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Can't Stay Normal

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"I wanted power. Always. Always. The power to protect... all sorts of people. I remembered that... when I lost my powers."
Ichigo Kurosaki, Bleach

Are you special? Did you willingly accept The Call only to find your life full of monsters, aliens, or magic? Is it all too much to handle? Maybe The Call Knows Where You Live and you wish you had refused the Call? Do you just want to be normal again?

Well, thanks to a once-in-a-lifetime chance, you can be! Humanity Ensues! You're a normal human again! Frequently, Laser-Guided Amnesia is included, absolutely free!

Now, you know this can't last.

From this point, there are two variations:

  • Once you are human (or may have always been), you realize this bland, boring life isn't as exciting as the horrible, yet amazing, life you once led. The action, intensity, romance, it's gone. Now you want it back. (Frequently, in looking for the old aspects of your life, you upset the balance of everything else.)
  • Alternately, you love being human and that normalcy you missed is so relieving, but then something happens. Drama ensues. And, dangit! Those powers, skills, or magical abilities you had before are exactly what is needed to fix what's going wrong. It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time! So, you are forced to reverse the change, and become that which, ultimately, you are destined to be.

Thus, you Can't Stay Normal. Often a one-shot episode that makes use of a Reset Button to get things back to status quo. Sometimes Anvilicious in making a character accept their strengths and limitations.

Compare: Always Need What You Gave Up, I'm Not a Hero, I'm..., Keeping the Handicap, Send Me Back, Refreshingly Normal Life-Choice, and What Have I Become?. May also be combined with Wanting Is Better Than Having. If you realize you need your powers now before actually becoming normal, and miss the chance to do so as a result, it's a Friend-or-Idol Decision instead. Contrast Undeath Always Ends.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • This happens to Berserker Orson in the Record of Lodoss War TV series. Naturally, he has to become a berserker again in order to save his partner Sheris.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • Asuna has an odd case of this. Long story short, she's a princess from a magical world who became a normal schoolgirl at great effort and is in the process of losing that normality because she hadn't factored in her own behavior post-Laser-Guided Amnesia, and is therefore running headlong into what she ran from ten years before.
    • Chisame is a more reluctant example, having been metaphorically dragged down to paranormal kicking and screaming before leaping out to gasp for air, only to discover that air is now too easy and boring, and therefore ending up in a combination of being dragged down again and saying "the hell with it".
  • The main characters of Sailor Moon actually get two cracks at this, both times because they died in the past. Queen Serenity revives them as completely different people in the future with no memories of their past lives, and the power of the Silver Crystal that also killed Usagi brings back her friends and lover along with herself right after killing Super Beryl. Once again, they have no memories of their past lives or even their time spent as friends. Luna and Artemis even take a crack at killing a monster in the first episode of Sailor Moon R just so Usagi and the others won't have to be forced to fight and lose their lives again. After Usagi gets her powers back, she attempts to kill another monster on her own for the same reason. Obviously, everybody has to get their powers back or there wouldn't be a show, but Usagi approaches Heroic BSoD before the end of the first story arc as this trope weighs down on her.
    • Later in the series, this also affects Hotaru, who had reverted to a powerless infant at the end of Sailor Moon S so she and her father could have a second chance at life (or just herself in the manga, since her dad died at the end of the plot in the manga). Both the anime and the manga show circumstances requiring her to age up and regain her powers as Saturn. Unlike Usagi, she doesn't seem particularly bothered by it.
  • At the start of the second season of Code Geass, Lelouch Lamperouge has lost his memories of his mother and sister, and of having been the terrorist leader Zero (all thanks to the Emperor's memory-altering Geass) and is back at Ashford, acting much like he did at the start of the series. Even though the choice is pretty much taken out of his hands by C.C. restoring his memories, it's shown that he's still dissatisfied with the current state of affairs and apparently only lacked the motivation to return to his old life.
    • C.C. goes through one of these, as she temporarily loses her immortality and memories (she bleeds, right?) as part of her Angst against the world. She gets better.
  • In Gantz, leaving the "game" (and losing all your memories of it) is a choice players can buy for 100 points menu. Two people made this choice; Izumi Shion, who did it before the series' start and gets back in after recruiting (killing) a bunch of people and getting Kurono Kei to kill him, and Kurono. In Kurono's case, leaving meant he also forgot about a girlfriend he'd started dating during the game, but he remembered it again because of a reporter who saw him on TV. Then he was killed by vampires and revived again because of the game, meaning he rejoined it yet again.
  • In K, Saruhiko Fushimi is accused of this—hopping between Clans because he doesn't want to commit to a King, but at the same time, he doesn't want to give up the power that comes with being a King's vassal. Of course, his King said this in the middle of a fake fight that they had planned, to show Saruhiko quitting the Blue Clan before he goes into the Green Clan undercover. So yes, he is loyal.
  • In the last chapter of The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. Saiki chooses to seal away his psychic abilities. However, after the two special chapters released a few months later, Saiki starts regaining his powers, which initially worries him. But when a meteorite is about to hit the Earth and he’s the only one powerful enough to stop it, he decides to return to being a psychic.
  • Bleach:
    • Uryuu sacrificed his power to defeat a captain during the Soul Society arc and stoically resigned himself to being a Badass Normal for the rest of his life. However, when his father told him there was a way to restore his power at a price, Uryuu accepted the price to regain his power. He then found a loophole in the caveat he was given to rejoin his True Companions in their next quest.
    • Ichigo mirrored Uryuu's experience, except that he started the story feeling I Just Want to Be Normal, whereas Uryuu didn't. Ichigo sacrificed his power to defeat Aizen and stoically resigned himself to being a Badass Normal for the rest of his life. He constantly reassured himself and others that he was happy having his normal life back, but he jumped at the first opportunity to regain his spiritual powers because, deep down, he had always desired power so he could protect other people.
    • Kon learns early in the manga that Isshin sacrificed his powers twenty years ago. As soon as Isshin regains his power, he kills the Grand Fisher, the hollow that killed his wife. Isshin had given all his Shinigami powers to his wife in order to save her life after she was infected by a Hollow. The Hollow and Isshin's powers were passed on to Ichigo after her death; they only returned to him after Ichigo's own Hollow manifested while fighting Byakuya.
  • GTO: The Early Years: Eikichi and Ryuji initially tried to distance themselves from their Onibaku past, if only to better pick up chicks. Their plans were nipped in the bud the more delinquents from their past and other hopefuls and wannabes heard about their new whereabouts, to the point where the pair embraced it and declared Tsuji-do High School the new home of the Onibaku.

    Comic Books 
  • Wally West's ex-girlfriend, Frances Kane, who had magnetic powers, wanted to be normal and decided not to use her powers ever again. Cue a bomb being activated and her powers being the only thing that could save everyone. Unfortunately, since using her powers also causes her to revert to a psychotically evil mentality (which, come to think of it, explains wanting to be normal), this was also a case of Chronic Villainy.
  • This is basically the Thing's gig all over, as he tends to only revert to being human at the absolutely worst times, forcing him each time to go back to being 'a monster', though by the current point in continuity, his being a monster isn't bad, since he's the ever-loving, blue-eyed idol o' millions.
  • Subverted with Jimmy Olsen, who's held more superpowers than you can count, but is guaranteed to return to normal eventually. He can't stay normal, but never remains abnormal for long, either.
  • In the last big pre-Crisis Story Arc for Green Lantern, Hal Jordan decided that being GL had ruined his life, and resigned. For about a year, John Stewart wore the ring, but Hal's journey to Find Himself got as much panel time as John's costumed adventures. Ultimately, Hal realized that he was a directionless, unmotivated loser without the twin crutches of the Ring and the Corps being Green Lantern was his one, true destiny.
    • And then someone blew up his city and he got infected by a giant yellow space bug that fed on fear and turned him into a mass-murdering hyperpowered psychopath. He just couldn't catch a break.
  • Spider-Man has a rep for deciding I Just Want to Be Normal and hanging up the tights. He only did it twice, once in a classic Bronze Age story (which was homaged in the below-mentioned Spider-Man 2) and once at the end of the much-maligned The Clone Saga (and that was with the double rationales of not being the "real" Peter Parker and having a pregnant wife).
    • Toward the end of the Hobgoblin Saga, he had decided to hang up his webs as soon as he could locate Flash Thompson, who was a fugitive from the law after Hobgoblin framed him for his crimes. The murder of Ned Leeds in Germany (in the Spider-Man / Wolverine one-shot) further convinced him to hang up the tights. By the end of the arc, however, after saving Thompson's life and clearing his name, Peter decided that he couldn't give up the good fight and chose not to retire. The very next issue, he proposed to MJ.
  • Woody from Quantum and Woody suffers from this; even after losing his energy-blasting powers and breaking up with his partner and best friend, Woody is shocked when he answers police calls unbidden and realizes he's got Chronic Hero Syndrome.
  • Tony Stark is "forced" to give up being Iron Man for various reasons, usually either relating to his heart, alcohol, or to dying. It never lasts.
  • At the start of the New Power saga of W.I.T.C.H. the titular heroines are Depowered to make space for the titular power up, and Cornelia, not knowing what's happening, is really happy about having the chance at a normal life. She is downright furious when she gets the power up, and only stays because she's responsible enough to use her powers for good now that she has them again.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics)
    • This is the fate of Sonic's father, Jules Hedgehog. Many years ago, Jules's brother Charles — Sonic's Uncle Chuck — invented the Roboticizer as a medical tool for the critically injured or ill and used Charles as his first test subject in the hopes of saving him from a wound he suffered during the Great War, which resulted in Jules becoming a mindless automaton. Even after regaining his free will, however, Jules cannot be de-roboticized: to restore his original body would also mean restoring his fatal wounds.
    • Prior to the comic's Continuity Reboot, this was the fate of Bunnie Rabbot. After Ixis Naugus accidentally restored her limbs to flesh and blood, Bunnie seemed somewhat okay with it. However, when Antoine was badly wounded and comatose by an exploding Metal Sonic, she ran off to find her Uncle Beauregard and get herself Legionized.
  • Very frequently, if Superman is Brought Down to Normal, he's left haunted by it. As a reporter, he'll regularly see stories of disasters and tragedies that he could have easily prevented, or at the very least, stopped from being worse. In Superman: The Wedding Album, even after having been stripped of his powers after the events in Final Night, Clark still finds himself putting on the tights and cape when spotting a robbery, if anything, to possibly scare the robbers into surrendering.
  • The Incredible Hulk:
    • Bruce Banner has been "permanently cured of being the Hulk" on several occasions, only to have to reHulkify himself to solve some crisis. Why they don't use the same deHulkifier on him again after the crisis is resolved is rarely if ever explained.
    • In Hulk (2008), the Red Hulk depowered the Hulk by absorbing all his gamma radiation, saying that Bruce Banner would never become the Hulk again. Banner was smart enough to know that eventually he'd reHulkify and spent his time preparing for that day.
    • Also happened in the TV series. And the new movie. And the 90's cartoon. Twice.
    • A fairly Anvilicious example in the 1980s cartoon: Bruce cures himself and then a computer tells him that the Hulk is the only thing that could possibly deal with the Monster of the Week. And of course, he can't cure himself again afterwards.
    • The comic eventually established that one of the Hulk's talents is always making a comeback, no matter how impossible it should be. Shoot him into space? He'll come back. Send him to a dimensional crossroads? He'll come back. Completely eliminate Bruce's physical capacity to make use of gamma radiation? He'll come back. Kill Bruce? He'll come back. You'd think separating Bruce and the Hulk might get around this, but as it turns out, nope, they'll always rejoin.
    • Immortal Hulk deconstructs this as we learn not even death is something that is for Banner. Though it turns out it's because the gamma radiation that lets him become the Hulk comes from none other than the the One-Below-All. Additionally, the Hulks are the result of Bruce's disassociative identity disorder being given physical shape by his transformation and influenced by the One-Below-All (hence why many gamma transmutations are monstrous and/or destructive, it's because of the inherent corruptive nature.) Banner is unable to stay normal partially out of the machinations of this entity, but also because the Hulks were born from Bruce and they are different sides of him. After all, it was his rage that led to him killing his father before the gamma incident.
    • Betty Ross is almost as much of a victim of this as Bruce himself, being transformed multiple times over the series into Harpy, Red She-Hulk, and Red Harpy.
    • And then there's Rick Jones. He started as merely Hulk's human companion, then after accidentally helping found the Avengers became Cap's replacement Bucky, palled around with Rom Spaceknight, and then started sharing a body with Captain Marvel. And he's had superpowers more than once. He could almost be Marvel's answer to Jimmy Olsen.
  • In Giraffes On Horseback Salad, after her reality warping powers causes Jimmy to have a near-fatal auto accident, the Woman Surreal tries to settle for a life of domestic normalcy to keep them safe. Unfortunately, she finds it too stifling and repressive, and eventually tells him that she must return to her surrealist ways. In response, Jimmy abandons his dreams of a normal life and fully embraces surrealism in order to devote himself to a life with her.

    Film — Live Action 
  • At the beginning of the second American film, Guyver: Dark Hero, the hero finds he can't stop fighting or run away due to the Guyver urging him from within and taking over his body.
  • Men in Black II: After being "flashed" and dropped back into his old life at the end of the first film, Agent K is reactivated at the start of the sequel. His reaction showed a remarkable lack of "WTF, guys!" His civilian life also didn't turn out so great; he'd been placed with his high school sweetheart, but she eventually left him.
  • In the film of Prince Caspian, Edmund Pevensie is suffering from this. He had just spent twenty years as a king in Narnia...only to be thrown back into elementary school in the middle of World War II.
  • The "prisoner wants back in" notion listed under Real Life is addressed in The Shawshank Redemption, during the "Brooks Was Here" portion, when Brooks contemplates killing the manager at the grocery store he's working in as much for the sake of going back to jail as for wanting to kill the guy.
  • Superman II: Superpowered criminals proceed to take over the world right after Clark gives up his own superpowers.

  • The fourth Animorphs Megamorphs book does this. The leader of the titular group makes a Deal With The Devil Crayak and it results in everyone not knowing about the Yeerk invasion, etc. Returns to the Status Quo near the end (no really?) when Cassie almost literally breaks reality, thus everyone realizing it was a fake life they were living.
    • Cassie is actually an anomaly, truly grounded in the real timeline so she causes the fake to collapse. She really can't stay normal.
    • When Tobias is given the ability to morph again, he's also sent back in time to absorb the DNA of his past self. This gives him a choice: he can remain a hawk, but be able to morph again, or he could, at any time, choose to morph into his human body permanently, and once again lose the ability to morph. It is ultimately a choice between being a fully functioning Animorph again or a normal kid again, and he chooses the former.
    • Rachel is a more psychological example: fighting in the Yeerk War has unleashed a bloodlust in her that she not only comes to accept but somewhat enjoy, though she's self-aware enough to realize that she's losing control. She ends up commenting that even if the group does somehow win against their enemies, she'll be miserable because she won't know what to do with herself in a peaceful society. It's ultimately a moot point, though, as she's killed toward the end of the series.
  • The Last Adventure of Constance Verity: While Connie insists that she wants a normal life, those who aren't insisting that she should be normal argue that she could have turned around and stopped adventuring anytime she wanted to, but simply chose to continue her death-defying lifestyle anyway because it's familiar to her.
    Connie: I don't know if I'm cut out for a normal life. Can I be a regular person after everything I've seen and done?
  • Doctor Who New Adventures: In Human Nature by Paul Cornell, the Doctor transforms himself into a human and allows his mind to be wiped temporarily. He prepares a list of emergency protocols — but it doesn't occur to him that he may fall in love, get engaged, and would never want to leave again. Unless it was the whole point of the exercise - he did it after his companion's Temporary Love Interest got killed and the Doctor couldn't figure out how to empathise with her being heartbroken over it - but he's explicitly not confirming speculations on this.
  • Happens to Kyon in Haruhi Suzumiya, when he is warped into an Alternate Universe that is completely normal. Though extremely terrified by being transferred into an Alternate Universe (who wouldn't be), he does ask himself if this could actually be good. At the end, he questions himself in a monologue directly if he enjoys the "crazy world". He does. However, one might interpret that it's more about the persons (who are a bit different, especially Nagato), that he wants back.
  • Land of Oz: In the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the land of Oz is decidedly real, as opposed to the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, and despite being overjoyed to return to her family farm in Kansas at the end, Dorothy would frequently return to Oz in subsequent novels. In book 6, The Emerald City of Oz, Dorothy convinced her family to move to Oz permanently when they couldn't pay the mortgage on their farm. Ozma ended up naming Dorothy Princess of Oz and a life-long companion.
  • Richard, at the end of Neverwhere, has found his way back to London Above...only to realize how dull and empty his life there now seems. He quickly returns to London Below.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Angel, a first-season episode with Buffy guesting where a demon's blood has the side-effect of turning him human. Unfortunately, he still tries to fight demons, and loses, badly—just after hearing a rather straightforward prophecy that if he stops fighting demons, Buffy will end up dead because of it.
    • Angel's son ends up fitting this trope snugly. To make a very long story slightly shorter, Connor was prophesied to slay a demon, so the demon altered the prophecy to help him dispatch Connor as an infant, which led to Connor being raised in a hell-dimension as a Tyke-Bomb, which eventually drives him insane, and leads Angel to make a Deal with the Devil to brainwash Connor so he could have a happy life. But the demon had gone undefeated, and his nemesis Cyvus Vail was also the sorcerer who gave Connor his new memories, so Connor was blackmailed into coming out of retirement to finally slay the demon. Vail got Angel to agree by threatening to give Connor his old memories back by shattering the Orlon Window. Wesley, who suspected Angel of involvement in Fred's death, shattered the window and restored Connor's memories. However, with the strong happy memories of his fake life, Connor is much less insane now.
  • Also seen in some form in a 6th season Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode where our heroine is poisoned by a demon. This makes her have flashes about being in a mental institution with no powers. Completely "normal". She has to choose between the Buffyverse where more and more problems are coming along and the normalverse... which she, of course, has to kill friends and family to live in.
    • Back in season 3's "Helpless" she's smart enough to realize that, much as she'd like a normal life, there's serious downsides to it:
      Buffy: I've seen too much. I know what goes bump in the night. Not being able to fight it... What if I just hide under my bed, all scared and helpless? Or what if I just become pathetic? Hanging out at the old Slayer's home, talking people's ears off about my glory days, showing them Mr. Pointy, the stake I had bronzed.
  • The season four finale of Charmed (1998) had the sisters do this, as well, and learn that they'd much rather be saving the innocent and having to deal with the Big Bad than being normal. The fact that there seemed to be fewer innocents and more magical fairies as the seasons wore on ruins this somewhat.
  • The second season finale of Chuck fits the second variation. Chuck got the Intersect out of his head, he quit the Buy More so he could move on with his life, and he was planning to pursue a relationship with Sarah. Then, for various plot-twisty reasons, he ends up having to destroy the last remaining version of the Intersect. It's too valuable to lose, so he downloads it again.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the new series, the Doctor's companions can't adjust to mundane life when their adventures are over, and most of them become paranormal investigators, either in a freelance capacity or with an organization such as UNIT or Torchwood.
    • In "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood" by Paul Cornell, the Doctor transforms himself into a human (which involves a lot of hideous pain and screaming in absolute agony) and allows his mind to be wiped temporarily. He prepares a list of emergency protocols — but it doesn't occur to him that he may fall in love and never want to leave again. Becoming his old self again is, for all intents and purposes, suicide.
  • Forever Knight. In "The Human Factor", it's revealed that Nick's vampire Love Interest Janette has become mortal just like he's been trying to do. She's dead by the end of the episode, having refused Nick's offer to make her back into a vampire to save her.
  • In Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Hercules gives up his demi-godhood so he'll be allowed to marry Serena the Golden Hind. She also loses her Hind powers and becomes a mortal woman. When Strife kills Serena and frames Hercules for the murder, the deal starts to look more than a little sour. Zeus gives Hercules his powers back so he can kick Strife's ass.
  • In Lost, the Season 3 finale flashforward reveals this to be the case for Jack. After spending the first three seasons determined to get off the island no matter what, his life completely falls apart once he's back home. When he was on the island, he was a leader and that gave his life meaning, but once he leaves that behind, he has nothing. He ends up so desperate to get back that he starts flying constantly, hoping that he'll crash. It's also foreshadowed earlier in the episode when Ben asks Jack what he's so desperate to get back to.
  • NUMB3RS: After Charlie's security clearance is revoked at the end of season 4, he has a chance to return to his normal life of academia. But he keeps getting pulled into cases, and even begins seeking out crime to solve by consulting for the LAPD, and eventually admits that he's bitten by the crime-solving bug.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Tommy Oliver doesn't so much have the call on speed dial as it has him on speed dial. He has tried to retire several times now and got dragged back to the spandex every time. Even in the seven years in-between suits he got dragged out of the normal zone at least once, as his first job after getting his doctorate in paleontology was mad scientist building dinosaur cyborgs.
    • Well, really, what did he expect? He should have seen enough Zords by then to realize building some of his own would bring the spandex back...
    • At the end of Dino Thunder, he stated his intent to live the quiet life for real this time. It seems to have worked—he had a cameo in Megaforce, but as part of an entire army.
  • Red Dwarf episode "DNA" featured a DNA modifier that made Kryten human. However, his difficulty in dealing with his new form, plus the feeling of wretchedness from being rude to his spare heads prompts him to change back.
  • On Smallville, when Clark gets his powers transferred to a would-be hero, he thinks it's great. Until the "super boy" lets it go to his head and acts irresponsibly, Clark has to reluctantly get his powers back just as we all knew he would.
    • Clark gives up his powers in another episode to be with Lana but has to get them back to stop a nuclear missile from hitting the town.
  • There's also the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Picard, through the meddling of Q, never got stabbed as a cadet, and thus never became aware of his own mortality, and so experienced a re-write of his life on the Enterprise, except as a lowly blue shirt. Attempts to re-assert his old life of command wind up getting him gently rebuffed due to his "lack of initiative" and not "attempting to stand out".
  • Supernatural does this a lot.
    • In "What Is And What Should Never Be": Dean gets a chance at a normal life where his mother is alive and he and Sam aren't hunters. At first, he is overjoyed, but then he realizes that without hunting he never became close to Sam and the two are estranged. Then, he realizes all the people he and Sam saved are dead. Turns out, the whole thing is a Lotus-Eater Machine; Dean kills the creature that created it and returns to the real world, though not without regrets.
    • Happens again in an Angel-related arc. The two wake up as regular Joes, working for a normal company, which gives the first impression that something wiped their memories just to kill them slowly. It is discovered that the culprit is a plain ghost, and behind their forgetting was an Angel. This is used to prove that, even if they seem normal, They Can't Beat Fate, but it is subverted as a mind game, because they have kept subconscious knowledge of what they used to do, and most likely act on it. They don't realize that though and almost succumb to a Breaking Speech.
    • This is the basis of Dean's arc in Season 6. After a year of attempting to live an 'apple-pie' life with Lisa, he ends up returning to hunting when Sam returns and comes to the conclusion that while a normal life is what he thought he wanted, he's only really satisfied when he's hunting.
    • Castiel is turned human in Season 9 and spends several episodes struggling with poverty, loneliness, and other ugly realities of being human. Even in his human form, however, he engages in hunting activities and tries to help his fellow angels when he can. Eventually, he's captured and tortured by an evil angel but manages to kill that angel and take his grace, restoring his powers.

    Video Games 
  • In Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, the protagonist, Soma Cruz, goes back to a normal life after his adventure in the titular castle and discovering he was the reincarnation of Dracula. After two years of inactivity, all the power he picked up in the first game faded away, until a cult attacked him, trying to turn him into the new Dark Lord, requiring that he go through their base, regaining all his powers and a few new ones in the process.
  • Cyberpunk 2077: In the "Path of Glory" ending, V has their own apartment, works as a fixer and is the owner of the Afterlife night club, which allows them to pretty much never have to worry about money ever again, they became the Living Legend of Night City and are potentially in a loving relationship with tons of different friends to boot, and can pretty much just wait until their terminal illness kills them in relative comfort. They still feel like they have something to prove, so they embark on their last mission: a space casino heist. It's unclear if they survived or not.
  • Michael in Grand Theft Auto V is a former bank robber who successfully retired and got out of the game. Nine years later, he's finding that Victory Is Boring—he's stuck in the suburbs with a nagging wife who's cheating on him and two kids who hate him, and he regularly goes to a therapist to discuss his urges to return to a life of crime. One day, he finally hits his Rage Breaking Point and trashes the home of what turns out to be a notorious gangster, who forces him to return to his old ways in order to pay off his debt. Even after he's done that job, Michael finds that he enjoys pulling heists too much to go back to his old life.
  • In Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, Sly, despite his happy retired life as a fake amnesiac with Carmelita, finds he is unable to resist the urge to steal again and actually begins planning a solo job before Bentley shows up.
  • Star Wars Legends: The Dark Forces Saga provides an unusual variation. Kyle Katarn, the mercenary-turned-Rebel agent, becomes a Jedi in Jedi Knight, only to renounce his powers after a brush with the Dark Side in Mysteries of the Sith and return to a life as an agent. The events of Jedi Outcast, however, drive him to reclaim his Jedi powers. Consequently, Kyle Katarn is one of the few people on this list who can't stay Badass Normal...

  • After Dave in Narbonic quits his job at Narbonics lab after Helen's breakup with him, he gets a nice, normal IT job. It drives him mad (figuratively) and he quits after a month to apply as a henchman. For Madblood.
  • There's an xkcd about a person coping after all the magical adventures they've had. Here it is.

    Web Original 
  • In Return of the Cartoon Man, Roy is transformed back into his normal self, and attempts to go back to his old life. But he is soon forced to become the Cartoon Man again when Simon returns with a sinister new plan.
  • This is precisely how Sailor Nothing starts. Himei's status as Sailor Salvation has been officially revoked, but it doesn't eliminate any of the powers of her or her Animal Guardian Dusty. The only change is, she refuses to be Sailor Salvation any longer, so she isn't. And she's still fully aware of when a Yamiko is created, so it's not like she can live in blissful ignorance...

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang struggles with the immense newfound pressure and social isolation he faces upon finding out he's the Avatar. He eventually cracks under the pressure and runs away, accidentally trapping himself in an iceberg for over a century in the process. Once he is rescued and fully commits to his Avatar responsibilities, he still laments the loss of his carefree childhood of his pre-Avatar days. It is one of the more realistic depictions of the issues a Kid Hero would face in children's media.
  • In Ben 10: Alien Force, after losing control of his powers and becoming a mutant, Kevin manages to become human, but willingly takes them back to save his friends.
  • Danny manages to turn himself back to normal in the Grand Finale of Danny Phantom, to protect his loved ones and because another team of ghost hunters are doing his job better than he ever did. He fully enjoys having his normal life back, while his friends are disappointed and angry that he willingly gave up powers that allowed him to do so much good. When a giant asteroid is on a collision course with Earth, and all other attempts fail to stop it, Danny regains his powers with the aid of his enemies and saves the day.
  • Something similar happens in the Dungeons & Dragons (1983) cartoon: The party finally manages to escape the D&D world into the "normal" world—only to have the villain follow them. Problem is, their magical items are no longer working in the human world, while the villain's powers work as usual.
  • In Gargoyles: the Goliath Chronicles, Goliath gets thrust into an alternate reality where he's human and married to Elisa. The rest of the gargoyles never knew him, and basically everything falls apart in the human life as he tries to connect to his old one.
  • In the first season finale of The Mummy: The Animated Series, Alex finally gets the Manacle of Osiris off only to have to put it back on to save Ardeth Bay and ends up destroying the scrolls that could remove it to prevent them from falling into Imhotep's hands.
  • Marco Diaz runs into this problem in Star vs. the Forces of Evil when Star permanently returns to Mewni. He's done so much with his friend from another dimension, the titular princess Star Butterfly, that after an epic struggle where they stopped the monster Toffee and he got a cape as an award for his efforts, he's unable to let go of that accomplishment. His girlfriend, Jackie Lynn Thomas, quickly realizes that he doesn't belong on Earth anymore, and breaks up with him in order for him to find a way to be truly happy. With the support of others, he goes to live in Mewni with Star for a year, under the guise of a student exchange program.
  • Steven Universe: Future: In “Little Graduation”, Lars has decided to leave his pastry shop to return to space with the Off Colors. Seems that after almost three years back on Earth and building a normal life for himself, he began to miss being Lars of the Stars.

    Real Life 
  • This can apply to real life as far as military life goes. Many soldiers can attest that the discipline and stress that the military puts them through forces them into a state of mind where civilian life is nowhere near as exciting as combat and the tradition found in command or they simply can't psychologically adapt themselves back into a civilian lifestyle. This can often end in tragedy but for some, the military lifestyle can be fulfilling.
  • This can also happen to people who are in prison for a long time, particularly if they spend a long time in solitary confinement. People can become institutionalized and comfortable with the strict routine and always being told what to do, and be unable to handle life in the normal world. Some criminals, when released, deliberately commit petty crimes just so they can go back to the life they are used to.
  • People who've endured prolonged isolation in survival situations, such as being lost in the jungle or at sea, may find the transition to an intense and noisy urban environment too stressful and opt to move to a quieter area, even if they'd been comfortable in cities until then.
  • Professional fighters live their lives based on adrenaline. Some former fighters (professional or hobbyist) can feel dissatisfied and directionless for leaving that lifestyle behind because it gave them fame, pride, wealth, purpose, or joy. Whether it be for having a Career-Ending Injury or becoming a Reluctant Warrior because they feared their abilities. While the fighter could have retired, it is still a difficult lifestyle to readjust from because they can feel bored or purposeless.
  • Hikikomoris and internet addicts can have a lot of difficulties with moving forward from their way of life. They are used to having their fantasies and pleasures tailored for them and seeing characters that are idealized versions of people, whether they are people that they have already met or are the embodiments of who they want to meet.


Video Example(s):


A Big Mistake

Upon being cornered by Skulker and a bunch of specters, Danny is bombarded by a massive onslaught of ecto-energy. However, this ends up triggering Danny's latent ghost DNA and restores his powers, allowing him to become Danny Phantom again.

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Example of:

Main / HesBack

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