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When the hero has won the Superpower Lottery, his life should be easy, right? He's so much more powerful than everyone else, he should be able to walk all over most of his opponents. You'd expect his career to be one long string of easy victories. Too bad it doesn't work out that way.
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Circumstances always seem to work out so the hero faces just the right sorts of opponents to still give him a challenge. If he has psychic powers, then his enemies will have psychic shields, or computer brains, or be Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth. If his powers are useless against a particular color, then guess what color the incoming dangerous meteor happens to be. If his weakness is Cold Iron, which has to be both pure and forged with a special technique unknown to the majority of the metal-working community, his foes will naturally make millions upon millions of dollars worth of weapons, tools, and death robots out of that specific metal without even realizing... Basically, the Kryptonite Factor shows up far more often than one would expect. Otherwise the episode would be over too quickly.

The Trope Maker is of course Superman, originating back in the days of the radio show. It seemed that every bank robber and common criminal had a chunk of Kryptonite to threaten ol' Supes. Fridge Logic showed that if that many Kryptonite meteorites fell just on Metropolis, then based on the quoted distance from Krypton to Earth, planet Krypton would have to have been several times as large as our sun.note 

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Note that this is a different thing from a Kryptonite Factor that literally is present everywhere, like water or plastic forks: that's a Weaksauce Weakness, though they can overlap a fair bit. This is when the weakness shows up far more often than you would expect. To give an example, a character whose Nigh-Invulnerability is negated by aluminum has a Weaksauce Weakness, but it isn't this trope if the character only has to deal with it in places where it would make sense (i.e. people who grab aluminum objects like baseball bats or cans as improvised weapons, or villains who make aluminum weapons specifically to fight them). A character whose invulnerability is negated by aluminum and keeps inexplicably encountering swordsmen with aluminum blades, space monsters with aluminum jaws, and prisons whose walls have aluminum lining is this trope.

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This trope is the exact opposite of This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman, where circumstances conspire to make a low-powered hero more useful. Compare Deus Exit Machina, Uniqueness Decay, Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?; see also Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion and Contractual Boss Immunity. Countered by a Kryptonite-Proof Suit. If it's embodied in a specific person, it's Man of Kryptonite.

Note that if the villains specifically tailor their abilities or tools to defeating the hero, this trope does not apply. That means they're just plain smart, or Crazy-Prepared.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Naruto:
    • After the Time Skip, all Sasuke has to do is make eye contact with someone to trap them inside an illusion. With this he can render his opponents immobile, make them think he's dead when he's actually about to attack them from behind, or just flat-out Mind Rape them. You'd think this would make him nearly unbeatable, but in every major fight he's had since getting these powers, his opponents have all either had years of training on how to resist this exact technique, had illusionary powers of their own that cancel out Sasuke's, or had Superpowered Evil Sides that can dispel illusions for them. The fact that overuse of these powers ultimately leads him to blindness and probably loss of said powers — and he by now already has a pretty bad eyesight — doesn't help him either. The weakness is eliminated when Tobi replaces his eyes with Itachi's, turning them into the Eternal Mangekyo Sharingan, which does NOT have any limitations in its power use, and also gave Sasuke his brother's Tsukuyomi power
    • Most of the genjutsu-using protagonists face this problem. When Kurenai attempts to use genjutsu on Itachi, he reverses it onto her. When Fukasaku and Shima attempt to use their genjutsu on Pain, he survives it the first time, and interrupts it by stabbing Fukasaku the second time. This may be because genjutsu isn't considered a flashy enough way for the protagonists to win a legitimate, suspenseful battle, which may be why the villains use it more often. It has been useful against mooks and Mauve Shirts on occasion, as it working then wouldn't end the fight.
    • The Sharingan, which only works if the subject is looking into it, lends itself to potential weaknesses (for example, if the target lays down mist and closes his eyes while approaching the user, watches his feet to read his moves, uses shadow clones, or simply moves too quickly for them to react). In particular is Amaterasu, a Sharingan technique where the user merely has to look at something in a certain way, and it'll catch on fire such that it cannot be extinguished until the subject has completely burned away, 7 days and 7 nights pass, or its user wills it away. In almost every instance of Amaterasu's usage, the subject either anticipated it coming and moves out of the way causing the wrong thing to ignite, or the subject is wearing armor that can be discarded and thrown out. The one time it managed to work was against the Fourth Raikage, which hit one of his hands, and he had to chop off his arm to avoid painfully being turned to ashes. That is, for such a lethal and overpowered technique, it has failed to actually kill anyone.
    • This also applies to Suigetsu's Hydration Technique. You'd think being able to avoid attacks by turning into water and thus practical immunity to physical attacks would give him a significant advantage, but so far his major fights have him facing opponents that either paralyze him via electrocution (Killer Bee and Darui) or could just overwhelm him a ridiculously strong energy attack (transformed Killer Bee).
    • Many of these examples can be considered justified by how critically important proper information on your opponent is shown to be, as many abilities can be totally counter with just a while to prepare. For instance, of all the opponents Sasuke faced with genjutsu-immunity, only Killer Bee was like that coincidentally: the Raikage had a good deal of information about Sasuke from his scouts (and developed counters to several of his other attacks based on that as well), Deidara was building up the immunity to fight Itachi (who used the same genjutsu power), and Itachi was pretty much the exact opposite as Sasuke was the one who built up his genjutsu skills to avoid losing instantly. Also, despite the sheer power of Sasuke's genjutsu he was specifically noted as having less talent at using it than Itachi.
    • During his first fight Might Guy fared far better than anyone else against Itachi due his extensive experience in fighting against "Sharingan" Kakashi which taught him to only watch his opponents body movements and react to that.
  • In Inuyasha, once Miroku joins the gang, his Wind Tunnel - effectively a black hole in the palm of his hand - proves nearly impossible to use effectively thanks to the scores of poisonous insects which Naraku keeps handy and lends out freely to his flunkies and pawns for just such a purpose. This and the Wind Tunnel's other drawbacks (its broad and indiscriminately destructive range, and the fact that every use brings it closer to collapsing in on itself and killing him- it is supposed to be a curse) mean that Miroku rarely gets much opportunity to use his best weapon effectively, although there are several instances in which he demonstrates his willingness to open it up in spite of the danger... including one epic Determinator moment in which he ignored the massive amounts of poison he was taking in to try to get rid of the Big Bad for good, even after he began bleeding heavily from the eyes and mouth.
  • Ranma ½:
    • The Hiryu Shoten Ha Finishing Move tornado punch is immensely powerful, devastating, and conveniently disposes of the enemy by flinging him far, far away. The first time Ranma used it against a serious enemy (in fact, the opponent he had learned it for) the opponent recognized the steps immediately and thwarted it; the second not only recognized it, but reversed it and used it against Ranma; the third can fly without restrictions and is therefore immune to it. There's also the limitation that it can only be fired straight up in the air, making it very awkward to set up and use even before these other weaknesses come into play. Ranma had to juggle weaknesses and variations on the technique to make it useful against these foes.

      The Hiryu Shoten Ha was a shout-out to traditional martial arts manga; it's pretty much the only remotely non-goofball attack used by anyone ever. If it ever became a gamebreaker, it would utterly screw up not just the character of Ranma but the entire tone of the manga. (Plus each battle would last about one page.) That plus being flung far, far away isn't a problem for most of these guys... heck, Happōsai enjoys it. This is subverted in the OAV's, where Ranma improves the technique to the point that he can fire it horizontally, essentially giving him the power to SHOOT TORNADOES AT PEOPLE. This never happens in the manga.
    • Plus, there's the fact that water itself is a kryptonite for Ranma and other Jusenkyō-cursed characters, who turn from powerful martial artist into small and (relatively) helpless animals. Ranma isn't as affected as some of the other cursed characters: his female form is shorter than his male form, so early on it tripped him up due to having to adjust for shorter reach, but this "weakness" is quickly overcome as he becomes more used to it. And inverted in the cases of Genma and Pantyhose Taro, both of whom are stronger in their cursed forms than normal.
  • Appears quite often in the Gundam franchise, particularly any that has more than 1 season:
    • This is a plot point regarding mobile suit designs in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. Everyone using Beam weapons at this point in the Universal Century timeline have made conventional armor almost completely useless. Instead, manufacturing switch to the idea of a "movable frame" which is using freely moving armor plates over a lightweight internal frame "skeleton", putting the focus instead on being Fragile Speedster mechs. This paves the way to transforming mech allowing for better flight and high mobility and speed modes. The only exceptions to this, are mechs with special features, such as the Hyaku-Shiki (That gold paint scheme isn't just gaudy showoff, it's a reflective Anti-Beam Coating), the titular Zeta Gundam, which has a Biosensor seemingly built to enhance a New Type's psychic like powers, and advancements on defense learnt from the Hyaku-Shiki, and The O, an Ace Custom built to be extremely advanced for it's pilot, Paptimus Scirocco.
    • The Phase-Shift Armor of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED fits this. The armor was developed for the Earth Alliance's five Gundams as protection against Z.A.F.T.'s basic machine guns from their GINNs. However, once Z.A.F.T. stole four of the five Gundams, beam weaponry started to become more commonplace and most mook suits are protected with either an Anti-Beam Shield or Laminate Armor to protect them from beam shots for a small amount of time.
    • Similarly, this happens in Mobile Suit Gundam 00, though primarily in the first season. When Ribbons Almark, via Alejandro Corner as his pawn decides to betray Aeolia Schenberg's plans and hands over hidden Celestial Being Technology, namely, a large supply of GN Tau Drives and 30 GN-X (Pronounced "Jinx") helps bring the tech gap closer between the three world powers uniting together, versus the Gundam Meisters and crew of the Ptolemaios. Upgrading from solid shell cannons and small scale linear guns (Coilguns or Railguns), to beam weapons which can overpower GN Fields and composite armor much easier, as well as having 30 ace pilots working together put's them on even relatively even ground vs the Gundams, with only the fact that the Gundams are high-spec suits focused in certain combat areas, rather than the GN-X average combat design, powerful Mecha Expansion Pack and true GN Drives with access to the Trans-Am Super Mode. Season 2 however, is a flat out Lensman Arms Race, between the Earth Sphere Federation, and Celestial Being.
  • Accelerator in A Certain Magical Index can reflect almost any attack. He does receive a brain injury early on that limits the time he can use his power, but even then he should be invincible to most foes. The first time he's defeated, it's by someone who has the unique ability to negate any other supernatural powers. After that, there's a normal human who helped create Accelerator's power and has developed a unique method of punching to get around it. This same method is later employed by a few other characters. Additionally, Accelerator has trouble reflecting magical attacks as he doesn't understand how magic works (and some kinds of magic are impossible for him to reflect).
  • Invoked in Assassination Classroom. The anti-sensei material is cheap and easy to produce in large amounts, so Class 3-E and all the other would-be assassins introduce it to Sensei's life as much as possible in all forms, from bullets and knives to pudding and henna tattoos.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Rohan has an insanely powerful Stand—if you see his artwork and he wills it, then you are rendered paralyzed, turned into a book, and he can read your memories and change your traits by reading and writing on you (which can include things like "cannot attack Rohan" or "is burning to death"). Later on, he learns how to show people his art subliminally—like him drawing a picture in the air with his finger, which he can do in a split second. Essentially, if you can see him and he can react to you, you lose. Now let's break down the people who fight him after his Heel–Face Turn: a guy capable of stealing powers and therefore erasing anything Rohan wrote on him; a guy whose Stand is blind and moves automatically while the user himself is miles away; a sentient Stand that became a part of Rohan, meaning it could reflect anything Rohan tried on it right back; and another automatic Stand who triggered as a direct result of Rohan using his powers and (temporarily) killed him the moment he became aware of it.
    • Mista in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo has the ability to ricochet bullets from his revolver in mid-flight. Most Stand users are basically just normal (if tough) humans, so Mista should be able to kill just about anyone by firing a shot and bouncing it into their head. His opponents: Sale, who can rob kinetic energy from an object and stop Mista's bullets in midair; Ghiaccio, who is covered in bulletproof ice armor; Carne, who Mista successfully headshots when unaware that Carne's power activates when he dies; Diavolo, who can both predict and outrun bullets; and a number of opponents who disabled Mista before he could do anything.
  • In Ingress, XM fields and Portals impair or outright cancel the abilities of opposite-aligned Sensitives (ej, Jack of the Resistance cannot use his future-sight power while inside an Enlightened field). In some cases it may even prove debilitating/mentally taxing to Sensitives, although this is never shown in the anime. Now consider that XM is literally everywhere and that anyone with the Ingress app can do something about the fields and Portals near them...

    Comic Books 
  • Green Lantern:
    • Hal Jordan's Silver Age weakness? The color yellow. His Kryptonite really is just about everywhere. Consequently, every other appearance by him in the Silver Age had missiles that were yellow, robots that were yellow, giant monsters that were yellow... Considering how exploitable his weakness is, it would make sense for villains to prepare countermeasures by painting everything they could yellow, but quite a lot of things to threaten Hal over his career turned out to be yellow by complete coincidence—take a shot every time the random space alien menacing Hal dramatically turned out to be yellow, and you'd probably be dead five issues in.
    • It was made even more ridiculous by the fact that yellow was invoked in places where there clearly wasn't any, such as the moments when Hal would claim that he was failing because of a "yellow compound" or "invisible yellow" (itself an oxymoron) or even "infra-yellow." (Especially as "infra-yellow" is in fact orange. He's vulnerable to two colours now?) The worst example by far has to be the time where a villain screwed with Hal's brain through sound waves that made the latter perceive everything around him as yellow, and it worked somehow.
    • Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern, had a ring that couldn't affect wood. Naturally, there were conveniently a lot of plant monsters, swamp zombies, or guys with baseball bats showing up.
  • Superman:
    • In the Pre-Crisis universe, Kryptonite seemed incredibly easy for villains to get hold of.
    • One Silver Age story featured a single crime boss casually producing enough kryptonite to form a thick ring around the Earth. And that wasn't even his secret weapon.
    • The Silver Age Superboy comics featured a character, "The Kryptonite Kid, "who could generate and emit Kryptonite radiation. He made a few appearances in Superman comics as the adult "Kryptonite Man," including in Who Took the Super out of Superman? and Alan Moore's famous Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? story. He even gave rise to a trope of his own.
    • In the story Generations, set in a Pre-Crisis-ish world, we learn that there are tons of green kryptonite on Earth.
    • When Julius Schwartz took over editorship of the Superman titles in the early 1970s, he had a story—Kryptonite Nevermore—where a nuclear accident converted all the kryptonite on Earth to iron. Then he had that balanced out by Superman dealing with a sand doppelganger that takes 2/3 of his power level and Superman ultimately decides to leave it at that. Unfortunately, readers didn't take to this revision and Schwartz was forced to backtrack.
    • Superman #226 has Superman exposed to some kryptonite from Jimmy Olsen's box of Cracker Jacks. Although in that instance, it was red kryptonite, so instead of weakening or killing Supes, it turned him into King Kong.
    • In one of the last pre-Crisis stories, Mr Mxyzptlk dumps Argo City (Supergirl's hometown) onto Metropolis. Tons of kryptonite were dumped all over town. Superman ended up leaving the planet. Thanks to the Crisis the storyline would never be resolved. On top of that Mxyzptlk got away scot free!
    • A number of Bronze Age stories pointed out that kryptonite isn't something humans should be casually playing around with or making false teeth out of either. It may not "take away their powers," but it's still radioactive. Most notably Lex Luthor constantly wore a ring made out of kryptonite for years. This had the result of him eventually losing the hand, and later dying of cancer. He survived the death by transferring his mind into a clone body.
    • This trope was notably averted in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. While Batman does ultimately use Kryptonite to his advantage in his final showdown with Superman, his narration specifically states that it took years (and millions of dollars) to synthesize the little bit that he has, implying that the naturally occurring stuff is far too rare to be practical as a weapon. And despite having several days to prepare for their confrontation, Superman seems genuinely surprised that he was able to get his hands on any at all. It's possible that since we don't know Kryptonite's half-life, the time-skip meant that the amount had diminished.
    • In the early years following Superman's Post-Crisis reboot, Kryptonite was relatively rare in spite of the fact that Byrne had provided a more logical reason for its abundance (a chunk was lodged in Kal-El's ship). Instead, many villains could only get a hold of synthetic Kryptonite which lacked the punch of the real thing and wore out quickly. Of course, during this era Superman was powered down enough that many villains were a credible threat without it.
    • In The Supergirl Saga, the Phantom Zone criminals of the Pocket Universe that Superboy of the Legion of Super-Heroes came from destroyed all samples of Kryptonite on that Earth so that they couldn't be defeated. All, that is, except for the samples still stored away in Superboy's lab, sealed in lead containers, which Superman from the mainstream DC Universe discovered and used (to which he was immune) to stop the Phantom Zone criminals once and for all after the Pocket Universe Earth suffered a Class 6 on the Apocalypse How scale.
    • During The Death of Superman storyline, we find out that the bad guys made an engine that used Kryptonite. It's promptly used to try to kill Superman by attempting to bathe him in its gas, literally draining the rock into non-existence.
    • Superman/Batman writers brought the situation back to pre-Crisis levels with a story involving a Kryptonite asteroid hurtling towards the Earth which showered Kryptonite all over the planet when it was destroyed. The size of the asteroid was never precisely determined but it was conservatively estimated to be the size of Brazil. A later story in the series, K, has the duo cleaning up all the Kryptonite on Earth. By the end they've accumulated several thousand tons, and it is revealed Batman still has another half a ton or so hoarded up in his cave, 'just in case'.
    • In Superman: Doomed the US Government detonates a Kryptonite bomb which poisons the Earth atmosphere with Green-K dust. Supergirl—who is fighting for her life in Red Daughter of Krypton when it happens—wonders where humans found so much Kryptonite.
    • In The Third Kryptonian, Amalak's pirates are armed with all kinds of Kryptonite weapons to hunt down Kryptonians: Kryptonite-powered laser beams, Kryptonite flechettes... During the fight, Superman guesses Amalak synthesizes his own artificial substitute.
    • The New 52 brings back the idea that most Kryptonite on Earth is synthesized from the engine of Superman's ship.
    • Superman is also vulnerable to magic. While not technically a weakness, his powers offer no protection from magic itself whatsoever. A fire created by magic won't burn him any more than a regular fire of the same temperature, and a magic sword can only cut him if it could cut anything, but he can be mind controlled or turned into a frog just as easily as a human can. And in the DC Universe there is plenty of magic. This fact also allows the Shazam characters to have their own niche as Flying Brick heroes who aren't redundant to Superman, since their powers are based on magic and the gods, making them valuable allies to Superman.
    • In Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, Supergirl finds her science teacher keeps samples of Kryptonite. Justified because Stanhope’s teachers are imps from the Fifth Dimension playing pranks on Linda. Later a Red-K meteor showers fragments of Red kryptonite all over Midvale.
    • Daxamites like Lar Gand are decended from Kryptonian colonists and have the same power set as Kryptonians, but their kryptonite is lead, and once they become sick with lead poisoning it is fatal and cannot be reversed. Wonder Woman befriends a Daxamite who wears a suit of powered armor designed to keep lead away from her in Wonder Woman (1987), but this suit is custom and not something in common use by Daxamites.
    • In one of the first scenes of The Unknown Supergirl, a ring of Kryptonite dust approaches Earth, forcing Kara to dive underwater to be safe. Superman and his cousin would be inconvenienced by Kryptonite several more times in the course of this single storyline.
    • In Action Comics #252, Argo City's bedrock gets turned into Kryptonite when Krypton explodes. Argoans resolved the problem by covering the ground with lead plating, but eventually a meteor storm smashed holes in the shield, and Kryptonite radiation started killing everybody.
  • William Arcane in the New 52's edition of Swamp Thing can control all rotting matter. In one case, he killed a smoker with his own tar-stained lungs. Powerful guy, right? Kind of like Superman, his weakness is another green substance one can find nearly everywhere: chlorophyll, which Swamp Thing uses regularly. He's in a plastic bubble when he first appears.
  • In X-Men, anti-mutant technology in general and anti-telepath tech in particular has gotten much more easily accessible since its introduction, in the same manner as real-world technologies. This culminates in such embarrassing incidents as Professor X being neutralized via a psi-blocking helmet his own students built from schematics downloaded off the Internet and Wolverine being forced to fight in cage matches by "half-smart nor-Cal hillbillies" who buy jury-rigged inhibitor collars in bulk from an anti-mutant website.
  • War of Kings: Subverted. The Guardians never had a weapon able to harm Gladiator, they only made him think they did. However, Gladiator's powers are directly related to his confidence. So, if he believes you can beat him, you can.

    Fan Works 
  • Inverted and lampshaded in Power Girl story A Force of Four. Kryptonite can't be found at Earth-Two because Superman got rid of every piece he happened upon... which is a big problem now because Power Girl needs to stop three Kryptonian outlaws. Kara complains loudly it can be found everywhere in Earth-One.
    Power Girl: Do either of you know where I can get some Kryptonite?
    Lois: I don't think so. I mean, Kryptonite is pretty rare. Every time Superman found a chunk of it, he wrapped it up in lead and threw it into space.
    Power Girl: Just great. And there's no way of tracking where those chunks are, right now. If this was Earth-One, I could find the stuff within half an hour. It's practically as common as coal in that universe.
    Jimmy: Not that common, Ms. Kara. But there's a lot more of it over there than there is here, from what Superman toold me. It must be rough, being a Kryptonian over there.
  • Lampshaded in I'm a Marvel... and I'm a DC After Hours.
    Superman: [after being hit with Kryptonite yet again] Kryptonite! Where do you keep getting this stuff?!
  • In the Discworld fanfiction of A.A. Pessimal, the Guild of Asassins does some creative thinking about how to dispose of werecreatures and terminally inhume them. A collaboration between Mr Mericet (Poisons and Poison Strategy) and Miss Smith-Rhodes (Exothermic Devices) sees the creation of a very specific type of hand-grenade. The inspiration is the knowledge that while chlorine gas kills, a compound of chlorine - phosgene - kills far more quickly and efficiently. Therefore if elemental silver slays werewolves, what can its compounds do? The result is the silver nitrate bomb. In which a small explosive charge inside a glass globe packed with silver nitrate powder, once detonated, puts up a choking cloud of a poison lethal to werecreatures.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Dracula Untold, vampires are weakened by pure silver, so Mehmet decides to face Vlad in a room flooded with silver coins.
  • In Man of Steel, during General Zod's exposition about what happened to his crew after the explosion of Krypton, as the ship starts its Phantom Drive, pieces of the planet are sucked into the vortex as well. This would explain how pieces of Krypton would be far away from the planet, rather than just traveling in normal space by the force of the explosion.

    Literature 
  • A simple morph or demorph will heal any injuries, and almost all illness, suffered in Animorphs. However, they can't do either in full view of any alien or human that may be around, since they can't reveal who they are (or even that they're human), since any human is a potential Controller. So they have to deal with injuries they suffer until they're clear.
  • Most of the heroes in The Belgariad are sorcerers of ridiculous power. But they can almost never use their power to solve their problems because they're always hiding from an army of magic-wielding mooks, who would sense any use of sorcery from a mile away.
  • In For Love of Evil, the sorcerer Parry finds he cannot use his magic, because there is a sorcerer working for the group hunting him. Said sorcerer can detect his use of magic, and quickly find its location, from a long distance away. So, if he wants to stay hidden, he must not use magic.
  • An awful lot of the Big Bad villains whom John Taylor goes up against just happen to have the ability to shut down his Gift and/or block him from seeing anything useful with it.
  • In Larry Niven's "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex", he speculates on why so much darned Kryptonite has made its way to earth:
    "For our purposes, all forms of kryptonite are available in unlimited quantities. It has been estimated, from the startling tonnage of kryptonite fallen to Earth since the explosion of Krypton, that the planet must have outweighed our entire solar system. Doubtless the "planet" Krypton was a cooling black dwarf star, one of a binary pair, the other member being a red giant."
    (The surface gravity on such a world would be on the order of 100,000 G's, which would go a long way to explaining why Superman is so strong. Unfortunately black dwarf stars do not actually exist, as the universe is too young for a white dwarf to cool to that point.)
  • In Discworld:
    • Deliberately invoked by criminals; Angua is a werewolf, and as such is a vicious fighter with superhuman strength, invulnerability to most forms of attack, and a supernaturally good sense of smell. This would seemingly make her nigh-unbeatable as a Watchman. Well, word soon travels around Ankh-Morpork that the Watch has hired a werewolf, so all the criminals in the city make damned sure to arm themselves with silver knives (silver is lethal to werewolves) and peppermint bombs (producing a stench that overpowers everything else), somewhat limiting Angua's effectiveness.
    • This is also deliberately invoked by one of the villains in Carpe Jugulum. The Old Count knows that being a truly invincible threat to the world would be a Bad Idea, and therefore takes the time to stock his castle with plenty of holy water, easily twitched-aside curtains, and pieces of detritus which can be readily twisted into a variety of holy symbols. Not only does this keep unlife interesting for him, it also guarantees that the townsfolk don't turn him into ash and dump him off the edge of the Disc.
    • Also in Carpe Jugulum, the younger Count de Magpyre has Acquired Poison Immunity against most vampiric weaknesses, which included exposing himself and his children to hundreds of holy symbols, many of which are simple shapes, and mentally categorizing them as patterns to strip them of their influence. When this conditioning breaks down under stress they start being repelled by holy symbols again - but now they see them everywhere they look.
  • The Cosmere: Brandon Sanderson has talked in author interviews about how this trope was one of his inspirations for giving aluminum its Anti-Magic properties in his Cosmere works. Aluminum is extremely hard to get below a certain tech level, but once you get access to the process for refining it by electrolysis it's everywhere. So once a Cosmere world reaches a certain tech level, they suddenly have a natural counter to the local magics showing up everywhere, which makes for some interesting social dynamics.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happens to Hiro all the time in Season 3 of Heroes. You'd think that time travel, teleportation, and freezing time would make him almost invincible. Yet almost all his superpowered encounters are with people who can work around his abilities:
    • A Power Nullifier
    • A man who can see the future, letting him be right where he needs to be to sucker punch Hiro.
    • A guy who had already copied Hiro's Time Master powers, as well as dozens of others.
    • A speedster who's so good that time-stops merely slow her down to moving as fast as he does.
    • We were reminded just how powerful Hiro could be without this trope holding him back, when he defeated Sylar and Elle in under ten seconds. All while he only had the mind of a ten-year-old, no less.
  • Smallville:
    • Even though almost no-one knows that meteor rocks remove Clark's powers and make him keel over in pain, a number of criminals just happen to have some meteor rocks around. It becomes a real surprise when Clark actually saves the day without any kryptonite hindrance. Cue several minutes of Clark trying to get rid of the kryptonite, followed by him trouncing the villain in 1/100 of a second.
    • Not coincidentally, most of these villains of the week get their powers from snorting (sometimes literally) the same Green Rocks that depower Clark. Only rarely will their ability be strong enough to challenge Clark directly; usually they knowingly or unknowingly rely on the proximity of Kryptonite (sometimes in their own bodies) to toss him around some.
    • Justified by the fact that in Smallville, Kryptonite is literally everywhere, with major mineral deposits from two different meteor showers. It's frequently depicted as a major environmental / public health hazard. The first meteor shower came along with Clark's ship (presumably dragged along in its wake), simultaneously explaining why no-one noticed an object from space impacting Earth.
    • Also justified in that, given its usefulness (see Green Rocks), anyone who's aware of it beyond "those meteors from Smallville" will keep a stockpile of it around, to use for anything from creating super-steroids to illegal streetracing fuel to attempts to replicate alien technology. It's also common enough to have been used as ordinary rocks, or cheap alternatives to actual gemstones in jewelry.
    • Gets pretty ridiculous in later seasons though, when Clark's activities shift to Metropolis. In one example, Clark discovers the whereabouts of a non-powered serial killer who captures and quizzes soon-to-be-married couples only to find that said villain, who has never met or heard of Clark, happens to have Kryptonite in his bracelet. It is never even mentioned until Clark shows up and it is never explained, nor does the villain ever become aware that the Kryptonite is hurting Clark. It is literally there solely to keep Clark from beating up the bad guy too soon. Eventually Clark manages to get the bracelet off and throw it down a sewer grate. As soon as it's far enough away, Clark busts his chains and rescues Lois.
    • In an alternate universe, literally everyone carries kryptonite with them to protect them from Ultraman, who killed Oliver for making this public knowledge.
    • Another episode had a gangster with a Kryptonite-powered printing press. The advantages to it being Kryptonite-powered were never explained; again, it seemed to be there purely so Clark couldn't beat the guy up until the plot wanted him to.
  • Post-revival Doctor Who treats the Doctor's sonic screwdriver as a Magic Tool capable of, among other things, opening almost any lock. Not surprisingly, the Doctor often finds himself befuddled by doors with "deadlock seals" that the screwdriver is incapable of opening. Does not work on wood either, which is also everywhere, particularly in less advanced settings. Subverted in the 2013 anniversary special, where Ten, Eleven, and the War Doctor are in an old castle dungeon, with a wooden door. All of their sonic screwdrivers have a "different covering, same software." So the War Doctor, being the oldest, scans the door, so the software will update and configure over the course of several hundred years — allowing Eleven's screwdriver to have the complete update so they can get the door open. Of course, they could have tried simply opening the door, which was unlocked...
  • The revival of Knight Rider seems to take this tack, in that due to how incompetent most of the characters are other than KITT, the plot always seems contrived to happen in basements and otherwise deep inside buildings.
  • The vampires in Buffy and Angel seem to get into a lot of fist fights near wooden objects just waiting to splinter into stakes; furniture, crates, tree branches... a vampire can't fall down in that verse without getting impaled through the heart. It didn't help that vampires weren't exactly cautious of this weakness; one vampire attacked Buffy in a garden with a two-foot-high picket fence. The location of "the heart" is so generously (and inaccurately) applied it could well be considered a variation on the traditional trope overlapping with Artistic License – Biology. A vampire needs serious Plot Armor to survive a piece of wood puncturing any part of their upper torso.
  • Star Trek:
    • This trope was used in every medium to avoid the plots falling apart under the weight of the franchise's accumulated Phlebotinium. You can be guaranteed that any episode based around a problem that could be solved in seconds with the use of the transporter, the tractor beam or the ship's sensors will be drawn out because the appropriate equipment is mysteriously not functioning or out of range. Of course, the show would have been awfully boring if they had a commonplace solution for every scenario.
    • In Star Trek: The Next Generation they also periodically tried to rationalize away why Troi did not sense things that other episodes implied she should have been able to. Often species were selectively immune to Betazoid telepathic powers whenever it was necessary to the plot. This was especially interesting because this usually applied to mostly humanoid aliens in mystery type episodes, yet Troi could often easily sense even very strange Energy Beings at other times. She was also made only half-Betazoid to rationalize a scaling-down of her powers, although a number of alien races were still immune to full-blooded Betazoids.
  • Parodied in the Superdude sketch on All That. The eponymous character had many amazing powers and his only weakness was being lactose intolerant. Of course, every villain he fought except one was dairy-themed (examples include Milk Man, Butter Boy, Yo-Girl, and the Dairy Godfather). Fortunately for that villain, the Evil Superdude, milk was used anyway when confused bystanders had to Spot the Imposter.
  • Sportacus in LazyTown has a BIG weakness: SUPER HIGH CALORIE SUGAR.
  • Averted in, of all places, The Adventures of Superman from the 1950s. Kryptonite's appearance about once per season is consistent with its in-universe rarity (and successfully keeping its effect on Superman a secret for 2 or 3 seasons) and with criminals' constant complaints about how hard the stuff is to find.
  • In Lois & Clark, several pieces of kryptonite were found attached, and in the landing area of the capsule. They didn't appear to affect the baby Kal-El, most likely because he had yet to get any discernable powers.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In many roleplaying games, this trope can haunt a GM. Magic is often supposed to be rare, yet few PC groups abstain from taking a wizard along. When a game system then posits that magic can only be effectively countered with magic, the GM is hard-pressed to explain why the opponents of the day do in fact have access to their own spellcaster or magic items unless he wants the magically boosted party to plow through their enemies effortlessly. This is also the reason most systems are rather stingy with handing out powers that fundamentally change core aspects of the system, like immunity to common damage types or flight.
  • Bad GMs will often do this trope intentionally (such as: if a character is specialized in fire magic, they will have them be forced to fight tons of fire immune/resistant enemies). This is usually considered a pretty dick move, as it makes the character almost useless and is basically punishing the player for making their character in a way the GM doesn't approve of. Unsurprisingly, many players on the receiving end of this just give up and walk away.
  • You can almost feel the frustration with this in the Iron Heroes d20 setting, which allows the GM to grant whatever kind of magic he wishes to NPCs but restricts players to a very restrictive, skill-based, horror-themed form of magic almost entirely to prevent them from easily coming up with the convenient counter to whatever the villain is up to.
  • Many role-playing games, particularly super-hero related, provide bonuses (feats) if penalties are taken elsewhere (flaws), leading to min/maxers to take tremendous powers in exchange for crippling weakness... to something so mind-boggingly rare that it should never, ever show up under normal circumstances; like Super-Deadly-Ultra-Sensitivity to the pollen of a rare flower that blooms once every 20 years at the top of Mount Kilamanjaro... so what does the GM do? He makes the primary villain THE KILAMANJARO PLANT-MAN, an international crime lord capable of creating blooms of any plant that grows, has grown or will grow on Mt. Kilamanjaro... indeed...
    • A lot of these games do note that Game Masters should veto anything too obscure, and a lot of systems give a bigger reward if the substance is more common. For example in the Hero System vulnerability to a rare space rock would probably be worth a +0 bonus (meaning you'd only get points for intensity), while something more common like silver would be worth five or ten extra character points before deciding on intensity.
    • In fact, it's the Game Master's job to ensure that the adventure is a riveting, enjoyable tale, so he or she is expected to alter the plot to provide challenge for the heroes, since a story where the hero is completely unchallenged is a very boring one.
  • Exodia Necross of Yu-Gi-Oh! can't be destroyed by battle, Spells, or Traps, and it gets stronger every turn. Its only listed weakness is that you have to have all the Exodia cards in your Graveyard, which should be tricky for your opponent without the right cards. Well... that, and Necross can be destroyed by monster effects — which, if anything, are more common than Spells and Traps. Oh, and the big bugger's only immune to destruction by Spells and Traps; he's in no way immune to being bounced, spun, banished, negated, locked down, stolen, or just plain overpowered by a much stronger card. Yeah... you can imagine how many times his supposed actual weakness gets exploited.
    • In general, there are a lot of monsters that either can't be destroyed by card effects, or can't be targeted, are unaffected by them, or can negate effects that would harm them. This is so prevalent that the most common form of removal now are monsters that tribute the opponent's monster - since the tribute is a cost, negating it won't save them, they don't target, and they don't destroy.
  • Vampires in Bleak World have a staggering number of weaknesses, not simply the usual Fire that everything else in the game dies to, but also wood, light, spirit energy, and minor amounts of water.
  • Certain games with unusually powerful player characters (such as the Dragon Ball Z Roleplaying Game) advise gamemasters to not even attempt to always endanger a player character hero's life; instead, endanger something else that the hero cares about. The tension then changes from "will our hero survive?" to "will our hero succeed?" — much easier to write without ruining suspension of disbelief. A weak villain can challenge a powerful hero this way, in what is known as "gamemaster aikido."

    Video Games 
  • The Epic Archetypes from City of Heroes, Peacebringer and Warshade, are very powerful and versatile but are vulnerable to quantum array weapons, which mooks have much more often when one of them is present on the map.
    • Or if they're especially unlucky they'll meet a Void Hunter, who is also resistant to their attacks. And if they're part of a large team, Nictus start showing up...
      • To this day, Peacebringers and Warshades are only begrudgingly accepted by some of the more serious Super Groups, if not outright shunned, for that very reason; some story arcs and Task Forces are hard enough without suddenly having to deal with an infinite spawn of grossly overpowered Nicti. Conversly, however, the Villain archetypes are not only far more customizable and powerful, they carry no downside whatsoever. Well, except that you had to level up one character to 50 in the largely depopulated and difficult-to-navigate Rogue Isles, then level up the Epic in the same area... At least until Going Rogue came out, streamlining the travel process and opening up Epics when you got a character to twenty, often considered the point at which the game makes you start actively trying.
  • The world seems to be going out of its way to give Shiki more and more impossible to kill enemies after Tsukihime. First, we have Kagetsu Tohya, which had a rather bizarre set of circumstances around it preventing Shiki from killing the source. The best one was that he simply didn't want to. Melty Blood introduces a vampire turned phenomenon with Wallachia, who can't die under normal circumstances. The Dead Apostles listed also has several suspiciously worded entries for enemies that Shiki can't simply oneshot, such as Type Mercury.
    • Type-Mercury is an outlier, even among the Dead Apostles. ORT belongs to a completely different order of beings, all of whom lack concepts of death or at least concepts of death comprehensible to humans.
  • In Fairy Wars Cirno's schtick is freezing bullets. She can't freeze fire bullets or lasers. While lasers remain thankfully rare, once you hit Stage 2, fire bullets are all over the place.
  • In the video game of The Darkness, your weakness is any strong light, which nullifies your powers. Flashbangs are at one point utilized against Jackie, which takes him out.
  • In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, every damn metal sword's description says it's enhanced with cortosis. This is presumably so that the game doesn't have to deal with the fact that lightsabers would cut through anything else when the swordfighting animations clearly show the characters blocking and locking blades regardless of what they are made of. (Mind you, the problem isn't wholly solved by the appeal to cortosis, because even the gaffi sticks of the primitive Sand People can block lightsabers in the animations, at which point you just have to appeal to Gameplay and Story Segregation.) This does make a little sense in an era where lightsabers are fairly common, but there's still too much cortosis around. One has to assume this applies to all the metal doors or locks that your lightsaber inexplicably can't just cut right through. That would explain why you almost never see the stuff around the time of the movies — they used it all up thousands of years ago by injecting it into freaking everything.
  • The infamous Superman 64 has "Kryptonite fog" in every level, diminishing his superpowers. Of course, it's just an in-game explanation for the severe distance fog that was supposed to mask the Nintendo 64's poor draw distance.
  • The Metroid Prime Trilogy introduces Phazon, a radioactive substance that also has great potential as an energy source/weapon. In the first one, it's on one planet, carried there by a meteor. The second game reveals an additional planet was also struck by the same kind of meteor, and now has Phazon on it as well. By the time the third one rolls around, another three planets have been struck by these meteors and the game starts with you trying to prevent one from striking a fourth planet. Phazon is now widespread enough for both the Space Pirates and the Galactic Federation to use it as weapons. Justified in that these meteors are revealed to have been launched from a sentient living planet made of Phazon. It is trying to get everywhere.
  • In Drakengard 3 the main bosses are Intoners, Reality Warpers of practically Physical God level. While any sufficient force can beat an Intoner into submission, to actually kill one it needs to be done by a dragon (usually with the help of their large, pointy teeth), of which you meet a total of two over the course of the entire game. Alternatively, a weapon made from the body of a dragon, usually tooth or bone, will also work. With no particular explanation, just about every named character in the game apparently has one of the latter.
    • It's implied that the dragon needs to be alive for their weapon to work. So a toenail from a currently-living dragon does more damage than a dragonbone sword from a dead one.
  • Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast: After spending a few levels powerless, Kyle Katarn regains his jedi Force powers and lightsaber, which should make him an unstoppable killing machine (the lightsaber alone automatically deflects enemy blaster shots). So of course, instead of regular stormtroopers, the very first level as a jedi is full of snipers and grenade throwers who can't be countered, negating everything the player just acquired.
  • In South Park: The Fractured but Whole you can select a weakness for your superhero character sheet, and all of the options are characters you will face during the game's storyline, most of whom roam the town constantly looking for a fight anyway. They refer to this weakness as your "kryptonite", naturally.
  • Streets of Rogue has a villainous example with the Killer Robot. In a direct fight these things are a serious force to be reckoned with thanks to an absurd amount of HP and infinite rocket launcher ammo. However, they are programmed to follow a very basic strategy (walk directly towards enemy, fire when enemy is in sight) and don't really take anything else into consideration... including objects and walls that may be slightly blocking the path of their rocket. This means it's actually very easy to lure them into a position where they will continually fire into an indestructible object (like an elevator, which are literally everywhere) and eventually kill themselves with the opponent never having to do anything other than walk into the right position. As an alternative they also take damage from water which can also be found everywhere, they will make no effort to move back out of the water once standing in it so you can just sidestep their attacks while they slooowly die 1 damage at a time.
  • At the end of Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, your Player Character can gain immunity to weapons that aren't enchanted with a bonus of at least +2 — so even weakest magic weapons won't work, which sounds like quite an advantage. This is at the end of the game, but hey, it carries over into the Expansion Pack... But in the expansion, Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, all the enemies are scaled up to your epic levels, meaning even mooks now have levels and gear previously reserved for legendary heroes. As a consequence, +2 weapons are everywhere.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe:
    • Fey is allergic to cold iron and synthetics; yes, she can be given a nasty rash by your spandex costume. Blacklight is weak to bright light. And Fractious has OCD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, so she can be stopped by dirt, dust, pollen, mud...
    • Partially subverted by Nacht, whose Kryptonite Factor, sacred moly, is actually very hard to obtain. At least one opponent who thought he had gotten some found out the hard way how rare it actually is.

    Western Animation 
  • Super Friends was pretty bad with this. Toyman was even able to build a toy plane out of the stuff, and Brainiac was able to supply the navy of Lilliput (long story) with entire stockpiles of kryptonite cannonballs. Grodd even noted "It doesn't take exotic devices to stop you, Superman, when kryptonite does the job so well!"
  • Kinda-sorta justified in Superman: The Animated Series. Superman's ship used a Wormhole drive: When it was sent to Earth a lot of Kryptonite got caught in the wormhole radius and went along for the ride. And it doesn't show up everywhere. Once Luthor realized Superman was vulnerable to Kryptonite, he spent time offscreen stockpiling every little bit he could get his hands on, to the point where he pretty much owns all the Kryptonite on Earth except for that huge rock in Skartaris. He's one of the only villains in the series that regularly uses Kryptonite against Supes which bites him in the ass when he gets cancer like his counterpart in the comics; the others that use Kryptonite like Metallo got it from Luthor.
    • Superman himself attempts to subvert this with a lead lined suit, given to him by Star Labs, which he wears against villains when he knows Kryptonite will be used in a fight. Unfortunately it seems to be made out of lead-lined tissue paper and inevitably gets torn open almost immediately.
    • Batman has a piece in a lead-lined pouch in his utility belt just in case Supes goes rogue, presumably swiped from the chunk the Joker managed to get his hand on during Bats and Supes' first in-universe meeting.
  • However, Martian Manhunter still gets hit by this trope hard in Justice League. To keep him from defusing every plot with his telepathy, just about every villain has found some kind of way to make his or her mind unreadable. It seems like every other sentence to come out of J'onn's mouth is "I can't read his mind." The later seasons actually justify this when the Government Conspiracy develops anti-telepathy nanites.
  • In the 1990's X-Men series, the X-Men and several other characters with powers had to fight an alien creature in the subway tunnels under New York. Things were going pretty badly until the thing hit the third rail... of course, Storm was nowhere to be found in that episode. A rather egregious omission since the creature went after the Morlocks first and Storm was their honorary leader. Well she is claustrophobic.
  • Lampshaded with Ultra-Man in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. He had eradicated all samples of blue kryptonite in the universe - so Lex simply retrieved some from alternate universes.note 
  • Also lampshaded in Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Triumvirate of Terror"; when Luthor says "You've ruined my plans! But I can still ruin YOU!", Superman responds (in a very bored and/or tired tone of voice) "Here it comes...", just before Luthor pulls out a hunk of Green K. Then when Lex throws the rock, Supes calmly picks up a manhole cover, deflects it into the sewer, and covers it up. Similarly, "The Super-Batman of Planet X!" had Batman develop Superman-like powers while visiting an alien planet; however, the resident Luthor Expy discovers that quartz, a ludicrously common mineral, has the same effect on Batman that Kryptonite does on Supes.
  • Played with in Megamind. Metro Man's weakness to copper would render him vulnerable to this trope...if he hadn't made it up to fake his death.
  • A variant can be found in Beast Wars, where the robots need energon to survive, but if they're exposed to too much raw energon, they'll overload, hence why they need the beast alternate forms. Apparently, some aliens decided to seed the entire planet they crashed on with a crapload of energon, so the entire planet is unsafe to them for prolonged exposure. Notably the energon and the resulting weakness were junked in later seasons when it stopped being an entertaining plot point, and all the planet's energon was either detonated or stabilized into energon cubes (which has the side result of explaining why it wasn't a problem in the original series).
  • The Legend of Korra: It's ridiculous the amount of platinum that the villains seem to have lying around. Platinum is, at least in our world, one of the rarest types of metal there is, but since it's one of the few metals that can't be metalbentnote  you can bet that if the bad guys have a mechanical weapon, that's what it'll be made of. By the end of the series, there's a twenty-five story tall Humongous Mecha, not to mention armies of smaller Mini Mechas and human-sized Powered Armor suits, all made completely out of platinum.
  • The Life and Times of Juniper Lee lampshades this trope intentionally with Boomfist, the title heroic character of a Show Within a Show who has a rather common weakness, ordinary milk. When magic is used to bring the hero to life, he naturally starts to succumb to it, and Rey-Rey encourages him by bringing up all the times in the comics he overcame it, eventually realizing, "come to think of it, you've overcome your weakness to milk a lot." (Fortunately, it does encourage the guy to overcome it.)
  • Inverted in The Fairly OddParents. Fairies' kryptonite is butterfly nets — hardly a rare object on Earth but hardly ever used by villains (even an obsessed fairy hunter who knows about and has used this weakness in the past) unless the plot absolutely demands Cosmo and Wanda not be able to use magic or escape from somewhere. You'd think humans or other creatures who knew they'd be facing fairies would keep one of these things handy, but apparently not. (This did change some in later seasons.) The most noticeable example of this is The Jimmy Timmy Power Hour 2: When Nerds Collide — when Timmy needs a butterfly net to use against the anti-fairies, he takes the completely unnecessary, suicidally risky measure of breaking into Crocker's lab (with his fairies!) to get one. Keep in mind this is not a magic or customized object; he could have found the same thing in any department store.

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