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I Just Want To Be Normal / Literature

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Special people who wish they weren't in Literature.

  • In Agatha H. and the Clockwork Princess, a footnote explains that Jagers often take up human hobbies in an attempt to reclaim some of their lost humanity.
  • The titular character in the Alex Rider series has an I Just Want To Be Normal moment at least once in every book he's been in... and he's been in seven. Not only does he want to be normal again, he never wanted to do it in the first place! They blackmailed him. Not hard to do since MI6 is his legal guardian, but still.
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  • In the And Then I Turned Into a Mermaid series, Molly finds out on her thirteenth birthday that she's half mermaid and will transform into one whenever she's near water. She's upset about it because she doesn't want to be a "freak." The inconvenience of constantly having to avoid going near things like large puddles and the swimming pool doesn't help.
  • In the Andalite Chronicles, a spin-off set of books from the Animorphs series, Elfangor, the Andalite prince who gave the Animorphs their powers in the first place, gives up his life as a war leader to live on Earth with a human woman, until the Ellimist shows up and makes him give it all up. It's later revealed that he had a son on Earth, who became one of the Animorphs.
    • The Ellimist himself goes through this after his "game" with Crayak goes awry and annihilates countless alien races. Ironically enough, he does it in a manner similar to Elfangor, hiding out in the Andalite homeworld in a mortal form and living among the primitive Andalites. It takes a while, but his Andalite wife's determination for their children to survive eventually pays off, and the Ellimist returns to the "game" with the resolve to keep creating more life than Crayak could destroy.
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    • Any of the Animorphs would rather not have their powers and just have a normal life, at least until they're personally affected by the Yeerks. Except for Rachel, that is. One of the Megamorphs books has Jake wish that the Animorphs had never formed and due to a deal made between the Ellimist and another being, the wish is granted, with relatively predictable results.
  • The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga: Blaine McFadden initially became this in Ice Forged after being exiled to a Penal Colony and having to give up his old identity as a Donderan nobleman, adopting the moniker "Mick". However, once there, he developed a reputation for being a good man deft at settling disputes and not to be trifled with, which for the other colonists makes him a shoe-in to represent them on the new town council after an uprising overthrows the warden and his guards when magic disappears. Then he finds out that he may be the only chance to ever restore magic and is forced to become a warlord in the ruins of Donderath, including resuming his Blaine identity.
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  • Bazil Broketail: When his magical abilities and destiny are revealed, Relkin is not happy in the least about the resulting fuss. He does consider learning to control his magic in order to use it for good, but at the same time he's afraid that the power will corrupt him.
  • Garion in The Belgariad. The phrase "Why me?" becomes a running joke over the series. Though, at the same time, it gets approached seriously at least once and the answer is simply: "Who else?"
  • Belisarius in the Belisarius Series comments, in various places, that all he's wanted to be is a blacksmith. As his job involves killing conspicuous amounts of people, one can understand.
  • Subverted in Carrie: the eponymous girl is bullied at school and abused by a psychotic fundamentalist mother. When she begins to develop her Psychic Powers, she becomes more assertive to her mother in her desire to be treated normally, this desire extending to her powers: she had read in the library about psychic phenomena and found she wasn't the only one gifted with her powers.
  • The kids from the CHERUB Series get to be child/teenage spies, live on an amazing campus out in the middle of nowhere and get the best education and toys money can buy. They are all, due to the nature of the organsation, also orphans, and there's a general feeling that they'd each give up being a Cherub in a heartbeat if they could have their families back.
  • Circleverse: Tris is fine with having magic, but she would much rather be a normal mage doing normal mage things, instead of having lots of ambient weather magic that makes it hard for her to have a steady living and cause most other people to either be afraid of her power, jealous she has so much, or think she is lying about how much she has.
  • In Cloture Of Yellow and its sequels, Kyle Marlon has absolutely no desire to be king, and would much rather spend his life as a painter.
  • Codex Alera has an inversion: it's a world where every single person has Elemental Powers, except for one who's just a normal human. What would normally be I Just Want to Be Special is this trope for him. The Marat all have a telepathic bond to a specific creature, and organize themselves into clans based on their chala's species. Except one, Kitai, who wound up bonded to a human by accident (the same one mentioned above, in fact). She is, initially, not happy about this at all. Even after she comes to terms with it, she regularly reminds him that she wanted a horse.
  • In Counting to D, dyslexic math prodigy Sam tells Nate she wishes she could be normal, like the popular girl Kaitlyn. Nate tells her that Kaitlyn isn't really happy and says, "She's invented this persona, this 'normal teenager' image, as you so nicely put it, and now she's totally trapped. She can never be herself, 'cause she's too busy being a caricature of what she thinks people want and expect."
  • Sefalet is a freak of nature, even to Pentexore in Dirge for Prester John. She has no face, her eyes and mouths (yes, mouths) are in her hands, and one of her mouths is apparently possessed. She'd settle for just having control over her left-hand mouth again.
  • In her first appearance in the Discworld novels, Susan Sto Helit refused to believe she was Death's granddaughter. In later appearances she still attempts to maintain a "normal" life, and insists on being sensible and using logic, often denying her own abilities. Ironically, because she lives on the Discworld, what she thinks of as the "normal world" is actually just as illogical and fantastic as the underlying world of her grandfather. By Thief of Time, she seems to have accepted her powers, even if she's still irritated at being occasionally tapped by her grandfather for help. As a teacher she uses them to make her students' lessons more...interesting, such as taking them to view ancient battles firsthand. She also, at the end of Thief of Time, takes them to see Nanny Ogg, which, as she says to herself, is the equivalent of two lessons.
    • There's also Rincewind, an unremarkable wizard whose main ambition in life is to be bored. He's constantly being dragged into dangerous quests to save the world, and he hates every second of it. He's even quite aware of it, but still insists that he wants to go home. When people try to say that he must enjoy it, he retorts that he rather likes being bored, as it generally means no one's trying to harm him. In one book (Sourcery, perhaps) he meets a man who complains about how there's no excitement in his life, and Rincewind greatly envies that man.
  • Harry Dresden of The Dresden Files repeatedly mentions he'd have liked to live a normal life and especially not know about all the supernatural nasties out to get/eat humans. He makes a similar note about the Archive, a little girl who has all of humanity's accumulated knowledge and thus never really had a childhood. She also all has all the memories of her maternal ancestors, including her mother who committed suicide to avoid bearing the burden of being the Archive while being jealous that her daughter would otherwise avoid it all her life. Thus the girl carries the memories of her mother's hatred towards her.
  • Near the end of Flat Stanley, Stanley, who is starting to be constantly teased for being flat, decides he wants to be round and normal again. His brother, Arthur, succeeds this by pumping him with a bicycle bump.
  • In the short story Flowers for Algernon, the low-IQ protagonist Charlie Gordon undergoes an operation to boost his intelligence, because he wants to be normal (i.e. as smart as those around him). Although the operation is a success, he sadly finds out being a genius isolates him even more from people he thought were his friends.
    Charlie: Even a feeble-minded man wants to be like other men.
  • Mike, the hero of The Fold, took an IQ test at age thirteen and discovered he was a supergenius. He then researched supergeniuses and found that almost all of them were profoundly unhappy, separated from the people around them by their abilities. Mike chose to stop feeding his photographic memory anything useful and coasted for several years as a high school literature teacher...until he got The Call.
  • In The Girl from the Miracles District, Nikita sometimes wishes that she never manifested as a berserk or had a father that wants her dead, and that she could simply move in with her brother and spend the rest of her life working in a library.
  • Hugo Danner, the world's first superhero, suffered from this. Philip Wylie wrote the novel Gladiator in 1930, featuring Hugo who was super-strong, fast, and with skin too tough to be pierced by a machine gun. Naturally he mopes about it for 332 pages before being struck by lightning and reduced to ash. On the bright side, two Jewish kids from Cleveland read the novel and came up with a more cheerful version.
  • At the end of Good Omens, Adam Young has decided not to use his reality-warping powers in any form for good or evil and to continue his life as a normal human. Which is fortunate for the world and all we know of it, as he was originally created to bring about the Apocalypse with his powers. Although, from the ending, it seems he lied. "Human incarnate", as Crowley puts it.
  • The Gospel According to Jesus Christ by José Saramago depicts Jesus as a very human man beset with doubts and fears.
  • Raamo from the Green-Sky Trilogy is like this. The high priestess believes he's The Chosen One foretold in a prophetic dream she had, others look to him with hope in their eyes, and the more he hears things like that the more he backs away and says "I am only a Kindar." The high priestess says that in itself is the example she thinks he will set. He doesn't have to do anything. Later on in the series his sister and her Erdling friend get tagged as Holy Children and are worshipped by everyone to the point that they become virtual prisoners in the palace; at the very end of the book we find that they have put this trope into simple, direct action, causing worldwide panic.
  • In Hallow Mass, Mercy O’Connor really doesn’t want to be one of the last defenders of mankind against the monstrosities summoned at Dunwich. What she really wants is to have another drink, make some money off of selling formula, and possibly land a decent boyfriend. Circumstances dictate otherwise, however.
  • Harry Potter is a variant in that while Harry is special because he's a wizard, most of his time in the book is just wanting to be a normal member of Wizarding Britain. However a prophecy about him that caused the death of his parents and the Big Bad's utter refusal to leave him alone, along with his Chronic Hero Syndrome and massive Guilt Complex prevented this from happening for all of his seven years at Hogwarts. When it's all over, Harry ends up with the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand ever made and now in his command. Outside of using it to repair his original wand (which also serves as a nonviolent display of power as the wand was deemed unfixable yet the Elder Wand made it good as new with a basic repairing spell), he plans to return it to Dumbledore's grave and let it rest. When asked about it?
    "That wand's more trouble than it's worth. And quite honestly, I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."
  • Flinx, the major protagonist of Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth universe, frequently has occasion to wish he did not have empathic powers as the result of a genetics experiment by a group of Evilutionary Biologists. Especially when the badass allies, Cool Starship, and the whole exploring the galaxy thing get overshadowed by being told he's The Chosen One; being pursued by people who want to variously "fix" him, imprison him, or kill him for being The Chosen One; and possibly his brain exploding from his evolving powers. Wangst, thy name is Flinx.
  • John Doe, a character in the Douglas Coupland novel jPod, was born crow well mountain juniper (all in lower case, because no letter is more important than any other letter) and raised in a militant lesbian commune. He tries to counter his upbringing by attempting to become as statistically normal as possible.
  • Arthur Penhaligon in The Keys to the Kingdom spends five whole books of a seven-book series wishing for a normal life, ultimately making things much harder on himself to avoid becoming immortal. At one point he even re-breaks his own leg to stay normal. By the sixth book, he realizes that if he hadn't become the Rightful Heir, he'd be dead, so best suck it up and get on with things. Of course, by this point he was already irreversibly immortal, so perhaps this was merely his way of dealing with it.
  • Michael develops this shortly after being unwillingly experimented on to gain magic in the Knight and Rogue Series. At first his new strangeness actually makes him physically ill it disturbs him so much, and even after having two years to get used to the idea it still makes him nauseous.
  • Played out strangely in The Last Unicorn. After Humanity Ensues, the titular unicorn slowly becomes lost under her new self as a human woman, until at the end the "Lady Amalthea" protests that she Just Wants To Stay Normal, marry the prince, and live happily ever after. Just to twist the knife a bit, it is the prince who tells her the story can't end that way.
  • In The Lighthouse Duet, all Valen wanted was a safe place to recover from life-threatening wounds. Unfortunately, the abbey where he ended up turned out to be part of a secret society dedicated to preparing for the End Times, and he happens to possess a book that is crucial to their plans.
  • Shin-tsu of The Longing of Shiina Ryo would like nothing more. The universe just does not wish to oblige him.
  • Captain John Geary in The Lost Fleet series hates that his Last Stand became the stuff of legends in the 100 years he's been a Human Popsicle, turning him into "Black Jack" Geary, the greatest hero of The Alliance. Half the captains he deals with think he's the legendary hero who returned to save the Alliance in its hour of need. The others think he's been damaged by the long sleep and is no longer the same hero. Either way, being thrust into the seat of the fleet commander deep behind enemy lines means he must, reluctantly, take charge and lead the fleet home. It doesn't help that a good number of the captains consider him to be a genius of fleet tactics when, in fact, what he's doing was normal for his time. By this point, "tactics" have degraded to Attack! Attack! Attack! with each ship acting individually, partly thanks to the myth of "Black Jack" Geary. He's stated several times that he only stays in command for as long as it takes the fleet to reach the Alliance space. After that, he'll likely resign his commission and find a nice planet to settle down on, although many of his supporters wish "Black Jack" Geary to become a dictator and win the war.
  • In Lisa Shearin's Magic Lost, Trouble Found and sequel Armed and Magical, main character Raine Benares is an average magic user who specializes in finding lost items. Then she forms a psychic link with the Saghred, an ancient stone with apocalyptic power that eats souls for breakfast. The books focus on her trying to break the link with the Saghred while being pursued by villains who want to harness the Saghred's power.
  • Maximum Ride
    • Nudge. In fact, in Max, she so desperately wants to go to a "normal" school, that she's willing to cut her own wings off. She doesn't, though, because Max lets her go. After a while, she comes back, wings and all.
    • Max herself is pretty desperate, hence why she is so attached to Dr. Martinez and Ella (the only two people besides Jeb and the Flock to act like an actual family to her. She also is desperate enough to move closer to "normal" at one point that she tries to hack a chip in her arm out with a jagged piece of sea shell and nearly bled to death.
  • Monster of the Month Club: Rilla is more of a case of "I just want my family to be normal and not weird environmentally-obsessed people". Though she does have moments where she isn't too fond of having to care for monsters all the time.
  • Subverted in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, where the protagonist spends most of the book (or series) trying to get back to his normal life, and when he finally succeeds, realizes he doesn't want that any more, and returns to London Below.
  • A variant with Lirael in the Old Kingdom series. She wants to be normal — but for a Clayr, normal is having precognitive powers. She gets over it after she realizes she's the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, and a Remembrancer.
  • The Power of Five: All five of the kids wish this at some point.
    • Richard occasionally does this too, as it's implied he has some role in taking down the Old Ones. It turns out that his role was actually to stab his best friend in the heart.
  • This is a mayor plot point in The Progeny, as it is the reason why Emily aka Audra even wiped her mind to begin with. She was tired of being hunted as she's a Progeny, so she wanted to live a normal life. More specifically, she did it for her daughter.
  • Eilonwy, in the The Chronicles of Prydain, spends the entire series being more or less comfortable with the idea that she's "half an enchantress" and has latent magical powers, even though she can't always access them the way she'd like. At the end, however, when she learns that these same powers are the reason she has to leave the man she loves forever, she emphatically wishes that she could be rid of them. Fortunately, she's been carrying around a little Chekhov's Gun that can make her wish come true.
  • The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School is set in a school where a small but significant number of students are Unusual: supernatural beings, or possessed of superpowers, or otherwise notably out of the ordinary. Most of them have some degree of wishing to be normal or worrying about how normal people think of them, but it's particularly strong with Gould, who was born with claws and fangs and unusually abundant hair after her mother was bitten by a werewolf, and doesn't have the option most of the others have of passing as normal to the casual glance.
  • Mocked heavily in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Hugo, Colette, and Kevin are carnival freaks who want to be normal people... only their "freakishness" consists respectively of a hunchback, double-jointedness, and ambidexterity. Eventually, the villain tempts them to evil with... heavy coats to conceal Hugo's hump and Colette's contortions, and a rope so that Kevin can tie a hand behind his back and pretend to be right-handed.
  • Seven Years Awesome Luck: Jacqueline would really like to put her family's magical past behind them and move on with the rest of their lives. No such luck; one of her sons is not finished with being a cat, and the other was born with magic.
  • Witkacy of Shaman Blues would gladly get rid of his powers if he could, as for the majority of his life, they were all burden, no benefits — and right now, the benefits are somewhat unclear as well.
  • Sunny from Shine Shine Shine has been completely bald since birth. In middle school, she became desperately embarrassed of her baldness and begged her mother for a wig, but her mother refused. She even considered buying a hair growth tonic she read about in a magazine. As an adult, she was more accepting of herself until she became pregnant with her son Bubber, when she developed a craving for normalcy and started wearing wigs.
  • In The Speed of Dark, this is Cameron's motive for undergoing the autism treatment.
    Cameron: You'll say that normal people do what we do, only in smaller amounts. Lots of people self-stim, but they don't even realize it. They tap their feet or twirl their hair or touch their faces. Yes, but they're normal and no one makes them stop. Other people don't make good eye contact, but they're normal and no one nags them to make eye contact. They have something else to make up for the tiny bit of themselves that acts autistic. That's what I want. I want — I want not to have to try so hard to look normal. I just want to be normal.…I want to get married. I want to have children. I want to live in an ordinary house in an ordinary neighborhood and take the ordinary public transportation and live the rest of my life as a normal person.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • A New Dawn: Kanan Jarrus wants nothing more than for the Force to leave him alone, as being a Jedi in the time of the Empire is like having a target on your back at all times. He eventually gets over it, though.
  • The Stormlight Archive: In Edgedancer, Wyndle often bemoans the fact that he was bonded with Lift and thus doomed to a life of danger and bizarre adventures. He would much rather bond a cobbler, as was the original plan, and spend his life making shoes.
  • In This Alien Shore, Jamisia, who has learned that she secretly has multiple personality disorder, longs for an hour without her alternate personalities in her head. She whispers, "I want to be normal. Oh, please, I just want to know what that's like again..."
  • In "Jesus H. Christ", a story in Time After Time, a collection of short stories about time travel and alternate histories, Jesus just wants to be normal and not have to die on the cross. He doesn't get his wish.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings use and subvert this trope.
    • In The Hobbit, Bilbo gets swept up into an adventure that hobbits usually despise in favor of a quiet life; at the end, he returns to that quiet life and enjoys it, but later on in LOTR Bilbo expresses interest in going on an adventure again. Frodo has a talk with Gandalf expressing this trope, and greatly wishes to go back to a normal hobbit life after reaching Rivendell (which is only the beginning of his journey).
    • The end of The Return of the King explores this more, possibly somewhat due to Tolkien's own war experiences. The Hobbits return to the Shire, but in the end, Frodo cannot stay due to his lingering injuries and his exposure to the One Ring. Samwise lives an unusually long and successful life as husband, father and Mayor, until eventually, when he is aged and widowed, he follows Frodo and into the West with the Elves. Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took, on the other hand, never having been Ringbearers, contentedly live out most of their days in the Shire and die in Middle-Earth.
    • This trope is used in the latter book, in Sam's case for a moment of awesome. At the pass at Cirith Ungol, Sam picks up the Ring and it presents him with a vision of a colossal garden the size of Mordor for him. He then realises that there's no way he could tend to a garden that size all to himself, and using servants to do it would be unfitting, and so Sam puts the Ring down. To reiterate: the Soul Jar of the most utterly evil being to have ever lived in Middle-Earth, which has been known to sway men into darkness in a matter of mere seconds of taking it up, grasped at straws to try and corrupt Sam and completely failed. There's a reason why Tolkien considered Sam the real hero of the story.
  • Mina and Matty Grekov of Uncommon Animals, for different shades of normal. Mina wants a real job, and something to be outside of a monster hunter. Matty wants to be able to talk to people.
  • Noah from Ungifted wants nothing more than to get kicked out of the Academy for Scholastic Distinction (ASD) and go to regular school with other regular kids his age. He's gone as far as to actually attempt to sabotage his grades by deliberately getting all the wrong answers on his tests. That didn't work because his teachers realize that, for him to get all of the wrong answers, he would have to know the right answers, and thus would know which ones to avoid. He finally gets his dream when he takes the rap for one of his classmates' actions, and starts going to Donovan's school.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 novel Deus Encarmine, Arkio says he wishes he were — well, not normal normal, but Space Marine normal. Sachiel persuades him that that is impossible. Alas. At the end of Deus Sanguinius, Rafen disclaims being anything special, saying the Spear of Telesto used him as its instrument, and declining a Field Promotion to captain that he didn't think he was ready for or had earned.
  • In Warrior Cats:
    • Dovewing, who hates the fact that her powers set her apart from the rest of the Clan and that it causes a rift between herself and her sister. She even says the phrase exactly in Fading Echoes.
    • Lionblaze, to a lesser extent. He even sympathizes with Dovewing's situation in The Fourth Apprentice.
  • What to Say Next: David, who is autistic, very much wishes he could upgrade himself to be more normal, so he'd know what to do in social situations.
  • In A Wolf in the Soul, Greg very strongly wants to get rid of his werewolf curse, but it's difficult for him to maintain that desire; it feels too good to be able to leave behind the responsibilities of being human.
  • Xiapo Yellip Zump doesn't even believe the prophecy that claims he must save the world, and only sets out on his journey because he lacks the backbone to argue with his village elder.