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How Do I Shot Web?
aka: How Do I Shoot Web

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"Christ, why couldn't he have a simple superpower like Hank's PK superboy deal, instead of something that required years of training and a user manual the size of the New York City phone books?"
Phasenote , "Ayla and the Birthday Brawl part 13", Whateley Universe

You got a New Super Power or two? Great! Can you use them? While the standard hero seems to instinctively know their way around every possible ability they can obtain throughout the story, some people have to flail and struggle, with everybody laughing at them. Hey, there's all those Required Secondary Powers that you have to master that nobody tells you about!

Also applies when a character attempts to mimic or steal the abilities of a hero (like stealing their Empathic Weapon) and ultimately fails. When he is successful, the newly acquired power is too unpredictable or costly in his opinion to use in the long run, since he may lack the time or experience to perfect it. It's doubly humiliating if he's defeated by the hero anyway. This is sometimes An Aesop that a hero's strength is his character or ingenuity/skill, not his powers.


Nonetheless some are too stubborn to give them up, and may become a kind of Evil Counterpart.

One would expect this to be a natural co-trope for a Puberty Superpower, which makes it strange that this was rarely the case — most teen heroes seemed to know how their powers worked instinctively. When it does happen, the empowered teen is likely to enroll at a Superhero School or find a special Mentor (preferably with similar powers) rather than try to learn on their own.

The name comes from Something Awful's randomly renamed and incredibly nonsensical "FYAD" subforum, where it originated as a quotable quote from somebody playing the Half-Life mod Natural Selection and trying to figure out the alien faction's special abilities (shooting webs). In his frustration, he posted "how do i shot web" repeatedly. It got quickly transposed to Spider-Man because it's funnier when he says it. It has since spread wide across the Internet, as such things are wont to do.


Often follows up Powers in the First Episode. Sometimes followed by Power-Strain Blackout. Limb-Sensation Fascination can be a variant without superpowers. May be accompanied by Power Incontinence if they're that inept at controlling their powers. Does Not Know His Own Strength is the Super Strength version of this trope. See also Inept Mage, when someone does understand how to use the powers, but lacks finesse, and New Ability Addiction, when someone, upon recently acquiring powers, will try to use them at every opportunity, usually clumsily. See also Testing Range Mishap if someone attempts to test out the new powers, only to end up failing, and Assimilation Backfire.


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  • Skuld gets this in Ah! My Goddess when she tries to develop her water powers. It doesn't work out, and she puts herself in danger by trying to accelerate things; this danger being caused by her proclivity for Tim Taylor Technology.
  • A good amount of Attack on Titan is dedicated to everyone attempting to figure out how to operate and utilize Eren Jaeger's Titan-Shifting abilities.
  • Beet the Vandel Buster started off with the five ultimate weapons given to him by his dying heroes. Of course, he still had to learn how to use them, and after several years was only able to use one, the spear, effectively. He eventually learns to fire more than one shot with the gun, and comes closer to mastering the shield with training from its original owner (who was Not Quite Dead). With foresight he learned to work around the axe's twelve-second materialization time, and over time got better at the sword bit by bit if nowhere near able to master it. In fact, when the series was cut short at twelve volumes, Beet still arguably hadn't totally mastered any of his weapons!
  • The BirdMen spend significant time learning the basics of how to fly, and for one particular character, it took a Die or Fly moment to learn it.
  • Bleach:
    • Ichigo Kurosaki accidentally sets off his Getsuga Tenshou attack immediately following his achievement of Shikai. He doesn't learn how to fire it at will until he reaches Bankai. Much plot with Ichigo concerns the fact he has great power, but no real clue how to control it. His sword is mocked explicitly for being a "Big ball of fluff".
    • It got even worse when Ichigo unlocked his Fullbring. At least with a sword you know that the basic goal is to stick the stabby end into the bad people, but how the heck are you supposed to fight with a giant glowing swastika?
    • And now yet another ability has come out in this way. Ichigo's about to get his throat carved out, and suddenly manifests Blut Vene... a Quincy defensive technique that blocks the attack. Ichigo not only has no idea how he did this, he didn't even realize that he had done anything at all until the bad guy pointed it out. Put bluntly, until then, Ichigo didn't even know he had Quincy heritage.
    • Making things even worse, Ichigo had a Power Limiter or three he didn't know about, most of which were operating sporadically. So trial and error wasn't a reliable method of figuring out what he could do or how, either.
    • Chad and Orihime aren't exceptions, either. They have to learn how to summon their powers at will (with fairly amusing results at first, especially when Chad tries to remember what Ichigo's younger sister Karin looks like), although Orihime manages to improve to the point where she can use her Shun Shun Rikka without calling their names. In the Bount Arc, Uryu has these issues with the artifact that he uses to fight without his powers.
    • Part of the reason for Renji's loss against Byakuya is that he didn't know how to control his Bankai, enabling Byakuya to disrupt its rhythm and leave him vulnerable. Byakuya claims that mastering bankai takes at least ten years of training. Something that he has, and Renji (who had just achieved bankai that day) lacks. The reason this didn't apply to Ichigo was because (1) his Superpowered Evil Side intervened for a while, (2) although he lacked much control over it, his bankai had more than enough raw power to compensate, and (3) it's unusual in that his power is turned inward, meaning there's no new techniques or whatever to master: just everything he already knows cranked up.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Touma Kamijou has no idea how Imagine Breaker works. Throughout the series, he slowly learns its limitations, and eventually figures out how to pull a Catch and Return with it. To be fair to Touma, almost nobody knows how Imagine Breaker works. Aleister Crowley is the only one who has hinted that he knows how it really works (and he has no particular desire to explain it to anybody else).
      • Later deconstructed when Othinus reaches her full power and alters the world to her whims. Touma is the only one unaffected and knows Imagine Breaker can change the world back, but is unable to figure out how. Fortunately, he gets her to pull a Heel–Face Turn, and she is convinced to restore the world to the way it was.
    • Sogiita Gunha has a multitude of powers like Super Strength, Super Speed, force fields, etc. While he knows how to use them, he has no understanding of the science behind them. It is pointed out that he would become much more effective if he knew how his powers worked and took better advantage of them. This is unlikely to happen as Gunha is an Idiot Hero who lives by Honor Before Reason and guts alone and has no interest in brainy topics.
  • In Code Geass Lelouch instinctively knows the basic principle behind the Geass, (leading to the iconic "Lelouch vi Britannia commands you... Die!" scene) but he doesn't know all the specifications, and after a couple of mishaps, he takes on the task of testing it to figure out exactly what it can and can't do. The fifth episode shows just how Crazy-Prepared he is by that point by having him rattle off all the things he's learned via experimentation, such as its maximum effective range of 270 meters. The audio commentary lampshades this when the voice actors (including Lelouch's) muse on exactly how he discovered these things, suggesting (for the range example) that he used cell phones in walkie-talkie fashion.
  • Kouya's Garuda Eagle from Crush Gear Turbo was once the Gear of Kouya's deceased elder brother, who happens to be the World Champion. Apparently, said Gear has a very powerful super move. Unlocking the secret involved several episodes of having the Gear analyzed by an ultra-powerful supercomputer just to learn the underlying science for the super move, and another batch of episodes of Kouya trying to find the right conditions to use the technique, and use it reliably. Even better, the supercomputer belonged to Kouya's wealthy rival Manganji who had his men surreptitiously copy a virtual data of Garuda Eagle, and said discovery of a special ability was a complete accident.
  • Death Note:
    • There's a sequence involving Light Yagami learning the rules and limitations of the Death Note before he embarks on his great scheme of moral cleansing. He continues to experiment with its powers and devise loopholes throughout the series. By the end of episode three, he knows more about the thing than Ryuk, a shinigami.
    • The Yotsuba executives also learn some of its rules this way, for instance, giving someone a death condition that is physically impossible will result in that person simply dying of a heart attack. The Death Note's owner, Higuchi, actually does understand the rules, but has to avoid revealing them openly to hide his identity.
  • Digi Charat has Puchiko attempting Eye Beams like her sister Dejiko and... not quite getting it.
  • In Dog Days, each of the summoned heroes slowly learn new techniques and get the hang of their powers. Later, during a "Freaky Friday" Flip, everyone has to get the hang of each other's bodies and techniques.
  • In Dragon Ball Z:
    • Quirky Mini Boss Squad leader Captain Ginyu trades bodies with Goku. This is fairly ingenious, because he waited until he was weakened and nearly defeated by Goku before trading. To make it even better, he inflicted a severe wound to his own body (punching himself through the chest) immediately before making the switch. However, he couldn't get full power out of Goku's body, because he doesn't know his powerup technique, the Kaio-ken. Unfortunately for him, Vegeta then shows up and beats the snot out of him before he gets it to work. And then when he reverses the trick so he can try the same technique to body-jack Vegeta, the trick doesn't work twice; they throw a frog in the way.
    • The same thing happens with Goku Black in Dragon Ball Super: Even though Zamasu was quite powerful after stealing Goku's body, he had no idea how to use Goku's abilities and only learned to do so after watching him in action. Even later, as his power continues to grow, he rips a hole in reality. When Vegeta asks him what exactly he just did, Black shrugs and says he has no idea: his power has grown beyond his own understanding of it.
  • In The Familiar of Zero, the reason why Louise seems to be an Inept Mage is because her affinity is Void Magic, a long forgotten art. Once she learns this, she becomes much more effective when she figures out the kinks. Saito's power is to become an Instant Expert with any weapon, but it takes him a while to realize that it only works with real weapons. He tries to use an ornamental sword and gets his ass kicked. He also needs to be in a real fight, as when he tried to twirl a sword around to show off, he made a fool of himself.
    • Above example is anime only. In the original light novels, Saito is capable of wielding the ornamental weapon as if it were any other and the activation of his abilities was merely dependent on being in contact with a weapon. The ornamental weapon was still meant to be a weapon, it just broke the first time Saito used it because it wasn't durable enough to withstand being used to strike stone by someone of Saito's strength. The trope is still played straight with Saito's combat abilities, though. He can swing a sword like a natural and gains incredible speed and strength, but it takes him some time and a fair bit of practice to be able to fully get a good head for actual combat.
  • When Pist from Final Fantasy: Unlimited steals Kaze's Magun, the device that allows him to summon powerful beings using special bullets, he tries to use it himself (including a bizarre subversion of the normal firing sequence) but the resulting summon turns on him.
  • In Flame of Recca's Tournament Arc, One opponent managed to steal one of Recca's flame dragons. However, he had no idea which one out of Recca's eight dragons he acquired (he was hoping to get the most powerful one). This guy manages to acquire a one-eyed dragon named Setsuna who, as told by one of Recca's other dragons, is quite powerful but a rather disobedient dragon. When the opponent tries to sic Setsuna on Recca, the very annoyed dragon promptly asks why the hell he should listen to some new guy and fried him in response.
  • In the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed learns of the ability to transmute without a circle by clasping his hands in frustration then grabbing a basin of water, heating it through alchemy to boiling temperature. Afterward, he has no clue how he managed to do it, and his attempts to reproduce the effect are unsuccessful until he finds himself in another emergency situation (saving someone from a collapsing structure). It was only after that he realized how he did it.
  • In Gate Keepers, Ukiya Shun is blessed by the Gate of Wind. It took him several episodes just to properly summon the power again (which he did in the first episode on instinct), and an episode testing a new technique (which he later perfects).
  • Gundam:
    • In an episode of G Gundam, a disgruntled fanboy steals Domon's Gundam believing that he can pilot it better. However, things go awry when he doesn't know how to properly operate the Gundam, requiring Domon to come and save him. It isn't "proper operation" so much as "any sort of physical training" — the suit-up process is shown to be quite painful, even to a trained martial artist like Domon, so the preteen boy nearly broke several bones before Domon hit the abort. Plus, it was calibrated specifically for him. When Rain tries piloting it, she notes how tight the system compresses her but has less trouble with the Rising Gundam which was calibrated for her.
    • Amuro and Garrod's first sortie was "Use vulcans and scare off my enemies and tank the machine gun rounds" and then "use sword to fend off enemy mobile suits". It was only after the first battle did they got the knowledge to pilot the suit. For Garrod's first experience firing the Wave-Motion Gun, it gives Tifa a Heroic BSoD. Lucky for them that Amuro has Psychic Powers and Garrod is a genius at improvisation.
      • Kou Uraki of Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory was just a rookie using a captured Zaku II for testing when he's forced to take up the GP-01. His inexperience with everything leads him to getting the GP-01 getting shot up when he takes it out into space without it modified for space combat.
    • Judau Ashta of Gundam ZZ had even less luck, despite his own considerable Psychic Powers: his first experience flying a Gundam mainly involved him clumsily crashing into things and defeating his opponent by sheer luck. Likewise Elle, who could only figure out how to move the Gundam's arms her first time, let alone make it walk or fight.
    • Tobia Arronax of Crossbone Gundam specifically has a Worker MS license, but this isn't much help in a Combat MS. In his first sortie, he expects to only be an extra turret, and his Batara flounders around a little before righting (it ends with Seaboo-, er, Kincaid bisecting it). In his second, some time after the first, he's in over his head and has to eject so Kincaid can take over. In his third, he survives largely because Barnes doesn't want to kill him. Then they give him a Pez Batara and he uses a Bit as a stepping stone, at which point his future Ace Pilot status is all but confirmed.
    • Seabook Arno of Mobile Suit Gundam F91 suffers from this for a bit as the only reason he pilots the titular MS is because his mother took part in its construction and he had a licence to pilot. He gets better. Much better.
    • While Christina McKenzie of Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket is a MS Test Pilot, the NT-1 "Alex" was designed for a Newtype (re: Amuro Ray), thus piloting it became a real chore because its reflexes were greater than her own.
    • In Gundam Wing, Zechs Marquise is already an Ace Pilot in the beginning of the series. But even he nearly dies when he gives the Tallgeese a test run. The Tallgeese is a Super Prototype that performs far better than just about every mobile suit that followed it (it was the first one ever). Its performance was too good, since its speed (and lack of shock absorbers) transferred too much G-Force to the pilot. It takes Zechs a little while to become skilled enough to safely pilot the Tallgeese. He eventually becomes so skilled that the Tallgeese can no longer keep up with his own reflexes.
    • In Gundam Build Fighters, Reiji's first attempt at piloting the Build Strike just has him flailing the limbs around in a goofy dance. He gets the hang of it real quickly.
  • In Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Hachiyou Shou episode 4, Tenma's attempt to protect Akane from Akuram results in him activating his Hachiyou powers for the first time, nearly frying Akuram with lightning. Tenma is clearly surprised by this ability, but when he tries to repeat this move on purpose a few minutes later, it doesn't work. In the next episode, he complains about the Hachiyou powers being useless due to not working when they are needed.
  • Inazuma Eleven has this: Endou's Seigi no Tekken and God Catch, Tachimukai's Majin the Hand and Mugen the Hand, and Kidou/Fudou's attempt to create Emperor Penguin No.3.
  • Inuyasha:
    • Inuyasha didn't even knew about Tetsusaiga's Kaze no Kizu / Wind Scar when he first got it. It took some time until he learned about it, more time to use it accidentally, even more time to use it at will and even more time to truly master it. When he gains a new power in his sword, he has to learn how to use it. Like the Wind Scar, the Dragon-Scale Tessaiga was something he struggled desperately to master and, in both situations, something his brother said was what started him on the road to mastering the power (in the case of the Wind Scar, his brother's help was accidental, in the case of the Dragon-Scale, his brother's help was deliberate, if not cryptic). In both cases, the main lesson for Inuyasha wasn't what the powers could do (which only had limited functionality) but what he could achieve when he believed in himself as a half-demon.
    • Sesshoumaru has the ability to instantly master any weapon, especially swords. He even knows how to master swords he hasn't even touched (such as Inuyasha's Dragon-Scale Tessaiga). However, when Tenseiga gained the Meidou Zangetsuha power, Sesshoumaru struggled to master the ability. When he did finally master the ability (after a humiliating encounter with an old enemy of his father), he realized that he wasn't meant to keep the power and passed it on to Inuyasha instead. It was the only sword power in the entire story that required a compassionate heart to master instead of fighting/weapon skill or instinct, and the lesson for Sesshoumaru was that he should never wield a sword without feeling fear at the possibility of losing loved ones or without feeling compassion for even his enemies.
  • Inuyashiki: Both Inuyashiki and Shishigami go through this, which is justifiable considering they got their 'superpowers' by getting killed and having their minds uploaded into alien battle bots. It took both of them quite some time to even realize their bodies weren't their old bodies any more, nevermind figuring out they had beyond-human capabilities. Shishigami adapts and discovers his capabilities quicker, because of his youth and being a fan of superhero manga. Inuyashiki on his end needs a lot of motivation and help to reach the same level because he didn't really want to become a hero in the first place.
  • In Jigoku no Gouka de Yaka re Tsuzuketa Shonen, Flare initially struggles to control his hellfire with any degree of precision, burning away underbrush haphazardly and nearly burning Primavera while trying to take care of a raging giant boar. He comes up with the idea of using his shaman magic to concentrate the fire around his arms to make them easier to handle rather than shooting them everywhere.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Not everyone will immediately know what their Stand is capable of when they first gain it. The protagonist of Part 3, Jotaro Kujo, has no idea what his Star Platinum can do beyond being a physically powerful humanoid. When he faces Dio's The World, who can stop time, he realizes Star Platinum is the same type of Stand and learns how to stop time too.
    • Part 4 introduces the Arrow. When it hits a person capable of using a Stand, it grants them one; otherwise it's like being shot with a regular arrow. When Koichi is struck by it, he's mortally wounded; however, Josuke saves his life with his healing powers... which acts as something of a loophole and gives Koichi a Stand. Unfortunately, because Koichi wasn't meant to have a Stand, it takes him a while to figure out how one works (those meant to have Stands innately know their powers).
  • Prequel stories of K show the original HOMRA trio figuring out their powers this way in Izumo's bar, after Mikoto first awakens as the Red King and makes the other two his Clansmen. So if you were wondering why Izumo had to replace the bar...
  • Karin from Kamichama Karin wore the Goddess Ring for YEARS without having a clue that it could allow her to transform into a Physical God. And even when she finds out, she struggles long and hard before even being able to transform without help, much less be any kind of useful. It probably doesn't help that she's really, really stupid.
  • Ryuko, of Kill la Kill, took a while to figure out how to use Senketsu properly. Though Senketsu had enough raw power and Ryuko enough talent to get her through her first few fights, they were badly synchronized and Senketsu required a constant supply of blood, which left Ryuko ending most fights on the verge of passing out. This is eventually revealed to be due to Ryuko's anxiety: she finds wearing the ridiculously skimpy outfit to be incredibly humiliating, a mental block which she overcomes by learning to view Senketsu as a second skin rather than revealing clothing.
    • Senketsu is also an example as it starts with little idea of its own capabilities other than its need to be worn by Ryuko and all of its subsequent power upgrades come as Emergency Transformations during battle.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
  • Macross:
    • In Super Dimension Fortress Macross, whenever they figured out a new thing the eponymous ship could do, trying it always led to embarrassing mistakes. The first time they tried to take off, the anti-grav units broke free of the ship. Using the fold system left them millions of miles off-course, surrounded by inhabited bits of the island they folded near, and the fold engine disappeared. The first time they transformed the Macross, they destroyed the entire city inside the ship. The first time they fired up an impenetrable energy shield, the shield generator overloaded and destroyed Toronto. Though they were able to use that last one to take down Boddolza's flagship by using the Daedalus Maneuver to break through the hull and then activate the shield while inside. It nearly destroyed the ship.
      • Humorously, this is also why they survived so long against the Zentraedi attacks: whenever they pulled one of these stunts, the Zentraedi commanders were unsure of whether the humans meant to do that or not, and therefore wonder what other tricks they must have up their sleeves, leading to an overly-cautious approach on their part.
      • On a much smaller scale, Hikaru in the second episode is a very competent pilot... of airplanes. When his Valkyrie unexpectedly turns into a giant robot, he promptly tries to make it walk. He topples forward and wrecks Minmay's room in doing so, and needs a conveniently-passing-by seafood truck to right him again.
    • Macross Frontier has an excellent deconstruction of this trope. Sheryl Nome received some basic training on how to operate a VF-25; when the time came to put it to the test, her eyes narrow and she even gets a Theme Music Power-Up, which lasts long into her glorious failure at even flying in a straight line.
  • Played with in Made in Abyss. Reg has amnesia, so he literally Forgot About His Powers. When Riko gets carried off by a flying monster, he instinctively powers up a Wave-Motion Gun; right when it starts firing, he realizes he doesn't even know what he's about to do, let alone how to control it. Luckily, the out-of-control death beam hits most of the monsters and barely misses Riko. He first used this weapon from offscreen in the first episode, before he lost his memories, and focused it into a narrower beam that time.
  • At one point, Padudu of Magical Play (a.k.a. Magical Witchland) saves two other characters from death via suddenly being able to fly. When asked by Pippin why she hadn't done that in the pilot, when she fell on Pippin and cost her a tournament, Padudu says: "Oh, that time, I forgot I could fly!"
  • In the original Mazinger Z manga, Kouji can't control Mazinger-Z when he first gets it and is forced to have Sayaka run out in the Aphrodite A to stop him and get him under control. The Mazinkaiser OVA takes it one step further: Kouji thinks he can control it, but it takes control of him then goes into a berserker rage.
  • My Hero Academia: Several characters had to practice with their Quirks in order to make something useful out of them. Standout examples include:
    • The protagonist Izuku Midoriya himself. Unlike his classmates, who had their Quirks since they were toddlers and thus had a lot of time to learn how to use them, Izuku only received One for All recently. Much of the beginning of the series is him figuring out how to use his god-like strength without literally destroying his body from the stress. Then he starts manifesting the Quirks of previous One For All users, and has to learn those as well.
    • Mirio Togata, who has a difficult to use intangibility quirk that has the potential to kill him if used incorrectly. By training hard to learn the intricacies of his abilities, he manages to develop his Quirk into a Difficult, but Awesome Story-Breaker Power that rockets him to the #1 spot in UA's graduating class.
    • This trope is specifically why the Big Bad All For One doesn't take the quirks of people whose abilities are Difficult, but Awesome because he doesn't want to waste the years on abilities to become useful when more straightforward and easy to use Quirks are more practical.
    • On a different note, this trope is generally averted with hero costumes and support equipment. They normally come with instructions.
  • Naruto faces this difficulty with controlling the Kurama's chakra throughout the series. After the time skip it's largely a matter of not going berserk while using it, but pre-time skip his major problem is accessing the power to begin with. This led to a month of humiliating "training" in summoning tadpoles, culminating with being thrown into a ravine. And just to make it worse, when summoning really counts, he's only able to get a toad the size of his hand. Twice! Course at the time Orochimaru had hit him with a sealing spell which was throwing his Chakra out of balance. By the time Jiraya had removed that handicap, it was only a few days before Naruto had to fight in the second Chunin tournament, so he really didn't have any time to master it.
  • Ako Izumi has this problem after getting her Status Buff Pactio in Negima! Magister Negi Magi. She manages to get the hang of it soon, though.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: The first time Shinji Ikari tries to pilot an Eva with no training or preparation, he falls on his face. Fortunately, putting him in danger this way activates the Crazy-Protective Alter-Ego of his Eva suit, who handily defeats the Angel for him.
  • In Omamori Himari, Himari and other characters are confused as to why Yuuto's powers have not awakened when he turned 16 like they were supposed to. Later, he uses them by instinct during a life-or-death situation. The next episode has him trying to train to use them at will, which doesn't go anywhere. It is triggered by his will to protect others. Later on in the manga it's explained that the Twelve Families traditionally only passed on the knowledge of how their powers work through oral tradition, and since Yuuto's family didn't teach him the family secrets before they died, he honestly has no clue how the Light Ferry works, and there's nothing and no one he can consult for lessons. He has to rediscover all his family's techniques from scratch.
  • One Piece:
    • Nami with the Clima-Tact in her fight with Miss Doublefinger. Unfortunately for her, half of the functions on the device are party tricks (and they're listed first in the instruction manual), and the other half are abilities that are useful, but only if used correctly, and Usopp may not have known how good they can be (he suggests playing boomerang catch with the Cyclone Tempo). Despite this, once she manages to find the right functions to use, she can win if she identifies the good moves and learns how to use them. Nami's experience with the Perfect Clima-Tact is also like this to some extent, but only because she didn't realize how powerful it was the first time she used it.
    • This applies even more to the Devil Fruits. The average person who has absolutely no idea what their fruit even does unless they've either read a restricted access catalogue or been outright told. Even then, you'd have no idea how to activate it until you experiment. Brook's power only activated after he died, meaning he could've started off simply knowing he couldn't swim. Hell, Brook takes this even further after the Time Skip, when he develops his powers into the abilities to use Astral Projection and channel Ghostly Chill into Ice Powers. This means that it took Brook well over fifty-two years to realize these powers were available to him and work out how to use them. A Devil Fruit's powers aren't entirely unknown to the eater — once a person eats a Devil Fruit, they gain an awareness of the Fruit's basic ability. However, the specifics of how the ability works and any further aspects and uses of the ability often require some experimentation to figure out. In Brook's case above, he actually knew in advance that he would come back to life once he died, but spent the next fifty years following his resurrection operating under the assumption that that's all the Yomi Yomi Fruit did, before he eventually discovered other aspects of its power.
    • Whitebeard's revealed power to make earthquakes involves punching the air as if it were a glass window. Can you honestly say you'd figure that one out without being told?
    • A flashback to Luffy's youth showed that it was years before he could even use Gum-Gum Pistol (basically just a stretching-arm punch, which is Luffy's most basic attack in the main storyline) without hitting the ground or it rebound into his own face. Though that can be largely blamed on his youth and his relatively small body at the time.
    • After Kaku ate a Devil Fruit that transformed him into a giraffe or giraffe-man hybrid, he had trouble changing into the specific form he wanted and, since he hadn't been able to explore his new capabilities, just made new attacks up as he went along. That said, because he was a skilled fighter before he ate his DF, adapted to his new powers much faster than the average DF user and thus was still a formidable opponent. Still, having a full-grown giraffe fall through the ceiling made for some hilarious moments.
    • Tashigi, after she was body-switched with Smoker, has a hard time using the latter's Devil Fruit powers, and has to ask how to use them.
    • Momonosuke also has a hard time figuring out how to control his transformations into a dragon and back after he ate an artificial Zoan-type Devil Fruit. Though in his defense, it could be either due to his young age, his inexperience with the fruit (and limited knowledge of Devil Fruits in general), the fact that said fruit is artificial and a failure, or all of the above.
    • Sabo had some issues with controlling the abilities of the Flame-Flame Fruit after first eating it. While he was able to utilize its previous user's signature technique, he had trouble turning off the flames. Also, despite the Devil Fruit being a Logia and giving him "Made of Air" style Nigh-Invulnerability, he still dodged attacks simply out of habit. Although that dodge instinct could be considered a good thing, considering most figures he'd fight against (being in the Revolutionary Army) would have some knowledge on how to combat Devil Fruits.
    • Trafalgar Law's Op-Op Fruit abilities make him a borderline Reality Warper, but at the time he first ate the fruit he had no idea how to actually use its powers. Thus he was unable to help Corazon/Rocinante after the latter was riddled with bullets.
  • In Pokémon, occasionally one of the heroes' Pokemon will have trouble mastering a new attack until several episodes later. One of the Sinnoh arc's running gags was Gible's Draco Meteor misfires always homing in on Piplup. Then there was Duplica's Ditto, which couldn't master transformations for a long time... it would never get the face right.
  • Sort of happens to the protagonist of Prétear, Himeno Awayuki — more of "How Do I Shot Wind?" It is implied that she should know instinctively how her powers work, but the first time she is forced to fight a monster, she panics and can't figure out what to do. However, this wasn't enough to make her give up, and she actually demands to receive some training in order to learn to use her powers properly.
  • Pretty Cure:
    • Unlike virtually every other Precure before her, Tsubomi Hanasaki, alias Cure Blossom, of HeartCatch Pretty Cure! has to be practically hand-held through most of her powers and abilities early on. Compare this to her teammate Erika Kurumi, alias Cure Marine, who was able to figure out everything on the word "go".
    • A similar situation happens in Smile Pretty Cure! with Miyuki Hoshizora, alias Cure Happy, though she's quicker mastering her powers than Tsubomi. And once she does, cue the pink heart-shaped Kamehameha. Though, it's starting to seem like the rest of Miyuki's teammates are stuck in this same predicament.
    • These days, any Precure fans would notice a similar pattern of a newbie main Cure, while trying to figure out how their power works, accidentally and to their shocks, jumps absurdly high. This maneuver is eventually nicknamed the "Holy-Crap-I-Can-Jump-This-High" Maneuver.
    • In HappinessCharge Pretty Cure!, Hime is given a special stone that will search out her partner and allow them to become a Pretty Cure. She's never told how the stupid thing works and decides to chuck it and make the first person it hits her partner. It's a good thing the person she does hit, Megumi, does make it work.
  • Season 3 Reborn! spoiler'd example: In the Future, when Tsuna first uses his Kill It with Fire X-Burner Attack, he can't find out how to set it off without propelling himself backward into a wall. When he figures out to use his other hand to make a balancing fireball, he THEN has the limitation that he can only fire on level ground, when he gets around THAT, he needs a way to balance out the flames. Luckily, we're spared that Training episode by Spanner.
  • Rosario + Vampire:
    • The manga has Tsukune kidnapped by a shapeshifter, who copies his form and goes out to fight Tsukune's Unwanted Harem. Unfortunately, the fellow runs into quite a few How Do I Shot Web? moments as he tries (in vain) to kill them, not realizing that he's far, far weaker than they are in human form. When he wises up and copies Moka's Superpowered Evil Side, he's beaten for good when the power of the rosary weakens him.
    • Tsukune himself had a bit of trouble until he got some well-earned training with Inner-Moka and Touhou Fuhai.
  • Not an actual superpower, but in The Rose of Versailles the citizens of Paris are in trouble during the storming of the Bastille because they have no idea how to load and fire their cannons. Thankfully, the French Guards show up and quickly figure how to do it (those cannons aren't too different from their muskets, after all), and while they aren't exactly excellent gunners the Bastille is an easy and fragile target...
  • In The Seven Deadly Sins, King Arthur possesses incredible powers, but he has no idea how to access them yet.
  • In the world of Soul Eater, certain humans inherit a trait that causes them to transform into Living Weapons. Once this ability starts to manifest (usually involuntarily, at first), they are scouted by Shinigami's school and given an education to deal with this trope. Just how far it goes is the choice of the student. Those who want to take advantage of their abilities take the EAT course and become hunters of evil (the characters of Soul Eater). Those who just want to get a hold of themselves and lead normal lives take the NOT course instead.
  • In Symphogear, Hibiki Tachibana had a lot of trouble in the first few episodes because she literally couldn't summon her Armed Gear to use in battle. She got better when they decided to have her focus on using martial arts and channel the energy for an Armed gear into her fists.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
    • The rambunctious Kamina steals the Gurren and, confident that he has access to new powers, attempts to combine with the Lagann as the head. It fails pathetically and hilariously. They eventually get it to work through determination.
    • Similarly, Simon has a few issues with Lagann's systems at first, especially the jet thruster. Quoth Yoko: "Ah, hello? We're sorta falling..."
  • In That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, this is usually averted by Rimuru Tempest thanks to the help of Great Sage/Raphael, whose major job is not just explaining his crapton of powers which he's constantly adding to and evolving, but also teaching him how to use them to their fullest potential. Though this won't stop him from not listening to an explanation, whether due to him tuning her out due to being distracted by battle or other thoughts or interrupting her attempts (the latter of which often makes her miffed and she'll wait for him to fall on his face before he swallows his pride to listen).
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, Kaneki struggles with even the basics of his newfound powers after becoming a Half-Human Hybrid. He begins wearing an Eyepatch of Power since he's unable to control his single kakugan, and struggles with learning how to control his kagune. Once he accepts his nature as a Ghoul, he rapidly begins to master his abilities, but continues to wear the eyepatch as an iconic look.
    • In the sequel, his in-series Expy, Tooru Mutsuki, suffers the same problems. His kakugan is always active, forcing him to hide it behind an eyepatch, and he feels vastly inferior to his comrades due to his inability to use his kagune. It's only after multiple traumatic incidents and a Time Skip spent training heavily that he's able to overcome this and begin mastering his powers.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, as Kuwabara is trapped inside Mitarai's water monster, he is determined to break free, and suddenly summons a special sword from his spiritual energy that can slice through dimensions, freeing himself and his friends and defeating Mitarai. The next morning, he tries to summon the same sword while fighting Sensui, but ends up getting his normal spirit sword instead.
  • In Zatch Bell!, almost every time Zatch and Kiyomaro learn a new spell, Kiyomaro still struggles to understand that the spells are powered by emotion and will. However when they learn their third spell, which magnetizes their opponent, Kiyomaro tries several unsuccessful attempts to test this spell (which he didn't know the effects of at the time), and eventually tried singing the incantation, very badly. Part of the punchline with the third spell was that he was casting it successful in his tests, just that since the spell is purely magnetic and he tested in a place with no metal around, the spell had nothing to effect. Happens again with the fourth spell as despite putting in emotion, the spell didn't work. They later learn that instead that spell works off of tension rather than will. Eventually Averted when Kiyomaro dies and obtains Answer Talker, allowing him to know literally everything. And then used again when it turns out he doesn't even know how to control it yet, needing help from Dufaux just to get it to work.

    Comic Books 
  • This is a recurring theme in The Adventures of D & A, as the titular duo find their way around using the SWSC's gadgets and are forced to figure them out on the fly. Especially egregious in the third story, where they're given gadgets like an electro-wrench and a transgravitational umbrella, with absolutely no training on how to use either.
  • In All Fall Down, Sophie suffers from this at first, using several powers by accident until she learns to bring them under control.
  • Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld:
    • Even with her mother's training, Amaya is not fully prepared for combat on Gemworld. In her first swordfight, she is horrified when she kills the attacking swordsman and couldn't think straight in the heat of battle.
    • Once she is given the magic of House Amethyst, Amaya has to be trained to use it to her full potential.
  • In an issue of The Avengers, the villain Absorbing Man absorbs the android Vision's ability to become intangible. He promptly falls through the pier he's standing on and into the water, due to a lack of control.
  • Black Alice can temporarily steal the powers of magical beings, but she doesn't automatically gain knowledge on how to use said powers.
  • Blue Beetle:
    • The second Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, inherited the magical (or, as it much later transpires, alien tech) scarab that powered his predecessor's superhuman abilities — but couldn't figure out how to make it work for him. He never did — which didn't stop him from having a long heroic career as the Beetle under his own steam.
    • The third Beetle (Jaime Reyes), incidentally, gets along with the scarab like a house on fire. It just didn't take to Ted. It's implied by the scarab that the reason it didn't work for him is because he hung around Booster Gold too much, supposedly because of being exposed to too much of his "multiverse energy".
  • Captain Atom is an interesting example. He didn't realize he had any powers at all at first; as far as he knew he just had a peculiar deformity. He realized he could fly only when he had to jump out of a rocket he had been stashed on, and then only discovered his nigh-invulnerability when Dr. Megala had Babylon shoot him. He discovered some of his other powers while experimenting and training with Megala, and discovered others as time went on. What's particularly interesting about this case is that there may be no actual limit to his powers, but he only gradually discovers this. Of course, many writers remember or forget the extent of Cap's powers as is convenient for the plot.
  • The protagonists in Death Vigil typically have a hard time figuring out what their veilrippers do. Sam, despite having been in the Vigil for 12 years, still uses his shovel and pickaxe to whack the enemy around. Clara's veilripper is a quill pen. She spends a few days trying to use it as a flechette and magic wand before figuring out that she can draw with it, create portals, and read/repair other people's memories.
  • Darkhawk received a cool amulet that turned him into an armored android with super-powers, but unfortunately it didn't come with an instruction manual. As a result, teenage Chris Powell ends up discovering many of his abilities by trial and error, and otherwise practicing to determine the limits of his abilities.
  • Empowered gains her powers from an alien supersuit that is the very definition of "enigmatic". She found out the obvious ones (Super Strength, vision enhancement, Hand Blast), but the other powers were discovered by accident. For example, her Wall Crawling was activated when she was thrown against a wall and she still hasn't actually "discovered" its flying abilities. It's Fanon (and suggested by Mind Screw in-universe) that the costume gives fantastic cosmic powers limited only by the user self-confidence. As Empowered has the self-confidence of a used kleenex in a dirty cesspool, you can see how it works. So yes, she unconsciously granted herself the power of being easily aroused and multi-orgasming. Kudos!
  • The Super-Skrull is a recurring Fantastic Four villain who can use all the super-powers of that team, plus has a native alien ability to shapeshift. Nevertheless, he is always defeated, usually by the Four's ability to work as a team. It's been explain in canon that one of the reasons he loses to the FF is that some of them have gotten upgraded (either explicitly or via Power Drift) since he was created. For example Sue Richards wasn't the most powerful member of the team when they copied her, so her powers are stronger than the Super Skrull's. The Thing and Johnny Storm also had power ups. Reed has stayed the same, but his real power is his brain and he is indeed smarter than Super Skrull. It must be noted that Sue Storm's original power, that is, the one copied by Super Skrull, is the power to turn invisible (at the time, Sue was called "Invisible Girl"), which at the time was roughly the weakest, dumbest and most feeble excuse for a power in the Marvel universe. Her power upgrade (which Super Skrull does not have access to) is the ability to create invisible force fields of any shape or size at will. This upgrade ended up making her one of the single most powerful (and shitfire lethal) mortals in the Marvel universe. In other words, Super Skrull's stolen powers are one-fourth wildly obsolete.

    Another factor is that no-one understands the FF's powers better than the FF themselves, so they know exactly how to counter them. On the other hand, the Super-Skrull is shown to be extremely effective when fighting other enemies, since he's ruthless enough to use his powers in ways the FF never would, like stretching parts of his body into razor wire to decapitate enemy soldiers. Xavin, another Skrull with similar abilities, can barely use more than one power at a time. Although in the Secret Invasion tie-in, it was shown that while Xavin can only use one power at a time, s/he became better at using them individually than his teacher could. In Secret Invasion, it is revealed that the Skrulls now have the idea to copy any superhuman's powers, appearance, and memory perfectly. As revealed in the sub-series New Avengers. (written by the same dude), they really, really worked very, very hard at it.
  • The heroine of Ghost took some time to learn to manage her intangibility: how not to walk through her garments; how not to drift while sleeping and wake up deep underground.
  • Parodied in the Great Lakes Avengers, with the Grasshopper. After spending a couple of pages setting him up as an important character, revealing his identity, origin, and mandatory superhero romantic troubles, he decides to exit the scene by engaging the "Maximum Jump" capability of his super-suit. It launches him into space and he dies.
  • Green Lantern
    • Subverted in the Post-Crisis origin story of the Hal Jordan Green Lantern, Emerald Dawn. In this story, Jordan stumbles about with his newly bestowed power ring, barely defeats a powerful villain and realizes that he is out of his depth with the weapon. To solve that problem, Jordan asks the ring if there is another member of the Green Lantern Corps he can talk to for help. The ring whisks him away to meet Tomar-Re, who recommends that Jordan come to GLC headquarters on the planet Oa for the optional training program. Jordan, naturally, takes that advice.
    • This appears to have been retconned somewhat in the new Secret Origin of Hal Jordan. Hal gets the ring and uses it to fly and make a few constructs without much difficulty, but is not aware of the full functional capacity of the ring. He is then forcibly brought to OA for mandatory training.
    • When Mongul steals a yellow power ring, the first thing he does is order the ring to tell him everything it can do, then spends 96 hours practicing before using it for supervillainy. It fails to mention the administrative override Sinestro builds into each ring.
    • Green Lanterns: Jessica Cruz has never been properly trained in her new powers before being forced to protect the Earth alongside Simon and it shows. Not only does she struggle to make constructs in the early chapters, she actually notes at one point in her Internal Monologue that she had asked her Ring to tell her everything about itself, where she learned little tidbits like the "morphology" type and serial number of her Ring and how many other people had it before her. But not how to make constructs, which she apparently needs to learn for herself. Funnily enough, averted with Simon, who is the one who keeps gaining New Powers as the Plot Demands and getting confused by them. The reason being Jessica is the cautious planning type who tries to learn as much as possible before she acts, while Simon just hasn't thought to ask the Ring these things because he's more impulsive.
  • Liz Sherman from Hellboy can't control her fire powers at a young age, accidentally killing several people, including her parents. She joins the B.P.R.D. because they can teach her how to use her powers, or at the very least have ways to keep her from hurting people again.
  • Hex Wives: When Becky sheds blood by accidentally killing Danali's cat, and thereby activates her magical powers, she starts to fly. She then crashes to ground because she has no idea how to control her flight.
  • In The Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos spends a few months after getting the Gauntlet acclimating to its power, doing a few small tests to see what he can do before going about his plan to woo Lady Death. When his daughter Nebula steals the Gauntlet from him later in the series, Adam Warlock notes she's getting Drunk on the Dark Side and quickly burning out from misuse of the Gauntlet.
  • Iron Man
    • Way back in Tales of Suspense #39, when Tony Stark first put on his first Iron Man armor to escape from a Vietnamese prison camp, he takes one step in his armor and falls flat on his face.
    • In Iron Man #200, Obadiah Stane puts on his brand-new baby, the Iron Monger suit, to fight Tony (wearing his brand-new Silver Centurion armor), because he knows it's Tony coming after him. However, Stane has no experience, so he has to rely on a remote computer to assist him in the fight. When Stark realizes this (as he's been detecting strange transmissions throughout their fight), he destroys the building that's been transmitting to Stane's suit, leaving Stane outmatched.
    • Averted with Iron Man's first match with Firepower in #230, as Jack Taggert's been training extensively on a simulator, and the real suit's capabilities totally overwhelm Iron Man; Stark had to design a new armor with new features specifically intended to negate Firepower's advantages.
  • Eric O'Grady, the Irredeemable Ant-Man, was pretty much completely winging it throughout the entire twelve issue run of his series; he was constantly learning how to access his various abilities (like communing with and controlling insects or flying with his suit's extra jet legs). In fact, he scarred his immediate superior's face while trying to escape after stealing the suit to begin with. Later, after he became a cadet at Camp Hammond in Avengers: The Initiative, he discovers he can grow in size, too (with the possible limitation of this only happening in response to a threat posed by someone else turning giant with Pym Particles).
  • Justice League
    • The Justice League suffered a multiple bodyswap in the TPB Foreign Bodies; a female villain called Psykosis was incited to do it by Kobra. It ended up with Kyle Rayner (Green Lantern) operating the body of J'onn J'onzz, J'onn taking over Aquaman's body, Aquaman in temporary possession of Wonder Woman's body, Wonder Woman in Psykosis' body, Psykosis' psyche in Flash's body, Flash in Steel's body, and Steel in Green Lantern's body. Separate to this, Superman and Batman had simply swapped bodies or so it seemed; in actuality, Batman was indeed in Superman's body, but Kobra had taken command of Batman's body, leaving Superman resident in Kobra's body. And boy howdy, hilarity did indeed ensue at nearly everyone's expense before it was over. Worth noting that Batman gets an immediate grasp on Superman's powers, and starts saving the day worldwide (admittedly, he's had a front-row seat to their use for quite a while). Only, he laments that so much power is distracting.
    • In JLA: Year One, the Brain steals Flash's speed, Green Lantern's power ring, Black Canary's voice and the Martian Manhunter's 'martian-vision', incorporating their legs, right arm, vocal chords and eyes into a new body for himself. He seems to instantly know how to work each individual power, but the villain primarily relies on Green Lantern's ring, the flashiest and most "powerful" of the abilities. By overlooking the benefits of each different power Aquaman is able to overpower and kick his ass, observing that any team is only as strong as all of its members.
  • After Jax from Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden stole the spellbook and the magic boots and gloves, she first has some troubles with casting spells, but she does get better later on in the story.
  • In the first couple of issues of Ms. Marvel (2014) the titular heroine has this problem with her Shapeshifting abilities. They start off tied to her emotional state (shrinking when she feels small, turning into Carol Danvers when she thinks of Captain Marvel) and she's unable to control them willingly at first.
    Kamala: I wonder if I can do it again, this time on purpose. TRANSFORM!!!!
    [beat panel]
    Kamala: Nope
  • Way back in the origins of the New Mutants, Cannonball was only able to shoot himself straight ahead, and stopped mainly by running into things. It took a while for him to control his flight, much less realize he could steer himself and get any good at it. Luckily for him, he's physically invulnerable while "blasting" (and possibly immortal, depending on which retcon they're on at the moment), so he could always walk away from a crash. This was also the case with Nova to some extent, in the early issues of his first series; he could fly at supersonic speeds, but sometimes couldn't turn or stop in time to keep from crashing into things, particularly during a fight. Writer/creator Marv Wolfman also mentioned more than once (through other characters) that Nova had powers that he was completely unaware of; later series would eventually reveal these.
  • Paperinik examples:
    • Paperinik sometimes has troubles with his gadgets, both in PKNA and non-PKNA stories. It's downplayed in PKNA, given he has One to help him with those (but still doesn't know how to use the full potential of his Extransformer shield, and when One gets deactivated he finds out he has no idea how to fuel the PKar... Or what the fuel is), but in non-PKNA stories he has some added problems because Gyro either forgets to explain how they work or gives him a gigantic user manual he cannot possibly read.
      • Actually Invoked in the non-PKNA story in which the Beagle Boys stole his 313-X car and some of his weapons... Only to get repeteadly humiliated because Paperinik knows how to use them and they don't (the paralizing pistol, for example, is single-shot).
    • In her debut, Paperinika had some serious problems at using her skating boots, and the first attempt ended with a ridiculous pratfall. Averted for the other gadgets, as her supplier has the common sense to explain how to use the things and provide sensibly-sized user manuals... Or simply provides gadgets that are based on something she already knows how to use (such as her bike).
    • Xadhoom's powers, originating from an artificial mutation, are the centre of multiple instances:
      • When she first showed up, Xadhoom had no problems at using her godlike powers, but she once mentioned it took a while to actually learn how to use them. She also didn't learn her minor shape-shifting abilities could allow her to recover her pre-mutation looks until she pulled it by accident, and continued learning some new use of her powers until her Heroic Sacrifice.
      • Before dying, Xadhoom created a copy of her memory that included the process of how to get the powers. The Belgravian government promptly steals part of the data... And, not understanding what it actually was, tried to make a volcano-controlling superweapon, triggering an eruption only on the volcanic island where their lab was located.
      • Later Zoster succeeds in stealing the copy and being told by Xadhoom's holographic double how to replicate the process, and had the common sense to listen everything. He carefully replicates the process on himself, gets the powers... And is promptly disintegrated because he didn't have the self-control to hold them back, nor knew he needed it. Turns out Xadhoom created the memory to kill one last Evronian in such a way to make sure they wouldn't know if she's really dead, so they would leave the Xerbians alone... And the memory specifically held the self-control bit back.
    • This happens rather often in The Amazing Adventures of Fantomius: Gentleman Thief, the prequel dedicated to the duck that would inspire Donald into becoming Paperinik: Fantomius' Gadgeteer Genius is a relative of Gyro and just as much as a Cloud Cuckoo Lander as him, and sometimes forgets to tell him something-or to include working brakes. Fantomius himself still has to figure how to dodge rose bushes.
  • Powers does this a lot, starting in the very first issue where a powers specialist police pathologist rants at length about the fact he has no idea how to do his job and has to retrain himself every day because every single powers operates on his or her own uniquely altered biology and there's no frame of reference for anything that they do. At least one hero meets an early end to his career when he kills a bystander while trying to figure out how to fly.
  • The short "untold" story of young Peter Parker called "The Punch!" from the Amazing Spider-Man Family Volume 1 Issue 3 partially uses this trope for his super strength (his other powers subvert this trope). It takes place after Uncle Ben died and Peter decides to make Spider-Man a hero. He stops a robber by punching them with what he calls a "tap". However, Peter couldn't actually control his strength and the robber nearly died and had to be rushed to the hospital. Peter then goes to an abandoned building and lets loose to see just how strong he is. He wrecks the place and is shaking with fear over the amount of strength he has. He almost quits being Spider-Man because of it but realizes it is a good thing when it allows him to hold up a falling crane long enough for all the bystanders to get to safety. The story actually doesn't show how Peter learned to control his strength (just that he'll learn over time). Also, one has to wonder how Spider-Man not even trying nearly killed someone and yet Uncle Ben's killer didn't die.
  • In the 1990s Marvel Comics Sleepwalker comic series, Rick and Sleepwalker end up accidentally switching bodies after an encounter with one of Sleepwalker's enemies, and Rick has to try and figure out how to use Sleepwalker's abilities, in between being attacked by supervillains and demons from the Mindscape.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), Mina Mongoose first using Super Speed usually lead to her slamming into things, ultimately leading to her confronting Sonic and begging him to help practice it. She also used it to get closer to him, as she had a crush on him.
    • In Issue #37 of Sonic X, Sonic and Eggman get their brains switched. They both run into this problem: Eggman can't control Sonic's speed and constantly crashes into things, and Sonic can't figure out Eggman's technology and can barely pilot the Eggmobile.
  • Speedball from the Marvel universe spent issue after issue trying to figure out how to get his bouncing powers under control; not just turning them off when they were inconvenient, but just bouncing in the right direction. He learned how just in time.
    • Receives a minor lampshade in a later issue of New Warriors, where he goes up against all the villains from his original run at once, and handily trounces them in a couple of pages due to now fully understanding how to use his powers.
  • Spider-Man:
    • The mainline Spider-Man actually subverts the trope. Many of his powers are hardwired into his reflexes and instincts. As such, acrobatics, fighting, dodging bullets, and balancing are all things he can do automatically. In his introduction, he backflipped twenty feet and stuck to the side of a building mere minutes after being bitten by the radioactive spider, purely because his Spider-Sense sensed a car about to run him over. Even web-slinging needed little practice purely because his reflexes prevented him from screwing up. Spidey's biggest problem tends to be the fact that his opponents are stronger and faster than him and/or have an "Instant Death" Radius that requires him to be smart about using his powers.
    • Spidey also had no trouble figuring out how to shoot webs because it isn't actually one of his powers! That's right, Peter Parker actually designed some web fluid and shooters using his awesome powers of nerdiness. At least, not until the times in the comics when he (temporarily) does get natural webbing.
    • However, he did have a minor problem when his Spider-Sense got burnt out — without it, web-swinging was much tougher as he has no way of knowing what's safe to swing on or not. This story also taught him that his combat skills were sorely lacking without the precognitive edge of Spider-Sense; he spent some time training with Iron Fist to sharpen his brawling skills.
    • This trope is used occasionally in the Ultimate Spider-Man comic: most egregiously, when Peter Parker startles out of daydreams in school and breaks his desk multiple times without anyone becoming unduly suspicious about it. Public school chairs... The most hilarious use of this trope is when Wolverine and Spider-Man switch bodies. Wolverine's attempts to learn how to websling must be seen to be believed.
    • Played straight with Miguel O'Hara, Spider-Man 2099. Many of the events in the first three issues of his comic are of him learning how to use his new abilities, such as retractable talons, heightened vision, and — yes — shooting webs.
    • The new Spider-Man Miles Morales originally did not shoot web, but eventually receives his own web shooters and learns how. It takes him a couple of tries before he gets the hang of swinging without smacking against a wall or onto a rooftop. Meanwhile, his best friend and unofficial Mission Control, Ganke Lee, faces the conundrum of "How Do I Make Web?", since it was the late Peter Parker's secret formula and he has to reverse engineer the web fluid so Miles can continually use it.
    • Spider-Girl didn't exactly have problems learning to use her powers, but she needed training from her father and his friend Phil Urich to really be able to master them and become a more experienced fighter.
    • Similarly, Phil Urich himself had a number of problems figuring out how to use the Green Goblin's equipment when he moonlighted as a superhero in the short-lived Green Goblin series Marvel published in the 1990s. Later, in Runaways, he knew how to fly the ship the mysterious benefactor gave Phil's group because it was based on the Goblin equipment.
    • Spider-Man's ally and generally lovable loser the Fabulous Frog-Man. Stealing the fully automated frog-suit of his father, the villainous Leapfrog, Eugene Patilio wholeheartedly attempts to make a difference while being utterly clueless about how the suit works. This proves to be his greatest strength, however, as his frequent misfired jumps tend to knock out waves of bad guys and make him look like a real hero who knows what he's doing. Pretty much the only person who knows that Eugene is a bumbler in person is Spidey himself.
  • Superman:
    • Superboy had this problem after he first appeared during The Death of Superman saga - he had flight, limited invulnerability (fire actually harmed him) and super strength and a strange ability to blow metallic things up. The last one he had no idea how it worked and it seemingly came when he was in a panic. After learning he had Tactile Telekinesis (which allowed him to mimic Superman's abilities to a point), he started focusing more and using it a lot better. Then came the rest of his Kryptonian powers, like his heat vision, which first manifested in accidentally singing Superman's cape (he wasn't happy about that.)
    • In the Silver Age Superboy stories, Ma and Pa Kent were shown helping Superboy hone his powers. Particularly true with flight. Unlike in Smallville, he figured out the thrust mechanism early on but had trouble with steering.
    • In New Krypton, Superman was shown to be an elite soldier because of his extensive experience using his powers, leading to him training fellow soldiers in the New Krypton military.
    • Supergirl, by contrast, was able to activate all her powers but struggled with holding back.
    • In Superman: Up, Up and Away!, Superman's return to action is not a smooth one. His powers haven't been fully replenished and he gets suddenly thrust into a fight with Intergang's goons.
    • In Last Daughter of Krypton, Supergirl gets rid of Simon Tycho's organic android and starts searching for her stolen pod. Guessing it is stored somewhere in her enemy's space base, Kara tries to figure out how to use her X-Ray vision to scan the place swiftly.
      Supergirl: Now... Where is my pod? Try to relax... feel that tingling behind my eyes... peel back the layers. See past it all. See inside... There.
    • The Superman/Batman "Super/Bat" arc has a case where Silver Banshee "grant the wishes" of Batman and Superman (Superman to have a normal life, Batman to bring complete fear and order to Gotham's criminal underworld) by giving Superman's powers to Batman. It took Batman a lot of practice to use them right, and he realizes he needs sunlight to use them the best. Superman realizes that the side effect of Banshee's wish was both men did not have the means to properly use what they wished for, requiring Superman to get Batman to undo the wish before the Dark Knight becomes corrupted by his new power.
  • X-Factor: Subverted when the team tracks down Alchemy, a mutant whose Puberty Superpower is the ability to transmute any matter into a simple element like gold. He was kidnapped by trolls and had to defend himself by transforming their leaders. He then couldn't change them back because he has to imagine the totality of the matter he is changing something into, and organic matter is so complex on a molecular level that he can't do it. So, he goes off for the advanced education in biochemistry needed to cure the beings he has affected.note  By the time Alchemy reappeared in the pages of Excalibur, he had gotten enough education and control over his power that he was able to restore the humans he had inadvertently transformed after the trolls had kidnapped him again to try and force him to change their leaders back to normal.
  • X-Men
    • Was actually a major theme of the original 1960s X-Men, and still appears at times. It could easily be argued that this trope is the basis for the X-Men as a whole, as the series has always revolved around a group of mutants who are being trained in the use of their own powers at what is quite literally a school that exists for precisely that purpose.
    • Inverted with Rogue, who can use her powers quite well, but doesn't know how to turn them off (it's been pretty much spelled out that she could control them, except that some serious psychological trauma concerning both her power's first use and the effects of continued use were serving as a block.)
    • Subverted with Wing from Astonishing X-Men who tells Hisako (Armor) that after discovering that he could fly without propulsion, he assumed that this meant he was invincible as well and landed with a little too much force, breaking both of his legs.
    • An old X-Men villain was Mimic, a mutant who can copy up to 5 different mutants' powers. These powers become permanent if he can be around them for at least an hour. He was usually defeated due to three reasons; his copied powers were only 1/2 as strong as the original, he had no experience in using them, and he was kinda dumb. Eventually he got smarter (and did a Heel–Face Turn), and now has the original five X-Men's powers permanently (though only at the level of their teenage years; this is still formidable because he can use all five simultaneously, but it would've been downright game-breaking if he had the power-ups they've all gotten). He can also mimic an additional power on top of those five, but trying more than that would be dangerous to him.
    • An AU Mimic becomes team leader in Exiles. This version had joined the X-Men and had spent years developing and mastering his plethora of powers and becoming a champion of mutants. His "main" powers for most of the comics run were Flight (Angel), Invulnerability (Colossus; couldn't fly in steel form), super agility (Beast), energy projection (Cyclops), and healing (Wolverine). Even with years of practice copying others Mimic admits that he wouldn't be stupid enough to try and copy a shapeshifter or teleporter for fear of accidentally killing himself.
    • Nate Grey a.k.a. X-Man (who, ironically, was only rarely a member of the X-Men) suffered from this on a grand scale early on, something compounded by the fact that his in-built genetic degeneration meant he suffered from often explosive and entirely random Power Creep, Power Seep. He was competent enough in a fight, and had some very unusual tricks (like using his telekinesis to create an electromagnetic pulse) thanks to tutelage from his reality's version of Forge, but he mostly learned by a) making it up as he went along, and b) using his telepathy to copy techniques. However, the difference between the kid who could barely outfight Dark Beast and the powerhouse who used the multiverse as his personal stepladder, treated death as a minor inconvenience, effortlessly flattened several teams of X-Men while simultaneously keeping Apocalypse prisoner and Magneto on a psychic leash, and created his own reality is astounding.
  • In Marvel's Young Avengers, teenage spellcaster Asgardian (later Wiccan) is shown to have difficulty using his powers. His boyfriend, Hulkling, helps him learn to control them with ordinary self-help books.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a Calvin and Hobbes strip, Calvin tries to get his butt to light up like a firefly, and attributes his lack of success to "not even knowing what muscle to flex".

    Fan Works 
  • In All Your Base are Belong to Her, Buffy alumni Dawn arrives in the universe inhabited by SG:1, and quickly discovers that being the Key allows her to interface with the Stargate network on a fundamental level. She only learns what that means through a process of trial and error... all while being pursued through the entire Cheyenne Mountain complex by large numbers of armed and irate Airmen.
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Izuku struggles to control all of his new spider powers when they start developing one after the other on his first day back at school. He makes a fool of himself when his Wall Crawling powers stick a kendo club flyer to his hand, waving it around while trying to shake it off. In class, he accidentally destroys his desk with his new Super Strength while dodging one of Bakugou's explosions. He slams almost face-first into a wall after he jumps twenty feet in the air to avoid an oncoming truck. After that his Venom Strike power electrocutes Peter when he mistakes him for a mugger.
  • Boldores And Boomsticks: Whisper tries to use Round, but runs into the problem that, since she's been speaking psychically all the time, she has never in her life actually used her vocal cords.
  • The Bridge:
    • Several of the Kaiju transformed into native Equestrians run into this problem. Rodan needed a little practice to walk in his new Griffon body. Mothra can shapeshift as a Changeling, but it is difficult for her to hide her wings and horn. Mothra was also taught how to teleport by Twilight Sparkle, but it is a bit shakey the first few times she uses it. Xenilla needed to study a textbook to learn how to perform Unicorn magic. Raiga became a Siren, and needed to be told Sirens can levitate and she needed a bit of trial and error to pull it off.
    • An example of a power copier with this problem. Congratulations Aria Blaze, you've copied some of Kaizer Ghidorah's powers. Enjoy the Super Strength, Gravity Master, Healing Factor, and Super Toughness that you have no clue how to use while an Eldritch Abomination is hunting you for them! She ends up striking an Enemy Mine deal with Monster X to teach her how to use them.
    • Monster X mentions he needs to train to use his powers in his human body.
    • Godzilla Junior has it the worst. He's a Unicorn like Xenilla, but he has no idea how to use Unicorn magic. Even worse, he has no real interest in learning how to do it unlike his more scholarly brother.
    • Gloriosa Daisy gains her canon Green Thumb powers, but she is still getting the hang of it and sometimes involuntarily summons animated vines.
  • Bucky Barnes Gets His Groove Back & Other International Incidents: There's a learning curve to piloting an alien spaceship that only interfaces with Barnes's metal arm. In order to actually move the spaceship, Barnes has to think about the end result he wants, not about just moving it or deploying weapons or whatever, which according to him is way harder than it sounds. Barnes learns about all of the ship's capabilities by accident, and through trial and error... sometimes explosively. And so what if it causes an international incident or two? It's fine...
  • Cat-Ra: Catra has a much harder time getting the sword to work. It turns out she was never meant to have it.
    • In Season 4, Adora is able to copy the powers of anyone she touches, with a very strict learning curve.
  • In Child of the Storm has this appear relatively frequently, given the number of teenagers and the story goes out of its way to show how terrifyingly dangerous such powers — even relatively weak ones — could be in the hands of someone with absolutely no idea how to control them.
    • Hermione has a natural gift for Chaos Magic ( inherited from her birth-mother, Wanda Maximoff), much to her chagrin since she much prefers logical magic, and demonstrates a very limited ability to control it. Despite tutelage from Wanda in the sequel and experimentation, her control remains mixed, and the vast potential dangers and reality-warping potential of Chaos Magic are repeatedly underlined. The fact that Hermione persists in treating it like ordinary magic, which is considerably tamer, doesn't help.
    • Harry's Psychic Powers and their sheer scale (weaker than, but in the same weight-class as, his second cousin Jean Grey), along with rapid manifestation, force a very steep learning curve — his poor control nearly kills several people before he consents to proper lessons. By the start of the second book, months of expert tutelage and an intuitive knack (plus a lot of creativity) mean that he's got pretty good control of his powers, but even then, he psychically traumatises half the planet when trying to replicate the psychic cry for help he unconsciously let out at the start of the first book, fracturing Blindfold's sanity in the process. Even later on, after he's got more tutelage, he makes it clear that at best he understands about a tenth of what he's capable of.
      • Jean herself has good control over her powers, but until the very end of the first book has very little idea of their sheer potential scope, meaning that she's largely winging it in the finale once she taps into her full strength. Later, she gets extensive training and becomes far more effective.
    • Bobby Drake, being an eleven year old with no understanding of his powers, which is problematic since they're prone to manifesting when he's scared or hurt and he has a Big Brother Bully, and Loki explicitly warns his father that if he remains untrained, it risks something happening that cannot be undone. Especially since under competent control, his powers generate a mountain consuming storm that even Thor can't disperse. Thankfully, Professor Xavier takes care of that.
    • Clark Kent has a rather difficult relationship with his powers to begin with, and doesn't know what many of them are meant to be, meaning that he usually gets caught by surprise when a new one pops up. Like in Smallville, he's distinctly reluctant to fly, and even once he does in the sequel, he's hilariously bad at it. However, thanks to a mixture of Harry's tutelage and his own intelligence, he learns the basics very quickly. Additionally, as Harry also notes, his Tap on the Head tactics at Super Speed demonstrate an extraordinary degree of control (otherwise there'd be a lot of messy corpses and/or permanent brain damage).
    • When Peter Parker finally gets his spider-powers in Unfinished Business, he spends a significant amount of time freaked out and stuck to a ceiling. Him progressively trying to figure out how to unstick himself one limb at a time ends up being a Funny Background Event.
  • A Gamer In South Blue: When Jack maxes out his WIS stat to 100 and chooses the path of self-discovery (instead of world-discovery), his reward is gaining the [Seimei Kikan], or Life Return ability. This comes with some exceptional passive perquisites, but for the active applications...well, he himself explains it at the beginning of Chapter 14:
    Narration: Do you recall the first time you ever whistled? Think back now. For years of your younger life it was something that others could do, but not yourself. You would purse your lips out, try your hardest, and end up disappointed as you spat out useless unmusical air. Then one day, perhaps rather unceremoniously, you simply did it. Maybe it was by accident. Maybe it was on purpose. But one day you simply figured out the trick. Suddenly you just knew how. There was nothing wrong with you before. You were always physically capable of whistling. All the tools required to pull it off were under your direct control the entire time. But you just. Didn't. Know. How. This is the crux of [Seimei Kikan].
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality: Harry spends several chapters conducting scientific experiments to figure out how Hogwarts works. In fact, he concocts a big series of experiments to have Hermione perform... And then quickly has to scrap the lot once the first one shows his fundamental assumption was completely wrong.
  • Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger: Jaune initially struggles to control his Psychic Powers gained from his newfound Force-sensitivity. Professor Goodwitch, assuming that Jaune has a Semblance similar to hers, offers to take him up as her apprentice so she can teach him to control his powers.
  • Kyoshi Rising; the title character is an Earthbender, but at the beginning of the story she is only a child and has no formal training whatsoever. She tries to teach herself Earthbending based off what others have told her (mainly stomping around and flailing her arms ala The Last Airbender), but can never move more than a few small rocks at a time (unless she gets angry). Once she gets some formal training, she progresses quickly.
  • Light, Darkness and Paradox: After the first time she uses her silver eyes, Ruby is unable to do so again despite her efforts and despite receiving lessons in magic.
  • In The Lightning Strike, while Harry Potter is an experienced wizard, due to him both being in a new reality with new rules of magic and lacking his wand as a focus, after he arrives in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Harry spends some time re-learning how to perform various spells.
  • In The MLP Dreamscape, after willing himself into true existence by imagining himself with the body of a pegasus, Baron becomes Rainbow Dash's "student" in order to learn how to fly and take care of his wings. Rainbow's not happy about it at first, but Baron eventually succeeds.
  • Superman and Man:
    • A man gets stuck into Superman's body for one day. He tries to figure out how to use several powers one by one, X-Ray Vision included.
      How did one use X-ray vision? Did you have to squint, or call out a secret word mentally?
      Almost at the thought of it, he began seeing steel girders in frameworks, people in the rooms in front of him at various activities, a maid vacuuming a rug.
    • And then he attempts to fly.
      He began to drop like a rock towards the ground 47 stories below.
      He began to yell at roughly the same time.
      His blue suit started to get away from him but he grabbed it tighter. How the hell did you make flying work?
  • Michikyuu Kanae in Kyon: Big Damn Hero never had a chance to learn how to slide properly. In hindsight, it's probably better she didn't work out how it works.
  • When, in Shinji And Warhammer 40 K, Shinji develops ungodly powerful psychic abilties to thwart Sahaquiel it not only completely destroys his ability to pilot Principio Eternus but makes him highly dangerous to everyone and everything. He then spends a chapter or (in a story where the chapters are long enough to be entire seperate stories themselves) being taught to limit them to a more manageable level by some monks. As proof that Tropes Are Tools, this arc is often criticised for being a classic Wacky Wayside Tribe.
  • In Perfection Is Overrated, Bachiko has the power to rewrite people's personalities by stinging them with summoned bees. This proves more complex than it seems because 1) It's entirely possible for the rewrite to be too vague or too specific to fulfill the assigned purpose, 2) Removing one personality trait in order to influence a target's behavior in some way may not work if the target is acting this way because of other personality traits and 3) Unbeknownst to the user, a second sting, in addition to applying its own changes, completely undoes all the changes associated with the first. As a result, Bachiko tends to make overly dramatic and unsubtle changes to personality, such as making Nao extremely polite in an attempt to get her and Natsuki together, which tend to undermine her overall goals.
  • Notably averted in Ultimate Spider-Woman: Change With The Light. When Mary Jane Watson suddenly finds herself developing bizarre superhuman powers, it doesn't take her long to figure out how to use them. She's already an experienced fighter due to being a blackbelt martial artist, which makes it easier for her to determine how to best use them in a fight.
  • Much like Danny, Sam had trouble controlling her new powers in the first story of the Facing the Future Series. On top of that, her main power can sometimes be used like spiderwebs.
  • A Shadow of the Titans: The only reason Raven and Jade are able to defeat the Master of Games after he absorbs the powers of the losers in his tournament is that he has only base control over them, something Jade is quick to point out in her "The Reason You Suck" Speech to him.
  • A plot point in the Triptych Continuum is that alicorns have the powers of all three pony tribes, but haven't necessarily studied the mechanics of those abilities and don't come into their new state with automatic knowledge of how to make them work. This means Twilight is incapable of flight, while she appears to have Power Incontinence to a lethal degree.
  • Alex Harris, the protagonist of Origin Story, luckily avoids all this. She has all of Power Girl's memories, and thus knows instinctively how to use all of Power Girl's powers. She still plays around with them occasionally just because its fun.
  • In Hail to the King, a human man wakes up in Equestria in King Sombra's body. First he has to figure out how to move in a unicorn's body. Next, while he has access to all of King Sombra's great power, he has little experience. It is much easier for him to use the more destructive applications than more peaceful ones. Since King Sombra runs on The Power of Hate, he is actually able to control his powers easier when he gives in to anger, hate, and frustration, but at the risk of losing his mind.
  • In Pony POV Series, since Princess Cadence is relatively young compared to the other Alicorns, she's still getting the hang of her abilities. She didn't know Alicorns could shape-shift until Queen Chrysalis pointed it out.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Asuka's powers start to manifest during the battle with the Sixth Angel. Hilarity Ensues during the next couple of chapters as Asuka tries to find out her capabilities (for example, she jumped, could not stop, collided with a building and flew through it).
  • Xander in New Guard spends several chapters (a few days in-story) trying to figure out his powers as Superman. While some like speed and strength are fairly easy to figure out (though he doesn't know his limits), Xander's first "flight" comes after he jumps in surprise when he goes to the bathroom and his urine breaks the urinal he was using. Despite being airborne, he can't figure out how to move in any direction at all, leading to SG1 pulling him along like a balloon.
  • Vision in The War Is Far from Over Now struggles for most of the fight against Ultron due to several factors that all boil down to this trope. First, he isn't used to having a physical body and is technically only an hour old. Second, he has a universal singularity (the Mind Stone) embedded in his body. Third, Vision isn't even sure what his powers are, let alone how to use them. At one point, he puts up a temporary mental shield to protect Tony from his trauma at fighting the Chitauri again but isn't sure what he did or how he did it.
  • In With Strings Attached, all the four struggle with their magic when they first get it, especially Paul, and they undergo a continual learning process throughout the book.

    Films — Animation 
  • In the Disney Fairies film The Pirate Fairy, Zarina douses Tinker Bell and her friends with rainbow-colored pixie dust, swapping their talents. They all have a little trouble controlling their new talents at first...except for Tinker Bell's foil Vidia, who is mortified to find that she instinctively thinks like a Tinker.
  • The Incredibles: Even though Violet has had her powers of invisibility and force field creation her whole life, she's very inexperienced and anxious when it comes to using her powers throughout the majority of of the film. This comes to a violent head when she is unable to summon a sufficiently large enough force field to shield the plane she is in from Syndrome's heat-seeking missiles and nearly dies in an explosion along with Elastigirl and Dash. After a pep talk from her mother about it, she is seen practicing intently on the campfire.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree: As the Equestria Girls gain magical abilities, they're unsure of how to use them at first. This leads to several instances of them hurting themselves (and almost each other), like Dash's Super Speed causing her to run face-first into a wall, or Rarity's gem barriers pushing Applejack into the lake. Sunset helps them out with a song called "Embrace the Magic", where the girls get their powers under control.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017): The Storm King wants to steal and use the power of the alicorn princesses for himself with his Magic Staff to become a One-Man Army... but once he actually does manage it at the climax of the film, he has no idea how to use their powers, especially since he never bothered to do his research on what exactly the Princesses could do and thus having to figure them out. While he's a quick learner, this lack of skill is partially why the Mane Six are even able to defeat him by separating him from his staff and the power in question before he can get a handle on them.
  • In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles starts out unable to effectively use any of his powers (although he doesn't need to figure out how to shot web at first, until he gets his hands on an actual web-shooter): he sticks to things when he's stressed, goes invisible when he's scared, and his venom strike just kind of activates a couple of times... leading to a scene where he has to run along the wall of a school building without his shirt on and with a live pigeon stuck to each hand. He gets the hang of it later, at least.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Batman Begins shows Bruce Wayne experimenting with the technology that would eventually become part of his iconic identity, learning from his mistakes (bouncing off that fire escape had to hurt!) and upgrading accordingly.
  • Chronicle features a lot of this when the three teenagers discover their telekinesis, starting off with fairly basic experiments with redirecting thrown baseballs and assembling lego sets (Matt having great difficulty getting the bricks to stay together), to testing forcefields by stabbing each other in the hands with forks. Even after they think they've managed to master their powers, more of this trope crops up when Steve learns how to fly; while Andrew gets the hang of it very quickly, Matt's first three attempts result in him crashing to the ground.
  • In Danger Diva, at first Devi isn't sure how to use her cybernetically-altered voice, which can shatter glass and mind-control people. She learns to control it with the vocal coach Adrian.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • In Man of Steel, it took Clark a few tries to figure out how to fly, and some time to get a handle on his Super Senses. He uses this against the villainous Kryptonians, who need special helmets to prevent Sensory Overload. Zod, unfortunately, is disciplined enough to adapt pretty quickly.
    • Played for laughs in SHAZAM! (2019), in which the wizard Shazam declares Billy Batson The Chosen One, hands him godlike powers, and lets him and his Muggle Best Friend Freddie figure out the rest from there.
  • Bill Cage in Edge of Tomorrow initially has no idea how to fight in a powered exoskeleton or how to even remove the safety off of its mounted guns when he is dropped on a beach to fight in a failed invasion against invading aliens with Save Scumming powers. But when Cage gains their powers, he slowly but surely learns how to use his foreknowledge of the day's events to his advantage and learns more about how to fight in his suit.
  • In The Fly (1986), upon unknowingly becoming a Half-Human Hybrid Seth feels different. Hours after his first self-teleportation, he startles himself out of sleep when he manages to catch a buzzing fly in his hand. From there, he quietly begins testing his new, mild Super Strength and reflexes by lifting himself by his arms out of a sitting position in a chair, and even manages to perform a gymnastics routine on a hanging pipe. A few days later he challenges a barfly to an arm-wrestling match; it turns out to be so one-sided that he rips the man's arm open, and the expression on Seth's face suggests he wasn't expecting that. The changes get much uglier from there, and because no one has ever undergone an experience like this he has to feel his way through them; he notes that he had to figure out "the hard and painful way" how to eat upon realizing he couldn't digest solid food anymore, and when Veronica is startled to see him Wall Crawling he simply notes "Got pretty good at it, haven't I?"
  • Green Lantern milks the humor from Hal Jordan's attempts to activate his power ring for the first time, which include calling out "To infinity and beyond!" and "By the power of Greyskull!"
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Captain America: The First Avenger: After Steve comes out of the tank with super-strength and speed, he spends the next minute or so running into store fronts and cars while trying to turn. Also apologizing. A lot.
    • Iron Man:
      • Tony goes through a few iterations of flight testing with repulsor thrusters. His first attempt is just boots (and at 10% thrust capacity)... causing him to shoot up like a cannonball, faceplant on the ceiling, then crash down to the ground. Then he gets doused with fire extinguisher. With his second test he gets smart and adds flight stabilizers on his hands (and only used 1% and then 2.5% thrust capacity), but hasn't entirely figured out how to steer his flight yet, causing him to drift beyond the testing area and in places he really shouldn't be. And he nearly gets doused in fire extinguisher. His full flight-ready Mark 2 suit also takes some time getting used to before he has flight control. He nearly dies when he goes up so high that his suit freezes over and shuts down, leaving him plummeting to the ground. When he regains control and flies back home he tries to land on the roof, only to fall through the roof, a piano, and a floor, before smashing one of his cars by landing on it. He then gets doused with fire extinguisher.
      • He doesn't even intentionally create his iconic hand beams; he just accidentally finds out that having his hand stabilizers go off at full power while not in flight fires a blast of energy. He discovers this by launching himself into a wall.
      • Ironically subverted by Obadiah Stane, the film's villain, who is able to match Iron Man blow for blow when he gets his own suit of armor, despite having never been shown to have any training of his own. However, he relies heavily on a targeting computer; when Iron Man disables that, he quickly proves unable to hit him with missiles from about ten feet away. Nor does Stane know about the dangers of his armor freezing up if he flies too high, a problem Iron Man had already dealt with earlier in the film and that he now exploits when Stane makes the same mistake he did. His proficiency is somewhat justified in that the Iron Monger suit was designed as a mass produced weapon that Stane could later sell to the military; it's implied that it's designed to be very easy to use as opposed to the specifically calibrated Iron Man suit Stark has.
      • Stark didn't have much trouble operating his original "escape" suit either, despite not having much — or any — practice with it (but he designed and programmed it, so he knew how it was supposed to respond). Since Stane's suit is just a bigger and beefier copy of Stark's original plans, presumably there was something about the original design that made it fairly idiot-proof. That said, the entirety of the Mk. 1 suit's armaments were a flamethrower, a manually-fired missile, fists and a manual start rocket boost. The flamethrower requires next-to-no aiming capacity and the missile missed... thank goodness for Splash Damage. Meanwhile Stark couldn't stop himself from constantly adding upgrades and modifications that certainly would have made his own suit more complex and fiddly. (Not to mention Perpetual Beta.)
    • Hilariously played straight in Iron Man 2 where the various corporations and countries (including North Korea) tries to replicate the Iron Man suit, only to be met with disaster each time. Justin Hammer's own demonstration even shows that, without proper knowledge, simply turning to the left can potentially snap your spine in two due to the hydraulics turning the torso too far. Subverted with Rhodey though, who not only managed to steal one of Tony's suits, but thoroughly beat Tony into the ground with it. Granted, Tony was piss drunk, but that's still rather impressive. It's implied that Rhodey only ever saw the suit, but never actually wore it before then.
    • In Iron Man 3, Tony puts Pepper Potts in the Iron Man suit to protect her from flying debris. She tries to fight their attackers, but can't figure out how to work the suit, so Tony remotely takes the suit back when she is at a safe distance. Savin steals the Iron Patriot suit and has no trouble operating it. Also, it is revealed that the so-called terrorist bombings were really people who took Extremis and blew themselves up because they couldn't regulate their powers. When Pepper is injected with Extremis, she manages to control her powers and defeat the Big Bad with them.
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming Played With. While Peter knows the relative basics of his suit, he doesn't know some of the more advanced functions. But they were locked, and at one point in the film he is trapped in a warehouse, and so learns how to use them by methodically going over them in no particular order.
  • Basically the main plot of The Meteor Man, where much of the movie is spent on Jefferson Reed learning to use his new powers, including flight (despite being afraid of heights).
  • During his first flight as The Rocketeer, Cliff Secord accidentally turns the rocketpack off as he's saluting passengers aboard a plane. In the comic, his first flight had him unable to control his speed, and ended with an intentional crash landing because he couldn't figure out how to stop.
  • A similar thing happens to the title character in Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.: The first time his powers manifest, he accidentally cartwheels into a light pole; later, he tries to become Kabukiman, but somehow turns into a clown; even later, he learns he can fly, but due to not being used to it, he throws up, and it lands on an asshole lawyer below him.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
  • Luke Skywalker spends much of the original Star Wars trilogy learning how to use his Jedi powers, especially during his Training from Hell with Yoda.
  • Star Wars, The Force Awakens: Whatever Rey's origins are, she apparently heard of the Jedi and Force Powers (because when she meets Han Solo and he claims "all of it" to be true, she doesn't demand clarification); the rest of the movie has her try out a variety of moves, gradually mastering them as she goes. She notably learns them much faster than anyone else in the series; she's better after two days than Luke was after three years.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: First Class shows more of this. Professor X hypothesizes that Banshee's sonic scream should enable him to fly (with a wing-suit), so he encourages him to jump out of a second story window. Three guesses what happens. Then, they decide that the main problem is that he didn't have long enough to generate lift, so they go to the top of a satellite dish. Banshee doesn't want to. Erik doesn't care.
    • Even Wolverine isn't immune, at least when it involves his adamantium upgrade. His original bone claws tapered to points, whereas his adamantium claws have cutting edges. The first few hours after he got his metal in X-Men Origins: Wolverine were spent accidentally cutting things up, and X-Men: Days of Future Past has him trying to slash with the bone claws and failing.

  • In Animorphs, the kids got the general hang of morphing easily, but had to watch every new morph because they risked losing control of it. And in some cases, like termites, they never morphed them again.
  • In Children of the Black Sun, Sympaths almost always have this, if they even try. They have the ability to generate vast amounts of magic from their surroundings, but seldom know how to do anything notable with it, and are more often used as accumulators of magic for other mages. Sierra, the protagonist, was originally intended to be this (much against her will), but becomes very dangerous when she escapes and starts learning how to use the magic she gathers.
  • Covenant in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant spends a remarkable number of pages not having a real hang of his own Wild Magic. Most of it is pure instinct, even without his knowledge early on (towards the end of the first trilogy, he even says that he still doesn't know how to use it, but he's figured out how to trigger it... which basically amounts to putting himself in mortal danger and relying on the wild magic itself and/or his own subconscious to save him). It's not until the second trilogy that we see him directing it toward definite purposes, complete with a training regimen... he uses his wild magic to shave, precisely to teach himself control over it. Technically, he still doesn't know how to turn it on. Instead, he had to learn to keep it under control due to Lord Foul's venom acting as a permanent trigger.
  • In the Codex Alera series, we see the Academy is where most Alerans go through this learning process. However, when Tavi becomes aware of furies, the person goes through a Training from Hell for months, which we see briefly in the second to last book.
  • In Dinoverse, kids are sent back in time and possess the bodies of dinosaurs. Most of them get used to their new abilities quickly, but Janine, in the body of a Quetzalcoatlus, had to struggle and work to learn Flight.
  • Dragaera: Vladimir Taltos has no freaking clue what he's doing with his new Empathic Weapon, Godslayer and has gotten himself in a lot of trouble with such screw-ups as accidentally destroying a sorceress's soul in the process of blocking something nasty she threw at him.
  • In the Drenai saga, Decado, a former Badass Normal, experiences this on his first astral travel as there is nobody around to teach him the subtleties of it. Whereas his friends' spirit forms appear clothed in silver armour and carrying swords of light, he has to fight the forces of evil naked and with his bare hands. Not that this slows him down too much.
  • In Galaxy of Fear, young Tash Arranda is an untrained Force-Sensitive. The Force is a fantastic power... but she really doesn't know anything about using it beyond what a sympathetic Luke Skywalker told her in the first book: that she should trust her feelings. When she fails at Jedi anything in The Nightmare Machine, her memory of this failure sabotages her repeatedly in Ghost of the Jedi.
    For a while, I thought I might be — or could be — a Jedi. But now I think that was just a fluke. When we were on Hologram Fun World, I didn't know what was happening even though we were in danger. Now I just feel like I'm going crazy. That's the opposite of what a Jedi is.
  • Most of the mutants in Gone suffer from this, particularly Sam. Strangely, Caine and Diana have already figured out how to use their powers because Evil Is Cool and Good Is Dumb. Diana and Caine spent a while practicing their powers before coming down to Perdido Beach. It was said in the first book they'd had their powers for a couple months.
  • Harry Potter builds this trope right into the setting. You've got magical powers? Great! You still have to go to school for seven years to learn how to use them. Both young Harry and Tom Riddle are able to occasionally "will" something to happen, but the effects are haphazard without training.
    • All young witches and wizards can use magic during times of stress or when feeling extreme emotions, though the effects are notoriously unpredictable (though they'll often reflect the emotion the kid's feeling; for instance, when Harry wanted to escape from Dudley and his friends, he apparated on top of the school chimney). It's shown that they can gain some control over it on their own, like Lily did as a kid, but to do anything functional and avoid losing control of their powers, they need schooling.
  • Deliberately invoked in The Immortals when Emperor Ozorne turns himself into a Stormwing to avoid punishment. As the Stormwing queen Barzha tells him, he just lost all his mortal magic in exchange for immortal magic, which he has no idea how to control. Sadly, he gets a grip on it pretty fast.
    Ozorne: I still have magic! I have Stormwing magic!
    Barzha: That's sweet, dearie. Do you know how to use it?
  • In each of the Incarnations of Immortality books, the protagonists have to get the hang of being the Incarnations of Death, Time, Fate, War, Nature, Evil, Good, and Night, respectively.
  • InCryptid:
    • Ghostly Mary Dunlavy is only just learning how to be a ghost. Fran knows more about it than she does.
    Fran: You're a goddamn ghost! Do I need to get you an instruction book? Walk through the door!
    • Sorcerers like Antimony and James often have to figure out their powers by trial and error, since sorcerers are few and far between, largely due to persecution by the Covenant.
    • After Sarah becomes a Johrlac Queen, she takes a while to figure out her vastly expanded new powers, partially because she doesn't want to accidentally hurt anyone with them.
  • Not knowing how to properly control magic in the Inheritance Cycle will likely kill you from either a rebound of magical energy or, more likely, draining your life force away before you can cancel the spell. It's also been said repeatedly in-universe that truly mastering the art of magic takes decades of practice and diligence. For the first book and a half, Eragon's progress follows this trend, as he slowly progresses from struggling to lift a rock with his mind to effortlessly casting fire-based spells. Of course, then he undergoes a crash course in magic with the elves and then becomes half-elf during the Blood-Oath Ceremony, completely eliminating the need for a slow progression.
    • He's still learning clear through to the last book, but after the Blood-Oath Ceremony, it's less about how to use magic, and more about learning what he can accomplish with it.
  • Legacy of the Aldenata: The Posleen inherited all of their technology from their Neglectful Precursors, and they have no idea how most of it works. This can lead to some humorous bits, such as when a computer helpfully informs one Posleen about incoming artillery fire and he just stares at it like a moron.
  • The better part of a chapter of Life The Universe and Everything is devoted to Arthur Dent learning to fly. By accident. To put it simply, he was falling, and got so distracted that he missed the ground. He does eventually become adept enough to teach another person to fly, and they end up having sex in midair.
  • Mathias Martel in Magik Online spends most of the story's first arc testing out the limits of his spells through trial and errors. He eventually figures out how to combine two spells into one.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen: After becoming the Master of the Deck of Dragons, Ganoes Paran spends quite a while not knowing what his abilities (or responsibilities) actually are, let alone how to use them. By The Crippled God he has become a full-blown Space Master capable of opening portals between or within dimensions and can go to or summon to himself anyone represented by the Deck. Since he is also commanding a Badass Army this is terrifyingly effective in terms of logistics and maneuvers.
  • Matilda spends a substantial amount of time trying to figure out the ins and outs of her "push-stuff-around-with-her-eyes" (telekinesis) power.
  • In Minecraft: The Island, a major part of the early chapters is the protagonist learning how Minecraft works and what they can and can't do, especially what foods they can and can't eat.
  • In Mistborn: The first book has several amusing scenes of Kelsier teaching Vin about Allomancy and being a Mistborn. In particular, after he teaches her the basics of steel and iron (blue lines that connect to sources of metal), but says he'll explain the rest later, Vin's suspicious nature gets the better of her. She experimentally "tugs" on one of the blue lines, and yips and ducks as a loose nail shoots at her chest. Kelsier simply muses "I should have expected you to do that," then proceeds to explain Ironpulling and Steelpushing to her. Still takes her a bit to figure it out, though.
    • An unusually grand variant of this trope is what resulted in the world becoming an ash-blanketed wasteland a thousand years ago. The Lord Ruler received cosmic levels of power for a very limited amount of time and tried to stop the mists that were destroying civilisation. The power came with instinctive knowledge of how to use it to, say, move the planet closer to the sun to burn off the mists, but gave no information about the consequences of doing so or where the best place to put it would be. The Lord Ruler couldn't get the position right, and with limited time decided to move it too close to the sun, and then introduce a permanent nuclear winter to stop it overheating too much. He then realised plants and animals couldn't survive such a world, and frantically tried to adjust their biology to fit the new environment, with each change causing more problems until his power ran out.
  • In Just Another Judgement Day, there's a humorous scene at the Adventurer's Club when a wannabe supervillain with no clue how his (stolen) magic rings work accidentally teleports himself into the midst of a huge crowd of Nightside heroes, rather than into the neighboring club he'd intended to rob.
  • In The Reader, Sefia experiences this while trying to figure out her Sight abilities, mainly because she's not formally trained. Quite often it fizzles out, and when it does work she's exhausted.
  • Shonsu in The Seventh Sword trilogy, by Dave Duncan, spends all three books learning to use the abilities given to him by a goddess. When he is first granted the abilities and knowledge to be the world's greatest swordsman, he has no idea. As the story progresses, he learns more and more about his capabilities, usually as the situations arise. This even applies to textbook-type knowledge, which actually works really well in the story.
  • Daylen experiences this in Shadow of the Conqueror with his newfound Lightbinding magic. He's able to rapidly figure out the basics within two chapters of even getting the ability, but it's a slow trickle from there on out, due to him not being able to get a mentor until late in the book. Even then, there's a lot of information about Lightbinding magic that won't be revealed until future installments.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers, a major part of the first half of the novel is learning to use the powered armor "suits" of the Mobile Infantry.
  • Various Surgebinders in The Stormlight Archive suffer from this. Kaladin takes something like a book and a half to really get a handle on things.
  • Sword of Truth:
    • Richard from never learns how to use the vast majority of his abilities... except, of course, the ones that are absolutely necessary to allow him to save the day. Richard's magic appears to be keyed to strong emotion; a big deal was made of whether or not he could actually use his anger in the first book, as opposed to simply keeping it locked inside himself.
    • Subverted in the case of swordplay — which is, let's face it, the first thing to master when trying to use any magic sword's first and foremost super power. Getting magic swords that can cut anything is great — for knights and swordmasters. For anyone else, it's a health risk. Richard's a woodsman, the most experience he'd have with blades would be limited to a machette and a skinning knife. He'd have to learn swordplay like any other, right? No. The Sword of Truth can share the collective combat experience of all previous users with the Seeker; Richard of course learns this while, and promptly uses it during, a fight with 30 — that's thirty — Baka Ban Mana blademasters. They're guys who spend most of their lives training swordplay, each day, all day, dawn till dusk. Right. He actually lampshades it right before that fight, thinking that against one man he is virtually unstoppable — but only because the sword cannot be parried, and so he can count on getting one strike through.
    • There is a villainous case in book 4, where Jagang takes over the mind of a wizard. He can use simple telekinesis and throw fireballs, but never uses more advanced powers like Deflector Shields or tranfiguration.
  • Played for Drama and/or Wangst in Twilight. Becoming a vampire in this 'verse grants you Super Strength and Nigh-Invulnerability, but you have to spend a long time relearning your fine-motor skills and accidentally break stuff a lot. Edward's still got a fair way to go on this issue a hundred years after being turned.
  • Say what you will about the Doorstopper length of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series, but it does allow the channeling characters a realistic period of time to get a grasp on controlling and developing their powers. Notably, none of the characters become Instant Experts, but have a learning curve of three or four books before they gain consistent control. Nyneave takes a full seven books to overcome her block. Learning to use saidin without a teacher is so difficult that Rand finally has to trap a Forsaken to keep from getting himself killed. Later, Nynaeve and Elayne hold another one hostage in order to learn lost techniques that have stayed lost for a good three millennia. Eventually, the Asha'man (a corps of male Channelers) are created an it was realized this trope could come into play. They develop a Training from Hell regimen (similar to Covenant's above in that recruits learn by using the Power for everything in order to get the hang of it quickly) to deal with this.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Amazing Extraordinary Friends, Ben has no idea how the Captain X insignia works and spends a lot of time trying to figure out how to control his powers (and occasionally discovering powers he did not know he had).
  • Happens frequently to the witches in Charmed; in the first episode alone they had to learn which of them had which power (telekinesis, freezing time and prophetic visions), and in the course of the series they all receive a range of 'upgrades' at potentially inopportune moments (astral projection, blowing things up, flight and empathy). Even when they have to "replace" one of the original trio with their previously-unknown half-sister, her new parentage means that her power works differently from her predecessor, so they can't just adapt what worked before and take it from there.
  • In a relatively unremarkable body switch episode of Farscape, Rygel (the tiny frog-like Napoleon) is occupying John Crichton's body when he finds himself needing to urinate. John leads him through the steps, but when it comes to zipping up... well, it didn't go well. Let's not forget that John was in Aeryn's body while giving the instructions, for added hilarity. Aeryn later hints that she did certain things in John's body as well.
  • The Flash:
    • The pilot of The Flash (1990) has Barry learn about his ability and limitations. The first time he accidentally activates it, he tries to catch a bus... and ends up miles away on a beach. He has a hard time stopping. The only thing that helps is running on water, which absorbs a lot of his momentum. He also faints frequently due to his metabolism going into overdrive, turning him into a Big Eater.
    • The 2014 remake has Barry try to run after discovering his power, only to accidentally end up in a van that happens to be full of clothes to soften the impact.
  • Vampires in the Forever Knight verse have to learn to control their powers right after being turned, especially the trick of not being overpowered by the hunger. That's why most of them have masters guiding them for a while.
  • This is the entire premise of the show The Greatest American Hero. The hero lost the manual to his super-suit in the pilot episode, and as a result does not know how to use his powers or even what they are. It's worth noting that Ralph finally got a replacement instruction manual in one episode. He loses it when, experimenting with shrinking powers, he gets startled by an ant and returns to normal size... leaving the manual microscopic.
  • Heroes:
    • Peter Petrelli , both in Season 1 (where he learned how to control his empathic powers from Claude) and in Season 2 (where he got amnesia and forgot both which powers he had and how to use them). This seems to be one of the recurring problems which always almost brings about an apocalypse of some sort. Hell, in the beginning of Season 1 Peter didn't even know what his power was, having spent his life around five people with a power he could copy.
    • Arthur Petrelli doesn't seem to have this problem. He has a pretty good handle on how to use the powers he stole from Peter despite not having seen him use them.
    • There is also serial killer Sylar, who can use powers better than the person he stole from due to his power of "Intuitive Aptitude" which is the ability to analyse how things work, including brains (which is where powers manifest). However, Sylar seems to need a fair bit of training when he learns to take powers without examining the brain. Of course, we're still not sure how this works.
  • The pilot of The Invisible Man involved Darian being implanted with a gland that can turn him invisible, after which he has to be taught how to activate it, and then he experiments with it and learns to do things the scientists who developed the gland didn't even think were possible. The first time they get him to go invisible is by releazing tarantulas in a locked room with him. Considering Darien has arachnophobia (and his brother would know), this is a good way to trigger a massive generation of adrenalin necessary to activate the gland. When Darien tries to spy on a nurse and a soldier getting in on, his excitement causes his adrenalin levels to drop... and he gets a black eye from the pissed off soldier. Learning yoga helps control it. In another episode, Kevin Fawkes's RNA is injected into the gland in order to "revive" Kevin's ghost in Darien's body. Naturally, Kevin has to relearn how to use the gland.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • In Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, Kit's first attempt to transform into Dragon Knight includes multiple inflections of his transformation phrase ("'Kamen Rider!' 'Kamen... RIDER'? 'Kamenrider'?"), similar to the Spider-Man film.
    • Also, Kamen Rider V3 has to figure out all of his abilities due to Riders 1 and 2 being killed before they can teach them to him. (They get better.)
    • Kamen Rider Super-1's powers were meant to be controlled remotely. When the base (and machines) went kablooey, he had no idea how to activate his transformation, and it took six months of study at the Shaolin Temple to be able to Zen up his transformation (it... uh, makes more sense in context).
    • Kamen Rider Kuuga has to learn how to use the abilities of each form, usually with help from his friends. He also tends not to have a new form until it reveals itself to him. The Arcle actually does come with a manual, but it's translated only a very small amount at a time, and the Grongi ain't gonna wait for Yuusuke to figure out how the shiny suit works.
    • Kamen Rider Faiz was not meant to have the armor but is one of few who can use it. There are a lot of features Takumi doesn't know about until he stumbles onto them. In one episode, Delta summons a rocket bike. Takumi summons the one he never knew he had by entering the same code. It gets destroyed in the same episode as he's not as good with it as his opponent is with his own. Of course, he still has a Cool Bike. Why Takumi is one of the few who can use it is something else nobody knows at first, and is a doozy when revealed.
    • Kamen Rider Fourze literally struggles to transform and use his switch-weapons in the first episode. Yuki has to explain the transformation sequence to him, and Kengo communicates with Fourze mid-fight through his radar's built-in communicator in order to explain what gadget does what. Without all that help, Gentaro would've been flying around randomly and firing missiles everywhere without even touching the very first Monster of the Week once.
    • Kamen Rider Zero-One
      • Since the Zero-One system was a secret project almost no one knew about, the very first thing the it does when someone puts the belt on is put them through a tutorial of the suit's abilities at hyperspeed. Aruto still manages to freak himself out with the sheer height he can jump, and later trips and slams into a wall after his first Rider Kick. Looks like you can't grasp everything with theory alone...
      • It happens again when Aruto gets an alternate form capable of Playing with Fire. He uncontrollably releases jets of flame from his hands and begins burning himself, while his fumbling around causes Kamen Rider Vulcan to begin Corpsing.
    • The leads of Kamen Rider Revice get the hang of using their new powers well enough, but find out about a few of them through dumb luck. Notably, Ikki finds out that his axe doubles as a gun when he grabs it by the wrong end mid-battle and accidentally kills a mook, and the Remix Form ability is discovered when Vice decides to mess around with Ikki and inadvertently fiddles with his belt in just the right way.
  • The Objects from The Lost Room have shades of this, when someone even knows what they do or how to activate them. This is doubly true for the abilities of Object combinations, which don't always have anything to do with combining the abilities of the individual Objects (for example, the Wristwatch can boil an egg if it's placed around the egg, but when used with the Knife it grants the user telepathy).
  • British superhero drama Misfits really goes to town with this trope. Of the five protagonists, only Simon (whose power is Invisibility) can exert any kind of deliberate control over his power, while the others remain baffled and exasperated by their ungovernable abilities. Both Kelly, who hates being telepathic and wishes she could just turn it off, and Alisha, whose "power" of pheromone manipulation — which causes anyone who touches her skin to experience such violent surges of lust that they will generally attempt to rape her — can do nothing to mitigate or restrain the effects of their powers. Curtis finds his power of time manipulation to be infuriatingly sporadic, and then there's Nathan, whose power of Healing (and effective Immortality), works so incredibly slowly that it's possible for him to die, and only come back to life several days later — to find himself buried alive, naturally. It is, however, a little early in the Series to deem them all truly power incontinent.
  • Mutant X:
    • One episode has a young boy kidnapped for ransom. It turns out that the boy is an Elemental New Mutant capable of throwing fireballs. However, he's young, so he's not sure how to control his ability. The first time it manifests is during the kidnapping, when he accidentally burns a hole in a kidnapper's hand. At the end of the episode, he finally learns to produce fireballs on demand by copying Brennan's Pstandard Psychic Pstance when he's charging his electric powers.
    • There's also a bit of this when the team receives an upgrade. Brennan learns he can create a continuous blast akin to an ion engine with his hands, enabling brief flight. Shalimar becomes even stronger and can hear someone sneaking up on her while working out with loud music in her earbuds. Emma's Psychic Powers are boosted. Jesse learns to make other things intangible.
  • The members of No Ordinary Family have to spend quite some time learning the strengths and limitations of their new abilities. It occasionally goes poorly.
  • Power Rangers:
    • There was a scene in the first episode of Power Rangers Ninja Storm where the Rangers try to figure out how to activate their morphers. And then when they actually go out to face the bad guys, they struggle for a minute to remember the By the Power of Grayskull! phrase.
    • In Power Rangers Turbo, forming the new Megazord was difficult, and the Zords banged into each other a few times before someone got out the manual. What makes this one interesting is that, in The Movie, they could pull it off by being stationary. They just couldn't do it at high speeds.
    • When Karone becomes the new Pink Ranger in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, she messes up the command to summon the Galactabeasts — calling "Galactabeasts, over here!!" when it should be "Galactabeasts, arise!"
  • Raising Dion follows a seven year old boy, who is just discovering his superpowers. He has quite some trouble at first to keep them under control, or use them the way he wants.
  • The Sentinel is about a cop who discovers he has Super Senses. At first, they trigger instinctively, and sometimes to his detriment. A large part of the show, and the purpose for the character Blair, is Jim learning how to use and control his powers to help him fight crime.
  • The Shannara Chronicles: Wil can't reliably trigger the Elf Stones, and even when he succeeds it's got its downsides for him.
  • Used in Smallville a number of times as Clark's emerging powers make themselves known, most notably with his heat vision and X-ray vision. Clark spends all the way up to Season 10 unable to figure out how to fly, while Kara and other Kryptonians can do it in a few minutes — though it turns out that that's pretty much entirely psychological. Clark ends up accidentally firing off his Eye Beams (the first time he realizes he has them) by watching a sex ed video with a new hot teacher (Krista Allen). It's not difficult to see what the writers were trying to get across, especially since he triggers his second time by thinking of his crush Lana. By the end of the episode, he can trigger the beams on demand (such as by incinerating a bullet in flight).
  • On Teen Wolf, werewolves do not have instinctive knowledge of how to control their powers, or even knowledge of all the potential powers that they might have. For example, Peter Hale has exhibited various telepathic powers as both an Alpha and a Beta that Derek and other Alphas do not seem to know how to use.
  • Wonder Woman: Both Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl were shown learning how to transform into a super heroine while away from Paradise Island. The first time Drusilla changed into Wonder Girl, it took her multiple tries and a mental review to get it right.

  • Yoshi from the Cool Kids Table game Here We Gooooo! doesn't know how to use his lighting powers, and accidentally attacks Dario on his first try.

  • The main cast of Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues suddenly received their superpowers via a Mass Super-Empowering Event. As a result, some of them have a harder time adjusting to their new abilities than others. Of note:
    • Jacob has to spend many hours practicing his time rewinding power to get a proper handle on its intricacies. Even then, he struggles to explain the minutiae of it to other people.
    • Ivan and Mirielle both received powers that allow them to esoterically control fate- Mirielle by manipulating coloured strings that connect people together, and Ivan by manipulating media to influence a real-life event of his choosing. It takes both of them a lot of practise to understand what their powers even are, let alone how to use them.
    • Ciro, being Genre Blind to superhero fiction and reluctant to engage with his newfound power, struggles to figure out what his force-field generation is, and how to use it in a way that isn't instinctual.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Bliss Stage: It takes La Résistance around a year to figure out how to pilot an ANIMa without killing themselves. It's still very unintuitive even with proper Anchoring.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The Sorcerer class is based on innate spellcasting power. First level sorcerers can create light or perhaps burn something with a bit of acid, but get more powerful with time. However, they are greatly limited in the variety of spells they can cast, as they have to figure them out themselves instead of learning them from scrolls or books.
  • GURPS Supers: For many powers, power level and power skill are bought separately (and it's even possible to completely neglect buying the latter, which generally results in defaulting to an effective skill level of either DX-5 or IQ-5). It doesn't matter how many points are sunk in the former; a low score in the latter will result in someone struggling to activate their powers at all, let alone effectively.
  • Masks: A New Generation: Player characters are rookie superheroes who tend to have a shaky grasp of their powers; as such, even a successful usage of them tends to be unstable or temporary unless you roll an exceptional success.
  • Ponyfinder:
    • Sea horses can't actually breathe water unless they take the feat "Return to the Sea".
    • In-Universe, this is actually a problem that the ghost ponies have to deal with; they have adapted to live in the Ethereal Plane, but they have no innate magical ability to step between worlds and it's not safe for their foals to live or grow in the Ethereal. As such, they create magical items to allow them to walk between.
  • Scion has the character channeling their divine power through Birthrights — gifts from their god-parents. If someone were to steal a Birthright, they could use all the real owner's powers that it channels — but the chance of failure, and the penalties, are significant though, meaning most characters who try this end up dying to this trope.

  • The stage version of The Little Mermaid has the musical number "Positoovity" in which Scuttle and his fellow seagulls instruct Human Ariel how to walk.

  • Brought up infrequently in LEGO's BIONICLE franchise. The Toa Metru spend almost a year's worth of story not knowing how to activate their mask powers — they eventually discover them in the movie Legends of Metru Nui. Forming Toa Kaita fusions is another power of theirs they didn't know how to master. Universally, the much more powerful Toa Nui fusion is something that no Toa ever managed to achieve, and is as such seen as a mere fable. And in the canceled 5th movie, Kiina and Ackar would have struggled to keep their newly acquired Elemental Powers in check.

    Video Games 
  • Bang Shishigami from BlazBlue was only told two things by Platinum; that he had a Nox Nyctores, which are insanely powerful, and that its ability could very well save several people. She didn't bother telling him though what it was and not even how to activate it.
  • In Breath of Fire III, Ryu is born as a baby dragon, and his first few shapeshifts between human and dragon forms (which occur outside of actual combat) are completely uncontrolled. Although the player gains the ability to transform at will during battle, it is not until later, when he reaches adulthood, that he has full control over his transformations.
  • Fate/Grand Order:
    • Sir Galahad possesses Mash Kyrielight to save her life and turn her into Servant Shielder. But since he's a prick and thinks the heroes' struggles are not his problem, that's as far as his generosity goes. With a few exceptions, he refuses to communicate with Mash, teach her how to use his powers, or even tell her the name of their Noble Phantasm. She is forced to figure it out on her own. Fortunately, she manages to activate her Noble Phantasm on instinct to protect the player.
    • The player character has Magic Circuits, but ZERO knowledge of magecraft or spells beyond what's written into their Mystic Code outfits. Kadoc mocks them for this during Part 2, because he can't believe an ignoramus like them saved the world in Part 1.
    • Nergal gave Ereshkigal a spear that gives her The Power of the Sun, but since Ereshkigal is an Underworld goddess and hasn't even seen the sun, it takes a while for her to figure out how it works.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Much of Final Fantasy VI focuses on Terra's inability to control her powers as a half-Esper.
    • Final Fantasy VII. After his defeat at Nibelheim, Sephiroth is inactive for 7 years, trapped in Mako until he returns with Jenova's powers. There's some debate on whether that comes down to Sephiroth learning how to control Jenova or the other way around, but Word of God has said that Jenova was not in control. Although that Word of God was released 10 years after the original game.
  • In .hack games, both Kite and Haseo needs to learn how to use their powers. Kite got off lightly, since his Twilight Bracelet can be used easily (with the catch that if he has too much viral infection, he'd, quite simply, die). No mishaps there (except player-induced). Haseo however, basically had to undergo a lot of training to obtain his Epitaph Power as Skeith. The first time he got it out, he nearly comatosed a group of people. Afterwards, he's inclined to pull this off to anyone that threatens him, comatose or no. Inevitably, he loses control of Skeith since he used it with such a reckless abandon. Were it not for Kuhn's special power, he would've permanently comatosed someone.
  • Each time Delsin absorbs another conduits powers in In Famous Second Son he must learn everything from scratch. Invoked by Augustine, who allows Delsin to absorb her abilities knowing he will be left powerless.
  • Kingdom Hearts has a couple cases of this.
    • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep: Mickey steals a magical item of Yen Sid's, which lets him teleport between worlds in lieu of using a Keyblade Glider like Terra, Ven, and Aqua.
      Mickey: All I hafta do is think it, and this Star Shard will take me wherever I want to go... At least I thought it would. I haven't quite got the fine points down, like... when... or where. It kinda just goes off whenever it feels like it.
    • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance: Toward the end of the game Lea receives training to use a Keyblade, then pulls a Big Damn Heroes in the climax to save Sora... with Eternal Flames, the Rings of Death he used back when he was Axel. After Sora is woken up, Lea reveals that he couldn't get his Keyblade to materialize.
      Lea: Must be in the snap of the wrist, or somethin'... [Keyblade suddenly appears in his hands] ...oh.
  • The backstory to the NESTS saga character Nameless in The King of Fighters reveals that he had a number of problems controlling his pyrokinetic abilities. Most of his time after testing was spent in the infirmary recovering from severe burns, and on his first real assignment he killed somebody just by tapping them on the shoulder.
  • Monster Hunter: World: The final boss of the base game, Xeno'jiiva, possesses incredible power but moves rather clumsily and overall doesn't make very good use of its abilities. This is justified because it's a newborn, and therefore doesn't really know how to use its giant energy beams, claws, and wings to best effect. Hell, it only seems to realize it even has wings halfway through the fight! In Iceborne, the player is introduced to Safi'jiiva, an adult of the same species, which has much greater control over itself and its abilities, and is a MUCH tougher fight as a result.
  • The constant bane of MMORPG veterans is newbies who get levelled up too fast thanks to Min-Maxing friends, and end up being very high level with absolutely no idea how to use any of their equipment or abilities, or the basic features of the game. Even worse are those who simply buy high level characters, literally hitting the level cap without ever having fought an enemy.
    • City of Heroes players suffer from this trope particularly due to the sidekick system. A low level hero can be temporarily promoted to a high level so they can join a high level instance, but they do not gain any new powers, nor does it miraculously turn a new, low-level player into an experienced veteran.
    • World of Warcraft also has this apply to the ability to pay to change your talents, or buy an alternate set of talents. As such, players may be quite good at using their current talent tree, but may need some adjustment while switching to others, as a Warrior might be quite good at the DPS Arms tree, but not as good with Fury (which is also DPS), let alone tanking with Protection without quite a bit of practice.
    • In Final Fantasy XIV:
      • Using The Palace of the Dead, Heaven on High, or jump potions (which lets players boost a job to 10 minus the level cap) leads to this. This lets players skip through most of the leveling process, meaning that they never learn proper rotations or, generally, how to play the class at all.
      • When the Shadowbringers expansion came out, the developers redesigned how almost every class works. While the basics were still there, everyone who was reasonably invested in the game had to re-learn their classes in order to use them effectively.
      • Also due to the game allowing a single character to play any class or role, playing one class or role for a long enough time then switching to another can lead to this situation.
    • Another cause of this syndrome is a "Foundry" or similar system that lets players create their own content. Some will create easy "farming" missions that grant plenty of experience points with little "experience". This is especially prevalent in the aforementioned City of Heroes, with its Mission Architect system.
  • The Pokémon Ditto has only one power — Being able to copy those that belong to its opponent. (It's also immune to being paralyzed, but that's beside the point.) However, Ditto cannot copy the opponent's HP and all the moves it copies come with only 5 PP, showing its inability to master techniques on the spot.
  • Fairly well done in Second Sight, where John escapes a hospital with Laser-Guided Amnesia. He has a lot of psychic powers but doesn't know about them, until they manifest themselves by an appropriate challenge. For example, he finds himself tied to a cot and unable to get free. Suddenly, he realizes he can will the bonds to open and the door to unlock. He's also weak and hurt. He clutches his head... and suddenly feels better via psychic healing. A guard tries to stop him and threatens him with a gun. Once again, John gets a headache and fires a sphere of psychic energy at the guard that sends him flying across the room, breaking the guy's neck. This all culminates at the end when John realizes that most of the events of the game are the manifestation of his Precognition ability; i.e. the game events are a possible future.
  • In Shadow of the Colossus, although he's a crack shot with his bow, Wander doesn't know much about how to use his sword except that it shines when he is getting near a colossus and "point stabby end at colossus; stab." The eventual backstory revelations imply that he stole the thing, which would explain why he's so awkward with it.
  • Played with in Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion. Samus always had the ability to walljump and shinespark, but learns to use it from the Zebes animals. When the SA-X appears in the latter title, while it never uses these techniques, it's explicitly stated the X parasites take knowledge from the host, so it stands to reason that it would know how to use them (by virtue of having infected Samus before). It may simply be that the Wall Jump and Shinespark are just impractical for the SA-X to use; the Wall Jump is rendered obsolete by its Space Jump ability, and the BSL station's tight quarters severely limits the usage of the Speed Booster/Shinespark.
  • Touhou
    • Rumia can generate a field of darkness to protect herself from light, which hurts her, but she can't see through her own field of darkness; she can often be seen bumping into trees midflight. Apparently, ZUN thought it would be funny to make a character's powerful-sounding ability (control of darkness) actually be useless.
    • Keine can hide and "eat" history, as well as create entirely new history in her hakutaku form, which would make her one of the most powerful characters in a setting already overflowing with Story Breaker Powers if she had any idea how to use it. The only time she even attempted, hiding the Human Village during the Imperishable Night, the player characters found it easily anyway.
    • It is occasionally assumed that Yukari Yakumo herself cannot fully grasp the potential of her abilities (them being the complete control of boundaries, both physical and metaphysical), or simply isn't willing to.
  • In Vagrant Story, Grissom takes a few moments to notice he Came Back Wrong and now has cool undead powers:
    "...Please, a moment. My body is not... cooperating."

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night
    • Shirou not only doesn't know how to shot web, he doesn't even know it's web he's supposed to be shotting!! Ahem. At first, he thinks he's supposed to be using strengthening magic, which he sucks at. Eventually, he figures out that he is much better at projection (magic that involves creating temporary replicas of real objects) and, although it's immensely taxing, picks up on that and becomes very good at it. During Unlimited Blade Works Archer reveals to Shirou that it's not projection he's good at, it's visualizing the exact nature of an object and creating it from his mind alone, which Archer eventually developed into a Reality Marble that turns him into a pure badass. At the end of that route, this allows Shirou to tap directly into his full potential. In Heaven's Feel, Shirou gains a more instinctual knowledge of his true powers through a Dangerous Forbidden Technique and being coached by Ilya, but the aforementioned technique causes brain damage and eventually kills him because that's the "From Bad to Worse" route. (Though he recovers somehow in the True End.) Oh, and in all cases Shirou still has a hard time projecting things accurately, which means they break easily.
    • This also happens with Sakura, who never received proper training as a magus and because of this has trouble controlling her magic. She does wind up being able to use it by instinct... when she goes crazy and gets access to Angra Mainyu's gamebreaking powers. Oh, Crap!, indeed.

    Web Animation 
  • In the third episode of Ducktalez has this happen twice in quick succession, Vegeta uses the body-change technique against Scrooge, discovering that just as he suspected, Scrooge had amazing powers but didn't know how to use them. However, when Vegeta tries blowing up his old body, he discovers he can't control Scrooge's flatulence problem and ends up switching bodies out of desperation.
  • In RWBY, everybody has a unique power known as a "Semblance". However, they don't know how to use it until they either experience a Traumatic Superpower Awakening (such as Lie Ren's power of masking emotions, which he discovered as his village was being destroyed by Grimm) or just discover it by accident (like Nora's power of absorbing electricity, which she claims she found out after being randomly struck by lightning one day). This is showcased with Jaune Arc, who only discovered his Semblance at the climax of Volume 5 and still didn't understand its true effects (amplifying the Auras of his allies) immediately.
  • In X-Ray & Vav, the titular duo obtain powers via Clothes Make the Superman. However, their (very reluctant) benefactor, Hilda, tossed them out in a hurry without telling them what things did, leading them to ravage their city trying to stop their first crime.

    Web Comics 
  • Zig-Zagged in Ava's Demon. When Ava makes a Magically Binding Contract with the demon inside her, she gets Super Empowered with a whole grab bag of fire-and-magma-related powers, all without knowledge of how to use them or how many she has. This includes...
  • Even though she gained her alternate form some time ago, Mye from Charby the Vampirate doesn't know most of the forms abilities. While she did suddenly learn she could teleport during a fight, and apparently has much greater strength, she still hasn't gotten around to learning to fly and mentions the fact to herself every time she gets stuck in a situation where flight would get her to safety.
  • In Chirault Bethan becomes intangible. It seems to give her a lot of sweet options, from going through objects and flying to dispelling magic by touch. However, she still has a problem with not falling through the ground: the gravity does not affect her, but she thinks that it should...
  • Charo of Dame Daffodil fame, in her first fight, uses her powers and transforms on instinct. After that, however, she has no idea how to consciously transform back or use her powers. There are no mentors, no instruction manuals, and she got the daffodil hairpin for £3 at a regular store so she can't just up and ask the seller for advice. Fortunately, a bit of practice helps her overcome these flaws. This is rather common to all that get a flower accessory.
  • Inverted in El Goonish Shive: When someone gains a new spell their spellbook grows several pages to comprehensively describe the details of how that spell works. Elliot goes over a week without reading it despite recently obtaining and using a new spell. It gets to the point where his sister knows more about his new spell than he does because she reads about it before he does, because she stole his spellbook as a prank. Susan turns out to be even worse; she assumed she'd "know" when she got a new spell, and would check the spellbook then. A later strip makes a point of the fact nobody checks their spellbooks as often as they should.
    • A more straightforward example comes when Tedd suspects he finally has a power of his own. Grace encourages him to try, but after a pause, he simply asks, "How do people cast spells?"
  • In FreakAngels, Cloudcuckoolander Arkady's apparent hobby is figuring out just what she and the other titular psychics can do with their powers. She's recently perfected teleportation. It's implied that all the FreakAngels doing this together is what caused The End of the World as We Know It.
  • In one episode of Full Frontal Nerdity, Frank runs a superhero campaign in which, reasoning that "Superman was always Superman", he lets his players start with ludicrously overpowered supers... who don't really know how to control their powers. Multiple destroyed cities ensue.
  • Agatha goes through a period of this early in Girl Genius, but for "sparks," this is normal. In fact, she would have finished going through the Shot Web phase years ago if she hadn't had a Power Limiter locket put on her for her own protection. Following the locket's removal, Gil remarks that she didn't break through so much as ease through.
  • In Grrl Power, Sydney has seven orbs that grant her superpowers when gripped in her hand, but since she didn't find a manual when she found the orbs, she had to do a lot of experimenting to figure out what the powers were, and has to do more whenever the orbs level up to figure out what new or upgraded abilities have been unlocked. It takes her until comic #541 to figure out even the most basic applications of what the green orb even does, and more than 900 comics in she still has no idea what the red one does.
  • Happens frequently in Homestuck, as the kids try to figure out what powers they have and how to use them.
    • John takes an especially long time to figure out his Heir of Breath powers but is ridiculously good at them once he learns the tricks; he also takes a while to master his Sylladex.
    • Dave figures out his Knight of Time powers relatively quickly, though he still Can't Catch Up with John in terms of raw power; his abilities are apparently more complicated, however, as he has to figure out how to navigate the game's massively screwed-up timeline.
    • Rose hasn't put too much effort into figuring out her Seer of Light powers yet, preferring to hone her magical abilities. Jade isn't even sure what being Witch of Space means, beyond apparently having "breeding duties" involving frogs and something about stoking a forge.
    • This trope is mostly averted when each of the kids reach God Tier. John, Rose, and Aradia all display instant mastery. On the other hand, Jade, who inherited both God Tier and First Guardian powers is still working her way through the latter abilities.
    • Roxy at first hasn't know what her powers can do and naturally assumed, that power, that allows user to "steal nothing" is useless. However, even after she learned, that she can create whatever she wants from nothing by stealing nothingness from imaginary objects (thus making them real), she still had to train for hours and consult with multiple characters to get her powers to work properly.
  • Happens frequently in Kagerou, one of the more notable examples being Kano learning how to use the magic sword he's given. He still hasn't quite gotten then hang of it despite ongoing training and having had to use it a few times to avoid being killed.
    Kano: Um, Cho, how am I supposed to hold it? It seems to have a number of... teeth.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: Allison is an ordinary twentysomething from modern-day LA who gets the Master Key to Creation shoved into her forehead one day with no explanation or tutoring included. Needless to say it takes her a long time to begin using it in ways that aren't completely accidental.
    Allison: Get me — out of here — you stupid pain in the ass piece of shit key! Come on! I'm being extremely resolute!
    Maya: Tch! You must not ask. You must simply do. You won't get anywhere with that. Five feet perhaps. Though in fairness to you — many powerful men and women spent lifetimes mastering how to cut space-time. I'm guessing so far you've managed to teleport only out of sheer luck. But don't stop trying!
  • The first several chapters of Knowledge Is Power deal with these kinds of difficulties — such as when the gravity-manipulator tried to use his powers to move a water heater...
  • League of Super Redundant Heroes:
    • Lazer Pony, who discovered that he can shoot lazer beams from his eyes, but doing so permanently blinds him the first time he does it. Having a sight-based power while blind is extremely impractical, but LP has been seen trying to learn to better use his powers, particularly with the help of someone "aiming" him. He also has a panic reflex, which fires the beams uncontrollably if he thinks there are spiders nearby..
    • Played with by Buckaress, who lately, and for no apparent reason, has developed the "superpower" of setting anything she cooks, alight — even a sandwich..
  • In Little Robot Big Scary World, BIP has to learn his functions through experience, as his creator died before he could tell him how to use them.
  • The girls instinctively learn how to command their powers in M9 Girls! Later on, they train to fine-tune them.
  • How the first few chapters of morphE play out. The five seedlings have awakened as mages and have to learn to use their magical abilities. Their teacher, Amical, throws them into lessons which become increasingly difficult to rush their learning curve.
  • The full capabilities of the Monster in the Darkness from The Order of the Stick have never been revealed. The in-comic reason is speculated to be that he's too... childlike to know his full potential. Xykon implies once or twice that he actually knows the exact limitations and capabilities of the Monster in the Darkness, even if the Monster doesn't; he's repeatedly stated that the Monster is his trump card, and he has no intentions of bringing it out until its planned debut, or until things go completely out the window, whichever comes first.
  • At the beginning of Volume 2, the Adventurer of Penny Blackfeather has been trying to learn some magic, but it's still work in progress. Also, when turned into a parrot, he doesn't automatically aquire the ability to fly.
  • In the Kings War arc of Roommates the injured Monster Roommate Jareth gives all his power (and kingdom, and resposibilities, etc.) to his best friend (and Token Good Teammate) James with literally no explanation; cue this trope ensuing on a grand scale and at the worst time.
  • In The Sanity Circus, Attley has to figure out how to use her Scarecrow abilities after she discovers she is one of them.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, Gwynn has never really mastered her magical ability, partly because, more often than not, she bungles the spells badly and Hilarity Ensues, partly because the source of her powers is the Book of E-Ville.
  • In Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki, the main character Yuuki is selected to be the next Valkyrie, and is flung into several fights with no idea how to use her new powers. She's forced to more or less play it by ear early on. That's not the least of her problems, though...
  • After the title character of Spinnerette acquires spider powers from a gene-splicing ray, she gets to literally figure out how to shoot web. Like movie-verse Spidey, she eventually learns how to do it; unlike movie-verse Spidey, though, it doesn't come from her wrists... Sahira, a biology major, almost dies laughing at this:
    Sahira: [laughing] Yeah, I guess it'd make sense for the web to come out of your ass!
    Heather/Spinnerette: It does not come out of my ass! It comes out of a gland at the base of my spine!
  • Two Guys and Guy dips into this trope at Wayne's expense, as usual.

    Web Original 
  • Defection: Two heroes have great power, but the prerequisite knowledge of how to actually use magic and control the gaseous part of the periodic table does not come as secondary powers.
  • Discussed in How to Hero's entry on mind-swaps.
  • A common problem in the Whateley Universe.
    • Fey couldn't do magic at first, and kept accidentally firing off hobgoblins — the psychedelic squirrel hobgoblins wrecked her whole school. Phase at first couldn't keep from changing density, couldn't control his strength when he was extra-dense, and couldn't keep from sinking into the floor when he was intangible. At first, Generator could only cast a single PK charge into an inanimate object for a short while. They've all gotten much better at it.
    • In fact, one of the things that makes the character Mimeo so scary is that he's not just a powerful Mimic who can copy multiple superpowered opponents' power sets at once, but he's also got years of experience under his belt (he's a Whateley alumnus himself, among other things, so he did have formal power training) and so can usually avert this trope because whatever powers he's copied from you, they're probably similar enough to ones he's had before that he can skip the "figure it out" step and just use them competently straight away.
  • In Worm, while most parahumans have a learning curve for their power, this trope comes into play most when people with powers like Grue's or Regent's are trying to use someone else's.

    Web Videos 
  • Omega Zell changes his character at the beginning of Noob: Le Conseil des Trois Factions and spends the rest of the movie figuring out his new interface. This culminates near the end when he wants to launch a powerful attack on an enemy... and ends up dancing.
  • In Sword Art Online Abridged, Asuna suffers from this in her debut episode. She's still a natural fighter, and a damn good one at that, but she's a total novice to MMOs who thinks DPS is "some kind of sex thing," worries that she's contracted a disease when a pop-up tells her she's got "expees," and in a game that is now literally life or death, doesn't even know how to open the interface's menu.
    Kirito: How have you survived all month?
    [flashback to Asuna staring at a piece of bread]
    Past Asuna: ...HOW DO I EAT YOU?!
    [back to the present]
    Asuna: It's been a challenge.

    Western Animation 
  • In "The N Men", an episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, this kids almost destroy the entire town before they learn to control their newly acquired superpowers.
  • The Adventures of Prince Achmed kicks into gear when Prince Achmed mounts a magic mechanical horse and pulls the lever that makes the horse fly. He does not know how to make the horse land.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • The entire storyline of the series is fundamentally about Aang mastering Water, Earth, and Fire bending to become a "fully-realized Avatar". In particular, Aang demonstrates the most difficulty with learning Earthbending, since the philosophy behind its use (i.e., to face issues and obstacles head-on) is effectively opposite to his ideals as a native Airbender (which places greater emphasis on evasion and dodging).
    • Katara also goes from not being able to consciously control a few liters of water to being a waterbending master.
    • Behind-the-scenes info for Combustion Man states that he got his mechanical arm and foot after blowing them off while learning his ability to shoot explosions out of his forehead when he was younger.
    • In the Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, Aang's successor Korra spent the first season struggling with airbending due to its heavy emphasis on spirituality and emotional stability. Two things that she was incredibly lacking in as a sheltered teenager who had yet to meet a problem she couldn't easily solve via a physical altercation.
  • When Scott Lang from The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! first tries to use Hank Pym's Ant-Man gear for a bank robbery, he finds out by chance that the helmet allows communication with insects. Also, when he tries to use Pym Discs to make the stacks of money pocket sized, he accidentally makes them shrink smaller than microscopic size instead.
  • One episode of The Batman centered around The Penguin obtaining The Green Lantern's power ring, and his efforts to figure out exactly how it worked. When he obtained The ring himself, The Batman also had to learn how to use its powers. Which he did almost immediately, just the ring started running out of power shorty after he got it. There's a reason for that.
  • The pilot of Batman: The Brave and the Bold is caused by Blue Beetle not knowing how his suit works and unintentionally creating a wormhole to the other side of the Milky Way.
  • In the second season premiere of Beast Wars, Rattrap and Cheetor awaken to find themselves altered into Transmetals. Apart from the aesthetic differences, they also gained new movement capabilities (Cheetor gains jets and Rattrap can convert into a wheeled mode). But their first attempts at this caused them to crash around the Axalon.
    Rattrap: This... is gonna take some getting used to.
  • In Beast Machines, the Maximals initially have no idea how to transform into their more combat-capable robot modes after the Oracle alters their bodies to make them more technorganic. The on-board computers their original bodies possessed that handled transformations for them are absent, meaning there's more to it than simply saying "Maximize". It takes a Die or Fly situation for Optimus to figure it out. He later teaches the other Maximals how.
  • Ben 10:
    • A recurring problem for Ben, especially prevalent when he gains a new alien form and has no idea what it does. The first time he turned into Cannonbolt, not only could he not figure out how rolling up into an armored ball was useful in combat, but he kept losing his balance and falling over backwards when he tried to stand. Reaches its ultimate conclusion in Ben 10: Alien Force with Alien X, which is seemingly omnipotent, but since Ben only gets to be one of its three personalities and the other two are constantly at odds with each other (the only thing they agree on is that they want Ben to provide tie-breaking votes for all their thousands of years worth of disagreements before they get to what he wants to do. And that they both hate Professor Paradox), it's nearly impossible to get it to do anything. (It just stands perfectly still, stiff as a board, completely unresponsive to anything. Ben later learns that this is a serious problem, because he can't turn back until he can convince the other two entities to agree on it, effectively trapping him in the nonresponsive Alien X form.
    • Same applies to Ben's Evil Counterpart Kevin 11, who instead of utilizing the full array of his Omnitrix powers (i.e. phasing, super-intelligence, super-speed, machine control) pretty much prefers to just either smash stuff or blast stuff. In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien Ben has to point out to him that he can phase through objects. He does get more creative in his power usage after realizing he's got so many different abilities, though.
    • There's also the ever-constant problem of the Omnitrix not giving him the alien form that he desires. Acting like a puzzle of sorts akin to a tumbler lock, at first, Ben would quite often be transformed into an alien that he didn't want to be. He does get a little better over time, discovering new aliens altogether and their powers, but it still acts against him. Thanks to some guidance from the Omnitrix's creator (much to his constant frustration), Ben eventually does gain full control over the Omnitrix in Alien Force, even being able to transform at will by speaking the alien name or thinking it. He ends up saving the universe at the expense of overloading the Omnitrix, forcing him to relearn EVERYTHING he learned over the past few years about unlocking its powers. Even in Omniverse, he has almost complete control over it, but it still likes to screw him over every once in a while. He pretty much lampshades it when he wanted to transform into an alien that excels in physical strength, and gets turned into a Galvan (a small, froglike alien known for its brains, not brawn).
      "Sometimes I think this thing just plain hates me."
    • However, in Omniverse, it's Flanderized to the point that he almost never gets the alien he wanted. When he finally gets to confront the inventor over the supposedly upgraded version never working as intended, Azmuth tells him that he's just too rough on the controls (apparently, the way he dramatically slams his hand down on it to activate it before a battle is the culprit).
    • Worse, each model has different ways of tormenting him:
      • In the original series, once transformed there was no switching aliens or changing back until the Hour of Power ended, and it would take quite some time for the Omnitrix to let him change again. Also, it sometimes gave him the wrong one.
      • In Alien Force, there are no mistransformations, and he can change from alien to alien! The bad news is mistransformations are how new forms were unlocked - ten means ten now, PERIOD. In Season 3, he tampers with it to unlock more aliens (Vilgax is returning, after all.) and ends up making it play by original series rules, for better or worse (sometimes worse). He can still change from alien to alien, though.
      • In Ultimate Alien, the Ultimatrix can make his aliens go Super Mode... but there's still mistransformations, and it lacks some features the Omnitrix had, which he finds out about by trying to use them only to find out, no can do.
      • In Omniverse, the new Omnitrix has every alien he's ever had! Too bad no matter who he tries to select, what he actually gets is apparently completely random. So is the time limit; he's stayed in the same alien form for extended battles, or had the Omnitrix last only a handful of seconds and not let him change again. Worse, when Khyber appeared who had a transforming alien dog with forms that were specifically geared to taking down some of Ben's specific forms, which aliens did the Omnitrix keep giving him? Yup, those forms.
  • Code Lyoko:
    • In the prequel "XANA Awakens", on his first materialization on Lyoko, Odd discovers his power to fire Lazer Arrows quite by accident, almost hitting Ulrich with one.
    • There is a repeat incident in episode "A Fine Mess", where Odd and Yumi exchange bodies and Odd-in-Yumi has to explain to Yumi-in-Odd how to fire the weapon — and almost gets hit in the head for his effort. Meanwhile, Odd-in-Yumi requires quite a bit of practice before getting Yumi's Precision-Guided Boomerang fans down. Amusingly, Yumi-in-Odd can't quite get the hang of the Overboard either, and ends up sitting on it like a go-kart. Of course, we're not supposed to ask why they didn't just switch vehicles.
  • Danny in Danny Phantom constantly gets new ghost powers, and as per usual, half of them are often hard to control; his Power Incontinence only exacerbates the problem. Among other things, duplication is a frequent issue for him and his Ghostly Wail started off as a Dangerous Forbidden Technique. He eventually got most of it mastered by the end.
    Danny: [creates shield] Awesome! How'd I do that?
    • In Memory Blank, Sam inadvertently created an alternate timeline and had to recreate the accident which gave Danny his powers. Danny, not having any clue how his newly-obtained powers worked, was having trouble with a simple ecto-blast and it came out of his rear instead of his hands. We got a cheesy line out of Tucker in response:
      Tucker: Watch where you're point that thing!
    • Valerie played it straight and then averted it. With her first suit, it took her a while to get the hang of it and it was pretty clear in her first few hunting ventures that she was new at the whole ghost-hunting thing. But, when she got the upgraded suit from Technus, she knew how to use all the equipment and what/where all her weapons were, despite most of it being drastically different.
  • Darkwing Duck:
    • Negaduck manages to gain the powers of the Fearsome Five and basically goes One-Winged Angel. Fortunately for our hero, Negaduck has trouble dealing with the conflicting powersets of Megavolt and Liquidator (electricity and water) and the insanity he got from Quackerjack.
    • Come to think of it, Darkwing ("Arachnoduck", Spider-Man-style stuff), Launchpad ("Heavy Mental", psychic powers), and Gosalyn ("Slime OK, You're OK", ooze-based abilities) don't fare any better when they get superpowers.
    • Also multiple instances of people randomly getting suited in the Gizmoduck outfit by accidentally saying the command code "Blathering Blatherskyte". It doesn't help that the suit is also a unicycle. How many people that aren't wearing clown makeup can ride one? One apparently, and it took him some time to get used to it before he could actually protect Scrooge McDuck, Duckburg and St. Canard.
  • The Fairly OddParents: In the Swapped Roles episode, Timmy becomes Cosmo and Wanda's fairy godparent and as a result gets fairy powers. It immediately becomes obvious that he has no clue how to use them, struggling to even shapeshift.
  • In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Tony's first controlled flight in his Iron Man armor has him ding a few buildings but manages to pull it together. Rhodey's first foray goes so badly he creates a crater in the ground when he crashes and swears never to get in an armor again; that same episode Happy Hogan finds the armor and manages to get the hang of it so fast that Tony can't stop gushing about how good he is with it.
  • Averted in an episode of Justice League Unlimited, "The Great Brain Robbery". After inadvertently swapping minds with the Flash, Lex Luthor seems to fare pretty well in his new body, and the other League members have a hell of a time trying to stop him. This could be explained as Lex having studied the heroes over the years, as well as his advanced intellect.
  • Kid Cosmic: It takes some time for the Local Heroes to get used to their newfound powers. Especially Kid, who has a difficult time controlling his flight abilities and frequently makes himself airsick.
  • Kim Possible:
    • In "Go Team Go", the villain's power-stealing staff accidentally transfers Hego's Super Strength to Kim. She accidentally breaks a few things before figuring out what happened.
    • Later, when Shego gets hold of the staff, she uses it considerably more effectively than the villain who built it, who hadn't realized that he could use more than one power at a time.
    • Ron Stoppable received an infusion of "Mystical Monkey Power" in a first-season episode, but was able to use it only sporadically (perhaps because he's afraid of monkeys). He didn't really master it until the final episode, when he cut loose against a couple of villains who were going to kill Kim and display her as a trophy.
    • In "Queen Bebe", Kim uses a pair of Super Speed shoes, initially to help with her busy schedule and later to defeat the Bebes. After using the shoes a bit too much, she loses control, overshoots, and ends up on the Statue of Liberty grounds.
  • In the animated series of Legion of Super-Heroes, Clark Kent is still figuring out how to use his powers in the first episode.
  • Martin Mystery: During the few times that Diana gets to use Martin's U-Watch, she might cause mishaps due to not knowing all the functions. Her attempt to use the laser beam gets her the Turbo-Bungee instead, which bounces off the door she was trying to cut open and tangles her in its wire.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • In the "Origins" two-parter, our heroes are taught only how to transform, untransform, and activate their special powers, on account of the situation being (very) urgent. They bumble through their first monster but by the end seem well acquainted with their respective powers.
    • Later in the show, we find out every Miraculous comes with a built-in user manual, perhaps Lampshading this trope.
    • In a Season 3 episode where the heroes end up having to use each other's powers, we get a variation on this — it's not a matter of knowing how to activate a power, or knowing what it does. It's that using it effectively is a lot harder than the one chosen for it makes it look. So when Mister Bug uses Lucky Charm, he gets the exact item he wants, to Marinette's annoyance — a giant mirror. However, deflecting the villain's Humongous Mecha's beam back at it doesn't actually harm it. When Lady Noir uses Cataclysm, it damages the machine but doesn't destroy it, and worse, fries its control system, sending it berserk.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The Season 4 premiere starts out with Twilight Sparkle learning how to fly with her new wings with mixed results. Later in the two-parter, she is able to fly from one city to another with Spike as a passenger but not without him kissing the ground afterwards. This seems to contradict the ending of the third season finale when she flied perfectly after getting her wings within a few hours.
    • In "Power Ponies", the cast gets sucked into a superhero comic and receive super powers. When they first confront the villain they utterly fail to use their powers effectively. Over the course of their episode they learn to get it together.
    • In "Twilight's Kingdom Part 2", Twilight has to raise the sun and lower the moon now that she has Celestia's and Luna's magic. It's a bit shakey, but she manages.
    • In the Season 9 finale, while Cozy Glow is able to get a decent handle on her new alicorn powers courtesy of getting part of the stored magic in Grogar's bell, she finds herself completely out of her depth when she tries to use all of Discord's chaos magic, which completely refuses to obey her and causes her to beg Tirek and Chrysalis to take it back. Given that it was Tirek who mentioned no-one of them could properly control Discord's chaos magic, it seems this trope was the reason why he never bothered to use any of Discord's tricks after he stole it from him in the Season 4 finale.
  • The Owl House
    • Because Luz is a human, she doesn't have the anatomy to naturally cast magic, and there's nobody on the Boiling Isles who can teach her a type of magic she can use. She eventually figures out she can cast magic using glyphs, but takes a while to get them right, and spends multiple episodes figuring out which glyph combinations do what.
    • Downplayed in "Eclipse Lake". Hunter gets into a Wizard Duel with Amity, but because he went to the lake undercover, he didn't bring his artificial magic staff as it would be too recognizable, and has to fight with his Palisman staff. The two staffs are similar, so he gets the hang of it fairly quickly, but there are enough differences — for example, reduced range for his Teleport Spam — to trip him up at the start of the fight.
      Hunter: Real staffs are weird!
  • Princess from The Powerpuff Girls acquires powers like the heroines' several times over the course of the series, by various means. She fails to beat them every time, but never learns a lesson about it.
  • In Project G.e.e.K.e.R., the eponymous character Geeker has almost limitless power as a genetically engineered cyborg. However, Becky stole Geeker before he could receive the programming which would allow him to control those powers (and allow the antagonist to control him). Thus, Geeker generally discovers his powers by accident, and has difficulty controlling them.
  • In the old Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special, the baby reindeer always had the ability to fly, but they still had to learn how to do it.
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power:
    • The villain Catra has a magic mask that lets her transform into a powerful panther. Since she stole it from its rightful owner, she is unaware of the mask's other abilities like teleportation and communicating with cats. In a few episodes, she discovers these abilities.
    • In the 2018 reboot, Adora can't figure out how to turn into She-Ra at will and spends a good portion of Episode 3 trying to get her Transformation Sequence to fire by dancing around with the Sword and shouting her catchphrase. She manages to turn Horsey into a Winged Unicorn, who panics and trashes a refugee camp. While she eventually figures out how to transform, she is told She-Ra has Healing Hands abilities and tries to figure out how to use them at will. Light Hope tells her it will take several years of isolated training to use Healing Hands, so she decides to skip it since she can't leave her friends unprotected.
  • This is the initial premise of Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Princess Star Butterfly inherits a magic wand, but she can't wield it properly so the effects are usually chaotic and disastrous. The wand's previous owners put together an instruction book over the years that she has, but it is so messy and disorganized that it is almost useless; it's almost more family history than wand-related info (and the magical being who inhabits the book is supposed to help in theory, but often is even less helpful than the book itself). As such, her parents send her to Earth so she can try to get a handle on things without destroying the kingdom.
  • Steven Universe:
    • The title character has magical Gem powers, but being a human child, doesn't understand how to use them yet. At the best of times, they just don't manifest; at other points, they manifest in the worst possible ways, such as when his shape-shifting nearly aged him to death or turned him into a cancerous ball of living cats. In almost all cases, including his fusion abilities, discovery, access to, or full control over them is achieved completely by accident, and usually in an ultimately instinctive fashion whilst under duress or otherwise in a state of unthinking emotional excitement.
    • Though this is later shown to also be a problem for some whole gems, as Peridot initially appears, and believes herself to have no special powers, and therefore be entirely dependent on cybernetic "Gemtek" prosthetics to be anything other than a Gadgeteer Genius, somewhat more resilient but otherwise no more inherently powerful than a human child, thanks to being created on Homeworld during a huge resource crisis that led to substandard Gem production. Until, that is, Amethyst's frustrated attempt to break her self-imposed withdrawal into social media and the internet by throwing her Security Blanket tablet computer into the sea causes a minor Traumatic Superpower Awakening and the reveal of her rather unique purely mental, non-summon based ferrokinesis abilities, as she catches the device in mid-air by sheer force of will. Which can be seen as a parallel to Steven's own discovery of his bubble and hard-light shield powers, both of which were awakened only by a clear and immediate danger both to himself and one or more people he cares about, after a similar protracted and completely futile series of attempts to elicit said awakening deliberately ...although Peridot's focus was more on a threat to a possession instead of people.
    • It's also implied that the other Gems' control over their powers isn't entirely conscious and somewhat instinctive, matching the deliberately more animalistic nature Word of God states they were designed to express, as they can lose control over them, to either comical, poignant, or outright dangerous extents depending on the storytelling context. This extends not only to weaker and more juvenile-acting Gems such as Ruby and Sapphire, who end up respectively superheating and supercooling their immediate environment - despite the presence of both Steven and Greg - when unfused and mad at each other, but even the Diamonds, as Blue is shown as exerting an involuntary psychic effect (i.e. sympathetic crying) on everyone within a certain radius when deeply upset.
    • Furthermore, in an example that overlaps heavily with I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, the events in Monster Reunion, although not fully confirmed in-universe or by the creators, heavily imply that the main effect of the Diamonds' rebellion-destroying superweapon was to cause every Gem in the path of its beam to permanently lose control of their inherent abilities. Including, not only shapeshifting, but control over the shape of their physical form altogether. Although this left their minds largely intact within the gemstone itself, the extremely protracted and nearly incurable case of How Do I Shot Web that then applied to anything they tried to do, and even their own appearance, which profoundly conflicted with their inbuilt self-image, combined with their natural immortality (now arguably a massive disadvantage), caused them to progressively go insane over the succeeding millennia and thus appear as the Corrupted Gem Monsters that Steven and the Crystal Gems battle in the earlier series of the show.
  • Teen Titans:
    • "Switched" has Raven and Starfire body switched and having to figure out how to use each others' powers. Starfire and Raven's learning experiences, interestingly, are about attitude rather than the powers themselves. They both have powers tied to their emotions, but while Starfire's only work when her emotions are allowed to flow free, Raven has to keep her emotions under strict control lest her powers go off unexpectedly and wreak havoc.
    • Terra had trouble controlling her powers, as well. It became a serious issue...
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man, one episode has him switch minds with Wolverine. Wolverine has no problem with Spider-Man's agility, but doesn't try to use his other powers. When he tries using the Webshooter gadgets, he fails, however. Spider-Man needs to use Wolverine's powers, but claws are essentially extra limbs so they just go wild as he's trying to process how to use them, and ends up stabbing himself just offscreen. (The cartoon cuts ahead citing technical difficulties.)
  • In Season 3 of Voltron: Legendary Defender, the paladins end up shuffling lions (Keith moving to the Black Lion, Lance moving to the Red Lion, and Allura becoming the new pilot of Blue Lion). The means that the pilot of a Fragile Speedster is now piloting a Jack-of-All-Stats, the pilot of a Jack-of-All-Stats is now piloting a Fragile Speedster, and Voltron's lesser Jack-of-All-Stats is now being piloted by someone whose previous piloting experience concerned capital ships rather than fighters. As a result of this, they do so badly in their first fight against Lotor that he concludes that his father killed half the original pilots and they're still breaking in a new flight roster.
  • W.I.T.C.H.:
    • In the very first episode the new Guardians have a powers practice that is the definition of how How Do I Shot Web?. None of their Elemental Powers are under control yet, flying is... iffy, even for the naturally inclined Hay Lin and when the girls try to Caleb from Cedric Will attempts to do an All Your Powers Combined attack and hits everything but Cedric. They do pull it together in the second episode and are seen practicing some more in later episodes.
    Will: [after their first practice] ...I think we've destroyed enough of Heatherfield for today.
    • In the second season finale, Cedric falls victim to this trope after devouring the Big Bads of Seasons 1 and 2, consequently gaining their powers, as well as gaining the powers of all five heroines. Despite having by far the most raw power of any villain in the series, he is unable to utilize his new skills to anywhere near their full potential. This, combined with new transformations for all five heroines, led to Cedric's defeat in a little more than five minutes.
  • The X-Men: Evolution animated series used this a lot in the first season introduction stories, most notably for for Kitty Pryde and Rogue, but it virtually disappeared after that. That's because they were being trained specifically to control their powers, and other characters (Cyclops, Jean, Nightcrawler) had been using their power for years but still had trouble getting it right from time to time.
  • Young Justice:
    • Superboy, being a clone of Superman, has some of the older hero's powers, but does not know how to use them. This sets up tension between the two as Superboy wants to learn from Superman and sees him as a father while Superman is (understandably) disturbed by Superboy's existence and wants nothing to do with him.
    • In Season 2, Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes has powerful suit of Adaptive Armor capable of creating just about anything he can imagine and even has Universal Translator capabilities. Too bad he has no idea how to use any of the Scarab's powers at first, and the Scarab's Artificial Intelligence hurts more than it helps since it always suggests the most violent and destructive approach to solving any problem. In "Salvage" the Scarab doesn't inform Jaime that it can communicate with the monster that's kicking his and Superboy's behinds until Jaime rhetorically asks if it can do so because the Scarab sees peaceful communication as a sign of weakness.
    • The Reach abductees have just about as much trouble with their new powers as you'd expect. Even after a couple of months, Virgil has trouble levitating a trash can, and Tye can't even turn his power on until the end of the episode.

    Real Life 
  • Learning to use a gun is often very much like this. Sure, there's the obvious parts such as pointing the barrel at what you want to kill and pulling the trigger. However, mastering a gun, especially a complex modern assault rifle, is difficult. You have to learn about sighting, trigger pull technique, the fire control group, loading, dropping magazines, changing magazines, aiming, disassembly, reassembly, and cleaning.
  • Originally part of the attraction of firearms was that any idiot could be taught to use one in a couple of months or less, while mastering a longbow would take far longer (traditional longbows actually demands a lifetime of training, because you NEED to have started using one regularly in your youth to develop the muscles necessary to draw it). Firearms, in their infancy, were wildly inaccurate due to being little more than tubes containing blackpowder, an ignition source, and a metal ball for which the blackpowder would propel into an enemy, so back then "mastering a gun" did boil down to "point, shoot, and hope you kill someone else" (misfires and accidental explosion of the weapon being a big problem with early firearms). Longbows were still considered deadlier than the musket because they were accurate AND could definitively kill in the hands of a skilled archer. (The reason for all that necessary muscle? A high draw strength means a lot of force sent into the arrow, meaning the arrow having much more penetrative power than a metal ball tumbling through the air.) With the development of rifles (meaning the bullet now spins through the air and flies much straighter and retains much more force upon impact) guns managed to reach and surpass the killing power of bows, even with all the added infrastructure and costs that necessary to manufacture such weapons. While manufacturing, maintaining, and training to use firearms now is much more expensive and difficult than ever before, it is still far cheaper and more efficient than a bow. A well-made crossbow is a middle ground between the bow and modern firearms (from about the mid-19th century since). Its mechanisms are trickier to handle than a gun, but they also provide the mechanical advantages that allow a less-husky individual to still fire an arrow with lethal effectiveness. Modern bow designs like compound bows also employ mechanical advantage to reduce the necessary effort: less straining, more aiming.
  • Many martial arts are good examples. Throwing a punch? Simple, right? Wrong. Each martial art has a technique, and it takes time to learn how to punch properly. Same applies to strikes, kicks, throws, stances, et cetera. To wit, one of the most common injuries in martial arts (but mostly boxing) is known as the boxer's fracture and is caused by poor punching technique. One of the first lessons taught in martial arts classes is how to make a fist, as untrained novices tend to tuck their thumbs inside their fists instead of placing it outside, which means they might break their thumb upon punching someone or something.
  • Somewhat inverted with building a PC. The actual building of a PC itself is pretty straight forward as the interconnects and mounting points are designed to fit one way. Or if there is more than one way, it usually doesn't matter which way they're used. The hard part is making sure beforehand what you're buying is compatible, e.g., making sure to get the right motherboard for your CPU, the right RAM for that motherboard, etc. and troubleshooting afterwards if something goes wrong.
    • The software side is where the real "fun" begins. Software has become so user-friendly that the average user might think that loading up a computer is as easy as installing an "app". However, if the computer does nothing but beep at you when you power it on, you had better know what "beep codes" are.note  And while modern OSes have simplified the process of installing any drivers you need, your initial capabilities are still limited to whatever the OS disk has built-in support for.note 
  • Lucid dreaming can be like this sometimes: you know that (at least in your dream) you're a Reality Warper, but you can't figure out how to actually do anything with that. It also takes a degree of control to think of anything to do (imagination being largely tied up running the dream).
  • Walking. Of all animals, humans are the most inept at moving around immediately after being born. Of course, there are many reasons for this.
    • Having a bipedal gait limits the size of the mother's hips, meaning that only a small enough (and therefore weak) baby can be born.
    • A proportionally sized brain wouldn't fit on the way out, so infants sacrifice developing the neurological control of their bodies until after they are born in order to reduce their skull size.
    • A bipedal gait also means that each of a baby's lower limbs has to be twice as strong as those of a quadruped of the same mass in order to lift his/her weight.
    • Even after a human has walked for many years, if one takes an injury that prevents them from walking for a period of time, the person has to relearn how to walk on top of their legs needing time to regain their strength to do so.
  • Software development. You may have a mastery of the basics and knowledge of algorithms and such, but if you have to change from one programming language to another, you have to learn the nuances of that language. Then, you have to figure out how the software source code was structured and organized. If a project gets complicated enough, you can step away for a few weeks and forget most of what you discovered about it. This is why it's important to structure and code in a way that makes it easy as possible to pick up later.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): How Do I Shoot Web


Ben Unlocks Cannonbolt

When unlocking a new alien for the first time, Ben has trouble figuring out its powers. He even tries to do the "Spider-Man web thingy".

How well does it match the trope?

4.86 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / HowDoIShotWeb

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