Anger, rage, wrath, hate.
Anyone who has been pushed past the point of caring knows that it can make them do incredible, if scary, things. Uninhibited by reason, strength subconsciously kept in check is released in a burst of unmaintainable strength. In fictionland, this can include working as a catalyst for triggering the Super Mode, to Hulking Out, to making you burst into flames, to making you explode.... These powers make it easy to slaughter Mooks by the dozens. However, it is not enough to take out the heavier hitters.
No matter how angry you get, no matter your determination, your rage-fueled powers just aren't enough to best the Big Bad, The Dragon, or maybe even the Quirky Miniboss Squad. Anger, in other words, will hit a ceiling for how much power it can provide you. Faced with obstacles above that level, you'll need to find another way to fight, or to augment your rage-granted powers with something else, before you break that ceiling.
While this is often attained through letting go of the anger, and/or a Meditation Powerup, it is not a requirement. The only requirement for this trope to be in effect is that anger itself isn't enough to make someone/something perform at its peak, whereas something else is.
Compare Blinded by Rage, which skips the "makes you stronger" part completely and causes your anger to actively hinder your performance.
As this trope often concerns elements later in a story, spoilers are to be expected.
- In Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Domon activates the Shining Gundam's Super Mode with his anger. While it does give him an advantage early in the series, once the Dark/Devil Gundam shows up it becomes ineffective against the stronger opponents. He then goes to the Guiana Highlands to train in which he gains his true super mode, Meikyo Shisui (Clear as a Mirror, Still as Water), activated by being completely calm and maintaining a serene state of mind, which in turn unlocks the Burning/God Gundam's much more powerful Hyper Mode.
- Inverted in Pluto. Dr. Tenma says that positive emotions like kindness, understanding, and optimism aren't enough to create the perfect AI. They also need to feel emotions like anger, grief, and hatred to fully complete them. Feeling Gesicht's lingering feelings of pain and hatred along with Epsilon's sorrow is what wakes Atom from his coma and lets him fly off to defeat Pluto once and for all.
Tenma: Listen, Professor Ochanomizu... you don't understand anything about artificial intelligence. Frustration and failure... seething hatred... Emotions so powerful they lead one to want to kill... That's what fosters true artificial intelligence... Perfection is in the mind that makes mistakes... And that, Professor, is what will give birth to the greatest robot on Earth...
- In Naruto, Naruto's anger brings out the Nine Tails' power, especially after the Time Skip when Jiraiya fiddles with Naruto's seal. But against more powerful opponents, his transformations start hindering Naruto because he's too Blinded by Rage to fight effectively, barring when he almost unleashed the Nine Tails entirely against Pain. Once Naruto unlocks his Golden Super Mode, he gains an even greater power boost while still keeping his rational mind.
- In One Piece, Luffy uses his rage and anger to plow through an entire battlefield of Marine soldiers and pirates for the sake of saving his brother Ace. However, once Luffy makes it to the execution platform, he's effectively flattened by the Admirals. Kizaru echoes as much after knocking Luffy out.
Kizaru: Rage alone is not enough, Straw Hat. Without strength, you cannot save him.
- Katsuki Bakugo from My Hero Academia is known for his incredibly versatile "Explosion" quirk and his even more volatile temper. He is proven to be both powerful and skilled enough to face against villains and other opponents, but falters at nearly every other category due to his abrasive attitude. This is best illustrated in the Entrance Exam: he scored the highest amount of Villain points (points earned from destroying attack robots), but scored absolutely zero rescue points (points scored from assisting other attendies and other acts of heroism). He is told repeatedly by various individuals from All Might to Best Jeanest that while he is incredibly talented, his Unstoppable Rage will make him fall short of becoming the No. 1 pro-hero. This is shown when he was one of the few students to fail his License Exam because the point of the exam was to rescue civilians and while he did rescue them, his utter abrasiveness and temper docked him points since he's also supposed to reassure them rather than yell and curse.
- Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith: At the climax, Anakin believes that his anger-fueled use of the Dark Side now makes him more powerful than anyone, including Emperor Palpatine and Anakin's former mentor Obi-Wan. However, it is not clear during his lightsaber duel with Obi-Wan that he actually possesses any new powers, as opposed to just fighting more aggressively than he had before. While Obi-Wan is largely on the defensive during the fight, Anakin loses the duel because Obi-Wan uses rational tactical planning to gain a solid defensive position on a slope, and when Anakin angrily tries to jump over him, he is able to sever three of Anakin's limbs.
- X-Men: First Class: Magneto initially requires tapping into his anger and pain to use his magnetic abilities, this is initially not a problem as he has plenty to call upon. However, Charles Xavier is convinced he is only scratching the surface of the power he is capable of. Charles proves to be correct, by convincing Magneto instead to utilise his happier memories of his family, it dramatically enhances not only his control over his abilities but his scale.
- Accel World:
- When Silver Crow is taken over by the Disaster Armor, it bonds with him so completely that he manifests the combined powers of all previous Disasters and goes on a murderous rampage against everything in his path. That is until he encounters Iron Pound, a veteran Burst Linker who put all his effort into sharpening his fundamentals so that he'd be ready to fight the Armor if it appeared again. Because "The Beast" is a brute with no idea of its powers' strengths and weaknesses, it makes lots of slip-ups (e.g. trying to pull its opponent closer with a hookshot attack that can't penetrate armour) which Pound can punish it for. Eventually it's so hard-pressed that it has to relinquish some control back to Crow just to survive.
- Inverted by Ardor Maiden - her Incarnate techniques are normally born from positive feelings and mostly limited to support, but she also secretly develops "Purgatory Blaze": a giant Lava Pit capable of killing even Kaiju-level enemies. Her friends are horrified to learn that she's been practising how to feel such intense, indiscriminate anger and hatred, begging her not to use it lightly for fear of becoming lost in those feelings, but nonetheless it becomes an extremely useful tool in the team's arsenal.
- Animorphs: One book has Rachel gets split into two people: one a Leeroy Jenkins with no ability to plan beyond "get angry and kill things in grizzly bear morph" (Mean Rachel), the other a cringing whiner who bursts into tears at the drop of a hat but can actually plan things out (Nice Rachel). Towards the end, both end up trapped by Visser Three, with Mean Rachel recognizing she can't do anything in this situation. Nice Rachel resolves it by threatening to enter the Visser's ear in fly morph and demorphing, killing herself, the Visser, and the Visser's host body. He lets them go.
- During the fifth book, Harry Potter uses the Cruciatus Curse on Bellatrix LeStrange while burning with righteous anger at her for murdering his godfather. This allows him to use the Curse at all, but Bellatrix notes it doesn't hurt her much, because a Cruiciatus Curse fueled by anger pales in comparison to one fueled by sadism - which she is used to slinging around.
"I see what Bellatrix meant," said Harry, the blood thundering through his brain, "you need to really mean it."
- True to form, he utilises it once again against a Death Eater, Amycus Carrow just before the Battle of Hogwarts with much better results as he is not blinded by the pain of loss and his hatred is much more calculated and cold (and its still not as effective as schadenfreude).
- From Star Wars:
- This is the whole philosophy of the old Jedi Order, who believe that while anger (and The Dark Side of The Force in general) is a quick and easy way to a lot of power, true mastery of the Force (which far exceeds the potency of the Dark Side) requires temperance and self-control.
- Even for the Sith, and Dark Side Force-Users in general, pure anger (and other raw emotions) only take you so far. True masters of the Dark Side have to learn to yoke the raw power of their emotions with a clarity of thought. A berserker-esque Darth Maul type might be a physical threat to two or three Jedi at a time, but a cold, cruel, calculating Darth Sidious type can bring the galaxy to its knees without ever touching a lightsaber. In addition, if you give in too much to your anger, you're no longer a master of the Dark Side but a slave to it.
- In the Sword of Truth series, the titular weapon both strengthens and is strengthened by anger, but in order to unlock its full potential, one must learn to wield it in love as well.
- Supernatural plays with the trope. Ghosts in the series are only able to interact with the world and utilise their powers, either by tapping into extreme anger or complete calm. Whilst anger is easier and produces more immediate response, as another ghost warns the recently deceased Bobby Singer, it is unsustainable. Embracing it only speeds up the inevitable insanity and decay, that all ghosts are doomed to suffer. Whilst calm allows one to stave off this fate for decades.
- Discussed in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Cage." Yes, anger and other strong emotions can keep the alien telepaths from reading you for a while, but Vina points out that the degree of it needed to do so can't be kept up for very long.
- Asura of Asura's Wrath is a rage-powered demigod who was betrayed by his fellow demigods and cast as their scapegoat for their New World Order which cast them as Well Intentioned Extremists, killing mortals for their souls to combat Vlitra, the will of the planet. His rage at being betrayed, as well as having his wife killed and daughter kidnapped, made him powerful enough to come Back from the Dead, and rampage through their number and their forces. But Vlitra proves too much for him, and it is only once his daughter channels the remaining Soul Power into him that he is able to defeat it.
- It is subverted in his series of fights against the True Final Boss, Chakravatin - while his newfound Soul Power-fueled anger gets him a lot of the way, allowing him to blow up planets, stars, and make God go One-Winged Angel on him, he initially requires the implantation of the Karma Fortress's Mantra Reactor into his body to help regulate his rage-fueled power lest it destroy him outright (which grants him his most powerful form), and it is eventually his raw anger at how God Is Evil that allows him to persevere after Chakravatin takes away his Soul Power.
- Alluded to in the generals challenge of Command & Conquer: Generals - after an RTS Boss Rush, you face General Leang who has every single general-specific unit and perk, who likens your thrashing of the other generals previously as a display of rage that will peter out against her.
General Leang: Rage will only get you so far General. Now rage and a column of tanks, that will get you somewhere.
- In League of Legends, Master Yi was a student of the ancient blademaster art of Wuju, an art that required serenity and focus. When invaders came to surrounding towns, he couldn't sit by and watch, so he went to battle. The invaders saw the power of Wuju and turned their attention to his clan's home, turning it into a Doomed Hometown while he was away. The resultant anger allowed Yi to become peerless in battle.. untill he met a trickster Monkey adept at Confusion Fu, constantly taunting him through their battles. It was only through calming his rage that Yi was able to see through the monkey's illusions, allowing him to put his peerless swordsmanship to work against even slippery foes.
- Street Fighter: The Satsui No Hado is a powerful Ki born of negative emotions, including that of rage and anger - it makes whomsoever succumbs to it incredibly powerful and grants access to numerous Dangerous Forbidden Techniques, and Ryu succumbs to it in an attempt to kill Akuma, who has all but mastered it. It's not enough, and it's only through accessing The Power of Nothingness That Ryu is able to eventually defeat Akuma.
- RWBY: A recurring theme in the fights:
- Yang's semblance is based on her anger. When she gets angry, her power skyrockets. Unfortunately, it proves to not help her in her fight against Adam, who overpowers her and cuts off one of her arms. By round two, not only does she have a mechanical prosthesis, but she is fighting Adam along with Blake, one of her friends.
- Lie Ren, who is normally The Quiet One, goes absolutely berseerk when fighting The Nuckelavee, because it killed his parents and destroyed his home village. Not only does this fail to help him in any way, but he winds up hindering his own teammates in the process; it takes a Get a Hold of Yourself, Man! from Nora to get him to calm down, at which point Team RNJR finished it off with very little effort.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Zuko's firebending is primarily fueled by anger throughout the series. When he loses it, he and Aang learn that the ancient firebending tradition is much more powerful than anger-fueled firebending. Realizing that anger is temporary and not powerful enough to sustain him is what brings his bending back.