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One Super, One Power Set

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A superhero or supervillain has a weakness, has Power Incontinence, is a Badass Normal, but still just a normal person. But wait! Here's this Kryptonite-Proof Suit/Powered Armor/Protective Charm etc. that can fix that!

Not going to happen. Status Quo Is God.

This trope deals with the Fridge Logic that inevitably arises as superpowered beings and thus the various means to create those beings become more and more commonplace in a particular fictional universe, it also means that ways to remove Kryptonite Factors, turn Badass Normals into Empowered Badass Normals, or just ways to make a hero or villain more effective and unstoppable in general pile up, yet despite this those beings will stay with the same powers and abilities they've had pretty much since their creation.


For instance, if a hero has water based powers and a weakness to electricity, expect them to rarely if ever wear rubber when fighting an opponent that uses it, or if the hero is a Handicapped Badass in a universe where plenty of examples of healing magic that can fix anything, has good or better than the original prosthetics, Powered Armor, etc. that are common or even easily accessible, don't expect them to ever use them.

This trope doesn't necessarily have to involve weaknesses or disabilities either. If a Super is already powerful and could use various means to become even more powerful, and doesn't, that also fits this trope.

Part of the issue seems to be that western comics (DC, Marvel) in particular are especially beholden to Status Quo Is God: the company owns the characters, the characters are part of a larger shared setting, and as writers come and go, characterization can only change gradually. By contrast, in Manga and more independent works, there is typically an overall narrative that a single writer is trying to convey. That's why Next Tier Power-Up was once called Shōnen Upgrade: it's not that Spider-Man never gets new powers, it's that he has to lose them within the year, or new readers might be confused.


If the power-up involves Power at a Price, the Godzilla Threshold, or any other sort of negative consequences, are rare and difficult to pull off, or unique, it is justified and thus Not This Trope. This trope only applies if there is no logical reason in universe for why either the heroes or the villains to only have the same powers and use the same gimmicks they always have despite not only the ability to make themselves better, but the fact that such abilities are common. This also includes when the Super refuses the improvement when offered.

Compare Holding Back the Phlebotinum and Never Be a Hero.

Other causes may be Forgotten Phlebotinum, Forgot About His Powers, or possibly even Depending on the Writer. Related to Kryptonite-Proof Suit. Disposable Superhero Maker and Superman Stays Out of Gotham are also related to this trope.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Justified in Buso Renkin. Using a different kakugane from your normal one just produces the same buso renkin with different styling. Likewise homunculi can't gain new powers; all they can do is train to use the ones they already have more effectively. However, the Sorting Algorithm of Evil averts this; normally the most dangerous monster is a humanoid homunculus with a kakugane; this gives them all the benefits of both homincili and buso renkin (animal types are still limited to their animal instincts, and have to stick to natural weapons). Subverted with Kazuki, whose kakugane is eventually revealed to be a special black kakugane that produces a new buso renkin with different abilities.
  • One Piece has a good example, too: Similar to the Buso Renkin example above, Devil's Fruit abilities are stated to never get stronger per se, but you can discover new and better ways to use them. It is also a rule that you can only use one, that you'll die if you try to gain a second, but Blackbeard seems to have found a way around that.
  • Played straight by most of the eponymous warriors in Claymore, who develop their special yoki techniques early in their careers and rely mainly on them for the rest of their lives. Completely averted, however, by the main heroine, Clare, who keeps picking up various techniques as the story progresses and thus gets to play in the highest supernatural league despite having relatively weak yoki potential.
    • Possibly justified, since most warriors with signature techniques are powerful enough to not encounter opponents that would necessitate improvement. In general, the trope is averted by the Seven Ghosts, due to their 7 years' time hiding and training: Miria develops a less youki-based phantom technique, ridding herself of the number-of-uses restriction she had before; Helen learns Jean's drill sword technique, building off of her own extendible arm technique; Deneve adopts Undine's dual-wielding combat style, supplementing her amazing recovery powers; Tabitha gains youki-sensing abilities akin to "God-Eye" Galatea; Cynthia learns the youki-synchronizing technique and develops a healing technique; Yuma gets good at throwing swords like javelins, and many chapters later is also able to learn Cynthia's healing technique; and Clare, as mentioned above, gains a variety of techniques throughout the series. Other than that, however, almost no introduced characters develop their abilities or styles, or adopt new ones.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman is the head of Wayne Enterprises, has fought against and alongside many superpowered beings that possess advanced technology, use magic, and have reliable and effective mutagens. Despite this, he has been, and most likely always will be, only a mere Badass Normal Crazy-Prepared genius detective. This is usually justified by any powers he does happen to acquire either going to his head or simply not being something he feels he needs to keep long-term.
    Robin: So, how was it? Using that ring?
    Batman: Not my style.
  • Superman and Supergirl have a weakness to Kryptonite. They also have access to Kryptonite Proof Suits. You'd expect them to wear it pretty much all the time or at least line their costumes with lead to reduce the effects. However, Clark or Kara bring it out only when they're fighting a villain that specifically uses Kryptonite as a weapon and expect it in advance. It's because the suit is fragile relative to the power levels of both Kryptonian heroes and many of their foes. What they have done on more than one occasion is try to get rid of the Kryptonite since its supposed to be rare but more just keeps showing up.
  • Barbara Gordon -Batgirl- becomes crippled by The Joker in The Killing Joke, and remains crippled from then on until the New 52 reboot. This is despite the fact that people with superpowers that can heal any injury, Powered Armor, Magic, and others exist all over the DC Universe that can fix or replace her legs with but a phone call. In fact, Batman himself had his spine broken in Knightfall, but quickly recovered. This is given the somewhat hamfisted justification that Barbara deliberately refuses to embrace the metanatural options she has for undoing her spinal damage because she doesn't want to be "special" compared to all the other crippled humans in the setting. Even after she is cured, she is shown wangsting over it.
  • X-Men: Professor Xavier has tried many times to restore the use of his legs, but when he does succeed, he becomes crippled again before long.
  • Most times that a superhero or supervillain is held prisoner, there is a Power Nullifier in action. Most of the prisoners find a way to get rid of them, but they seem to work well in their original purpose. So, what about the heroes who want to be normal? There is an easy way for Cyclops to get rid of the sunglasses, for the freaky-looking mutant to seem like a regular joe, or for Rogue to have a lot of sex: just try the new mutant trend, the power-nullifier collar, and do as you want! And if you need your powers for something, just take off the collar and that's it. Usually justified as paranoia about how an individual could hack or steal the nullifier and use it against the super when they need it.
  • Following The Other arc, Spider-Man acquired enhanced strength, the ability to communicate with spiders, organic webbing, and retractile stingers in his wrists, among other powers. Post-Brand New Day he's gone back to his original powers, and the augmented ones have gone to his clone Kaine. This was justified by the vastly negative reaction Spidey's fans had to his new powerset, which ranged from "nonsensical" (spider-talking, retractile stingers) to "obvious cash-ins on the movies" (organic webbing).
  • Jubilee (Marvel Comics): The title character was one of the mutants depowered by the Decimation event in 2006, and lost her original power set of pyrotechnic energy blasts. She returned as a tech-based hero named Wondra who worked with the New Warriors, and then in 2010 she became (of all things) a Vampire in the Curse of the Mutants storyline that lasted a good eight years. Then, at the beginning of 2018, her original power set and mutant status was restored. Many here happy with it, mainly because turning her into a vampire was mostly done to cash in on the Twilight fad more than anything else and it made little sense to keep her the same after said series faded from public consciousness.


  • The Reckoners Trilogy: Played straight and inverted. All Epics have a specific powerset, and the powers are usually at least thematically related (though not always). The interesting part is that in the rare cases of two Epics having an identical powerset (mostly with twins), it soon became apparent that there is literally one powerset that they are both using at the same time. Whenever one of them uses their powers, the other suffers great pain and can sense the location where the power is being used. Therefore, twin Epics almost always murder each other sooner rather than later. Furthermore, this turns out to be the secret between the Magic-Powered Pseudoscience of "motivators." A minor cell culture of an Epic is put in an incubator that motivates it with a carefully calibrated electrical charge. The powers themselves apparently can't tell the difference between a tiny cell culture and a real person, so with the right electrical charge it will produce the power just as easily as a real Epic. The only problem is that living Epics can sense that as well, so motivators are made almost exclusively from dead Epics.
  • Wearing the Cape: Due to the way powers are obtained, this is almost universal. People "break through" when in an incredibly stressful and life-threatening situation, and receive powers to deal with the situation, based on what they consider an appropriate response, plus whatever they need to survive their new powers. Therefore, powers generally follow some very clear types and trends. One of the easiest ways to prove you're not a shapeshifter is to demonstrate a power besides shapeshifting—shapeshifters with anything like Super Strength or Playing with Fire are so rare as to be functionally nonexistent.

    Live Action TV 
  • One early episode of Angel had the title character acquire a ring that grants vampires immunity to sunlight and makes them all but invulnerable. Wow, Angel, you'd be able to do a lot of good with that ring, wouldn't you? Certainly he could, but during the episode, many evil vampires try forcibly taking it from him, and he realizes that as long as it continues to exist, they're going to keep trying, and if they succeed just once, the world is screwed. Between that and the threat of him losing his soul and becoming Angelus again, he decides it's better to destroy the thing.
  • Zig-Zagged in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Sam "Falcon" Wilson received Captain America's shield from Steve Rogers at the end of Avengers: Endgame, but chooses to give it up at the start of the series: he donates it to a superhero exhibit at the Smithsonian, only for the US government to turn around and hand it to a new Cap, John Walker. Walker is later removed, and Sam takes back both the shield and the title of Captain America, on top of using a vibranium version of his wingsuit.

    Tabletop Games 
  • At least two superhero games, Champions and Villains & Vigilantes, have specifically advised players not to significantly change their PC hero's powers. Champions has also advised players to not get rid of their PC's weaknesses, because they help to define the character.

    Video Games 
  • Averted with inFAMOUS 2. While in the first game Cole is stuck with his lightning powers and nothing else, inFAMOUS 2 allows Cole as part of the storyline to use a machine to copy either fire or ice powers from two other superpowered people, depending on his alignment.