Follow TV Tropes


One Person, One Power

Go To

A setting where each of multiple characters has one, unique power. Any magic they exhibit will be a variation of their one power. The power may occasionally have a name to refer to it (compare Differently Powered Individuals). May be tied to a Mass Super-Empowering Event in the backstory, or connected to a Meta Origin.

Some powers might be more versatile than others, of course. These may include the power to copy or steal other powers, as long as that is the person's only designated power. Nobody gets Combo Platter Powers by default (which would mean that those who do are unnatural, and usually artificial, cases).

Stories using this trope typically portray a person having one power as being the natural way magic develops in that world.

See also Everyone Has a Special Move, Signature Move, and Single-Power Superheroes. Compare One Super One Powerset.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Alice & Zoroku, those who possess the "Dreams of Alice" are Reality Warpers whose power is themed around a certain "Card", allowing for varying versatility. One of a pair of twins creates a simple bow and arrow while her sister can create anything with a chain, ranging from actual chains to bicycles to wrecking balls.
  • Basilisk: Each of the twenty ninja named on the ninja scrolls have one power, whether it be abnormal mastery over a weapon, or genuine superpowers. These powers are usually quite specific, but the ninjas have trained to utilize their abilities in a wide range of scenarios. Background material suggests these powers were achieved through many years of selective breeding.
  • Ultimate Magic, the elves' esoteric art, in Black Clover is this, being the essence of one's magic. It embodies all the magic of its caster, making it a unique, unrivaled spell for each individual who can cast it.
  • In Bungo Stray Dogs, most of the cast has a power that base around the works of the writer they are named after for.
  • A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun
    • Espers always only have one power but the versatility of this power can vary. Electromasters control electromagnetism, which allows for Lightning Can Do Anything, but Meltdowner essentially creates plasma and is mainly only useful for destructive purposes. The absolute king of this is Accelerator, whose Vector Control can do literally anything that involves movement, from stopping bullets to slowing the planet's rotation by borrowing some of its kinetic energy for a Megaton Punch.
    • In-universe urban myths exist about Dual-Skill and Multi-Skill people, with a single (temporary) example of the latter appearing in Railgun. In this case, it was a case of Loophole Abuse, as someone managed to become the Hive Queen of a Hive Mind of espers; she didn't have multiple powers, she channeled the powers of multiple people through herself.
    • Touma is a special case here, as his Imagine Breaker is actually sealing away another power that might or might not be of divine origin.
  • Anyone with the titular Geass from Code Geass has one ability that can be used in a variety of ways should the user get experimental, as series protagonist Lelouch demonstrates early on.
  • The Contractors in Darker than Black follow this rule strictly. Some of them even explicitly lack Required Secondary Powers.
  • Darwin's Game has powers granted to people who play the titular smartphone game called Sigils. The abilities it can give are a living lie detector, controlling string-like object, short-term predictions of the future, invisibility, or teleportation.
  • Fabricant 100: All Fabricants have one organ they can bring special abilities from.
  • Himenospia: A late-story reveal is that each Wasp Queen has her own unique ability, indicated by how each Queen has a different stinger. For example, Serena's power is "Order", the ability to convey directions and information through her stings via a second prong in her stinger. A Soldier created by Serena will have orders immediately given through them without Serena needing to speak a word. Himeno's ability is revealed to be "Domination", the power to overcome the will of even another Queen and make her love Himeno, making her a big exception to the rule that "Love can not be overridden". The ability of the "Sovereign" moving against Himeno and Serena is "Mimicry", the ability to pass herself off as a Soldier, and hinted at by the fact that her stinger is the same as a Soldier's. Even the "Sovereign" herself did not fully realize the implications of Queens possessing these powers, which caused her and those serving her to mistakenly believe all Wasp stingers were alike until she saw Himeno's.
  • Hunter × Hunter has their power that come from Nen, which is basically Ki Manipulation, but a user can create their own unique abilities based on their Nen category and personality along with the option to create rules and restrictions to make it more potent.
  • Iris Zero has the titular Iris, Magical Eye powers that 99% of people of the world have. The specific effects are unique per person, such as Living Lie Detector or seeing people's inner emotions.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, this applies to any human who can use Hamon or a Stand without being able to use the other. This isn't very likely in the first place since Hamon was only deadly to vampires, who were replaced by human Stand users as the main threats. The Stands, in particular, tend to work differently from each other, and each of them has unique names to refer to them. Of all Stand users, only one of them averts this by getting a second (or more) Stand: Enrico Pucci, the main villain of Part 6.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Virtually all people are born with only a single "Quirk", usually one of their parents' powers or a merger of bothnote .
    • It's mentioned that "superpower marriages" are a thing in this setting, with people specifically choosing their spouses for their powers in the hopes of siring super-strong children; Shoto Todoroki is the prime example of this: his mother has ice powers, and his father has fire powers. Todoroki's Quirk is a hybrid version that allows him to use both to great effect, though there is an element of Superpower Lottery with Shoto, as his three siblings inherited only one element.
    • Some characters, though, have powers that end up being multiple abilities by nature. For instance, Tsuyu Asui has the Quirk "Frog", which means she has the same physiology as a frog - that includes super-strong legs and jumping, changing skin color, a sticky tongue, wall-crawling, excellent swimming, secreting an extremely weak poison, and being able to inflate her stomach.
    • There are exceptions to this trope i.e. people who possess multiple Quirks. Many people can tolerate two Quirks at best, on the condition that they are physically fit. Very few people can endure more than two Quirks without turning into mindless living dolls. The most infamous among them is All For One whose original Quirk can steal numerous Quirks for personal use or transfer them to others. All For One's sidekick, Dr. Garaki can surgically transplant Quirks to create Nōmus/Artificial Humans. However, the brain functions of these creatures are affected by Quirk Overload. Villains like Number Six, Wolfram, Nine, Gigantomachia, Spinner, Lady Nagant, and Tomura Shigaraki can endure multiple Quirks with their sense of self intact.
    • Izuku Midoriya is presently the only hero armed with multiple Quirks. This is because One For All has been storing the original Quirks of its previous users, and Midoriya is the first user who can wield all seven Quirks.
    • Anyone possessing multiple Quirks suffers from a major drawback. It can range from physical strain (Izuku Midoriya, Nine), life force depletion (past One For All users with Quirks, Nine), to decreased intellect (Gigantomachia, Spinner, Nomus) and psychological harm (All For One, Tomura Shigaraki).
  • NEEDLESS: The Needless each have a power called Fragments, which originated from one human source before he disappeared, that can be shape-shifting, creating threads, manipulating gravity, and even copying other Fragments.
  • The Devil Fruits of One Piece are a Zigzagged example:
    • Playing it straight is that each individual Devil Fruit is one of a kind, and nobody can have two Devil Fruit powers (except Blackbeard). This will result in the death of the person trying to obtain the second power.
    • Downplayed in that Devil Fruits can have overlapping or alternative powers to each other, especially by getting quite strict with the definition of "one power". For example, the More-More Fruit makes things bigger and the Mini-Mini Fruit makes things smaller, but both fruits allow the user to revert a modified item to its former size. There is only one Logia of Fire, but there are both "fire adjacent" Logias like Magma or Smoke, and plenty of heat or flame-manipulating Paramecias. There are entirely separate Logias for Cold and Snow. Both the Kilo-Kilo and the Ton-Ton fruits allow the user to temporarily increase their own weight, but while the latter is significantly stronger in this regard, the former also allows the user to temporarily decrease their own weight. Then there are the Zoan Devil Fruits, which often have specific fruits for specific species of animal; the Snake-Snake Fruit has specific models for King Cobra and Anaconda, for example.
    • Haki is a subversion; it's simply a form of Supernatural Martial Arts and as such can both be learned by anyone and be used in tandem with other powers, such as Devil Fruits. Even the "you have to be born to have it" Conqueror's Haki is simply rare, not one-of-a-kind.
  • In Sola, every yaka has a power distinct to them. Matsuri can cause any object to instantly decay. Mayuko's power is never directly revealed, though she has a tendency to appear in odd places when talking to people. Aono controls paper and can imbue it with life.
  • Tiger & Bunny's heroes all have different powers, and it's considered surprising when Barnaby is introduced with exactly the same power as Wild Tiger. However, another NEXT having the same or similar powers is a known phenomenon. Wild Tiger was inspired as a boy by a hero who had the same power he did and nobody makes anything of it when his daughter initially seems to develop the same power.
  • Taboo-Tattoo: Certain people within this series can gain special power from tattoos called Spell Crests that can only be activated with the use of certain substances and they range from bullets of compressed air, barriers, a hypnotic voice, and even telekinesis.

    Comic Books 
  • Power Pack had an alien with four powers divide them up between four siblings; however, in later stories they discovered that they can switch who has what ability, or for one person to take on multiple powers at once.
  • Harbinger: the titular Harbingers all have one psiot power each with the exception of Omega Harbingers who have every power.

  • Sky High (2005). While Nurse Specs mentions that its possible for the child of two superhumans to inherit both of their parents’ powers, the implication is that its damned rare, and everyone else's reactions to Will's not only being super-strong but being able to fly implies that most people only have one power.

  • Alcatraz Series: The Semdrys are a family with a Talent, which is an ability that a family member has. The main character's Talent is being able to break things.
  • The psychic children of the Gotterelektrongruppe in Ian Tregillis' Bitter Seeds and sequels thereof.
  • The eponymous Children of the Red King usually have only one 'endowment' each. A few characters have been shown to have two; only one person seems to have had more than that.
  • Most descendant powers work this way in The Descendants. There are exceptions, but they're rare enough that the fact that magic users don't conform to this rule is an immediate tip off that something is stranger than usual about them.
  • Digitesque: People are often gifted with the power of the warrior, the power of the hunter, or the power of the pathfinder. There are a few other powers that are more rare. Isavel gets resurrected with both the hunter and pathfinder powers, which should be impossible (besides the resurrection being impossible in the first place). She assumes the gods must have plans for her, but a priest thinks she made a Deal with the Devil.
  • The Empirium Trilogy: Each elemental is restricted to one element: windsingers can only control air, sunspinners can only control light, earthshakers can only control earth, etc. The Queens of Prophecy are the only exceptions to this rule.
  • Gone by Michael Grant features several superpowered kids with a single power each, with the eventual exceptions of Brittney, Drake, and Gaia.
  • Graceling Realm: Graces are abilities some members of the population just happen to be born with, signified by their heterochromatic eyes. These graces enhance one's ability in a particular field- Main character Katsa, for example, has a killing grace (which turns out to actually be a survival grace), deuteragonist Po is graced with enhanced perception, and the main antagonist King Leck is graced with telling lies that people will believe.
  • The Grimnoir Chronicles: Almost all Magicals/Actives only have one Power each, albeit with Required Secondary Powers included. Sufficiently powerful Actives can emulate closely related ones (Heavy Sullivan can affect his density like a Massive), and Chairman Okubo Tokugawa is the only one with natural Combo Platter Powers. The Pathfinders of the Enemy are able to use multiple Powers thanks to Power Parasite and assimilation, and Faye is a Cog whose power is understanding all the other powers, with the first power she properly learned being the Traveling she's introduced as using.
  • Infinite Dendrogram: The titular VRMMORPG has players called Masters where a special ability called an Embryo. This is basically a skill that is based on a person's personality and their experiences within the world. Many types of Embryos but broad categories exist. Type: Arms are weapons that follow the form of swords, guns, staves, etc. Type: Guardner takes the form of a non-human being much like that of tamed monster. Type: Chariot are basically vehicles which would be a carriage or a mecha. Type: Castle is buildings which do not move but high defense. Type: Territory are abilities that work within an area rather than having a physical form.
  • Legend Of Nightfall, by Mickey Zucker Reichert: powered individuals each have a single "natal talent." Sorcerers can gain more than one by killing natals and taking their powers.
  • The supers in Those Who Walk in Darkness and What Fire Cannot Burn by John Ridley all have strictly one power each (flight is an exception that works strangely). This became a major plot point in the latter book.
  • Outliers subverts the trope; while the first generation of supers only got the one power (although they tended to be fairly broad to make for it), the second generation often get multiple, including some flying bricks.
  • The Perfect Run: A person can only ever drink one Elixir (or one Knockoff Elixir). Drinking more has a very high chance of Body Horror and violent insanity because the two (or more) powers attempt to overwrite each other. There exist a very small number of people who can drink two Elixirs with no negative effects, like Augustus, who has Shock and Awe and Nigh-Invulnerability.
  • Release That Witch: Every witch has one innate magical spell, and it's the only one they can keep and evolve. No two witches have the exact same spell over the course of the book. However, they can temporarily use different spells by using magical ores with a witch's / demon's powers etched into them.
  • In Shadow Ops, "Latents" (humans who develop magical powers) only develop within one specific "school" of magic. Some of these are limited, i.e. pyromancers can only create fire. Others are impressively diverse, such as terramancers, who can control earth, shape and grow plants, and mind-control animals.
  • Played With in Jack D. Ferraiolo's Sidekicks. There are three categories of power: strength, speed/agility and mentalnote ; people can have two (indeed, we don't meet any characters who have strength or speed/agility alone) but nobody has ever been known to have all three. Until the end of the novel, where we learn that the villain and the Love Interest do.
  • Pretty much true in Super Powereds, although telekinetics are invariably telepaths as well. It's thought that the two are really variations on the same ability. Some powers are more versatile than others. Most Supers are Shifters, requiring them to switch to their alt-mode in order to use their powers. That alt-mode can be anything. Some are lizards, some turn into themselves with metal skin, some are robots with missile launchers and flying capability. Extremely-powerful elementals are able to take on certain characteristics of their element (e.g. a Super's mastery of electricity also allows him to attain Super-Speed). Some Supers don't have a power that is useful in combat, such as Nick, who can manipulate luck (most combat isn't based on luck). However, as shown in Year 1, at full power, even his ability can have devastating results (when using it to stop a truck on a highway, he manipulates the luck of the vehicle to simultaneously cause half a dozen improbable malfunctions that nearly rip the truck to shreds).
  • Downplayed in The Tale Of Magic. Every fairy can do numerous spells, but they have one “specialty.” A specialty comes so naturally, it can be uncontrollable.
  • By the time of Wax and Wayne, the magical bloodlines have diluted such that there are no more Mistborn or Feruchemists: nobody has more than one Allomantic and one Feruchemical power. Twinborn are those with one of each, and Compounders are Twinborn with matching powers—which, due to a quirk of the magic system, means that they can get more out of their Feruchemy than they put in, breaking the Equivalent Exchange and creating an infinite loop. The only Compounder in the first book is Miles Hundredlives, who uses gold to store health and get a Healing Factor that makes Wolverine look like a wimp.
  • The Xanth books fit this trope. Every person has a single magical talent, and no two people can ever have the same one. Talents range from 'essentially completely useless' to 'Reality Warper'. Persons with the strongest Talents are Magicians, and only Magicians are eligible to be King. (Yes, that includes women.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • Each witch in Charmed (1998) possesses a unique "active power" in addition to their basic powers of spell-casting, potion-brewing and scrying. They can range from telekinesis, creating fire, super speed and even invisibility. The Charmed Ones are an exception as they all start with one power and naturally gain new ones as they advance.
  • H₂O: Just Add Water: Subverted. In the first few episodes, Cleo figured out she could control water, Emma learned she could make ice, and Rikki found she could heat things up, and all three determined that this trope was the case for mermaids. Ms. Chatham never refuted this, implying that she, Gracie, and Julia also only had one power each. The second season muddles things by giving the mermaid trio additional powers (wind for Cleo, clouds for Emma, and lightning for Rikki), and introducing Charlotte, who copied every mermaid power she saw (Rikki's lightning and Bella's viscosity manipulation were the only ones she never had the opportunity to try out). Mako Mermaids: An H₂O Adventure reveals that mermaids can learn many powers if they put the effort into learning them, meaning that aside from Charlotte, none of the girls in the original show bothered trying to learn each other's abilities.
  • Heroes has this for all the heroes. It's just that a couple of them have the single power of stealing/copying other people's powers.
  • Misfits subverts this. Although everyone seems to get one power, at least two people were given two powers in the storm, and Seth can give customers multiple powers with his ability.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Godforsaken: Each hederar has a specific supernatural ability that it can innately access. These are entirely random and can range from trivial in scope, such as being able to emit a specific pungent smell or create a candle-sized flame, to fairly useful, such as telepathy, immunity to fire, or electrified physical attacks, to extremely powerful, such as being able to summon storms or teleport hundreds of miles.

    Video Games 
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt have people called Adepts with powers called Septima which range from electrokinesis (the titular "Azure Striker"), creating wormholes (called simply "Wormhole"), summon and create flies ("The Fly"), and necromancy ("Rebirth").
  • BlazBlue has the Drives, abilities that are derived from connecting one's soul towards the Azure. The Drives' effects are unique per person, such as Rachel's wind manipulation to Valkenhayn's werewolf transformation.
  • Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance has Overloads, which are special skills that only Overlords, those who have Overlord-class power have access to which is more powerful compared to average skills and magic.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: it is established that a person may only bear one Crest at a time, and that it is impossible for a person to have any more than one at a time. At least, not naturally: those who slither in the dark have experimented on implanting an additional Crest upon someone who already possesses a Crest. Most of these attempts ended in failure and death of the subjects, and only two are known to have survived the procedure: Edelgard (who was born with the Minor Crest of Seiros and implanted with the Crest of Flames) and Lysithea (possessed of the Major Crest of Gloucester and the Minor Crest of Charon). Even then, the procedure left them with greatly diminished lifespans and stark white hair.
  • Persona, starting with Persona 3, establishes that those who can call upon the power of a Persona typically only have one Persona, although that Persona can evolve into a stronger form under the right conditions. The Player Characters, conversely, avert this trope with what is described by Igor, the master of the Velvet Room, as the power of the "Wild Card": the ability to carry multiple Personas, and swap between them as the situation demands. Igor likens it to the number "zero": empty, but possessing vast, potentially unlimited potential. Aside from the Player Character, a small handful of other characters also have this power: Aigis gains the power of the Wild Card in the Playable Epilogue of Persona 3 FES "The Answer", while Goro Akechi in Persona 5 is a second possessor of the Wild Card who can swap between two different Personas: Robin Hood, when passing himself off as a justice-driven hero; and Loki, when his true colors are revealed.
  • Phantom Brave have certain abilities such as the main heroine which is called Chartreuse Gale which allows her to confine Phantoms to gain a physical form. The main hero seems to have an ability called Eccarlate, that seems to be the power of a water dragon. Another character has one called Psycho Burgundy which allows him to set anything on fire even his own soul. One character has the skill, Dark Eboreus, that allows the user to absorb another entity for power.
  • Suikoden series have special runes called True Runes, that represent certain aspects like beginning, fire, beasts, and change. They can either bring a curse or blessing depending on the rune. One could cause them to become vampiric, control dragons, connect worlds, or bring monsters into existence.
  • In Touhou Project, each character's profile state their ability alongside their name and title, giving the impression of this trope. It's actually a subversion, as the abilities are self-declared by the characters themselves, and they can include anything. They range from abilities actually unique to the character (e.g. Flandre's ability to destroy anything), species-wide abilities (e.g. Nitori's ability to control water which is shared with all other kappa, or Kagerou, a werewolf's, ability to transform into a wolf), to not actually their own (e.g. Seiga's ability to pass through walls is from a magical artifact she owns).
  • Under Night In-Birth has the EXS, a special power that every "In-Births"note  have. The effects of EXS ranges from Super-Strength, to flame manipulation, to soul ripping.

  • Played with in Angel Down only one paladin can have a certain power at a time, however when they die, another paladin will be created with that power.
    • For instance Ariel's Barrier Warrior previously belonged to Ward before they died.
    • This is averted with the paladin's secondary abilities, which are the same among all paladins chosen by a given angel.
  • The Gamer: Certain people can gain a power called a Natural Ability which is granted by the Earth itself. The main character is a Natural Ability User that is given the power of titular 'The Gamer', which allows him to live his life like an RPG game. There also others who gain their abilities through training and past knowledge called Acquired Abilites which range from Ki Manipulation using martial arts to magic.
  • Scoob and Shag: The cartoon characters we know and love are actually an alien race and each member is born with a unique power called a "Ballyhoo", born from the adoration of humans. Each one is named after TV or video recording terminology. For example, Courage's "On Demand" lets him turn into any kind of object at will, Kermit's "Product Placement" lets him summon branded objects for a variety of purposes, and Droopy's "Direct to Video" summons creepy paintings that he can see through.
  • In Sidekicks all supublics are born with a single superpower. Superheroes subvert this by gaining a second superpower thanks to their hero capes and the villains working with Metheos do so via the Third Prana.
  • Unordinary: People are strictly born with a single power, however their power may have multiple different yet linked applications (e.g. Isen with his power "Hunter").
    • Those classified as high-tiers and above gain hidden Passive-abilities that usually play into their ability providing them added benefits (e.g. Remi's Lightning allows her to sense electronics, or Arlo's Barrier makes his normal body hard as iron). These passive bonuses work even when their power is inactive.

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, almost all superpowered individuals are either Firebenders, Waterbenders, Earthbenders, or Airbenders. Each type of bender can only bend their specific elements.note  However, by the end, this is a Downplayed Trope due to the unexpected applications of each element. Waterbenders can learn to heal people, control ice, control plants, control mud, purify or corrupt spirits, and even control the blood in people's veins. Earthbenders can sense vibrations, control metal, control mud, control sand, and even control lava. Firebenders can shoot and redirect lightning, or even channel chi through a third eye tattoo to fire explosive beams. Even airbenders can turn intangible like ghosts.
  • My Little Pony:
    • My Little Pony 'n Friends: In addition to a shared ability to teleport, each unicorn has a magical power unique to themselves — Gusty can create gusts of wind, Fizzy can create bubbles, Ribbon is telepathic, Buttons has telekinesis, and so on.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Every pony has a "special talent" that is reflected in their cutie mark. This can be fairly mundane, like an affinity for a particular skill or field of study, or a legitimate magical power. Twilight Sparkle has a particularly versatile one, since her talent is being good at magic in general (as opposed to other unicorns, whose magic generally helps them in something more specific).
  • The Owl House: Invoked. Emperor Belos imposes a coven system that restricts witches' magic, branding them with a sigil that only allows them to use one type of magic.