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Elemental Baggage

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— but also having a tanker truck full of water follow you around!

"Unbelievable for him to be able to use such a water jutsu where there is no water!"
ANBU Captain, Naruto

When users of Elemental Powers need to kick ass and take names, they can't always count on there being enough of their element of choice around to properly fight.

At its core, Elemental Baggage belongs to the Acceptable Breaks from Reality brought about by the Rule of Cool. In order to make the action more interesting, the author expects that the viewers will not concern themselves with whether there's enough water around for the empowered character to flood the room, as long as it makes for flashy combat scenes, and maybe just assume they got it from Hammerspace.

This violation of Equivalent Exchange is less noticeable for manipulators of more volatile elements such as air (which is present in large enough quantities in pretty much every setting), fire (although someone is bound to ask where all those calories come from, which is often Hand Waved by having fire users be Big Eaters) or lightning (where one is usually more distracted by the character's Psycho Electro qualities). People with the ability to control earth and especially water using this trope tend to be much clearer examples of Artistic License and Rule of Cool being employed, depending on how much of the element is available. Or it may otherwise be explained away with factors such as high amounts of dust or humidity.

If after using this, the writers then decide to include a scene where the elemental user is explicitly at a disadvantage because they can't find a large enough source of their element to control, we have a case of Holding Back the Phlebotinum.

Compare This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman if the power is more difficult to get into use.

In many fantasy settings, Functional Magic will often allow the elemental ability to be simply created out of nothing, requiring no source to function. Otherwise only a small amount of the element may be needed to power the spell, or some other Power Source or component may be used. It may also allow the user to draw elements from distant sources or even other planes of existence.

Related to No Conservation of Energy, Shapeshifter Baggage, and the Hyperspace Arsenal. Often implied for Snow Means Cold.

This item is available from the Trope Co. catalog.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Apparently invoked only to be nastily averted in Now and Then, Here and There. Lala Ru is introduced as having the ability to create endless water using her pendant. This is later clarified as the pendant containing a vast but by now nearly emptied reservoir of water, the depletion of which is directly tied to Lala Ru's steadily worsening condition, and then it's heavily implied that, far from the pendant creating extra water, there's a connection between the slow emptying of Lala Ru's pendant and the fact the earth has turned into a desert. And then by the end, Lala Ru finally uses the last of the water. And dies. But then, nothing in Now and Then, Here and There works out well for those involved.
  • The Logia (and certain Paramecia) Devil Fruits of One Piece run off the A Wizard Did It explanation: one of the powers they grant is specifically noted to be the ability to produce near-limitless amounts of the element the Logia fruit in question represents.
  • Initially averted in Naruto, where for a long time pretty much all the water elemental powers were shown to use existing bodies of water. Later on, it fell headlong into this trope, with huge amounts of water appearing out of thin air. Of course, since the main character regularly creates clones of himself out of nothing, and others have been known to increase their body mass hundreds of times or turn shadows into physical beings, it seems like creating matter (elemental and otherwise) out of nothing is just something ninjutsu can do.
    • It should be noted that the "huge amounts of water appearing out of thin air" disappeared when the guy that made it appear was beaten. And given that people regularly using Summon Magic for both magical animals and weapons, it's likely that this involved summoning the water from a remote location. With the Second Hokage, it's even specifically noted (as per the above quote) that not needing an existing water source had to do with his level of skill.
    • One character that does avert this consistently is Gaara, whose sand manipulation powers rely on a supply of sand that he carries in a huge gourd on his back. If that's not enough, he'll just make more sand by grinding up nearby rocks (though sand made this way isn't as useful pound-for-pound as the sand he carries around because he hasn't put as much chakra into it).
      • And when he fights in his homeland, a desert, he predictably has pretty much infinite ammo for his sand manipulation.
    • This is pretty much the only thing that can possibly explain the Sage of the Six Paths creating the moon without the sudden presence of a new body of gravity killing everything on the planet. Never mind the conspicuous lack of a moon-sized crater that the material to create it should have come from.
    • One filler episode featured a villain that was fairly clever at averting this: instead of making the water himself, he pulled it out of the wet dirt ground.
    • The Third Hokage actually had a jutsu that played this straight using dirt that just came out of his mouth to block attacks.
    • At one point a character with the power to "absorb any ninjutsu" is able to absorb the water being pulled out of thin air by another character, but can't absorb the sand that Gaara carries around and creates by grinding up nearby rocks. The implication is that when the element they need isn't nearby ninjas just create an artificial substitute with their own chakra, which is convenient but inferior in some ways to the real thing.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon: The Series: Most Pokémon are capable of expelling ridiculous quantities of their elements from their bodies. One episode of the anime had Ash's Squirtle fill up a whole truck with water using only Water Gun. In the games, a Pokédex entry mentions that Blastoise (about the size of a van) could fill an Olympic swimming pool. How did so much water end up inside the Mons? Nobody knows. Then again, that creature the size of a van fits in a ball the size of a clenched fist (which in the anime can become even smaller).
    • Not so much in the Pokémon Adventures manga. Almost at the end of the third arc, the day is saved because Blue's Blastoise had run out of water and Red filled it with flammable water from a mystical healing spring.
  • Technobabble given by Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist says that he is able to create fire by changing the concentration of oxygen in the air and lighting it with a spark made by snapping the fingers while wearing his special gloves. He's breaking apart hydrogen bonds with alchemy and then igniting them. Hydrogen is highly flammable (although it doesn't burn very hot), which is why a room filled with water is actually a good thing for him. Provided he's got an alternative source of sparks, that is.
  • Ice and Water users from Bleach. Hitsugaya, the most prominent ice-user, goes for the "humidity" explanation, even when conjuring icicles the size of buildings.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi often has characters summoning giant chunks of ice, balls of fire, pillars of stone, etc. out of nowhere. It's magic, though, so no one seems to care.
    Lampshaded All There in the Manual, as it states high-level ice magic is harder than high-level fire magic because it breaks more Laws of Thermodynamics.
  • Averted in Darker than Black. Ice-user November 11 and April, who can create cloudbursts, both need existing water to use their powers.
  • Used in A Certain Magical Index and its spin-off, where elemental mages seem capable of generating large amounts of their chosen element from thin air. Of course, much of it is explicitly explained as magic. Averted by espers who can control elements, for example, Kinuhata Saiai, who can use nitrogen to form shields, carries several canisters of nitrogen with her at all times in case she uses up what's in the air around her. There are a couple of exceptions, but they tend to be very high-level espers, whose abilities border on magic anyway.
  • Great Mazinger has its Thunder Break attack, in which Great unleashes a weaponized bolt of lightning at his opponent. Sometimes (typically in Super Robot Wars and Mazinkaiser), this includes sending a jolt up into the sky, which somehow causes a thunderstorm that sends an even bigger bolt back down for Great to use.
  • Averted with Yomiko and other Paper Masters from Read or Die; Yomiko sometimes carries a suitcase full of paper to fight with and has to improvise with random paper-like things when nothing else is available. Played straighter with the supervillains; one shreds the White House to bits with lightning powered entirely by a small backpack.
  • In Yurara, fire wielder Mei plays this pretty straight, though the excuse is that it's "spirit fire" that normal people can't even see. Yako, on the other hand, very much averts this — he carries around bottles of water just so he can create his water barriers any time, anywhere.
  • Coco from Toriko plays with this trope. He can only produce a limited amount of poison at a time as his poison is composed of his own bodily fluids, in other words, the poison he produces the more dehydrated he becomes. At the start of the series his maximum was 15 liters of poison, however due to his Gourmet Cells evolving and learning Food Immersion, he can produce a larger quantity of poison than before, although there is still a limit.
  • Played straight for most wizards in Fairy Tail who can create elemental spells from nothing but their magic power but it's played with by Lucy who can only summon Aquarius when she has a source of water (preferably a big one because Aquarius can get pretty insulted if it's something like a cup of water), but Aquarius herself can generate water at will from her urn which is a good thing because she prefers her attacks "giant" alongside controlling existing water.
  • Averted in a certain instance in Hoshin Engi. Koyuken of the Four Saints of Kuryuu Island wields the paope Kongenju (an orb the size of a basketball) which allows him to summon as much water as he wants, to the point that he's introduced flooding a mountainous desert area with a colossal tsunami. During the fight against Taikobo (who notices that it's salt water), he explains that Kongenju is connected to a twin orb floating in the ocean of the Kingo Islands and thus it doesn't create water but rather summon the water from one orb to the other.
  • Played straight in Flame of Recca . Tokiya's weapon is Ensui, a rapier that uses water as its blade. Whenever it is not active, the Ensui is nothing more than a slightly sharp handle; it requires a water source for it to form the blade, and although rare, Tokiya did find himself in some situations where water is non-existent, therefore rendering Ensui useless.
  • Played straight and averted in Fire Force; second generation Pyrokinetics like Maki cannot start their own fires but can control existing fires and have to rely on flints and other starters when none is available. Third generations like Shinra or Arthur, however, are able to create their own fires from nothing, though usually in a specific focused way as opposed to full flames.
  • In My Hero Academia, Shoto Todoroki has both ice and fire abilities. It's shown that the only restriction to how much fire and ice Shoto can produce is based on his body temperature, and thanks to him winning the Superpower Lottery, using the other half of his power helps regulate his temperature (so if he's suffering from hypothermia due to using too much ice, he can just switch to fire for a bit to warm himself back up). Other than that, there's no limit to what he can do, leading to a few instances where he summons building-sized walls of ice seemingly out of thin air.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Fantastic Four, the Human Torch's power is the ability to set his body on fire, yet there's not usually any actual fuel for said fire.
    • Ultimate Fantastic Four had Johnny become a walking fusion reactor; his entire body has reconfigured itself to be as perfect an energy store as possible (which results in some bad effects on his health, as you might expect for someone who turns his stores of body fat into plasma). Warren Ellis tried very hard to justify Johnny. He also has a protective layer of microscopic scales to protect him from this flame. Though that still doesn't explain how he flies...
    • The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe tried to justify the Original Johnny's flames in a different way, saying that they're a pyrokinetic ability to create a superheated plasma. The Word of God follow-up justification for why his flame goes out when the air supply is cut off is that he can only heat up oxygen molecules, which has been contradicted time and time again in the actual stories.
  • X-Men:
    • This is used to (sort of) explain that Storm can control weather, but not really create it. (For instance, when she makes it rain inside a room, it becomes much drier outside.) Compare Thor, who can make it rain anywhere because his powers are explicitly magical. It was also originally stated that her ability to shoot lightning bolts out of her hands was because her body naturally generated a strong positive electrical charge. This was rather swiftly dropped.
    • Iceman canonically makes his ice by drawing the moisture out of the air, but the huge sculptures he creates would be difficult to pull off even taking into account a high percentage of humidity. The precise mechanism depends on the writer; one was that he draws the moisture from an extra-dimensional source, but he needs actual moisture in the air to "pattern" it from. Thus, he's weaker in extremely arid conditions. In one issue of The Defenders, Bobby manages to kill an alien fungus by draining all the moisture from a sealed room, but it takes much, much longer than you'd expect from the volume of ice he's producing.
  • Played with in Runaways with Klara and her Green Thumb abilities. In theory, she can command any living plants nearby, but her roses are the only plants that speak back to her, so she still carries pots of them around.

    Fan Works 
  • Played with in Psycho Dust, where the main character Daisuke and his abilities over fire. Although he can control flames, he can't generate them himself, requiring such outside forces as a lighter or a pair of gloves that work like flints. However, when he does get a light, he can cause it to grow or even increase in temperature. Later revealed to be completely disregarded when it's revealed that the flames are coming from him and not outside forces, though they certainly do help.
  • Averted in With Strings Attached. John's Kansael acts as an extradimensional storage space for a lot of water, which is where he draws his water from when he doesn't have a ready source nearby. Since he doesn't do much large-scale water casting, he only ran out once, on the dead-dry Plains of Death.
  • This gets discussed in Raindancer. Izuku and his father Hisashi are able to produce a virtually endless amount of freshwater with their Quirks without dehydrating themselves, violating the First Law of Thermodynamics. Izuku shrugs at this, saying that many Quirks (such as Quirks that open portals) mess with the laws of physics so it isn't something to be alarmed about.
    Eijirou: [frowning in thought] Dude, doesn't your Quirk, break physics?
    Izuku: [shrugging] Doesn’t everything these days? Physics have been kinda loose for years I think.
  • Dekiru: The Fusion Hero! notably averts this. Izuku can merge with any material, but he needs enough of it to merge it with his entire body. Interestingly, this goes both ways; if the source is too substantial, Izuku can only absorb so much of it because there's only so much of his body he can merge it with.
  • (In)convenience: After Applejack breaks her family's salad spinner, Rainbow Dash offers to let her borrow the wonder (a piece of pegasus Magitek) she uses for the same purpose. Unfortunately, though the wonder can instantly dry off soaked fruit or vegetables, that water still has to go somewhere. In a Pegasus cloud-house, this is actually a bonus because the extra moisture can be used to reinforce the kitchen walls. In an earth pony house, on the other hand, the water ends up going all over the kitchen.
  • Averted in The Heroic Chronicles of a Young Man. Tenya's family tends to have Quirks related to producing energy and/or materials, all of which come from internal reserves. One of Tenya's cousins can produce metal from her body, even items as complex as guns, but needs to eat metal to do so and regularly eats anything she creates to recycle the material. Tenya and his mother both produce energy from their bodies and require far more food than most to fill their reserves. Not knowing this actually caused Tenya's mother to suffer malnutrition as a child, leaving her with significantly stunted growth.
  • Zig-zagged with Cinders and Ashes: the Chronicles of Kamen Rider Dante's Riders. While the Kaizo-Majin play this trope straight, the Riders are explicitly noted to having to draw in their elements in order to fuel their powers. However, a loophole is tapping into their Emotional Powers, where the more a person feels towards a certain emotion (i.e. anger to fuel the fire-based Dante), the more power they can tap within themselves, essentially becoming the Hammerspace from which the belts draw power from.
  • Air Watch cadet Alexandra Mumorovka, an incidental character in The Price of Flight, is revealed in continuation tales to have considerable talents and skills as a trainee Witch. One reason why other Witches on the Discworld are keen to have her under keen supervision is that at an early age, Lexi made friends with a sylph, an elemental spirit of the wind. A Witch who can, up to a point, command the very windnote  is a Witch whose superiors want to keep close by. More in the tales of A.A. Pessimal.
  • Invoked and subverted in Voyages of the Wild Sea Horse, where Lilith comments that whilst Logia users generally are able to create a near-infinite amount of their elemental matter, Zoan users with similar "mass-projecting" powers still need that mass to come from somewhere, even if they do have a much higher wellspring than they realistically should. Specific examples are Lilith's Super Spit, which lets her spray enormous quantities of venom but still requires her to drink a considerable amount of water at some point, and Nabiki's haemokinesis, which taps into a stockpile in her own body. If she doesn't replenish it by drinking blood or reabsorbing blood she's extruded, eventually she taps out and shrinks down into a bat-like chibi form.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Incredibles: Zig-zagged with Frozone's ice powers. Normally, he uses water that's either in the air or in his body. In one scene where he and Mr. Incredible are rescuing people in a burning building, he points out that there's no humidity in the air and he's short on body water, so he's screwed. However, after a single drink from a cup from a water cooler — and moving into a cooler building, granted — he creates enough ice to entirely cover a man and stop a bullet.
  • In Frozen (2013), Elsa summons massive quantities of ice and snow out of seemingly nowhere. In the finale, she dissipates the products of her Endless Winter, also seemingly into nothing.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics has this for Reign of Fire. It calls this "the milkshake problem" — without anything flammable in the air, in order to produce enough energy for one flame blast, a dragon would need an energy intake equivalent to thousands of milkshakes.
    • Made worse by the fact that they feed on some of the least energetic stuff around, namely the burnt ash of their victims.
    • And then there are the cartoons where the flame creatures even have sound effects (birds roar, horses gallop and whinny, etc.)
  • The Last Airbender introduced this to the Fire Nation; They needed sources of fire in order to bend it. Compare this to the cartoon, where they could draw flame from anywhere. Iroh pulling fire out of nowhere shows how Badass he is.
  • Pyro from X2: X-Men United can only control fire, not create it. He compensates for this by carrying a lighter around with him, and in the third movie, a flamethrower.

  • Zig-zagged in The Wheel of Time books:
    • The One Power can't create matter, so for Rand to produce a miraculous display of water in a desert, he has to draw on an aquifer, having found it impossible to condense enough atmospheric moisture.
    • Playing with Fire is often used to set people and objects on fire, but the most common use for it is creating fireballs out of thin air. (To be fair, these are supposed to be balls of hot air held together with magic. "Fireball" just sounds better.)
  • Inheritance Cycle: When Eragon tries to magic up some water in a desert, he has to dig a pit and draw it up from deep underground, as he can't create it from nothing and couldn't afford the Equivalent Exchange to shift the weather enough to make it rain.
  • Averted in The Lord of the Rings. Gandalf the Wizard is a master of fire, but needs fuel to work with, noting that he "cannot burn snow".
  • Wild Cards' Water Lily believes that she condenses water from the air, but to account for the amounts she makes, it's later speculated that she can actually subconsciously transmute air and other matter around her into water, at one point creating a large flood.
  • Averted pretty reliably in the Circle of Magic books and sequels.
    • Tris may be an incredibly powerful "weather witch", but in order to summon rain, she has to bring it from somewhere, and to get rid of it, she has to send it somewhere else; tampering with the weather has a high ecological cost in this 'verse.
    • Similarly, Tris can absorb elemental power such as volcanic heat, lightning, earthquakes, etc.—and stores it in her braids—but not really generate it.
    • Briar, the plant mage, cannot force vines and whatnot to grow from nothing. When he knows he is going to be in battle, he carries premade seed packets with him, often of thorny vines. He also has a water bottle, to soak the packets. He can only increase the speed of development with his magic.
    • Daja, the fire/metal mage, does not create fire. She does have much more resistance to heat (being able to hold white-hot metal barehanded) and is able to manipulate already existing flame and heat, but not produce them from nothing. Also, the fire itself has to have fuel to stay lit, forcing her to add coal to the forge just like any smith.
  • Played with in Guards! Guards!, a Discworld novel. Swamp dragons, which are small pathetic creatures kept as house pets, can breathe fire but are obsessed with fuel and frequently explode from getting the mix wrong. 'Noble dragons', the series' name for the standard fantasy fire-breathing dragon, run on magic - whether this counts as fuel or not is debatable, although magical items are seen to crumble to dust once the magic is sucked out by summoning the dragon.
  • So far averted in the Whateley Universe. Riptide, who can control water, has had enough water to really kick ass only once - a stormy, rainy day in Boston. (But she got knocked out before she could use her powers.)
    • It depends on the person, lucky mutants play this straight.
    • Also there are "Manifesters," who essentially create (temporary) matter, even things as complex as plants and animals, out of nothing/psychic energy. In some of the later stories Riptide is described as being a water manifester... specifically "creating" water to fuel an apparently steam/mist propelled flying board designed for her by a friend.
  • Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson has a very literal example where Allomancers must consume specific metals (both elemental and alloys) to fuel their abilities. Each metal corresponds to a specific power and running out a particular element is a consistent concern. Allomancers generally carry extra metal for refueling as needed. Controlling the supply of one particularly powerful (fictional) metal is part of how The Emperor controls the economy as well.
  • The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher both uses and averts this. It is possible to create fire or other effects through the wizard's personal will, but they can also channel existing energy, often to create significantly more powerful effects. Harry has frozen large amounts of water by drawing heat from it to create fire and channeled the energy of a storm, but has also regularly just creates fire, and after becoming the Winter Knight, gains the ability to create cold.
    • In-universe it's explained that any effects, after being created with magic, will still follow the laws of physics as normal. After a fireball is thrown, it just becomes normal fire, igniting anything flammable and burning out if it runs out of fuel.
  • Averted five times out of six in the Codex Alera series, also by Jim Butcher. Everyone has powers corresponding to at least one of six elemental "furies" of earth, air, fire, water, metal, and wood. Some basic techniques can be done with minimal amounts of the appropriate element, but their power is almost directly proportional to the amount available, to the point that being cut off from it completely (like a metalcrafter with no metal) renders the power totally inert. This is specifically used with prisoners, making cells that both contain their elemental opposite (which also can help cut off their powers) and giving them none of their appropriate element. The exception is firecrafters, who can make something room-temperature burst into flame instantly. On the other hand, skilled firecrafters are in high demand because being powerful enough to make it useful is apparently more difficult than other types of crafting. Aircrafting is also something of an exception, simply because if there's no air to craft there are bigger issues like breathing.
  • In Harry Potter it is at one point stated that you can't create matter out of thin air (explaining Mrs. Weasley's ability to conjure up food to cook). During the course of the books, however, Harry has used a spell to shoot a stream of water from his wand and conjure flame. More specifically, food is one of Gamp's Five Untransmutables. Anything not on that list is fair game for being instantly generated.
  • Discussed in Stephen King's Firestarter. An evil scientist muses how the title girl's talent to conjure up huge amounts of thermal energy with a barely noticeable effort is going to mess up the theories of physics.
  • Averted in the Rose of the Prophet trilogy. When a wizard travels to a desert environment he teaches some locals how to cast a spell to create mist and fog in order to allow them to help captured love ones escape. He fails to remember his teachers warning never to use the spell in dry conditions and as a result, all the water has to come from somewhere. Specifically from the enemies guarding the prisoners who end up as dehydrated corpses. The wizard is understandably upset to find out he accidentally caused the deaths of a few dozen people who were just doing their jobs.
  • A version of this appears in The Death Gate Cycle. The magic in the books is based on possibilities. So if a wizard is going to cast a fireball, he shapes the waves of reality to find a possible situation where a ball of flame could be hurled through the air. Or if he is being shot by an arrow, he can turn air into solid shield in front of him. No need to really know why, just that there is a CHANCE that the effect might be possible. Only limitation is that more complex spells take longer to prepare. For example, in the books, the main character prepares weapons with enhancement to kill with each hit. They take hours to prepare (scratching runes into metal) and even a small mistake in rune carving means he must begin everything from the scratch.
  • Averted in Dragon Weather, and its sequels. The titular dragons don't actually breathe flame, they expel a fine mist of combustible fuel, much like a flame thrower.
  • Similar to the above example, dragons in The Elric Saga don't literally breathe fire, but rather have a caustic venom that causes flammable materials to burn. They have a limited supply of the venom and can run out in an extended battle.
  • Worked around in Skulduggery Pleasant. Any Elemental attack requires there to be some of the element around but once there's a bit of it in the vicinity it can be expanded on. Need a fireball? Snap your fingers and use the friction to create a spark. From there it can be turned into a proper fire with magic.
  • The Locked Tomb: The Necromancer prodigy Harrowhark has a particular specialty for bone magic and can conjure large skeletal constructs out of tiny flecks. Necromancy doesn't follow conservation of mass or energy, but even the God-Emperor is impressed by how far she can push it.
  • The Witch of Knightcharm: This trope is both used and averted, depending on the character. Some witches seem able to summon certain elements; Imogene, for instance, is able to just create fire with a spell. Others, however, need to carry the element with them to use it in magical fights. Amira Chadid is an example of the latter; she specializes in water magic and carries water with her in large canteens so she has some when needed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Heroes, Angela's sister Alice is able to control the weather like Storm.
  • During Crisis on Earth-X, Killer Frost is able to create almost limitless ice bridges/slides, enough to bring her and two others up to the Earth-X Waverider, even having enough to expel ice/frost behind her to powerslide them miles up to the ship. What happened to all the leftover ice? No mention of it.
  • The Flash: The villain Amunet Black averts this trope, she has telekinetic control over a particular type of metal, meaning she has to carry a bucket of it around at all times. This looks incredibly stupid, demonstrating exactly why this trope exists. (In later appearances she stores the metal as a gauntlet instead, which looks much cooler).
  • Lampshaded in H₂O: Just Add Water. Cleo is able to summon extra water as well as control it, something that baffles both her and Emma when they first learn their powers.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, Functional Magic often allows elemental powers to be conjured out of nothing or it may otherwise require a small spell component to cast (with more expensive components needed for more powerful spells). Sometimes the powers are explicitly drawn from elemental planes (particularly summoning spells), which double as exotic adventuring locales. If you're actually on those planes, spells involving the plane's element get a free power boost, while spells involving their opposed element — fire/water or earth/air — are much harder to cast. There are a few spells which may only function if there's at least some amount of the element present, and these are usually given names such as "control X".
  • In Exalted, the Dragon-Blooded don't need elemental baggage. They are elemental baggage, scions of a long line of elemental heroes, sons and daughters of the (obviously) Immaculate Dragons.
    • Likewise, several Terrestrial Circle Sorcery spells are capable of flat out creating elemental matter. Impervious Sphere of Water's flavor text even describes the possible utility of the spell's conjured water in arid or desert environments. Justified by Sorcery being akin to the powers of the Primordials, the great beings responsible for creating reality in the first place.
    • It's addressed somewhat in third edition. Several Brawl charms create tentacles out of water. Generally this requires a water source nearby, but if one is unavailable a dragonblooded can shed a level of anima to create some instead.
  • Changeling: The Lost accounts for this with the Contract of Elements. Level 3 requires that the element actually be there before you can control it... but level 4 of the Contract allows you to summon a large quantity from elsewhere if there's none available.
    • Mage: The Awakening, another new world of darkness property, has a similar system since a mage's increasing power represents him being less bound by the laws of the universe. A rank-2 Arcana allows 'ruling' abilities that manipulate an existing instance of whatever the arcanum governs, such as matter 2 allowing a mage to reshape a solid object as if it were soft clay. Actually creating the element from scratch requires full mastery of the arcanum (5 ranks), as conservation laws are some of the most fundamental rules of the universe.
      • This gets interesting since Mage is very much not limited to the classical elements and the same limitations apply to "elements" like time, fate, minds, and souls. Apparently conservation of 'years alive' is a physical law of nature in the world of darkness.
  • In The Dark Eye, most magical traditions need a small amount of one of the six elements is to summon a servant, djinn, or master elemental of that particular element. If the element in question is not pure (sand instead of stone for a stone elemental) it will be more difficult, should it be purer, it will be easier (diamond instead of stone for a stone elemental).
  • In Ars Magica, matter created by magic has No Ontological Inertia unless the spell is augmented with Ritual Magic and a valuable form of condensed Mana called vis. A mage can go around conjuring torrents of water out of nowhere, but they won't last long enough to hydrate anyone unless they make the extra investment.

    • Addressed during the Bohrok arc of the comics. Gali's water-summoning abilities apparently work by forcing water vapor in the air to condense on command. However, she's able to summon a flood in the middle of a desert, even though there shouldn't be that much water vapor in the atmospheric column over a dry desert.
    • Each Toa wield an element. To control it, they need elemental energy that slowly recharges itself when not in use, or by absorbing their own element. This energy allows them to create their element out of thin air (shooting fire or water), or to control nearby supplies of it (earthquakes, wind, etc.). As soon as they run out, however, they can't do a thing.
      • For example, in one of the online story serials, Lewa and a group of other beings are suddenly transported into space and he's able to create air bubbles around their heads so they can breathe.

    Video Games 
  • Sub-Zero of Mortal Kombat at first only had the ability to freeze enemies without any superfluous ice forming, but these days is capable of creating ice out of thin air. It's weakly Hand Waved by him freezing water vapor in the air, but that doesn't quite account for how he can make something as large as a sword out of a thimbleful of surrounding moisture.
  • Used heavily within City of Heroes and its sister game, City of Villains. Superpowered characters and NPCs regularly toss lightning, summon fire in a variety of forms, create blizzards or jagged shards of ice, even generate radioactive material on demand. Made most obvious during Hurl, which picks up a chunk of rock off the ground and tosses it, even when used in the middle of an ocean or on top of an empty shipping container.
  • RyuKoOh in Super Robot Wars averts this with the "Mountain Pressure" attack. It drops a mountain from a few hundred feet over an enemy's head; but this is a specific holy mountain, which is returned after it's used.
  • Golden Sun contains some pretty good examples of this, such as characters freezing small puddles of water into huge ice pillars. In a few instances in the sequel one must provide the water for the puddle by using a spell to fill a small indentation with water before it can be frozen, so it really is just a small puddle. However, since most of the magic in the game is situational (several of the cooler sounding magic will only work with certain terrain features, notably the "hover" and "teleport" spells), this is easily handwaved.
  • The Mega Man and Mega Man X games partially avert this. The weapons and tools are fueled by their own energy reserves, but where do the heroes get the materials for things like giant scissor blades, a damn meteor shower, barriers made of jewels, homing missiles, tornadoes, etc?
  • It's averted by the Silk Shot from Mega Man X2, a weapon that attracts debris from around the level and coalesces it into a projectile that explodes in a spread. The debris is usually scrap metal, but in certain levels it can attract rocks, leaves, or crystals.
  • Ōkami: Paintbrush techniques can pull various elements across the screen. Interestingly, late-game weapons double as literal Elemental Baggage - if you need a stream of fire, you can just pull it from your flaming disc weapon. Which uses up a whole lot less ink then making it appear out of thin air. Same goes for your final rosary and glaive; Her rosary contains the ice element while her glaive contains thunder. As far as techniques that have you connecting two targets on-screen with a line, this just leaves the water power (which was obsolete in just about every way but one at that point) and the vine power (which was incredibly circumstantial and was mainly used for transportation).
  • In Super Smash Bros., among other obvious examples, Charizard can always grab a boulder from just under his feet and smack someone with it.
  • Team Fortress 2: Pyro apparently took night classes in this trope seeing as one of his/her taunts produces fire out of thin air. (Their chi, perhaps, since it is a Hadokuen.) Depending on who you ask, there's also the questions of where the Dispenser gets the matter to generate infinite amounts of ammunition and metal, where the Medigun gets the energy to promote endless healing, how Respawn is supposed to work, and where all of those ammo and health packs keep coming from.
  • Any Final Fantasy game, as well as most RPGs in general, as magic usually allows you to make flames, ice chunks, etc. appear out of thin air. Although you do have to sacrifice some MP.
  • Dungeon Crawl generally plays this straight, but makes an exception for summoning elementals and the Sandblast spell. Elementals require a large source of the element in question (Air and Earth are pretty easy; fire and water are tricky), and Sandblast works best if the caster is holding a large stone, or else it has to use the ambient grit. Spells that create stuff always include the Conjurations spell school (for example, Bolt of Fire is a Fire/Conjuration spell). Spells that require a natural source never do.
  • Magical Star Sign does this with each character being able to manipulate a specific element, in order to put out a forest fire (On a Forest World the characters had to use their powers together in order to crush a rock, create a spring, and then spread the water.
  • Geralt takes advantage of an aversion during the boss fight in Chapter 2 of The Witcher. The mage Azar Javed specializes in fire magic. Geralt lures him to a swamp since water is fire's opposite element.
  • An Octave Higher subverts this trope. It may seem like people are producing blasts of water and walls of rock from thin air when they cast spells, but in reality these substances are being summoned from elsewhere in the world and will eventually return to where they came from; thus, no new matter is actually being created and the conservation of energy is maintained.
  • Monster Hunter has a go at averting this through its use of Fantastic Science. If a dragon breathes fire, that's because it has an organ in its chest that creates powder that ignites on contact with the air, and if you're lucky you might even be able to carve said organ from its corpse when you hunt it. The exception is the Dragon element, which is considered an enigma In-Universe precisely because it breaks all the apparent rules.

  • This trope is averted in Drowtales, where elemental sorcery requires the presence of the element in question. For example, ice users need freezable liquid, and fire users either carry around so-called "fire pots" or strike a spark when they need some flames.
  • Downplayed in Daughter of the Lilies. Although a mage can conjure up an element out of nothing, it's more energy-efficient to cast on existing material, so one pragmatic mage wears a dress made of water as an aid to Making a Splash.
  • Undine of Sleepless Domain has a set amount of water, a roughly human-sized sphere, she can conjure and control regardless of circumstances. However, it's noted on several occasions that her powers are much more effective when she has outside water to use. Rainy nights or water from drainage ditches offer her much more power than she would have normally, and if the air is humid or foggy enough she can sense monsters' locations even better than Heartful Punch, who's generally one of the better Sensor Characters in the series.
  • In the Russian webcomic Eighth. The setting's magic manifests as summoning contracts between a mage and an Elemental Embodiment, called their "element" or just "el".
    • Water els become stronger with water available.
    • Earth els directly absorb earth to grow from everyday to combat forms.
    • Deep in the dungeons below the Academy of Esmer there is a room filled with various shiny metal items, which appears deliberately designed to vastly empower the unique el of metal. This is lampshaded by a rebel group entering the room moments before said unique el accompanying them breaks mind-control, absorbs the metal, and proceeds to reduce the rebellion to bloody smears.
    • Averted with the unique els of order and chaos, who wield more conceptual / semantic powers.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Hama reveals to Katara that using the water in the air is very doable, and when Firebenders imprisoned the Waterbenders from the Southern Water Tribe, they piped dry air into their cells to make sure they couldn't do anything. However, this is a more realistic instance; when they're pulling water from the air, Waterbenders only receive small portions. And when they're pulling it from living things, things tend to wither and die for quite a large area for a relatively small amount of water. Also averted with Earthbenders to the extent that keeping refined metal between them and any earth or stone is considered sufficient to imprison them... and only two have proven common wisdom wrong (one by commanding nearby stone with his exposed face, the other by figuring out how to control impurities in the metal). Though they're sometimes shown pulling boulders out of the ground without making a hole or noticeable mark in the ground (closing said hole is also likely the result of Earthbending). However, this is played straight in the case of Firebenders, who are capable of creating fire, though it's explained in-universe by chi; presumably, they sling around burning energy. This also explains why they can force their fire to explode at will.
    • It's mostly averted though in that both Katara and Toph have been seen to run out of bendables, in one case leading to Katara doing some rapid exercise so she could sweat to make her own.
      • Katara, in particular, carries a bag of "bending water"—literal elemental baggage—for use in waterless places.
    • A scene in the first episode shows Iroh running Zuko through firebending combat drills, where he explains that firebenders use their breath control to draw chi energy outwards, which manifests as flame. Most likely the creators did this to make the firebenders more threatening.
    • It's also shown many times that benders are capable of enhancing existing expressions of their element: Aang uses fans (or his own breath in one instance) to create wind which he massively amplifies, and when sitting near a campfire Zuko expresses his anger by making the fire flare several meters into the air.
      • An interesting example of firebending manipulating existing heat pops up in "The Avatar and the Fire Lord." During one of Roku's flashbacks, Fire Lord Sozin is shown drawing the heat out of a volcano's erupting lava and directing it into the air to cool it into solid rock. Interestingly enough, he is using the same stance and technique that Iroh would demonstrate a century later for redirecting a firebender's lightning.
    • This also makes Airbenders (the last one left, anyway) quite formidable, as they almost never run out of element to bend. The sole exception is when they get sent to the Spirit World because, as Aang found out, bending doesn't work without a physical body, which is pretty hard to get into the Spirit World. It is possible to bend in the Spirit World by walking through a spirit portal, as shown in The Legend of Korra.
    • For the live-action adaptation, the rules for firebending have been refined and slightly redefined: most firebenders work from an existing fire source and the weaponry of the Fire Nation armies is build around the tactic of spreading fire sources onto the battlefield for the benders to use. Only advanced masters — Iroh, Ozai, eventually Zuko — can conjure fire using ki powers. Unfortunately, this runs into a problem when firebenders start using fire from nearby torches which could be easily extinguished by their opponents.
    • In The Legend of Korra waterbenders raiding an anti-bending hideout brings along a water tank.
      • This trope gets lampshaded later on, in book 3 when Korra gets captured by Earth Kingdom soldiers. They truss her up Hannibal-style, restricting not only her arms and legs, but also covering up her mouth, preventing her from bending earth, water, and fire (which would be fairly easily accessible even on an airship). However, one soldier admits that there wasn't a whole lot they could do about air.
    • The Dai-Li (in all eras) wear a thin glove made out of hardened stone. As they are all master earthbenders, they can move their hands as if it was a silk glove. These function as concealed weapons; the Dai-Li can reform them into handcuffs, combat weapons, projectiles, and even use them to cling onto otherwise smooth surfaces to quickly scale walls. Republic City Police would later copy them by wearing spools of bendable metal on their persons (originally with back-mounted spools, but switching for smaller ones in modern day) so they always have something to bend. Suyin and Kuvira would also wear metal as part of their combat regalia (Kuvira having metal bands around her shoulders and wrist, Suyin wearing a full cuirass) so they always have some sort of metal to work with. Kuvira, in particular, catches people off guard as hers look less like weapons and more like fancy decorations.
    • The precautions taken against airbenders are seen in season 4: Zaheer (who can even fly) is kept in an underground vault with metal doors bent open when someone needs to see him, and he's kept chained to the ground.
  • On Ben 10, Osmosians, such as Kevin 11, can absorb anything into themselves, but they need to have something to absorb, so Gwen gets the idea for Kevin to carry rocks along with him to provide him with armor. He appreciates the gesture but explains that he needs a lot more material to make his armor.
    • Also, he never actually absorbs the material itself, mostly just replicating an approximate amount; it's been shown that he himself is not now "made" from the material, it's just a covering that can be broken off. From the example above, Gwen tosses him a small metal marble. When he "absorbs" it, the marble goes nowhere nor does it shrink; however, only his hand and a bit of his wrist are covered from the process. However, this does not quite work the same when he absorbs a material from an alien who can create its own (ie, Diamondhead). And when he was forced to touch a piece of Taydenite crystal, he had an uncontrolled growth of crystals from his back that seemed very painful.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Gi's Ring of Water, Linka's Ring of Wind, and Kwame's Ring of Earth could only control existing forms of their element. Gi was the most limited in this regard, as air and earth are abundant in the majority of locations the team visited. Mati's Ring of Heart also required the person/thing to have a heart he could connect to; thus, it could not be used on inanimate objects, plants or heartless villains. Wheeler's Ring of Fire was the only exception: he could basically create fire from nothing, and the only limit imposed was one occasion when there was not enough oxygen for fire to burn.
  • In Chaotic, the Liquilizer is capable of refilling itself with just the water in the air.
  • Averted in W.I.T.C.H. for the most part. Taranee is shown to absorb and exert heat from the human body, which is the source of her fire, as she is shown to be unable to conjure fire when the heat from her body was drained away from her in "S is for Self". Irma also needs moisture in the air to create water. Cornelia subverts this the most when her element is useless in "N is for Narcissist" where the fighting takes place in a floating fortress in the sky with no plant-life at all.
    Cornelia: Plants don't exactly grow in thin air, you know.
    • And again in "V is for Victory" when she's resorted to using algae in the school's pool for her main source of attack, to which she is criticized for by her teammates.
      Cornelia: Hey, I'm working with what I got here.
    • Hay Lin controls air, which tends to be in abundance everywhere. Will controls Quintessence, the mythical fifth element which can be forgiven for being conjured; though it takes the form of lightning, which comes directly from the static on her body as she is shown to be glimmering with static electricity, especially her hair which stands on end at times as well as shocking people randomly when they touch her.
    • The way it works is that they're able to use the power of the Aurameres (or in their absence their own Life Energy) to amplify what they can naturally generate. So Will can turn a static spark into a lightning storm but can't use it if she can't start up the spark (like if she's wet) and Taranee can turn a small amount of her body heat/other heat released into a giant fireball but can't make one if she's too cold to release a little bit.
  • The Owl House: Witches in the Abomination coven fight by summoning up a specialized goo to manipulate (most commonly in the form of semi-sentient Muck Monsters), though the implication is that it's pre-made and then teleported to their location. Amity starts carrying a small jar of the stuff on her belt in "Eclipse Lake" so she doesn't have to waste precious seconds summoning it in combat (similar to Katara's waterskin) and her father is shown doing something similar in "Reaching Out".


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Elemental Hammerspace


Extra Water

Cleo demonstrates the ability to create more water from an existing source.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / ElementalBaggage

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