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I Just Want to Be Special

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Shifu: Then why didn't you quit?! You knew I was trying to get rid of you, yet you stayed!
Po: Yeah, I stayed. I stayed because every time you threw a brick at my head or said I smelled, it hurt, but it could never hurt more than it did every day of my life just being me. I stayed because I thought if anyone could change me... could make me NOT me, it was you! The greatest kung-fu teacher in all of China!

The opposite of I Just Want to Be Normal, this is a character who is completely ordinary and unexceptional. And they desperately wish that they weren't. Either that or they have a very ordinary, uneventful life that they wish was fun and exciting. They would have Jumped at the Call, but the call never came. Very often, they are more than a little jealous of their friends who did get cool powers or get to go on exciting adventures. If they're lucky enough, they may get to be the Badass Normal in their group of magical friends.

Anyone who is Cursed with Awesome can expect precious little sympathy from this character. Anyone who is Blessed with Suck has every right to argue with this character.

If they finally get what they want, they may become the Ascended Fanboy. Otherwise, they either Ascend and get slammed by the Sidekick Glass Ceiling or wind up Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life.

Like the other I Just Want To... tropes, this is frequently used to the audience's own desires. If the character gets what he wants, he serves as a surrogate for the audience who want to be able to do the same at least in their imagination. If he does not, it's usually meant as encouragement for the viewers: "See, you should just be happy with the boring life that you have! And being special is overrated anyway!"

May lead to a Be Careful What You Wish For situation.

Compare I Wish It Were Real, Changeling Fantasy, I Just Want to Be Badass, The Call Put Me on Hold, I Just Want to Be Beautiful, The Team Wannabe, The Chosen Wannabe, The Gunfighter Wannabe. Contrast I Just Want to Be Normal.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • 20th Century Boys: Friend. The first one.
  • In Bleach, Ichigo has wanted to lose his powers through most of the Arrancar arc. When he finally does, he hates that he can't protect his friends anymore.
  • In Bloom Into You, Touko Nanami initially seems like the perfect student and ideal student council president, but it's revealed that when she was young, she wasn't very popular or good at school. After her older sister, who was also a popular student council president, died, Touko became driven to change herself, partly because the adults close to her encouraged her to be just like her sister, and partly because she liked being told that she's special.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Aisa Himegami's only power is to attract vampires and kill them when they try to drink her blood. She sometimes expresses a wish to have more useful abilities as she grew up admiring the heroes and wizards in stories and dreamed of becoming just like them. Unfortunately, she can't. Once an esper develops a power, they are stuck with it and can only improve that one ability. Espers also cannot use magic without nearly killing themselves in the process, even if said esper is a Level 0.
    • It is mentioned that in the distant past, magic was developed by ordinary people who were jealous of espers, likely referring to gemstones, espers whose abilities were present from birth rather than engineered to have them like almost every esper in Academy City.
    • Skill-Out is a gang of normals who were jealous of espers and were told they had no potential to develop an esper ability. Their most prominent member Shiage Hamazura jumps at the chance to learn magic when he hears about it and is disappointed when he's told he can't.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun:
    • Ruiko Saten. She moved to Academy City to develop psychic powers, only to be told she had no potential whatsoever. Despite years of hard work, she remains at Level 0 and is unable to assist Mikoto Misaka (Level 5) and Kuroko Shirai (Level 4) in fights. All of this eventually drives her to use the "Level Upper" to develop powers. Indeed, this is the collective thought of all Level Upper users, which Professor Kiyama and Mikoto heard when the AIM Burst broadcasted it all after it came out.
    • Kuroko correctly guesses that Misaka thinks that part of the blame for the Level Upper incident falls on espers, in part because they tend to rub their specialness in the normals' faces, and sometimes bullying happens. Misaka isn't one of these, but she tried to impart Wisdom from the Gutter, which backfired spectacularly, especially with her words "Levels don't matter", which rubbed Saten the wrong way as Mikoto's a Level 5 and Saten's a Level 0.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Zenitsu's life as an underachiever who could never really make real friends, or ever be the center of attention, left him with a burning desire that for a person like himself only becoming someone special could make people truly like his company; special in Zenitsu’s case means becoming a demon hunter who can defeat any nemesis and be loved by people everywhere he goes, this desire of his clashes directly with how much of a negative person he is towards himself, while deep down Zenitsu wants to reach greater heights, on the surface, he thinks of himself as someone who will just die at every demon encounter thus having any aspirations would be a waste.
  • Deconstructed in Digimon Adventure 02 with Ken and the Dark Seed Children. None of them were evil, they were just sad, lonely, and lacking in confidence, something which Oikawa takes advantage of. He promises them that if they let him embed the dark seed in their necks, then they'd become smarter and more talented, like the original host of the dark seed, Ken Ichijoji. None of them realised that the seed could turn you evil/insane, and Ken ends up in tears, saying to them that they don't want to end up like him. They only listen later, when it all goes to crap.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Videl. This trope is the main reason she trains so hard because she wants to be as powerful as her father who supposedly defeated Cell and was already strong enough to be asked for help from the police. When she discovers Gohan's secret identity, she stalks him until he teaches her how to fly (with Goten who by the way surpassed her in a hilarious way) and use her chi like the Z Fighters. After this, she became the third most powerful woman in the series (after Chi-Chi).
    • This also applies to Vegeta. While already one of the most powerful fighters he has repeatedly fallen on this. For example, in the Frieza saga, he wanted to be the legendary Super Saiyan, in the Cell saga he wanted to be the best and became Super Vegeta, and in the Majin Buu saga, he became Majin Vegeta thanks to this desire. And in true Dramatic Irony, he gives up and accepts that Goku is better than him.
  • Mikado from Durarara!! moves to Ikebukuro for the express reason of making his normal life become interesting. When he meets a mythical headless being and simultaneously discovers there's a laboratory conducting evil experiments, he does everything he can to become involved. However, he is an interesting subversion of I Just Want To Be Special, because all this time he has been hiding his identity - he is the leader of Dollars.
  • In FLCL, the main character opens and closes the series with a complaint about how boring and normal his life is (the events in between these complaints notwithstanding). Though he treats most of the crazy and exciting things that happen in the show as more of an annoyance than an adventure.
  • Mayo Sakaki, from the Fushigi Yuugi Eikoden OVA, is a deconstruction of this. All she wants is to be powerful and, more than that, to be Tamahome's true love. And she is willing to become an Apocalypse Maiden and very nearly destroy Tamahome's world (both literally and figuratively) to do it.
  • Done darkly in Ghost Hunt - one character's desire for people to notice them winds up creating a poltergeist and injuring several characters.
  • In Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!!, Souji's mother says she and his father both grew up dreaming of becoming a superhero and saving people with cool powers. When Souji becomes a hero, she is very happy and decides to live vicariously through him.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya: Much of Haruhi's character is subconsciously driven by a need to stand out so that she doesn't blend in with the crowd. If she only knew... On the other hand, it's better for us that she doesn't.
    Haruhi: If there's really that many people in the world, then there had to be someone who wasn't ordinary. There had to be someone who was living an interesting life. There just had to be. But why wasn't I that person?
  • Ayumu Nishizawa of Hayate the Combat Butler wanted to be this for a while, and actually accomplished it for a time, being the first girl to have actually confessed to Hayate. Then she learned the Aesop, and happily took a step back to play backup for the other characters.
  • High School D×D: This is Raynare's one sympathetic facet. Her core motive was the fact she realized she was a rank-and-file bottom-rung Fallen Angel without the potential for career advancement, so she went to desperate lengths to stand out. This does nothing to change the fact she's an incredibly cruel, Stupid Evil bully who broke someone's heart before killing them for her own amusement, and she ends up dead after antagonizing the protagonists, who were way out of her league. And it later comes out that even if her plan had succeeded, Azazel would have killed her anyway - ironically, the boring scout job she was given was immensely important, the details were just way above her pay grade.
  • Since Chuunibyou (briefly, adolescent delusions of grandeur, see Real Life, below) is the main theme of Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions!, this trope is played straight by Rikka, who still has it, and deconstructed by Yuuta, whose bout of chuunibyou caused him to have the All the Other Reindeer treatment and now he just wanted to be normal.
  • Teana Lanster has this problem in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. She's in a division with talented or powerful individuals, while she herself comes from an ordinary background. She starts to train herself excessively more than she already does to become stronger, but she doesn't realize her own talents and strengths that made her part of the division and The Leader of the Forwards. Even after the "You Are Better Than You Think You Are" speech from Nanoha, Teana falls into depression when she's fighting three Numbers at once, but she comes out of it when she is thinking about her (not so) Heterosexual Life-Partner. Since StrikerS Sound Stage X, Teana has embraced her own talents that made her special.
  • Magical Project S Misao Amano dreams of being a magical girl in the third episode, even saying how she could do anything with magic powers. It got to the point where her desire made her daydream of it while saying " having magic" out loud in an embarrassing way. Unknown to her she was already special, but not in the way she expected... (she was already an active magical girl as Pixy Misa though she wasn't aware of it).
  • In the Aesop-style manga Mahou Gyoushounin Roma, a boy is desperate to be the stand-out player on the basketball team but is constantly in the shadow of the one other boy who is better than him. He buys a magical artifact allowing him to "erase" the other boy from history, thus becoming the best player himself, but before he can play a game he is himself erased by the former third-best player on the team who was in the exact same position with regard to him.
  • In Medaka Box, Zenkichi after chapter 116. In this case, it's more like I Just Want To Be Special to Medaka, and he needs to be special himself after Ajimu removed his "Token Normal" status by introducing five Normal students to Medaka.
    • Itami "Best Pain" Koga before she met Youka Naze.
  • Genki from Monster Rancher thinks his life is boring. Luckily he gets Trapped in Another World, his favorite video game.
  • Izuku Midoriya of My Hero Academia wanted to be a Hero badly, but being Quirkless, it only made him the butt of jokes for not being able to let go of his dreams. He even suffers a moment of heartbreak when his idol All Might tells him he cannot reasonably be a hero without a Quirk (to the uninformed, people with Quirks make up 80% of the global population). However, when he attempts to rescue his former best friend from a creature that he and All Might encountered earlier, All Might offers him a chance to be a hero after saving them and apologizing to him. As he put it, true heroes are those who go in and risk their lives to help others, all from just instinct, because of how they are. All Might reveals his Quirk is transferable and chooses Izuku as the next wielder. In fact, he later reveals that he himself was Quirkless before getting the Quirk, One For All, from his mentor. It's a fascinating play on the trope as well. Izuku becomes special not because of the uniqueness of the Quirk, but because he is willing to enact the tenants of heroism (risking your life to protect and save others) despite being Quirkless. This valor and compassion is what earns him the chance to achieve his dream and why he becomes The Paragon among his classmates. Ironically, for a Quirkless person Izuku becomes one of the few people possessing multiple Quirks.
    • Interestingly enough, this could simultaneously be viewed as I Just Want to Be Normal. He is among the unfortunate 20% of the world population that lack Quirks, meaning he was among the minority. In fact, one could view him as being technically "disabled" compared to the norm. It also explains why his goal in being a Hero was viewed as foolish; it would be impractical to do so given it's an exceptionally dangerous field and all the heroes undergo some prominent training with their Quirks and beyond them. A powerless Izuku would've been at a constant disadvantage at best. In fact, one of his foes, Gentle, was someone who wanted to be a hero to be special and even had a pretty decent Quirk for it but failed his classes and when he tried to get involved once, his inexperience and recklessness made him a liability. This ruined his life and set the events to become who he is today while providing another Shadow Archetype to Izuku.
    • It's later revealed the villain All For One exploited this and its sister trope, I Just Want to Be Normal: Among the first generation of Quirk users, he quickly amassed an army by taking Quirks from those who didn't want them and giving them to people who do in exchange for their undying loyalty, thus making an army. His younger brother was sickened by this exploitation, especially since he recognized his brother's underlying sociopathy. In an attempt to get him to fall in line and out of some warped sense of sympathy, he gave his brother a power-stocking Quirk... which combined with his brother's dormant Quirk of being transferability and thus forming One For All and beginning the long conflict between its wielders and All For One, up to All Might defeating All For One. However, he is well aware of this and already put in plans to pass his Quirk to his protege, Tomura Shigaraki. In fact, he succeeds in this, all but cementing Tomura as the Arch-Enemy and new Big Bad standing against Izuku.
  • Haruna Saotome of Negima! Magister Negi Magi wanted to be special badly. When the call came, she was so desperate that when she Jumped at the Call at one point, she actually outran it. She actually threatened her best friends with torture for not letting her in on The Masquerade sooner.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has Kenuske. He just won't stop pestering Shinji about becoming an Eva pilot.
  • Ojamajo Doremi: Doremi and her friends want to become Witches for varying reasons.
  • Momose Kurumi from ''Pani Poni Dash!': The word "ordinary" is her Berserk Button, but Momose doesn't want to have special powers - she just wants to not be so supremely uninteresting that nobody ever remembers her.
  • Autor from Princess Tutu. He claims to be a descendant of Drosselmeyer and that he's inherited his Reality Warping powers, but it's soon revealed that it's likely not the case, as desperately as he wishes it to be.
  • Madoka, of Puella Magi Madoka Magica starts off like this. When the call of 'one wish in exchange for service in battling monsters' comes, she admits to not being interested in the wish as much as helping others in a cool outfit - in her own estimation, she's not especially smart or talented, and she wants to accomplish things. It doesn't last. Homura tries to disabuse her of the notion at one point, saying that even if she isn't unique, she's still loved and needed by others, and shouldn't think of herself as useless.
  • As it turns out, most of the plot in The Quintessential Quintuplets happened because of this. Yotsuba, the fourth quintuplet, at some point decided that she wanted to stand out from her sisters, beginning with wearing her signature ribbon and trying to be better in academics than them. However, when the others started catching up and eventually surpassed her, she turned to sports, an area where she could excel easily, but she was unable to keep up with everything and her grades suffered for it, resulting in her being expelled from their school. She dropped this mindset after the others pretended to have cheated in their exams so she wouldn't be transferred alone, and from then on she took to prioritize their happiness, even in detriment of her own.
  • Saionji in Revolutionary Girl Utena. So, so much.
  • Takara from Rising × Rydeen always wanted to be a stranger, people who've developed superpowers. By the start of the story, he finds out that he is one. Unfortunately, his superpower is embarrassingly useless.
  • Nami Hito, the incredibly normal girl in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei. At first, she tried being the truant, but as Chiri pointed out, she kept showing up. She then tries various other things to try to stand out, but her classmates all had her beat. It culminates with a suicide attempt. Naturally, at THAT EXACT INSTANT, the teacher falls from the roof in an actual suicide attempt. Hilarious?
  • In Shadow Star, Akira Sakura just wants to be normal, because of the horrifying realities of being bonded with her "shadow dragon". Shiina, on the other hand, can't imagine getting on without Hoshimaru and has a Heroic BSoD when she finds out he was never hers at all. Shiina also wanted to become closer to Hoshimaru, and be able to control him as if he were a part of her body, like others who have "dragons"; She never was able to.
  • So, I Can't Play H!: Ryosuke's neighbor, Mina, has nursed a crush on him since they were children. When she learns that he's entered a provisional contract with Lisara, she takes it well but wishes she could share the same experience, in order to feel closer to him. She gets her wish only days later when she enters a contract with Lisara's cousin, Quelle, and couldn't be happier. Even though it means her parents being under Quelle's mind control.
  • One sequence in the Tokyo Babylon manga revolves around a group of girls who abuse magic out of a desire to be "special." Somebody grants their wish: they become a spectacular case of sudden, simultaneous mental breakdown.
  • Seidou Takizawa from Tokyo Ghoul suffers from this trope in spades. In an office where everyone else is The Ace, he's struck as the Plucky Comic Relief and Always Second Best to his rival, genius Akira Mado. This leaves him with a major inferiority complex, desperate for the chance to prove himself in the field. He ends up getting his chance, being deployed into a high-risk mission, and having a sobbing breakdown as he realizes just how dangerous things as going to be. He ends up mortally wounded, kidnapped for experimentation, and written off as killed in action. In the sequel, his wish to be special has been granted......unfortunately, it involved being Reforged into a Minion. As a Half-Human Hybrid, he's finally special and no longer in the shadow of his rival or coworkers. But it meant becoming the very thing he fought, being driven insane by extensive torture, and forced to eat his parents. Sometimes, it's best to just be normal.
  • Played for Horror in Tomodachi Game with Arc Villain Kimiko Kyouguchi. She was a Cute and Psycho girl who lamented that there was nothing special about her and felt that her only lot in life was to watch talented people succeed. This resulted in her becoming a narcissistic Manipulative Bastard who saw other people as playthings that only existed to entertain her, and sought to manipulate the others in the Deadly Game into killing each other for her amusement.
  • Yuka Sugimoto of The Twelve Kingdoms desperately believes she is the destined hero of the titular Magical Land. In this case, the jealousy aspect is extreme enough that she tries repeatedly to kill the real Chosen One, Youko. Who manages to defeat Yuka and knock sense into her, though..
  • The first chapter of Vampire Princess Miyu has a guy that wants to become a vampire to have superpowers and fight evil. It doesn't end well for him.
  • The World God Only Knows gives us Elsea's friend Chihiro, who is pretty much average in every way and knows it. To counteract this, she always tries to hook up with the most popular guy around in the hopes that their specialness will rub off on her. When she turns out to be the host of an evil spirit, Keima refuses to help at first, equating her with the faceless generic characters in the dating sims he plays. After Keima and Elsea help her, however, she gets the confidence to try to be special in her own way by starting a band.

    Comic Books 
  • In All Fall Down, virtually everyone that lost their powers wants them back.
  • Astro City:
    • The villain Mock Turtle spent his childhood trying to find his way into a magical world like Oz, Narnia or Wonderland. As an adult, he became an engineer and finally snapped and became a supervillain after learning that he wouldn't be allowed to pilot the battle suit he had created. His childhood sweetheart may have had something to do with it as well...
    • "The Tarnished Angel" indicates that most B-grade supervillains suffer from this. They're often ordinary folks who come across some sort of Applied Phlebotinum, then try to leverage it into riches and power as part of an examination of the trope Cut Lex Luthor a Check.
  • The Golden Age Atom, who had operated for years as a Bad Ass Normal superhero, was so happy it almost brought him to tears when he discovered he'd gained super strength.
  • Komodo of the Avengers: The Initiative had this mindset and fears going back to normal. Spider-man has fun with her.
    • Komodo's fear of losing her powers wasn't because she wants to feel special, but because without her powers she has no legs. Now Armory, on the other hand, was going to commit suicide before she got the Tactigon. After getting the Tactigon she practically went around searching for the call.
  • Booster Gold used to play this trope straight but now subverts it. Booster used to be a desperate, fame-whoring, C-list superhero. Now he plays the part of a desperate, fame-whoring, C-list superhero as a cover for his real job guarding the timeline. Booster got the Call to Adventure he wanted, but he can only stay special so long as no one knows about it; if his enemies figure out that he's competent they'll alter time so that he's never born.
  • Early issues of the in-canon Buffy the Vampire Slayer have the cast speculate that Dawn being fifty feet tall now wasn't a horrible mistake but a desire to be special. This may be the truth now, there were missed issues, but having a fifty-foot-tall ally did help when the zombies invaded. Stupid zombies.
    Amy: What else you got?
    Xander: Say it with me now. Fe Fi Fo...
    Dawn: F*** ing Fum! [stomps Amy with her giant foot]
    Willow: Language, sweetie. How come you're a giant?
  • Selina Kyle’s main reason for being a thief.
  • In Fantastic Four (2018), it's revealed that this is why Franklin Richards is classified as a mutant: he had desired to stand out against the rest of his family and unconsciously used his powers to make himself have an X-Gene. When his powers faded, the X-Gene faded, too.
  • In The DCU, Donna Carol Force was so obsessed with gaining superpowers (seemingly being the only member of her family not to have powers) that she traveled to Metropolis hoping that an alien parasite would attack her and drain her spinal fluid, granting her superpowers in the process. Luckily for her, it worked and she became the electric superheroine Sparx.
  • The "Dead Robin" arc of Gotham Central revolves around the murder of several teenage boys who are dressed in Robin costumes. After the police and Batman eliminate the usual villains as suspects, the real perpetrator (A reporter) comes forward. However, he demands to be allowed to confess directly to Batman, and he explains that he just wanted to be a part of that world.
  • The main character of Grounded is a comic book nerd who has always wanted to be a superhero, to the point that he once broke his leg trying to fly off the roof of his house. By the end of the story, both he and his like-minded girlfriend are attending an actual Superhero School - where they're the only students who actually want to be heroes.
  • Jerry, the guy who finds the HERO dial in the first issue of H-E-R-O. This is a guy who became suicidally depressed at the mere sight of Superman, that's how severe his envy was. What's worse? He soon discovered that even with powers, he was no Superman and that there wasn't any point; his entire storyline is told through his call to a suicide hotline.
  • The Incredible Hulk: The U-Foes (no relation to the U-Men) were a rich kid and his three employees who purposely built a rocket without any cosmic ray shielding, to get superpowers a la the Fantastic Four. Hilarity did not ensue. While they did get pretty impressive superpowers, they also all got Ben Grimm's curse of looking more or less like monsters. (Well, they asked for it.) And they've used them poorly, becoming little but just another team of villains.
  • Insane Jane:
    • Jane does drugs and exposes herself to dangerous chemicals under the delusion that that sort of thing actually gives you superpowers as it does in the comics she reads. She even murders everyone she knows in an attempt to invoke Death by Origin Story.
    • This was essentially a remake of an earlier issue of Tenth Muse - with the important distinction being that, unlike Jane, Barbara/"The Wombat" lives in a world where superheroes are actually real. Well, that and Jane is schizophrenic and didn't know she was killing those people. Barbara knew exactly what she was doing.
  • This is part of the reason for the superhero movement in Kick-Ass. In Volume Two, Kick-Ass meets Dr. Gravity, who claims to be a genius physicist wielding a device that can increase or decrease the weight of an object. Kick-Ass expresses disbelief, and Dr. Gravity comes clean - he's an English major at a local university and the gravity rod is a baseball bat covered in tin foil. He isn't ashamed, though. As far as he's concerned, being a superhero is primarily about living your fantasy life.
  • College student Leonardo d'Aq (in one of the Paperinik continuities) wants to be a superhero, and desperately tries to have an "origin" - standing too close to an experimental nuclear explosion, being bitten by a radioactive bug, touching a strange meteorite - but fails. He does succeed in becoming the sidekick of a Superman expy, but that is when he simply acts with everyday heroism and helps the hero, instead of trying foolish stunts to gain glory. The hero points out that he is a potential Badass Normal, but ignored it dreaming of superpowers.
  • In The DCU, Houston was the only member of the team Relative Heroes who did not have superpowers and was the one most desperate to be a traditional superhero.
  • An issue of Rising Stars was dedicated to a young man who, in a bid for attention, claimed he was one of the "Specials" (113 kids who were in-utero when a giant energy shockwave hit their small midwest town, imbuing them with superpowers as they got older). However, since all the other Specials could "feel" one another, they knew he wasn't one, and encouraged him to recant his tale.
    • This was touchingly subverted when he gave his life saving a girl he liked from an oncoming, out-of-control truck. All the Specials went to his funeral and consider him one of their own.
  • Robin (1993): "Dodge" stole a prototype personal teleportation device from his Star Labs scientist father because he wanted to be a hero. After his arrogance and lack of training get him injured when he endangers a group of hostages and the device malfunctions and starts to fuse with him he decides to turn villain instead. Evidently, super-hero to super-villain is not a big jump for Dodge as long as he gets to be some type of super.
  • Deconstructed in Rorschach (2020), as it's revealed that the villains were motivated by this. One of them was raised by her trigger-happy Conspiracy Theorist father to believe that she would eventually free America from "the squids", the other was an aging comic book creator disillusioned by the popularity of his trite pirate comics and obscurity of his more "meaningful" political tracts. Both of them were inspired by the costumed heroes of yore to finally make a "real" difference in their lives, with the man literally believing himself to be the reincarnation of the infamous Vigilante Man himself, Rorschach. Unfortunately, they were still immensely broken and insane (evidently not getting the vibe that so was Rorschach), so their major plan to save the world involved attempting to assassinate a presidential candidate during a political rally.
  • In Seven Soldiers: The Bulleteer, Alix eventually calls out Mind Grabber Man (a kid who had an adventure with the Justice League and has been trying to recapture that glory ever since) for this attitude. "Why's everyone so obsessed with being special?" This cuts him deep.
    • This is also Alix's own origin; her husband Lance Just Wanted To Be Special (and ironically was involved with Sally Sonic, who Just Wanted To Be Normal) and developed a supersteel smartskin that killed him and was accidentally transferred to her.
    • It's also mentioned that there are entire wings in many hospitals devoted to the people who expose themselves to radiation, etc. in the desperate hope of gaining powers.
  • In Shaman's Tears, Thom Broadarrow is intensively jealous of Joshua Brand and thinks the powers of Wakan Tanka should have been his. He eventually becomes a Rival Turned Evil towards Joshua.
  • She-Hulk was one of the few who benefited from gamma radiation, and it only took a while to love her new form, which served as a sort of release from the far more inhibited Jennifer. She's rarely even wanted to turn back to human form at all over the years.
    • In fact, it was her want of this that allowed her to become She-Hulk in the first place. She is a gamma-mutate, a rare type of person with a genetic quirk that makes her a Hulk when exposed to gamma radiation, with said form being a reflection of their innermost emotions. Her desire to be confident, special, sexy, and unique is why She-Hulk is the way she is. (Essentially, an Id gone wild; Bruce Banner became The Hulk we know him as due to massive amounts of repressed anger as a result of severe childhood trauma; when we see Bruce and his father's final encounter, resulting in Brian Banner's death, we see that the Hulk was within Bruce before the accident. This is in line with Bruce Banner's canon dissociative identity disorder. Hulk is an "alter" within the system, the gamma radiation simply gave him the means to emerge proper.)
  • Although Andy Maguire from Spider-Man seemed to have no ambition to be anything beyond an extremely average nobody, we learned otherwise when he gained superpowers from a Freak Lab Accident ala Peter's and later faced the prospect of losing them. This was hinted at a bit earlier when he shows secret envy and resentment towards a jock who managed to get with his school's most popular girl despite being there for only two weeks. Predictably, he was devastated when Spider-Man removed almost all his powers due to Andy being reckless with them one time too many, and so now he's back to being a nobody— and worse, a laughingstock/has-been.
    • Then he regains his powers along with even better senses. While he tries being a more responsible hero, he ends up being blackmailed by a crime boss to look the other way for his crimes (and one of his attempts resulting in creating an archenemy.)
    • Its spin-off series, Spider-Gwen, has Peter Parker telling this to Gwen before dying in her arms.
  • In Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki, the main character's best friend Sarai refuses to speak to her after she notices her hanging around with Elena (a capoeira expert from Kenya) and Makoto (a karate master from Japan). When they reconcile months later, Sarai confesses her reasons for abandoning her friend:
    Sarai: I'm not a ninja, or a karate champ or a six-foot-tall Amazon princess. I'm just a regular girl. You get to be someone special and I don't.
  • Superman:
    • Lex Luthor resents and envies people with superpowers in general and Superman in particular, both for their powers and for receiving the respect and adulation that he believes he's entitled to as a genius. Everything he tries to make himself more special than them never works. Being a brilliant inventor and businessman? Didn't work. Trying to kill them? Didn't work. Masquerading as his own son through cloning and starting his own super team? Didn't work. Becoming President? Didn't work. This reached a head in 52 when he started his "Everyman" Program that offered exo-gene treatments to other people who also wanted to be Special. Though his initial goal seemed to be building a superhuman army that he could control (while making real superheroes seem less special in general), Lex gets increasingly frustrated when repeated testing confirms that he is incompatible with his own treatment. He goes so far as to turn off the Everymen's powers on New Year's at midnight while thousands of them are flying in the skies of Metropolis - and promptly start falling to their deaths. When it turns out that he was compatible all along and that his head scientist Dennis lied about it because Dennis rightfully believed Luthor couldn't be trusted with superpowers Lex immediately gives himself a copy of Superman's powers. When Lex fights Steel in a later issue, he thrashes Steel with the powers of Superman and is absolutely giddy about it.
      Lex: No pain! NO PAIN! HAHAHAHA!
      Lex: Tell me again how being human is so much better than this.
    • The Attack of the Annihilator: When Supergirl tries to talk the Annihilator into letting her and Batgirl find a way to reverse his transformation, he answers he has no intention whatsoever to go back to be a non-powered human.
      Supergirl: Okay, mister— Calm down! Whatever has happened to you can't be permanent! We want to help you— find some way to reverse the process!
      Annihilator: Reverse the process? Are you fool enough to believe that I desire to revert to my pitiful human status? Does a man wish to return to his amoeba stage?
  • Teen Titans: Kid Devil wanted to be special so badly that he built himself a power suit and high-tech trident when he was 12, and then made a Deal with the Devil when he was a teenager to become a real devil. The motivation for his actions stems from being inspired by his friend and idol Blue Devil, and from parental neglect. This is counter to his friend and teammate Blue Beetle, who just wants to be normal.
  • Transformers: More than Meets the Eye:
    • Tailgate spends the first thirteen issues claiming he was a member of the Primal Vanguard, accomplished numerous scientific feats, and rubbed shoulders with some of Cybertron's greats. It's all lies. He spent the first two weeks of his life as a sluicer, followed by six million years stuck in a hole. He made up all those claims because no one ever came looking for him. He eventually recants this attitude after nearly dying of cybercrosis.
    • Minimus Ambus, brother of the much more famous Dominus Ambus, has some of this. He put his heart and soul into his job and pleads with his employer when he's stripped of his job because of a mental breakdown, claiming it's everything to him. Said job is being Ultra Magnus, by the way.
    • Getaway's Inferiority Superiority Complex and possible case of an in-universe mental illness called "primus apotheosis" add up to this. He's convinced that he shows signs of affinity for the Matrix of Leadership (the comic never actually confirms whether these signs are actually useful or an urban myth), making him a potential Prime, and he wants to find the Knights of Cybertron to prove his worth. This leads him to betray first Rodimus, then ally after ally, until he's left with nothing; and just after Rodimus saves him from a fire, he gets a vision of God reaching out to anoint him worthy...which turns out to be an illusion, and "God" is actually a swarm of scraplets that flenses him down to the bone.
  • The Ultimates:
    • The Ultimate version of The Defenders is made up of non-powered versions of Valkyrie, Luke Cage, Son Of Satan and Whiz-Kid, as well as Hellcat and Nighthawk who were Badass Normal in the main universe, but not here. They claim to be experienced crimefighters, but are shown to just be this trope, and are thrilled when Hank Pym wants to join despite his pathetic fall from grace, just for the sake of having a member with actual powers. They're eventually given powers by Loki to help him steal Mjolnir.
    • Bruce Banner had finally got rid of the Hulk problem, but injected the serum on himself, on purpose, fully knowing the consequences, because he wanted to be big again.
    • Freddie Prinze Jr. wants one of the Iron Man suits, or to be the test guy for Banner's supersoldier formula. Whatever, if he can be a superhero!
  • The Umbrella Academy has Vanya, who really wishes that she has superpowers beyond playing the violin really well. This is largely because her father figure and some of her adoptive siblings at the titular academy frequently put her down for it. It turns out that the abuse was her father figure's attempt to hide the fact that Vanya had enormous potential as a Musical Assassin, potential so great she could destroy the world if she tried. She does try.
  • Deconstructed and played to its darkest with the Crime Master in Venom; he just wants to be recognized as a great supervillain and continue the legacy of his father-figure, the original Crime Master. The methods he uses to accomplish this goal are terrifying and evil, up to and including feeding Eddie Brock to the Toxin symbiote to add Toxin to his personal Legion of Doom. As he dies his last words are used mourning his failure, suggesting that even after everything he did he still viewed himself as wasted potential.
  • A good chunk of the Pantheon from The Wicked + The Divine had this before the comic began. They were all normal kids who wanted to be more, and soon enough they found out that they had become gods. It's because of this that they're okay with the whole "dead in two years" thing that comes with being a god.
    Amaterasu: You find all your life wishing that you were special. And then you find out you are.
    • It's also Laura's driving characteristic - even when she starts finding out all the nastier parts of the Pantheon, she still wants to be one of them.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): The "Flying Saucer Princess" in issue 110 fled her home planet because she had spent her life always grouped with the other princesses as "Princess #1003", having to do everything as a group and dressed the same without being allowed to stand out or deviate from the others.
    • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): Barbara-Ann went and became the Cheetah because she wanted to be like Diana. It didn't go at all how she wanted.
    • Wonder Woman: Warbringer: Jason. To the degree that he wants to plunge Earth back into the bronze age and start a world war so that he can be a hero like the ones in the Greek legends he grew up hearing.
  • The U-Men, from Grant Morrison's run on the X-Men, who want to be special so much that they kill mutants to harvest their super-power carrying organs, and later graft these on themselves. It's never made clear whether it actually works, or anything, but... (It kinda works, but most die from organ failure).
  • The main character, Bailey, from X Men Worst X Man Ever, wanted to be special but there was nothing unique about him. Until he learned that his parents are mutants and that he's a mutant himself. The bad news, his only power is the power to blow up and it would kill him.

    Fan Works 
  • One of the reasons why Luz decides to stay behind in the Demon Realm in The Amazing Spider-Luz in: Across the Owl-Verse! is that the Human Realm is already packed to the gills with superheroes, there being too many with Spider-Man's power-set to set her apart, so she can learn to be a hero helping the people of Bonesborough.
  • Deconstructed in Ambitious Love. Reina's desire to be special leads her to stay in an abusive relationship because her husband has connections in the music industry.
  • Lily apparently feels this way in The Boy with the Magic Notebook when she tries to stop Tattletale from passing her in the PRT headquarters, only for Tattletale to say bluntly that Lily feels only part of the background compared to her brother and doesn't really know what to do when he's not there.
  • Like his canon counterpart, Burter of Dragon Ball Z Abridged repeatedly claims to be "the fastest guy in the universe," and while he is indeed quite fast, there are many characters in the series who have far higher Power Levels and can outspeed him (and Guldo, who can stop time). The major change is that he admits it's just posturing: he wants to be seen as special, and not just another guy, so he talks a big game to seem more vital. His teammate Jeice then tells him that he is special; he's his best friend.
  • Invoked in the Futurama fic The Hero of Botany; after Amy learns that Fry and Leela are in a relationship, she finds herself feeling jealous at first, even though she knows she's no longer interested in Fry in that way. She eventually clarifies to Leela that she's always felt as though Leela was better than her at everything but Amy's ability to attract men, and now Leela is dating the only man who ever dumped Amy, rather than Amy dumping them.
  • In Fist of the Moon it's revealed that the Black Moon Family is composed of people like this. The future senshi have developed incredible tech and medicines, but they all require some level of Silver energy to utilize. Sadly, 7% of the population lack even the smallest amount of this energy, a trait termed Silver-blind, and while the senshi have done their best to develop alternatives, enough people feel slighted or oppressed for Wiseman to recruit into his army.
  • Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters: Elyon has a need to be special, born out of the envy from her perceived place as constantly being in Cornelia's shadow (something not helped by the Alpha Bitch-act Cornelia puts on for years to cover her own inferiority complex). It's what makes her so easy for Phobos and Cedric to manipulate when they reveal her status as the lost princess, and her glee at finally being the center of everyone's loving attention blinds her to the truth about Phobos' tyranny.
  • Discussed in Forewarned is Forearmed. Akira tells Lavenza that he loves running around in the TV World despite the danger it poses because the superpowers he gets there make him feel special and that he has a purpose after going through life without one for so long. Compared to real life, where he's a bullied orphan desperately trying not to get kicked out of his new home, risking his life in the Metaverse is a thrilling escape.
  • Infinity Train: Knight of the Orange Lily: Another passenger tries to swipe Gladion's backpack out of jealousy over the fact that he and so many other boarders come from worlds filled with fantastic things like Pokémon, while the thief doesn't have anything nearly as exciting back home. Gladion is far from impressed, particularly as the boy's acting as though his partners are possessions.
  • In A Long Journey Home, Jasmine explains to Myrddin that people want to be special, not to have magic, to explain the attitude of the muggleborns.
  • In the Turning Red fanfic The Panda Chronicles, in "Surface Pressure", Aaron Z feels he is not as unique as the other 4*Town members.
  • Discussed in The Power of Seven, when Demelza Robbins reveals that she feels as though she's the 'expendable' one of the six girls gathered for Harry's harem so far; Ginny was Harry's first girlfriend, Hermione has a long-standing history with him as well as being the most intellectual, Luna's creative, Susan Bones is good with politics, and Katie Bell is experienced enough to take care of Harry's other needs, but Demelza doesn't see where she fits in. While the other girls assure Demelza that Harry doesn't choose them based on what they bring to the harem but because he genuinely cares about them, they also clarify that Demelza is important as her faith and submission to Harry helps him gain confidence in himself after a decade of being emotionally undermined by the Dursleys and the lack of control he's faced since he came to Hogwarts.
  • Lincoln in the The Loud House fanfic Stupor Heroics was the only one out of all his siblings to miss a Mass Super-Empowering Event that gave them all superpowers. The story takes place years after this event and despite Lynn Jr. thinking this trope is going to be played straight with him, it's actually subverted. Lincoln admits he 'did' feel that way when he was younger since 'he' was the superhero fan in the family and again, the only one who didn't get powers. However, he's had years to get over it and move on with his life and in present-day is more upset that he hasn't seen any of them in years by that point until she showed up at his front door.
  • Telling Lies? No, Mama: While under the influence of a truth spell, Lila is forced to admit that she bullies and torments Marinette and Ladybug because she is jealous of their popularity. She wants to be adored and admired like they are, and she can’t stand to see people fall all over them the way she wants them to do to her. Everyone is immediately Disappointed by the Motive.
  • Webwork:
    • Part of Jade's depression at the beginning of the story is due to having to go back to ordinary life after the show's Grand Finale meant that there were no more forces of evil left to fight. IT is able to use this depression as a stepping stone towards the Rage-Breaking Point that reawakens her Shadowkhan side, and Tarakudo uses her fear of going back to normal to control her.
    • This is also part of the reason that Drew hates Jade so much, since she's lived the kind of life he could only read about in comic books.
  • Paul goes through several chapters of this in With Strings Attached when the other three all get magic dumped on them, but he doesn't get any. Not one to sit around waiting, he attempts to learn how to cast spells, but even the easiest spell is too strenuous for him, and Grunnel won't teach him anymore because more powerful spells would kill him. Eventually, though, he does get his magic... and as a bonus, he's now hardy enough to cast spells!

    Films — Animated 
  • This is what Mirabel in Encanto is all about. In her family, it's normal to have some kind of extraordinary, magical gift, so it's also I Just Want to Be Normal. Only Mirabel is bereft and suffers everything from pity to put-downs to her grandmother's suspicion that she is somehow actually putting some kind of a damper on the family's magic.
  • Hotel Transylvania: Transformania: Johnny fears that Dracula still doesn't completely accept him for being human, especially after Drac lies about a monster real estate law that is keeping him from passing down the hotel to a non-monster relative. Luckily for him, Van Helsing has a solution: a ray that can change Johnny into a monster. When Drac finally admits the deception, Johnny, realizing he transformed himself into a monster for nothing, is rightfully pissed and storms off convinced that Drac will never accept him as family, kicking off the third act.
  • Syndrome from The Incredibles had this as his Start of Darkness. Ironically, even though his incredible intelligence and advanced technology demonstrate that he is already quite gifted, Syndrome's Fatal Flaw is that he wants the world to recognize his supposed superheroics as being greater than Mr. Incredible's.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • Po weathers the Training from Hell all because he wants to be special, to prove to himself he can be more than just a fat, lazy panda. However, he panics when Tai Lung breaks out and is heading for the Jade Palace. A talk with Shifu reveals that all the physical abuse and insults from Shifu and the others he tolerated because out of hope of becoming someone different than himself, showing a depressing lack of self-esteem and that not even the greatest teacher of kung fu could help him. However, he becomes more confident when Shifu trains him for real by finding the right motivation. When the time came for the Dragon Scroll, Po didn't seem to understand its meaning and none of the others did. Po is sent off with the others to protect the villagers fleeing. However, a heart-to-heart with his dad has him realize the meaning of the reflective scroll: there is no secret ingredient, no hidden power. It's just you, the effort and belief you put in yourself. Armed with this insight, he saves Shifu from Tai Lung, who tragically was unable to understand the meaning behind the scroll, even when Po tried to help him.
    • Tai Lung, being Po's Shadow Archetype, shows the negative aspects of this. Adopted by Shifu, his early promise in kung fu had him raised with the intent of being the Dragon Warrior (heck, his name means 'great dragon'!) However, he was rejected because Oogway sensed that Tai Lung would fail to grasp the Dragon Scroll's message and thus he lashed out. Keep in mind the massive Deliberate Values Dissonance in play; the setting is in China centuries ago. At that time period, ancestry was everything and orphans suffered from this stigma. Tai Lung's need to be special was actually part of a larger need for validation from the people and culture, most of all his father Shifu. Best seen in their fight where he tells Shifu he endured everything to make Shifu proud of him before demanding to hear it (in rage with a subtle hint of desperation). Tai Lung is a dark and tragic mirror of how the pursuit of being special can lead one to destroy the positive things they had because they were unable to recognize them or the opportunities.
  • The LEGO Movie: This is a central theme to the plot. Even Emmet is called 'The Special'. In fact, this is Emmet's MO throughout the entire movie; he is desperate to be special and important to someone, to anyone. When he realizes that everyone he thought were his friends either think he's boring or could barely remember his name, he has a mini-Heroic BSoD.
    • In Lord Business' "The Reason You Suck" Speech, which also doubles as a Motive Rant, he dismisses Emmet's "specialness" as meaning nothing, but noticeably chokes up a bit when he says "Nobody ever told me I was special!" In the end, Emmet is able to get through to Lord Business by telling him he is special because of his drive and dedication to what he believes in.
  • The Little Mermaid (1989): Inverted when Ariel expresses her desire to have legs and walk on land with other humans. Her wish is eventually granted.
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish: "Big" Jack Horner is a psychotic pastry chef and crime boss who envies magical fairy-tale creatures for being more popular than his "Little Jack Horner" Nursery Rhyme, as, differently from other characters from traditional fantasy stories, he is just a normal human with no fantastical elements. He blames his lack of magic for his lack of fame and ruthlessly steals multiple magical artifacts to compose his collection, planning to use the Wishing Star to possess all the magic in the world only for himself.
  • In the Tinker Bell movie, Tink desperately tries to shed her status as a Tinker Fairy and learn a more nature-oriented talent so that she can go to the mainland, with spectacularly disastrous results.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 sees himself as an invisible nobody and Desperately Craves Affection which he conflated with having superpowers after meeting Spider-Man, desperately wanting to save the day with him. After actually gaining powers this desire leads to him being easily manipulated by the Green Goblin, and in Spider-Man: No Way Home his Alternate Timeline counterpart resists MCU Peter's attempt to depower him to Save the Villain because he doesn't want to go back to being a nobody. It isn't until he reconciles with his Spider-Man that he learns to accept himself the way he was.
  • American Animals: Spencer and Warren's motives for planning The Caper are simply to do something interesting with their lives. Specifically, Spencer wants to fuel his art with life experiences, while Warren wants to break out of the humdrum path his parents have planned out for him.
  • In the movie Beetlejuice, Lydia wants to be dead (and become a ghost) like her friends the Maitlands.
  • In the 2008 documentary about steroids called Bigger, Stronger, Faster, it's revealed that this was the main reason the narrator's late older brother Mike Bell took steroids. First, he wanted to get big so he can become the star player of his school's football team and make it to the NFL. When that didn't work out for him, he decided to take even more steroids so he can become big enough to make it in the WWE. However, he only got as far as being a jobber, a generic wrestler used to make the real superstars look good. The follow-up documentary film Prescription Thugs expanded on his story and showed that the depression of him not being able to become famous eventually led to his untimely death through drug addiction.
  • 1928's The Crowd stars a man named John who since childhood has believed he'd go places in the world, thanks to the encouragement of his parents. Unlucky for him, life has other plans.
  • The Darwin Awards: This is Harvey's motivation for strapping a JATO to his Chevy, and trying to break the land speed record, only to become a stain on the side of a mesa
  • This is Emil Blonsky's motivation in The Incredible Hulk. (To be expected, given that he's the Evil Counterpart to Bruce Banner.)
  • Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy basically just wants to be a celebrity without having to work for it. At the end of his performance, he outright states that he kidnapped and threatened a talk show host because "It's better to be a king for a day than a schmuck for a lifetime."
  • Basically the whole basis for quite a few characters in Kick-Ass.
  • A Knight's Tale has William who wants to "change his stars" to become a knight even though he's only a peasant.
  • In The Last Witch Hunter, 37th Dolan has always wanted to be a warlock like his parents were, but to little luck, driving his betrayal of Axe and Cross.
  • Sophie in The School for Good and Evil (2022). She is frustrated and bored by her ordinary life in Gavaldon and yearns for greater things. While this does make her more open-minded than the rest of her village, it also makes her a bit prone to getting carried away by her fantasies, especially when they don't always happen the way she thinks they ought.
  • Sky High (2005):
    • Ron Wilson is this. He is among the unfortunate few who end up with no powers as a result of having two super-powered parents. Despite this, he tries to maintain a chipper attitude with his pride as Bus Driver. The epilogue has him in an accident that has him become a giant.
    • Will, at first, when he believes he is in Ron's case. It's revealed he has his father's super-strengthand at the climax, also his mother's flight. Doubly special then.
  • The big twist of Scream 4 is that Jill is the real killer as she wants to be famous just as Sydney was as the sole survivor of a murder spree. Ironically, the film's end indicates she does get her wish as she becomes famous all right once the truth of her spree comes out.
  • This seems to be the big drive with Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming, even going so far as to tell Tony Stark that, without his suit, he's nothing. Tony doesn't buy that BS.
  • Star Wars begins with Luke saying that he wants to leave home to join The Empire, not out of any loyalty to them but because he was desperate for adventure. It didn't exactly go the way he expected.
  • This is used by Sam Witwicky in Transformers: Dark of the Moon... after he had used the EXACT PHRASE "I just want to be normal" in the previous movie. But to be fair, Sam was just starting college in the last movie, but having finished with his education, "majored in geopolitics and minored in tech studies" at that, he likely feels he is properly prepared to work with the Autobots now.
  • In Who Am I (2014), the hero is a loser who complains about himself being invisible to society. The urge to become famous through his hacking activities is the driving force for the plot.

  • Perky Goth Abby Normal wants to be a vampire in Christopher Moore's novel Bloodsucking Fiends.
  • Tavi in the Codex Alera starts out like this, since he's the one normal person in a setting where everyone has Elemental Powers. He eventually gets over it and resigns himself to putting the "badass" back in Badass Normal. Of course, his powers start coming in shortly afterward.
  • Played with regarding Four from Divergent. He sees his Divergent status as something special that makes him different, but the reveal in Allegiant that he ISN'T actually Divergent greatly hurts his pride.
  • Tash Arranda in Galaxy of Fear is not actually normal. She's Force-Sensitive, though it takes a while for her to realize it. Well before that, she idolizes the extinct Jedi Knights, wishing she could be like them, and even after touching the Force she has no idea what to do. Throughout the series she longs to better use the Force, and never has real control over it — it comes and goes.
    • In Clones she's progressed to the point where she can make a small crystal move. A Dantari shaman, feeling upstaged — he can't do that — is maliciously jealous.
  • The Locked Tomb: Gideon the Ninth: Coronabeth, desperately. It turns out she's not a necromancer at all. She's trained in swordplay like a cavalier, and is desperate to test her skills, but has to maintain the facade that she's the necromantic heir to the House. When Ianthe kills Naberius and consumes his soul to become a Lyctor, Corona is distraught—not because of Naberius's death, but because Ianthe picked him over her.
  • Levin admits this in The Solomon Code series as a reason why he wanted the Skofnung Sword (or something like it).
  • This is a bit of a recurring issue in the Harry Potter series.
    • When we see Voldemort's Start of Darkness, we find that as a child he hated everything he considered "common" about himself (especially his name "Tom"). Ultimately, wanting to be special was what motivated everything he did, since even after finding out he was a wizard he wasn't satisfied since he wanted to be "special" by their standards as well.
    • Harry Potter's Aunt Petunia is guilty of this too, as she wanted to go to Hogwarts, but she is just a muggle with no magic. Or rather (since you don't apply to Hogwarts in the first place), she was jealous of Lily being the one who got powers, and thus got invited to the school for people with powers, and got to be special and get all sorts of attention for being special, et cetera and so forth until Petunia resented everyone in her life for not paying enough attention to her, and most especially her sister for robbing her of that attention. This explains why she ended up marrying Vernon; if ever there was a guy more antithetical to magic and all the things that her sister represented, history never recorded him. It was why she and Vernon grew to be Obsessively Normal. It was also part of why she resented Harry since he was also magical and a reminder of her not being it (another being that she regrets never patching things up wholly with Lily and blames the magical world for taking her sister away.)
    • Filch, the caretaker of Hogwarts, is known to envy people with magical powers to the point that he has signed up for a correspondence course to learn magic. Too bad he doesn't have any.
    • This is one of the more prominent character traits of Ron Weasley, Harry's best friend. In fact, when looking at the Mirror of Erised, which reveals one's deepest desire, Ron sees himself as being more successful and victorious than any of his siblings. This desire stems from being the sixth son of the Weasley family, which gives Ron the feeling he has a lot to live up to, but if he does, it's not special, since his older brothers already did so before him (and they indeed have done a lot, making it difficult to stand out.) Furthermore, his only younger sibling, their sister Ginny, already achieved their mother's dream of wanting a daughter, which leaves him feeling left as The Unfavorite at times. Wanting more than anything to stand out becomes difficult when one ends up best friends with the savior of Wizarding Britain and one of the smartest people alive. Ironically, he also tends to be pretty humble if not shy about his own successes, feeling they were just accidents. He overcomes this over time, especially by Book 7. Despite this, he never actually really gets to talk this out with either Harry or Hermione outside of a couple snippets of dialogue that don't go anyway (though it's likely Stiff Upper Lip as to why they don't just talk it out.) In a moment of Sweet and Sour Grapes though, he does achieve his dream of being more accomplished than his siblings, having been a Prefect, led the Gryffindor team to victory in Quidditch (with Harry being absent no less!) and would even get a Chocolate Frog card, something none of his family can claim. Good job, Ron.
    • Humorously, this would also make him not so different from Hermione, whose dedication to her studies seems to come from her insecurity about being a muggleborn witch. She also tends to show her insecurity through being an Insufferable Genius. Both ultimately wish to stand out (in contrast to Harry's insecurity about just wanting to fit in). They end up Happily Married by the finale.
    • This trope is also the reason behind Draco's actions and his entire antipathy towards the main trio in the first place. Draco is from an obscenely wealthy family that prides themselves on good breeding, and he's been taught that wizards with lesser breeding aren't even worthy of being wizards and are to be shunned. He's then sent to school and confronted with a half-blood who's heralded as the savior of the Wizarding world, a genius-level Muggleborn who sweeps the floor with him in raw magical talent, and a pure-blood from a dirt-poor family (yes, they may be looked down upon by the rest of the pure-bloods for their poverty, but they're still one of the 28 pure-blood families) that's ultimately more loving than his own and who value bravery and kindness over raw ambition, opposite to the Malfoys. His major actions in the series are even juxtaposed with Harry's in an attempt to be as special as him on the opposite end of the spectrum. As the series progresses, Draco's attempts at seeking relevance and validation equal to Harry get more extreme until the stress and threats to his life make him realize how little it's really worth and how much he overestimated the glory of being special and underestimated the responsibility.
    • Severus Snape had this as his defining motivation. A half-blood raised by an abusive father and uncaring mother, he sought to make himself well-known to the Wizarding World and show them all how clever and amazing he is. All as a way to cope with his lousy childhood. This would lead him to despise James Potter, envying James for having a loving home life while being talented at sports and magic while being good-looking and popular. James in turn hated Snape for his pursuit of the Dark Arts and being friends with Lily (despite Snape being... Snape) It's not as known James' feeling (since the only sources of info are his friends and Snape, both pretty biased for opposite reasons). Snape as an adult has not changed from this motivation and has not entirely understood who the attitude cost him (though he has realized some of his wrongdoings).
  • The 'cool' new witches led by Lucy "Diamanda" Tockley in the Discworld novel Lords and Ladies. Only Diamanda and Agnes have any actual power. The rest are just wannabes.
  • In Joanne Harris' The Lollipop Shoes (the sequel to Chocolat), Zozie wonders why Vianne Rocher, who may or may not be a witch, spends all her time trying to fit in when Zozie's own mother "spent her whole life trying to be special".
  • Ivy Gamble of Magic for Liars has spent her entire life jealous of her sister Tabitha, who was born with magic. Ivy sees the ways Tabitha's life went differently from her own and spends the book projecting a version of herself that fits in at the magic school.
  • Pamela Camel hates her life as a circus menagerie animal, and tries to learn tricks to get out of it. After they fail, she runs away from the circus.
  • Everyone in The Reader (2016) suffers from this, because the only way to survive history in a world without written language is to be passed down in oral storytelling.
  • In Replica, the heroine Amy was desperate every time she lost her power. Her best friend's nerves were really at stake because she puts up with Amy being always superior to her, and then she must support Amy when she's depressed because she's not superior anymore. The series ends with Amy regaining her powers, enhanced, by volunteering as a test subject for the Evil Genius Creepy Child she stopped two dozen books before!
  • In the Star Darlings series, Stealing Starlight reveals Vivica wanted to be seen and admired like the Star Darlings and turned to Rancora so she could get the attention she desired without any competition.
  • The protagonist from The Twilight Saga desperately wants to become a vampire before she gets too old for her boyfriend, who became a vampire when he was 17.
  • A major plot point with Opal of The Ultra Violets is that her powers develop later than the others, alongside her friends unintentionally bossing her around.
  • In Warrior Cats, Ivypool is extremely jealous of her sister's power and the attention she's getting - to the point that she trains with the Dark Forest, hoping that she'll become good enough to be noticed too.
  • Wearing the Cape:
    • Since "Breakthroughs" are a case of Traumatic Superpower Awakening, some people deliberately put themselves in dangerous situations in the hopes of getting a superpower. "Origin chasers" are generally a statistic listed next to the suicides. Hope's best friend Shelly jumped off a building a few years before the start of the series. She did not get a superpower. However, a time traveler (who can't change the past) used future technology to make a quantum AI copy of her in order to give Hope an ally and advisor.
    • In Small-Town Heroes, a D-Class superpowered character joins the villains because his own Breakthrough makes him barely tougher and stronger than a normal human, and that's just not good enough for him. The villains have a variety of power-boosting tricks, and it seems that a number of their recruits joined due to an obsession to be stronger, for whatever reason. Eric Ludlow, for example, believes that normal humans will eventually try to exterminate superhumans, so while he's a respectable B-class he is attracted to a cult that preaches the strength and importance of superpowers.
  • While My Pretty One Sleeps: Growing up, Sal came from a very ordinary, low-income family of vegetable farmers and desperately wanted fame, wealth and respect. He gained it after becoming a successful fashion designer, though his personal life is a bit of a mess and Myles Kearny thinks that part of Sal is still an insecure kid from the Bronx trying to prove himself, especially considering he changed his name and lied about coming from Italian nobility to make himself look better. It's revealed that Sal was so desperate for fame and fortune, he was willing to steal and kill to gain it.
  • In the novel Wings by Julie Gonzalez, the main character Ben desperately wants wings as a child and eventually starts to believe he has them. He even renames himself Icarus and attempts to build his own wings with which to fly off the roof.
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer: Nim, who wants to be noticed. Also, Jason. To the degree that he wants to plunge Earth back into the bronze age and start a world war so that he can be a hero like the ones in the legends he grew up hearing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Danny Farrell, Shawn's younger brother in The 4400. After his older brother gets healing powers, he gets jealous. Eventually, in later seasons, he's one of the first main characters to take the superpower-granting drug that has a 50% fatality rate. He's given the power to... kill anyone who comes within an ever-expanding radius of him and he can't control it. Be Careful What You Wish For. Shawn has to reverse his healing powers and Mercy Kill him after Danny accidentally kills their mother and several other people and can't stop it. So there's that.
  • Raina from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a fascination with enhanced people and knows she has an unidentified dormant power within herself that she cannot wait to attain. She gets her wish in Season 2 and then immediately wishes she hadn't, as her new body causes her constant pain and her powers give her nightmares. She manages to make peace with her abilities before dying soon afterwards.
  • Angel: Angel suspects that Gunn's neural implant is corrupting him. He's half-right; it's not the implant that destroys Gunn, but the fear of losing it.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Dawn undergoes this, briefly, in Season 7. She eventually learns that she can do as much from her position as any of the slayers, thanks to a talk with Xander (who briefly underwent this trope himself, in the episode "The Zeppo". It related more to his lack of supernatural abilities or powers though, as since he had helped to save the world multiple times he could hardly claim that he had lived an unexceptional or unexciting life.)
      • Bites her in the ass in Season 8. She gets turned into a giant (which is problematic for her, though she does fight a giant Mecha-Dawn), a Centuarette, and a Doll (which gets her captured by an insane doll collector). Xander was basically running the Slayer Organization and Dawn is quite happy to be normal again and is actually comforted by Xander throughout the whole ordeal while everyone else basically ignores her. They get together.
    • Jonathan's desire to be special manifests in the episode "Superstar" where his newfound celebrity status takes over not only Sunnydale but the opening credits of Buffy.
    • Also Riley fears losing Buffy because he has no superpowers, and is willing to risk death to keep his newfound superstrength until Buffy forces him to go to the hospital.
  • In the last episode of Chernobyl, Boris Shcherbina reflects on his feelings of insignificance. He admits that his reason for being so initially dismissive of the disaster was because Gorbachev put him in charge—if it was that important, the task would have been given to someone important. Being lied to by the plant officials and undercut by Moscow only made him feel more inconsequential. Legasov points out that while any competent scientist could have told him what needed to be done, it was Boris who actually listened and made sure all the necessary men and materiel got to where it needed to go, red tape or not, and that it was a damned miracle that Moscow had accidentally sent the one good man out of all the party apparatus. Legasov knew what needed to happen, but he couldn't have made it happen without Boris.
  • Dizzy of Dark Oracle is initially quite jealous of Lance when he finds out about the comic (which allows Lance and his sister, Cally to see the future). He eventually wises up to how bad the situation really is. Vern, Big Bad Wannabe extraordinaire is worse: he's jealous of Lance for having the comic, and of Doyle's magical powers. This results in him getting his butt kicked a lot.
  • Dispatches From Elsewhere: Part of the hook held out by both the Jejune Institute and the Elsewhere Society is the chance to be in on something unusual and far from mundane.
    Octavio Coleman, Esq.:We all share one common wish — that one day it will be revealed that there's been a mistake. That one day you will learn that you are meant for more. That one day someone will arrive from the mundane nothingness and say the words: "No, my friend, not you. You don't belong here. Come with me. You belong with the special ones."
  • Fi: Despite already being lead dancer in the school's program, Duru wants nothing more than to truly stand out among the crowd. Against the director's wishes, she appends a striking red feather to her costume during a performance, courtesy of Can Manay.
  • In Heroes:
    • Sylar. (Although Sylar takes a more proactive approach than most other examples of this trope.) Interestingly, he actually was special and just didn't know it because his power was so low-key. Then he decided to use it to become more special. And there was a lot of blood.
    • Hiro also fits this trope. He's always longed to get out of his cubicle and become something extraordinary until the day he finally does become extraordinary and he leaves his cubicle.
    • This could apply to Peter too.
    • Claire was the reverse of this at one point but now seems resigned to the fact she'll never be normal so wants to test the limits of her powers and be more proactive.
    • Gretchen's attraction to Claire seems to be at least partly because of Claire's own specialness, plus there was her eagerness to play Nancy Drew when Claire's first roommate died.
    • Another dark example, Linda Tarvara from the Graphic Novels. Almost a female Sylar she was isolated by her parents so much that when she discovered she could absorb the life force of living things she became addicted to doing so. Which lead to her crossing the Moral Event Horizon at sixteen by EATING AN OLD WOMAN'S SOUL.
    • Mohinder became obsessed with creating a formula to give himself a power (though he justified it was for humanity), as he was feeling left behind now that nigh everyone he interacted with was superpowered in some way. This caused all sorts of problems for himself. Surprising in that, in the end, he actually managed full control over his now stable power, and it is treated as a proper power from then on.
    • Daphne possibly, also. Due to her condition.
  • House, in the episode "Lines in the Sand" explains how he envies his autistic patient for being accepted as abnormal. Wilson mentions at the end of the episode that House wishes he had an autism spectrum disorder.
  • House of the Dragon: King Viserys nurses this idea he might be a dreamer.
    Viserys: Many in my line have been dragon riders. Very few among us have been dreamers. What is the power of a dragon next to the power of prophecy? […] I so wanted it to be true, to be a dreamer myself. I sought that vision again, night after night… but it never came again. I poured all my thought and will into it. And my obsession killed Rhaenyra's mother.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • In the first half of Kamen Rider Kabuto Arata Kagami has no Kamen Rider suit, but desperately wants one to be of use in the war against the Worm, a race of shapeshifting aliens, one of which killed and impersonated his brother. It really frustrates him that he can be of no use to ZECT, the government organization created to fight the Worm, while Souji Tendou, who's no part of ZECT actually has a Rider suit and is highly efficient at destroying the Worm. Fortunately, Arata's wish is granted halfway, as he gains the power to transform into Kamen Rider Gattack.
    • This is part of Shintarou Gotou's character arc in Kamen Rider OOO. At first, he is kind of an arrogant by-the-book soldier who is highly jealous of the main character Eiji Hino, who has the power to transform into the eponymous Kamen Rider OOO. Gotou's jealousy stems from the fact that a naive, silly, and seemingly lazy guy like Eiji can actually make a difference, while Gotou feels he should be the one making a difference because he takes everything seriously. He does get an opportunity to become special in the form of getting his own Kamen Rider suit, but since this involved working together with an amoral Mad Scientist, he passed it up, forcing him to watch someone else getting said suit. But after much Character Development,he is finally able to transform into a Kamen Rider.
    • Kengo Utahoshi from Kamen Rider Fourze has shades of this in the first few episodes. Originally, he was meant to equip the Kamen Rider Fourze suit, but since he has poor stamina, he is unable to and is forced to watch how the abrasive Gentarou becomes Kamen Rider Fourze without his consent, which caused him much frustration. After a few episodes, Kengo accepts the situation but still butts heads with Gentarou about how to use the suit.
  • Lost:
    • Before the island, Locke lived a life that varied between uneventful and tragic. His desire to be special (and to believe his mother when she claimed he was special) made him vulnerable to a horrendously cruel con job committed by his parents. And incidentally vulnerable to manipulation by anyone who claims he is special and has a destiny they wish to further. It rapidly gets sad, though it turns out he really may be quite special all the same. Ironically, Young Locke's desire to be "special" apparently actually delayed him in achieving his special destiny. As the episode "Cabin Fever" reveals, the Island had been trying to get him there his entire life. But every time he had a choice, he screwed it up by trying to be "special" in his own way: outdoorsy and sporting rather than the bookish type he really was. He finally only got to the island because he thought he could go on a walkabout while paralyzed from the waist down.
    • The Season 5 finale reveals that Benjamin Linus deeply wants to be as special as Locke seems to be. When he gives Jacob a speech about this, Jacob basically tells him that he was never special. Ben, not taking this very well, stabs and kills Jacob. At just about the same time, it is revealed that Locke was never really special at all, but was just being used as a pawn in an elaborate plot to get Ben to kill Jacob. He had, in fact, been dead for an entire season and an impostor took his place as leader of the Others. However, this gets reversed again in the series finale. Throughout the final episode, events seem to confirm that there was a certain special quality about Locke. Also, Jack tells the Man in Black that by using Locke's body, he disgraces the memory of Locke. Finally, after reuniting in the afterlife, Ben apologizes to Locke and tells him that he killed him "because [Locke] was special. And [Ben] wasn't."
  • In Misfits, when Nathan is the only main character not to develop superpowers, he gets jealous of the others (even though most of them are royally Blessed with Suck) and often whines about it. He's not even cool, clever, or efficient enough to be considered Badass Normal - although if there were a prize for Jerkass Normal he'd probably win it. He goes to increasingly troubling lengths to find out what his power could be - dunking his head repeatedly in a bucket of water to see if he's Aquaman (as this clip shows}, launching himself into walls in an attempt to pass through solid matter, and throwing himself from heights in the hope that he can fly. note 
    • And then he gets his wish... in a rather unfortunate set of circumstances.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: "I want to be... a lumberjack!"
  • Taylor in Mortified is prone to this and at various times fantasizes that she Speaks Fluent Animal, believes she is The Chosen One, hopes to be abducted by aliens, and attempts to become the first child astronaut.
  • In one episode of Pixelface, Kiki gets tired of being the only character without any special abilities and steals Sgt. Riley's next upgrade. Hilarity Ensues. Another time she eats one of Rex's power up fruit, with similar results.
  • Red Dwarf: Arnold Rimmer has always wanted to be someone special since a child. Unfortunately, he has a penchant for running from danger and acting like a coward when others need his help. Ironically, his alternate self "Ace Rimmer" is the hero he's always wanted to be.
  • In The Secret Circle, this is Faye.
  • Sherlock: John most likely wanted to be special or, at least, noticed, and, ironically enough, guess who proves that he is special in their best man's speech? And with those lame social skills?
  • In Smallville:
    • Pete Ross is shown to have a desire for superpowers, mostly to get out of Clark's shadow. Whenever he does get powers, something goes wrong.
    • This is Lex Luthor's main motivation. After being put through traumas that include losing his hair as a child, being bullied at school, taking the blame for his mother murdering his infant brother, having his mother commit suicide and dealing with his emotionally abusive father, Lex desperately needed to believe that it was all for a higher purpose as the alternative (That it was all for nothing) is far too horrible to contemplate. This goes to explain his resentment of Clark who constantly rejects his amazing power and doesn't want to fulfill the destiny Lex believes he is entitled to.
  • Teen Wolf:
    • Jackson wants nothing more than to become a werewolf seeing all the fringe benefits, and not really caring about being a target of Van Helsing Hate Crimes.
    • The Beta werewolves in Season 2.
  • In True Blood, Jason Stackhouse mourns not inheriting any faerie powers like the rest of his family. At one point, he is bitten by werepanthers and is disappointed when he learns that they don't transfer their condition this way.
  • Victorious: Trina believes she's destined for stardom and will do anything to become famous. Not helping things is her massive ego, which causes her to think she's a supremely talented singer and actress, refusing to believe otherwise.
  • Jack from the second season of Wicked Science is the only person aside from the protagonists' friends who knows Toby and Elizabeth's secret, and he wants to become a genius himself so he can become rich (while also depowering Toby and Elizabeth so no one can stop him).
  • In Young Dracula, Robin Branaugh belongs to a perfectly ordinary suburban family and wants desperately to be a vampire.

  • "When I Get My Superpowers" by Meri Amber is a song about, well, Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • "Steppin' Out" by Joe Jackson.
  • "Anything But Ordinary" by Avril Lavigne.
  • Played with the song "Mr. Jones" by Counting Crows. The radio version the band is known for is about an insecure guy who believes being famous will make him special and loved by everyone. The album version, however, is the opposite, pointing out how fame doesn't make you special and you should love yourself as you are.
  • "Brass in Pocket by The Pretenders. The video, at least, drives it home.
  • "Creep" by Radiohead".
    "You're so f***ing special, I wish I was special"
  • "Hate It! Hate It! Huge Ego!" is a Vocaloid song by KurageP about a girl who insists that she's better, smarter, more genuine, etc. than the people around her, that everyone should pay attention to see how unique she is, and how she definitely doesn't need any validation. By the end, she admits that her loud demands for attention have left her feeling isolated and that all she really wants is to feel valued and loved.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin occasionally laments the fact that, as a human, he doesn't have any of the cool traits many animals do, like retractable claws, fangs, opposable toes, wings, the ability to light up his behind the way fireflies do, etc.
  • Played for Laughs in FoxTrot with Jason and his constant desire for superpowers, such as standing out under a full moon after being nipped on the finger by a chihuahua in case it was a baby werewolf or dressing as the Terminator after he gets braces.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Some superhero games, such as Aberrant or Paragons, are set in worlds where the main way of getting superpowers is by surviving a near-death experience that triggers a change within you. Needless to say, between the sheer joy of having powers and the celebrity-like status that comes with some supers, there are a lot of... unhappy accidents.
  • Exalted: The Perfect of Paragon really, really want to be an Exalt, and he's cursing the Unconquered Sun everyday for not making him a Solar despite all the things the Perfect has done for his people. Considering that the UCS has exalted the worst sort of people such as Havesh the Vanisher, the audience will sympathize with the Perfect.
    • If you're an Autochthonian, this is probably what you feel when you see the state superheroes that are the Alchemicals.
  • The World of Darkness has had this in any of its people who didn't get The Call themselves, but are linked to someone who did.
    • The infamous Samuel Haight got his start as werewolf Kinfolk, whose major "power" is not going catatonic at the sight of their relatives. He... shall we say... overcompensated.
    • The ones who get it the worst are probably Mage: The Awakening's Retainers, most of whom are Sleepwalkers, people whose souls don't rail against the presence of magic and cause Paradox but have no magic themselves. They're prized by mages as companions (or pets), but because arrogance and hubris are part and parcel of Awakened life, most of them fall into this trope — after all, they're stuck watching their magical, wonderful friend go out and do magical, wonderful things, knowing that not only are they being forced to watch on the sidelines, but that their magical, wonderful friend only wants to hang out with them because they can be magical and wonderful around them. This is just a phase, though; many of them eventually find their niche and become Batman-level sidekicks in their own right.
      • To make things worse, there are even magical conditions that prey on this aspect of Sleepwalkers. For instance, there's the False Awakening, where the Sleepwalker believes they've Awakened to a path of magic no one's ever charted before... only it's actually a magical contagion that makes them crazy, gives them power beyond their reckoning and then makes them explode in the most devastating of fashions.

  • In The Mario Opera's backstory, Mario lived his whole life with the niggling sense he was destined for something greater.
  • In Pippin, the desire to be special is what motivates the title character's search for fulfillment. While he is supposed to be the first-born son of Charlemagne, that fact is downplayed when not outright forgotten.
  • In The Fantasticks, Luisa has the line "Please, dear God, don't let me be normal!"

  • The premise behind the Purr-Tenders was that nobody who visited the Pick-a-Dilly Pet Shop saw cats as special, even when they had pink or purple or blue fur or could talk. So they make ear headbands and muzzle masks to pass themselves off as more 'special' types of pets, like parrots or ducks or mice or dogs.

    Video Games 
  • In the third .hack//G.U. game - Redemption - Yata, who is Wiseman from the original .hack// games, confesses to Ovan that he spent all of "The World R:2" frustrated that despite his determination and conviction neither AIDA, the invasive god, nor Aura, the absent god, had shown him any favor.
    • To a worse extent with Sakaki. Being a child genius in real life he's way too ambitious in the World (where he can mask his true age and be treated as an adult) to be satisfied being a "regular player", and his jealousy of the admins with their control of the system (which he can't be because he's just a kid) and the Epitaph users with their Avatars and ability to break the rules of the system (which are only 8 special characters and he isn't one) leads to him turning to the AIDA virus in order to "surpass the system".
  • Graham Jones is exactly this in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. While normally an Affably Evil antagonist throughout the game, he breaks down when he realizes he is not the reincarnation of Count Dracula as he thought he had been his whole life.
  • Ellia from Eternal Darkness longs to be part of the great tales that she read within the Tome of Eldritch Lore. Her wish was granted.
  • In The Fall Part 2: Unbound, ARIA eventually comes upon "One", an android whose AI is obsessed with self-distinction. He refuses to connect to a hub where others like him are located, for fear of losing his unique qualities, and any time you encounter other androids who have picked up his qualities through their Hive Mind, he retreats from them.
  • In Final Fantasy XIII though everyone just wants to be normal, one of the bosses became a l'Cie for the power, though he later lamented that while he had all the power he wanted, he was just a puppet.
  • Hidden City has Alicia, who first appears as an impostor who had stolen the identity of the legendary Architect and broke into her gardens. Later, she admits that she had always wanted to achieve greatness and had dreamt of joining the heroic ranks of the Defenders. When that childhood dream went up in smoke (the Defenders were disbanded before she could join them), she became obsessed with the Living Legend and wanted to be as revered as her. At first, she only wanted to be the Architect's apprentice, but when the latter mysteriously disappeared, Alicia decided to pretend to be her instead.
  • In inFAMOUS, Zeke keeps asking you to find a way to get him some powers, especially after he finds out that your powers weren't random. It starts as early as when you jump off of a building and Zeke says "I wish I could do something like that." It eventually prompts his Face–Heel Turn.
    • He drops it in the sequel however, and seems to have accepted the fact that he will never have powers.
  • Kingdom Hearts has Riku, who's spent his entire life — literally ever since he was a toddler — dreaming of adventure and power, utterly convinced his destiny absolutely must lie beyond his little island town. When his best friend, Sora, turns out to be the hero instead, it gives Riku his Start of Darkness.
    • He actually was intended to get the Keyblade first instead of Sora; rather, he was rejected because he unwittingly made a Deal with the Devil with Xehanort, so he lost out on his chance just because he leapt at the call too soon.
    • This turns out to be Braig / Xigbar's motivation, minus any good intentions - being one of the original Keyblade wielders, he has to have one. As he isn't one of The Chosen Many, he decides it's worth letting Xehanort slowly turn him into yet another Soul Jar.
  • Discussed in Legends of Equestria. Cirrus suggests that this is why Swifty went into the Evershade forest on her own when the group planned to search for the wolf-pony in there.
  • Clone Shepard from the Citadel DLC of Mass Effect 3. As a result of being a clone of Commander Shepard created by Cerberus for nothing more than spare parts, they naturally have something of a major inferiority complex. The entire goal revolves around stealing Shepard's identity, convinced that doing so will make them the hero.
  • Persona:
    • Junpei Iori in Persona 3 has a pretty bad case of this. He's thrilled when he discovers that he's one of a select few with the power to summon a Persona and fight against the Shadows... until he finds out that putting an end to the Shadows for good will also mean losing that power. For him, being part of SEES is all he has, suffering from a Missing Mom and an abusive drunkard of a father who used to be violent but now is too drunk to even hit him. This gets combined with an Inferiority Superiority Complex towards the protagonist led him to make some unwise decisions around the game's midpoint. He does grow out of it over time as he grows closer to everyone, including The Protagonist he once envied to where they're each other's Best Friend.
    • Yosuke in Persona 4 was bored with life as a city kid in the boonies and wanted to do something outstanding. When he went into the TV World to find the killer of a girl he had a crush on, he was confronted by his Shadow, who called him out on hunting for the killer only because it seemed like fun. Part of his character development is accepting that as true, but not letting it deter him from doing what's right.
      • This is touched upon often, such as in Persona 4: Arena, where the antagonist taunts him by saying he set all this up so Yosuke could feel like a hero for saving a cute girl. Fortunately, his friends' support snaps him out of it (notable since Yosuke is the main character of the manga adaptation.)
      • Chie also goes through a variation in the same game, but more out of her desire to be a hero and feeling special, since she often feels in the background when compared to her more conventionally pretty and feminine best friend Yukiko (whom her Shadow was born out of envy of yet taking pleasure in Yukiko's reliance on her) or her newer friends, Idol Singer Rise or Kid Detective Naoto. This makes her not so different from Yosuke. Appropriately, they are Vitriolic Best Buds who also are each other's closest friends after their own best friends.
      • Deconstructed with Mitsuo. He is so lonely and desperate for attention that he tries to take credit for the first two murders and even goes through with murdering Morooka.
    • In Persona 5, Yuuki Mishima, the Moon confidant, is a textbook Generic Guy and bully-magnet who finally finds a purpose in life when he becomes the owner and admin of the Phantom Thieves' official fansite, seeing yet also as redemption due to succumbing to the bullying of the PE teacher and leaking Joker's records. However, his desire to be famous by association has him start manifesting a Shadow though he is partially aware he's losing himself, meaning all the protagonist has to do is just talk with his Shadow.
  • Sonic The Hedgehog gives us Miles "Tails" Prower, who wishes he could be as much of a hero as his best friend, Sonic. Some character development throughout the Adventure titles shows that he's starting to step out of Sonic's shadow to become a hero in his own right, but he still has a lot to catch up with the others. His Leitmotif, ''Believe in Myself'' is also an accurate example of this trope.
  • Deconstructed with Hammer from Xenogears. He's only too aware that he's a Muggle in a world full of superhuman beings, and to him, helping the heroes out just isn't enough. This leads to him making a Face–Heel Turn.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the Key/Visual Arts novel AIR, Kano Kirishima always wanted magical powers. She wears a ribbon on her right wrist, and won't untie it because she thinks it will grant her magical powers if kept tied till she gets to adult age. She even went as far as trying to lose her virginity in order to get magical powers faster.
    This became a case of Heartwarming in Hindsight as later, in the doujin Fighting Game Eternal Fighter Zero, she fights with a fantasy role-playing staff and is able to cast tiered versions of fire, ice, and lightning spells, in short, her wish became true.
  • Takuru in Chaos;Child has this as his main goal, and it is the main reason he wants to solve the mystery of the 2nd New Generation Madness. He wants to be special so badly that during the Shibuya Quake when he developed his powers, he wished for his imaginary friend Serika to give him something important to do so he can prove that he's special. This wish inadvertently birthed his imaginary friend into existence with this wish being her only goal in life, and as a result, she sets up the entire events of the 2nd New Gen. Madness and leads Taku on a path to solving it so he can catch her as the murderer and be renowned as a hero to the world for solving the case.
  • This is the motivation of a key character in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, to the point that it's The Reveal: spoiler:Hajime was so desperate to be talented at something that he submitted himself to an experiment conducted by Hope's Peak to create a person who was talented at everything; they performed exhaustive brain surgery on him, and thus Izuru Kamakura was born, who was, for all intents and purposes, a completely new human being. It worked, and he was indeed impossibly good at everything, but the subsequent lack of difficulty or challenge with literally anything was actually tortuous in that all he could think about was how bored he was. Junko could relate to his soul-crushing boredom and convinced him that despair would make it go away, leading to him agreeing to bring about the Tragedy, and thus the events of the entire series.
  • In Super Danganronpa Another 2, this is the motivation of the Big Bad Ensemble known as Void. All of them were completely average people who lived horrible lives such as Iroha, who came from a family of artists but was an abused Black Sheep for her lack of skill, but after meeting the Born Lucky Utsuro they all became rich and famous despite their lack of inborn talent through his Reality Warping. After his death, they feared the day when The Magic Goes Away and went along with their leader's plan to Resurrect the Villain to avoid losing their talents and going back to living in hellish conditions.
  • Yayoi in Deardrops is frequently annoyed at her normal status. It doesn't help that she's surrounded by fairly interesting people.
  • Fate/stay night: Shinji Matou is a major Jerkass because he is a Muggle Born of Mages and his grandfather Zouken constantly mocked and berated him about it. He constantly studies the Matou's magical texts, but without Magic Circuits, he cannot perform any of the spells. He joins the Holy Grail War because he wants to use the wish to gain magical powers.
  • Miou in A Profile is mercilessly teased for being so normal. This may have been part of what led her into prostitution and, it is implied, to take drugs. It's not like she needed the money.
  • This is the murderer Nathan's motivation for killing Dr. Johansen in Yousei. He was essentially cheated out of the position of head of the research team that should have gone to him and was always being overlooked alongside his equally intelligent teammates. When he learned that Johansen was going to destroy his life's research out of fear for his life, he killed him so that he wouldn't get the chance and was intending to deliver the research to Chance, who promised to give him Dragon Blood in exchange, a substance that is allegedly responsible for the development of a kansei, which Nathan claims was wasted on Kangai, Li Mei, and the twins.

    Web Animation 
  • DSBT InsaniT: 'Store Story' reveals that Killdra wants people to notice her and her talent for singing.
  • RWBY:
    • Oscar is a farm boy who lives with his aunt and spends his days doing mundane chores on a quiet, isolated farm. It's not the life he wants to live. He turns out to be the next host in the reincarnation cycle of a legendary wizard, which places the fate of the entire planet on his fourteen-year-old shoulders. That's a little more special than he ever wanted to be. As their souls are merged in Oscar's body, Ozpin and Oscar have a rough start to their relationship, but Ozpin admits in Volume 8 that Oscar seems to be doing a good job without his help.
    • A darker example is Cinder Fall. Having grown up as a constantly abused slave, tortured by Shock Collar, bullied by her adopted siblings, given a Hope Spot, had that hope crushed, and ultimately murdered both her "family" and the only person who ever showed her kindness, she became determined to never feel small or helpless again. To this goal, she allied herself with Salem and stole the Fall Maiden powers, with aspirations to steal the other three maidens' powers too. She seems to be an odd mix of Self-Made Woman and The Fatalist, believing that becoming Maiden is her ordained role, while also despising those who have their power and privilege handed down to them. Suffice to say, the girl has issues.

  • Sol in Circumstances of the Revenant Braves initially befriends Kei simply because he wants to know how he can get special powers. Later subverted when he actually gets similar powers.
  • DICE: The Cube That Changes Everything: Most of, if not all, students in the school desire to improve themselves with Dice. Byungchul builds a theory sooner than everyone else that enough improvements would go into superpowers and maybe beyond, and tries to experiment.
  • Sarah of El Goonish Shive has a bit of this, considering that her friends consist of several magic users, an alien shapeshifter, and a Mad Scientist, though she is mature enough not to whine about it constantly. However, it was hinted at several times before being admitted outright here. Apparently, Grace was graceful and gracious enough to grace her with these possibilities, by getting Tedd to make her some magic-powered stuff she could use. Maybe the kind that would give her powers itself?
  • Mob Psycho 100 investigates this trope thoroughly through several different angles, but it could be broken down into some broad categories:
    • Somewhat Zig-Zagged with The Protagonist Mob. He has Psychic Powers so strong that he loses control when emotionally overwhelmed and doesn't think much of them. Instead, he strives to improve his body and admires his younger brother Ritsu, who he says is better because of how much he is able to accomplish without powers. As such, his idea of being special is being able to talk to girls and improving his physique, a more mundane form of "special." However, his inability to accept the totality of his powers has led to conflict with "???", a manifestation of his repressed emotions, born from Mob's distancing of his powers and that needs to quit suppressing them so much since doing so is denying Mob part of himself. In fact, it's why Mob loses control of his powers beyond a certain point of emotion.
    • Much of the supporting cast play this straighter as seen with his mentor Reigen (who reflects on his own desire for specialness from long ago while also being the one to help ground Mob regarding his psionic powers), Ritsu, Mob's younger brother would envies Mob's powers (though loves his brother very much and comes to realize psychic powers aren't everything once he gets them) and Dimple, a mischievous spirit who initially touts that having psychic powers could grant many boons though comes to takes Mob's side as he struggles with what really wants (which is acceptance and respect.) Notably, when he possesses the Body Improvement Club's president (protecting an unconscious Mob) to bring out his "max power", he mocks the psychic goon (who has "Psycho-Steriods") they're fighting, saying that his psychically-gained muscles are no match for the muscles gained through diligent training of Mob's senior. And said goon is tough enough that when mad, can shake off a knockout spray that can KO 100% Animosity Mob. Dimple meanwhile pretty much crushes the guy using little more than unleashing the guy's max potential to toss him away, all while admitting Shigeo [Mob's actual name] was right.
    • Many of the Espers who have psychic powers relish in them to the point of deconstruction. As Reigan and Mob point out, they rely so much on their psychic powers to be "special", that they're actually very screwed up individuals. Their singular reliance on their power for their "specialness" means virtually all of them have an Inferiority Superiority Complex, especially when their powers falter or aren't enough. First seen with Teru. He thought he was the world's "protagonist" and got more angry when Mob refused to fight him, especially as Mob points out how hollow he is. However, his defeat by Mob gave a massive dose of Humble Pie and he Took a Level in Kindness, becoming a more grounded and considerate person. He even once notes to an enemy Esper that they're just normal and there are people better than them in response to a comment about their abilities. We see this more with the antagonistic espers who make up the groups of Claw, Scar, their leaders, and various other Espers. Ultimately, if you feeling "special" is entirely based on something like psychic powers or varying factors, then when that is jeopardized, it leads to crises and shows how unhealthy the entire mentality can be. Reigan in particular gives an epic speech about this to Scar which helps them gain a Heel–Face Turn down the line.
  • Sleepless Domain: As seen in a flashback, Cassidy once idolized the Magical Girls that protected the city, particularly Heartful Punch, and fervently wished she could become one herself. Eventually, she got her wish when she received the Dream and awakened as Flash Cut.
  • Wonderlab: A twisted variation of this comes in the form of Nobody Is, the Aberration of Nothing There. It is The Assimilator, but the reason it assimilates is out of a desire to have a distinct identity.

    Web Original 
  • Sonic in Smash King feels that as the "fastest thing alive" he is supposed to be the sole speed demon in the world of Brawl, with no close second. However, he knows that Captain Falcon is a close second and thinks if he admits it he won't be special anymore.
  • In Twig, Sylvester is actually a completely normal thirteen-year-old without the monthly injections of the Wyvern formula, which he's been receiving all his life. If he goes too long without a dose, he starts to lose his The Social Expert and Awesomeness by Analysis abilities, and his utter horror at the idea of becoming the normal child he'd be without Wyvern is a major part of what keeps him loyal to the Academy of Evil.
  • Juliana in Void Domain is an above-average mage, especially for someone her age. But it just isn't enough. All the events surrounding the local Wizarding School leave her feeling beyond inadequate.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dragon: Jake Long episode "Shaggy Frog": Spud would like to have dragon powers just like Jake. But instead has to settle for frog powers instead, which is just fine with him. Snapback when he realizes he doesn't need powers to be special.
  • Sokka feels this way sometimes in Avatar: The Last Airbender, most noticeably in the episode "Sokka's Master". It doesn't help that everyone else in his party, including his sister, is an elemental mage of some sort.
    • Not only is everyone else an elemental mage, but they are also all elemental mage prodigies and are all (except for Aang, who still counts physically) younger than him. Even the team pets are unique, one-of-a-kind beings.
    • Although Sokka is mundane only in comparison to the prodigious supernatural talents of his friends. Aang even lampshades the fact Sokka is the ideas guy, and no one else in the Gaang has quite the mindset he does to come up with such mad/ingenious ideas and strategies.
    • In Season III Sokka actually tries to become special by learning swordplay: he wants to be a super swordsman. He actually becomes a formidable swordsman and gets himself a cool sword, to boot.
  • The Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Man Who Killed Batman" sees its Harmless Villain Sid "the Squid" Debris, Minion with an F in Evil, yearn to go From Nobody to Nightmare and seem to get it by apparently killing Batman — which incites thugs taking to take Sid out to earn street cred and anger of the Joker. After Sid asks Rupert Throne for help (which backfires, as Throne thinks that Sid is Obfuscating Stupidity), Batman, having faked his death, saves Sid and sends him to prison — where he gets his wish anyway, being cheered as he's marched through the halls for almost killing Batman, and making the Joker and Thorne look like idiots.
  • The Beatles episode "Bad Boy" has a Swiss boy running away from home because he wants to be a Beatle.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse gives us an Alternate Timeline of a Ben Tennyson who never had an Omnitrix and is extremely bored with his life longing to be a hero. Fortunately, Vilgax's plan to wipe out every Ben Tennyson in the multiverse (except one where the Omnitrix does not exist) gives the alternate Ben a chance to finally prove himself. At the end of it, it's implied he is on his way to becoming a Badass Normal Plumber.
  • The defining characteristic of Alice in The Care Bears: Adventure in Wonderland.
  • Danny Phantom has Tucker go through with this in a Season 1 episode. His wish gets granted by Desiree, a wish-granted ghost, but the powers corrupt him as he misuses it, until becomes monstrous. When Danny uses his parents' latest invention that separates Tucker from his "ghost self", he is horrified by what he sees.
    Tucker: Is
    • Despite this, he does still have some desire to be special or at least appreciated. This leads him to be possessed by a pharaoh's staff and warping the reality around to suit. He does end up as the mayor of Amity Park in the series finale.
  • Philip J. Fry of Futurama brings this up a few times, as he bemoans his fate is just to be a delivery boy and nothing more. As it turns out, not only is Fry special, he's actually the most important man in the universe.
  • Possibly the most straightforward nostalgic reminder that the wish-fulfillment fantasy has never just been the domain of internet fanfiction authors, the 1986 Nickelodeon short Grace is about a girl who isn't satisfied with her looks, and so re-imagines herself as a glamorous beauty queen, fawned over by all the boys (even though she's about eight years old). In the end, she gives up on the fantasy to go play baseball.
  • Kim Possible has sidekick Ron occasionally get this or more that fame tends to go to his head whenever he gets a taste of the specialness. He does get a few episodes to get some luck or show off, but it is a mixed result. Most evident is the fact he is the Mystical Monkey Master (though given the trouble it attracts not to mention a deep-rooted fear of monkeys means it takes him a while to come around to it.)
  • Tooter Turtle from King Leonardo and His Short Subjects always asks Mr. Wizard to make him something important. He bites off more than he can chew and asks to come back home at episode's end.
  • Legend of Korra:
    • Zigzagged with Bumi, the eldest of Aang and Katara's children, is a non-bender, whereas Kya and Tenzin are a waterbender and airbender respectively. It's implied that growing up he definitely felt this way (not helped by Aang spending more time with Tenzin than the others) but more or less got over it in adulthood. Then in Book 3, he suddenly gets airbending powers, but takes it in stride.
    • Deconstructed with Korra herself. She proudly brags about being special because she is the Avatar. However, events throughout the series humble her so much that by Book 4, she spends nearly half of the season rejecting her responsibility as the Avatar and tries to live as a normal person, even giving herself an Important Haircut. But You Can't Fight Fate.
  • Lincoln Loud usually has no problems growing up in The Loud House as the middle child and only boy, but in the movie, he expresses wishes to step out of his sisters’ shadows, as they are all exceptionally talented in their passions and interests, earning fame and adulation from their town. He finally gets his wish during a family vacation to Scotland and finds out that he is heir to a dukedom.
  • In The Mask animated series, two comic-obsessed kids decide to infect themselves with radiation hoping it would give them superpowers. Due to some events, they did mutate into inhuman creatures. Sadly, one of the kids turned into a Fish Guy that's not even able to swim. Whenever Fish Guy sees someone doing something extraordinary, he starts complaining about wanting to have superpowers, too.
  • Mighty Mouse: the cartoon "Hero For A Day" has a doofus mouse trying to impress his girlfriend, who swoons over Mighty Mouse, by donning a costume suit of the hero. Some cats bully him and the mouse is knocked out cold. Just before the cats can pounce, Mighty Mouse himself shows up, beats the cats up, and lets the little wannabe take credit for it.
  • Monster Allergy: Elena Potato really wanted to see monsters. Well, in the episode "The Devourer", her wish is granted.
  • This is one of the reasons that makes Brad a Foil to his best friend Jenny in My Life as a Teenage Robot.
  • My Little Pony:
    • Shady, an Earth pony who was frequently Emo about her mundaneness. Admittedly, this kind of thing must hurt all the more if you live in a Magical Land.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
      • The Cutie Mark Crusaders (Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle) want desperately to learn their special talents so they can earn their Cutie Marks and no longer be "Blank Flanks". This actually coincides with I Just Want to Be Normal, since, while everyone's talents are unique, getting a Cutie Mark is the norm, and not getting one is unheard of. It's an in-universe counterpart to puberty. In Season 5 they finally get their wish when they discover their special talent is helping others find and understand their special talents, which only occurs when they stop trying so hard.
      • In many episodes, Fluttershy just stands and watches as the rest of the Mane Six save the day with their skills or magic. However, in "The Best Gift Ever" special, she is the only one able to make Winterzilla stop destroying the decoration and behave friendly. She admits later that it was "nice to be the pony who saved the day for once".
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Paul the Delivery Guy, guest lead of the episode "Delivery of Destiny", wants to be something more important than a delivery guy. After saving the day by delivering Agent P's escape tools to him and using packing tape to stop Dr. Doofenshmirtz's Juice-inator, he decides that he is special enough but now calls himself a "mobile logistics technician".
    • This trope is a major component of Candace's arc in Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe. After yet another failed busting attempt, she goes on a rant showing just how tired she is of being the universe's Cosmic Plaything, while her brothers are treated pretty much the opposite. Vanessa gets her to admit shortly afterward that her busting obsession mainly stems from her wanting to be seen as special like her brothers. It turns out that Super Super Big Doctor has the same issues, as Candace does the same thing as Vanessa to get her to admit that her obsession with mind-controlling stems from her wanting to be special like her brothers.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998):
    • Princess Morbucks' debut episode "Stuck Up, Up And Away" has her wanting to be a Powerpuff Girl herself, but not because she wants to do good for the common masses. She thinks it's a status symbol. After a smackdown Princess eventually loses, Blossom unmercifully lays the ground rules of being a Powerpuff.
    • In 'Nuthin' Special," Buttercup is put out because she didn't have a special power to aid in assisting a giant flaming squirrel (who just wanted to have his fire put out). Throughout the episode, she tries to unleash a special power, only for Blossom and Bubbles to duplicate it. She acquiesces at the end and in defiance, she sticks out her tongue, curling it in the process. To Buttercup's delight and everyone else's bewilderment (especially the narrator's), nobody else can curl their tongue.
    • The 2016 version has the episode "Blundercup" which involved a boy that wanted to be a superhero. He got his wish when he got in an accident with a nuclear fryer and became a being made of butter. But found a lot of downsides to it (dogs chasing him, ridiculed and chased by mobs for some reason) that he hated the power. So his solution... was to steal Buttercup's body (apparently one power he did get was the power to body swap) and use that to be a proper superhero. When Buttercup confronts him to reclaim her body, she shows that she went out of her way to learn how to utilize the butter power properly so that she's able to beat the boy in a fight and chides him for not even trying to find the upsides to use them and being unable to think outside the box like a real superhero would.
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: "I want to be... a dentist!" (Inverted with the titular character.)
  • Nobody Smurf in The Smurfs (1981) episode of the same name, who gets a Meaningful Rename after he deals with a Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants had a case of this after becoming "normal" in one episode.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: In "Moist Vessel", Lieutenant O'Connor confesses to Ensign Tendi that he was merely pretending to want to ascend so that people would notice him more, and he hoped this would boost his Starfleet career.
    O'Connor: Well, since we're gonna die here, I'll just tell you I was never going to ascend. I was faking.
    Tendi: What, why?
    O'Connor: It's hard to stand out in Starfleet. This gave me an edge. It was my thing. I was the ascension guy.
  • Steven Universe: In "Doug Out", Doug Maheswaran laments that his profession is boring compared to his wife's job as a doctor and Connie and Steven's magical adventures.
  • The Pulverizer in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) wants to be a ninja like the Turtles, and douse himself with the mutagen to gain powers. Unfortunately for him he instead became a blob monster (since the mutagen had nothing to bond with).
  • Smokescreen from Transformers: Prime, a former guard of the Iacon Hall of Records grew up in the waning days of the War for Cybertron believing for a long time that he was destined for something great. He wasn't entirely wrong either, being used by Alpha Trion to carry the last Omega Key and later declared a worthy successor to Optimus Prime by The Matrix of Leadership should the need arise.
  • Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum: In "I Am Fred Rogers", Xavier worries that Brad and Yadina won't want to hang out with him if the Secret Museum is closed. Xavier feels that without the Secret Museum, he's nothing. Fortunately, Fred Rogers teaches him that he is special just the way he is.

    Real Life 
  • This is a common desire in Real Life (especially in little kids), frequently resulting in the creation of Escapist Characters in Fan Fiction.
    • A related phenomenon is the Japanese slang term chuunibyou.
  • Transhumanism.
  • A large part of what makes conspiracy theories so attractive is that they allow their believers to live in a world where nearly everyone else is either soullessly evil or mindlessly stupid, meaning that all they have to do to be better than the rest of humanity is to get out of bed.
  • Maria Cristerna, the "Mexican Vampire Woman", claimed this is the reason for her very extreme body art, as she herself explains.
  • Also the reason virally-infectious creatures like Vampires and Werewolves are still topical and marketable despite being one of the oldest persisting myths in the world. In fact, it's been observed that media, where Vamps/Weres can't change normal people, leads to poorer sales than the media where they can.
    • Note that this goes both ways. In works unsympathetic to werewolves or vampires, a viral infection method allows the users to feel special for being aware of the problem/ not infected. Which is (probably) a given. On the other hand, in works where these monsters are portrayed sympathetically, having them be able to spread the condition makes them more interesting. This allows the reader to imagine they are a bite away from being a powerful minority.
  • Zombie Apocalypse stories also garner a lot of popularity from this aspect, since the stories tend to star everyday people in everyday locations just trying to stay alive with nothing but their wits, a little luck, and whatever weapons they can get their hands on. You, me, or anyone out there could be that special man or woman who managed to survive the Zombie Apocalypse, all by their lonesome or with their True Companions, just like Rick Grimes, Jim, or Francine.
    • A Simpsons episode (focusing on survivalists in general rather than just zombies) actually lampshaded this ideology, with Superintendent Chalmers (one of the preppers) noting that he was disappointed since he thought it was his opportunity to be a big shot.
  • A dark take on this similar to the Crime Master in the Comicbook folder does occur in real life. One of the earliest examples was Herostratus, the man who burned down the Temple of Artemis solely because he wanted to be remembered. To some people, infamy is just as good as fame.
  • President Lyndon B Johnson alludes to this trope as not just a primary reason behind racism, but also how certain organizations and groups exploit it for their own benefit while keeping the majority divided:
    Lyndon B. Johnson: If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."
  • Narcissists are far more likely to be bigots and especially Boomerang Bigots. The latter allows people to feel not only superiority but accomplishment by "rising above the flaws inherent to their kind."
  • This phenomenon underlies what Freud called the narcissism of small differences. The more similar people are, the more they will exaggerate their minor (or even completely imagined) differences in order to maintain the distinction between self and other.

Alternative Title(s): I Just Want To Be Abnormal, I Dont Want To Be Normal