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"He can turn invisible? ...Why can't I turn invisible?"

"Barry, I have been living this life for almost eight years, encountering things that you can't even fathom, and I am still alive. Not because super speed kept me out of the ground. It was because I realized that I needed to keep learning, keep training, keep getting smarter, and until you get that, despite your best intentions, you will do more harm than good."
Oliver Queen, The Flash (2014)

In many works, people with superpowers are portrayed as superior to those without, regardless of how skilled they are. This is the opposite: a Differently Powered Individual looks up to a mentor who has no powers (or powers of the Weak, but Skilled variety), but who has the weight of expertise and experience on their side. Sometimes, the superpowered student has looked up to their mentor since before they gained their powers.

Usually the most common lesson the Experienced Mentor will teach their powered protégé is not to rely solely on their powers and to learn to adapt when they can't use them. As well, if the student is Unskilled, but Strong, the mentor will teach them the skills they need.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A repeated pattern in the Lyrical Nanoha franchise:
    • Nanoha herself has incredible natural aptitude for magic, unlike her first mentor, Yuuno, who is only good at shielding spells. Nevertheless, the fact that he can use magic and teach it to Nanoha is what lets her discover her talents in the first place.
    • After the original season, Fate a genetically-engineered super-mage is tutored to control her powers by her adoptive brother Chrono, whose natural aptitude for magic is mediocre, at best, but his past training and field experience more than make up for it.
    • In the manga set after the second season, both Nanona and Fate, already famed as the most powerful mages alive, are apprenticed to one Fern Corrado, a Veteran Instructor who hands both of their asses back to them in their first mock battle to demonstrate that decades of combat experience beat raw mana output most of the time.
    • Hayate is probably the most extreme example in the series, as she's capable of leveling entire cities while her mentor Genya is a Non-Action Guy. It helps that he was mentoring her to be a military officer rather than a combatant.
  • My Hero Academia: Izuku's mentor All-Might is the Number One Hero of Japan and the previous holder of One-For-All. While Izuku can use his power at any time (especially after learning means to avoid injuring himself), All-Might is limited by both his Game-Breaking Injury and that he only has a fraction of One-For-All left in him, eventually using the last of it in the fight to defeat One-For-All and leading to his retirement as a hero. Also, while All-Might and Izuku start out with the quirk's standard Super-Strength stored up over generations, Izuku eventually unlocks the quirks of the users before him and All-Might.
  • Naruto: Kakashi is one for Naruto himself (and to a lesser extent Sasuke). Kakashi has the experience (having fought the Third Shinobi World War) and the expertise (having a lot of ninja techniques he can use), but Naruto has much more raw power thanks to both his Uzumaki bloodline and the Nine-tailed Fox sealed inside him.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 
  • Hercules: The Satyr Philoctetes has mentored many heroes of Ancient Greece, only to be disappointed by each. He eventually comes to see Hercules as a chance to redeem his name and instructs him in heroics, using his Super Strength, and managing his newfound celebrity. Phil himself is a Non-Action Guy who retreats to safety when the monsters show up.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron: Badass Normal Hawkeye has to comfort Scarlet Witch after she becomes overwhelmed and frightened despite her reality-breaking powers. Hawkeye points out that in a battle between genocidal robots, literal gods, enhanced humans, and flying men in suits of armor, he's just a guy with a bow and arrow, but she has the power to change the tide of the battle:
      Hawkeye: Doesn't matter what you did, or what you were. If you go out there, you fight, and you fight to kill. Stay in here, you're good. I'll send your brother to come find you. But if you step out that door, you are an Avenger.
    • Captain America: Civil War: After her pep talk in Age of Ultron, Wanda is happy to help when Clint needs her, but follows his lead and looks to him for instruction.
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming: Peter Parker and Tony Stark have this relationship. One is a superpowered kid who can climb walls and has enough strength to stop a bus with his bare hands while the other is a Badass Normal inventor with Powered Armor. However, Tony is older, more experienced, and has been at the superhero game for years while Peter with all his powers is still a inexperienced 15-year-old kid who has only been Spider-Man for a few months when introduced. Somewhat downplayed in that with said Powered Armor, Iron Man has greater firepower and strength than the relatively "street-level" Spider-Man, and Spidey's powers include built-in Super-Reflexes and (of course) Spider-Sense.
  • Justice League: Bruce Wayne becomes sort of a mentor to the young Barry Allen, who has only recently gained his powers, while Bruce Wayne has been fighting crime for 20 years as Batman.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: First Class: Charles acts like this for a number of the young Mutants he and Erik recruit. While Charles' Psychic Powers are by no means weak, many of the younger Mutants' powers are more useful in physical confrontations; as such Charles teaches them how to harness and control them.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: Charles is this to a young Jean Grey. Her psychic and telekinetic abilities far surpass Charles' along with her possessing the Phoenix Force, but his years of experience with his powers allow him to help guide Jean and control her vast abilities. This works out in his favor when Apocalypse is close to defeating Charles and Jean, with the power of the Phoenix, comes to his rescue and obliterates the ancient mutant.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow: Oliver is Barry's mentor despite the latter being a super-powered speedster. Oliver has the advantage of being an incredibly talented Badass Normal Archer with a lot of of experience as a hero, while Barry is an overeager young man who tends to rush into problems and relies on his powers a little too much.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: As a Watcher, Giles is a normal human with a lot of expertise in knowing and fighting the supernatural. He is responsible for training Buffy, who has Super-Strength and Super-Reflexes due to her status as a slayer.
  • Daredevil: Matt's teacher, Stick. Like Matt, he's blind. Unlike Matt, his other senses aren't superhumanly strong to make up for it. Despite this, he's still implied to be the better fighter.
  • On Star Trek: Voyager, Kes has psychic powers far beyond anyone else on the ship, but relies on Tuvok to teach her the discipline to not let her powers go out of control.
  • Supernatural:
    • After the angel Castiel rebels against Heaven, he spends most of his time on earth, but doesn't know how to blend in. He mostly follows Dean's lead, fighting when the Winchesters fight and trusting whomever they trust.
    • With some help from his brother Dean and the angel Castiel, Sam serves as this to the Nephilim Jack, who has the physical build of a young adult and the Reality Warper powers of an archangel (the devil, to be specific) but, at only a few months old, is painfully naive and trusting. Sam no longer has any powers, but he has decades of experience as a Hunter of Monsters and helps Jack figure out who to trust and how to control his powers. Sam also bonds with Jack and helps him deal with the angst that comes from being the devil's son, which Sam can relate to, because (while he is human, unlike Jack) he was also gifted with powers and was told that those powers made him destined to become evil.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Played with in Princess: The Hopeful regarding Shikigami; the Princesses they mentor are usually young Magical Girls with a wide variety of magic powers at their disposal, their most basic package including a Mana Shield and enchanced mental, physical or social abilities. While they do share some of these abilities, the amount of powers they can have is much more limited, and they can only get in the physical world by possessing plushies or small animals, meaning they often have weak and frail bodies, while their nature as inhabitants from the Dreamlands and often servants of the Queen means they frequently have a wide knowledge about the Light and the Darkness that Princesses lack. However, they also do have the ability to transform into the form they have in the Dreamlands- and it's entirely possible for said forms to be gigantic mythological beasts who are more than capable of supporting their Princesses in combat.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Primaris Marines are physically better than ordinary Astartes in just about every way. But because they were vat-grown over millennia, they don't have the combat experience the previous-generation Marines do, which has caused no small amount of friction. Fortunately the man who came up with the Primaris process also found a way to give Astartes those same boosts.

    Video Games 
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Greybeards serve as mentors to the Dovahkiin in the ways of the Thu'um. Both can use Thu'um, but the Greybeards are only able to master it through years of isolation, meditation and studying the fundamental concepts of the dragon language. The Dovahkiin, in contrast, unlocks Thu'um by consuming the souls of dead dragons, and in a relatively short period of time, can learn a wide variety of Shouts that it would take a typical Greybeard many lifetimes to master.
  • In Hades, Zagreus was mentored in combat by Achilles prior to the events of the game. And while Achilles may be a demi-god famed for his exploits during the Trojan war, he was still ultimately mortal and can't hold a candle to a full blown god with Resurrective Immortality like Zagreus.

  • Mieruko-chan: The elderly fortune-teller Mitsue begins to mentor Miko in their shared connection to the Spirit World when she realizes how strongly spirits are attracted to her. Mitsue's magic is far too weak to affect the spirits troubling Miko and her Supernatural Sensitivity can't even perceive some of the more powerful entities that Miko's can, but she has the benefit of decades of experience.
  • Mob Psycho 100: Arataka Reigen is a Con Man who appears as a famous esper. He has the young Shigeo Kageyama (aka Mob) as his disciple, who has great esper powers. Despite not having powers, Arataka teaches Shigeo to use his powers correctly and encourage him to not use his powers against other people.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: As The Avatar, Aang is the only human being in the world with the potential to master all four styles of elemental bending. However, being born into the Air Nomads means that he only has a natural talent for Airbending, so he travels the world in search of masters of the other 3 bending styles who will be willing to teach him.
  • Ben 10: The protagonist, Ben Tennyson, is a shapeshifter with what might possibly the most powerful case of Multiform Balance in all fiction, but also happens to be a kid (prepubescent at first teenager later) with the maturity for his age and, at least at first, very little experience on aliens; his main mentors include his grandfather Max, a Badass Normal with years of experience as a Space Cop, and Azmuth, a thousand-years-old alien whose sole ability is Super-Intelligence.
  • Generator Rex: Rex is an insanely powerful Evo with the ability to reshape his limbs into powerful machines; his mentor, Agent Six, is a Badass Normal fighting with Katanas.