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I Just Want to Be Normal
aka: Reluctant Hero

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Peter Parker’s finally tired of Spider-Man’s messes.

Frodo Baggins: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf the Grey: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.
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They didn't want these powers, this magic, this curse, or whatever it is that was foisted upon them. The responsibility to save the world? Forget it! All those exciting adventures and the ability to potentially do anything? Take it away. They want nothing to do with it.

Needing to be normal often comes in waves. Often, it hits critical levels, and the character threatens to quit, or even does so temporarily.

While this is all well and good, most writers conveniently forget that after such an exciting and exceptional existence, everything else will seem dull and meaningless to most people. Not only are special abilities usually given up, but sometimes also cherished friends. Some people psychologically will be unable to adjust, and most will acquire deep-seated mental issues about the whole process.

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This can also include situations where overt powers or the like are not involved, wherein the characters are involved in an exceptional situation. It can also occur when characters, for no particular reason other than that the show is ending or that they're leaving it, have a sudden and usually implausible epiphany that they really want to live a "normal" life. Somehow this almost invariably includes them cutting ties with the entirety of the rest of the characters and locations.

When done well, this can be an interesting metaphorical exploration of how even the most blessed can feel isolated and abnormal. When done poorly, it comes off as cheap angst that will get tiresome, especially if the premise of the show relies in some part on that "Special-ness".

One common subversion is Can't Stay Normal where the character finally becomes normal, but is not able to adjust to it, and longs for their old life back. Or just as they achieve their normality, something happens where they NEED their abilities back, particularly to save the Love Interest. Either may be a 10-Minute Retirement, the former may be a Sequel Hook. If someone is constantly being forced by the plot to do heroic things, when really they want to be left alone, they're Heroic Neutral.

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See also Cursed with Awesome, Internalized Categorism, It Sucks to Be the Chosen One, Who Wants to Live Forever?, and Refusal of the Call. Contrast Jumped at the Call, where wanting to be normal never even occurs to the hero. Naturally, the opposite of this trope is I Just Want to Be Special. See also Blessed with Suck, when the hero has every reason to want to be normal. Related to I Just Want to Have Friends when the character wishes to be normal to develop relationships. Also related to Give Him a Normal Life, when they leap at the chance to arrange this for their offspring.

Not to be confused with Plot Detour where the writer prevents the character from progressing (possibly to string out the length of the story). Compare and contrast Nominal Hero, where a character ends up fighting for good even though they lack morally positive motivations.

For the Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic Reluctant Hero, look here.


Examples:

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    Audio Plays 
  • The Elysium Project has the escaped test subjects that the story centers around. They don't want their powers and they regret ever getting involved with the Elysium Project, but they're stuck with the powers and none of them have lives to go back to anyway.

    Fan Works 
  • In Forged Destiny, Pyrrha Nikos came to Beacon academy to escape the fame and expectations placed on her in Mistral due to her being a Champion.
  • In Supergirl story Hellsister Trilogy, Kara is getting tired of the constant battles and light-and-death struggles and expresses her desire to live like a normal woman:
    Supergirl: But I'm... oh, Sheol, I'm so tired of all this stuff. Fight after fight after fight. We save the universe, we kill Mordru, we kill Satan Girl, we come back, and here somebody throws Darkseid in our face again. Can't there ever be an end to it? [...] Well, it's gonna have to start coming somewhere else before long. I'm tired of this. I wasn't born to be a, a super-heroine. I just wanted to be a normal girl from Argo, and, and get a good job and a good man and settle down...
  • Having been Blessed with Suck, both Paul and John in With Strings Attached are terrified of going home as is, with all the life-ruining complications their new bodies and magic would entail. When told they have to be returned to normal to go back to Earth, they're delighted. The other two are... not as delighted.
    • In The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, the situation changes somewhat. First, everyone now knows it's temporary, so John, at least, can view their second trip to C'hou as a vacation rather than a curse. (At least until he realizes what a Crapsaccharine World C'hou has become.) Not so with Paul, who suffered tremendous psychological difficulties when he returned home because he couldn't shake the feeling that he was going to kill his family by touching them. He had just gotten over that when he was sent back. And Ringo, who discovered he was hopelessly addicted to his mindsight after he lost it, must now choose between keeping it, thus staying on C'hou and giving up his new love Barbara Bach and everything else in his life, or returning home and giving up his magic. (George, who is not connected to his magic like the others are, mostly views his ring as an experience; he hardly thinks it's worth giving up his family for. And he's certainly not willing to trade his freedom just for a little magic.)
  • Kairi Niko in the Knights of the Old Republic fic Destiny's Pawn is an amnesiac bookworm with skills she can't explain and really didn't want to know where she learned them. She flat-out asked the Masters if they could "shut off" her Force sensitivity, and only agreed to her conscription into the Jedi because there wasn't another option. Given her druthers, she's just quit and become a translator, but seeing as she's the ex-Dark Lord...
  • My Immortal gives us Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way, who likes to remind us that being such a special snowflake isn't really a good thing
    "Yeah but everyone is in love with me! Like Snape and Loopin took a video of me naked. Hargrid says he's in love with me. Vampire likes me and now even Snaketail is in love with me! I just wanna be with you ok Draco! Why couldn't Satan have made me less beautiful?... Im good at too many things! WHY CAN'T I JUST BE NORMAL? IT'S A FUCKING CURSE!"
  • My Little Avengers: Big Macintosh spends a good portion of the story regretting ever finding Mjolnir and becoming Thor, but eventually comes to turns with it. This contributes to his Heroic BSoD when Loki steals Thor's powers from him, and after he gets them back, it's shown that he's fully embraced his role.
  • In White Devil of the Moon, between not having a princess or real leader to rally around and fighting a losing war against the Dark Kingdom, then finding their princess only to find she's Nanoha, queen of the workaholics, the Inner Senshi want this so damn bad. They get it in the end when Nanoha absolves them of their duty to her, though Ami does choose to go study magic in Mid-Childa, her role would be more passive, and the other senshi resume civilian lives in Japan. Also, while Artemis did not specifically want this trope, he was certainly more willing to become a normal housecat than Luna was.
  • In the Transformers fanfic A Child Shall Lead Them, Swoop is like this after gaining the Matrix and becoming leader of the Autobots — he feels rejected by both the Autobots and the Dinobots due to his new position, and at one point even throws the Matrix at Grimlock in an effort to reject his position. He ends up coming to terms with his new role as he undergoes Character Development.
  • In The End of Ends, this gets subverted and possibly deconstructed depending on how you see it. Terra's decision to lead a normal life drove Beast Boy over the edge and caused him to gain a Superpowered Evil Side simply because the only person who actually liked him dumped him. When the former finds out what her actions of trying to be normal caused, not to mention the whole void thing going on, it made her reconsider her decision.
  • Celestia breaks down at one point in Diaries of a Madman, and laments that she would have preferred being a simple healer instead of a ruler.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Mega Man struggles with feeling this way throughout the story.
  • Petra in Draknophobia never asked to be Dragonborn. All she wants to do is to live her life out in peace earning coin and getting enough to get by. Events at Helgen and the Western Watchtower cause the titular phobia to which Petra runs away to Riften where Brynjolf finds her in her sorry state and convinces her to join the Thieves Guild. She becomes a skilled thief and enjoys that because she gets to be on her own and it keeps her away from anything particularly major. Fate decided otherwise when an encounter with a dragon leads to Brynjolf eventually finding out about it. Everything just spirals downwards after that.
    • It happens to Brynjolf as well, as their adventures take them to disturbing revelations like Mercer's betrayal and the reveal that he's Bryn's father, but he's also the descendant of Tiber Septim, and the Grand Dragon Priest Zoklitinhaar and how the latters spirit is encased in his body. he just wants to do his part as second-in-command.
  • A common trait in Mary Sues is the Sue bemoaning their perfection and wishing they could be normal. But what if an ordinary person were forced to become a Sue? Consequences Of Unoriginality points out just what it would mean if every character were to fall in love with a "perfect" character in a world where only they can save the day—in shorter, every other character tries to violate him, while monsters spontaneously come into being to destroy the innocent for the sole purpose of making him show up to fight them. He ends up voluntarily ripping out one-third of his being in order to become normal, but the world remembers what happened because of him.
  • The Bridge: Godzilla Junior's greatest dream is to live the rest of his life in peace. As long as there are evil Kaiju and evil aliens threatening the world, he will continue to fight and lead the Defenders.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Supergirl crossover The Vampire of Steel, both Kara and Buffy remember what to be a normal, powerless teenager was like; and often they'd like to be normal again.
    Supergirl: Sorry, I wasn’t trying to put anyone down by comparison. I know what it’s like, believe me. I didn’t always have powers.
    Buffy: Neither did I. Sometimes I think I’d like to be back there.
    Supergirl: That makes two of us.
  • Since it's basically the title from Reluctant Hero, Zuko's stubborn desire to go back on his ship with his uncle doesn't come as a surprise. Alas for him, the Universe needs the Avatar and finds a way to force him on the path to his destiny.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Izuku is horrified by his growing array of Combo Platter Powers after he nearly killed Katsuki Bakugou, whom he considered his best friend, when they got into a fight as kids. This piles on top of his angst over being an alien on a planet that hates aliens. Because of this, he swears off his dream of becoming a superhero until the day he meets All Might.
  • In the Child of the Storm universe, this is one of Harry's defining characteristics. He'd really, really love to have a normal life. Sadly, being the Boy Who Lived, son of an Avenger, second in line to the throne of Asgard, and the keystone to Doctor Strange's plan to prepare Earth for the coming of Thanos, all means that that is unlikely to happen.
    • Jean-Paul Beaubier, one of Harry's friends, a mutant speedster - and from the finale of the first book, this world's version of the Flash - who makes it very clear that he prefers not to get involved in fighting (though when he does get involved, he demonstrates just how terrifying an utterly ruthless speedster can be), and in the sequel somewhat wistfully discusses this trope, wishing he was just a normal mutant, or even a normal human.
  • A Finely Honed Blade: Taylor does not want to be a cape, and actively despises her powers. Even after Bakuda forces her to accept them, she's not exactly happy about having to ascribe to cape traditions like hiding her face after taking over the ABB and going after Coil, though she relents when Lisa points out the practical value of a helmet.

    Film — Animation 
  • In the beginning of Frozen, Elsa does her best to conceal her powers, thinking they are nothing but a curse. However, after she accidentally reveals them in front of the entire kingdom and runs away, she embraces them, and is never happier than when she is using them to create.
  • Used and subverted in Disney's Hercules. Because Hercules' strength often causes accidents, Hercules is shunned by the community, even though he just wants to fit in. This desire fades after he becomes a hero and puts his strength to good use. Late in the movie, Hades forces him to give up his powers to save the life of his love interest. After being drained, Hades pins Herc to the ground by throwing a barbell at him and stands over him taunting,
    "Now you know how it feels to be like everyone else. Isn't it just...peachy?"
  • Quasimodo's "I Want" Song, Out There From The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • Violet from The Incredibles, at least in the beginning of the movie.
    Violet: We ACT normal, Mom! I wanna BE normal! The only one who's normal is Jack-Jack, and he's not even toilet-trained!
  • Played with in Megamind.
  • Susan in Monsters vs. Aliens, who spends the first half of the movie fantasizing about shrinking back to normal and having a normal life with her husband-to-be. She eventually comes to terms with her new body and abilities, culminating in taking the name Ginormica as her own.
  • The three princesses from Mulan II would love nothing more than to marry someone who loves them for who they are and live out a normal life.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The protagonist of Barely Lethal is a teenage assassin who wants nothing more than to be a regular high school student.
  • Megan, the protagonist of But I'm a Cheerleader. She wants to be straight, dammit!
  • Bethany in Dogma. Jesus is said to have also been like this for some years—the ones not recounted in the Bible.
  • In Gladiator, Maximus, a powerful Roman general, is offered the Emperor's throne by aging Emperor Marcus Aurelius but would rather return home, live as a family man, and tend a farm.
  • Matt Damon's character in Hereafter is a psychic whose ability to communicate with people's dead relatives is more of a curse than a gift. He refuses to exploit it for money and prefers a life of a blue-collar factory worker.
  • I Shot Jesse James: Robert Ford just wants to marry his sweetheart and settle down on some farmland. Unfortunately, his reputation as the killer of Jesse James makes this hard to achieve, as everybody either thinks he's a coward or wants to shoot him to earn their own reputations as gunslingers.
  • Last Action Hero: Jack Slater deconstructs his action hero status.
    Jack: I just want to be a good cop! Instead I keep getting caught up in these crazy adventures!
  • Which brings us to the film The Last Temptation of Christ. The entire scenario of the film is that Jesus was tempted with, not power and glory, but a completely normal life. According to the film, if Jesus could have a wish just for himself, it would be his own carpentry shop, a loving wife and some kids. (Yes, and doing all the stuff with his wife that gets all those kids.)
  • The reason that Canon Foreigner Skinner (the invisible man) joins The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is because the Powers That Be promised him a cure for his invisibility.
    • On the other hand, he would be perfectly willing to keep the invisibility provided he was able to use it at will. After all, it's an invaluable tool to someone who steals for a living.
  • The young Clark's reaction after finding out he's a super-powered alien in Man of Steel.
    Clark: Can't I just keep pretending I'm your son?
  • Extreme example: in The Matrix, Cypher wants to return to life in the Matrix so much that he makes a deal with the machines to help them capture Morpheus, on the condition that they plug him back in and erase his memories of life outside. Admittedly, he does request that he be turned into someone important, like a famous actor.
  • On the direct flipside, Damien Thorn in The Omen series of films has a very brief moment of this in Damien: Omen II when he comes to a full realisation of what he is and why. "Why? Why me?" he screams to empty air, but his angst doesn't last long. If only it had...
  • Sally Owens (Sandra Bullock) in Practical Magic.
  • The protagonist Dave from the 2010 film The Sorcerer's Apprentice said so at least once in the film when he was forced to take up the role of being a Prime Merlinian. Balthazar later revealed that his lover Veronica wished for the same thing as well.
  • Transformers has examples of both "I just want to be normal" AND "I just want to be special". Specifically, Sam Witwicky uses the exact phrase "I just want to be normal" 16 or 17 minutes into Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and spends the first half-hour of Transformers: Dark of the Moon looking for work but declining menial jobs because he just wants to be special.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • A large part of the plot in X-Men: The Last Stand revolves around a cure for mutants. As a result, some of the characters must contend with whether or not they actually want to be normal and take the cure. Eventually, Rogue decides it's what she wants and takes the cure; however, one alternate ending shows her not taking it, and holding hands with Bobby wearing gloves.
    • Hank's and initially Mystique's reaction to their mutant forms in X-Men: First Class.
      "I'd give anything to just be normal."
    • In The Wolverine, Wolverine is tempted by the option of growing old and dying like everyone else because it could mean a more mundane life. He later reconsiders it.
  • In Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, Miki Saegusa, resident psychic of the Heisei Godzilla films, notes that her psychic powers have been fading away lately, which worries her. Meru Ozawa, in contrast, says that she can't wait for her own powers to fade away, since it means she would be able to start a family as a normal person. Miki's reaction to Meru's response seems to indicate that she agrees with her colleague's sentiments more than she had realized.
  • Leonardo from The Way He Looks gets fed up with the special treatment he gets for being blind, specially from his mother.
  • In Selkie, this is Jamie's reaction after he first turns into a seal and finds out why. He comes to accept it by the end of the movie, backing out of a ritual that would have turned him permanently human.
  • Now You See It...: Danny, being someone who has uncontrollable and unexplained magical abilities, just wants to feel like a normal kid, and actively pushes Allison away when she tries to, in his eyes, take it away from him.

    Music 
  • The Radiohead song "Creep" is about a secret admirer/stalker of a girl, who longs to be "special" like her.
  • The narrator of the song A Tongue That Cannot Lie by Karine Polwart. Specifically: "Afflicted, addicted / I pray for a potion / to take all these visions away"

    Myths & Religion 
  • This trope is Older Than Feudalism, appearing in The Bible with the first two chapters of the Book of Jonah. After being selected by God to go to the city of Nineveh to prophesy against it "for their great wickedness is come up before me", Jonah did not want this responsibility, and tried to flee by going to the city of Jaffa and then sailing to Tarshish (which was in the opposite direction from Nineveh). When a storm threatened to sink the ship, the sailors suspect that Jonah is the cause, and he admits it. They toss him overboard, which causes the sea to calm, but Jonah's life is saved when he is swallowed by a "big fish" who carries him to land after three days. During that time, Jonah prays to God, and decides to accept the task given to him.
  • The Lord our God does not take 'no' for an answer. Moses' efforts to persuade the Burning Bush to look elsewhere for the savior of the Hebrew people is downright hilarious; 'but nobody will believe me!', 'but I don't speak Hebrew', and so forth.

    Podcasts 

    Roleplay 
  • Siberys from Darwin's Soldiers is an experiment created with strong telekinetic powers. He agrees to be the test subject for a bioweapon that permanently disables the powers of psi-experiments because he doesn't want his powers any more.
  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Jacob desires to get rid of his superpower and return to his regular routine. Unfortunately for him, the others keep roping him into abnormal situations when he'd rather try to lay low.
    • Jenna's power transformed her from an ordinary teenage girl into a free-floating consciousness that collects a swarm of insects to use as its body. Understandably, she's horrified with her new form and wants to get back to her old self as quickly as possible.
    • Much like Jenna, Katheryn's power turned her from a regular human into a sentient mass of ink. She can't speak, and has to struggle even to move. She implores Finn to find a cure for their superpowers as soon as he can.
    • Zia's power is telepathy, allowing her to read minds up to fifteen miles away. Except she can't turn it off, and is frequently overwhelmed with people's private thoughts that she doesn't want to hear. She wants to go back to normal- in one Bad Future, she gets her wish.
    • Simon wants a normal life, and it's not just his superpower that's preventing him; he also suffers from nightmares and an evil split personality. At every opportunity, he tries to distance himself from any unusual happenings, with little success.
    • Devin is a variation, in that it's not his superpowers that he wishes he could be rid of. Instead, it's his dead nerves, rendering him unable to feel pain. He's been ostracised throughout his life because of it, and would rather just be a normal kid.
  • The Fabulous Frog-Man, a mutant hero from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, is super-agile, can leap the length of a city block, can heal quickly from most injuries, and has a six foot long, prehensile tongue. He's also green, warty, and has big googly eyes. He'd give up his powers and his life as a superhero to look normal again.
  • Lana from The Gungan Council has an affinity to psychometry, yet believes it's simply a curse to her life as an outlaw.

    Theatre 
  • The character of Prince Harry in King Charles III, after he's dated commoner and outspoken Republican Jess for several months. note . The characterization of Harry leans towards the Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life, and he begins to express the opinion that he might finally find happiness and fulfillment if he settles down and leads an average life. Towards the middle of the second act Harry goes so far as to ask Prince Charles to remove his titles and demote him to the status of a commoner. But Harry changes his mind after Prince Charles is forced to abdicate and William is to be crowned instead, and decides he'll remain with his family and support the institution of monarchy.

    Video Games 
  • Advanced V.G.: Chiho comes from a long line of ninja, dating many generations back and, as the only child of the Masuda Clan, she's next in line for succession... except she doesn't want it. She'd rather live her life as a normal highschool girl. So she runs away to join the VG Tournament, in hopes of winning the prize money to fund her new life.
  • In a non-superpower example, Solid Snake of the Metal Gear series made one attempt to live a normal life in the isolation of Alaska, attempting to escape the cycle of violence and death that had killed so many people around him. Without fail, he was back fighting the titular Humongous Mecha within a few years at most.
  • Street Fighter zigzags the trope in regards to Chun Li. When she debuted back in Street Fighter II, she was out for revenge against M. Bison. Yet, in her character ending, she said she wanted to live a normal life. Like many things in SF, this was retconned years later, beginning in the Alpha series, which portrays Chun Li as a dedicated agent of Interpol. But by SF III, she's retired from Interpol and teaches at a dojo of her own.
    • Parodied in Jun the Swan's ending in the Wii version of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. If you choose the option to try being a normal woman, you see her and the other heroines in the game (including Chun Li)... and none of them have the slightest idea of how to be normal.
  • In The Sims 2, this is generally how sims without the knowledge aspiration react to being turned into a monster. They will constantly have the want to be normal come up in their slot, or the want for one of their friends or family to be normal. You can just ignore this with no negative consequences though, or you can cash in on the points and buy the curing potion. Note that sims who do have the knowledge aspiration have this a fear instead.
  • Vayne in Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis.
  • Terra Branford in Final Fantasy VI. She actually gets her wish when she spends a year taking care of orphans, and her powers regress to the point she actually can't fight even when she tries. Once she rediscovers her fighting spirit, she jumps back into the fray when she realizes the world has gone to hell, and she doesn't want the kids to be stuck growing up in a world like that.
  • In Final Fantasy X-2 Last Mission, Rikku is upset with Yuna for living a life that is normal and being, but Yuna tells her that she's happy with normal, that it's what she wants.
  • It's implied that Joshua from The World Ends with You felt this way in the stinger ending.
  • Roxas spends most of Kingdom Hearts II like this. He's perfectly happy in his nice normal town, doing nice normal chores with his nice normal friends. When the villains and the Keyblade come to call, telling him of some grand former life he used to have, he really doesn't care. He just wishes they'd all stop bothering him.
    • In the first Kingdom Hearts, Sora fits this trope. He journeys not to save the Universe (which he ends up doing), but to find his friends. Once he has done that, he still needs to restore his homeworld.
  • In Wild AR Ms 2, Anastasia Valeria AKA the Sword Magess states that she used to be a normal girl before destiny intervened. She suffers a total breakdown when it looks like Ashley is going to leave her alone, pretty much invoking the trope by name.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, this is the whole plot of the game. The main hero, Marche, despite being in a world of fantasy that apparently has no negative consequences if he just accepts it, just wants to escape the world of Ivalice and live in reality with his friends and brother.
  • Several mages in the Dragon Age franchise feel this way about their magic. One mage in the Origins prays to the Maker apologizing for her very existence and thinks she is a monster. Ander's friend Karl in the sequel says that he would gladly give up his magic if it didn't also mean being turned Tranquil. In the DLC "Legacy" Hawke's father Malcolm's lingering memories reveal that Malcolm hated his magic and hoped none of his children would share his burden.
    • Hawke's sister Bethany vocalizes her desire to be normal several times in party banter.
  • Shinjiro Aragaki in Persona 3 would like nothing better than to be rid of his Persona - with good reason, since he once lost control of it during a mission, causing the death of an innocent woman and orphaning her eight-year-old son. He stubbornly rejects Akihiko's efforts to bring him back into the fight, and goes so far as to poison himself with Persona-suppressing drugs. In the female protagonist's route in the PSP version of the game, he all but says the trope name word for word during his Social Link.
    • Mitsuru in the same game also struggles a little with wanting to be normal; in her case it has less to do with her Persona and more to do with the fact that she's the heir to a large corporation and thus a lot of her life has been shaped by the expectations on her to live up to her role. To make things worse, her company is responsible for all of the events in the game, including the Dark Hour, the Fall, Strega...so her company name is actually a severe burden. All things being equal, she'd like to be able to wear the same kinds of clothes and frequent the same hangouts that other students her age do, but instead her clothes are chosen for her by her family's stylist and she's engaged to a man twice her age who she feels she must marry in order to secure the future stability of her family's company.
  • Labrys from Persona 4: Arena is an advanced robot designed to fight Shadows. However, she hates fighting and her true desire is to be normal high school student, to the point of forcing herself to hallucinate that's what she really is. Her Shadow Self decides the true way to become normal is if everybody else has the same Dark and Troubled Past she did. Namely, forcing them to kill their loved ones.
  • Hikari from Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth has constantly wanted to become "normal" because being different from other people is what got her into being humilliated by her primary school teacher, isolated by her secondary school friends and her film director profession rejected by her relatives in the first place. Aside that while "becoming normal" in this instance supposedly means fulfilling society's expectations such as studying in a regular university or finding a regular and less risky occupation, it likely isn't for Hikari. In fact, by becoming "normal," she probably meant shutting herself off from reality and other people forever, so she wouldn't have any personality to begin with.
  • Argilla from Digital Devil Saga. Originally just another emotionless combat drone, the release of the Demon Virus charged her with emotions, which neither she nor anyone in her Crapsack World had ever experienced. As her personality started forming, she developed a wish to know more about what had happened to her. Then she was informed she had shifted into a powerful demon form and slaughtered an enemy battalion. It was comprehensible she uttered the trope verbatim, as an emotionless existence was very much preferable to what she was becoming.
  • Jarod Shadowsong, a night elf from Warcraft. In the novel The War of the Ancients, he is a simple guard from the city of Suramar who gets wrapped up with major lore characters in the fight against the Burning Legion. When the general of the night elven army dies, Jarod is given the job of commanding the army comprising of night elves, tauren, furbolgs, Earthen, and demigods. He knows the job has to be filled, but wants nothing more than to go back to just being a faceless guard. After the war, Jarod vanished instead of taking up the offer of being co-leader of his people. He would reappear in World of Warcraft Cataclysm when Mount Hyjal was threatened by Ragnaros, this time much more willing to take command after his Ten-Thousand Year Retirement.
    • The novel Wolfheart reveals that he left because he fell in love with another night elf (not Shandris), and they decided to run away to have a normal life together. He only returned because she got sick (a side effect of the loss of immortality).
  • In MDK, janitor Kurt Hectic reluctantly dons the Coil Suit to save the day against alien invaders. In MDK2, the aliens manage to capture him and take the suit. Kurt tells Dr. Hawkins this, relieved that he doesn't have to fight anymore now that it's hopeless and he can go back to being a regular janitor again. Hawkins then reveals that he has a bunch of backup Coil Suits ready for Kurt to wear. Kurt once again resigns himself to being the savior of humanity.
  • Inverted with Tails in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Tails is a young fox with two tails instead of one, which got him bullied by other people for it. Rather than wishing he was a normal fox, Tails shrugs it off and accepts who he is and he actually uses his tails to fly and to propel him really fast when he runs.
  • Recently-turned vampire John Turner in Immortal Souls really wants to go back to be human, or at least try to just live as normal a life as possible as a taxi driver. Unfortunately for him, everyone keeps either trying to pressure him into doing heroics for them, or trying to kill him for what he is. There was also an incident when he was human where he tried to give up being an ace street racer after the races started getting too deadly and dangerous for his tastes, but the people he raced for tried threatening him into continuing anyway.
  • Aya Brea in Parasite Eve 2 occasionally angsts over how the mitochondria in her body gives her a youthful appearance and special powers no matter how old she gets and wishes to live just one normal life.
  • Hamil of Tears to Tiara 2 just wants to travel. But he has to protect his people the Canaanites from The Empire, and then actually destroy The Empire. The Legendary King Eshmun, known in the stories as a Berserker Blood Knight, turns out to have felt the same way.
  • In Star Trek Online Lieutenant Miral Paris just wants to be a good Starfleet officer like her parents. This is made rather complicated by a Klingon sect that considers her to be the Kuvah'Magh. In her words to the Federation Player Character:
    "For every Klingon who wants to worship me, there is another who wants to kill me. It makes it hard to have anything resembling a normal life."

    Visual Novels 
  • Shiki from Tsukihime has the ability to see death conceptualized as lines and points that only he can see. Not just people or other living things, but also walls, buildings and even the walking dead. It's incredibly disturbing because it makes the world seem like it could fall apart at a touch. And, if it was him doing the touching, it very well might. Most of the time he wears special magic glasses that seal off this ability because not only would it be impossible to remain sane if you could see death all the time, but it also causes him brain damage to see things that humans weren't meant to see.
  • Chigara from Sunrider is a downplayed example. She is a mechanical genius who built two custom mecha by herself, can create fully functional devices in her sleep, and is pretty much singlehandedly responsible for maintaining and upgrading the Sunrider and her mechs as the ship’s acting Chief Engineer. She is happy enough to do all this, but she would much rather settle down to raise a family and open a bakery.

    Web Animation 
  • Ruby Rose from RWBY is a strange Zig Zagged Trope: she wants to be a badass Huntress, but she's terrified of the social pressure that could result if word got out that she was let into (what amounts to) college two years early, at the Headmaster's personal request no less. She wants to be special in a normal way, not special in a special way.
    • Pyrrha Nikos is another example: for a long time, all she ever knew was combat, no social skills, no relationships, nothing like that. As such, people only recognized her for her accomplishments, rather than who she really is. Due to this, everybody she ever met had her placed on a pedestal, and never bothered to interact with her because, in their eyes, Pyrrha was just too good for them. But when Jaune comes along, he knew nothing about her, and even when he was told of Pyrrha's fame, he still treated her like anybody else. This is one of the reasons why she has a crush on him (which, naturally, he was very slow to reciprocate).
    • Volume 3 ends up Defying this trope, however — Pyrrha's forced into a position where she'll have to be special to protect the powers of a Physical God, which tears her up emotionally, only to lose that chance when the Big Bad steals it from her. When the Big Bad murders her, it ends up awakening powers inside Ruby she had no idea she had, which meant she was brought into Beacon because she was special.
  • Dreamscape: Dylan is very reluctant to tackle big, world-saving missions and adventures, and just wants to hang out with his friends.

    Webcomics 
  • Nowhere University: Edward has a brief spell of this after discovering Psychic Powers, but quickly thinks better.
  • In Arthur, King of Time and Space, Arthur doesn't want to be High King of Britain (or High King of British Space, or C.E.O. of Excallicorp), but his sense of responsibility is too strong to give it up.
  • In Agents of the Realm, at first Norah doesn't want the be a Magical Girl Warrior, preferring to live a normal college life instead, but circumstances make her Resigned to the Call.
  • Snatcher from Sidekicks viewed her superpower as a curse after them manifesting left her bald.
  • Zoe is like this a bit in Sluggy Freelance. She just wants to graduate from college and get a good job, while all her friends are more interested in summoning demons, exploring other dimensions, building giant robots, fighting vampires, or conocting various Zany Schemes. It doesn't help that, while the other characters can cast spells, build Mad Scientist style inventions, or kill demons with a swing of their sword, Zoe's "power" is turning into a camel whenever someone says "shupid" (which her friends do whenever they're feeling a bit vengeful).
    • In the Stormbringer arc, she appears to muster up her will in an attempt to avert this trope. Except that amongst her circle of friends, taking a shotgun into a time-travelling go-kart is normal.
  • In Misfile this is Ash's eternal lament. What with the Gender Bender, the drunken angel posing as her boyfriend, and being treated like the local badass's surrogate little sister you can't really blame her.
    • Interestingly, Emily is actually enjoying her new life more than her old one, and is beginning to disagree with Ash's desire to return to the way things were.
  • Played straight by Kei in Circumstances of the Revenant Braves, until he realizes that having the power to do real good is what he's always wanted.
  • Girl Genius - ironically, the deepest thoughts on the subject are given by the supposed CloudCuckooLander.
  • In Everyday Heroes, Summer Mighty has inherited her father's powers, which caused her former friends to avoid her. It's also why she's been reluctant to train herself to control her powers, something her boss calls her out on.
  • In The Wotch, Anne has a burn-out after finding out how her magic has been screwing up the lives of people and tries to quit. It doesn't last very long.
  • A Magical Roommate provides quite a few interesting spins. Aylia wants to be a wizard, which is normal in her world, but is sent to college instead. Nicole wants to have a happy average life, but winds up getting quote "Three Wierdo Roommates!" unquote. Alexis just wants to live as a human instead of having wings. Everybody else is apparently fine with being abnormal.
  • Sin Fest: Jesus thinks about getting married and having a normal life, and maybe opening up a Jewish IKEA. His Dad says no.
  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl has Sandy, whose mother wants her to be a model, but Sandy would like to actually have the chance to spend some time with her long-distance boyfriend Mike, rather than constantly being ripped away from normal life to go to shows.
  • Titular character of Jayden And Crusader, Crusader, being the artist of the webcomic he is in, has struggled with his powers throughout the series but after gaining complete and total control of all reality decided it was something he didn't want and went back to his friends.
  • Bob, from TRU-Life Adventures, gets some of this once he learns that his powers will likely drive him insane.
  • Shelly of Wapsi Square isn't very happy about all the paranormal stuff she ends up involved in, especially when it leaves its mark on her. She gets a bit better eventually, but she is still upset after learning her strength falls a bit outside the human norm.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Vlad is abnormal even among shapeshifting chimera in that he was made using the DNA from so many different animals that he can't transform without risking death. This leads him to be jealous of his "brothers" ability to transform into human forms and blend in with society. He gets his desire partially fulfilled when he is transformed into a human woman by Ellen's beam becoming Vladia.
  • In Strays, when Meela objects that Holland should have told her he's a prince, he asks whether she would have treated him differently, and when she agrees, says that's why.
  • The print-only bonus issue of Spinnerette reveals that Heather's roommate, Sahira, is a Differently Powered Individual who can copy the powers of anyone she touches. Heather, being an Ascended Fangirl herself, doesn't help by being over-enthusiastic about Sahira being her sidekick. A talk with the more experienced heroes ends with them both coming to the conclusion that just because Sahira has a superpower, it doesn't mean she can't live a normal life as a civilian.
  • Same New Woman Marita, an ordinary librarian who wakes up one morning with a hyper-muscular body and extraordinary strength. She wants her normal body back while trying to go on with her old life but finds her world increasingly out of control.
  • In When She Was Bad, Amber Price is declared to be The Chosen One by an order of mysterious caped figures and given superpowers, but initally wants no part of it. This stands in sharp contrast to her counterpart, Villain Protagonist Gail Swanson, who upon accidentally receiving some of Amber's power jumps into her new life as a supervillain with gusto.
  • In Inverloch, Lei'ella is a Severed elf, exiled for being born mortal and subject to Fantastic Racism if she reveals her race in the human towns she lives in. She dreams of things like getting married and raising a family—ordinary, simple things, but it keeps her going.
  • The Artist and the Machine has Art, a magical girl. She is not happy about this at all.
  • In Agents of the Realm:
  • Amusingly deconstructed in minus. Several kids talk about this sort of plot, and all agree it's the best way to go... right up until the local Reality Warper floats by on a cloud. At that point we're reminded that they're kids.
  • One of the main conflicts in How to be a Werewolf is that Malaya is afraid of her power after injuring her brother out of jealousy as a child, to the extent that she becomes The Shut-In. Elias's goal, and the point of the story, is for her to embrace her powers and her werewolf side so that she can live life outside her incredibly small comfort zone.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: Played with. In Allison's first visit to Throne, she wants nothing more to get home. Once she does, she takes some time to compose herself and returns the next day. She claims that she still just wants to rescue Zaid and get the Key out of her forehead, but both Cio and Zoss scoff at this.
    Cio: You came back. That means you chose this. Ain't it about time to stop pretending?

    Web Original 
  • Averted on NeverMedia. Lydia embraces her otherness and immortality and chides other vampires for not doing the same.
  • None of the protagonists in the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes want their super powers. Of course, that doesn't stop some of them *coughRobcough* from enjoying them.
  • Emma uses the exact phrase in the lonelygirl15 episode "Decision Time". The series also contains a non-superpower-related example, which Daniel expresses in "The Ascension". Jonas does too, to a lesser extent.
  • Jonas is still like this in the first chapter of LG15: the resistance.
  • The title character of The Saga of Tuck has a fairly active and mad life, but his discovery of his intersex medical condition leaves him longing for the past.
  • Many of the characters in the Whateley Universe enjoy their abilities, but some, especially those whose mutations have turned them into hideous freaks, or made it impossible to live without life support, certain wish they were normal. Of the main characters, the intersexed Ayla Goodkind is actively researching ways to change back to a normal-looking male, and Chou Lee is still angsting about her transformation, and the tasks the Tao requires her to perform.
  • The Onion: "Archaeologist Tired Of Unearthing Unspeakable Ancient Evils"
    "All I wanted to do was study the settlement's remarkably well-preserved kiln," said the 58-year-old Whitson, carefully recoiling the rope he had just used to clamber out of a pit filled with giant rats. "I didn't want to be chased by yet another accursed manifestation of an ancient god-king's wrath."
  • Traumador the Tyrannosaur from The Tyrannosaur Chronicles just wants to live a normal life... as an intelligent dinosaur. However, with all the adventures thrust upon him, it's rather difficult to achieve this.
  • In The Platoon Of Power Squadron, Virginia is so opposed to the idea of having powers, she tries to get a friend to come up with a cure not only for herself, but for her to slip into the drinks of her other super-powered friends. Jonas isn't very eager to use his powers either, saying that Donald's whole "Fate gave us these powers for a reason so we have to experiment with them and save everyone and be heroes!!!" mentality rubbed off on him to the point where he lost control over them enough to use them in his sleep.
    Donald: I'm sorry, I thought this was a comic store. I didn't realize this was where the We Don't Use Our Powers convention was being held.
  • In Worm members of the Travelers like Noelle and Sundancer wish they had a nice, normal life without their powers. Presumably holds true for others who would have gained powers from trigger events.
  • One of Cracked's 4 Things Movies Always Get Wrong About Awkward People is that people with No Social Skills necessarily want to be cured.
  • After he starts transforming into a crazy cartoon character, Roy spends much of The Cartoon Man saga just wanting to be normal again. The transformation is reversed midway through the second movie, but he soon finds that he Can't Stay Normal.
  • Enter The Farside: Despite being gifted with immense strength and physical durability, Shaun just wants to be a normal person who goes through school and has a regular life.
  • These Days: Considering that Lilly was not only confessed to by her best friend, in the weeks since then she gained the unstable ability to mind read, time traveled, and nearly got killed, thrice, it's no wonder she feels that way.
  • Irene in Void Domain has quite grievous complaints about all the abnormal events that occur around the local Wizarding School. Shalise qualifies to a lesser extent.
  • Robert Dreese in Magical Girl Policy experiences this when he learns of the plans that Fate has for him.
  • The Red Guy from Don't Hug Me I'm Scared just wants to be left alone with his friends, rather than having to be taught by a time-traveling clock or a magical sketchbook.

    Western Animation 
  • Several episodes of My Life as a Teenage Robot deal with Jenny's quirky attempts to achieve normality.
    • Even the theme song has hints of this in it!
  • In the Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon episode "Legacy," Alexis dismisses her trillionaire heiress Lonely Rich Kid/Rich Bitch lifestyle with "I Just Want to Be Normal." As her first real friend apparently ever, she tries to hold on to her relationship with Superman, and thus normality, by scheming and manipulating and eventually going completely off the deep end into supervillainy, Luthor-style, giving up on normality in favor of Revenge.
  • Aang in Avatar: The Last Airbender, in regards to being the Chosen One. Even after being forced to accept the call, he still holds some desire to be a normal kid. In the third season, he goes as far as to take the huge risk of enrolling in a Fire Nation school just to experience what it's like being a normal kid, despite his friends' protests.
    Aang: You don't know what it's like, Sokka — you get to be normal all the time.
    • The funny things is that "normal" for Aang still involves Elemental Powers, just not being the Avatar.
    • Inverted in The Legend of Korra. Korra defines herself so much around being the Avatar that she can't bear the thought of being Brought Down to Normal — even "merely" an airbender, the rarest kind of bender in the world. Or even living a normal life with mom and dad, while still having all her powers.
  • A main plot point of the 80's Dungeons & Dragons cartoon was the kids wanting to leave their new sword-and-sorcery life behind and return to the normal world.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man Peter Parker tends suffers from this. When Peter is caught having taken pictures of his alter-ego's battle with mutated geneticist the Lizard, after claiming he was going home, his friends and superiors at the ESU labs distrust him, and fire him from his internship. Stealing a gene cleanser from the lab, Peter briefly considers taking it before remembering his credo. He does, however, keep it hidden under his desk.
  • In Transformers Animated, Blackarachnia is obsessed with removing her organic side and becoming fully robotic again despite being both Cursed with Awesome and tremendously physically attractive to about half the cast.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • Juke, who has a boombox for a head, can only speak (and write) in beatboxing because his arms are too short to reach the speech switch behind his head. He's been trying to tell that to everyone for a year. In "the Night", Juke dreams he can finally speak, but now everyone else speaks in music.
    • William just wants to be friends with Gumball and Darwin, but since he's a mouthless winged eyeball, they think he's a weirdo who just silently creeps up on people.
    • In the episode "The Night", Hector's dream reveals he hates being a giant, and he's so happy to be normal-sized, enabling him to roam freely without destroy the neighborhood, to hug people without hospitalizing them, to take the bus, to sit in the classroom like everyone else, to buy clothes, to use a toilet instead of a volcano and to have a girlfriend. It's so good a dream that he doesn't want to wake up. Unfortunately, he's a sleepwalker.
  • In the season two finale of The Venture Bros., Dean ends up admitting this during a fit of delusion. It's become his defining motivation. By season 5 Dean finally admits to his dad he doesn't want to be a scientist or boy adventurer. What he doesn't tell him is that it's because he knows that his brother and himself are both clones after they've died over 14 times in the past.
    • Deep down, this is all Rusty Venture really wants as well.
  • In South Park, Craig is shown to be The Chosen One who will defeat the giant Guinea Creatures as foretold by an Incan prophecy, though he states throughout the episodes that he doesn't want to get involved in any weird adventures and just wants to stay away from the main characters (whose every schemes always ends up in Hilarity Ensuing). Subverted in that his attempts at refusing the call ends up leading him to fulfill his destiny and defeat the Guinea Pirate, with him noting that life is unexpected in the end (though he still learns to never trust the gang with anything).
    • Mysterion, a.k.a. Kenny, is tired of being immortal because no one remembers his deaths.
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Don't you recall ... the most famous reindeer of all?
  • In Danny Phantom, Danny tries to split his ghost and human halves to have some plain fun... with mixed results. Similarly, in the finale, Danny gets rid of his ghost half so he can be normal, though he does eventually get his powers back.
    • Not to mention in the pilot episode, he expresses the desire to be fully human again early on ("If my dad can invent something that accidentally made me half-ghost, why can't he invent something that turns me back to normal?!")
    • In The Movie, his future self has Vlad separate his human and ghost halves to help him deal with the death of his family and friends. It doesn't end well. At all.
      • That's more of an inversion; Danny explicitly wanted to remove his human side. Well... he succeeded.
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures Jackie would love nothing more than to go back to his life as a quiet and unassuming archaelogist rather than his current life as a secret agent who routinely defends the world from demons and what not.
  • In one of the My Little Pony animated specials, Lily Lightly is the only unicorn whose horn glows when she's excited or really happy, so she tries to hide it from everyone else. She even has an "I Want" Song about it.
  • Nightcrawler of X-Men: Evolution was like this, but you couldn't really blame him given that he looked like a furry blue demon. Unlike the other mutants, who were actually fairly good about being exposed as mutants, Nightcrawler was really reluctant to let go of the illusion that he wasn't a mutant, but eventually did, and never let go of the human appearance given to him by his image inducer (can't really blame him, again).
  • Generator Rex, though Rex enjoys fighting, and helping people, he's not a fan of the life he has to lead when he's not on missions, which seems to consist of training and waiting around. He sneaks out often. Leading the higher ups to hire a kid to be his friend.
  • This is how Teen Titans ends. After spending the whole episode trying to convince The Schoolgirl / Terra that she is the Terra he thought he knew, she delivers what can be considered the saddest line in the series. "I'm not a hero. I'm not out to save the world. I'm just a girl with a geometry test next period and I haven't studied." As later revealed in the Teen Titans Go! comics, this is one of the few cases where Brought Down to Normal not only is permanent, but regarded as a change for the better, even by Terra's own brother.
  • The title character of The Life and Times of Juniper Lee practically embodies this role. Being the magical guardian seems cool, but most of her free time is consumed and she is actually bound to live in her area, unable to leave.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long also has the same. While having dragon powers are cool, Jake often wrestles with being the protector of the Americna magical community along with the issues it brings to his personal life (especially not being able to tell his dad and losing his girlfriend... twice). It comes to a head in the ultimate episode where he sabotages himself in order to get himself the punishment of having his "dragon chi" confiscated... all so he could enjoy his middle school graduation in peace.
    • His overachieving sister, Haley, gets a taste of what Jake goes through as she has to take up the mantle.
  • Inverted and played straight in Zevo-3.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!:
    • Hank Pym would rather study science than fight crime as an Avenger, which conflicts with his Technical Pacifist beliefs. Opposite of his girlfriend Wasp, who loves being a superhero (and isn't happy that Hank doesn't feel the same way).
    • Colonel James Rhodes explains that he rarely dons the War Machine armor because he's not interested in becoming a superhero.
  • Rodimus Prime never really felt worthy of succeeding Optimus Prime as the leader of the Autobots and bearer of the Matrix of Leadership. When Optimus apparently came back from the dead, Rodimus immediately handed over the Matrix and felt overjoyed when he reverted to Hot Rod as a result. He had to take it back when Optimus turned out to be an Ax-Crazy zombie. Though Optimus came back for real, and Rodimus was reverted back to Hot Rod for real.
    • Done again in Transformers Prime, once he learns he's been chosen by the Matrix to be the next Prime Smokescreen seems to want the position less and less as the series progresses (not that he wanted to be a Prime in the first place, he just wanted to be a great soldier). He even goes so far as to try and push the future responsibility onto Bumblebee.
  • For a couple of episodes, April tries to get on with her life and pretend that mutant reptiles and aliens don't exist. She succeeds and meets the first normal human boy, but she's sucked back into the crazy mess she was trying to avoid.
  • In one Gummi Bears episode, the whole kingdom is overjoyed when Sir Paunch the royal candymaker is coming back, only to be disappointed to find he's only there to say hi, as he's retiring. While everyone loves him and his famous taffy, he's tired of all the attention, claiming it's "the pits". Unfortunately, while he seems to get his wish, he still does not divulge his secret recipe, claiming he cannot do so until he finds a worthy successor. (And after Cubbi, Tummi, and Sunni copy it and nearly blow up the castle trying to make it, one can hardly blame him.)
  • The Cutie Mark Crusaders of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic suffer a bizarre mix of this and I Just Want to Be Special. They all want to have the Cutie Mark that every pony have in their flanks and that they themselves hadn't gotten yet. Problem is, a Cutie Mark only appears in a pony after they realize what his or her unique talent really are, so the poor fillies are Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life just to fit with everypony else. They finally get their wish in Season 5 when they realize their special talent is helping others find and understand their special talents.
  • The Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law episode "Turner Classic Birdman" reveals that this is why Harvey Birdman became a, well, attorney at law: he was tired of the constant stress of being a superhero and desired a more mundane life. A pity all his allies and enemies followed him into law, ensuring his law career was as crazy as his superhero career.
  • The titular character of Kaeloo has a condition where she winds up Hulking Out whenever she gets too angry and does mean and sadistic things to whoever made her angry, which seem to be beyond her conscious control. She doesn't want this "power" and has tried numerous times to get rid of it, but she never can.

    Real Life 
  • Although this has nothing to do with superpowers, many mentally ill patients (ASD, ADHD, Bipolar, etc.), believe it or not, feel exactly this way about their lives a lot of the time. It can be hard for them to hold a “normal” job, have their own home, build long-term relationships and the like.

Alternative Title(s): Reluctant Hero

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