with ghost powers.

Aug 16th 2017 at 1:14:22 AM

  • In the original Dracula, Mina is the only member of Van Helsing's Vampire Hunter crew who has supernatural powers, due to an, uh, close encounter with the title villain half-way through the book. These allow her to "tune in" into Dracula's head, letting Van Helsing track his movement.

Aug 21st 2017 at 10:50:58 PM

Aug 21st 2017 at 11:55:41 PM

^ That was actually the first trope included, it's the Trope Codifier.

Aug 24th 2017 at 8:45:54 PM

Birds Of Prey: For a long time, Black Canary was the only member of the team with a Metahuman ability (her "Canary Cry"). Other members with superhuman powers have since come and gone on short stints (such as Power Girl, Little Barda, Hawk and Dove and Misfit), but Canary is pretty much the most steady member with this advantage.

Aug 31st 2017 at 5:43:48 PM

Wait, stop the presses. What differentiates this from Token Nonhuman?

Aug 31st 2017 at 6:15:35 PM

@Dust Snitch. It has nothing to do with species, the candidates for this trope can very well be human. Similarly Token Nonhuman doesn't necessarily have powers.

Aug 31st 2017 at 6:38:34 PM

Does Elsa count? shes not part of a superteam at all. That said

  • Damien Wayne/ Robin was this for the Batfamily for a little while when he got powers temporarily.

Aug 31st 2017 at 7:17:00 PM

^ I wasn't quite sure about that example, but now that I think about it I agree. She's not really part of any team.

Sep 16th 2017 at 4:13:44 AM

Does having extra powers count? In Animorphs, every member of the team can morph into animals, but Ax knows how much time they've spent in morph (Andalites apparently have a more literal biological clock), and Cassie is somehow able to tell when a timeline is changed.

Sep 16th 2017 at 4:34:42 AM

  • In Penny Dreadful, Vanessa is the only member of Sir Malcolm's little vampire-hunting gang who has psychic powers. Subverted at the end of season one, however, when it is revealed that Ethan is actually a unwitting werewolf and he begins using his beast form against the bad guys.

Sep 16th 2017 at 7:22:17 AM

@Chabal 2. For some circumstances in a world where Everyone Is A Super, certain powers that are considered "super" by their standards would qualify. But for Animorphs their team in general is considered super by the world's standards, so no it wouldn't count. Ax's thing also isn't exactly a power and more a thing his species in general has.

Sep 17th 2017 at 8:42:31 AM

Another Arrow example:

Sep 17th 2017 at 4:31:11 PM

  • In Life Is Strange, thanks to her Time Master powers, the Player Character Max is the only person investigating the disappearance of Rachel Amber with powers. Technically only Chloe is officially on their "team", but they get a lot of help from other characters who they keep Locked Out Of The Loop like Warren and Kate, and eventually other characters connected to Rachel start cooperating with them. More specifically; Frank can join their investigation (should you avoid killing him when asking him for info), and David catches up (having found Max and Chloe's notes) and pulls a Big Damn Heroes in the final episode.

Sep 21st 2017 at 11:20:51 AM

Literature

  • Downplayed in The Lord Of The Rings, where Gandalf is an angelic spirit in human form, traveling with the otherwise non-magical Fellowship. His exalted origins are largely unknown to the party and his displays of power are minimal, since his Valar masters require that the victory over Sauron be won by the people of Middle-Earth.

Webcomics

Sep 22nd 2017 at 10:47:08 AM

Another Doctor Who example:

  • If well is best known working alone, sometimes The Master also made a team to take down The Doctor, in which he's the Token Super. Two of the most known alliances he made are with Chang Lee and Ms. Saxon, who helped him in his evil plans.

Oct 6th 2017 at 12:33:01 AM

In Starship Promise, none of the crew members of The Promise have powers, except for Nova, a Super Soldier.

Oct 6th 2017 at 1:31:47 PM

"The Token Super often overlaps with Hero Protagonist, since even The Hero needs something to explain why he's special."

Oct 6th 2017 at 5:00:15 PM

@Twiddler, "Starship Promise" doesn't exist as a page. It's a red link.

Oct 6th 2017 at 5:52:18 PM

^ The page for Red Link says:

"Links to works that don't yet have pages will thus show up as red. However, they'll automatically shift to blue when the page is created, so don't be afraid to link to works this way — it makes it easier for when someone eventually writes it up."

Also, I'm planning to make a page for it eventually. I'm working on a draft.

Regarding The Token Super, why not drop the 'the' and just have Token Super? Then it would match up with the way the other Token Minority tropes are named.

Oct 6th 2017 at 10:31:25 PM

^ Okay. Changing it over is no biggie.

I wanted to do that, but the Trope Launcher wouldn't accept the name "Token Super" for some reason so I had to add "The".

Oct 7th 2017 at 12:26:26 AM

^ Looks like Token Super was previously cut, maybe that has something to do with it?

Anyway, I was able to change it. I tested with just "Token Super" first, which worked, then I readded the "(Launching Soon)"

Oct 7th 2017 at 3:44:33 AM

^ Well I tried searching for it but couldn't find it. Even googling it didn't come up with any discarded YKTT for Token Super. Thanks :)

Oct 7th 2017 at 9:17:23 AM

The original YKTTW for Token Super is here.

Also, if this page needs an image, this Watchmen one is pretty clear, considering every character is in dark spandex looking like Batman except the glowing blue Dr. Manhattan.

Oct 7th 2017 at 9:31:59 AM

^ Okay thanks.

I had considered that exact Watchmen image, but the problem is it's already being used by Super Power Lottery.

Oct 7th 2017 at 11:56:24 AM

In that case, the only somewhat-decent image I could this was this Legion of Doom screenshot where everyone has a weapon except Reverse-Flash, who's got red demons eyes and is vibrating about. He's not in the center, so it isn't great, but it's something.

Oct 7th 2017 at 6:41:12 PM

Yeah I was also thinking of going with a Legion of Doom image. The issue with that one though is it's not actually the Legion. Damien Darhk isn't there, while Ra's is present when he wasn't a Legion member.

What do you think of this one? It's not an official image but was used by a review site.

Oct 7th 2017 at 6:59:45 PM

Western Animation

  • Star Wars Clone Wars as directed by Genndy Tartakovsky depicts squads, corps, even battalions of brave and loyal Clone Troopers fighting fiercely against Separatist forces. The clones are led by a Jedi Knight, who is effectively a wizard with "the Force" as his magic.

  • Star Wars The Clone Wars as directed by Dave Filoni similarly have legions of clone troopers battling Separatist Mecha Mooks while being commanded by various Jedi Knights, often with a padawan in tow. It's still one Force wizard and his Redshirt Army versus cookie-cutter "clankers."

Oct 7th 2017 at 7:10:10 PM

^I think those two can be written together, it's pretty much the same info.

Oct 7th 2017 at 7:16:19 PM

^ Okay, though I was always taught that two separate productions get two separate listings. Natch, I could be wrong. :/

Oct 7th 2017 at 7:40:14 PM

^Usually yes, but those two are way too similar.

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