Follow TV Tropes


11th-Hour Superpower

Go To
It took three seasons to master all four elements. That left one day to master the element of surprise.
"Make the final effort! Shoot the star to defeat the final enemy!"
The Star Rod's description, Kirby's Adventure

Many times, right as The Hero is facing his Darkest Hour before The Climax and final battle, he's rewarded one final gift from fate that gives him the strength to see through The Quest. Exactly how such a thing manifests varies widely: Perhaps it was triggered by The Power of Love or The Power of Friendship (or at least some good old Heroic Resolve).

In any case, he has just received the ultimate Heroic Second Wind and resolution of the narrative can't be far off.

Note that where Video Games are concerned, if the superpower is a new gameplay ability or Power-Up for the character acquiring it, it is often Purposely Overpowered (i.e., if the player could acquire it earlier, it might prove a Game-Breaker) — but the game may also regulate or limit its usage to ensure that the player can only use it at its designated time. For example, a plot-oriented Final Boss may start out as a Hopeless Boss Fight until the player uses the superpower, which cuts the boss down to size for a more fair fight. On the other hand, if the superpower is too powerful, it can end up making the fight anticlimactic.

Such a power should probably be given a hint of Foreshadowing earlier on (and hopefully nothing too obvious), otherwise it may feel like a cop-out. Also, if the story does not end soon after the power is introduced, it can turn into a Story-Breaker Power, though sometimes players may get access to the power-up in the New Game Plus or Endgame+ after they have beaten the game, making it a sort of Bragging Rights Reward.

This type of power-up is most likely to fall prey to the Bag of Spilling if a sequel is released; even if the character has access to the other abilities they learned in the previous game, this one will be noticeably absent (sometimes with a justification like the power-up being temporary or the character losing access to the item needed for it), though they may be able to regain it again (after a lot of work).

See also the Sword of Plot Advancement, which tends to be something more like an "Eighth Hour" superpower (if not earlier), and Turns Red, where a villain or an enemy gains a superpower on the verge of death.

A Sub-Trope of New Powers as the Plot Demands. Contrast Second Hour Superpower, which is a powerup, item, or skill obtained very early on (often after the first chapter or tutorial) and is a staple (if not keystone) of a character's repertoire.

Also contrast A Taste of Power, which is basically a "First Hour Only" Superpower, and is subsequently lost. A subtrope is the Last Disc Magic (which tends to be more of a Tenth Hour Superpower).

Since this trope is obviously about something that happens near the end of a work, expect unmarked spoilers below!

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Arpeggio of Blue Steel: In the second movie, Iona absorbs the nanomaterial from Yamato's wreck and takes on the latter's form and abilities in time for the final battle against Musashi.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Nezuko gains her Blood Art during the Spider Mountain event, in the more hectic moments of the fight against Rui. At that point, it's shown that Nezuko's blood can ignite special flames that can do serious damage only against demons and can even diminish their healing and blood art powers. Her power set remains as such for two arcs; then comes the Red Light District battle. At the end, it's shown that Nezuko can also expunge any demonic injuries caused by their abilities on humans, so Nezuko can actually heal people, even mortal wounds, if their injuries were inflicted by a demon's abilities. It all comes in a critical moment where Inosuke and Uzui could actually have died if Nezuko didn't reveal this ability.
  • Digimon:
    • Almost every Big Bad in Digimon Adventure was defeated this way — Devimon through Takeru and Patamon learning to evolve at literally the last second, Etemon through Taichi and Agumon activating his crest for the first time, Vamdemon through Hikari and Tailmon finishing becoming Sixth Rangers and again through two of the protagonists learning to reach the Ultimate level, and Piemon through Takeru and Patamon (again) activating his crest for the first time; the last being the straightest example in that it took place at the climax of the third-last episode.
    • This does tend to be something of a recurring tendency across the franchise as a whole in how new evolutions are obtained — at practically the last second when fighting a powerful enemy. As the series went by, when dealing with a Big Bad, it only happened once or so per series and restricted themselves to dealing with the actual biggest Big Bad; these being Dukemon Crimson Mode, Susanoomon, ShineGreymon Burst Mode and Shoutmon X7 Superior Mode.
  • Dragon Ball Z: The transformation into Super Saiyan, first done by Goku in order to beat Freeza, and Super Saiyan 2 is used by Gohan in order to beat Cell. Both involve the bad guys doing something to trigger the heroes' ultimate anger. Both of these incidents début real SSJ 1 and 2 into the main series. While the Super Saiyan transformation becomes invokable at will, the Saiyans are always striving for bigger and badder iterations.
    • Dragon Ball Super continues the tradition, especially during the long Universe Survival arc, where both the known heroes and new opponents get in on the action almost every second episode. Goku alone uncontrollably enters the new "Ultra Instinct" form, which scares even the Gods who have yet to master the ability, 3 times when pushed against an insurmountable wall. Other examples include Vegeta's new "Super Saiyan Blue Evolved" form, Universe 11's Toppo's ascension to God of Destruction, and Universe 2's Ribrianne's "Super Ribrianne" form. Just to name a few.
  • GaoGaiGar has THE POWER, a form of energy native to Jupiter with ill-defined properties. It's introduced a few episodes before, but the heroes use it during the final battle with the Primevals to defeat them for good. Unfortunately, one of the Primevals decided to do the same, and used the villainous equivalent of this trope and THE POWER to become the planet-sized Z-Master.
    • During GaoGaiGar FINAL, the heroes bring out the Goldion Crusher, designed in the wake of the Z-Master to deal with enemies of that scale. They use it to crush Pisa Sol, an artificial evil sun that's been regenerating the other villains.
  • Infinite Stratos:
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
  • Haruka of Kotoura-san reads the minds of everyone around her whether she wants to or not, but she can't transmit her own thoughts to people. Until episode 11, that is, when she manages to telepathically call for Manabe's help while the criminal who had been attacking high schoolers is trying to kill her.
  • Right before the final battle in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Chrono receives the Durandal, a powerful Storage Device that was able to freeze a huge, bio-mechanical Eldritch Abomination along with a large chunk of the sea surrounding it.
  • The Naruto movies are big fans of this trope, as Naruto combines his Rasengan with some other form of power through unexplained or convoluted means to create a brand new version of the Rasengan to defeat the film's Big Bad.
    • Kakashi gets one in spades when the recently-deceased Obito infuses his spirit in Kakashi, giving him not only both of Obito's Sharingan eyes, but the ability to use the perfect Susano'o, if only for a short period of time.
    • Naruto's Tailed Beast Mode is a complex example. He gains it late in the war after being confronted with 5 tailed beasts and uses it to defeat Obito. However, Naruto loses it when Kurama is extracted from him by Madara. When Naruto is revived, the infusion of Kurama's other half plus half of Hagoromo's chakra and part of all the tailed beasts changes it into Six Paths Sage Mode, a similar, but much more powerful form. Eventually, as Naruto regains both halves of Kurama, the form is reverted to a variant of its initial appearance a couple years down the line.
    • Sasuke also gets one just in time for the last couple of battles when he's given the other half of Hagoromo's chakra, transforming the Mangekyo Sharingan in his left eye into the even more powerful Rinnegan (the right eye remains a Mangekyo Sharingan), allowing him to use powerful space-time jutsu on top of his already impressive arsenal.
  • In One Piece, Devil Fruit Awakening, introduced back in Impel Down and used by two antagonists in the New Worldnote , finally happened to a particular Devil Fruit, and how: Luffy is taking Kaido's full-strength blow straight-on when he is on his last legs apparently straight-up kills him, with the SFX around his body indicating absolute silence as his heart has stopped. Kaido notes that, even if he is alive, he has no strength left to continue the fight. The narration even officially counts Kaido as the victor in their rooftop brawl. However, Luffy's Devil Fruit (which as it turns out, is NOT the Gomu Gomu no mi, but the Mythical Zoan Hito Hito no mi, Model Sun God Nika) Awakening revives him with an energetic grin on his face, ready to continue the fight with renewed vigour. Not only that, it further empowers his strength and abilities to new heights, allows Luffy to easily grow his hands to Gear 3's size without needing to blow air into his bones, and also rubberize the environment around him, allowing him to turn a section of floor into a shield that reflects Kaido's Blast Breath right back at him.
  • Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl has a lot of these. During the Sinnoh League, not only does Ash's Infernape learn Flare Blitz in the episode before Ash's battle with Paul starts, but several of his older Pokémon make return appearances with new moves. Ash's Gliscor also returns with Stone Edge now in its move set. Played with in the Unova League, since Best Wishes continues on after it, but a few of Ash's Pokémon have new moves for the league. In fact, Ash himself does this on purpose by teaching his Krookodile Aerial Ace right before his battle with Stefan to keep the element of surprise.
  • Pretty Cure:
    • Every so often, a season in the main series will pull a new transformation within the final few episodes in order to quickly wrap up the story. These include Infinity Silhouette in Heartcatch, the Ultra transformations in Smile, Cure Heart's Parthenon Mode in DokiDoki, and Forever Lovely in Happiness Charge. It should be noted that these types of transformations were largely abandoned following Happiness Charge, with each Cure after instead staying in one consistent form from beginning to end.
    • One caused by a Dub-Induced Plot Hole; in Glitter Force Doki Doki, the Blood Ring arc is cut, but the powers that the girls obtain during said arc still appear during the last two episodes, therefore in this dub, those powers are 11-Hour rather than Mid Season Upgrades.
    • The Miracle Lights (or equivalent) in Pretty Cure All Stars and the individual series' Non Serial Movies act like this, granting the gathered teams their Super forms to flatten that movie's Big Bad.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica deconstructs this trope. Following the arrival of Walpurgisnacht, Madoka's hand is forced and she agrees to become a Magical Girl in order to save the day. It's too bad this is All According to Plan and will lead to Madoka's destruction (and also the destruction of the entire world). Homura continues to turn back time until she can keep her friend from powering up in order to save her life (and the planet). Alas, her wish inadvertently just keeps making Madoka (and her potential Witch) even more powerful, and it's only by Madoka abusing this with her eventual wish that everyone is saved (except herself, of course).
  • Saint Seiya: When Ikki fights Shaka, the Gold Saint slowly and methodically takes away his senses... one... by... one. It backfires on him because Ikki uses this as an opportunity to focus his Cosmo, awaken to the Seventh Sense and blow himself up together with Shaka.
  • In the final battle of SSSS.GRIDMAN, Gridman regains his ultimate form to fight the Big Bad...which turns out to be the original Tokusatsu Gridman. This includes the original Fixer Beam which is the key to stopping Alexis.
  • In the climax of the Soul Eater anime, all three meister protagonists get one of these. First, Kid and Blackstar's, whose actually came from later chapters of the manga: Kid's stripes connecting and Blackstar becoming insanely more powerful after a pep talk with the Will of Nakatsukasa. Except he dies in this version, but whatever. He gets better. But notably, Maka, the last protagonist standing against Asura, who has somehow defeated the other six has one ability manifest that is not from the manga: she's a weapon. Whether this is because of her father being one or the Black Blood she got from Soul is not stated. It immediately turns a seemingly hopeless battle over, putting Asura on the defensive for the first and only time in the series.
  • In Tales of Wedding Rings, Amber gains the ability to summon a skyscraper-sized golem just before the party goes into the final battle with the Abyss King.
  • Tenchi Muyo!:
    • In the final episode of the first Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki OVA, the titular character was able to summon the Light-Hawk Wings (something that normally couldn't be done except by divine trees) to defeat Kagato where no one else could. In a later episode of the extended OVA, he was able to do it once more to rescue two of the girls from a black hole.
    • In the animé, Ayeka manages to tap Jurai Energy (an energy that only the royal family can access, but Ayeka never did) to shatter her bonds and send a death wave at Kagato. Unfortunately, Kagato is immune to Jurai Energy and sends the attack back. However, Tenchi then busts out Jurai Energy and combines it with Earth Energy to defeat Kagato with the power of trees, neither of which he had access to because he was still learning the nature of his power.
    • In the first movie, when Tenchi's mother realizes who Tenchi is, and thus what she is, she instantly gains access to all of her latent powers and kicks the Big Bad's ass long enough for everybody to escape. Word of God states this attack weakened her, and it's why she died so young.
    • In the second movie, when Tenchi is trapped in the dark world and unable to access his light-based powers. Ayeka uses a branch from her brother's tree-ship to project herself (and a source of light) into the dark world, granting Tenchi the ability to use his standard light-powered sword-based badassery. This functions as a double case as both Ayeka used a never-before seen power, and catapulted Tenchi to new levels of power.
  • In the animé version of YuYu Hakusho, Yusuke, after recovering from a mid-battle Heroic BSoD against Yomi and regaining a purpose in life, temporarily achieves Sacred Energy, which provides enough of a power boost to fight one of the most powerful demons alive to a near draw, Yomi only winning by passing out mere seconds after Yusuke.

    Comic Books 
  • During Marvel Universe's Chaos War event, Thor is fighting an eldritch abomination named Glory, and losing, but manages to pull out the strength to win via a powerup from a woman who was praying to him.
  • In one of the last story arcs of Etrigan's title, Hell is being invaded by forces led by a powerful angel of war, who is tearing through Etrigan and his demons with ease. Etrigan eventually defeats him by finding a crown embodied with all the power of Hell and curbstomps him.
  • The Incredible Hulk: The Hulk's "Worldbreaker" form basically counts as this. Hulk's basic power is that the angrier he gets, the stronger he gets, seemingly without an upper limit. The "Worldbreaker" form is when he gets so angry that his strength is enough to break a planet.
  • In Superman comics:
    • In Our Worlds at War, Superman temporarily merges with Kismet, the living embodiment of the universe, to help defeat Imperiex. Later he gains enough power by flying into the sun to stop War World.
    • During the climatic final battle at the end of Red Daughter of Krypton, Supergirl tricks the seemingly invincible Worldkiller-1 into dunking her into the Sun as she's dying. The sudden influx of solar energy boosts Kara's powers up to insane levels, and she proceeds to completely annihilate Worldkiller-1.
    • The Great Darkness Saga: During the final battle, Highfather greatly amplifies Superboy and Supergirl's powers in order to give them at least a chance against Darkseid.
  • In Violine, Violine is revealed to be able to communicate psychically with her pet mouse. This is foreshadowed when her and her father read each other's minds without looking each other in the eyes (which is normally required to read other people's thoughts).

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Godzilla's Spiral Heat Ray, unlocked by his and Mothra's symbiosis. Monster X only metamorphoses into its final form towards the climax, in time for the Final Battle.
  • Child of the Storm has Jean Grey discover her full power in chapter 75, after Strange bluntly informs her of it.
    • Carol Danvers wields Alan Scott's Green Lantern Ring in chapter 76 through the finale and Diana picks up Mjolnir.
    • At the end of the Forever Red arc, in the sequel, Maddie seals her Heel–Face Turn by lifting Mjolnir... leading to the Lemony Narrator lamenting that the universe does not have a soundtrack, and therefore this isn't accompanied by a rendition of AC/DC's Thunderstruck.
  • The Facing the Future Series gives us a new ghost form that gives Danny a massive power boost. However, it has two side effects as Danny not only loses control of his rage, but the energy generated by his new form could cause his form to burn out.
  • The entire cast of Latias' Journey at the end of the last battle.
  • In addition to Mario getting his required Eleventh Hour Superpower (crossover with the Paper Mario series, after all), all of the non-Mario characters in the Paper Mario X series also gain Eleventh Hour Superpowers:
    • Link gains the Master Sword, Malon and Zelda gain Light Arrows, and Ganondorf can turn into Ganon.
    • Eggman's machine gets upgraded and everyone else turns Super.
    • Kirby gains the Dragoon Rider and the Star Rod while Meta Knight gains Master.
    • Samus can use her Zero Laser.
  • In Pokémon: The Great Adventure, before they awoke, As's latent Aura Powers had the habit to kick in and take him out of a tight spot ... such as being cornered by a pack of angry Mankey.
  • In A Pony Out of Place, Flare Blitz, a Ponyta, evolves into a Rapidash during an important race, giving him a speed boost and access to unicorn magic, which comes in handy during his battle with Arceus.
  • The Pony POV Series has an example during the Final Battle of the Wedding Arc: during the duel between Cadence and Queen Cadenza/Alicorn!Chrysalis, Chrysalis lets slip that alicorns have the abilities of all the tribes of ponies, including changeling Voluntary Shapeshifting. As such, Cadence is able to tap into this, beginning a Shapeshifter Showdown. Justified, as Cadence was always able to do that, she just didn't know until Chrysalis revealed it that she could as it isn't until right before the final battle of the arc that the heroes realize Changelings were a lost pony tribe at all.
  • Queen of All Oni: During several battles in the story's second half, the J-Team faces defeat only for Tohru to suddenly manifest new chi powers that help tip the scales.
  • In Revelations, Túrante gets a new power in chapter 29, just in time to save her allies. She uses the power to destroy some enemies and summon The Cavalry.
  • Harry works on her (raven) Animagus transformation all year in The Rigel Black Chronicles, without success, but finally achieves it Just in Time when her cover is blown and she just needs to fly away from everything.
  • Exaggerated in a mundane way at the very end of Rockman 7 EP. The final battle is a dreadful Bullet Hell with multiple phases, but Mega Man is given infinite healing items to take on Bass.
  • Shadows Awakening: Uncle creates a chi sword for Jackie (which works similarly to Daolon Wong's Dark Chi Warriors' weapons) for the penultimate fight in the Forge of Shadows. In the next chapter (the Final Battle), Viper also gets a chi spear.
  • Sonic turns into Super Sonic during the Final Boss fight of Sonic Generations: Friendship is Timeless, of course, but the Mane 6 also gain Super forms of their own.
  • Transcendence: Digital Curse. After spending most of the story cursed by the Chronodata and unable to digivolve, Agumon is finally able to use it to digivolve and fight off the unstoppably powerful Abyssgreymon in the climax.

    Films — Animated 
  • In A Bug's Life, Dot has been having trouble being able to fly, but when she goes to find Flik and the circus bugs to get them back to the colony, she's able to do so ("Come on, wings. Fly, fly!") and reach them in time.
  • During the climax of How to Train Your Dragon 2, Toothless protects Hiccup from a point blank shot of ice breath from Drago's Bewilderbeast and after a few harrowing moments pass, he erupts from the ice with his back scales/fins glowing blue and his breath attacks greatly amplified in force and speed. As he didn't get to do more aside from launching a barrage of these amplified plasma blasts during the film itself, any other effects of the power up are unknown.
  • In The Incredibles, baby Jack-Jack is thought to not possess any superpowers, but when the Big Bad kidnaps him in the climax, he is revealed to have many, including bursting into flame, becoming metal, turning into a super-strong demon, and more. The only foreshadowing is a series of increasingly panicked voicemails his mother gets from the babysitter (with context later provided in the short film Jack-Jack Attack).
  • At the climax of Kung Fu Panda 2, Po finally attains inner peace, which somehow extends from being able to redirect water drops on leaves to being able to redirect cannonfire, allowing him to destroy the Big Bad's fleet.
  • In The Sponge Bob Movie Sponge Out Of Water, the protagonists gain their superhero alter-egos in the last 20 minutes of the film. For a 13th hour example, when Spongebob uses the book to press the Reset Button, he adds a slight caveat that gives Squidward the Heroic Build.
  • In Tangled, it's revealed at the climax that Rapunzel's tears share the same regenerative power as her hair.
  • In The Transformers: The Movie, Hot Rod is being strangled by Galvatron in the final battle of the movie. Fortunately, this puts the Matrix of Leadership hanging around Galvatron's neck within reach. Hot Rod grabs the Matrix and wrests it free, and the Matrix (along with the spirit of Optimus Prime) deems him worthy of becoming the Autobots' leader. Galvatron, realizing what's happening, shoots at the now-former Hot Rod in a desperate attempt to rob him of the Matrix's power, but by this point, the power of the Matrix has already transformed Hot Rod into Rodimus Prime. Rodimus' increased strength and size allows him to easily defeat Galvatron and throw him into space.
  • In Turning Red, Mei discovers her Double Jump ability just before the climax.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Cool World: At the film's climax, Jack Deebs learns that he can access the powers of the Cool World. He promptly uses an Elongated Arms Gag to reach the roof of the hotel where Femme Fatale Holli Would has taken the Spike. Once Jack touches the Spike, he transforms completely into a Flying Brick Superman expy.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • In Wonder Woman, the titular character gains her power to vanquish Ares just before the end.
    • In Zack Snyder's Justice League, The Flash uses the Speed Force to go back in time to stop Steppenwolf from using the Mother Boxes to activate "the Unity" and kill the entire Justice League.
  • Godzilla:
    • King Kong vs. Godzilla: The climactic Final Battle between the two monsters begins quite one-sided, with Godzilla clearly having the upper hand in regards to both power and durability, until Kong is struck by lightning. This seems to restore Kong's vigour, empowers him, and grants him electric powers on top of that, allowing him to now fight equally.
    • Godzilla vs. Destoroyah: Burning Godzilla appears for the first time in the final film of the Heisei series, helping to kill Destoroyah. It was explained as the result of being overclocked on radioactive power at levels even Godzilla couldn't absorb all at once, and ended up killing him.
    • Godzilla: Final Wars: Ozaki supercharges Godzilla with his Kaiser power, enabling him to use his Crimson Spiral Heat Ray to vanquish Kaiser Ghidorah.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Mothra's sacrifice allows Godzilla to become Burning Godzilla (for the first time since Godzilla vs. Destoroyah) and use a supercharged version of his Nuclear Pulse to obliterate Ghidorah. Unlike in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, the MonsterVerse incarnation of Godzilla survives at the end.
  • In Kung Fu Hustle, Sing's chi flow is cleared after he is nearly beaten to death by the Beast. This unlocks his true potential as a kung fu master.
  • Bruce Leeroy mastering the Glow at the end of The Last Dragon.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Captain America: Civil War: When things start getting desperate for Cap's team, Ant-Man uses his Pym Particles to grow to giant size and start stomping people.
      Iron Man: Ok, anybody on our side hiding any shocking, fantastic abilities they'd like to disclose?! I am open to suggestions!
    • Inverted in Spider-Man: Homecoming: Spidey's high-tech suit (the same one from Civil War) was confiscated by Iron Man, leaving him with only his homemade suit for his bout against the Vulture.
    • Thor: Ragnarok: Thor finally realizes that he can generate lightning on his own instead of needing Mjolnir to channel it, and uses it to rain destruction against Hela.
    • Avengers: Infinity War: Thor's subplot in the film is to create a weapon strong enough to defeat Thanos. The weapon, Stormbreaker, is only finished just in time for Thor, Rocket and Groot to get to Earth and join the rest of the Avengers in fighting off the current Alien Invasion.
    • Captain Marvel (2019): Carol actually gets her superpowers in the backstory, but she's also stuck with a Power Limiter that prevents her from making full use of them. When she figures out how to remove it, she becomes one of the most powerful beings in the entire MCU and utterly curb-stomps anything and anyone in her way.
    • Avengers: Endgame: With Iron Man down and Thor about to be bisected by his own Stormbreaker courtesy of Thanos, Captain America picks up and wields Mjolnir to save Thor. This may be a pure example of Steve becoming worthy or realizing his worthiness at the last possible moment. On the other hand, the ambiguity is established in Avengers: Age of Ultron. During the comic scene where all the other Avengers — except Natasha — try and fail to lift the hammer, Steve is the only one who apparently even budges it. Both Steve's and especially Thor's expressions raise the question on if the good Captain really couldn't move Mjolnir, or if he just decided not to. Word of God has only added to the confusion, with the writers of Endgame favoring the former interpretation, and the directors supporting the latter.
    • Spider-Man: Far From Home: Spidey finally masters his Spider-Sense, which was just what he needed to see through Mysterio's illusions.
  • The Rise of Skywalker: Rey and Kylo using their Force connection to teleport nearby objects to each other's location. They eventually take advantage of this ability in the climax to get the unarmed Kylo a lightsaber when he's about to be killed by the Knights of Ren.
  • The Shadow: Throough most of the film, The Shadow's powers are limited to his classic ability to "cloud men's minds so they cannot see him", with bits of Telepathy and Mind Control mixed in. Then during the final confrontation with Shiwan Khan, the Shadow manifests a powerful telekinetic ability, which he uses to shatter a roomfull of mirrors and then critically wound Shiwan with a shard of glass.
  • In Sky High (2005), the protagonist Will Stronghold unlocks the ability to fly that he inherited from his mom, after getting thrown through the window by the Big Bad.
  • Downplayed in Sonic the Hedgehog (2020). During the movie, Sonic regularly demonstrates a "power" which manifests as some form of Blue Lightning that appears to allow him to move faster, deal far more damage to objects he spindashes into, and destroy any electrical devices nearby. This power only manifests when Sonic is showing some form of negative emotion (in particular stress/anger) and he doesn't use it when running from Robotnik during the final chase. However, when Tom stands up against Robotnik and states Sonic was his friend, Sonic suddenly erupts with this electrical energy and is able to actually harness it for the final battle which both overloads Robotnik's flying machine (which is using one of Sonic's quills) and allows him to deal serious damage to Robotnik's machine.
  • In Space Jam, Michael Jordan, despite playing like a regular basketball player most of the movie, suddenly develops, ironically, a Looney Tunes style body at the final seconds of the Big Game. This is right after he witnesses his human friend Stan Podolak get flattened like a pancake and subsequently inflated like a balloon. A twist on the trope in that Michael could have done that at any time, he just didn't know that until the game was almost over (and he even calls the Tunes out on not telling him earlier).
  • Played for laughs in Strange Brew. The police are trying to stop the spread of drugged beer at Oktoberfest. Bob and Doug get their dog Hosehead and tell him to go to Oktoberfest, promising him sausages and beer - at which point Hosehead runs down the street, leaps into the air, and gains a cape.
  • A rather literal example in the climax of Ultraman Taiga The Movie: New Generation Climax; the monster, Malicious Demon Grimdo, seems unstoppable, until the Ultramen team pulls out their trump card — having all eleven of them transferring their powers into Ultraman Taiga, turning Taiga into Ultraman Reiga, an Ultra-warrior as strong as the eleven Ultramen note  combined.

  • Fenghsen Yanyi: during the first battle inside the Ten Thousands Immortals Formation, three of the Twelve Immortals of Kunlun are chosen to fight the disciples of Tongtian. All three of them (Puxian Zhenren, Wenshu Guangfa Tianzun and Cihang Daoren) defeat their opponents by achieving a majestic buddha form with brightly colored skin, multiple heads and arms, becoming the three buddhas known as Puxian Pusa, Wenshu Guangfa Pusa and Guanyin Pusa. They only use the buddha form again during the final clash in the Formation, after which all Immortals leave to Jiang Ziya and his disciples the task to defeat King Zhou and Daji.
  • In Fine Structure, Ching absorbs the power of the Big Good just in time for the Final Battle with the Big Bad.
  • In the last book of Galaxy of Fear, it is revealed that like his sister Tash, Zak is Force-Sensitive. Which is odd, because it's well established that for her entire life, Tash has been a little strange and psychic. She's been having her undeveloped Force senses go off often as the kids have been in danger, a Force-ghost seeing both of them said he could only be perceived by a Force-Sensitive, and she's explicitly able to tell if she meets someone who can use the Force. Zak's never been shown with any of that.
  • Near the end of Hero, Thom conveniently develops Flying Brick powers as a consequence of absorbing pain while healing people.
  • Legacy of the Dragokin: In the final act of the climax, Benji awakens his latent dragokin powers.
  • N.E.R.D.S.: In the Final Battle of the final book, Jackson/Braceface transforms his braces into a Humongous Mecha, a power leagues above anything else he's done up to that point. Unlike most examples, it's not the sole factor that wins the battle, though it obviously tips the scales a bit.
    Jackson: Got a new trick I've been wanting to try out.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Grand Finale of Earth: Final Conflict has the heroes storming the Atavus ship that was recently discovered, which is full of thousands of Atavus warriors in stasis. Suddenly, Hubble Urick brings them a dozen energy Hand Cannons capable of killing an Atavus with one shot. Prior to that, only Renée's energy pistol could do that, and it took several shots, with normal guns having no effect. However, those are clearly prototypes, so they may not have been available before.
  • Eddie gets one in House of Anubis, unlocking his Osirian powers at the end of season 2, which was the first time he had needed to use them.
  • Kamen Rider shows don't always have these, but when they do, it's often quite the spectacle:
    • Nearly every Rider movie from around 2009 onward features the protagonist gaining a new movie-exclusive form to fight the final boss with.
    • Kamen Rider Kuuga waits until the last episode to unlock Ultimate Form, possessing all the combined abilities of his other forms and enough raw power to destroy the planet with a single kick. He then uses it to fight the identically powered Big Bad, and the fight soon degenerates into the two of them in human form beating each other to death with their bare hands.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim and his rival Baron both gain nearly godlike power just before their final confrontation.
    • Kamen Rider Drive fulfills Mach's long-running arc of feeling inferior to his more powerful companions by finally giving him the upgrade he'd been after in his last battle, and it's plenty to lay the smackdown on Banno. Unfortunately the way he gets said upgrade leaves him regretting that he even wanted it in the first place.
    • Kamen Rider Ghost only learns the last of his emotion-based finishers during the final battle. Appropriately, it's The Power of Love. In the last stage of the fight he also gains the ability to summon the heroic spirits that serve as his allies without needing to use the form that previously gave him that ability.
    • Kamen Rider Build uses this twice in the show: Grease's final battle sees him gain the new Grease Blizzard form, while the final blow in the last battle is dealt by Sento using his and Banjo's signature Fullbottles to turn into RabbitDragon.
    • Kamen Rider Zi-O gets the biggest example since Kuuga: for the final battle, he finally gains the power of Oma Zi-O, the combined powers of every Kamen Rider including everyone else on this list. Yes, even the riders after him.
    • Kamen Rider Zero-One and Kamen Rider Saber each get a last-episode upgrade that brings the strength of their base forms up to match their final forms, mostly so they can beat the final boss while wearing their original costumes. Zero-One's is strictly an Hour of Power boost to his stats (Realising Hopper Progrise Key), while Saber gets the somewhat more elaborate ability to spam the powers of all the various Wonder Ride Books throughout the series (Wonder Almighty Wonder Ride Book).
  • Super Sentai only does it less often than Rider because there's fewer movies:
    • Gekisou Sentai Carranger has the Carrangers pulling a brand new attack out of nowhere to defeat Exhaus — they combine their Carmagic Powers for the Carranger Carmagic Attack, transforming into energy versions of their respective main mecha and then fusing into a single ball of energy that flies through Exhaus to finish him off.
    • Tokumei Sentai Go Busters has the villain's final robot designed to counter every trick that the Busters have had up until now. In response, Hiromu manages to apply his personal-scale superspeed to his robot for the first and only time.
    • Ressha Sentai ToQger takes this trope to the absolute extreme, as ToQ #1 Rainbow is obtained during the final battle. Even the ToQ #1 Black form he's using before then would qualify.
    • Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger sees Yamato use his own version of Mondo's All Beasts Unleashed during the final battle, becoming an eagle/gorilla/whale hybrid.
    • Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger, after giving all of the upgrades past the first quarter exclusively to the Lupinrangers (especially the VictoryStriker), finally lets the Patrangers use them during the final battle, specifically, letting them use the Siren Striker for Patren 1gou to transform into Super Patren 1gou.
  • Stranger Things: In the first season, Eleven finally used her powers of telekinesis to the greatest effect when she desintegrated the Demogorgon - though it isn't exactly her tapping into hitherto unknown sources. In season 2, however, she gains the ability to fuel her power while channeling her rage, thus being enabled to close the gate between the dimensions.
  • Superman & Lois: The finale of season 2 has Earth merging with Bizarro Earth. Superman is previously depowered by being drained by Ally Allston. He guesses that the only way for him to regain his power to stop the merging is to be thrown into the sun. Despite his reservations, his half-brother Tal-Rho does it, while commenting that humans don't deserve someone like Kal-El. Not only does Superman regain his powers, he becomes supercharged by the sun. When Ally tries to drain him again, it lets her, and the power is too much, causing her to split in two again. He then flies around the merging Earths multiple time before slamming his fist into the ground, literally punching the worlds apart.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted during Return of the Scarlet Empress, the Five Maidens will unlock the highest tier of Sidereal Charms if things get dire enough. Considering that the Ebon Dragon is marching his army to Heaven, things are indeed dire enough.
  • Magic: The Gathering: The climax of the Weatherlight Saga has the pacifistic golem Karn become the core of the Legacy Weapon, inheriting Urza's soul and spark to become an artificial Planeswalker capable of destroying Yawgmoth.
  • The Talent Unlock Burst mechanic in Psionics The Next Stage In Human Evolution can result in this. In addition to overflow, it is possible, if rare, for intense negative emotions to grant an esper a large amount of caps, which can result in a new level of psitalents being unlocked, temporarily or permanently, and a number of powerpoints being automatically restored. The example given in the book details a restrained telekinetic spontaneously developing necrokinesis in response to their girlfriend's life being threatened.
  • The Pokémon TCG has an attack titled "11th Hour Tackle". It does 50 damage unless there are three cards or fewer left to draw, in which case it does 180.

    Visual Novels 
  • Avalon in Fate/stay night's "Fate" route works as such. Avalon is only returned to Saber before the final battle, who uses it when she was losing for a comeback victory (Shirou also Traces a copy, and does the same for his battle). Arguably, Unlimited Blade Works (in the route of the same name) and both the aptly-named Rule Breaker and Excalibur (in Heaven's Feel) also perform the same function.
  • In the sixth scenario of Radical Dreamers, a previously found jewel enables Serge to summon a giant to fight against Lynx's giant mecha.
  • Sunrider:
    • In the final mission of Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius, Asaga taps into her dormant Sharr powers and unlocks the Awakening, a Super Mode that increases all her stats at an exponential rate for every turn that it remains active.
    • In the antepenultimate phase of the final boss fight of Sunrider 4: The Captain's Return, Sola gains the power to teleport anywhere on the map for a trifling Energy cost, letting what is normally your least mobile unit engage in extremely effective Hit-and-Run Tactics. The game takes away this power in the final stage of the fight, but you won't need it by that point.

  • When the bunny protagonist of Blue Moon Blossom is turned to stone, the rabbit spirit joins the rest of the adventuring party in mourning, but when it gets close enough to the bunny, its power restores them to life. The rabbit spirit's expressions indicate that it didn't know it could do this beforehand, and it turns out to be a very important power a bit later.
  • In MS Paint Adventures, pretty much everything that the titular Problem Sleuth does after using Sepulchritude counts here, ending with him using a burst of righteous charisma to destroy all of DMK's health bars.
  • In Sailor Moon Cosmos Arc, after Usagi's ascension into godhood/Sailor Cosmos the other Senshi power up into their Cosmic Sailor Senshi forms. This also had the effect of breaking Servant Chaos's possession of Hotaru, reviving the Asteroid Senshi, and allowing this timeline's Chibiusa to finally transform.
  • In the final arc of Wonderlab, known as "A Party Everlasting", Taii ends up awakening their E.G.O through the sheer determination to save Catt, who had become a Distortion. This ends up awakening Rose, whose soul was resting within the E.G.O of the Staining Rose, and the two act as one so long as Taii is wearing the awakenend E.G.O.

    Web Original 
  • In Episode 52 of Eskimo Bob, Fenwood turns into an Ultraman-like to combat Yuckorah and Pengan. It doesn't work.
  • Invoked in Worm, when the imminent demise of humanity prompts Taylor to have Panacea tamper with her brain to try to remove the limits on her power. It doesn't quite pan out how she'd hoped.
    • She had attempted this earlier by going to Cauldron in search of a second trigger or a formula capable of creating a powerful cape. Neither panned out.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Adventure Time Season 6 finale, "The Comet", the thorn Finn got in his hand early in the season transforms his arm into an absurdly sharp thorny grass whip, which he uses to slice and dice Orgalorg and free the titular comet.
  • The series finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender gives us energybending, which acts as a Power Nullifier.
    • It came even earlier than that with the finale of Book One. After the moon is destroyed, Aang fuses with the ocean spirit, turning into an insanely powerful, kaiju-like being that annihilates the Fire Navy Armada.
    • The final episode of the first season of The Legend of Korra plays with this trope. Korra gains airbending, but only after she loses the ability to bend the other three elements. Later, she regains those bending abilities and gets access to the Avatar State... but this is after the Big Bad has been defeated. However, she also gains the ability to restore bending to anyone who lost it, which lets her help the Big Bad's victims.
  • Ben 10:
    • The powerful Kaiju-sized Way Big is the final alien form Ben unlocks in the original series, during the climax of the Finale Movie Secret of The Omnitrix.
    • In the second season finale of Ben 10: Alien Force, Azmuth grants Ben the ability to control and transform into ALL the aliens in known existence in the Omnitrix (And there are a LOT more than just 10,000, actually more than a million). He was able to transform without having to manually slap the switch down, which helps them get out of a prison situation. The Omnitrix resets back to its original settings after Ben uses it to save the dying Highbreeds by splicing their DNA with other aliens. It later comes to bite Ben in the ass when he and Kevin decide to hack it and get the same power in the upcoming fight with Vilgax in the new season... only to not only get the aliens rampant and rogue, but mutated Kevin with an array of metals and substances making up his body.
  • Code Lyoko: It happens to both the heroes and the Big Bad. Regarding the formers, the Lyoko-warriors — and more accurately Jérémie — create a multi-agent program to take down the Big Bad, XANA. Speaking of XANA, he comes up with a Giant Mook, the Kolossus, that causes no end of trouble for the Lyoko-warriors.
  • Subverted in Gravity Falls. When Ford is rescued from Bill's grasp in the final arc, he mentions that the Zodiac — a recurring wheel of symbols seen in the introduction sequence and around Bill — holds the key to defeating Bill Cipher. The ten people who represent the symbols on them gather and hold hands in a drawing of the Zodiac, which appears to start granting them some sort of power. But Stan and Ford get into an argument long enough for Bill to destroy the drawing before any effect could happen. The Zodiac ends up being unused, and Bill is defeated through a different method that does not involve any new last-minute powerups.
  • In that Christmas perennial How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the Grinch gets super-strength from his doubly-undersized heart "Growing three sizes that day".
  • Kim Possible:
    • Kim's battlesuit in So The Drama was originally supposed to be used only in one final showdown with Drakken and Shego. Then the series was Un-Cancelled and the writers had to find ways to keep things challenging. In the first Post-Script Season episode, Professor Dementor hacks into the suit to remote-control it, providing a rationale for Kim to be cautious about using it.
    • In the final episode, Ron manages to fully tap into his Mystical Monkey Power and curb-stomp a pair of villains, one of whom had defeated both Kim (wearing the battlesuit) and Shego in a previous episode.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the episode "Hearth's Warming Eve", when Windigos are attracted by the hatred between the three pony tribe leaders and begin freezing everything, the new friendship between the tribe leaders' assistants manifests as a magical flame that shoots from Clover the Clever's horn, vanquishes the Windigos, and melts the ice along with the leaders' hearts.
    • Towards the end of the two-part season finale "A Canterlot Wedding", when Queen Chrysalis and her Changeling army have taken over Canterlot and left Shining Armor too weak to recast his defensive shield, Princess Cadance casts her love spell on his horn, creating a barrier of love that expels the Changelings.
    • In "Twilight's Kingdom - Part 2", "Rainbow Power", the force that was locked inside the box, is unlocked after Twilight turns over all the alicorn magic she had been storing and proves to be the key to defeating Tirek. However the key to unlock the box is generated from Discord's artifact he received from Tirek and he's only released after the exchange to turn over the magic to Tirek occurs, meaning Tirek had literally won by the time the Rainbow Power box is unlocked (so it's really more of a "12th-Hour Superpower").
    • In "The Beginning of the End - Part 2", after the Elements of Harmony are destroyed along with the Tree of Harmony thanks to King Sombra's crystals, the Mane Six discover they still embody the spirits of the elements, and with that, they unleash the magic within them to destroy Sombra for good.
  • In Steven Universe, the Final Battle with Season 3 Arc Villain Jasper ends with Steven telling Amethyst (who'd become obsessed with being the one to beat Jasper but was failing to do so despite her best efforts) You Are Not Alone and she's got him. This understanding on both their parts results in Steven's finally successfully fusing with a Gem when he and Amethyst fuse into Smoky Quartz.
  • In the middle of the third season of Transformers: Animated, Prowl picks up the ability to use "processor over matter", which is basically telekinesis. In the finale, Prowl and Jazz use this to pull together scattered pieces of the Allspark and convert them to use against the Lugnut Supremes — and when that's not powerful enough, Prowl uses it to pull out his own spark.


Ninja unlocking Dragon Form

Realizing the power of unity, the four ninja are able to unlock their Dragon Forms.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / EleventhHourSuperpower

Media sources: