Follow TV Tropes


I Just Want To Be Normal / Comic Books

Go To

Special people who wish they weren't in comic books.

  • Spider-Man: Peter Parker has attempted to give up the Super Hero life several times, only to come back when someone is in need. Such an attempt was the foundation of the second movie's plot.
    • The page image above was only his first attempt to quit, done in issue #50. He'd try again and again during his career, one attempt resulting in the infamous "six-armed saga" when his attempt to cure himself of his powers only made him more spider-like. (Oddly enough, the What If? tie in where he keeps the six arms as Spider-Man actually has his life turn out okay, a rarity for that series.)
    • Advertisement:
    • The Kingpin ties this into Tall Poppy Syndrome and Muggle Power in a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
      ''They, "society," hate you because they don't want your help. You remind them of how weak-willed and sheep-like and unspecial they are. How gleeful they are, deep down, to be ordinary. They don't want heroes. They don't want special people around them. Because if there are special people and they aren't one of them— well, who wants that? Who wants a constant reminder that they aren't even trying to be special? See, the difference between you and I is that you really are just a child. You benefit from the wide-eyed optimism of youth. I do envy that, somewhat. But... like many of your decisions in life... it's just naive. And I don't envy that harsh cold slap of reality that will come your way soon enough. But I guess it's inevitable. People don't want to be special. I do think that.It is my philosophy. They— people want to be told what to do and how to live and they want men like me to tell them. They want to go to work and do as little as they can possibly get away with, and they want a big cookie at the end of the day for doing it. And they want men like me to give it to them."
      Kingpin to Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man #80
    • Advertisement:
    • It is important to note that Ultimate Peter Parker is not a reluctant superhero. Although due to comic book time, he only wore the alias for a year and a half.
    • It seems there is truly no way out for Peter. In the Superior Spider-Man series, Doctor Octopus took over his body, and for a while, Peter's personality was believed obliterated, Deader Than Dead. No such luck, Pete. After Doc Ock realized he was a poor replacement, Peter re-emerges when Ock deletes himself.
    • This also happens to Ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales after the new Venom killed his mom.
    • After his resurrection during Spider-Island, Kaine, Peter's morally ambiguous clone, decided and regularly proclaimed that he wanted nothing more to move to Mexico, sit on the beach and drink margaritas for the rest of his life, on the grounds that he'd spent most of his life, such as it was, dying. However, he ends up stopping at Houston and reluctantly taking up the mantle of the Scarlet Spider, taking in Aracely and doing the hero thing, albeit grumpily, violently and constantly wondering why, with the consistent belief that he's a monster. After he transforms into the Other to save Houston from Shathra and is rejected by the thoroughly freaked out Houston residents, including his girlfriend, he simply tells Aracely to stop Shaming the Mob and just let it go, before trying to re-enact the famous ditching of the costume. Later, he and Aracely end up dragged into the reformed New Warriors, much to his displeasure, but, after a return to Houston and a pep talk from Justice, who points out that if he believes that he's a monster just waiting to happen, he should hang around those who force him to be better, after which Kaine finally seems to accept the heroic legacy. Then he's seemingly killed during Spider-Verse.
    • Advertisement:
    • At the end of Superior Spider-Man, Mary Jane decides she's had enough of New York and moves away so she can have a normal life away from super heroics. When we next see her in the All-New, All-Different Marvel reboot of The Invincible Iron Man, she's started up a new life as a club owner in an entirely different city... and she still can't get away from the hustle and bustle.
  • In the new Spider-Woman comic, Jessica wants very much and tries very hard to give up the super-hero thing for good, for the sake of her baby. Unfortunately, trouble is drawn to her like a magnet, as is temptation and boredom. Eventually, she checks into a max-security alien hospital recommended by Carol and Alpha Flight, but it only gets worse, as a renegade gang of Skrulls manage to break into the place, requiring Jess to go into action again, going into labor halfway through, and fighting the bad guys after doctors deliver her baby with an emergency C-section. (The baby's okay, but on the final page, Jess and Carol laugh at the thought that she can ever be normal again.)
  • This is also common for mutants in the Marvel Universe, who tend to become social pariahs if their status becomes public.
  • The Teen Titans comic inverted this, with Beast Boy losing his powers in a particular Story Arc. Everyone assumes that he'll be happy about being normal again, until he states that he never wanted to be normal.
  • And before the Titans, there was Doom Patrol. Robotman, in particular, was unhappy about his Blessed with Suck condition (more extreme than Vic Stone's). However, the comic's premise is that, by the time you get to the Patrol, you're too far gone to even come near normal again. After a few disastrous attempts, he's more or less resigned to his condition.
    • Somewhat subverted with Crazy Jane, who during her initial run sought therapy to re-integrate her 64 personalities. Altough merging Babydoll and Scarlet harlot to result in "Baby Harlot" is a bit squicky.
  • Used in a rather awesome way in the 2006 Blue Beetle comic series, when the villainous Eclipso grants Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes all his deepest, most secret desires. Turns out he wants to be a dentist.
    • The awesome thing is, she expected that a mild-mannered teenager would dream of power. She planned to turn him into some kind of monster and use him to get the MacGuffin. Unfortunately for her, the only kind of power he dreams of is a high-paying, reliable job... which isn't very useful to get MacGuffins.
    • In the 2016 series, Jaime's quest to become normal leads him to billionaire industrialist Ted Kord in the hope he can remove Jaime's powers. Unfortunately for Jaime, Ted turns out to be a superhero fanboy who decides to join forces with him and find out how to use his powers to help people.
  • Runaways character Karolina Dean would rather be a normal Hollywood teenager, rather than the lesbian child of two alien criminals. Although only when things go wrong, as when she tried to kiss Nico and turned out she wasn't interested. At the end of the first series she was the first one who ran out of her foster house and contacted everyone, as she wanted to "fly again".
    • Most of the main characters in Runaways experience this to some degree or another. Molly has a really heart wrenching dream in which her parents are still alive and she believes that she imagined all of the previous events. Chase tries to destroy Nico's Staff of One so she can have a normal life. Victor yells at Gert to go back in time with her parents' time machine to save his mother. Of course, given that the group are fugitives from both Social Services and the law and that several members have been killed or lost over the course of the series, it makes sense that they'd want to go back to their old lives at some points.
    • Later member Klara wanted absolutely nothing to do with superheroics, coming as she did from a world where almost everyone with superpowers abused them, but Karolina and Molly's well-meaning attempts to help her escape from an abusive guardian ended up creating a situation where her only options were joining the Runaways or dying.
  • Ben Grimm, The Thing, is the poster boy for this trope. Despite his complaints about being an orange rock monster, every time he's been "cured", he finds a reason to become The Thing again. He actually enjoys being the FF's strong man and "The Idol of Millions", but just wishes he could walk down the street without being stared at.
    • Which by this point is probably more because of the whole "Idol of Millions" thing than because of his appearance, so he's got nothing to complain about. Apart from having non-reinforced floors give way under him, that is.
    • His Ultimate counterpart hates his super-powered self and wants nothing more than to be normal again. It's driven him to attempt suicide at least once.
    • Sue Storm once got fed up with the superhero life and yearned for a more domestic one.
  • In The Bulleteer, both Alix and her "archnemesis" Sally Sonic wish they were normal people; It was this intense desire to live a normal life that led Sally to provoke Alix's husband to killing himself, because she so wanted to be in her place and be genuinely loved by a normal man.
    • Alix also can't stop meeting up with people who are the opposite, especially the uber-pathetic Mind Grabber Man.
  • Subverted with Man-Thing. A scientist who was transformed into a walking, empathic compost heap should be all over this trope, but most of the time he doesn't simply because his transformation cost him his mind—he's little more than, well, a big plant, and any human memories are gone.
  • Superman: This is the accepted reason why The Big Blue maintains a civilian identity: There are things he can do as Clark that he can't do as Superman, like talking to people, or cooking your own food.
    • In more recent works, Superman does cherish his Kryptonian heritage but thinks of himself as Clark Kent first. At one point, Mr. Mxyzptlk threatened to turn him into a powerless human who would have to live a normal life, but...
      Mxy: But wait. Deep down, that's what you really want, isn't it?
    • Kryptonite Nevermore: Superman's powers are being drained by a strange force, and he seriously considers letting it happen, because he wants to be a normal person, deep down. He is talked him out of it.
      I-Ching: You would renounce your strength... speed... invulnerability? You wish to remain an ordinary mortal?
      Superman: That's exactly what I wish! I've had a taste of the glory of being normal! To win through determination... courage... to be no more than myself — and no less! For years I've been dreaming of working and living as a plain man — without the responsibilities... the loneliness... of Superman!
      I-Ching: Your attitude is understandable! But I beg you to reconsider... one does not choose responsibility! It is often thrust upon one! To refuse it is to commit the worst act of cowardice! Look around you... See a world burdened with misery... with untold agonies — a world which has need of you — as you were!
    • "The Strange Death of Superboy" from 1969's Superboy #161 is about teenaged Clark becoming sick of his double life and longing to be normal. He uses carefully controlled doses of kryptonite to bring himself down to a human level, and enjoys it briefly, only for disaster to strike and make him realize that Superboy is desperately needed, so he risks his life to get his powers back. By the end, he seems happily enough reconciled to how complicated his life will always have to be.
    • For the Man Who Has Everything, an absolutely brilliant story by Alan Moore that was adapted in Justice League Unlimited, shows that he wouldn't mind a normal life on Krypton either.
    • What Ever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow: Jordan Elliot is ecstatic to be normal, changing diapers and what-not. He sneers at Superman as being "too wrapped up in himself" and "thought the world couldn't get by without him."
    • Also echoed in an episode of Superman: The Animated Series where a bomb planted in Clark's car makes everyone assume he's dead. Superman survives, of course, but as he tells his foster parents, he needs his civilian identity, as being Superman all the time would likely drive him over the edge.
  • Supergirl:
    • The eponymous heroine often expressed this desire during the Bronze Age. Unlike her cousin, Kara remembers having a normal life back on Argo City, when she was a normal teenager. After growing into adulthood, she was torn between her desire to have the life of a normal woman and the responsibilities that come with her powers. In Superman vol 1 #282 she explains her cousin that she is thinking of giving up her Supergirl identity because she wants a normal life:
      Superman: Still thinking about giving up your Supergirl identity, Kara?
      Supergirl: I don't know, cousin Kal-El — Maybe! This life of a super-heroine takes up too much of my time... sets me apart from everybody else! I want an ordinary life — with a husband and children some day — free to do what I choose!
    • In The Supergirl from Krypton, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman turn to Mister Miracle and Big Barda when they need to go after Darkseid. Both New Gods are living in a neighborhood, trying to lead normal lives.
      Batman: Which brings us to the home of Mister Miracle and his wife, Big Barda. Former residents of Apokolips. They are trying to achieve something that resembles a normal life.
  • Batman has been shown to be willing to give up ever becoming Batman if he could live as Bruce Wayne with his parents instead. This was actually a plot point when Clark and Bruce traveled through time, and Bruce stopped his parents from dying.
    • Some of his Rouges would also qualify, most notably Killer Croc, who, regardless of what interpretation of him it is, typically has wanting to find a cure for his mutation as a core character trait.
    • Dick Grayson is a notable aversion. Even though his parents died in front of him as well, and it was also sort of his fault, he's said that he wouldn't give up his life as a superhero for anything.
  • In the second issue of Dan Slott's run on She-Hulk, Jennifer Walters represents Dan Jermain, alias Danger Man, a mild-mannered industrial worker and family man turned into a superhuman paragon of might in an on-the-job accident. He's suing his employers in the Roxxon Corporation because looking like Mr. Olympia and being stronger than a stampeding elephant herd has caused him nothing but pain. He tears his clothes with the slightest sudden movement. He doesn't need to eat, frequently damages his property by accident; he rolls over in bed and nearly crushes his wife, who worries that he'll leave her to become a superhero and 'team up' with a more attractive heroine. People stare at him on the subway, but the people who pretend to not look are worse, since now he has super hearing and knows they are jut waiting for him to turn into a hero or villain. The climax of the issue sees Danger Man using his atomic powers to have a literal meltdown, because then at least his family will get to collect on his life insurance, before being talked down by Jennifer (in human form). They won the lawsuit; Danger Man received nearly a hundred million to go to family counseling and, hopefully, find some sort of cure. If he ever was cured, the reader was never told, though.
    • As it happens, this is a fairly interesting aversion to Comes Great Responsibility; at no point does anyone try to tell Danger Man it's his duty to put on long johns and beat up bad guys now.
    • At least She-Hulk only suffers this briefly since she has the luxury of turning back to mousy Jennifer at will. Bruce Banner never catches a break; even when he had an integrated personality and leadership of an international crime-fighting army, there's always someone who just has to poke him with a stick.
      • Banner's case is even worse since his real problem isn't actually his gamma mutate powers, it's the psychological disorder born from his horrific childhood thanks to his murderous abusive father. Bruce wasn't "normal" even before he was exposed to gamma radiation.
  • Tron: Ghost in the Machine: Jet's discovery of cyberspace and the Fridge Horror of what being a User actually means shakes him hard.
    Jet: It's an entire universe in there, one we created, but it's beyond us now. Really. It's outgrown us. You know, every time you shut off your you know what you're doing? Have you ever reformatted a hard drive...destroyed an entire universe? It's too much. It's too much power. I never wanted this. I never wanted the responsibility. I just wanted to make games.
  • Mild subversion in W.I.T.C.H.: Cornelia has admitted twice she'd love to return being a normal girl, but only after passing her powers to the next generation of Guardians (those times she had been Brought Down to Normal by a power-stealing villain she did anything she could to take back her powers to prevent abuse), and when she was finally given the occasion to pass her powers to the next generation the others convinced her to face the tasks to keep them.
  • In Bazooka Jules a micro-robotic weapon fuses with Jules giving her superpowers. It's illegal for super-powered individuals to not register as superheroes with the government, So Jules is pretty much forced into the superhero life. She does state if she had the option to safely remove the weapon she'd take it.
  • Several X-Men, particularly the younger ones, have this.
    • Rogue, for a long time, had this trope personified, she couldn't touch anyone with her skin without putting them into a coma. She really just wanted to be able to get close to people.
    • Wither can't touch anything organic without it rotting away, and thus has the same problem as Rogue.
    • Mercury, whose skin is made of... Mercury, has this problem. However, as a former cheerleader, it's more about her appearance than any functional problem. She was okay with it when she had a crush on Wither, but once he rejected her, she went back to this.
    • Surge sort of has this problem. Even though she can't be in water, she's okay with it and embraces her role as the New X-Men's leader... That is, except when it comes to her family, since she was disowned by her dad for being a mutant.
    • X-23 was created to be a living weapon, and suffered severe emotional trauma during her Training from Hell. She doesn't want to be a weapon, but her life constantly conspires against her, and she just can't seem to escape her violent upbringing to live a normal life.
  • Played for Laughs in the nineties comic The Trouble With Girls which is about Lester Girls, a man "cursed", so he feels, with a James Bond lifestyle who yearns for a Ward Cleaver one.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search, Zuko is actually relieved when he finds the letter written by his mother that seemingly confirms that he isn't really Ozai's son since it means he can escape being the Firelord. In the end, Zuko discovers that the letter was a lie and he really is Ozai's son and he accepts his responsibilities.
  • The single motivation that has remained a constant throughout all of Morbius' appearances since his introduction is the desire to undo the scientific accident that made him a living vampire and become a normal human being once more.
  • In Avengers: The Initiative, Abigail Boylen, a.k.a. Cloud 9, had no aspirations toward being a superhero, despite possessing the ability to fly by generating a gaseous cloud she could ride on like a surfboard. Due to the Super Human Registration Act she was essentially conscripted into the Avengers training program. After several issues of Break the Cutie, followed by Norman Osborn's takeover of SHIELD, Captain America met with Abigail, announcing that the SHRA was repealed. Her first action was to tear up her registration card, drop her uniform at the Captain's feet, and embrace having a relatively normal life. She later took up the mantle of superhero during Fear Itself, but on her own terms.
  • This was the whole point of the short-lived series Major Bummer, which centered around Lou Martin, a slacker and average Joe who was accidentally given super strength and intelligence by aliens who confused him with a Martin Louis. He's Superman's equal in terms of strength and smart enough to cure cancer, and could be a powerful super-hero if he had the motivation or the inspiration; the problem is, he has neither; he just doesn't think such things are worth his time, preferring to use his super-intelligence to steal cable. In fact, when the two aliens show up at his house, what he's most upset about is that they ate the last of his macaroni and cheese.
  • Astro City: Astra has an example similar to Ben Grimm. She knows she's a super-powered Energy Being, and a member of a superhero family, and has absolutely no problem with joining in to save the world when needed. It's what happens between world-saving that gets to her, like being home-schooled and never meeting anyone her age, having to keep a special diet which usually tastes like crap (manganese-flavoured breakfast cereal, anyone?), being restricted in her romantic life and not really having any career choices other than the Family Business...
  • In Tales of the Jedi, Nomi Sunrider is extremely reluctant to train in spite of her Force potential and her husband's encouragement. She's even more so after he's murdered on the way to his would-be Master Thon and she's forced to kill in self-defense. Though she does consent to training in the Force, she still refuses to pick up a lightsaber again and subject herself and her daughter to the dangerous, demanding path of the Jedi. Eventually she's forced to act as a Jedi to defend Thon and accepts it, and in the end winds up Grandmaster of the Order.
  • Wally West was this Pre-Crisis, but due to Cosmic Retcon because one of the DC universe's greatest examples of Jumped at the Call after Crisis on Infinite Earths.
  • Kamala Khan went through this period thanks to Civil War II. Kamala was already feeling crummy after her Broken Pedestal moment with Carol Danvers, losing her friendship with Bruno and having to watch Hawkeye kill the Hulk, but when other events happen, culminating in long-distance ally Red Dagger accidentally being interviewed, Kamala decided to walk away from everything - superheroics, her old school life, everything - and shove herself into a private academy so she can start anew. This worries both friends and a few allies and once trouble really starts brewing, she ends up being found and convinced to come back into action, allowing Kamala to make up with Carol.


Example of: