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Elemental Speed

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Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, Hea—er, Light and Lightning. By their powers combined, we'd get an awesome race!note 
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This trope correlates a character's Super Speed or speed-based abilities with Elements of Nature. There are several ways to do this: the element can be the source of their speed, they can travel through the element to build their speed, the element can be shown as the aftermath or byproduct of their speed, the element can be merely symbolic or thematic, or it can dictate the type of speed they have as well. And, of course, combinations of each of the above are possible.

Examples and subtypes include:

  • Earth-based: Earth is the element least associated with speed, as rocks are slow and heavy, and the ground is stationary. However, Earth-based characters may use their weight to gain speed, such as using a Rolling Attack or a Ground Pound. That said, dust and/or sand can have greater emphasis on speed, as an alternative to water or snow (see below). If the character is extremely strong or good at digging, they might utilize Fast Tunnelling as well.
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  • Ice-based: Ice is usually associated with slowing or freezing things, but ice can also reduce friction, allowing a Slide Attack or creating a Slippy-Slidey Ice World. Weight-based speed can also apply here, usually with some kind of downward slope to help build acceleration. Snow, being much lighter and more fluid, can have the slipperiness of ice, but also possess physics similar to water.
  • Water-based: Water is fluid, almost as slippery as ice and can flow rapidly with enough momentum or pressure. Characters with water abilities tend to express their speed in terms of agility, flexibility and finesse moreso than pure movement. Aquatic creatures are often extremely swift as well, with dolphins, merfolk or water serpents being extremely agile and graceful. That being said, if water is used for pure bursts of speed, it's typically in the form of a geyser or water-jet ability. Water as a purely-visual indicator of speed is also possible by having a character walking or running cross it or leave billowing waves in their wake.
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  • Air-based: Air has been associated with speed since antiquity, due to wind itself moving hundreds of miles/kilometers per hour, being used for sailing, and fast-moving objects creating great bursts of air pressure. Wind-based characters tend to be very light and and use lift to glide rather than fly under their own power (unless they can generate powerful gusts). Some can even spin extremely fast and create some sort of funnel cloud. Due to air also being hard to control and creating lots of friction, there tends to be a limit on just how fast these characters can go.
  • Fire-based: Fire is a very strong indicator of speed for many reasons. Fire spreads fast, usually indicating that someone who controls it (or is made of it) can move just as quickly. Fire is also generated by high levels of energy and friction, so even if the character in question doesn't control fire itself, they may create or ignite it simply by using their abilities. And last but certainly not least, fire produces combustive propellants and engines, allowing things like jet aircraft, bullets and rockets to reach supersonic speeds. It's also common for a fiery character to be able to create, hurl or become a high-velocity Fireball or leave a trail of fire where they've been.
  • Electric-based: Without a doubt, one of the most common and visually-striking indications of speed. Lightning and other forms of current move at speeds too fast for the human eye, and the power it generates is often necessary to power electric signals and other electromagnetic phenomena. There's a reason "fast as lightning" is a common phrase. Characters of this element can commonly Electric Slide or Ride the Lightning, and thanks to its relation to magnetism, electric speed can also be achieved by hurling or attracting objects with magnetic force, such as with a railgun. In short, if a character has electric powers, then you should expect them to utilize speed, and vice-versa. Even if a speedster character doesn't have any actual lightning powers, it's very common for them to have a lightning motif and/or have sparks or small arcs of electricity show up as a visual effect of using their powers.
  • Light-based or Darkness-based: Light is the fastest thing in the universe, and surpassing that speed has been one of the fondest dreams of fantasy and science-fiction. If something is associated with light, then you can expect that their speed scale is on the cosmic level, capable of teleporting anywhere on Earth in an instant, and not taking much time to travel through the stars, either. If the setting gives light an opposite number, then you can expect darkness to be just as fast—if not even faster since, as the absence of light, darkness disappears at the same speed as light arrives and reappears as it fades. There's also the associations to black holes and, by extension, gravity. In either case, these abilities are already pushing the limits of science, so characters can use them to do practically anything...up to and including Ride the Rainbow, Thinking Up Portals and Time Travel.

In addition to the above types, there are many ways that Metal, sound and gravity can be used to convey speed, but these tend to be associated with other elements, such as electronics, thunder or darkness. Unless the work in question treats any of those things as an "element" in their own right, they don't count.

Sub-Trope and combinatin of Super Speed, Elements of Nature and Elemental Powers.

Super-Trope of:

As explained above, some of the sources of this trope are Older Than Dirt.

Note: To qualify as an example, the element in question needs to be the source, means or visual indication of a character's speed. For instance, merely riding a Jet Pack is not enough—the flames of the jets need to convey velocity.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Matsuri can use wind ninjutsu to reduce air resistance in front of him, and shoot it backward to propel himself forward. This doesn't just apply to himself, as Matsuri is first shown clinging to Soga to make the speed-focused ninja that much faster.
  • Black Clover:
    • Luck Voltia's Lightning Magic forms electric gauntlets on his hands and feet that allow him to move at blistering speeds.
    • Light Magic is said to be the fastest form of magic, making it formidable in both firepower and attack speed. When fighting Licht, most of the heroes struggle to deal with it at first because of how fast it flies. Asta and Yami get by through Combat Clairvoyance learned through reading ki, while Gauche outright counters it with his Mirror Magic.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Makoto Misaka is also known as "Railgun" due to her Electromaster ability's most unique technique: a localized railgun created from her own body that can fire any object at insane velocities. Due to her own body being relatively human aside from the electric current she produces, she can't hurl herself around at those speeds without risking ending up a stain on a wall.
  • Digimon:
    • Drillmon doesn't move too terribly fast on the surface. When he's burrowing though the ground, he's a lot quicker.
    • There's also Grumblemon from Digimon Frontier, the human spirit Warrior of Earth, who's primary tactic is to dive underground and swiftly confuse his opponents before bashing them with his hammer.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: The titular character eventually learns how to turn into electricity, and uses that for speed.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Midoriya is a roundabout example. While using One For All: Full Cowl, he emits green sparks as he moves, reflecting the added speed and power the technique affords him.
    • Some heroes like Bakugou and Endeavor are able to propel themselves using their respective Quirks to move at incredible speeds to keep up with those who have actual Super Speed Quirks. Todoroki learns this technique from his father to save his brother Natsuo from a villain.
    • Hawks' obvious Animal Motif is supplemented by his Quirk, which gives him large wings that allow him to move faster than those with actual Super Speed Quirks. His arrival on the scene is usually heralded by a breeze or a gust because of how fast he's always moving.
  • In One Piece most devil fruit users, particularly of the Logia (elemental) type, seem to figure out how to use their powers to move faster than they otherwise would. Examples include characters like Kizaru and Eneru who can transform into bolts of light and lightning respectively, as well as Pica who can merge his body with the earth beneath his feet and move it to another location.

    Comic Books 
  • Ghost Rider is associated with both fire (specifically hellfire) and speed, thanks to being a demon riding a Cool Bike. The wheels of his motocycle are usually ablaze, and often leaves a trail of flame wherever he goes.
  • Fantastic Four: Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch, is the fastest member of his team by far. He is capable of using his flame powers to propel himself to supersonic speeds.
  • The Flash (and all of his related super-speedsters) is associated with both lightning and light both by way of his name and the lightning insignia on his uniform. Visually, the Speed Force that empowers them tends to take the form of lightning. Sometimes, they also incorporate fire into their aesthetics or ability pools, but in most cases that's only because they move so fast that fire is a natural byproduct.
  • Iceman: While speed is not specifically one of Bobby Drake's powers, using his abilities to create slippery platforms that he or others can use to slide around is one of the most recognizable and iconic abilities he possesses.
  • Monica Rambeau has light-based powers and has used thematic codenames like Photon and Spectrum. She is capable of shifting into a body of pure light, whereupon she moves at lightspeed and the entire world comes to a complete stop.
  • Cannonball of the X-Men, New Mutants and other X-related teams is a mutant Flying Brick with the ability to hurl himself at high speeds. Usually, his power and speed are indicated by a fiery aura as well as a trail of fire jetting out behind him.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Ami's ice magic encased enemies and turned them into a weapon, a "speeding ice block" aimed at other enemies and pushed by her golems.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Incredibles: One of the film's most memorable scenes occurs when Dash is accidentally chased out into the middle of the sea by the villains. At first, he panics, thinking that he's going to sink, but both he and the audience soon realize just how fast he really is when Dash is able to continue run across the water with no problem. Noticing this, Dash gives a confident laugh and runs even faster, leaving a high trail of waves in his wake.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The film version of Sonic the Hedgehog, in addition to his Super Speed, generates electricity in his quills. The first trailer draws attention to the electricity increasing in intensity when he runs and shows that the electricity he generated was enough to cause power outages throughout the United States west coast.
  • Xayide's Hollow Giants in The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter search for Bastion throughout Fantasia by moving at the Speed of Dark, which is stated to be faster than the speed of light.
  • Krull: When the heroes discover that the Big Bad is in a desert a long distance off, they get the idea to capture and ride horses that generate flames as they approach top speed which allows them to fly.
Ryl: Firemares! Firemares can travel a thousand leagues in a day!

    Literature 
  • Doesn't use literal superspeed, but Zorro's horse Tornado is always portrayed as an exceptionally fast animal who never fails to outpace antagonists trying to engage in a little "Fox" hunting.

    Video Games 
  • Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon:
    • Andrealphus is a boss that is one of the fastest enemies in the game and attacks with electricity and lightning-based attacks, as well as blowing gusts of wind at the player that can threaten to knock them off the stage.
    • Bathin is a boss that can streak across the screen at high speeds and uses electricity to attack the player if they stand too long in one spot.
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night: Bathin returns in this game, although his abiltiies are associated with light, allowing him to teleport across the room and reflect off of smooth, mirror-like surfaces. After Miriam absorbs his shard, she gets the same ability.
  • Chantelise: The Air Crystal option for Elise's sword lets her swing it faster.
  • Zig-zagged in Divinity: Original Sin: the Pyromancer ability grants a skill that boosts the target's movement speed and Action Points per turn, while the Hydrosophist ability has skills that do the opposite.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II:
    • The Favourable Wind aerotheurge skill grants nearby allies a boost to movement speed, described as the wind literally being at their back.
    • The Haste pyrokinetic skill grants the target both a boost to movement speed and an extra Action Point per combat turn.
  • Dota 2:
    • Invoker can summon reagent orbs, which give him a bonus to a certain stat on top of their primary purpose of being used to invoke his other spells. The storm reagent, Wex, increases his movement speed.
    • Storm Spirit's ultimate ability, Ball Lightning, lets him turn into pure electricity and zip around at high speeds. The spell has no cooldown, making him one of the most mobile heroes in the game as long as he has enough mana.
    • Earth Spirit has the ability Rolling Boulder, which turns him into a round boulder that rolls forwards at high speeds, stunning and damaging enemies he collides with.
    • Slardar, who belongs to the fish-like Slithereen race, can use Guardian Sprint to increase his movement speed, with the bonus being larger while he's in water.
    • Morphling has Waveform, which turns him into a wave of water that rushes forwards at high speeds, damaging enemies.
    • Razor, the Lightning Revenant, has passively increased movement speed thanks to his Storm Surge ability. Nearby allies also gain a reduced version of this effect.
  • Delsin Rowe from inFAMOUS: Second Son can use his smoke powers to propel himself through the air, and dash by transforming into a cloud of smoke.
  • Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass: The Rad Sneakers' Flavor Text:
    There's a sweet decal of a lightning bolt on the side, so you know you're going to move fast with these.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep: A variety of magic spells can be created or obtained that allow the user to cloak themselves in an element and rush forward at incredible speeds, such as Thunder Surge, Fire Surge, Barrier Surge, Fire Dash, Ice Slide, and Air Slide.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Gorons are subterranean creatures who revolve their entire society around using and eating stones. They are large and heavy, but can roll themselves into a ball shape and roll at extremely high speeds. So fast, in fact, that speedrunners who play The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask prefer to use the Goron roll to get around on solid ground.
    • Zoras are aquatic fishpeople who swim at exceptionally high speeds. Link can also turn into one in Majora's Mask, and it is by far one of the fastest ways to move around.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, wind-based speed and abilities is one of the core components of the game, such as using a large leaf along with air currents to move around high places, or manipulating the wind to gain speed for Link's sailboat.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • Raiden is a thunder god and as such can turn himself into lightning to teleport from place to place.
    • One of Sub-Zero's most recurring abilities is a slide he can use to launch himself forward. The ability doesn't always make visual use of his ice abilities, but the idea of the "ice guy" sliding as one of his attack certainly invokes the trope.
    • Liu Kang in some instances uses his ability to control fire to propel himself. Most notably, Revenant Liu Kang does this by hopping onto a small boat and using the flames from both his hands as jets to quickly get to Raiden's ship and attack him.
    • Kabal is usually associated with both speed and wind, since he turns into a visual streak whenever he uses his abilities and can also leave a character spinning in place like a small tornado after he passes them.
  • Overwatch: Wrecking Ball, who rides around in a ball-shaped mech, is the fastest character in the game in terms of acceleration. When moving at max speed, he is covered by a fiery aura.
  • Paladins:
  • Pokémon:
    • Rapidash is called the "fastest Pokemon" in-universe and, when seen in motion throughout the franchise, it is always followed by billowing flames from its mane and tail.
    • The Flying-type in general is also associated with speed. It has a lot of Pokémon with a high Speed stat, the move Tailwind boosts the entire team's Speed for the next three turns, the Ability Gale Wings allows the user's Flying-type moves to always go first, and the move Max Airstream grants a 50% increase in Speed for itself and its double-battle partner until switched out or the battle ends.
    • To a lesser extent, the Water-type can also boast some incredible speeds. The Ability Swift Swim, which many Pokémon have, double their Speed whenever it's raining. Sharpedo in particular stands out, who not only can get Speed Boost as an Ability, which increases its Speed every turn, it's always depicted in the overworld as incredibly fast, whether it's a form of fast movement in the water in Pokémon Sun and Moon or chasing you down at sea faster than you can travel in Pokémon Sword and Shield.
    • The Electric-type is the most straightforward example, with most Pokémon of this type being Fragile Speedsters. A lot of the Pokémon with the fastest unboosted speed are Electric-type, such as Electrode, Jolteon, Zeraora, Boltund, Tapu Koko, and Mega Manectric, all of whom are in the top 10% of Pokémon by Speed stat.
  • Street Fighter:
    • M. Bison's Psycho Crusher sees him become wrapped in flames and jet across the screen, often leaving a trail of flame behind him to indicate just how fast he's moving.
    • Rashid is one of the most agile characters in the game, able to leap, roll and bounce all over the screen to attack from multiple angles. He uses this speed to generate wind, such as kicking mini-tornadoes at his opponent, or spinning himself into a funnel cloud.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • In addition to being very quick in general, Pikachu (and by extension, Pichu) has the ability "Quick Attack" which turns them into a small spark that shoots around the screen at a high speed.
    • Captain Falcon is a racer by profession, so in addition to being a very speedy character, he has fire-based attacks—especially Falcon Kick, which jets him across the screen rapidly. Ganondorf is a much slower character, but by extension of being Moveset Clone, has a similar ability called the Warlock Kick, in addition to a fiery slam that also propels him across the stage.
    • While Luigi is not usually considered a speedy character, he does possess an ability called Green Missile, which causes him to propel himself horizontally while generating small flames for speed. This is taken Up to Eleven if the ability misfires, as he is then shot forward with even greater speed and momentum, and stronger flames.
    • Squirtle and Greninja are both water Pokemon and two of the speediest and most acrobatic characters in the game. Both also have the ability to use jets of water to make themselves move faster.
  • Tokyo Afterschool Summoners has Nomad, whose chip in his tooth that, when activated, can allow him to move at incredible speed, causing everything around him to burn up, including his clothes. Fittingly, his main attribute is also fire.
  • Warframe:
    • Nezha sets his feet ablaze with his Fire Walker ability, speeding him up while every step ignites the ground with purifying fire that burns enemies and clears status effects from allies.
    • Zephyr is able to jet through the air with her Tail Wind ability. A shell of air can be seen around her between bursts, and she can surround herself with a barrier of wind via Turbulence that also speeds up the projectiles she fires.
    • Volt is able to electrify himself and his allies with his Speed ability, massively ramping up their movement and melee speed while surrounding them with electric sparks.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Ruby Rose's speed Semblance allows her to move faster than the eye can see, leaving a gust of wind and trailing rose petals in her wake. She later learns how to turn into clusters of rose petals and dash through the air.
    • Neon Katt uses roller blades to dash around faster than most can see, leaving a rainbow trail behind her.
    • Harriet Bree's speed Semblance allows her to run at superhuman speeds, generating electricity that arcs off of her as she runs.

    Web Original 
  • The internet meme Nyan Cat is famous for rocketing through space, trailing a rainbow behind it.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Using Elemental Powers for added speed is common among benders. Waterbenders use their ability to control water to "surf" at high speeds, Firebenders can use their flames like rockets, and even Earthbenders (traditionally the slow and staid element) can move quickly by manipulating the ground beneath their feet. Of course, the Airbenders are the undisputed master of this, due to being able to control wind movement and air pressure to give themselves boosts. Airbending in particular is based around being quick, evasive, and light on one's feet.
  • Ben 10: Armordrillo, a burly and somewhat uncoordinated bruiser on the surface, can actually give a pretty good chase if he's burrowing through the ground.
  • Played with in Freakazoid! wherein the titular character seems to turn into a lightning bolt to move at superspeed. Word of God instead states he actually attaches his head to a lightning bolt and rides it to his destination.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Rainbow Dash, befitting her name, can fly so fast that she leaves rainbow trails behind her, which culminates in her Sonic Rainboom, which makes her go so fast that she shatters the visible light spectrum. Additionally, her speed allows her to create windy tornadoes, and her Buccaneer Blaze makes her move so fast that she creates an explosion of electricity.
  • Visionaries had the couplet that activated Spectral Knight Witterquick's power of super speed invoke the wind:
    "Sheathe these greaves in a driving gale,
    Make swift these legs over land they sail."

    Real Life 
  • Invoking this seems to be the idea behind people with high performance cars giving them flame or lightning motifs on their paint jobs. The irony being the role fire plays in internal combustion engines and electricity with its many other systems. Other car owners sometimes like to include bright Tron Lines and other lights to their cars so that they leave a streak of light when they wiz by.

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