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I Just Want To Be Normal / Live-Action TV

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Special people who wish they weren't in live-action TV.


  • Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie are undoubtedly amongst the oddest examples of this trope. Not so much Samantha or Jeannie — that is a fairly clear case of Love Makes You Dumb. Darrin Stephens and Tony Nelson, on the other hand, are men so heroically attuned to dullness and normalcy that their response to the beautiful, supernaturally powered women who are in love with them is to ignore and reject the supernatural bits. Major Nelson is particularly bizarre in this regard since he doesn't have to deal with a mother-in-law like Endora who might sour him on magic and he has an exciting job (astronaut)!
    • An episode of Bewitched actually played with what would happen if this trope was ever subverted and Darren was happy and even encouraging Samantha to use her powers for their own benefit. In the end, Samantha herself was unhappy because she really just wanted to be a normal housewife and use her powers relatively sensibly instead of rewriting reality to bend to her will and she and Darren agreed to hit the Reset Button and revert things to normal.
      • Really, Samantha could be seen as an inversion, since bending reality on a whim is normal for her and her people. Major Nelson, on the other hand, plays this trope straight, almost to the point of Insane Troll Logic.
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  • Ace Lightning's Mark Hollander regularly just wanted to be normal, rather than the elected sidekick of a hero from a videogame.
  • Ditto Angel, who took some comfort in a prophecy that said he would one day become human... though not till after the apocalypse.
    • In an early first season episode, Angel actually becomes human. However, once he realizes that this would mean he couldn't fight the baddies, as his superhuman strength would be gone, he goes to the extreme of undoing the change. He still likes the idea of becoming human, just not while there are bad guys to fight.
    • In the series finale, Angel is confronted with a choice — he can either abandon all hope of ever fulfilling the prophecy, or abandon his campaign to stop the Big Bad. He chooses the former without hesitation (as he had to, or his cover would be broken), but we see him upset about it later.
    • In the canon comic follow up, Angel temporarily becomes human. However, the powers responsible for it have less than benevolent reasons for changing him.
  • Arrowverse:
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    • In The Flash (2014) Season Three, Caitlin Snow will do anything to get rid of her powers, terrified that she will turn into a supervillain like her Earth-2 counterpart. Unfortunately, her obsession with finding Dr. Alchemy so he will remove her powers leads her to becoming the very supervillain she is trying to avoid becoming.
    • Supergirl (2015): A variant. Kara wants to be a perfectly ordinary girl... an ordinary Kryptonian girl, not a human one. She hid her powers while growing up on Earth and thought becoming Supergirl would make this feeling go away, but superheroics were never ordinary for Kryptonians either. In the end, she just has to accept that she is not and will never be normal.
  • Although The A-Team didn't have any special powers, they sort of fit into this: they became fugitives due to a string of events completely out of their control. All of them have, at some point, expressed a desire to live normal lives, but Face seems the most affected by it. Despite his apparent love for conning people out of anything and everything he can manage, above all else, he really just seems to want a normal life where he doesn't have to scam people and run from the military police on a daily basis.
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  • This is pretty much the entire concept behind Being Human. Annie wishes she were still alive and married to Owen, Mitchell hates being a vampire, and George desperately wants to be rid of his lycanthropy. All three do manage to find comfort in their various states (as well as with each other) by the end of the first season.
  • Best Friends Whenever: Cyd and Shelby never wanted to be heroes after getting the power to time travel since they've only been using it to fix personal problems. When they learn that Janet Smythe wants the power of time travel for evil purposes, they decide that time travel does more harm than good and opt to remove their powers. However, after Janet kidnaps their friends forcing them to save the day with the help of their future selves, they reconsider that time travel can be a good thing and embrace their upcoming adventures together.
  • The Big Bang Theory's Leonard Hofstadter, the genius who wishes he wasn't.
  • Bones has a mundane example in Jack Hodgins. Jack came from an incredibly wealthy family but really didn’t like everything that came with it. He just wanted to be like everyone else and very few people knew the truth. Not even his coworkers knew at first. When he married Angela they sold his huge estate and bought a more modest place. When Jack lost everything to a psychotic hacker in season 8, he really didn’t grieve it that much.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy often has bouts of wanting to be normal.
      Buffy: I just want to be alone and quiet in a room with a chair and a fireplace and a tea cozy. I don't even know what a tea cozy is, but I want one.
    • In a season 3 episode Buffy is unknowingly weakened to prepare her for an upcoming test. As she lives her life without her powers, she realizes that she can't be her old LA cheerleader days self anymore, both because she can't ignore the monsters who are out there and because she can't stop standing up for herself and other students.
    • In Season 7, Buffy and Faith had a discussion about how being Slayers have screwed up their lives, but concluded that being hot chicks with super powers helped take the sting off.
    • Although Buffy grows more accepting of her Slayer duties as time grows on, the desire to be normal never completely goes away.
    • Technically subverted in the series finale when Buffy becomes "normal" by making thousands of other girls Slayers as well, thus ending her uniqueness but preserving her powers.
    • One Cracked article pretty mercilessly mocks Buffy for the tendency to do this:
      What's a "normal life" in the Buffy universe? How does she even have a concept of what normal is? Keep in mind, it's not like the demons only reveal themselves to her because she's a slayer, and everyone else gets to spend Saturday at the mall. The demons are real for everyone — Sunnydale is a war zone. The only difference is that everyone else is helpless and she isn't.
      Over seven seasons, we see enough bodies pile up in that town to know that the idea of normalcy doesn't exist for anyone. The show is set in a horrifying universe where every day, "normal" people have to worry about their organs being harvested, getting eviscerated by She-Mantises or being eaten by bullies possessed by demonic hyenas. Well over 10 students and faculty die every season at Sunnydale High School, and 100 percent of those deaths are murder by some supernatural creature. Being "normal" means being a vulnerable hunk of meat just burning time before getting eaten by a demon.
      Buffy hasn't sacrificed her life for her powers; her powers are the only thing ensuring that she has a life. She is one of the few people capable of even stepping foot outside her house at night without having to worry about something crawling out of hell and planting eggs in her chest.
    • Ampata, a former Incan mummy from the Season 2 episode "Inca Mummy Girl" chosen as a sacrifice to protect her people, raises herself from the dead and is determined to lead a happy 16-year-old girl's life—even if she has to kill at least one person a day to keep up the façade.
  • There was an episode of Castelo Rá-Tim-Bum where Nino wanted to go to school, but wasn't accepted into a single school due to his age (the main characters are hundreds of years old).
  • Charmed (1998): The witches. It is the plot for every other episode.
    • Phoebe seems to like being a witch, though; in spite of having the lamest power of all of them. Until she married Cole, at least. After losing all of her powers, she is happy with it since she hated being an Empath.
    • This trope is practically Piper's mantra.
    • Played straight and then totally averted with Paige. At first she's wants nothing to do with the magical powers that be, and then becomes almost obsessively proactive in being both a Witch and a Whitelighter.
  • This was the main motivation of Chuck Bartowski in Chuck for the first two seasons. His normal life was pretty crappy (or at least, boring and Wangsty), but constantly being shot at was not the kind of excitement he wanted. Around the end of the second season, though, characterization marched on and he realized he liked the excitement, the co-workers and making a difference.
  • Lance & Cally of Dark Oracle would deeply like the comic (that lets them see the future) to just go away. It was bad enough when it was just predicting horrible events; by the second season Blaze & Violet were actively trying to escape the comic and pull Lance & Cally in, leading to numerous attempts on their part to just get rid of it and go back to normal.
  • Dexter sometimes expresses the desire to be able to feel like a normal person, free of his drive to kill, at times when he is able to distinguish whether or not he feels anything at all.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the classic series, several companions left to resume "normal" lives, after having adventured through time and space. Big examples are companions like Ian and Barbara, although Susan, the Doctor's granddaughter, proves to be a curious and conspicuous addition, especially given that she was not human. (In Big Finish, Susan is now 20 years older, and still firmly of the opinion that being normal is just fine for her.)
    • Exceptions: In The Sarah Jane Adventures and several Expanded Universe works, several ex-companions are revealed to have had trouble adjusting to normalcy after leaving. In the new series, Rose explicitly references this.
    • In "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood", the Doctor himself becomes John Smith, a normal human living a normal life, but has to give it all up again to save the world. John Smith is terrified of the Doctor, and not happy that he has to become an alien again. The Doctor's reasons for becoming human, by the way, were because he was avoiding the villains out of fear of what he could do to them.
      • In the novel the episode was adapted from, he did it specifically to find out what being a normal human was like.
    • The new series in particular has often made the point that the Doctor, while capable of so much, is incapable of living the simple, normal life taken for granted by mere humans. They've occasionally expressed envy about this, but never really shown a desire to actually be normal (outside the abovementioned "Human Nature").
  • The whole premise of Doom Patrol is that all of them, particularly Cliff, Larry, and Rita, all wish they could be normal again and try so desperately to pretend. But each failing horribly and coming face to face with the reality that they will never be normal one more, again and again.
  • Firefly:
    • River Tam actually has a rather heartbreaking speech in the episode "Objects in Space" where she says that she just wants to be accepted by the crew and be a normal person. The heartbreaking part is this is a farewell speech she says as she surrenders to a bounty hunter so her friends can be safe and not hunted by the government anymore. Though it turns out this is was a Batman Gambit to get the hunter outside the ship and lead him into an ambush. According to the commentary on Serenity, this is also why River wants to hear Mal tell her his wisdom with his own voice at the end of the movie - she just wants to hear it the way normal people speak.
    • Simon also mentions several times that he wished he was still at home, advancing his medical career, rather than being on Serenity. Of course, he tries to hide this from River (who is the reason he had to drop his old life), but she usually figures it out anyway. On the other hand, the end of the series implies that he's at least gotten used to being on the ship, even if he did still miss his old life. His crush on Kaylee probably helped.
  • The entire premise of Forever Knight revolves around the main character wanting to be normal.
  • Nick in Grimm has as his first reaction when he starts to see the Wesen is, "How do I get rid of it?"
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys starts out with Herc as an established, self-assured hero proud of being himself, but it turns out he wasn't always that way. He reveals in "Atlantis" that when he was growing up, he saw his strength as a curse instead of a gift. Hercules strongly implies in "Two Men And A Baby" that he was deeply disappointed to realize he was different from everyone else and would never be like them; he clearly hopes to spare his nephew Evander from going through that alone. "Darkness Rising" notes that being a half-god raised among full mortals caused wounds that he had to deal with throughout his entire life.
    • Young Hercules also touches on this occasionally. The show takes place at a point where Hercules has accepted his strength as a means to help others, but there are times he admits to feeling out of place among mortals and that it can be very hard to know that he'll always be different.
  • Claire Bennet from Heroes. Conversely, Hiro Nakamura and Peter Petrelli both desperately want to have powers, even and especially when there's very little evidence to suggest that they do. (As does Sylar. Heh, heh.)
    • In season two, Claire becomes the classic inversion — now that she's in hiding and being forced to act as normal and unexceptional as possible, she's discontented and wants to do great things. She follows through on this new desire in Season Three, sacrificing the chance for a normal life (including not being hunted by the government) to help other fugitives.
      • The thing with Claire is that she constantly has a "grass is always greener on the other side" mentality. Whenever her powers are put at the forefront of her life she wants to be normal, and when placed in a situation where she's basically allowed to live a normal live she complains about hiding "who she really is." She is eventually called out for, but not long after just says screw it and reveals her powers in front of several news reporters. Surely, nothing bad will come of that.
    • In Volume Four, former villain Doyle decides that he wants to go back to his old life as a puppeteer. With the government rounding up people with abilities, he is forced to turn to Claire for assistance. This is doubly ironic - not only did Claire use to want a normal life, but the last time they met, Doyle held Claire and both her mothers captive for hours.
    • And now, in Volume Five, Matt has been trying to give up his powers out of the feeling that they're controlling his life, and Sylar is trying to suppress his powers in an attempt to be more human.
  • A recurring theme in Highlander: The Series was main character Duncan MacLeod bemoaning his immortal status.
  • In a more mundane example, House has had moments of just wanting to be normal. The most notable example would be a Season Three episode where he wants to harvest the patient's (a girl who can't feel pain) spinal nerves and replace his damaged thigh muscle. He doesn't go through with it, thanks to an attack of conscience/Wilson, but it's still rather pathetic.
    • One of his patients was a genius who had been taking cough syrup and vodka to lower his IQ because his wife was 91 points lower than him: "She's closer to a gibbon than to me. Sex with her would be an act of bestiality."
  • Joy Mercer on House of Anubis wanted a normal life during season 1, when she was being held up like a prisoner in her own house and forced to never contact her friends because she was the "Chosen One". She even said, "I want to be normal."
    • Later on she DOES get her normal life, as it is discovered she is not the Chosen One at all.
  • The main character in the 2000 The Invisible Man series spends a great deal of time trying to get rid of the implanted gland that gives him his invisibility powers, though more because of the side effects than because he objects to the invisibility itself.
    • Interestingly, the final episode before the cancellation has Claire repair the defect in the gland that causes the side effects (thanks to Arnaud, who put the defect in there in the first place). Darien immediately quits the Agency and tries to resume his old life as a thief. He quickly realizes that he doesn't want to steal anymore (he returns the suitcase full of cash he easily steals) and goes back to the Agency on his own terms.
  • Jen on The IT Crowd, who at one point screams that the geeks she works with have turned her into one of them.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: Malcolm is a kid genius with a 165 IQ, capable of solving incredibly complicated equations in a matter of seconds...and, in the early seasons, hates every second of it. He desperately wants to be seen as normal, and worries that his friends and family will dismiss him as a weirdo if they know exactly how smart he is.
  • Patrick Jane, The Mentalist, has a lot of fun with his Sherlock Scan abilities as a police consultant, but...
    Lisbon: Okay, I am not jealous and resentful. That is nonsense.
    Jane: Yet you recall my exact words. There's no shame in it. I feel that way too sometimes. Why does everyone else get to have a normal life?
    • This may have less to do with his abilities and more to do with the tragedy he suffered (not to mention his very abnormal childhood).
  • Occasionally played in Merlin, not by our resident warlock, but by Prince Arthur. He disguises himself once so that he can compete in a tournament without having his title get in the way, and once admits to Guinevere that he sometimes dreams of becoming a farmer far away where he has no more royal expectations. Merlin, despite having played with this in his earlier years, has ultimately rejected it, embraced his powers as a gift and accepted his destiny to save the kingdom in secret until magic becomes legal.
  • Played with a lot in Misfits, where the superpowered characters aren't remotely bothered about saving the world and are just trying to get on with their lives. Although the show is mercifully free of Wangst, you get the constant impression that the protagonists don't like their powers much. Alisha in particular really hates her ability (a form of pheromone manipulation which causes anyone who touches her to be overcome with such violent lust that they try to rape her) but then she is well and truly Blessed with Suck. And Kelly mentions a couple of times that she would block her Telepathy if she knew how, as she hates hearing what people think about her.
    • The only protagonist who does whine about the situation is Nathan, who seemingly doesn't have a power.
    • In the series two Christmas Special, they're given an opportunity to get rid of their powers, and they take it immediately. Simon is hesitant, since he knows this is a bad idea because it didn't work out in Superman II.
  • Although Taylor from Mortified doesn't possess any magic powers, she does wish her parents' talents for embarrassing her will disappear.
  • Played by Elliot throughout Mr. Robot. He often internally monologues about life free of social anxiety and dearly wishes to be able to connect and maintain relationships with other people. Growing up with an abusive mother after his father died of luekemia doesn't help.
    • The viewer gets a first taste of this during the pilot in a scene with Elliot crying in a crevice in his apartment.
      Elliot: I hate when I can’t hold in my loneliness. This crying’s been happening too often; every other week now. What do normal people do when they get this sad? They reach out to friends or family, I think. That’s not an option.
  • The main character of New Amsterdam is immortal until he meets his true love. You'd think he'd want to avoid doing this, but he can't wait to meet her/get rid of the immortality so he can stop outliving his girlfriends, wives, and children.
  • Colby Granger of NUMB3RS expresses this desire shortly after the reveal that he'd been a triple agent for his entire FBI career. He'd already hinted that he wasn't fond of that assignment, but this scene makes it clear just how far outside the plan this was.
    Colby: What I want is to go back and start over. Have a regular job at the bureau. No lying, no pretending.
    Don: Well, then the question is, can you be happy with a regular job at the bureau?
    Colby: I mean, that's what I set out to do. If I wanted to be a spy, I would have applied somewhere else.
    • He does get his wish. In the following episode, Don decides to keep him on the team. It takes him and David a little longer to work through some of the residual tension, but by the middle of the season, Colby is, for all intents and purposes, a regular field agent, and he remains so through the end of the series (and the series finale implies he doesn't intend to change that).
  • Person of Interest: Reese occasionally reveals his wish to live a normal life but feels that it is beyond his reach at this point. This is most obvious when the team is forced to activate his most comprehensive cover identity; it's basically a What Could Have Been scenario, constructed on the idea of him giving up his military career for the love of his life. The FBI agents investigating him find a normal, well-adjusted veteran working middle-management at a tech company, well-liked by his co-workers but otherwise unexceptional.
  • Ned in Pushing Daisies is actually pretty good about avoiding this, despite being very much Blessed with Suck. He's had a few moments of it in the show proper, and almost certainly felt this way all the time as a kid. Chuck, on the other hand, while not actually having powers, seems to want a normal life, or at least a more normal one.
  • Sam from Quantum Leap wanted to return to his life in the future, but when the opportunity arose, he had to leap back in to save Al from being killed, thus returning to the cycle and forgetting much about his past/future.
  • Sam from Reaper. In early episodes, he was even trying to run away from/hide the vessels he was to use to capture the escaped souls. They followed him. However, in later episodes, he's wised up, even telling the Devil to "just cut to the chase," so to speak.
  • In the pilot episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, this is Sabrina's initial response to her father when he tells her that she is a witch.
  • In The Secret Circle, the main character learns she is a witch, and freaks out, does not want anything to do with magic, just wants to be "normal".
  • Jim in The Sentinel frequently wants to get rid of his senses.
  • In Smallville, Clark has said numerous times that his goal is to live like and be an ordinary human. Somehow, many viewers doubt this will be the case. Of all incarnations of Superman, he's by far the most reluctant and where, Superman in the comics inspires a new generation of heroes, many of those same heroes go public first in this incarnation and inspire him. That said, he's typically more unwavering in his dedication than the others once he finally makes up his mind about it.
    • In one episode, he lost his powers, but still managed to beat the snot out of three superpowered bad guys, and believed he didn't need his powers anymore. Unfortunately, in the next episode, a nuclear missile gets launched at the town, leaving him with no choice but to regain his powers to save the day.
    • At the beginning of the Grand Finale, Chloe Sullivan is shown reading a Smallville comic to her son. The very first panel involves Clark thinking exactly "I Just Want to Be Normal".
  • Similarly, in Star Trek: Voyager, some of the crew expressed uncertainty as to how they would adjust to life on Earth if they ever reached it.
  • Both Supernatural boys have gone through this phase at some point.
    • Sam leaves the family business, running away to college to pursue a normal life. And then his girlfriend gets torched by the same demon that killed his mother and infected him with demon blood. He still spends a great deal of Season one talking about going back to a normal life, but after finding out he had demonic powers and getting a taste of The Dark Side, he now considers himself too much of a freak for that to be a possibility. Nonetheless, at the start of Season 8, we find out that while Dean was in purgatory, Sam went back to a 'normal life' with a dog and a girlfriend.
    • Dean has been tired of this life pretty much since the beginning of season two, when he found out he might have to kill his brother. Season four, with Sam choosing the demon blood-born power he thought would prevent the Apocalypse over Dean, really broke him. By season five, he was ready to settle down or die, and didn't seem much to care which. At the end of Season Five, Dean gets a normal life with a family for a year, but loses Sam.
    • Runs in the family. Their hunter mother desperately wanted to get out, raise a family and live a normal life. Well, at least she managed for ten years, right? Until her payment came due.
    • Jimmy Novak, Castiel's vessel. He really thought it was over.
    • Subverted in the Season 5 Episode "Swap Meat":
      Sam: I'm telling you, kid. I wish I had your life.
      Gary: You do? ...Thanks.
      Sam: Get on out of here. [Gary leaves]
      Dean: That was a nice thing to say.
      Sam: Totally lied. Kid's life sucked ass. All that apple-pie family crap, it's stressful, believe me. We didn't miss a damn thing.
  • Taken: In the final episode "Taken", the one-eighth alien nine-year-old Allie Keys, who possesses extraordinary powers, tells her father Charlie that she wants to be an ordinary little girl who listens to her CDs and plays soccer with her friends. She is extremely upset as she knows that this can never be since it is her destiny to leave Earth and join the aliens.
  • In the Tales from the Darkside episode "Deliver Us From Goodness", a common housewife gains incredible powers from God for being a saint. While she takes advantage of them a few times, she tries to get rid of them because they freak out her husband and daughter and she wants to get back to her daily routine. In the end, the power transfers to her mother. The housewife admits that she was just starting to like the power and will miss it, but her mother promises she will put them to better use.
  • In Teen Wolf, Scott isn't chuffed about getting bitten since it involves near-death experiences, Derek trying to recruit him, getting hunted by the Argents, getting hunted by the Alpha, painful full moons and complications with Allison. In the first season he bargains with Derek for a cure.
  • The Tick (2016) has Arthur, The Tick's reluctant sidekick, really not liking being a superhero. At several points in the early episodes, he tries to give back the suit that gives him his powers to the bad guys, but circumstances keep him stuck in it.
  • In True Blood, Sookie says she is a freak for being able to read minds, and wishes she was normal like everyone else. She later finds out that she is a fairy, and does not quite like that, either.
  • In The Vampire Diaries, Elena has this after she learns what happened to her mother.
  • In Wolfblood, both Maddy and Rhydian had moments of wanting to fit in and be normal. Largely this was because they felt isolated and kept having to lie to their friends. Of course, when they lost their powers for an episode, Rhydian spent most of the time complaining that being human sucked.
  • Jaye Tyler from Wonderfalls doesn't take too kindly to becoming a divine instrument (okay, it's not made entirely clear that that's what she is, but it's strongly implied). As the series goes on, she does seem to become significantly less bitter about it, especially after an encounter with a man who just wants to be special:
    Jaye: I'm not so sure my burden is actually ... a burden. I mean, other people seem to want it, and that should always give you pause before you give something away.
  • In Young Dracula, Vlad wants nothing more than to be a normal boy with a normal family. Jonathan definitely does not want to grow up to be a vampire hunter like his father.


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