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Forgot About His Powers

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Assuming, of course, that Supes also has super not-getting-the-bends.

Screenwriter: Later, Neo's gonna have a fight with a bunch of Smiths. It's gonna go on for awhile.
Producer: But can't Neo jump inside people and make them explode?
Screenwriter: Yeah, but he's not gonna.
Producer: Why not?
Screenwriter: So there can be a fight scene.
Producer: Oh, okay.
Screenwriter: And then at the end of the fight scene, Neo's gonna fly away.
Producer: Why didn't he just fly away in the first place?
Screenwriter: So there can be a fight scene.
Producer: That makes sense.

When a character has the Idiot Ball slipped into their pocket while they weren't looking, causing them to forget to properly use their skills or abilities to solve a problem, even though they may have used the ability in similar situations before (often many times).

As the title indicates, this often happens with superheroes. It occurs more with more useful powers/equipment, and some unfortunates tend to have this inflicted on them all the time, turning a Genius Bruiser or Badass Bookworm into a garden-variety Bruiser or Badass. Only some lines of technological jargon or displays of useless gadgetry will remind the reader that they have more brains than they normally use. Some might consider this a form of Informed Ability, with the "ability" being genius-level intelligence. It's especially bad when the power being forgotten is an innate ability that the character was born with, which makes it roughly akin to a normal guy forgetting he can walk.

Amnesia Danger is a variant of this trope, where it's justified using convenient amnesia. This is the heroic version of Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?, except while villains don't have to answer for their actions, heroes could be seen as obligated to stop evil-doers or disasters as quickly and efficiently as possible.

See Fridge Logic for when it occurs to the viewers a little later what the character could've/should've easily done. See Remembered I Could Fly when it occurs to the character Just in Time what he should've done long before. Plot-Sensitive Snooping Skills is a particular variant/sub-trope. If a power or device is discovered, used once, never and then never mentioned again despite theoretically still being accessible, that's Forgotten Phlebotinum. Compare Drama-Preserving Handicap and New Powers as the Plot Demands.

As mentioned, this is a sister trope to Idiot Ball, the distinction being that Idiot Ball is when a character does something stupid to further the plot, while with Forgot About His Powers the plot depends on a character failing to do something they would normally do or that would make sense.

In video games, this is a common way for a character to start out, with the abilities that the player learns in tutorials being things the character knew all along. On the other end, this combined with optional skills is the main source of Cutscene Incompetence, as the character written into the cut-scenes doesn't remember the potion of resurrection he found half an hour ago when mourning a slain companion, or that he unlocked the flight skill when falling off something tall.

Compare Reed Richards Is Useless, where a character with superhuman abilities or ridiculously advanced technology reserves it for equally advanced problems and never applies it to mundane difficulties, and Superman Stays Out of Gotham in which another character in the same universe is conveniently not around to easily help the protagonist. See also Useless Superpowers, where there's some reason the character can't or shouldn't use their powers when they would be useful.

Contrast Took a Level in Badass and Dumbass No More.

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  • Ayakashi Triangle:
    • Exorcist ninja can suit up instantly via Transformation Trinket, but Matsuri often forgets this before going into battle. The suit has baggy pants, so it's generally a contrivance to keep the school uniform skirt that shows off more of Matsuri's legs and butt. In an interesting subversion, Reo once fought a kappa in her school uniform without transforming, but then revealed this was an elaborate trap that works better if her behind was more exposed.
    • Snegurochka is an ice spirit used to cold weather. When it's hot out, her clothes (also made of ice) tend to melt—not because they overwhelm her powers, she just forgets to cool them off.
      Soga: Why don't you envelop yourself with cold air? Not that it's any of my business.
      Rochka: You're so smart!
      Ponosuke: (thinking, holding back laughter) She's not so bright, po.
  • In the New Vestroia season of Bakugan Battle Brawlers, our BBEG King Zenoheld wielded a Humongous Mecha Bakugan called "Farbros" which could merge with more parts and become virtually unstoppable. So what does he do when the good guys arrive to confront him halfway through the series? Blow up his own machine. Without fusing to the special parts. For no adequately explained reason...
  • Bleach: In the Bount arc, Orihime spends the episode panicking about Rukia being under a Bount's control before resolving the issue with her healing power. This is despite having already used the same solution on Tatsuki at an earlier date.
  • Blue Gender is one giant Wallbanger for many viewers because of this. Humanity knows The Blue can't swim or fly very well. (Hello there, aircraft carriers!) Humanity controls at least one giant orbiting space station. (Colony Drop!) Humanity also has literal Blue-detecting radar ...and nukes. Does humanity use any of these advantages to fight the Blue? Nope! They'd rather take the Blue on in catastrophically designed, weaponless mechs.
  • In Case Closed, one episode featured Conan attempting to stop a murder by "Shocking" the murderer into giving up. He shows up Just in Time and shows a plant that holds sentimental value to the murderer, causing her to break down and cry, saving the intended victim. What our diminutive detective seems to forget is that he wears a watch that shoots tranquilizer darts! Why risk the killer ignoring this when he could just tranq her?
  • Kaminashi from Choujin Sensen somehow got stabbed in the leg by Sasamura despite using intangibility to escape from his prison earlier.
  • This happens countless times with Tsuzuki from Descendants of Darkness. Even though he's supposed to be one of the most powerful ancient Gods of Death, he is rendered completely helpless when Muraki is around. He's not even able to throw a decent punch at the guy, and is made into a whining and crying wimp in his presence just for plot's sake. Example: Muraki is flying away on a helicopter, and Tsuzuki forgets that he can always summon or cast a spell that could blow the helicopter down. Stupid or... has a self destructive streak TEN MILES HIGH.
  • Doraemon's titular robot ensures the protagonists having countless gadgets that could have been used to avoid half the plot if applied during the numerous movies. In the first movie, Doraemon: Nobita's Dinosaur, the protagonists are stuck in Cretaceous Era America, and they have to cross the Pacific to reach Cretaceous Era Japan to Free Willy their pet dinosaur. Due to sustaining damage, however, their time machine is unable to traverse space, only time, and because they lack maps of Cretaceous Era Earth they're unable to use the Anywhere Door to teleport over. Even with these limits it's pretty clear one solution would be to simply travel forwards in time to modern day America, teleport to Japan, then time travel back to the Cretaceous, but instead Doraemon and co opt to... cross the Pacific, at 80kph because that's the max speed they could go. At least there was a land bridge connecting North America and Asia over the Arctic, but still.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Played for Laughs in Dragon Ball, where Bulma needs a phone, but Kame House doesn't have one. Master Roshi reminds her that she just built a video drone out of scraps and leftovers, and making a phone should be easy for her. She promptly does.
    • The entirety of Dragon Ball Z's plot tension results from the heroes forgetting that they have access to a magical wish giving dragon whose limitations are relatively small. There are limits to what Shenron and Porunga can do (reviving someone who has been killed more than once, reviving multiple people at a time, killing powerful people, reviving people who died of 'natural deaths'... and so on), but the heroes never ever seem to use the dragon's abilities in order to nullify threats. For example in the Saiyan arc, while Vegeta and Nappa are too powerful for Shenron to kill directly, it doesn't occur to anybody that the Saiyans are basically Human Aliens and are traveling to Earth on spaceships. Meaning a wish for their spaceships to disappear would result in them quickly dying from lack of air. Granted, this is partially due to Goku and friends's desire to fight more powerful opponents, and also perhaps just not being very smart, but still.
    • Most of the heroes have extra-sensory awareness, in particular the ability to sense energy and therefore detect opponents they can't see. However, whenever a person has been shrouded by clouds of dust after another person's fierce barrage of attacks, they smile triumphantly until the dust clears and the enemy is unharmed, despite how they should have been able to sense this immediately. This also seems to happen when an opponent moves too fast for them to follow, but then stops still out of their line of sight, resulting in a few moments of desperately looking around for where they went, despite, again, being able to sense where they are. It's possible for characters to conceal their energy by lowering it, but this really isn't something you'd do in combat.
    • When Vegeta mistakenly believes he has become a Super Saiyan and confidently faces Freeza, thinking he is strong enough to beat him, he forgets to sense Freeza's energy. In contrast, Piccolo senses them and knows Freeza is still way stronger than Vegeta, resulting in Vegeta getting his ass kicked.
    • In one filler scene during the Goku vs. Freeza fight, Freeza opens the ground under Goku, who hangs on the edge as the lava rises from underground. Goku tries to climb, fails and gets his butt burnt by the lava in a comical manner. Except that Goku, like damn near everyone in the show, can fly.
    • In Goku's fight against Cell, there's a part where Goku knocks Cell out of the sky and he hits the ground hard. Future Trunks and a few of the other heroes excitedly think Cell is finished. Annoyed, Vegeta asks them if they forgot how to sense energy; if they would apply it, they would be able to tell Cell isn't even hurt.
    • Most movies are guilty of this, during which all Saiyan characters will magically forget to become Super Saiyan (or whatever the current variation is) for large chunks of the movie, if not leaving it to the climax. This is despite the fact that the Super Saiyan transformations can consistently be accessed at will once they've been reached. Dragon Ball Z: Cooler's Revenge is probably the most infamous, as Goku's seeming ignorance of this fact is basically the only thing keeping it from fitting into continuity.
    • There's a scene in Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug where Piccolo, who is being held in the grasp of a giant enemy, is desperately reaching out to Goku so that he can give him his energy. Piccolo completely forgets that he can stretch his arms to impossible lengths, not to mention become a giant himself.
    • Krillin doesn't use his Kienzan/Destructo Disk as often as his should, despite it being one of the most broken abilities in the franchise. It is one of the most powerful attacks that doesn't take too much time to charge, and one good hit from it would've killed Nappa, Vegeta, or even Freeza in his first or second form.note  The big problem with this attack, that it is slow and can be easily dodged if someone sees it coming, or even destroyed if hit from dead angles as seen later on by Jiren. This could be gotten around if the characters realize that they can use the Solar Flare to blind their enemies before using the Kienzan to cut them to pieces. They do not.
    • In Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound, there's a martial arts tournament out in the ocean taking place on platforms. If you fall into the water, you're eliminated. Yamcha winds up falling off a platform, but doesn't fly back up to prevent falling in the ocean.
      • Yamcha forgets he can fly again during the Majin Buu Saga when he does nothing to prevent his plane from crashing. Thankfully, Android 18 remembers her powers and saves the day. Lampshaded in the English dub, where Yamcha immediately comments "Why didn't I think of that?"
    • In movie 11, Dragon Ball Z: Bio-Broly, there's a scene where Trunks holds up Goten to see into a window. Trunks complains that he wants a turn to see... both of them forgetting that they can fly.
    • Goku's Instant Transmission (a form of teleportation) gets used in some pretty clever ways over the series. It makes it even more obvious when he completely forgets about it. The most obvious is the Android Saga, where he never thinks to use it to bail out 18note , and doesn't use it to rescue Piccolo until the latter was nearly dead.
    • In the final battle of Dragon Ball GT, it's noted that Omega Shenron has the abilities of all the lesser Shadow Dragons. He shows these abilities off frequently... except, for some reason, he doesn't bother to use Haze Shenron's ability to weaken others, which was shown to make Goku barely able to fight beforehand.
    • Happens to Rylibeu in Dragon Ball Super's Universe Survival Saga, when an attack shocks her so much that she forgets to fly and is the first ring-out. Made worse by the fact that ki flight was explicitly disabled for the tournament, and Rylibeu was chosen because she has wings, and so could supposedly circumvent the flight restriction.
    • Lampshaded in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero: As Orange Piccolo strains against Cell Max's foot, Krillin flies in to help and suggests that he grow, too, just like he did in the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai. Piccolo genuinely admits he totally forgot he had that power before using it to fight the monster.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Bloodman, an Etherious who possessed all the Curses of the Nine Demon Gates of Tartaros, should have made quick work of Gajeel using the vast variety of skills he apparently had even when Gajeel manages to figure out how to hurt him. He didn't (presumably because he was just that shocked at the fact Gajeel was now cleaning his clock) and ended up having to resort to a Taking You with Me attack that fails thanks to one of his comrades using a Reality Warper spell at the exact same moment that displaced everyone across the country.
    • August, the strongest mage of the Spriggan 12 has the completely overpowered Copy Magic that gives him an almost unlimited arsenal of magic spells. Having just tanked Gildarts' strongest blow looking no worse for wear, instead of just using any safer spell of equal power, August decides to use a suicide attack to wipe out all the members of Fairy Tail at once to pave the way to Zeref's victory, but ultimately cancels the attack and lets the out-of-control energy destroy himself once he sees his mother Mavis suffering in the devastation he's about to unleash. Although, August's copy magic may be limited to only being able to use his copied powers when in range of the wizard he's currently copying, such as when he tried to used a fire spell of all things against Natsu. He probably has some original spells of his own, but he wouldn't be able to just use any spell he's ever copied whenever he wants despite his reputation making most of his opponents think he can.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa gives Alphonse a new Signature Move -the ability to transfer part of his soul into a suit of armor to control it. Unlike the transmutation in the original series, this effect is only temporary and doesn't harm Al at all, effectively giving him the ability to create non-living, completely disposable Mooks. At the end of the movie, the characters end up in a situation where one of them has to make a Heroic Sacrifice. Had Al thought to use this ability then, he could have saved himself and Ed from being stranded on the other side of the Gate.
  • In Gintama, everyone seems to often forget that Kagura has Super-Strength, particularly in instances when the characters have been captured and she could conceivably free everyone on her own if she tried. This is Played for Laughs when the heroes are locked up during the Ryugujo arc, leading to Kamenashi pulling a fake-out to try and get a guard's keys. Once the keys are within reach, Kagura simply kicks the cell bars down, causing Kamenashi to wonder aloud why he even bothered with the ruse in the first place.
  • InuYasha: In episode 52, when the fully demonized Inuyasha is going on a bloody rampage against a group of bandits, Kagome ineffectually runs after him while desperately shouting at him to stop. It never once occurs to her that she could simply give Inuyasha the "sit" command to get him to stop, especially since doing so successfully restrained his full demon form twice before.
  • Unfortunately common throughout JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, as Araki often gives his characters unique and complex powers and abilities... only to neglect those abilities later on, even in situations where they would work perfectly. Fans often ask questions like "Why did Silver Chariot lose half its abilities when it joined the good guys?" and often the best answers to these questions are either that it would have made the conflict too one-sided, or, according to the fandom's meme, "Araki forgot".
    • To give a specific example, the crown of powered airheads probably belongs to Dio Brando. As the Big Bad of Part 1, his vampiric status grants him a smorgasbord of superpowers, some expected from vampires, some... a lot less so (like Eye Beams, walking on walls, a variety of prehensile body parts, or flash-freezing people on contact). When he comes back as the Big Bad again in Part 3, the only vampire abilities he uses are the most basic (sucking blood and enthralling people), with the others seemingly gone altogether. Instead he relies near-exclusively on his newfound Stand (which is admittedly a total Story-Breaker Power on its own) even though the rest of his truckload of powers would actually have made his life quite a bit easier.
    • Lampshaded in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders during an encounter where ranged attacks would be useful:
      Kakyoin: Polnareff, slice up the canteen, would you?
      Polnareff: No way! Why don't *you* slice it up, Kakyoin? You're closer, anyhow! You can just use your Emerald Splash and call it a day, can't you?
      Kakyoin: Yes, but I don't want to.
  • Subverted with the eponymous Kotoura-san. She is aware of her always-on Telepathy, but she can still be deceived because it also averts Conveniently Coherent Thoughts. Ergo, she cannot reach into someone's Hidden Depths automatically and is quite susceptible to Psychic Static and Poke in the Third Eye. Probably the most exemplary case is in Episode 11, where the ESP Research Society is trying to catch a criminal who commits random acts of violence to high school girls. As it turns out, the culprit is Tsukino's Enemy Within, in whose house Kotoura has stayed for the better part of an afternoon. Yet in all that time, she doesn't suspect anything until the culprit is almost on top of her because the Enemy Within Tsukino had taken over while the latter was creeping up behind Kotoura.
  • The anime adaptation of Magic Knight Rayearth has a tendency to do this. In one example, Fuu stops Hikaru from using a fire spell on a monster that's abducted Umi, but she gives no thought to the spell that she herself invented a few episodes ago specifically to restrain without injury.
  • Naruto:
    • Virtually the entire cast should be able to transform into anything or make illusionary clones of themselves. The latest times these abilities are brought up are when Temari plans to use a clone to act as a diversion then strike immediately after (which is implied to win her the battle had she been able to carry it out) and Naruto transforming clones into rocks to hide them (which is very successful against even a VERY powerful opponent). It's clear these abilities would still be useful even at Kage level confrontations, but instead all characters stick to their gimmick and their gimmick alone.
    • After Naruto reveals that he has Super-Speed bordering on Flash Step, he promptly never uses it again despite how incredibly useful it is to be so fast he can travel roughly fifty feet in the time it takes the second fastest man alive to punch him, or to escape being captured by Tobi during his and Bee's fight with him and the other Jinchuuriki. Luckily, Kakashi and Gai got there just in time to save him. He then re-conveniences his Flash Step to deflect Tailed Beast Bombs.
    • The Big Bad Tobi is guilty of this. The only reason the heroes even stand a chance is because he forgot he could easily teleport in, kidnap all the Jinchuuriki, and teleport out without anyone being any the wiser.
    • Madara Uchiha is very much guilty of this: Ever since his introduction, Madara has revealed to be able to use an incredible amount of techniques, including, but not limited, to creating massive walls of fire, using Susanoo in more than one form (the final form being a hundred-foot-tall one), using Rinnegan and its derivative techniques (Chakra Absorption, and a stronger variation of Shinra Tensei), summoning meteors, using massively powerful Wood Release techniques, and the list goes on. However, many times he only uses a technique once, and it's never even mentioned again. It's even more jarring when he becomes the Ten-Tails Jinchuuriki, as he focuses only on using the Ten-Tails's black substance instead of using any other technique, even if it would help him in the fight (such as Susanoo, which is later shown to be even more powerful with the Tailed Beasts' combined chakra). No wonder Guy handed him his ass in their fight. Partly justified in that Madara was perhaps the most arrogant character in the series, and obsessed with trying out new abilities whenever he could.
  • One Piece:
    • There are numerous situations in which Chopper forgets he has a certain ability, and it's played for comedy, but a lot of times he could defeat his enemies in Heavy Point, but chooses to stay in Brain Point, his physically weaker form.
    • Luffy, Chopper, and Brook sometimes forget that their devil fruit powers include Super Drowning Skills. This is purely played for comedy, and their crew mates are always pissed at their idiocy.
    • Luffy (and some other characters) also sometimes forget about their Super-Strength when trapped in a certain situations. At one point, Trafalgar Law is being beaten up by Doflamingo and Luffy is inside the hallways of a coliseum watching helplessly out of a window. He reasons that he can't get to them because the window has seastone bars on it (seastone is harder than diamond and drains Devil Fruit users of their powers), but he seems to be forgetting that he could easily smash a hole in the regular stone walls and walk right out.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Team Rocket manages to capture Pikachu (and ONLY Pikachu) nearly Once per Episode, and Ash forgets half of the time that he has FIVE OTHER POKEMON that he could use to just blast Team Rocket's balloon halfway to Jupiter.
    • Team Rocket themselves bring out fire proof uniforms or rubber suits or whatever to render one or more of Ash's Pokémon useless, but they only use them for specific plans instead of using them for pretty much every attempt. Worse, they get overconfident and frequently remove their Pokémon proof measures mid plan allowing them to get electrocuted/burned/etc. anyway later.
    • In an earlier episode Ash and his friends were in the middle of a desert while mentioning they don't have any water. Completely forgetting that they have at least 3 water type Pokémon in their group. Pointed out in this meme.
    • It is annoyingly common for Ash to randomly forget type advantages and other basic rules about capturing and battling Pokémon when the writers feel it necessary to add some extra drama or explanation to the show. Ash has been known to come up with some pretty impressive strategies from time to time, but when the plot dictates that Ash must lose a battle, the Idiot Ball is practically tied around his neck.
    • In Pokémon: Zoroark: Master of Illusions, Ash forgets that he has arguably the strongest team he's ever had in a movie. Aside from one instance with Infernape in the beginning and Pikachu in general, he never uses any of them. The sheer raw power they packed would have made a huge difference against Kodai.
    • In the third episode of Pokémon the Series: Black & White, there is a scene with a group of Pokémon stranded on a disintegrating island in the middle of a lake of boiling water. Some of these Pokémon are Flying-types. They're birds that remember they can fly when they are persuaded to cross a bridge the heroes make so that they can get to safety and that then proceed to FLY AWAY.
    • In the same episode, he almost orders Pikachu to use Thunderbolt on a grounded Sandile, who has Iris' Axew in its mouth. The only thing that stops him from going through with this plan is Iris reminding him that the attack would hurt Axew, not the fact that the Ground-type Sandile is outright immune to electricity. Sometimes, when he actually remembers them, the kid forgets how to properly use his powers.
    • In Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life, Ash and co. are thrown into a cell. A simple, no-tech cell. They wait around in it for god knows how long for a Pokémon to retrieve the key when they could've, perhaps, used their Pokémon to bust their way out. Because of this stall, Arceus gets killed. Not permanently, though.
    • Along with the "trapped in the cell with a ton of super-powered animals" situation like in Arceus, Pokémon: Mewtwo Returns has these moments in spades. One moment in particular was when Ash and Brock were trying to take down a machine that was weakening Mewtwo, and none of the main cast realizes that they would have a much easier time disabling it using, you know, their Pokémon.
    • And speaking of Team Rocket, they've recently been rejoined by their Wobbuffet, whose gimmick is that it acts as an Attack Reflector. Unfortunately for them, this skill is rarely used, leading to them repeatedly getting blasted into orbit.
    • There's also Ash's ability to use aura (basically a renamed Force). In the eighth movie Ash begins to develop these and it's even brought up once or twice in the Sinnoh Arc. Absolute squat comes of it. They might as well have painted a sign that says Fanfic Fuel.
    • During Korrina's arc, the group gets separated in a cave by a flock of Noibat. It never occurs to Korrina's Lucario that it can use aura to track down the separated members and just blindly gets lost for no reason.
  • In Ranma ½ Japanese version during the Gambling King Arc. Ranma was supposedly so stupid that he can't lie to anyone and got a poker face that any kid can read. This is contradicted by Ranma playing cards with his friends in the past several times and winning based on his expression (and Ranma being perfectly able to lie and play pretend in several other schemes of his whenever it suited him). Ranma went on later after the arc and to win at cards decisively against Nabiki and Akane. The American version changed all those incidents to Ranma losing so that they can remove the inconsistency.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Usagi often used her disguise pen in the first season to get into areas where access was forbidden otherwise. In later seasons, it was completely forgotten... except for one odd season three episode when Minako borrowed Usagi's pen to act as an Identity Impersonator for Sailor Moon. Even in the first season one episode has her entering a swimsuit contest wearing a torn bathing suit that she covers up with bows. (Note that Minako had her own disguise compact in Codename: Sailor V and in the Sailor Moon manga, although the fact that it was never shown in the anime may mean it simply doesn't exist in this continuity.)
    • In the manga, both Usagi and Minako have devices (a mask and a compact respectively) that can reveal the disguised enemies' true forms; these conveniently get forgotten when it comes to fighting Witches 5 or the Dead Moon Circus, who do disguise themselves as normal people in areas that are known to have connection to the enemies.
    • In the first episode we see that she has super hearing through the gems in her hair and we never get to see her use them again ... ever. In the same episode, her scream/cry is also shown to be some sort of sonic weapon, boosted by her magic, which she also uses one more time in the fourth season, when she and Chibi-Usa both use it while being menaced by an evil dentist.
    • In a season two episode all the girls sans Mercury (who was supposed to be on a plane to leave) get trapped in a freezer with an ice monster. Their game plan is to wait there indefinitely until Mercury conveniently decides not to go and comes to the rescue. One wonders why Sailor Mars didn't think to use her own powers which know...based on fire.
    • Sailor Pluto has the ability to stop time, and is battling Sailor Galaxia, a powerful evil creature who has killed countless people, alongside Sailor Saturn. Pluto could've stopped time long enough for Saturn to shove her Silence Glaive through Galaxia's throat. Even if the power kills Pluto, that's still probably not a bad trade off to get rid of Galaxia. But she doesn't remember and gets killed alongside Saturn thanks to Uranus and Neptune faking a treason plot.
  • Scott Pilgrim Takes Off: Gideon completely fails to use The Glow against Matthew Patel despite The Glow being the perfect weapon to counteract Matthew's confidence-based power boost. It's not a matter of him not having it either, as he later uses The Glow on Even Older Scott during his battle against the cast.
  • Sgt. Frog: Natsumi, taking on Keroro — a clearly amphibious lifeform — in a swimming contest.
    • Ironically, Natsumi still benefitted since nobody but her could see Keroro, and struggling to beat him allowed her to beat everyone else.
    • In the dub at least it was not so plot induced as it was youthful pride and not thinking induced, and to her credit it does hit her pretty fast just how bad an idea it was.
  • Slayers: Lina, Ameria, and Zelgadis all know Ray Wing, spell that lets them fly, faster than they can run. Yet they will frequently run away from enemies (including ones who can't fly), or stand around watching flying opponents as if they could not reach them. Even if they cast Ray Wing, there's a good chance they'd still fly parallel to the ground until Lina realizes this second layer of stupid.
    • Ray Wing requires energy and by the time they desperately need to flee their foes they'd already depleted their magic from using high level spells and some foes don't justify using energy because they can be outran. On top of that many of the places they visit tend to be dungeons and ruins with relatively little space to fly around.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie: As Sonic and Tails are approaching the core of Robotropolis, a final trap to slow them down appears in the form of their pathway converting into a Conveyor Belt o' Doom. The duo proceed to spend almost a minute trying to run against the belt before Sonic remembers a certain thing Tails can do...
  • Often when the robot characters in Transformers: Energon need to get to someplace really quick or escape from danger, they simply run, even if they can transform into a superfast vehicle.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • In the final duel of the original manga, the characters forget an ability of one of the Egyptian Gods (likely due to Takahashi having not written a duel involving them in some time). Specifically, Egyptian Gods are supposed to have a form of protection where no effect, even beneficial ones, can affect them for more than one turn. However, Yugi is still able to use the card Shattered Axe, which weakens a monster by 500 points every turn, to bring down Obelisk's stats enough for a buffed-up Silent Swordsman to take it out—even though this is exactly the sort of effect that shouldn't work on Obelisk. The anime managed to fix this by changing Shattered Axe to the newly-made up Ground Erosion, which targets the space the monster occupies rather than the monster itself.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds:
      • In the first season, there is a duel where this is Zigzagged, and a character forgets how to use one right. In Lua's duel with Demack, he equips his copy of Megamorph to his Power Tool Dragon, thinking it will double Power Tool Dragon's ATK. He forgets that, because he and Demack currently have equal Life Points, the card won't do anything. (But to be honest, what player in the actual game has not made that mistake when using Megamorph?)
      • In Season 2, Yusei desperately tries to find a way to deal with the Machine Emperor monsters that can absorb Synchro Monsters. He finds the Accel Synchro, but Yusei already has a card that can deal with them, and he has it since the beginning of the series: Turbo Warrior. A Synchro Monster that cannot be targeted by monsters with Level 6 or lower, and the Machine Emperors are Level 1note . However, he never uses Turbo Warrior against them and he relies on his Accel Synchro Summon.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V is the first series where (consistently, anyway) the hologram-summoned monsters have real physical mass sufficient to carry someone or destroy an object. The applications for this are pretty much endless—it's bordering on an Imagination-Based Superpower—but outside of Action Duels, characters rarely seem to remember this. There are plenty of episodes where they run around on foot when they could summon something capable of flight or great speed and hitch a ride, or confront an obstacle and ineffectually stand around instead of bringing out a monster and attacking it.


    Comic Books 
  • The drama that drives the character of Adam Strange hinges on a concept that makes little sense in the context of the shared DC Universe. Adam is a human adventurer from Earth who gets transported to the planet Rann (located in the Alpha Centauri solar system, the closest to Earth) by zeta beams. Once the effect of a zeta beam wears off, Adam gets transported back to Earth and has to wait for the next zeta beam to transport him back to Rann once again. This creates drama (Adam can't stay on Rann indefinitely), and even though every once in a while, writers come up with super-powerful zeta beams that have a permanent effect, eventually another writer may find a reason to undo the effect, leaving Adam stranded on Earth once again. However, it makes little sense in the context of the wider DCU, where there are various more conventional means of traveling the (comparably laughable) distance to Rann. A particularly glaring example occurs in JLA #20-21 (written by Mark Waid), where the Justice League gets transported to Rann and has to help Adam fend off an invasion. Ultimately, Adam drives off the invaders by sacrificing the zeta beam radiation stored inside his body, which results in him getting transported back to Earth. There are at least three ways to get him back to Rann immediately: First, in the first part of the story, Adam mentions a previous visit to Rann by JLA member Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner), who traveled there simply using the power of his ring. Second, the JLA has White Martian jumpships at their disposal, which are used to travel through space several times over the course of the series. Third, the JLA's ranks at that time include Orion and Big Barda of the New Gods, who have access to Boom Tubes, which can also travel vast distances. All of these methods would allow Adam to return to Rann in a short amount of time, without that pesky temporary effect of the zeta beams. Eventually, this was corrected by placing Rann multiple billions of light-years from Earth, too far for most other methods of travel to reach. But this still doesn't explain why he doesn't ask one of the New Gods for help, since Boom Tubes can explicitly be opened to anywhere in the universe.
    • Additionally, in the Silver/Bronze Era, Rann was shown to be fairly close to Thanagar, homeworld of Hawkman and Hawkwoman. They shared many adventures and apparently never bothered to offer Adam a ride in the spaceship they regularly used to go between Earth and Thanagar.
  • Justified by Snowbird in Alpha Flight. While in animal form, she is dropped from a great height, so she shapechanges into an owl without changing to human form first — something she rarely does because it's very painful. But, as the narrator points out, "In her animal panic, she had forgotten that her human form can also fly."
  • Avengers Arena:
  • Often played straight in various Batman works regarding The Riddler's riddles, which various characters attempt to actually solve instead of just looking them up on the Internet. This is clearly a throwback to older times when answers to such things weren't so readily accessible (as opposed to today where it's uncommon for a regular person to not have a cell phone with mobile data, let alone Batman).note  This was actually made fun of in Batman: Assault on Arkham when Amanda Waller "solves" a riddle by just tapping into a search engine:
    The Riddler: When is a door not a door?
    Amanda Waller: When it's ajar.
    The Riddler: —Oh, so you've heard that one before?
    Amanda Waller: No! I have Google!
  • Captain Alcohol is supposed to have Super-Strength. However, this is only used in the first issue and never used again even when it could help him.
  • Captain America: Steve Rogers has a turned-evil Cap easily curbstomp and kill the Red Ghost and his Super-Apes. This is ignoring the fact that the group are Fantastic Four villains with the abilities to match. Rather than use their powers, the apes charge in and get slaughtered, despite one of them possessing Super-Strength and Super-Toughness enough to go toe-to-toe with the Thing.
  • Doctor Strange. Speaking of the Sorcerer Supreme, he is repeatedly in situations where his virtually unlimited mystic abilities could resolve the plot, or at least make it much simpler. Alas, the good Doctor's imagination is often limited to that of those who write him (or limited due to factors like the energy he has to cast certain complex spells).
  • The Flash:
    • Nearly any situation should be easily solvable by the Flash since he can move thousands of times faster than anything else on earth. Yet he almost never uses the full potential of his superpowers until it's time to end the story. Abilities the Flash consistently forgets he has: running faster than light, speed stealing, infinite mass punch, etc. On one occasion the villains destroyed a bridge. Flash runs to a university, teaches himself civil engineering, rushes back to the site of the collapsing bridge, scavenges for parts and builds an entire new bridge to replace the old one, all in the blink of an eye.
    • In the 90s and 2000s, this was justified by the introduction of the Speed Force, the source of their power, and a Power Limiter that existed within it; if a speedster pushed themselves past the speed of light, they risked running into the Speed Force itself, and due to the nirvana-like state it puts them in, they're unlikely to ever leave. This pretty much meant that Wally had to hold back his full power or risk potentially dying, at least until the situation proved dangerous enough to require it.
    • Lampshaded in an episode of Justice League Unlimited, where it's revealed that while the Flash can do all these things and more, he doesn't phase through things because it's fairly dangerous, and he can't approach his upper limits because the plot says it would kill him. Luthor, on the other hand, isn't so worried about it when his mind ends up in Flash's body.
    • In the 4 issue alternate universe DC tale, Kingdom Come, The Flash does become an unstoppable one man war on crime, where he never slows down and has made Keystone City a crime-less utopia. To the point where he moves so fast, not only can he run through the air, he simultaneously exists in the physical and metaphysical planes. However, it's also revealed he's Blessed with Suck as he can no longer communicate with anyone (save Superman) and cannot stop.
    • In Convergence: Speed Force #2, Wally West is drawn into a fight with Flashpoint Wonder Woman and can't get her to stop hitting him or chasing him... Except Wally has the ability to drain speed from others, effectively making them statues.
    • Following DC Rebirth, Wally West seems to have forgotten he can steal speed, only using it a handful of times. He casually uses it to stop some shrapnel from a car explosion and mentions eventually teaching it to his cousin, Wallace. However, in actual plot-relevant situations, he will very rarely use it.
  • Green Lanterns have been variously shown as being able to warp time, move faster than light, contain supernovas, fight toe to toe with Superman, alter their own DNA, read minds, find subatomic aliens... Scratch that, if it's a superpower of any sort any given GL has used it at least twice. Now here's the thing. There are creatures other than Gods that bother them. Funny huh? It's somewhat justified in their case as their power require willpower and concentration to make anything happen. A GL who is having a bad day, is unfocused or demoralized will be less effective and the GL's are essentially human without their rings (or at least the human ones are.) Plus, their rings require a periodic recharge and anything yellow or anyone whose fast enough or crafty enough to remove a ring is a threat. Still, the idiot plot is somewhat less excusable in the case of veterans like Hal Jordan (or really, any of the Earth based GL's these days) as he is both experienced, and extremely strong willed.
  • There were multiple examples in Identity Crisis (2004), especially during the fight between the Justice League and Deathstroke. The Flash literally forgets he can do anything aside from "run fast". (Using the Speed Force to speed up his perceptions? Forgotten, unless he wanted to run into a sword. Stealing speed? Gone. Using his healing factor? Gone. Just making a tornado to blow Slade away? Gone.) Green Lantern somehow forgets he's got the most powerful ranged weapon in the universe on his finger. Its not just that he doesn't create constructs to use against Deathstroke, or capture the man in a force bubble, he doesn't even bother with a simple blast of energy. Instead, he wades in to engage the physically superior Deathstroke in a fist-fight. Any time he's confronted about this mess, Brad Meltzer insists that it was Executive Meddling by the editors, who wanted to pump up Deathstroke's "badass" image by basically turning the Justice League into jobbers, although back matter for the series hardcover collection (including excerpts from Meltzer's script) tend to suggest that it was deliberate (Meltzer's notes state that the idea of the fight was that Deathstroke would turn everyone's powers against them but then be overpowered when his opponents stopped using their powers; it's a decent idea but falls flat on the page).
  • Justice Society of America:
    • More than once in All-Star Comics, chapters featuring Dr. Fate or Starman or Dr. Mid-Nite show those characters using nothing more than their fists to take on the villain, as opposed to the super-powers which should make such conflicts easy to win.
    • Brain Wave never uses his image-projecting power after his first appearance and later has to use Super Science to achieve the same things, and the Wizard's magic is nowhere in evidence in his two subsequent appearances leading the Injustice Society.
  • During the first 20 years of his existence, Magneto occasionally used his magnetic powers to control the minds of people by controlling the iron in their blood. Since then, he seems to have completely forgotten about this power, even though it would've been incredibly useful on many occasions.
  • Martian Manhunter often forgets to use his intangibility so that his enemies can land a punch on him. He also often forgets about his ability to change size and the advanced uses of his telepathy.
  • In Marvel Zombies, the zombies are attacking Doctor Doom's castle and the Scarlet Witch is infected by the Punisher. Gee, Scarlet Witch, did it never occur to you to just teleport him and the other zombies away like you did with Ash earlier? Or teleport Enchantress away earlier so Dazzler wouldn't be infected?
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW):
    • The giant mutant cockatrices who attacks Canterlot in the short in Issue #4 of don't seem to be able to turn anypony to stone, like they do in the show.
    • Lampshaded in Issue #18. The mane 6 are locked up in a dungeon. When Twilight Sparkle is stumped about how they are going to get out, Pinkie Pie gives her a glare and knocks her horn - the prison bars are absolutely no match for the mighty alicorn magic.
  • Jesse Custer in Preacher forgets about his Word of God more and more as the series goes on, which could have solved many problems much faster by simply telling people "Stop!" or "Tell The Truth!" While early encounters include enemies who are immune to his power for a number of reasons, such as being given immunity by God or not understanding English, writer Garth Ennis apparently got tired of thinking up ways around the power and simply had Jesse stop using it, preferring to use his nigh-superhuman fighting skills instead. The trope is even lampshaded when Tulip asks him why he hadn't used the Word to defeat a group of enemies and Jesse just admits that he forgot about it.
  • In PS238, an Expy of Superboy refuses to fly because he's terrified of getting sucked into a plane turbine. One of his classmates points out that he's Nigh-Invulnerable- worst case scenario he'd just get blown out the other side completely unharmed. He should be worried about what happens to the plane after he destroys one of the engines...
  • Invoked in the Scooby-Doo! Team-Up issue "Truth, Justice, and Scooby Snacks". Velma and Jimmy Olsen dress up as gorillas, surprising the mutated Superman into forgetting about his super speed just long enough for Jimmy to catch him with a Red Sun projector, which drains Superman's powers and allows them to contain him until the red kryptonite that caused the mutation wears off.
  • Silver Surfer's Silver Age stories are full of this. When he meets a scientist who invents a device that might let him leave Earth but needs money to make it, the Surfer decides to get a job. He can't (because he doesn't have a Social Security number, he's not in the union, and he's funny-looking) so almost robs a bank in desperation, forgetting he can manipulate matter and could just make some gold to pawn off, or make the gear itself. He spends about eight comics looking for someone who won't hate him for being "a silver-skinned freak" before he remembers that the Fantastic Four were quite friendly...
    • Similarly, Marvel Cosmic Powers #2 has another Galactus herald, Terrax, trying to raise funds to build an army by fighting in gladiatorial arenas for promised wealth. Terrax is most famous for possessing cosmic control of things like moons, asteroids and geological forms of matter. It never occurred to Terrax that he could take control of a single asteroid and extract all its mineral wealth from it with his powers, becoming a trillionaire by Earth standards, and just keep doing it until he becomes the richest being in the galaxy and then raise an army and build an empire that way. He certainly wouldn't need to resort to fighting for purses in the arena in any case. He could easily conquer a world all by himself and then force the inhabitants to be his army.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
    • The chronic and widespread amnesia over the Iron Queen's Magitek is one of the main causes of The Iron Dominion Saga; the Freedom Fighters are constantly clueless to the fact that their enemy can control machines with her mind, and wind up being shocked each time one of their cyborg or mechanical allies gets turned against them by her. They also keep forgetting that they have a counteragent to her spell right in their own backyard. In case you're wondering, there's actually a time in the saga where the Iron Queen herself forgets that she has this power, and has to be reminded that the Freedom Fighters are holed up in a Grey Goo city that she can manipulate... after she successfully infiltrated and messed it up with her powers.
    • Tails had an uncle who was skilled enough in magic to, among other things, teleport and activate his Super Mode. Unless there's an unexplained limitation on that second spell, Dr. Eggman really shouldn't have been a threat for so long.
  • In the first appearance of the Spider-Man team "the Sinister Six", the end of the comic had them all sitting in a police jail cell complaining about being defeated. One of their members, the Sandman, can turn into sand, so why is he still there?
    • An example involving a power that the character literally cannot forget but writers seem to, many a comic involving Spidey losing to someone generally involves the Spider-Sense not triggering in instances where it absolutely would. Rather blatant examples include the "Confederacy of Dunces" arc in The Punisher (2001) (where Spidey is trapped by Frank using a bunch of trigger explosives that weren't actually armed) and Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, where Dreadpool shoots him point-blank, which the Spider-Sense should have immediately detected and allowed Spider-Man to notice and act before Dreadpool could have even moved the gun into position. This happens a lot in the horror comics like Deadpool Kills, The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe, and Marvel Zombies as writers like to kill off Peter early as a cheap Gut Punch.
    • The finale of the notoriously messy Maximum Clonage has the villain Spidercide, who has a massive level of Voluntary Shapeshifting (reportedly, he has perfect control over his body's molecular structure). How does he die? By falling—never minding that he was previously established as being able to completely shrug off physical damage by way of turning himself into water.
  • As The Comics Curmudgeon is fond of pointing out, newspaper comics Spider-Man's spidey sense is notoriously unreliable, as he's been shown to get snuck up behind and knocked out by regular humans, and once a RANDOM FALLING BRICK.
  • Superman: Due to the incredible range of powers that Supes has possesed over the years (especially his near-godlike state in the Silver Age), writers must near-constantly have him forget some just to make him break a sweat.
    • He frequently forgets to use his super speed to dodge blows or just hit people really quickly. However, he has the habit of No Selling shots to intimidate his opponents, so it's not always a case of forgetting.
    • He is often snuck up on despite possessing Super-Senses. In Batman: A Death in the Family, he was unable to find a body from a helicopter crash, despite his x-ray vision.
    • Similarly, whenever he fights someone who's less powerful but has masterful fighting skills, such as Wonder Woman, he (or rather the writers) tends to forget that he's an expert fighter himself, having been trained by many of the greatest fighters in the universe.
    • Due to his strength and invulnerability, Superman often forgets he has an effective ranged attack with his heat vision. He could solve many issues from miles away, if he so chose.
    • He hardly ever uses the fact that he is fast enough to phase through objects, making him even more indestructible than he already is. Even more jarring is that the Flash uses this ability multiple times; you'd think Superman would takes notes.
    • Phantom Zone criminal Kru-El is an Evil Genius so focused on using his arsenal of super-weapons that he sometimes forgets that he has superpowers under a yellow sun, allowing Superman to take him down easily.
    • The Girl with the X-Ray Mind: When Supergirl throws several giant trees at the Phantom Zoners, Jax-Ur is frightened that the group will be impaled, until Kru-El mockingly reminds him they became impervious to harm after getting out of the Phantom Zone. Jax-Ur admits he forgot about their invulnerability.
    • The Strange Revenge of Lena Luthor: After taking two of her kidnappers down, Supergirl regrets that one of them got away... even though he had just left the control room. Using her Super-Speed, she could thereotically find him, snatch him and bring him back without leaving her prisoners unguarded for longer than a fraction of second.
    • Let My People Grow!: Superman needs to collect energy from a supernova. Since a supernova occurs only once in a millennium, he has only one shot at taking a sample... since he's apparently not willing to time-travel as he's done several times before.
    • In the Supergirl story "Supergirls Super Pet", Streaky runs into a big dog and immediately leaps up onto a tree. Streaky fearfully tries to keep himself out of the reach of the barking, angry dog when he remembers he now has super-powers.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: An infamous issue of Lost Light fell into this pretty hard. The treacherous Getaway executes Rook, meaning that the Protectobots can no longer form Combining Mecha Defensor and escape, since Rook formed the leg (ignoring the fact that Rook formed an arm in every prior appearance). Only... the Protectobots have the ability to swap around their limbs, meaning they could have just had one of the arms switch to being a leg, producing a combat-ready (if one-armed) Defensor, which they've even canonically done. For that matter, they're imprisoned with Mirage, who also became a combiner limb, but nobody even suggests having him form a leg. Bafflingly, they resolve this problem through forgetting about their weakness — they use the deceased Ambulon as a surrogate leg, ignoring that Ambulon was sliced in half and had a chunk of his corpse converted into a laser cannon and therefore shouldn't be in a fit state to form anything, and showing no signs of being slowed down by a limb that ought to be completely nonfunctional, in contrast to the last time in the continuity a combiner formed with a dead limb, where Devastator was limping ineffectually for the entire battle.
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl has knuckle spikes that function like a weaker version of Wolverine's claws, but after her debut it took her 25 years in real time for them to actually get used. Doreen lampshades that she tends to forget about them, and justifies it by saying that a) she really doesn't like stabbing people, and b) she doesn't have Wolverine's Healing Factor, so withdrawing them covered in blood is a major health risk.
  • Marvel's The Vision has occasionally fallen victim to similar attacks (though it's rarer). In one issue of What If?, he was killed by a parasitic alien vine that grew into his bodily systems. A fan wrote in to ask what was up; the editors eagerly latched onto his suggestion that "the plant in question isn't entirely tangible itself, and that's why the villain used it". An Avengers comic had Vision, along with Thor and Iron Man, taken out by knockout gas. Hmm, a Physical God who can control winds, an unbreathing android, and a guy in a sealed combat suit? No problem. The criminal masterminds who took them out so easily?... Well, you've got to see this one for yourself.
  • In Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, Superwoman is amongst the heroes trying to break through the forcefield surrounding the Fortress of Solitude. She's capable of teleporting and walking through walls but maybe the forcefield somehow blocks these. Seeing as how it was Mxyzptlk maintaining the forcefield, you could say A Wizard Did It.
  • One Wizard issue had Darkseid battle Thanos ending in Darkseid leading Thanos to a Firepit Energy Processing Plant on Apokolips. There, both opponents unleash all their energy, triggering a massive explosion. When the smoke clears, out walks a staggering Darkseid, dragging a defeated Thanos—who is now a pet for his sadistic lackey Desaad. The authors apparently forgot that Thanos' ability to withstand damage is equal to Darkseid's in the very least. He also can create force shields, not to mention it was out of character for Thanos to attack opponents on their home turfs without at least gaining information or sabotaging the fight in his favor before confronting them. Thanos also has the resources to attack Apokolips from orbit if he wanted to. This applies to Darkseid too, since he has many powers that can counter Thanos's own abilities, he has his own resources to destroy Thanos's fleet, and when operating at his full strength, he has the Anti-Life equation, to which Thanos doesn't really have a counter to. Yet despite having all these things at their disposal, Thanos and Darkseid just don't use them for some reason.
  • Wonder Woman and the Star Riders: Dolphine has the power to magically manipulate water, yet when Purrsia throws a net on her while she's in the ocean, she is panicked and needs the other Star Riders to rescue her.
  • X-Men:
    • All the various telepaths could probably stop a hell of a lot of battles and villainous plots by simply mentally knocking out MANY of their enemies that don't have any kind of mind shield, but they often don't for unexplained reasons.
    • As noted elsewhere, Wolverine has super senses like hearing and smell, but they apparently only work when Wolverine needs them to solve a plot point. Otherwise he seems to be suffering from a recurring healing-factor-resistant head cold.
    • One of the most infamous examples: In Wolverine #75, Rogue is being sucked out of an airplane and screams at Gambit to help her. Except Rogue can fly. Regularly pointed out as a glaring example of Chickification of Rogue's character.
    • The entire Terrigen Mists plot that ran through the mid-2010s before climaxing in Inhumans vs. X-Men basically relied on the idea that the X-Men didn't have a way to handle or contain what is essentially a large cloud driven by the wind. (Here's a hint: one of their leaders is named Storm.)

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Blondie (1930) strip, Dagwood is impressed by another man's having named his children after food and regrets not having done so himself. He apparently has forgotten that his own daughter's name is Cookie and that his son went by the name "Baby Dumpling" when he was young.
  • The final arc of Spider-Man has Spidey in the following situation: He is dangling off a skyscraper, holding a subdued Kilgrave with one hand. The only thing holding him aloft is Luke Cage, who has his leg. Fortunately, MJ is around to remind Peter that he has a second hand.
    MJ: Hey, don't forget — you've got TWO web shooters!
    Spider-Man: Huh? Oh-yeah! I FORGOT!
  • The Wizard of Id: From strip to strip, the Wizard will sometimes use unnecessarily powerful spells to perform simple tasks; and other times subject himself to backbreaking manual labour or try to fight off serious threats by hand instead of using his magic, depending on what would be funnier. In one strip he walks into the house complaining about how he threw out his back shovelling the driveway, and Spirit reminds him that he's a wizard and he has magic.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Fairy Tail fanfic, Another Chance, which has been deleted, Lisanna pulls a Wounded Gazelle Gambit by pretending that Lucy attacked her, resulting in Natsu, Erza, Gray, Levy, Alzack and Bisca beating Lucy up. Her deception is uncovered when Makarov smells the makeup that was used to fake her wounds, and orders Juvia to wash it off but that doesn't explain why the three Dragon Slayers (including Natsu, who attacked Lucy) weren't able to tell with their enhanced sense of smell.
  • Played for Laughs in Comic Book SNAFU: After being captured by the Riddler, Gajeel asks Akiza why she doesn't just use her teleportation powers to escape. It turns out she forgot she could do that.
  • Critical Overcharge: Setsuna uses her animorphism powers during the Quirk assessment to throw her softball then immediately realizes she could have gotten a better result by using Detachment Combat to simply carry it away. In her defense, she was irritated with Aizawa and was working off some aggression.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: In chapter 25, when Twilight meets the changeling queens, one of them is Scolopidia, who reacts with hostility. Another Queen, Tegmina, notes that Scolopidia has apparently forgotten that they can read Twilight's intentions to tell that she's genuinely friendly and wanting to help. Somewhat justified, since Scolopidia has only recently become a Queen and is still getting used to the new abilities.
  • In Dusk's Dawn Donut abandons most of his armor when invading the castle for no reason.
  • In Getting Back on Your Hooves Trixie is feeding animals as part of a job working for Fluttershy, ending up falling down a steep bank and getting the list of animals she needed to feed muddy, resulting in a run in with a skunk. As she's getting cleaned up, this trope is lampshaded:
    Spike: Uh, Trixie, one thing.
    Trixie: Yes, what?
    Spike: Why didn't you just use your magic to float the food down to the animals?
    Trixie: (slams her head into the side of the tub)
  • In Here There Be Monsters, Shazam! admits he could have broken free from Doctor Sivana's trap earlier if he had just remembered using the Wisdom of Solomon, which in turn reminded him about his flight power not being a physical power which could be affected by Sivana's paralysis ray.
  • Played for Laughs in Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail. The Red Lotus Quarto needs to reach a specific Car as quickly as possible. It takes until the final chapter of Act 2 for Lexi to realize that he can shapeshift into a gryphon and fly them over the Train to the right Car. When that plan goes sideways and they're forced to land early, another member realizes something else they can do: Amelia calls One-One and asks him to move the Cars around for them. Lexi is... rather annoyed upon hearing this.
  • In Manchester Lost and its sequel, Paradise Thwarted, resident Cloud Cuckoo Lander Uriel tends to forget all sorts of things, including, at times, the fact that he has wings.
  • When the Space Ponies of My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic first crossed Violet Swamp, they trekked through it by foot, even though they have wings.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Izuku worries about what would happen if he let go of All Might's leg while they were traveling in mid-air, even though he knows he's Nigh-Invulnerable (though he does admit that he probably wouldn't die from it). One chapter later, he's leaping over huge swathes of forest with ease. Just before the U.A. Entrance Exam, he gets so nervous that he trips and falls, completely forgetting that he learned how to fly ten months ago.
  • Ojamajo Doremi: Witches at World's End (sequel to Ojamajo Doremi: Rise of the Shadows): The Queen doesn't use her Super Mode when Black Queen attacks the witch World, even though the Queen has mastered it AND it is more than capable of curbstomping Black Queen.
  • Oogway's Little Owl: Taylor, who has become an owl, goes to rescue a hostage from a group of croc bandits in the woods, only to wind up getting into a fight with the whole camp upon getting caught; it's only afterwards that Shifu reminds her that owls can fly, and she and the hostage could've escaped easily.
  • Our Family, An Ascension: In chapter 20, the fic's protagonist gets chased down the streets and is nearly run over by a car after an Angry Mob wrongfully accuses her of shoplifting. Throughout this chase, she does nothing beside scream for help. This is despite an earlier chapter having her discover that she could turn invisible and even using that ability to foil an Assassination Attempt on the House of Light's leader. This is justified by her total inexperience—she literally just received her powers two days ago—and being too scared to think since she was so caught up in the heat of the moment. While reflecting on what happened afterwards, she suddenly remembers that she can go invisible and internally lampshades how she probably should've just used her invisibility trick to escape.
  • A meta example occurs in Princess of the Blacks when Jen is spotted after murdering Tracey's grandfather because the author forgot she could turn invisible and had a magical sonar. It was later retconned to Jen turning invisible just before she'd have been spotted.
  • Silver Blood: Ash gets healing powers with the Normal Orb, which allows him to not only use Recover, but to share its healing power with others. He usually forgets about it, though.
  • Played for Laughs in Son of the Sannin: during the Chunin Exams finals, Hinata ends up in the stadium's hospital wing after her fight, and laments that she won't be able to see Naruto's final match. Her mother quickly reminds her that she can use her Byakugannote  to do just that, even remarking that she forgot about it because "being lovesick messes with one's head".
  • Played for Laughs in The Soulmate Timeline with Mami, who has, as part of her default power set, Connect without having to visit a Coordinator. However because of how often she's been a single actor, and how well she's made use of her ribbons, its so rarely relevant that she constantly forgets she has it, and has done so for so long that both Kyoko, her long-time partner, and Homura, whose been in hundreds of time loops and constantly around Mami, didn't realize she had it.
  • In Superman of 2499: The Great Confrontation, Katherine de Ka'an laments the fact she'll never know what happened to her distant ancestor Kara Zor-El's first husband since there're no records left... which shouldn't be a trouble at all since, as a descendant of the original Supergirl, Katherine's natural powers include time travel.
  • In This Bites!, Soundbite, for a brief period in Chapter 24, forgets that he has the option of using his Gastro-Blast technique to destroy his gag. Cross comes within an inch of dying before he reminds him of it.
  • A Very Kara Christmas: Kara hangs her wig—which she uses to disguise her identity — in a tree because she has no time to go back to her secret hideaway—what with Superman calling her — clearly forgetting she can come and go within one nanosecond. She thinks nobody will go into the woods and notice her wig anyway, but two kids do, jeopardizing her secret. Justified because she is still an unexperienced apprentice.
  • A Wolf In The Garden: At one point during the group's stay on Vigilus, Leman needs to rescue a woman from a cell; he spends several moments searching for a key before remembering that he is a Primarch and can simply rip the bars off their hinges. Word of God is that after spending several thousand years in the Warp, and the entire first half of the story in the Veil, both of which contain denizens as strong if not stronger than a Primarch, Leman occasionally forgets how much more powerful than everyone else in realspace he is.

    Films — Animation 
    • In Mask of Light, Onua causes a cave-in, so he and Pohatu start running, but get buried under rubble. This, despite that they had masterful control over the elements of earth and stone respectively — Onua even uses his power to levitate some giant rocks in a later scene. Pohatu also wore the Mask of Speed (which Onua had access to, too) that would have let them vibrate their bodies through the rock, or just plain run faster. Both could even have summoned their Mask of Shielding to protect themselves. The climax also involves some running and heavy objects falling, but nobody thinks of using their powers to save themselves or help Takutanuva who gets crushed under a gate.
    • In Web of Shadows, Matau is about to fall to his death from atop the Coliseum balcony, but Vakama saves him with a bungee-cord made out of spider webbing. A cool and heartwarming scene, except that Matau got up there by flying in the first place, or technically, grabbing onto an energy-disk that he could fire at any moment.
    • Likewise in Web of Shadows, when Roodaka betrays Sidorak to face the mighty Keetongu by himself, Sidorak never thinks about using his Mind-Control Device located in his right hand (or on his back if you go by his movie design) to subdue Keetongu or to force Roodaka back into fray. The novelization reveals Sidorak's Inner Monologue during the scene — he is so shocked that his "beloved" Roodaka left him to his death and thereby bested him that he can't bring himself to fight back.
  • In Frozen, when her ice palace is under attack, Elsa seems to completely forget all the things she has already done with her powers that would allow her to hold off the attackers indefinitely, such as causing the staircase to sprout ice spikes, creating more Snowlems to back up Marshmallow, hammering them with a blizzard or simply sealing the entrances to the palace with solid ice walls. Justified due to Elsa's lack of experience with her powers (most of which are less than a day old) and her current state of panic, which is explicitly stated to limit her control over her powers, not to mention her ability to actually think about how to fight her enemies off.
  • In the "Mickey and the Beanstalk" segment of Fun and Fancy Free, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy saw down the beanstalk with Willie the Giant in hot pursuit. But he falls, seemingly to his death, despite previously displaying the power to shapeshift into anything he wanted and "fly up high like the birdies". Though, in fairness, he probably didn't have enough time to say the "magic wordies" (which just so happen to be "fe, fi, fo, fum"). However, Willie manages to survive the fall, and the viewer is never shown exactly how, so it's possible he did remember his magic and saved himself at the last second.
  • Some of The Land Before Time sequels have this problem, neglecting the fact that Petrie can fly.
  • Little Angels: The Brightest Christmas: The angels wonder how to get Daniel safely to a distant cabin, seemingly forgetting the fact that they can not only fly, but have already used their ability to carry other characters around earlier in the film. Instead, they create a rainbow trail to the cabin, and Daniel has to walk all the way there.
  • In Megamind, when discovering intruders in his lair, the supposedly dead Metro Man completely forgets about his Super-Speed and tries to turn around and tiptoe away. Naturally, a floorboard creaks and gives him away. Justified because of the shock.
  • In the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Magical Movie Night
    • In the segment "Movie Magic", Rainbow Dash and human Twilight Sparkle were the only members of the group who remembered to bring the amulets that allow them to use their powers (Super-Speed and Mind over Matter respectively). Even then, while Twilight uses her telekinesis for mundane purposes, when the group chases a thief, she chases her on foot and doesn't try to use her telekinesis.
    • In the segment "Mirror Magic", Sunset hasn't been to her native dimension in so long that she not only briefly forgets that she's a quadruped in Equestria, but that she's a unicorn that can use telekinesis, spending several seconds helplessly pawing at a book that fell on the floor with her hooves instead. She spends the next scene enchanted by her own abilities once she's reminded.
  • Teen Titans Go! To the Movies makes a Running Gag out of Raven forgetting that she can create portals and then conveniently remembering at the right moment.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Sherlock Holmes (2009), Holmes never tries his Sherlock Scan on the main Giant Mook, leading to multiple Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh... moments for someone who's supposed to be The Great Detective. More glaringly - earlier, Holmes used it to soundly beat an almost-as-big Brute in a pit fight.
  • The Mobile Infantry in Starship Troopers have rifles that come with underbarrel shotguns and nuclear rocket launchers, yet they seem to rely almost entirely on their regular firing mode — even when faced with instances where such weapons would be most effective, such as close combat with the Bugs or when facing a horde of thousands of bunched-together aliens charging their fixed positions. Justified since the movie satirizes Hollywood Tactics.
  • The Lord of the Rings has several examples:
    • When the Ents attacks Isengard in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Saruman had previously shown the ability to levitate an enemy and toss him through the air, and to call down storms and avalanches from dozens if not hundreds of miles away, and Treebeard predicts that the Ents are probably doomed fighting against him. But during the battle, Saruman just watches in horror without attempting any magic whatsoever. Averted in the book, where he actually fights back and launches jets of fire at the ents, but still loses.
  • The Neverending Story:
    • In The Next Chapter, Bastian has to save Fantasia with the help of the Auryn, which can grant him any wish he wants. He never thinks to wish for weapons, or an army, or even that Fantasia just be saved. Instead he wishes for things like a can of spray paint and individual steps to climb a huge cliff. He only has a limited number of wishes before running out of memories (each wish removes a memory, though at the time he gets it, he's unaware of this, so he had no reason to limit his wishes).
    • This gets even worse in Escape from Fantasia, where again Bastian has the Auryn and this time he has no limitations to using it aside from being told he can't just wish everyone back into Fantasia. There is literally no end to the things he could wish for to outright solve his problem or at least help him. It's especially glaring that this time around his opponents are basically just a group of bullies: he could wish he were strong enough to fight them, for them to give up, for them to turn on each other, for the book to stop working for them, for them to lose the book, for them to give the book back, for the cops to just arrest them, for wrought-iron cages to appear around them, for their hearts to stop... this list could easily fill the entire page, but he never thinks to use this power until the very end of the film. Even the limitation could easily be wished around by an even remotely intelligent person. Not exactly a move you'd expect from a kid explicitly described as "a special young human of great imagination", and it's one of many reasons this film is so despised by fans of the series.
  • Star Wars:
    • The prequels retroactively introduce this trope to the original trilogy by establishing that R2-D2 has the ability to fly and torch his opponents, something he never does in the original trilogy even though it would have been useful to do so. Word of God has it that R2's rocket boosters broke at some point in the intervening years, and Industrial Automaton (the company that makes R2 units) no longer manufactures that part. It's possible that the torch had simply been swapped out for other equipment that's more useful to R2's primary roles of interfacing with computers and repairing engines.
    • Force Speed is a nifty trick the Jedi can use, first seen when Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan flee from the Droideka in the The Phantom Menace. The Jedi never use it again in the rest of the movies despite all times it could’ve been very useful, although they Hand Wave this by explaining in supplementary material that it's draining to use and requires a longer recovery period. Despite this, it pops up much more frequently in the Star Wars Legends novels and games, and in the Star Wars: Galaxy of Adventures shorts Anakin is seen using it in a fight against Dooku.
    • Revenge of the Sith begins with the Battle of Coruscant where Obi-wan's Jedi Starfighter gets swarmed by Buzz Droids (gremlin-like machines designed to cling on and sabotage enemy ships), with Anakin attempting various tactics, including trying to shoot the droids off without hitting Obi-wan's ship and ramming their fighter's wings together until Obi-wan tells Anakin "stop it, you're gonna get us both killed!" — somehow it never occurs to either Jedi they can Force-push the droids away, considering previous movies established the Force does work behind barriers, and even on objects the user can't see (case in point, Obi-wan grabbing Qui-Gon's lightsaber while dangling from a pit in The Phantom Menace). Interestingly enough, Star Wars: The Clone Wars does rectify the issue with Anakin getting his ship swarmed by Buzz Droids in a separate battle, most of which he Force-pushed away only for a dozen of the droids to cling on and sabotage his ship's underside.
    • In The Rise of Skywalker, the first shot we see of Rey is her meditating...10 feet off the ground. Later, when she has to both get to and then traverse the interior of the ruins of the second Death Star, she completely forgets (or ignores) that she can fly, and only uses her old scavenger climbing skills onscreen. Until she fights Kylo Ren minutes later, when she uses a Force Jump, albeit with a metaphorical run-up.note 
  • The Last Airbender:
    • This trope is basically the only excuse for why the Fire Nation imprisonment of the Earthbenders didn't fail in five minutes flat. In the cartoon that the film was based upon, their not doing any bending was completely justified as they were on a metallic platform in the middle of the ocean, with no earth in convenient distance. In the movie, they're at a mine. As in, surrounded by dirt and rocks. They outnumber their Fire Nation guards by a minimum of a dozen to one. The very weak "their spirits are broken" excuse is washed away by a speech that boils down to "You're Earth-benders. You're completely surrounded by dirt and rocks. DO SOMETHING." They effectively imprisoned a bunch of soldiers, made them use their loaded guns to dig holes, and the soldiers never thought to shoot.
    • The movie also changes things so Firebenders need an external source for their power to work, so they need to keep torches and braziers everywhere for their bending to work. Nobody ever seems to realize that these limited sources of fire can be put out, or even thinks to extinguish nearby sources of fire whenever they see the Fire Nation coming to deny them ammo.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X2: X-Men United: Wolverine realizes that Mystique is disguised as Jean Grey by feeling the scars on her belly rather than by her smell, which he was established to be able to do in the first film when she tried the same trick with Storm which was how Mystique got the scars in the first place.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: Quicksilver is able to spot Xavier's mansion in the process of blowing up and use his super-speed to save everyone, yet in the very next scene, he watches a bunch of armed men take aim at the students and fire without reacting (of course, after doing something that big, it's possible Pietro was just a bit tired).
  • I Am Number Four: John is an alien with a wide variety of superhuman powers, including super strength. While he uses it once early on to put down a bully, he conveniently forgets his wide variety of powers for the rest of the movie so that Jerk Jock Mark can push him around. When John finally does remember he has powers, he slaps down Mark's whole gang.
  • Bruce Almighty: After Bruce was caught kissing Susan by his girlfriend Grace, he seemed to forget that he was near-omnipotent, so he could just wipe her memory of the event, or re-write history to make it that it never happened. Potentially justified; God had previously informed Bruce that he couldn't do anything to affect free will, and altering memories would at the very least come close to compromising Grace's free will as she would no longer be able to make a decision based on all available facts.
  • In Dragonball Evolution, Piccolo demonstrates telekinesis powerful enough to crush a house, but never uses it again, even to try to retrieve a Dragonball that was rolling away.
  • In Godzilla (2014), Big G only uses his atomic breath twice, and doesn't think to use it on the flying MUTO (which he can't attack otherwise when it's flying away) or when he was getting pummeled by both MUTOs at the same time.
  • In Spider-Man 2, Doctor Octopus fights Spider-Man by repeatedly grabbing him with his robot tentacles and slamming him into walls and such. A few moments later it is revealed that at least one of those tentacles contained a long retractable blade which he could've simply stabbed the wall-crawler with. He goes for a single swing with this blade, misses, and never uses it again. May be an example of Octavius's remaining control of himself, as he resists the notion of committing blatant murder.
  • Somewhere between The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, Dr. Lecter forgot how to pick the lock on a set of handcuffs. Could be justified as Lecter not having the necessary tools on hand to pick the cuffs in the time frame available to him, as he now knows that the police are en route to his current location.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), we're shown (repeatedly) that Sonic can move so quickly when he's in danger that time almost stands still around him. Yet when Tom shoots at him with a tranquilizer gun he makes no attempt to run or move out of the way. Even though he's able to move out of the way of incoming missiles, apparently a tranquilizer gun is the only thing that'll take him down. This is never addressed or explained, so the only reason why Sonic doesn't move out of the way seems to be because the plot says so. One possible justification is that Sonic knows Tom and considers him a friend (even thought they'd never actually met before that moment), and thus was so shocked that Tom fired the tranquilizer gun that he didn't react in time.
  • In Ultraman Saga, Ultraman Cosmos completely forgot about having the ability to transform into forms that are stronger than Luna Mode, even though he was attempting to bring lethal force to bear on Alien Bat and Hyper Zetton. No explanation is ever given for this.
  • A meta example in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. According to the creators, this is why Edgin, despite being a bard, is never seen casting a spell in the film's runtime, despite bards being a spellcasting class in every edition. They envisioned hypothetical players for each of the cast members, and when envisioning Edgin's, they decided he was the kind of guy who didn't bother to learn the spellcasting rules and only focused on Indy Ploy antics and hitting stuff with his lute. Hence, Edgin forgets about his powers because his player also forgets about his powers.

  • In Lone Wolf, you have powers that can be useful in certain situation, but sometimes, the author forgets that the possibility you have that power may exist, and doesn't give you a choice to use the power. More commonly, the series has three levels of powers: Kai, Magnakai, and Grand Master. Most of the powers of one tier have lower powered equivalents amongst the lower tier. Similarly, someone of a higher tier always has all the powers of the lower tier, but only a select few of their given tier. This results in your character often being asked if he has a certain power appropriate for his tier (and bad stuff happening if you do not), but the author forgetting that there is no reason the lower tier equivalent — which everyone should have — could not be every bit as effective.

    Theoretically, at least, if the higher Discipline is required, it's for something that the lesser Discipline can't handle for some reason (you see this all the time in Grand Master, particularly with Kai-screen). Justified, for the most part... simple Mind over Matter should not allow you to grab a big, heavy key on the opposite side of the room while you're behind a locked door. Still, there are numerous instances where you SHOULD be able to use Pathsmanship, or Huntmastery, or (most often) Divination, or at least get some explanation as to why you can't. (You don't need Telegnosis to spirit-walk, it just makes it easier.) Then there's the issue of the myriad Combat Skill and Endurance benefits you get from certain Disciplines, all of which need to be properly balanced... and some of which, unfortunately, don't make a lot of sense (in New Grand Master, you have the same Combat Skill whether or not you're armed). As you might imagine, it's not exactly easy to write these things.

  • Harry Potter:
    • "The Philosopher's Stone": When Harry, Ron, and Hermione are trapped in the Devil's Snare (a constricting plant which can only be defeated via light) a panicking, Muggleborn Hermione comments that it would be difficult to light a fire in their current position, despite having the power to create fire magically. Justified given that she's only been aware of magic (let alone consciously using it) for less than a year.
      "HAVE YOU GONE MAD?" Ron bellowed. "ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?"
    • Called back to in a reversed situation in the final book, when Ron has a momentary lapse of judgement by proclaiming that Crookshanks isn't there to press the knob on the tree's trunk to let them into the passage. Hermione yells at him, "Are you a wizard or not!?"
    • Also in the first book, the Big Bad suddenly resorts to grabbing the hero with bare hands, even though seconds earlier he entangled him with conjured ropes.
    • In the fourth book, Harry uses Accio to summon his broom to get past the dragon in the first task when he could have used the same spell to summon the dragon's egg he was trying to get or summon his broom to fly over the maze in the third task. While never explicitly stated, it is reasonable to believe that the egg would have been protected against the simplest summoning magic, or the task would have turned into a joke. Similarly, while flying over the maze sounds like a cool, out of the box idea, one assumes the judges would have been less than amused.
    • When we first meet the orphaned Harry, he has experienced ten years of abuse and mistreatment at the hands of the Dursleys (his Aunt Petunia is his late mother Lily's sister). He has become quite perceptive and adept at reading their behavior, and is able to occasionally get his way by setting up his requests in such a manner that they view the best option for them is to give him what he wants. He is also usually extremely patient with their abuse and vitriol. Essentially, he makes the best of a bad situation by manipulating people who hate him. However, whenever he is at Hogwarts, Harry is completely clueless at social interaction, or understanding the larger picture. He often misses social cues, and lets the likes of Malfoy, Snape, and Umbridge goad him.
  • Flinx of Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth series gets hit with this a lot in the novels after Flinx in Flux. Having been established as: (a) streetwise, (b) adept at survival, (c) having a ton of money, (d) being able to defeat just about any enemy with a combination of his Emotion Bomb and Superpower Meltdown powers; at least half of the scrapes he gets himself into are caused by a combination of him deliberately walking unprepared into lethal environments or conveniently forgetting about one or more of his Psychic Powers in order to allow a different character to get a Big Damn Heroes moment. There's also at least one scene in Trouble Magnet where he does rely on his Emotion Bomb power to get himself out of a scrape, only to have it not work on him thanks to Power Incontinence... a fact he really ought to have taken into account considering how frequently it happens to him.
  • In The Belgariad the power they use requires the sorcerer being able to steel themselves against the forces involved (otherwise they could literally push themselves into the ground -or worse), and takes a toll on their more-than-mortal but still-limited minds and bodies. Sometimes a lot of power has to be used at once; Belgarath ran head-first into trouble by literally working himself to magic-use exhaustion. But many times they just don't use a simple possibility they have, rather going for an incredibly contrived method that somehow seems like a genius idea. In the Malloreon, Belgarath, Belgarion, and Zakath have to fight a dragon, which is immune to direct sorcery. He makes Garion and Zaketh immune to fire to face the dragon, and has no doubts that this will work, demonstrating that indirect sorcery can be used. Despite this and 7000 years of experience, the idea of translocating large rocks above the dragon's head, or something similar, never occurs to him.
  • In Time Cat, Jason and Gareth are often captured and held somewhere against their will. Despite having the power to travel to any point in space or time, Gareth never uses his magic to allow them to both escape.
  • The Vampire Chronicles:
    • Lestat is a skilled computer hacker in Tale of the Body Thief, but doesn't know how to use email when it becomes a plot point in Blood Canticle.
    • When Louis falls improbably in love with Merrick, it never occurs to David that something supernatural is going on, even though he's an expert in magic and he knows she's a witch.
  • Used in a subtle and clever way in The Dresden Files novel Small Favor. Harry has a small arsenal of magical tools on him (staff, shield bracelet, force rings, blasting rod, and various other odds-and-ends), and he has a wide range of spells he can draw from (bursts of flame, blasts of force, lightning bolts, wind, etc). Therefore, unless the reader is paying very close attention, they'll miss something important: Throughout the novel, Harry uses most of his gear and most of his spells, but he doesn't use either fire magic or his blasting rod beyond the initial brawl in the first chapter. It isn't until later on that the reason becomes apparent: Mab, queen of the Winter Court, took his blasting rod and put a lock in Harry's mind that kept him from using fire magic, so that the fire-based Summer Court couldn't track him down and kill him.
  • Animorphs:
    • In The Encounter, the kids have to catch some fish to acquire their DNA. Despite three of them having morphs specifically adapted to catching fish (Cassie and Marco's osprey and Rachel's bald eagle), they waste hours trying to catch fish with a line and hook.
    • The Familiar, which features Jake flung into a Bad Future ten years later, the climax of the book forces Jake to choose between destroying a Yeerk superweapon that will consolidate their power on Earth or saving his girlfriend who's just been flung from a tower. The conflict becomes a lot less believable when you remember that Cassie could just morph to bird and save herself. Justified since it turns out to have been a dream Jake was having, possibly at the instigation of some alien that was never mentioned again and Jake notices the many oddities to realize this.
    • In general, an oft-cited Plot Hole in the series involves Tobias, who gets trapped in the form of a hawk at the end of the first book, and afterwards can only take human form for two hours at a time after the Ellimist restores his morphing ability. It's well-established that the Animorphs have the Required Secondary Power of "thought-speak" (telepathic communication) when morphing, which allows them to communicate with each other while in the form of animals that shouldn't be able to speak. Tobias is obviously capable of speaking while he's in human form — but logically, he should also have thought-speak abilities as a human, since his human form is a human morph. While in human form, Tobias often gets into sticky situations where telepathy would presumably come in handy, but he never uses it, and never seems to remember that he should have it.
    • Rachel and Tobias are separated from the rest while stuck in the Cretaceous Period during In the Time of Dinosaurs, and neither one thinks to use their Hork-Bajir morphs. A Hork-Bajir could blend in with the fauna of the Cretaceous, fight off a Raptor Attack, and easily traverse the forests of giant trees (very similar to the Hork-Bajir's native habitat). Instead, Rachel wanders around on foot and morphs to grizzly when in danger, while Tobias breaks his wing (which doesn't heal when he morphs for unexplained reasons) and can't offer help until he acquires a raptor.
    • Jake gains a Howler morph in The Attack but never uses it again, despite how useful it would be in combat. Possibly justified as him not wanting to attract any more attention from Crayak than he already has.
  • Happens to the wigmonsters in John Dies at the End, who forget they can go through walls. David reminds them.
  • In Jeramey Kraatz's The Cloak Society, inverted. Two depowered superheroes forgot that they had had Boxing Lessons for Superman, and are still Badass Normal because of them.
  • Played for Laughs in The Shadow of Kyoshi. At one point, Kyoshi needs to reach an island her boat is passing by. She jumps overboard and, after a long, arduous swim, manages to reach the shore. Just as she gets there, she stops and realizes that she could have just used her waterbending to practically fly over to the island in seconds.
  • Keeper of the Lost Cities: In Nightfall, Sophie and her companions need to transport an unconscious person. Sophie hefts his shoulders off the ground and calls for someone to get his legs, before Tam reminds her that they can just move him telekinetically.
    "You Foxfire people always forget the obvious", Tam told her, floating Alvar's body off the ground. "Remember telekinesis?"
    Sophie's cheeks burned. "Right. I guess that's smarter."
  • In the Magic: The Gathering novel Planeswalker, Xantcha has a magical crystal which she can break to summon Urza if she's in danger, but, being The Ageless, she's been wearing the thing around her neck for so many thousands of years without using it that she's forgotten what it does. When she and Ratepe get caught in a storm and trapped at sea, she only remembers the crystal after several days, at which point she feels very foolish. She promptly breaks the crystal... and it takes a day for Urza to come rescue them, because he himself forgot what the broken crystal's signal means.
  • In Roald Dahl's The Twits, after the titular antagonists' trained monkeys — Muggle-Wump, his wife, and their two children — get their revenge on Mr. and Mrs. Twit and escape, the Roly-Poly Bird offers to fly the monkeys back home to the African jungle, where he also lives, one at a time ("You will travel by the Roly-Poly Super Jet and it won't cost you a penny!"). However, in a later book of Dahl's, Dirty Beasts (©1983), it's revealed that the Roly-Poly Bird has the magical ability to transform into a giant toad ("...easily as big as any fair-sized fattish pig...") who can cover hundreds of miles at a single jump, e.g. from England into France (London and Paris are approximately 300 miles apart). This means that, in his toad form, he could carry them all back to Africa in one sitting, in approximately 17 leaps altogether. It would be much faster than making a total of seven trips by flying, which is what he will have to do to bring back the entire Muggle-Wump family in his bird form. Dirty Beasts also reveals that the Roly-Poly Bird can transform into an elephant-sized snail.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Ramayana: As an avatar of Vishnu, Rama should be completely over-powered in the human realm. Instead, Rama seems to forget that he is a god until the other gods remind him. In the original version of the poem, Valmiki's version, this happens more than once.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In the cosmology, the Demon Lord Kostchtchie, a brute with influence over cold, rage, and frost giants, has many powerful spell-like abilities at his disposal, including Harm, Ice Storm, Unholy Blight, and Greater Dispel Magic. But despite how powerful and useful they are, according to one source, he has such a rotten temper that he often forgets about them completely and just charges into battle with his warhammer. (Of course, with a title like The Prince of Wrath, it isn't surprising.)
    • This happens in general to Dungeons & Dragons players, especially as they attain higher levels and have amassed a big catalog of magical artifacts, spells, and such. Forgetting about fantastic powers and resorting to mundane utility is one of the many jokes surrounding the 10-foot pole.
    • Mechanically enforced by barbarian rage. One of the effects in almost all editions is that while raging, the character forgets how to use spells, spell-like abilities, and skills involving concentration.
    • Can also happen when the Dungeonmaster is playing powerful, high-level NPCs who have so many spells and special abilities, that it's hard to remember them all.
  • Exalted players, especially in high-Essence games, can have characters with so many Charms that they can't remember all of the ones they have, let alone what all of them do. This can result in players realizing, after the fact, that the mess they just got themselves into could have been completely avoided if only they'd used a Charm they forgot about.
  • An article in Dragon #135 described an incident in a Marvel Super Heroes RPG campaign where a supervillain had captured all the PCs, neutralized their known powers, and was preparing to use them as a power source for a magical ritual. At the very last minute, one of the players remembered their character had a Psychic Link with a hawk that they rarely, if ever, used. The GM ruled that since the player almost forgot about that ability, the villains didn't know about it (and hence didn't neutralize it). The player had the hawk fly into the villain's headquarters and free one of the heroes, who freed the rest of the team, and the newly released heroes defeated the surprised villains.
  • The 4th Edition era Champions supplement Golden Age Heroes includes a superman expy that had, among his other powers, super intelligence that only kicked in if he made an intelligence roll at his normal default. It was explained that he had to remember he had super-intelligence in order to use it.
  • DC Heroes had a game where the player-character, Superman, had to break through a wall and decide whether to spend time repairing it (and losing points) before continuing on his mission. The writers must have forgotten that in the DCH system, super-speed allows you to vibrate through walls, because if Superman does so, he can end the game with a better than perfect score.

  • From BIONICLE:
    • After a rockfall has buried his pal Pohatu, Kopaka gives up on trying to locate him and instead heads for Pohatu's village to report some sad news, only for Pohatu to show up alive — which Kopaka would have noticed, had he thought of using the Mask of X-Ray Vision that's almost constantly on his face.
    • This becomes a recurring trend; once all the masks are collected (twice), the Toa Mata all have twelve different extra powers on top of their elemental abilities to call on at willnote . Outside of some of the online animations, they basically never use these abilities other than that of their original mask, and even then, there's a lot of times where, for instance, Tahu seems to forget to turn on his Mask of Shielding and gets smacked in the face in the middle of a fight.
    • In the 2004-2005 Metru Nui flashback story arc, it's shown that the Dark Hunter Krekka, a Dumb Muscle, can fly but frequently forgets this.
    • Makuta Icarax suffers greatly after being devolved back to his part-organic state, since there's no room in his armor for organs and muscle. Considering Makuta are master shapeshifters, he could have at least tried to fit his armor to his predicament. Makuta in general seem to have a habit of using about three of the forty-two different Rakhshi powers at their disposal; Wordof God states they can only use one of these 42 powers at a time; in addition, they can't use their shapeshifting, dodge, or chameleon powers if they're in a different body (such as a Maxilos robot).

    Video Games 
  • Admit it, you do this if you play enough video games. Think about it. How many times has your character been killed because of an enemy or obstacle you could have gotten past with an item that was in your inventory?
    Yahtzee: [reviewing Mercenaries 2] There's an insidious thought that frequently goes through the minds of gamers [...] that goes, "But I might need it later" — the niggling little doubt that prevents you from using all your most powerful insurance policies in case there's some kind of no-claims bonus at the end of it all. So we have scenarios where you're sitting on a nuclear stockpile to shame North Korea and are throwing peas at a giant robot crab on the off-chance that there might be a bigger giant robot crab just around the corner.
  • In The Binding of Isaac, it's quite easy for the player to forget that they can fly, or shoot through solid rock, or effortlessly take out an entire roomful of enemies every six rooms, or whatever the items they picked up in this particular run let them do, because they're so used to not having them. This carries over to other action roguelikes with activatable items like Enter the Gungeon.
  • Played for Laughs in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night when you meet Todd, a man who has been turned into a murderous demonic barber with cursed scissors that force him to murder people. He explains he needs to give 666 unique haircuts to break the curse and offers to cut Miriam's hair for free, and Miriam naturally explains exactly how stupid it would be of her to sit back and let a murderous demonic barber give her a trim. Todd points out how she's obscenely more powerful than him and that he'd barely get away with giving her a paper cut before she retaliated and obliterated him (and indeed, you've killed at least a dozen of these guys before you meed Todd). Miriam concedes the point and lets him cut her hair.
    Todd: What are you worried about?! You look like you could cut me into a hundred pieces!
    Miriam: Hmm... you're right. I could. Alright.
  • At one point in Chrono Trigger, the characters are disarmed and rendered helpless. Ayla can still fight with her fists, but Robo forgets about his inbuilt lasers, and the rest of the party forgets how to use MAGIC until they're rearmed.
  • Clarence's Big Chance: Clarence in the Worst Ending. His Super Not-Drowning Skills put a wrinkle in his suicide plans.
  • A common problem in Crypt of the NecroDancer. Because you need to move with the beat, it's easy to completely forget that you, say, have food or a spell that can save you in the heat of the moment.
  • Daikatana: "You can't attack me, this is the same sword from two different parts of time and will destroy the universe!" "Damn, if only I had some other weapons on me..."
  • At the very end of Dead Space 3 Isaac and Carver meet the leader of Unitology who is holding Ellie hostage, threatening to kill her. To dissuade him, Carver gives him the MacGuffin, allowing the maniac to free the Eldritch Abomination, potentially dooming humankind. Now, what about using the damn stasis? You know, that power that allows them to almost freeze the target for an easy kill?
  • Dragon Age:
    • Dragon Age: Origins sometimes has the Warden forget their own abilities. For example - Wynne and Morrigan can suggest alternative healing options for Brother Genitivi's injured leg, but a Spirit Healer Warden can't. Likewise in the sequel, Hawke often forgets if s/he is a blood mage and could offer insight on magical problems.
    • At one point in Dragon Age: Inquisition, you need to find a translator for some Dalish murals. If the protagonist is a Dalish Elf, they appear to have forgotten what their own native language is. Word of God is that this was caused by a scripting error.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, one of the biggest complaints about the Heavensward expansion was that if our player was a healer at the time, why didn't they try to heal Haurchefant? Patch 6.2 answered that question by inserting Alphinaud into the cutscene and having him fail to heal Haurchefant, his wound too deep and refusing to heal.
  • Played for Laughs in Fire Emblem: Awakening, in Nah's Paralogue. She gets freaked out by a statue and then runs from a Risen... only to calm down and tell herself, "Wait a minute, this is silly. I can turn into a dragon."
  • During the climax scene of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, Sveta briefly forgets she's an Adept and has to be prompted to use her powers by Tyrell.
  • In the story mode of Injustice 2, after Brainiac is defeated, Superman and Batman argue whether or not to kill him. Superman wants to kill Brainiac because he is too dangerous and he believes he can restore the captured cities himself with Cyborg's help. Batman wants Brainiac alive because he thinks killing him will risk the destruction of more cities, although he neglects to mention how to contain Brainiac. Neither of them mention the possibility of using Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth to force Brainiac to tell them how to take control of the ship and safely release the cities.
  • Kirby:
  • The Legend of Tian-ding has one such moment near the end that overlaps with Cutscene Incompetence - the titular hero is a martial arts expert who can use his sash to ensnare and trap any opponent with ease, an ability he displays throughout the game. He was subjected to a Frame-Up by the villains and must prove his innocence, but his protégé believes him to be one of the Les Collaborateurs and points a gun on him in the final cutscene, after Tian-ding has defeated the Big Bad. Somehow, Tian-ding simply forgot he could restrain his protégé via sash and explain the situation - he must be shot in the last scene, for the game to have a Bittersweet Ending.
  • Life Is Strange: When Max and Chloe confront Frank to get his customer list, Max seems to forget that she can bring items back to the past with her Time Rewind Mechanic power. If she simply grabbed the list, she could promptly rewind time and keep it while preventing the whole encounter from happening in the new timeline. However, Max lets Chloe take the list each time, forcing her to accept the consequences of whatever happens during the confrontation.
  • The Mass Effect series has a bad habit of making Biotic characters forget that they can control gravity with their minds.
    • Commander Shepard acts like the default Soldier class in cutscenes regardless of what biotic or tech skills they have. This leads to instances such as a Vanguard Shepard trying and failing to catch a fleeing enemy on foot, despite having access to a Foe-Tossing Charge that goes faster than light. It took until the final DLC in the trilogy for Shepard to use their biotics in a cutscene.
    • Liaro also runs after an enemy in Lair of the Shadow Broker despite having a Stasis attack that could freeze them in place.
    • Kaidan Alenko falls into the same trap as Shepard despite his biotics and the Training from Hell he endured to master them being such a significant part of his character. He repeatedly attempts to shoot opponents with his (comparatively weak) firearms instead of using his powerful biotic abilities (Seeker swarms in 2, Eva Core in 3). Like Shepard, it takes until the final DLC of the trilogy for Kaidan to use his biotics in a cutscene. Kaidan's case is partially explainable by the fact that he's in a Static Role, Exchangeable Character situation with the non-biotic Ashley Williams from the end of the first game onwards; remembering to use his powers would create too much extra work for the developers and cause their stories to deviate too much.
    • Thane Krios zigzags this in the third game when he fights Kai Leng. He does eventually use his biotics in their duel, but long after it would have been the most opportune to do so.
    • Pathfinder Ryder ends up in the same situation as Shepard before them. Even if the player opts to give Ryder biotics before they become Pathfinder, there is no indication of this in dialogue or cutscenes; Shepard's biotics at least got a few mentions in dialogue even if it didn't show in cutscenes. The prologue and Cora's loyalty mission both involve moments where it would make sense for Ryder to help with biotic barriers, but both times Ryder stands back and lets Cora do everything. There is also no option in dialogue to compare notes with Cora, who spent most of her life as an outsider because of her powers, nor is there any way to talk with Ryder's twin about how the incident that gave them their powers was a contributing factor in their mother's death.
    • Peebee's loyalty mission leads to a Friend-or-Idol Decision where she has to choose between losing an extremely valuable artifact or letting someone she cares for fall into a river of lava. It doesn't occur to Peebee that she could save both by grabbing the artifact with her biotics and then going back to help the person. Like Ryder, Peebee also doesn't help with the barrier in Cora's loyalty mission if she is present, despite having the ability to do so.
  • Max Payne:
    • In 2's Chapter 2, Max will single-handedly clear out an abandoned office building full of cleaners. Then he's forced to leap out a window to avoid an explosion, and the rest of the chapter is spent playing as Mona providing cover fire for Max. He'll get pinned down behind barriers several times over the next several levels and will be helpless until Mona can take out the lone man firing on him.
    • In 3 Max finally tracks down Fabiana as wells as Marcello, both held hostage by multiple gangsters, as he knew they would be throughout his entire investigation. He has the element of surprise, is heavily armed, and he's...well, Max Payne, a dynamite gun fighter who makes Time Itself his bitch when he has to. He walks directly into the room, gets disarmed, captured, and his failure gets both of the siblings murdered in front of him. He even acknowledges that he's kind of a screw-up.
    • Also in 3, there's a portion where you have to take a sniper rifle and guard Passos as he runs from paramilitary thugs. Somehow, Passos forgets that he's a perfectly capable gunman and doesn't bother picking up any of the guns the dead goons drop.
  • Mechwarrior 5: In the intro, the main character and their father are out on patrol when an enemy force attacks. They head into a city, only for a collapsing building to separate them, and eventually the father is forced to make a heroic last stand. The problem is that the father is shown piloting a Victor, a mech sporting Rocket Boots that would have allowed it to clear the rubble with ease.
  • Minecraft: Enforced in fights with Evokers to keep them from being Unwinnable; the Evokers forget about their own Totems of Undying that could have enabled them to cheat death.
  • Monster Hunter: World: In the Iceborne expansion, one of the story missions is defending Seliana from Velkhana's attack. As part of the defense, the hunters raise a large barricade to block Velkhana's path and give the player a chance to weaken it. One problem with that: Velkhana can fly. Despite this, the dragon just sits on the ground and attacks the barricade rather than just flapping its wings a few times to fly above it.
  • In Paper Mario, Jr. Troopa follows Mario from Toad Town to Lavalava Island by swimming, while Mario rides on the back of a whale to get there. Jr. Troopa doesn't reach the island until Mario sets out on a return trip to Toad Town, in which case Jr. Troopa then proceeds to swim all the way back to Toad Town. Once Jr. Troopa returns to Toad Town, he forces Mario to battle him. However, having tired himself out from so much swimming, Jr. Troopa starts the battle with only half of his Heart Points. During the battle, Jr. Troopa shows off his newfound ability to conjure up a set of wings for himself. After being defeated, Jr. Troopa will lament as to why he even bothered with swimming after Mario, when he could've just flown instead.
    • Earlier in the game, a bunch of Bob-ombs, including Bombette, are trapped in a jail cell in Koopa Bros. Fortress that has an easy escape route via a cracked wall that can easily be broken by one of them blowing up. The latter never had that idea come to her, instead blowing up over and over in one place because she was angry. It's not until Mario falls into the jail cell that she blows up the wall to demonstrate what her abilities are, not realizing the escape route until after she creates it.
  • The Lake Guardians in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, while not as strong as Mewtwo, are still psychic Physical Gods with complete control of the human psyche (plus teleportation and high-speed flight). Despite this, they're abducted by Team Galactic with relative ease.
  • In Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Maya never thinks to try channeling any spirits for assistance during the group's stay in Labyrinthia. Granted, she could very easily be accused of witchcraft and executed if she was spotted channeling by the wrong person, so it's probably for the best in this case, but knowing how exciteable Maya gets about helping, it's a wonder she never brought the idea up. Similarly, Phoenix's magatama never comes into play, but it's possible that he just didn't bring it with him, since he never expected to stand in court while in England.
  • A particularly egregious example at the very beginning of Red Faction: Armageddon. The terrorist Adam Hale, who Darius Mason was sent to stop, detonates Mars' terraformer which reduces the surface of Mars to an uninhabitable wasteland. This also indirectly leads to the release of the Plague (and starts the plot). It all happens immediately after the tutorial, where Mason was instructed on how to use his wrist-mounted repair tool. Mason doesn't think to just use it to repair the Terraformer, and his commander doesn't suggest it at all. Neither does the AI living in the repair tool itself. At the very end of the game, your wrist-mounted AI friend tells you that you can go up and repair the terraformer, which would conveniently kill off the Plague as well. No reason is given as to why Mason couldn't have done that at the very beginning.
  • Silver Surfer in the game of the same name for NES. The guy obviously forgets that he has cosmic powers, and tries to attack the bad guys normally, and is a One-Hit-Point Wonder. The result is legendary even among the Nintendo Hard games of the era. It's almost Bullet Hell with none of that genre's saving graces.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • How many times can Spyro the Dragon forget he can breathe flames at the start of a new game in his series?
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic:
  • Tales of Destiny 2: Karell Berselius gets impaled fighting Miktran and dies of his wounds after a prolonged death speech when TWO healers were standing right in front of him, apparently helpless to act. Harold does have the excuse of being warned her brother had to die to preserve history, but Atwight does not.
  • Tales of Symphonia: Colette gets Angel wings and the ability to fly with it after the first Seal pretty close to the beginning of the game. Most of the game's puzzles involve getting around various obstacles to press switches and grab items and such when Colette could easily fly over those obstacles. Guess how many times Colette could have solved the puzzles herself in a fraction of the time and actually does. If you guessed 0 then you guessed correctly. Colette only ever uses her wings in battle or in cutscenes, and the one time she does use it to obtain a needed item is when it literally can't be obtained any other way.
  • Ultraverse Prime have a level in a volcanic cavern where The Ground Is Lava, that will incinerate you if you fall. Problem is, your character is a Flying Brick superhero, and in fact there are two levels showing you with the ability of flight, yet the game never addresses why you somehow forgot your flying powers in that one level.
  • Several classes in World of Warcraft have an innate ability to teleport themselves. A naked mage with no items can still transport themselves to any major city at will. However, if the plot calls for them to be imprisoned then they will politely stand there and wait for rescue. Hearthstones cause this problem on an even more general level since they are small stones that transport the bearer to safety from anywhere. These are not a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation since NPCs occasionally make use of them as well, so anyone that is not actively being attacked should have a means of escape.
  • In Xenogears, there are several occasions where gears are shown as being capable of flight. Not just short bursts either, but for prolonged periods. It would have really been helpful if anyone in your party remembered that prior to the vertical platforming in the Tower of Babel.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night:
    • It's not entirely Lancer's fault considering he's been ordered not to just kill everyone (and he actually likes having to put effort into a fight rather than just winning), but he almost never uses his Noble Phantasm to kill someone — the only time he kills someone (Shirou in the intro, himself and Kotomine in UBW) is when he's doing regular stabbing. Just as well though, considering when he does use it, the enemies pull out their own abilities to survive it.
    • Gilgamesh is the king of this trope, but it's justified due to his massive pride: He just never considers anyone 'worthy' of going all out on from the start, and by the time he realizes maybe he should, he's already a foot in the grave.
  • In Hatoful Boyfriend, main character Hiyoko Tosaka is repeatedly shown to physically outclass almost every single character, being an absurdly strong and physically fit human surrounded by civilised birds. There are multiple occasions where she's shown to be capable of picking up and even throwing her schoolmates simply by advantage of size. But this doesn't help for some reason in Shuu's route, in which a severely physically disabled partridge manages to overpower her and cut her head off without being injured in the process, supposedly because she's paralysed by fear (of a person several times smaller, lighter and weaker than she is). Yes, that's right, Hiyoko manages to forget what species she is. "Just throw him out the fucking window!" is practically a meme amongst Hatoful Boyfriend fans because of how obvious it is as a solution.
  • As a plot point in Kagetsu Tohya, Shiki doesn't remember that he has the ability to cut or destroy almost anything just by taking his glasses off and poking it with an ordinary knife. It turns out this information is being kept from him and remembering them is required to progress the plot along. He then does forget about it in the final battle, even mentioning that he legitimately forgot he can take off his glasses and kill anything.
  • In Riddle Joker, Ayase's Astral ability allows her to make objects attract or repel one another, and she utilizes it more than once for the benefit of the group, but it's rare for her to bust it out when she's in danger. This is because she actually isn't an Astral but uses a Kikka Academy-developed drug to temporarily imbue her with the power beforehand if she knows she'll need it. She poses as an Astral so anti-Astral groups will see her as a juicy target without being able to use her for anything should they capture her.

    Web Comics 
  • If anyone in Axe Cop remembered to use the Reality Warper powers granted by a unicorn horn (or ask Uni-Man to do it) to solve their problems, instead of for things like "wishing for every weapon", there would be no challenge at all for the good guys. Any random guy holding a unicorn horn to their head can instantly create a whole planet at will. In addition, Axe Cop himself is functionally a Badass Normal because while he sometimes gets New Powers as the Plot Demands, some of which are powerful indeed, he generally never uses them again. Though since the comic is written by a small child, it's not really surprising.
  • Darths & Droids: Jim, who is a ditz of the highest order, forgets what abilities his characters have (or sometimes don't have) with some regularity. During his fight with Darth Maul, Sally as Jar-Jar has to remind him he can just use the Force to escape.
  • Done several times in The Order of the Stick, and usually played for laughs as a parody on the above D&D entry.
    • For example, one early comic has a goblin get more and more damaged as Durkon remembers the various bonuses he is able to add to his attack.
    • Additionally, V has a raven familiar (Blackwing) who would literally appear and disappear as V demands (and usually only upon reminder from other characters) as a riff on the way that many D&D players would forget about their familiar (or simply not mention them) unless they were getting a concrete bonus.
    • In a retroactive case, while falling to his death Roy desperately tries to save himself, and is shown having two potions (shillelagh oil and delay poison) he had completely forgotten about. Those two potions were the exact ones that could have helped in a previous situation, to save Elan from poisoning and turn a broom handle into a decent weapon. Meaning that the whole arc where Roy had to use a Belt of Gender Changing could have been avoided if not for this trope.
    • Being The Ditz, Elan had a major tendency to forget his spellcasting in early arcs, such that you could probably list the number of times he casts a spell in the first two hundred or so comics on one hand. His status as something of an Inept Mage further contributes to this. It actually ends up being a plot point in one comic, where, after a long siege where the other two casters of the party are completely out of juice, Elan turns out to have only cast one spell in the entire battle.
  • In El Goonish Shive, during the Death Sentence arc, Grace convinced Mr. Raven that she would be able to fly out of the boar's way if it turned violent. When it actually does start charging at her, she panics, tries to run, and trips, forcing Raven to shoot it. She later chides herself for her failing.
    • Lampshaded in the side story Parable. When a cutscene begins, Susan finds herself charging the enemy head-on without using her magic, and then shrunk with a shrink potion without using her antidote. Rhoda then proceeds to also forget about Susan's many shrink potion antidotes, and prioritizes helping her over catching the last villain. Susan, of course, is highly annoyed with all of this, but has no choice in the matter since it's a cutscene. She then proceeds to try to break the plot for the rest of the storyline, thus preventing cutscenes from occurring again.
  • Experience Boost: Shortly after xMurderBanex's Big Damn Heroes moment, Zhusen sincerely thanks Murd for his Heroic Sacrifice and goes to rejoin the battle...only for her to remember she has the Pull of Mercy ability, and could have yanked him to safety before he died. Whoops.

    Web Original 
  • In Enter the Farside it's averted and justified with the main protagonist Shaun Larson. Shaun has never had an opportunity to use his powers in his day to day life, because he simply has never needed to. After some training, Shaun is beginning to understand what else he can be capable of.

    Web Videos 
  • In the Akame Ga Kill abridged series made by "The Schmuck Squad", Tatsumi, seeking to get away from his unwanted girlfriend of terror, Esdeath, finally decides to use the Imperial Arm ability that Bulat gives upon his death to Tatsumi, deeming him worthy of it. Tatsumi even mentions this in his thoughts after dispatching the Christmas-empowered trees he and Wave were sent out to kill, Tatsumi escapes afterwards using said Imperial Arm's effects.
    Tatsumi: Totally forgot I had an Imperial Arm, very useful.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged lampshades this whenever possible, given how many times the source material did it.
    • When Piccolo stretches his arms to attack an enemy...
      Nail: Whoa! I didn't know we could do that!
      Piccolo: Yeah, I forget about it sometimes too.
    • And further lampshaded in Super Android 13 Abridged. When Goku and Trunks see Vegeta transform into a Super Saiyan, they only just remember that they can do it too and follow suit. Gohan and Krillin have this brief exchange.
      Gohan: Uh, why did it take so long for them to [go Super Saiyan]?
      Krillin: You know, I stopped asking that question a long time ago.
    • And then there's all the times Krillin keeps forgetting about or forgetting to use his Kienzan (or "Destructo Disc"). First, he forgets to use it to try and escape Dodoria.
      Krillin: Well, good thing I was there to get us out of that one!
      Gohan: Well yeah, but why didn't you use your Kienzan?
    • It happens again after Krillin escaped 2nd Form Freeza:
      Krillin: (explaining) ... So I thought fast and used the Solar Flare on him!
      Gohan: And then you used your Kienzan to cut him in half?
      Krillin: Umm...
      (suddenly, Freeza flies back at the gang, furious)
      Krillin: To answer your question Gohan... No. I did not do that.
    • This happens yet a THIRD time when Freeza is transforming into his Final Form. However, if he is telling the truth, he is partially justified here.
      Gohan: (Freeza screaming in the background) Krillin, why aren't you using your Kienzan?
      Krillin: You know, I keep forgetting to do that.
      Gohan: ...And?
      Krillin: Well, I kind of used all my energy to mortally wound Vegeta.
      Gohan: Seriously, what did I miss?
    • Double-subverted the one time Krillin DOES manage to remember he has this ability, which is when it is completely useless. When Cell has just achieved perfection, Krillin slings a Kienzan right into Cell's neck, but it does nothing. However, his reaction is priceless.
    • When Tien is about to be finished off by Semi-Perfect Cell:
      Gohan: No! We can't just let him die like this! [to Goku] You gotta save him!
      Goku: But I can't get him in time! There's no way I could move fast enough to grab him, get out, and— (pauses for a moment, then disappears with a pop as he uses Instant Transmission)
      Gohan: ...Did he just remember he can do that?
      Mr. Popo: Your father's an idiot.
    • Shenron in particular loves to get angry at people whenever they call on him and use his powers as a nearly omnipotent wish-granting dragon inefficiently. For instance, he is rather annoyed when Dr. Kochin wishes for Shenron to melt some ice, instead of wishing for, say, fire powers to melt the ice (Kochin responds that he doesn't want to have to do it; that's what Shenron is for). He also explicitly points out to the protagonists that while he can't kill the Saiyans directly, they require ships that he could destroy, disable, or redirect en route to Earth with no effort. Naturally, they ignore him.
  • Oxventure D&D series:
    • Paladin Egbert reveals that, ever since Story 12, he had the ability to teleport up to 30 feet away. This is revealed in Story 35. Literally everyone, including the DM, mentally breaks upon receiving this information.
      Johnny: We could make our own spin-off revisiting all of the times the show could've gone differently if we knew Egbert could teleport.
    • This is by no means Egbert's only example. In an "Court in the Act", Egbert volunteers himself as a defense attorney for Dob and Corazon. Corazon knows that as a paladin, Egbert's skill Zone of Truth would be endlessly useful in cross-examinations, and repeatedly hints that Egbert should use it. Egbert completely misses the clue.
    • In "Sail of the Century", Egbert would also reveal that he can perform Moonbeam, which until that point had long been considered a signature ability of Merilwen. The DM has also forgotten that Egbert could do this. Merilwen herself would later find out at the beginning of "Brine and Punishment."
    • At the end of "Brine and Punishment", Egbert suddenly remembers and casually reveals that he can also perform Speak with Animals, another one of Merilwen's signature abilities, which infuriates Merilwen to the point of speechlessness.
    • During the "Freaky Friday" Flip episode "A Fête Worse Than Death", Andy goes so far as to read through all of Egbert's abilities and make a point of using ones that Mike keeps forgetting Egbert can do, including turn the faithless and one that creates a protective ward around a party member, neither of which Mike had actually deployed before.
      Andy: (holding up a spell card) He has literally never mentioned this one. I can think of like five times that would have come in handy.
    • In "Wedded Redemption", the group is interrogating a sommelier. Egbert tries to intimidate him by hitting him with his mace. With this, Mike proves he can also forget about how Egbert's mace has a 1 in 6 chance to turn an enemy into a random animal, when the sommelier turns into a piercer. This is despite the fact that Seal Gaiman, his prop seal that Mike brought out the last time he turned someone into an animal, is right in front of him. Of course, Andy is also tells Egbert to use Zone of Truth to interrogate the sommelier.
    • In a comparatively rare non-Egbert example, Jane generally remembers Prudence's warlock powers fairly well, but often forgets that as a tiefling she has innate access to a rather nasty counterattack ability called hellish rebuke.
  • In Pooh's Adventures, if Pooh has anyone with superpowers, expect them to forget about those when the time is right.

    Western Animation 
  • Jake the Dog from Adventure Time often forgets that he has the seemingly unlimited ability to grow, shrink, stretch, and otherwise change his shape. Which would solve the central conflict of many episodes very easily. Unlike most examples of this trope, this is justified: he is an idiot. Jake provides an alternative justification in "Box Prince", where he explains to BMO that he doesn't always use stretching when it could solve his problems because then he wouldn't have enough challenges in his life for it to be interesting.
  • The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle: After running up an Absurdly Long Stairway to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower, an exhausted Bullwinkle reminds Rocky that he can fly.
  • In The Ant and the Aardvark, the Aardvark, whose snout resembles a vacuum cleaner's hose, always tries to eat the Ant by inhaling. However, when the Ant is about to be consumed, he thwarts the Aardvark in various ways. Presumably, the Aardvark has a long, sticky tongue, like real aardvarks, but it doesn't occur to him to simply use it to lick up the Ant.
  • On Archer, Ray Gilette acquires bionic legs early in the fourth season, and on at least one occasion, forgets that he has them when they might come in handy. At one point, this leads to him screwing up his back while trying to lift something heavy, because he had tried to lift with his back.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Toph Beifong, despite having highly toned senses through Earthbending, can't figure out that the group is walking into a trap at Lake Laogai or that it's actually Azula and not Ozai waiting for them in "The Day of Black Sun", despite both the trap and Azula being in caves made mostly of rock and dirt. Admittedly there are Earthbenders — who have a similar sense — in both traps, so they might know of a way to mask themselves.
      • One episode has Toph create a set of rocky armor for herself that covers every part of her except her eyes — ignoring that her blindness and inherent Disability Superpower should make eyeholes somewhere between pointless and dangerous. The creators apparently intended it to expose her mouth instead, but a mixup with the animation team led to a pretty baffling visual.
    • The sequel series, The Legend of Korra, has Mako, who is fully capable of lightning bending but only rarely actually uses that ability.
    • You could be forgiven for forgetting that metalbending is a specialized version of earthbending, because the metal bending police force certainly has. They seem so entirely focused on using their metal tethers that they are completely useless against a threat they cannot physically restrain. Resulting in scenes in the first season where a dozen or so expert earth benders are being defeated by mechs because they forget they have better powers in their arsenal than simply wrapping metal ropes around it and hoping their fleshy human bodies are enough to stop it. (The fourth season lays some foundation for this, suggesting there's been so much effort and research put into making metalbending training accessible and streamlined that it could be taught in lieu of normal earthbending, and the police is equipped with the most responsive metals, implying some of the police are more a case of Crippling Overspecialization instead of earthbenders so expert they can metalbend. Which makes some economic sense.)
  • The Bat Suit in Batman Beyond has rocket propulsors in the boots for flight and optic camouflage for invisibility, but Terry often forgets about them and uses these abilities much less than he ought to. Many is the time in the heat of battle he'll run after a foe when the flight would be much faster, and many is the time he'll attempt to sneak into an area without turning invisible. In his defense he is fairly new at the job, and gets better at using the Bat Suit's functions as the series goes on. One non-canon ad made by Cartoon Network during the show's initial air time made a joke of this by explaining that the camouflage mode is very draining on the suit's batteries.
  • Beast Wars:
    • Waspinator, the resident Load and Butt-Monkey of the Predacons, tends to only ever use the basic arrow-like missile his gun can fire, despite being equipped with a much more effective machine gun and the same kind of eye-lasers that Dinobot uses. In fact, he never once uses the eye lasers in combat. Justified, though, as Waspinator's missing quite a few screws in his head.
    • The Maximals beat the Predacons to the first Stasis Pod and recruit Tigertron to their team by sending a long-range line-of-sight laser transmission from the base, bouncing it off the moon, and to the pod to give the protoform inside the information it needs to scan for a beast mode and emerge as a Maximal. Despite being incredibly effective they never so much as even mention or consider this tactic again, and while it's possible the tactic wouldn't have been effective all those other times you'd think one of them would at least try it as they have nothing to lose anyways, or suggest it, or really anything.
  • Ben 10:
    • Ben Tennyson starts out with 10 possible alien forms, each one with their own powers, and only got more as the story went on. Sometimes, the trope is justified by the Omnitrix screwing with him by not giving him the right form, but others he just seems to fail to realize one form would be more fitting than another for a specific situation. Ben 10: Omniverse puts it further, where he seemed to have forgotten he can just watch the dial to see what form he is about to use.
      • It used to be that once Ben transformed, he was stuck that way until the Omnitrix timed out. As the series progressed, he gained the ability to change directly from one form to another, or to manually revert back to human and select a different alien (as the cooldown time is typically ignored when it's not necessary to the plot). Yet he will still often change into an alien he doesn't want and just ride it out rather than reselect. While this could be chalked up to the Omnitrix's temperamental nature preventing him from switching, Word of God says there are no such problems with the model he has in Omniverse.
      • Humongousaur stands out as a particular offender. When first introduced, he was a Sizeshifter capable of growing to incredible sizes. This ability apparently was forgotten after Vengeance of Vilgax. This may have been to keep the character from having too much role overlap with Way Big.
    • This trope wasn't limited to Ben, either. Gwen had a serious tendency to forget she could fly and had telekinesis in Alien Force and Omniverse, focusing more on just creating shields and energy blasts. In Omniverse, when she gains the Charm of Bezel granting her telekinesis, she reacts in awe like if this was something completely new, even though at this point she has already shown several times she can easily do that of her own.
      • A particularly ridiculous case in the Galactic Monster story arc of Omniverse. Zs'Skayr gets several occasions where he could easily possess Ben and doesn't bother even trying, even though this was the whole point of his goal in all his previous appearance, and, when his mind-controlled minions seize him, struggles using his scythe to get out of their graps even though he has the ability to turn intangible. Later, the climax ends up being a fight between Ghostfreak's minions and Ben's allies, where two characters involved have Super-Scream abilities, one has Shock and Awe and another has a whole body made of Combat Tentacles. They spend the entire fight brawling like regular humans.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Lampshaded in "The Predator"; when Ma-Ti tells her about being followed by a humongous shark, Gi asks why he didn't just use his ring to make it leave if its presence bothered him. He admits to being too scared to think straight.
  • No matter how many missions the characters in Code Lyoko go on, they always seem to forget that, first and foremost, while on Lyoko one cannot die from lasers and swords, they can only be devirtualized. They will also forget their most important abilities at the worst times.
    • For example, Aelita could use her Creativity power to create terrain barriers around herself, but even in dangerous situations where she has enough time, she quite often forgets that she can do this. She is the most obvious offender, but the others are often guilty as well. Aelita also forgets that XANA will NOT kill her starting with Season 2, despite this being proven in the first third of the season. The "dying" thing is somewhat justified though. While they do just devirtualize, it's implied they can't go right back into Lyoko. It's also implied that Aelita using her powers too often or to make something really big exhausts her. It's not so much that she forgets her power, it's that using Creativity is Cast from Hit Points and each use costs 50 of her 100 points. Though this is more an Informed Flaw than anything else.
    • Ulrich is a much worst offender. When he was first introduced, his Triplicata allowed him to summon two illusion of himself to trick the enemy. In season 2, it was upgraded so they could fight and hurt enemies of their own, with Ulrich once defeating an entire army of monsters thanks to it. Comes season 4, he forgets the upgrade when fighting William (who easily devirtualizes the real one) before forgetting the power altogether for the whole season. He doesn't uses it again until Code Lyoko: Evolution, and when he does, it's portrayed as just the illusion trick.
  • There are too many times to count in Danny Phantom where Danny seemingly forgets that he has the ability to become invisible or intangible at will. Early on it made sense due to it being clear he was still getting used to his abilities, and sometimes it was played for humor, but he would still sometimes forget even in the later episodes.
  • In one episode of Darkwing Duck, Negaduck uses a device to steal the powers from the other four members of the Fearsome Five, and then escapes from the presumed escape-proof super-villain prison by using the Liquidator's control of water to part the waters of the bay and walk to the mainland. As Darkwing and the four villains watch, the Liquidator remarks, "Now why didn't I think of that?"
  • Dexter's Laboratory: Dexter often winds up feeling some karmic justice when he involves himself directly in things he could probably just invent his way around (for instance trying to find out what Dee Dee was doing up in the tree; rather than building some kind of spybot that could go up into the tree on his behalf he instead dresses up as a bird and gets himself trapped, giving Dee Dee the pretense necessary to screw around in his lab).
  • This seems to be a staple of Drawn Together, especially with Captain Hero, who takes this to The Ditz levels. More often than not though, he is just sociopathic. Lampshaded at the start of the second season, when he says that he could have saved the rest of the cast from the crashing helicopter, but he was unable to react, "because (he) smoke(s) mariujana."
  • Once lampshaded hilariously in an episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy. Eddy's response to taking the simple solution?
    "What? And ruin the plot?"
  • To move the plot of a typical episode of The Fairly OddParents!, either Cosmo and Wanda's magical wands are stolen, or more commonly Timmy has to stupidly forget that he is able to alter reality on a whim. Naturally this has been lampshaded quite a few times.
    • For example, in the episode "Where's Wanda", Timmy proceeds to turn the world into Film Noir and become a detective in order to track Wanda down... when he could have easily just wished her back. He notes, "All I had was my trenchcoat, hat, and an unlimited supply of magical wishes. The odds were against me."
    • Also lampshaded in "Nectar of the Odds": Timmy unsuccessfully tries to make his lemonade taste better using cheese, taco sauce, peas, and chocolate laxatives. While Timmy goes to the bathroom (after trying the laxatives), Wanda wonders why he doesn't just wish for sweeter lemonade.
    • "Father Time" is probably the most egregious example. If Timmy had simply wished for his father's trophy to be unmelted by heat vision, the episode's plot could've been resolved in five seconds. Although, to be fair, he WAS going to wish for that, but Cosmo talked him into going back in time to prevent his father from winning the trophy in the first place.
    • Sometimes used as a recurring Brick Joke with Timmy's heat vision. He never wished it away, so he technically still has it. In at least one episode, he remembers that he actually still has the power of heat vision and uses it.
  • The Fantastic Four had Magneto unable to use his magnetic powers against a (fake wooden) gun. He suddenly concludes that his powers are gone. This is stupid enough itself, but he fails to use them even after being told it was a trick and the cops are arresting him. Cops with real guns, handcuffs and police cars.
  • Fantastic Voyage:
    • The team members have small Comm Links that they sometimes use to communicate with each other when separated. However, in a number of episodes they completely forget about them and don't use them even though it would be beneficial to do so.
    • The Voyager (the Cool Plane the team travels around in) is shown in various episodes as having both missiles and beam weapons. In many episodes the team doesn't even think of using them in dangerous situations even though they would have been very helpful.
    • The team's equipment includes Jet Packs that allow them to fly. However, in quite a few episodes the team forgets they have them and ends up having to walk around or climb high objects while miniaturized, even though the Jet Packs were available.
  • Inverted in an episode of Freakazoid!, where Freakazoid spends about 10 seconds trying to fly until his girlfriend reminds him that flying isn't one of his powers.
  • In the two-part episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002) episode where the Snake Men are freed, the villains retake Snake Mountain in all of five minutes, with Snake-Face using his powers to turn Skeletor's henchmen into stone with his gaze. However, when the Snake Men storm Greyskull later, Snake-Face, for some unfathomable reason, delays using this lethal ability until he goes up against He-Man, choosing to fight Mekanek with Good Old Fisticuffs. Say what? To drive home the point on how absurd this was, the comic book adaptation changed it, and he did use his gaze on Mek; fortunately, in this case, when his gaze was reflected back on him by He-Man and he got a taste of his own medicine, the effect on his victims wore off.
  • In The Hollow, Reeve forgets about his telekinesis powers constantly once he teams up with the heroes, seemingly because he could have ended the season as early as episode 4 if he didn't. It's particularly egregious in the final episode as nothing was stopping him from just lifting their opponent's car off the ground to stop it in its tracks, or make it crash, or hurl the drivers from it, or fill it with sand, or make them spin out, or pull their wheels off, or take control of the car, or or pluck the bazooka from them...
  • Inspector Gadget:
    • When Gadget is falling, he normally says "Go-go-Gadgetbrella!" to break his fall. However, the Gadgetbrella often turns inside out and thus doesn't work. In the episode "Do Unto Udders", it's revealed that he also has a "Gadget Parachute"; he should use this more often.
    • In the episode "Arabian Nights", while Gadget is driving through the desert of the fictional country Yetzanistan, Dr. Claw makes the tires of the Gadgetmobile become punctured, and Gadget walks through the desert. It doesn't occur to him to say, "Go-go-Gadget Copter!", which would get him to the palace much faster. After getting to the right altitude with his Gadget Copter, Gadget could use his Gadget Binoculars to look for the palace.
  • Justice League:
    • While this was a regular occurrence for characters, the Martian Manhunter is the king of this trope. He has the ability to transform into whatever Super Strong forms he can imagine — an ability he uses three times in the entire series. He'll stare at incoming projectiles with a surprised look on his face instead of turning intangible, or super solid or transforming into a form that cannot be so easily hit. Many is the time he'll forget he's capable of flight, super speed, superhuman strength, telepathy, Voluntary Shapeshifting, phasing through matter, changing his density (allowing him to increase his strength to Superman levels or become a liquid or gas), healing factor, and genius-level intellect and take a hit he could have easily dodged or blocked from a foe who really should have been no match for him. In the season finale, Brainiac is holding everyone in an iron grip with tentacles. They struggle for an unreasonable time before J'onn remembers that he can turn intangible at will. In the Silver Age comics, he had even more powers, with new ones popping up all the time. Somehow, he just never used them with the slightest tactical sense. On the other hand, with powers ranging from Super-Strength to making ice cream with your mind, it's hard to create conflict.
    • Superman never, ever remembers he has super speed, period. The many, many instances where Superman would be felled by an electrical field, despite the fact that he is supposed to be invulnerable. This got to be so bad that in the second season the writers actually started to show less of Superman getting taken out by an electrical shock or something along those lines, and more of his invulnerable side. There's also the many times when he and Supergirl could easily solve a problem by just using heat vision. Even when their opponent is non-living they seem to forget that they're capable of this. Also, he almost never flew in combat throughout most of the first season, meaning he would often just get into fistfights with people equally strong or stronger than him who couldn't fly, when he could easily just float above them dropping stuff on them or swooping down to punch them and rising back up as they shake their fists impotently up at him.
    • In one episode, Flash has most of his body encased in ice by a villain. Too bad he was too distracted trading barbs with the villain to remember he could vibrate his limbs at super speed and would be able to melt the ice.
  • Kim Possible. In the episode "Blush", the "Wade-bot" launches itself off a cliff in the Amazon with Ron and Rufus, however Wade only remembers after the leap that he forgot to install the parachute. Just a few minutes earlier in the same episode, the Wade-bot had a hang-glider attachment to save Ron and Rufus from plummeting down a waterfall, and conveniently forgets about this gizmo once its could be useful again.
  • King of the Hill: A downplayed, mundane example: the series spends a whole lot of time not telling the audience about what Boomhauer's job is, until the very last episode casually mentions that Boomhauer is a member of the Texas Rangers. An absurd amount of plots involving the citizens of Rainey Street breaking the law (accidentally or otherwise) would have been prevented (or at least downplayed) if Boomhauer had reminded them that he's an officer of the law.
  • Thanks to Fanderson's Chris Bentley for this one - let's take a look at "The Legend" from Gerry Anderson's Lavender Castle, about a spaceship whose crew is searching for the titular pink-ish abode. If you are a spaceship captain and know where the castle can be seen at a specific time, do you a) have your ship fly directly to that location and wait, or b) have them set you down and walk miles to it? If you said a), you are not Captain Thrice. No wonder Anderson didn't care much for the series.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • When's the last time Daffy Duck flew under his own power, besides in "Daffy's Southern Exposure" (in which he flies like a hummingbird) and "Daffy Flies North"? This was lampshaded in the short "The Million Hare", as Bugs Bunny witnesses Daffy plunging off a cliff, which was recycled so John Madden could make the same observation in "Big Game XXIX".
      Bugs: I wonder if Daffy will remember that he can fly.
      [Daffy crashes]
      Bugs: Nope, I guess not.
      Madden: That's a good observation by Bugs. Why isn't Daffy using his God-given abilities?
    • Similarly, in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Daffy feels he's helpless and wishes that Duck Dodgers were there to save the day. Then he remembers that he's Duck Dodgers.
    • And the flying thing gets lampshaded again in the Duck Dodgers episode "The Green Loontern". With the power of a Green Lantern ring, Dodgers makes a speech about how he now has the ability to fly, which his ancestors could only dream of... while a flock of ducks passes behind him.
    • And to prove Tropes Are Not Bad, Daffy's flying and swimming, or lack thereof, provides one of the honestly funniest jokes The Looney Tunes Show has to offer:
      Daffy: What? I can't fly!
      Porky: But you're a duck!
      Daffy: I'm not that kind of duck!
      Porky: We have to jump!
      Daffy: But I can't swim!
      Porky: You can't fly, You can't swim! Are you even a duck at all?!
      Daffy: I'm not sure. This comes off very easily. [takes off his beak]
  • In The Mighty Hercules cartoon series of the 1960s, Hercules had a magic ring that would endow him "with the strength of ten ordinary men" (according to his theme song). Along with invulnerability and superhuman reflexes. In each episode, Hercules would go to fight the episode's monster and get the snot beaten out of him, and only then he would remember he has the ring.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Twilight Sparkle is an extremely gifted and versatile magician but constantly seemingly forgets spells she's used in the past without any trouble that certainly seem applicable. Why she doesn't just just freeze up an enemy's body like she did to her friends in "Castle Mane-ia" or turn them into a breezie is anyone's guess.
      • In the episode "Feeling Pinkie Keen", Twilight Sparkle is forced to take a leap of faith off a cliff to escape a Hydra when she mysteriously forgets she can teleport, as has been seen in at least two previous episodes, including the pilot. This happens anytime the plot requires her to be threatened by some impending doom. It is occasionally justified by her being under a great deal or stress at the time, such as a later example where she is blocked by a simple locked gate. While she can still teleport while under stress (indeed, she does it a lot in one case), her ability to make sound judgments has a tendency to nosedive under certain circumstances, usually those that involve her losing control or worrying too much.
      • In "The Return of Harmony", Twilight was able to cast Anti-Magic spells powerful enough to even briefly negate Discord's magic. Given all the dangerous magics and magic-using villain throughout the series it's inexplicable she hasn't even tried using these since.
      • More a case of Forgot About Her Reputation, but in "It's About Time", it never occurred to Twilight that, as the personal student of the ruler of Equestria, that she would have free access to the royal library. Instead, she tries to sneak in. Of course, Twilight is the only one who forgets this, and when she is recognized by a guard, he amiably greets her and unlocks the door to the restricted section of the library for her. As noted above, this one can be excused by the fact that she hasn't slept for several days and is deep into a nervous breakdown at this point. Paranoid delusions would not be surprising in that state.
      • In "The Crystal Empire, part 2", Twilight and Spike need to climb an incredibly long stair-case, and was complaining about it. Just as the viewers are wondering why she doesn't teleport, or at least levitate herself upwards, she decides to instead use a new power; gravity reversal!
    • In "Putting Your Hoof Down", Fluttershy once again forgets that she can fly, getting stuck behind two ponies blocking the bridge over the river she needs to cross.
      • Parodied in "Wonderbolts Academy" when Fluttershy, the one pegasus from the hot air balloon, needs to be rescued from the fall along with her friends. Cue her sheepishly fluttering away from her rescuer who is also annoyed when they notice her wings. This is consistent with past demonstrations that her wings lock when she's sufficiently scared, in a strange inversion of what seems to be a normal pegasus reaction of raised wings.
    • The entire plot of "Spike at Your Service" only happens because Spike the fire-breathing dragon doesn't breathe fire on the monsters that are made of wood and smell of sulfur.
    • In "Bats!", both Rarity and Twilight should have been able to yank Flutterbat out of the sky with telekinesis rather than chasing her around and finally relying on an elaborate trap. Of course, they never do. What makes it even worse is that they are clearly shown using telekinesis other times in the very same episode.
    • In "Rarity takes Manehattan", Twilight doesn't even try using her princess authority to help Rarity get a taxi. Or teleport her around. Rainbow Dash doesn't try to fly her, or Applejack pull her in a cart....
    • Even Discord, Equestria's World's Strongest Man, tends to just be a deer-in-headlights whenever caught off guard. Though he does try to avert this at the end of "Three's a Crowd" (in a Freeze-Frame Bonus, he tries to Badass Fingersnap the Tatzlwurm away; but it sneezes on him before he can).
    • At the beginning of "Stranger Than Fan Fiction", Daring Do seemingly forgets she can fly, reacting fearfully when the rickety Rope Bridge she is crossing starts breaking. Of course, as soon as it collapses, she just flies the rest of the way. This is later lampshaded with Rainbow Dash in the same episode (unfortunately, Quibble Pants can't fly).
    • At the end of "To Where and Back Again", Queen Chrysalis is defeated and slowly flies away over the horizon as literally every main character just stands by and watches. Despite Twilight Sparkle, Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, and Princess Cadance having telekinesis and other spells to trap her with, Shining Armor being able to cast shields, several of the characters being able to fly and thus pursue her, and Discord having a whole arsenal of Reality Warper powers that could easily stop/trap her, it doesn't seem to occur to any of them to stop her in any way.
    • Apparently, Twilight and Rarity forgets about their unicorn magic in "Gauntlet of Fire", as they do nothing of the kind when being cornered by Garble after their disguise is revealed.
    • In "The Beginning of the End", King Sombra becomes a villainous example: when Discord intervenes, Sombra keeps firing basic beams at him... and doesn't seem to remember he (Sombra) can summon Anti-Magic (a recurring Achilles' Heel for Discord) crystals, which have managed to Nullify Alicorns (semi-Discord) and even overwhelm the Tree of Harmony (stronger than Discord note  ). Twilight and Rarity also don't even bother to catch the Elements with their unicorn magic when Sombra destroys the Tree of Harmony.
    • In the Grand Finale, the villain trio of Queen Chrysalis, Lord Tirek, and Cozy Glow is talked down by Twilight and defeated with a rainbow blast with assistance from everyone in Equestria, and they don't even bother to use Grogar's bell against her during her speech and when she unleashes the beam.
  • The Owl House: On two different occasions ("Elsewhere and Elsewhen" and "Reaching Out" respectively), Eda Clawthorne and Luz Noceda find themselves in situations where their problems could easily be solved by spells they know, but they instead try to use less effective mundane methods to deal with them. Justified in both cases as they were suffering from a great deal of stress due to their respective pasts with their fathers.
  • Parodied on The Powerpuff Girls (1998) when the townspeople chase Buttercup. She starts running from them before reassessing the situation and flying away. Similarly when Mojo drops the Girls in a trap door along with Harry Pit, a boy who is thought to have cooties. The Girls simply run around in circles to avoid him completely forgetting that they can just fly out of the trap, which they only remember after they get over their fear.
    • Played painfully straight in the very first episode of the 2016 series: the earth shatters and the girls fall down into the resulting chasm. Once again, the Powerpuff Girls, who can not only fly, but fly fast enough to rupture space-time, fall into a pit.
  • In one episode of Samurai Jack, Aku has Jack pinned and in possession of his katana. With his enemy helpless, he brings down the blade against his chest. Jack even mutters an apology for his failure. Then, the sword hits... and does no damage. Aku is completely confused before Jack can break free and reclaim the sword, remembering that, as the sword was forged through purity and strength, it can't harm innocents, which Jack certainly is.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series:
    • In one episode, Doctor Octopus kidnaps Felicia Hardy and J. Jonah Jameson and holds them for ransom. Despite Super-Strength explicitly being one of his powers, Spider-Man tries to untie the ropes instead of just breaking them, giving Doc Ock time to step in and stop him.
    • The same thing happens in the "Partners" storyline. Smythe has Black Cat Bound and Gagged in an electrified bubble, with the gag obviously preventing her from warning Spider-Man about the trap. She doesn't think to use her razor sharp claws to remove the ropes and gag until after the trap has already rendered Spidey unconscious.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Apparently, in "The Splinter", SpongeBob forgot about his ability to pull off his body parts and regrow them (something real sea sponges do), as he does nothing of the sort when he gets a splinter in his thumb.
  • In the season finale of Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Star Butterfly calls the police when Marco gets kidnapped by her enemies, but the officer who comes doesn't believe her story and thinks she's just a little girl playing pretend, talks down to her, and leaves. A frustrated Star just lets him leave and decides to rescue Marco herself. It never occurs to her to demonstrate her powers to him.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars. All too often the Jedi Knights seem to forget that they have the ability to lift anything as heavy as a spaceship without touching it, jump high distances, and possess lightning-quick reflexes. Curiously these bouts of stupidity come up when they're fighting a Badass Normal character such as Cad Bane (who seems to have the unofficial power of handing the Idiot Ball to anybody he's fighting at the moment), whom you think a Jedi could reduce to a pile of disembodied limbs within seconds. Of course it is not a coincidence that this always happens when around the series' original characters.
    • A particularly jarring example happens in "Crisis at the Heart", when Padmé and Rush Clovis are dangling over the side of a damaged building. Anakin doesn't have enough physical strength to pull them both up, and seems to forget that he can just lift them up with the Force. Clovis sacrifices himself so that Anakin can save Padmé. What makes this so jarring is that, just a season before, Steela Gererra had been in the same predicament, and Ahsoka did use the Force to pull her up. Granted, Steela still died, but at least Ahsoka gets points for trying.
  • The Crystal Gems in Steven Universe forget all about their ranged attacks, and even throwing Amethyst, whenever Peridot uses her limb enhancers' flight capability to escape. When asked on Twitter, writer Matt Burnett admitted that the Gems could have caught her, but they have a lot more episodes to fill. The Gems finally learn their lesson in time for "Catch & Release".
  • And if you think the above examples are bad, you should watch the old Superfriends some time.
    • "Gee, Jayna, here we are trapped under the foot of a giant space monster, touching each other. If only we had, I don't know, some kind of superpower that would allow you to turn into a small animal and me into something which could flow through the claws, we could escape!"
    • Seanbaby, as you can assume, mocked this liberally.
      "Don't be too quick to judge Superman's alzheimers problems, though. You probably forget about your powers sometimes too. You can't fly, but you have the ability to learn to waterski, bake, watch baseball, and put objects in your ass. If Lex Luthor came at you with a mind deconfribrulator, you'd be so scared you'd totally forget to learn to waterski. Also, you probably wouldn't jam anything into your ass. See? You forgot about at least TWO super powers, smartass."
    • Aquaman, frustratingly, tended to combine this with This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman. Very often in the series, Aquaman would be taking part in the obligatory underwater part of the villain's plan, and then he would be attacked by a sea monster. He would proceed to spend a frustratingly long time either dodging it or getting caught in its grasp, before he finally remembers "Oh, right, I can communicate with sea life" and that he can just tell the monster to go away. Frequently, he wouldn't even do that, and would instead summon more sea creatures to fight it.
    • Aquaman and Wonder Woman constantly forget they have super strength. They often get grabbed by mooks and/or imprisoned and don't even try to break free. Yet in some episodes, Wonder Woman can bust down walls, hold up a building, and in "Will the World Collide", she threw an object into space. In some episodes, Aquaman can lift a bulldozer and even lift a beached ship to throw it back into the water.
  • In Teen Titans (2003), Raven is easily the most overpowered of the five, which is made glaringly obvious in season 4. As such, this is the only way to keep the entire team necessary. Raven often conveniently forgets that she can fly and teleport in situations where those powers would be highly useful, and stop time (granted, the one time she did so in a fit of emotional panic even she was surprised, implying she doesn't actually know how to use it at will). She also rarely uses her telekinesis to restrain opponents or hurl them away from the scene of a battle, rather than just tossing debris at them. She's done it before, to both allies and enemies, so it's not an issue of being unable to do so. There's only one episode where she concentrates and simply cuts the baddie's armor with her power. One. Several times she's proven to be much more powerful than the entire Green Lantern Corps put together, other times she's almost helpless. It's not helped by one episode explicitly stating that her powers go haywire if her emotions do, and despite her stoic facade her emotions are often tempestuous.
  • Cheetara from The ThunderCats constantly forgets her Super-Speed that can instantly defeat most of their enemies. 1980s Cheetara forgets the same thing. Partially justified in that her Anointment Trial episode shows her having a limited upper endurance. But most of the battles aren't that long.
  • Transformers in general is, after all, about Ridiculously Human Robots transforming into vehicles, so those with aircraft for an alt mode sometimes happen to forget that they can fly:
    • In The Transformers, sometimes the Autobots can fly in robot mode, and sometimes they can't. Some of this can be chalked up to Early-Installment Weirdness, as most instances of flying Autobots are in the first season, but even then, the three-part pilot has Autobots casually flying around in the second episode, and Autobots needing external jetpacks in the third episode.
    • Megatron at the finale of Beast Machines. After spending half the episode in an Aerial Canyon Chase with Optimus Primal, Megatron is shackled by some vines and suspended over a pit, only to fall when Primal breaks the vines. However, Optimus possesses intimate knowledge of Megatron's body because he used to have the same one, so he may have used the vines to disable Megatron's thrusters.
    • Starscream in Transformers: Prime is a Dirty Coward who's quick to transform and blast off whenever threatened. In one instance, when he's surrounded (granted, by Puny Humans, but he's just seen their weapons fell an Autobot) and their weapons are charging, he panics and forgets to transform and fly away, which ironically resulted in permanent loss of the ability to transform and take flight.
    • During a Flashback in Transformers: Prime, Arcee and Cliffjumper decide to run into a Space Bridge to escape a collapsing lair, instead of transforming into vehicles and driving towards it. There is an out-of-universe reason for this: the scene takes place on Cybertron when they still turned into their original alien vehicle forms, and the characters were only designed with an Earth-based vehicle mode. But it still makes little sense in-universe.
  • Uncle Grandpa: Uncle Grandpa constantly forgets that he can be in two places at the same time. Other characters repeatedly take his being in one place as proof that he isn't also in another place.
  • Played for laughs in The Venture Bros. when Hank is imprisoned and harassed until the captor mentions that Hank is wearing a strength-enhancing exoskeleton. Cue prison break.
  • Winx Club:
    • "Mission to Domino":
      • Bloom, who's currently powerless, falls into a chasm while Stella is transformed. She could've easily flown over and grabbed Bloom, yet she didn't!
      • Icy destroys Red Fountain by freezing it with a nifty ice dragon in this chapter. During the season's finale, Icy doesn't even make any effort to use it to freeze Alfea or to take on Bloom, who has a fire-energy dragon of her own.
    • "In the Snake's Lair": The freed crooks of the Omega Dimension manage to force the Winx off a cliff. The girls' Enchantix wings, which are perfectly capable to withstand gale-force winds, are suddenly useless.
    • In "The Day of Justice", Bloom forgets that she has healing powers. Sure, they might not have worked under those circumstances, but she could at least have tried to save Nabu.
    • Darcy has proved herself strong enough to open a fissure in the ground by stomping and capable to create fires that Bloom (who has the explicit power as the most powerful fire user of the series) can't put off (the only other time this happens it's by use of the fire part of the all-powerful Spell of Elements). She never repeated either performance.
    • A third-season episode has a double dip of this. It opens with Icy boasting about a new fire spell that Valtor has gifted her. In the Trix's battles against the Winx, including the one just a few minutes later, she doesn't use it and in fact, it's Darcy who sets a library on fire in a later episode, not Icy. On Darcy's part, Aisha sneaks up behind her and Stormy to tie them up. This disregards how way back in "Welcome to Magix!", Darcy could sense Bloom's presence behind a garbage can, even though Bloom was well out of her view.
  • Subverted by Wolverine in Wolverine and the X-Men (2009). Wolverine is challenged to a sword fight by one of his enemies, but it's been so long since he fought with one he's forgotten most of the lessons he learned from his teacher. At his request, Profesor X searches through Wolverine's mind until he finds the memory of Wolverine's sword teacher. The teacher starts giving Wolverine the same lessons all over again in a Battle in the Centre of the Mind until he regains his skills.
  • Woody Woodpecker would have the same problems as Daffy Duck. In one cartoon, he actually commented that sometimes he forgets he's a bird.
  • Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!: In "Widget Gets the Blooey Blues", Widget's kite gets stuck in a tree and she builds a robot called The Happy Hopper 3000. Wubbzy could've bounced on his tail to get the kite down like in "The Tired Tail" where he bounced on his tail to get his Flipety-Flip down.
  • In one episode of Xiaolin Showdown, where Dojo is under the madness that strikes him every 600 years, he swallows the monks, Jack, and Wuya. Eventually, the monks find the two villains in Dojo's cavernous stomach, Jack being close to panic. Jack asks Wuya why she, being a spirit, can't just fly out; Wuya thinks about it, says "Good point", and does so. (Leaving Jack behind, much to his regret.)
  • This happens to a number of characters in X-Men: Evolution.
    • The worst offender is Kitty, who seems to forget that she can become intangible with some regularity — an example is in "Grim Reminder", Sabretooth and a mind-controlled Wolverine try to kill Kurt and her, and it never occurs to her that as purely physical fighters, there's literally nothing they can do to harm her while she's intangible. The most she does with her power is go through a couple of obstacles as she otherwise tries to evade Wolverine the way a human would.
    • While that's going on, Kurt doesn't use his teleporting ability very much either.
    • Xavier also seems to forget that he has telepathy sometimes.
    • Wolverine is constantly surprised by people sneaking up on him even through he can smell people from a distance, not to mention he can hear the slightest whisper.
  • The Zeta Project: The titular Zeta has a lot of abilities he never uses to their full potential. Somewhat justified as Zee has a Really Was Born Yesterday kind of naivete when it comes to anything outside of his intended purpose that he refuses to do, and Ro is a teenager who's somewhat in over her head, but still:
    • He has unlimited money. He can buy as much of anything he wants at any time. By greasing the right palms he could have Agent Bennet called off his case or Reassigned to Antarctica, he could hire people to interfere and screw with Bennet's team, he could just stage a meeting with Dr. Selig, he could hire a team of private investigators to find the man for him, the list goes on. You would assume he'd use this for a lot more than just replacing the vehicle they lost last episode and dry-cleaning Ro's same outfit so it's ready for the next episode but you'd be wrong.
    • Zeta always uses the exact same holographic persona to hide, the same one that's plastered all over wanted posters everywhere, and gets recognized by local police or people all the time. Again, you'd think he'd try new disguises from time to time to render said wanted posters ineffective, but again, you'd be wrong. Even Ro never bothers to change her outfit or general appearance in spite of having unlimited money, as mentioned above.
    • The money thing isn't just Zeta. "Hunt in the Hub" has a corrupt scientist disable Zeta's unlimited money function in order to blackmail him into stealing parts the scientist can't afford. Say it with us, kids: HE COULD JUST ASK ZETA TO BUY THEM FOR HIM. Money is no object for the machine and the man has information on Dr. Selig he could give in exchange; he could have obtained the parts through (on paper) entirely legitimate means and made friends with Zeta but he instead opts to make an enemy of the Killer Robot and trash half The Hub to get them, making an enemy of the duo and getting his butt thrown in prison to boot. With brains like that, it's no wonder nobody's investing in his research...


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Forgot About Her Powers


Lightning forgets how to fly

In episode 1, Lightning, a flier, jumps the whole time instead of flying up to the basket. He's the impostor in episode 12's challenge, which the fake aimlessly and joyfully flies around the room. Fanny points it out in the end.

How well does it match the trope?

4.75 (4 votes)

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