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Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome

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"This man... This man is a doctor where he comes from. And there's an O'Brien there just like me, except he's some kind of high up Chief of Operations. They're Terrans. Can you believe that? Maybe it's a fairy tale he made up, but it made me start thinking how each of us might have turned out if history had been just a little different."
"Smiley" O'Brien, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ("Crossover")
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For various reasons, Status Quo Is God in most fictional worlds. Even if it doesn't apply to the characters and overall plot structure, the world and setting itself is unlikely to deviate significantly from its origin. This is especially true when Reed Richards Is Useless, making any and all marvels made by these mad men meaningless to the masses; heroes can invent amazing, world-changing wonders to defeat the amazing, world-changing nightmares made by villains, but there are never any other applications for these things. Before long, people inside and outside the story will start noting that they can only really count on the resident Reed Richards to rectify problems when doing so restores the status quo.

However, all of that changes in stories set in an Alternate Universe, "What If?", or limited series. Since it has no effect on ongoing canon continuity, these stories can showcase the full extent of changes (good and bad) that releasing the Phlebotinum of the week would have on the planet. Potentially, this can either restore the coolness of their "canon counterpart" or diminish it.

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Common consequences of commercializing their creations consists of the following: Create a near Utopia, or at least drastically improve the world. Causing a "Science cold war" between rival inventors. Leaving the world much as it is now, albeit with jetpacks and other marvels. Or alternatively, a common subversion (and one often used to suggest why OG Reed Richards not being this awesome may not be the worst thing ever) is that Alternate Universe Reed Richards initially appears to have changed the world for the better, only for something unexpected to come along and demonstrate why changing the status quo in this particular way might not be for the good after all (usually because it results in a massive body count).

Despite the trope title, massive bad change is still playing the trope straight: the point is that it's massive change.

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Compare Villain World, where the bad guy gets his way instead.


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Other examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Puella Magi Oriko Magica spinoff Symmetry Diamond relates a universe where Oriko foretold the coming of Walpurgisnacht instead of Kriemhild Gretchen. Turns out that when they're not trying to murder Madoka, Oriko and Kirika can be damn good heroines themselves.
  • Space Dandy: One episode sees Dandy and crew visit the universe where they are actually competent alien hunters. In fact, in other universes, Dandy, QT, and Meow are shown to be competent mecha pilots, ninjas, truckers, and detectives, among other things. Turns out that our regular heroes being bumbling losers is pretty cosmically unlikely.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Given the nature of Time Travel in this series, Future characters are actually this rather than Future Badass. Future Trunks is a selfless world-saving hero while regular Trunks is still a selfish kid. Future Bulma is the Big Good who invents time travel despite the hellish conditions. The best case is Future Mai who is the world's resistance leader while her present self is a silly comic relief as part of a Gold Fish Poop Gang.
    • Invoked in Dragon Ball: That Time I Got Reincarnated as Yamcha!. It details an alternate universe where a real world high school student who dies and, as the title suggests, is Reincarnated as Yamcha. Since he's aware of everything that happens, he decides to make Yamcha into as big of an Adaptational Badass as he possibly can, starting by going with Goku to train with Master Roshi. It looks to be working, as he Curbstomped all the Saibamen singlehandedly instead of dying first like in canon, beat Nappa, and was able to help Goku out with fighting Vegeta. In the end however, he eventually realizes that even with all his training, he still Can't Catch Up with the Saiyan heroes in the later arcs, so he opts to quit while he's ahead instead.
  • Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA:
    • Emiya Shirou, in contrast to his usual portrayal as The Hero and as his Future Badass self Archer, has been raised normally without any knowledge of the supernatural and thus never learns the magecraft and combat abilities he learned in the original Fate/stay night.
    • Miyu's brother, another Emiya Shirou, plays it straight by being a lot closer to his original portrayal than Illya's brother, even managing to do what no other Fate character has done, win the Holy Grail and make an unambiguously successful wish upon it that not only gives him exactly what he wanted with no drawbacks, but also led to the heroes coming to his world, giving it hope to survive.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Doctor Strange goes to a universe where variations of a few familiar heroes form the Illuminati. They include a Maria Rambeau that became Captain Marvel instead of her friend Carol Danvers, the Peggy Carter with Captain America's powers previously seen in What If, and a Professor X more willing to use his telepathic powers in combat.

    Literature 
  • In the Jack Blank books, Jonas Smart invented a majority of the high-tech devices in use in the Imagine Nation, a secret country on Earth where comic book fantasies are real. Played with as Smart apparently owns several front companies outside the Imagine Nation that put out the same toys in the rest of the world but not as advanced.
  • "Oracle", a short story by Greg Egan, has Alternate Universe Alan Turing Is Awesome— he (or more precisely, a Captain Ersatz of him) is rescued by a benevolent time traveler, preventing his death, and given not only the knowledge to create such futuristic wonders as a replacement for X-rays that not only provides a better image, but cannot cause cancer, (which is implied to save Rosalind Franklin's life) specially grown food crops with a much higher yield than anything known in Real Life, (effectively kickstarting the Green Revolution) a cure for cancer, and even highly advanced facial recognition software, which some characters mistake for strong A.I., but also the influence to completely clear him of all legal issues and legalize homosexuality (as psychologists discover the true reason for it long before they did in our time line) and hint at ending other forms of prejudice ahead of real history as well. In 1950s Britain, no less!
  • In Warcraft III, Aedelas Blackmoore was just a bitter, paranoid man who spent most of his time drinking and the rest being needlessly cruel to the orcs he was charged with overseeing. But Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects introduced an incredibly badass version of the character from an alternate timeline who cleaned up his act before the end of the second war, challenged Orgrim Doomhammer to a fight, and won. This earned him the respect of Doomhammer's Orc army, which he then used to conquer Lordaeron and crown himself it's new King after killing Terenas and banishing Arthas. Oh, and he hunts dragons for fun.
  • The Skylark Series by Doc Smith not only lives and breathes this trope but has it at the very core of its DNA. By the time of the final book "Skylark Dusquesne" Norlanminians have been brought in to help Earth integrate the new technologies and knowledge as rapidly as possible in a way to cause the least disruption and society is still being strained by the rapidity with which it is changing.

    Tabletop Game 
  • Tachyon in Sentinels of the Multiverse is already a badass of science but in alternate universes she gets even more badass... and more dangerous as she tends to be a villain in other universes. Notably in the universe where Visionary comes from where she's obsessed with "fixing things" and nearly destroys/takes over the world.

    Video Games 
  • In one of the alternate universes from Portal 2's Perpetual Testing Initiative, Cave Johnson sells Aperture Science's inventions to the public, which leads the company to be so successful that Cave buys out their main competitor Black Mesa and shuts down the anomalous materials experimentation that would cause the resonance cascade, preventing the events of the Half-Life series from ever occurring.
  • City of Heroes has the alternate dimension of Praetoria, which is your standard superheroes-turn-world-into-shiny-police-state. Of especial note is the (on Primal Earth) not very science-minded Synapse's alternate counterpart Neutron being responsible for providing the world with cheap robotic labor. Except that it's implied he stole that invention from someone else working under him.
  • In BioShock Infinite, Zachary Hale Comstock spearheaded the campaign that lead to the creation of Columbia, a floating city that was meant to serve as a symbol of American ideals and values. Unfortunately under his leadership, he quickly turned it into a nightmarish, theocratic dictatorship. It's later revealed he's the alternate universe counterpart of Booker DeWitt, an impoverished private detective who has to literally sell his own daughter to settle a debt.
  • In Dragon Ball Heroes, there is a Universe 6 version of Hercule Satan. This version is in line to be the next God of Destruction, and is noted to be stronger than Xeno Goku and Vegeta.
  • The plot of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart revolves around our heroes being thrust into an alternate universe where Dr. Nefarious is actually competent and has resultantly taken over the galaxy as Emperor Nefarious, a chilling and brutal No-Nonsense Nemesis. Deconstructed towards the end, however, as having never really lost in his home reality means Emperor Nefarious has absolutely none of his counterpart's tolerance for pain or failure, and when Ratchet and Clank give him a legitimate fight, he has a spectacular Villainous Breakdown before he's even really started losing.
  • Fate/Grand Order introduces parallel counterparts of historical and mythological characters that are different from their main universe counterparts.
    • The Miyamoto Mushashi from the main universe was a renown swordsman that founded the Niten Ichi-ryū school of swordsmanship, winning several battles before dying alone from old age. His alternate, summoned counterpart is a young, energetic lady that escaped the pruning of her own timeline and travels the multiverse to fight powerful opponents and often helps the protagonists.
    • Lostbelt Ivan the Terrible lead the surviving humans of Russia after an asteroid impact brought the world into a deadly ice-age, and turned himself and his people in Yaga (human-magical beast hybrids). He had ruled for 450 years with an iron fist.
    • Qin Shi Huang in Proper Human History was China's First Emperor, but died from trying to use mercury to make himself immortal. In the Chinese Lostbelt, he is successful in becoming immortal, and continued to rule China until it was able to unite the world under his command.

    Webcomics 
  • In Sluggy Freelance Riff's inventions never become widely spread in the story's main universe, but his Dimension of Lame counterpart has cured almost everyone in his dimension who couldn't walk (Stealth Pun?), and his 4U City counterpart inadvertently create the technology that let His Masterness Take Over the World.
    • And there's at least one alternate universe where he wiped out humanity.
      • According to a very likely non-canon guest strip, the universes where one of the main cast causes the end of the world are more numerous than ones where they don't (at least among those that contain their counterparts at all, or something).
    • In late 2012/early 2013, we see Riff's inventions beginning to come to the attention of the wider world, and at least some of the alternate dimensions are stated to be futures of main universe continuity.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: Some more than others, as shown in the character page. Of special mention, Pan and U9 Yamcha.
    • And it's 'spinoff', An Earth Without Goku: every single earthling is awesome, even Bulma, who finally puts at work all of her intelligence and technological skills and actually helps the Earth warriors in the battle against Nappa
  • Homestuck: Several of the beta timeline versions of the trolls managed to ascend to godtier, something only Vriska and Aradia (and maybe Gamzee) managed to do in the alpha timeline. One of the most powerless, Karkat, is sincerely disturbed by this fact and the implication that failure is the definition of his existence.
  • GF Serendipity: According to Word of God, part of the premise of the story was the belief that Stan was actually a competant and charismatic businessman, but ended up selling crappy products. Here, the For Want of a Nail is that Fiddleford met Stan Pines rather than Ford Pines. Stan was able to market Fiddleford's idea for a laptop (this is in the 80s mind you) and they became successes overnight, becoming heads of one of the best companies in a year. Inverted with Ford, who never learned of Bill's manipulations and is completely bonkers when Stan goes to Gravity Falls to search for him.

    Web Original 
  • Twisted in inverted in SCP Foundation item SCP-1322. Through a stable spacetime anomaly, the Foundation makes contact with another world's civilization that bears some striking similarities with ours (populated by Homo Sapiens, advanced in various science fields, etc). Contact is peaceful and friendly, and soon the two worlds are exchanging technologies and culture freely. That is until the other world's is struck by a viral epidemic, which the Foundation identifies as a harmless flu strain and offers to provide a vaccine... This vaccine had the (unintended) secondary effect of sterilizing the recipient, and the widespread vaccination campaign has reduced the other world's global birth rate to almost nothing. They're seemingly seeking revenge by sending more and more destructive items through the anomaly ever since.
    • SCP-6001 "Avalon", an alternate reality in which the Foundation has formed a benevolent world government by uniting with the various groups of interest and developing ways to utilize anomalies in ways that benefit everyone - including the anomalies themselves. The overall standard of life has skyrocketed across the world, disease has been all but eradicated, magic and advanced technology are commonplace, and, most surprising of all, there is no hidden catch. It is truly a Utopia.


Doom does not approve of the name of this trope! He demands it changed to something more suited to Richards' level of competence! Much better!note 


 
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T'Challa Star-Lord

Having joined with the Ravagers in this variant timeline, T'Challa has been able to turn them from brigands into vigilantes along with recruiting unlikely allies: Thanos among them!

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