Follow TV Tropes


Death by Depower

Go To

This is when a character is killed by being De-powered. It can have multiple forms.

  1. A character is killed because their power is necessary to stay alive. For example, Wolverine needs his healing factor, to prevent the Adamantium in his bones from poisoning him.
  2. A character is killed while doing something that they need their power to do. For example, someone with the power of Flight losing their powers in mid-air, or someone with the power to breathe underwater drowning.
  3. A character is killed because they're no longer able to defend themselves from another's attacks.

See also Kryptonite Factor, when the thing doing the depowering is dangerous by itself. Supertrope to No Immortal Inertia where their power is Immortality. Compare Injured Vulnerability and Mortality Ensues. Also related is Malfunction Malady. Contrast Exploited Immunity, where a character deliberately exposes both themselves and an enemy to a danger which they're immune to. Useless Without Powers is a less severe Sister Trope to the first variation (though it can easily lead to the other two).

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Accel World combines this with A Taste of Their Own Medicine. After Dusk Taker steals Silver Crow's ability to grow wings, Crow borrows a Jump Jet Pack and comes back to engage Taker in an aerial duel. Taker dies when the "healer" he blackmailed into coming along betrays him by undoing the act of his theft while both fighters are in midair, followed shortly by Crow using the combined thrust of his wings and jetpack to go supersonic and literally punch Taker in half.
  • In Bleach, Yhwach kills Kanae Katagiri after using a power that takes away the powers of any Quincy that he felt were impure, leaving her in a coma. This leads to his Karmic Death in the Final Battle when Uryu Ishida, Kanae's son, fires an arrow made of Still Silver, a substance that was created when her powers were stripped, to temporarily suspend Yhwach's god like powers long enough for Ichigo, whose own mom was killed by Grand Fisher because of Yhwach depowering her just as she was confronting the Hollow in question, to finish him off.
  • Subverted during the final battle of Gamma, when the Big Bad strips Flamebane of all powers just before a bomb goes off, presumably killing the latter. He survives, however, through sheer determination and catches up with the villain just in time to finish him off.

    Card Games 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The card of Slifer the Sky Dragon has the special ability that whenever a new face-up monster appears on the opponents field, it reduces its attack power in 2000, and if the monsters ends with 0 atk due to this effect, it is immediately destroyed.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The game has the basic rule that a creature with 0 Toughness is sent directly to its owner's graveyard. The rules consider this a unique state where the creature does not "die" and isn't "destroyed", giving the technique an important niche in bypassing a lot of common defensive traits such as Indestructible.
    • An in-universe example would be The Mending, which reduced the formerly god-like planeswalkers to more normal levels. Cue former immortals crumbling to dust and at least one case being stuck in an unlivable form.

    Comic Books 
  • In All Fall Down, several superheroes die after a Mass depower. The comic starts with a superhero falling out of the sky.
  • The DCU
    • In 52, Lex Luthor gives several normal people superpowers, and then takes them away while they are flying, to test if Superman would save them.
    • Supergirl:
      • The Death of Luthor: Invoked. Luthor pulls a depowering ray-gun to shoot Supergirl down as she is flying, expecting her to fall to her death, but he has no opportunity to use it.
        Lex Luthor: This nuclear Kryptonite ray-gun will steal away her powers! Rendered vulnerable, she'll fall to her death, ha, ha!
      • Starfire's Revenge: Subverted. The titular queenpin's minions test one experimental depowering pill by slipping it into Supergirl's drink and then gunning the heroine down. After feeling for a pulse, the minions believe Supergirl is truly dead and leave. However, it turns out the pill's effects are temporary, and her healing factor kicks off in time to save her life.
    • Teen Titans: Kid Eternity's third post-Crisis death comes when he is stripped of his powers.
    • In Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, Cosmic King stops a superpowered Lana Lang by transmuting away the elements that gave her the powers and leaving Lightning Lord to kill her with a deadly lightning bolt handshake.
    • Zero Hour: Crisis in Time!: Extant removes the Justice Society of America's slowed-down aging that they acquired in the 1940s, causing them to age rapidly. This results in a number of members immediately dying from age-related illnesses.
  • Shazam!: This is how Black Adam was defeated in his very first appearance: the heroes trick Adam into saying "Shazam", causing him to revert to his mortal form—at which point, the 5000 year old Adam rapidly ages away until he's nothing, but a skeleton.
  • Lanfeust: In the Trolls de Troy spinoff, one of the sages has the power to become likeable to anyone in short range, including trolls. While he survives in the troll village and nearly succeeds in getting the Big Bad's plan to enslave them to succeed, the other sage relaying his magic power is moved out of range, leaving the first one surrounded by suddenly very angry trolls.
  • In The Order (2007), Heavy dies almost immediately after Ezekial Stane deactivates the team's powers, because his own powers were the only thing keeping his previously-damaged lungs functional.
  • In PS238, Guardian Angel's powers protect her from all harm. After Harold temporarily turns off her powers, she quickly catches and dies from a common cold because her immune system was undeveloped, having never had to protect her from any diseases.
  • Scott Pilgrim: Todd Ingram has powers due to his devotion to being vegan. However, the moment he breaks his veganism by eating gelato since he believed he could get away with for being a rock star, the Vegan Police take his powers away, allowing Scott to defeat him.
  • X-Men: This happened to a number of mutants who were depowered on what came to be known as M-Day. The mansion first gets a clue of the implications of what the Scarlet Witch did when Wolverine fishes out a formerly water-breathing student's body from the swimming pool after he drowned in his sleep. Some mutants lose what allowed them to survive, like the long neck of a mutant breaking or another in the form of a giant dragon suffocating under their own weight. One's mutant power was empowering his entire immediate family into Flying Bricks, who all died when they lost their powers during flight. Others are revealed to have committed suicide in sheer horror at losing their mutant abilities. This is the reason why the Scarlet Witch has since become an absolute pariah amongst the mutant community, to the point that there are panels of mutant children treating her name as something profane.

    Fan Works 
  • In the fanfic Ladder, the exposure of all three of the The Powerpuff Girls to Antidote X causes them to die of injuries they normally would have healed from.
  • In Out of the Dark, it is mentioned that an Endbringer Titan once used its harvester weapon to drain the WAAAGH energy of a Super Gargant. Without it, the construct promptly collapsed into its component junk.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 2001: A Space Odyssey, astronaut Dave Bowman is alone in space with the supercomputer HAL, who is trying to kill him. Dave, after fighting his way back aboard the ship, "kills" HAL — by pulling out the chips in the computer's CPU, one by one. HAL's power and intelligence diminishes with every one he detaches, until on the last few it reverts to its AI childhood and sings a nursery rhyme... then dies.
  • Referenced in Deadpool 2: When Wade is temporarily affected by a Power Nullifier, he quickly starts to succumb to the metastatic brain cancer that his Healing Factor was keeping in check. Fortunately, the nullifier is disabled before it progresses beyond wooziness and vomiting. This is played straight near the end when Deadpool puts the nullifier back on to convince Russell to not go down the dark path. When Cable fires a bullet, Deadpool takes the bullet and dies from it... until Cable rewinds time and secretly gives him something to stop the bullet.
  • In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, when the 838 version of Captain Marvel, Maria Rambeau, proves capable of going toe-to-toe with Wanda, the latter removes the former's powersnote  before using telekinesis to drop a massive statue on top of her. Without her Super-Toughness to protect her, Maria is killed.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: When Voldemort's last Horcrux, his snake Nagini, is killed, so is his last tether to the mortal world. With Harry as the true master of the Elder Wand, Voldemort's attempt at killing Harry backfires as the wand refuses to kill its master, resulting in the Killing Curse ending Voldemort for good.
  • In The Mummy (1999), Evelyn reads a spell from the Book of the Dead which strips Imhotep of his power and renders him mortal, allowing Rick to finish him off by simply stabbing him in the chest.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: Barbossa dies when Will breaks the curse that turned him and the rest of the Black Pearl's crew into immortal undead, causing him to bleed out from a bullet wound Jack inflicted on him mere moments before. He takes a moment to gloat that Jack wasted the Designated Bullet he's been saving for Barbossa ever since the mutiny, only to look down and see the expanding bloodstain on his shirt.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: Just like in the comics, Todd Ingram has his powers taken away by the Vegan Police for breaking his veganism. However, The difference is that Scott tricks him into drinking Half-and-half instead of soy milk rather than him breaking it deliberately, and he thought chicken was vegan.

  • The Fifth Season: The Guardians are all made The Ageless by the implanted shard of the Evil Earth that grants them their Mage Killer powers, and age to death in months if it's removed. The Evil Earth itself does this to Schaffa, trying to force Nassun to abandon her plans in order to save him; its gambit fails and Schaffa spends a few weeks with Nassun before dying peacefully.
  • Mistborn: The Original Trilogy:
    • The Lord Ruler, a thousand-year-old God-Emperor with an unbeatable Healing Factor, dies in seconds when Vin tears off his bracelets, which house the magic that sustains his youth.
    • The Steel Inquisitors have a variation of this in that the magical spikes driven through their body are both sources of power and would be injurious if they weren't, especially the "linchpin" spike at the back of the neck; pull it out and they die instantly.
  • In the Thieves' World series, any Blue Star Adept worth the name will quickly accumulate enemies and wind up being followed around by at least one death curse that he must constantly ward off with his own power. Any time in the series that a Blue Star Adept is shown being stripped of his powers, death follows immediately.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Using Level X gashat requires specific circumstances that took Kuroto Dan quite some time and effort to set up. One of the circumstances was a special kind of immunity to the Bugster Virus. It payed off as it allowed him to completely curbstomp the Doctor riders and start a zombie apocalypse. Unfortunately, that immunity was removed by Emu in the process of trying to stop his rampage without killing him. Come Death by Irony as this allowed Parado to step in and use the gashat to kill the bastard.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Obsidian Order invents a device that prevents Changelings from using their shapeshifting powers for as long as it's active. However, Changelings need to revert to their natural liquid forms every eighteen hours, with fatal consequences if they don't or can't. As such, when the device is used on Odo in "The Die Is Cast", he begins to deteriorate horrifically and very nearly dies in the process; fortunately, Garak ends the interrogation before things get any worse.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In Classical Mythology, the centaur Chiron was immortal, but was accidentally poisoned by one of Herakles's hydra blood-tipped arrows. In utter agony, he gave up his immortality to Prometheus so he could stop suffering.

  • The Red Panda Adventures has Mr. Amazing, a Superman Substitute with powers derived from experiments in Applied Phlebotinum. In his case, the phlebotinum only gave him a finite amount of power and, if that was all used up, he would die. Mr. Amazing knowingly does just that, using the last of his powers to defeat the Nazi ubermensch Tevas.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Netheril Empire from Forgotten Realms used to be a powerful Magocracy some thousands of years ago. Then, one of the archmages created a spell that made him a god... Cue a minute-long hiccup in all worldly magic. Enough for anyone using life-extending spells to turn into dust and all the flying cities to crash.
  • Leviathan: The Tempest: Because an Ahab derives his powers from the self-loathing of the Leviathan he hunts, the instant the Leviathan dies he reverts back to humanity. If he was using his powers to ignore human necessities such as food or sleep he'll be fine, his body will be renewed as though he had fed and rested well, but if he is using his powers to survive at the bottom of the ocean, or if he needs them to avoid dying from a Leviathan's toxic blood, those protections immediately vanish.
  • In Princess: The Hopeful, this is a unfortunate but possible result when trying to cure Darkened; as side effect of their slow transformation into Darkspawns is that their body gets more and more warped by the Darkness as they sink into depravity, resulting in nasty mutations known as Umbrae. When you manage to cure them, all the Umbrae disappear to revert them back to human, and the trauma cause 1 lethal damage per Umbrae lost, so Darkened with low Health and/or a high number of Umbrae can die on the spot as a result.
  • Promethean: The Created: Unlike other Prometheans, Zeka are animated by nuclear radiation instead of a classical element. They have the usual option to complete a Pilgrimage and become human, but as soon as they do, they suffer radiation poisoning proportional to their former power level. A once-powerful Promethean might die within hours or days, though survival is possible.
  • Ghouls in both Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem get all their powers, including being The Ageless, from regularly drinking vampire blood. If they stop drinking it, they will immediately lose their powers and rapidly revert to their natural age... which for Ghouls who lived beyond a human lifespan means instant death.

    Video Games 
  • Crypt of the NecroDancer has two player characters kept alive by the Golden Lute. Melody plays it to keep herself alive occupying her weapon slot; if she changes weapons, she keels over. Aria is being kept on this mortal coil by a tenuous link to the instrument's magic, so if she drops the beat, she dies on the spot.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II has a delayed version: the player characters rescue Meistr Siva from the magisters who purged her of her Source power, but after assigning them a few quests, she admits that she's in a rush because the trauma of the purging will finish her off soon. She's killed by Voidwoken before it can.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: Rona Hassildor hated being a vampire so much that she refused to feed and slipped into a years-long coma. You can find a cure for vampirism, but in her weakened state, she dies peacefully as soon as she becomes human again.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: Kreia/Darth Traya reveals her true colors by killing the entire Jedi Council via severing their connection to the Force. The attack itself does nothing to their bodies; the experience of being totally cut-off from the Force is just so incredibly painful that it kills them through sheer shock. Darth Nihilus and the Exile are revealed to be the way they are because they went through the same thing and lived, becoming Force Wounds that must feed off the energy of those around them to avoid this trope.
  • Mega Man ZX: Done voluntarily by Girouette in the end of the intro stage. After being heavily injured after the boss fight with him and Big Bad Serpent injuring them further, Giro decided to separate himself with his Biometal, Model Z, so that he can accompany and help Vent/Aile. Model Z warned him that he'll die if he de-merges with him, but Giro insisted. After de-merging, Giro Disappears into Light, becoming a Cyber-Elf, leaving Vent/Aile with Model Z to help them.
  • The goal of Episode 6 of Phantasy Star Online 2 is finding a way to do this to Shiva before she destroys the entire universe; after chucking a few AIS at Shiva's mothership only for the woman herself to vaporize the attackers effortlessly due to her nigh-infinite photonic absorption ability, ARKS decide to annul what makes her strong instead of trying to overpower her through sheer force. When she as impersonated by Mitra attacks Harukotan, the Guardian and Matoi scheme with Sukunahime to repurpose Magatsu's seal to this end, which precipitates the release and destruction of Magatsu. While the seal works as intended, and "Shiva" dies thanks to the Guardian's relentless assault while her powers are gimped, the real Shiva shows up and rains merry hell upon everyone present out of vengeance for Mitra. The seal is then taught to Hariette of Omega, who uses it from beyond the dimensional veil to seal Omega, which was made from a corrupted Akashic Record's memories and the power of which was being directly harnessed by Shiva herself; this one gimps Shiva significantly and renders her killable, and the Guardian's expertise in fighting eldritch horrors allows them to win the day.
  • The True Final Boss of Sonic 3 & Knuckles puts Sonic at risk of this: the battle takes place in the upper atmosphere, and Sonic can only breathe in space as Super Sonic, so if Sonic runs out of rings, he dies. This would become a recurring element of several subsequent Sonic games.

  • In the backstory of Sleepless Domain, Heartful Punch's mother lost her Magical Girl powers due to giving birth, and was subsequently killed in a monster attack, unable to defend herself without her powers.
  • Sorcery 101: Curing lycanthropy is a simple matter of cutting off the werewolf's tail, but this causes every injury suppressed by their Healing Factor to reappear. This is Invoked to assassinate a werewolf who'd once been shot in the head.

  • Neopets: In one installment of the Storytelling Contest, the story revolves around a Bad Future where Jhudora the Dark Faerie was victorious with only one spell: one that destroyed wings. By waiting until a planet-wide coalition was making a Last Stand against her to cast it, millions fell to their deaths in the ocean, and the species that remained were forced to surrender. Thankfully, though, the protagonist was able to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, and the genocide was prevented.

    Western Animation 
  • The red wizard Ommadon from Rankin/Bass Productions' The Flight of Dragons is determined to use his terrible powers to keep humanity in the thrall of wizardry. However, he is confronted by The Chosen One, who firmly believes in science. Every attempt by Ommadon to terrify and cow The Hero meets with debunking, until Ommadon expends himself entirely trying to sunder this Implacable Man. There is nothing left of him except his red crown.
  • In The Owl House, Emperor Belos' Day of Unity plot relies on this. By using the coven sigils (which by this point, 99% of the adult population has) as a targeting system, he plans on using the power of the eclipse to drain the magic from every witch on the Isles, killing all of them in one fell swoop.
  • After The Magic Goes Away in the finale of Star vs. the Forces of Evil, mages and the magically-enchanted lose their powers, but Pure Magic Beings cease to exist. In the case of the Magic High Commission, all that's left are the inanimate objects and non-sapient animals they were made from.
  • The title character of Steven Universe is a half-human, half-Gem hybrid. While the bodies of full Gems are ephemeral projections surrounding their gemstone, Steven has a gemstone in a material, organic body. Despite this, it's eventually shown Steven is dependent on his gem not just for his powers, but his very life. After White Diamond forcibly separates Steven's gemstone from his human body, he quickly becomes deathly pale and sickly looking, is so weak that he collapses after trying to take a step, and it's all but said that he will die soon if he doesn't reunite with his gem. Fortunately, that reunion is able to happen within a few minutes.