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Lightning Can Do Anything

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"Thunder's just a noise, boys, lightning does the work."
Chad Brock, "Lightning Does The Work"

Before Ben Franklin flew a kite during a thunderstorm (he was a genius, you know), lightning was an unknown force that was believed to be magical in nature; then he invented the lightning-rod, and the rest was history. However tales continued to center around the mystery of what we now know to be basically nothing more than a large-scale carpet-shock; and thus in much fiction, lightning is still not just a massive electrical discharge which tends to destroy anything it touches (except cars, lightning-rods, steel buildings, towers, most metal objects, and about 8,000 people/year). It is an amazing magical force which can do anything the screenwriter wants — it can turn a computer sentient, shrink whoever it strikes and make the music wonky, turn an already-sentient computer evil, send things through time or into an Alternate Universe, etc. It can miraculously reverse polarities and has been responsible for many a Phlebotinum Breakdown. It can even create life.

Basically, fictional lightning is a Mad Scientist with the ability to fundamentally redesign any machine, especially a futuristic one. If you're in a teleporter when it's struck by lightning, two of you might turn up at the other end; if your stun ray is struck by lightning it may turn into a volatile disintegration gun; if your radio is struck by lightning it could start channeling the dead, and so on, and so forth.

God help you if you perform any kind of experiment during a thunderstorm — all you need is for the building to get struck by lightning and you'll have some kind of malevolent radioactive cloud on your hands — even if your experiment had nothing to do with radioactivity... or, at the very least, you'll gain freakish superhuman powers.

Perhaps the most amazing thing is, not only will lightning never destroy any machine, frequently it will cause a machine to malfunction just once, then return to normal behavior as if nothing happened, a super-condensed form of No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup, as nobody is sure what it did and it can't be made to do it again.

Naturally, these mystical properties extend to lightning in its "harnessed" form: electricity. Look in nineteenth-century Sears and Roebuck catalogs, and you're liable to find ads for actual electrified girdles, which tout the supposed health benefits of close proximity to a constant electrical flow. Symbolically, the notion of lightning as a magical force stems from the ancient belief associating it with the power of the gods; it's a convenient and spectacular visual shorthand for "and then a miracle happens".

There is a grain of truth in all the mythic reverence, since electrical shock can help (relieving depression, regulating heart and muscle rhythm), hinder (causing brain damage, stopping the heart), and often really, really hurt, all by a matter of degree. Further, since electricity and magnetism are directly linked, a character who, for example, can shoot lightning should also be able to wreak havoc with magnetic fields... and since the interaction of most matter is the interplay of electromagnetic fields, someone who can do that can do anything, using Hollywood logic. On the cynical end of this trope, lightning strikes can actually cause personality changes due to nervous system damage.

Electrical shocks to save a life come from a Magical Defibrillator. See also Harmless Electrocution, Energy Ball, and Swiss-Army Superpower. For tropes covering the do-anything properties of another scientific topics, see Radiation-Induced Superpowers, Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything, and Chemistry Can Do Anything.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Air Gear the Thunder King has the power to make someone hallucinate by using electricity to mess the your brain waves.
  • Arguably one of the best examples, A Certain Magical Index's Misaka Mikoto really can do virtually anything with lightning, to the point she can use it to give her access to a whole other powerset in electromagnetism. So far she has been shown to zap people; stick to walls by attaching herself to the steel bars inside the concrete; throw said concrete using magnetic fields; attract or repel herself to or from objects at high speeds; prevent mind control with a passive electric barrier; use steel to create shields and cover; use the small amounts of electromagnetic waves she emits to sense anything that approaches; intercept radio waves; manipulate and deflect other electron-based attacks even if they're not specifically electricity; manipulate iron sand to form free-form swords that function as a mixture of chainsaw and whip, massive tornados, body doubles, and even a skyscraper-sized titan she can control at a whim; hack or disable electronic devices from a distance; align the electric signals of her brain to read the memories of an enemy; manipulate weather patterns to create thunderclouds; and even electrically enhance her own body to boost her physical abilities beyond her build. To top this off, her nickname in the series is 'the Railgun' given to her because of her special move that accelerates a simple coin to three times the speed of sound before firing, making her... well... a walking railgun. And the coin is just her wanting to avoid collateral damage; there's nothing stopping her from turning a car into a projectile at Mach 3 either, and the previously-mentioned iron-sand titan? She can piggyback off the static charge the iron sand particles generate from contact to create railgun attacks that can punch through other skyscraper-sized things.
    • With the possible exception of blocking mind control, reading memories, and body enhancement, all of these are phenomena that involve electrons, and given the nature of electrons sometimes acting like particles and sometimes acting like waves, her powers are probably not fully explored.
    • Thousands of Misaka clones all use this ability to form a giant, Misaka oriented Wikipedia, using their own brains as servers. In practice, they can all access each others memories on the fly. They can also attack enemies by ionizing Oxygen, causing it to transform into Ozone. Aside from Kakine Teitoku, Kamijou Touma and Sogiita Gunha, that might just be the only thing that could actually harm Accelerator.
    • Misaka Mikoto generally does an exceptional job of showcasing the versatility of her powers to a degree that most similar shows don't take their time to explore. In one episode of the anime, she even uses her power to move her body after she's paralyzed (temporarily). When someone tries to help her walk later in the same episode, she tells them not to touch her because she's effectively a human stun-gun at the time.
  • Subverted in Corpse Princess - one episode had a lad who thought he'd gained powers by being electrocuted, but he had actually died and become an insane Shikabane.
  • Averted by Darker than Black, since Hei actually follows electricity physics most of the time, and the stranger stuff all happens in an Eldritch Location. Further averted by the end of the series, when we find out that his power isn't actually electrocution, but something a lot more powerful.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, until no further supernatural clarification is given, apparently lightning can grant permanent perfect hair dyes, Zenitsu who was once black haired got a free dye job from a lightning bolt striking him, turning him permanently blond.
  • Ginji from Get Backers can generate electricity, which he uses to aid him in fights. And that's about it. However, if he absorbs a sufficient amount (either from lightning or a large electrical source) he turns into the ''Lightning Lord" whose powers consist of Super-Strength, Super-Speed, Nigh-Invulnerability, electromagnetic powers, and a Healing Factor for good measure. He becomes a Flying Brick without the flight.
  • Great Mazinger has a weapon called Thunder Break, which serves as its Finishing Move. It is also able to be used to strike a sword for lightning rods, channeled from a sword, Shot from finger, directed with two hands, and many more uses. It says something when it's the single move with most variants in the whole Mazinger trilogy.
  • In Heroman, a lightning strike caused by the wake of an invading alien ship warping out over Earth turns a toy robot it into a shape-shifting action hero the size of a small building. Well, it had nanomachines, other than that, still impressive.
  • Fate of Lyrical Nanoha is a powerful mage with a lightning spell set. Besides the usual ones for attacking, she also has a lightning spell for tying up enemies (Lightning Bind), blocking physical attacks (Thunder Arm), and dispelling wide-scale magical illusions (Sprite Zamber). An extra comic shows Fate combing Erio's hair... and messing it up more with static electricity.
  • In Naruto, Lightning Release techniques have a number of diverse abilities, similar to chakra natures of other elements. It it can pierce things exceptionally well, cut almost as well as wind chakra by making objects vibrate to give it extra cutting power, be ran through and around a person's body to increase their reflexes by speeding up their nervous system, increase their speed and strength by boosting their muscle power, and block or reduce damage from enemy attacks like a force-field. The one time natural lightning was harnessed for a technique, it was purely destructive in nature, and one of the most powerful attacks seen at that point. Clones made out of lightning can also be created and they look exactly like the original until the clone gets hit.
  • One Piece character Enel has lightning powers, allowing him to manipulate gold (via heat) and restart his own heart when he dies.
  • In Pokémon: The Series, lightning is a magical projectile that certain Pokémon can fire from themselves. Never mind that lightning usually just shorts to the ground if possible, since electricity is generated from sucking electrons away from ground potential and shooting them at stuff. In Pokémon, you only need a positive source of electricity and a target.
    • When thrown at the Team Rocket trio, lightning is a concussive force, a big shock, or whatever the plot calls for.
    • They're using Thunder as armor!! - Pikachu hops on Swellow, a Flying-Type that would be weak to Electric-type attacks, then hits them both with the Thunder attack, causing both of them to have an increase in speed and attack power, and a yellow glow. (It helps that this Swellow is unusually resistant to Electric-type moves, which has been established since its debut episode.)
    • "Pikachu, aim for the horn!!" And so Thunderbolt works against the immune, half Ground-type Rhydon. This becomes Hilarious in Hindsight in later games when Rhydon can have the Lightning Rod ability, where Electric-type move must aim for the horn, even if you're trying to hit something it'll actually work on, and it still won't do anything. In fact, Pikachu would later face such a Rhydon and his Thunderbolt doesn't work.
    • In the second movie, electricity is used as a form of communication as seen when Pikachu and Zapdos zap each other. It's possible the voltage is interpreted in a specific way by the two Electric-types, similar to how a radio transceiver interprets radio waves by frequency. Of course, since this is never used again, and Pokémon can use Pokémon Speak to talk to each other normally...
      • The better question is how Meowth is able to understand the exchange when he's not even getting zapped.
      • Two Pokémon using electricity to communicate comes back in the third episode of 'XY'' between Pikachu and Dedenne.
    • In his return to Kanto and subsequent exhibition battle, Misty's Mega Gyarados is shown to produce water that can diffuse Pikachu's electricity (which water can indeed do). So, Ash commands Pikachu to use the electricity as a platform to maneuver with Quick Attack.
  • Tokyo Pig has an episode about lightning weirdness that starts when a bolt hits and disappears a weather reporter.
  • In Voltes V, lightning powers up the titular robot's Sky Sword.
  • Zombie Land Saga: Because the girls are zombies, lightning doesn't harm them. Instead, being electrocuted causes them to glow and lets them project neon light displays, which they use in their performances, the first time by accident, but in season two they do it on purpose.

    Asian Animation 
  • BoBoiBoy: While BoBoiBoy Lightning's ability sees seldom use outside of typical combat, there are some times that it does more:
    • By giving the Crazy Cat an electric shock (and 3 of Yaya's biscuits beforehand), he not only makes the cat docile, he also heals him of his one scarred eye.
    • Subverted in trivia revealing that he is incapable of charging electronic devices, and they've tried it already.
  • In Stitch & Ai's final episode, "Monstrosity", the giant Stitch gets shocked by high-voltage power lines during his rampage in a city that was being newly built. Although the electricity causes a moment of pain, it ends up charging Stitch, making him grow even bigger and sprouting new laser-firing tentacles from his back, further increasing his destructive capabilities.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • In a 1958 story, the hero becomes a "human fish" due to a combination of lightning and the chemicals in his utility belt. As a result, he can't breathe air and can only survive by extracting oxygen from water.
    • In "The Menace of the Multiple Creature", a 1961 story, the creature is created when lightning strikes a pool of water which contains waste materials from a chemical plant.
    • In the 1962 story, "Robin, the Super Boy Wonder", Robin is struck by lightning and gains superhuman strength as a result. Unfortunately, it also clouds his memory, causing him to turn against Batman.
    • The original Azrael relied on the System, a form of Mind Rape-based training that gave him Batman-level martial arts skills as long as he was wearing his costume. So of course when he changed his costume shortly before No Man's Land, he lost his powers. Fortunately a lightning bolt struck him and rewired his brain to give him access to his skills no matter what.
  • Brother Power the Geek originates in the 1960's when a small group of hippies living in an abandoned tailor shop put on old suit on a dummy and the combination of rain, dust, the heat from a radiator and a lightning strike brought the dummy to life.
  • Captain Marvel transforms from Billy Batson (and back) by being struck by lightning after saying "Shazam!", and this is symbolized by the lightning-bolt on his chest, as well as having "The Power of Zeus." Of course, in his case, it's explicitly magical lightning and not just ordinary meteorological events.
  • In the Donald Duck comics there sometimes appears a fourth nephew due to artist error, called Phooey Duck. This is canonically explained in that the three nephews were struck by a lightning, which somehow randomly causes spontaneus cell division, effectively cloning one of the triplets in an instant, but the clone also disappears typically within 60 seconds.
  • The classic Silver Age origin of The Flash (reproduced in the live-action TV show and referenced in Justice League) — has Barry Allen being struck by lightning attracted by a shelving unit full of chemicals, and Barry being struck by both lightning and the charged chemicals. Later on, he decided to illustrate his origin to his nephew Wally, complete with lightning storm outside. Whaddaya know, it does strike twice.
    • Some attempts to explain this over the years have claimed things like the lightning and chemicals being largely placebos, unlocking the latent abilities already there in the individuals.
    • In Crisis on Infinite Earths it was revealed that the Flash himself was the lightning bolt which struck the chemicals giving him his super speed. This was later retconned into the Speed Force, a cosmic force that grants super speed and just happens to look like lightning.
    • A secondary character (a police officer) gains the power of regeneration after being stabbed by a lightning dagger.
    • In Flashpoint Barry ends up in an alternate timeline without his powers. He asks Batman for help recreating the experiment that gave him his powers in the first place. He ends up lighting himself on fire instead.
  • Golden Age superhero Magno (published by Quality Comics, later acquired by DC and therefore briefly a member of the Freedom Fighters) was an electrician who gained superpowers from, yep, being struck by lightning. It also temporarily killed him as well. And yes, the powers were electricity powers.
  • Iron Man: In Man In The Iron Mask, lightning hits Iron Man's armor. This, in conjunction with Y2K, causes it to become Tony's Abusive Boyfriend.
  • In an early Legion of Super-Heroes story, lightning can resurrect the dead, although only if it kills someone else first. Said dead person (Lightning Lad) had received his powers after being zapped by a "lightning beast". Referenced in the Justice League of America story The Lightning Saga, although the current Hand Wave is that it's 30th-century technology that really does the trick.
  • Marvel Adventures: The Avengers:
    • The Vision is created in this way, a training android created by Stark who was affected by a power surge caused by Storm, leading to Avengers tower shutting down and said Android absorbing information about mass-and-density alteration from an experiment Bruce Banner was conducting on Janet. So basically the only Avenger who didn't inadvertently bring the Vision into being was Spider-Man. Nice Job Breaking It, Heroes!
    • The Super-Adaptoid can mimic the properties of any living being it touches so long as it has the right amount of electricity running through it.
  • Spider-Man: Electro has, not surprisingly, a wide variety of electricity-based powers, including being able to shoot lightning bolts of varied levels of destructiveness, the ability to control electrical equipment, and the ability to skate along power lines. In one battle, his lightning bolts both manage to cut through Spidey's webbing and, with an errant shot, manage to turn on a huge newspaper printing press without damaging it at all.
    • Electro got his powers by essentially being electrocuted by a particularly nasty lightning bolt while repairing a power line. Just as Bruce Banner should have been vaporized when the gamma bomb exploded and Peter Parker should have gotten cancer from the spider-bite, Max Dillon should have been fried, but instead he gains superpowers. Hollywood Science strikes again!
      • Read the official data sheets. Electro is completely invulnerable to electricity (doh!), and has the power to subconsciously heal himself from diseases by "zapping" viruses and bacterias. Fridge Logic strikes hard when the "electrohealing" is able to cure cancer. But cancer is just an (abnormal) body cell, so should share the immunity...
    • In Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man attains a variant of the Venom costume that was intended to be used to cure cancer. When confronted with the Shocker and his sonic blasters, Spidey just gets a comfortable massage — however, when he is fighting the suit off his very skin and just happens to be struck by the electricity from a downed power line...
  • The Ultraverse: The comic The Strangers featured a group of people who gained various superpowers when lightning struck the cable car they were riding. It was energy from a spaceship stuck in the Moon that was mutating humans, apparently trying to get someone to rescue it. The lightning bolt, alien as it may be, threw a piece of perfectly normal metal into Night Man's brain. This granted him the 'powers' of hearing evil thoughts and not needed to sleep. Should have just went with 'Night Man's car conducted some of the energy of the magic alien lightning' (which was the case in the short-lived TV show based on the comic book).
  • In the Supergirl story arc Bizarrogirl, Dr. Light tries to filter Superwoman's DNA and restore her humanity by using several procedures such like running electricity through her body.
  • In his comic book, first season Who Wants to Be a Superhero? winner Feedback gets his superpowers when hit by lightning while holding the video game controller he was using to debug the super-vehicle he was working on.
  • Superman: The Composite Superman, complete with extremely ugly costume, came into being when lightning entered through the window of the Superman Museum and struck a rack of miniature models of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Somehow, this gave their powers to the utterly unsinged Joe Meach, slacker, jackass, and bitter no-hoper.
  • Tintin: In The Seven Crystal Balls, a ball of lightning crashes through the chimney inside the household and spins around across the room, causing damage to certain characters' clothes and even causing Professor Calculus to spin around too while sitting in his chair. Then the lightning ball crashes into an Inca mummy behind glass, causing it to explode without a trace.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes plan to use lightning to bring a snowman to life, but the problem is a lightning storm is not liable to happen until spring.
  • In SnarfQuest, Willie the dragon came to believe he was a duck after being struck by lightning.

    Fan Works 
  • In Chances Are after five-year-old Harry is hit by lightning while cutting off tree branches during a storm, Dumbledore theorizes that it was responsible for unblocking Harry's powers and changing the nature of the Horcrux in his scar.
  • The Dragon and the Butterfly begins with a mysterious golden lightning storm striking Toothless and Hiccup and sending them to Encanto. It's invoked multiple times later on, allowing people to travel between the two main settings, and can even be summoned at will.
  • Or, at least, it can do something to Paul in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, namely intoxicate him, give him an orgasm, and bestow upon him the ability to see magic and power.
    • It also tastes like crisp apples.
  • Lightning Only Strikes Once features a lightning bolt which sends Clarke's mental essence travelling backwards in time to the beginning of the series, when she is still on the Ark.
  • In The Lion King Adventures, a lightning bolt is responsible for turning the miserable lion cub Duni into...Shocker.
  • Spoofed in MAGIC.MOV, when Twilight Sparkle attempts to bring Rainbow Dash (previously killed by Fluttershy) back to life with an electric shock. All it does is make Rainbow Dash's hair poofy from the static. And Rainbow Dash wasn't even dead. Twilight even says that bringing people back to life with lightning always happens in movies.
  • Red Lightning: Apparently lightning can even give you superpowers.

    Films — Animated 
  • Partially subverted in The Brave Little Toaster, where Lampy gets struck by lightning to recharge the battery, but gets severely damaged in the process.
  • In Doraemon: Nobita and the Spiral City, lightning from a God analogue called The Sower can bestow intelligence to Living Toys.
  • Frankenweenie obviously features "lightning resurrects the dead" trope, but exaggerates it at the very end. Evidently, the respective additions of a living cat and fertilizer can turn your ordinary dead bat and turtle into, respectively, a vampire cat and a turtle-based kaiju. On the other hand, thunderstorms happen every night in the film, so...
  • In Neo Human Casshern, what appears to be a giant stone lightning bolt strikes the baths containing artificially grown body parts, causing them to grow into full human bodies.
  • In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Dr. Finklestein bring some skeletal reindeer to life with the help of electricity. The prequel game The Pumpkin King takes this trope further by having Jack heal by sitting in electric chairs, though this makes sense considering the former.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 12:01, the main character is shocked by a lamp, making him immune to the day repeating over the course of the film.
  • In The Addams Family, lightning actually helps Fester recover his memory. Justified because he is a member of the Addams Family, who have Bizarre Human Biology. Deliberately trying to get zapped by lightning, or at least electrocute himself on mains current, is part of Fester's schtick in the TV series as well.
  • In The Age of Adaline. Adaline stops aging in 1937 after crashing her car in a snowstorm (near San Fransisco), freezing to death, then getting struck by lightning. The voice-over says a theory discovered 20 years after the story explains it scientifically. The effect gets reversed by repeating all conditions, with a defibrillator substituting for the lightning.
  • The Jabberwock in Alice in Wonderland (2010) has a lightning breath attack. Alice deflects it with a metal shield.
  • In Army of Frankensteins, a lightning storm causes Mad Scientist Dr. Finski's equipment to malfunction: ripping a hole in the Multiverse and summoning versions of Frankenstein's Monster from different universes into his lab, before sending him, Alan, Igor and the army of Frankensteins back in time to The American Civil War. Later lightning is used to resurrect Igor, who had drunk the Frankenstein serum before being killed.
  • The Avengers (1998): At the end, a lightning bolt from Sir August's Weather-Control Machine pulls him up high into the air.
  • In Back to the Future, Doc and Marty use a lightning bolt to power the time machine in the DeLorean. In the sequel, the lightning strikes the flying car, causing it to rotate at the necessary 88 miles per hour to induce a time jump. To be fair, the lightning strike in the first movie wasn't an Ass Pull, since plutonium wasn't available in every drugstore in 1955 and the machine needed a lot of power (which lightning definitely CAN provide). The time travel was what the machine was DESIGNED to do, after all. And in the second film, the lightning didn't send the DeLorean back in time either; it just powered the malfunctioning time circuits.
  • In Be Kind Rewind, Jack Black's character gets zapped by a transformer at an electrical plant, and becomes a living electromagnet, thereby erasing the VHS tapes in the shop, setting off the plot.
  • Branded (2012) had the main character get struck by lightning and gain MARKETING SUPERPOWERS. No, we are not kidding.
  • In The Bride, Eva begins as a corpse, completely smothered in medical fabric, who is brought to life with intense blasts of electricity from lightning.
  • In The Court Jester Danny Kaye's armor is struck by lightning before a joust, magnetizing it. Justified as Danny wasn't wearing it yet, and a case of doing the research as iron objects (like the armor) do become magnetic if you run a current though them.
  • Lightning strikes an airplane in Dinosaur Island (2014), resulting in Lucas being transported to the eponymous island. It is later learned that every time there is a lightning storm, crashed airplanes with no-one inside show up.
  • Not exactly lightning, but certainly electricity. Ernest Goes to Jail uses bizarre electrical effects as one of its running gags, turning the title character into a magnet repeatedly, giving him the power to shoot lightning bolts, and eventually turning off gravity. He got better.
  • Frankenstein (1931) has the most famous cinematic application of this trope, with the titular scientist using lightning to bring life into his monster. Reused in Bride of Frankenstein, and spoofed in Young Frankenstein and Frankenhooker.
  • In Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks, lightning is required to power the actuators that give Frankenstein's creations life. Frankenstein notes that the castle is located in area especially conducive to electrical storms.
  • In Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, the famous titular psychopath killed in the 4th movie is struck by a lightning bolt attracted to a metal rod driven through the chest of his decaying corpse and resurrected as an unstoppable, undead killing machine. Prior to this point, he'd at least feel pain when attacked but from here on out he was indestructible.
  • Ghostbusters (1984): As part of the ritual to bring Gozer, the Destructor to NY the possessed Dana Barrett and Louis Tully are struck by lightning which they use to open the doorway for their master. After swinging the gate completely open, the couple absorb the lightning and subsequently transform into demonic Terror Dogs.
  • A lightning strike at a hospital in Ghost in the Machine overloads an MRI machine, which kills the injured Serial Killer currently inside it and creates a Virtual Ghost from his mind.
  • In most Godzilla movies, lightning (or electricity in some form) strikes him, either making him even more powerful, or making him as weak as a 300-ton newborn kitten, Depending on the Writer.
  • In Hellboy (2019), Hellboy is electrocuted while standing in water by two enemies who are also standing in the same water, yet neither of them get shocked.
  • Near the end of Hollow Man, Kevin Bacon's invisible character gets electrocuted during a fight. Somehow this causes the invisibility process to falter slightly, making himself partially visible; his skin and hair is still translucent, but his muscle, bones and organs are visible. A Chekhov's Gun is offered earlier in the film, in which the cure for a test gorilla's invisibility only worked after the team used a defibrillator on its heart. They nearly used one on the villain while trying to cure him the first time (and before his Face–Heel Turn), but changed their minds when his vital signs stabilized on their own.
    • The anti-invisibility serum had been injected in the gorilla's blood, and was being distributed through her blood vessels. When the gorilla's heart stopped, the blood stopped circulating, and the anti-invisibility serum stopped making new parts of her body visible (but the already visible parts remained visible). Restarting her heart restarted the blood's circulation, making her completely visible. They later state that they had had several more successful tests; presumably, if all of them required the use of a defibrillator, they would not have considered the tests "successful".
  • In How To Make A Monster, lightning strikes a video game developer's office, turning their video game into a sentient killing machine. Honestly, the film's representation of how video games are made is even further from reality.
  • In the obscure film The Incredible Mr. Limpet, Don Knotts' title character falls into the Atlantic Ocean at Coney Island, is affected by a powerful electric effect that causes X-Ray Sparks, and turns into a fish. However, he did wish for it earlier, and it was accompanied by creepy singing angel voices...
  • Kung Fury learned Kung Fu by being struck by lightning.
  • Lightning is a vital part of Dr. Frankenstein's reanimation process in Lady Frankenstein. Dr. Frankenstein claims only lightning can provide the vital power to restart the heart and brain and keep them functioning.
  • One of Syfy's movies, Lightning Strikes, has a lightning bolt that is some kind of sapient alien, and it can cut a car in two like a laser...Fridge Logic!
  • In the 2002 Lil' Bow Wow vehicle Like Mike, the main character finds an old pair of shoes that give him superhuman basketball-related skills after they (the shoes) are struck by lightning.
  • Thor in Marvel Cinematic Universe has found numerous ways to use lightning. In The Avengers, he accidentally overpowers Tony's armor with a blast of it, and then in Avengers: Age of Ultron he utilizes this to bring Vision to life. He can also summon his armor through it, as seen in the climax of Thor, before the Battle of New York in The Avengers, and near the start of Thor: Ragnarok. And when Thor nearly dies being cooked by the heat of a burning star in the course of forging Stormbreaker in Avengers: Infinity War, his new hammer/axe enables him to summon lightning which heals him fully. In Avengers: Endgame the 2012 version of Thor during the Time Heist uses the Mjolnir as a defibrillator to revive the 2012 version Tony Stark after getting pulled his pin by Scott Lang/Ant-Man.
    • As a side effect of his look changing upon summoning his armour, Thor can apparently use lightning to instantly braid his beard.
  • In Misfit Heights, Dr. Zoltar uses a lightning rod device to charge some corpses with electricity, animating them as zombies.
  • In Powder the title character had a natural affinity and control over electricity in all its forms, after his mother was struck by lightning whilst pregnant with our bald protagonist. It's hinted (but never proven either way) that his condition is actually genetic and that the reason his mother was hit by lightning in the first place was because of his affinity with electricity rather then the other way around.
  • In The Prestige, the big plot twist is that Nikola Tesla's artificial lightning can make a perfect duplicate of any object, even a human being. Though, to be fair, the lightning may be a byproduct of this arcane process, rather than the mechanism. After all, Tesla earlier designs for Borden (or—we're not told which—inspires Borden to build) a similar machine that just shoots lightning for no reason in order to dazzle the audience and distract them from the devilish simplicity of the illusion's prestige.
  • Pretty Cool Too: Broken Mind Control Device + Mobile Phone + Lightning = A sentient mind control phone.
  • The ghost that haunts the Prison is electrically charged and it is shown possessing two computers, among other things.
  • Sharkenstein: Klaus uses lightning to bring Sharkenstein back to life after the brain and heart transplant. Another bolt of lightning causes Sharkenstein to grow arms and legs and gain the ability to survive on land.
  • Short Circuit and Stealth both have computerized war machines (a robot and an unmanned fighter plane, respectively) that become sentient and go rogue after being struck by lightning. While Short Circuit plays it for laughs, Stealth plays it for drama.
  • According to the B-movie Squirm, when you expose earthworms to electricity, they learn to roar, and develop super-strength as well as a taste for flesh.
  • Another related effect: Mel Gibson's character in What Women Want is electrocuted in a bath while trying out various feminine products. Rather than dying, as one might expect, he becomes telepathic. Fully aware of the circumstances, the protagonist later attempts to reproduce the accident in an effort to remove the ability. This time, he adds the thrill of a true-blue lightning strike. Despite astronomical odds, he gets his strike, resulting in neither normality nor a corpse. Eventually, the character's powers are removed. Per convenience (or rapidly dissolving Plot Armor), he is not required to interact with the lightning, and is merely nearby when it, instead favors a power transformer.
  • In the movie Zotz (1962 or so), Tom Posten plays a college professor who gets a magic coin which in turn gets him trouble from the rascally Russkies. Towards the beginning of the movie he has to help out a young lady who had a most unfortunate occurrence: she was struck by lightning! Not to worry the only damage it did was disintegrate her clothing otherwise she suffered not so much as a red spot. Professor Tom commented on lightning leaving some sort of distinctive scar and offered to look for it but said offer was rejected.


In General:

By Work:

  • Animorphs: At the end of The Separation, the Animorphs fuse the two Rachels back together by having them both acquire each other and morph each other at the same time, and then have Erek zap them with electricity. It works.
  • The Circle Opens: In Shatterglass, a glassblower who'd had a small amount of glass magic gets hit by lightning, which gives him glass-magic-plus-lots-more-lightning-magic. Until he learns to control it, the result is things like a small living glass dragon that eats glass-coloring agents and spits up cool-looking debris, and several glass balls that are full of electricity which, when it eventually fades, reveals the location of the most recent murder by a serial killer who's on the loose in the city. Handy. It's stated that he probably had a small amount of lightning magic before the strike, and that was how he survived.
  • Discworld:
    • In Night Watch, a lightning strike sent Vimes backwards in time. The fact that the lightning hit while he was directly above a magical library may have something to do with this.
    • The lightning strike is implied to be the same one from near the end of Thief of Time (the one that powered the clock that froze time), which causes odd things to happen all over the city. The most unfortunate being the guy who gets magnetic superpowers from the lightning, then immediately dies. (He was working in the armory when he suddenly became attractive to metal).
    • The sanest explanation is that Vimes and Carcer fell through the library roof and were inside L-Space at the moment the entire universe and all of history shattered. And got put back in the wrong place when it got glued back together.
    • Also, Igors use lightning to bring things back to life and see nothing weird about it.
    • In The Last Continent, a bolt of lightning cures the Librarian of his mysterious illness.
    • In Interesting Times, a lightning strike charges up and activates an army of golems. Justified because the original Great Wizard set things up to work that way, and as a Shout-Out to Frankenstein.
  • In John Christopher's Fireball two cousins are transported to ancient Rome (later revealed to be an alternate reality) by what they assume to be some form of ball lightning.
  • In Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus, Dr. Victor something-or-other very specifically does not reveal exactly how he reanimated his monster, but it was strongly implied that electricity (which was a new-fangled development at the time) was involved somehow.
  • Dean Koontz's Frankenstein tetralogy features the original "monster", still living in the present. The lightning which animated him gave him understanding of quantum mechanics, to the point that he can apply it to the macro world — little things like stepping across the planet.
  • In God Game, written in the mid-1980s by Andrew M. Greeley (author of the "Bishop Blackie" mysteries), a lightning bolt striking the home of a priest who is at the time play testing a Simulation Game for a relative turns the game into reality — the nameless narrator (implied to be either Greeley himself or possibly Bishop Blackie Ryan) finds himself forced to act as God (via his PC) to the inhabitants of a small but very real swords and sorcery world.
  • Played relatively straight in Charlaine Harris' Harper Connelly series. Harper is struck by lightning at the age of fifteen and has realistic and permanent aftereffects from this. She can also find dead bodies and tell you what they died of, an ability which appeared only after the strike.
  • Getting struck by lightning is discussed as a possible origin in How to Be a Superhero. A testimonial fron the Amazing Scorch Mark says he got struck by lightning and now fights crime with powers of third degree burns and incurable stutter.
  • In Arthur Conan Doyle's 1892 story "The Los Amigos Fiasco" an electric chair execution is attempted using a more powerful shock than has ever been tried before, but instead of killing the man it charges him with extra "vitality" which makes him almost impossible to kill.
  • The Master Key: It's the Phlebotinum du Jour of 1901. It can make Food Pills, a flying machine, and summon demons, for starters.
  • Max & the Midknights: Battle of the Bodkins: While interrogating the Bodkin archer, Max learns that Boris created a magical mirror from the Pits of Doom in the Land of Knot to get back to Byjovia. As he was passing through it, however, a lightning bolt struck the mirror, shattering it into countless crystals, one of which became Queen Neralia's scepter crystal, and killing Boris.
  • In Maxime Superpuissante, Maxime Minus gets struck by a bolt of lightning early on with no harm. Her father, having witnessed this, assumes that this accident gave her superpowers. Sure enough, she's gained the ability to use lightning.
  • Moby-Dick: Ahab certainly believes so, and his scar is likened by the author to a tree split down the grain by lightning. He uses the "power" imbued in him by the bolt to bless the mates' lances.
  • In The Monster Garden, Frankie's brother steals some mysterious grey goo that was thrown out by a lab, and Frankie blackmails him into giving her a small lump, which she leaves in a saucer by the window before going to bed. That night there's a violent thunderstorm. The next morning, the saucer is blackened and sooty, and the lump of goo has octupled in size and started moving around the room.
  • In Noob, Saryahblööd is shown using her lightning-based powers for short-range teleportation.
  • In Robert Arthur's "Obstinate Uncle Otis", after the titular character is struck by lightning, anything he expresses disbelief in faded out of existence. (Justified because the narrator is a tall-tale teller.)
  • Old Kingdom: Nicholas Sayre, Prince Sameth's Ancelstierran best friend, is convinced that the Lightning Trap he's uncovered will be a fantastic energy source if he can get it to work, powering "the way of the future!" Shame it's actually a Sealed Evil in a Can that's secretly controlling him.
  • In the introduction to one of the non-fiction peices in Once More With Footnotes (later reprinted in A Slip of the Keyboard), Sir Terry Pratchett discusses the "Pixie Mound" near the Hinckley Point power station, where he used to work, and also that most people who look for it think it's the bigger mound which is actually where the builders of the power station buried their clapped-out construction equipment. He then speculates that one night, lightning will strike both mounds simultaneously ("that slow, blue, crackling lightning that you only get in movies"), and there'll be the sound of an engine starting.
  • In Revival, there's a special kind of electricity, different from the normal kind, that can heal people of anything, although it also comes with the side effect of driving people crazy sometimes. The antagonist is obsessed with using it to pierce the veil of death with "science" and find his dead wife and son.
  • In the novel Sabertooth, a family of Smilodons get revived in modern California after their mummified remains are soaked in polluted rain water and struck by lightning.
  • In Edgar Allan Poe's "Some Words with a Mummy", an electric shock brings an ancient Egyptian mummy back to life. To be fair, at the time the story was written, most people really did think that reanimating dead tissue with electricity was plausible and something scientists would figure out how to do soon.
  • Star Wars Legends: There exists a living planet named Zonama Sekot. Its largest flora, the boras trees, rely on being struck by lightning in their infancy to advance to the next stage of their life cycle.
  • Storm Front has a warlock using lightning to supercharge his thaumaturgy. Which amounts to the ability to explode someone's heart from across the city.
  • Trapped on Draconica: Rana's sisters have a straightforward Breath Weapon, but she can do much more: create a barrier, temporarily reprogram someone's mind into thinking they're a different species, keep her dress free of dust. Dronor must have liked her more than her sisters.
  • Universal Monsters: The villains are first released from their films when a lightning strike hits while "Captain Bob", Joe and Nina are watching said films on an experimental holographic movie projector. It doesn't help that they took the broken prototype instead of the working version.
  • Though it's not the technological breakthrough that the story focuses upon, "Who Goes There?" has magnets and electricity up the wazoo. The research station is there studying the electromagnetism of the earth at the South Pole. They are armed with electricity-spewing guns that can fry the alien menace. The planes to escape are disabled by shattering the magnets inside their systems. Since this story was written before nuclear power,

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 1-800-Missing, protagonist Jess Mastriani acquires Psychic Powers after being hit by lightning.
  • In Ace Lightning, the characters of Mark Hollander's video game are brought to life by a bolt of lightning. It turns out in the end that Mark's particular game was specifically modified with advanced coding by the Master Programmer: all it needed was a boost of extreme power to start the process off, that power being the lightning bolt.
  • The Adventures of Superman: A rescue at a nuclear facility leaves Superman contaminated with uranium. This is handled surprisingly realistically, as the radioactive material causes no miraculous effects; it just makes Superman radioactive and forces him to avoid contact with other people. Then the realism goes out the window at the end of the episode when lightning inexplicably cures him.
  • Gwen Raiden's lightning powers in Angel have a remarkable array of uses, from hacking through computer systems to making Angel horny...
  • Black Lightning (2018): Jefferson Pierce can do anything with his electricity, including fly.
  • The Dinosaurs episode "If You Were a Tree" has an in-universe story that Grandma tells Baby wherein a dinosaur portrayed by Earl Sinclair is struck by lightning while trying to push a large tree down. It results in him and the tree switching souls, leaving the tree enjoying life as a dinosaur while in Earl's body and Earl trapped inside the tree's body while unable to interact with the other dinosaurs. Another lightning strike near the end of the story undoes the soul swap. Baby finds the idea that lightning could swap the souls of a tree and a dinosaur and that lighting would hit the same tree twice like that hard to swallow.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Evolution of the Daleks" has lightning able to affect genetic engineering equipment. The Doctor reveals that because he hugged the spire of the Empire State Building (during its construction) as lightning came through, Time Lord DNA was mixed with the Dalek-Humans and gave the (now) Time Lord-Dalek-Humans freedom, unlike the Dalek-Humans they would've been.
    • In "Journey's End", a shock of electricity proves to be just the thing to activate the Time Lord mind that the biological metacrisis gave Donna, which lets her save the day.
  • In Dog House, a detective has a car accident, and an electric pole falls on him and his dog Digby. The electric current causes his mind to swap with his dog.
  • Lampshaded in one episode of ER. The doctors are watching a Soap Opera in which one of the characters appears back in the series despite having been diagnosed with terminal brain tumor. One of the doctors explains that "a lightning strike cured him", and everyone else accepts it without batting an eyelash.
  • Dougal of Father Ted was apparently once struck by lightning suffering no ill effects, except that balloons kept sticking to him.
  • Lampshaded in The Flash (2014): "Lightning gave me abs?" It didn't, but it did give him a Healing Factor, courtesy of the Speed Force. As in his comics incarnation, that "bolt of lightning" was just the means through which the Speed Force expressed itself.
  • In The Frantics' unfortunately short-lived sketch comedy series Four On The Floor, an insurance salesman struck by lightning while portaging his aluminum canoe was transformed into the mighty Canadian superhero Mr. Canoehead, who is what you'd expect from the name.
  • Gilligan's Island has two examples.
    • In "Meet the Meteor", the castaways, upon learning that a severe tropical storm is coming to their island, decide to take advantage of the lightning from the storm to destroy a meteor whose rays have been found to accelerate the aging rate in all living things around (which means the castaways themselves are doomed to be aging fifty years by the end of the week and essentially dying), and fashion a lightning rod, under the Professor's direction. The storm hits, Gilligan javelins the rod into the meteor, a bolt of lightning streaks down and strikes the rod, and the meteor is destroyed, saving the castaways from the fate of dying of old age within the week.
    • In "Gilligan's Personal Magnetism", Gilligan is struck by lightning, which causes him to get a bowling ball stuck to his hand. The professor's efforts to remove the ball cause Gilligan to "become invisible".
  • Subverted in Heroes with Elle Bishop, whose power is used only to shock or start fire on clothing, and who therefore suffers whenever someone adds water to the mix.
  • Home Improvement kind of hangs a lampshade on this. Or maybe subverts it. Or just parodies it. Or maybe parodies it by hanging a subverted lampshade? Anyway, in one episode, Randy badly mangles his bike while going over a jump, and asks Brad what they should tell their parents. His response: "We'll tell them it got hit by lightning!" It doesn't work—possibly because their father has had quite a lot more experience with the destructive effects of electricity than even the average handyman.
  • Subverted in Laverne & Shirley when Carmine survives a lightning strike, which makes him think that he has a charmed life. He begins to take foolish risks, including planning to perform a deadly stunt, until Mr. De Fazio reveals that 1700 people a year survive lightning strikes (which was about the number in 1957).
  • Lois & Clark has Superman's powers shared with others by lightning strikes at least twice.
  • The point of Misfits. Lightning happens, thus superpowers. It even affects gorillas, weirdly.
  • Related effect: after being hit with several thousand volts from a stage amplifier, Johnny B. of Misfits of Science became essentially a human capacitor capable of launching lightning bolts from his hands.
  • Getting hit turned Herman Munster of The Munsters into a normal human.
  • Mutant X: Brennan Mulwray can use his lightning-based powers to do near anything he wants. They disable car alarms, start cars, unlock purely mechanical locks, and anything else that needs to be done. All he needed to do was walk on water with the low-budget lightning effect going on around his feet, and he could have been Electrical Jesus. Of course, those are all things you could do with complete control over electromagnetism (see Magneto and Polaris); maybe the lightning was just his way of focusing his control.
  • When lightning strikes Jo Min-sung in Once Upon a Time in Saengchori, it totally destroys his ability to do math, or even to read numbers, which is a problem, because he is a financial analyst. Later, it has an equally powerful and odd effect on his relationship with Yoo Eun Joo.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "What Will the Neighbors Think?", Mona is electrocuted by accident, and suddenly becomes telepathic as a result. Later, she loses the ability after this happens again.
  • The tv show Pirate Islands has lightning combined with a special scanner transport Kate and her two siblings into the video game Pirate Islands.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Season 2's Power of Thunder, which took last season's dinosaur zords and turned them into stronger mythological creature-based Thunderzords.
    • In Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, Big Bad Ivan Ooze uses purple lightning for such varied uses as blowing things up, conjuring henchmen, and operating/reconfiguring factory equipment.
    • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers season 3: Rita and Zedd cross their staffs, and: "By the power and force of lightning, MAKE OUR MONSTER GROW!" Also, Monster of the Week Discordia, once giant, would summon even more lightning to power herself up whenever she got damaged. Of course, this being Power Rangers, "electricity" summoned by monsters or fired out from main villains' magic staves or weaponry probably isn't the same stuff that's running through your wall sockets even when it looks the same. Especially when it's technicolor.
    • In Power Rangers in Space, the Silver Ranger's morphed time was originally limited to two-and-a-half minutes, due to his morpher being constantly drained of power over 2 years while he was in suspended animation. It was eventually recharged by... you guessed it... being struck by lightning.
  • The short-lived 1986 series Outlaws follows the adventures a group from 1899 who are transported to 1986 by a lightning bolt.
  • In Quantum Leap, lightning strikes Sam as he receives shock treatment right before he leaps; this somehow switches Al and Sam's locations, as Sam gets stuck in the Imaging Chamber, and Al becomes the leaper and ends up in 1945.
  • The miniseries Revelations featured a girl who speaks verses from the Book of Revelation after being rendered brain-dead by two lightning strikes.
  • Screech on Saved by the Bell acquired the ability to see the future from a lightning hit.
  • Seriously Weird: After being hit by lightning in "Tug of Love", Harris becomes a human magnet, but he attracts everything — including things like stray pieces of paper and clothing. The one good thing is that he also attracts Claudia.
  • In the South African series Shadow, the title character is a Vigilante Man who can't feel pain after being struck by lightning as a boy.
  • In the Sliders episode "Gillian of the Spirits", the portal is struck by lightning just as Quinn goes through, spitting him out the other side phased between dimensions or some such — essentially, a ghost who only the Girl of the Week can see or hear.
  • Smallville:
    • Clark's powers are transferred to someone and back by lightning strikes near some Kryptonite.
    • This happens again in a later episode, with Clark merely copying his powers to Lana — which is convenient, because if it had worked like before, Clark would have been powerless to stop Lana from taking her vengeance on Luthor.
    • In another episode, lightning striking a telephone pole sends Lana's phone call into the past, giving characters a handy warning that she is about to be killed. Once again, Kryptonite is involved.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • The zat guns are used as 'futuristic lightning' in Stargate SG-1. Apart from being weapons, they've been used for opening and closing doors, turning machines on and off, and deprogramming brainwashed children.
      • In "Crystal Skull", Teal'c shooting the skull with a zat gun is explained as the reason why Daniel turned invisible, rather than meeting the giant aliens like his grandfather did.
      • In "Memento Mori", Vala loses her memory after being hooked up to a device meant to probe her mind which is then hit by a zat gun.
    • In the 1st season of SG-1, the team has to use lightning to power the gate on a planet where the DHD is busted.
    • The power of lightning is used again in Stargate Atlantis to power the city's shields to protect them from the storm causing the lightning. Both this and the above example are at least justified by the fact that lightning strikes do carry considerable power, enough to light a 100-watt bulb for six months.
  • Truth Seekers: At the start of "The Watcher on the Water", lightning hits the aerial of a prototype radar jamming device, killing a soldier and transferring his soul into the device.
  • Unsolved Mysteries did a story on a family who, over 4 generations, has had family members be struck or nearly struck 17 times. At least 2 members died, and in one case the lightning actually struck inside the house (through the window no less). They've made a running joke on it.
  • Wishbone had a very silly example of this in its Frankenstein episode, "Frankenbone." David builds a robot which comes to life and escapes his garage after a nearby lightning strike and starts running amok in Oakdale. (By running amok, we mean knocking over trash cans and the like while yammering a prerecorded environmentalist message; it's too small for anything else.)
  • The X-Files:
    • "D.P.O" is about a guy (Darrin Peter Oswald) who, upon being struck, learned that he could absorb and toss around lightning. It never specifies how or when he got the power. Mulder finds his name on a list of people in the town who have been struck by lightning (a disproportionate number, naturally), but that could come from someone witnessing him absorbing lightning.
    • "Trevor" has someone gaining the ability to phase through solid matter during a freak electrical storm.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • In Mythology, lightning was attributed to various powerful gods, such as Jupiter, Thor and Zeus.
  • In Chinese myth, one of the ways a Jiangshi can return back to life is leaving a corpse out to rot and having a lightning bolt to strike it. Then it returns back to life to feed off the chi of the living to grow stronger.

  • Bleak Expectations: This is how series Big Bad Gently Benevolent comes back from the dead (the first time, at any rate), in a parody of Frankenstein. Even referenced when one of the series protagonists asks how he came back.
    Mr Benevolent: (without missing a beat) By means of electricity.
    Pippa Bin: Of course, the modern panacea.
  • In the radio show A Prairie Home Companion, a resident of Lake Wobegon was struck by lightning, giving him a variety of useless talents (such as the ability to flawlessly play one song on the guitar while singing a completely different song).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Shambling Mounds are plant monsters that are brought to life by lightning striking a patch of vegetation under the right circumstances. As such, they're not only completely immune to lightning damage, being struck by lightning heals them and makes them stronger.
  • Lightning and electricity are used to heal Prometheans. Justified in that lightning calls to the "Divine Fire" that powers Prometheans and helps to stoke it without causing it to rage out of control and hurt them (unlike, say, actual fire).

    Theme Parks 
  • The back story of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, an attraction at various Disney Theme Parks, blames a lightning strike for everything weird about the tower. Said weirdness includes the sudden disappearance of five people and half the building, ghosts, a hallway that turns into space, and an elevator that travels through dimensions, falls down and back up again, and (in Florida at least) moves forward. And a television that we can only assume is possessed by the late Rod Serling. The movie based on the ride justified this by making it magic evil witchcraft lightning (and also drops most of the weirder effects).
  • Universal's New House of Horrors from Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights 1996 took the "creating life" part one step further by having a freak lightning strike bring inanimate wax sculptures to life.

  • In BIONICLE, the Toa Inika gained their powers when they were struck by lightning (granted, it was Phlebotinus lightning, but still). Since lightning isn't the usual Phlebotinum for Toa transformations, the electricity had a few side effects; some beneficial (like immunity to The Virus that the local bad guys were using and their abilities being infused with electrical force) and some benign (glowing faces).

    Urban Legends 
  • Some Urban Legends use a combination of this and Scare 'Em Straight. One story has two teens having sex on top of a mountain during a thunderstorm and getting struck by lightning, killing the girl and fusing their bodies together, leaving the terrified boy trying to call 911 with his tongue fused to hers.

    Video Games 
  • Another World starts with a particle accelerator being struck by lightning, thereby transporting the protagonist to the titular location.
  • The fourth boss in Axelay has a near-unavoidable lightning beam attack... fortunately, all it does is force you to switch weapons randomly.
  • In Azure Striker Gunvolt, the titular GV possesses the coveted "Azure Striker" Septima, considered one of the most powerful of all. Considering he can use it to *deep breath* call down thunderbolts, create floating lightning spheres and giant electrical blades, heal himself, phase clean through attacks, give himself Status Buffs, give himself a speed boost, as well as doing air jumps and air dashes, can see in the dark in a limited range, hover in the air and protect against physical projectiles, negate damage, activate multiple switches at once, float with the aid of magnetic ceilings, move floating platforms, disperse the enemy's defenses, hack electrical devices and generate power for appliances, they have a point. And in the third game, he can break himself down into electronic data and teleport long distances. He could give Cole MacGrath and Misaka Mikoto a run for their money (which, given that the Azure Striker explicitly gives its wielder control over electrons ala Misaka, he probably can).
  • In the download-only Back to the Future: The Game, the Delorean mysteriously appears on Doc's property. Given that in the third movie, it was annihilated by a train, how can this be? Well, when you find Doc and ask him, he explains that when the Delorean was struck by lightning (at the end of the second film), it created an exact duplicate Delorean that...y'know what? Let's just say Lightning did it.
  • You can be randomly struck by lightning in BitLife. It could max all your stats out to 100%, drop them all down to 0%, or just kill you (after which you'll be granted the "Unlucky" ribbon).
  • Brain Dead 13: Several examples in Moose's scenario:
    • Lance can power up the lightning rod in his attempts to destroy Moose. Of course, lightning from the rods can even kill Lance AND Moose if you're not careful.
    • And, of course, even if Lance dies by electrocution or any other means of attack in Moose's scenario, the thunderbolt can bring our hero back to life in one resurrection scene. Lightning CAN do anything, indeed.
  • In Chrono Cross, all hell breaks loose when an electric storm strikes Chronopolis, ripping control of the Frozen Flame from FATE, sending Wazuki, Serge, and Miguel's boat into the Sea of Eden, and allowing Schala's consciousness to contact Serge and the newly-released Flame. One would think the Time Research Lab would install lightning rods to avoid this sort of thing.
    • Belthasar probably had a hand in that.
    • Chrono Trigger has nothing quite on this scale, but Crono's use of lightning spells in dual-techs include striking Ayla with lightning... which energizes her and improves her "Cat Attack". Sadly, this does not happen when Ayla gets hit by lightning from other sources.
  • In Comix Zone, the opening sequence gives the impression that lightning is what brought the comic book to life in the first place.
  • In Diablo II, the "Lightning" skill tree is the "everything that isn't fire and ice" skill tree. Teleport, telekinesis, force field, etc. all go here.
  • Roland of Digital Devil Saga 2 gets past electronically locked doors by punching the consoles and using his powers to send an electrical unlock signal to the door. Bonus points for the console being broken. He describes it as the computer reading his will to unlock the door.
  • In the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Lonesome Road, ED-E can hack systems by shooting lightning at them.
  • Lulu of Final Fantasy X not only employs lightning as her default element of destruction; she also casts strangely persistent ball lightning into a clear blue sky as a not-so-epic-hail. Also, despite her Technology Is Taboo religion, she suggests and performs a lightning jump-start on a piece of heavy machinery.
  • The explanation for the Case Closed crossover is that a lightning bolt that zapped Dr. Agase's lab while Conan, Ai, Kogoro and Amuro were testing a VR game somehow teleported them into Granblue Fantasy.
  • Guilty Gear: Ky Kiske is able to use lightning to do everything from firing bolts of it, to using it to one-shot his enemies. Though it is subverted in the sense that Lightning is the hardest element to control and without his Outrage Fuuraiken he is unable to form lightning into a projectile.
  • In Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, Echo Tesla's Transformation Sequence has her being strapped to a board and hit with lightning, which turns her and her band into Cyborgs.
  • Cole from inFAMOUS can, in addition to zapping people, use lightning to (deep breath) glide through the air, blast people into the air, accumulate charge within himself in midair and explosively earth himself when he lands, accumulate charge in his fists and pummel people, create blades of electricity and pummel people, heal people, drain the life out of people, restrain people with electric shackles, stop bullets, defuse bombs, hurl two different types of explosive balls of lightning, and eventually travel backwards in time. Swiss Army Superpowers as applied to electricity. Conveniently, any time that Cole is required to fix some sort of mechanical problem, the problem is often caused by either "Too much electricity," or "Not enough electricity."
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening starts with a lightning bolt knocking Link unconscious and destroying his ship, leaving him stranded on an uncharted island. Doesn't seem all that outlandish, right? Until you get to the sixth dungeon, where it's revealed that what the lightning bolt really did was transport him into the mind of a dreaming whale-god.
    • In the Master Mode of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the Hyrule Compendium descriptions of the golden variants of enemies says that they were made golden by being struck by lightning, which also made them stronger overall and gave them resistance to electric attacks.
  • Little Wheel: The protagonist robot comes back to life after the whole world of living robots is cut from their power source because a lightning bolt strikes its patrol tower.
  • In the Mario Kart series, the lightning power-up shrinks all competitors in front of the user. Luigi's Thunderhand, on the other hand, is only a partial example. While he can shoot it straight up in some cases and move things with a static charge., most of what he does is how standard electricity properly behaves. It's certainly much more realistic than Mario's Firebrand.
  • Usually, Mega Man just uses the lightning attacks he copies to attack, but he has also used them to power machines and create a Super Metroid-style grappling beam.
  • Lightning has some very interesting properties in Minecraft:
  • In Mother 3, the PSI moves PK Flash and PK Starstorm are both learned when you get struck by lightning.
  • At the start of the first Persona, the main characters perform the Persona ritual; after seeing an apparition of a girl appearing, the main character, Nate, Yuki and Mark are all struck by lightning - while indoors - and have a dream of a butterfly while they're unconscious. This ultimately allows their Personas to awaken when they're attacked by demons at the hospital.
  • In the DOS game Personal Nightmare, a man is struck by lightning and turned into the devil.
  • In contrast to the anime entry above, Electric-type moves in the Pokémon games invert the trope by being completely ineffective against Ground-type Pokémon.
    • On the other hand, certain Pokémon can use it to heal themselves (Volt Absorb), and boost their stats (Motor Drive, previously unique to Electivire).
  • Among the characters in Puyo Puyo is a Frankenstein family consisting of a dad and son. The Frankenstein dad built his son, who was then brought to life by a bolt of lightning.
  • In the RAY Series, the Thunder Shot lock-on weapon used by the R-GRAY 2 and Wave Rider 02 ships from RayStorm and RayCrisis respectively not only can lock-on to 16 enemies compared to the R-GRAY 1's and Wave Rider 01's 8 from their Lock-on Laser, but their Hyper Laser attack can create a powerful black hole via homing lightning strikes.
  • Lightning in Scribblenauts can jump start cars, raise the dead, and stun people, to name a few things.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Sith Sorcerer class lives by this motto. Gameplay and Story Segregation does not apply. Someone rude? Shock him. Someone nice? Shock him. Some one in the way? Shock him. Boss fight? Shock him. Ancient Force ritual? Shock everything. Healing? Try shocking. Tornado Move? Yes, but only with lightning in it. Sith Sorcerers aren't the only ones to learn this. In Star By Star, a couple of Dark Jedi from an earlier series discover that Force lightning works just fine on the Yuuzhan Vong, who are normally immune to Force abilities. It's not as effective on them as it usually is, though whether this is their Force resistance or the fact that they have redundant nervous systems is up in the air.
  • Ultima VII Part II: The Serpent Isle has various colors of magical lightning that mess things up; a storm at the very beginning swaps all your cool loot from Part 1 with random junk.
  • In Wolfenstein: The New Order, General Strasse harnesses lightning strikes to power a bullet-repelling shield for his mech.

    Web Animation 
  • Plan 3: When Stephen is cursed to have bad luck in The Chinese Food Curse, he keeps getting struck by the occasional lightning strike, even if he is indoors. He uses it to his advantage when he is told he has to battle the Fate Lord to the death to lift the curse.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventure Time episode "What Is Life?" has Finn's home-made Never-Ending Pie Throwing Robot become partially functional (and sentient) after getting struck by lightning. N.E.P.T.R. isn't fully functional until he's struck by lightning again - this time provided by the Ice King.
  • Used in American Dad! episode "Hot Water" where a hot tub with a stripper pole in it is struck by lightning and becomes sentient and evil.
  • Batman Beyond:
    • Used against shapeshifting villain Inque when freezing her stopped working. Later on even the electricity stopped working...
    • In "The Call" part two, Batman is being attacked while under water. So he activates a handy-dandy tazer feature on his suit, stunning the attackers in his immediate vicinity, but not one several meters away...under water. And not him...under water...and wearing a suit that's almost all wires and circuitry.
  • In The Boondocks episode "The Passion of Reverend Ruckus", a sudden and miraculous lightning strike cures Uncle Ruckus' cancerous tumor, convinces everyone that God is against his racist preaching, and cuts the power to an electric chair to save the life of Shabazz K. Milton-Berle, a wrongly convicted death row inmate.
  • This is how Sharon Spitz got her electrical brace powers in Braceface.
  • Code Lyoko: XANA's attacks often are characterized through lightning effects in the real world. This seems to be only visual though; people he possess can shoot lightning, and it does nothing more than what it does in real life (in this case, hurt the main characters).
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: The beginning of "Mega Muriel The Magnificent" involves Eustace and Muriel's TV antenna getting zapped during a bad storm. The lightning that goes through the antenna causes all of the electronic appliances in the house to go haywire and it causes the computer to be able to walk on its own.
  • In a Felix the Cat short titled Bold King Cole, a lightning bolt cuts through a rain cloud as if the lightning bolt were a saw, splitting the rain cloud in half and causing rain to drop before sawing a tree in half. Another one even turns Felix's head into a lightbulb. The lightning bolts later get conducted by Felix via a suit of armor to defeat the ghosts torturing King Cole. However, two of the bolts don't just strike its targeted ghost down; to do this, they have to expose the ghosts of their hiding places. One opens the door via using an armored knight's hand to grab the door handle, and the second one plays the piano to make the ghost open the piano's lid.
  • Futurama:
    • Parodied in the pilot, where Bender couldn't exceed his programming until he was electrocuted by striking his antenna on a broken light bulb.
      Bender: You're full of crap, Fry!
      * GZZZT*
      Bender: You make a persuasive argument, Fry!
    • Played straight in later episodes where electricity is shown to be something of a drug to robots.
    • Subverted in "Jurassic Bark". The Frankenstein spoof of using the power of lightning is switched to using lava instead.
      Farnsworth: Behold, once more, the mighty Clone-O-Mat, requiring such vast amounts of electricity that we must harness the elemental power of nature itself! (Lightning strikes.) I speak, of course, of molten lava, deep within the earth's core. To the sub-basement!
  • In Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet, the title character regains his humanity after falling through a conveniently placed electron beam (not quite lightning, but close). Doesn't really give off the impression of an overly-powerful alien host, to be honest, especially when the original took a whole multi-story car park collapsing on top of him to be defeated, but there we go.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) famously features Prince Adam transforming to He-man by being struck by lightning.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, long distance electrical bolts from Heloise's Brainiac Booster make him intelligent. Geinus!Beezy is even characterized by a solid lightning bolt in his head.
  • Subverted in Justice League when it turns out there's one thing Lightning CAN'T do: Hurt Wonder Woman when she blocks it with her METAL BRACELETS. Immediately lampshaded by the Flash:
    Flash: "There are so many reasons why that shouldn't've worked."
    • And one very good reason why it should have worked: they're magical metal bracelets.
  • King of the Hill once features the utterly insane Larsen Pork Products man. His confrontation with Luanne takes place in a pig slaughterhouse. On the conveyor belt, he's accidentally electrocuted and cured of the voices in his head. His clarity is short-lived, as he is almost immediately... well, slaughtered.
  • In the Legion of Super Heroes (2006), Lightning Lad and his brother Mekt got their powers when Lightning Beasts electrocuted them and his twin sister, in the process turning Mekt's hair white, giving Lightning Lad a neato scar, and turning his sister into an electric space cloud. She got better. Exactly what supposedly happened in the comics on which the series was based varies depending on what the current writer wants to do with the characters, but fairly consistently: lightning beast, and at least two of the three (Garth and Mekt) wind up with electricity powers. Ayla (Light(ning) Lass/Spark) has the most variable reaction; sometimes she gets electricity powers too, sometimes she gets something else like the ability to nullify gravity, sometimes she gets electricity powers and then gets them turned into anti-gravity powers. Somehow.
  • Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series has two of the electricity variety:
    • "Zap Attack": Dragaunus makes little electric creatures that multiply by splitting. Electric gremlins on speed. They can be transmitted over phone lines and radio waves.
    • "Power Play": Dragaunus takes his DNA accelerator and applies it to a massive amount of electricity. Cue giant electric monster.
  • In The Mighty Heroes episode "The Scarecrow'', the title villain was a Scary Scarecrow that came to life after being struck by lightning.
  • Monster Farm:
    • The episode "Tractor Terror" had the farm's tractor come to life and go on a rampage after being struck by lightning.
    • In the episode "Short Circuit Swine", Frankenswine gets struck by lightning and gains the ability to repair technology just by touching it.
  • Ned's Newt: The episode "Newt's Ned". Getting struck by lightning will switch your minds, kids!
  • The New Adventures of Superman: A giant lightning bug that can discharge lethal charges of electricity is created when lightning strikes a swamp in "The Lethal Lightning Bug".
  • Oggy and the Cockroaches:
    • One episode has Dee Dee getting struck by lightning and having his strength increased. At the end it is done to Marky, Joey and Oggy as well. The cockroaches fight over their strength, and as for Oggy, guess what a cat chasing roaches or mice will be if he is really strong enough.
    • In "For Real!", Oggy and Joey get shocked by power station electricity and they change into a real cat and a real cockroach.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode "Round Springfield", a lightning strike increases the range of a radio station, so more people can listen to Bleeding Gums Murphy's music.
    • Homer Simpson's Wonder Bat from "Homer at the Bat" was made from a tree branch that broke off after being struck by lightning, which Homer took to meaning that the baseball bat he made from the branch was special. (Which is a parody of The Natural.)
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man shows off the electrical variant in multiple Supervillain origins. A combination of standard electrical shocks from machinery, bioelectric shocks and a smattering of Applied Phlebotinum grants Electro superpowers. These electrical superpowers incidentally catalyze Doc Connors' gene-altering formula resulting in him becoming the Lizard, and the process is later copied (with electricity as a key component) to give powers to Kraven the Hunter. Later inverted (the empowering part, not the "do anything" part) when Spidey depowers Corporal Jupiter by electrocuting him, killing the spores that gave his powers.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "My Two Krabses", SpongeBob brings the Chum Krabs to life by zapping him with static electricity.
  • Static Shock. There's a reason his future self is one of the world's most powerful heroes:
    • Magnetism, including over non-magnetic substances like wood, rubber tires, or hot-air balloons, or through them, such as lifting out of the ground a sewer line.
    • Concussive or actually damaging electric blasts. The ability to supercharge anything, from Batman Beyond's exosuit to anesthetic gas.
    • He even used his electricity to supercharge John Stewart's power ring when it had run out of juice. Perhaps the Guardians of the Universe should look into giving their Green Lanterns a battery backup? He's also temporarily recharged the Justice League Watchtower.
    • He made a working phone by making an electrical display of a keypad and holding on to a telephone pole's wire.
    • Richie, before becoming a Gadgeteer Genius, made tracers that emit a static frequency Static can follow.
    • He used lightning to swing from antennas, Spider-Man-style.
    • Soul Power, an Expy of Black Lightning, was able to create electrical constructs, such as a cage.
  • In Superman: The Animated Series, a bolt of lightning strikes Superman and passes to a nearby Leslie Willis, turning her into the electric supervillain Livewire. It appears that is was the "passing through the solar powered being" than the lightning itself.
  • In one episode of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, Mario got turned into Super Mario by getting zapped by a giant electrical plug.
  • Sushi Pack:
    • The main superheroes are all pieces of Anthropomorphic Food that were brought to life by a bolt of lightning.
    • In one episode, Unagi, an electric eel-type thing, gains a new power during a thunderstorm: anything he zaps with his lightning bolt powers turns into a sentient creature. This includes a jungle gym, bagels, donuts, and doors.
  • In one episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, lightning strikes an arcade machine Leonardo is playing, bringing the villain from the game into the real world. Somehow. Other dimensions may come into it somewhere.
  • In Tutenstein, the title character is the mummy of a 9-year-old Egyptian pharaoh, revived by lightning. Said bolt had bounced off of his magic staff.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), Electro is pushed against a giant screen while being zapped with "taser webbing." This somehow results in Electro's transformation into massively powerful Energy Being who controls all electricity and technology.
  • In W.I.T.C.H., Will and season 2 Big Bad Nerissa have what is called "Quintessence", which is shown as lightning bolts from the hands. Will can use it to make electronics come to life. Nerissa's so skilled at it, not only can she grant life to duplicates, she can raise the dead and create a new body for that dead person (in this case, her best friend which she accidentally killed, Cassidy)
  • WordGirl: Ms. Question got her confusion and Sky Surfing abilities when she was struck by lightning. This is lampshaded by the narration.
    Narrator: Don't worry kids, that's not dangerous lightning. It's just strong enough to cause superpowers.

    Real Life 
  • In the early days of electricity and experiments, researchers discovered that electricity will cause a recently-deceased corpse to move, if muscle-death hadn't yet set in. This likely set the stage for the ''Frankenstein theory" that the electricity was "partially re-animating" the corpse, and that a larger amount of electricity might do so completely.
  • One theory for how life actually got started on Earth is that lightning hit various chemicals in the upper atmosphere (such as ammonia and CO2), forming them into longer chains of complex organic molecules. This theory was once popular among scientists, but has been discredited since Science Marches On. All that was proven is that such an event can result in the chemical reactions which make up that particular step in the process, not that that's how it actually did happen with the early biosphere.
    • An experiment in the 1950s showed that sparks through a mixture of water vapor, hydrogen gas, ammonia, and methane do produce organic compounds (though the experiment had to be done indoors, since sunlight immediately breaks a great many of those organic compounds back down into their constituent elements). Now scale that up to (a) lightning bolts (b) a hundred times a second around the world for billions of years, and we may get copious amounts of some organic chemicals (including some rare and complicated molecules), providing these tumbled and drifted into some dark place where sunlight couldn't penetrate immediately after forming. A ball (similar to a dust ball) may attract other molecules to its surface, thereby growing into a ball of that "primordial soup" your biology teacher may have mentioned at some point. From there, after another extremely improbable sequencing of those chemicals into DNA in a bubble covered with the compounds that make up a cell membrane, another jolt of lightning (just a tiny spark this time) is necessary to activate this configuration and make it the first single-celled life form. Hypothetically, provided everything lines up just so (and said life form also comes ready-made with the ability to ingest more of these compounds through apertures in its membrane and the genetic programming to process them into more strands of DNA so as to reproduce itself), lightning thus produces life.
  • There's a famous incident where a lightning storm caused a rocket carrying satellites to launch prematurely. Those satellites were for tracking thunderstorms.
  • Edwin Robinson was blind and deaf, until being struck by lightning. He regained his vision (minus periphery), could hear perfectly, and regrew his hair. Lightning can do anything.
  • Lightning can also grant musical ability.
  • Or you can cut out the middleman and have the music come from the electricity itself.
  • A page compiling true stories of bad tech support ( ) tells of a support technician who apparently thought lightning can do anything. A client's modem wasn't working, and he assumed it was incompatible with the OS. When she told him it used to be compatible, he guessed that it must have been struck by lightning, changing its compatibility.
  • You can find YouTube videos for plasma speakers. Essentially, these use arcs of electricity to create sound much like a physical speaker (pushing air around).
  • NASA has discovered that Lightning storms shoot beams of anti-matter into space.
  • Direct lightning strikes - or often even surges down power lines caused by nearby lightning strikes - have been known to create extremely unusual quirks in security systems, satellite/cable boxes, phone systems, etc.
  • Lightning that strikes rocks, dirt, or metal can turn them permanently magnetic. This is called lightning-induced remanent magnetism (LIRM). A popular theory is that this is how lodestones were created, the first magnets discovered by the ancient Chinese and Greeks.
  • Another weird thing lightning can do is create strange-looking rocks (fulgurites) out of sand. The heat from a lightning-strike on quartz sands can fuse its particles into bizarre, jagged tubes of opaque glass, sometimes branched, as deep as 50 feet below the surface. In effect, lightning fossilizes.
  • Ball lightning is one the least understood meteorological phenomena known to man. Essentially a ball of light that occurs during a thunder and or lightning storm, these little (or huge) buggers have been known about since antiquity. By the late twentieth century most of the scientific community had deemed ball lightning a myth, however the proliferation of color photography soon would prove the existence of the phenomena, and by the early 2000s with the advent and wide use of the internet and digital photography, the scientific community had again accepted the existence of ball lightning. No body knows exactly what the stuff is though, other than a ball of light with electric properties. They are semi rare as whole, only a quarter of Americans surveyed have claimed to see it (must only claim to see when prompting though as they don't initially report the sightings for fear of being deemed crazy or a liar). Its reported characteristics very wildly, some times it can pass though people without out harming them or times they discharge massive amounts of electricity, even up to a normal lightning strike. Ball lightning can sometimes move erratically and swiftly but often seems to move slowly and lazily. These balls of light often seem to also be attracted to wires, electrical appliances, and metal. There are many theories as to what exactly ball lightning is, however ball lightning's rarity and unpredictably will likely mean that this phenomena will likely remain unexplained for several more years.
    • In 2007, Brazilian scientists discovered that passing large amounts of electricity through a silicon wafer creates a vapor that, once cool, condenses into an aerosol that glows when recombining with oxygen. The result is tiny balls of electricity that "move erratically about the lab, rolling around on the floor, bouncing off objects, and burning whatever they touch." Those scientists now think that ball lightning occurs when regular lightning strikes ground rich in quartz, or silica (like you find in sand).
    • Incidentally, some scientists attribute the occasional unexplained case of Spontaneous Human Combustion to ball lightning as well. One rarely-witnessed and not-very-well-understood phenomenon producing another? Frankly, it's not as crazy or fallacious as a great many of the other explanations.
  • Lichtenberg marks.
  • “And the moral of this story is that it’s always worth trying an electrical discharge on your mixtures when you’re hunting for new compounds. You never know what will happen. Almost anything can.”
    John Drury Clark, Ignition!: An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Lightning Does Everything


Note Block Battle

Impressed by their music skills, Green decides to duke it out one last time and turn up the heat by the power of block and roll against his friends.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / BattleOfTheBands

Media sources: