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Elemental Powers

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This trope is under discussion in the Trope Repair Shop.
Water you waiting for? You should be getting fired up because she's ready to rock. Air you up for it?
Aang: I'm the Avatar, master of all four elements!
Dmitri Mendeleev: Really? I'm Mendeleev, master of all 118+. [swoosh] That was polonium-bending. You probably didn't feel anything, but the symptoms of radiation poisoning will set in shortly.
xkcd #965: Elementsnote 

In the past, it was thought that all of matter could be classified into easily viewable "elements" that one can observe with the naked eye. Thus, all of the world was made up of natural forces such as "earth, air, fire, water" et al. The discovery of the atomnote  mostly disproved that,note  but the idea was so deeply rooted in mankind's mind, that it's become a popular thematic motif for supernatural fictional settings, and still finds parallels in modern physics' four commonly observable states of matter: solid (earth), liquid (water), gas (air), plasma (fire).

The most common use is to give characters some superpower over an aspect of nature — like a character who can conjure or control fire or water, given the right conditions. This usually goes hand in hand with Elemental Personalities — you're not likely to find a calm and collected guy who can shoot fire, for instance (or are you?). These "elements" are probably the source of the association of color with personality traits. A character with elemental power in animation will often have the fitting eye color. It also makes for easy Superhero Speciation.

This may involve the capability to summon Elementals, the living embodiment of the elements themselves.

Just what the "classical elements" are varies from culture to culture. In Greek (and by extension most European), Hindu, and Buddhist mythology, it's usually Fire, Air, Water, and Earth — with Aether (which can be "heart", Soul Power, or Pure Energy) occasionally mixed in. In classical Chinese mythology, it's typically Fire, Water (which includes the sky), Earth (which includes the concept of "balance" or "the center", making it a rough equivalent to the aforementioned Aether), Wood (which includes control over plants as well as the wind), and Metal (which includes light and electricity). The classical Japanese elements are Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Void. In some alchemical texts, there are salt, sulphur, mercury, and quintessence, with salt representing the physical, sulphur representing the spirit of life, mercury representing volatility or fluidity and the "passive principle", quintessence was supposed to be the constituent matter of the heavenly bodies, and also sometimes was included with the more common 4 elements. (Indeed, quintessence quite literally means "the fifth element".) It is possible for "secondary" elements to exist as add-ons to a core system, typically created by modifying the primary elements in various ways or by mixing them together.

Usually, there will be an effort to make all powers equally important — the elemental powers used in such settings usually employ some form of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, in order to avoid having any particular power being clearly more powerful than the others (unless there's an Infinity +1 Element involved). If some are more important/intrinsically more potent, then the Inverse Law of Complexity to Power may come into play or What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway? may result.

Depending on your mileage, you might also have any natural force counted as an element — Darkness (black evil death energy), Light (glowing holy life energy), regular Light (as in lasers and holograms), Ice, Electricity, Magnetism, Time, Space, Moon, Sun, Stars, Pizza, Gravity, Void (which is usually like a cross between Space, Dark, and Aether), Acid, Sky (Wind with storm and weather added), Sleaze, Sound, and Amber as alternative elements.

In works of fiction, these tend to have a consistent naming scheme either ending in -mancy ("pyromancy", "cryomancy", and so forth) or in -kinesis ("pyrokinesis", "cryokinesis", and so on). These suffixes technically mean "divination" and "movement", respectively, and compound words range all the way from being semi-common IRL ("necromancy"), to haphazardly made-up in faux-Greek ("radiokinesis"??). These naming schemes themselves are a different trope, so please don't add your favorite here.

A lot of cultural baggage has become attached to the elements over the ages, making some of them "bad" and assigning personality traits to them and their practitioners much like a Four-Temperament Ensemble. Fiction exploring elemental powers tends to use these as tropes and character traits:

    Classical Elements 
  • Earth: Stable and resilient, Earth is the element of solidity and support. Earth characters are frequently dependable, strong, protective and, if female, motherly; on the negative side they may also be stubborn, repressive, or just far too stuck in their ways. As such, it is aligned with the melancholic temperament. It is frequently the strongest element, but also the slowest, or alternatively it's good at defensive magic, but not in offensive. It's generally represented as by either the colors green, brown, orange, tan, or yellow (the latter four especially if actual earth is distinguished from plants or other stuff). This is the "element" corresponding to the solid state.
  • Fire: Has positive connotations like warmth, light, purification, and even rebirth. On the flip side, it's very, very easy to exaggerate it into an antagonistic element by emphasizing its wild, destructive, and unpredictable nature. As it is aligned with the choleric temperament, Fire characters have a habit of being impulsive, hotheaded, and brash. As such they make a great Red Oni to any Blue Oni and are typically The Hero, The Lancer or an important bad guy. More rarely they can be The Smart Guy as the ability to make and manipulate fire in Real Life is often seen as the being first step towards "inventing" science. Usually associated with the color red, even though actual flame is naturally more orange in color, if not outright gold or yellow. This is the "element" corresponding to either the plasma state or to heat energy.
  • Air/Wind: The element of freedom and movement; unpredictably calm one moment and flying into a tempest the next. The quickest of the elements, but sometimes seen as physically fragile or lacking in raw strength (unless it is referred to as "Sky" or "Heaven"). Therefore, what it lacks in raw power it makes up for in offensive and defensive maneuvers. It can also include Weather Manipulation. Aligned with the sanguine temperament, Air characters are often cheerful, energetic, and free spirits. Noise, when used as an elemental attack, is sometimes depicted and treated as an air-like attack. When electricity isn't a separate element, it's often folded into Air. It can also sometimes feed energy to Fire, so an Air mage working with a Fire mage is not a team to tangle with. Green is often used to represent it in eastern products, but it's also fairly common to see yellow, light blue, purple, and white. Air typically corresponds to the gaseous state.
  • Water: The element of change and adaptability; capable of taking any form. Water is pretty much always seen positively, symbolizing healing, adaptability, and calm. While Earth is strong and solid and Air is weak but fluid, Water is both strong and fluid, but not to the same extent as the other two. This is analogous to the liquid state of matter, insofar as liquids have a definite volume as solids do, but lack a definite form just like gasses.note  Aligned with the phlegmatic temperament, Water characters are usually laid-back and "go with the flow". Usually depicted as blue or cyan. Although not thought of as much of a combat power, when roused a Water Mage can be unstoppable (think tsunamis)— and unpredictable — especially combined with Wind (think hurricanes.) Almost always the absolute Blue Oni, and often The Heart.

Some shows that absolutely need a Five-Man Band will come up with a fifth element in addition to the classical western ones, and find a way to make it a team attack that uses All Your Colors Combined. Anime usually employs Light or Lightning, but Western Animation prefers to make something up like Energy or Spirit or possibly Heart.

Some works, especially Video Games and RPGs, will often add more to the list. Common additions include:

    Other Elements 
  • Lightning/Electricity/Thunder: Sometimes paired with Air or Fire, but more often is considered a separate form of power. In most games, it forms the basic trio of available powers. Lightning usually carries the same connotations as Fire, but may also include speed (i.e. "moves like lightning"), penetration or mild insanity (from having fried his brain too many times), or even more. Like Fire it's sometimes an ability of The Smart Guy as controlling and conducting electricity is integral to modern day gadgets. It's usually depicted as either very yellow or very blue, although in real life it's actually more often white.
  • Ice/Snow: May or may not be combined with Water or Air. As a separate element, it carries connotations of coolness, detachment, harshness, and even death. As a foil to Fire they tend to be The Lancer or villains, and play Blue Oni to anyone's Red. Like the rest of its trio it can be The Smart Guy, likely because old monasteries, libraries and places of learning are known for being cold inside. They'll be scholarly, by-the-book smart guys however instead of techies or curious types. Snow is almost the same as Ice generally but carries connotations of fun, softness, cheerfulness, and even love
  • Weather/Storm: A package deal of Wind, Lightning, Water, and Ice; though without as much fine control as those elements alone (for instance, Weather's control over Water usually starts and stops at summoning and dismissing rain). While this power can be used beneficially, such as generating breezes or summoning rain to water crops, "Storm" as an element usually represents nature's raw fury.
  • Light: Light can be for healing or destruction. Light is, however, usually associated with absolute good. Sometimes mixed with Lightning or Fire. May also be portrayed as Sunlight.
  • Good/Holy: Goodness can be an element, even an offensive one. Commonly used by angels, priests, and the forces of heaven (even if they're not the good guys). Light and Holy elements are often the same in fiction, but not always.
  • Darkness/Shadow: Even if Dark Is Not Evil, the vast majority of bad guys will use this. Often causes status effects or Instant Death. Usually the opposite of and weak to Light. Occasionally includes gravity (as in a black hole). In an evil element exists in a given setting, it usually falls under this category.
  • Nature/Wood/Plants/Flora: Power over plants and vegetation. Can include the ability to manipulate and control plants, change the growth and size of plants, or summon forth plants from the ground; including poisonous, spiky, or carnivorous ones. Sometimes these abilities get lumped in with another element but which one is differs by culture, with Earth being a popular choice in Western works and Wind being popular in Asian works. May manifests as Petal Power attacks. Sometimes referred to as "Life", since it concerns living, growing things. Or as "Nature", because Nature Equals Plants
  • Animals/Beasts/Fauna: May be combined with Nature, or be fueled by Heart. Sometimes limited to specific types of animals (land, sea, sky) or all animals. A character with this power can likely talk to animals, possess animals, fuel themselves with the power of animals up to and including transforming, or summon creatures to their aid. Often Closer to Earth. Stands opposed to Metal, Technology, Poison and Death. When referred to as "Beast" or "Wild" it tends to be the Unskilled, but Strong of elements, bringing a lot of power in exchange for heavy drawbacks (most commonly turning the user into The Berserker or a Mighty Glacier, burning through their stamina very quickly, or lacking any form of ranged attack). If the user can fire blasts of "beast energy", expect Shaping Your Attacks.
  • Technology/Machines: Similar to the above but with machines instead of living creatures. Often related to Lightning and Metal. Usually a Gadgeteer Genius will have this power.
  • Crystal: Sometimes combined with Light (via Power Crystal), but usually lumped with Earth since crystals are from earth. An even weirder category for this is Ice, but often, it is a standalone element that may work as Non-Elemental. Often associated with piercing or cutting attacks, as well as protection.
  • Life: Life is concerned almost exclusively with healing, curing and strengthening others. That's not to say it can't be abused to cause damage to living things, though, but it's rare. Sometimes it comes as part of the "good" Light powers; other times it's part of Nature/Wood/Plants since that element concerns living things (or Life is simply another name for it, even when Nature powers don't involve healing). At higher level, the user may be capable of Creating Life.
  • Death: Just as Life may get combined with Light in some settings, Death often gets lumped in with Darkness (or occasionally Void). As its own element, death magic is usually focused on destruction, defilement, and summoning spirits from the less-than-pleasant parts of the afterlife. Sometimes overlaps with Time (via Rapid Aging and You Can't Fight Fate) or Poison. Expect practitioners of Death magic to have made some sort of infernal pact or sacrifice in order to obtain their power. High-end Death attacks tend to have permanent effects that are difficult to remove, or the ability to instantly kill a target from full health. Ironically, it can sometimes be used to revive someone just like Life magic, as long as you're not concerned about them coming back intact. That said, if Dark Is Not Evil, then Death doesn't have to be, either. After all, natural death is just as much a part of life as anything else.
  • Heart/Love: The element of emotions and spirit. May involve empathic abilities, The Power of Friendship and/or love, or healing. On the other hand, it may involve focusing that power into a coherent beam of destruction (in which case it may be conflated with Light, Holy or Life). Usually turns out to be either the most powerful element of all, or the most useless. Sometimes the claim it's the former when it's really the latter. Heart is also more often than not used as a sort of glue for combining powers together, so if not The Heart, this is often the power of the leader, even if they aren't very strong themselves.
  • Metal: Either a subset of Earth (including metals and non-metals) or contrasted against Earth (metal alloys as opposed to non-metal rocks). Metal is used for either ridiculously high defensive capabilities (clang) or offensive capabilities (stabby). It has associations with strength, technology, civilization, rigidity, craftsmanship, and determination. Even though it's like a stronger version of Earth, it's also sterile, inflexible, cold, and can't bear life like Earth can. Often opposed by Nature or Wood. The easiest of the elemental powers to produce Magitek from. Metal is rarely seen as a classical element or power outside of Asia (and China in particular). A character with powers over this may be a Metal Muncher.
  • Soul: The ability to manipulate spiritual energy, or spirits themselves. This is occasionally involved with religion, too. People possessing this power can probably talk to the dead, as well. Sometimes related to life and death powers above, Psychic Powers, Faux Flame, and especially Ki Manipulation. This can be either a villainous or heroic power, depending on how it's portrayed.
  • Energy/Magic: Pure magical power or energy as Non-Elemental power. Might involve runes or glyphs. Thematically relates to either the mind or wisdom, or to the primal form of energy you get when you stick all the others together. Generally of neutral alignment to other elemental types, sort of a Jack of All Stats of elemental powers. If it is opposed, expect it to be against Heart (rationalism vs emotionalism). May be functionally interchangeable with Psychic Powers or a dumping ground for a setting's magical effects which can't be tied into any standard element.
  • Poison: Powers relating to poison, acid, disease and sometimes garbage and pollution. Can be classified as an element and/or status effect depending on the work. Sometimes folded into Death, although it can also be a more sinister application of Life (by supercharging the micro-organisms that cause disease) or Nature (a lot of plants and animals are poisonous).
  • Lava: May overlap with Fire due to both being hot substances, even though it's molten rock, so if anything it should be part of Earth. Sometimes it's both, as a hybrid of Earth and Fire. Usually stresses the more negative connotations of fire, and may be considered "hellish".
  • Sun: Power relating to the sun. It's usually something of a mix of Fire and Light. May involve Gravity, as well.
  • Moon: Power relating to the moon. Can be considered evil, but not always. Usually relates to werewolves, and by extension insanity or confusion. May involve Light, just like the Sun. May involve power in exchange for sanity. It may also involve Water, since the moon's gravity controls the ocean's tides.
  • Star: Power relating to the stars and celestial bodies. Most commonly associated with divination and manipulating fate, but it also has some elemental properties. Most commonly, this takes the form of calling forth shooting stars to hit people with. It's not unheard of for Star to eat the Sun and/or Moon elements, and/or to overlap with Space, Ice or Void elements. May also involve Constellations.
  • Sound: Using sound as a method of attacking and/or battling with an instrument falls under this section. Sometimes a subset of Air powers. Sometimes can be extended into power of vibration. May involve using sounds that affect the mind, or making sound itself into a destructive force.
  • Mind/Psychic: Power relating to the mind. The power either plays with other people's minds, or causes direct effect on their surroundings. Frequently opposed by Pure Magic (above) as an expression of "Magic vs. Science" (as this power sounds more sci-fi), or sometimes Heart (again, as Logic vs. Emotion). It can involve other elements as well.
  • Radiation: Generally of the gamma kind, the kind related to reactors, bombs, and fallout. You're probably not going to see this very often at all, for obvious reasons, and when you do it'll generally be either Bad Powers, Bad People or serious Blessed with Suck. Has the potential to be Darker and Edgier than Darkness powers. May overlap with light, if portrayed negatively, since radiation is often associated with Light (i.e. the Sun itself, that gives us light and skin cancer).
  • Magnetism: The ability to control magnetic fields; most commonly appears as a form of telekinesis which only works on metal. Often folded in with either Electricity or Metal, but appears as a distinct element on occasion. When both Metal and Magnetism exist, Metal will generally be more powerful and Magnetism more flexible (such as allowing the user to attack and defend at the same time). In some cases Magnetism users need a pre-existing supply of metal to use their powers, while Metal users can simply create it from thin air. When combined with Electricity, you get Electromagnetism, which (along with Gravity below) is one of the four fundamental forces.
  • Smoke/Gas/Mist: The ability to control a cloudy-looking element like smoke, mist or some other gaseous substance. While this kind of power has limited capabilities at dealing direct damage, it can still be effectively used in combat by suffocating enemies or hiding oneself from view for a potential sneak attack. The associations tend to be pretty negative as smoke or gas rarely signal something good (fires, eruptions, imminent explosions, health risks caused by smoking, gas chambers, etc), thus they could be considered the Darker and Edgier form of Air. Mist is not much better due to its presence in mysteries, hauntings and supernatural phenomena in general. Often becomes a subset of Fire or Poison (or Water/Ice, in the case of mist), but it might also show up as its own thing.
  • Explosion: The power to blow stuff up. It's very often a subpower of Fire (or possibly even its Darker and Edgier counterpart, with the negative aspects of Fire being played up like Lava), although any energy-based element, like Radiation, Lightning or Light, can potentially have this as well (Metal too, which bombs and missiles tend to be made of). Weirdly, if the wielder of this kind of ability is not a Mad Bomber, then he will be the complete opposite: a stoic type who creates controlled explosions, contrasting with the sheer destructiveness of this power. May occasionally come in form of beautiful fireworks, which combines this with Light.
  • Sand: When treated as its own element, Sand often has more "lightweight" connotations compared to the dense and heavy Earth. Can be combined with Air/Wind to create a Deadly Dust Storm. May also grant the ability to dehydrate enemies to death. Sometimes associated with Time, evoking hourglasses, Ancient Egypt or the ability to make things crumble to dust.
  • Glass: Controlling glass, ranging from the everyday soda-lime glass to volcanic glass and whatnot. Used to cut up or perforate, creates mirrors, lenses or shields, or some Glass Weapons. Closely related to crystal powers above. Is sometimes connected with Earth and Sand due to the large presence of silica in them, and heat or magma since that also helps create glass (obsidian). May also involve light, or fragility.
  • Slime: The ability to manipulate gel. Similar to Water, but more solid and sticky, and leaning more on the defensive side, with users often being able to absorb attacks with no damage taken to themselves, ensnare their opponents, stretch their bodies beyond what is normally possible, turn into a puddle and move around and shapeshift into different forms.
  • Blood: The power to control blood. Very much the Darker and Edgier version of Water. No good guy is going to have this as a power due to its inherent creepiness, with the exception of perhaps the darkest '90s Anti-Hero. A common power for vampires, demons and other supernatural horrors. Blood Magic may be involved and other applications tend to not be any less terrifying, such as making the blood acidic or controlling people from the inside.
  • Hellfire: Usually a suped-up version of Fire, with negative, demonic, and dark connotations. May be folded into Dark or Death. Expect it to not obey the usual laws of physics of regular fire.
    • Colored Fire: Fire that comes in various colors tend to have different effects associated with each color. For example, Blue Fire tends to be cold or associated with spirits (despite being even hotter than regular Fire in real life), Green Fire might be of an evil nature and so on...
  • Illusion: The power to manipulate what's not actually there. A favorite of tricksters of all kinds. Through the powers of Your Mind Makes It Real, it is possible to use this as a way to attack with other elements, but often without the same strength as the real deal. Often a subset of various other elements, like Light, Space or Mind.
  • Time: Controlling the flow of time. The ability to stop time, slow time down, speed up time, etc. Often combined with Space below, or occasionally with Moon or Star due to their roles in tracking time. Usually focused on buffs and debuffs with few direct attacks, but sometimes lets the user control the seasons to borrow effects from Weather.
  • Space: The ability to control the fabric of space and spatial dimensions. Teleportation and causing objects to phase in and out are usually included. May give the ability of interdimensional travel if they're sufficiently powerful.
  • Gravity: The ability to manipulate gravity, making objects super-heavy or super-light, or causing something (or a point in space) to become a center of gravity. Is sometimes connected with Darkness via black holes. For some reason, the gravity may be purple-colored if visually depicted.
  • Void: This is generally considered to be even Darker and Edgier than Darkness. Generally involves erasing things from existence, whether via black hole, draining Life Energy, or simply causing a Cessation of Existence. Rarely has an opposing element. Might be the source of Space or Gravity powers.
  • Everything that does not fit into any of those categories but is still considered an important element is a Bizarro Element. Those elements are mostly weird on purpose and Played for Laughs.

Any setting with magic in it will inevitably have elemental spells. Because of this, Elemental Powers is one major class of the Stock RPG Spells.

Finally, it's worth noting that possessing specific elemental powers can make a character vulnerable against a specific element. Fire-elemental beings, for example, don't take too well to Water-elemental attacks. Similarly, Elemental Powers (especially the core four/five) are very competitive if not stronger than abstract elements because of the Inverse Law of Complexity to Power.

Those with these powers may also have the ability of Elemental Absorption. Fire, Ice, Lightning and Elemental Shapeshifter are subtropes.

See also Four-Element Ensemble, Element No. 5, Infinity +1 Element.

Elemental Baggage is when a character whose powers require an elemental source in order to work can make do without much of it lying around. Elemental Motifs is a related concept, when a character who may or may not have elemental abilities is still heavily associated with the elements.

This does not occur in Real Life, so No Real Life Examples, Please! Water, wind, etc. do have energy, but it's the same type of energy and therefore not an example of this trope.

Example subpages:

Other examples

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    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • The elemental heroes and villains of The DCU include:
    • Earth: Terra (Teen Titans) or her brother Geo-Force (The Outsiders)
    • Fire: Fire (Checkmate)
    • Air: Red Tornado (Justice League of America)
    • Water: Aqualad (Teen Titans)
    • The DCU is also really fond of making up elements. Swamp Thing is a plant/earth elemental? Okay, fine. Brother Power the Geek is a doll elemental? Now you're pushing it.
      • Firestorm's the fire elemental. Turns out Fire represents all forms of energy, including the nuclear forces. It's implied that DC's air, earth, and water elementals have similar potential.
      • In addition to the classical elements, the official elemental forces of the DCU include the Green (plant life), the Red (animal life), the Grey (fungal life), and the Rot (death and decay).
    • It was hinted at, but never confirmed, that Captain Atom might be the quintessential, or fifth elemental.
  • Shows up in the Dutch Douwe Dabbert comics. There are four artifacts hidden away at the four cardinal directions, in mysterious temples, each embodying a classical Greek element. Their exact powers and uses are unclear: in the Middle East, there is a chest containing an apparently infinite amount of sand (Earth). In the Caribbean (West) there is a balloon containing a mighty storm (Wind). In the arctic, there is a... dodo egg frozen in Ice. (Yeah, I don't know either.) Douwe finally figures it out when he gets at last to the artifact hidden in Africa: a diamond that is kept in a dark underground temple. He correctly surmises that when the sun shines on it, it will set everything on Fire. (Too bad that the villains don't get it...)
  • This trope was the whole premise of Comico Comics' Elementals, a dark superhero comic about the team of Morningstar, Vortex, Fathom and Monolith.
  • The Fantastic Four each correspond to one of the four classical elements. Johnny Storm is Fire and Ben Grimm / The Thing is Earth, of course. Reed Richards is fluid like Water, and Sue Storm can become invisible like Air.
  • In The Infinity War, the six Infinity Stones/Gems each have an elemental domain: Time, Space, Mind, Soul, Power, and Reality.
  • The elemental heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe include:
  • Marvel also have a super-villain team named Force of Nature, with Terraformer (Earth), Aqueduct (Water), Skybreaker (Air), and Sunstreak (Fire).
  • Ultimate Fantastic Four:
    • Like the original versions, the Four's powers are said to correspond to the four elements, though comparing Reed to water is kind of a stretch.
    • The same thing applies to Doctor Doom, who has been likened to the elemental of Metal.
    • Namor seems to have a dash of Making a Splash powers alongside his Flying Brick set.
  • W.I.T.C.H. has the heroic Five-Man Band control the four western elements, plus "heart"at first. And then the four western elements plus Quintessence in the second. Some of the elemental character tropes are played straight (laid-back Irma controls water, Cloud Cuckoolander Hay Lin controls air), while others are averted (quiet, sensible Taranee controls fire, girly, Lovable Alpha Bitch Cornelia controls earth).

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Fifth Element — duh. In this case the classic four are joined by the fifth "perfect" element, which is actually a humanoid girl. In this case Milla Jovovich, and what could be more perfect, after all?
  • Ghost Rider (2007) actually invokes this. Ghost Rider is Fire, just like in the comics, and he's pitted against three demons based on wind, water and earth. And who are they working for? Blackheart.
  • Hellboy (2004):
  • The Last Airbender: This adaptation based on the show of the same name follows the logic of the animated show. Major differences include that firebenders require fire in order to bend and earthbenders need to work together to do feats that the earthbenders in the original show could pull off with little effort.
  • In The Last Witch Hunter, the non-Black Magic is said to be based on four elements, and sometimes it shows. Weather runes (cold and water) are obvious examples and at one point Belial breathes fire.
  • Thor can naturally summon lightning and wind through the power of Mjölnir. Fire seems to be the specialty of The Destroyer, and the Jötunns, who live in an icy climate, use ice powers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Cursed: Nimue's magic is mostly nature-related. She can make nearby plants (trees, among others), attack people or bind them (see Green Thumb); she later manages to summon clouds of mist to confuse the Paladins and at one point sends out a blast of magic that briefly makes flames grow larger.
  • Game of Thrones several characters seem to have elemental powers;
    • Fire: Daenerys Targaryen can control dragons and seem to be magically fireproof.
      • Melisandre is a Red Priestess server of the firey god R’hllor and have some in-universe powers related to fire, like bringing back people from the death and pyromancy (prophecy by watching fire).
    • Ice: The White Walkers produce snow wherever they go and are invulnerable save with if especial substances are use against them.
    • Earth: Three-eyed raven is connected directly to Earth (literally, vines go through his body) and this allows him to see past and future and knowing what happens in any part of Westeros spreading his consciousness through the weirwood.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Early seasons would sometimes base the heroes' powers on single elements in no consistent pattern. The very first one used wind, and Stronger would be the first lightning one — but later ones like Super-1 could switch between several at will. More so for the Heisei (2000-onward) seasons, as changing colors and forms to shift the Multiform Balance and enable different elemental abilities became the standard.
    • In Kamen Rider Blade, each of the Riders has a set of Cards of Power (based on playing cards) that they can use in tandem to activate special attacks, and the Sixes are all elemental. They're used in nearly every Finishing Move, and at one point all four Riders pool their Six cards so Blade can use a Four-Of-A-Kind elemental attack. Blade's card is lightning, Garren's is fire, Chalice's is wind, and Leangle's is ice.
    • Kamen Rider Wizard is more direct about this, being a magic-user and all. His primary forms (Styles) are Flame, Water, Hurricane, and Land; his Mid-Season Upgrade Dragon Styles get special attacks using laterally-releated elements, like ice for Water Dragon, lightning for Hurricane Dragon, and gravity for Land Dragon. Finally, his Infinity Style is All Your Powers Combined, but primarily looks like light element.
    • The Riders of Kamen Rider Saber all wield different elements. Saber has fire, Blades has water, Espada has lightning, Buster has earth, Kenzan has wind, Slash has sound, Calibur has darkness, Saikou has light, Sabela has smoke, Durendal has time, and Falchion has nothingness. In Mid Season Upgrades, Blades goes from water to ice and Saber's upgrades are All Your Powers Combined. Averted by Big Bads Kamen Rider Solomon and later Kamen Rider Storius, who are Non-Elemental.
  • Much like the above, Madan Senki Ryukendo would invoke this very directly, with fire, water and lightning forms.
  • The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nóg uses the traditional Fire/Earth/Water/Air set, plus the Sixth Ranger uses Forest.
  • Shadow and Bone: As in the books, Etherealki Grisha can manipulate the classical elements. Squallers can control the air, Inferni can control fire, and Tidemakers can control water. In the Materialki order, Durasts can manipulate glass, steel, wood, plants, stone, or anything solid on a molecular level.
  • Some Super Sentai (and by extension, Power Rangers) teams use elements for the motif:
  • Nearly every example has been featured more than once in the Ultra Series, but there are a few series that use it as a specific theme:
    • Ultraman Orb is the first where it plays a significant role in both the hero and his monster foes. The show's kaiju include six King Demon Beasts associated with one of six elements (Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, Light, and Shadow). All other Ultra monsters are also classified under the same elements by the series' Ultra Cards. Ultraman Orb himself in his long-lost true form Super Mode Orb Origin wields the Orbcalibur, a sword that possesses the power of the four classic elements — Fire creates a spherical prison of flame, Water conjures a whirlpool, Earth summons explosive shockwaves, and Wind forms a tornado.
    • Ultraman R/B: Ultraman Rosso and Blu possess different forms that are based around controlling the four classical elements. While they can switch between any of the four, they usually default to Rosso using the Fire form and Blu using Water. Fittingly enough, one of their major enemies turns himself into an Evil Knockoff of Orb Origin and uses the Orbcalibur's elemental attacks against them.
  • Wu Assassins: The Chosen One protagonist has to hunt down the five Wu, whose powers are based on the Chinese elementals: fire, earth, water, metal, and wood.


    Music Videos 
  • The Spice Girls (after Geri Halliwell Left) in their music videos "Holler" and "Let Love Lead the Way" represents the four elements each.
  • The music video for the infamous Tunak Tunak Tun featured four versions of the singer, Daler Mhendi, that represented the four classical elements.

    Myths & Religion 
  • A basic run down of historic elemental systems:
    • The famous western system revolves around the classic four elements, usually divided into "hot"/"cold" (fire and air = hot, water and earth = cold) and "dry"/"wet" (earth and fire = dry, water and air = wet) axisnote . May be aligned with seasons (nowadays Air/Spring, Fire/Summer, Water/Autumn, Earth/Winter, but apparently originally starting in Greece as Water/Spring, Air/Summer, Fire/Autumn and Earth/Winter), and many other things. Aether was also always a part of it as the "superior element"; nowadays, it equals "Spirit", but historically it was pretty "light".
    • Most famously used by Aristotle whose ideas became the basis for medieval physics. Aristotle, unlike several of his predecessors, favored a blend of the elements in most objects. The main reason he was so influential was because of his ingenious and plausible sounding, but unfortunately completely wrong idea, of giving each element a preferred direction to move. Thus in Aristotelian physics a rock falls because it has lots of Earth in it and Earth's "natural motion" is down, while a flame rises because Fire's "natural motion" is up. Of course the ancient Greeks knew that whatever the heck the planets were doing they weren't moving in straight lines so Aristotle proposed they were made of a fifth element whose "natural motion" was circular. This is one of the main reasons Astronomy made no progress for hundreds of years. Thanks to Aristotle's brainwave people didn't bother asking why the planets were acting as they did because they had been educated to think that they were made of something so different that Earth's physics just didn't apply to them. Of course it's a bit harsh to put all the blame for this on Aristotle, it was his successors that (in keeping with scholarly thought of the time) simply assumed he'd got it right.
    • Alchemy throws in salt, sulphur and mercury.
    • In Hindu and Buddhist traditions, the elements, or "tattvas", are more like states of being than anything else, forming a ladder from the solid earth to the heavenly light. They're aligned with the senses (earth = smell, water = taste, fire = sight, air = touch and "akasha" note  = sound. They're also aligned with the chakras, which represent their ladder: Muladhara at the bottom, Swadhisthana in the genitals, Manipura in the stomach/solar plexus, Anahata in the heart, Vishudda in the throat and Ajna in the forehead.
    • In Chinese thought, the elements are Wood (which is also synonymous with Wind), Fire, Earth, Metal (which also includes Electricity and Light) and Water. They are pretty much described as states of matter and natural phases, so logically they're also closely tied with seasons (Wood/Spring, Fire/Summer, Metal/Autumn, Water/Winter, and Earth being the time between seasons) and life stages (Wood = birth/childhood, Fire = teenagehood, Earth = adulthood, Metal = old age and Water = old age or death). They're divided in the Yin/Yang axis (Wood and Fire = Yang, Metal and Water = Yin and Earth is both Yin and Yang). The Four Gods each represent an element (the often forgotten Yellow Dragon is the fifth, representing the Earth). The elements are also associated with personality traits, some good, some bad (fire is politeness and aggression, water contemplation and indecision, earth stubbornness and greed, wind flexibility and yielding, metal righteous and headstrong)note  and are sometimes used as a form of horoscope. The system of thinking also includes Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, with each element "nurturing" another at their own expense, being nurtured by a second, and suppressing or being suppressed by the third and fourth (for instance, wood feeds fire, which produces earth, melts metal, and is extinguished by water), although excesses of any given element can throw this system out of whack (eg: excess fire scorches earth and boils water).
    • In addition, Ba Gua further splits the elements, with Metal being divided into Heaven and Lake, Wood/Air into Wind and Thunder, Earth into Earth and Mountain, and Fire and Water remaining the same. Some correspondences are switched (i.e. Earth becomes pure Yin and Metal pure Yang, with Wood/Air being the "in between" element).
    • Japan has a classical four elemental system, with Void being at the center. However, it switches the Earth and Air correspondences, as Earth is understandably attributed to Wood and Air to Metal.
    • There's little evidence for a concrete Native American system, though the Plains Indians attributed their directional winds to South/Fire, West/Lightning and North/Water (as ice). In general, directions and times of day seem to have been the concepts that got formalized instead, with groups from at least across the American Southwest (extending into Mexico) associating each direction (North, South, East, West) with a time of day (morning/predawn, midday, evening/twilight, full night) and a color (what colors are used, and for what direction, varies significantly from culture to culture).
    • The ritual of the Kabbalistic Cross is an Esoteric protection ritual use in Cermonial Magick an summons the protection of four archangels, one for each element:
      • Michael: Fire
      • Raphael: Air
      • Gabriel: Water
      • Uriel: Earth

  • The "Barbarian" table of Balls of Steel requires the player to collect Air, Earth, Wind, and Fire elements.
  • The unnamed Thunder God in Flash throws lightning, and the entire game is centered around the idea.
  • In Magic Girl, the player must show mastery over magnetism, optics, lightning, potions, and the elements.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Michal is an impulsive young teen who gains the superpower to control and create fire.
    • Three characters gain the ability to control and create lightning: Luna, who can also turn into lightning; Josephine, who can also manipulate ice; and Simon, who can manipulate plasma, allowing him to control both lightning and fire.
  • Fire Emblem On Forums has a few examples on top of the elemental magic typical of the series:
    • Chains of Horai: Gnosis, the blessing of the Gods of the Land, grants these on top of whatever magic you already possess. The player characters all wield Gnoses to varying degrees to amplify their considerable skills.
    • Demon Soul Saga: The spell trees that replace the weapons normally used in other Fire Emblem roleplays consist of this.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ars Magica
    • Aquam (water), Auram (air), Herbam (plant), Ignem (fire/light) and Terram (earth) spells.
    • Elementalists, as described in Hedge Magic, are another (more limited) example. Their spells concentrate on affecting the elements.
  • The Dark Eye has six elements: Water, Fire, Air, Ore, Humus, and Ice. Ore is the "dead" part of the more common element Earth: Anything from sand to gemstones and refined metals, and one aspect is gravity; the opposite of air. Humus is the "living" part, from fertile topsoil to plants and animals, and associated with growth. Its opposite Ice includes cold and darkness, and is also associated with logic. The magic system is not limited to elemental spells, but any magic user specialising in elemental magic must chose one element as their main one, which makes spells based on it easier to learn, gives a slight bonus in negotiations with elementals, etc. There are corresponding penalties when dealing with the opposite element.
  • Dragon Dice uses magic of the four classical elements — Air, Water, Earth, and Fire — and a fifth, Death. The dice representing units in the game have access to magic based on the colors of plastic that compose the die with blue representing Air, green representing Water, gold representing Earth, red representing Fire, and Black representing Death. There are two additional colors — white, which represents an affinity for all elements, dependent upon the terrain that the white die is located at, and ivory, which represents and affinity for life, though there are no ivory exclusive spells.
  • Similar to its entry in the "Literature" section, The Dresden Files RPG classically distinguishes between air, earth, fire, water, and spirit (alternatively force). It's explained that this is more a matter of tradition and wizard psychology than necessarily cold hard scientific "fact", that there is room for overlap in achievable effects by applying one's elemental mastery in creative ways, and that wizards more used to thinking in terms of other "elemental" schemes — such as Ancient Mai, presumably — can work with those just as easily. Wizard characters usually start out familiar with only three elements (in Harry's case, those would be air, fire [naturally] and spirit) and specialized in one of them, but can add more elements and/or specialization bonuses later by spending refresh on Refinements.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • First through third editions of D&D, elaborated further in 2nd Edition's Planescape setting, are a lot more complicated. First you have the four (classic) elemental planes, then two energy planes (Positive, or "life" energy, and Negative, or "death"/"unlife" energy) which aren't elements proper. Paraelemental planes occur where the elemental planes cross over each other ("magma" between earth and fire, for example), and quasielemental planes where the elemental planes cross with the energy planes — Fire + Positive = Radiance (plane of pure, blinding light of all colors), Air + Positive = Lightning (infinite storm), Air + Negative = Vacuum (the vast absence of air and most other things). So a quasielement touches energy, the base element, two quasielements and two paraelements, and a paraelement touches two base elements and their four quasielements.
      • Each of the four elemental planes also has a native race of genies: the djinn (Air), efreet (Fire), marid (Water) and dao (Earth). There's also a fifth race, the jann, which are native to the mortal world and are composed of all four elements.
      • Each element has an energy type associated with it. Fire had fire damage (duh), water had cold, air had lightning, and earth had acid. Then, there was poor, lonely sonic damage...
      • The Elemental Savant Prestige Class selects any one of these four to focus on, creating a truer example than mages with access to all of the above.
      • Ravenloft has tainted Elementals born out of the corrupting influence of the Dark Powers: Pyre (fire) Grave (Earth) Blood (Water) and Mist (Air) elementals.
      • Other elementals exist in different supplements, such as taint elementals in Heroes Of Horror.
    • The Malhavoc Press third-party-sourcebook When the Sky Falls adds a bunch of elemental Star Power spells to caster arsenals, including a whole new type of elemental damage, Plasma, to more accurately reflect their status as calling upon a unique element.
    • 4th edition replaces all the Elemental Planes and Limbo with the Elemental Chaos. Each Elemental Plane was devoted to a single element, but Limbo is a chaotic mixture of the substances and inhabitants of all the previous planes.
  • Everway makes extensive but relatively subtle use of the four classical elements in character creation. To start with, characters' personal stats are named for the elements: "Fire" relates to active energy, dynamism, combat skills, and so on; "Water" determines sensitivity and intuitive feelings; "Earth" is the stat of raw might and resilience; "Air" determines thinking ability and verbal skills. Furthermore, special character powers and schools of magic are all linked to one element or another. However, these associations rarely involve direct invocation of the element itself; rather, "air magic" involves words of power, fire-linked powers can involve the manipulation of any sort of energy, and so on.
  • Exalted
    • Creation is defined by the interactions of five basic elements — Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Wood — each with associated elementals and Dragon-Blooded Exalted. The Aspect of a particular Dragon-Blooded determines their favored attributes (such as Craft for Earth, Sail for Water, Thrown for Air, etc.), and one Charm (Elemental Bolt) lets them produce a blast attack of their particular element. Each element also has an Elemental Pole in Creation (Air in the North, a frozen waste; Fire in the South, a vast desert; Wood in the East, a dense mass of forests and jungles; Water in the West, a vast ocean; and Earth in the center, a massive mountain).
    • Other planes of reality in Exalted all possess certain elements that dominate the makeup of that place, corresponding to the elements of Creation. Autochthonia has the peculiar elements of Steam and Smoke (Air), Electricity (Fire), Crystal (Wood), Oil (Water) and Metal (Earth) all with corresponding elementals and mechanical dragons (the Lesser Elemental Dragon of Smoke is lovingly titled the Shogun of Genocide). The Underworld has the ghostly "Corpse Elements" of Prayer (Air), Pyreflame (Fire), Bone (Wood), Blood (Water) and Void (Earth)note . Malfeas has Vitriol — and that's it. It kind of sucks to live there.
  • Of the five magic systems given as examples in the Fate System Toolkit, two draw upon the same five elemental "Great Storms" — Earthquake, Flood, Glacier, Inferno, and Thunder. (That these terms give each element, even the traditionally more "passive" ones, a decidedly dynamic aspect is probably not a coincidence.) One system models channeling their power directly, somewhat bender-style, while the other deals with summoning elemental spirits from the same Storms; either can be used standalone in a given campaign, but they can also just as easily be combined and then potentially used by a single character given suitable investment.
  • Ironclaw has Elementalists as one of the five basic types of mage, and the only ones whose spells inflict physical damage. Elementalists are further divided by the four standard Western elements (lightning is air) plus "star", which can only be learned after mastering the other four.
  • The Wuxia-themed Jadeclaw has Daoist mages casting spells based on the five Chinese elements of fire, water, earth, wood, and metal.
  • The Japanese-themed RPG Legend of the Five Rings, which places great significance in the Five Elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Void) — all spellcasters in that system work by controlling one of the four (other than Void).
  • Elemental Powers are divvied up among the spheres of magic Mages can learn in Mage: The Ascension and Mage: The Awakening (Air, Earth and Water are Matter, while Fire is Forces).
    • Notably, in Mage: The Awakening, there's the collection of legacies known as the Elemental Masteries, which allow a mage to develop powers based on a specific element. The five best known Masteries are Void, Air, Earth, Fire, and Water, with rumors of various others. Most notable in that they are focused around controlling both the physical and conceptual element (Tamers of Fire can control fire and inspire willpower for instance, or Tamers of Water can control water and heal).
    • In Changeling: The Dreaming, two races of changelings have elemental themes. However, they are not standard player characters and come across as exotic and alien to the Kithain, the more mainstream fae. The Western elements are represented by the Inanimae. They include the Solimonds (Fire; revolutionaries), Ondines (Water; watchers), Perosemes (Air; travellers), Glomes (Earth/Rock; soldiers), Kuberas (Earth/Plants; hedonists), and Mannikins (Anything human-shaped; enigmatic to Inanimae and Kithain alike). The Eastern Elements are represented by the Kamuii, the noble caste of Hsien (Asian Changelings; the commoners are Animorphs). The Kamuii consist of the Chu-ih-yu (Metal; Knight Templar), Chu Jung (Fire; strategists), Hou-chi (Wood; healers), Komuko (Earth; Balanced), and Suijen (Water; jerkasses).
    • The New World of Darkness version, Changeling: The Lost, has the 'Elemental' Seeming as standard, which comes in the usual fire, water, earth, air and so on, but also covers most Changelings who took on a physical aspect of Arcadia. In first edition, they get a buy-in with the Contracts of Elements (which allow for control over a specific element) and Communion (which allow for communication and influence with a specific element); they can buy up the classical elements, but could also buy power over Wood, Metal, Ice, Electricity, Glass, even Shadow or Light if you've got a permissive enough Storyteller. In second edition, they can act from a short distance away as long as they're touching or surrounded by their element, and have a buy-in with the Sword Regalia, which includes Contracts of elemental fury.
    • Demon: The Fallen has Lores for all of the western elemental forces, but also adds plants, animals, and flesh.
    • Promethean: The Created first edition has the five types of Prometheans themed after the Elements (and the humors). Wretched are Fire, Tammuz are Earth, Osirans are Water, Galateids are Air, and Ulgans are 'Spirit'. Then there's the real odd man out; the Zeka are radiation.
    • Geist: The Sin-Eaters has four elemental Keys: Grave-Dirt (Earth), Cold Wind (Air), Pyre-Flame (Fire), and Tear-Stained (Water). They don't really fit in with the death theme at first, until you realize they correspond with such funerary practices as the traditional burial, the Zoroastrian tradition of leaving a corpse for carrion birds to consume, cremation, and burial at sea.
  • Mazes and Minotaurs:
    • The base game Elementalist must pick two elements from Fire, Air, Earth, and Water, with one being their primary element. However, they cannot pick the opposing combinations of Fire and Water or Earth and Air.
    • Mazes & Minotaurs Companion adds Light and Darkness, but they're restricted to secondary elements only.
    • The Mage class from The Land of the Sun supplement functions as an Elementalist with Light as the primary element. Their magic is also changed to reflect their devotion to Ahura Mazda.
    • Vikings & Valkyries: Elementalists only have three options: Air, Fire, and Ice, but there's no restriction against opposing elementals.
  • Nobilis: The purpose of the Domain stat, and its related arc, Spiritual, in Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine is to give you this. Of course, the definition of "element" is broadened to "virtually anything", leading to miracles being performed that tie into such odd elements as Plutonium, Earwax, Blankets, Borders and Clocks.
  • Pathfinder: The kineticist class is all about manipulating the elements and doesn't use spells or any system close to it, instead giving an attack form usable at will called the kinetic blast and a variety of utility abilities and enhancements to the kinetic blast that may inflict nonlethal damage to the user for the strongest ones. Elements include the four classic elements of fire, water, earth and air, and are added to the list aether (pure psychic powers to manipulate matter), void (manipulates gravity and negative energy) and wood (power over plants and plant-based abilities). A kineticist can focus on a single element or extend their study to harness a maximum of three of them, and possibly combine the power of two elements in a single kinetic blast.
  • RuneQuest: The Glorantha setting has five basic elements: Darkness (the primal element), Earth, Sky (which includes fire), Water, and Storm (the air between Earth and Sky). The Lunar Empire regards "Moon" as a sixth element, and most other cultures hate and fear them.
  • Savage Worlds: In the 50 Fathoms setting, magic is based on elemental mastery. Most mages possess mastery over only one of the four classical elements. However, player characters can buy dominion over each element, leading up to buying the "Elemental Mastery" edge, with which your mage can sucessfully balance all four elements.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: The core lores of magic are based on this, and both High Magic and Dark Magic can be tied to this as well. Other forms of magic are not such good fits. Some of the Lores are straightforward, others more complicated.
    • The Lore of Fire is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • The Lore of Shadow covers both literal manipulation of darkness, but is also the school of magic that specialises in creating illusions and Psychic Powers (of the "you hallucinate something so terrifying you die of fear" style).
    • The Lore of Death is similar to Necromancy, in that it can contact souls and attack the life essence of the living, but it's not "conventional" Night of the Living Mooks style necromancy, and confusing the two is guaranteed to make an imperial practitioner very cross. Necromancy of the "classic" style, in this setting, is a form of Dark Magic powered by/focused through Death magic because human straight up using Dark magic cause very very bad Chaos juju and not even Necromancers (or at least those who aren't completely Drunk on the Dark Side or just plain insane) dare mess with that.
    • The Lore of Metal covers the manipulation and creation of metal. It's very good at wrecking (or enhancing) warmachines and armor, but it can also attack by creating metal projectiles or gouts of molten metal.
    • The Lore of Beasts is the odd one out of the eight; it allows a caster to control animals and monsters, to turn into one himself, or to imbue allies with bestial traits (literally or metaphorically) to aid them in combat.
    • The Lore of Life is the most diversely elemental of the lores; it combines manipulation of earth and water and plants and it covers healing as well.
    • The Lore of the Heavens draws from all "celestial" aspects, meaning it mixes Star Power (in both the "divine the future" sense and the "hit your enemies with meteorite barrages" sense) with wind and lightning magic.
    • The Lore of Light can conjure beams of radiance to burn and destroy, but also specialises in exorcising evil spirits (making its attacks particularly potent against The Legions of Hell and The Undead) and defensive conjurations.
    • High Magic and Dark Magic, meanwhile, are All Your Powers Combined versions of these eight forms; High Magic painstakingly weaves different magical energies together into a single coherent whole, making it roughly analogous to the Pure Magic element, whilst Dark Magic brutally crushes and mashes them together to create a highly unstable but very destructive form of Black Magic. In addition to being a distinct lore of its own, Dark Magic also fuels the various Necromancy lores and its congealed form powers Skaven magic and technology.
    • Ice Magic also exists. It's not really part of the eight winds of magic and is only practiced in Kislev by the Ice Witches.

  • BIONICLE: Most characters have an element associated with them. The main ones that the various heroes wield are Fire, Ice, Water, Air, Stone, and Earth; while the Big Bads have Shadow and the Sixth Ranger has Light. Time, Life and Creation are considered Infinity Plus One Elements; no person wields those naturally and the relics with those powers (one each) are dangerous to use. Occasionally some other elements are mentioned, from not-so-unusual ones like Lightning, Iron, and Plant Life; to offbeat ones like Sonics (sound), Magnetism, Gravity, Plasma, and Psionics (Psychic Powers). On top of that, some characters' powers like Acid and Vacuum are considered quasi-elements, mostly due to being part of a group whose other members use actual elements.
  • Mixels is based around the idea of tribes, each tribe being associated with an element. They include the Infernites, the Cragsters, the Electroids, and the Frosticons. All the other tribes are based around non-traditional elements, such as the Fang Gang (both with plant abilities and sharp fangs), the Flexers, the Spikels, and later tribes based on space travel and construction vehicles.
  • The Lego Elves line includes elves with elemental powers.
  • Something like this is present in Star Monsters. The eponymous monsters form out of three-pointed stars, and what they look like when completely formed and what their personality is like is affected by what the environment they land in is like. Earth, plant, water, air, ice, sound, and shadow elemental families are present in Star Monsters.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • The heroes of Broken Saints, do not actually have control over the elements, they are simply associated with them as representations of certain virtues.
    • Oran > Faith > Fire
    • Kamimura > Will > Earth
    • Raimi > Awareness > Air
      • (alternatively, "Awareness" in promotional material is replaced by "Hope" to represent Raimi)
    • Shandala > Lover > Water
  • RWBY:
    • Dust is the energy resource of the world of Remnant, mined from the ground in crystalline form. It exists in several natural forms, as well as several naturally occuring combinations. Humans have also been able to create artificial combinations as well. Every form of Dust, whether natural or artificial, raw or combined, has its own elemental power. When used in its raw form, Dust can even produce elemental effects such as summoning thunderstorms and lightning. Other forms of Dust can produce fire, ice, rock, and even gravity. The rarest form of Dust produces Hard Light.
    • In the Remnant fairy tale "the Story of the Seasons," four sisters are gifted with incredible magical powers when they kindly help a reclusive Old Wizard. The powers the wizard grants them are the powers of the elements, with each sister coming to represent the four seasons because of the power the fairytale implies was given to her. Spring is implied to be able to make plants grow at unnatural speed, Summer can produce fire, Fall can produce wind, and Winter can create ice. The real Maidens that the fairytale is based on actually aren't restricted in what elemental powers they can use, although their individual personalities may make them favour one over the others. The Fall Maiden, Amber, can hurl wind or fire, produce lightning, create flechettes out of leaves by hardening them with ice. The woman who inherits Amber's powers, Cinder, was a fire user before she became a Maiden; while she can use the other elements if she has to, she so heavily favours the Maiden's fire element that she almost never uses the other powers.

  • The five Agents of the Realm have powers based on elements, with the fifth one being Power of the Void.
  • In Angel Moxie, Alex's magical ability is centered around the magical elements. The 6 magical elements are Water, Fire, Earth, Lightning, Pearl, and Shadow. Every lesser demon is aligned with a particular element, and as Alex slays demons of an element, she gains more power to cast spells of that element.
  • Demons in the universe of Ava's Demon are genetically divided into elemental castes. So far the elements of fire and nature have been shown while Nevy presumably uses water. Word of God states that Pedri's element is death.
  • Butterfly from Collar 6 has recently revealed her power to use fire.
  • In the hybrid webcomic/browser game Demon Thesis, the four main characters find themselves suddenly gifted with Elemental Powers after a mysterious Manipulative Bastard entity from another dimension reaches into our world and starts creating chaos. They get almost exactly the classic western elements, except that Sam's powers are over ice instead of water.
  • Drowtales: Most drow and elves have an elemental affinity, meaning the innate ability to manipulate and control a certain element, including fire, air, earth, water, ice, wood, blood and bone. It's noted at one point that in the past, magic-users would study and specialize in the manipulation of their element and use it as their main combat magic, but this ended when the invention of magic foci (gemstones implanted in armor) attuned to various elements gave anyone who wore the right focus the ability to control that focus' element.
  • Magic in the world of Bideogamu, setting of Fetch Quest: Saga of the Twelve Artifacts is divided into eight elements, each with a patron Seraph: Light, Shadow, Fire, Water, Wind, Earth/Nature, Ice, and Lightning. Furthermore, each person in Bideogamu has an affinity for one of the eight, although Light and Shadow are very rare.
  • In Harkovast there are fourteen (count em) magical elements! They are Fire, Ice, Water, Earth, Metal, Mind, Nature, Technology, Dark, Light, Life, Death, Thunder and Water. Every race that appears is gifted with the magic of two of these elements, each race receiving a different combination. The combination they get determines both the special powers and often aspects of the culture of that race.
  • Homestuck has the twelve Aspects that form half of a Hero's role (along with Class): Breath (traditional Air powers with light emphasis on freedom and movement as well), Light (includes knowledge and luck, which all adds up to powers over definition, existence and truth; actual light may be involved as well), Time (seemingly also related to death and destruction, or entropy), Space (seemingly also related to creation), Life (shown to be healing; may include powers over life other than healing, and has light emphasis on energy and power), Void (invisibility, elusiveness and Anti-Magic; it all adds up to lies, non-existence and obfuscation), Heart (emotions and Soul Power), Hope (nature unknown but possibly related to belief), Mind (telepathy, mind reading, prediction), Blood (possibly related to unity, Dishing Out Dirt, and bonds), Doom (related to death, sacrifice, and destruction, with light emphasis on law and fate), and Rage (related to negative emotions like anger and fear, with a heavy emphasis on restriction).
  • Mages in Leif & Thorn come in magical domains (with corresponding spirits). Mentioned so far: water, nature, fire, and stars. Almost anything appears to fall under that last category, under the more science-based logic that all matter was originally star stuff.
  • The abilities of the protagonists of M9 Girls! are the result of channeling the universe's elemental energies thru their bodies.
  • In My Impossible Soulmate, every human or demi-human has the ability of wielding magic that corresponds to the one of the 7 magical elements (Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Frost, Light, and Spirit) they are aligned with at birth.
  • Subverted in The Order of the Stick when Redcloak summons Titanium and Chlorine elementals (and probably others) to attack Azure City, remarking that he actually got a passing grade in chemistry, and that fire is not even an element, but a chemical reaction.
    Redcloak: They're not called reactionals, you know!
    • Compounding the joke, most mages are seemingly aware of the other elements but scoff at the idea to using them because "classical elements are classical for a reason."
  • In Pacificators, there are people with "powers," however they're a bit rare. The main characters include Daryl, Cinna, Muneca, Taffe, and Larima. So far, the powers we've seen are light, fire, water (including ice), air (wind and sound), earth (including metal), lightning, and gravity. More are to come!
  • In Panthera, each of the teens gains an elemental power while in panther form. Jason becomes the lion of earth, Kira the tiger of fire, Fletcher the leopard of Air, and Taylor the jaguar of water.
  • The magi human subspecies in Royal have a very common chance at being born with Elemental Powers. A good example is the Schmitt brothers who can be considered a Four-Element Ensemble of Fire, Ice, Lightning and Water.
  • An antagonist in Sarab also averts air users lacking raw power. He seems to have the most raw power of anyone shown so far.
  • Sleepless Domain: Each member of Team Alchemical uses magic in line with their stated classical elements of Air, Earth, Fire, and Water. Tessa, as their fifth member and team leader Alchemical Aether, has control over Pure Energy instead. Likewise, Melty Flame and Melty Frost can be assumed to be fire and ice users, and Pop Blitz is stated to have electricity powers that she's still working on controlling.
  • In the webcomic Slightly Damned, angels, demons, and mortals are attuned to the four elements: Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. In addition, Angels can use Holy magic, while demons can use Dark magic. It should also be noted that angels are generally better at spells than demons, and demons better at them than mortals.
  • Spontaneous Combustion has Flat Man, who seems to have more to do with element control than being flat
  • Talamak has 12 elements: water, fire, wind, earth, flora, fauna, flux, chimera, storm, time, space, and decay.
  • Ghosts in Undead Friend each get control over a elemental power after joining the game. The elements they have are: fire, lightning, water, wind, earth and metal.
  • All mages in What's Shakin' can use all forms of magic, however each one excels in only one school. For instance, Coffin excels at fire magic, Pai at spirit/summoning, and Ell at holy/light.
  • Several characters from Andrew's party in Rise Of The Heroes have elemental magic. That being:
    • Andrew uses fire magic.
    • Cress uses plant/forest magic.
    • Enzios uses lightning magic.
    • Akros uses earth/rock magic.

    Web Original 
  • The Anicopter's elements are Fire, Water, Wind, Wood, and I CAN COMMUNICATE WITH BATS. The elements are little related to their possessors (Bat communication is the power of Robot Ant), and Fire is apparently weak to Wood.
  • Pretty much all of the examples above, including illusion, shadow, etc. turn up in the RPG Mechanics 'Verse of Blue Core.
  • Chaos Fighters is rife with this. Without counting the Power Levels, there are around 23 elements including non-elemental, which is counted as one. Their weakness depends on the nature of the elemental attacks/spells and the caster. This is not even count the sub-elements under non-elemental, such as subatomic particles and their antimatter counterparts and photons.
  • Dominion And Duchy, oddly for a Space Opera has at least six Elemental Manifestations. There is Luxianne, Manifestation of Light, Duister, Manifestation of Darkness, Dante, Manifestation of Twilight (which is apparently a specific type of energy), Lord Anarchy, Manifestation of Chaos, Lady Libra, Manifestation of Order and Malaenda, Manifestation of Neutrality and Balance. None of them seem to be evil.
  • In Elcenia, kyma can learn elemental kamai, which allows them control over all four classical elements — earth, air, water, and fire. This is in contrast to magic native to Elcenia, where a mage can only control one type of elemental magic, and has to "die" by it first. For instance, someone with the ability to become a water mage would have to drown, but would be alive afterwards.
  • A work in progress, Elemental uses these. Attributes include...
    • Lightning-Powerful, yet fast fading.
    • Water-Versatility.
    • Fire-Destructive and unpredictable.
    • Earth-Wise, but unwilling to change.
    • Air-Persistence and loyal.
    • Ice-Loss of Sanity.
    • Mind-Underhanded and Manipulative.
  • In the Web Serial Engines of Creation, the various forms of magi utilize control over various elements.
  • In Impractical Magic The Magic School, Istima, has several courts. Each court has it's own magic system and culture. The Winter Court teaches sufficiently analyzed elemental magic that has some elements of wonder and vagueness that prevent that part of the story from becoming rationalist fiction.
  • Every Seldnac'Rae knows at least one type of magic, which can range from classic elements like water or fire all the way to rarer seen magics like Ethereal Walker or Possession.
  • In Shadows of the Limelight, many of the domains are elemental powers like water, light, shadow, wood, metal, and sound.
  • Nearly everyone in Trinton Chronicles from hero, villain, to every-day-citzens has one of the above abilities or more then one in some cases. Magic is treated like science as it is learnable by all and everyone uses it in everyday life.
  • In Void Domain, most people have an affinity for one of the four classical elements and can't cast with the opposed element. In addition, there is Order and Chaos magic.
  • Several of the superpowered teenagers at Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe have elemental powers.
    • Riptide has control over water. Fireball and Phoenixfire have fire-based powers. Imperious has the ability to cast lightning bolts, and super strength.
    • Imperious likely also has wind/air-based powers, due to being Zeus.
    • In at least one case, "reality" somewhat randomly chose to reassert itself: Frostbite technically has the power to move water at a distance, but doing so uses up the energy contained in the water in the form of heat...and she can explicitly not manipulate ice, leaving her somewhat Blessed with Suck.

    Western Animation 
  • In Aladdin: The Series, among the magical forces Aladdin and his friends dealt with, the majority of which were beings who either commanded or were made of nearly every kind of natural element: wind, fire, water, smoke, sand, mud, ice, lava, and plants.
  • Later episodes of Adventure Time introduce four reincarnated Elemental Embodiments. Each wields one of the four elements: ice, fire, candy, and slime.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • The Avatar franchise has the four Bending Arts, namely Water, Earth, Fire, and Air. Indeed, all four nations are themed around their respective elements — the Water Tribes, Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation, and Air Nomads, with a certain percentage of people born within those countries manifesting their respective signature elemental power. Normally, a bender can only use the element they're born with, but there is one exception in the titular Avatar, a reincarnated figure who can (with training and time) harness the powers of all four elements, and serves more or less as the resident Superhero. Note that the cycle of Avatar reincarnation corresponds with the ancient Greek order: Air (warm and wet) to Water (cold and wet) to Earth (cold and dry) to Fire (hot and dry) to Air to etc.
    • There is also Pure Energy in the form of chi, which tends to be related to the Spirit World, granting abilities like locating things far away, seeing the future, and reading auras. It is also the metaphysical basis of Bending (done by manipulating chi within one's body via muscle or breath control) and the ability to invoke the Avatar State at will (via opening one's chakras). In the Grand Finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, another discipline of Bending, called Energybending, is revealed. It is an ancient style said to predate the Bending of the elements (and the first incarnation of the Avatar) and was used by beings to manipulate the energy within themselves. Bending the energy of another is shown to be capable of both bestowing knowledge and removing the ability to Bend, at the risk of having one's own spirit overwhelmed by the target.
    • Each of the Bending styles also has specialized substyles, some which require a great amount of skill and special training, or are stronger in certain bloodlines. Some Firebenders can fire explosive beams from their forehead (referred to as "Combustionbending") or generate lightning, some Waterbenders can heal, calm spirits, or bend the blood of others, select Earthbenders can bend metal or even lava, and a few Airbenders can perform Astral Projection or outright fly. There are also a few odd groups with their own takes on bending, like swampbenders and sandbenders; these are not separate elements, but specific disciplines of Waterbending and Earthbending developed by some tribes to better suit the areas they live in (swamps and deserts, respectively). Similarly, Waterbending is shown to include ice and snow by default since both Water Tribes are located near the poles.
    • The benders' temperaments often follow the traditional associations with those elements, but there are exceptions. Uncle Iroh is one of the most skilled firebenders in the world, and is a fat, philosophical and laid back (many would say "lazy", and many do). Of course, push him too far, and you will learn why he is known as the Dragon of the West. Meanwhile, King Bumi, one of the most skilled Earthbenders, is probably entirely insane, in contrast to the calm Implacable Man association you'd expect.
    • Bending is so integral that it's even incorporated into major technologies; in Avatar: The Last Airbender, Ba Sing Se's transit system is powered by Earth Benders, while in The Legend of Korra, Republic City's power plants are staffed by lightingbenders.
  • Many of the aliens in the Ben 10 series have these kind of powers. Most notably however is in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Ben obtains the forms of five aliens who each possess one of these: Water, Fire, Wind, Earth, and Lightning. When Big Bad Aggregor absorbs the powers of all five aliens, he ends up being virtually unstoppable.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers — Kwame (Earth), Wheeler (Fire), Linka (Wind), Gi (Water), Ma-Ti (Heart) And when their powers combine... well, you know the rest.
  • The Dragamon of Dragamonz, are divided into five distinct races of sentient dragon-like creatures. They are the Stormclaw, Wildthorn, Firewing, Stonescale, and Slytoxin.
  • The Dragon Prince has the Primal Sources of Magic, which basically fit the same role. They include the sun (which seems to include fire and light), the moon (illusions), the stars (divination), the ocean, the earth and the sky (which seems to including air, ice and lightning). Elves and dragons are naturally tied to a Source, as are some animals, while human mages have a harder time. There's also Dark Magic, which draws on the Life Energy of magical creatures; it's easier for humans to use, but controversial even among them.
  • Gormiti: The Lords of Nature Return Has four kids with the power of Air, Earth, Water and Forest, with the fifth being Light.
  • Hercules and Xena – The Animated Movie: The Battle for Mount Olympus had the Titans who could each control one of the classic elements.
  • Shendu's family of demons from Jackie Chan Adventures each possessed an element from which they derived their magic: Fire, Earth, Thunder, Sky, Wind, Mountain, Moon, and Water. Once the demons were sealed away for good, traces of their powers remained, leaving them vunerable to absorption by nearly anyone. In Season 5, seemingly everyone had a crack at one of the powers before Drago eventually claimed them all for himself.
  • As Elemental Embodiment, the main characters of Master Raindrop have elemental-based powers.
  • Luz from The Owl House cast spells using glyphs which she learns from observing the natural world, i.e. snowflakes are in the shape of the ice glyph. Her powers are light, ice, plant and fire. All other spells appears to be constructed from combinations of the four elemental glyphs.
  • Metalocalypse has only one element — Metal.
  • Ninjago: The four ninja have the powers of Fire (Kai), Earth (Cole), Lightning (Jay), and Ice (Zane) — all of which are considered the four main elements in Ninjago that make up the power of Creation. The latter is utilised in the "Tornado of Creation" technique, in which the ninja combine their Spinjitzu together to create something out of nothing.
    • As the prophesied Green Ninja, Lloyd possesses Golden Power, which is a mixture of the aforementioned main elements and Pure Energy. He later loses most of the Golden Power to the Overlord and shares the rest of it with the other ninja, leaving him with just Energy.
    • Season 4 reveals the existence of secondary elements as well as their current masters: Metal (Karlof), Amber (Skylor), Light (Paleman), Speed (Griffin Turner), Smoke (Ash), Mind (Neuro), Gravity (Gravis), Nature (Bolobo), Sound (Jacob Pevsner), Poison (Tox), Shadow (Shade) and Form (Chamille). Apparently, elemental powers are passed down through generations tracing back to the First Elemental Masters. They, along with Kai, Cole, Jay and Lloyd, take part in the titular Tournament of Elements that pits them into battle with each other.
    • Two more elements are introduced in Season 5: Wind (Morro) and Water (Nya). Unusually for this trope, the Wind user is a villainous ghost, and the Wind Is Green trope is alluded to in his jealousy of Lloyd becoming the Green Ninja instead of him. Fortunately, ghosts are repelled by water — though Nya initially struggles with controlling her newfound element due to her reluctance to embrace her identity as a ninja.
    • The main villains of Season 7 are the twins Acronix and Krux, collectively referred to as "the Hands of Time". Notably, Acronix is the younger and more tech-savvy twin with the ability to speed up time while Krux is the older twin with a disdain for technology and the ability to slow down time.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) there were the Foot Mystics, powerful servants of the Demon Shredder who were composed of (and commanded powers of) Wind, Earth, Water, Fire, and Metal.
  • Winx Club: Bloom (Fire), Stella (Light), Musa (Sound), Flora (Earth/Air), Tecna (Metal/Electricity), Aisha (Water/Plasma), Roxy (Animals), Icy (Ice), Darcy (Darkness), and Stormy (Wind/Lightning). There is a bit of a subversion in that Flora seems to manipulate both earth and air.
  • W.I.T.C.H.: Will (Energy/Quintessence and Heart), Irma (Water), Taranee (Fire), Cornelia (Earth and Plants) and Hay Lin (Air). The show is notable for subverting the personalities usually attached to the elements. Taranee Cook, the fire-user, is shy and softspoken whereas Cornelia Hale, the earth-user, is spoiled, brutally honest and sometimes kind of a bitch. Justified in the comic book: Cornelia got Earth power because she was the most grounded, as declared by Yan Lin when she gave the protagonists their powers, while Taranee is noted many times as being the one you can't piss off, as provoking her is like pouring napalm on fire (as Cedric cried at Elyon after the latter did just that and Taranee started melting the building. There WAS a reason if Cedric told her to leave Taranee alone for all the issue while Taranee was their prisoner...).
  • Xiaolin Showdown: Notable for the leader of the kids, Raimundo, being aligned with Air, while the show's lead Omi uses Water, and The Heart, Kimiko, uses Fire. Clay, though, is played straight for using Earth.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Elemental Magic


Iroh and the Four Elements

Iroh quickly summarizes the purpose and inner truth of the four elements to Zuko

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Main / ElementalPowers

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