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Non-Powered Costumed Hero

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"Well, well. You took my advice about theatricality a bit... literally."
Ra's al-Ghul to Batman, Batman Begins

We all know this type of guy. He wears an unusual outfit and shows up to fight villains or monsters. He's probably got a Secret Identity and a mild-mannered alter ego to keep his private and crimefighting life separate.

Sounds like a Superhero, right? He probably will get called that, too. But in this case, he hasn't got any superpowers. He's probably an expert fighter, sure, and he may have all sorts of gadgets or other unusual advantages, but there's nothing more superhuman about him than perhaps unrealistically good human skills or abilities. (Being good at it isn't a requirement, though... just highly preferable for survival.) So he's a Non-Powered Costumed Hero.

If the setting has proper superheroes or other individuals with powers and the non-super can keep up with them, then the character is a Badass Normal as well. Don't confuse the two tropes, though; Badass Normal is about having no powers but matching those who do, this is about having no powers and wearing a costume. So, for example:

  • The Phantom is a Non-Powered Costumed Hero but not Badass Normal, because while there is some magic in his world, there are few if any powered superheroes in his stories to compare to, perhaps bar Mandrake.
  • Ajax does without powers in a setting filled with divine influences, but obviously isn't a costumed crimefighter, so he's Badass Normal but not Non-Powered Costumed Hero.
  • Batman is both, working alongside Superheroes and fighting Supervillains.

The character is probably Super Weight Class 1 (unpowered but formidable), although they could be lower if they're just, you know, bad at what they do. They tend towards being The Cowl. The Proto-Superhero is likely to be this, as many pre-date the assumption that superheroes needed special powers.

The actual type of costume varies but may involve Cool Mask, Coat, Hat, Mask, Badass Longcoat, Superheroes Wear Tights, and/or Superheroes Wear Capes. Due to the nature of the trope, tropes about superheroes wearing stuff usually apply here too.

The trope is not about villains, at least not traditional ones (no Joker), but the character doesn't need to be "genuinely" heroic. As long as someone, even if just the character themselves, sees them as fulfilling the "costumed hero" role, that suffices. An Anti-Hero or Knight Templar could qualify.

Compare Real Robot Genre for the Humongous Mecha counterpart. Contrast with Clothes Make the Superman, where the character becomes powered when wearing the costume. See also Crimefighting with Cash.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Mumen Rider from One-Punch Man would qualify as one, being only equipped with his bike, his helmet, and a near-insane determination to protect innocent people from evil, even when it is clear that he has absolutely no chance of success... which is borderline sad when he is put up against the Deep Sea King. In fact, most heroes qualify as this, being nothing more than people with above-average (but not necessarily superhuman) physical prowess and a hero license; Mumen Rider just stands out because he has a genuinely heroic personality and doesn’t have above-average physical prowess.
  • At the end of Tiger & Bunny, Kotetsu decides that he's going to be one of these once his powers run out completely.
  • In My Hero Academia, Mirio Togata has his quirk removed, but still continues to fight under his hero persona. Possibly subverted, however, after the end of the fight in which he lost his power; despite his claim that "I'm still Lemillion", he seems to have either chosen or been forced to take a break from both hero work and hero training until his power has been restored.
  • Iwao Oguro, a.k.a. Knuckleduster, from My Hero Academia: Vigilantes has no government-issued hero license, largely because of his lack of a quirk, but he still puts on a costume and goes out at night to secretly fight crimes that the licensed heroes overlook.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman, and most of his supporting cast — Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl, Oracle, Huntress, Spoiler, Red Robin, Black Bat, Orpheus, etc.
  • Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle. Unlike his predecessor Dan Garret or his successor Jaime Reyes, whose crimefighting endeavors were aided by an Artifact of Power in the form of a blue scarab, Ted only had his Gadgeteer Genius abilities to rely on.
  • Also from Charlton Comics, Judomaster and Peacemaker. The former used his mastery of judo to combat crime, the latter wore body armor and a variety of lethal weaponry.
  • In the Marvel Universe, this is what the public and criminal underworld thinks Daredevil is. Daredevil uses his Super-Senses to cover for the fact that he is actually blind, leading most anyone who doesn't know his secret identity to assume his skills in martial arts and acrobatics are the only things he has going for himself.
  • Colt from Femforce. A former intelligence agent who quit to fight crime in a mask and cowgirl attire. She's the only member of the team without superpowers, but a brilliant tactician, and really good with a gun.
    • Tara Freemont used to be the other team normal, until she acquired Sizeshifter powers.
  • Green Arrow and most of his sidekicks (Roy Harper, Connor Hawke, Mia Dearden); Green Arrow has a sort of Robin Hood-themed costume and fights crime with mundane Trick Arrows, not powers.
  • Avenger (formerly the Pink Avenger) from Gold Digger — one of the few super-heroes in that Verse who continues to do her thing publicly and in costume instead of joining the MIB organization Agency Zero.
  • Hawkeye — a former Circus Brat who, after seeing Iron Man in action, decided that he could do it better. Arguably, since Tony was born into the Fiction 500 while Clint just has Trick Arrows and pure stubbornness, he does.
  • Kate Bishop/Hawkeye II is The Team Normal of the Young Avengers. Her costume is a purple bodysuit, and her "power" is shooting things with a bow, like Hawkeye.
  • Katie the Catsitter takes place in a world full of these. All superheroes and supervillains don't have actual superpowers, and their existence is treated as a simple fact of life. Katie herself, who's only a kid, tries out for becoming a sidekick, and her total lack of superpowers doesn't even come up.
  • Karate Kid of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Since the Legion's bylaws require each member to have a unique superpower, yet Karate Kid is an ordinary human, fans joke that his "power" is being able to put Superboy in a headlock.
  • Marvel Mystery Comics debuted in 1939 with a blue-spandexed, yellow-chest-crested, red-caped answer to Superman in the Angel. However, the Angel has no powers. He also doesn't wear a mask or try to disguise his identity.
  • Though Mockingbird was originally a spy, she dipped into costumed heroing when she discovered high levels of corruption within S.H.I.E.L.D. and had her professional reputation tarnished trying to expose it and, after being put into a coma, dropped her civilian alias to protect her family.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Superduck/Paperinik, the costumed hero alter ego of Donald Duck, who's popular in European Disney comics. He's basically the Batman of Duckburg: he has no powers, he fights crime in a costume, few people know he's actually Donald, and he uses all sorts of gadgets developed by Gyro Gearloose. The stories where Donald appears in this guise seem to be in a whole different continuity from all others, as his becoming a badass with a Secret Identity would have huge ramifications for his character.
  • Frank Castle a.k.a. The Punisher has a costume, but not a mask or Secret Identity, and generally has no powers, just an enormous armory.
  • DC's Seven Soldiers of Victory (the original lineup, not the Grant Morrison one): Shining Knight, Vigilante, the aforementioned Green Arrow, Speedy, Star-Spangled Kid, STRIPE, and Crimson Avenger. Then they joined the All Star Squadron, with powered heroes like the Flash (Jay Garrick), Superman, and Firebrand II.
  • Many heroes in The Tick, aside from those Blessed with Suck such as 4-Legged Man. Arthur is the most prominent (and least capable) example.
  • In Watchmen, all the costumed crimefighters are ordinary people — except for Dr. Manhattan, who's on another level altogether. Also the Trope Namer, though the phrase "non-powered costumed hero" is only used once in passing (chapter V, page 13, of Under the Hood).
  • The Revenant and his Kid Sidekick Moon Shadow from PS238. The Revenant is a Captain Ersatz of Batman, while Moon Shadow is a Muggle Born of Mages who is being taught the way of non-powered superherodom as a defense mechanism against his parents trying to invoke a Traumatic Superpower Awakening on him. It's also implied heavily that Earth's metahuman superheroes look down on these kinds of superheroes and the Revenant refusing to buck the trend has made him a 'rogue superhero' and a criminal in roughly half the U.S. (though the latter is partially due to tax evasion charges on his cover identities).
  • Phantom Lady: Most versions of the character have no powers, relying only on their technology and fighting skills.

    Fan Works 
  • The Ace Savvy Extended Universe: With the exception of Lola/The Queen of Diamonds, who can summon diamonds, none of the superheroes have powers, but they still wear flashy outfits and fight crime.

  • Scarlet Leon in Baśń O Ludziach Stąd, though he's taken seriously by a total of two people. One, if you don't count himself.
  • Gramps Is in the Resistance: Super Resistant, who is Gentleman Thief-dressed, and have no powers. As the name implies, he is in La Résistance during WWII and fight Those Wacky Nazis.
  • The two movies Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2 show quite ordinary people who want to make New York safer, and for this reason dress themselves as superheroes to beat criminals. But it does not take long until there are the first supervillains.
  • Most of the characters in Mystery Men put on costumes and want to be heroes with powers that range from not a power at all (such as shoveling) to Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane. The Shoveler and Blue Raja are pure straight examples, the former dressed as a construction worker (which he is) and counting on... shoveling things... and the latter in an intricate Victorian Indian costume complete with affected British accent and specializing in throwing things (mostly silverware).
  • Super with Rainn Wilson and Defendor were built on the same premise, but got overshadowed by the more mainstream Kick-Ass.
  • Blankman with Damon Wayans as a Gadgeteer Genius who decides to become a costumed superhero in order to fight crime in his city.

  • In After the Golden Age, the Hawk is a vigilante costumed hero and is famous for being the only superhero in Commerce City with no actual superpowers.
  • "Northwestward": Invoked, because Mr. Wayne, tonight's dinner guest, claims that the character Batman is "restricted to entirely human abilities" because of his insistence.
  • The heroes in Relativity don't have superpowers, but some of the villains do.
  • Justice Jack from the Sammy Keyes series. His heroism tends to be ineffectual at best, but he does try.
  • Called "costumed adventurers" in the works of Simon R. Green, who's used quite a few of them in his urban fantasy novels. Most notably, there's Ms. Fate from the Nightside, Indigo Spirit from the Secret Histories, and pulp Proto-Superhero Lester Gold from Shadows Fall.
  • Averted in Super Powereds, where vigilantism is strictly illegal with serious consequences for anyone caught doing so. Only Supers, who have gone through the tough four-year Hero Certification Program, offered at five U.S. colleges, can become certified Heroes. Normal humans are simply outclassed against Super criminals. On the other hand, Gadgeteer Geniuses are also considered to be Supers, and there are plenty of Heroes whose only power is to be able to invent things.
  • Zorro: Don Diego de la Vega fights corruption and crime in Spanish California, with only his wealth, wits, rapier, and trusty horse. He uses the alias Zorro to deflect attention away from him, wearing a black outfit with a cape, mask and hat.
  • All of the heroes and villains in The Henchman's Survival Guide are this trope, relying on physical training, technological gizmos, theatricality, Kayfabe, and universal healthcare to deal with the inevitable injuries.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrowverse, like the comics they draw upon, are full of these heroes, beginning with its titular character:
    • Arrow follows the Green Arrow, Oliver Queen, expert archer and fighter in a green hooded costume. As the series went on, more heroes of this trope followed starting with the Canary, Sara Lance, a trained assassin in a black costume and domino mask, who passed the mantle onto her sister, Laurel, as the Black Canarynote . Bodyguard John Diggle eventually gained a distinctive helmet and hero name ("Spartan") but is otherwise a former soldier in the field with a gun, while Oliver's sister Thea (trained in archery and fighting with the League of Assassins) and her boyfriend Roy Harper (a parkouring thief) traded red-hooded costumes as Speedy and Arsenal. The team further expanded out to include a new wave of heroes, including Wild Dog (in a sports shirt and hockey mask, wielding semi-automatics) and Gadgeteer Genius Mr. Terrific (who has a costume, a painted T on his face, and changes his hair from his civilian afro into cornrows for his alter ego). The final non-super super to join is Mia Queen, Oliver's future daughter, a freedom fighter in the Bad Future who takes up the Green Arrow mantle.
    • Legends of Tomorrow is frontlined by Sara Lance, now dubbed the White Canary with no domino mask and a distinctive white leather outfit. While most of her crew throughout the series have specific metapowers, the lineup has also included criminals-turned-begrudging-heroes "Captain Cold" Leonard Snart and "Heat Wave" Mick Rory from The Flash (2014), who don't have natural powers and use engineered, elemental guns, while donning appropriate costumes on the job (a fire-proof jacket and welding goggles for Mick, snow goggles and a blue fur-lined parka for Snart).
    • Supergirl (2015) has James Olsen, no longer a gawky lackey at the Daily Planet, but a hunky CEO who goes into vigilantism with silver full-bodied armor and shield, dubbed "Guardian".
    • The first season of Batwoman (2019) features Kate Kane, who, like her cousin Bruce Wayne, has no superpowers but a Batsuit and wonderful toys. The second season introduces Ryan Wilder, who takes up the mantle from the disappeared Kate and is likewise an example of the trope.
  • Bones has a variation of this. One of the victims was a teenage amateur comic book writer, having his own Author Avatar as the hero. He was found dead in the costume of the hero he created. The kid died trying to protect an abused woman he had a crush on from her husband. The husband killed the kid, fully aware of the fact that he was dying of cancer.
  • The Cape is one, although he doesn't really have a secret identity, since Vince Faraday is supposed to be dead. While he doesn't have powers, he has excellent hand-to-hand combat skills, as well as "magic" skills taught to him by carnies (such as vanishing in a cloud of smoke). He also has a special cape made of super-strong and super-stretchable spider silk, which he learns to use to great effect.
  • Hill Street Blues had a few episodes featuring Captain Freedom, a nutter running around in his longjohns and cape annoying Mick Belker. Played for Laughs until he tries to stop an armed robbery and gets killed.
  • An episode of iZombie involves a man pretending to be a superhero. He stops a group of thugs from attacking a woman and is later found dead. After eating his brain, Liv starts to think in comic-book-speak, mentally monologuing her actions, and even makes a costume for herself. She doesn't count as this trope, though, given that she's a zombie, not a normal human. She does get to meet a few other "superheroes" from the dead guy's team. She finds out that the killer was the woman he was trying to save. She was a thief, and he ended up discovering what she stole.
  • Padre Coraje: A hooded man in 1950s Argentina, making justice among the rural workers of the village of La Cruz.
  • Team Gibbs from NCIS deal with "real-life superheroes" in one episode. One of them proves to be quite badass, coldcocking the killer of the week with a surprise uppercut.
  • In Watchmen (2019), the costumed crime-fighters are ordinary police officers allowed to operate in disguise to protect them from retribution by a white supremacist group.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The Phantom: Even the Phantom's "civilian" attire — long coat, shades, and hat on top of his bodysuit — practically counts as a costume of this sort, and since he has no proper civilian identity, it really is more a disguise than his superhero outfit is.
  • The Spirit: The Spirit only wore a mask as a concession to the editor, who felt audiences wouldn't buy a crimefighter who didn't wear a costume.
  • Human-Man, from Tom the Dancing Bug, is a superhero with human powers: "Bipedal locomotion; Functioning nervous system; Opposable thumbs". Human-Man always loses his fights, because he has no powers. Human-Man makes a contrast with God-Man, a superhero who has God powers but is too stupid to use them well.

  • The Green Hornet was one of the earliest Coat, Hat, Mask heroes, defeating criminals usually through guile and intimidation, and a gun full of knockout gas if that didn't work.
  • The Lone Ranger: More of a Proto-Superhero, he didn't really even have a costume, just a black mask, a codename, and a trademark weapon.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • In City of Heroes, Manticore and his Evil Twin Chimera. Also, any Player Character can be this if the player chooses, typically involving taking the Natural origin and powers that are less-obviously super, like Martial Arts, Willpower, Gadgets, Devices, the various weapon sets, and many Mastermind summon sets (particularly Robots, Thugs, Mercenaries, and Ninjas). The as-of-this-writing unfinished Utility Belt and Gadgetry power pools will probably play into this trope when they're completed.
  • Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich introduces three World War II-era heroes. Since they haven't been struck by Energy X, none of them have superpowers. Jack St. John Spade (a.k.a. Black Jack) is a British scientist, who uses a good old-fashioned pistol and various gadgets to fight Nazis. Sabrinne Tricolette (a.k.a. Tricolour) is a French fencing champion, who primarily uses her skill with a sword for combat. Ace Gunner (a.k.a. Sky King) is a former Hollywood star, who uses his Jet Pack-equipped suit (armed with chain guns and grenade launchers) to become a genuine hero.
  • In Heroes Rise, there is a briefly-mentioned Super Team known as the Everyman Brigade, composed entirely of non-Powered heroes. In the second game, there are two non-Powered contestants. Both of them use suits that allow them to fly and fire all manner of weapons. One of them represents the Meek, an organization spouting anti-Powered slogans, and the other is an undercover agent, sent to investigate corruption within the competition.
  • Overwatch gleefully dances the line with this trope. Very few of the heroes have powers themselves, but all of them have and wear tech that grants them special abilities. The ones that do have powers are the results of experiments, cybernetically enhanced, or robots; even then, it's not entirely clear whether the character is the source of the power or just using something else. Cassidy is probably the closest example. Every other character has some form of superhuman ability, be it Powers From Technology, using magic dragons, or being a Super-Soldier, robot, or Gorilla scientist from the moon. Cassidy's just really good with a revolver.
  • Pulp Adventures includes some of the previously mentioned characters in its long roster of available party members (the Phantom, the Spirit, the Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet, and Zorro).

  • The Munchkin Man has James Andrews, alias Rocketman. His "gadgets" include a big gun and what may or may not be jet shoes.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
    • Invincible Man, who was faking being a superhero until someone tried to shoot him and succeeded. (Or, before the votey was added, just didn't have powers.)
    • The Iron Sociopath, who fights crime to get to commit more violence. His other job is as a politician.
      "What's your superpower anyway?"
  • In the Sluggy Freelance filler story "Stick-Figure Tales of Cotton", parodying the superhero genre, Riff becomes "Science Guy", fighting bad guys with gadgets, although actually he only ever uses the bazooka. In his origin story, which is a parody of Batman's, his parents get shot and he first becomes "Orphan-Boy", with the proportional speed, strength, and dexterity of someone without parents. His superhero outfit is the same as Riff's normal outfit (insofar as you can tell on a stick figure), except that he wears the Badass Longcoat as a cape.

    Web Original 
  • Justice Squad: Nightflyer, being an Expy of Batman, acts as one of these to the titular team.
  • In the Red Panda Adventures, the Red Panda and the Flying Squirrel are regularly shown to be on par, if not far better than, heroes and villains wielding superpowers, magic, and super-science. All while they have only cunning, guile, martial arts training, and plenty of gadgets like Wall Crawl enabling static shoes. The Red Panda does have one advantage in that he's trained himself to be a master of hypnosis, which he often uses in misdirection and interrogation. Even if that disqualifies the Panda, however, the Flying Squirrel lacks that ability and is considered by some to be the more dangerous of the two. At one point, the Red Panda wipes the floor with a Superman Substitute with his greater skill, hypnosis, and gauntlets that provide his punches more power, all while trying to teach him an actual lesson.
  • Brigand of the Whateley Universe, while considered in-universe to be a supervillain, is an Anti-Hero who fights crime by stopping and exposing corporate crime, in his efforts to track down the monsters who long ago forced him to kill his own father.

    Western Animation 
  • In Phantom Investigators, Daemona is the only member of the team without powers, but she wears a mask and uniform (not to mention a different hairstyle) while on the job. Notably, nobody else on the team wears a costume.
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh:
    • Winnie-the-Pooh becomes one of these in the Show Within a Show in the episode "Paw and Order", appearing to fight Nasty Jack and his gang of horse thieves (as in, they're horses) as "the Masked Bear". Eeyore, too, gets a mask as the "faithful steed".
    • In "The Masked Offender", Tigger is inspired to try to be one by stories about "the Masked Avenger", though as you can see from the episode title, he doesn't quite get the name right.


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Alternative Title(s): Costumed Non Super Hero


Koala Man

Koala Man is a koala-themed superhero of Dapto in Australia, but he's not exactly good at it or liked by most of the townpeople.

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