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Empowered Badass Normal
aka: Badass Abnormal

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Rohtul: Who are you?
Batman: Your worst nightmare — a Batman with superpowers!

Your average Badass Normal can take on monsters, supervillains, and cosmic horrors with nothing but intense training and sheer determination. But that other guy can blow things up with his mind. And so can the villains. How could that puny human possibly compete with that? In short, despite his amazing capabilities, the Badass Normal just doesn't seem to be badass enough. Time for a convenient power upgrade.

He may find some new Applied Phlebotinum, don a suit of Powered Armor or discover a new power lurking within himself. Perhaps a sudden revelation reveals some otherworldly origin in his background, or he has an encounter with mysterious beings that leaves him forever changed (or just for one day). Or perhaps his badassness just escalates beyond the limits of normal humanity. Either way, an upgrade of this type may be required just so the Badass Normal won't become completely irrelevant compared to his superpowered comrades. If the Sorting Algorithm of Evil leaves him too far behind, and his role seems to be reduced to getting his ass handed to him, he may otherwise have to be Put on a Bus so he doesn't get in the way.

Compare Took a Level in Badass, where a character who was legitimately weak gets a power boost, and Fights Like a Normal, where a superpowered character chooses to fight without using their powers. Power Loss Makes You Strong and Boxing Lessons for Superman are inversions. Contrast with Superhero Packing Heat, where someone who already has powers decides to pick up a gun (or other prosaic weapon).

Important Note: Empowered Badass Normal is a trope that specifically deals with a Badass Normal who gains superpowers. It does not mean "Badass with superpowers." There are plenty of other Badass-related tropes to deal with those. Please help us fight this Trope Decay.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Eren Yeager, from Attack on Titan. He's a Determinator fueled by The Power of Hate, graduating 5th in his military class through sheer persistence and noted to be one of the best at hand-to-hand-combat. Then he Came Back Strong, surviving a brush with death and gaining the ability to transform into a 15-meter Titan with Super-Strength.
  • It's not quite clear when Guts, of Berserk fame, went from merely a very talented swordsman with a degree of Charles Atlas Superpower to a full-on superhuman, but his acquisition of the Berserker Armor definitely pushed him over the edge. Even Grunbeld, one of the strongest demons active, was at risk of being flat-out overpowered by Guts in a berserk state.
  • Creed Diskenth, the Big Bad of Black Cat was already a Charles Atlas Superpower abusing lunatic back when he was just an assassin. As the series progresses he upgrades himself with Tao abilities that grant him a Cool Sword, and then nanomachines that grant him a Healing Factor and make him to all intents and purposes immortal.
  • In Ceres, Celestial Legend, Yuuhi Aogiri starts as a competent martial artist (who can cook!) and manages to save Aya more than once with his own abilities alone. However, his sister-in-law Suzumi creates a bandana and two wristbands that lends him part of her power as the Celestial Maiden. That gives Yuuhi partial immunity to other Maidens' attacks (including Ceres) and extra strength while he fights (as shown during the Grand Finale when he manages to severely wound Mikagi with one strike).
  • Code Geass: Suzaku Kururugi may count. Already a Badass Normal (he was a skilled Knightmare Frame Pilot and martial arts prodigy) for most of the first season, he slips into this near the end of the first season and into R2. His most obvious upgrade was having the "Live!" Geass cast upon him by Lelouch, allowing him to survive situations that would normally have killed him and allowing him to become much stronger and faster than a normal human being in order to do so. However, it had been hinted throughout the series that Suzaku had some as-of-yet unidentified connection to Geass... that was never explained or elaborated upon.
  • Darker than Black stars one. He was known as "The Black Reaper" even before he became a Contractor, and in one flashback he completely owned a Contractor in a straight-up fight using only a choke wire, throwing knives, and sheer badass ninja skills. He still has the aforementioned skills, but now he can also zap the crap out of people. Gets taken Up to Eleven when it transpires that these same powers make him a full-blown Reality Warper in the right circumstances.
  • Dragon Ball Z
    • The series gives us Videl, the daughter of Hercule (a genuine Badass Normal who, sadly, doesn't hold a candle to the heroes or the villains they fight). Before meeting Gohan, she could give her old man a run for his money in the martial arts. After meeting Gohan, she learns to fly in the same manner as Gohan and his allies.
    • The Human/Earthling fighters Yamcha, Krillin, Tien and Master Roshi. Although they lack godly buffs and training of the Saiyans and Piccolo, are still through training the strongest Earthlings in existence, make the aforementioned Videl and her dad look as harmless as kittens and thanks to Ki Manipulation, have become Flying Bricks (with the exception of Roshi) who possess enough power to reduce Earth to space dust, if they weren’t such nice dudes. Yamcha and Krillin in particular, displayed feats of Charles Atlas Super Power well before learning how to use Ki.
    • Villainous examples with Spopovich and Yamu both are normal human fighters who were already strong in their own right, but after meeting Evil Sorcerer Babidi gained Ki-enhanced abilities and techniques making them truly formidable compared to most Muggles.
  • Fate/stay night: Soichirou Kuzuki is an extremely well-trained assassin that can wipe the floor with most normal human attackers, but is devoid of any magic talent. When Caster is Reinforcing his body, however, he can easily overpower a powerful, full-fledged mage like Rin (who is no slouch herself in the fighting department) and even hold his own against Saber, although he cannot hope to win that fight, only hope to survive it.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Ling Yao is a Badass Normal Warrior Prince whose martial arts and swordsmanship allow him to fight homunculi on somewhat even ground and even sense their inhumanity. He then willingly becomes a human-based homunculus as the second Greed and once Greed lets Ling take control of their body, Ling can utilize the homunculi's Super-Strength and Ultimate Shield with his fighting prowess. Ling loses this when Greed sacrifices himself to save Ling and weaken Father.
    • Scar started out as an Ishvalan warrior priest, who had the strength and skill to take on multiple Amestrian soldiers at once, but after being attacked by Kimblee, his brother would give him his right arm, marked with his work on alchemy (combining it with alkahestry.) This allows Scar to deconstruct anything alchemically. Much later, he acquires the power of reconstruction by tattooing his left arm with the rest of his brothers' life work and is now able to perform amazing alchemic feats.
  • Brandon Heat of Gungrave was a great Mafia sweeper who was a skilled hand to hand fighter and a great marksmen. Then, he was killed and become Necrolized. He became much stronger and could take a lot of damage.
  • Leorio from Hunter × Hunter is the only member of the main cast without nen abilities. While the weakest of the four, he's still stronger than your average human, is a skilled doctor, and displays a large amount of street smarts. Then after a Long Bus Trip, he returns with a nen ability that allows him to transmit his punches through the floor, which he immediately uses to lay out legendary hunter and Gon's father Ging.
  • Jonathan Joestar of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure was the only JoJo to spend more than a handful of chapters without either a Stand or Hamon, and in that time he not only fought, but defeated, Dio in a hand-to-hand battle in a burning mansion. He only gets more badass when Zeppeli awakens his Hamon powers later.
    Dio [About Jonathan]: I forgot: The more you beat him, the stronger he gets!
    • Rudol von Stroheim only got a single story arc in which he was without his cybernetic enhancements, but in that arc he ordered Joseph to cut off hisnote  leg in order that he be able to open the door that would expose Santana to sunlight, and when Santana crawls inside the resulting wound to hide, Stroheim walks out into the noonday sun and blows himself up with a grenade. When he returns with his cybernetics, he's the only person who ever manages to directly injure Ultimate Kars, digging his fist into the back of the latter's neck and pinning him to the nose of a crashing airplane.
  • Satsuki Kiryuin, of Kill la Kill, starts off the series as having no powers besides an extremely dangerous sword, her wrought-iron will, and a hell of a lot of training. When the main character, Ryuko, gets her hands on a Kamui and proves nearly able to match her in a fight, Satsuki eventually acquires one of equal power, and starts wearing it for most of their fights. Ryuko herself could qualify, being able to take down superpowered One-Star Uniform wearers even before gaining her Kamui, but she obtains the outfit in the first episode and rarely takes it off thereafter. Plus, she's not exactly "human" to begin with...
  • Li Ho from The Law of Ueki was considered one of the strongest competitors, and had taken out a large number of opponents despite refusing to use his ability.
  • Medaka Box: Male Lead Zenkichi was already a Crazy-Prepared martial artist who could handle even Abnormals in combat. After the battle with Kumagawa, he gained the Parasite Seeing ability which allows him to see things from other people's perspective. Literally. Then he becomes even more abnormal, gaining one more ability — Devil Style, which keeps any kind of Contrived Coincidence from happening. After he no longer needs Parasite Seeing, he has it modified into Model Zenkichi, giving him his own personal Super Mode.
  • Mu La Flaga of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, a rare Natural ace pilot on a battlefield dominated by Designer Babies, is eventually revealed to have "enhanced spatial awareness". Which clearly is the "Cosmic Era" equivalent to Newtypes. In the final battle Cagalli, also a Natural, is shown capable of activating SEED Mode like Kira and Athrun.
  • Monster Rancher: Genki may seem to be Badass Normal at first but is often seen focusing energy in order to attack, as well as transferring it to others and putting it into his attacks. Later on it is shown he can launch Spirit Bombs and, in the last two episodes focus the energy of everyone they know, combining the bodies of several of his friends and reviving the Phoenix.
  • Izuku Midoriya from My Hero Academia starts the series as nothing more than a superhero Otaku with an incredibly sharp mind that lets him out-analyze and out-plan even people with powers, as well as having the heart of a hero (if not the powers). This catches the eye of the #1 hero All Might, who takes Izuku under his wing and puts him through an intense 10-month physical training regimen that practically turns the kid into a teenage Batman. After his training is complete, All Might bequeaths to Izuku his power, One For All, granting him the ability to enhance his body.
    • However, there's an aspect of Deconstruction to this: Since Izuku only just received One For All, he didn't have the full measure of it at first and would always use it at full power, which tended to shatter whatever limbs that he enhanced and ran the risk of permanently crippling him. Eventually, while training with All Might's mentor Gran Torino, he realized that his problem came from viewing One For All as a special attack rather than an extension of his own body, which led to him developing "Full Cowl", where he distributes a fraction of the power throughout his entire body evenly.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi does this for Ku Fei, who goes from "Martial Artist" to "Martial Artist that can shoot beams out of her hand and has a magic staff" as she gains the ability to use Ki around the time the second major arc begins. This is actually noted in-universe by the Meta Guy as being more impressive to watch than the stronger full-on magic users, as she's "closer to being human" and thus you can understand exactly how good she is. It's hard to compare to someone who can blow up mountains, after all.
  • In One Piece:
    • CP9 members Kaku and Kalifa were already amongst the world's top assassins and extremely skilled spies. Then they get Devil Fruit powers, which escalate their badass levels to an... unusually awesome degree. Immediately after consumption, no less.
    • Zoro and Sanji are two of the greatest warriors of the Straw Hat crew, aside from their captain, but unlike Luffy, they have no Devil Fruit powers or anything else beyond Charles Atlas Superpower. Then they learned Haki.
      • Sanji gets an additional one; he was able to beat the crap out of his brothers, who wore Raid Suits to enhance their abilities, without using one they made specifically for him. No points for guessing how much ass he starts to kicks once he finally decides to put it on.
      • Sanji gets another even greater one later; as a result of wearing the Raid Suit the dormant superhuman genetics awaken in his body. Now Sanji has a exoskeleton and a Healing Factor stacked on top of his own incredible natural strength and abilities allowing him to No-Sell attacks from one of Kaido’s Co-Dragons.
    • Ace was already a powerful fighter as a child who could hold his own against adult combatants and regularly beat Luffy (who already had his Devil Fruit) in fights. Then he obtained his fire powers and became one of the strongest pirates in the series. Not that it helped much against Blackbeard and Akainu, sadly, the former for being a Power Nulifier and the latter for having the superiority in Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors.
    • Sabo was just as competent as Ace when he was a kid. Through only martial arts and Haki training he achieved second position in the Revolutionary Army, surpassing expert fighters like Jesus Burgess and Diamante in a tournament. A tournament that ends with him eating the Flame Flame fruit of his late brother.
    • We can now add Usopp to the list Haki users, as of the Dressrosa arc. Though at that point he displays only Observation Haki, as opposed to the Armament Haki used by most Haki-trained combatants (though the former is arguably more useful for him since he's a sniper) and the first usage ended up saving Luffy and Law's lives without them knowing through an amazing trick shot.
  • Akane Tendō from Ranma ½ has gotten this on occasion:
    • The legendary Super Strength Soba noodles confer herculean strength; after Akane mistakenly ate Happōsai's, she was able to lift, toss, juggle, and split in half multi-ton, two-stories-tall iron bells. Unfortunately, they had the side-effect of sprouting whiskers on her face until she took the antidote.
    • The Battle Dōgi from the late manga, a sentient suit that unlocks the wearer's ultimate fighting potential. She is able to run rings around Ranma while wearing it.
    • A magical swimsuit made from a jellyfish-like substance, which allows the user to swim like a dolphin — not only negating Akane's Super Drowning Skills, but also giving her a speed and coordination that leaves Ranma wallowing in her wake.
  • Reborn! (2004): Hibari Kyouya is already a very badass fighter with power level way above the rest of the characters. He is still getting every single Next Tier Power-Up along with everybody else, staying ahead of the curve.
  • Rosario + Vampire:
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Kino Makoto was already an experienced brawler before she even entered the story, and marked her debut episode by punching out Zoicite. Then she got her Senshi powers...
    • Minako is an even better example. In the anime it's not really visible, even if her moments as a Plucky Girl hint to that. In the manga, she can One-Hit KO Makoto (done when Makoto had been brainwashed by the Dark Kingdom). In the live action, she provoked a collective Oh, Crap! in a group of youma by kicking one in a column so hard to break concrete, without transforming!! Not to say she was a slouch in the anime. She leaps onto Usagi's balcony untransformed. She also outruns a car after getting her Pure Heart Crystal taken out, even when every other senshi simply passed out from sheer pain and exhaustion.
  • The anime of Soul Eater had Maka, the protagonist, a Badass Bookworm who wields a giant red-and-black scythe who is actually her shape-shifting best friend. Her father also had this ability, but she inherited the powers of a Meister from her mother. Until the final episode, when it turns out she has been a Weapon all along.
  • Tales of Wedding Rings: Granart starts out as a formidable warrior and swordswoman, but as time goes on, she realizes that strength and martial skill alone won't be enough to stop the Abyss King's monsters. She then starts training to unlock her people's forgotten magical abilities. She eventually succeeds, becoming a Magic Knight who can increase her own strength and speed dramatically, make herself hot enough to ignite flammable substances on contact while being selective about what burns and what doesn't, and superheat her sword to increase its cutting power.
  • In Tokyo ESP, Rinka, Kobushi, and Nadja were all asskicking fighters before the glowing fish showed up. Then, they became asskicking fighters with superpowers.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • Seto Kaiba may not be an Item-wielder, but he does have some untapped mystical abilities, letting him wield Obelisk and Critias.
    • Jonouchi was about five seconds away from beating the Big Bad of Season 2, with no magical artifacts or one-of-a-kind super cards. Then in Season 4 he gets The Claw of Hermos, a plot device card that lets him face the threat of Orichalcos alongside Yugi and Kaiba.
  • Crow from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds is introduced as a Badass Normal and is so until the end of the season, when his willingness to fight alongside his Signer friends and help defeat Rex Goodwin causes the Crimson Dragon to make him a Signer as well.

    Comic Books 
  • 52: After a fallout with her uncle John Henry, Natasha Irons enlists in the Lex Luthor Everyman Project and gains actual superpowers, going from a human in Powered Armor to a human capable of crushing Powered Armor. John Henry is infected with a metagene against his will and transforms into a being composed of stainless steel, capable of deflecting bullets and hurling blobs of molten metal. These changes are temporary.
  • Astro City:
    • The Silver Agent was created after a postman named Alan Craig touched a mysterious floating glob of silver in a cave. It gave him a perfect body with enhanced strength, speed, senses, and reflexes.
    • The second Confessor uses magic to supplement his Badass Normal training, as he lacks the vampiric abilities that his predecessor used.
    • The Black Rapier is a Badass Normal who used a rejuvenation serum to prolong his crimefighting career. Even so, time catches up with him eventually.
    • While most of the First Family are various forms of Half Human Hybrids, Julius and Augustus Furst are normal humans augmented by "vitalons" they've absorbed in their adventures.
  • The Avengers:
  • Batman:
    • An awful lot of Fan Fiction tends to give Batman powers, typically so he can "stand up" to Superman. Some comics do this, too, usually as a one-issue gag or an Elseworld. The Elseworld Batman: In Darkest Knight gave him a Green Lantern Ring — leading to this Demotivator titled "Overpowered"
      • He was also offered a Sinestro Corp's ring (yellow, based on fear) in canon during the Blackest Night saga which admittedly fits him remarkably well. However, he rejected it (whether due to what happened with the Green Ring and/or because it's a Yellow Ring of Sinestro isn't stated) and it ended up in the hands of Scarecrow briefly before being taken by a deputized Orange Lantern Lex Luthor.
      • He was also offered a Yellow Ring in the Smallville: Season 11 comics. He caught it, glared at it when it began its usual spiel on the "Bruce Wayne of Earth. You have the capacity to harvest great fear" lines, and said, "Take a deeper look. Let it linger." Cue a long moment, before the ring mumbles, "Harvesting protocols paused." What's more badass than a Batman with a Lantern Ring? A Batman who terrifies a Yellow Lantern Ring into compliance.
      • In a different medium, Batman has been offered the ring, or at least comparable to it twice (see below in Western Animation).
      • The Amalgam Universe sees your Green Lantern Batman and raises you Wolverine Batman.
      • He always loses such powers at the end of the story or has them ruled non-canonical. The writers know that Batman is known and loved as a Badass Normal, and neither wants nor needs superpowers. That and it gives them an excuse to experiment.
      • There's one story where Batman gains Superman's powers, and Superman is Brought Down to Normal. The ramifications are explored — Batman begins to go a little bit crazy from righting every possible wrong he could, and ends up getting weakened because fighting at night all the time doesn't suit a solar-powered hero.
      • Vampire Batman. The trilogy of stories ended with everybody dead, including Batman himself.
      • There are occasions where Batman has his own Powered Armor to beat superpowerful foes. He does have a storage of more exotic technology and even supernatural items that he doesn't use in his normal crimefighting, but tend to be used when working with the Justice League or during drastic events.
      • Batman was offered a Green Lantern Ring in the mainstream comics once. Surprisingly enough, he's not able to do much with it. Despite having incredible willpower, Batman's drive also came from his inability to let go of the past and only was able to conjure bats and an image of his parents. In fact, this is what every Green Lantern faces each time they wield the ring. As a result, Batman gained a much greater respect for Hal Jordan.
    • While there are some Batman villains who fall under this trope, Bane is a very prominent example whenever he's on Venom. Otherwise, he's a Badass Normal super-villain with a lot of willpower and discipline whenever he's not on it.
    • Similarly, Harley Quinn in mainstream Post-Crisis DC comics continuity, although it isn't often stated — after the first time the Joker tried to kill her, Poison Ivy took her in and gave her a herbal Super Serum that permanently gave her mildly superhuman strength, agility, and resilience, explaining why a skinny young woman can beat up massive combat-trained guys when before she was just "merely" an Olympic level gymnast. This may or may not still be canon in the New 52 and DC Rebirth continuities.
    • This even happened to theJoker in a crossover with The Mask, when he came into the possession of the eponymous artifact endowed with Loki's powers. His lack of inhibitions skirted the usual problem of turning the user into a murderous lunatic, so it mostly just made him nigh-unstoppable.
    • Another Joker example: In Emperor Joker he gets the reality-warping powers of Superman villain Mr. Mxyzptlk.
  • Near the end of Blackest Night, Ganthet triggers an emergency mechanism in the rings of the highest-profile member from each Corps, prompting them to create a temporary duplicate ring and 'deputize' the nearest suitable individual. Most of the resulting Lanterns already had powers (Star Sapphire Wonder Woman, Indigo Tribe Atom, Blue Lantern The Flash), but we also get Orange Lantern Lex Luthor and Sinestro Corps The Scarecrow. Unfortunately, it doesn't take long for the Orange Ring to drive Lex mad(der) with greed, and the first ring he steals is Scarecrow's.
  • The various men who have gone by the title of Black Knight have tended to be skilled swordsmen and equestrians in their own right even before taking up the Ebony Blade. The sword (sometimes cursed, sometimes just evil) gives the Black Knight various powers, including a Healing Factor, a bit of resurrective immortality, flight, magic armor, and things like that.
  • How to create T'Challa, the Black Panther: start with an African prince, raised since his earliest days to be an all-round expert athlete, brilliant mind, skilled warrior and natural leader. Then have him eat a mystical plant and have all of his physical capabilities boosted to explicitly superhuman levels. Season with all of the miraculous gadgets that a super-advanced utopia can cook up as personnel-grade gear. Then let the local Panther deity grant him its blessings.
  • Captain America:
  • Captain Marvel (Marvel Comics): Carol Danvers was just an Air Force military figure, investigating about this new "Captain Marvel" and the Lawson scientist. And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Marvel Comics wanted to have more female super-heroes, and Carol Danvers was exposed to a Kree machine that turned her into a Flying Brick with the capabilities of a Kree supersoldier. However, her new origin reveals that she is actually half-Kree with her mother having been a Kree soldier herself. The machine just activated her latent powers. This happened to Carol again during her time as part of the X-Men supporting cast, after a prolonged period of being depowered. The Brood captured and experimented on her (even with her Flying Brick powers drained, her biology was still altered by the Kree machine and this piqued their interest) and accidentally granted her even stronger powers as Binary.
  • Sasha Bordeaux from Checkmate was originally a Badass Normal Action Girl who was considered good enough to serve as the bodyguard and crimefighting partner to Batman. She was later attacked by an O.M.A.C. which converted 10 to 20 percent of her body into cybernetics and granted her enhanced strength, a Healing Factor and Stat-O-Vision.
  • The Cosmic Ghost Rider is The Punisher who after his death gets revived as an all-new Ghost Rider.
  • Daredevil: Bullseye was an Ax-Crazy assassin with Improbable Aiming Skills. After falling from a building, many of his bones were replaced with strips of adamantium, the metal covering Wolverine's entire skeleton. This has increased his resistance to injury in unarmed combat and allows him to perform acrobatic maneuvers that would fracture ordinary human bones.
  • This happened to a huge number of The DCU's Golden Age superheroes, either the characters themselves or their legacy successors. Originally, non-powered mystery men were a popular character type back in the 40s and all of DC's characters were supposed to be in self-contained continuities. As time passed, these characters were put into a Shared Universe with super powered characters and non-powered characters just didn't seem that impressive in comparison. Since a lot of these characters are fairly obscure, most people didn't really care much if they were reworked. All-Star Squadron was particularly guilty of this.
    • The most famous example is Black Canary. Before joining the Justice League, Black Canary had no superpowers, but one issue immediately after joining the Justice League, Black Canary suddenly acquired the Canary Cry, a sonic projection weapon emitted from her mouth. This conflicted so much with her traditional Badass Normal nature, that her solo series and the smaller scale Birds of Prey constantly use Kryptonite Is Everywhere to force her to solve problems without using superpowers. Oh, it gets better. The Canary Cry is sometimes described as being so insanely powerful that any time she uses it, she's basically holding back so as not to completely and utterly eff up everything within earshot. It's put a hurt on characters who are considered to be much heavier hitters. Of course, this ironically lets the writers who are so inclined hold this back and let her use her 'fu as her primary weapon: The Canary Cry really is that powerful, and you use the conventional weapons before you Nuke 'em. Gangs of Mooks and non-Superman-class superpowered thugs can easily be defeated by her martial prowess. The Canary Cry serves as her trump card against much stronger and or unconventional opponents or as an urgent contingency if she needs to end matters quickly (in DC Showcase: Green Arrow, she saves the Green Arrow and the princess from being stabbed by Count Vertigo with the Cry, likely since his vertigo-inducing powers would mess with her fighting.)
    • Happened to Green Arrow II, Connor Hawke, as of Green Arrow and Black Canary #14, when the genetics manipulation of Dr. Sivana granted him with a Healing Factor.
    • The Atom - The first Atom was originally just a short guy with a temper and a good punch, he later gained super strength, a radioactive punch, and radiation immunity. His more famous successors gained the ability to shrink to subatomic levels.
    • Stars and Stripes — Star Spangled Kid got Starman's cosmic rod and technology, while Stripesy built a mech for himself. Their successor, Stargirl continues to use Starman's technology.
    • WildcatGot nine lives; legacy successors got cat related powers and could turn into a werecat.
    • Firebrand — Legacy successors got fire manipulation powers.
    • Liberty Belle — Acquired ability to project sonic vibrations from her hands along with enhanced speed, strength and agility (the second Liberty Belle, her daughter, did not gain the sonic vibrations, but did gained her enhanced attributes along with her father's, Johnny Quick, superspeed powers.)
    • Phantom Lady — Legacy successor could become invisible.
    • The Sandman — Legacy successors had all sorts of super powers.
    • Congo Bill — Gained the power to turn into a gorilla.
    • Crimson Avenger — Legacy successor is a spirit of vengeance with magic guns.
    • Red Tornado — Legacy successors could manipulate wind in the form of tornados (though the first was a middle-aged woman while her successor was an air elemental inhabiting a robotic body).
    • Blue Beetle — Zig-zagged. The Golden Age Fox Features Blue Beetle (Dan Garrett), before being revived by Charlton Comics and thence moving to The DCU, started as a Badass Normal, then got a bulletproof costume and Super Serum from a scientist ally, then got superpowers from a magic scarab in the Silver Age at Charlton. The second Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) couldn't make the scarab worknote , but the third (Jaime Reyes) goes back to using the scarab.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): In a 1968 issue, Steve Trevor takes a temporary Super Serum in the form of pills which give him Flying Brick powers, and he takes the name of "Patriot". Although the story ends with a hint of possible future adventures, "Patriot" never appears again, likely due to the all-new mod Wonder Woman just being around the corner.
    • Judomaster — The fourth one could project an "aversion field" which prevented her from being hit by attacks specifically aimed at her, though not ones with wide-effects like explosions. She was also a skilled martial artist just like her predecessors.
    • Rex the Wonder Dog drank from the Fountain of Youth, gaining longevity, the ability to talk (to any human or animal), and unspecified magical abilities. Overkill, considering Rex was already a decorated war veteran (for both World War II and the Korean War), a successful newspaper photographer, and had won fights with bears, woolly mammoths, and even Tyrannosaurus Rex before getting powers.
  • Iron Man: Tony Stark, who began as a simple man (not even badass) wearing a Powered Armor, gave himself technology-based superpowers with the 'extremis' virus after deciding he wasn't fast enough to keep up. In addition to speeding up his ability to control his suits by mental link (even to summon its pieces and assemble into the full suit with his mind), it also allowed him to mentally link with other pieces of technology as well, often leading to 'I hacked it while standing here talking to you' asspulls. The Bleeding Edge suit can do a lot of what the Extremis suit could do and a lot of what it can't.
  • There is a variety of this in Irredeemable — while Charybdis always had the powers, they were pretty weak. So when he got boosted to Plutonian's level, he has an advantage, because he actually knew how to fight.
  • The titular Metabarons in The Metabarons.
  • In New Avengers, Mockingbird receives a mix of Super Soldier serum and Nick Fury's Infinity Formula to save her life — an upgrade she has yet to fully exploit.
  • This is at least partially true for Nick Fury, who is badass and... virtually immortal, thanks to an anti-aging formula he took so he wouldn't age out of useful service. That near-immortality applies only to natural causes of death, though; Nick's survival in combat is purely a result of his badassitude. It later turns out that it's a lie. Nick Fury is actually pretty old, but still a badass chessmaster with robotic duplicates, as revealed in Original Sin.
  • Joshua Carver of No Hero did patrols at night without any super powers. Then, he gets FX7 and he becomes very powerful. In fact, he was raised by the FBI as a monster fighter, and an FBI agent comments that she's very scared of Joshua since he has superpowers.
  • In Paperinik New Adventures, Donald Duck is a Badass Normal in a world of aliens, cyborgs, robots, etc. However, he gains psychic powers in issue 40 of the series only to lose them at the end of the issue.
  • Played with in PS238 — Tyler, a Muggle Born of Mages with a Robin-esque identity, never gets powers. His clone, Toby, who has his memories, becomes a Reality Warper. In an interesting study of Divergent Character Evolution, Tyler remains effective and Shrouded in Myth among his peers, while the drawbacks of the others' powers make him much less able.
  • The Punisher:
    • In a What If? story, the Venom symbiote joins with Frank Castle instead of Eddie Brock. Using his new powers, the Punisher's war on crime becomes more brutal than ever and he succeeds in killing several Marvel supervillains before a team of superheroes manages to stun the symbiote, allowing Punisher to tame it by telling it that he'd commit suicide and destroy them both unless the symbiote gives him complete control over it. Punisher then tells the superheroes that he's in control now before escaping.
    • The Purgatory miniseries gave Frank, who was resurrected by an angel after a demon-assisted suicide, divine powers that allowed him to pull any kind of (divine) weapon he wanted from his Badass Longcoat.
    • In The Punisher MAX, Garth Ennis makes his own supernatural upgrade part of Frank's backstory: During the battle of Valley Forge (depicted in Born miniseries), an enigmatic voice gave him the choice to either die in battle or be its agent on Earth. This entity is implied to be Death Itself, and it apparently guides The Punisher's hand.
  • Red Sonja is an Action Girl in peak human condition that only needs common blades and weapons to take on evil magic-users and monsters. Yet, from time to time, she gained certain power-ups including but not limited to: gaining a Ring of Power that made her virtually immortal, being turned into a vampire, becoming a Witchblade host and being transformed into the avatar of a living goddess. These changes don't last because Status Quo Is God and she is always back to being a Badass Normal.
  • Robin (1993): Tim is already Robin, a teen detective trained in martial arts, when Dava Sborsc gives him the Aramilla, which grants the user a level of super-speed and rapid healing. He uses it very briefly, as the stuff also makes the user impulsive, violent and cuts down on people's self-imposed morals — he actually kills someone (though he's able to bring them back by CPR, which transfers some Aramilla to them), which cuts through the euphoria of the drug and terrifies him.
  • At one point, Chase Stein of the Runaways merged with Vision of the Young Avengers. During Avengers Arena, he became the new Darkhawk (which is, of course, ironic, because his predecessor in that role was one of the Runaways' enemies back when they were still based out of the Hostel).
  • Spider-Man: The Black Cat started out as a skilled thief, acrobat, and martial artist. Feeling like she was a liability to Peter because of her lack of powers, she underwent a procedure that granted her the ability to affect probability. Unfortunately, these powers also affected Spider-Man negatively (not surprising as it was a scheme by The Kingpin to screw with Spider-Man). Doctor Strange was able to remove these abilities from her and she was left with enhanced strength, speed, agility, reflexes, reitractable claws and night vision. She later lost those abilities too thanks to a device created by the Chameleon and Brand New Day saw her probability-manipulating powers restored.
  • Ultimate Origins #1 reveals that Nick Fury's incredible badass-ness apparently comes from having been a successful test subject of the Super Soldier Serum. On the one hand, you'd think just being Samuel L. Jackson would be enough; on the other, this kinda makes it easier to swallow things like dodging automatic weapons fire in close quarters, or holding his own against Wolverine until Captain America dropped the mutant with a taunt and a grenade. Most of his awesome is in his badass planning, anyway.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Joaquin from The Book of Life, is a skilled warrior, but the Medal of Everlasting Life makes him unbeatable. Jorge has confirmed that, if the sequel happens, Joaquin will be able to 'see things' with his injured eye, specifically the dead in the Land of the Living and other things depending on the Land he's in.
  • The Humane Five of the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls franchise originally start out no more powerful than one might expect of the average high school student (athletics, singing ability, etc.). By the events of Legend of Everfree, they have power on par with what their Equestria Prime counterparts have including their counterparts' defining traits that manifest as controllable magic, and have attained it over the course of about half a school year compared to the several years that have passed in Equestria.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ellen Ripley in the Alien series was a normal human who Took a Level in Badass by the end of Aliens by destroying an entire alien hive by herself, fighting against acid-bleeding parasitic Xenomorphs. Then by Alien: Resurrection her clone Ripley 8, who shares most of her memories, receives some Alien DNA as a result of a flaw in the cloning process. Ripley's own blood becomes slightly acidic, she gets a psychic connection with the Xenos, has reduced empathy and predatory instincts, and is able to shrug off being hit in the face with a loaded barbell.
  • Black Panther fits this trope just like its comic book counterpart: every king of Wakanda must be trained to the peak of human condition, then ingest the special Heart-Shaped Herb which grants superhuman attributes on par with a Super Soldier, and dons a vibranium suit that is practically indestructible. T'Challa goes the extra length when he replaces his old suit with a vibranium-nanite version that absorbs and stores kinetic impact from physical attacks and releases it in energy form. The movie's Big Bad, Erik Killmonger, also qualifies since he is a US operative that scored hundreds of kills and ends up becoming a Black Panther with his own nanite suit after besting T'Challa in physical combat.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier also makes the titular soldier one of these, but parts ways with the comics on how exactly. The comics Winter Soldier's metal arm is his only enhancement, whereas here, Bucky was injected with super serum as a POW of Zola's, giving him abilities roughly on par with Cap's with or without the arm. The movie version of it doesn't have any of the comics version's special abilities (like an EMP) either; in fact, it's vulnerable to them (Black Widow shuts it down for a few seconds with a shock disc), though it is stronger than his intact arm.
  • Vlad Dracula in Dracula Untold is introduced as a skilled warrior with such a fearsome reputation that it made his foes cower and retreat with the mere mention of his name. His very first feat upon rising as a vampire is to put down an army of a thousand Turks by himself.
  • In Elysium: Max goes from an ex-convict stricken with extreme radiation poisoning to a superhuman with Powered Armor grafted directly into his body. Kruger goes from being a badass Ex-Special Forces sociopath to an augmented badass Ex-Special Forces sociopath.
  • At the end of Jennifer's Body, during the final battle between the Final Girl Needy and her demon-possessed former best friend Jennifer, Needy gets bitten by Jennifer and later learns that she gained some of Jennifer's demonic powers, including hovering and Super-Strength. She uses these powers to break out of the psychiatric hospital where she's locked up and go after Low Shoulder, the Satanic emo band responsible for Jennifer's possession and the events of the film. As she puts it, she finally got lucky for once in her miserable life.
  • A bit of a meta-example is Jonah Hex. For much of his comics career, he got by on his wits and his skills, yet no matter where he ended up, he always kicked ass and took names. When The Movie was made, they gave him the power to temporarily resurrect the dead.
  • King Kong vs. Godzilla gives the gorilla a size upgrade and electrical abilities so that he can stand up to the atomic dinosaur. This is a side-effect from the fact that King Kong was originally supposed to be Frankenstein, which would have still fit into this category for making Franky 30 stories tall.
  • The basis for The Last Witch Hunter. Kaulder starts off as the man who slays the world's most powerful witch and because of this, ends up with immortality. Eight hundred years later, he's The Dreaded.
  • The Medallion: The main protagonist Eddie Yang starts out as a cop with impressive martial arts skills. After he is killed and resurrected by the eponymous medallion, he gains superhuman strength, speed, agility and a Healing Factor.
  • Throughout Space Jam, Michael Jordan keeps up with the Looney Tunes and the Monstars by being the Badass Normal basketball legend that he is, until it comes Down to the Last Play and he figures out how to use Toon Physics.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), the Shredder was introduced by beating up a Foot ninja while his arms were tied behind him. Then he gets a suit of powered armor.

  • A great majority of Chinese wuxia novels have this as their major plot point: Main character martial artist with mediocre/average/kick-ass skills somehow finds or stumbles onto some lost technique or weapon which suddenly allows him or her to go toe to toe against (or sometimes outclass) the most renowned experts and masters in the jianghu. Jin Yong 's works in particular practically live and breathe this trope.
  • The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi: Amina is a veteran sea captain and an excellent warrior in her own right. Late in the book, she gains a connection to the supernatural realm by drinking the waters from a magical island, granting mild Super-Strength and the ability to perceive and even physically manipulate magic.
  • Artemis Fowl's Domovi Butler consistently beats out his magically-inclined Fairy opponents with his decidedly non-magical style of shooting, punching, and kicking until he wins the fight. Later on he employs Fairy technology (which is much too small for him) and magic with tactical precision to take on hordes of Goblins, deranged Fairies, and all sorts of mythical creatures.
  • Tavi of the Codex Alera is the one and only Muggle in a world where absolutely everything runs on Elemental Powers. He can't even turn the lights on and off by himself. He is, however, so badass that he easily outmatches more than a few people who have Super-Strength or can throw waves of fire around, and often saves the day through sheer Badass Normal awesomeness. But he also becomes less and less normal with time; his bond with Kitai increasingly sharpens his senses and improves his stamina, and at the end of Cursor's Fury, he finally starts to get over his mother stunting his magic and develops some rudimentary furycrafting ability. But since he's short about 15 years of practice, he's unable to utilize it properly until he gets some Training from Hell in First Lord's Fury.
  • Remo Williams, in The Destroyer series of books, has trained in the "sun source" martial art of Sinanju, which functions as a Charles Atlas Superpower to allow him amazing abilities.
  • This is hinted at being the possible future path of Sergeant Karrin Murphy in The Dresden Files, if she chooses to accept the offer from Big G and become a Knight of the Cross.
    • In Skin Game, we find out that Butters has become Batman of Chicago, combining his grasp of magical theory with Bob's power to create magical artifacts which allow him to, for example, create Mind Fog at will, and skate at almost 30 mph. Still, they're just toys compared to the odds he faces. It isn't until the end of the book, where he becomes the newest (Jedi) Knight of the Cross, that he crosses over into Empowered territory.
    • Both the Knights of the Cross and Nicodemus's Denarians tend to be dangerous in their own right even without holy swords or evil coins, respectively.
  • Esther Diamond: During his stint as a vampire hunter, Max worked with a Serbian villager who'd manage to kill an undead vampire, and turned out to have drank blood from its corpse in order to gain superhuman strength to protect the village from the rest of the vampires. Unfortunately, he has to be killed due to having trouble controlling his new thirst for blood.
  • Darryl Lancaster of The Infected spent several books as the competent and friendly Badass Normal before gaining fire powers.
  • In In Fury Born Alicia Devries is a highly decorated ex-marine, ex-cadre genius of literally superior genetic stock. After spending the first half of the book establishing her as a Badass Normal, she then becomes possessed by a demi-goddess of vengeance and shortly after bonds with the AI of an experimental warship.
  • Murtagh of the Inheritance Cycle started off as an extremely skilled but otherwise mundane swordsman, being the only human to match Eragon's swordsmanship skills and at one point hitting Durza between the eyes with an arrow. Once his dragon, Thorn, hatches, he becomes a real force to be reckoned with.
  • In The Laundry Files protagonist Bob Howard and his Love Interest Mo both start off as ordinary people, albeit knowing how to use Functional Magic (which in this series is a confluence of computer science, advanced math, and astrophysics). In book two Mo acquires an Instrument of Murder (a Brown Note-producing violin made from human bone with a demonic intelligence attached to it), while in book three Bob gains True Sight and the ability to eat souls.
  • Alaric in The Quest of the Unaligned was already a Badass Normal policeman as seen in his killing a dragon with absolutely nothing but his sword and his wits. Then he discovered that he's the heir to the royal house of Caederan, and then after that he becomes the first orah to be created for centuries.
  • The Second Apocalypse: For most of the first two books, Anasûrimbor Kellhus is about as badass as you can get while still being something like normal. He's hyper-intelligent and has exceptional strength, endurance, and reflexes, due to two thousand years of breeding and a lifetime of training. However, he doesn't actually have any supernatural abilities ... until Drusas Achamian teaches him the Gnosis, the most powerful sorcery in the modern world. Kellhus, already extremely influential and capable, becomes almost horrifyingly powerful.
  • In Snuff it's revealed that due to the events of Thud! Sam Vimes can see in the dark, understand the language of goblins, and can ask the Summoning Dark to tell him anything that happened in darkness.
  • One Star Wars guidebook mentions Ma’kis’shaalas, a force sensitive who was accepted into the Jedi Order while approaching middle age due to having been raised in a warrior society whose honor-based ethics and combat training were considered similar enough to a Jedi upbringing.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
    • Kaladin starts off solidly Badass Normal, managing to kill a Shardbearer, a feat considered nearly impossible for those without Shards of their own. Then he starts developing Surgebinding abilities.
      • This is actually a question left intentionally open by the author, and a major source of angst for the character is that he may have had the powers forever but simply hadn't realized it and used them to protect his fellow soldiers. Many of his epic feats of martial skill and survival sort of read differently on a second read-through when you know in advance that he can sustain himself on stormlight, heal any wound with a handful of spare change, and control his momentum and that of everything trying to hit him. Scenes where an opponent has trouble freeing a weapon from a shield or miss with a projectile weapon get an extra helping of "Oh. Huh." The chapter from the perspective of a new recruit in Kaladin's squad specifically mentions seeing Kaladin surrounded by/trailing a mist while fighting, odd on first read and incredibly obvious the second time. Of course he's not even close to using his abilities at their fullest extent, and he's clearly still a badass spearman in his own right though. This is proven in the second book, when he kills a chasmfiend when temporarily Brought Down to Normal.
    • Dalinar Kholin aka "The Blackthorn". In his flashbacks in Oathbringer we get to see the campaign to unite Alethkar. Despite having no Shardblade or Shardplate to call his own, he's still considered one of the most dangerous men alive. At one point Sadeas says they need to get him some Shards, not for his own safety, but because he makes everyone else look bad by doing what he does without them. He ends up winning both Plate and Blade by the end of the campaign, becoming basically unstoppable. Much later he also bonds with the Stormfather, becoming a Bondsmith, of which apparently only 3 can exist at any given time. Like above, there is some implication he had been using Stormlight long before this without realizing it.
  • In Talyn by Holly Lisle, the main character of the same name begins with limited use of something called the Hagedwar, a tool which grants the user power restrained only by how well they know how to use said tool. However, as the heat gets turned up, Talyn conveniently learns how to do such extraordinary things with the Hagedwar that she essentially becomes a demigoddess.
  • Warrior Cats has a few examples:
    • Lionblaze starts out as a very strong, yet very normal, warrior. Then in Outcast, he starts developing the powers of invincibility, becoming exceptionally strong.
    • Becoming a Clan Leader works this way. They start out as normal warriors like everyone else note , but when they become a leader, they receive nine lives, the powers of StarClan, and any other gift the authors decide to give them.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Warders are just about the most skilled fighters in the world to begin with, but the magical bond they form with the Aes Sedai they're charged to protect comes with the perks of increased endurance and awareness, and a slight Healing Factor.
    • Both Perrin and Mat were fairly badass even before Perrin found his connection with the wolves, and before Mat had his little episodes with the dagger from Shadar Logoth and the Aelfinn and Eelfinn.
    • Aviendha as well, as she was an Aiel Maiden of the Spear before becoming a Wise One apprentice and learning to channel. Even her first appearance involves her and a pair of other Aiel fighting (and taunting) a myrddraal, and she was one of the Aiel who took the Stone of Tear.
  • Lynnette from The Zombie Knight. Even back when she was just a girl with a sword she was able to give enemy servants a surprising amount of trouble, and greatly helped the queen to escape from Abolish's clutches. Later on, she gets a gauntlet made from aberration bones, which allows her to use an aberration shadow and might eventually allow her to use its special ability as well.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has Skye. She starts out as a skilled computer hacker in Season 1 and receives combat training from May in Season 2 where she also gains the power to control and manipulate vibrations.
    • Season 5 also does this for General Glenn Talbot: Introduced as a high-ranking member of the U.S. Airforce in season 1, he's shown as a capable fighter troughout the series. In season 5 however he gives himself a major power update with the fictional element Graviton, turning him into a major threat for SHIELD as well as the MCU-version of the Avengers-villain Graviton.
  • Arrowverse:
    • Arrow:
      • As in the comics, Slade Wilson starts out as an accomplished martial artist, swordsman and tactician. The flashbacks in season 2 focus on him as a human before he is injected with Mirakuru, granting him enhanced strength, speed, reflexes and durability. Even after he's cured, he can still fight off Oliver and Thea single-handed.
      • Roy Harper received archery and martial arts training from Oliver. He later got injected with Mirakuru as well, with all the benefits and drawbacks before it was purged from his system.
    • Legends of Tomorrow: Sara Lance was a master martial artist trained by the League of Assassins and was basically second only to Oliver Queen in hand-to-combat. In season 5, she temporarily gains precognitive powers. In season 6, she is killed (again) and resurrected in an alien-human hybrid body that grants her a Healing Factor.
  • Babylon 5: Several characters get Touched by Vorlons, and receive added abilities because of it. Talia Winters (already a telepath) develops telekinesis, Lyta Alexander (another telepath) receives a massive power boost, and John Sheridan not only gets brought Back from the Dead, but also develops a resistance to telepathic control.
  • In Season 3 of The Boys (2019), Vought develops a variant of their Super Serum Compound V that gives non-Supes powers temporarily, with the intent of selling it to the military. Queen Maeve smuggles some to The Boys to give them a fighting chance against Payback and eventually Homelander. However, Butcher and Hughie are the only ones willing to use it as the others feel No Man Should Have This Power.
  • Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who and Torchwood is this. He starts out a badass former time-agent who can easily keep up with the Ninth Doctor in terms of action. Then he dies and is brought back. Permanently.
  • In The Flash, Iris is badass enough already, but twice in the series she temporarily gains powers. Once Barry's speed is transferred to her, and she becomes the Flash for a day (with purple lightning). Later on, her spending a lengthy time period in the mirror world gives her the ability to control mirrors. She loses that as well. It turns out that her being the Flash has left an imprint on her, which is why their future daughter Nora has yellow and purple lightning when she runs. Later on, the Speed Force temporarily gives Iris her powers back to fight the Godspeed army.
  • Nick Burkhardt in Grimm, is essentially an average human being with above average abilities in combat. The only supernatural ability he possesses is his ability to see Wesen in their true form. Fan speculation has gone back and forth on whether being a Grimm provided any abilities besides seeing the Wesen's true forms due to ambiguous portrayals of strength and durability. Starting in season 2, his powers provide a type of immune response that fights certain types of attacks and adapts to compensate or incorporates aspects and resistance to further attacks. So far, he now has enhanced hearing that allows him to fight blind and hear better than the werewolf, and a zombie state that allows him superior stamina without raising his heart rate or getting fatigued and not needing to breathe for an unknown amount of time.
  • Both Mohinder and Ando in Heroes spend the first two seasons struggling to keep up in a world of superhumans. They do okay all things considered — even facing the Big Bad, Sylar, a couple of times and living to tell of it, which many characters with powers can't say. But in Volume 3 they both get powers, letting them hold their own.
  • Before he became Kamen Rider, Takeshi Hongo was already a Badass Biker and martial artist with an IQ of 600. No wonder Shocker thought he'd be a good candidate for their grasshopper super-Cyborg.
  • In Moon Knight (2022), Marc was a badass long before he became Khonsu's Moon Knight, and even afterwards he still manages to win fights without the armor during the day time. In the final episode, Layla also briefly gets empowered when she becomes Tawaret's Avatar.
  • Seven Star Fighting God Guyferd: Gou Kazama, in the vein of Takeshi Hongo above, was kidnapped by an evil organization and gained the power to transform into the mutant cyborg Super-Soldier Guyferd. He's also a skilled and capable martial artist, and can put up a good fight even outside of his transformation.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Happened subtly, mostly the "Touched by Vorlons" variety. Jack O'Neill was already badass (he was a USAF Special Ops officer) before the reveal that he has the gene necessary to use the technology of the Ancients. Same for Sam Carter and being used as a host by a Tok'ra. Daniel Jackson was an Action Survivor until he ascended to a higher plane of existence (twice). The difference between before and after is relatively minor in some cases, but it's definitely there.
    • Used less subtly in the episode "Upgrades", when the three of them all wear Atoniek armbands, granting them enhanced strength, plus Super-Speed on a level even The Flash would find respectable. Unfortunately for them but fortunately for the continued drama of the series, the armbands impart their superpowers by injecting a nanotech virus... that the human body eventually develops an immunity to. This turns out to be why the Atoniek civilization is extinct: they relied on the armbands exclusively for their defense, and once the entire population was immune, they were helpless.
  • Superman & Lois: In season 2, General Mitch Anderson becomes obsessed with avenging the deaths of two of Supermen of America members at Bizarro's hands. After Superman and Tal-Rho escape his prison, Anderson goes to the secret DOD armory with anti-Kryptonian weapons and loads up to bear. He storms Tal-Rho's fortress in the Badlands by firing a Kryptonite RPG, thus weakening Superman and Tal. He then inhales some X-Kryptonite and proceeds to beat the crap out of both aliens, while also using his new Eye Beams to overpower Superman's. Bizarro goes to help them after Anderson shoots Superman with Kryptonite bullets, which Tal intercepts with his own body. While Superman is busy saving his brother, Bizarro fights Anderson. He's winning at first, especially after Anderson shoots him with Kryptonite, which makes him stronger. But then he discovers that X-K weakens Bizarro and uses it to weaken him enough to break his neck.
  • Supernatural:
    • Sam Winchester shifts into this in Seasons 4 and 5 when he starts gaining direct control over his psychic abilities and uses it to fight demons. However, he eventually abandons them and returns to being a Badass Normal.
    • In Season 6, Dean was temporarily vampirized in an episode and used his new powers to infiltrate and destroy an entire coven, but his transformation was ultimately reversed in time.
    • In Season 7, we have Ghost Bobby.
    • In Season 9, there's Dean after he gets the Mark of Cain and the First Blade.
    • Also in Season 9, we find out the reason Garth went MIA is that he was turned into a werewolf.
    • Before any of them, in "Fresh Blood" Gordon Walker became a vampire. He didn't take it too well.
  • In WandaVision, this happens to Monica Rambeau after she re-enters the Hex, turning her into an Energy Being]]. After S.W.O.R.D. learns that Wanda's Reality Warper powers are rewriting the DNA of the inhabitants of Westview, Monica is advised not to go back, as she's already been in and out once and nobody knows what going through it again would do to her.

    Tabletop Games 
  • From d20 Modern: Take a Fast Hero 5/Gunslinger 10/Sniper 5, already a force to be reckoned with, despite having no magic/cybernetics/mutations.. Give him/her cybernetics implants (D20 Future), Mutations (D20 Future), and/or FX items/Magical inherent enhancements/both (Urban Arcana). Then hope you are not going to face him/her.
  • The Ur-Example may well be spells in Dungeons & Dragons which give the Badass Normal characters superhuman abilities for a short time. A wizard can easily give a fighter the ability to fly, fight at superhuman speeds, and superhuman strength with a couple of spells, then stand back to watch him or her go. Magical items can have a similar effect.
  • This is quite often how Exaltation works in Exalted, but mostly for Solars and Lunars. To explicate: Solars are typically Exalted after performing an act of bravery or a great accomplishment. Lunars are typically Exalted after surviving in the face of overwhelming odds.
    • Getimians are an interesting subversion: they would have been this if they'd actually existed before their Exaltation, because the miracle of Getimian Exaltation makes a life that never came to pass real, a life that would have changed the world.
  • World of Darkness: Mirrors has the "Dark Hero" template, which (on top of a few inherent abilities such as a power stat and greater durability and healing) allows one to utilise "Skill Masteries", specialized powers based in mundane Skills. The weakest of these constitute Charles Atlas Superpowers, while the greatest are positively superhuman.
    • Due to the relatively "fair" balance between supernatural and non-supernatural abilities (mundane skills, for instance, grant essentially the same increase in capabilities as ranks in a Mage's spheres), it is not uncommon for a The World of Darkness game to start with a bunch of badass normal "hunters" and then have them gain supernatural templates only after a certain number of sessions.
    • Hunters are this in Hunter: The Reckoning and Hunter: The Vigil, especially in the older Reckoning line, where it is strongly recommended your hunter is a thoroughly normal person before they gain their powers.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, the card Muraganda Petroglyphs grants a large bonus to creatures without abilities. Also shown by the power creep in cards such as Woolly Thoctar, a 5/4 for a mere 3 mana.note 
  • In Mistborn Adventure Game, you can spend a bunch of Advancements to manifest Allomantic powers if you don't have them already. Since non-powered characters start with better Attributes and Standings, this can make for a very powerful Hero.
  • In Shadowrun you can build a heavily-chromed street samurai with no magical abilities whatsoever and the team mage can then increase all of your attributes even further (such as motion sense through walls). They can also provide you with preparations, small normal objects set to trigger to cast a specific spell when something specific happens (such as an apple casting a "Rot" spell when someone takes a bite). Additionally, a technomancer's sprite can run Diagnostics on a vehicle (increasing it's abilities beyond the normal) and potentially allow it to take additional actions. If you already had a killer rigger on the team in that vehicle...
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Wulfrik was an ordinary Norscan (well, he was born with wolf fangs instead of teeth, but such mutations are common in Norsca) and grew into quite a renowned warrior to the point of slaying a Khornate chieftain in single combat. Unfortunately, at the victory feast he made a number of drunken boasts, waking up to find that his tongue was now small and sharp like a bird's, he could speak and understand every language, and he now had a hit-list of chamùpions and monsters from the Chaos gods that he had to kill (some of them halfway across the world) or be tortured by dreams of his death. Fortunately he learned of a teleporting longship, killed its owner for it, and is now able to teleport around the world, insult his target in their language (a Berserk Button in and of itself for some factions like the dwarfs) so crudely that they can't refuse his challenge, and kill them.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Sisters of Battle are for all intents and purposes normal humans, albeit trained to elite levels, and equipped with Powered Armor, and a Boltgun. Their faith in the God-Emperor though is so strong that it gives them incredible powers on par with psionics (only explicitly not warp derived, therefore without possibility of invoking Perils of the Warp). These used to be so good that many players preferred to design their army specifically around Acts of Faith to make a competitive list, although the sixth edition codex has kicked the entire faction down to low-tier.
    • There's also the Stormtroopers of the Imperial Guard. For reference, the Imperial Guard are an entire army of human Badass Normals, and the very best of them are inducted into Stormtrooper squads, or the Kasrkin squads, if it's a Cadian army. They are given special equipment not normally afforded to rank-and-file guardsmen, such as carapace armor and plasma weapons, as well as a few minor biological and cybernetic augmentations that increase their strength and speed by a small amount.
    • This is actually the basic idea behind the Space Marines, really. Start with a prepubescent Badass Normal, then fill him full of bio-mods to turn him into a Space Marine.
    • While the fluff tends to focus on the ones that were formerly Chaos Marines, Daemon Princes are this trope. Ordinary mortals who become veritable Physical Gods in recognition of their sheer badassery. Like Ax'Senaea the Thrice-Possessed, an ordinary human who consumed three of Slaanesh's Greater Daemons to make herself young and hearty again, and was aiming for number four when Slaanesh made her a Daemon Princess. In recognition of her feat, she was allowed to keep the souls of those daemons to empower herself.
    • The above can happen with loyal Imperial soldiers, but they instead become Living Saints.

    • Most of the Toa Inika; before becoming warriors with Elemental Powers, Jaller and Kongu were each The Captain of their villages' defense forces, Nuparu was a master engineer whose creations gave the Matoran a fighting chance against the Bohrok swarm, Hewkii was a champion athlete and Hahli had already had a huge island-spanning adventure. The only possible exception is Matoro (though he was still Secret-Keeper to Turaga Nuju and thus developed significant mental fortitude), which was the major contributing factor to his view of himself as The Load.
    • The Glatorian are already combat veterans with millenia of experience, so Mata Nui giving them elemental powers to fight the Skrall is firmly in this category.

    Video Games 
  • At the start of Baldur's Gate, CHARNAME is just an ordinary teenager with 1 level in an adventuring class. By the end of the first game, he/she is a certified badass after going toe to toe with Sarevok. By the middle of the sequel? A godling capable of flattening armies and transforming into the Slayer. May or may not ascend to full godhood by the end of the game as the God of Murder.
  • In Battleborn, El Dragón was originally a space luchador who was capable of wrestling against various robots in the ring without any enhancements whatsoever. He was the undisputed champion Galactic Holo-Arena in this regard until the Magnus ISIC entered the tournament and ripped El Dragón's arms off. Though wounded in more ways than one, his fighting capabilities were restored when his torn limbs were replaced with giant cybernetic arms. With them, he's not only able to once again battle with his wrestling moves but also use what cyborg enhancements his arms provide.
  • Bullet from BlazBlue possesses a pair of incendiary gauntlet armagus with which to start campfires or ignite her foes, but her mercenary corps' grappling technique means that she can put up a considerable fight without them.
  • Dante's Inferno: Dante Alighieri is re-imagined as a crusader knight that kills several enemies during the game's tutorial, before being stabbed in the back and when The Grim Reaper comes to take his soul to Hell, Dante challenges him to a fight and wins. After taking Death's scythe as his own, he gains several magical powers of both holy and unholy nature and superhuman fighting prowess allowing him to overcome demons much larger than himself.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Prior to receiving his extensive suite of top-of-the-line Sarif Augmentations, Adam Jensen was already a well trained SWAT team leader in the Detroit Police Department before taking a job as Sarif Industries Chief of Security. This is displayed in the game’s prologue where Adam with no augmentations guns down dozens of Belltower mercenaries invading Sarif HQ, and it required a heavily augmented “Ogre” Jarun Namir to put him down. Once he gains all his augments, Adam becomes an unstoppable One-Man Army.
  • Dishonored: Corvo was already The Dreaded before The Outsider gifted him with a Power Tattoo. His skills with a blade were legendary amongst the city guard, and in game they can occasionally be heard recounting times they saw him in action. Giving him supernatural powers just made him more lethal.
    New Guard: What...what do I do if I run into him?
    Old Guard: Try to make a lot of noise when you die. Then the rest of us might be able to catch him.
  • The Doom Slayer from Doom (2016) and Doom Eternal turns out to be none other than Doomguy from the original Doom series, who was recruited by the Night Sentinels sometime after electing to stay in Hell at the end of Doom 64. With that background, he was a hardcore Demon Slaying badass even before the Makyr known as "the Seraphim" granted him immortality, tirelessness, and super-strength, making him a warrior feared even by Hell itself.
  • In Dragon Age, this is what Templars and Reavers are compared to the other warrior specializations. Templars get powers that deny magic to their opponents and are very effective against demons from consuming lyrium, while Reavers get the ability to consume their opponent's health or strike harder at the cost of their own by drinking dragon blood, but before they are eligible for becoming either, they must already be accomplished warriors with no magical powers whatsoever.
    • Non-mage members of the Grey Wardens also count, as the process of Joining gives them the ability to sense darkspawn, and arguably enhanced physical abilities as well (or at least stamina). Avernus' research implies that the Joining give others unknown powers beyond that. The most prominent example being The Warden themselves.
  • In Dragon Ball Xenoverse, thanks to the Time Breakers screwing up history, Hercule goes from being a genuine Badass Normal (albeit one with a bad case of Testosterone Poisoning and overconfidence) to being able to fly under his own power, fire Ki blasts, and even bring a Super Saiyan Goku to his knees.
  • Dusty Raging Fist have your main hero, Dusty the rabbit, and his friends Kitsune the fox and Darg the horse, being brawlers and mercenaries who effortlessly beats up plenty of mooks. And then you obtain Elemental Powers from various Elemental guardians for kicking more ass, in order to stop a greater evil. Unfortunately the powers granted to your heroes doesn't last; with the all powerful Great Evil defeated in the final stage, you're then reverted to your normal forms.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • As a race, the Nords are the resident Badass Normals of Tamriel. They are a Proud Warrior Race of Horny Vikings who epitomize the idea of Humans Are Warriors, but they are least magically inclined race (and have a strong dislike of magic and distrust of magic-users to boot). Despite this, their ancestors were able to carve out a foothold in Skyrim by nearly driving the Falmer (Snow Elves), who it is said were nearly as naturally magically inclined as the modern Altmer (High Elves), to extinction. The "empowerment" comes in when the Nords, facing the threat of the Dragons and their Dragon Cults, prayed for aid from the Divines and were granted it. They were taught how to use the Thu'um, the Language of Magic of the Dragons which allows users to "shout" elements into existence as well as some other utilitarian effects. Led by the Tongues, masters of the Thu'um, the ancient Nord armies vanquished the Dragons and their Cults, then forged an Empire that covered nearly all of north Tamriel. A succession crisis would eventually tear it apart, and then the use of the Thu'um as a weapon of war dropped dramatically after their defeat at the Battle of Red Mountain, following which one of those Tongues (Jurgen Windcaller) founded the "Way of the Voice" to use the Thu'um only honor the gods.
    • In most of the main series games, the Player Character is a Badass Normal (or at least as "normal" as one can be in a world where magic is ubiquitous and anyone can learn to use it if they choose) with several options to become "Empowered" throughout the game. To note:
      • The Agent in Daggerfall has the options of Lycanthropy (werewolf and wereboar) and Vampirism. Both offer powerful buffs, at the cost of some (ultimately minor) drawbacks.
      • The Nerevarine in Morrowind also has the option of Vampirism (as well as Lycanthropy with the Bloodmoon expansion). The drawbacks are more significant than those in Daggerfall, but the "Empowerment" is quite powerful in each case. In addition, you'll contract the Corprus Disease during the main quest. On the positive side, it will make you The Ageless, give you Ideal Illness Immunity, and permanently boost your Strength and Endurance. However, the negatives include a severe case of Body Horror and having your mental faculties decreased to animalistic levels. As part of the main quest, the negatives are cured while the positives remain.
      • The Champion of Cyrodiil in Oblivion also has Vampirism as an option, with the downsides much less severe than in Morrowind. By completing the Shivering Isles expansion, you'll also become the new Sheogorath, Daedric Prince of Madness. While the powers that come with such a station may not be apparent right away, they do manifest by the time of the next game...
      • The Dragonborn of Skyrim subverts the trope, as he/she is not actually "normal". The Dragonborn was born with the immortal Aedric soul of a dragon, a blessing bestowed on rare mortals by the Aedric Top God, Akatosh, the God of Time and "father" of dragons. However, this blessing doesn't mean much until the dragons begin to return at the start of the game. Additionally, the Dragonborn has some of the same means of empowerment mentioned above, including Vampirism (with additional boosts given in the Dawnguard DLC) and Lycanthropy, which for the first time in the series is a voluntary transformation, making it something of a Super Mode with the previous downsides heavily downplayed.
  • The Tome of Eternal Darkness grants its holder access to powerful magicks and the memories of past (and future) bearers.
  • The nature of Servants in Fate/stay night and its various spinoffs is such that even historical figures with no superhuman qualities to speak of will become far stronger than the average human. For example, Mata Hari was nothing more than a skilled spy in life, but as a Servant, she can crush a normal person with her bare hands, even with the lowest rank of strength.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy: Upon promoting, the Fighter and Thief go from being magically inept to being able to cast white and black magic, respectively, on top of their physical prowess.
    • Final Fantasy V: The party start out as Freelancers who can only attack, defend, and chuck items. By the end of the game, they will probably be Freelancers... who have gained a multitude of unique abilities, magic, knowledge of chemistry, et cetera after mastering the job classes granted to them by the crystal shards.
    • Final Fantasy VI: Terra and Celes are the only two members with access to magic for the very first portion of the game (in fact, this makes them highly valuable to La Résistance). After meeting with Ramuh, the rest of the party gains access to magicite and start learning magic themselves.
    • Final Fantasy VII: Vincent Valentine was a Turk, one of Shinra's elite Men In Black who enforced the company's will and guarded their VIPs. And then Hojo got a hold of him and turned him into an unaging shapeshifter. Cloud was also quite skilled despite being an infantry as he managed to kill Sephiroth and lift the masamune even impaled, and that was before Hojo forcibly injected Jenova cells into him and exposed Cloud to Mako to turn him into a Super-Soldier. In Remake Tifa is already an immensely strong Kick Chick martial artist with Charles Atlas Super Power abilities on par with SOLDIER members, before she even breaks out her Chi powers.
    • Final Fantasy VIII: Although the main party themselves don't really count, having been trained to use Guardian Forces and Junctioning, they do turn Laguna and his friends into this whenever they share a consciousness thanks to Ellone. They're already capable, well-trained veterans... but now they have access to para-magic, summons, and Junctions years before Garden made these things familiar to the world.
    • Final Fantasy XIII has the whole party turned into L'Cie, esper-like humans with magical powers, by Anima after defeating it. Anima is a sort of god like monster.
      • In fact, for one character, Snow Villiers, he becomes an Empowered Badass Normal twice. It's implied he always knew martial arts, but getting hold of an experimental bulletproof Badass Longcoat which enhanced his strength lets him make the most of his inherent strength and skill. And then, he becomes a L'Cie, granting him magic powers and the ability to summon ice spirits that can transform into a motorcycle, to put the cherry on the cake.
  • Wouldn't you believe it, but Ky Kiske from Guilty Gear is revealed to be this in Xrd. Any normal human who can keep up with the magically-augmented Gear Sol Badguy in a sword fight is a Badass Normal. However, in Xrd's story mode, an assassin shoots Ky in the back, riddles him with bullets and goes over to deliver the Coup de Grâce. As he turns to walk away, Ky gets up and runs him through. His wounds have begun rapidly healing and his left eye is glowing red, the mark of a Gear...
  • Halo:
    • Would you believe it, but Sergeant Johnson, who was revealed to be a SPARTAN-I.
    • All of the Spartan-IIs are this, with it being noted that Dr. Catherine Halsey chose through her screenings Child Prodigy candidates who would have grown into exceptional human beings even if they never became Spartans. This is borne out in their training, where even before they received their Bio-Augmentation these prepubescent trainees were capable of fighting, overpowering, and even killing their adult trainers in one-one engagements.
    • Pretty much every Spartan-IV is this, as they're all adult volunteers who qualified for the program by doing something awesome when they were still Badass Normals. Here's the pre-Spartan backgrounds of Fireteam Osiris from Halo 5: Guardians:
  • Jacket from Hotline Miami becomes one of these as he unlocks more and more of the masks (the "Rasmus" mask allows him to see secret collectibles on the map with ease, the "Tony" mask allows him to perform executions faster and kill his opponents with a single punch, etc.). This may just be a gameplay mechanic, but it may also have something to do with Jacket dreaming the first half of the game in the hospital he's recovering from his headshot wound in.
  • In Krut: The Mythic Wings you're already a badass Krut warrior - an eagle-headed Bird People - and a capable fighter who defeated multiple giant monsters. And then you obtained the titular Mythic Wings halfway through, granting you powers from the gods to single-handedly destroy the stone ogre army and take on their kaiju-sized warlord, Zurah.
  • This happens to Link in various The Legend of Zelda games. Usually he starts the game as a regular sword-wielding kid, but by the end of the game he's acquired various spells and other magical powers, his energy level has been magically doubled, etc. Also helps that his entire lineage is blessed by the gods.
  • Depending on player choices, Mass Effect's Commander Shepard can be this by the second game. A non-biotic Shepard is a Badass Normal N7 Special Forces Operative in the first game (or not, given genetic upgrades are standard issue), but Cerberus adds upgrades in the second. Regardless of class selection, Shepard is given a reinforced skeleton, enhanced senses, tougher skin, increased strength and stamina and virtual immunity to toxins. If you choose a new class with an imported save, it's justified by saying Cerberus' tinkering gave Shepard new abilities. Even if you don't change classes from a non-biotic class, the game lets you unlock loyalty powers, which include a few biotic abilities.
    • Ryder embodies this to a slightly larger extent in the beginning of Mass Effect: Andromeda. Unlike Shepard who had already established themselves as a badass N7 commander, Ryder had just started his/her career in the Alliance Marines, when they were forced to leave and join the Andromeda Initiative. They prove themselves on Habitat 7 by gunning down about a dozen Kett enemies, optionally rescuing a captured squad mate, helping other stranded squad mates hold out against a Kett onslaught and even assisting their N7 father Alec in activating alien technology that allows them all to escape. It is only after this that Ryder becomes merged with SAM and gains all their combat, tech and biotic powers. Later, when their connection to SAM is temporarily removed, Ryder still leads an assault on Meridian, defeats the Kett Archon and rescue their sibling.
  • Mortal Kombat: Several characters started out as fairly ordinary if talented martial artists, who later developed or gained magical or superhuman powers.
    • Shang Tsung was originally a warrior from Earthrealm who was skilled enough on his own that he won a tournament against Outworld. However, his next tournament didn't go so well, so he turned to Black Magic by feasting on a soul for greater power in order to win again. After he was found out, he was kicked out by the Elder Gods and cursed with Rapid Aging, although he found he could temporarily stall or reverse it by consuming even more souls. He subsequently turned to Shao Kahn who taught him even more dark magic and how to refine his soul stealing abilties, and served Kahn as a warrior and eventually tournament host from then on.
    • Scorpion started life as a highly skilled ninja assassin named Hanzo Hasashi who was killed by his Arch-Enemy Sub-Zero and went to the Netherrealm / Hell for his own crimes in life, only to escape and come back to the mortal world to seek revenge on his killer, at which point his time in Hell caused him to develop a variety of demonic fire-based powers.
    • Jax is a Special Forces operative who is a trained and skilled fighter, but he felt he could not keep up with the supernatural fighters so by the time of 3 he undergoes a procedure to give himself. In the reboot, his arms were actually ripped off by Ermac, pretty much forcing him to become Empowered to so much as survive.
    • Quan Chi is a curious inversion, since he is a demon from the Netherrealm who learned Black Magic on his own, but unlike most of the Kombatants- who are trained or experienced warriors- his fighting skills are almost entirely magical, using spells to give himself mastery of various forms of martial arts. He temporarily loses most of his powers between 4 and Deadly Alliance, and it transpires that he is actually a rank amateur fighter without his magic.
    • Johnny Cage was an actor who signed up for the tournament because he wanted to put to rest rumors that his skills were all Wire Fu, having no idea what he actually walked into. Most of his skills run on obfuscation, misdirection, and opponents underestimating him because of his constant irreverent snarking. And then come Mortal Kombat X, it's revealed that he (and by extension, his daughter Cassie) is the descendant of a warrior cult who bred fighters for the Gods, with just enough superpowers to hold his own among Elder Gods, Outworld fighters, and other nastiness. Johnny and Cassie are still fighting well above their weight class, however.
  • Some classes in NetHack are definitely Badass Normal to start with. For example, even at low levels the Valkyrie and Samurai are competent warriors who can dispatch most foes with ease, despite not having any magical powers. By the end of the game, the character will almost certainly have several major artifacts, vast magical powers, and the ability to go toe-to-toe with the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, before ascending to become a demi-god. Arguably, this is a bit of a subversion, since the game strongly implies that you are one of the horsemen, War, Brought Down to Normal.
  • Frost in Project: Snowblind is already a Badass Army in the prologue. After he was turned into augmentation after suffering from an explosion, naturally, he does the mission even better and at the best and worst of times, becoming a One-Man Army.
  • Persona 5 Strikers: Zenkichi began the story as just a cop who was good at hand-to-hand combat, but he sneaks into a Jail to rescue the Phantom Thieves knowing he has no way to fight back if he is spotted. When he reaches them, he confronts the Shadow of his daughter and awakens his Persona, making him just as powerful as the Thieves.
  • James Heller in [PROTOTYPE 2] is derived from the fact that he is a normal person who can take on the infected prior to his infection.
  • Quake IV: Matthew Kane is a hardass Space Marine. But then he gets captured by the Strogg and, in an utterly harrowing sequence, subjected to the Stroggification process. However, he is saved at the last minute by his fellow marines, leaving him with a new Strogg-like physiology that proves invaluable to the eventual defeat of the Strogg.
  • Albert Wesker from the Resident Evil series was already one hell of a Magnificent Bastard, but after successfully pulling off his massive Gambit Roulette in the first game and coming Back from the Dead in Resident Evil – Code: Veronica, he gains superhuman strength and speed thanks to a specific form of The Virus.
    • Resident Evil 5 reveals that Wesker along with the other Wesker children, though he supposedly was the only survivor, was a subject of Project W, the first and greatest of Umbrella's experiments. He was indoctrinated with Oswell Spencer's beliefs and treated with the Progenitor Virus since early childhood. He was a badass all along.
    • Wesker also makes Jill Valentine one in RE 5.
    • Resident Evil 6 gives us two more to add: Sherry Birkin, who possesses a healing factor as a result of her exposure to the G-Virus, and Wesker's Heroic Bastard son, Jake Muller, who possesses enhanced strength, speed, and endurance.
  • Nathan Hale in Resistance: Fall of Man after getting infected with the Chimeran Virus that gives him the ability to regenerate, among other things. And near the end of Resistance 2, he gains the ability to make the Chimera explode by waving his hands after defeating Daedalus.
    • The Sentinels in Resistance 2, a team of badasses who all survived the infection through the Chimeran Virus and thus have the same abilities as Hale.
  • This trope is the origin story of every character in Rift, although the means of gaining powers depend on the faction. On the Guardians faction intro, the narration specifies that you were not chosen because of your faith, but because of your strength.
  • The Boss gains superpowers in Saints Row IV, though only in the simulation. They also gain superpowers in the finale which occurs in the physical world thanks to Powered Armor.
    • Before that, in Saints Row: The Third, the Boss briefly got superpowers in the final part of the DLC campaign "The Trouble with Clones", courtesy of an irradiated energy drink.
  • Happens to Amy Rose of Sonic the Hedgehog during the Dreamcast era games as a result of chasing Sonic. In Sonic CD Amy is pretty much a normal girl whose running speed is slower than Sonic's walking speed. Then comes Sonic Adventure, and thanks to her Hammer, she becomes very acrobatic, nimble and is able to defend herself effectively once she gets used to fighting. Once Sonic Adventure 2 comes up, she's gotten a bit better, able to run faster and perform basic spindash techniques. However, when Sonic Heroes comes around, she's able to execute nearly every move Sonic can (if not in a weaker form), and is even able to go toe to toe with him when the situation calls for it. This also applies to Big the Cat, who went from being a slow runner with a poor jump who can move cars and possesses impeccable fishing skill to a full-on Power type character, able to run at super speed and spindash just as easily as everyone else.
  • In the Soul fighting games, Hwang is a Korean swordsman and national hero who sets out into the world to find the "Sword of Salvation" and save his country from the Japanese. In Soul Calibur VI's new timeline, he is Malfested and commits suicide to prevent himself being Reforged into a Minion, but he is brought back to life by a Taoist sage and taught how to use Taoist magic that makes him even more powerful... but at the cost of his lifeforce.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Kyle Katarn from the Dark Forces Saga games spent the entire first game and first 3 levels of the second as just a Badass Normal (during which he bests Boba Fett and takes out at least one Kell Dragon with just his fists). He then learns about his Force Sensitivity and gets a lightsaber.
    • A villainous example occurs in the third game Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast with the Reborn, warriors who were artificially imbued with the Force using the Valley of the Jedi and made into Dark Jedi by The Remnant of The Empire. However, they proved to be no match for the more experienced natural-born Force users and were wiped out by Luke Skywalker's Jedi.
    • Most of The Exile's party in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords are this — they're already war veterans, trained fighters, spies, bounty hunters, etc. But most of them turn out to be Force Sensitive as well, allowing the Exile to train them as Jedi (or Sith). It's also a common fan theory that Carth Onasi from the first game is an untrained Force Sensitive as well.
    • The Fan Game Knights of the Old Republic III: The Jedi Masters continues the trend, as the Player Character has five Force-sensitive potential companions they can choose to train as Jedi/Sith in the second act but can only select two. Your options include the son of Mandalore, a Trandoshan warrior whose Establishing Character Moment is killing a group of thugs in a bar, and a Devaronian spacer.
  • In Vermintide II, some of the Downloadable Content packs give magical powers to the previously non-magical protagonists (except for Sienna Fuegonasus, so far). Markus Kruber becomes a superhuman Grail Knight, Bardin Gorrekson becomes a Gatling-wielding Outcast Engineer, Kerillian becomes a part-plant Sister of the Thorn, and Victor Saltzpyre becomes a hammer-swinging Warrior-Priest of Sigmar.
  • Ashley Winchester, the protagonist of Wild ARMs 2 is this when he gets his Second Hour Superpower a few hours into the game. Comes with a Theme Music Power-Up too.
  • X-COM:
    • Surviving soldiers with high psi strength. They (mostly) start with poor stats, but will become Badass Normal. And when you unlock the Psi-Lab... May god have mercy on their souls...
    • You can also do this in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. True, a perfectly ordinary squaddie with a rifle can hold his/her own against the aliens, but later on you can turn them into truly dangerous psionic Super Soldiers, Mind Rape enemies to death, conjure up psychic shields or take control of enemies. Enemy Within adds bio-enhancements which allow soldiers to heal miraculously from injuries, jump over buildings or turn invisible, and cybernetic enhancements which allow the soldier to take control of a Mini-Mecha which laughs off firepower and is armed with weapons ranging from a flamethrower to a grenade launcher to a Power Fist.

    Web Comics 
  • In Axe Cop, new powers are really easy to come by for just about all the characters. Axe Cop himself repeatedly just displays and also gains new powers, the latter including for example being given flight by the comic's writer, and making himself into a magical mummy. But, unlike other characters, he usually forgets about any and all of them soon and acts like a Badass Normal again, until it's time to gain yet another new power.
  • Years into Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures' run, we find out that Dan's wings were the outward signs of his 'Cubi heritage (his mother was apparently a powerful succubus, something that apparently everyone knew except Dan). Once his heritage fully kicked in, it granted him assorted new powers that he's mostly still getting the hang of. (His ongoing refusal to stay at the 'Cubi academy and train doesn't help.) Dan was a very successful adventurer already before he semi-retired to Lost Lake and his heritage kicked in.
  • Tedd from El Goonish Shive starts out magically impaired, meaning that he can never have his own spells. His response to that can be summed up as "Screw you, I'll make my own magic", and he does just that, manufacturing various Magitek tools designed for everyday use. Then an immortal gives him magic powers. And then we find out later that he had an extra-normal ability all along — the ability to physically perceive magic and intuit its workings — and wrote it off as I Thought Everyone Could Do That (The test that should've revealed this years ago was thrown off by young Tedd's fear of the test itself).
  • The Fednote  from A Girl and Her Fed — already a hulking M.I.B-type, ticks fully over to this trope once The ghost of Ben Franklin reprograms the magitech chip in his head, granting him the ability to control and interface any electronic device, see ghosts, and more. These abilities are eventually conferred to most of the surviving agents of the "Pocket President" program.
    • The Girlnote  gets this as well. She's a world class judoka, capable of incapacitating opponents twice her size. Later, she learns she has latent psychic powers, which she learns to make use of in various ways (like being able to psychically bind spirits (and people) in place).
  • Higgs from Girl Genius is an interesting example. At first he seems normal, but it is later implied (and later still confirmed) that he is actually one of the Jägergenerals. For unknown reasons, he kept his human body after taking the Jägerdraught, but internally, he's 100% Jäger.
    • This is inferred to be the case for anyone who takes the the Jägerdraught. Those who didn't already possess some level of Badass Normal strength tended not to survive the experience.
  • Grrl Power's Sydney is effectively this. In her backstory, before getting her orbs, someone tried to mug her; despite the entire police report reading "Oh, the humanity!", it was ruled self defence. Then there's the incident that got her recruited to be a super hero: during a staged bank robbery that she didn't know was staged, she flipped over one of the 'robbers' by grabbing his tongue. The powers of her orbs aren't fully unlocked, but she's able to fight four Kaiju-sized aliens (with associated drone fighters) by herself. Maxima (functionally a Superwomen) thought that avoiding one was a wise choice.note  The biggest casualty: Sydney's paycheck; she ended up taking a $10000 advance to throw in her swear jar using a "$5 per rant" penalty.
  • In Homestuck, everyone who plays Sburb is ultimately destined to become demi-gods in a new universe, but given that many of them were badass before playing, their powers come off as this. For example, Dave was a skilled swordsman before entering the game, then quickly got Time Travel powers.
  • Reigen Arataka from Mob Psycho 100. Despite being a self proclaimed world-renowned psychic and Mob's (an actual esper) master, he actually has no powers at all, but through smarts and extreme luck, he manages to usually end up conveniently looking like a badass. And then, at the end of the first season of the anime, he inspires Mob so much his sheer admiration powers him up to a degree where his new acquired powers surpass even Mob's. He then proceeds to No-Sell all the villains' attacks with ease and even give them a "The Reason You Suck" Speech before this temporary boost runs out.
  • One-Punch Man: Even though Saitama is a borderline Physical God who can destroy basically anybody in spectacular fashion with his Story-Breaker Power, one of his most awesome moments ever is early on during the Introduction Arc, back when he was just a powerless Japanese salaryman: He killed Crablante by looping his necktie around the monster's eyestalk and promptly pulling his eye and internal organs out. Whole other level of badass right there.
  • Parodied in Shortpacked!, in which Batman has the ability to breathe in space, based on art in his action packaging which appears to depict him fighting Darkseid in space.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • Bun-bun was already one of the most dangerous individuals in the comic. Having him become a godlike personification of holidays took him way over the top. Also the big revelation near the end of "Oceans Unmoving": Captain Blacksoul is actually Bun-bun riding inside the head of a levitating robot with Super-Strength.
    • Inverted with Sam the supernaturally powerful vampire being mundanely empowered by being given a gun so that he can get past someone using his vampire weaknesses against him. Who cares if they can repel you from coming close when you can just shoot them?
  • Sweet Home (2017): Hyun, as an infected who has resisted his transformation, is much stronger than the average person and has a Healing Factor. While both of these pale in comparison to the actual monsters, it gives him a noticeable edge when fighting them.

    Web Original 
  • In Comic Fury Werewolf, analytical players tend to catch Werewolves a lot. Give them a role, and...
    • This includes any role... including being a Werewolf.
    • Ranger has had this twice. Once was in Game 9, where he was the Medium Mystic and he developed a Game-Breaker strategy. The other was Game 11, where he used his analytical powers as a Werewolf.
  • In Darwin's Soldiers a certain character known only as "Trinity" is already a Badass Normal. But after she doses herself with a Super Serum her scientists were working on she gains Super-Speed, super agility and Super-Strength.
  • Melanie King in The Magnus Archives is a paranormal investigator turned academic with a fiery temper, and being infected by the Slaughter, Eldritch Abomination embodying senseless violence and bruality, results in her taking on the Boneturner and beating him up so thoroughly that he runs away scared, apparently without suffering any lasting injuries herself.
  • Rear Admiral (retired) Sam Everheart, U.S.N., in the Whateley Universe, was already a retired Badass Normal before he took out a team of criminals looting a high-tech research facility and got dosed with nanotechnology. Now Hive is strong and fast enough to deal with the mutants at Whateley Academy.
  • While the Player Characters in Pretending to Be People are comparatively incompetent by Badass Normal standards, they're able to face down myriad horrors and live.

    Western Animation 
  • In Aladdin: The Series, Aladdin winds up getting possessed by Mozenrath and fighting for control of the body. In the middle of the fight, he blocks Mozenrath's magic with his spirit's own mystical power and wins a Beam-O-War with Mozenrath. Unusually for an Empowered Badass Normal, this is never seen again, and it's heavily implied that he can't use it outside his body.
  • Arcane:
    • Vi is a strong and tough girl whose innate fighting instincts and boxing skills serve her well in most fights, but she finds herself outclassed by Silco's shimmered up thugs. This changes though when after making a deal with Jayce she gets a pair of Hextech Atlas Gauntlets, massively increasing her strength and versatility. With her new weapons Vi is able to easily handle herself against any of Silco's soldiers.
    • Vander was the one who taught Vi boxing and it shows. Just with a couple of improvised knuckle dusters, he's able to fight a Shimmer boosted Deckard evenly. When he takes the Shimmer himself, he kills Deckard in seconds.
  • One episode of The Batman has Batman borrowing Green Lantern's ring to fight Sinestro. It looked like Batman was going to hand Sinestro a fairly heavy beatdown, but then the ring ran out of power. He hands it back to GL, saying it isn't his style.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold
    • A number of episodes give Batman superpowers. One time, he gained bat-themed superpowers from a magical artifact. Another episode caused a mishap by a villain's laser beam to give Batman Plastic Man's powers.
    • People like giving Bats the Lantern ring. He nearly puts it on for the sake of an even playing field, to the chagrin of Guy Gardner. Sinestro (before his inevitable Face–Heel Turn) half-heartedly agrees, citing regulation, but comes to a compromise by synthesizing a suit that functions as a Lantern's ring would: on willpower.
    • After Equinox absorbs a lot of power, Batman and Dr. Fate resort to merging the powers of many superheroes into one person. Of course Batman gets chosen, due to his mind being able to handle the powers. He ends up becoming a gigantic being, dubbed Bat Monolith, with an arsenal of powers, ranging from Dr. Fate's magic blasts to Green Lantern power ring energy.
    • In yet another episode, he arrives on an alien planet whose atmosphere gives him Superman-like powers, to the chagrin of the local Badass Normal hero (who happens to also be a Batman). After a while he realizes that he's making the alien Batman feel useless, the way Superman sometimes makes him feel, and in the end he has the alien Batman remove his powers to also negate his weakness to quartz.
    • When Batman gets bitten by a vampire, he gains vampiric powers: ranging from flight, hypnosis, shape shifting, becoming a living shadow, intangibility. Though it turns out to be All Just a Dream from the results of vampire induced hallucination.
  • Ben 10: Gwen starts out as a 10-year old girl who knows karate. She later learns magic after getting her hands on a spellbook. Zig-Zagging Trope with The Reveal in Ben 10: Alien Force that she and Ben are part Energy Being and the spellbook was a Magic Feather.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Although we don't see much of it, thanks to the show being an unconventional superhero program, Wheeler is implied to have been quite the force to reckon with even before receiving the Fire Ring. In his first scene, he scares a mugger just by showing up and disarming him, and even when the scene is retconned in "Two Futures", the fight doesn't last long before the mugger realizes he's outmatched. Then Gaia chose him as the bearer of what is effectively a mini flamethrower.
  • In one episode of Darkwing Duck, NegaDuck steals the powers of his villainous "allies". This doesn't actually make him detectably tougher, since by that time there's not much time left in the episode to defeat him in.
  • Gargoyles:
    • The Pack are one big mess of these; they start out as a group of TV "heroes" who star in a schmaltzy action series (complete with them fighting the "EEEEEVIL NINJAS!") However, all their physicality is completely real, and when they find out about the Gargoyles they give the Clan a run for their money before getting upgrades. Then, Wolf becomes a Half-Human Hybrid, Hyena and Jackal get VERY extensive cybernetic enhancements, and Dingo gets a suit of Powered Armor. Only Fox chose to remain not only fully human but also serve out the rest of her jail sentence. Then went straight into the arms of David Xanatos, her future husband, exactly as they planned. It wasn't until much later that it was disclosed that Fox wasn't completely normal herself to begin with.
    • Owen Burnett gains a stone fist from testing a potion for Xanatos, and he uses it in combat. Turns out he doesn't count: he's secretly been Puck all along.
  • Kim Possible:
    • In "Go Team Go", Kim gains the Super-Strength of the hero Hego after foiling the villain Aviarius's plans to drain Hego's power.
    • In the climax of "So The Drama", Kim wears an experimental battlesuit created by Wade which grants her enhanced strength, speed, healing and even allows her to catch and throw Shego's plasma bolts back at her.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • In Book Three, a Mass Super-Empowering Event gives Airbending to various non-benders around the world. Three major examples include:
      • Zaheer, the season's Big Bad, was a non-bender considered just as dangerous as the other members of the Red Lotus, each of whom had an unusually strong Bending ability. Unfortunately, he proves to be an Instant Expert and quickly breaks out of prison, since his cell wasn't designed for a bender and the guards were caught completely off-guard. By the end of the season, he's even gained a legendary Airbendering technique that allows him to fly.
      • Bumi, a retired Commander in the United Forces and former Muggle Born of Mages (he's Aang and Katara's eldest child)
      • Opal Bei Fong (Toph's granddaughter and Lin's niece) of the Metal Clan.
    • Avatar Wan himself is this in Book 2's "The Beginnings", first as he gains the elements from the lion turtles, and again when he permanently merges with Raava to become the first Avatar.
  • The Owl House: Hunter has no magical ability of his own, and while he's a skilled martial artist and can cast magic using his artificial staff or Palisman, this still places him at a significant disadvantage compared to his peers. However, after his Palisman Flapjack sacrifices his life to save Hunter by letting him absorb his lifeforce, Hunter is able to use the short-range teleportation he could only do with a staff before at will.
  • Samurai Jack:
    • Jack started out as a badass who spent his whole life training with other great warriors to prepare himself for Aku. He is so skilled that Aku has to resort to opening a time portal to the future in the pilot. The season 5 pilot reveals that one of the side effects of the time travel is that Jack no longer ages. Fifty years after being sent to the future, he is still in his physical youthful prime. With that said, he is not immortal, as he still needs to eat and can be injured and killed in combat like any mortal man would.
    • During the original run, he has two examples of this in "Jack vs the Ultra-Robots." Despite the superior power of his sword, the robots adamantium chassis meant that Jack couldn't cut them (due to a lack of raw strength.) Wanting to atone himself, Extor, the robots' creator, gave Jack a power gauntlet to augment Jack's strength to where he could cut through any metal like butter, including adamantium. He slayed 7 of the 8 robots, but the gauntlet ran out of power before the 8th one, a sword wielder, could be cut. Jack then calls on the power of his ancestors to give him the strength needed to win. Cue a ray of light from the sky, empowering the sword and Jack slaying the last Ultra-Robot in a single slice.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Kraven and the Enforcers started out as Badass Normals who, while not actually winning against Spider-Man, could put up a decent fight. To level the playing field, they got themselves powers: Kraven became a Half-Human Hybrid and the Enforcers got Powered Armor.
    • Specifically, Kraven became fused with the DNA of several jungle cats (at least leopard and lion), giving him superhuman abilities such as strength and being able to smell Spider-Man being there.
    • Meanwhile, the first of the Enforcers to become empowered was none other than Shocker. His fellow Enforcers would get their own armor in the second season, with Ox's augmenting his already impressive strength and bulk while Fancy Dan's allowed him to bounce off of walls.
  • In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Star Butterfly was a hero who started out regularly fighting bad guys and taming wild beasts with her bare hands. Then she inherits a magic wand... Which she has no idea how to use, needing lots of time to practice with it and experiencing more than one unfortunate Magic Misfire in the process.
  • After seven seasons as a regular, yet freakishly strong, human, regular Ninja Turtles antagonist Hun becomes one of these after he accidentally gets doused in mutagen in Turtles Forever. Of course, considering his hatred of turtles, he considers it a Cursed with Awesome deal.
  • This happens a lot in the third Ninja Turtles series:
    • A few episodes after their introduction, the recurring antagonists Chris Bradford and Xever Montes, two highly-trained martial artists who work for Shredder, get doused in mutagen by the Turtles and become dog and fish mutants.
    • After spending the first season as one of the Turtles' more formidable foes, Karai inadvertently plunges into a mutagen vat and turns into a snake mutant. Besides the addition of poisonous venom, this grants shapeshifting abilities.
    • Anton Zeck and Ivan Steranko were already able to keep up with the Turtles by using their high-tech weaponry and natural fighting abilities, so the traits they gained after mutating into this series' version of Bebop and Rocksteady were more complementary than anything else (although respectively having a great sense of smell and Super-Toughness are a nice perk).
    • Eventually, Shredder himself ended up as a mutant by the second half of the fourth season, as a savage beating by Splinter left him bed-ridden and demanding Baxter Stockman to inject a lot of experimental mutagen. The result? Super Shredder; has super strength, is even more nigh-undefeatable than before, and can generate bony spike blades.
  • Totally Spies!: In "Super Agent Much?", Clover's drink is spiked with a drug created by Geraldine, transforming her into a superhuman agent with enhanced intelligence, strength, speed, agility and durability under Geraldine's control.
  • Sari Sumdac of Transformers: Animated. A Badass Normal in her initial mostly human form, once she gets an upgrade to seem more machine than human, she gets nifty hand blasters and a processing unit boosted even beyond the Cybertronian standard! Not to mention temporary weapon generation.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Badass Abnormal, Empowered Badass Normals


Bat Faunus Man

When Batman is transported to Remnant, not only does he become a Faunus, but he's a Bat Faunus with bat wings.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / EmpoweredBadassNormal

Media sources: