Follow TV Tropes

Following

Fictional Disability

Go To

This trope covers characters who have some sort of disability that doesn't exist in the real world. This can include, but is by no means limited to:

  1. Some sort of illness triggered by or connected to magic or technology that doesn't exist in the real world (much in the same way that electronic devices with flashing lights can trigger epilepsy or sensory overload in people who would likely never have had to worry about such things before they existed). For example, an allergy to Green Rocks, Phlebotinum Pills, or Super Serum.
  2. Injuries and deformities that are aggravated or caused by magic or technology, preventing the magic or technology of the setting from healing them (e.g. a character who was mauled by a creature whose wounds cannot be healed with magic, or a character who lost a leg to an illness which prevents her from having a new one cloned).
  3. Difficulty learning to use magic or technology in the setting (when it's explicitly because of some sort of disability, rather than the character just being uninterested or never being given the option of doing so), being treated something like dyslexia and other learning disorders.
  4. Disabilities in non-humans, especially as it pertains to Bizarre Alien Biology. (e.g. a member of a flying species with a wing injury, or a member of a telepathic species who can't read minds).
  5. Any fantastical condition which inhibits the character (e.g. not having a shadow; infestations of fictional germs or parasites).

This can still include conditions that end up being a Disability Superpower or Disability Immunity, as long as the condition itself is still debilitating.

This trope can be used as a way to write disabled characters in settings where most real-life disabilities would be rendered uncommon as a result of magic or advanced technology, or to explore the social consequences of said magic and technology existing (although this can lead to a Space Whale Aesop; "Don't invent faster computers or people will lose the ability to eat plant matter!"). Cyberpunk and other social science fiction settings love using both variations, since including characters who can't benefit from the technology is a fascinating way of analysing its effect on society.

Super-Trope to Un-Sorcerer (whose disability is the lack of a setting's ubiquitous super powers), Science-Related Memetic Disorder (where being a Mad Scientist is treated as a disorder), Abnormal Allergy (an allergy that is not possible in real life), and Superpower Disability (where the drawbacks of a superpower are so severe they qualify as a disability) — examples of which belong on their respective pages. Compare Kryptonite Factor and Power Incontinence, which can be combined with this trope, and Neurodiversity Is Supernatural, where mental disorders are given fictional supernatural origins.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Children of the Whales: Liontari is immune to the influence of the Nous, the entity that absorbs people's emotions in his native society that has come to consider emotions evil and barbaric. This has resulted in him having no guidance on how to control them and being an outcast.
  • Delicious in Dungeon: The Captain of the Canaries, Mithrun, is extremely absent-minded due to having all his bodily desires eaten by a demon after being trapped in a Lotus-Eater Machine, leaving only a burning desire to destroy all demons. As a result, he often forgets to eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom unless repeatedly prompted, or will otherwise just keep going until he collapses from exhaustion. In fact, he can't sleep normally and has to be coaxed via relaxation techniques such as a spell, medication, or a massage. On top of that, he also has no depth perception, due to having an eye gouged out by the same demon, and a ridiculously bad sense of direction.
  • Haibane Renmei: Reki was born with dark grey wings instead of the normal pale ash gray due to being stuck in a Circle of Sin. This left her ostracized by others. She hides this deformity by dyeing her wings. Like just about everything in Haibane Renmei, the details of this condition are unclear, but dark wings seem to be connected to mental trauma, can be present at birth or acquired later (as happens to Rakka during her Heroic BSoD), and prevent the dark-winged haibane from reaching the Day of Flight. Luckily, they can be reverted to pale by overcoming whatever mental block caused them.
  • Atsuko "Akko" Kagari in Little Witch Academia (2017) is already heavily coded as having ADHD, but it later turns out that this is not the only disability she suffers that prevents her from learning magic at the same rate as her peers. As a child, her magic was drained by Croix's dream fuel spirit, which stunted her magical potential. While this can be overcome through hard training and practice, as seen with Diana who was stunted in the same way but recovered, Akko has never had the support or means to practice magic until she attended Luna Nova, meaning that she had no way to deal with her disability or even learn that she had one.
  • My Hero Academia: 20 percent of the human population is born Quirkless, meaning that they don't possess any kind of superpowers. For people like protagonist Izuku Midoriya, this can be humiliating and the source of scorn and bullying, especially since he wants to become a superhero more than anything. Luckily for him, his sheer heroic spirit and willingness to throw himself into danger for the sake of others inspires his idol All Might to pass down his unique Quirk to him.
  • Naruto: Rock Lee is congenitally incapable of ninjutsu or genjutsu (i.e. magic), leaving him with just taijutsu (martial arts). This forces him into a When All You Have Is a Hammer… approach to being a ninja and means he has to work much harder just to be a competitive second-string fighter in a world of aristocratic bloodlines with inherited superpowers and bound monsters used by ninjas as batteries.
  • Pokémon: The Series: Learning to speak like a human somehow made Meowth unable to learn any new attacks and completely killed off any real potential he had as a battling Pokémon. He can't even use his species' Signature Move Pay Day, which would have been useful for the ever-broke Team Rocket because the move creates money out of nothing.
  • She Becomes a Tree: Kisaki has Woodman Syndrome, which causes her to be able to sprout tree limbs out of her body. These limbs are strong and flexible, enabling her to retrieve a classmate's shoes from a tall tree, and to work several times as fast as a normal person as an adult Office Lady, but they're difficult to control, resulting in people ostracizing Kisaki.
  • Witch Hat Atelier: Tartah has a fictional form of colorblindness called silverwash, meaning he sees the world in the same silvery monochrome. This has pretty much shot his chances of becoming a witch, as the Geometric Magic of the setting requires visual acuity. Likewise, it hampers his job of assisting at his father's magic supply shop, as he's unable to distinguish between the various colored powders and other materials. He gets around this by memorizing where each item is, which means he's helpless if someone jumbles them up.
  • World's End Harem: Cellular sclerosis (the literal translation of the kana is "cytosclerosis", which means the same thing), a degenerative disorder with no stated cause that afflicts all five surviving males in the world. Either the disease, the cure that was developed while they were Human Popsicles, or a combination of the two, gave them Disability Immunity to the Male-Killer Virus.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Marvel Universe, there are some Skrulls born without the ability to shapeshift like the rest of their species.
  • Teen Titans: Due to a childhood illness, Starfire's sister Blackfire is the only member of her species who can't absorb ultraviolet radiation. This leaves her unable to fly.
  • Transformers (2019) treats being an Action Master (a transformer unable to transform into vehicle mode) as a disability, particularly in Wreckers: Treads and Circuits which is set on vehicle-centric Velocitron.

    Fan Works 
  • Destiny Intertwined: Jordhin's failed self-corruption permanently damaged their connection to the elements and left them unable to access any kind of elemental or magical ability.
  • Eleutherophobia: Ex-hosts frequently have a disorder called Post-Infestation Affective Blunting Syndrome. Due to not being able to use their own bodies for so long, their brains lose the ability to perform automatic actions. They rarely make facial expressions, have uncoordinated movements and slurred speech, and take a while to respond to outside stimuli.
  • Essence: Bulbasaur was born with embryonic trauma due to its parents' murder prior to it hatching. Embryonic trauma is a condition that happens when something traumatic occurs during a Pokémon's development. As a defense mechanism, the Pokémon's mind represses memories that they produced while still in their egg. A Pokémon is born "stateless", not knowing any moves or life skills.
  • The First Tuesday of November, a Persona 4 fic, has a temporary example. Goddesses in that setting exist to fulfil the wishes of humanity, so when those wishes are very powerful and mutually exclusive- such as during a very divisive presidential election- their empathic sense goes haywire and gives them a terrible cold, followed by brief unconsciousness. Fortunately, humanity has calmed down enough by the following day that Marie feels healthy again.
  • Let Us Be Your Poison: Weiss suffers from a very rare genetic condition called "animanecrosis", better known as "Soul Lapse". She doesn't have a connection to her Soul and thus can't use her Aura or her Semblance.
  • My Huntsman Academia has Broken Souls, people who are born with such weak souls that they can never manifest an Aura. In addition to precluding them from the increased strength, durability, and healing that an Aura can provide, they will never develop a Semblance of their own. Broken Souls also tend to have their growth stunted, leaving them shorter and more feeble than their peers unless they have the good fortune of having strong genetics. Izuku is one prior to the events of the story, but he receives an Aura and Semblance of his own when Toshinori passes One For All to him.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Dinky's Destiny: Dinky Hooves is a unicorn foal who can't use magic well due to her clockwise horn.
    • In Kilala 97's next generation setting, Alto Trot is a pegasus who was born without wings and was thought to have been born an earth pony until he climbed onto a cloud his mother was using to water her plants. Although his magic is still pegasus rather than earth pony magic, allowing him to walk on and shape clouds like any other pegasus, he's unable to leave the ground unless he's carried up or able to climb onto a low-hanging cloud.
    • Oversaturated World: In Launch Error, it's shown that human Scootaloo can't fly even when she gets the magical wings that let other Pegasus Aspects fly.
    • Rainbow Factory: Scootaloo, Orion, and Aurora all fail their final flight test and get sent into the Pegasus Device, which kills them to make rainbows, just like all other weak fliers that fail the final test, like Fluttershy and Derpy.
    • Scootaloo & the Cabinet of Seers: Scootaloo worries so much about her possibly being never able to fly that she wants Twilight to consult the greatest Seers of their world about it.
    • Spellbound Fireflies: Scootaloo can't fly like other pegasi 'cause she was never taught how until Rainbow Dash teaches her.
    • Triptych Continuum:
      • In Scootalift, Snowflake diagnoses Scootaloo as being a slow or late developer, so she will take longer than other pegasi to be able to fly.
      • The series also has falling into the mark, a mental disorder in which a pony essentially becomes addicted to their cutie mark magic. Nearly all ponies go through a touch of it after manifest, becoming just a little too interested in their new talent and magic. Far too many ponies exist in its outer stages, never really developing an interest in anything outside the scope of their talent. But then you have the true fallen, ponies who have allowed their mark to consume them to such a degree that they are completely non-functional outside the scope of their talent.
    • Numerous stories feature Rainbow Dash suffering permanent damage to one or both of her wings and having to adapt to life without flight (sometimes going into Hurt/Comfort Fic territory).
  • With Pearl and Ruby Glowing:
    • instead of demons which turn people to stone, DRUUN (Deposit-Rich Un-Uniform Neomineralization) is a horrible disease that causes mineral stones to form throughout the body due to it no longer being able to break down calcium. It's sexually transmitted and currently incurable.
    • Equestria is a Fictional Country in which the population is prone to a disability that makes it very hard to conceive and carry boy babies to term, meaning women outnumber men, and Twilight is chosen as the future ruler partly because she might be able to have a healthy son.

    Films — Animation 
  • Barbie Fairytopia: The protagonist, Elina, is the only fairy in her meadow without wings, which she is teased constantly about. Although by the end of the movie she is given wings by the Enchantress, the ruler of the fairies.
  • Finding Nemo: Nemo has a small, malformed fin caused by his egg being damaged before he hatched. It doesn't keep him from swimming completely, but Marlin is very overprotective of him because of it and because he's the only survivor of his clutch.
  • Happy Feet: Mumble's egg was dropped before he hatched. This somehow resulted in him not being able to sing like all the other penguins, so he tap dances instead.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: Toothless lost part of his tail fin after being shot out of the sky by Hiccup. He can't fly on his own anymore, so Hiccup invents a fake fin that he can manipulate so they can fly together. In the 3rd film, Hiccup makes another that Toothless can use on his own, so he no longer needs Hiccup to fly.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017): Tempest Shadow has a broken horn as a result of an accident as a filly. While it doesn't negate her ability to use magic entirely, she is unable to use even basic skills such as telekinesis and can only release her magic as an uncontrolled, destructive torrent of energy.note 
  • Toy Story 2: Wheezy has a missing squeaker, and it’s portrayed as though it’s a toy form of asthma, with him constantly... well, wheezing. At the end of the film, he gets a squeaker put in him and sounds fine, with him even being able to sing like a lounge singer.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Skins (2017), a movie about deformed people, one of the plots revolves around a woman named Samantha who has an anus for a mouth and a mouth for an anus. While the rest of the characters have real-life disabilities, hers stands out as being the only fantastical one.

    Literature 
  • Animorphs
    • When Rachel is stressed out about her father asking her to come live with him, she finds herself morphing into an elephant unbidden in her own room, although fortunately she reverses it in time. It turns out this is exacerbated by her being allergic to the crocodile DNA she'd acquired earlier, and she ends up (in Ax's words) "burping DNA" in the form of a massive Nile Crocodile in a crowded TV studio.
    • In The Other, an Andalite named Mertil suffers from a condition that makes him unable to use the morphing technology, and his friend Gafinilan suffers from a painful disease known as Soola's Disease, which can only be gotten rid of by acquiring and morphing another Andalite permanently (also making him unable to use morphing technology). Ax's reaction to the vecol makes it a stand-in for AIDS.
    • In The Proposal, Marco's emotional issues revolving around his dad deciding to marry his math teacher causes him to morph into freakish animal hybrids, such as a salmon with gorilla arms or a skunk/spider hybrid. Similarly, he gets better by the end.
  • Beware of Chicken: Liu Bowu was born with deformed meridians, making him unable to cultivate qi. While meridian damage can sometimes be repaired, experts in the field have examined Bowu and confirmed that his case is intractable.
  • The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump: Exposure to the magic equivalent of toxic waste can cause infants to be born without a soul and apparently simply stop existing after death—no afterlife, no nothing. The condition is called "apsychia", and is considered a birth defect; the protagonist meets a medical researcher who is working on an experimental procedure in which tiny pieces of many souls are fused into, essentially, a synthetic soul which can then be implanted in the apsychic child. Whether this will actually work is still unclear.
  • Codex Alera: Tavi, the main character, is the only human who can't use magic in a world where it's used for everything from travel to turning lights on and off. He is treated like a freak, but it means he grows up into a Guile Hero capable of thinking around intractable problems instead of trying to batter them down with his powers like everyone else does. The cause is eventually revealed: an unexpected consequence of his mother using her own magic to prolong her pregnancy and stunt his growth in the womb, for fear that he'd be recognized by the conspiracy that murdered his father, the crown prince.
  • Cradle Series: In Sacred Valley, people labeled "unsouled" are born with a weak soul that prevents them from doing the magic that even some plants and animals can do. They are banned from marriage lest they pass on their affliction, and are considered beneath contempt. As it turns out, no one in Sacred Valley has any idea what they're talking about; according to Suriel, it's nothing but a minor madra deficiency that can easily be made up with a little bit of specialized training or reasonably expensive medicine. Yerin had never even heard of the "disability" until she came to Sacred Valley.
    Yerin: You just started two steps behind, that's the spine of it. Nothing worth crying about. Some of them polished families can take a squalling baby from Foundation to Jade in two and a half pills.
  • Discworld:
    • A yennork is a werewolf with permanent Shapeshifter Mode Lock as either a wolf or a human. This doesn't mean they are a wolf or a human, just a werewolf without the "switch".
    • Strange diseases or disorders are a known hazard of high-magic areas. The Science of Discworld describes one unfortunate who came down with a bad case of Planets.
    • In keeping with the Discworld philosophy that everything has an opposite, the squib "Medical Notes" reveals that Discworld physicians have diagnosed Attention Surplus Disorder, Foribundi's Syndrome (the opposite of Hollywood Tourette's, where you're incapable of swearing even when it's expected of you) and Anoia (the persistent feeling that you're out to get everyone).
  • Harry Potter treats lycanthropy like this. Lupin regularly takes medication to alleviate the worst effects of his condition and required extensive accommodations during his school years. When his wife becomes pregnant, he worries "What If the Baby Is Like Me".
  • Hoshi and the Red City Circuit has K-Syndrome, a condition similar but not identical to autism caused by defects in the K-Region of the genome. Its symptoms are a verbal-sequential IQ at least three standard deviations below visual-associative IQ, sensory processing issues, and motor difficulties. People with K-Syndrome work as Operators, using navi to program the city's quantum computers, which only they can do thanks to their unique neurology, but because of their difficulties functioning, most are institutionalized and enslaved.
  • Ward of Hurog suffered brain damage after being beaten by his father and although the effects aren't nearly as severe as he pretends (mostly manifesting as slowed speech functions), the damage also blocked his connection to his magical abilities. He regains this connection midway through the first book.
  • In The Laundry Files, Krantzberg syndrome is the result of attempting to do magic using one's brain (instead of something like a smartphone or desktop computer). It's caused by Eldritch Abominations literally eating away at the brains of such people, producing symptoms similar to dementia or Alzheimer's.
  • Mushoku Tensei: Travelling mage Roxy is revealed via Flash Back to be a rare "deaf-mute" member of a tribe of telepaths, who can hear the language of her people only as a meaningless pop in her mind. Roxy's parents went out of their way to prevent her from realising that she was disabled for as long as possible, which included teaching themselves spoken language and keeping Roxy away from other children.
  • Neuromancer: Case starts out as a once-talented computer hacker who was rendered unable to access virtual cyberspace networks after his central nervous system was damaged with a mycotoxin as punishment for stealing from his employers. An offer to fix this damage is what sets the rest of the story's plot in motion.
  • Ragnar Lodbrok and His Sons: Even though Ragnar's new wife Kraka (a.k.a. Aslaug) prophetically warns that a child conceived within the first three nights after the wedding will "have no bones", Ragnar insists on consummating the marriage without delay. Accordingly, Kraka's first son Ivar is born "boneless", "as if there were gristle where his bones should be". Ivar is unable to walk and has to be carried everywhere; nevertheless, he is "so large that no one was his equal" and "the handsomest of all men", and he has great strength in his upper body which makes him an excellent archer. Ivar's condition (which, despite the statement that Ivar has no bones whatsoever, does not seem to affect his upper body at all) does not seem to match any real-life disability.
  • The Shadow: Parodied with the Princess. She is at a health resort because of her disease of "being too sharp-sighted, which made everyone very uneasy".
  • Sword Art Online includes a condition called "FullDive Non-Conformity", where someone is unable to play thought-controlled Cyberspace games properly due to unusual brain structure. In most cases this results in dulled sensory feedback or unusually high lag, but in one case (Eiji from the movie Ordinal Scale) it had the unusual effect of misinterpreting any fear in his mind as a command, causing his avatar to become paralysed in even mildly tense situations. This is used to explain how someone with as much real-life fighting skill as Eiji never made a name for himself in the SAO death game. The Animated Adaptation of the books' War of the Underworld arc includes a Filler episode where Eiji returns and somehow manages to overcome his brain structure through Heroic Willpower in a (failed) stand against The Dragon of the arc. Notably, FDNC is portrayed as the low end of a scale rather than an either-or condition - characters like Kirito and Yuuki are noted to be exceptional fighters because of their unusually high compatibility with the technology, and in the Distant Sequel Accel World the underground game "Brain Burst" requires a well above-normal FullDive conformity rating to even install.
  • A Tale of...: Maleficent is a fairy who was born with no wings. This, along with her unusual appearance, causes other fairies to wonder if she's even a fairy at all.
  • Tatu and Patu: Tatu has a condition only known in Oddsville that causes his eyeballs to sweat, and has to wear glasses with ventilation to prevent it.
  • Travelers (BlueCoffeeJava): It turns out that a human mind that's greatly exceeded its normal lifespan through Body Surf eventually dies of its own form of old age, manifesting as the inability to perceive the passage of time ("temporal aphasia"), which appears from the outside as increasingly long periods of catatonia. 0115's wife originally died of it, and he knew he would succumb to it within a few years; unfortunately, the stress of the Director resetting his mind causes it to show up ahead of schedule.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Vorzohn's Dystrophy, a hereditary degenerative disorder on the planet Barrayar (which presumably developed on that planet in the centuries since it was settled), plays a significant role in Komarr. Barrayar is a world where "mutants" of any kind are hated and feared. The character Tien Vorsoisson's failures in dealing with his own condition (and that of his son, Nikki) wind up driving events that change the life of the series protagonist, Miles Vorkosigan, in a very important way, since Miles later winds up marrying Tien's widow Ekatarin and becoming stepfather to Nikki Vorsoisson, after Tien dies (albeit not directly of Vorzohn's Dystrophy, but Tien's desperation to treat his condition in total secrecy drives his actions which lead to his death).
  • Wings of Fire:
    • Peril is a SkyWing born with a condition called "firescales". This means that she was born with too much fire in her body. Touching her causes burning and she can kill others if they hold her for too long. She needs to eat coal every day to survive. That last one is actually a lie that her queen told her in order to make her more subservient to her.
    • Peril's twin brother was born with the opposite problem. He had too little fire in his body. He was killed not soon after being hatched.
    • Starflight doesn't have the normal NightWing powers like being able to read other's minds. This is due to him being hatched in a cave instead of in the light of the moons.
    • Subverted with Sunny. Everyone thought she was disabled or deformed — her eyes are the wrong colour, she's too small, she doesn't have a stinger tail, and she just looks off — but she isn't. She's just a hybrid. Her father was a NightWing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: In "The Quality of Mercy", Laura Rosen is revealed to be dying from Lake's Syndrome. The only distinguishing characteristic is that it induces almost unbearable pain, described by Rosen as akin to having arthritis, blurry vision, the intestines seeming like they are on fire, and veins burning with pain. When Mueller gets a dose of it via the alien device, he is instantly incapacitated by the sheer intensity of it.
  • Black Books: Played for laughs in an episode where Manny reveals to Bernard that he suffers from a condition called "Dave's Syndrome", which will cause bad things to happen if the temperature hits 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Bernard treats this as a joke and decides to deliberately make Manny overheat in order to see what will happen, but forgets about the whole thing by the end of the episode. The last shot is a trail of destruction and beaten-up bystanders leading to Manny jumping up and down on the roof of a car, waving a torch, naked except for a hot water bottle strapped to his groin and EAT ME painted on his torso, as a pair of pedestrians look at him sadly and one says to the other, "Poor bloke — Dave's Syndrome".
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: Siblings Amanda and Todd Brotzman suffer from Pararibulities, a hereditary condition that causes vivid hallucinations with real physical pain.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "Melora", the eponymous character is from a planet with very low gravity. Most Elaysians never leave their homeworld for this reason. Melora adapting to "standard" gravity requires a special chair, which is treated as if it were a disability. She starts treatment that would make it possible for her to function completely normally in standard gravity but decides not to go through with it as it means she'd never be able to return to her homeworld.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ars Magica: In the Order of Hermes Magical Society, House Verditius stands out as preeminent Magitek engineers who are, inexplicably, unable to use magic without their Magitek foci. Any mage who wishes to join the House must submit to a ritual that inflicts the Founder's disability on them.
  • BattleTech: Transit Disorientation Syndrome AKA jump sickness is a condition experienced by some people as a result of undergoing a hyperspace jump. The symptoms manifest as headaches, nausea, diarrhea, and/or irritability and typically last for a few hours before fading. Undergoing a second jump while still suffering from it can lead to much stronger symptoms that can last for days or more rarely weeks. There's no cure for the condition, only treatments for the symptoms.
  • In Pathfinder, gnomes originate from fae spirits of the First World and never completely acclimated to the mundane world. If they don't maintain a certain level of whimsy and excitement in their lives, they begin to suffer "the Bleaching", a fatal degenerative condition where their bodies fade to stark white as their minds fall apart. A rare few survive the experience and are rewarded with Dissonant Serenity and agelessness.
  • Warhammer: Teclis is the greatest mage the Elves have ever produced and one of the greatest mages in world history. He is also a ridiculously Squishy Wizard and very physically frail, requiring daily healing potions to be more than bedridden, and having a limp incurable by magic. By contrast, his brother Tyrion is a peerless swordmaster.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere: The Ace Pilot Rena Hirose suffers from the "Silverstone disease", meaning that her skins lack any protection from UV sunlight radiation whatsoever. As a result, the only way she has to be outside during daytime is inside the fully-enclosed cockpit of her plane.
  • In Adventure: Welcome to the Genre, the protagonist Thalia James gets a rare disease that causes her to temporarily switch identities with the nearest living organism with a central nervous system. However, she manages to gain control of it, making it a Disability Superpower.
  • BloodNet: Hopkins-Brie Ontology Syndrome is a mental illness caused by overexposure to virtual reality, in which the sufferer becomes increasingly unable to distinguish the real world and the virtual world. Main character Ransom Stark contracted the illness while working for a Mega-Corp, and was given a special cybernetic implant to filter his perceptions; this implant becomes the reason he doesn't immediately turn into a vampire when one attacks him.
  • Destiny 2: Asher Mir had one of his arms and his Ghost converted into Vex technology after encountering the Vex Axis Mind Brakion in the Pyramidion on Io. Being a Guardian the process hasn't been as devastating as it could be, but his Vex arm seems to be fairly useless and is constantly curled against his torso, his Ghost is nowhere to be seen and is implied to have been absorbed into the greater Vex consensus, and he's even started to bleed Vex radiolaran fluid. The loss of his Ghost also keeps him under the threat of a permanent end should he be killed, and he's well aware that his condition is killing him.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the inventor of cybernetics, Hugh Darrow, has a rare condition that causes his body to altogether reject any cybernetics (most people's bodies reject them to some degree, but this can be controlled with medication). This means that he must walk with a cane. His bitterness over this is why he takes part in the Evil Plan to turn the public against cybernetics.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Each game in the series has fictional diseases that can debilitate the player and others, including (but not limited to) Rockjoint, an inflammation of the joints that reduces melee weapon damage; Brain Rot, which hampers Magicka; and Bone Break Fever, which hampers Stamina.
    • Throughout the series, vampirism is described as a disease. Depending on the game, it goes by a different pseudo-medical term, including "Porphyric Hemophilia" in Morrowind and Oblivion, "Sanguinare Vampiris" in Skyrim, and "Noxiphilic Sanguivoria" in Online. In each case, the disease progresses to full-blown vampirism if left untreated for a few days, and has side effects that can hamper the afflicted, from increased fatigue to an aversion to sunlight.
    • Morrowind and Oblivion have "Stunted Magicka", a condition that prevents people from regenerating their Magicka reserves naturally. This instead forces them to absorb it from outside sources. It can be congenital, notably for those born under the Atronach star sign, but can also be inflicted by a magical disease.
    • Morrowind has the Corprus Disease, a Mystical Plague concocted by the evil Physical God Dagoth Ur channeling power from the heart of a dead god. Physical symptoms include bulbous tumor-like growths and severe skin lesions. Mental symptoms include initially mild dementia and schizophrenia-like effects which become more severe over time, eventually leaving the sufferer with an aggressive, animalistic level of intelligence. For Dagoth Ur's chosen followers, the course of the disease can be magically directed to turn them into powerful Cthulhumanoid sorcerers utterly devoted to their master.
  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • Most people in the setting are able to manipulate the aether in their own bodies to perform feats of magic, provided they have sufficient training. However, there are some who are born with such low reserves of aether that it's impossible for them to cast even the simplest spells. There are others who have, either from birth or from a magical accident, lost the ability to manipulate aether altogether, rendering them incapable of utilizing any technology requiring the application of aether, such as aetherytes.
    • Much like how people can get motion sick in real life, some people suffer from acute aether sickness, meaning that trying to transport themselves with an aetheryte will lead to nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Professor T'laqua Tia in Sharlayan suffers from this, requiring the aid of an adept angler to help him complete his thesis on time because he can't attune to an aetheryte without collapsing. This can also be briefly induced unto others through the use of experimental aetherytes. After taking one such aetheryte to Thavnair, the Warrior, Thancred, and Urianger all fight to keep their lunch down.
  • Seteth and Flayn from Fire Emblem: Three Houses qualify for the "fantastic condition" category. They're part of the Nabatean race, people who can normally transform into draconic forms. Neither of them have their dragon forms shown on-screen though, unlike Rhea (who is shown transforming in both the Crimson Flower and Silver Snow routes) or Indech and Macuil (who are only ever seen in their dragon forms). Seteth specifically mentions having "lost" his ability to transform, while Flayn suffered heavy injuries that caused her to sleep for several hundred years to heal. Presumably, they both suffered some kind of physical damage that keeps them from transforming. While they have few difficulties with things most normal people do, they're both permanently locked out of an ability that most of their species has.
  • Kid Icarus: Pit has the classic "flying being that cannot fly" disability for some unexplained reason. It's quite a sore spot for him. In Kid Icarus: Uprising, Palutena can grant Pit the Power of Flight to guide him places as if he were flying, but not for more than five minutes at a time, or else Pit's wings will come aflame. By contrast, his Evil Knockoff Dark Pit gained limitless flight under his own power by slaying Pandora and plundering her powers until he traveled to the Rewind Spring, where Pandora revived herself from said powers.
  • Animal folk in the Lonely Wolf Treat series are able to shift between humanoid form and their true animal form, and those who remain permanently in their animal form are called naturalists. The in-universe book where this concept is explained clarifies that not all naturalists are so by choice, and that certain magic spells can permanently prevent animals from shifting into humanoid form. It is unknown whether Senbei's mother, the only naturalist to appear in the series, is a voluntary or involuntary naturalist.
  • In Mass Effect, Ardat-Yakshi is a genetic condition that causes the Asari's inherent mental abilities to kill anyone they mate with. Diagnosed Asari are either Locked Away in a Monastery or executed because there is no cure for the condition, Ardat-Yakshi quickly get addicted to the sensation of killing their mates, and the worst-case scenario for an uncontrolled Ardat-Yakshi is a Serial Killer who roams the galaxy gleefully seducing and murdering everyone she can.
  • Overwatch:
    • Tracer was displaced in time by an experimental aircraft she was test-piloting. She must wear (or at least be nearby) a device called a chronological accelerator to avoid simply fading out of existence. While this leaves her Cursed with Awesome (since it gives her the ability to teleport around or reverse time), it leaves her with a glaring weakness (as Doomfist demonstrated in his trailer when he damaged the accelerator and left Tracer to start uncontrollably shifting through time).
    • Bastion has a robotic analogue to PTSD, in that anything that reminds it of the Omnic Crisis causes it to revert to its Killer Robot programming (notably in the "The Last Bastion" short, the machine-gun-like sound of a woodpecker causes it to panic and destroy a large number of trees with its minigun). Slightly different from PTSD in humans, in that it's caused by what remains of Bastion's original programming, rather than a trauma-induced trigger.
    • Sigma is a former astrophysicist who during a Freak Lab Accident was exposed to the power of a black hole. It ended up giving him gravity-based superpowers, but just as much narrative emphasis is placed on the fact it messed up his mind: he phases in and out of a vegetative mental state (during which he's aware something's wrong but doesn't know what), and even when he's lucid and composes himself fairly well, he has trouble keeping his thoughts coherent, hallucinates voices and a vague "melody", and in general appears to be only vaguely aware of his surroundings. Blizzard has deliberately refrained from identifying his state as a specific real-world condition, highlighting the supernatural aspect of his situation.
  • In Runescape, the volcano-dwelling TzHaar sometimes hatch stunted "Ga'al" when their eggs become too cool: lacking TzHaar Genetic Memories, they have no caste and cannot communicate, so the TzHaar send them to die in honorable combat to speed them to their next reincarnation. One quest reveals, to some TzHaar's horror, that the Ga'al are actually very precocious learners if anyone bothers to teach them.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Maria Robotnik was dying from Neuro-Immune Deficiency Syndrome (NIDS), though her actual death was caused by being shot. NIDS weakens both the nervous and immune systems, and has similar side effects to AIDS. In Japan, NIDS is described as a "primary immunodeficiency" disorder and a "hereditary immune deficiency syndrome", which are both real diagnoses, but NIDS itself is fictional.
  • We Happy Few: Everyone is required to take Joy, a Fantastic Drug that elevates mood and suppresses memories of the Very Bad Thing that traumatized the entire city. Wastrels are immune to Joy's positive effects, and taking the drug only makes their mental issues worse.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed: Nikol is unable to summon a Blade, which is a standard ability in this world. It's mentioned off-hand that this is a problem some people have. This also explains why, in the base game, a young Noah thought he could get away with pretending not to be able to summon his Blade. Nikol gets around the problem with a self-built mecha backpack, while Noah was simply Afraid of Their Own Strength.
  • Yandere Simulator: While Word of Saint Paul from her voice actress is that she's portrayed to have Obsessive Love Disorder, Word of God from the developer YandereDev is that whatever form of insanity the Villain Protagonist Ayano Aishi and the rest of her matrilineal bloodline could be diagnosed with is a fictional one.

    Visual Novels 

    Webcomics 
  • In Always Human, Austen has "Egan's Syndrome", an autoimmune condition that leaves her unable to use the Bio-Augmentation mods that are ubiquitous in the setting. Being ineligible for mods like memory boosters and physical augments forces her to put a lot of extra work into her studies and her health, and being thought of as Inspirationally Disadvantaged is a major pet peeve for her.
  • NEXT!!! Sound of the Future: Sometimes Vocaloid voice boxes have loose components, which can make it difficult for them to stay on pitch (which is a big deal for beings in which singing is a major selling point). The protagonist, Shine, has this problem, which is why she believes she can’t be an idol.
  • Romantically Apocalyptic: Snippy is one of the 1% of people that the neural network that controls sleep can't connect to. Instead of browsing the web during his sleep he instead gets horrifying nightmares and is chronically sleep-deprived, as he can't afford to purchase more sleep with the money from his dead-end job.
  • Slightly Damned:
    • Buwaro's birth defect, which makes him psychologically and physiologically different from normal demons. He's naturally always in a Berzerk State. His necklace is what keeps him in check.
    • Buwaro's adoptive sister Sakido is a wind demon whose wings were crippled in an angel attack that also left her an orphan, she was completely flightless until Darius gave her his Sun Pendant which repaired her wings and even made them larger.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Outside of safe settlements, the comic's world is ridden with Plague Zombie monsters. The Plague can be transmitted from breathing too close to one of said monsters, or through even the smallest skin-breaking wound. This has resulted in people who are The Immune having generally more liberty of movement between settlements and being the only ones occupying the jobs that put one at risk of getting anywhere close to said Plague Zombie monsters. In turn, lack of immunity to the The Plague sometimes gets treated like a disability in the context of keeping the settlements safe from disease or the few occasions where non-immune people spend an extended period of time outside of them, the latter situation applying to two members of the main Ensemble Cast:
    • The Dagrenning program in Iceland exists to let non-immune parents have children that are The Immune. The two perks put forward are the child not risking getting sick if another outbreak of The Plague happens and having more jobs to choose from.
    • In Tuuri's flashback to her childhood settlement that wouldn't let the non-immune come and go freely, her combination of wanderlust and lack of immunity plays out like a Dream-Crushing Handicap.
    • Tuuri and Reynir need to wear breathing masks when they venture too far from the tank, while the immune members of the crew can walk around without them.
    • Tuuri and Reynir can't be left alone without an immune person for protection and taking that role has been outright referred to as "baby-sitting" on two separate occasions.
  • Tales of the Questor: Almost all Racconans can use magic (well, Luxcraft) to some extent. Being completely unable to manipulate Lux is considered a disability, with those afflicted wearing special symbols to alert those around them to their disability, much the same way a blind person might carry a white cane.

    Web Original 
  • 17776: As the oldest of the space probes that have gained sentience, Nine is limited by their battery, and can only awaken for a few weeks before needing to recharge.
  • Philza from the Dream SMP is a Winged Humanoid whose wings got destroyed by shrapnel after he used them as a shield to protect himself and Wilbur from the explosion of L'Manburg. He still has them, but they're so damaged that he'll never be able to fly with them again.
  • Inanimate Insanity: Tissues suffers from a debilitating illness known as the "Condishawn". It leaves him with horrible symptoms and he is constantly weak and tired. Unfortunately, he barely has any friends because of it.
  • Whateley Universe: Roulette gets occasional burnouts, which is where the body cooks itself due to overuse of its mutant powers every once in a while, and each one changes her powers.

    Western Animation 
  • In Batman: The Animated Series, Baby Doll suffers from "systemic hypoplasia"note , meaning that she can never grow up and resembles a little girl despite being well into adulthood. While she initially made a successful career as a "child" actress, she ended up getting shafted by her condition after her original show was cancelled because nobody would bother seeing beyond her childlike appearance.
  • In King of the Hill: The protagonist, Hank Hill, actually suffers from two of these.
    • The most frequently referenced is him having a "narrow urethra", which renders him nearly infertile and was apparently a reason for the Army to reject him, fearing he wouldn't be able to adequately relieve himself in times of stress. In reality, no such condition exists, and the width of the male urethra has no connection to fertility.
    • Another episode reveals he suffers from a condition called "Diminished Gluteal Syndrome (DGS)", which basically means he "has no ass", forcing him to sit on a prosthetic buttocks. The condition is fictional, but the symptoms are in line with real conditions, such as Deep Gluteal Syndrome, Piriforis Syndrome, and Dead Butt Syndrome. The prosthesis is entirely fictional though.
  • In Milo Murphy's Law, the title character and all the men in his family suffer from a Hereditary Curse that makes them Born Unlucky and The Jinx. This is presented as if it were a sort of weird medical condition, with the whole family having Crazy-Prepared habits to deal with it.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Downplayed with Scootaloo. She's a pegasus filly who can't fly, even though her classmates can. For most of the series it was ambiguous whether Scootaloo is permanently disabled or just a late bloomer,note  although in all episodes addressing the issue, it's been clear that she cannot at present fly and that this is fairly abnormal for a pegasus her age. "Growing Up is Hard to Do" shows her adult body with child-size wings, and a few days later one of the staff stated that this was in fact meant to indicate an actual disability. But even that included the line "fans are welcome to interpret things how they like" (given that Bulk Biceps can fly despite having even smaller wings, Scootaloo's situation is still technically open to interpretation).
  • The Owl House:
    • Eda's curse where she turns into a massive owl beast is treated as if it were a chronic illness in-universe. She takes potions to suppress the transformation, things like stress and sleep deprivation can make it worse, and it affects her body in other ways as well, such as corrupting her magic and allowing her to detach her limbs at will. Eda eventually comes to accept that her curse is never going to go away, and that learning to live with it is her best course of action.
    • Unlike most other witches, Hunter has no innate magic, and can only cast spells using his artificial magic staff or his Palisman. It's later revealed that he's actually a magically-created clone called a Grimwalker, although it's unknown if his lack of magic is because he was cloned from a human or if all Grimwalkers lack it regardless of what they were made from.
  • The Simpsons: In "Blood Feud", Mr. Burns falls ill with a medical condition called "hypohemia," which seems to be a fictional counterpart to hypovolemia (a lack of total bodily fluid) and/or anemia (a lack of red blood cells). Given that in subsequent episodes he's shown to require semi-regular blood transfusions, it's hinted to be closer to the latter.
  • Steven Universe: Gems are artificially created for specific purposes in their Hive Caste System. At times, however, the circumstances of their "birth" leave them with various defects or deformities, giving them different body types and even differences in their powers, abilities, and mindsets. These types of gems are referred to as "Off-Color". Due to the gems' strict caste system, these are usually discarded, persecuted, and even exterminated.
    • Amethysts are quartz gems designed to be tall, buff intimidating soldiers. Amethyst from the Crystal Gems, however, did not finish forming until long after the others (she was "overcooked", in Jasper's words), coming out just barely half the height of what an amethyst should be. Additionally, while a gem will typically be Born as an Adult both physically and mentally (even having knowledge of their Homeworld and specific purpose), Amethyst was a Blank Slate who had to learn things like an infant would.
    • Because Earth's beta Kindergarten was made under lax conditions in a hurry due to an ongoing war, most of the quartzes made there likewise deviate from their intended build. Carnelian has a figure similar to Amethyst, while Skinny Jasper has the lanky build of a Pearl.
    • Peridot is an Era 2 peridot created under an environment where resources in creating gems on Homeworld have dwindled. This is why Peridot lacks many of the powers associated with gems (shapeshifting, super strength, etc.) and may account for her short stature. To compensate, era 2 peridots are equipped with technological limb enhancers. Although it turns out that Peridot, at least, also has ferrokinetic powers.
    • Sapphires are short aristocratic gems with the power to see ahead into the future (or at least a probable future). Padparadscha is an off-color sapphire who possesses retrocognition, blurting out events that have already happened. She lives on the run with the other Off-Colors in the long-abandoned Homeworld kindergarten.
    • The Rutile twins' gemstone started developing in two different directions, giving them a torso that springs into two prongs, each with a head on it. Unlike human Conjoined Twins, this seems to make them literally Single-Minded Twins.
  • Starfire in the Teen Titans season one finale is shown to have an allergy to metallic chromium, which for the plot is convenient since the Time Stands Still bomb device Slade is constructing uses a good deal of it so they can track down its location by Starfire sneezing. As long as the other Titans don't stand too close to her when she sneezes and makes little explosions.

 
Feedback

Video Example(s):

Top

Making fun of Scootaloo

Worried that the Crusaders' act will win, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon attempt to crush their spirits by making fun of Scootaloo's wings and her bad flying.

How well does it match the trope?

4 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / BullyingTheDisabled

Media sources:

Report