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Fast as Lightning

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Although light is the fastest thing in the universe, it doesn't serve as a good symbol of speed because it's hard to physically represent light. There's also the tendency for light to be more associated with Faster-Than-Light Travel, which stretches the Willing Suspension of Disbelief for more "realistic" depictions of speed.

So the next best thing is something most people are very familiar with: lightning (or electricity). As stated by the US National Weather Service, lightning travels at about 1/3 the speed of light, making it a good symbol of speed since it can be drawn, and, because it doesn't move quite as fast as light, it makes a good symbol for Super Speed that isn't completely ludicrous. With this association, you can expect speedsters to move — often via Flash Steps — in a manner that resembles the erratic movement of electricity, like zigzag patterns, exceedingly straight lines, or jagged arches.

Lightning-powered super speed is sometimes Justified as Biofeedback powers because Lightning Can Do Anything.

Regularly overlaps with Ride the Lightning, which is using electricity itself as a mode of transportation, and Electric Slide, which is moving along power lines. The characters may or may not have lightning-based powers, or it may just be a visual Motif.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: When Soga goes especially fast, his eyes glow while trailing streaks of lightning. For this, he is known as the "Lightning-Fast Exorcist Ninja".
  • Black Clover: Luck is known not only for his love of fighting, but also for his speed, particularly when he has his boots made of lightning.
  • Bleach
    • Yoruichi is a master of the Flash Step and invented a move which channels lightning into her arms and legs for extra speed and strength.
    • Candice's schrift is "The Thunderbolt". Not only can she fire massive blasts of electricity from her hands but she's also incredibly fast, able to combine speed blitzing and lightning strikes to deadly effect.
  • Thunder Breathing from Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is a swordsmanship style used by Zenitsu that channels strength into his legs, allowing him to dash at incredible speed to slash enemies with the visual effect of lightning.
  • Laxus from Fairy Tail can turn himself into lightning for a time in order to dodge attacks and quickly close the distance on foes. It's also implied he can use this for high-speed travel, as shown with his Big Damn Heroes moment in the Sirius Island arc where he arrives and blasts his way into Grimoire Heart's airship in a bolt of lightning.
  • Gamaran, the first form of the Ogame Ryu is the Ikazuchi no Kata, the Thunder God Form, which focuses on speed and sudden accelleration to attack the enemy with such speed they're usually overwhelmed, and is sometimes mixed with technique from the Kagutsuchi no Kata (offense-based fire style) or Mizuchi no Kata (Confusion Fu) to deliver deadly techniques. The third and last technique even emulates a Flash Step and in a couple of points is visualized as a stream of lightning.
  • Killua from Hunter × Hunter uses his electrified aura to move at high speed.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Fate Testarossa-Harlaown is a Fragile Speedster—the fastest canon character in the series so far, in fact—as well as the wielder of powerful lightning-based magic. Her Speed Stripes when going at Super Speed even have lightning contrails woven into them.
    • Fate's adoptive son Erio, while not as fast, also specializes in speed. In fact, he is the only character in the series who has been fast enough to land a direct hit on Fate during a training match.
    • Inverted by Victoria Dahlgrün from ViVid, who has lightning magic but is actually the franchise's first Mighty Glacier.
  • Maken-ki!: Yan-Min is capable of moving so fast, that than even the well-trained eye cannot detect her movement. To them, it's as if she either teleported, or appeared suddenly. All that can be seen is the flicker of lightning she leaves in her wake, which has earned her the title of "Leifu": said to be "as fast as lightning and fierce as a tiger".
  • My Hero Academia: One For All, having accumulated power over nine generations of heroes, tends to cause this in it's wielders when they use it, from the sheer power surging throughout their bodies. It's primarily demonstrated through the ninth holder, Izuku Midoria, once he figures out how to tune down the sheer power the quirk grants him to manageable levels with his 'Full Cowling' technique, becoming a Lightning Bruiser with emphasis on the 'lightning'- focusing primarily on the enhanced speed and mobility his new state grants him whilst his body constantly emits green-coloured lightning. The Eighth holder, All Might doesn't really show the same effect due to having long since mastered the quirk and made it his own, with Izuku's lightning emissions being a sign of both how much power he's channeling as well as how inexperienced he is at using it at All Might's level. However, at times where he's been forced to his limits in a fight, such as his final battle with All For One, All Might has demonstrated the same effect with gold-coloured lightning around the body parts he's channeling One For All through.
  • Naruto: while there are many lightning element users in this work, the one that exemplifies this the most is the Fourth Raikage, A. By channeling electricity through his body (in a move called "Lightning Release Armor"), his speed and reflexes would increase tremendously.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, after Negi learns Magia Erebea and gains the ability to fuse spells into his body, he develops a few ways of doing this:
  • One Piece: Enel, being basically a living lightning bolt, can move just as fast as one.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Raika is a thunder beast, and can turn himself into electricity and travel along any conductor at blinding speed. Ruby quickly realizes that Inertia Is a Cruel Mistress and punches him as he comes out.

    Asian Animation 
  • In BoBoiBoy, BoBoiBoy's lightning duplicate has a Flash Step ability called "Lightning Speed".
  • Lamput: In "Zoom Oil", the docs creating lightning bolts around themselves as they move extremely fast after applying their zoom oil.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: In Dunk for Victories and its tie-in movie Dunk for Future, Weslie has a move called "Lightning Break" that significantly boosts his speed and produces aesthetic lightning bolts.

    Comic Books 
  • DC:
    • The Flash is one of the most iconic examples of this. As a superhero based entirely around his Super Speed in all of his incarnations, he has a lightning bolt as his insignia, and most depictions tend to have him leaving a trail of lightning as he runs.
    • Legion of Super-Heroes: Lightning Lad has shown the ability to direct his electricity generation power inward for bursts of super speed, reportedly up to 1/3 the speed of light.
    • Zig-Zagged by Shazam!. Captain Marvel / Shazam / Billy has a lightning bolt Chest Insignia, can summon and control lightning and has super speed. However, the powers are unrelated — the lightning is inherited from Zeus, and the speed from Mercury. The end result, though, is still a super-speed character with a lightning motif.

  • Marvel:

  • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW): Surge the Tenrec has both super speed and electrokinesis. She generates a trail of lightning whenever she runs.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Iskandar in Fate of the Clans is able to have his chariot move as fast as lightning with his Noble Phantasm Via Expugnatio.
  • Ryuji Sakamoto in Thieves Can Be Heroes! has the Quirk "Spark Speed". He can store electricity in his kneecaps like a turbine by running. He can then expend that electric energy for short bursts of Super Speed. He eventually learns he can charge his kneecaps with lightning directly with his persona's Zio spells, giving him on demand super speed.



    Live Action TV 
  • In The Flash (2014), all speedsters leave a trail of lightning behind them when they run. With some effort, they can even weaponize this lightning by directing it towards an opponent.

  • The song Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas featured the lyrics (and page image quote):
    Everybody was Kung Fu fighting
    Those kicks were fast as lightning.

    Tabletop Games 
Pathfinder: Aerokineticists can unleash bolts of lightning, and can learn to manipulate their allies' bioelectricity to improve their speed.

    Video Games 
  • Jak and Daxter: Blue eco is one of the six types of eco in the game setting. It manifests as blue electricity and can increase speed in humans and machinery.
  • Kirby Star Allies: Zan Partizanne, one of the 3 Jambastion Mages, wields lightning power and can move as quickly as lightning flashes.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the boss Thunderblight Ganon is the smallest of the main bosses, but is by far the fastest. Its main battle tactic is to zip around the arena with its Flash Step ability, then slash with its Hook Hand. It also has the ability to control lightning, as implied by its name.
  • Fuse Man from Mega Man 11 is an electric-themed Robot Master who can quickly zip around his arena when he activates his Speed Gear.
  • In the Pokémon series, Electric-type Pokemon are generally very fast, though also very frail. Since much of them have high offensive stats, they make great sweepers. There are exceptions, however, such as the Magnemite and Shinx lines. The king of them all goes to Regieleki which is the fastest Pokemon at 200 base speed and is made of actual lightning.
  • Super Robot Wars T: One of Spike Spiegel's quotes when he dodges an attack is "I done handcuffed lightning!"
  • Throughout the Super Smash Bros. games, series veteran Pikachu's Up Special, Quick Attack, evokes this trope. Pikachu can quickly zip in a straight line in the direction in which the control stick is tilted, and can perform a second burst in succession when the stick is tilted in a different direction.

  • Lampshaded in the commentary for this strip of Bob and George, but not in the strip itself. Electrons move almost at light speed, but their overall velocity is slow because they move in random directions, so Elec Man shouldn't move as fast as he does.

    Web Original 
  • Worm: Battery has the ability to charge up her electrical powers for several seconds to give herself a significant speed boost.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Pixar film Cars, the main character and one of the best racers, Lightning McQueen, evokes this trope right in his name.
  • Castlevania (2017): During her fight against Isaac in season 4, Carmilla uses lightning magic to temporarily augment her speed, zipping across the battlefield as a flash of electricity.
  • The titular character of Freakazoid! literally transforms into a cartoonish lightning bolt when using his super speed.
  • Kid Cosmic: The Cosmic Stone that grants super-speed leaves a red trail of lightning behind anyone who uses it.
  • Looney Tunes: In '"Draftee Daffy'', Daffy Duck actually turns into a lightning bolt when running from the little man from the draft board.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Rainbow Dash has a rainbow-colored lightning bolt as part of her Cutie Mark. Fittingly, her special talent is to fly at incredibly high speeds, and her ability to break the sound barrier is seemingly unmatched in Equestria.
  • PJ Masks: Connor / Catboy has lightning in his transformation sequence and leaves lightning in his trail when using his super speed.
  • Tom and Jerry: In "Old Rockin' Chair Tom", Mammy Two-Shoes brings in a new cat named Lightning to replace Tom as mouse-catcher. Lightning lives up to his name by running so fast that he turns into a lightning bolt.