Follow TV Tropes

Following

Muggle Born of Mages

Go To

"It happened sometimes, though rarely, that a True Being never developed a special gift."
Children of Magic

Children of superparents get superpowers... except when they don't.

If you're a protagonist, this is no problem, you'll usually become a Badass Normal or at least an Unfazed Everyman. But if you're a Mauve Shirt… you'll probably become this.

This trope is a character who's in on The Masquerade, and was born into their world. Unfortunately for them, they're normal. No, not Badass Normal; totally, completely, and 100% normal. If the lame power of Heart was a consolation prize, the Muggle Born Of Mages never got a draw at the Superpower Lottery in the first place. They're just as ineffectual in adventuring as any other muggle, maybe even more, which is why they usually find themselves having some grunt-work position in the world of the masquerade, such as a janitor, secretary, or The Igor. However, if they're still determined enough to throw themselves into the world of magic or what-have-you despite lacking innate abilities, they might have the opportunity to become a Muggle with a Degree in Magic. Most examples of these characters tend to have bitterness and regret over not being a super as a major character trait, though there are some who are actually at peace with their lack of special abilities; in that situation, any bitterness the character may feel comes from everyone else refusing to understand/accept/believe that they're perfectly content with their lot in life.

Advertisement:

It may ultimately turn out that this person actually has some form of Anti-Magic, though this might not be noticed immediately. If this is common in the setting, it may be that characters are completely Randomly Gifted, so powers aren't always inherited and may spontaneously manifest to children of Muggle parents. If this happens gradually over several generations it's Generational Magic Decline.

If everyone except this person in the setting is a mage, They're an Un-Sorcerer.

This trope is somewhat Newer Than They Think, since magic-users traditionally learned/sold their soul for their powers, meaning no one expected a mage's child to be anything but a regular human.

Compare Muggle in Mage Custody, when a muggle is a ward or a slave to a mage, and High Hopes, Zero Talent, when a character wants to be something, but has no aptitude for it. Contrast Almighty Janitor and the Badass Normal. Compare Un-Sorcerer, Recessive Super Genes and Unfazed Everyman. For an inversion, see Mage Born of Muggles.

Advertisement:


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Aquarion Evol: Mikono Suzushiro comes from a family of Element Users, but apparently was born without any powers. This turns out not to be the case; it's just that her Element power is rather subtle, and its effects aren't particularly noticeable as being the result of a supernatural ability.
  • Sakura Inami from Beyond the Boundary lacks the powers of her sister and other members of her clan.
  • Meiling of Cardcaptor Sakura. It's implied everyone in the Li family has magical powers but her.
  • Fate/stay night: Shinji Matou doesn't even have usable magic circuits and thus cannot perform spells (though he has a small number of atrophied ones, which makes him a viable grail vessel in Unlimited Blade Works), and is the end result of generations of the Matou family gradually losing their magic abilities with no one quite sure why. And he became a villain because of his envy towards his adopted sister, Sakura, abusing and raping her, just because she is a magus and was adopted to replace him as heir to the family's magecraft.
  • In The Garden of Sinners, Shiki and Mikiya's daughter Mana did not inherit any of Shiki's powers. Shiki doesn't mind and is glad her daughter can live a normal life.
  • Sairaorg Baal in High School D×D did not inherit any of his parents powers when he was born. So instead, he underwent Training from Hell, something high-class devils do not do, and became so strong he doesn't even need the power of destruction.
  • Nanoha from Lyrical Nanoha is an inversion. She is a powerful mage, while the rest of her family are muggles (though her father and older siblings aren't exactly "normal"). Given Gil Graham's comment about the rarity of Earth mages, this presumably also applies to him and Hayate.
  • Chiehime from Mononoke Sharing is a pure blood Mononoke, but is functionally identical to an ordinary human. She ends up getting outed on TV when she challenges Yata to a sumo match and is easily pushed over. It's eventually revealed at the end of the series that all Mononoke family lines will eventually give birth to pure humans since they were never supposed to exist to begin with.
  • Musuko ga Kawaikute Shikataganai Mazoku no Hahaoya has Teresa, a demon born to her family without the slightest hint of a demon's signature powers. Her family saw this as her being a failure, with them abusing and neglecting her, before eventually selling her into slavery. Her powerlessness was very likely to result in her eventual death if she didn't end up being bought by the demon Alice, who despite being a trolling jerk a lot of the time, is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold that cares for her, with Teresa herself being quite happy she was bought by Alice.
  • In My Hero Academia, 80% of all humans have some kind of superpwower known as a "Quirk". Protagonist, Izuku Midoriya, is one of the 20% who does not have any powers. His mother has minor telekinesis and his father can breathe fire, so the fact that he's powerless is presented as unusual. The plot kicks off when Midoriya meets the Hero, All Might, who chooses to pass on his Quirk to Midoriya and train him as his successor.
  • Rock Lee from Naruto was born without the ability to use ninjutsu or genjutsu, the magic of the ninja world. He makes up for it with Training from Hell that makes his taijutsu, physical combat, so powerful he can compete with the most powerful of ninjas.
  • Takamichi T. Takahata of Negima! Magister Negi Magi was born unable to cast spells, but, as a member of Ala Rubra, is still one of the most powerful fighters of the magic world, in part because he can use the powerful kanka technique.
  • Sanji from One Piece is this to a degree. He and his siblings were all genetically enhanced, but he was the only one not to develop any sort Charles Atlas Superpower as the result of his father's training and genetic enhancements, because his mother, Sora, in a desperate gambit to save her then-unborn quadruplet sons from becoming emotionless weapons, took a drug that made Sanji a normal kid, but not his brothers as she intended. He was treated horribly as a result and eventually ran away.
  • It's not dwelt on all that much, except in flashbacks, but Akatsuki Kojou, protagonist of Strike the Blood used to fall under this category. His mother possesses the power of Psychometry, his younger sister and paternal grandmother are powerful spirit mediums and his father has access to a hyperspace arsenal thanks to being caught between two different planes of reality. This is downplayed twice over, first being because his father's abilities are acquired (making him an example himself) rather than innate and may have even happened after his children were born. Secondly because by the time we are actually introduced to him, Kojou has become one of the most powerful vampires in existencenote .

    Comic Books 
  • An issue of the comic book tie-in to Archie's Weird Mysteries revealed that the mysterious occultist Doctor Beaumont was a human born of vampires.
  • Astro City: According to Jerome Isaac "Ike" Johnson, he's not the genius his father and grandfather were, though he's perfectly intelligent in his own right.
  • Birthright: Aaron himself is a normal human, while his own father Sameal and both of his children, Mikey and Brennan, are mages.
  • Wally West's son, Jai. He had Speed Force powers that let him have super strength in short bursts. He shared an unstable connection to the Speed Force with his sister (who could become intangible by vibrating). In The Flash: Rebirth, the link stabilized and it all ended up in her, so she gets full Speed Force powers and Jai ends up depowered.
  • In PS238, Tyler Marlocke is the son of two of the world's strongest superheroes, but doesn't have any sort of powers himself. Of course, he's obviously going to develop them any day now, so his parents still enroll him in the titular Superhero School, advising the instructors to put him in lots of difficult and/or dangerous situations to help bring his abilities to the surface. Fortunately, the staff are a bit more savvy, and arrange for him to have private lessons with the Revenant, a Batman expy, in the hopes of him becoming a Badass Normal. To his own surprise, it seems to be working.
    • Implied with Julie's father, a Muggle who's related to the Nuclear Family. Might explain why they don't seem to get along too well.
  • Joel Kent in the Generations series was exposed to Gold Kryptonite in the womb making him the muggle son of Superman. It doesn't help that his younger sister Kara got to keep her powers. Eventually, Lex Luthor uses his jealousy and an unstable repowering formula as part of a revenge plot against the Man of Steel.
  • X-Men:
    • Mutant supervillains Mystique and Victor Creed/Sabertooth had a child together, Graydon Creed, who turned out to be a normal human (for those two, must be karma), which is rare for two mutants. He went on to become an anti-mutant extremist out of jealousy and his parents' rejection.
    • This can technically happen with any mutant couple, since the probability of passing mutant genes seems to be 50%
    • There was Quicksilver and Crystal's child, Luna, who was an Inhuman rather than a mutant. Apparently the mutant gene and the Inhuman genetics canceled each other out and Luna was effectively a normal human until her crazy father exposed her to a rather high amount of Terrigen Mist to empower her — this was extremely risky since Terrigen Mist exposure can have unpleasant effects on anyone who isn't a pure Inhuman (and many who are still end up Blessed with Suck as a result).
    • One of the consequences of M-day was that no new mutants would be born, meaning any child born to a mutant couple would be this.
    • The second Silver Samurai, Shingen Harada. His father, the first Silver Samurai, was a mutant who could project a force field and usually did so onto his swords, to give them a much sharper edge. Shingen instead uses powered armour and is more of a Japanese Iron Man than a proper samurai.
    • Dog Logan, half-brother of Wolverine. It's established that Wolverine's x-gene comes from his father's side, as his father had demonstrated bone claws (albeit off-screen and implied), although no healing. Dog possesses neither ability.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Casper/Hocus Pocus crossover story, Magic and Mayhem, Wendy says her mother didn't have any magic like her sisters did. They made her a Magic Wand so she wouldn't feel left out.
    • Lila Chandler was also a normal person born into a family of witches and warlocks.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction The Liar, Trixie was disowned by her father for being born without any magical ability (apparently something that happens to 1 out of every 10,000 unicorns), and learned to make her living as a con artist, masquerading as a traveling magician. All of her supposed magical feats are illusions made by the burnt fumes of ground-up Poison Joke. Her cutie mark, a magic wand and crescent moon, doesn't represent magic, but the ability to tell the best lies — wands are only used in folklore and pony tales, and a crescent moon is merely an illusion cast by shadow.
  • In The Heart Trilogy, Freyja, daughter of the witch Andraya, does not have her mother's magical abilities, even though Andraya invested magic into Freyja during her babyhood. As such, Andraya schemes for Smaug to impregnate Freyja, wanting to have a grandchild with power inherited from the magic stored in Freyja's blood and the Third Age's greatest fire drake.
  • In Goldstein, Terry's youngest brother, Leo, is a Squib. Interestingly, the usual angst is averted — Leo seems happy that he "gets" to stay home instead of going off to Hogwarts, and their Muggle father is pleased to have one child who took after him.
Advertisement:

    Films — Animation 
  • Barbie and the Secret Door's villain is Princess Malucia, the only one in the magical land of Zinnia who doesn't possess magic of her own.
  • Played with in Encanto, where protagonist Mirabel Madrigal is the daughter of a superpowered mother and a normal father. Nonetheless, she ends up being the only member born into the family to lack any special magical gift. Meanwhile, her older sisters, as well as her maternal cousins, are running around being able to talk to animals, use Super Strength, make and control plants, and shapeshift.
  • The Incredibles: The Parrs' baby, Jack-Jack, in contrast to their previous children Dash and Violet. But subverted by the end, and in the associated short Jack-Jack Attack, where he turns out to have won the Superpower Lottery. The parents don't find out about the powers until Incredibles 2.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Last Witch Hunter, it turns out that 37th Dolan's parents were both witches, but he didn't inherit the powers, driving him to Face–Heel Turn as he craves magic. He betrays the heroes to the Witch Queen and asks to be granted magical powers in return, but she says, "Clay cannot be turned into gold. Without magic, you're just a human." and kills him.
  • Sky High (2005):
  • Riley Stuart in The Thompsons is a human born in a family of vampires. She's also unable to be turned. As such she functions as The Renfield for her family.
  • In the Underworld (2003) series, Alexander Corvinus was the first immortal. His sons William and Marcus inherited his immortality, and eventually became the first werewolf and vampire after getting bitten by a wolf and bat, respectively. His third son did not inherit his immortality and eventually died of old age as an ordinary human. However, his third son passed the Corvinus genes down to his descendants, where they lay dormant until they were finally activated in his descendant Michael Corvin. When Michael is bitten by both a werewolf and a vampire, the genes allowed him to become a hybrid, which is normally impossible.
  • Up, Up and Away!; a 2000 Disney Channel Original Movie; centered around normal teenager born from a family of superheroes, including a Annoying Younger Sibling with heat vision, and his struggles with the fact that he may never develop any powers of his own. On the plus side, he doesn't have their weakness to aluminum foil. He spends a large amount of time pretending he had super strength, which ends up saving them from a villain who found out their weakness but assume it would work on the son as well. At the end, his best friend suggests that he become a superhero without powers.

    Literature 
  • Carrie Vaughn's book After the Golden Age features Celia West, the daughter of two famous superheroes, who has no superpowers at all. This is also brought up at the end when Celia and Arthur Mentis, a telepath, have a baby and Celia is wondering if the baby will have powers or not and hopes it does not.
  • In Split Infinity, the first book of the Apprentice Adept series, non-magical Stile, the crossed-over version of the Blue Adept (it make sense in context) makes friend with Neysa, a unicorn who has normal horse colors (black and white). He finds out that she was allowed to live since she had the "button" of a horn at birth, indicating that she was a unicorn. However, in her herd, she was treated like a second-class member, since most unicorns have exotic coloring (deep blue, fiery red, purples, greens, etc.) so she was destined to remain unmated with the Herd Stallion, and wouldn't therefore never have any foals since the lesser stallions would also not touch her. While appalled at this, and helping to make her acceptable through his interactions with the herd, Stile found out that foals born without the horn button are killed at birth, "as a mercy."
  • In Jeramey Kraatz's The Cloak Society, not all children born to Cloak members manifest powers (though their children sometimes can). Misty's mother, for instance.
  • The fundamental problem of Tavi, an Un-Sorcerer in Codex Alera. He lives in a world where every human has access to elemental spirits known as "furies" that give them various powers. Tavi, however, is the only human who doesn't have these abilities, and they cause him extensive problems, forcing him to think and adapt rather than use magic. To give you some idea of how much of a handicap this is, Tavi effectively can't even turn on the lights on his own. Eventually, he learns the cause of his condition: his biological mother stunted his growth to hide his true age and thus his true lineage, and as a result, he did not gain access to his furies at the same age as other humans. Once he does, however, things change.
  • Joram, protagonist of The Darksword Trilogy, was born "Dead", without Magic in a world where Magic is Life. While "Dead" people crop up occasionally in each generation, they all have a small amount of magical ability. Joram is the only person in the world with none at all.
  • Discworld: In The Fifth Elephant, Angua (a werewolf) reveals that she had two siblings unable to change form. One of them was stuck as a human, the other one was stuck as a wolf. Her brother Wolfgang (A Nazi by Any Other Name) killed the former and the latter ran off to become a prize-winning shepherd dog.
  • The magic that gives Vir Requis their power in the Dragons of Requiem series seems very randomly hit or miss. Vir Requis can be born of non-Vir Requis and vis versa. The backstory for the Big Bad of the first trilogy written (though not chronologically first), Song of Dragons, is the eldest son of the king and queen born without the magic. He's treated like absolute dirt, hidden from sight, and passed over for the throne. As a result he: rapes his brother's wife, stages a coup, kills the king, steals a magic amulet, kidnaps one of his brother's daughters, and returns years later with an army that hunts the Vir Requis to the brink of extinction.
  • Elemental Masters: In The Gates of Sleep, Arachne Chamberten was born without Elemental magic, to parents who were both Elemental mages (and implied to be from long lines of mages). Unfortunately for her parents and mage-born brother, she found out that you don't need inborn mage-talents to use Black Magic.
  • Kyja of Farworld lives in a world where even the cows have magic. Not only does she have none, magic doesn't even work on her. Later on it's revealed that she was born on Earth from ordinary parents and was switched at birth with a boy from Farworld who actually does have magic.
  • In Fate/strange fake, Amelia Levitt comes from a Magus family, but did not inherit any magical abilities. Because of this, she was raised without any knowledge of the existence of magic or that her family members were Magi, so she eventually became a doctor.
  • Subverted in the Gentleman Bastard series. The Bondsmagi of Karthain are a society of sorcerers who have been around for ages, but as we learn in the third book, there have only been about five children of Bondsmagi in the past three centuries or so who actually had magic. (The main character asks what happened to the non-magical children, and is indignantly told that they're raised with love, not sacrificed for power or anything like that.)
  • "Norlocks" are sometimes born to the Kymeran Witch Species in Nancy A. Collins' Golgotham trilogy; they generally have five fingers per hand instead of the usual six, and are considered disabled by other Kymerans due to the species' focus on magic. Kymeran Half-Human Hybrids are likely to be norlocks; explicit mention is made of Tymm — son of the protagonist and deuteragonist in the series — having five-fingered hands like his (human) mother, although one does wonder how her being a ferromancer would affect him.
  • Quinn Gaither from the Gone series is one of a large number of characters without super powers, and shows subtle signs of both hatred and jealousy towards his empowered peers.
  • Ceyda finds out in Part 2 of Grimoire’s Soul that sometimes people can be born without the ability to use magic at all or with great difficulty, which is treated as a disability by the Atrium, hence the existence of the DMU or Dysfunctional Magic Unit.
  • Known as "Squibs" in Harry Potter, these people still have some inherent magical affinity that allows them interact with and see elements of the Wizarding World that other Muggles simply can't, but since they're unable to do magic, Squibs are generally regarded poorly in the community. Squib children of magical parents are generally cast into the Muggle world and given a Muggle education, and most live their lives as Muggles with little contact with the magical community. This is considered a better fate for Squibs, as those who do remain among the wizards are generally treated as second-class citizens, and looked down upon and pitied for their inability to do magic.note 
    • Of note is how rare "squibs" are in the Potter Verse: there are only two named examples of this trope in the books (Hogwarts caretaker Argus Filch and Mrs. Figg, Harry's Crazy Cat Lady neighbor on Privet Drive), while there are several "Muggle-born" witches and wizards among the main cast. This is because once magic emerges in a bloodline, it tends to stick. As an extension of that, J. K. Rowling has stated that most Muggle-borns have Squib ancestors; their genes seem to be latent, coming back when both sides of someone's family have them.
    • Severe emotional trauma can stunt magic in otherwise capable wizards or witches. Neville, who grew up with a strict grandmother and no parents, was long feared to be a Squib until someone had the bright idea to throw him from a high place and he bounced back. Half-Blood Prince reveals that Voldemort's mother, Merope, had her magic suppressed for years on account of growing up in an abusive home and only started to use it in any meaningful way after her father was arrested. In Deathly Hallows, several characters state that it was widely believed that the long dead Ariana Dumbledore was a Squib but Harry later finds out that she was indeed a witch. It’s just that the torment she endured at the hands of the Muggle boys twisted her pysche to an extent that she could not voluntarily control her magic. The Fantastic Beasts film series describes such individuals as "Obscurials", people whose magic was involuntarily curtailed, causing serious issues, although Ariana hasn’t technically been confirmed to have been one just yet.
  • The Heroes of Olympus: Unlike their Greek cousins, the Roman half-bloods may actually live to adulthood in the safety of New Rome and even have kids. While they're still descended from the gods, these kids and those that come after are not guaranteed to have any powers.
  • In Ray Bradbury's short story "The Homecoming", Timothy is the only living human child in a vast extended family of vampires, werewolves, witches and ghouls. Everyone in the family — Timothy himself included — consider him to be the Ill Girl, a pathetic cripple doomed to a tragically-early death, because of this.
  • In The Lost Years of Merlin, it's mentioned that magic generally skips a generation; Merlin's grandfather, Tuatha, was a wizard, but his father only had powers when he wielded magical items and made a Deal with the Devil. In the Sequel Series, The Great Tree Of Avalon, Merlin's own son was powerless but his grandson has magic. As another odd quirk, non-magical generations still benefit from centuries-long life spans.
  • In the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series, this is a driving point of the first book, as Prince Gar is unable to do magic despite being both Doranen and the son of a very powerful mage. His younger sister, Princess Fane, is incredibly magically talented and it's why they have such an antagonistic relationship — Gar is understandably jealous of his younger sister's powerful magic and his younger sister resents the fact that the reason she was born was to replace her "crippled" brother as the next Weather Worker.
  • In the Lunar Chronicles, "shells" are Lunars born without the ability to manipulate bioelectricity, essentially making them human but immune to Lunar glamour and mind tricks. This means high-ranking Lunars don't want them around and want them reported and killed immediately.
  • This is the norm for the Others in the Night Watch (Series) books by Sergey Lukyanenko. It's extremely rare for a child of two Others to be an Other (about the same chances as an Other being born to Muggle parents), which is why many Other couples avoid having children, so as not to have to watch them grow old and die. The exceptions are the vampires and the werewolves, who usually turn their children at a young age. Kostya Saushkin is notable as being a vampire who resents his father for turning him. One of the novels has a story arc dealing with a plot by Geser and Olga to turn their Muggle son into an Other. Anton and Svetlana are exceptions in that they were foreseen to have a child who was an extremely powerful Other (Svetlana is already a very powerful Light sorceress; Anton reaches Svetlana's level thanks to the Fuaran artifact).
  • The Old Kingdom series has a pair of unusual examples. Both turn out to be subversions. See, in this series, Charter Magic is usable by anyone with the baptismal Charter mark on their forehead (usually given at birth but can also be applied later in life) and Free Magic can be used by anyone with the will (not that that's a good idea). However, there are several bloodlines imbued with some of the Great Charters, giving members of those bloodlines special powers and special responsibilities. In the second book, Lirael, we're introduced to two members of those bloodlines who don't appear to have any of their families' powers. The titular Lirael is a Daughter of the Clayr who is despairing because she hasn't received the Sight, years after it's normal for Clayr to have already received it. Meanwhile, Prince Sameth is supposed to be his mother's heir as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting (as it's obvious that his older sister is the future queen), but he's hopeless at the training and eventually realizes he can't do it and refuses the Call. It turns out that Lirael is in fact the Abhorsen's long-lost half-sister and thus the real Abhorsen-in-Waiting, and also possesses the power to see into the past because of her Clayr heritage. Sam, meanwhile, turns out to be the first Wallmaker born in over a thousand years.
  • In Once a Witch, Tamsin was born to witches but has no powers. Subverted because it turns out her power is that she can take others' powers and stop them from using it against them. Double subverted in the sequel Always a Witch, because she loses her powers.
  • The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy: The eponymous character is the only person in Superopolis to lack a superpower. He's just as confused about it as everyone else is, but he thinks it's because his parents' (Snowflake and Thermo) powers cancel each other out.
  • Gaithim of The Quest of the Unaligned is this, and was abused, denigrated, and locked away for it. However, he was also extremely intelligent, and ended up learning how to turn himself into a mage, something believed to be as impossible in that world as in ours. Unfortunately, the process he used turned him into a hoshek, an Axe-Crazy but very powerful mage of pure darkess.
  • Huw Jones, protagonist of The Rapture of the Nerds, is the non-magical version of this; both his parents were geniuses in multiple fields, while he is utterly mundane. He was not happy when both his parents chose Brain Uploading the instant it was available; for much of the book, he insists they committed suicide akin to the 21st century equivalent of Jamestown.
  • Played with in The Raven Cycle. Blue is the only non-psychic in her large household, but does have the ability to amplify others powers with her presence. She has psychic energy, just not the powers.
    • Played straight with Declan Lynch. His brother is a dreamer, his father is a dreamer, and the rest of his family was made by them. Declan is an ordinary young man.
  • Retired Witches Mysteries: Magic sometimes skips a generation in this series, as evidenced by two of the three titular "retired witches" (Molly and Elsie, each of whom married a non-magical man) having one non-magical child each, Mike and Aleese. Only their third coven member Olivia had a magical child, by a very powerful (and evil) male witch. It actually subverts part of the trope in that non-magical family members are strictly forbidden from learning about magic, and the Grand Council of Witches will wipe the memories of any who find out (and as revealed in Book 2, some would like to prevent the existence of any witch's non-magical children entirely, through... proactive means, whether the witch parent wants it or not).
    • Lisbet, Joe Renard's partner in the homicide department, also turns out to be one, and agreed to do her mother's dirty work because Matilda claimed she could give her powers. When she admits she can't actually do this, Lisbet kills her.
  • Discussed in Shaman Blues when Witkacy wonders whether Wiktoria, a daughter of two people with a modicum of magical talent, is this trope or not. Turns out she's not.
  • Shaman of the Undead: Ida really wants to be one, despite her parents' anxiety that she shows her magical talent already. Turns out, she has one, and it's I See Dead People coupled with Psychopomp (a combo known In-Universe as shaman of the undead) — and she's known about it most of her life. But the magical wards around her family house don't let ghosts through. That, and she really dislikes her parents' plans for her.
  • This is something very common in the world of Skulduggery Pleasant. Most of the main character, Stephanie/Valkyrie's family are normal humans despite (unknowingly) being descendants of a powerful line of mages. This trope also comes to its ultimate conclusion in the third book, The Faceless Ones, where the Big Bad is revealed to be a farmer who was the only Muggle in a family of mages, and grew to resent all mages for looking down on him.
  • In the Spellslinger Series, non-magical Sha'Tep born in the magical Jan'Tep society are treated as a servant underclass. Sha'Tep are forbidden to marry and have children, and so the only place they come from is magical families who disown them after they've failed to show any arcane ability. The protagonist, Kellen, thought himself magically incapable until his shadowblack kicked in, and after he was nearly condemned to Sha'Tep servitude by his family when they attempted to bind away his already incredibly weak magic.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Granta Omega is the normal son of Xanatos, a former Jedi. However, while he isn't Force-sensitive, he does have the ability to slip past any being's senses, even a Jedi's.
    • Emperor Palpatine has a powerless, illegitimate son. While Palpatine was disappointed, he decided to let him live because his son has night terrors in which he screams out horrifying things. The descriptions are used as inspirations for The Empire's war machines and torture devices, meaning that Palpatine literally figured out how to weaponize terror.
  • Very common in The Sword of Truth series (there was a major magic disruption a few thousand years ago). Commonly called "skips"; whether Rowling's later use of a similar term is accidental is unknown.
  • The Unicorn Trilogy: In Black Unicorn, Jaive initially neglects her daughter Tanaquil because she thinks Tanaquil is this, not inheriting any magical ability from her, and takes too much after her biological father in her skills with mending and mechanical objects. It's not until toward the end of the book that Jaive realizes Tanaquil's magical skill is her mending: she's able to fix anything with just a glance, and what she mends can never be broken again (which, a sequel proved, includes broken hearts). This makes Tanaquil the only person in the world capable of repairing the gate to the Black Unicorn's world.
  • In Worldweavers, Thea is the seventh child of two seventh children... and she doesn't have any of the normal magics. (She gets a cool power later, but it's not magic.) It's mentioned that children around the country sent her mail — when she was just days old — about how powerful she is... sucks to be her.
  • Bink, protagonist of A Spell for Chameleon, the first book in the Xanth series, is thought to be this when he shows no magic talent in a land where everyone must have a magic talent by law; he is set to be exiled. Subverted –- it turns out that he did have a magic talent all along, and a Magician-caliber one at that: he cannot be harmed by magic. And in Xanth, most of everything is magic.
    • His Talent stayed hidden because those who knew he had it would find ways around it and harm him; this actually qualified as harm by magic.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played With in Angel. When Angel and Darla have a child together, it's a double surprise because a.) as vampires, they should be sterile, and b.) the child is, ostensibly, a normal human with a soul. Since vampires are technically a type of demon, they expected this to go in the other direction and result in something monstrous. However, it eventually becomes clear that Connor isn't exactly human, and he's particularly shaken when the spell that prevents demons from performing violence works on him too.
  • Being Human (UK): Eve Sands, sort of. She's not a werewolf, but since she can see Annie, she's a supernatural creature too.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Inverted by Tara: she's a witch from a family of pure Muggles who despise for her practice of magics (and for being a female, in the case of her father and brother).
    • Wood's mother was a Slayer. Although he has no powers himself, he's still a damn good fighter.
  • Played With in Charmed (1998): the Distant Finale shows Paige with two daughters and a son. According to the comic continuation, the latter is an adopted Muggle. Paige also winds up binding her daughters' powers until they're oldernote , so hopefully Henry Jr. will grow up without feeling too left out of the family's magical shenanigans.
  • Steve on The Haunting of Hill House is the only one out of his siblings to have no supernatural abilities. Theo can sense the past of anything/anyone she touches, Shirley has psychic connections to things in her sleep, and twins Luke and Nell are extra-sensitive to the supernatural along with their mental connection with each other. This combined with the fact that he was, as Theo puts it, asleep for like 90% of the events of their final night at Hill House, means he has had zero experience with anything supernatural, and thus believes that there is no such thing as the supernatural, and that the quirks his family have are mental illness.
  • Nathan Petrelli from Heroes is the only member of his immediate family who was born without powers. His parents injected him with Super Serum to make up for this "deficiency".
  • In Lost Girl, only people with two Fae parents get Fae powers. Those who are half-human and half-Fae are indistinguishable from normal humans.
  • Henry Mills from Once Upon a Time. His mother Emma is "The Saviour" who is meant to break the curse (and eventually develops some magical powers of her own). His adoptive mother/step-great-grandmother Regina is one of the most powerful magic users of the series. His father, Neal, is seen to be able to use magic in Season 3, but doesn't like it. And then there's Snow and Charming, his grandparents, who might not have magical powers but are still Badass Normal.
    • And that's not even getting into his paternal grandfather.
    • He doesn't seem to mind his lack of powers, but that's probably because he's still eleven years old.
    • Subverted in later seasons, when he becomes the new Author and gains Reality Warper powers, albeit with a responsibility not to actually use them.
  • Lon Suder, the murderous crew member of Star Trek: Voyager, was a Betazoid born without telepathic and empathic powers.
  • Arguably Teen Wolf. It's mentioned that some of the members of Derek's family who died in the fire were human, despite the Hales primarily being a family of werewolves. Most fans have taken this to mean that not every child with werewolf parents inherits the werewolf gene, even though Derek and his sisters did.
    • Of course, there's also the possibly of other relatives' marriage with non-werewolves if the residents extended beyond the nuclear family. Or rented rooms, since it is a VERY large house. Confirmed to be this trope as of 4x06 "Orphaned".
  • In True Blood, Jason Stackhouse did not inherit any powers from his faerie ancestors like the rest of his family did. He can't even use portals that people with faerie blood can activate. He goes into I Just Want to Be Special moments at times.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Exalted setting, only the Terrestrial Exalted's powers are hereditary; the children of other Exalted are plain mortals unless their Exalted parent has a high Essence rating, then they can be Half Caste. During the Golden Age (when the Solars ruled) the offspring of Solars were called "Golden Children"; born into status, wealth and privilege, but with none of the powers their parents wielded.
    • This also happens to the aforementioned Terrestrials; Dragon-Blooded breeding is, in general, not what it used to be. It is common enough for children of Terrestrial parents to fail to Exalt, which typically brings down a good degree of shame and disapproval on their heads. However, such a mortal STILL carries the blood of the Dragons in him, unexpressed though it may be, and thus there is a chance — increased if he himself ends up with a Terrestrial spouse — that HIS children may yet Exalt.
  • Mage: The Awakening:
    • Proximi are dynastic hereditary Sleepwalkers: Sleepers who do not have the supernal power of mages, but can witness it without the threat of Paradox. A Proximus, unlike a normal Sleepwalker, is born into an established family of mages and other Proximi, and can use limited supernal magic. Mages also believe Proximi are more likely to Awaken than other Sleepers.
    • Since Awakening to magic is a highly personal experience, this trope is a possibility for any magical family, and means that the unlucky child isn't even mentally capable of understanding or perceiving their family's powers. The really unlucky ones get outright abused in hopes of invoking a Traumatic Superpower Awakening.
  • In the Mystara setting for D&D, the Empire of Alphatia was founded by refugees from a destroyed world where magic was extremely potent, and only an unlucky few (presumably, those afflicted with subnormal Intelligence and Wisdom) were incapable of using it. Such people were regarded as handicapped in Old Alphatian society, and many well-known magic items were originally invented to accommodate their "disabilities".
  • Expatriette from Sentinels of the Multiverse is the daughter of a super supremacist... Who doesn't have powers. She's a Costumed Non Super Hero and a Walking Armory instead. Oh, and she and her mom, Citizen Dawn, are tagged by the game as Arch Enemies.
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Kinfolk are humans or wolves with werewolf blood, immunity to the Delirium, at least loose connections to werewolf society, and nothing else. No shapeshifting and only low-level Gifts for you, sorry! Also, you're a huge disappointment to your werewolf relatives — useful only as breeding stock and the driver of the getaway car.
    • How a Kinfolk is treated, depends largely on the Tribe. While they are indeed basically slaves and breeding stocks to the Get of Fenris and Shadow Lords, who are very conservative, the more liberal tribes, the Glass Walkers and Bone Gnawers treat their kinfolk pretty decent and the Children of Gaia treat them as equals.
    • What makes quite a few Kinfolk resent the Garou Society is the fact, that without them the Garou Society would collapse and they are still treated like rubbish. As they are needed for reproduction, raising the children and keeping a facade of a normal life standing for normal people.
    • The New World of Darkness' Werewolf: The Forsaken has the functionally wolf-blooded who get at least a little more respect than their spiritual ancestors. One of the splatbooks gave them their own share of abilities.
      • Forsaken-style werewolves are a mix of a spirit and a human from birth, with the spirit heritage reproducing in a spirit-fashion separate from the human genetics. Two werewolves cannot produce viable offspring because there's too much of the spirit side of the inheritance, and the children of a werewolf and a human don't have any greater chance of going wolf than a muggle. Wolf-blooded are actually the greatest treasure of the werewolves, because they're the only people in the setting with a measurably greater probability of producing viable werewolf offspring.
      • In 2nd edition that's no longer true, two werewolves can give birth to a normal-ish (the child's a wolf-blooded)offspring.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Morgan Fey (Kimiko Ayasato)'s spiritual power is too weak to channel spirits, which is why she was passed over to be the Master despite being the elder sister.
    • Despite being Morgan's daughter, Iris (Amane) has no spiritual powers to speak of.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice: Unlike her sister, Ga'ran Sigatar Khura'in doesn't have any spiritual power, so she forces Amara to impersonate her when she is required to channel spirits. Apollo finally defeats her by exposing her as a fraudulent spirit medium and thus unfit for the crown.
  • The main character in the Awakening series, Princess Sophia, was the only human born without magic. She eventually managed to defeat the villain because of this limitation rather than despite it.
  • The main character in Black Sigil seems to fall under this initially.
  • In the Dragon Age series:
    • The Dalish Warden in Dragon Age: Origins has no magical talents, but their father was the Keeper of the Sabrae Clan before Marethari.
    • Carver Hawke from Dragon Age II, one of Hawke's two siblings who become mutually exclusive early on depending on player class. He only lives past the opening if Hawke is a mage, in which case both his elder sibling and his twin sister were born with magic. This meant the family had to move frequently to avoid the Templars and father had to spend more time with his siblings to teach them to control their powers. His resulting insecurities are a big part of his story arc. Depending on your choices, he may even end up joining Kirkwall's Templar Order out of a mix of resentment and a desire to be "more than just your brother." The tragic irony is that Carver is what Malcolm Hawke wanted all of his children to be.
    • The Amell family could be considered this, since the line seems to blur between whether they're a family that produces an unlikely amount of Mages, or just a family of Mages with quite a few non-magic children. It's mentioned that despite their best efforts to breed magic out of their family line to retain their noble high standing in Kirkwall, it always managed to find its way back in.
  • In Golden Sun: The Lost Age, being a non-Adept in a family full of Mars Adepts doesn't seem to bother Briggs a bit. He is a Badass Normal, but also isn't above begging his grandma for help when he's over his head. In Dark Dawn, he's also shown to have a better awareness of Psynergy than most non-Adepts, and is one of the few who recognizes it in action.
  • Florian Greenheart in Overlord II was the only Elf who couldn't use magic. The disaster that sparked Fantastic Racism against all magical beings was triggered by his first attempt to fix this, and the magic-hating Glorious Empire he founded is his second attempt.
  • The Sims:
    • In The Sims 3 Supernatural expansion, Joe is this in the MacDuff family. Only he and his mother are not witches. However this is not possible if both parents are supernatural creatures.
    • In The Sims 2, supernatural sims who can breed will produce normal sim offspring, making this trope the norm. The exceptions are aliens, who have a set of genetics that will hybridize with normal sim genes, and plant-sims who use the "pollinate" option to asexually produce plant-sim toddlers (plant-sims that "woo-hoo" will have normal sim offspring).
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic:
    • Jedi Grandmaster Satele Shan's son Theron is not Force-sensitive. This doesn't mean that Theron is in any way less of a badass than his mom... or his dad (Jace Malcolm, the Supreme Commander of the Republic forces).
    • Theron is in almost the exact same situation as his ancestor Vaner Shan, who was not Force-sensitive despite being the son of Jedi Knight Bastila Shan and the former Sith Lord Revan.
    • Virtually all Sith Purebloods are Force-sensitive because those who are not are traditionally slain as infants, though the Inquisitor meets an exception working as a diplomat in Voss, stating that in her case her parents managed to work something out for her.

    Webcomics 
  • Atomic Laundromat has main character David. He may be the son of an alien empress and Earth's greatest super hero and the only one of his siblings without powers, but he firmly believes that one doesn't need powers to make a difference in the world so he's not the least bit bitter about it. Nor does he feel his choice to own the titular laundromat is in any way pathetic. Any frustration about his lack of powers generally comes from other people expecting him to display some negative feelings about his situation, or at least show some curiosity or interest in superheroics.
  • Battlefield Babysitter features Kat, whose parents and brothers all have superpowers. She has... pink hair. She also has experience in ballet, gymnastics and karate from when her parents tried to prepare her for potential powers. She also has the experience of being around other heroes so that she is uniquely qualified to babysit for other heroes superpowered kids.
  • Dominic Deegan: Luna's oldest sister, Barnet, suffered from this, making her an outcast in the already majorly screwed-up Travora family. It eventually lead to her running away from home and becoming an assassin.
  • El Goonish Shive: Tedd Verres was born to two people with extraordinary magical ability, but is "magically impaired". Not only does he not have native power, he cannot be empowered like most people can be. He generally compensates by building Magitek devices that use ambient magical energy. Later comics have revealed that while Tedd may not have access to standard magic, he does have native powers of his own: he can "see" and intrinsically understand any magic spell just by looking at it, he can de-enchant things, and he's capable of creating magic catalysts (wands, basically). Such beings are known as "Seers", and are exceptionally rare even among mages.
  • In the Gloom Verse, the unnamed protagonist simply called Assistant is this, being very unusual for someone her age not to have any magic at all and is treated poorly by her parents and society because of it. subverted in the climactic battle where it was revealed her powers were hidden from her and returned to help stop the Antagonist
  • The Dark Knight in Harry Potter Comics is a squib and can't use wands or magic on his own. But he's highly practiced as a magical artificer, welding magic into everyday objects, including his own battle armor (kevlar-lined full plate) that makes him highly resistant to bullets, swords, AND magic attacks.
  • Although anyone in Never Satisfied can develop magic, not everyone does. Instead of having eyes that match their magic color, non-magicians have black eyes. Reactions to people who aren't magicians vary, but generally they're treated as an underclass.
    Tobi: Magicians... don't care about us. We're invisible to them without a familiar at our side.
    • None of the beggar kids Lucy steals food for have magic, and Tobi implies this is a large reason for their Barefoot Poverty. It's uncertain whether they come from nonmagical families, or whether they're the Black Sheep of magician families.
    • Tobi keeps a nonmagical pet, Tater, on his shoulder to give the impression of a magician with a rat familiar.
    • Something's suspicious about that hat seller...
    • Dr. Isra Karim isn't a magician, but she's a respected scientist who owns a bakery with her wife, Neith.
    • Lucy doesn't have the telltale black eyes of a non-magician, but their achromatic grey eyes indicate that they can't use magic. They've managed to make it through four rounds of the representative competition without anyone except Ana or Philomena suspecting or finding out that they can't use magic.
    • January's oldest younger brother, Fred, is the only one of her siblings who hasn't developed magic yet at the age of fourteen.
  • In Stand Still, Stay Silent, of the four Hotakainen family members to have gotten development, only Tuuri lacks mage powers. Her grandmother, older brother and cousin are all mages. According to Word of God, her grandfather was one as well.
  • Unfamiliar: What Pinyon was at first believed to be, due to how little talent she possesses in magic and how she hadn’t found a familiar yet despite being over 13, the age at which most witches find one. Thankfully for her, this is subverted when she saves a bird she finds she can communicate with.
  • Zoophobia: Despite Sahara's unrelenting interest in magic, she hopelessly lacks her family's magical ability. Of course, this leads to many undesired mishaps.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In American Dragon: Jake Long, the dragon powers "skipped" Jake's mother's generation. Her father, son, and daughter can all transform into dragons, but she can't.
  • Who is or isn't a bender in Avatar: The Last Airbender is random (except the Air Nomads, who were always benders), so it's possible for the children of two benders to be non-benders:
    • Both parents of swordmaster Piandao were firebenders. When they found out he had no bending powers they gave him to the orphanage.
    • As far as we know, Princess Ursa and her mother Rina don't display any firebending abilities, but Rina's father was a firebender — namely Aang's predecessor Roku, who could bend the other elements too, being the Avatar and all. Zuko’s much younger half-sister Kiyi is also a bender despite neither Ursa nor his stepfather being benders.
    • In the episode "The Fortuneteller", Aang asks everyone in the town if there are any earthbenders to use them to help save the village. We see a set of twins where one can earthbend, but the other cannot.
    • By The Legend of Korra, Aang and Katara had one non-bending offspring, Bumi. He has a major chip on his shoulder, particularly toward his younger brother, and to a lesser extent, his younger sister. Until Season 3 when he, and many other Muggles, spontaneously develop Airbending due to the Harmonic Convergence.
  • In Elena of Avalor, Rafa is the daughter of Alacazar, the royal sorcerer under King Raul, but after Shuriki took over Avalor (which forced Alacazar to go on the run and to never return home), Rafa didn't pursue how to learn magic, partly to avoid Shuriki's wrath. Her son, Mateo, sneaks into their basement to learn magic from Alacazar's notes and he ends up becoming the royal sorcerer for Princess Elena after Shuriki is defeated. Rafa, however, has memorized some of the spells that her father taught her, such as the spell needed to remove the seal on a magical painting spell used to protect the royal family.
  • Harley Quinn (2019): Kite Man's father and mother have ice powers and the ability to fly, respectively. Both were disappointed when Kite-Man had no powers.
  • On Sabrina: The Animated Series, Tim the Witch-Smeller was born to witch parents with no powers but a warlock's longevity — worse, he was apparently unique, so he grew up mocked and tormented by his empowered peers. The result is a psychopathic witch hunter with a grudge against witches.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Inverted with Gungi, a Force-sensitive Wookiee. According to Yoda, this is a very rare occurrence. This is a nod to a rule in Star Wars, where Wookiee characters aren't allowed to be Force-sensitive, with the exception of Gungi who was created by George Lucas himself.


 
Feedback

Video Example(s):

Top

Mirabel Madrigal

Mirabel is the youngest daughter of Madrigal family but is the only member of the family without a magical gift.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (30 votes)

Example of:

Main / MuggleBornOfMages

Media sources:

Report